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It was only a matter of time. Eventually, this post that has been stirring around in my sloshy brain was bound to be spilled out on a page, so here we go! I want to share with you in a step-by-step, subject-by-subject manner all the resources, courses, and curricula I recommend for a fabulous lifeschooling homeschool! Of course, life itself is a huge part of lifeschooling, so I am also including some of the random (or planned) daily activities that can help teach our children in various subjects.
Important note: Your mileage may (and probably will) vary. That’s okay! That’s what makes homeschooling and lifeschooling such a gift! We are all different, with different kids, and different families. We have different needs that will not all be addressed in one blog post (no matter how big and ginormous said post may be).
But, my hope for you is that I can get you thinking in the right direction and hopefully recommend one or two things that will be that perfect match made in homeschool curricula heaven that you’ve always dreamed about…or something like that. 😉 Most of these resources are things we have used in our lifeschooling because I wanted to share our personal experiences, but a few are things I’ve wished we could use (but either my likes didn’t mesh with my kids’ likes or we simply didn’t have enough hours in the day) and small portion are resources that would not necessarily work for us, but have some great lifeschooling potential for others.
I’ve tried to stick with the basics, but under each main heading, you may find some sub-sets of that particular subject. For example, under math you may find not only some resources for general math, but also for economics and financial literacy. I have not divided the resources out by age because 1. I’m lazy…well, maybe not lazy, but time only permits me to indulge my perfectionistic side to a certain degree and 2. Many resources can be used with a wide range of kids. I’ve tried to just give enough information under each heading for you to make your own decisions on that.
Oh, one other minor note. You may find it a bit confusing that at times I refer to homeschooling our two children and at other times I refer to our adventures as though there’s only one. That’s because we have a large gap in ages between our oldest two and the youngest one, so I’m basically on phase two of our lifeschooling journey with him. 🙂 Some of these ideas are from phase one and some from phase two. 😉
So here we go…
My favorite topic! 🙂 If all you had in your house was a Bible, you would be set! In fact, in the early days of education in the United States, the Bible was the only textbook used. I also remember learning of a father and daughter who were homeless in recent years, but he was determined to homeschool her (now you have no excuses!). He had only a Bible and a dictionary for teaching, yet when the state tested her, she was well above the academic level of her peers! God promises that if we seek Him first, “all” these things will be added to us. That is, everything that is necessary for this life will be given to us, including all the academic training we need, when we need it! So start with Bible everyday…first for you, then after that, with your children.
Building on the Rock series – Korban and I have really enjoyed this series of devotional books! They are basically my “fall back” for when we need to skip family devotions for some reason (which we really try not to do), or for when we have a little extra time to read before bed. The stories are all based on true stories, mostly from at least 100 years ago, and many of them contain miraculous events and answers to prayer. One thing that always impresses and convicts me is the importance Christians of that generation put on the Sabbath, and how many of the stories show God working miraculously for those who sacrificed to honor the Sabbath and not work or do other things they felt would be breaking it.
Children’s Character Building Collection – I first heard about these of books from Israel Wayne in a Facebook post, so I knew they would be good! Israel spoke at a couple of our Lifeschooling Conferences and I really value his opinion on anything to do with training and raising children. So when they https://lifeschoolingconference.com/daily-devotional-minno/had these on sale, I snatched them up. Even though he was only around 5-6 at the time, Korban loved the simple stories filled with biblical truth! They really seemed to get to his heart. They also sell a study guide for the books which you may find helpful. And I just noticed if you sign up for their website’s newsletter, they will send you a free digital copy of one of their books!
Christian Heroes Then and Now – I feel like I am going to quickly become a broken record here (for those of you who still know what those are), but “we love these books!” The link I’ve shared here is only a small set, but I’m sure you’ve seen them piled high on the vendor tables at homeschool curriculum fairs and I think there must be about 100 of them now! They are some of the “staples” of every Christian homeschool. If you want to know more about what these books are like, you can read my review of the book, Lessons from Count Zinzendorf.
Bible 20 Questions – I just love using games for learning because the whole point of games is to have fun, and I’m a strong believer that learning should be fun whenever possible! This is a game I picked up at a yard sale or somewhere and it’s been a fun one that we enjoy playing especially on Sunday afternoons.
Rose Book of Bible Charts – We have both volume 1 and volume 2 and I really can’t say enough about these books and how much I love them!! The first book was given to us by a kind Christian neighbor years ago and I loved it so much I bought the second volume later, but I’ve noticed they have others, also. They are divided by various topics and in each section there are lots of beautiful illustrations and details on the topic of study. For example, we pulled out these books when we were reading through 1 Kings in family devotions and learning all about the temple, what it had in it, and how it was laid out. The detailed illustrations and size comparisons were so helpful to literally paint a picture of what we were reading!
Israel: Then and Now – This is a really cool book that we pull out every so often when we want to look at historical Bible sites and what they looked like in Bible times compared to today. There are overlays that you can lift to compare the two time periods and how the structures have changed. Very cool!
Minno – Have you heard of Minno? Maybe I’m late to the game, but I only just discovered it recently and I’m loving what I see already! Minno is a streaming service that provides all kinds of wonderful Bible-related media for our kids to enjoy. I love turning on these shows on Sunday afternoons, in particular, when we want to have some time focused on the Lord, but want it to be fun for our youngest. You may want to read my full review of Minno here.
Hebrew for Homeschoolers – In case you haven’t noticed by now, I am the kind of mom who likes to jump around and try all kinds of things! Shiny Object Syndrome affects me badly! (Isn’t it funny that the acronym of that is S.O.S.?!) Anyway, this is another one of those programs that I am really hoping to try out sometime soon because it is just such a practical and valuable topic! If our children (and we, too) know the original language of the Bible, it will make our Bible study so much more meaningful. Plus, Ana is a personal friend and everything she does rocks, so I know this course will be good! 😉
Bible Project – We recently discovered this YouTube channel and I’m not sure how we missed it for so long! I know I’ve heard of it before, but somehow had never checked it out. We love to watch the videos about the books of the Bible before reading them in our family devotions. They really help give a broad overview! This a link to their video about the temple, which would have also helped us a lot when we read through 1 Kings in our family devotions, but I had not yet discovered this!
Seeds Family Worship – This is another much-loved resource in our home! Children are naturally wired to memorize, but when you put music to verses, they stick in their heads (and yours) even better. Several years ago, we invested in their complete set of CDs and DVDs when they had a Buy One, Get One deal. It was so fun to bless our church library with the extra copies!
- Church, Bible study
- Missions trips
- Personal and family devotions
- Daily life living out our faith (Deut. 6:4-9)
- Bible memory and quiz cards
- Travel to biblical sites
- Museum of the Bible
Math is not one of my favorite subjects, but my kids are all pretty good at it. And I am blessed with a husband who was a math major, so I can always bring him in to help! Here are a few things we’ve tried and enjoyed.
Math-U-See – We’ve been using Math-U-See for many years and find it to be a good balance between drill and practical, hands-on learning. It may not be as “lifeschooly” as some other math resources and curricula, but for the most part our kids have enjoyed it and found it to be helpful.
Life of Fred – One of the issues with math for those who don’t have a natural love for the subject is the “so what?” aspect. What I love about LoF is that it makes the math relevant to real life and since there is an actual character that you follow through all the books, it may provide the “what” to that driving question. 😉 This is a fun curriculum for those who enjoy stories and want to see how math becomes relevant in everyday life.
Grocery Cart Math – I just love this book! If only I could get Korban (8) to not feel self-conscious at the store so we could use it! LOL. Oh well. The concept of integrating math lessons into an activity that is so basic and practical is brilliant in its simplicity. This is lifeschooling!
Cash Flow for Kids – If you’ve heard of Robert Kiyosaki, then you probably know he’s a guru in the financial world. Who better to create a game to teach children how to be financially wise? What I really love about this game is that it helps your children learn when it’s wise to spend money to invest and when spending money is not the best decision. It is a good way for them to practice in a fun way. It’s hard to find copies of this game, though, so you may want to check eBay and of course keep your eye out yard sales and thrift stores, too!
Moneywise Kids game – This is a simple but fun way for kids to learn how to count money and figure out exact change. It was helpful for Korban when he learned this important skill and he asked to play it often!
Khan Academy computer programming – I’m not too excited about most of the content on Khan Academy, but my oldest son spent hours upon hours going through the free computer programming courses on there and it really helped him in this field! He is currently going through training for Amazon Web Services and plans on a career in IT. One of the surprising results of all the lessons he did is that he learned a lot of upper level math as a byproduct. When it came time for algebra, he discovered he did not need to take a class because he had already learned it by doing coding!
- Cooking and baking
- Grocery shopping
- Selling goods
We haven’t done a lot of really “intense” science in our house, but we try to bring this subject in with books and other things we can fit into everyday life. One of my favorite activities with Korban is animal notebooks and just exploring nature together when we’re outside. Here are some of the other resources we use or have used in the past.
Master books – I cannot say enough wonderful things about the books from Master Books! I always keep my eye out for their regular flash sales and use them as opportunities to further expand my growing library. I feel like it’s a wise investment to invest in quality books from a Christian/creationist standpoint. Although I think if I were ever to become a hoarder (and it’s not so far-fetched), I would hoard books! One of my favorite resources from Master Books is The Complete Zoo Adventure!
Answers in Genesis – We love the resources from AiG! The Answers magazine has been an especially fun lifeschooling resource for us that Korban enjoys getting in the mail! We also do a lot of animal notebooking, so having some good resources like this Dinosaurs of Eden book, and this one called How Many Animals Were on the Ark have been helpful to go along with the animal studies. We also really enjoyed learning about some really crazy bugs in Bugs: Big and Small God Made Them All!
Jonathan Park CDs – I first heard of Jonathan Park when we visited the Creation Museum years ago and I saw some CDs in the gift store. I decided to purchase the one for Zoo animals and we listened to the short segments all the way home! I didn’t realize at the time that most of the CDs are adventure stories, but we enjoyed the learning and I’ve always envisioned putting the segments on my phone and organizing them so we could go to the zoo and play each one at the appropriate animal enclosure while the kids do an animal notebook page. But I’ve somehow never gotten around to that. (Can you imagine? A homeschool mom being too busy? 😉 ) But nevertheless, the kids have learned a lot. In fact, all the Jonathan Park CDs have been a treasure of learning for them! I can’t tell you how many times they have spouted some random science fact and I’ve asked where they learned it, to which they reply, “On Jonathan Park.”
EEME electronics kits – Since Korban was very young, he has shown an interest and knack for mechanical and electronic things. These kits have been so much fun for him to do! They are simple enough that he can follow them with little help from me, yet the projects are not “dumbed down” to a babyish level. I am a strong believer in stretching children whenever possible (though there is also a place for easy materials sometimes when they need a boost of confidence). Generally speaking, children will stretch to meet expectations if you keep them reasonable enough.
Let’s Read and Find Out series – I’ve linked to one of Korban’s favorites, but there are many of these books and I love the simplicity of them for your youngest scientists! They address each topic, such as birds, weather, magnetism, etc. in a simple, age-appropriate way. They are secular, though, so you definitely want to pick and choose which ones you read, or you may also consider reading some that of the evolutionary perspective, pointing out the errors. It is a great way to start to teach your children how to think critically. They may have a hard time when they are younger, but you are building habits of thought and they may surprise you with how much they can pick up on.
- Cooking and baking
- Walks outside
- Homesteading, breeding animals
Story of the World – I’m including this one because we loved it so much when the kids were young and they learned so much! I always love resources that I can pop in the CD player in the car. But I do want to strongly caution you. If you subscribe to young earth creationism (as we do) and do not believe in the idea that we were once “cave men,” you will want to be aware of some of the recordings about ancient history. Also, I don’t remember this specifically, but I was recently told that some of the teachings about Moses were biblically incorrect. However, like I said, we really loved these recordings when the kids were young and they have fond memories! The recordings were engaging and really treated history like a story.
History Revealed – If you want to avoid the pitfalls of Story of the World, then I highly recommend the CD recordings from History Revealed. They are fascinating! This link is only to the first set, but there are several sets for all four of their books. The curriculum itself is definitely more structured and provides many more ideas for activities and projects than you could possibly undertake, but my older two and I did enjoy going through it one year. One thing I liked was the suggestions for projects based on different learning styles. Just be careful not to feel like a failure if you don’t get to everything every week. There’s a lot to cover!
Homeschool in the Woods – Okay, as a trained artist with a B.A. in art, I just have to tell you that I absolutely salivate at the artistic beauty of these resources! And I think beauty is important to have around us daily. Why not in our homeschooling studies, as well? I finally broke down and invested in one of their beautiful timeline books and printables kits and it’s been enjoyable to help Korban put it together and color the drawings.
To The Victor Go The Myths & Monuments: The History of the First 100 Years of the War Against God and the Constitution, 1776 – 1876, and Its Modern Impact – Honestly, I can’t tell you much about this resource because I was not the one to purchase it for my oldest son. It was a birthday gift from his grandmother. But based on what I’ve read and the things he’s told me about it, I think it’s a very important book! Here is the description from Amazon: “This “must read” reveals a side of American history that you’ve never heard of before. The author, The John Birch Society CEO Art Thompson devoted much of his life to uncovering the agenda behind common historic events and organizes it in a way for the reader to think for himself. By not accepting everything taught in schools as fact, this book will raise patriotic Americans to their feet to educate others in the essential task of preserving liberty and independence for future generations.” Sounds like a real winner to me! It’s also apparently filled with citations of other works, so it appears well-researched.
- Dinner conversations
- Travel to historical locations
- Local monuments and historical markers
Geography placemats – This may seem silly, but one of the best resources we used were cheap placemats I picked up at yard sales! Of course, rather than waiting to happen upon them, you can be a little more intentional and buy them off Amazon or at the next curriculum fair (if we are ever allowed to meet in real life again in this post-COVID world). But wherever you get them, I think you’ll be surprised how your children end up using them! My oldest two quizzed each other almost daily while eating lunch when they were little. I never even attempted to sit down and teach them the states and capitals…because I didn’t need to! They just learned them on their own.
Wall map of the world – A good wall map is another important resource to have around for a culture of learning in your home. I still laugh a bit when I think of my friend, Barbara, who has a map in front of the toilet in her kids’ bathroom. I guess if you’re sitting there, why not memorize a little world geography while you’re at it? Anyway, we purchased a beautiful antique-looking wall map for our shcool room when we moved out to the country and we have loved it! I would suggest purchasing a new map if you can, since countries seem to change as quickly as a teenage girl changes outfits!
Globe – A globe similar to this one (they no longer make the one we had) made learning geography so fun for my kids! That is until my daughter threw it at her brother. She actually loved that globe and tells me she immediately regretted her angry impulse, knowing she would never hear the Lithuanian national anthem again. But hopefully your kids will refrain from throwing it at each other. Haha!
Great States game – We have played this game a number of times and I really love how easy it is to play, even if you really don’t know much about the states. All the answers are on the board, so it’s like an open book test…but fun instead of stressful! 😉 It’s been interesting to learn about all the state birds and flowers, and I had no idea how many states have the same state bird!
The Global puzzle – We have this giant world map puzzle with countries cut out in their shapes that is a lot of fun to put together! I have been surprised how quickly Korban has learned where things are and about islands and countries that I never knew even existed! This particular puzzle is very detailed, too, with all the names of countries and capitals, oceans, etc., as well as other statistics like country populations printed in the oceans. Every square inch of this puzzle is packed with information for learning! Don’t underestimate your children’s ability to pick up on these facts as they have fun putting it together. We’ve spent some homeschool mornings just working on this puzzle.
- Using GPS devices or exploring Google Maps
- Learning to use an atlas, following along on trips
BJU Press JourneyForth Books – As a former BJU grad, I have to say how much I appreciate their resources! You know I’m not a big fan of the school-at-home approach, but the beauty of lifeschooling is that we can be creative and adjust the resources to our lives, not the other way around. I have much respect and appreciation for the strong Christian worldview, along with high level of academics of all the materials from BJU Press, but I especially love the JourneyForth books because they are so easy to fit into everyday life and contain the same level of quality. I have many good memories of reading these books as a child! In fact, I remember one of the first books that really sparked my interest in reading was their book, Derwood Incorporated. I specifically remember not being able to put that one down at our lake house one summer!
One Year Adventure Novel – Both my older children love to write and have a knack for it. This is one of those “I would love to try that someday” curricula! We have looked into it several times, but just never found a good time to do it. My son always had too many other things on his plate and my daughter was the type who wanted to write for fun and she was concerned that this course would turn writing into work. I could see her point, and she was also very young when she wrote her first book, so she probably would have been overwhelmed being among older kids and having her work critiqued at that age. But I think for older kids, especially, who are ready to really refine their gift and have a meaningful way to meet a language arts requirement, this could be an answer to prayer! I really love curriculum that is structured around a meaningful project as an end goal.
Bananagrams – My daughter recently introduced me to this game and it has been a fun way to learn vocabulary and spelling! We’ve only played it once, but what I really like about it is that it can be set up easily and we played it while we were eating a meal. All the tiles fit into a cute banana-shaped bag, so it would be very easy to take places, too!
- Writing stories or books (My daughter published her book, No Return, at age 13)
- Writing e-mail and letters to family and friends (We use Send Out Cards, a free online program that will allow you to design and send real cards through the mail)
Beyond the Stick Figure – Being an artist, I am very picky what I recommend! Sadly, many of the most popular curricula for teaching art are not what those who understand “good” art would recommend. Of course, we all know “good” is subjective, but that’s another topic. 😉 Anyway, when I found these online courses I was very excited about what I saw! These courses teach children how to create high quality art through simple projects that anyone can do.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain – This is a book I recommend to anyone who says they “can’t draw.” This is one of those classic books that has impacted many people because it teaches you how to draw what you actually see, not what you think you see. You may be surprised just how much your left brain is affecting your ability to draw! Even those with a natural gift will learn how to refine it and do some exercises to stay sharp. The corresponding workbook is also very helpful for practical application.
- Cake decorating
- Drawing, painting, sculpting with clay
- Creating graphics in Canva (note: Canva has a lot of design templates that are pro-homosexual, so be aware especially if you have younger kids)
Other Things that Don’t Fit Neatly Into the Prescribed Academic Boxes
Okay, so there were just some things that didn’t go anywhere nicely. I find that usually these are the best resources of all because they combine various subject areas and can’t be neatly put into a box…a truly lifeschooling approach!
Five in a Row – This is a fantastic curriculum for the younger years that uses a very gentle approach to teaching various subjects naturally through classic children’s books like Katie and the Big Snow and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, for example. We used it for a while and loved it! Then my S.O.S. (see above) kicked in and we were on to something else. LOL! But I keep meaning to come back to it again because we both loved it so much.
Scrabble – I was going to put this under the Language Arts heading, but this is a game that covers a lot more academic ground than you may realize at first glance. My youngest and I have had a lot of fun playing it this year, as he’s now graduated from the Junior version! First of all, vocabulary is a big part of the game. I have been amazed at the words and definitions he remembers from previous games! Of course, spelling is also covered well with this game. But have you stopped to think about multiplication? Those double and triple letter scores give lots of opportunities to practice multiplication facts. And of course, there is a lot of addition in counting up points and keeping score.
Frontier Christian Academy – I would highly recommend Frontier Christian Academy for a lifeschooling approach to online courses! My oldest son, Konur, took a course called “Econopolicy” a couple years ago and it was a fantastic experience for him! The courses are all designed to be “real” in nature, so that the child comes away not with just a grade on a course, but with an actual completed project that they can take into real life and use! My son’s project was to create a computer model for investing…and I know I’m not giving you nearly the full picture, but investing and computer programming are not my thing! 😉 He came away with so much knowledge, though, of not only investing, but also practical skills like using spreadsheets.
Life as a Lifeschooler resources – Finally, I wanted to share a few resources that will help you organize all your own curricula and resources into a vision for your lifeschooling! These are the core products we sell on the site and they are all 50% off for the entire month of August! This is the biggest discount I have ever done, so you don’t want to miss out! Click on the individual products below to see more details.
Lifeschooling Vision Planner
Who is This Child? Journal
Start Lifeschooling eBook
Lifeschooling Launch Kit
More and more families are joining the ranks of homeschoolers this year. With all of the uncertainty surrounding what public school will look like this fall, it’s no wonder parents are adding the role of educator to their list of parental duties.
One of the scary and overwhelming things about making the leap into homeschooling is the financial aspect of it. Curriculum can be expensive (although it doesn’t have to be) and one of the parents might have to quit their job or cut their hours to help make homeschooling a reality for their family. While working and homeschooling or being a one-income family is totally doable, it does require some sacrifice and sometimes that means tightening the budget.
I’ve teamed up with a great group of homeschool bloggers that would like to bless a few homeschool families this year and help lighten the financial load, even if it’s just a little. We wish we could bless more, but we will be able to give THREE families $200 to spend at Christianbook.com to buy curriculum, resources, and supplies for their homeschools.
To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Now I know this is quite a few entries, but each of these bloggers has generously chipped in their own money to make this giveaway possible, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries. And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are of winning!
Giveaway ends August 14, 2020 at 11:59pm ET. Must be at least 18 years of age. Must be a resident of U.S. or Canada to enter. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn. By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers (see the Terms & Conditions on the Rafflecopter form for the complete list).