Here are some of the very best materials and resources that we found to be invaluable during our homeschooling experience!
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Homeschooling is a very cool journey! It is also potentially an overwhelming one; there are so many choices to make, steps to take, and in some cases, regulations to follow.
If you are just beginning the process, take a look at our post 5 Steps to an Easy Homeschool Start-Up + A Sample Letter of Intent. It will help get your feet firmly planted on the ground and and started on your homeschooling path!
As homeschooling has grown in popularity, the amount of materials and curricula that are available has also grown tremendously.
Deciding on what educational approach and materials to use is a very individual choice, and as terrific as it is to hear advice, in the end you have to choose what works for you AND don’t be afraid of changing it if it’s not working out!
That being said, here are the materials that we used successfully and recommend for others to take a look at as well.
We are entering our final year of homeschooling, (my daughter is a senior in high school this upcoming year) and I felt it was a good time to look back and reflect on what worked for us and may also work for you!
My friend that lives down the block started homeschooling her daughter when she entered the 4th grade (this year she will be in 11th grade).
I consulted with her about her favorite materials, programs and apps that she recommended, because we have very different kids!
Some of the materials and sites were the same that we used, but she also utilized many others that were very helpful for her daughter who has dysgraphia.
An educator herself, my friend was able to craft a well-rounded curriculum and find materials that were both appropriate and enjoyable for her daughter and highly successful for their homeschooling experience!
Here are the materials that we used and highly recommend for a successful homeschool experience.
25+ Homeschool Best Homeschool Resources and Materials to Be Successful
1. Home Learning Year by Year
by Rebecca Rupp
Home Learning Year by Year is without a doubt my hands-down favorite book that has been invaluable in getting organized, crafting an IHIP - Individualized Home Instruction Plan - and keeping our homeschool experience consistent.
In researching ways to homeschool, along with sifting through curriculum choices, I bumped into this book and it truly made everything else fall into place! Home Learning Year by Year is a curriculum guide and puts everything you need to cover in one spot.
Every grade and subject is addressed along with topics and subtopics which are outlined for every grade. In addition, there are suggestions for materials and it also offers ideas for project-based learning.
Home Learning Year by Year outlines what kids need to learn and when they they need to learn it.
It is perfect for helping homeschooling families create a customized curriculum that is comprehensive and checks all of the boxes.
I found it to be unquestionably the best resource for our homeschool education. I used it every single year when putting together our IHIP (Individual Home Instruction Plan) and referred to it consistently throughout the year.
In addition, I really liked that it was a guide and outlined everything very clearly and put it all in one place. It also aligned with state regulations, even for New York State- which is quite regulated.
by Workman Publishing
The Brain Quest workbooks are teacher-created, kid approved and were some of our favorites!
Designed by teachers, the Brain Quest Workbooks cover all of the bases and do it in a fun and engaging way!
The illustrated format is colorful, fun, clearly categorized by subject and includes fun extras like poster pullouts, a mini Brain Quest question and answer deck in the back as well as a completion certificate.
These workbooks are very affordable and if you have minimal space, they are a fabulous and concise way to feel confident that your child is on par with the learning expectations of his or her grade.
Even if you're just looking for something to just fill in the gaps or keep the learning rolling throughout the summer vacation, these Summer Brain Quest workbooks are a great choice!
We wrote a whole post on the Brain Quest materials, so if you want to read more, take a look at that Brain Quest post here.
The Brain Quest Question/Answer Decks are a super fun way to learn and/or review the concepts for each grade.
In addition to the age and grade level decks, there are other Question and Answer Decks such as Reading Comprehension, Brain Quest for the Car, Brain Quest America, Presidents and now Math Decks focused for 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades.
Why We Like The Brain Quest Q&A Cards:
Age and Grade-specific decks for toddlers through 7th grade.
The age/grade decks have every subject on every card.
They are portable; perfect for on-the-go or sitting on the couch!
Fun! The decks feel more like a trivia game.
In addition to grade level subject questions, other Question/Answer Decks are available for Reading Comprehension, America questions, For the Car and Math specific for 1st, 2nd & 3rd grades.
Even if your student is tired or needs a breather, these decks are easy and fun! You can do a couple of cards, or a whole bunch! They are an easy way to get in some review or introduce a new concept.
Is your child interested in learning another language? Duolingo is great!
We really did plenty of hands on (read: non-screen) learning materials and experiences, so when it came time to look for a foreign language program, I was perfectly fine with using the computer and/or an app).
There are many foreign language programs out there and truthfully, we didn’t try them all. We did, however, give plenty of them a whirl and Duolingo was the one that my daughter really liked and stuck with. She's been using it for 6+ years.
Here are our Pros and Cons for Duolingo:
There are many languages to choose from
Super fun format - The lessons have cheery little motivational messages and characters that make it fun!
Works for a variety of ages
Many levels -from beginner to proficient
Includes speaking and writing
Saves your progress
Subscription sends weekly progress reports to you email
It is available online and as an app
The pacing is very good for kids (and adults!)
Placement texts available as part of program in the event that the student has some prior knowledge.
They have a free two week trial.
There are some ads and if you want the free version, or to get the full non-ad version, you have to pay a monthly subscription fee.
There is much debate online which is the best language program and style of teaching and according to those folks, Duolingo may not bring the learner to a fully conversational level BUT, the learner will definitely become very proficient (as I've witnessed first hand!).
Aimed more at the younger set - Side Note: I did a few lessons in French and I really liked it! I'm not going to tell you how old I am, but I did the college /post grad route years ago and found Duolingo to be very fun!
A Note: When my daughter took a college French class in her junior year of high school, it was a breeze because of her time spent using the Duolingo app.
(for the younger set!)
Choosing to homeschool also meant me not going back to work (I was a teacher for many years before the stay-at-home mom/homeschool thing happened!)
Being strategic with our finances was a given, including of course, which educational books and materials we could purchase. Fortunately, many great materials can be found at the dollar store and library!
These Disney Workbooks and Flashcards were at the dollar store and are a fun way to cover some of the basics! Whether your student likes Cars, Toy Story or Disney Princesses, the Disney characters are sure to be a hit!
Basic reading, writing and math skills are covered in these colorful and engaging workbooks!
6. Typing Club
When I was in high school, my mom insisted that I and my brothers take a typing class (this was back when they had typing classes, of course!). She was absolutely right to encourage this.
Learning to type made it possible to write quickly and efficiently. Whether it’s an email or a blog post, research paper or Etsy shop description, typing is something that I use all the time!
I, in turn, encouraged my daughter to learn to type; she tried out a couple of programs and the Typing Club was one that she liked.
The Typing Club had very good pacing with the lessons and it was also a nice change from the regular academics! I liked how well it divided everything up into lessons and I REALLY LIKED how you could keep the sound on to make it sound like a typewriter! Very cool!
7. The Magic Tree House Book Series
by Mary Pope Osborne
I first bumped into The Magic Tree House series back when I was working as a reading program facilitator in an elementary school.
The reading program at my school used trade books (regular books that you see in bookstores or libraries) for all of the reading levels and The Magic Tree House book series was a huge hit with both teachers and kids!
The Magic Tree House Book Series follows siblings Jack and Annie as they travel through time and take part in many adventures!
This popular book series has two levels:
The Magic Tree House books are for ages 6 - 9
The Merlin Missions are for ages ages 7-10
Also available are the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers. Filled with facts, illustrations, photos and more, these nonfiction guides are independent titles, but pair perfectly with the Magic Tree House stories.
They are a terrific way to round out the nonfiction aspect that goes along with the adventures!
Well-written and high interest, this best-selling chapter book series is well-paced, and appeals to both boys and girls. The story lines incorporate a wide variety of topics that are sure to capture your student's imagination and pique their interest in history!
8. Teaching Textbooks
Online Math Curriculum for Grades 3 through PreCalculus
Teaching Textbooks is a great online curriculum that has excellent instruction broken down into very digestible bits!
Math is difficult for this mom! I'm solid with the basics, but once we get past fractions, it's headache-central! Teaching Textbooks is a great online curriculum that has excellent instruction broken down into very digestible bits!
Teaching Textbooks also does the record keeping for you! Huge bonus!!
Below are a couple of screenshots from different lessons/levels. They incorporate fun visuals along with the learning portion to keep kids engaged!
Teaching Textbooks also does the record keeping for you! Huge bonus!
According to my daughter, here are her favorite reasons she liked using Teaching Textbooks for Algebra:
Easy to understand
Good progression of lessons
Explained the concepts well and gave ample time to practice and absorb them
Integrated and wove in earlier concepts into the newer concept
Would also do early intro to upcoming concepts
For each lesson, if you didn't understand or forgot something, you could go back and review it without losing your spot.
There is a button for the grade book and for each lesson you can see how well you did (raw score & percentage).
They have fun little embellishments that make it cheery like switching out the background, and changing the little character (like the squirrel below!) that gives hints!
I really wish we had bumped into Teaching Textbooks earlier because it was super helpful!
Math was never my strongest subject and this website really made learning math fun and was presented in a well-organized and accessible way!
9. The Library
If you weren't a fan of the library before, now would be a good time to break out that library card and make use of it!
Our public libraries are fabulous resources and are absolutely free!
Libraries are filled with books, audio books, movies, documentaries, periodicals, magazines, programs and knowledgeable librarians that are willing to share information and answer questions!
We made many trips to the library and still do! We didn't have the space nor the finances to purchases all of the books that we've read over the years and were grateful to have access to public libraries!
10. Khan Academy
Khan Academy has all of the academic subjects that you will probably ever need and they're completely free!
I am okay with teaching/helping with certain subjects and levels, but others- not so much! Kahn Academy is good at all of them! Takes the stress out of teaching things you're not the best at!
Video tutorials and lessons, regular text paragraphs, questions, quizzes and tests are all included in this free site that is great for homeschool students, parents and teachers!
Khan Academy has all of the academic subjects that you will probably ever need and they're completely free!
From Pre-K to college courses, AP coursework to test prep for the SAT and LSAT, this is a great website that has a lot to choose from!
My daughter took advantage of the math instruction (Geometry, Algebra and Trigonometry), World History, Science, American History and the SAT Prep.
Khan Academy also has added Life Skills to their course offerings. This is a newer addition and I'm very excited about it!
Academics are great, but I've always believed that the traditional educational setting often leaves out some very important aspects of learning - Life Skills.
Khan has you covered! Here is a round up of the courses Khan Academy is offering for Life Skills:
Each one of these Life Skills has subtopics that really help fill in some of those gaps, answer questions and offer videos and interviews to give students a good look at each topic.
Khan Academy is a terrific resource that we had heard about from another homeschooling family and have really found it to be very useful!
11. The Science Teacher's Activity-A-Day
Over 180 Reproducible Pages of Quick, Fun Projects that illustrate Basic Concepts
The Science Teacher's Activity-A-Day book is designed for grades 5-10, uses simple materials and supplies and thoroughly illustrates basic scientific concepts.
It has 16 sections that cover subtopics in physical, science, life science and earth science.
If you're looking for labs to go along with your science courses for grades five through ten, The Science Teacher's Activity-A-Day book is a good choice!
12. Tutor in a Book's Geometry
Check out the reviews for Tutor in a Book's Geometry; this book is a really great addition to your homeschooling library! If you're looking for a terrific step by step text, this is very well done.
My daughter basically taught herself geometry using this book. I am not great at math, but I'm pretty good at finding effective learning materials...and that's what I did!
Tutor in a Book's Geometry gets the job done very well. We both recommend it!
13. Big Fat Notebooks
by Brain Quest
Yes, here's another fabulous resource by Brain Quest! What can I say? They have great materials!
The Big Fat Notebooks are terrific for Middle School and High School. The ones pictured above are the Middle School books.
Again, the Brain Quest Big Fat Notebooks are comprehensive, organized, perfect for both standalone homeschool learning or as a supplemental option to another curriculum.
These "Everything You Need To Ace..." Big Fat Notebooks are available in English Language Arts, Science, Math, American History and Computer Science and Coding.
Workman Publishing has also released Big Fat Notebooks for Pre-Algebra and Algebra I, Geometry, Biology and Chemistry. Terrific resources and very affordable!
14. Practical Life Skills and Projects to Learn!
by Sharon and David Bowers
Somewhere along the way, life skills took a backseat to academics. But, that doesn't change the fact that everyone needs to have these skills!
Home Ec for Everyone and Shop Class for Everyone are the perfect practical life skill DIY books for your students!
From how to cook rice to how to fix a rip in your jeans, Home Ec for Everyone covers 118 projects and home-related skills you never knew you needed until it's time for you to take on that chore and make sure you don't go hungry!
Shop Class for Everyone covers over 80 projects and skills you need with illustrated and step-by-step instructions to get the job done!
Whether you have to play plumber by stopping that dripping faucet or looking to learn home repair essentials, this book is chock full of everything you'll need!
A few more books that we used...
There are so many great art books out there! Here are just a couple!! I will definitely revisit this and add more!
In addition to books and online resources, we incorporated museum visits, hikes, dance, outdoor sports and activities, Scouts, local programming and whatever else was close and free or low-cost!
(Above)- Our visit to the New York Historical Museum and Library - this Tiffany Lamp exhibit is upstairs and was AMAZING! (note: photo is Pre-Covid)
And, here are the materials recommended by my neighbor:
Like us, she also used and highly recommended...
The Magic Tree House Books
Teaching Textbooks (see link above)
The Library, of course!
Reading / English
Knowjiapp - Vocabulary app where words come to life!
Marcia Williams books - Ages dependent on topic - some of the books are okay for younger, some topics like Shakespeare: 8 - 12 - save some of the topics for older end of the student range.
All the Dragon Box Apps for math- it helped visualize algebra
Smart Pirates: Kids Learn Math
Algebra Touch - available on Apple; animated lessons and Multi sensory- effective for students with learning disabilities.
Flash cards online
Percent Bingo - Fluency Practice for Fractions, Decimals and Percents
Endangered Animals for statistics
History / Social Studies
Liberty's Kids dvd
If You... book series - America series
George vs. George: The Revolutionary War as Seen by Both Sides
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales- All Graphic Novels --middle school - American and World History
Icivics - Website and multiple apps available, free games & lessons, the Constitution and geography included
CK12.org for math and science - it's free, books online and explains things thoroughly
The Amoeba Sisters - for high school biology - two teachers had kids and created the Amoeba Sisters! (cartoons, lesson plans and more!)