by Joan Roberts
With the gas prices soaring and the
general cost of living escalating, you may be wondering how you can afford to
homeschool! But homeschooling has never been easier or cheaper. Our family has
always homeschooled and maybe like you we did it on a tight budget. But that is
ok because budgeting tends to make one more creative.
Buying used books at the thrift store quickly increased our library choices and
the kids’ interest
in reading. Toy departments at stores were never able to compete with the book
sections where our kids were concerned.
A few years ago we added a computer, scanner, printer and in general the “works”
to the school room. I didn’t know then how that would change our resource
avenue. There is no substitute for books; however, having access to so much
information has been quite a lot of fun. We started surfing the web when we
wanted extra material for select subjects and of course monitored the use of the
computer. I am not an advocate of computer games or one to encourage a lot of
computer time for the kids, but there is a huge variety of wholesome material to
read and to download. In fact, it was the free downloads that caught my
attention, so I started a favorites list and began emailing the sites to
This past week I was looking for additional activities to enhance my instruction
on the United States for our 10 year old daughter Laura. Like many children with
Down syndrome she needs lots of repeat material. She has been making progress
learning the state names by working her new United States floor puzzle. I wanted
to introduce the American flag so I typed in “United States flag coloring
pages.” I came up with a bigger choice than I had time to use or look at. This
search led me to my most favorite freebie site,
www.first_school.ws From there
you will see that you can choose puzzles, coloring pages, activities and
practice pages for preschoolers. It is easy to use and you can download and
print out worksheets in just seconds. We chose 2 pictures of the U.S. flag to
color and then got carried away finding pictures of our famous presidents and
reading activities to match! If you can stay up at night you can search out and
print what you want to use for the next day.
This first-school site is so great for repetition work. I can choose the letter,
number or counting practice page I need and print out enough to get her
perfected in the exercise. The pages have continuous dotted figures to trace on
the entire line. This is in contrast to the books I have found for sale which
only have a few figures and then the kids are expected to make their own. That
was very frustrating
for Laura; with these pages she has had a chance to build confidence before she
had to print or write the letters etc. on her own.
The counting pages I use have pictures of acorns and they are in neat rows,
which really aids in correct counting. There are also plenty of numbers under
each picture so the child can count and have plenty of writing practice. There
are also pages that can be printed in color with corresponding color names.
Recently I emailed the Dover Publishing company to request a catalog. I got the
catalog and an invite to free email downloads every Thursday. They have been
great and the choice is as fun as their books. If you need some busy work for
some of your older kids you can’t beat the pages here. Check it out!
If you check out chat rooms on homeschooling, you will come up with more ideas
from other homeschoolers. I use the
www.homesteadingtoday.com site. Go to the “classroom”. Then click on to the
moderator, Traci. Click on to her profile; then go to “all her posts”; when you
scroll down you will find where she listed her favorites. I downloaded all 40
pages before I realized how many there were!
I use a folder to keep the downloaded pages in; that is if I can get to them
before Laura sees them coming out of the printer. She is learning secretarial
skill through this. She’s gotten really proficient at arranging the pages into
I have found that thrift stores are still a super source for supplies; recently
I came across a box of 5000 sheets of copying paper, the kind with the
perforated edges. Of course these are outdated, but for $3.00 they were hard to
pass up. They were perfect to use for the download job and added to my savings.
To find more free downloads, add the words, “puzzle”, “games”, or “coloring
pages” to the main word of what you are studying and you will be surprised at
the instant resources you find and a lot of them are “free.”
Free Downloads for
Homeschoolers PART 2!
by Joan Roberts
I hate to admit it,
but I am finding the computer annoyingly fascinating for teaching resources.
When looking for something in particular I find myself surfing the net a little;
well, ok, a lot!
I came across this cool site called Teachnology, go to
www.teach-nology.com and you
will see why I am so excited about it. I love worksheets that are not cluttered
with tons of background images that confuse Laura and this site offers a big
choice of useful and free printouts on an array of topics. They also have
phonics worksheets if you need extra work in that area. There is a member option
and after I have exhausted all that they offer (and that is a lot) for free, I
may sign up! The fee is nominal, by the way.
Another discovery has been the Starfall Store, go to
www.starfall.com Here you can find some
fun stuff to use, especially if your kids like puzzles. You can either download
the puzzles or for kinesthetic learners, you can order them on line which would
also limit the computer time and be easier on the eyes. The puzzles are brightly
colored and each one concentrates on an individual vowel sound. This company
also has a variety of free downloads for other word practices, like word
searches, which are so helpful for repetition work. The ones I looked at were on
a beginner level.
Starfall has great deals on bulk orders; maybe those in your homeschool group
would like to know about this and order more than one set of readers and save a
bundle. The readers have photographs of “real” people, instead of cartoon
characters. In addition, this company offers a phonics course.
The absolute best site that I found while writing this article was
www.internet4classrooms.com. But watch out, you could get hooked on this one. I
was online until midnight just scanning through the choices! This is not just
for beginning learners. The site is broken down into subject territory and also
offers a teachers’ resource section. Each subject area has a minimum of 30 links
to look into and many of those have real neat games to play; one site has a
visual perception game that was pretty challenging. I did get a little carried
away playing it myself. For the visual discrimination games go to:
www.pitara.com There may be similar
games on other sites, you will just have to check them out or turn that project
over to the kids.
If you need a resource for getting started in homeschooling and you don’t want
to buy a curriculum, then I would suggest you look into Zoom School. Just type
in those words on the search bar and you will be equipped to teach your
elementary aged student thoroughly with a creative twist. This site can
definitely help you to avoid the temptation to create a “public-school-at-home
by enabling you to pick and choose what interests your kids the most, which in
turn plants the seed of extended learning.
In a situation of needing a more structured curriculum you will also find the
Zoom School very helpful. It offers activities in geography, biology, and
language arts, and also includes classroom helps, illustrated dictionaries, and
printouts, to boot. You will be amazed at the information that you can use. I’d
almost sell all of my books and just use the site! I’m just kidding; nothing can
replace having a book in your hand to read. But when you want worksheets quick
and have a printer, you can definitely enjoy the speed of the computer sources.