Resources for Indy Schoolers

I discuss my general ideas about homeschooling, and describe my favored core materials, in “Starting Your Homeschooling Journey.”

General-Subject Materials

Note: I don’t repeat this content in subsequent sections.

Core Knowledge has an extraordinary number of resources, many available as free pdf downloads, covering basic reading and writing, language arts, history, and science. See my write-ups for the various levels: PreK | Kindergarten | 1–8

Also, E. D. Hirsch, Jr., who is behind Core Knowledge, edited a set of books What Your [First] Grader Needs to Know, from preschool to sixth grade. These are excellent general readers. We also quite like the SRA Imagine It! readers, which available for the same grades. The books cover many of the same topics but usually using different materials. Often my wife reads from these books with our child before bedtime.

For younger kids (ages 2–7) the Khan Academy Kids app is excellent (and free).

For older kids (up through college), Khan Academy online offers a multitude of no-cost lessons in math, science, language arts, and economics.

Brain Quest offers fun and cheap workbooks for preK–6 covering the basics.

For more-advanced students, Open Culture lists 1,500 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Toddlers

My child absolutely loved Daniel Tiger up until the age of around five. It’s great for life-lessons about making friends, dealing with siblings, going potty, and much more.

Blippi, although silly, really does offer some educational content in his popular videos.

Reading and Writing

We had good success going through The Reading Lesson (Levin and Langton) to cover basic phonics.

I like Bob Books well enough for beginning readers. Bob Books also has several apps to teach reading.

Although I haven’t purchased any Flyleaf books (they’re fairly expensive), some people really like them. One really cool thing is that Flyleaf puts a number of its books online.

My five-year-old liked the ReadwithPhonics.com app. However, this does involve an annoying in-app purchase of around $10. (I’d rather they just sell me the app outright.)

See my notes about Lindsay Journo and Cornelia Lockitch’s excellent talk about nurturing young readers.

Writing and Composition

CrashCourse on YouTube has playlists on Composition and Linguistics.

Literature

Core Knowledge sells a set of 15 books as its Classics Collection.

Project Gutenberg offers over 60,000 free out-of-copyright ebooks, including many books popular among younger readers (as I’ve listed).

At Read with Me, teacher Lisa VanDamme takes readers through various great works of literature.

VanDamme Academy offers a great reading list by grade level.

See also my Literature category, where I review various individual works.

Math: Core Materials

I really like Dimensions Math.

DragonBox Math Apps are excellent for developing basic math skills. I love these, and so does my child.

MooMooMath and Science has videos on math.

CrashCourse on YouTube has playlists on Algebra and Data Literacy.

Math: Lesson Ideas

Fraction wheels for learning basic fractions.

Wooden cubes for learning counting and math functions up through exponents.

Triangles cut from foam sheets.

Perler Beads to create sets of 10 and 100 to teach digit placement.

Magformers for spacial reasoning.

A Spontaneous Lesson on Dimensions

Science: Core Materials

I like the Heinemann “Infosearch” science series for children. It’s out of print, but you might find used copies.

More coming soon . . .

Science: Lesson Ideas

Fun with Magnets and Electricity

Pocket LED Microscope

Science: Free Videos

Deep Look: Although these science videos (YouTube) are aimed at adults, my child loved them starting age 4.

It’s Okay to Be Smart: Science videos (YouTube).

Mystery Doug: Science videos aimed at children (YouTube).

National Geographic Kids has a great YouTube channel.

BBC offers Earth Unplugged.

Raising Da Vinci has a set of videos for simple science experiments you can do at home.

In addition to hosting an interactive online game, Adventure Academy has videos on science and math on Youtube.

Project Ianos offers videos about space exploration.

I haven’t watched much Smarter Every Day but some people love it.

Mark Rober discusses quirky science and engineering.

TedEd has a large number of videos on natural and social science. It even as a sequence on coding and logic puzzles.

Primitive Technology has some really interesting videos about making stuff (such as charcoal and a drill) with minimal technology.

MooMooMath and Science has a large number of short videos.

StoneAgeMan (Untamed Science) has some good science videos.

CrashCourse on YouTube has playlists on Chemistry and Organic Chemistry.

The Brain Scoop has videos on animals, geology, and more.

NASAJPL features educational videos about space; NASA also runs a STEM playlist and has tons of other videos on its main YouTube page.

Bright Side on YouTube has many videos, some of which are about science and some of which are appropriate for children. It has nice videos about (among other things) the nervous system, skin, lungs, heart, eyes, brain, digestive system, body (general), body (mysteries), and assorted anatomy facts.

Kurgesagt has scores of videos on science; but note that some of them are politically fraught and aimed at more-advanced audiences.

See also my article, “One-Off Science Videos.”

Science: For-Fee Videos

Generation Genius: Science videos for kids. (I regard these as excellent.)

Mystery Science: Video-based “open-and-go lessons on science for levels K–5.” Some content is free. Homeschooling subscriptions are available.

XPloration DIY Science with Steve Spangler: These videos are available through Amazon Prime. Spangler also has some videos on YouTube.

Emily Calendrelli‘s “Emily’s Wonder Lab” runs on Netflix.

Wild Kratts combines science education with entertainment. Some episodes are available for free online.

Odd Squad, on PBS Kids, is about a group of kids who “use math to investigate strange occurrences in their town.”

For details about various programs mentioned here, see my article, “Great Science Video Series.”

History

I really love the Curiosity Chronicles history books.

Core Knowledge offers many history books for free as pdf downloads.

PBS makes available various videos from Ken Burns.

Oversimplified on Youtube has videos covering the American Revolution, the Civil War, the World Wars, and other eras.

CrashCourse on YouTube has history playlists on European history, Big History, and Big History 2.

Social Studies

Kids in Other Countries features videos, dubbed in English, of children living in various places around the world. The stories presented are not representative, and the creator of the videos, Arnold Hansen, definitely has a (benign) agenda. Still, I think the videos can offer children a window into the lives of others living in very different circumstances.

Economics

Leonard E. Read’s classic story I, Pencil illustrates the complexity of our division-of-labor world. The essay is available in various formats, including pdf. See also a short video based on the story.

Marginal Revolution University offers many excellent video series on various economic topics.

Economist Tyler Cowen runs a great podcast (partly about economics. So does economist Russ Roberts.

Games (Online)

Cash Out offers practice in making change.

Games (Non-Digital)

Battleship teaches strategy and coordinates.

A Simple Dice Game for Adding and Subtracting (easier than Yahtzee)

Sum Swamp is a fun game for kids just learning to add and subtract.

Fun Projects

Dinosaur Dig: Carve toy dinosaur bones out of a plaster block.

Lego Kits teach spacial reasoning, basic mechanics, and the patient following of detailed directions.

I’ve reviewed some family-friendly films.

Podcasts for Kids

Smash Boom Best

Solve It! for Kids: Interviews with experts on scientific answers and solutions.

Podcasts for Parents

Passionate Homeschooler discusses homeschooling and interviews homeschoolers.

Schooled 2.0: Kevin Currie-Knight, a professor of education who specializes in self-directed learning, interviews experts in the field.

Learning by Living: “Gina Riley and Kevin Currie-Knight talk to unschoolers, homeschoolers, world-schoolers, staff at alternative schools, etc.”

See also my page, Individual Podcasts on Education.

Thoughts about Homeschool Parenting

How things seem to me . . .

My essay, Starting Your Homeschooling Journey, discusses scheduling, learning materials, autonomy, and reasonable boundaries.

My family’s homeschooling journey (my offsite article)

Fostering Kids’ Autonomy Works

A Day in the Life of an Independent Learner

I review the film Class Dismissed

Dads Homeschool Too

Why Interest Matters

See also the Parenting and Homeschooling categories for this site. (Note: These overlap.)

Tech in Education

Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe on Social Media

Everyschool compiles research on the use and effectiveness of technology in education.

Pedagogy

Learning about Human Progress—”The proper aim of education is to enable children to ably pursue their own values and live their own lives, not to convince children to embrace certain conclusions.”

Skepticism about Learning Styles

Montessori

I’ve always been interested in the Montessori approach but I never got too deeply into it. I really like the orientation toward self-directed learning; however, I worry that, at least for many children, the Montessori “environment” is needlessly and overly restrictive. I think I’m more tolerant of a messier “environment,” creative engagement with things, and unplanned activities. But maybe there’s something about the Montessori approach that I’m missing or misunderstanding. Also, I worry that a lot of “Montessori” products are just vastly more expensive versions of stuff I can easily make or buy cheaply elsewhere—but that’s a comment on certain sellers, not the Montessori method.

Anyway, the Montessori Print Shop offers a nice 53-page overview of the Montessori approach as a free pdf (in exchange for your contact information).

Wikipedia has an entry on Montessori education that offers an overview and numerous links.

Project Gutenberg has five books by Maria Montessori, including The Montessori Method.

The North American Montessori Teachers’ Association offers some good resources.

Chloë Marshall wrote a 2017 article evaluating Montessori education.

William Heard Kilpatrick’s critical 1914 book, The Montessori System Examined, is available through Google.

Self-Help

Our kids go through extraordinary physical and mental changes as they develop. It seems to me that most kids would do well to learn about how to manage those changes. Here are a few resources that I like.

Better than Yesterday has videos on finance, productivity, health, and more.