My favorite homeschool resources

I’m often asked to share what homeschool resources we use and until recently my reply usually fell flat. I’d say something like, “We use living books and learn a lot through doing!” It’s true, we do! However, there is a lot more to it. I’ve spent countless hours researching (and experimenting) with different materials, programs, curriculums, and philosophies. From unschooling to 3-day a week co-ops, it seems we’ve done it all. Through this experience, I’ve garnered a healthy list of resources that work for us. Take a look, some of them may work best for you too!


If you’re familiar with the Charlotte Mason philosophy, then you’ve probably heard of AmblesideOnline. AmblesideOnline (AO) is a free K-12 homeschool curriculum that uses Charlotte Mason’s classically-based principles. This curriculum is robust and flexible. You can follow their detailed schedules completely or (do like I do) and use the booklists and your kids’ learning styles to make it your own.

  • Booklists – I absolutely love the living books that have been curated by the AO advisory and I use these lists to build our own home library. Reading and studying these books constitutes a large part of our homeschool rhythm.
  • Artists and Composers – we follow the AO rotation schedule, rotating through artists and composers each term. There are many ways to study artists and composers, we find that intentionally listening to the composer’s best works and keeping an artist study book (more on this, later) in the car has the most impact.
  • Folk Songs and Hymns– AO also provides a rotation schedule for folk songs and hymns. We discovered, however, that we enjoy listening to this music more often than just during our studies. So, we made playlists of all the songs (for all years) and listen to that throughout the day – while cleaning, while riding in the car, or while doing project work.

Tea + Riches

In the morning, before the kids get into their individual studies, we gather around the table (or the couch or out in the yard, depending on the day) with a cup of tea. I use this time to read and study certain works from our homeschool resources with the kids. I keep a stack of books or materials that I want to cover and go through them at a pace deemed appropriate by me, at that time. The staples, those that are always part of the rotation, include:

  • Studying scripture – we like The Scriptures and the Cepher because both these version transliterate the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit without substitution. The Cepher also contains the Apocrphya and presents the books in the chronological order of their writing.
  • Shakespeare – perhaps some people can successfully read-aloud Shakespeare’s plays in a way that makes sense. I could not! Saying each character’s name before their dialogue definitely took away from the experience. So, when we discovered Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb it was a game changer! It was written for the young reader, but maintains many of the olde English words and style, and works great as a read-aloud for all ages.
  • Plutarch’s Lives – we love Plutarch for studying culture, society, and history. Plutarch’s Lives is a collection of writings about 53 famous Greeks and Romans, including births, deaths, and important events. We’ve read straight from Plutarch’s writings, and we’ve used study guides. One of our favorites, and what we’re currently using, is the Annotated Plutarch by Rachel Lebowitz.

Classification File Folders

I was looking for a solution to keep the kids’ daily checklists, lyrics, recitations, and other oft used homeschool resources together in one place. Then, I remembered these cool folders that I used for target packages when I was a soldier in the US Army. They’re perfect! Here’s what we keep in ours:

  • Daily checklist
  • Master booklists
  • Folk songs and hymns
  • Project list

The kids use these every day to keep track of what they’re reading and what they’ve done. It helps keep everyone on track and mostly self-led while they’re engaged in their individual studies.

Reading Journal

Each child has a journal for narrations, timeline, and map work. Any lined notebook will work, but I like to let each child pick out their own Decomposition Book at the beginning of the year. The written narrations are a short synopsis of what they’ve read that day. Books that are not considered “free-reads” require a daily written narration. Narrations should include dates (timeline) and places (map). If they’re not familiar with the place then they’re encouraged to look it up on their own or work with me (or a sibling) to find it on a world map. The journal is theirs – it’s their notes, their re-tellings, their relevant doodles. I do not correct any spellings or grammar nor require perfect handwriting. I should be able to read it though, and I do check in to make sure they’re on track.

Essay Journal

Each child has a journal for essays. This is different than their reading journal. In this journal, I will write a question or topic at the top of the page, and they will answer it in essay form. Sometimes the topics are light-hearted such as, “Tell me about the best birthday you’ve ever had!” and sometimes they require multiple days of research, such as “What do you believe are the primary factors that lead to juvenile delinquency. Use facts to support your claim.” Through this the kids hone their research skills, they practice conveying their thoughts through the written word, with a focus on grammar, spelling, and penmanship. Each child writes one essay per week. Once complete, I identify grammar or spelling errors and address areas for improvement in composition. These journals stay with them from year to year and are something we’ll always hold on to, so we use something a bit more substantial (like this) that will stand the test of time. I love how these essays let me get to know each of them better!

Math Resources

We’ve used Teaching Textbooks, Saxon Math, Masterbooks, Beast Academy, Life of Fred, and Learn Math Fast. Phew! That’s a lot of math curriculums and there are so many more. The bottom line is that you’ll have to try different options to figure out what works for you and your child. We learned that nobody liked to math online and the more traditional textbooks and workbooks weren’t a great fit. Our favorites are Learn Math Fast and Life of Fred.

Short Lessons

This is probably more of a method than a resource, but it is key to our successful and productive homeschool days! We keep each lesson or subject relatively short and age appropriate. This means that my child in year four may spend 15 minutes on a math lesson while his 17-year-old brother sets a timer for 30 or 45 minutes. The purpose of short lessons is to keep attention focused on the subject at hand while building attention spans and without becoming mentally overwhelmed or bored.


Again, project-based homeschooling (based on the Reggio Emilia approach to education) is more of a method than a strict resource. But, I’m going to list is anyways. We always have ongoing interest-led projects as part of our homeschool rhythm. Projects only have two rules: 1) they must have a tangible result, and 2) only one individual project at a time. I help by “guiding and providing” materials, direction, and collaboration when needed. These projects allow my kids to experiment with different interests that may not otherwise make it into our homeschool curriculum. For instance, my daughter took a college course and received a certificate in natural healing as a recent project. One of my sons is working towards his ham radio license. My youngest is currently writing a fictional children’s book about our chickens!

Additional Homeschool Resources

I’m constantly on the lookout for homeschool resources. Here are answers to frequently asked questions regarding the homeschool resources we use!

Where can I find classic living books?

How do you repair old books?

This book repair tape works great to keep old bindings together and to repair torn pages. Some of the books we find are very old and well-loved but none of them are off-limits. The best books are the books you read!

What’s the best printer for homeschoolers?

The best printer is the one that saves you money on ink! We use the Epson EcoTank ET-3850 and it serves us well.

What do you use to keep track of time?

To keep track of time and ensure short lessons each kid has their own cube timer. They’re pre-set for 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes which is much easier than having to manually set the time intervals.

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