Monday, November 21, 2011

Some great ebook finds for homeschooling

I prefer real hard copy paper books to ebooks any day.  There is nothing like a feeling of reading or even paging through a favorite book or looking at beautiful illustrations or seeing a child do the same.  It's certainly one of my favorite pastimes.  I just love books and ebooks and kindle files are just not the same.  But having said that, there are quite a few advantages to utilizing ebooks in one's home education.  Because it is cheaper to produce ebooks, pdf ebook files are often more cost effective than their paper counterparts, probably even if one uses a printshop service to print them out.  The fact that they are instantly downloadable, especially if one lives somewhere where books in english are harder or more expensive to obtain is also a huge plus.  If the book is a workbook type of a book, it's simpler to use it with multiple children, one simply can print out more than one copy of each lesson, so these books are not consumable which only diminishes the over all cost of the ebook.  Also, the information available in these ebooks is not always available from other sources. These books are often written by other homeschooling parents or educators sharing their experience, expertise and passion for their subject, which make the information provided all that more valuable. In addition, sample lessons or pages are often provided, so one could get a good feel for what one is getting.   So here are a few interesting ones I came across recently which I am considering buying at some point to enhance our studies.
Roots and Fruits Vocabulary Curriculum for K-12 -  I was looking for a good roots based way to teach vocabulary or really for any good way to enrich the children's vocabulary, in addition to just reading good books.  This program looks very promising, it gives a parent a nice framework for how to teach the above for different age groups, it's not very time consuming or labor intensive, doesn't require any exotic materials and one can plug in one's own vocabulary words if so desired or one can use the words supplied.  It's compatible with the Charlotte Mason/Classical education type approach.  Out of everything I've seen so far I like this program best and compared to the other pricey things out there, this one is very cheap.  No need to buy many workbooks or study guides or anything else -a no frills, customizable program which packs a great educational punch.
Writing with the Best I and II - another interesting looking curriculum from the same author as Roots and Fruits.  This one teaches great descriptive writing through modeling techniques of great world literature.  Again short lessons are used to teach grammar, proof reading, literary analysis, listening comprehension among other things in addition to good writing, using varied genre of literature.  Again, this program can be used with multiple ages and later applied to one's personal choices of literature.  This writing program is CM/Classical HS compatible. So this too looks very promising.
Here are another two helpful books for CM/Classical homeschooling -Delightful Dictation With Spelling and The Dictation Treasury by C.S. Fairfax, great for copywork, dictation and teaching spelling in context. Both are available as cheaper ebooks from, can be used with multiple age groups, customized for one's personal tastes and generally make things easier for both students and parents without sacrificing quality. 
The Phonics of Drawing - I've been looking for a drawing course that was engaging, comprehensive enough, easy to teach and affordable.  I haven't been able to find something comprehensive enough among all the free art lessons available online, especially for the elementary age.  We've tried Drawing With Children but I've been unable to use it with the kids successfully on a consistent basis.  There are blogs by a few homeschooling moms that made their own lessons to go with the book which I might use in addition to this program or afterwards.  This program though, looks more user friendly for what I think we need right now.  So I am very excited about this find.  There are also other courses available on the same site, if one wants to continue further - watercolor painting, working with pastels and other media, etc.  There are cheaper and more expensive options for later on but for the beginners there seem to be quite a few affordable options to try out.
Drawing on History here is another interesting idea for combining the study of art and history.  It's for an older age group but I think it might be adaptable for an upper elementary age or modified.   Either way it's something to consider.
And finally here is a link to a set of ebooks that teach one to map the world  by heart using various techniques.  I've been eyeing Mapping The World By Heart on amazon for a number of years but it remains very expensive.  Yet, it is something I really wanted to do with my children.  So this option looks good - using simple lines and mnemonic devices the author  teaches one to recreate world maps from memory, he says he used this program successfully teaching his children aged 8 and 9, to memorize  the whole thing within a few months. I think this might be something we might enjoy.  We happen to have a few real geography enthusiasts around here:) I've read in a few places that map drawing, coloring, etc is a good way to teach chilldren geography during the elementary years.
So here are my latest ebook finds of interest.  Enjoy!


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