Our Favorite Homeschooling Materials

posted in: Homeschooling, Large Family | 7

I’d love to have current photos of my children using our favorite homeschooling materials  but the reality is, I’m too busy and too tired right now to pull it off. I apologize, but that’s life right now. Instead I’ll share some old photos and links to the products we love.

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For reading and pre-reading:

Hezekiah sandpaper letters

Sandpaper letters, movable alphabet, Bob Books and The Letter Factory.

The Letter Factory story: A long time ago someone passed down to me an annoying, battery operated, gaudy plastic toy, with a zillion little pieces (letters of the alphabet). Exactly the kind of toy I hate. I fully intended to let the kids play with it a few days, then pass it on. But what happened was, I heard Mordecai singing the song: A says aa, A says aa, every letter makes aa sound A says a….Suddenly he was singing the sound of every letter of the alphabet. When I excitedly told Hilary, she said, “Yes, that’s the letter factory. I’ve been telling you you have to get the DVD for your kids…” In general I am against movies and videos for toddlers and preschoolers…however, my special needs son, with extra challenges and delays, was learning the alphabet…this was truly notable. So I borrowed the DVD’s and showed them to my kids.  Avi and Tucker began learning the letters and sounds as well. Let me state, I do think TV needs to me used in moderation with toddlers and preschoolers. However, I recognized this method as something that was working for Mordecai. So I used it for a brief time.


And speaking of young children’s brains, you really must, must, must read the book: Brain Rules for Baby. This is not a book about how to raise a “smarter” baby. This book is all about understanding how your baby and young child’s brain grows and develops.

IMG_6051_4717 blog

For those of you who asked about suggestions for “reluctant readers” I don’t have an answer. While I’ve had a few “late” readers, they have all developed a passion for it. It can’t be genetic, because even my adopted children are fervent readers (or pre-reading book lovers). Perhaps it’s the lack of TV, limited video games, plenty of freedom to roam our property,  etc. But I really don’t know. I will say, that one of my brothers, a brilliant man, has never read a book for fun. He used to (and I assume still does) read technical magazines and that sort of thing, but never a book for fun. Ever. He is now a talented multi-media professional who supports his family well and has never been to jail.

Tucker coloring

Art Supplies

Oh, how we love art supplies! I’ll list just a few of my favorites.

A few years ago, after being fed up with 86, 743 broken crayons all around my house, I made a drastic decision…and got rid of them all. I provided plenty of colored pencils. Faber-Castell are our favorite, for durability, color and a professional look. And for the younger ones, Lyra Color Giants are the best. We were crayonless for a while, until I discovered Stockmar crayons. They are expensive, but they are high quality and durable. My children have never broken one. My older children have spent hours with a Cartooning Kit similar to this one.

Our favorite drawing books are: the Drawing Textbook, anything by Lee Hammond.


Every homeschool with preschoolers should have: pattern blocks and a few books to go along with them. Wedgits and Architecto are must-haves for all ages.


Favorite games (right out of my children’s mouths): Risk, Monopoly, Creationary, You’ve Been Sentenced!, and Would Your Rather?.

Favorite math books:

What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras?, The Warlord’s Puzzle, Sir Cumference Books, and One Odd Day.

And there you have it. A few of our many, many favorites.

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7 Responses

  1. Renee this is so spooky! I just finished brain rules for baby and all the time I was reading it I kept thinking – this is like the bakers dozen blog!! You already follow all his suggestions! Am now reading Brain Rules too. TV has already gone off in our house & I’m busy making notes of all your resources for when Gabriel is bigger 🙂

  2. Renee, I feel like I keep saying the same thing in every comment I’ve left recently, but I’ll say it again. 🙂
    Thank you SO MUCH for this practical help and encouragement! We just got What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras?, and our oldest son (who was an enthusiastic math lover, but had recently gotten discouraged) ATE IT UP. It was incredible to see the sparkle in his eye again and to “see” the wheels turning in his head. He wanted more and more examples to practice with the Pythagorean Theorem so I gave him some more. And then, he sat down, during our afternoon quiet time, with his regular math book (Horizons 3, which we are slogging through) and cheerfully worked ahead about four lessons. Wow!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  3. Have your children tried playing ‘the settlers of catan’? It’s quite a fun game with nothing to horrible about it. However only 4 can play and the expansion kit allows two extra players so maximum six kids could play at a time.

  4. I love the Sir Cumference books. I only wish I was creative enough to make other equally helpful books about math concepts. Sometimes when I help students who are NOT in my class, I start acting out Lady Di of Ameter stretching across the table, and then I remember that they haven’t read the books and must think I’m nuts.
    Which, I am. haha.
    I also always have a funeral (complete with fake tears, eulogies, tissues, etc) for “Remainder” when we get into more complicated division, because I don’t want them ever using the remainder again! It’s a lot of fun and really clinches the deal. They aren’t tempted to use it again. I’m always trying to find ways to make math stick for kids who aren’t so good at it. Books that like that really help.

  5. Ah…the Letter Factor! Love that DVD. I think I picked it up at a thrift store, wondering if it would work. Asher, 3 at the time, watched it, and within a few wks. (probably less) knew every letter and every sound it makes!!! He reenancts every character when he is saying the sounds it makes, which is extremely adorable. So, I got the Word Factory, and Number DVD, and he is learning how to “spell” the words…like you, not into DVD’s/TV, but highly recommend this!!

  6. My eldest is only 2.5 and I’ve already bought several of your recommendations. I’m really looking forward to reading Brain Rules for Baby. We are thinking of home-schooling (school in the UK starts so early – he’ll only just have turned 4) so I’m already preparing. Thank you for these posts!

  7. Verity, Awesome!
    That book is the best.

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