archive [ site home | current homeschool site ]

Home (Current posts)

Archives (by month and category)

Feed (RSS)

NOTICE ON PICS - All pics on this blog (unless otherwise stated) are my personal work. DO NOT take pics from this blog without seeking my permission first! Bless you.

Welcome to my blog. It is updated weekly with pictures and projects from our homeschool - maybe you can find something to inspire you :) I have a (no longer updated) materials page elsewhere on my website and will, occasionally, post my homemade materials in this blog.

I'm married to Tim (delivery driver and gorgeous musician), have 2 daughters, live on the south coast of the UK and have 1 aging cat (Hemmingway or Hemmy for short). I love reading, yoga, crafts, baking, daft old comedies, music and teaching.

On this page you can find my homeschool blog, if you want to read my general, day-to-day blog, click the link below :)

My NOT Homeschool Blog!

Our Homeschool Room
View Our Homeschool Room in 3B!

Great Links:

Hands of a Child

Homeschool Share


Nature Detectives


website statistics

NOTE ON PICTURES: This shouldn't be necessary but I have, sadly, noticed growing cases. Please DO NOT link directly to pictures on this website - it steals my bandwidth and is BAD! I CAN trace you if you do and I will take action.

Monday, January 24, 2011


This post has been deleted.

Posted by Sarah at 10:58 AM [ permalink ]
Categories: Homeschooling


Thursday, January 06, 2011

New website

It's been a year now since I got my new website - a year and it's STILL not ready :( I'm annoyed at myself. However, it IS coming FINALLY. I'm working on having the whole thing done by the end of February and, as mentioned before, the first thing to go on it will be my blog. I'm leaving the archives of this one here and putting in a link so that new visitors can go straight to the new one. I'll be starting the blog from scratch, not taking everything else with me!

So, this is the last post on this blog. The new blog address will be:

Posted by Sarah at 10:32 AM [ permalink ]
Categories: Homeschooling


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas to all my readers!

Posted by Sarah at 11:40 AM [ permalink ]


Monday, December 13, 2010

Victorian Christmas

If you want some last minute activities to do with your kids AND teach some history at the same time, the BBC has a fantastic collection of videos, templates and ideas for all sorts of Victorian Christmassy things.

Gorgeous and educational - well worth a look :)

Posted by Sarah at 7:47 PM [ permalink ]
Categories: Cultural


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Free complete curriculum

Following on from my last links, here are some for COMPLETE curriculum (ie all subjects with no need to add in anything else), in different formats - video lessons, printables, games etc.

NeoK12 - Grades K-12 - video lessons, games and some printables. You can create a free account and create playlists and keep track of your childs viewings, games completed etc.

What 2 Learn - KS3 and 4 - Games based learning and printables - from their website "What2Learn is a national award-winning interactive learning solution which provides effective educational resources and revision games. "

Ambleside Online - K-12 - Charlotte Mason based curriculum. Something I've always wanted to use but never quite got to grips with! Great if your family likes reading A LOT. I was in 2 minds whether to include this as you will have to provide your own maths curriculum - there is, however a completely free maths curriculum (all years/grades) here at MEP.

Clickschooling - K-12 - This is a great curriculum if you want something a little more low-key and prefer to focus on 1 subject per day (leaving the rest of the time free for more self directed learning). You can sign up for the newsletter and get 1 web based curriculum idea per day (Mon-Sat) in your inbox. The system works on Mon-Maths, Tues-science, Weds-Language Arts, Thurs-Social Studies, Fri-Virtual Field Trip and Sat-Music/Art/Foreign Languages. The only drawback with this is that you don't know what your getting (grade wise) until it arrives so if the link that arrives isn't suitable for your child's age/ability, I suggest you visit the archives for that day and find an alternative.

Lesson Pathways - K-5. You set up your "pathways" for each subject then simply follow them through. Each pathway contains all the links, materials and ideas you need for the lessons. I would say with this that, looking through it, it would seem academically quite challenging. It's just my opinion, but I think you could easily "bump" this up by a grade or 2 and it would work brilliantly, meaning you could use it up to grade 6 or 7.

Little City Kids Perspective - K-2 (although, I've taken some of the ideas from this and EASILY adapted them for my older daughter). Loosely Montessori-based. Curriculum based on a timeline of history from Dinosaurs right through to "That's Like Awesome" (a study of the 1980's!) Everything included - writing, art, craft, history and science however you will need to supplement with maths for an older child.

Milestones Academy - K-12. Charlotte Mason-esque curriculum with a Montessori slant for early years (yes, really!) Is Christian but you can work round this if you don't want that as it's not overtly-so.

Speyer School Curriculum - K-8 - Vintage but very, very lovely. Charlotte Mason in flavour, easily followed outlines for each grade with book suggestions.

EZ School - K-12 - Worksheet based, not the most inspiring or exciting to be honest but it's free.

Montessori 6-9 - Full curriculum albums for 6-9 year olds, all subjects - bear in mind that Montessori is VERY advanced and introduces concepts at a much younger age than traditional schools. If you want to use this style of learning but don't want to push your child too much I suggest looking through it and "bumping up" if necessary. Same for the 3-6 curriculum below.

Montessori 3-6 - See above!

Free World U - K-12 - E-flashcard learning - all subjects - sounds lame but, at first inspection, actually seems pretty good. Would DEFINATELY need to be supplemented with hands on activities away from the computer but, as a basic core curriculum, is excellent.

Head of Class - K-8 - talked about this in previous post - will eventually cover all grades from k-8, currently k-4 with grade 5 due this month sometime.

Old Fashioned Education - K-12 - based on vintage books, Charlotte Mason/classical style.

Mater Amabilis - Currently K-8 although their website seems to suggest that it will, eventually go right through to grade 12. Charlotte Mason based with book suggestions for both US and UK users so good in that respect.

Free maths curriculum - now, at the start I said these were complete but some DO require supplementing with a maths curriculum (mostly the Charlotte Mason type ones). Just my pennies worth, but I feel with maths curriculum (more than ANY other subject) you need to place your child based on ability NOT age - for most homeschoolers that probably doesn't need saying but (iI know from personal experience!) there is sometimes a "fear" about keeping your child in their right grade level regardless of their ability. Here are some that are free:

MEP - mentioned above - all grades - hands on and workbook style lessons.

Math Moves U - Grades 6-9/10 (depending on ability of your child) - game based but also contains Math Moves University where you can download free worksheets to go with the online games. Good fun :)

Math Frog - Grades 4-6 - game/worksheet based curriculum.

Wired Math - Currently grades 7-9 but grade 10 due to be added in 2011 sometime. Game/worksheet based.

Math Instructional Resources - K-12 - lesson ideas for all grades plus weekly, self directed challenges - lots of hands on ideas here.

Math ABC - 1-6 - Online maths practice for all topics.

Khan Academy - No fixed grades are given and, I suspect, this would be better for older children who, perhaps, experience maths difficulties - see comments below) - video lessons from basic maths right through algebra. If you set up an academy account (with Facebook or iGoogle), you can follow the suggest path through all the levels/topics. Once you gain 10 correct answers the system allows you to move on to the next level. The route suggested is totally unlike anything I've ever seen - it starts with basic (very basic!) addition, then goes through some basic subtraction, multiplication and division before moving on to adding decimals (I guess they figure that it's a natural follow on from adding whole numbers and that does make sense), subtracting and multiplying decimals and then adding/subtracting negative numbers. Sounds confusing but I actually think it might work! Easiest to go see for yourself :)

Posted by Sarah at 12:46 PM [ permalink ]
Categories: Homeschooling


Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Maybe you know these maybe you don't but here are some great links for homeschool I discovered recently :)

Science projects - LOADS of

Maths Instructional Resources - all grades

Maths Stars Newsletter - for grades 1 - 8, these are brilliant for self directed work

Problem Solving Cards - for grades 1 - 8, again, great for self directed work

Superstars Maths Problem Solving Programme - Grades k - 8 ditto!

Head of the Class - FREE multimedia curriculum for all subjects - currently grades k - 4, 5th grade due some time this month with 6th, 7th and 8th due Spring next year.

Maths Practice Problems - for grades 1 - 8

Writing Fun - free, online, text organisers

Posted by Sarah at 6:49 PM [ permalink ]
Categories: Homeschooling


Monday, November 08, 2010

Website news and Lulu sale :)

First, a quick update on my new website. I'm going to try and move the blog over there sometime in the next couple of weeks but some of the other things like materials and grade level web pages MAY have to wait until after Christmas .... we'll see! Things are slow at the moment - I'm REALLY tired (not sleeping well) and there is, obviously, a lot of pre-Christmas preparations going on. Anyhow, I've made some final decisions about my materials and selling/not selling. Here goes :)

  1. All materials currently on the "general homeschool materials" page on THIS site, will continue to be FREE on the new site.
  2. My older Montessori materials (those I made over 3 years ago) will all be available FREE on the new site
  3. Some of the newer materials (made in the last 3 years) will be available FREE.
  4. My newer materials plus the larger ones (those which involved huge amounts of work to make - phew!) will be available at a very low price.

I am trying to make as much of my stuff available free as possible but also want to be fair on myself because I do put much work into these :)

Anyway, quite a few of my materials are currently on Lulu (link at the top of this page) and, until the new website is up and running, I'm reducing the cost of some of these in a little sale (watch out for some more being added in the next few days!) I'm intending to keep Lulu as well as my website shop for 2 reasons - firstly, the purchaser can download straight away rather than have to wait for me to send and, secondly, I can apply discounts more easily - which I hope to do lots! :)

Here are the links to the currently discounted materials - just click on the buy now buttons to go to full descriptions:

Periodic Table of Elements set - Huge set of 97 pages containing 3 part cards, flashcards, build-your-own period table (huge, on the floor!) and sorting activity). This is normally £3.75 but is currently on sale for £2.81. Support independent publishing: Buy this multimedia on Lulu.

Food Groups Set - picture and heading sorting cards for the main foods groups, posters/control cards and a set of riddle cards - normally £2.50, now £2.12. Support independent publishing: Buy this multimedia on Lulu.

Grammar Materials Set - A set of grammar symbols to "map" sentences, a grammar farm (pictures and word labels) to introduce nouns, verbs, adjectives, articles and conjunctions, grammar symbol 3-part cards and a gorgeous set of picture/sentence cards to practice mapping with the grammar symbols. Instructions for these materials included. normally £3.00, now £2.25. Support independent publishing: Buy this multimedia on Lulu.

Lastly, my pink level reading cards - These were lost away in the depths of my archives so I dusted them off and have put them up for sale. They will normally be £4.00 but are currently (because they're new and in a new font than my older materials), discounted at £2.80. There are 9 files included here (including instructions). Support independent publishing: Buy this multimedia on Lulu.

Oh, and one final thing - as an added incentive to go shop, the first person (from today) that purchases one of the discounted items can choose from any of the other (non discounted) items for free. Just let me know in a Lulu message which item you want and I'll send it to you :)

Posted by Sarah at 10:30 AM [ permalink ]
Categories: Homeschooling


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Am I excited?

You bet I am! :)

After literally MONTHS of umming and aaahing, I'm finally going to start getting on with my new website but NOT in the format it was originally going to be in which was a webstore. Basically, I've decided to give our homeschool its own website! I'll have our blog there, separate pages for the grades our kids are in and (wait for it!) FREE downloads! I will have ALL our educational materials on there - ebooks, downloads that are currently on the materials page on this site AND all our Montessori materials.

This is something I've given huge thought to. There are waaay too many sites charging for materials and, to put it bluntly, a lot of them have far more professional looking materials to mine. From a purely business point of view the market (especially for pdf Montessori materials) is fairly saturated. From a personal, "me" point of view - well, it was always my intention to make things for free download. However, I became demoralised when so many of my materials were taken and then passed off as something made by someone else or, even worse, sold on.

I've come to the conclusion that, sadly, that is the world we live in - there will always be dishonest people who think nothing of effectively stealing someone else's hard work. I COULD charge for things as a way of making myself feel slightly better about the "thefts" but I won't because I don't want to. It doesn't make ME feel good - I WANT to give, not sell. If I do anything at all, I'll put a donation button on the website and then it's up to individuals, if they have the money, to donate if they want to :)

That all said, I DO have an idea for something I MAY sell ..... but that's a way off, something I'm working on. It may never see the light of day but, who knows ;)

In the meantime, feel free to bookmark the new site and check back fairly often because it will suddenly appear one day :) I'm SO looking forward to it!

Wise Little Owls

Posted by Sarah at 3:02 PM [ permalink ]
Categories: Homeschooling


Saturday, October 30, 2010

A few pictures

... from the last week - not many, but the camera ran out of batteries! These are all April's but I'm going to try and get some pictures of Rosie's work soon as there is a vast difference between the work of a 5 year old and a 13 year old (obviously!) Difficult with Rosie though because she moans every time I point a camera in her direction *laughs*

Anyway, here goes:

America, puzzle map, online


Geometry work - yes, I wrote the word "equilateral triangle" and yes, she did insist on putting the names of the shapes in speech bubbles!



Food pyramid work - we used a food pyramid and sorting cards from Montessori for Everyone and then a worksheet where April had to draw foods in a blank pyramid




Posted by Sarah at 8:19 PM [ permalink ]
Categories: Cultural, Maths


Friday, October 29, 2010

Making Montessori Work - Part 2

I think one of the things that always scared me to death when I first started considering Montessori was the idea of having materials everywhere. It seemed to me that, to use the Montessori method, you HAD to have a lot of materials, sometimes several for one topic. After a lot of trial and error (not to mention cash!) I realised that this isn't true, at least not for a homeschooling environment. Nor is it necessary to have EXACT Montessori materials.

In this post, I'm hoping to cover what I, personally, think is important to have and what isn't. Remember, these are just my personal opinions - things that have worked for me.

Really Essential

3-Part Cards - When I started out with Montessori, these were the first things I "discovered" and, to this day, they remain one of my most favourite of all the materials. Why? Easy! They are such a truly simple idea and yet they can teach SO much. They allow the child to learn in a completely independent way and they take, sometimes very complex, ideas and make them easy to understand and remember. They can be used for language arts, history, science, geography (anything!), are easy to make yourself (or purchased very cheaply) and small enough to store easily without taking up a lot of space.

Let's take a topic, say, the human heart. This is a complicated organ with a lot of "bits" that make it up! If you give your child a textbook with a labelled diagram of the heart and ask them to memorise the parts so that they can then (without looking) colour and label their own diagram, they could do it but what hard work! They'd literally have to just stare at the picture until they remembered the parts! Now take a set of 3 part cards - 1 card for each part of the heart, black and white line drawings with just ONE part per card coloured (usually in red) with the name of that part underneath. To go with this, you have exactly the same pictures but this time with the labelled area removed. Your child can "play" with the cards - studying the labelled cards, matching them with the unlabelled, finding the matching word cards and, eventually, challenging himself to match the correct labels with the correct pictures without looking at the "control" cards. It's hands on and interactive - he/she isn't just staring at a picture and trying to memorise it - they are, almost, taking the heart to pieces like a puzzle and learning each part in turn.

I once heard 3-part cards being dismissed as just "bits of laminated card that my kids wouldn't be interested in". No, no, no! I suspect this lady really hadn't given it much chance (if at all) and dismissed it out of hand. Possibly - I don't know, maybe her children wouldn't have been interested but, then again, maybe they would. These "bits of laminated card" are incredibly powerful, simple learning tools!

Puzzle Maps - Yes, those beautiful maps you see in Montessori schools HOWEVER not all (unless you can afford them and have the space to store then go ahead!) We have the world puzzle map and the map for our own continent and that's it. That's all I think you "need" - for the other continents I just made pin maps by printing out the map, laminating, mounting on foam board and then providing a lablled control map and pinflags for the countries. I think it's really important for the kids to have the opportunity to create their own maps by tracing, colouring and labelling the pieces (brilliant for hand/eye co-ordination for littles too!)

Geometry cabinet/solids - Over the years I've spent vast amounts on Montessori materials .... and then sold them again! The 2 things we'd NEVER part with though are our geometric cabinet and geometric solids. They are used again and again and again, they are a beautiful and tactile way to learn various geometry concepts and can be used with toddlers for sensorial exploration right through to more advanced concepts. We've used them (apart from the obvious of learning the names of shapes!) for ordering sizes (using the circle drawer), in place of inset shapes for learning to use a pencil, for measuring angles of triangles and so much more. The kids have used the inset frames for tracing when doing art projects and, yes (Montessori puritans might shudder in horror!), April has built churches and castles with the solids and peopled them with Playmobil characters!

Stamp Game - If I had to choose ONE maths materials, above all others, that was my favourite it has to be this. Rosie (my eldest) had the most HORRENDOUS problems, at age 9/10, grasping the concept of place value and carrying/borrowing and I'd tried everything. I was already using 3 part cards in science and decided to investigate the stamp game. I made my own out of coloured paper and "presented" it to her (more or less!) as per the Moteaco albums - after a couple of fits and starts she got it. Totally got it and didn't have ANY problems with this concept again. Being able to count out the stamps for the sum she was doing, PHYSICALLY change the stamps for 1 of the next place value when she got to 9 and SEE the result laid out in front of her just made it all click into place. A brilliant, brilliant "invention". Truly.

Not Essential

Coloured beads/Gold Beads - again, if you can afford it and have the space then go for it but if you can/haven't don't beat yourself up over it. There are 2, perfectly good, alternatives - connecting Cuisenaire rods (in place of coloured bead bars) and base 10 blocks (in place of gold beads). They are generally cheaper and do exactly the same job.

Animal/botany puzzles - beautiful yes, but not necessary. Use 3 part cards to teach the parts.

ALL the varieties of maths materials - this is probably a bit of a tetchy subject but I really don't think that there NEEDS to be, say, 3 or 4 different materials to teach addition facts. Now, I'm not a trained Montessorian so perhaps I'm missing something but I think having the addition strip board and several different addition fact charts might be overkill. Personally, I think the strip board material is enough. Same for subtraction, multiplication and division - we don't have enough room in our homes for ALL these things (at least I don't and I know others who have said the same)!

So, imo, what would we use for basic maths? Just these:

Addition/Sutraction - Strip Board Materials.

Division - Division bead board

Multiplication - Multiplication bead board

Connecting Cuisenaire Rods (for doing the bead activities)

Base 10 Blocks

Stamp Game

In our homeschool, we also feel that a good computer based learning programme is useful for maths (particularly if it isn't your strongest subject!) I know they're not used in true Montessori environments but we are Montessori-enhanced NOT true Montessori :)

Posted by Sarah at 8:19 PM [ permalink ]
Categories: Homeschooling


See archive index for other posts