One of the questions I get asked when talking about Home Ed is ‘is it expensive’ or how do I find the time to research things and create resources for the children.
Like anything, Home Education can be as expensive as you wish to make it, and there really is stacks of stuff going on where we live; we really have to pick and choose what we take part in. These things often form a lot of our main activities and then I dip in and out of other things for the children as and when we need to.
For our day to day stuff, there are a few sites that I really like to use to either give me inspiration or to use for resources. There is so much available for free or for a very reasonable price that it can be quite overwhelming sometimes knowing what to use. I thought I’d share the sites that seem to form the basis of our resources at the moment, bearing in mind that I am looking for resources for D who is reception age and E who is early years. I don’t specifically search out reception resources but it will give an idea of the sort of level I am searching for. That said I will happily tailor KS2 things if they’re suited to what we need.
Twinkl is probably one of the best-known sites among schools and Home Edders, and I suspect most parents will, at some time or another, have seen a Twinkl worksheet or display at their child’s school. We have an annual subscription gifted to us (in return for promoting on this blog) and I use it regularly, and without a gifted membership I would probably have paid for Twinkl anyway.
For most of our themed work, Twinkl is my first stop. It can be a bit like a rabbit hole as you find more and more things on there, but with a bit of discipline and setting up of ‘saved’ resource boards you can find a lot of worksheets and quickly get them into an order. I always like to have a stock of things ready to go for the children centred around the theme we are working on and Twinkl is usually my go-to for this.
We use a lot of their maths sheets as they’re pitched at a good level for D and E, and I find Twinkl particularly good at themed days, for instance, colouring sheets for Chinese New Year, Mother’s Day, Christmas etc. We have also used some of the interactive powerpoints for phonics type things. Again, I like to have these on the laptop to dip in and out of with D (and E occasionally) and they’re really helpful for building confidence.
You can literally search for anything you want and it is likely to return something for you, be it lesson plans, writing frames, worksheets, reading comprehension, colouring sheets, games etc. There’s so much to use.
You can set up a free account at Twinkl and there are various membership levels, depending on what you want to access. It’s a handy resource for us and it works well for the different ages that I have to cover. There’s a lot of content on there and I really recommend setting up ‘saved resources folders’. Think of it a bit like Pinterest and you’ll find it’s much easier to keep things ordered.
The only slight niggle with Twinkl is that it can sometimes be a bit tricky to navigate as there is an awful lot of resources on there, and it did fine when I first started using it, it could take me a long time to find things. Over time I have become better at searching out what I need so it is worth familiarizing yourself with the site and it’s search function when you first get started.
I’ve recently discovered Teaching Packs and am really impressed with them. We haven’t used them much as yet, but I liked that for some of the meatier topics we have talked about I have been able to get a pack for; a good example is when we first started looking at the Romans for our History Fair project. There was a whole pack dedicated to the Romans which meant I could take what I needed from it very quickly.
There’s a wide range of packs available, and more and more are being added to the site all the time. I like that everything is available in one download and it’s an easy neat and clean site to navigate. The resources are all clear and well produced and researched and I look forward to getting stuck in more with them as we tackle some meatier topics.
Home School Share
We are big fans of lap books here (which is a way of presenting a unit study in one collated place) and I like to utilise resources already produced by other home educators. Home School Share is a superb resource and has lots of editable lapbook inserts so you can quickly create your own bits and pieces. We used this for our history fair project and another that we did about Australia.
There is a really wide range of things to download from this brilliant site, and so many differnet things to give inspiration. We have worked through a couple of the lapbooks on this site and I think we may do another one or two once our STEM project is complete. We also have another Lapbook on the go to fit in with a small geography project we are doing so I’ll be checking on Home School Share for some resources this weekend.
A new site we have recently been dipping in and out of is Mrs Mactivity. This isn’t as in depth as others I’ve mentioned here, but it is still developing and new resources are being added weekly. We printed some of the Chinese New Year Colouring Pages and had lots of fun doing those. There is also a lovley blog and Instagram feed that sits alongside the site and it gives plenty of great ideas of learning activities. It’s certainly a site to keep an eye on I think.
Amazon is great for finding resources and I always like to look at the books that are being sold second hand. It will give you the idea of some of the second hand book sites to check (Abebooks.co.uk and worldofbooks.com are both good). I’ve picked up our History curriculum stuff from these second hand sites after identifying them on Amazong (go direct to the site as it’s often a little cheaper than buying via Amazon) and the books are always in perfect quality.
Charity shops often have some great learing games or books available at a fraction of the price they would be new. We have a couple of shops locally that we have had some real bargains from in recent years. We always keep an eye out for jigsaws (we found a fab seasons and months one a couple of years back that both D and E love and I suspect H will in time too) and any nonfiction books – there’s usually a bargain to be found.
Finally, subscription boxes can be a really good way of covering some areas of work. We have the monthly Letterbox Lab ones which we really enjoy working through and we have also had the One Third Stories ones. We are also having a look at Geo Journey at the moment which looks to be a great way to focus on Geography and is forming the bases of our geography work at the moment.
The advent of the internet has made Home Educating a much simpler process that I imagine it would have been 20 odd years ago. There is a wealth of information out there and You Tube, Bloggers and Social Media all help to give some great ideas. Do you have any go to sites that I’ve not mentioned here?