For Spelling I love Wordly Wise.
I have tried many other spelling books. The kids memorized the spelling and then promptly forgot everything. Wordly Wise is different. It combines vocabulary and reading comprehension so that the children have more to associate the words with, and thus remember, and even use some of them. Further, the reading assignments are on topics that should be learned by the time they graduate. This reinforcement helps them to remember the things they should have learned in school as an adult.
For the younger years I like the Apologia curriculum. It is colorful and fact filled. Their later materials are heavy on memorization though, and my children are more of the logic/problem solver types.
For older elementary school I like Real-Science-For-Kids. It is colorful, but explains advanced concepts so well that your child will have no problem tackling their high school courses.The author is a home school mom with a PhD.
In high school the best place for lab materials is Home Science Tools. Their direction materials are incredibly intact and easy to use. They also have advanced science kits and chemicals at very reasonable prices.
For high school I like to supplement their curriculum with the ‘coloring book’ series by Wynn Kapit. They are incredibly detailed, but make complex concepts easier. When I was a teaching assistant we used them in the Gross Anatomy lab in college. They’re that good.There are ‘coloring books’ for anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and geography that I know of.
We enjoy The Mystery of History, which can be used for all ages since she (another home school mother) has different activities for different ages.
For older elementary school, my children enjoyed watching Drive Thru History. It was one of the few DVD sets that they watched more than once without fuss.
The children also enjoyed the Chester Comix Series. These are comic books packed with information on different historical topics. They are one of the few ‘educational’ things I could get my children to read on their own.
For math it depended on the child.
My more ADHD children, who excelled in school enjoyed A Beka. http://www.abeka.com/
My children who needed a lot of repetition who like to do one thing at a time enjoyed Saxon.
My more ‘social’ children like Teaching Textbooks.
The DVD set The History of Rock and Roll not only covered music, but provided an interesting way to bring history to life, especially with regard to civil rights.
Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton makes this Shakespeare play fun.
Use Google to see if there were any modern remakes of the classics you are studying. For example: Did you know that The Lion King is a remake of Hamlet? That She’s the Man is Shakespeare’s 12th Night? Or that Clueless is Jane Austin’s Emma?
There are so many things you can do in the community, and many of these resources have school discounts, special days etc to make them cheap. We have been to the opera, we take advantage of the tours at national parks, go to musicals and plays, use Groupon to find things like pottery classes, and local craft stores to take classes on things like cake decorating. We also have ordered basket weaving kits etc. Local colleges, planetariums and museums also have lectures that children may go to, as long as they are well-behaved. Recently we heard Rosylnn Carter speak at the University of New Mexico. Get Motivated Seminars are also good (and cheap) if you can keep yourself from signing up for the classes that are advertised in between the speakers.
For gym and art I like things that will teach skills that last a life time. Martial arts, archery, horse back riding etc are things that many people do for the rest of their lives.
I’ll let you know if I think of more…
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