Welcome to My Resource Page!
I'm always asked about what curriculum I use, what I use for blogging, live streaming, YouTube, podcasting, etc. I thought it would be helpful to have one place for everything!
There are so many great resources available for homeschoolers these days! The recommendations I make below are based on the curriculum we have personal experience with or we have friends who are big fans and have told me all about it. Every family is different! Sometimes it takes trying out a few different curricula to find the right fit for your family. What works for our family or families we know, may not be the right fit for your family.
I literally wrote a book about how to homeschool, Homeschool Basics! My dear friend, Tricia Goyer, and I pooled our homeschooling experience together and created a book that is the perfect answer to how to “get started, keep motivated, and bring out the best in your kids”. Be sure to check it out.
Need Homeschool Help Now?
I've got you covered! I know so many people are looking for homeschooling and school-at-home advice these days. Due to this, I put together a How to Homeschool live webinar. It's all my best getting started advice plus some time for Q & A. Be sure to check it out to see how to get instant access to this webinar recording!
Put Your Homeschool Year on Cruise Control!
My Ultimate Homeschool Organization Course!!! This is my secret sauce to how I get so much done with so much sanity. I created this course to teach families exactly how to organize their entire year and literally put it on cruise control. It’s been life-changing for over 1,200 families who have gone through the course. This course is a must-have for families who homeschool, especially for those just starting out. It will save you from the hours wasted trying to figure out morning-after-morning what to teach first and what needs to get done that week. Learn more here!
FREE “School-at-Home Routine” Guide!
With so many families forced into homeschooling during this worldwide pandemic, I wanted to put together resources for you! Get a FREE copy of My “SCHOOL-AT-HOME ROUTINE” Guide and check out the blog post filled with easy, practical advice on how to get through this season of having all your kids home…and trying to get some school done.
One of the most commonly asked questions I get about homeschooling is, “What curriculum do you use?” We've used lots of different homeschool curriculum through the years. I try to do a yearly curriculum post about all the curriculum and books we are using for each year, however, I've missed the last couple of years. Here are the posts I have so far that discuss my curriculum:
— My Homeschool Curriculum Reveal (2017-2018)
— My Homeschool Curriculum Reveal (2016-2017)
— My Homeschool Curriculum Reveals (2015-2016)
— Planning Out My Homeschool Year (2014-2015)
— End of Our School Year (2014-2015)
We've used lots of curriculum for our pre-readers. We've used quite a mix. Every child will learn to read at their own pace. Sometimes you just have to switch things up and try different things. Just keep reading TO your child and encourage them along the way! Some catch on fast–some take their time.
— Sing, Spell, Read, & Write Level One
— Get Ready for the Code Books A, B, & C
— Explode the Code
— Primary Phonics Workbook 1
— IEW's Primary Arts of Language (PAL): Reading & Writing
— ABC Mouse: We are having fun doing some online learning using ABC Mouse, too.
Sonlight Curriculum: As of our 2019 school year, we are using Sonlight curriculum for Wade (Level G) and Ashlyn and Caitlyn (Level B). We are loving all the amazing books that help bring history and Bible to life.
— Honey for a Child's Heart–-This book is full of lists of all the great books. It's a wonderful resource.
— The Read-Aloud Family is another great resource for finding great read-aloud books for your family.
— YWAM has incredible missionary stories! Here are our favorites.
— I use Audible for read-aloud books I don't seem to be getting to. 🙂 Here is my Amazon list filled with most of our favorite read-aloud books.
— We love IEW! Around 2nd grade, I got the Teaching Writing: Structure & Style program so I could learn the method and got my kids the Structure & Style for Students. Our favorite writing program was All Things Fun & Fascinating! Other writing lessons we've done: Ancient History, Medieval History, U.S. History, and The Elegant Essay.
— I've used a few spelling programs through the years. We like All About Spelling, Rod & Staff Spelling, and Spelling Power. However, as we added kids to the mix I really needed spelling to be less teacher intensive. Now we use Phonetic Zoo with our older boys. I still use All About Spelling and Sing, Spell, Read, and Write with our little kids who are still learning the basics. UPDATE: This school year (2021), we are using Spelling U See and liking it so far.
— There are a lot of great grammar programs out there. Right now my older boys are doing Fix It! Grammar (IEW). We've used Growing with Grammar for years. When we first started I loved Rod and Staff's English books.
— English from the Roots Up
— A Reason for Handwriting is hands down my favorite series for penmanship. Their technique for writing letters is amazing. It makes learning cursive really natural.
— We have been using MathUSee since our first day homeschooling. So far it has worked for all our kids. I also recommend Teaching Textbooks and Singapore Math. UPDATE: One of my kids has been using Teaching Textbooks now for the past two years…and he loves it. So, I highly recommend checking them out. I personally love that it's all graded for me and that I can quickly see how he's doing with each lesson.
— One math tool I'm a HUGE fan of is my Flash Master! It is a handheld electronic device that generates flashcard quizzes. It's incredible!
— Apologia! I love Apologia! Pretty much all my homeschooling friends love Apologia, too. Here's the thing that's important to know. Don't do everything. The notebooks are incredible but are not meant to have everything completed in it. If you are using my crate system, then you'll be forced to tear it apart which will hopefully encourage you to pick what is best for your family to do. The elementary books are meant to be for K-6, so that means that you probably don't want to spend a ton of time learning about all the scientific names and all the details with your kindergartner…unless your child is just devouring what they are learning. So, try it out! We love it. Our favorites: Astronomy, Anatomy, Botany, Swimming Creatures, and General Science…and I think I'm going to love Biology this year. I'm teaching it at our co-op.
— Answers in Genesis: I use AIG's science curriculum to supplement what we're learning. I do really like it, too. It really makes science easy for younger kids.
— Big Book of God's Amazing Creation: This was our first science “curriculum.” It was so fun to use. There are so many exciting science experiments all broken down by the days of creation.
— Story of the World: We started with SOW and have used it throughout the years here and there. The best choice I made was to get the audio CDs. I love their activity books, too. They have great book lists, activities, and coloring pages.
— Rosetta Stone: We have started Spanish using Rosetta Stone. I really like it so far. I need to be more disciplined turning on our downstairs computer and getting my kids to do it.
*More great books to share on this topic!
— Who is God? Series! I am loving this series! It is just so good. Apologia has several really incredible resources for Bible!
— The Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos is our favorite story Bible. It walks through the entire Bible in story form and helps to explain the big concepts for the passage of Scripture that it's covering.
I have really enjoyed blogging, vlogging, and podcasting. I really can't stress enough how beautifully the two go together. There is nothing like being able to see a post come to life in a video–and on the flip side, there is nothing quite like having a landing spot for more detailed information after watching a video than a website. I truly believe every blogger should consider a YouTube channel–and every YouTuber should consider a blog! In fact, I highly recommend EVERY YouTuber have a website!!
With that being said, the resources I use for both are very similar. No, you don't need “hosting” for your YouTube channel. YouTube does all that for you. However, you do need to utilize scheduling tools and graphic design tools with your YouTube channel!
Just starting out with blogging? I was able to set up my entire Word Press site just by talking to their customer service help. I'd get as far as I could with my site, then call in and get help with the next element. Their help was so amazing!
My site started to grow and with that growth, I needed more hosting capabilities. My site was crashing constantly. I finally switched over to Black Chicken and have just loved it!
I don't know why I put it off so long, but right now I'm using CoSchedule to help me stay organized and streamline my editorial calendar. They have a 14-day trial if you are interested. I can schedule my posts and the social media that I want to go out about it all in one place.
PicMonkey: I really can't say enough about PicMonkey! All of the graphics on my site were created using PicMonkey. I really think the Premium membership is worth the small annual price. I have found PicMonkey to be far easier than any other graphic design tool I've tried! I plan to create some tutorials on my site soon.
Social Media Tools
Live streaming has come a long way since the first days of Periscope. In fact, you may be scratching your head wondering what “Periscope” is. Long story short, before everyone was doing “live” videos on all social media platforms Twitter had Periscope. All of us who were the original “periscopers” were kinda the pioneers of live streaming. Since the platform was new and I was really comfortable on camera and doing live stream videos, I was asked to share my tips on how to not only use Periscope but to how to best utilize live video for business. Thus, my first book came into being: The Scoop on Scope! Yep, my first book wasn't on homeschooling or home organization. It was on social media and live streaming tips. Now although the tips on how to use Periscope are outdated in this book, the advice I gave on how to best prepare for live video and what to do during your live stream STILL APPLY! So, you might just want to grab a copy.
You may also find my Tech Tools page helpful to check out. I'm trying to update all my live streaming resources since my Confidence on Camera course is coming out soon! In this course, I walk you through all the best practices for being on camera. You're going to love it!
Tailwind: I love using Tailwind to schedule out my pinning. I use it a bit differently than Board Booster. I use Board Booster exclusively for my own content. Tailwind, however, I use to schedule things to my personal boards from around the web. This way I can have “active” pinning all week long after just one time of sitting down to schedule things out. No more having to pin several times a day to grow my Pinterest boards. Try it for free!
Coming soon! I have used a variety of services for scheduling my Instagram posts. I'll be sharing my favorites soon.
After 100 episodes, I'm now on a bit of a hiatus from podcasting. However, I wanted to share some of my favorite resources with you in case you were interested in jumping into the realm of podcasting. If you are interested in monetizing your podcast, one way to do so is to use Patreon! It's a really cool membership site where you can bless your listeners with exclusive content!
For those of you wondering how I did my video and audio podcasting and was able to add graphics to my video, I used Streamyard! I'm still using Streamyard for a variety of things including Amazon Lives.
Podcast Hosting: Libsyn – I used Libsyn for my podcast host since day 1. There are lots of ways to have your podcast hosted and then uploaded to all the various platforms where podcasts reside, but I personally liked using Libsyn.
Microphone: Audio-Technica ATR2500-USB Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone – I'm loving this microphone! The sounds is great.
Shock mount: Samson SP01 Spider Shockmount – To cut back on the noise that comes from vibrations on your desk when you record
Pop Filter: Dragonpad pop filter Studio Microphone Mic Wind Screen Pop Filter Swivel Mount 360 Flexible Gooseneck Holder This is the filter that I use (which you can see in the picture above).
Foam Ball: On Stage Foam Ball-Type Mic Windscreen – You don't need this foam microphone piece if you have the other pop filter, however, if using the microphone separately then you want to protect it with this inexpensive piece.
Headphones: Polsen HPC-A30 Closed-Back Studio Monitor Headphones – You will plug your headphones right into the microphone. You want good quality headphones to be sure you are recording good quality sound.
Headset with microphone: Logitech ClearChat Comfort/USB Headset H390 – I'm got these for when I'm interviewed and don't have all my podcasting equipment set up (or my closet it's available).
Portable Recorder: Roland R-05 Studio WAVE/MP3 Recorder – This is such a handy recorder. It's portable. It is great for recording on location and in studio.
Vlogging & YouTube Resources
I love this Nikon. It is not the perfect camera for YouTube, but it takes great photos and videos–and it's waterproof! Ha! It's our family camera for vacations. I do use my iPhone for videos as well, but my storage space is limited so I've started switching to filming on this camera.
*Update: I just recently got the new iPhone 7 Plus with more memory. I'm loving it so much!
LIVE VIDEO STREAMING
Live streaming is really taking off these days. There are so many different social media outlets jumping on the live streaming bandwagon.
Back when Periscope first came out, I fell in love with “live” broadcasting. It was fun and exciting. I researched and practiced — and got to know some really great people in the process. I was constantly being contacted about how to use Periscope. I finally just decided to put all my thoughts and tips together for not just Periscope, but live broadcasting — and it somehow turned into a book.
With the launch of my book The Scoop on Scope, I wanted to have one spot for people to come and check out the equipment I use to record on Periscope — and the equipment on my wish list.
Although Periscope has added so many new features and changes some of their old ones, this book is still filled with TONS of amazing live streaming tips! I have some of the updates listed HERE on my Periscope Page.
Really the only tool you need for Periscope, Facebook Live, or YouTube Live is a smartphone or an iPad. You don’t “need” anything else. However, there are a few tools that do make for a more professional look and sound.
There are times when a microphone is necessary when scoping. If you are going to be flipping the phone back and forth, it can change the volume on your phone. Also, when you are outside, you may be competing with other sounds. Wind can affect your audio. Here are a few suggestions:
- Headset mic: You really can just use your headset that came with your phone. As long as it has a microphone to record your voice, it will work.
- Lavaliere mic: Most professionals use lavaliere microphones during their periscopes to capture the best audio.
Shakiness can be a real problem for live streaming. I find that unless I need to walk my viewers around or flip my camera around to show them something, then I just have my phone in a tripod with a camera holder. I give a few pointers in my book about how to have a less shaky scope if you are not using a tripod.
- Tripod: I love my tripod. I use it ALL the time for family pictures, scoping, YouTube videoing — and more!
- GorillaPod Tripod: I LOVE this heavy-duty tripod. It works with my phone and my camera. (You'll need the clip for your phone)
- Smart Phone Octopus Style Stand: This was my first tripod. I used it most of the time when I was scoping with a tripod. This is totally portable and works great on a desk. This comes with its own clip holder. (This one finally died…so I got the GorillaPod above.)
- Smart Phone Clip Holder: You just attach this to your tripod to hold your phone.
- Smart Phone Suction Cup Holder: I love this tool! I use it in my car for my phone's navigation. However, it's handy to use for phone placement while scoping as well.
- iPad Clip Holder: Some of you may be using a
- iPad Clip Holder Kit: This kit includes a tripod and remote with the iPad holder.
Having proper lighting for any video recording is very important. Good lighting really helps your viewers to hang in there when connection is a problem. Plus, it’s just easier to watch when there is good lighting. I will eventually get a diva light for times when natural lighting is not good, but natural light is really the best. When recording for your business, I recommend looking into getting a diva light.
- Diva Ring Light (18″): This is on my wish list! I am planning to get this light once I have my desk set up. I love watching scopes that use them.
As soon as I rolled out my Ultimate Homeschool Organization eCourse, I started getting questions about how I set it up.
Zippy Courses — It took me months to figure out what framework I was going to use for my eCourse. I knew how I wanted it to feel and function, but couldn't find a place to work with all my programs like MailChimp (for email lists) and iDev Affiliates. I'm so happy I went with Zippy. I love that my course is on a site that I own. I don't have to pay a percentage of my sales to them. Once I got the hang of the framework, it was really easy to set everything up. There customer service has been incredible.
iDev Affiliate — This is my affiliate site, obviously. This is how I build my sales team. As an affiliate to many other companies and bloggers, I've always really like iDev. It is the most user friendly and has lots of great options.
Vimeo — I use Vimeo to store all my videos for my eCourse. Since YouTube videos are searchable and I need the videos private, I decided to go with Vimeo.
Square — When I'm at conferences or other events that require me to take physical payment, I use a Square Reader. It's so easy to use! I love it!
Black Chicken Hosting — I know it sounds weird to bring up my hosting here, but I love my host. They are great. They set up my subdomain for my courses and helped me work though a lot of the details with getting everything installed and up and running.