Free Homeschool Curriculum and Summer Deals

I found a great vocabulary curriculum with the Homeschool Buyers Club and want to share it with you, as well as some of my tips for building vocabulary!

Disclosure: In writing this review post, I am being compensated for my time.  All of my opinions communicated here are honest and are uniquely mine.

We are thoroughly enjoying our North Carolina summer! The cicadas’ chorus echoes throughout the tops of our pine trees on hot afternoons and continues into the early evening. Much of our summer has been spent swimming, playing, visiting with grandparents and friends, and enjoying new board games. 

Homeschool Curriculum Deals to the Rescue

As much as I love our unstructured summer time, being a homeschool mom of three, I have sought the necessary structure provided in a few short lessons in the mornings, when my son’s mind is sharp.  

All it takes is about fifteen minutes.  My son sits with me on the couch, and we practice building words to improve his grasp of vocabulary.  With third grade right around the corner, I found this area to be one in need of some practice. 

Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

If you’re looking for some summer learning opportunities that take just a few minutes’ time, check out the Homeschool Buyers Club!  They are featuring many FREE  products right now, as well as running amazing deals across their siteTo see the three free gifts you can get with the purchase of any product, scroll down to the end of this post.  If my son was older, I’d check out Vocabulary Quest (see below), as it is appropriate for fifth through twelfth graders. 

Free Products from Homeschool Buyers Club:

1. Thinkwell Free Trial

2. Reading Skills Assessment Ongoing

3. HomeSchoolPiano Trial

4. Code Avengers Free Trial

5. Monarch

6. Kids Guitar Academy Trial

7. Mr Henry’s Music World Freebie

8. Nessy.com Free Trial

9. Mark Kistler Art Lessons

10. Creta Class 7 Day Trial

11. Math Mammoth PDFs

12. Brilliant.org

13. Reading Eggs

14. Doodlemaths

15. Smile and Learn

16. History Alive Grades 6-12

17. History Alive Grades 1-6

18. Vocabulary Quest

19. Dynamic Earth Learning (Aquaponics Course)

Word Building Lessons

I could see that my second grader needed some extra help with vocabulary this past school year. I started looking at Homeschool Buyers Club and their engaging language arts resources.  I ended up finding a GREAT deal on the Word Build Online Program.  

My son loves his word building lessons!  It only takes fifteen minutes a day.  His little sister even joins in on the challenge.  Since I adhere to a classical approach to learning, I know the importance of teaching vocabulary first and foremost in the context of good, living books

I list a few other ways to teach vocabulary below.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Engaging Ways to Teach Vocabulary

  1. In Context: find the words ahead of time and write them down in a notebook for your child to review the word structure, synonyms and definitions throughout the week (pick about 3 words a week). Karen Andreola in A Charlotte Mason Companion  explains, “A vocabulary workbook that includes interesting text where the meaning of a word is derived from its use in context may be helpful.  But since there are so many delightful children’s books available these days, wider reading is to be preferred.” When we read our history and literature books this year, my son will have a composition book where he will write down interesting words, in their appropriate alphabetical sections.  He can do this with his independent reading, also.
  1. Interact with a Vocabulary 4-Square: Simply put, fold a piece of 8.5” x11” paper into fourths.  In the upper left rectangle, write the word you are studying, being sure to underline any prefix of suffix.  In the upper right rectangle, write a definition and synonym for the word.  In the lower left rectangle, use the word in a sentence.  Lastly, in the lower right rectangle, draw a picture of the word in an appropriate context. 

Look for ways to use the words in poems by looking at my Poetry 4-Square.

  1. In Conversation: Use words that you hope to solidify in your memory by using them in conversation.
  1. Using Morphology: WordBuild Foundations 1 (online) is described as such: “The Foundations series comprises three levels and focuses on prefixes and suffixes, having students add them to words they already know so they can understand how the meaning, spelling, and/or part of speech is changed by the addition of that prefix or suffix. They will then be able to apply this knowledge to new words as well.” (source: WordBuild Online user’s guide)
  1. Teaching Greek and Latin Roots: Did you know that teaching Greek and Latin roots benefits children in learning the meaning of many words?  If you are looking for an approach that emphasizes Latin and Greek roots, check out WordBuild Elements: “The Elements series, also three levels, focuses on Latin and Greek roots, the real foundation of academic English, the vocabulary that dominates all texts from about sixth grade on. Just as with prefixes and suffixes, students will gain enough experience with a given root to be able to apply it to a new word and figure out its true meaning based on the meanings of its parts.” (source: WordBuild Online user’s guide). 

A Look at WordBuild in Our Home

Over the course of about five days, a WordBuild Foundations (1) online unit looks like this:

Warm Up (pre-assessment)

Lesson 1: Affix Square -place a root word with the prefix OVER-, write a new definition of the new word, then select the best use of the word from the options. (Matrix)

Lesson 2: Attach the prefix OVER- to the root word, write a new definition, then select the best use of the word from the options as it appears in a sentence. 

Lesson 3: Look at the Matrix and match the definitions to the appropriate OVER- word.

Lesson 4: Fill in the blank with the correct OVER- word in different sentences. 

Summer Learning Success

My son responded very well to the WordBuild Foundations 1 exercises.  I did not help him in answering any of the questions, but did help him with operating the computer (keyboard class will be next, I suppose)!  We loved this time together.  Even his little sister joined us for many of the lessons.  I will gladly recommend this specific method of reinforcing and learning new vocabulary to anyone.  

One activity that was particularly engaging was the affix square.  My son loved it because he got to choose the root word that he would “affix” to the prefix OVER-.  He also enjoyed the mastery aspect.  Any time he completed a lesson, he would receive a “Daily Reward”.  He received 5 Daily Rewards before moving on to the next unit.  

One way I know my son enjoyed WordBuild is the fact that he would never complain about doing it.  I also think the fact that it was on the computer helped, too, since he hardly ever gets on the computer.  Novelty is a powerful thing.  Would he continue using WordBuild? Yes! As a mom, I like to see my son engaged in making meaning of new words and using them regularly in his everyday conversation and composition.  

Enjoy Up to 3 Free Gifts

I was really pumped to find out that with any purchase, we can enjoy up to three free gifts (a $38 value)! Check them out! 

Morning Time In Practice + FREE Poetry Mini-Unit

Disclosure: As an Amazon associate, I may earn a small commission from the purchase of these excellent morning time resources, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

I hope I am not sounding like a broken record.

By now, you probably know that I am pretty passionate about the practice called “morning time” in the homeschool day. To read up on how we have enjoyed this thirty to forty-five minute period, try these blog posts:

Make Morning Time More Beautiful

History Lessons, Book Lists and Morning Time

December 2021 Morning Time

Morning Time

While I love singing hymns and reading about history, I cannot contain my excitement surrounding our “beauty loop” for the upcoming school year (for a rising third grader and kindergartener).

The beauty loop has its benefits. First of all, you are able to rotate subject areas on a three to four day “loop”, allowing everyone to get acquainted with composers through composer study, artists through picture study, and poets through their poetry and accompanying biographies. If you missed the free planning template for the beauty loop, feel free to grab it below.

Secondly, I love how deep we can dive with our subjects. We have studied A.A. Milne for a solid semester this year. We studied Bach for at least six months of the school year, and we have been able to get acquainted with Michelangelo for the past three months. I have found that this deeper “friendship” lasts throughout a lifetime, as I myself am forever changed and tethered to the minds behind the great works.

Morning Time Beauty Loop Plan

Right now, I’d like to share the nitty gritty of our upcoming year’s beauty loop by inserting our plans. These are not set in stone, but I have already gathered my books and have linked the resources we’ll use during the loop below for you. I am making units to go along with each poetry study (designated by term). I hope this helps you in some way to at least visualize what it can look like.

If you’d like to snag a FREE mini-unit for our Robert Louis Stevenson poetry study, I invite you to subscribe to My Little Brick Schoolhouse community. You can do that below.

If you want to purchase A Child’s Garden of Verses to go along with the unit (not necessary, but recommended), Amazon is offering a great price right now.

Beauty Loop is a  3-day rotation, change topic each term:

TERM 1
9 weeks
TERM 2
4 weeks
TERM 3
4 weeks
TERM 4
7 weeks
TERM 5
6 weeks
TERM 6
7 weeks
POETRY (day 1)Robert Louis Stevenson
6 poems 
Term project: dramatization of 1 poem
A.A. Milne3 poems
Term project: cereal box biography
Christina Rossetti
Term project: lap book biography
Favorite Poems Old & New – seasonal themes
6 poems *include poetry of Wilhelm Muller, a contemporary of Schubert
Term project: compose an original seasonal poem
Eugene Field (Field Poetry)
5 poems
Term Project: create a comic strip to summarize one of Field’s poems
Jack Prelutsky 
6 poems from  Ride A Purple Pelican
Term project: plan a poetry tea and invite someone special to hear recitations and view accompanying artwork (gallery walk)
COMPOSER STUDY – Classical period
(day 2)
Schubert (first 2-3 weeks focus on biography)SchubertSchubertBeethoven(first 2-3 weeks focus on biography)BeethovenBeethoven
PICTURE STUDY
(day 3)

Renaissance period
The Stuff They Left Behind: Ancient Rome (Simply Charlotte Mason)The Stuff They Left Behind: Ancient RomeThe Stuff They Left Behind: Ancient RomeGiotto (Simply Charlotte Mason)Raphael (Simply Charlotte Mason)free choice (tracing favorite works with pencil and tracing paper with narration)
Morning Time Beauty Loop by Term and Subject

Resources Used in Morning Time

Doxology (reference: YouTube “Doxology: Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”)

Singing the Great Hymns (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Poetry-

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne

Who Was A.A. Milne? by Sarah Fabiny

AmblesideOnline Poetry Anthology Volume 2: Walter de la Mare, Eugene Field, James Whitcomb Riley and Christina Rossetti

Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris

Schubert’s Winterreise: A Winter Journey in Poetry, Image and Song by Franz Schubert, Wilhelm Muller and Katrin Talbot

Ride A Purple Pelican by Jack Prelutskty

Composer Study-

Music Study With the Masters: Schubert (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Music Study With the Masters: Beethoven (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Picture Study-

The Stuff They Left Behind: from the Days of Ancient Rome (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Picture Study Portfolios: Giotto (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Picture Study Portfolios: Raphael (Simply Charlotte Mason)

Does this help you in some way? Please feel free to comment below, and ask any questions by emailing me: mylittlebrickschoolhouse@gmail.com

New Additions to Downloads, Shop, Books

I am writing to let you in on the newest resources you can get from My Little Brick Schoolhouse.

New Downloads for Spring

  1. Big Maine Basket Freemium Unit (17 pages)
  2. Nature Study Spring Mini-Unit
  3. Travel Four Square Resource

Check these out under the “Downloads” tab. (The above items are all free)

I would be remiss to not mention that Brick Schoolhouse Etsy Shop is offering 40% off all units for the month of April!

Look for more content in May and in the months to come. We are busily preparing for spring break. How are you spending your April?

Booklists for Classical Conversations Cycle 1

I also am excited to share that we are one week away from completing the entire Cycle 1 in Classical Conversations! I have made a book list to pair living books with each week of this cycle, which is heavy on ancient history and empires. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have. The subjects represented are: science, fine arts, history, geography and math.

History Lessons, Book Lists, and Morning Time

I wanted to share the page I recently updated: Story of the World. If you are looking for an engaging, classical curriculum for history, The Story of the World is a good option. We use this in our morning time. Read more to find out if it is the right fit for you and your family!

the 2 resources we use

In addition to The Story of the World, I have made my book list to align with ancient times because Classical Conversations Cycle 1 covers ancient history. Skim each week to see if you could snag a few titles to go with your study of ancient history, whether or not you end up using The Story of the World.

What’s covered in The Story of the World? Here is a table of contents found inside:

(by chapter)

  1. The Earliest People
  2. Egyptians Lived on the Nile River
  3. The First Writing
  4. The Old Kingdom of Egypt
  5. The First Sumerian Dictator
  6. The Jewish People
  7. Hammurabi and the Babylonians
  8. The Assyrians
  9. The First Cities of India
  10. The Far East: Ancient China
  11. Ancient Africa
  12. The Middle Kingdom of Egypt
  13. The New Kingdom of Egypt
  14. The Israelites Leave Egypt
  15. The Phoenicians
  16. The Return of Assyria
  17. Babylon Takes Over Again!
  18. Life in Early Crete
  19. The Early Greeks
  20. Greece Gets Civilized Again
  21. The Medes and the Persians
  22. Sparta and Athens
  23. The Greek Gods
  24. The Wars of the Greeks
  25. Alexander the Great
  26. The People of the Americas
  27. The Rise of Rome
  28. The Roman Empire
  29. Rome’s War With Carthage
  30. The Aryans of India
  31. The Mauryan Empire of India
  32. China: Writing and the Qin
  33. Confucius
  34. The Rise of Julius Caesar
  35. Caesar the Hero
  36. The First Roman Prince
  37. The Beginning of Christianity
  38. The End of the Ancient Jewish Nation
  39. Rome and the Christians
  40. Rome Begins to Weaken
  41. The Attacking Barbarians
  42. The End of Rome

Merry Christmas!

I am thankful for you, readers. To express my gratitude, I am attaching a couple of freebies below.

I am thankful for you, readers. To express my gratitude, I am attaching a couple of freebies below.

The first is an extension activity for the story An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco. If you have children aged older elementary and up, then this short research project is just great! I think it also fosters empathy, a skill that many of us need to continue exercising. Snag your free download below.

Other wonderful Christmas books we have enjoyed this season:

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Saint Nicholas the Gift-Giver

In addition, I am adding on some free thank-you notes. I thought they might come in handy, as an expression of gratitude to those family members hosting or giving presents. Or just… BECAUSE.

An Orange for Frankie cover

New Christmas Resource: A Joyful Feast

I worked to create a unit study that families can use around Christmas time.  Its implementation does not depend on set days on a calendar.  Rather, it is about as flexible a unit study as you will find.

Disclosure: As an Amazon associate, I may earn a small commission from the purchase of any of these living Christmas books, at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

My friends!  It feels good to share something with you

I worked to create a unit study that families can use around Christmas time.  Its implementation does not depend on set days on a calendar.  Rather, it is about as flexible a unit study as you will find.

The name of my labor of love:  A Joyful Feast!  It is a 20-page Charlotte Mason-inspired unit that allows families to create lasting memories. 

In the study I have included:

  • Bible Passages
  • Poetry Recitation
  • Copy Work/Dictation ideas
  • Nature Study
  • Composer Study (internet with YouTube needed)
  • Living Books (books needed)
  • Narration Questions
  • Mother Culture ideas
  • Family Culture Ideas
  • Coloring Pages with Verses

All of these components are meant to be enjoyed together.  Even the copy work/dictation from the poems are meant to be done together.  Now, different family members might be working on writing different lines from the same poem, or different words from the same poem, or might be looking at two different poems and reciting them separately.  Nonetheless, when one family member is enjoying poetry, all the other family members are doing the same thing. Working on a common goal builds family unity!  So everything, from the read alouds to the composer study, is done together.

The only component that can be done in isolation is the “Mother Culture” element of the study.  Mother culture is defined by Karen Andreola, who coined the term in her 2018 book, Mother Culture: For a Happy Homeschool as: “the skillful art with which a mother looks after the ways of her household and herself.  In her home she creates a culture all her own with a mingling of love and responsibility.  A mother does a lot of taking care, so she also takes care of herself,” (2018, p. 1).  When considering the

1)Atmosphere

2)Discipline-of-Habit

3)Life-of-Ideas that become tools in a mother’s hands for creating a happy home, I hope you find some echoes of that here. 

In response to each Mother Culture idea, I’ve included a Family Culture action. 

A Joyful Feast would be great for:

This study is not meant to stress you out, which is why it’s so brief and do-able.  My hope is that you do not feel like you have to add this to any other school agenda.  This is an open-and-go, standalone unit study that you can use as Christmas School. Or, if you are hoping to squeeze in some math over break, many components in here have their places in Morning Time, as well!  So, pick and choose what you want to do.  No need to sift through pages and pages of material in a so-called “bundle”.  If you have paper and pencil and an internet connection, you are good to go. 


The books you will need to gather ahead of time are:

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg (newly illustrated edition)

If I had to pick a favorite part of the feast, Poetry Study is probably going to be my favorite, since I get to work on reciting one of these timeless Christmas poems by heart. However, I know reading the living books and Bible passages will be favorites, too.

My son is probably going to enjoy the composer study the most. He already uses it in morning time with me and his younger sister.  He will enjoy finishing the Bach videos and we all will enjoy listening to Bach’s music over the Christmas season.

My daughter will probably enjoy the coloring pages, since she just loves that kind of thing, but I can already tell you that we will enjoy every single component together.  I am really looking forward to this!

How To Get A Joyful Feast

If you are interested in supporting my work, go over to my Etsy shop, Brick Schoolhouse.  There, you will find A Joyful Feast for purchase at an affordable $4.  So simple, but I think the quality rivals many of the other resources you can buy out there now!

Merry Christmas! 2021
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