How to Homeschool Without Breaking the Bank

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Today is Part 2 of my Homeschooling on One Income series. Part 1 described how our family manages daily living on one income. Before homeschooling, it is essential to work out a budget plan for day to day living if you have a limited income.
One of the many arguments I see coming from opponents of homeschooling is the myth that only affluent children can be taught at home because of the costs involved. This is laughable to me. We homeschool an extremely large family on a welder’s income, so there goes that idea. To make matters worse, many prospective homeschoolers buy into this reasoning and begrudgingly enroll their children in public school because they feel they can’t afford it.
I’m here to tell you today that, no matter the homeschooling method, there are enough resources out there that, given the right amount of research, almost anyone can afford to homeschool.

Here are resources that we have used for homeschooling that have been very affordable, if not downright free!

– There is such an abundance of free homeschool printables covering pretty much every subject online that I really could just stop right here. There are also wonderful unit studies available- again, for free! Take time and look through homeschool blogs. There are so many writers who are excited to share their wonderful ideas with you at no cost.

– I have gotten my younger children workbooks at Dollar Tree. Yes, Dollar Tree. This store is actually where I get most of my school supplies throughout the year.

– More expensive does not always mean better. Do your homework. Our family used Konos unit studies for years. The initial price tag of $110 might sting a little (although this is considered inexpensive compared to other curricula), but you have to look at the big picture. There is enough material to cover 2 1/2 years of schoolwork, and there are activities included from K-8. So this is perfect to use with multiple children; you could even have the younger children go back through it again when they’re older because there’s that much material in there.

– Instead of buying Language Arts curriculum, use lapbooking to fulfill that area. And I don’t necessarily mean those lapbooking worksheets that you print out and just have them fill in. Let them decide what they will put in it. Encourage them and give them ideas, but let them have the final say. I promise you, they will enjoy it so much more, and they will remember more.

– Don’t forget the library! Even before we started unschooling, the library provided the abundance of our learning tools. It’s not just for books anymore! (although that’s my favorite part :))Our library has movies, music, free online foreign languages through Mango Languages, story times, and toys that you can borrow and take home. Devin and I always jokingly say that if the library starts selling food, we’re moving in!

– Buy used. Ebay, Craigslist, and Amazon are but three of dozens of places where used curriculum can be bought and sold.

– Let life be your curriculum! That’s right…life…because every waking minute of your child’s life…of our lives…we are learning. Let them explore! Let them collect rocks and salamanders and leaves! Teach them to use search engines (also free!) to identify and classify their finds. Even watching the dreaded TV will provide learning. (I’m not one to let them watch unlimited TV, but I will allow it 1-2 hours a day if they wish to watch it. Sometimes they don’t.) Just the other day, I overheard Caollin correctly use a scientific term that I knew I didn’t teach her. Where did she learn it? Spongebob!

This is how we’ve afforded to homeschool in our household. We are so blessed to live in a society in which we can find an abundance of learning resources in as little as the click of a mouse. So before you nix the idea of homeschooling for financial reasons, I say stop. Take a step back, and rethink it. The world is at your feet.

What are some ways that you have cut costs in homeschooling? Leave a comment…you just might give the advice someone desperately needs!

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Every Week Should Be Break Week


Looks familiar from last week’s post, right? And the week before…and the week before. I’m telling you, I am so sick of snow. I’m ready to pack up everything and move South. Maybe Louisiana…or Texas…or Australia. We’ve gotten so much snow that our city was completely unprepared. They ran out of salt for the streets, and all the stores ran out of rock salt. Of course we didn’t have any, so I told my husband to sprinkle some cat litter for traction. He did more than sprinkle. He poured so much out front and out back that it looked like we were living on a beach. What a mess. He’s got most of it cleaned up now, and he’s got a plan on how he’ll shovel up the rest. Oy vey.

Anyway…on with the week…

This was our first ever break week since we’ve started unschooling. If you’re questioning why we even needed a break, I wrote about it right here. This entire week has had me pleasantly surprised.
I honestly thought that since I would not be limiting screen time that I would have a bunch of Minecrafting zombies, especially considering the fact that we’ve gotten four new laptops this week. I myself have been spending quite a bit of time on mine. Hey, give me a break. I’ve been doing all my online activity, including writing my blog, on my Android! This is new to me, too!
Looking back on the week, though, I’ve noticed something that did not escape Arianna’s attention either…the kids have been doing more this week than since we started unschooling! This has completely validated my theory that children learn best without expectations.
I found it exceedingly funny that on our second day of break, several of the kids spent hours playing school. IMAG5139 (1) And not just your typical ABC’s stuff, either. I walked into the living room, and Caollin was using our solar system model to quiz the kids on the planets. Then, she had them all sit and listen while she played with the interactive tablet that goes with it. Shortly afterward, I heard music. I looked in on the kids and saw that Caollin had “Fifty Nifty United States” playing on her tablet while the kids sang, and she played guitar! I was so happy, I almost couldn’t contain myself, but I managed to play it cool because I didn’t want to ruin the moment.
If you’ve read my blog before, you probably remember that my kids love arts and crafts, so, of course, these activities played a huge role in our week.

Yes, she's wearing a bathing suit top in the middle of winter. Choose your battles, right?
Yes, she’s wearing a bathing suit top in the middle of winter. Choose your battles, right?

Summer's always a mess, isn't she?
Summer’s always a mess, isn’t she?

It’s taken the older kids some time to get used to Minecraft on the PC since they’ve always played the pocket edition. They’ve really learned a lot, though, and Dillon has been as diligent as ever in researching mods. He was so excited today because he learned how to make a portal using obsidian and a snowman using a pumpkin. (I have no clue.) IMAG5158
Arianna made her own lipstick with Crayola Crayons (she learned it from a makeup tutorial). She said it worked well, but it was really hard to pour it into the little containers.
I was checking my emails today when I heard Caollin using my phone to learn French on Mango Languages. I’ll tell you, out of everyone, Caollin has surprised me the most this week because she’s the one who’s spent the most time doing nothing but petting the cats. As I alluded to earlier, even Arianna has noticed the difference this week. She mentioned to me last night that we should always have break because everyone’s been so much busier…and happier. A very wise observation, I would say.
I bought my first digital camera today (yes, my 14 year old has a DSLR, but I’ve only been using my Android to take pictures). It’s certainly not a DSLR, but, hopefully, today will be the last day I have to post blurry pictures. I’m really excited about it because when you have a lot of kids, you tend to forget to do things for yourself once in a while…so this is my present to me.
Tomorrow we’re planning on finding a pantry for our kitchen because we just don’t have enough cabinet space. Saturday we’ll be having our first family portrait taken in three years. I was so afraid that Brendan, my 20 year old, would have to work, but he’s coming, too! Afterwards, the 13 of us will be taking my mom to Denny’s for her birthday. (Kids eat free! Ahem. They’ll love us.) I’ve already reserved the entire back room. We only take the kids out to a restaurant about once a year, so they’re usually very well-behaved. We shall see…

What’s your week been like?

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Five Great Homeschool Resources and a Giveaway

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link. See my disclosure policy.

I always get so excited when talking about homeschooling resources. They can come in so many different forms, but they all have one thing in common-inspiration. Today I’ve compiled a list of five amazing tools to add excitement and encouragement to your homeschool. The great thing about these is that they can all be applied to any homeschooling style with the proper tweaking. And here’s the good part: stick around until the end for a giveaway!! Now, on to the list!

1. Konos Character Curriculum– This is an excellent unit study that is made to last approximately two years. It covers grades K-8 and it’s cross-curricular- it covers everything. Before unschooling, this was our main curriculum, and even now we use it when we’re looking for great activities. Some activities we’ve done through Konos are:
-We had a Medieval Feast in which the kids prepared food from that era and served it to guests who
ate out of trenchers with their hands. They were each assigned two roles- one as a server and one
as an entertainer. Some examples are: carver, page, jester, etc.

-We made an ear tunnel. We used things from around the house to build a model of the ear canal and
inner ear. The kids got to crawl through it and name the parts of the ear as they went along.

-We dissected a cow eyeball. Okay, my husband took the lead on that because I was really
grossed out by it…but the kids loved it!

2.Five in a Row-This brings back so many memories. This is the curriculum we used our very first year of homeschooling. I actually borrowed it from a friend because when I decided to pull the kids out of school, I had absolutely nothing curriculum-wise. The very first book we covered was The Story About Ping. I still remember having them draw and count little ducks, since the story takes place in China;then, we made chicken fried rice for lunch. This was also the year we also fell in love with such books as The Story of Ferdinand and Cranberry Thanksgiving. Those are books we still check out from the library to this day.

3.Learning All the Time, by John Holt, isn’t a curriculum, but it is a great read on the process of how children learn things. This book was a major deciding factor in my decision to unschool, and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve read it several times.

4.The Homeschooling Handbook is also not curriculum but is an excellent resource not only for prospective and new homeschoolers, but also for homeschooling veterans. There’s such a vast array of information in this book- from learning styles and homeschooling methods to record keeping and learning resources. This is another book in my house that’s quite dog-eared.

5.I am so excited for this last one. This Spring, an up-and-coming magazine, home/school/life, is being released. This is going to be a treasure trove of information. Unlike many other homeschool magazines, this will have something for everyone-and I mean everyone. It will be chock full of hands-on project ideas, unit studies,seasonal activities, field trip ideas and travel advice, and-my favorite part- a different homeschooling family will be featured in every issue. I don’t know about you, but I love to see how other homeschoolers do things. These little glimpses into other homes have actually ignited a lot of our homeschool philosophies we’ve implemented into our home. It will be available in digital format for all you techies and print format for all you traditionalists.

And now for the good part…home/school/life is offering a free one-year digital subscription to one of my readers. All you have to do is subscribe to my blog and leave a comment saying that you did so! The lucky winner will be randomly selected on March 19! The contest ends at 9pm EST the day the winner is chosen. Best wishes to you all!

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Welcome to Talkin’ With the Sun!

This is my son Brendan’s beautiful girlfriend. Check out her new blog!

Talkin' With The Sun

Hey wonderful! This is my first post on my blog, Talkin’ With the Sun! I just want to take this time to explain what this blog will be about.

It’s about everything.

Whoo, glad I got that out of the way! But no really, it really is going to be about pretty anything that pops into my head. I focus a lot on my hobbies and my studies, but I also talk about daily life, fashion, beauty, dreams, goals, inspirations, and a whole slew of other things. OH, and don’t forget food and DIY. We can’t live without those!

I’d like to introduce myself a little bit now. My name is Kimberly Ghorm and I am a college student (which would explain why I’m typing this at the library right now and pretending I’m doing schoolwork). I’m a nursing major with a soon-to-be minor in psychology. I go to Indiana…

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Let’s Talk Curriculum

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the products or businesses listed here. This is all my opinion, and I am not being compensated in any way.

It’s that time of year again- curriculum shopping time! Being the nerd that I am, there’s just nothing like receiving those boxes of new books at my doorstep. But I have to confess, I was a little worried that this year would be a bit of a disappointment. You see, unschooling means using life as your curriculum, and, to me, just a few weeks ago I was lamenting the fact that the only actual curriculum I would be buying were the books for Devin’s private investigation unit.
I needn’t have worried. This has, by far, been the best curriculum shopping year ever because I wasn’t confined to buying just books. Here I’m going to share our newest learning tools for the rest of this year and next year.

Our Books

-Life of Fred- In order to make math less monotonous and more enjoyable for everyone, we’ve all decided on Life of Fred for math.I actually ordered almost every single book available up through advanced algebra. The only one I did not get is beginning algebra because Dillon won’t be doing that until 10th grade. I also ordered the Life of Fred high school language arts curriculum as well.

Teaching Astronomy through Art Books 1 and 2

Astronomy- A Self-Teaching Guide

Understanding Psychology- Third Edition

Traditional Logic 1- Introduction to Formal Logic

The Definitive Book of Body Language, Body Language 101, and Liespotting

For those of you new to my blog, you can find our approach to unschooling high school here-

All the Other Good Stuff

– Minecraft Homeschool

– Five Below is a homeschooler’s dream. It has such a vast array of activities for kids at the lowest possible prices. We purchased tons of crafts, paints, sketchbooks, mini Lego sets, books-yes, more books-, and games.

– Toys R Us has also been an excellent resource for us. While it is a bit pricier, the quality and assortment of activities is phenomenal. Some examples of what we got there are:
– a model solar system with an interactive tablet
– a microscope, telescope, and binoculars
– Lincoln Logs and Legos
– a butterfly kit where you actually send away for real caterpillars
– soooo many games
– Monopoly
– Yahtzee
– Scattergories
– Duck Dynasty trivia
– Brain Quest States game
– a keyboard which is compatible with Apple devices
– a Pretend and Play school set- my personal favorite since my girls love to play school

– We did get a few items at Walmart as well, such as a kid’s guitar, which is really just a miniature version of a real guitar, a mini trampoline, and a sewing machine, since the girls and I really want to learn how to sew.

Our “school” shopping this year has far surpassed my expectations. Now onto watching the kids get inspired!!

What has been your favorite curriculum purchase?

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Break Week??? But You’re Unschoolers!


     Tomorrow marks the beginning of our first break week since Christmas break. Since we school year round, we follow a six weeks on, one week off schedule with longer breaks over Christmas, Easter, and the summer. Why do you need breaks if you’re unschooling? you might ask. I can only answer for our family, but here’s why.

– I don’t need to log in what my children do during this break. Think of it as more of a break for me than my kids. While this week may look similar to ”on” weeks, I can take a breather from the tedious record-keeping required by PA.

– My kids can get a respite from their math curriculum. To be sure, there will be plenty of math learned this week, but they won’t even realize it! Measuring for experiments and recipes, board games, divvying up meal portions, and geometry will continue as usual. These are activities that come naturally to my children. Unfortunately, required standardized testing has made me anxious enough that I do require my kids in third grade and up to complete a traditional math curriculum. I really do have trouble reconciling this. I see my kids doing math all the time without ever knowing it, but, somehow, I doubt that would be enough for the school district. I am switching to Life of Fred next year, though. (I actually just ordered almost all of these books since I have such a wide age range.) This erases the sting a little because literature based math will definitely be better for everyone to swallow.

I can just let my children be. Although I’m definitely getting better at this, I still feel sometimes like I’m hovering over them to see exactly what they’re doing so I can later write it down. I often wonder if the powers that be realize how much this hinders learning. If a child is left alone, he/she will naturally accomplish so much more than if they know they’re being watched. I know this. I’ve seen it happen with my own children. They’ll be happily pursuing any number of activities, but if I start questioning them too much, they’ll immediately freeze and just stop. Maybe it’s out of self-consciousness or thinking that what they were doing wasn’t what I expected of them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t show interest in what your children are doing…I’m saying that, in my case, I went a little overboard. And I’ll admit that even now I still unintentionally express irritation sometimes when I don’t see the value of their pursuits. This is not a fault of my children- it’s my own, and I’m working hard to rid myself of this ”school” mentality.

     So, this is why my family takes ”breaks.” They’re still learning all the time, but they’re learning in freedom this week. Freedom from an overregulated state and, as a result, a leech for a Mom. And, honestly, that’s enough for anyone to need to take a breather.

Do you school year round? If you’re unschooling (or not), do you feel the need for breaks as well? I’d love to read your thoughts on this!

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Random 5 Friday- Snowed In!


Our area got record- breaking snow accumulation yesterday- at least 20 inches.


This means that we’ll be stuck in the house for a while, so creativity is going to be key. Here are five things we’ve done since being snowed in.

1. We made good use of DVDs. American Girl DVDs, Ponyo, and The Emperor’s New Groove have been hits.

2. We’ve done lots and lots of crafting- painting rocks, Chinese lanterns, Sharpie art, and clay creations.


3. Lots of learning has been happening through silly and gross facts books, solar system games, and Egyptian treasures kits.


4. Minecraft, as usual, is occupying much of the big kids’ time.


5. Lastly, my personal favorite, random silliness has been rampant.


What are your favorite homebound activities??

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An Intimate Glimpse into Life with Ten Kids- February


     Life with ten kids isn’t easy, but it’s usually not as hectic as most people would believe. Today you’re invited in to our unschooling household- as is…no embellishments (like I would need to do that), no gloss overs. This is the real deal.
     If you’re not familiar with my blog, here is another post in which I listed everyone by name and, if it’s one of the kids, by age. Just to clarify things, we actually have eleven kids, but our oldest, Brendan, is twenty and no longer lives at home. I always feel bad leaving him out, so now that that’s off my chest…on to our day!

February 13, 2014

1:40am- I wake up to use the bathroom and decide to moderate some comments on my blog- I hate to let them sit all night. Shortly afterwards, Kenzie wakes up. She goes back to sleep after a few minutes of fussing. (She’s teething again. I feel like every time I write one of these posts, she’s teething and crabby. Oh, well. Such is life.)

2:45am- I’m still awake- that blasted Dunkin Donuts coffee! Kenzie wakes up again, then shortly falls back asleep.

3:20am- …still awake…Kenzie wakes again. I get her calmed down again. I check my Twitter, since I can’t sleep anyway. I try watching some goofy SyFy movie, hoping it will put me to sleep, to no avail. I don’t know how it is with you, but I need to be watching something that actually interests me in order to fall asleep. Put in my favorite movie, I’m out like a light. Turn on an infomercial, and I’m up all night. So…I put in a Sherlock DVD- the one where Moriarty returns, and I’m out in 15 minutes flat. See?

7:15am- London wakes up and asks me if I can play Yahtzee with her. Not now. Can she make a clay charm? Later. Sigh…I might as well get up.
   Shawn is off today because of the weather. I open the front door to look out and see this-



7:45- I hear most of the other kids awake upstairs. Kenzie is content…for the moment.


8:15- By now Kenzie’s screaming. As you’re reading this, just imagine it as background music because I hear it off and on I make myself coffee and a bagel and cereal for the kids.

9am- Chore time! Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, but that doesn’t stop several of the kids from whining. After a minute or two, they stop, and everything gets done. Chores only take 15-20 minutes, if that.

9:15- I get Ireland, Summer, and Kenzie dressed. Then their dresser falls apart.


If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

9:30- I went to 5 Below and bought a ton of stuff the day before, so the kids are eager to try everything.



Little decals came with this kit to cut out and put on the rocks like tattoos. We must have twenty pairs of scissors, but I can’t find any, so I have to use a utility knife. Not particularly safe when you’ve got children surrounding you.

Suddenly, I hear Shawn and Dillon upstairs yelling and banging things. Apparently, there was a mouse in my shoe tote. They got it. Yuck.
Unfortunately, all the noise wakes up Kenzie, who fell asleep only 45 minutes earlier.



She is not a happy camper. Poor thing.

10am- The kids move on to clay, a 3-d animal game, and pretending to be pirates.



Summer didn’t have a pirate scarf for her head, so she used bubble wrap. Innovation.




Kenzie is much happier by this time.


11am- I introduce drawing with Sharpies. Remind me to keep Summer far away from them.



Since I have to keep a close eye on the kids with the Sharpies, I create my own masterpiece.


Here’s Summer’s masterpiece. I guess I should have watched them closer.

While we’re drawing, Shawn is busy trying to put together a makeshift shovel. Ours broke the other day when he was shoveling the neighbor’s driveway. Because of the snow there’s not a single store in town that has any in stock.


Isn’t he handy? It’s actually pretty hilarious because it’s like seven feet tall.

I decide to look outside again.



11:30- The kids have exhausted me with their flitting from one activity to another. I put in American Girl- Molly, hoping to get them to sit for a while. Only Caollin, Bailey, Ireland, and Summer stay to watch it. Everyone else, besides Kenzie, goes upstairs with Shawn. That’s fine with me!

12pm- Lunchtime! PB&J uncrustables and beefsteak- they can pick either one. Devin wakes up. Okay, we woke her up.


She just loves to have her picture taken!


Dillon’s learned to just ignore me.

12:50- There’s a knock at the door. Our neighbor’s son has shoveled our front steps and sidewalk, since Shawn shoveled his mom’s driveway. (She’s so sweet. She was Devin’s first grade teacher; she’s retired now.) This motivates Shawn to shovel out our driveway out back.

1pm- I read Little House to Dillon, Arianna, Caollin, and Bailey. Devin starts her schoolwork. After Little House, I read aloud to London, Bailey, Luke, Ireland, and Summer while Dillon, Arianna, and Caollin do silent reading. They read twice a day- after family readaloud and at 8pm when I help Devin with algebra. Their afternoon reading is usually non-fiction or historical fiction. Dillon and Arianna are reading about mummies, while Caollin is reading a fictional story about a girl in the Jamestown colony. While I read aloud, the kids either play with legos, clay, or do word searches.



Today after reading time, the kids all do their own thing…look at books, fact cards, or play a solar system game.


I finally decide to fold laundry that’s been sitting here since yesterday. Then I notice that Summer’s gotten into my makeup…again.



2:45- I play Yahtzee Jr. with Caollin, London, and Ireland.

3:30- We order dinner from a deli on the corner that is actually open in this weather! Yay for me! Then, it’s chores!

4pm- We eat supper. Delicious, but what a mess!


4:30- I start cleaning the table but get sidetracked by doing another load of laundry. I put on the anime Ponyo to keep the kids occupied.


I finish cleaning the table.

5:30- I finally get to my devotions…sort of. Kenzie starts screaming halfway through, so I have to stop.

6pm- The house is quiet, so I check my Twitter and emails.

6:30- Bathtime!! First Kenzie, then London and Ireland, then Caollin and Summer, finally Bailey and Luke.

6:45- Chore time. I know you’re probably wondering how bathtime went so fast…it’s actually still going on. That’s why I put an older kid in with a younger kid…they’re self-sufficient. Okay, except Bailey and Luke. They’re only a year apart and, apparently, aren’t ready for unsupervised bathing because they dumped an entire bottle of shampoo out today. Arianna and Dillon do their math while the house is semi-quiet.

7pm- Ireland and Summer play with clay and legos, while Caollin is fascinated with the Egyptian kit I got yesterday. She even makes a paper mummy to put in the sarcophagus.


Kenzie’s nice and clean and ready for her devotions!


I came down the steps and saw Arianna playing with the kids.


Caollin’s paper doll mummy

Eventually, everyone wanted to be the pharaoh.


Even pharaohs do math!


7:15- Caollin moves on to Mind Bender puzzles and then her math. Several of the other kids are in my room on their electronics.



7:45- Bedtime story…the Family Bible is MIA, so we’ll have to hunt for that tomorrow.

8pm- Bailey, Luke, Ireland, and Summer go to bed. Caollin and London paint Chinese lanterns. Then, Dillon, Arianna, Caollin, and London do more silent reading- this time anything they choose.


I do algebra with Devin (I love the FOIL method!)

9:15- Caollin and London go up to bed, and I start writing this post.

10:53- That’s right now. I’m finishing this up, and hopefully going to bed.

Are you as tired as I am?

What’s your day like??

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Capturing the Journey- Life with Ten Kids- Week 2



Since it’s only been four days since my last post like this, the pictures are sparse, but here you go!








Have a great week!!

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