It’s a new year and I thought I’d update on some of the resources we’re using this year! Some will be the same (art supplies, nature, and books of course are always going to be big!), and some have changed to better suit our needs.
I hope you find something helpful in here, and I’d love to hear anything great that you’ve discovered too!
The top of my list this year has to be the same as last year. Our group of friends is such a great resource. There is no greater way to learn than through play, and you need other kids for that! The children in the group get two whole days a week to play together in nature. This is the perfect amount for us. My kids absolutely need that regular contact with friends, but it’s not too much that we feel over scheduled.
We also have a lot of shared learning experiences throughout the year that have grown out of the interests of the kids in the group. Things that we have happening this year include: nature journaling, book club, poetry teatime, talent shows, markets, project fairs, exploring different countries and cultures, and more!
When I talk about our group I often have people commenting that they wish they had something like that close to them. The answer is to create it! It can be hard to find the group that’s right for you, and take a lot of trial and error. Sometimes it just doesn’t exist and you have to create it yourself. Decide what it is you’re looking for and advertise for people who want the same. For example, what we wanted were families who wanted to share our unschooling journey with us and be a regular part of our week. I wanted people who had the same idea of what unschooling was and were keen to provide awesome opportunities and experiences for our children to grow and learn together. Along the way we have found some amazing people who truly share our goals and who we are super excited to see every week. Of course, we’ve also encountered people who weren’t the right fit and valued different things. That’s ok! There are so many groups around for people to find their place. Don’t be afraid to create what YOUR family wants. If that suits other people, fabulous! If it doesn’t, they can do the same.
We used Outschool last year and will absolutely be continuing this year. This is an amazing resource. If you haven’t heard of it yet, basically it’s a place to find online classes with teachers from all over the world. ‘Teachers’ can mean certified teachers, artists, scientists, or other adults with an expertise or interest to share. It’s people sharing their passions with people who want to learn. Perfect!
Classes can be live, meaning you get to see and chat with the teacher and other kids taking the class, or they can sometimes be pre-recorded. We have tried both but the kids always prefer the live ones where they get to interact and ask questions. There are classes on almost anything and we can always find something about the kids’ current interests.
I highly recommend checking it out, and if you click here you can even get $20 off your first class! If you’re an adult with something to share, why not start up a class too! The world needs more of you.
You might have seen my recent post about this brilliant art program. If not, go have a read for more info. This will definitely be getting a lot of use this year. The girls have even set aside specific time each week to do a class.
What I love about Masterpiece Society is that they’ve got everything covered. No really. There are classes for every age group, classes on every art medium, one time classes, whole courses, handcraft, classes linking art and literature, classes and education on famous artists, an art history podcast, printable resources, and more things being added regularly! It’s everything we need and I see us using it for years to come.
Studio Membership is only open for new members a few times a year so don’t miss out!
Prodigy is a free online maths game my kids play. They love it. I’m not sure exactly of the story but basically I think you’re a wizard and you battle monsters by casting spells. You get to cast spells when you answer a math problem correctly. There seems to be a lot more to the story than that but it sounded very complicated when they explained it to me, ha!
Prodigy automatically works out what level your child is at and gives them questions based on their abilities. You can pay to upgrade but the free version is what we use and is totally fine!
This year one of my daughter’s is interested in learning French! We have tried a couple of other apps but found them quite repetitive. She’s been using Babbel for a couple of months now and much prefers it.
We’ve always had a sewing machine and the girls have been using it independently since they were about five years old. In the last 6 months this has been much more regular and they’re now interested in following patterns and making clothes they can wear. Miss 8 also loves fashion design. She got her own fashion sketchbook for Christmas and plans to make the things she creates.
Our machine is over 10 years old and was inexpensive. I don’t know a lot about different machines but I can tell you a couple of features of ours that make it easier for them to use. The first is having an adjustable speed dial. They can set it to sew as fast or slow as they need and this is really handy, especially when first learning. The second is having a needle threader. No trying to get the thread through a tiny hole, the machine does it easily for you.
This year one thing the girls want to do is more writing. I love Julie Bogart’s passion on the topic of writing and I definitely recommend her book The Brave Learner. It’s got lots of ideas and encouragement for how to support kids in writing! You can also check out her free 7-Day Writing Blitz which has some great ideas. The girls like playing writing games like where they write a line of a story each, or when I give them a story prompt.
We have a few shelves packed full of art supplies, because it’s something the kids do every day here. Mont Marte would have to be my all time favourite brand because they are affordable and great quality. You can find all our favourite supplies here.
We do a lot of reading. Actually I didn’t realise how much until I wrote a post about our daily rhythm. We have read aloud time in the morning, independent reading after lunch, read a chapter book in the evening, and the girls listen to audible as they fall asleep. Books are one of our greatest resources. You can see our favourite books here.
Last year we made our own nature journals with our unschool group. They turned out so well. Now we keep them in our art caddy when we go out and they encourage so much more observation of the world around us.
We usually just search things when a need arises, like ‘how to embroider flowers’ or ‘how to make a compost bin’. But here are a few channels we keep coming back to…
ViHart – Making maths super interesting! Miss 10 was obsessed with making Hexaflexagons for a while there, thanks to Vi.
Anna McNulty – This year the girls want to get more flexible and they love Anna’s routines and do them every morning.
Design Squad Global – Lots of cool engineering and design challenges and experiments.
Ted-Ed – Educational videos on lots of topics.
I couldn’t leave this off the list. Every weekday afternoon this year we’ll be at dancing or netball. As the girls get older they want to do more things! Mostly it’s dancing here that they’re really passionate about. It gives them a chance to not only improve their skills and practice what they are passionate about, but also to interact with different groups of kids. I love that they have many friendship circles and they love them all.
Big Life Journal Goal Setting
At the start of each year we sit down and talk about goals and plans for the new year. The last two years we have used Big Life Journal’s goal setting kit. This year there was some really helpful pages included on setting goals and actually breaking down the steps to achieving them, as well as weekly challenges you can set yourself, and a savings tracker. The kids found these really helpful and I think they will actually continue to be used throughout the whole year.
I get asked all the time about how I keep records for Unschooling and well sometimes I’m pretty haphazard, LOL. I take a LOT of photos and obviously if you follow my Instagram you see a lot of what they get up to. But taking notes is something I forget to do and then try to cram it all at once, ha! Not any more! I’ve been eyeing off the Mulberry Planner for a couple of years but this year I finally decided to try it and I’m so excited to share because I think it’s perfect for me!
What makes it hard for me is when I take notes I can’t easily look back and find what’s what, and I can’t insert extra pages in the middle of a book if I want to write more! I just hadn’t found the perfect thing yet. I am loving this planner though because it’s so customisable. There’s literally 179 pages of templates. And there’s something for every type of homeschooler or unschooler. We unschool so the pages for lesson plans aren’t for me but I don’t have to have them! I simply don’t print those pages and print extra of what I need. Plus I can order things in whatever way makes sense to me!
So, the pages I’m loving are: the parts about our family and what we want to learn this year, family goals for the climate, month by month snapshot, weekly schedule, daily routine, weekly learning records, the lists (book list, resources list, documentary list, audiobook list), and the yearly reflections. At the end of each day I just write a little bit about what the kids got up to. It’s going to be so awesome to look back on and see all the fun things we have done together!
I even think the ‘term planning’ pages are useful. As an unschooler I don’t plan what my children will learn but you could use them to write down all the things the kids do in each area to make reporting easier depending on what the requirements are where you live.
If you’ve been wanting a bit more organisation with note taking I really recommend this planner! You can totally make it exactly what YOU need.
Bonus! When I contacted them they gave me a 10% off coupon for my readers too! Just use the code HAPPINESS when you grab it HERE.
That’s it so far! It’s going to be a great year! What have you got planned?