Ten Things Every Homeschool Library Should Have

Ten Things Every Homeschool Library Should Have

I’m a big believer in homeschoolers keeping large collections of print material in their homes. Seeing books around and seeing them being read is one way to build a reader. Today I’m discussing Ten Things Every Homeschool Library Should Have. How many of these are in your library?

Reference Materials for a Homeschool Library

Nature Field Guides– These are at the top of the list because we use them nearly everyday. We collect them at book sales and have quite a collection. We take them on excursions and use them for identifying new things in our back yard. If there’s a chance of going somewhere new outdoors, Rebecca will bring a field guide. Ok. I admit it. I grab guides too!

Biographies of Scientists– All the better to teach the lives of scientists with! Our kids are always amazed at the lives of people with a great focus and imagination.

Books on Books– Do you know the ones I’m talking about? These are books which tell about other books. They can be annotated bibliographies and many give additional advice about reading in general.

Atlases– Every homeschool needs a good atlas. I’d say you need more than one. Actually, I’d suggest as many as you can fit! We have all sorts of atlases including those of fictional worlds. Who can resist? I also like to have enough that my kids don’t have to share.

Dictionaries– We still love paper dictionaries here! While it’s convenient to use an electronic version, it’s a lot of fun, it’s wildly good educational practice to have students flip through old school and look up a word. On the way they get to meet other words and see the pictures. It’s easy to get lost in a dictionary when you are a word kid.

ThesaurusThe Synonym Finder is an excellent resource for the homeschool library. Your library should not be without a good thesaurus.

Technology for a Homeschool Library

Kindles– I often extol the many virtues of a Kindle Fire and Kindle eReader, but I’ll do it again. Not only can you read easily on a Kindle, but the Fire is a great reference tool for any homeschool library. Kindle Fires are extremely economical and a great way to enter the world of the tablet.

Audio Books– Rainy days and long trips are good times for audio books, but I contend that any time is a great time for an audio book. Audible makes it very easy to download new audios wirelessly, but you can get audio book files from various artists as well. I have kid who will listen to books over music when they do chores and other work.

Physical Space for a Homeschool Library

IKEA Expedit Shelving– We live many hundreds of miles from an IKEA, but I keep my eyes out on Craigslist which is where I’ve gotten the two that we have. Pretty sure they replaced the Expedit line, but hopefully a similar sturdy, cubby like bookcase is available. They hold a ton of books and it’s easy to organize with them because the books are in little square areas instead of across a shelf with no breaks.

Library Shelf– This is a bookshelf which is dedicated fully to library books. Kids can put books back there once they’ve been read and the great thing is when you go to return them on library day, they are all there in one place!

Other Homeschool Library Related Posts from Blog, She Wrote

Organizing Your Homeschool Library

Organizing Your Homeschool Library– Find out how we organize books and arrange our library so the books remain accessible and it’s a comfortable place to be.

The Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home– The big post on how to go about building your home environment to promote a culture of books at home.

Essential Elements of a Home Learning Environment– This is one of my favorite posts. What are the must haves for a homeschooling family? How do you set up your home to be a respite and a place of learning?

Learning Geography with Atlases– Ever wondered how to choose an atlas or how to use different styles? This post is all about atlases including a video where Tyler Hogan from Bright Ideas Press and I chat about our favorites!

How to Grow a Reader– How to engage kids with books from birth to high school. A comprehensive post on ways to enjoy books with kids of all ages.

How to Engage Your Teen with Books– All things related to communicating with your teen about books.

100 Books You Should Read by the Time You Turn 20– A list for teens by teens. Which ones have you read? Subscribe to Blog, She Wrote for an ebook and printable list!

So, tell us what your homeschool library can’t do without?


Other iHN bloggers are sharing what their homeschool can’t do without. Nothing better than a fun list!

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather

5 Pieces of Technology Our Homeschool Couldn’t Do Without

5 Pieces of Technology Our Homeschool Couldn't Do Without

I suppose that’s a little strong. I mean we could  live without these items in our homeschool. But, for sure, it would be missing some exceptional opportunities. This post is all about the 5 Pieces of Technology Our Homeschool Couldn’t Do Without. I hope it encourages you to consider how you might make better use of some of the everyday technology in your home.

Kindles & Tablets

How to Homeschool with a Kindle

We use our Kindles every day! These have probably been the single best addition to our techy homeschool in the last two years. All the kids have them and use them in a variety of ways. Of course, other tablets such as iPads and Android tablets work well with Kindle apps, but if you are looking for an economical way to enter the world of tablets, you can’t beat the Kindle Fire. The Paperwhite is a great tool as well if you just want the reader. I’ve written a lot about how we use Kindle tablets, but here are a few ideas:

  • Read Books– Nothing like a good old fashioned read from a tablet! There are a lot of ways to highlight and take notes while you read. Get to know your tool and it won’t let you down.
  • Listen to Audio Books– This is especially dreamy with an Audible account which allows you to download the files wirelessly.
  • Do Research– Having a portable portal to the internet means being able to keep working and look something up at the same time and a small device works well in small work spaces.
  • Watch Video Content– Either from a YouTube playlist, embedded text links, or other sources. You can watch anywhere at any time. Dare I admit that we can even access our satellite dish remotely on the go?
  • Follow Tutorials– This is great for art projects and hands on moments. My artist daughter uses it for her Craftsy classes. It’s so easy to have the tablet right there and to work as she watches.

Video Conferencing

How to Collaborate As an Illustrator

Whether it’s Skype or a Google + Hangout, we can meet long distance for a variety of reasons. For example:

  • Playing Chess Virtually– with a relative or a friend. Our kids have played regularly with their grandfather over Skype.
  • Conducting G+ Hangouts– I appear regularly with Bright Ideas Press
  • Project Collaborations– with homeschoolers far away. There are so many things you could work on together even while far apart.
  • Book Clubs– A fun way to get like minded kids and teens together to discuss books
  • Writer’s Workshops– Long distance sharing of writing is a great option for a video conference format.

The nice thing about using video conferences that it brings people together if they are far apart and it’s an easier way to convene if you live local to one another as well. Sometimes it’s easier to set aside time if you don’t include drive time.

LEGO Mindstorms

Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool

LEGO Mindstorms have been a mainstay of our homeschool for many years. We got our first kit ages ago and we’ve been exploring the world of robotics ever since:

  • Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool– This is a great list of why we use Mindstorms and it tells some of the cool things we’ve done with the kits.
  • FIRST LEGO League– Dan has been an FLL World Congress judge and a coach for 8 years. He had the opportunity to judge the World Congress in 2005 when the challenge was a Nanotechnology theme. Since then, he’s been coaching teams and running a JrFLL event. Our teams meet 7 hours a week in preparation for competition days. That’s a lot of Mindstorm time for our kids!
  • Assigned Challenges– For example, when our 16yo was 10 he was challenged to make a speed trap for a marble on a marble roller coaster.
  • Programming Challenge– Our 10yo is a new EV3 owner and he’s been working to program the brick with Java instead of the Mindstorms software. He’s always looking to push the edge!

Digital Microscope

Tips for Using a Digital Microscope

Do you have a microscope in your homeschool? You can use digital microscopes to:

  • Allow all of your kids to see the image under the scope at once- huddling around one expensive microscope it highly overrated.
  • Let’s younger kids use a microscope successfully without damaging the slide.
  • Fantastic tool for taking a quick look at a specimen- whether it is living or not.
  • Record live video of a pond critter on your slide.
  • Take still photos of magnified specimens.

Visit Tips for Using a Digital Microscope to read more about how we use this technology.


We have three desktop computers and three laptops. Two of them belong to Dan and I and the others are shared by the kids. Several of them are hand-me-down machines that aren’t the top of the line, but they are hard workers and allow our kids to work simultaneously when it’s necessary. It’s a lot of work to support and maintain a computer network, but it’s worth the effort.

Computers are used at some point daily to:

  • Participate in Online Classes– both long term and short term
  • Attend Conferences
  • Listen to Podcasts & Other Audio
  • Play Music– We have a Rhapsody account and we listen to music with an online interface or app
  • Access Video Content– whether it’s YouTube or hyperlinks within text
  • Word Processing– writing and editing papers, stories, etc
  • Spreadsheet
  • Computer Programming– Our 10yo is an avid programmer and is always into creating new code for an idea he has.
  • Interfacing with LEGO Mindstorms
  • Arduino Work– Joshua works with his Arduino board and programs it using the software.

More Technology Posts from Blog, She Wrote

How to Make a YouTube Playlist

Managing the Internet in Your Home– This is a three part series written by my husband, Dan on how to use your router and Open DNS to filter content and to implement access control. You’ll be given the tools and instructions for limiting time on devices and turning internet on and off at various times- down to the machine or device you want off or to have access.

How to Homeschool with a Kindle– Kindle eReaders and tablets are essential to our homeschool these days. How do we use them? What’s the big deal? Read on to find all the ways we enjoy them.

How to Make a YouTube Playlist– Did you know you can make a preset playlist of YouTube videos for your children to view? You can! And you can make as many categories as you’d like to sort them.

Best Educational YouTube Channels for Homeschoolers– Now that you know how to make a playlist in YouTube, it’s time to visit the best educational channels around and add to them!

How to Use Google Earth– What’s not to love about this virtual globe? Learn how to use this tool to its fullest potential and see all the resources out there to help you use it in your homeschool.

While technology doesn’t make up our whole homeschool experience, it certainly does enhance it in extraordinary ways.

How do you use technology in your homeschool? What’s your family’s favorite?


Other iHN bloggers are sharing their lists of things their homeschool can’t do without. Visit and enjoy!

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather

Creating Homeschool Independence with Online Schedulers

Creating Homeschool Independence with Online Schedulers

The opinions on independence and online schedulers in this post are my own. I was compensated for my time in mentioning Homeschool Planet.

How do you make sure your middle and high schoolers know their daily assignments? Some of us use plan books or whiteboards (in our case an exquisite slate board!). Some use calendars and custom homeschool planners. I like to use a plain spiral notebook for my own planning, but I like to provide my kids with a simple weekly list of the things they need to do by week’s end. Creating Independence with Online Schedulers is all about how we use daily and weekly lists and how they might benefit you.

Advantages of Homeschooling Independence

Every homeschooling mother dreams of when some of her children can work on their own. Some students are naturals and others need more guidance when the time comes. What are some reasons it’s good to be independent?

  • Allows mom to work one on one with other students- We all need this from time to time, right? Basic skills like math and reading come to my mind especially when your kids are at various levels.
  • Teaches students strategies for solving their own problems.
  • Offers opportunities for ownership of work- This is necessary when students are ready for you to transition from teaching to mentoring.

Creating Homeschool Independence with Online Schedulers

Benefits of an Online Homeschool Scheduler

Many homeschoolers make use of a daily task list. What if you could make this list easily using an online format? How would this benefit your homeschool?

  • Automated– So, once you type in the assignments, you don’t have to worry about making sure your student finds the list. It’ll be delivered to his inbox.
  • Easy to find– Less likely to lose a device such as a tablet and phone compared to a piece of paper or a notebook.
  • Available on mobile devices– All it takes is for the device to receive an email. The email contains the assignment list which is color coded.
  • Receive assignments on the go– Or have a reminder of what those are when they are away from home.
  • Takes advantage of digital oriented habits– Many students today already check tablets and phones during the day. Including their daily task list in this format makes the habit easy to stick to.
  • Reminders can go beyond school assignments– You can choose categories for reminders and include items like work, volunteer jobs, field trips, chores, etc.

Homeschool Planet Online Scheduler

Creating Homeschool Independence with Online Schedulers

Homeschool Planet is an online scheduler and homeschool planner. I’d been searching a long time for something easy to use to give my kids an electronic task list without the overhead of a lot of other online and digitally formatted planning software. Here are a few things I’ve enjoyed about using Homeschool Planet:

  • Set up is quick & easy– There isn’t a ton of information to be entered before being able to use the program. It has capabilities beyond what I need and if you are looking for more, you can keep records, attendance, grades, etc. But the bottom line is names of kids and their classes and a spot to put assignments. Done.
  • Does not require setting up lessons– In order to use the features that make the task lists. This is so important if you just want a scheduler. I don’t need the historical data because I have to do a lot of reporting in NY State separate from what is recorded in online planners. I just want the scheduler.
  • Entry of assignments is not time consuming– It’s pretty intuitive and adding assignments for all four of my kids takes only a few minutes.
  • Emails assignments to my kids– I can pick how often and what they see on any given week, but every morning they’ll get an email with the tasks necessary for each subject for that day and it’s color coded. You can also send a weekly digest so they see the week ahead.
  • Calendar Sharing– If you want to share your calendar (various formats available) you can do that as well. I like to keep things simple, but there are a lot of features.

Creating Homeschool Independence with Online Schedulers

Sign Up for the Free Trial

There is a 30 Day Free Trial of Homeschool Planet. You can get a free membership to Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op and try out Homeschool Planet free for 30 Days.

Homeschool Planet is $65 per year or $6.95 per month.

Relevant Posts from Blog, She Wrote

Using Ordinary Notebook Paper: Planners & Assignment Books– This method of using a spiral notebook transitions well to the online scheduler. In fact, that’s how I’ve been using Homeschool Planet. I continue to keep  my notebooks and choose this scheduler as the delivery method. There’s still no empty boxes and lots of freedom. The best part is how quick it is to transpose my plans into the online form and sit back as assignments are delivered daily to my kids!

Creating Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Teen– Speaking of independence and creating electronic task lists, how do we work with our high schoolers and help them to become more autonomous before leaving home?

How to Homeschool with a Kindle– Using an online daily scheduler is another great reason to use a Kindle in your homeschool. It’s an affordable way to enter the world of tablets and they’ve been such a useful tool for our kids.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather