Tag Archives: free

Free Resources for the Garden

September 12, 2013

I am planning on adding two new crops to the garden next year. Strawberries and sweet potatoes. I prepared the beds by covering them with manure when I cleaned out the chicken coop this summer.

I am planting in the sweet potato bed right now for lack of room but I was able to find a free source of horse manure recently and went ahead and covered the strawberry patch and the newly prepared potato patch.

DSC_2926(strawberry patch covered in chicken and horse manure)

DSC_2923(potato patch covered in horse & chicken manure)

I am always watching L2Survive’s YouTube videos where he goes and talks to Paul Gautcshi. I love learning from him! One thing I learned recently is that he uses wood shavings (about 6 inches) in his coop. It soaks up the ammonia smell and makes a fine, very rich compost. He says to spread it very finely over the garden. Truthfully, I’m just looking forward to the lack of smell 🙂 Our coop doesn’t smell horribly but I love the smell of the wood shavings! I’ll post a pic when I get it all spread out 🙂

I saw an Asplundh truck the other day & they said they would be more than happy to bring by some mulch. They never showed up 😦 I guess they were not able to find our house. We don’t need any more mulch but I was excited anyway.

It hurts me to spend money in general so buying things for the garden tends to be put on the back burner. Especially since I’m saving up for expensive crops like strawberry sets and sweet potatoes! Are you getting any free things for your garden?

I am linking up to Simple Lives Thursday. Check out what other people are doing to save money (among other things)!


Homeschooling, After the First Year…

April 3, 2013

In the last homeschooling post, I went into detail how I homeschool on the cheap. The two main points were:

  1. Buy second hand to get everything CHEAP
  2. Buy NON-consumable books that can be used for multiple years/children

Kindergarten looks different from the rest of the Elementary Years (or Grammar Stage) because there are essentially 2-3 subjects. So, in this post, I’m going to give some first grade suggestions and hopefully you can apply these to the rest of the Elementary Years.

Reading – $0

Continue on in Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (OPG). Once you get to lesson 140 or so, you can start other Language Arts subjects such as Spelling and Grammar.

By the time they are at this point in OPG, they are likely fluent readers (which does not happen, generally in public school) and are going through books at record pace! This is when you start to REALLY appreciate your local library!

Spelling $8-15

Spelling Workout was recommended from Well-Trained Mind (WTM) and we have really enjoyed it. We read the story and do a pretest on Monday, a worksheet per day through Thursday, and a final test on Friday.

I keep track of the words she misses and we practice them about once a month during a review week (this is all suggested in the WTM book). Because of how they learn to read (phonetically, in which almost every word follows a rule), I find spelling is not very difficult for my kids.

Grammar $9-15

One of the authors of WTM wrote a Grammar Book entitled First Language Lessons. The first contains grammar lessons for first and second grades.

The lessons are done orally at first. Writing (copying then dictation) is added in little by little. It is wonderful. English is a love of mine. I even did some masters work in English Grammar, Linguistics, etc. so it warms my heart that my 6 year old knows, by heart, ALL of the prepositions in alphabetical order 🙂 (dork, I know, I know)

Writing – $0

Once I finish the Kindergarten HWT workbook, I will test my kids over the course of a number of days, first uppercase and then lowercase letters, to see which they need more work on. We will work on them on regular Kindergarten lined paper, in the same manner as HWT did, until I feel they are ready for sentences.

Next, we write simple sentences such as ‘My name is…’ At this point, they will have writing practice in Spelling every day as well as in Grammar as they copy sentences.

If I feel they need more practice, I will have them copy the Bible verse they are working on memorizing that week. Plenty of practice. No need to spend money (other than lined paper, which I got for free but I assume is pretty cheap)!

So that’s your Language Arts for first grade and you have spent…$17-30! WOW! OR, go with a consumable, boxed curriculum and spend…$200. BIG DIFFERENCE!

Math $70

We continue with Saxon. Because we already had the manipulatives from the Kindergarten year, we did not have to buy those. I got the teacher’s guide AND the workbooks second hand.

Saxon is a great curriculum. However, the more I read from other, seasoned homeschoolers, the more I wanted to add another math curriculum…so the kids did not get stuck in one way of doing things, for a challenge, etc. MEP was suggested and I am SO thankful it was! It is a math curriculum out of the UK and it is WONDERFUL! It is free (woo whoooo!) and extremely challenging.

Here is what we do in regards to math:

  • Because of how challenging MEP is (they introduce algebraic concepts in year 1), we do Saxon 1 and when we are done, we do MEP R (their Kindergarten year), then we’ll do Saxon 2 and then MEP 1.
  • You can have your local office supply store print and bind a whole grade level of MEP for about $10-15 so it is very economical. This way, my children are taught LOTS of memorization (which is important, imo) with Saxon and then are able to apply this knowledge with MEP.

Other things that can be added in the first grade are History, Science, Art, Music, Foreign Language, Religion

We use Story of the World and Children’s Encyclopedia, as recommended in WTM (again, bought second hand). We do not do anything on a consistent with the last three subjects, other than listen to a lot of classical music.

These new subjects could be as inexpensive as going to the library with the lists of books WTM recommends and learn, learn, learn or as expensive as private lessons. Because the range is so wide, I am not going to say how much this would typically cost.

I am letting my girls have a bit more freedom about what they want to learn these days so right now, my eldest is reading a lot about the Women’s Suffrage Movement, after her Nana gave her a Susan B. Anthony biography for her sixth birthday while my 5yo cannot get enough of Archeology, lost cities, etc.

I do feel like we are lacking in the Science department but we are raising chickens and gardening and cooking a lot so that’s a start. I am always reevaluating to make sure everything is covered (even things I’m not as excited about)!

*As I said in the earlier post, please spend a bit of time searching for used curricula. I have even found a lot of consumable workbooks that people buy and then find they do not like the curriculum so they sell them crazy cheap. These workbooks typically have writing in the first 10 or so pages but

  1. this is mainly review that could really be skipped
  2. in many curricula, what is on the worksheet is also in the teacher’s guide so you can just make your own first 10 pages! 🙂

*There are people who try to homeschool for FREE using sites such as http://howtohomeschoolforfree.com/. I am not opposed to these sites, certainly. However, you do have to print a lot out (making it no longer free) and I am just overwhelmed with all of the choices, it is just not a good fit for me. For those of you who can make it work, RIGHT ON! 😀

I hope these homeschooling posts

  • gave you some things to think about
  • helped you see how economical and relatively easy it is to homeschool (esp the younger years)
  • gave you the needed confidence to take the leap into the world of (officially) teaching your children!

* Adding all of that up, came up to anywhere from $60-100 for First Grade! Not bad, seeing how your typical first grade boxed curriculum will run you about $400 and up!

I’ll steer away from such a controversial subject for the next post & just give you an update as to what’s going on with the chickens and the garden 🙂