This is all stuff that any family will enjoy, home schooling or not. It’s scary to put out money for things and not know if you’re going to actually like them or not. Several times I have spent money on something that I didn’t end up using. So it’s helpful to get a recommendation from someone. These things I list below I am persuaded that no one will regret spending their money on. You will probably notice a theme in the below recommendations: I love audio CDs for learning. You can pop them in the car when running errands or turn a house cleaning session into an exciting learning adventure. You can even pop one in on a hot day and have the whole family lie in front of a fan, close their eyes, and listen to an adventure. Or in the winter, sit in front of a fire. But the biggest advantage in my mind is that the kids have listened to the following resources over and over. Each time, they understand it better and more knowledge is retained. For a busy mom, especially those with babies, you don’t want to miss out on the world of audio adventure!
Science: Vision Forum’s audio adventures called Jonathan Park are topnotch. I have learned more about creation science listening to these adventures than I did in my Creation/Evolution class I took in college (which was a very informative class.) Exciting adventures are coupled with discoveries and facts that will keep everyone captivated. I understand that Christian resources can sometimes be poorly researched and of inferior quality, but this series goes a long way in challenging that idea. (Note: if you buy only one, I recommend that you not start with Jonathan Park Goes to the Zoo. It is an entirely different format than the other five; there's no adventure. We don't like it nearly as well as the others, but it's still interesting.)
Music: My kids absolutely love a series called Classical Kids. They are well-written historical-fiction stories about the life of a musician set to his music, in audio CD. For instance, in Beethoven Lives Upstairs, a young boy narrates the ups and downs of having the strange composer rent the upstairs of his house. Although the details are fictionalized, they base as much as they can on facts we know of the composer’s life. The magic of this series is that the kids associate the music they are listening to with the story so that whenever they hear a song of Beethoven’s they immediately identify it as his. It’s done well so that I don’t mind that they want to listen to it again and again; it’s always a joy. Titles in the series: Mr. Bach Comes to Call, Hallelujah Handel, Mozart’s Magic Fantasy, Mozart’s Magnificant Voyage, Tchaikovsky Discovers America, Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, and Song of the Unicorn. I have learned a lot about the composer’s lives and their music myself.
Geography Songs: My kids can still sing all the songs about the order of the states that they learned several years ago. This CD goes over the entire world and puts states, capitals, and the countries of all the continents to music. For instance, in order to learn the position of the states there are five separate songs, four for the borders and one for the middle. For instance, the song for the eastern border sets the states to music starting from the bottom: “Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia…etc.” After hearing the song only a few times, the kids could easily recite the eastern border. This sure helped them on geography tests. When Isaiah needed to know the 13 original colonies in 2nd grade, I told him to just sing the eastern border song starting with Georgia instead of Florida and replacing Pennsylvania with Maine. While the rest of the class was struggling to learn the colonies, Isaiah had it down pat. Music is such an aid to memorization!