Give Your Child a Classical Education for Free!

classical for free graphic

When I was a kid, I gave myself something of a classical education by accident.

My grandmother gave us a set of two crimson-bound poetry books that were 100 years old and my great-aunt gave us a stack of old school readers from the 1920′s. We didn’t have TV, so reading was our entertainment.

Though we read for hours a day as a family and had assigned reading for our homeschool lessons, these vintage textbooks were some of my favorite books to read for fun. Although we had many books to choose from including many by modern authors, these appealed to me for some reason.

I read everything from poems by Tennyson, Wordsworth, Longfellow, Whittier, and their contemporaries. I read mythology, classics, historical accounts, Aesop, fairy tales, and beautifully written little children’s stories with charming, artful illustrations.

What a contrast to Common Core nonsense that’s pitching fiction in favor of more and more “informational texts!”

This education was one that I didn’t get from any modern textbook I read. We got a disjointed sampling of great literature and poetry from our mainstream textbooks, but to be honest it was nothing that lit a fire in me like those tattered gray little books that some child had used 70 years before.

From those books I learned to love the beauty of language and the richness of great words, especially poetry. The great writers and poets of past generations became like old friends.

Imagine my excitement to realize that many of these same books and similar ones from the same era are available free online, since they are now in the public domain. I can expose my children to these beautiful, profound thoughts, and so can you!

I have purchased many (expensive) books from writers of classical curricula over the years, and I note with interest that these old textbooks are uncannily similar in their approach and content. I know the value of classical materials, and I’m so happy and excited to know that I can expose my children to books of equal quality for free (or in some cases, pennies).

Here are several of my favorite finds.

Everyday Arithmetic books from grades 2-8 with teacher’s manual
English and Language Arts

Language Lessons (love the illustrations in this one!)

Introductory Language Lessons

Sheldon’s Primary Language Lessons

Sheldon’s Advanced Language Lessons

The Story of the World series by M. B. Synge

Although the title is the same as the series published by Peace Hill Press, this is an older version.  As far as I’ve seen its content is beautifully written and comparable to modern classical history texts, but of course it doesn’t contain modern history.

These are available to read FREE online here at The Baldwin Project.

You can purchase these books for 99 cents on Kindle here:

Volume 1: On the Shores of the Great Sea

Volume 2: The Discovery of New Worlds

Volume 3: The Awakening of Europe

Volume 4: The Struggle for Sea Power

Volume 5: The Growth of the British Empire


The Elson Readers for many grades–my favorites!

Nature Study

The Turned-Intos: Jane Elizabeth Discovers the Garden Folk

Burgess Animal Stories

Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton

I’m always eager to hear about free classical textbooks.  Do you have any favorites to share?

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This post is part of an ongoing series.  View the entire index of Cozy Homeschooling posts here.

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Lovely Weekend Reads

weekend readsAn eclectic collection of links for your reading pleasure…

“Rangers at National Wildlife Refuges are discovering a new phenomenon this summer: young visitors are often scared of nature…”

Why Are Kids Afraid of Nature?

“Though we are far from being worthy of the title, God calls us friends. We are on a journey with our kids, leading and loving them, correcting and caring for them in the path of abundant life. Surely, we can call our children friends. If we are afraid to do that, then maybe we are assuming an adversarial role that is unwarranted and unhelpful.”

Yes, I do Want to Be Friends With My Kids (For the Family)

“We want to raise kids to be informed and active citizens without subjecting them to an information overload or current events-related despair. Here some activities and resources to make that easier.”

Raising Media Aware and Current Events Savvy Kids: 21 Resources (Laura Grace Weldon)

“For even though God has provided many good things, we still aren’t in heaven.  Suffering is still the lot of men and women throughout the world, and no amount of human effort will ever eradicate it.

People who are united to Christ by faith still get sick; are still abused and ridiculed; still die; still suffer the heartache of loss and reproach and still weep over injustice, cruelty and hatred.

A merciful man doesn’t give them a list of everything that they need to work on in order to protect and heal themselves.  Perhaps this isn’t even the issue.  Besides, the thinking that all men have the power to overcome all misery is humanism, not Christianity.”

It’s Probably Their Own Fault (My Only Comfort)

“Thank you for joining me here. My name is Nicole Spring AKA wife, Waldorf homeschooling Mama to three sweet little ones, homemaker of the radical kind, knitter, cook, seamstress, student of life as well as my children, crafter, girl of all trades… and always with a camera in hand to document our days so we may look back at these glorious yet exhausting times.”

Frontier Dreams (A Waldorf homeschooling blog)

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Nine Ways to Save Big at Dollar Tree

dollar tree graphic

When I first started shopping at Dollar Tree, I was floored at the things I could purchase there that cost 3 or 4 or more times at other stores. Dollar Tree isn’t compensating me for bragging on their store (ha!), I just want to pass these fabulous savings on to you!

photo(12)1. Cards

I know people who have stopped sending altogether because they cost SO much at standard stores. Dollar Tree has a HUGE rack of cards for a dollar and even a 2-for-a-dollar rack!


2. Party Supplies

I have bought all the decorations for the past few birthday parties we’ve had at Dollar Tree. They aren’t themed but they are cute and very nice in my opinion. Dollar Tree also has lovely gift bags, wrapping paper, and ribbon.


3. Toys

I’ll be honest: A lot of Dollar Tree toys are PURE JUNK. But there are gems there as well. Molded plastic animal toys, character coloring books (like Strawberry Shortcake, Pooh, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates), army men, sweet little dolls, play doh, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and small stuffed animals are just a few things we have enjoyed. I even saw doll house furniture the other day. They even have some things of sufficient quality that I was comfortable giving them as gifts.


4. Organizers

Dollar Tree has lots and lots of baskets and bins in various colors, styles, and sizes. Yes, they are cheap plastic. They aren’t going to hold up if a 3 year old uses them for a step stool (ask me how I know). But for basic shelf organization, they do the job nicely for a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere. I color code them for each room…the boys get blue, girls get purple, and general household is turquoise.


5. Cleaning Supplies

This is one area where I love Dollar Tree the most. I buy all of my sponges, scrubbies, disposable dusters, and swiffer-type cloths there, and they are of nearly equal quality as name brands, in my opinion. Even the store brand of these products at Wal-Mart or Target costs several dollars. I have also bought small brooms, dust pans, a store brand swiffer (the actual dry mop itself, not just the cloths), and sponge mops. Of course, these are lightweight, but they work just fine if you take care of them and don’t need industrial quality.


6. Homeschool/Teacher Supplies

Dollar Tree has lots of basic school items like flash cards, cursive writing strips, beginning writer’s tablets, math posters, workbooks, and early reader books, as well as a boatload of office supplies used in the classroom too. I have spent so much money in the past on items like these. No more!


7. Craft Supplies

Dollar Tree has drawing tablets as well as nicer sketchpad-type drawing paper, crayons, colored pencils, paint, glitter, rubber stamps (especially at Christmas), craft kits, stickers, large sets of markers, and more.

{oops, no picture!}

8. Flower and Garden Seeds

In the Spring, they have a few basic veggie and flower seeds 4/$1. Later in the summer they are usually marked down to 10/$1. What a steal!

love{Madeleine L’Engle?!  I couldn’t believe it either!  Woohoo!}

9. Books

Sometimes Dollar Tree books are a bust. Other times they actually have some good titles. I have gotten several good children’s books there, such as Richard Scarry’s counting board book. I bought a book about farm animals at Dollar Tree that was a favorite of my little ones…later I saw it at Bass Pro Shop for around $5. More recently I found some graphic novels of classic stories like David Copperfield and White Fang, which really piqued the interest of my less-enthusiastic readers. Typically I stick with non-twaddle/good literature for my kids, but in a pinch these work. I have gotten a couple of interesting novels for myself too, during times when I really needed some light reading.

The more I shop at Dollar Tree, the more amazed I am at their great selection, and often decent quality. Would I buy everything there? Definitely not…but it is ABSOLUTELY worth a stop on my way to the grocery store!

Do you have any tips for saving big at Dollar Tree?

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How to Keep Family Relationships Strong When You’re Under Stress

relationships stress graphic

They say that what’s really inside of us comes out when we’re squeezed. Scary, huh?

Stress can make us show our worst side, and it can push us to treat those closest to us in ways that shock even ourselves.

We often hear what we need to do to keep our families strong. Date night. One on one time with our kids. Speaking each other’s love language.

Let me tell you, when you are in survival mode, sometimes those things just aren’t going to happen.

Maybe money is too tight or you’re working three jobs or you’re so distraught that you can barely get out of bed in the morning.

It’s OK. This is a season, more than likely, not forever.

It is OK to just plug along as best you can for now.  You don’t want to doggie paddle in your relationships forever, but for now it’s OK.  Breathe.

And until things change or you figure out how to manage your new normal, here are a few ways that help keep relationships with spouse and kids going even in the midst or chaos.

Be Gentle With Yourself

Acknowledge your trauma and its effect on you. Don’t feel guilty for caring for yourself as much as you can so that you have something to give others.

Speak Kindly

Use kind words to those around you. Err on the side of grace and mercy.

Bite Your Tongue

You won’t always feel like being kind. That’s when you just have to bite your tongue. Take a walk. Go to the bathroom until you get control. Whatever it takes to keep the geyser from erupting.

Seek Forgiveness

None of us will always treat others the way we should, especially when we’re in the pressure cooker. When we mess up, lose our tempers, or speak harshly, we should seek forgiveness quickly. Even if you have to apologize many times, it’s far better than saying nothing.

Give Each Other Space

During times of stress, families need to give each other space. This is different from withdrawing from each other. But we each need time to back away from the fray and recharge a little bit. Whether it’s a once-a-day quiet hour or giving each other the chance to go out for coffee or spend time on a hobby, with friends, or reading a book, space helps us to come back together stronger.

Hug a Lot

Be affectionate. Hug. Kiss. Snuggle. Married people, have sex. Don’t withdraw from each other physically because you’re emotionally spent, as much as you might want to.


It helps to have a place to process what’s going on, your thoughts, and feelings.  This is especially helpful if you don’t have a safe person to confide in.

Pray for and With Each Other

All the human help in the world isn’t enough to save us—and our relationships–from hard situations. Call in heavenly reinforcements!

I’m no expert, not even close. But in my observation and experience, these are a few things that help keep us close during hard times.

Do you agree or disagree? What would you add?

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Tuesday Poetry Teatime: The Rough Little Rascal by Edgar Guest


rough little rascal graphicWe love Poetry Tea Time (or Hot Chocolate Time…or Lemonade Time…), popularized by Julie Bogart, a veteran homeschooling mom and owner of Brave Writer, a company that helps homeschooling families teach writing in an organic fashion. Here on the blog, I’m going to share a poem each Tuesday in honor of Tea Time. And for a while I’ll be using the poetry of my favorite poet, Edgar Guest. His work is a treasure that’s too precious not to share.

A smudge on his nose and a smear on his cheek
And knees that might not have been washed in a week;
A bump on his forehead, a scar on his lip,
A relic of many a tumble and trip:
A rough little, tough little rascal, but sweet,
Is he that each evening I’m eager to meet.

A brow that is beady with jewels of sweat;
A face that’s as black as a visage can get;
A suit that at noon was a garment of white,
Now one that his mother declares is a fright:
A fun-loving, sun-loving rascal, and fine,
Is he that comes placing his black fist in mine.

A crop of brown hair that is tousled and tossed;
A waist from which two of the buttons are lost;
A smile that shines out through the dirt and the grime,
And eyes that are flashing delight all the time:
All these are the joys that I’m eager to meet
And look for the moment I get to my street.

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Cozy Homeschooling: Make Your Own Poetry Books

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I’m a huge fan of Julie Bogart and her Brave Writer Lifestyle. Poetry Tea Time is one element of the Brave Writer Lifestyle we’ve enjoyed with great success.

However, poetry books are in short supply around here at the moment. One day our shelves will be filled, but until then, we’re doing poetry the thrifty way!

I searched for some of my favorite poets online and chose a few poems I felt the kids would understand and enjoy. Then I copied and paste them into a document, printed, and stapled them.


For just pennies they have samplers of kid-friendly poetry to enjoy at tea time. I can add to this collection and give the kids exposure to a wide variety of rich poetry.


I know it really couldn’t be simpler, but sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Maybe this will inspire you to make your own poetry books as well!

Who’s your favorite poet and why?

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Lovely Weekend Reads

weekend readsAn eclectic collection of posts for your reading pleasure…

“There is indeed a peaceful joy to be discovered in simply owning one. And this principle can be applied to almost any item we own: One coat. One spatula. One mug. One pen. One set of bedding. One television. One…”

~The Simple Joy of One (Becoming Minimalist)

“”The ability to self-direct can spell the difference between an independent student, who can be relied upon to get her work done while chaos reigns around her, and a dependent, aimless student,” former teacher Jessica Lahey writes in The Atlantic. “When we reduce the amount of free playtime in American preschools and kindergartens, our children stand to lose more than an opportunity to play house and cops and robbers.”"

~Study: Too Many Structured Activities May Hinder Children’s Executive Functioning (Education Week)

“It turns out that some of my family’s favorite games are educational tools in disguise. Dr. Bill Hudenko, child psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, uses board games in his practice to diagnose and strengthen these much-touted executive function skills. He also encourages parents to play these games with their children at home.”

~How Family Game Night Makes Kids Better Students (The Atlantic)

“Children learn best when parents demonstrate biblical truth by how they treat others, especially their children.  It begins with not assuming an adversarial relationship, instead seeing them as our brothers and sisters in Christ. As we one another our little ones, we will look for ways to serve them, far beyond those necessary things we do for them required of moms. This often means setting aside our personal rights and desires in order to accommodate the various struggles and woes of childhood as our children pass through various stages. It means understanding them, their age of development, their particular strengths and weaknesses. It means showing them by example how to have self-control, to love and forgive each other, to be patient and kind. It means eliciting empathy from them as we dole it out to them in full measure. When we are mindful of our attitudes as well as our actions, we lay the groundwork for mentoring when they are adults.”

~Why The Nanny Doesn’t Understand What’s Most Important (Karen Campbell)

“This desire for control speaks to a deep longing in all of us for life to make sense, for harmony to rule, for hurt and confusion to be settled and healed. Yes, our sin is mixed into this longing, but at the core, as beings miraculously created in God’s image, we long for heaven!

~The Great Thing About Yelling (Connected Families)

Tagline on the CT Facebook page: “It’s scary and shameful to admit being broke. Knowing we subject ourselves to judgment and rude comments only make it worse.”

~How Poor Could They Be? (Christianity Today)

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Hi sweet friends…so once again I started posting regularly and then fell off the map.  We are working on The Little House and are entering the “one more week” stage for the 4th time before we can move in.  Don’t these projects always take longer than we expect?!   Currently we are searching for a solution or sulphur in our well water, so if you know of one that doesn’t involve chlorine, we would love to hear it.  I’ll be back to writing when I can!