This past year was the first year I actually really dove into learning about ALL of the curriculum’s that are out there, and by “all”, I think I may mean that literally! I’m pretty sure I spent the majority of my days this year starting in February up until just this past month researching almost every single curriculum I could find. I used to try to find that “perfect curriculum”. You know which one I’m talking about – the one that my kids would love, would tell me what I needed to do every day with zero planning on my part, would be free or extremely cheap, and be delivered by a unicorn within 5 minutes. Ha! I obviously gave up when I realized that the perfect curriculum just does NOT exist (If you’ve found one – then PUHLEASE! Send it my way!). So after trial and error for the past couple of years we’ve decided to try piecing together our curriculum this year. Here’s the breakdown of what we’ve decided to try for the 2015-2016 school year with my 2nd and 3rd graders.
When I first started homeschooling my oldest, we were on an extremely tight budget. Like, as free as we could get it, tight. Over the years we’ve been able to somewhat add a little more here and there to our budget, but in those beginning years this one single book was my saving grace! And honestly, the more I look at other curriculums, the more I realize how much I LOVE this book! The pages are colorful and fun for the kids, and each worksheet has a short explanation to teach the lesson, so my kids were able to do a lot of this stuff on their own!] The BEST part of this curriculum is the price! You can buy one massive all-in-one-workbook for less than $20 [Reading, Spelling, Math, Language Arts, Writing, Test Prep], or you can split them up by subjects for about $7 per book. For a couple years we bought the big book, but this year we decided to try a different Language Arts program so we’re splitting it up. We will be using the Reading book [we will rotate days between this book and reading some classics], spelling, and math [while supplementing with fun activities, ipad apps, and free websites such as xtra math and abcya]. I’m secretly praying for the day that Flash Kids adds online supplemental activities to go along with this for extra drill and fun games. If they ever added that my day would be made! I know that you can buy these books on amazon, but I save on shipping and buy them at my local Barnes and Noble Bookstore [Plus, I have the Barnes and Noble Educator Discount so I save 20%. Win win!]
Dr. Wile’s Science In the Beginning
I first learned about Dr. Wile at this years homeschool convention, and I have to tell you what sold me on this. You see, I’m not a fan of teaching my children ONLY creation science or ONLY evolutionary science. I’m a firm believer that my children need to understand that there is more than one belief in this world and it’s my job to make sure they know about them both. It’s not my job to just shove my beliefs down their throats. So as you can imagine, I had the hardest time trying to find a science curriculum that I liked because I could not find a happy medium. So there I was at this convention, about to give up on science period. I was exhausted from having conversations with vendors trying to tell me what was wrong with the opposite opinion’s theories, etc. I was just DONE. And then I see Dr. Wile’s stand. “One more vendor”, I told myself. “Just one more vendor.” So, I walked up to their stand and blurted out “I’m a christian, and I believe in creation science for the most part, but I don’t want JUST a creation science curriculum. Will this curriculum work for me?” I don’t know who the man was that I talked to, I believe it was one of Wile’s helpers/assistants, but he was the nicest man and didn’t look at me like I had 3 heads! His response was something along the lines of “This would be perfect for you, because you see, some theories make more sense and work better in creation science, and other theories make more sense in evolutionary science. We believe in teaching both so that the children can see how each theory works with each belief system.” My husband and I at the exact same time said, “SOLD!”. I pretty much bought the book before I even opened it [which I never ever do]. I’m SO EXCITED to start this! Every lesson has a small hands on experiment and a little bit of scripture to relate to the lesson, but its not ALL about religion either. It looks like it’ll be a perfect fit for us. If it ends up being as good as I think it is, I’ll do an entire blog post about just this alone. So be on the look out for that [*fingers crossed!*].
Essentials in Writing
This is another new curriculum choice this year that I’m really excited about starting! I also learned about this curriculum at the recent homeschool convention. The creator of the curriculum, Matthew Stevens, was an excellent speaker, and everything he had to say just made sense! He explained that the whole reason we learn grammar is so that we can become better writers, which is something I never really thought of before. He’s totally right though! So his theory is, why teach the grammar, and then turn around and re-teach it while writing? Wouldn’t it make sense to focus on how to be a good writer, and slip the grammar into writing lessons, rather than beating a dead horse and teaching them separately? He said it way better than I ever could. I hope I didn’t just botch up his brilliant delivery [ha!]. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, I highly recommend it! The best part of this is that he teaches the short lessons on a DVD – so my girls can do this all on their own! This gives me some quality one on one time to spend with my preschooler while the others are doing their lessons. Check out this video that shows sample lessons on the DVD.
(Photo Credit www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com)
Road Trip USA
If you do not already following Erika over at Confessions of a Homeschooler, I highly recommend you look her up! She not only has an amazing blog and website, but she even created this amazing geography curriculum called Road Trip USA. One of my daughter’s teachers at last years co-op suggested it, and I’m so glad that she did! I’m not really looking forward to all of the printing and hole punching, but I’m sure it’s going to be so worth it in the end! We’re also trying to collect a postcard from every state during the year for an added fun activity and we’re already off to a good start so far. Here is the link to learn more about and buy this curriculum. She also has a world geography curriculum as well that we hope to start when we finish this one!
How to Teach Art To Children
I bought this book to use last year, but honestly I really slacked in the art department, and it collected dust on my bookshelf all year. I decided that this year I was going to make it a point to do at least 1 lesson a week out of this book. This book is great because it’s got easy and inexpensive art projects that teach the basics of art, like color, lines, shape, value, etc. I also promised my kids we’d get the paint out more this year too so I guess since I promised them that means I have to actually follow through, right? I can’t wait to show you some of the projects we do throughout the year! If you are looking for a simple and structured way to teach beginning art to elementary kids, I highly recommend this book!
So there you have it! This is the bulk of what we plan to use this year in our homeschool. This post was way longer than I originally planned so I’ll be blogging about my Preschoolers curriculum choices in a future post. What are your choices of curriculum this year? Leave a comment and share with the rest of us, or join the discussion on my facebook group!