Welcome back to the third post in my homeschooling series. This time I will be letting you know our favorite homeschool curriculum. If you missed my last 2 posts, they were about the Benefits of Homeschooling and the Challenges of Homeschooling.
So far I have been homeschooling for 3 years. We started when my son was a preschooler and he just finished first grade. We have tried many different homeschooling resources in that time. Some have worked out wonderfully, and some did not fit into our family well.
Here are some of the best homeschool curriculum choices for teaching your younger children:
Abeka Writing With Phonics- I love that this curriculum teaches cursive writing right from the beginning. It also goes along well with their phonics book, so your children are actually learning to read while writing. Abeka is very Bible based, and scripture is heavily entwined with the lessons, as is character development. The KJV Bible version is used. Kindergarten teaches both upper- and lower-case letters as well as blending and short words. The first grade moves onto sentences and paragraphs.
Explode the Code- I have to say that this is my favorite. I have been using it with both my son and daughter with great results. The lessons are short and to the point, and it is very inexpensive. The teacher guides go more in depth and give you lessons to teach. They are helpful, but not necessary. I found that it is a nice accompaniment to the Abeka workbooks as well. With my son, we went directly into the Explode the Code book 1, and with my daughter we started with the Get Ready for the Code books.
Bob Books- These books are great encouragement for a beginning reader. They come with stickers, so I write the date that my child was able to read through the book by himself in the back cover and let him place a sticker next to the date to commemorate his accomplishment.
Letter of the Week- This is a little more pricey but definitely worth it in my opinion. It is set up with a chapter for each letter with tons of lesson plan activities for each week. The lesson plans include suggestions of activities to do for each letter. Some examples for letter A: visit an Airport and watch the Airplanes, go to an Aquarium, learn your Address, cut Aluminum Foil into squares and glue onto a cardboard A, draw a picture for your Aunt, talk about emotions that start with A like Anger and Afraid, eat fruits that begin with A like Apples and Apricots, etc. There are also activity sheets for the child to learn how to write and color each letter, and word cards to color. This is best geared for Preschool or Kindergarten.
Horizons Preschool Curriculum Set- This is a whole preschool curriculum that covers language, math, science, and social studies. It is Bible and creation based, with verses coming from both the KJV and NIV versions of the Bible (you choose which verse to use). I used this curriculum for my son, and I wish I had used it for my daughter as well. He was so much more prepared for Kindergarten. I didn’t continue with the first grade because I didn’t like how they were teaching subtraction towards the end. It was too confusing. But my son did go into Kindergarten already knowing how to add and subtract, so that was a plus. All the lessons are laid out for you each day, and there is very little prep work for you to do except gathering the materials for the craft or cooking activity. The lessons were so fun, it didn’t even feel like we were learning or teaching, but at the end of the year I saw huge growth and improvement. The song cd is a cute and catchy addition as well. Highly recommended for preschool!
MCP Mathematics- I love this math curriculum. The lessons are fun and short. It is mastery based, so your child works on mastering a certain skill before moving on. It is easy to teach, since it is laid out for you in the teachers guide, and it even gives you suggestions for children that need a little more help. I tried Saxon for a year and a half because I had heard such good reviews and really wanted to make it work, but it just wasn’t for us. My only regret with this curriculum is that we didn’t find it sooner! I used it the second half of this year with my Kinder and First grader, and will be continuing with it next year.
Real Science Odyssey-Earth and Space-Level 1- Expensive, but worth it. It is not creation based, but not evolution based either. Just the straight science facts, which I appreciated. It is very project oriented, so you have to be prepared to be hands-on. Which worked really well with my children, but if your children don’t like projects this wouldn’t be for you. There is a book and media list at the beginning of each section, so the kids had fun going to the library regularly and watching shows like “Magic School bus” on NetFlix or Amazon Prime. Most materials are found around the house, although you may have to purchase a few.
We took a very Charlotte Mason approach to history this year, and just read a lot of living books and took field trips. Here are a few of the resources we used:
North American Indian Girl and Boy Paper Dolls-
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving-
The True Story of Pocahontas-
Samuel Eaton’s Day-A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy-
The Pilgrims of Plimoth-
We loved using Grapevine Bible Studies in our homeschool this year. You use whichever Bible version works for you. They have downloadable e-books as well as hard copies. My kids loved being able to draw out their lessons using stick figures. Each section takes about a week, and there are maps to fill out and verses to memorize. My kids have learned so much using these studies. They are very well put together and go in-depth without being dry.
Both of the elective classes we did this year were in video format. The kids liked it because they got to watch a video, and I liked it because it gave me a break from teaching. I did find that I still had to watch them though, especially the art, because I had to know how to explain the painting or drawings they were doing after.
Spanish-La Clase Divertida (The Fun Class)- Spanish is a big deal for my husband, because much of his family doesn’t speak English, or at least not very well. It is important to him that our kids know at least basic spanish. I liked this curriculum a lot because not only is is video based, but the teachers are also Christian, and give some background into the Mexican culture. It is Mexican Spanish, not Spain Spanish. (They are similar, but there are definitely differences. In fact, my husband and I were out to dinner a couple weeks ago and overheard a couple from Spain talking–sounds very different! We didn’t even recognize it as Spanish at first. So if you are in the US, Mexican Spanish is the way to go.)
Atelier Art- Most projects can be done with basic art supplies like paint, large paper, and markers. My kids loved art day!
I hope that you find some of these suggestions helpful to you. I would love to hear about your experience with any of these, or any homeschool curriculum that has worked for your family.
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