Our Homeschooling Curriculum Favorites

All my lovely “first day” plans kind of went out the window, with last week’s bout of Poison Sumac–ick! You’ll all be glad to know that I’m so much better, in fact, well enough to go camping with friends this past Saturday/Sunday! I doubt I’ll take normal life and good health for granted for a long time to come!

Anyway, as I was saying, I’d planned on last Thursday being our first day of school…complete with our treasure hunt kick-off and craft day. Problem was, I didn’t have all my supplies together for either the craft OR the treasure hunt, so we’re jumping into school books anyhow and plan to work the other stuff in on a special day TO BE ANNOUNCED. Thankfully, my girls cut me some slack this year! We did, however, get to break in my middle daughter’s pottery wheel…and oh boy, was that a blast!

So everyone always asks me what curriculum I use, and the truth is, I’m eclectic…always using a hodge podge of whatever comes highest recommended to me by trusted family and friends. There is SO much out there to choose from…so many top notch resources, so much that I’d love to do if we could afford it…so each year I add something new, and continue using what I loved from years prior.

Here’s a quick list of what we’re using this year, and links to the websites so you can check them out if you so desire! You’ll notice I like to combine subjects with my girls…they’re in different grades (3rd and 5th) for math and language arts, but this year we’ll be tackling the other subjects together! Last year we did different histories and sciences, etc, so I’m really psyched about this approach. There are always ways to make it more intensive for my older daughter…so I feel certain this is the way to go…for us!

One last thing–I praise God for the freedom to hand pick my daughters’ educational resources. To have endless options as far as Christian curriculums go…you can’t ask for much more than that. What a huge blessing!

  • Mystery of History Volume 1, Creation to Christ–I’m super excited about this series, because it covers world history in ancient times, such as what was going on in China when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, and what famous Bible figure was living when the Trojan horse was being built…I joined the yahoo group for this volume of MofH, and have already printed off timeline figures, map helps, additional book lists, book report blanks, etc. Plus, the pictures people have posted there of their completed projects are hugely motivational!
  • Historical Biographies– the What Really Happened series will be a wonderful read-aloud complement to our history program!
  • A Child’s Geography this is so highly recommended by EVERYONE who has ever used it, and we are loving the author’s kid-friendly style and enthusiastic approach to earth study! This textbook came with a CD-Rom full of helps, and there is also a yahoo group in support of it, full of files and resources that I’ve been taking FULL advantage of! I’m impressed by the “Reaching Out to His World” and “Further Exploration” book list sections at the end of each chapter. This is more than a textbook, it’s a revolution to get our kids thinking beyond their own self-focused backyard and across the world by encouraging a mission field type of outlook. Powerful.
  • The Star-Spangled State Book and Workbook we’ll tackle this once we’ve finished up the Child’s Geography. I’m super addicted to the Geo quizzes in this book, can’t wait to teach it to the girlies!
  • Apologia science, their elementary Botany program so excited about this, as I just discovered that creationsensation.com has Apologia lab kits for each subject all packed up and ready to go, with experiment items listed according to chapter projects…this will save me HOURS of planning and shopping! There’s also, yes–you know what’s coming, a yahoo support group for Apologia elementary sciences, with so many resources in their files…from games to vocabulary lists to scheduling guidelines…My girls are anxious to get a Venus Fly Trap in the mail–woo-hoo! Botany, here we come!
  • Professor B Math common sense math, taught and mastered in far less time than conventional math programs. I LOVE it! We have the CD-Rom, which is scripted, so my older daughter can sit with my 3rd grader and walk her through it if need be, and gain review in the process. Me likes that!
  • Spell to Write and Read by Wanda Sanseri this program is the best all around multi-age language arts program, imo, for teaching phonograms and for making sense of the English Language! I love the spelling lists that stretch from preschool to college level, and that each week’s words are accompanied by several spelling enrichment activities. Plus, each year, my girls make their own spelling book, featuring spelling rule pages that outline each of our language’s twenty-something spelling rules. Fantastic program. I’ve blogged about it here beforemany times! A curriculum you can buy once, use for all your children, each year. Very cost efficient!
  • Sonlight’s Grammar Ace with School House Rock what a fun way to reinforce grammar rules! This is a super fun, user-friendly program that my whole family enjoys. Hubby and I really get a kick out of reviewing the School House Rock DVD songs…Conjunction Junction, and Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here…and what’s even better, this program comes with ALL the School House Rock videos that were ever made! Not just the grammar ones…these jingles really stick in your head, my last year’s second grader particularly liked “3 is a Magic Number“–to which she learned her 3 times tables!

Of course, we’re still doing Mavis Beacon typing, and Music Ace, God’s World News and Bible…and all our handwriting will be covered by copywork out of our geography, history and Spell to Write and Read curriculums. The girls love to read and read aloud and be read to, so no need to assign extra reading…

Yes, I’m super happy with what we use, can’t you tell (?), but that doesn’t mean it’s the only good stuff out there, of course! Just sharing *my* favorites…the tip of the iceberg of all the goodies available to homeschoolers! If you are raising preschoolers, do your homework. You could start researching now, and be way ahead of the game…

I’ll leave you with an article I really enjoyed, 5 Essential Ingredients to Homeschooling Success by Terri Johnson. It outlines many of the things I love about being able to live this lifestyle…

How was your child’s first day of school? And if you happen to home educate, or have a favorite curriculum, please share it in comments!

10 thoughts on “Our Homeschooling Curriculum Favorites”

  1. Great post, Mary. I’m always interested in home schooling. There is a young gal that’s part of my Bible study who’s home school and does a co-op. She’s a sweet gal!

  2. We had a good 1st 2 days of school. I have 7 students, 1 preschooler, and 2 graduates. The first thing we did was decide WHERE everyone is going to study. The ones not in my view have to check in each hour with me and go over briefly what they did in the last hour. We also have taken breaks every hour for a 5 minute recess. They have quickly come back when I ring the bell and been doing better at sitting for the rest of their work. Why haven’t I done that before?

    We began constructing a “garden shed/James’ room” out in the back yard. My 18 year old son needs his own room and study space as he begins school. This’ll be wonderful for him to move out of a bunk bed filled bedroom with 3 other little brothers and have some quiet. I’ll bet there won’t be legos on the floor either…

  3. Thanks, Colleen! I sure enjoyed reading your nomination of Kat for the laptop! I zipped over after reading yours and read Tammy’s story–oh MY! It’s enough to make you a Hewlett Packard fan for life! And I already am one! πŸ˜‰

    Cena, your plan sounds good! I love reading how others are making it work…you sure have a full house! I’d love to visit and see how you do it, I know it’s full of fun and great helpers. So glad James is getting his own space! I love how you guys do that! And it’s such a neat way for him to start experiencing/practicing a little independence! Happy Homeschooling to you!

  4. Our first day of school is more traditional this year. It doesn’t start until Sept 2 (right after we get back from camping. I think the atmosphere is getting thicker with it– the anticipation is fun!

    We’re doing BJU Press for the Beginnings stuff and Bible, and then using Math U See for math. We were going to do Handwriting for a Reason for writing (because it uses Scripture verses), but the first one doesn’t really do the Scripture and it’s covered in the beginnings book.

    The funny thing was what we got in the mail from our school district this past Monday.

    “Commence Homeschooling!” was the message. Like we needed to know it was about time to start teaching!

    MInTheGap’s last blog post..Why You Should Get Out of Debt

  5. Ha, that’s FUNNY…I guess our state is super relaxed, I only had to let them know of our intent to homeschool…so many years ago, and they’ve treated us like “touch me nots”! Which is fine with me!

    I’ve been curious about Math-U-See, have heard a ton of good stuff about it. Sounds like you have a great line-up for your Kindergartener! Wow, I’m impressed!

    And you’re going camping over Labor Day? Good for you guys, wish we could tag along!

  6. Hey I was in K.C. at Mardels this week. Have you ever seen a curriculum called Handwriting Without Tears. The preschool stuff looks like things big sister likes to do any way.

  7. Yes, one of my friends used it for her two oldest, and they really liked it. Is that the one where they can illustrate their handwriting? I’m not too familiar with it, other than I remember my friend’s daughter giving my daughter one of her assignments in a letter…

    Did you go bankrupt in Mardels? I’ve heard it is an awesome store!

  8. It is a wonderful store if you come up for a visit we will go there for sure. Gigantic Hobby Lobby and Joann’s are at the same intersection. I actually made it out without purchasing anything, but I did go back later to get the handwriting curriculum. I figured we can always practice handwriting. I loved the fact that it recommends just teaching capitals. Big Sister is interested in learning to write her name so now I have a more structured place to start.

  9. I’d love to shop that intersection with you, what fun! Better have more money set aside for spending by then though! πŸ˜‰

    That’s funny that they recommend only teaching capitals, everything I’ve always heard recommends the opposite, since most of what they’ll read/see in books is lower case. But they have to learn it all anyway eventually! It is SO much fun when very little ones learn to write and spell their names. I remember when my youngest first learned how to spell her name (about 2 years old) she would pore through the hymnbook at church searching for the first letter of her name…kept her happy! Another way to reinforce the alphabet as you teach letter recognition, is teaching a Letter of the Week…and let your oldest choose several places around your home to tape up a 5×7″ sheet of paper with that letter prominently marked on it in red. Then she’ll see it all day long, all week, and every time you pass one in the hall, or at the end of her bed, or on the fridge…you’d remind her to tell you what that letter is. You can even tell her the sound it makes. Some programs highly recommend avoiding teaching letter “names” and instead teach letter sounds. I always did both.

    Preschool is so easy and SO much fun.

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