Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Curriculum Choices

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Curriculum… choices, choices, choices. Oh my goodness how overwhelmed can one mom get? When I first started homeschooling, I knew there were a lot of different companies out there but really I had no idea just how many there were. I have learned over the years however just how much curricula is really just a filler, like packing peanuts in a box of breakables. Last year, I started using less textbooks and more real books. I also started doing unit studies and lapbooks. Also, I designated the morning as a time where we all learn together. Preschoolers and Peace calls it Circle Time. I haven’t really called it that though because I get flashbacks of my preschool teaching days. We do all the learning we can do together at that time. We study whatever unit or lapbook we are working on, do our Bible time, science, history, artist study, read alouds or whatever else strikes our interest during the first half of our day and for the second half we do one on one with math, reading and English.
When it comes to text books, my goal is to find those that are Bible centered. I do not want a text that just throws in a Bible verse here and there. I want my kids to see how God’s hand is in everything. I often gravitate towards A Beka for science and history. I also love their readers after the kids have learned how to read. I love that the texts are inexpensive (I do not buy the teacher manuals I just buy the student text.) I also love how the sections are small and quick so the information can be absorbed more easily. Each year builds on the year before. Most of all I love how the texts are God centered.

Language Arts - When I teach reading, I use Teach You Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons I really like how this book works. It seems boring at first but it teaches how words are made of sounds and it teaches how the letters sound alone and together. It is phonics based and it also helps with speech problems. When my son was little he was in speech therapy. When I told his therapist what I was using she said that it was the best choice. What I found is that his speech improved even quicker once I started using this book. I don’t use the writing lessons that are in the book. I used A Beka’s beginning reading when I was a nanny. I found that it confused the kids more than it helped them. And it included a lot of memory instead of sounding out words. With 100 Lessons, your child is reading at a 2nd grade level by the end of the book.
For writing, I use Handwriting Without Tears. I love this program! I tried A Beka and another one and found lots of resistance from the kids. I discovered HWT and love it and so do the kids. It simplifies writing so kids can get the basics down quickly. It takes into account left handed kids so when they copy words the words are on both sides of the page. The lessons take no time at all and best of all, the books are really inexpensive. I bought the first manual for printing and the first manual for handwriting so that I know how they teach each of the letters. I add copy work by having them copy memory verses. So they get lots of writing practice.
For English I am using Scott Foresman’s free printables for Little Man and Miss H. Princess K is going to continue working in Learning Language Arts Through Literature. She does really well with how it is presented. The lessons are pretty quick and not overwhelming.

Social Studies - This year, history is taking a huge turn. I love how strong my kids are in US History because of A Beka’s history and the lapbooks we have done. However, I really want a history program that integrates all of history from creation to present and doesn’t isolate the history of different countries. I want them to know what was going on around the world at the same time as the construction of the Great Wall of China. So, I have been researching Mystery of History and Story of the World. Both are great curriculum choices. For a great evaluation of Mystery of History read Kendra’s review.
For geography we are going to use You Can Change the World. This is going to be incorporated into our morning schedule. We are going to read about a country and what is going on there. Then we are going to locate it on the globe and I am going to have them color a map with that country on it. We are also going to pray for that country. I am super excited about incorporating this into our school day.
Math - Saxon is my favorite math curriculum. Saxon uses manipulatives for K-3 so the kids get a real grasp on how numbers are in real life. I use the manipulatives with Little G too; they are great for little ones. Saxon continually builds on what was taught earlier and they review past concepts often to keep kids from forgetting what they have learned. If the kids know a concept that is being reviewed, I skip the lesson if they are still having a hard time, then we do the lesson.

Science – This year for science we are going to focus on God’s creation using Zondervan’s God’s Creation Series. We are going to do a lapbook to go along with each of the books.

We don’t use the texts books as often as we do unit studies and lapbooks. We do a lot of delight directed studies in whatever they are interested in. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on expensive books so I have gotten creative. I use as many free resources online as I can.


4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the links! Sounds like your year is going to be a good one.

    Super fun to see you at VHE, too!

    ~Kendra

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  2. I agree, so many choices! We loved Handwriting without Tears too. My daughter really enjoyed giving away her verses to family/friends.

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  3. Wonderful plan Mommy Reg!! I see that we have some common ground on curriculum choices.
    We've used Handwriting without Tears and it is excellent.
    I have two children using LLATL and I love it.
    And I agree about the A Beka history and science books. We have those and really enjoy them, they are so God honoring and the visuals are great.
    We also use Mystery of History. This year I will be finishing up Vol. 2 with one child and then beginning Vol. 3. With the other two, we'll be using Vol. 1

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