Tuesday, July 31, 2012

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things {Back to Homeschool Blog Hop: Curriculum}

One of the greatest perks of being a homeschooler, in my mind, is going to the curriculum fairs and exploring new curriculum.  And as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I get to try out and talk about all kinds of curriculum and resources.  I love it!  The downside is that we can't possibly use everything we like!

I can't mention everything I like in one post, either, or it would likely exceed some kind of blog limits and alarms would go off or something crazy.

So what I'll do is tell a little bit of what I look for and like, and list some of the things I've used that I really love, with links so you can find out more if you want to.  And I'll try to keep my gushing about these favorites to a minimum.

Language Arts
My personal preference is for an all-in-one language arts curriculum, especially for K-8.  I feel like it's too much to juggle if I have this book for spelling, that book for grammar, something else for creative writing, and so on. During the high school years, we continued with all-in-one material for the most part, but we meet our literature requirements with a separate course, which means I will not require the lit section of the Language Arts course as well.  Make sense?  Maybe.  We have stuck pretty close to Alpha Omega's LifePacs for Language Arts all the way through, although we've used some other things along the way, and have added on some things as well.

  • Alpha Omega LifePacs - no-frills and everything's included!
  • Lightning Lit - I reviewed this recently and we really loved it, so it's won a recurring role in our homeschool.  See my review HERE.
  • Research in Increments from Schoolhouse Publishing - I love this step-by-step guide to writing a good research paper, which can be used for late elementary through high school age students.
It's hard for me to get really excited about Math or Math curriculum, and I've learned (the hard way) that not all math curricula will work for all kids and learning styles.  So what I look for now is basically whatever works and provides the path of least resistance to a reasonable level of understanding and the required high school credits. 
  • ALEKS - this is an interactive math instruction website that we reviewed and Spencer continued to use for high school geometry.  See my review HERE.
  • No-Nonsense Algebra - Landon is liking this so well that he is the one promoting it to his friends.  Obviously we love it.  See my review HERE.
  • Life of Fred - Kennady is learning math better with a story approach, so I am trying Life of Fred books for her.  We're not very far into this experiment, but so far I'm pleased!  
good start with Life of Fred!
Most years I have looked for a science course that I can teach with all my students at once, something that is appropriate for a wide age range.  Hands-on activities are also important, especially for younger students.  Non-consumable is one of my favorite words when it comes to describing homeschool resources, especially science and history, so if it's something I can use over and over, that's a big plus!
  • God's Design series from Answers in Genesis - this has been my go-to curriculum for several years, and we have used every book except the one about human anatomy.  I have also adapted and used material from a couple of the books for co-op classes, one on meteorology and one on physics.  I wrote about it in more detail HERE.
  • Signs and Seasons Classical Astronomy is what we are using this year.  All three kids will do the course together, and both boys will be earning high school credit.
This is my favorite subject to teach, and I have put together my own plans several times in the past.  It's another subject that I prefer to have my students do all together when possible, and I try to find lots of hands-on activities to enhance the study.
  • Notgrass products get very high marks from me!  We have used the high school programs Exploring America and Exploring World History twice now, and will use them again for the younger two when they get to that point.  What we like about it - three credits in one course (History, Bible, and English), everything is taught from a Biblical worldview, and it's laid out in easy to follow lesson plans already.  This year we are also using the middle school course, America the Beautiful and enjoying it.  I wrote about these products in more detail HERE.
  • Around the World in 180 Days has been a wonderful resource too.  I've used it several years and it is so flexible and adaptable, it can be used over and over and with almost any age students.  I wrote about it in more detail HERE.
Art, Music, and other Electives
I like to include art appreciation, music history, folk arts, and other things in our history studies as a way to make the subject more hands-on and interactive.  Of course, high school credits are sometimes required in Fine Arts or other subject areas, and sometimes a separate course just works.  Here are some things we've really liked:

So excited about ARTistic Pursuits!
  • ARTistic Pursuits - for art instruction, this book series is tops.  It combines art history and appreciation with instruction.
  • Geography Through Art - full of folk art projects from around the world, this book provides lots of ideas to incorporate into Social Studies, or could be used as the basis for a mixed media art class.  
  • Practical Drafting and Practical Graphic Design - these two self-paced studies from Insight Technical Education provided technology credits for my oldest two boys, and are - as the titles indicate - very practical.
Last week I posted the updated list of what we'll be using for the 2012-2013 school year: Curriculum Choice 2012-2013 Link-Up.

What are some of your favorites?  I invite you to share a virtual cup of coffee with me and comment, and enjoy a regular coffee break with me by following my blog.  Thanks for stopping by!


Fellow bloggers from the Schoolhouse Review Crew talk about Homeschool Curriculum today in the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop!


Stefanie said...

I'm not one to jump up and down over math curriculum either. lol A necessary evil.

Unknown said...

We are using America the Beautiful too this year and really like it. I didn't really discover Notgrass until this last year and plan on using their products in high school.

Unknown said...

There are some great resources, listed here! We use Time4Learning as our core, and that has worked out very well for us. But math is most definitely not a favorite around here and I am looking for a little help for my oldest. I keep hearing about Life of Fred...I am going to check that out. I am not familiar with the ALEKS program, but since he would prefer *everything* on the computer, lol, that is worth checking out too!

Thanks so much for sharing! Hope you have a wonderful school year! :)


Sherri said...

Great post on all the things available out there. I know now from being a part of the crew that there is no way I can include everything I love but trying to figure out what to leave out is painful.

Thanks for stopping MyEducationalJourney@blogspot.com and leaving a comment.

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