Looking Back: Our Favorite Homeschool Curricula

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

We are by no means done with our homeschooling journey, but with my oldest we are getting to the end as he will be a junior in the fall.  Here is a look at some of the curricula that we have enjoyed and learned the most from...

Our homeschooling journey started with Five in a Row when the boys were in early elementary.  Of all the products that we have used this has been my favorite.  My fondest memories come from FIAR.  There were so many neat activities and precious learning experiences that we had. Basically, Five in a Row is a literature-based curriculum.  For one week you read the same picture book, like The Duchess Bakes a Cake
or How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World and pull a lesson from five different subjects based on the book.  Each week there are lessons in language arts, social studies, science, art, and applied math.  My boys gained so much knowledge about the world through these lessons.  The lessons are gentle, yet deep and are memories in the making!  Starting at 3rd or 4th grade we moved from FIAR to other programs for history (Biblioplan) and science (Apologia).  See below for information...
Another similar resource (that is FREE!) are the lessons and lapbooks at Homeschool Share. There are unit studies at Homeschool Share that are similar to Five in a Row.  There are also numerous lapbooks.  We used several units and lapbooks from here and loved all of them!

For math we used Math-U-See and Teaching Textbooks. We used Math-U-See in the younger years.  I loved the hands-on approach and the way of teaching place value.  This year my oldest will use their Stewardship program which deals with personal finance.  Honestly, though, for the high school years I prefer Teaching Textbooks.  This program can mainly be done on the computer. The beauty of it is that every single problem, yes, every single one is done step by step for the student.  So as your child is working through his or her lesson and misses a problem he/she can go back a review the problem. Teaching Textbooks also grades their work.  Since I am very weak in math I felt like this was the way to go when we got to higher levels.

Apologia has awesome programs for both elementary and high school levels. The elementary levels are engaging and fun.  There is also a notebook that you can buy to help review the concepts they have learned. The notebooks include crosswords and notebooking pages with mini-books. My youngest son did every single one of the elementary books and loved them!  The high school levels are rigorous and challenging.  I love that creationism is explored along with why evolution doesn't work based on what we know of the world.

Biblioplan is what we used at the elementary level for history. Biblioplan is a four year program which you can cycle through a couple of times if you homeschool all the way through. It incorporates "spines" (history texts) like Story of the World, Usborne history books, etc. and literature to read as you go through the centuries.  We didn't use the other aspects of the program except for doing maps. I love that we could use literature to cover history!

We used Notgrass for high school history (world and American).  I liked that there were review questions and quizzes and tests to keep my son focused on the material. Literature is also incorporated into the program (although we did literature separately). There is also a book with original documents and speeches that your student can read. Notgrass comes from a Christian perspective which I appreciated.

For writing we used Institute for Excellence in Writing. I loved this program because it teaches good outlining skills and how to dress up your writing.  This is basically the only writing program that we used.  The only problem?  After using it for several years with both boys we got kind of bored with the system.  However, even with that, this is the BEST program out there that I have seen for writing simply because it teaches how to make your writing interesting.

We used Progeny Press and Teaching the Classics from Center for Lit. for teaching literature.  Teaching the Classics is a manual for the parent that teaches how to discuss literature with your student.  Invaluable!!!  I love the list of questions that can be used for any book at the end of the manual.  We used Progeny Press for some of the books that we read.  These are literature guides that come from a Christian perspective. I loved using these when we came to books that have hard topics in them like To Kill a Mockingbird.

So what have you used in your homeschool?

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Gosh - our preferences in curriculum are very similar. We're sticking with MUS all the way though, at our kids request! It's working for them! Just found Notgrass and like what I see. Loved FIAR of course. Picking up IEW this summer! May have to pick your brain on other things as we're so similar on so many other things as well.