Friday, July 26, 2013

Curricula! Curriculum! Curricula! Curriculum!

I love homeschooling. I had great mentors when I started homeschooling that have helped me on this journey. Without my friends, I don't think things could have gone so well. The knowledge that veteran homeschoolers have to share is priceless. Whether it's issues teaching addition or if diagramming is necessary, everybody has an opinion and has had that same question. One thing that we all have in common, no matter the length of time we've been at this, is making sure we have the right curriculum for our kids. Curriculum isn't always one size fits all. Some are, or at least a multi-level curriculum. Love those! We have had some duds, let me tell you what. We have also made really great choices. Here are a few of my faves:

  • Story of the World: We love this curriculum. It is taught in a Charlotte Mason way, with fact woven into stories. This has been our favorite history. There are 4 volumes, starting with nomads and moving forward. If I could get my hands on the 4th volume, we would continue to use it. There is map work for each chapter. You chart the path, highlight the major cities, and actually see where in the world we just talked about. There are several activities for each chapter as well. They vary from cooking to arts and crafts to light sewing to who knows what. There are several recipes we got from the activity guide that have become family favorites. They also vary by age. They have activities for younger, elementary to upper middle or high school. It also includes a reading list that goes with each topic discussed. We have done history together since we started homeschooling. And this is why. We switched to something else I can't even remember, and my kids asked to go back to this. Absolutely!
  • Wordly Wise: This is vocabulary. I look at different vocabulary books every year. Most of the time I let whatever vocabulary that comes with their language arts be it. The problem with that is the kids don't remember it because there aren't enough reasons for them to. There may be a couple of activities, but writing the word 10 times, though it can be effective, is not what I consider an activity. That's memorization, not learning what the word is, what it means, and how to use it. Wordly Wise does that. Each list is at least 15 words. There are at least 5 activities for each list, the last one being my favorite. The last activity is a paragraph followed by questions. It's reading comp and usage! There are the same number of questions as there are vocab words. Each word is used either in the question or the answer. It's not the kids favorite when they have to figure out which word goes in the answer, but I like it! It makes them think harder. One of the best things? It is relatively inexpensive at about $20 bucks for workbook and answer key. They even have tests available, but that's what I use that last activity for. 
  • Rod and Staff Grammar: This is one of those things that I wanted to use for a long time, but wasn't sure if it would fit my kids. I bit the bullet. I got a set for free and it was the baby's level. She learned so much using R&S. It was one of the things she asked to do every day. Who wants to do grammar every day? The baby and then the boy when he started using it. Grammar was not something that I had focused very strongly on, but it shows up later when they start writing. One prominent feature is diagramming. Diagramming is one of the most debated topics in homeschooling. Crazy, right? There's the side that says it's not necessary, then the other side that says it's vital. I can tell you I used to be on one side, but now I think it's one of the most important tools in teaching grammar. It really helps you to see what goes with what, and how to tell and adjective from an adverb. I kid you not.
  • Grapevine Studies: I can not say enough good things about Grapevine Studies. Learning the bible using stick figures. Who came up with that? I don't know, but we have the best time with it. I am no artist. I can, however, draw stick figures. Not well, but still. The thing I like about it the most is that the kids remember what we've learned because of what we've done. How can you ask for more than that? You should ask them about the 10 plagues and the boils. Eeeewww!
These are just some of our favorites. They make my kids like school more. They make our day much more fun. They make our day go much more smoothly and quickly. They make my life easier, and I like that for sure. Now it's your turn to dish and talk about your favorites.

Have a great day.

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