Friday, February 22, 2013

Our Homeschool

I'm often asked what we use for curriculum when we homeschool.  This is what has worked (or hasn't) worked for us this year.

Explode the Code- After purchasing and and ditching two pricey reading programs last year, these  books are what taught B to read.  They made it click for him.  He breezed through book 2 this year and is currently working through book 3.  I love how every lesson slowly builds on the last one until concepts are mastered.  Another perk about the books?  They are very affordable!

Spectrum Spelling- We don't use this book often anymore.  B has learned so much from Explode the Code, it felt like overkill.  We use the spelling book on weeks we do not have a lesson from our Reading book.

Evan-Moor Reading - This book, I bought on a whim when B asked me to.  He really likes it so far.  I like the comprehension activities and phonics/spelling review.  B likes the fact that he gets to draw, cut, and paste for some of the activities.

Bob Books- I really liked these for Kindergarten.  They gave B such confidence!  This year, though, when B went through two sets of books fast, I knew he'd outgrown them.  Now, I have him pick a book from the bookshelf.  We have more books than bookshelves, so there are a lot to choose from!  If it's a difficult book, I'll alternate pages with him.  If the book is at his level, he'll read the whole thing to me.  It's amazing how much just reading aloud has helped his reading skills.

Singapore Math- This program for Kindergarten was wonderful!  It was B's favorite subject.  This year, it's not a match.  The way mental math is taught is abstract to B and honestly, to me too.  B can do math mentally, he just takes a different approach than is used by this system.  It also moves too fast, into higher math without mastery of the basics.  I've had to stop and supplement too often.  I've heard great things from other families, but I think we'll be looking at a different curriculum for next year.  I'm seriously considering
 Math-U-See for my visual learner.

Story Of The World Volume 1 Ancient Times 2nd Edition

Story of the World- This book is so, so good.  History is by far our favorite subject this year.  The text is so engaging.  We both find ourselves wanting to know more about the people and cultures covered in this book.  This week, we have been learning about Greece.  To supplement, we've also been reading Greek mythology.  B is fascinated.

Character Sketches from the Pages of Scripture, Illustrated in the World of Nature- Erik's cousin recommended this book to us when B was a toddler and Jilly was just a baby.  I'm so glad we ordered it.  It is truly a book we will treasure for years.  It focuses on character traits and then shows how these character traits are displayed in the animal kingdom. It also demonstrates these traits in the Bible.  For instance, this month we have been learning about loyalty.  We learned how bees are loyal to their hive and their queen, geese are loyal to their mates, and what happens when a little bear cub is not loyal to his mother bear.  Also, how Mordechai was loyal to the king...even when it was difficult and what happened when a soldier was not loyal to his commander.  We use this for science, as well. The animal descriptions are very in depth.  The pictures are beautiful.  I find myself growing in faith from this book.

Sight word practice- B has a stack of sight word flashcards.  We review them about 3 times a week.  Every time he gets the word correct, quickly without obviously sounding it out, that word gets a check.  When he gets 3 checks, the word is taken out of the stack and written on his word wall.  He enjoys sight word practice because he's quite good at it.

Math- Flashcards, printables, time tests, and computer games.

Writing- We have a writing corner in front of his word wall.  On it, we have a basket full of different types of writing paper and a notebook of words he needs help spelling.  Topics vary.  Yesterday, he wrote about the snow falling off the roofs of houses and what it was like to walk in the snow.  Writing is his least favorite subject.  One time (before his spelling had taken off), he was a little passive aggressive and wrote, "A long tim ugo, I poct Mommy with a stick."  Complete with illustration!  Sometimes, his writing is the Valentine he wrote for his Nana.   He also has a journal for corresponding with Erik or myself.

Science- This year, other than Character Sketches, science is being led by B's interests.  We've learned about space, deserts, snakes, scorpions, bees, insects, bones, the digestive system, the city water system, many things.  We surround him with books, visit the library for more books and documentaries, watch science videos, and explore the great outdoors.  Next year, science may be more focused, but it has been a fun year to watch where B's interests take him.

Homeschool Co-op- This is new for us over the past few months.  B is really enjoying it.  We get together with other homeschool families and classes are offered.  B has dabbled in guitar, origami, science experiments, and had a tea party.  This week, he wants to learn sign language and do some more science experiments.  Fun!

AWANAS-  I can't say enough about this program.  It is the highlight of B's week.  He gets to play games, memorize scripture, learn about God's word, and fellowship with friends.  I am amazed at his biblical knowledge for such a little guy.

Calendar Time- We used to do calendar every day, but now we reserve it for the days Jilly is having school with us.  She attends a preschool a couple days a week. We use calendar time to discuss the weather, add numbers to our number chart,  and count by ones, twos, fives, and tens.  We use it to learn place value, money, days of the week, and months of the year.  When Jilly is with us, we read from a children's Bible.

Literature- Erik and I read to B and Jilly a lot.  This year, we've read Mr. Popper's Penguins, The Boxcar Children, a book about Alladin, Rikki Tikki Tavi, Greek mythology, The Littles, and a few others.  I love those moments of snuggling up and getting lost in a book.

Field Trips- Occasionally, we need a change of scenery and decide to go an adventure.  We've visited the zoo, the nature trail, museums, the Discovery center, and sometimes just the park.  Consider it recess. :)  Homeschooling is portable.  There;s so much to learn from God's creation.  Sometimes it's nice to close the books and experience it.


  1. We have some of the character studies as well. We bought the individual studies a while ago (when we first started being interested in homeschooling). We really like them. I want to buy the books when we go back to convention this year. Would be nice to have them all in one place and it's cheaper than buying the rest of the individual studies to put in a note book.

    We LOVE Math-U-See. It has been exactly what our kids needs. Yes, even our totally opposite kids in every other aspect of life seem to both learn well from this program. I have started using the DVD to teach them. I know it's supposed to help the parents learn how to teach the concepts, but the boys really like the guy that's on it and pick up the lessons fast from him. When we get to harder lessons I am sure I will have to step in and add too what he says on the short lesson he gives, but if they like it I let them use it.

    We had a co-op and really liked it. Sadly the leader moved to another state for her husband's job and no one took it over. Sigh. I can't wait until another pops up (hoping it does).

  2. I love learning what others use with their children.
    Sadly we switched from Saxon and to Singapore and it is NOT going all! The boys I feel are way behind now. I am looking at Life of Fred Math.
    We are back to My Father's World after straying one year. I am sticking to it from now on....I need the direction.