Friday, August 19, 2011

Curriculum Round-up, 2011

Most of you won't really care about this post. But, DeeDee (at Fiddledeedee) is having a curriculum round-up today. And, because I don't really have anything worth posting about right now, and because I don't want to feel like I am the ONLY ONE IN THE WORLD CRAZY ENOUGH TO DO THIS "HOMESCHOOLING THING", I am going to participate. :-)

So, sit back and enjoy.

I have had the pleasure (most days) of homeschooling my nephew for about 12 years now. (And yes, I'm getting an eye twitch realizing I just typed 12 YEARS).

I was VERY idealistic (or is it overwhelmed?) when we first began. I was truly blessed with so many people giving me curriculum, and "created" my own using a little from each one. I pulled from KONOS, Weaver, various "store bought" books, etc. I did that for about 2 years.

I do NOT recommend you do that. For pre-K to 2nd grade take advantage of things around your home, your public library, multicolored blocks, craft supplies and M&Ms. That's really all you need for the first couple of years. Just sayin'.

After a few years of "trial and error" with curriculum, and spending too much money at book fairs, I finally got a good grasp of what works for us, and stayed in that direction.

I've pretty much used the same curriculum for the last few years.

Bible/History and Geography/Language Arts

I use Switched on Schoolhouse by Alpha Omega. My nephew LOVES computers. He always has. If he had his way we would have done all of our subjects on computer. But, I didn't want him sitting and looking at a monitor the whole time. And, since he really is a hands on learner as well, I wanted something more well rounded. So , we use other curriculum for the other subjects.


We have used Math U See for several years now. I have to confess we were a little late getting started with math. I did it on my own, for awhile. You know, the basics of adding and subtracting. (He loved subtracting, because he got to eat the Goldfish or M&Ms.) But, since math is NOT my best subject, I definitely wanted to go with a curriculum that was a good fit for both of us. A great friend introduced me to Math U See.

All I can say is, "Hallelujah!!" Steve Demme is amazing. THIS is how I should have been taught to do math when I was in school. Maybe I wouldn't have freaked out when they through letters in with the numbers.

I love that there is a DVD and that each lesson is appropriate for all learning styles. It has been a Godsend for us.


Abeka is a really great, Christian curriculum. We were very blessed when a friend gave us the curriculum they no longer needed.

For a couple of years I also used "Considering God's Creation." This is a wonderful, hands on science curriculum that teaches science in the order of Creation. It can be used for grades 2-12. There are a lot of options for assignments at any grade level. My favorite part was the "Evolution Busters". This brought everything back to the Bible to show how only God could have hung the stars in the sky, and put together the complex wonder known as the human body.


For reading I just use books we have, or those from the library. I began buying classics at used bookstores or curriculum sales a LONG time ago. I get lesson plans for them off of the internet, or if I don't find one I like then I purchase one from our Christian Bookstore.

For spelling, I choose words from the other subjects. I did use a spelling curriculum when he was younger, but another friend showed me that it is more practical, and economical, to use words from things he is already doing. Made sense to me.


As you can see from my awesome grammar/punctuation skills I do NOT handle the writing. That job has been passed on to my very intelligent brother. :-) He uses Writing Strands. He also handled the reading this last year as well. Yes, he ROCKS!! :-)

Good Citizenship

For this I have used everything from visiting policeman and the fire station to voting. My nephew has attended every election I have voted in since he was 4. He gets to see the ballot, watches me vote, and then we discuss why I voted the way I did. I always stress to him that voting is personal. It reflects MY beliefs, which may not always reflect his. The important thing to remember is that YOU vote YOUR beliefs, and you stick by them. But, know WHY you are voting that way. Don't vote for someone just because they are the most popular, etc. I believe he has a good handle on that subject. I also used a unit study that taught about our entire legislative/voting process, but can't remember the name. Sorry.

This last year we also used "Drive Thru History America". If you have not had the pleasure of seeing a Drive Thru History video, hosted by Dave Stotts, then I encourage you to do so. He is just quirky enough to hold the attention of almost anyone, but really gets the facts to you so you will remember them. I have learned just as much as the nephew has. The DTHA really focuses on the character of 9 early Americans, so that students learn not only more about the sacrifices made for America to become a nation, but about the character traits they need to become better people.

We've also used various things for Unit Studies, etc. And, he has had other subjects through our co-op, such as drama, Astronomy, etc.

P.E. has always been a "freelance" thing, I guess you'd say. We've done everything from karate, playing in the park, attending a gym, water aerobics, and just playing on the Wii.

Like a lot of homeschoolers, we school year round. My goal has always been to take all of December off, and be finished mid July, so we can have a 4-6 week break before beginning the next "school year." Of course, there are other days "off" thrown in there as well. It doesn't always work, but it's what we aimed for.

I've also done the 4 day school week, as well as the 5 day school week.

Now that we are entering his Freshman year in high school (there goes the eye twitch, again) I will be making some changes.

Switched on Schoolhouse will be changed to Monarch. It's pretty much the same things, but I don't have to deal with installation CDs. We will also add Science to the Monarch mix. We will go 5 days, and our goal is to have all of December off, be finished by July 31, and have August off, and of course there are scheduled holidays/days off throughout the year. Even a week off in April and 2 weeks off in June.

Lest you think he is chained to a desk in a dark room this entire time, let me assure you he does have outside activities. He is very involved at church and 4-H. He also does more than his fair share of volunteer work. As a matter of fact, we have cut back on activities this year, because we were both a little "overloaded" the last couple of years. And, since I am a little more than anxious about homeschooling high school (eye twitch) I felt it was in both of our best interests to take some of the pressure off.

Because there are not enough M&Ms in the world to help with that kind of stress.

Hope you saw something that helped you, and I pray you have a very exciting year of homeschooling your family. :-)




Vera @ Cozy Little Cabin said...

Great post, Wendy! We did the same as you, pulled from lots of different sources.

Congrats on being a home school veteran! Your nephew is a very blessed boy to have you take on this privilege and responsibility!

Joanna said...

I haven't heard of Monarch. But here's to another year!

AnnG said...

Wow! I can't imagine homeschooling a child that isn't my own! My hat goes off to you! You are doing an awesome job and have a great plan in place! Relax and enjoy these last few years....they go FAST and yes, he will be in college soon enough.
Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Valerie at Home said...

Ah, the piney woods of East Texas, where our school had a barn and everybody who was anybody took ag and raised animals. Our school used to take off 2 days for the county jr. livestock show because we wouldn't have had enough students present to count as a school day.

That's awesome that you get to homeschool your nephew and I hear you on the fear of high school. Maybe not *fear*, but a healthy respect for it's requirements and complications. We'll be there soon enough!

Fiddledeedee said...

I've wanted to check out Monarch, so I'll be very curious to see how you like it.

Also, Drive Thru History. BRILLIANT! I am haunting used curriculum sites looking for copies.

Good job, momma!!!!

WendyDarling said...

Thank you, Dee. :-) I'm actually the "Aunt", but I'll definitely take the compliment. ;-)

I'll also let you know how Monarch works out. :-)

A Complete Thought said...

How cool that you homeschool your nephew! My 8 th graders are participating in a co-op history class that is using Drive Through History. So far they have really enjoyed it. Thanks for your ideas.