I know this is going to sound like a broken record to most of you who read regularly, but please forgive me. In case you are just stopping in for the first time, looking for ideas for your homeschooling adventure… I started homeschooling in 2001, and my kids were 2.5 and 4.5 when we began. You might check out the previous posts this month (and possibly last month) for other ideas regarding book lists, software, reasons for homeschooling, and field trip ideas. This list is composed of the curriculum we chose for the first year we homeschooled. There are so many wonderful choices out there, but I feel that God led us to exactly the mix we ended up using. I had very little money to spend on supplies and curriculum, so we were very thankful that we had such a wonderful year without much drain on the pocketbook. I have heard of ladies who were so committed to homeschooling on a tight budget, that they did their entire year by just “living” at the library – creating their own curriculum, if you will. This seems way above my tolerance curve!
Preschool and Kindergarten Curriculum Choices at Sprittibee’s Homeschool:
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
This is the Distar Phonics program. The book claims that your child will be reading at a second grade level when you finish. Both of my children were reading well enough at the half-way point through the book that we gave it up and just started using Phonics workbooks and reading early readers.
There is no way for me to express my absolute adoration for this curriculum. Konos (meaning CONE in Greek) is a character based Christian curriculum that uses the “unit study” method to bring learning to LIFE. I am going to post a few of our favorite memories from the year that had to do with our use of Konos this first year tomorrow. I hope you will stop back in to read it. Konos is also a wonderful way to incorporate multi-level learning in your homeschool experience. In other words, if you have a fifth grader, a third grader, and a first grader (and a few preschoolers), you can all study the same topic at the same time… you just adjust the assignments for each child based on their abilities. If you know how much other “packaged” curriculums cost, you will see that the expense for the Konos Volumes is miniscule compared to these other curriculums (and you only have to buy ONE Konos book – or splurge and get all three!) instead of one SET of packaged curriculum PER CHILD. I have all three volumes of Konos, which are so packed full of wonderful learning activities and creativity, that you can use them for the entire grammar years, and then again during your child’s junior high years. You progress deeper into the subjects as they get older. With Konos Volumes 1, 2, and 3 – you have your entire curriculum (minus Phonics and Math) until your child is ready for high school.
California Achievement Test
At the end of the year, we used the California Achievement Test to see where we were. We bought a copy of it from the Seton Home Study Website. Because we live in Texas, we have online resources available for us that include previous years TAAS and TAKS tests with their answer sheets so that we can print and administer standardized tests in the comfort of our own homes (without government interference). In Texas there are no testing laws for homeschoolers. You can check your state’s requirements to see what the laws are for your state if you are not aware of them. That would be a good place to start. As for the CAT, it is mailed to you, and after you administer it, you must mail it back for grading. They will send you a copy of the grade and your child’s average score compared to all others who have taken the test.
Don’t ever underestimate the value of cheap Workbooks! That’s my motto. Our first year, we got a plethora of workbooks from Sam’s Club and I just picked and chose which pages they needed to use. Sam’s Club had History workbooks, Grade Level workbooks, Animal workbooks, Language Workbooks, and more. Some of these workbooks came also from teacher’s supply stores (especially the geography/map workbooks we used). I even got a couple from the local office supply store. Some of our favorites were Learning Horizons Math Workbooks, Mc Graw Hill, and School Zone Publishing.
Miquon Math Workbooks/Cuisenaire Rods
Cuisenaire Rods are little plastic colored blocks of varying sizes that allow your child to manipulate them as they learn value, placement, addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and even algebraic concepts. You can buy the Miquon Math Workbooks to accompany them, and there are other workbooks that go along with them as well. We had two different workbooks that first year, from two different publishers. My son is stronger in Math than my daughter, and I’m not sure if that is because of their natural personality traits and gifts, or because my son had a lot of concrete hands-on learning with these rods and workbooks for his first year, while my daughter started mainly in A Beka workbooks (in private school).
This goes without saying. We used flash cards with our kids from the time they were babies. We had numbers, letters, shapes, colors, and sight words. I added Spanish flash cards for their first year of school at home. We should have stuck with it, as we still don’t know enough Spanish to converse. That is a goal of ours for next year.
Hey, now here’s a homeschool curriculum choice that’s FREE. Yep, all you have to do is let them copy their name, copy letters you write down on paper for them, copy Bible memory verses, copy sentences on your white-board that you write with your Expo Marker, or just copy things out of books. Copying other’s writings teaches more than just handwriting skills. It also teaches grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary! What an easy and cheap way to maximize your learning for free!
Kent Hovind’s CSE Creation Seminar Videos
There are a LOT of sources out there that offer great Creation Science tools for your education experience. I know that Answers in Genesis has a website that has wonderful tools as well as CSE, but I absolutely LOVE Kent Hovind’s seminars. He also has a ton of other homeschool curriculum, books, charts, dinosaur relics, articles, and other interesting stuff to buy, browse, read, and look at if you visit his site at Dr. Dino dot com! The seminars consist of 17 hours worth of mind-shattering evidence that completely debunks the theory of evolution. My children like Video 3 the best – it is all about dinosaurs and dragons!
Phonics Through Poetry – Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz
I met Babs at a homeschool book fair in Houston once, and she had a lot of funny children’s books and explained to me why I shouldn’t let my little wee ones go without poetry in their lives. I love poetry myself, and it has meant a lot to me over the years, so I purchased her phonics book, which is geared towards PK-1st Grade. It is has been a wonderful tool for adding that extra oomph to our phonics program. We have used her book all three years that we have homeschooled, and only now, as my youngest is entering second grade, are we beginning to think of parting with it. Maybe at Christmas time… I’m sure I can use it some more this year, even though we are not really doing phonics any more.