I know this is going to sound like a broken record to most of you who read regularly (and to those of you who read the PK-K curriculum post). We recycled a lot of curriculum that we had used the previous year, and it is mentioned here again. 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 following article for links to our first year book lists, software, curriculum, computer games and field trip ideas. This list is composed of the curriculum we chose for the second 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 (just like the previous year), so we were very thankful that we had such a wonderful year without much drain on the pocketbook (again!). Please be sure and hover your mouse over the underlined links to follow them. Many of the products I used are linked in this message in case you wanted to pick up a copy for your own little Kindergarten Student or First Grader.
Sprittibee’s K-1 Grade Curriculum Choices:
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. We also added Easy Readers/Rainbow Readers/Hello Readers to our reading program and sets such as Bob Books and Playful Pals. My kids Looooved the Playful Pals set of books. I highly recommend them to beginning 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 second 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. If you use Konos, I would also highly suggest buying the KONOS Compass. It is an important part of the process. For more on planning your unit studies, see my KONOS planning post.
Don’t ever underestimate the value of cheap Workbooks! That’s my motto. We used up many of the workbooks I got the year before at Sam’s Club and I just picked and chose which pages they needed to use. Another great workbook we used was found at a teacher supply store: Geography – “Exploring our World with Maps” Workbook. Sam’s Club has History Workbooks, Grade Level workbooks, Animal Workbooks, Language Workbooks, and more. 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 started out the year using Miquon, but gave it up eventually and just stuck with A Beka. I was able to get a Kindergarten book from a teacher friend, and my son was able to take his books when we pulled him out of private school.
A Beka Math and Language Worksheets –
The bright and colorful pages with pictures and catchy poetry are pleasing to most kids, but can also be a bit of a distraction. My son is easily distracted, so he has always lagged in Math and Language when left to do his worksheets on his own. We still have a problem with this today. I was unable to afford to try Math U See, so we went ahead and stuck with A Beka. They have a solid program, and quite honestly, I think they are above public school standards.
Flash Cards –
We used flash cards with our kids from the time they were babies. We had numbers, letters, shapes, colors, and sight words. We used Spanish flash cards for their first year of school at home, and again during our second year. We also added addition and subtraction for our second year of homeschooling.
Copy Work –
We copied names, letters, Bible memory verses, sentences I wrote on the white-board with my Expo Marker, poems, and facts from books pertaining to our studies. 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! We usually watch these each year or so.
Phonics Through Poetry by 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. My kids hated to part with this book, so we still have it – even today at the end of 2nd and 3rd grade. They love the silly poems and like to read them even though they both have mastered reading and don’t really need phonics anymore. Here’s a link if you would like to add this resource to your homeschool bookshelf:
This is a masterful program that allows the parent to sit back and relax (except when you are helping the kids blow things up). It comes with a box full of science materials (all you need to do 8 experiments per semester or so), worksheets, and videos that instruct the class and provide more than just science lessons. The teacher, Mr. Bolinsky, has a long list of credentials and is engaging and fun. He tells stories about his life and everything (including the science) is tied to our Creator and a Christian Worldview. I plan to continue to use this program through the entire breadth of our schooling. I will say that it is much more fun to co-op and share materials. The only drawback is that you only get enough materials for ONE kid in the box. That means you will have to go and search out some supplies on your own. Even so, it will be well worth it! The only drawback to this program is the cost. I got this program on a discount, but would not have been able to afford it otherwise.
Spanish Tutor (outside the home) –
We had a teacher from our private school that agreed to let us come up to the campus after hours and take Spanish once a week. She was a great teacher, and it was really fun… but it was cut short. Half way through the school year, she was unable to continue… so we went back to our flashcards and singing songs again. I was unable to buy another program, but did a lot of research the rest of the school year. We missed our Spanish teacher after we discontinued our lessons.
Daily Bible Reading –
Of course, this goes without saying. We read on our own on days when we didn’t have a KONOS assignment pertaining to memory verses or examples that fit the unit study we were on.
Big Truths for Little Kids (Bible Devotional Book) –
I really loved this book. It was awesome. I believe it was written by a Catholic Family, and even though I may not be a Catholic, really enjoyed this book (as did the kids). It has many life-examples of behaviors as you travel through short stories and questions about two children and their parents. It brings the concepts of virtue down into bite-sized morsels that little children can assimilate. I think I gave it to a friend when we stopped using it. It has been my favorite Devo book we have used as of yet. I’m always in the market for a good devotional book. If you have ideas, please leave them in the comments section! If you want to pick up a copy of this book, here is a link:
This game is essential with a preschooler. Not only does it teach both upper and lower case letters in a really fun way, it provides hours of entertainment for the kiddo who wants to “DO SCHOOL” and feels left out while Mommy is preoccupied with older brother. Since my copy came out, they have updated the game to include the Spanish and French alphabet also! You can’t beat a trilingual preschool game!
Test Logic – Grade 1 (My Electronic Tutor) –
I bought this game at Wal-Mart (near the school supply isle) during or school year to see where my son was when we took him home from school in the first 9 weeks. He made an 87% out of 100 questions. I am not sure how accurate this game is in testing knowledge needed by the end of First Grade, but my kids really enjoyed it nevertheless. It is a small spiral bound book with lovely colorful pictures and it comes with a “pen” that is similar to a leapfrog wand which beeps when they miss a question.