It’s that time of year again! At the end of every year I take a good long hard look at what we did and I ask myself these questions. Did we like it? Did we learn from it? Would we want to do it again? What changes could I make to make it better?
This year we didn’t follow a curriculum. We tried that, we didn’t like it. It was too scripted and if you remember from my post ‘Dear Diary, it was far to computer based. So I flew by the seat of my pants for the rest of the year…a bit of that and a bit of this. (We are so very eclectic) For the next year I do want a bit more structure…because before I could spend hours planning out weeks of activities, but with my new job as a Playologist with SimplyFun, I just don’t have the time to search the internet for hours and hours. My values remain the same, my needs remain the same. Most importantly I refuse to spend a small fortune!
So without further delay, I will share with you what we have come up with for the 2015-2016 year!
We decided not to use EP because of it’s over all electronic dependent nature. We did like the literature based program though. I was determined to find something similar so I went on the hunt! This program was found after countless hours of searching/researching. This mom has done what we all wish we could do! Build our own curriculum to our own needs! She has created grades K-7th and even has some fun unit studies available for download too! I can only imaging the hours that went into this, so her fee of $34 is quite inexpensive in my opinion! (Since I can use it for two of my children, that fits into my budget nicely!)
*This is a secular curriculum as well, many of you will appreciate that!
As with almost ALL curriculum found online or offline, you must choose your own Math program. UG. You’ve been there, we all have. Thousands of reviews, math book sets that cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of options all claiming to be the best. Again, most of which are Christian Based. Another popular Secular option is Saxon..the king of the industry term “Drill and Kill”…Which don’t get me wrong, that’s not a problem for me, but I want a program that “fits” with our literature based needs a little better. Saxon and I have a love/hate relationship…I love the results but hate the process. (as do the children) On the hunt I went again!
You would think after 2 years of searching I would have found everything there is to find out there. Guess not! When I found this gem I was excited…even more so to find it was absolutely FREE.
*This is cool, it really is. If you’ve ever tried Saxon or Life of Fred, this curriculum reminds me of both. Now, they are not broken up by grades but rather by “Books”. Which I prefer. I do not “grade” my children, at least not before High School. So levels makes more sense to us. I immediately downloaded the entire set! Books 1-5. To help you decide what age level is which book, we are working on Saxon 5/4…Book 3 covers just about everything we have done this year in Saxon.
*It is absolutely adorable in the fact that you follow the story of these cute home schooled Twins Charlie and Charlotte…today for example, we worked on time, addition and subtraction, money but we also created a brochure of Peru! Why? Because Charlie and Charlotte are finishing up their school work to prepare for a summer trip to Peru with their parents! Everything Charlie and Charlotte do, we do in our daily lessons. That is a really neat thing if you ask me! Fair warning though, it does require quite a lot of printing and so far I have found two references to God…so if that doesn’t bother you then this may be the math you’ve been looking for! Most of you will appreciate that Charlie and Charlotte also help teach lessons like how to focus and get their work done on time and do as their mother and father say!
NONE and I mean NONE of the Math programs I have looked at focus hardly enough on math facts. This is where this program comes in. I’m a firm believer in learning your basic facts so that more advanced math is easier. This is hands down, by far, without a doubt, the BEST program for that!
*Be warned. This is drill and kill. In a short & sweet way. Each daily lesson takes about 5 minutes-no more than 10. BUT it can take anywhere from 30-200 lessons to master any given topic! This is a shocker to some, but for me it’s the best part! Too many programs just pass right over this incredibly important skill, including the public school we left. This program wants Mastery. True Mastery. So, don’t go into it thinking your kid will whip right through it and you’ll be better off. Treat it as more of an ongoing daily practice. The certificates are just cherry’s on top.
I can’t say enough good about Khan Academy. In fact, I can tell you that this website is the reason we discovered our youngest daughter is gifted in math! They only used to begin lessons at the 3rd grade level, however, recently they’ve added early math too! It’s a fabulous resource for those not comfortable with teaching the details of certain subjects or even families that prefer a program that will teach their children with less parental involvement.
Ok, while we prefer as little electronics as possible in our daily routine, I am the first to admit in this day and age we must be proficient at typing. It could be the difference between you and the next guy getting the job! In my High School we had the most amazing typing teacher. She blacked our screens out and covered our keyboards so we could not read the letters. No Frill, No pretty bouncing balls to type the letters out of before they hit the bottom of the screen. Just real typing practice. That may sound dull and awful, HOWEVER, now I can type nearly 160 wpm on a good day…and always more than 90 wpm…I owe this teacher a huge Thank You. So I’m doing the same service for my children. Here is a great No Frill program that does reward your students and allows you to check their progress.
*I strongly encourage you to have your child sit up straight, in a good chair, with the proper hand arch and black out those key board letters! (We bought a wireless keyboard just special for typing, laptops are not the best to learn on) In a pinch you can use black fingernail polish to black the letters out, no need to buy an expensive cover. My just turned 8 year old is now typing nearly 20 wpm (adjusted) …this program does work! I hope it works for you as well.
Wow have I ever stumbled on a gold mine here! If your lucky enough to be from Colorado, this facility is open to the public! We are taking a field trip there soon! If you are not, your still lucky! Look no further for a wealth of hands on, engaging science lessons to inspire the scientist in your child!
A good nature program is hard to come by! Especially one that is meant for your region/climate. We love the book, The Nature Connection. It comes complete with everyday & month specific activity suggestions. We bought ours during a Museum visit but I’m sure you can find it online. This is also one of the required books for Build Your Libraries Year 1 curriculum.
This one is easy! Books are an absolute must in every home! Encouraging the kids to read, for learning and for joy, is one of the most important things we as parents can do for our kids! We visit our library at least twice a week! If your library is like ours and is quite small, you might prefer to purchase your own books. I can help with that as well!
Another thing I love is working in the kitchen with my girls! Even if you have boys, learning some basic cooking skills isn’t a bad thing. I stumbled upon this gem a while back. We plan on using this in conjunction with our youngest daughter’s YouTube show, Baking with Boogie.
We do like an occasional computer/video game!
Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader!? (We have the Wii Version, bought it new for around $5)
Arcademic (Free version works just fine)
**More coming soon!!
Home School Sked Trek – Online Curriculum Planner (FREE)
Home School Movie Club – Tie your literature & movies together! (FREE)
There ya go! Some of the coolest, funnest and mostly free sites & resources I’ve found! If you like what you’ve seen, please give my post a like and share with your home schooling friends! Thanks so much!