The Curriculum Search

Uggghhhh. The never ending search for “just the right” curriculum has begun. There are so many options, so many choices, so much mind changing. It becomes a frustration. So how do you find just the right curriculum for your kid? Here is what works for us: Don’t buy a complete curriculum from one company. There are many options for all of the subjects you need to study. Not every kid likes every style of learning in every subject. Maybe your child likes to work hands-on for Math but likes to read for Science. If you put together a list of the different companies that offer curriculum for these subjects and then check to see which subjects offer hands-on or not, it could keep you from becoming frustrated half way through the year when your child struggles with a certain subject.

We have learned from our children that not all subjects are created equal. Our son likes Science and History. He hates Reading, Writing, and Math. So we are researching all different kinds of ways to teach him that will keep him from becoming frustrated. It is also hard when your child is at different levels in different subjects. It would make it hard to buy a complete curriculum from one company because you aren’t sure which level to choose.

So far, this is our curriculum for the 2014-2015 school year:

History- The Complete Book of US History, The Complete Book of Presidents and States, and Interactive 3d Maps

Science-(We are learning about Astronomy)- Youtube videos, hands-on experiments, worksheets, and a plethora of astronomy websites.

Math- We are still undecided here. Torn between Math U See, Life of Fred, and Math Mammoth. Leaning more towards Math Mammoth. We are also using XtraMath for fact practice everyday and Khan Academy for extra practice on things we are struggling with.

Reading- (this is our biggest struggle with our son)- We are using Reading Eggs to help with the struggles, we are using Magic Treehouse books for read aloud time, also using books on the Kindle to help build confidence in his reading. (For our daughter we are using Reading Eggs and Starfall (she will be 6))

Writing- We also have a bit of struggle with this, so we are creating a writing center, where they will get to choose what they want to write about, have different writing activities, etc. (we found most of our ideas for this on Pinterest.)

Spelling- We are using the spelling word lists from k12reader and using a worksheet called Get to 30 for their weekly work. I downloaded this worksheet for free from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Grammar- We are still trying to figure this one out.

 

As far as my planner, we have found the most amazing, all in one website that has totally blown my mind. It keeps track of attendance, grades, lesson plans that you can insert links, pictures, and videos into, keeps their portfolios, and generates report cards. Also, if you want to pay $7 a month for the upgrade, it gives your children a student portal log in and they can pull up all of their assignments and also turn them into you right from their lesson plan page. It is amazing. You need to check it out! It’s called Boxadoo.

So as you can see, we have built a huge selection of eclectic materials to fit our children’s needs. Sometimes it is better to think “outside the box” rather than being stuck in one box of curriculum. It might just make your school year a lot easier. Good luck on your journey to finding what works for you and your children.

Be sure to check out pictures and other ideas on my homeschool Facebook page and also on Pinterest

Our Curriculum 2013-2014

Our 12 Year OId Son:

Spelling- Spectrum Spelling workbook http://www.rainbowresource.com/prodlist.php?subject=8&category=1877

Spanish- Mango language through the local library website http://www.mangolanguages.com/

History/Bible/Reading/Writing/Science- www.allinonehomeschool.com

Math- Singapore Math textbook and workbook http://www.singaporemath.com/

We may add something for art, but haven’t found anything good yet. For geography, we are doing a virtual road trip across North America. I got the idea from http://3kidsinnorthamerica.blogspot.com/. I will be setting up a blog like hers.

As far as organization, I have set up his worksheets/printables in folders by week.(pictured below). Inside each week’s folder, each day’s assignments are paper clipped together so that all of his things are neatly organized and he can just grab the packet and go.

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Record Keeping?

I know a lot of people ask about record keeping for their children. I did a lot of searching for the best way to keep my kids’ records. I found a great website that offers a free grade book. I used it last year and it worked wonders for me. http://fivejs.com/free-homeschool-gradebook-record-keeping-spreadsheet-template/. You can keep track of grades, attendance, book lists, etc. If that one doesn’t work for you, there is also a website that has a list of other record keepers. http://www.iamhomeschooling.com/homeschooling-101/563-record-keeping-for-homeschoolers.

As for keeping track of their worksheets and projects, I use 3 ring binders and manila folders. I label each one with the subject and I put all of their paperwork in them. I keep them in order by date. When the 1st semester is over, I take them all out and keep them in a box labeled with the school year and the kid’s name. That way the folders don’t get too full and you will still be able to find all of their work for their portfolio at the end of the year. Every state has a different law about what you need to keep for each child. I live in SC and I have a tab on my page that has the laws for us.

Homeschool or School at Home?

Believe it or not, there is a huge difference between homeschooling your child and doing school at home. We started this school year out doing school at home. Let me explain what that is. This is where you attend public school online at home. We went through a program called K12. They created the curriculum, sent all materials needed for the school year, and also provided a teacher that you can always communicate with when you had a question. It was a good program, but our son was struggling because the years of him being pushed through public school have taken a huge toll on his eduction. We decided that this program was not going to work for him.

My husband and I sat down and weighed out all of our options, what it would look like to homeschool our children, and if we thought that we would be able to do it. We decided that it was what was best for the kids that mattered. I immediately got online and started Googling everything and anything I could think of to help us figure out where to start.

So what is the difference between homeschool and school at home? Here it is: You must do everything, including planning the day, choosing curriculum, providing the materials, and you have no teacher support. We seriously contemplated buying the expensive curriculums that many places offer. In the end, we decided we were going to make our own curriculum so that we could tailor it to fit our son, since he struggles in some classes more than others. We found used textbooks online through and website called Alibri’s. www.alibris.com  We also got on Ebay and found workbooks that we are using for math and language. As for our math manipulatives, we make most of them out of everyday items we have laying around the house. I used this website for inspiration. http://heartofthematteronline.com/15-homemade-math-manipulatives-2/. I also use Pinterest for alot of creative ideas to use for teaching tools.

It is absolutely amazing how much help you can find online. I think what helped me the most was finding other parents’ blogs. They share a lot of experiences and can tell you some things to avoid, some things that work, etc. So before you throw in the towel or feel extremely overwhelmed, hop on the internet and use Google. You will be surprised at how many other parents have the same questions and problems you do, and how many other parents have the answers you are looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links and Resources We Use

We use the internet for alot of things, so it was only obvious to us that we use it to teach our children. I have provided a list of different websites we have used so far. We will update it with new ones as we come across them. Feel free to let me know about different websites that you use. I hope this will help you on your journey to homeschooling success.

Lapbook Templates:

http://heartofwisdom.com/scrapbook/lapbook-templates

www.homeschoolshare.com/lapbook_at_HSS.php

History:

We do this virtual road trip across North America to learn about all the different places in North America. We also use a map to color the states and places we have visited.

http://3kidsinnorthamerica.blogspot.com

This is a variety of History Unit Studies.

www.raisingrefounders.com/worksheets/unit-studies

Typing Class:

This website is good for beginning typers.

www.bbc.co.uk/schools/typing

For Reading, we use a variety of sources, but we enjoy making these Adventure Packs for the kids.

http://www.readingrockets.org/article/27935/

For the younger kids, I like to use the following websites:

www.starfall.com

www.abcmouse.com

www.kidslearningstation.com

www.hubbardscupboard.org

www.1plus1plus1equals1.net

Spelling and Vocabulary lists for elementary and middle school can be found at:

www.aaaspell.com

Math manipulatives are expensive and I found a website that teaches you to make your own.

http://heartofthematteronline.com/15-homemade-math-manipulatives-2/

Math:

www.khanacademy.org

http://frogsandcupcakes.blogspot.com/2011/08/math-notebooks.html

And for a variety of different printable worksheets and teaching aids, we use these websites:

www.teacherhelp.org/teacher_timesavers.htm

www.tlsbooks.com

http://havefunteaching.com/worksheets