By popular demand, I am listing the curriculum that we use this year and what I think of it. I recently talked about how homeschooling for free was not a good match for our family. This doesn’t mean that I don’t use any free resources but rather I use them for supplemental fun.
We use so many supplemental items that I can’t list all of them here. We mostly use Virtual Fieldtrips and any other activities that we may find interesting from the ClickSchooling newsletter and sometimes I may see something cool at FreeHomeschoolDeals.com newsletter, mostly unit studies on holidays.
I also have a couple of multi-subject 1st grade workbooks (Brainquest and Comprehensive Curriculum), I don’t use them often but rather have them on hand for when I feel Shammy needs more practice on something (like when we were struggling with telling time) or when he is finished early and asks for more work.
For the benefit of anybody new to this blog, my son is 5 years old but doing mostly 1st grade work with some K and 2nd grade material thrown in. He loves reading but hates writing composition. He despises anything art related so you won’t see me listing anything on that subject. I also have a 3 year old son that I am not formally homeschooling yet.
This list is not meant to be a recommendation and only some feedback on what works for us. What we like may not work well for your child but I know that I always prefer an user’s opinion on a material to help me decide if something is worth researching further.
Reasoning Skills and Problem Solving:
Building Thinking Skills Primary by the Critical Thinking Company
This is an A+ in my opinion, it is considered a complete curriculum and it’s the one item I would not do without in our homeschool. There is a Teacher’s Guide available but I didn’t buy it and I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything. The manipulative supplies are required for this level and I think that they are worth it and can be used for other projects outside this book. It is a consumable book so it can’t be resold or saved to use with other children but it’s well worth the investment.
Life of Fred Elementary Math Series
This is another A. Life of Fred is not for everyone but it sure is a great fit for my child. This is different from any math curriculum I have ever seen and instead of the drill approach it promotes critical thinking. The lessons are story based which makes it fun and entertaining and I am always surprised at how the author sneaks in complex mathematical concepts and interesting concepts from other subjects such as English and Science in such brief chapters. There is very little practice per lesson, usually a handful of questions at the end of each chapter.
While this is supposed to be a stand alone curriculum, my son asks for more practice so we supplement. The books are a high quality hardcover and non consumable so they pass the test of time and retain a high resale value, a very good investment.
Star Wars Workbooks- 1st Grade Math
We have been using these since the Preschool level. In previous grades they were too easy and basic but that is improving for first grade. The fact that they are Common Core aligned has me having to evaluate each section before giving it to my son. He really loves Star Wars and really likes these colorful workbooks so that is the only reason why I am still using them.
Kumon Workbooks: Measurements (assorted workbooks)
I think that these workbooks are excellent. Each book has a narrow focus (for example, length measurements only) so I either have to supplement or buy several workbooks to get all of the subject coverage that I would like, the cost can add up so if you are on a tight budget I think you can do just as well using a different resource that has everything in one book.
Penguins on Ice Math Activity
This game is very versatile. We have been using it since the preschool stage and it’s a great way to have hands on practice or illustrate a concept that my son may be having a hard time visualizing.
Reading and Writing:
Spelling You See- Level A Spell and Write
A lot of people rave about this curriculum. I don’t see what the big deal is, maybe I am using it wrong or I am missing a part since I bought it used as I don’t see what’s so special about it but I do concede that it’s getting the job done and my son loves his spelling “tests”. I am planning on using the next level as long as my son still likes it but I can’t say that I am committed to it.
Star Wars Workbooks- 1st Grade Reading
Way too easy for my son but he still likes it and enjoys it.
Star Wars Workbooks- 1st Grade Writing
Also very basic but my son insists on doing the whole series of Star Wars workbooks in order.
Supplemental: Reading Rainbow on Netflix, Life of Fred Beginning Readers, lots of assorted readers (DK, Scholastic, etc) and library books (including library e-books)
The Life of Fred Beginning Readers are truly very basic. They are very expensive for a reader set as each book is hardcover and you have to purchase the entire series of 18 books to get the full story. I only recommend this for the hardcore Fred and Kingie fans like my sons. I don’t think it’s worth it otherwise.
We have no set curriculum for “regular” science (ie. biology, chemistry, earth science, etc). We just do weekly experiments, exploration and videos (whatever is trending on Facebook or YouTube). We use Usborne Encyclopedia (Science, Human Body, Living World, etc) books for reference.
I am planning on purchasing a curriculum from Elemental Science, still trying to decide between their Classic Science series and their Sassafras Adventures Living Books. Since Shammy loves Life of Fred so much I am leaning towards the living book format with the Sassafras twins.
Computer Science: Code.org 20 hour course. Code.org has lots of great tutorials for all ages and all of the ones that we’ve tried are very good. Since my son wanted more we started to do the 20 hour course recently. This is designed for older students but so far my son has been able to keep up very well.
Supplemental: Bill Nye the Science Guy, Magic School Bus (show and books), Minecraft pocket edition, Coding Board Game
All of the supplements are done for fun, I don’t require Shammy to do them but it’s one of the things he chooses when I tell him to “go do something educational”
Geography/Social Science/ History:
DK Geography Workbook
We usually learn this subject from life and researching more information from things we read in other books. We do use a workbook for basic geography concepts (ie. map reading). Since we don’t have a car, we rely heavily on Virtual Field Trips.
We had tried the Warfare by Duct Tape series but it wasn’t well received, I think that my son will appreciate it better in a year or two.
Assorted Uncle Rick’s History Audio Recordings
This is not a fit for us at all. A lot of Uncle Rick’s content is very Christian and we prefer a secular approach. I had tried to use the generic history recordings but my children don’t respond well to audio only format. They’d rather have a book, activity or video.
Stack the States App
My son doesn’t particularly like this app but I think it’s great. I think he will like it better when he’s older so I don’t push it.
Assorted readers on geography, states, US Presidents, major historical milestones.
Most of these come from the dollar store or the Dollar Spot section at Target. The quality varies wildly but for $1 each they are a good value.
I have the Little Whovians History curriculum to go with the Doctor Who TV show since my boys are fans but I haven’t gotten around to starting it. Why? Mainly because I forget that we have it and get busy doing something else.
The Complete Book of Starter Spanish
We had tried a more advanced level of this series and it was too hard, not on the language part but dealing with rules of grammar that we hadn’t covered yet so we “downgraded” to this book and it’s way too basic but it’s still a good way to build Spanish vocabulary. I don’t recommend it as a standalone but it’s still a great resource.
This program requires the child to be a good reader which is not a problem for my son. He enjoys it and you can set the daily duration to various increments so we only do 5 minutes per day so as to not overwhelm him.
Salsa Videos (Free from Georgia PBS Online)
This is a Spanish TV show telling stories with puppets. I personally can’t stand these videos, the voices and the way they talk drives me nuts but my son likes them so I let him watch by himself as a supplemental thing.
We don’t use a set curriculum for this. I had gotten one but found it to be too much work and my child is more brainy and less physical inclined so I didn’t want to push it and make him hate it. We use Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube for movement and the boys attend Kung Fu classes every Wednesday. Aside from that I just let them run around and play with balls without any formality.
Multi Subject Supplemental
ABC Mouse Early Learning Academy
This program is well worth the money. My son has been using it since he was 3 years old and I give it partial credit for him being such a good reader. They recently added 1st grade content so my son can use it for a little bit longer. We use this as a fun filler when I need to get some work done. My 3 year old son also uses it as his “baby school” although he doesn’t use it as much because he doesn’t like all of the songs :-).
We are Pagan so I also incorporate spirituality in our home school. I realize that many of my readers are not Pagan so I listed our curriculum choices on a separate post.