Homeschool Curriculum

A question I am asked often is, "What do you use for curriculum?".  Well, my kids each learn a bit differently so I don't purchase a boxed curriculum from just one source.  I piece meal our books together based on interests, learning style, my teaching style, etc.

Over the summer I  ask my children what they would like to learn about this upcoming school year.  For example, this summer when asked that question I received these answers:

The World Wars
The Animal Kingdom, especially animals in our state.
Science Experiments, the messier the better.

So, when I begin the school year, just by asking a simple question, I can be prepared to teach to their passions.  I take the above answers, look at what needs to be accomplished for their individual needs and then I construct a plan.  We have been homeschooling for a LONG time (13 years) so it doesn't take as long now to map out our routine.

I have tried and true books I use for the basics.  I will break it down by grade level below.

For preschool I do a simple Circle Time with the kids.  I gather them up while the big kids are doing their chores and we sing a few songs, read some books that go along with our theme (one theme per month), and review our letter of the week.  We end our time with an activity and by the time we are all finished, the big kids are ready to begin their school day.  On average Circle Time takes about 40 minutes and the little ones love it.  It gives them much needed one on one time at the start of the day and then they are free to play while I work with the older children.

Some of our favorite authors for Preschool Circle Time
Eric Carle
Chris Van Dusen
H.A. Rey
Jan Brett
Virginia Lee Burton
Dr. Seuss
A.A. Milne
Beatrix Potter

Elementary (k-6)
The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.
This is a no frills book that gets the job done.  The lessons take 10 to 15 minutes and I start this when the children show an interest in wanting to learn how to read.  Some of my kids started very early, age 3, and others were 5 years old.  What I appreciate about this book is that it teaches your child to read phonetically.

First Language Lessons
This is a basic introduction to grammar for grade school. The lessons take about 10 to 15 minutes and incorporate grammar, narration, dictation, and memorization.

Fix It Grammar
We use IEW's Fix It! Grammar as the children get older and this can be used in elementary grades up through high school.  The books ask you to edit daily passages for errors and by the end of the year the daily passages all come together to form the complete story.  A very fun and effective way to learn grammar!

Math U See
We have used multiple math programs over the years but once we discovered Math U See, we never turned back.  I love the way Mr. Demme teaches the children the new lesson, via dvd, and then there is a weeks worth of reviewing the new concept as well as cumulative review of previous material learned. Lessons take about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the grade level.

Story of the World/ Tapestry of Grace
We use SOW and Tapestry as our spines for history and then supplement with their book lists of wonderful living books that help bring history to life for our children.  With the younger children I use Story of the World and we have a blast making memories as we work through the awesome activity book together throughout the year.  The activity book  is full of wonderful crafts, enrichment activities, lists of additional books to read, and fun puzzles/coloring pages, I definitely advise purchasing it to go along with whatever time period you are studying.

My kids have a blast using Jeannie Fulbright's Apologia Exploring Creation Through Science series.  As with the history curriculum, these books also have a notebooking journal with extra activities, books to read, coloring pages, and copywork pages that add so much richness to your school day.

We also incorporate Nature Study into our week.  It is a fabulous way to get your children outside to enjoy the fresh air and it allows them to notice the fascinating world around them while helping them get in touch with their creative side.  It is a great excuse to dig in the dirt, go puddle jumping, or hold worms.  :)

If you need some nature study ideas, Barb at Handbook of Nature Study has done all of the footwork for you.  Check out her website and enjoy having fun with your kids as you explore the amazing world around us whether it be in your own back yard, while on a hike, or playing at the park.  The options are limitless.

Further reading on Nature Study:
Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola

Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie

As my children progress through the grades and enter high school we continue with:
Math U See
We have greatly enjoyed Jay Wile's Discovering Design series for science. It is excellent to use in a co op setting but can be done alone as well.
We continue with Tapestry of Grace and sometimes mix it up with Beautiful Feet for History.
We use Institute for Excellence in Writing for  a variety of grammar/essay writing, etc, based on what the needs/desires are and we have used The One Year Adventure Novel curriculum with our aspiring writer, which was great fun.

We read aloud often in our home school so we will usually pick a series at the beginning of the year and work our way through it.  Last year we read Little Britches and I think this year we will be reading Pippi Longstocking. In years past we have read Little Men, Little Women, The Hobbit, and the Chronicles of Narnia series.

So, that is the general idea of what major books we use in our homeschool.  Do you have a curriculum or book that you just cannot live without?  Please share it in the comments below.