What's Working For Us {Home School Curriculum}

Last August I wrote a post about our 2011-2012 school curriculum and what we would be using this school year. I have not had an opportunity to update our progress from the past five months. {we have been that busy}

Math: Rod & Staff (Grade 2 AND Grade 5) & LifePac (K) & Everyday Math Intervention Activities (K)
Does it work? Yes
Will I continue to use it for 2012? Yes. But my son blew through the Grade 5 book and we have moved onto another Math book focusing specifically on Algerbra. I expect him to breeze through this book as well and am on the lookout for something else.

In the past I used Horizons Math for my son and my daughter and while it sort of worked, it was just busy work. My daughter does not does well with busy work. Sheet after sheet after sheet makes her go crazy and cry. Rod & Staff presents, explains and executes their materials in a fun way using animals ( a big plus with my daughter). I am particularly fond of the teacher's manual).

On that note, my little one is using the LifePac Kindergarten Math curriculum and it seems to work for her. I like this curriculum and had used it for my son when he was in Kinder though grade 2 for supplement. I also use Abeka Math for K as well, in tandem. Additionally, we use the Everyday Math Intervention Activities curriculum for supplement.

We are heavy on Math in this house! {As you can see}

Grammar: Growing With Grammar (Grade 2) Shurley Grammar (Level 4)
Doe it work? Yes
Will I continue to use? YES

My daughter really loves Growing With Grammar.  A very simple, repetitious program that is cost effective. It’s a workbook model, with daily exercises slowly teaching new concepts. My daughter can whip through her assignments rather quickly and I love that. Very straightforward.

My son  uses the Shurley Grammar Level 4 this year. Shurley Grammar is too easy for him, but this is the curriculum he has to use through Classical Consortium, so we don't have a choice.

Spelling: Spelling Workout (Level B & Level D) & All About Spelling
Does it work? yes and no
Will I continue to use it? Not likely after we finish up the books

My daughter is not progressing in Spelling at all. I'm not sure what the deal is because she is reading at a 3rd grade level (a full year ahead), but can not spell to save her life. Spelling Workout is good curriculum, but I don't think it is a good fit for my daughter.

My son, on the other hand is a whiz at spelling. I purchased the Level D book for him and this book is simply too easy for him. We stopped using it after two months. I will be purchasing the junior high level in the next couple of weeks for him.

My little one loves All About Spelling and let me just say, this curriculum is outstanding! She is beginning to read and LOVES to sound every word and tell me how to spell anything she can think of.

Handwriting: I have yet to find anything that I like

My daughter has wonderful fine motor skills, but her handwriting is horrible, I think because she is left handed and struggles with where to place her paper and how to hold her pencil.

My son will be taking Composition at his co-op combined with Literature. His assignments are reading and writing reports on the books he is assigned. I have ordered all the material assigned and after perusing the books have discovered once again, these books are well below his reading level. I am not sure what to do since I had originally asked that my son be moved up to grade 5. The director did not agree with me stating that her program is quite rigorous. 

My son had been writing his reports and book reports and expository reports and simply does not enjoy this class at all. Loads of writing, which I happen to think is great. He will get used to it though, it will probably just take him a couple of more months.

Social Studies/History/Geography: The Story of the World & Mystery of History: Vol II & The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide &  A Trip Around the World & Another Trip Around the World &
Doe it work? Yes
Will I continue to use it? Yes

LOVE, love, love this curriculum. The reading book is wonderful and easy to understand (I read the stories to my kids). The activity book was equally as awesome. I was able to complete almost all the activities they would assign per chapter. We have made some amazing projects! IN addition, we are creating a lapbook for SOTW utilizing this website {she's awesome!}.

In addition to The Story of the World material, my son uses Mystery of History: Vol II, Bible Atlas, and Leagues and Legends for Omnibus at CC. I work with him each week with Mystery of History and happen to really like this curriculm as well.

For Geography, we study one country per week using A Trip Around the World, Geography from A to Z, Children Just Like Me, Global Art, Usborne Encyclopedia, and many many books for a local library. This is working for us and the kids really like Geography. We usually conclude a week's study with a visit to a restaurant that serves the food of the country we were studying {luckily we live in a BIG city!}

I just want to add that I did purchase The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide and I have not been able to use it yet. The curriculum is a bit advanced for my small children. Perhaps in a couple of years I will be able to use it, but for now, it is going to sit on my book shelf. I would say this is for jr high to high school kids for sure.

English/Vocabulary/Language/Phoenics: Rod & Staff (Grade 2) & Wordly Wise 3000 Book 2 & Daily Language Review (Grade 2 & 5) & Abeka (Kinder) & Evan Moor Literacy & Phonics (Level B)
Does it work? yes and not so much
Will I continue to use it?  yes and no

I actually really like the Rod & Staff curriculum. My daughter likes this curriculum from Rod & Staff and claims it to be her best subject! I also supplement using Wordly Wise 300 and my daughter does not really like it that much. It is just okay. The book basically will teach my daughter 150 new words this school year. I will use it the rest of the year, but will not be purchasing it again. {I think if my daughter were a better speller, this might work better for her}

We are using Abeka for my little one this year because someone gave me her leftover curriculum. I did need to order additional books to go along with what was passed along to us. I really wanted to like this curriculum too, but I don't. It moves too slow for my little one and I usually end up doing one week worth of work in one lesson. We are using Abeka Social Studies (which I like, but not advanced enough for my little one), Letters and Sounds, Writing with Phonics, and Numbers Skills (and all the other materials that go along with this curriculum). I will use it for supplement since we have it, but it again seems to be busy work and it's simply not working that well.

We are also using Evan Moor Literacy & Phonics books for little gal. I like both of these curriculum and they are working. I am no sure if I will use them again next year as I have not seen what the grade 1 books offer.

Science: Exploring Creation Through Astronomy (Grade 4) & Patterns of Nature (from Rod & Staff) Life (Level1) & Earth & Space (for my daughters) & Chemistry & Chemistry (level 1) (for my son) & The Young Scientists Club
Does it work? YES to all - except the kits
Will I continue to us? yes to all - not the kits

My daughter will be using the Patterns of Nature this year from Rod & Staff. Patterns of Nature consists of 30 lessons bound in an illustrated workbook. Science, at this level, mainly involves identification. Such subjects as seasons, seeds, wildflowers, weeds, trees, mammals, insects, songbirds, and the celestial bodies are introduced on the child's level. The book is a great supplement to our other curriculum, but sadly, she doesn't like it.

My girls love the Earth & Space and the Life Science curriculum. My son has decided he no longer wants to be excluded from this curriculum and he now participates in this part of our day(s).

My son loves Science and has Astronomy though CC and we have Chemistry at home. I use both of the books listed above together or separate, it just depends on what we are studying that week. He is also completing a study on the Elements and creating a lapbook. We are using The Periodic Table book and various books I get from a local library.

We are a heavy Science family. My children all love and adore Science and experiments so I continue to feed their curiosity. Whatever they want to learn, basically is included. I also ordered a dozen science kits from The Young Scientists Club at the end of the summer. Sadly, we are not impressed with these kits at all. {I'm also a bit ticked about it because of the money I spent}. Most of the experiments in the kids are really {really} old and simply do not work. I think they must have been sitting on their shelves for a very long time. I just went to their website now and it looks like they revamped their website and their kits? Perhaps too many complaints, so I can not speak to the quality now. But what I ordered, does not work. My kids are bummed too.

Religion/Memory: God's Great Covenant, OT Book 2 & VP Bible Flashcards (Grade 4) and Grapevine Studies (Beginner & Level 1)
Does it work? yes and no
Will I continue to use?  yes and no

My son uses this curriculum at CC and he seems to enjoy it.

I was not pleased with Grapevine at all. I originally ordered the Level 1 and was going to use this curriculum for both my daughters, but a rep called from Grapevine and informed me Level 1 woudl not work for my Kinder girl. While the message is there in the curriculum, the pages are numbered incorrectly and I had some difficulty getting all the chapters straight prior to even teaching. My girls also didn't really enjoy drawing the stick figures along with the bible stories. I could have used the Level 1 for my little gal and ultimately did end up doing just that. We breezed through this as I only ordered Part 1 and I am glad that I did. We have moved on to another online curriculum from Padfield and it seems to flow better with the girls.

Foreign Language: Via Latina & Getting Started with Latin & Logos Latin
Does it work? yes
Will I continue to use? Yes

My daughter has Spanish at co-op once a week, but I am not really doing anything else with it at home. Sometimes we review Spanish, but not too much.

My son began Latin (Via Latina) this year at CC and his curriculum. In the beginning, he really excelled and then in November, he really stalled and we have been struggling. We spend so much time on Latin during the week that I decided to buy some more books and tech the girls {and myself} at the same time. This seems to bring some joy back into Latin lessons for my son. He did pull out an A- in the class and for that we are ever so happy! I will continue teaching Latin at home as long as it works for the girls using the above mentioned curriculum.

Writing: Journals, Field Trip Reports
Does it work? Yes
Will I continue to use? Yes

Our approach is quite simple, I give journals and a topic each day and my daughters are to write a complete sentence to the prompt and draw a picture. They actually likes this so much. My daughter has began a personal daily journal that she continues to write in. Additionally, whenever we have an outing, the assigned task on the way home is to write about your day.

Writing: Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists
Does it work? Yes
Will I continue to use? Yes 

I purchased Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists, Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Davinci, Matisse, Michelangelo, O'Keefe, Pollock, Rembrandt, and Seurat. We read the books, along with books from the local library. We have a lapbook that we are completing and a page and many activities are dedicated to each artist. We conclude the unit study of each artist with an art project. They children really love Art this year.

We have many, many field trips since we live in a great city with numerous museums. Field Trip day will always be the favorite I think. Homeschooling is challenging, but wonderful and very rewarding. My children are benefiting from me and I from them!