It’s that time of year again! There is nothing more exciting to this nerdy mommy than reading and reviewing new curriculum. I can’t help it. There is so much to pick from! I just love asking others what they are going to use and why. I get the best ideas that way. So I figured I would share what I have picked out this next coming year in hopes to help your hunt as well.
Just to give you a little insight, I have discovered a few things about myself through this curriculum hunt. I love, love, love hard cover black and white non-consumables with big print and clean and simple lessons. No fluff. Let’s get to the point of the lesson and save me the misery of enforcing useless busy work.
I am super frugal by nature so the idea of using something with all my kiddos without having to repurchase it sounds heavenly to my tight pockets.
My favorite way to homeschool is cuddling up on the couch with my kiddos and reading to them. Which brings me to believe that I am more a Charlotte Mason type…well, about 70% anyways. I prefer to just find what fits and not necessarily follow a particular style.
I also belong to a homeschool group that teaches science and geography. At this age, I feel like science and geography once a week is plenty. We also read plenty of nonfiction books from the library so I choose to not have a formal science or history at this point. This gives me more opportunity to focus on the 3R’s and keep my homeschool as simple as possible.
Even though our budget is pretty tight this year, I have managed to save up a bigger homeschool budget (thanks to the sinking fund concept). Last year, I only had $30 to purchase new material so I relied heavily on free online resources and hand-me-downs. This year, I really wanted to invest in some good material that I believe would help me educate my kiddos for years to come. Plus, there is just something so exciting about new curriculum. Am I the only one?
Besides budget friendly, my picks are to be simple and fit my minimalistic ways. Meaning, I don’t like programs with a bunch of STUFF. I’m not the type to plaster my walls with neon colored posters or have crates full of program specific manipulatives or cut-outs. And don’t get me started on how much I HATE big thick teacher manuals! I like short, to the point lessons and clean and easy to implement concepts.
Disclaimer: I have not received free material or compensation for any of my suggestions. I purchased all these items with my own money. This post does contain affiliate links.
I have 4 kiddos- a Kindergartner, a 2nd grader and 2 toddlers this year. So here are my picks and why I chose to purchase them…
I don’t ever waste money on preschool or pre-K curriculum but these DVDs are an exception. I am passionately in love with these things! I could NOT get my #2 to learn her letter sounds no matter what I did until this program came into my home. I actually purchased this set about a year ago but am still using them for my sons. Even my 2 1/2 year old knows all his letter sounds and many sight words from this program. I LOVE these DVDs!
Also a Preschool prep product. I wanted my boys to feel like they were doing schoolwork too. This book has all the sight words that the DVD teaches so it’s great practice. Plus $5 for a workbook is a great deal.
I have been lacking confidence lately in my teaching ability. Maybe it’s me just comparing myself to other homeschool mommies or maybe it’s the fear of messing up my children’s education, who knows. As I have said earlier, I hate teacher manuals. So when I saw this DVD, I really felt it could be a great addition to my stash. This DVD shows you how to teach your kids math like Charlotte Mason did! It is like a teacher manual on DVD!! Wahoo!!I am a visual person so I am hoping this helps. The DVD I believe has concepts up to 4 or 5th grade but don’t quote me on that. I will make sure to post a review as I integrate it into this next school year. It cost me $22 which I thought was a great price since I can use it for several grade levels.
This was my most expensive purchase I have made in a long time. It cost me around $55. However, it is non-consumable and I really feel like it will be something I can use for my boys later. This book is a hard cover and is just laid out so beautifully. I chose this curriculum because my daughter #2 is not at all like daughter #1 and feel like the Easy Peasy math workbooks won’t fit her well. She has a disorder called Dyspraxia which affects her speech, coordination, focus and memory. She is also a very hands-on learner. So with that said, even though $55 is pretty steep for my normal price range, it is way cheaper than other manipulative based multi-sensory curricula like Math-U-See and RightStart.
I actually purchased these last year and just like the preschool DVDs, I love them! We have family that live in other states so I feel so good when my kids can watch DVDs like this in the car and call it schoolwork. I plan on purchasing the multiplication and division ones as soon as we get to that towards the end of daughter #2 second grade year.
I am going to continue with using the Mcguffey’s with my #2 using the Charlotte Mason word building approach. It seems to be working well so far. I was using 100 easy lessons but with her Dyspraxia, phonics is very very very difficult for her and she seems to do much better with a learning whole words first. I will still teach her how to sound words out but it may take longer and that is okay.
Talk about a great find! Spellingcity.com is an online program that allows you to punch in your spelling and/or vocabulary words and have the kids play games and watch video lessons according to their spelling list! It’s totally customizable to each child and the best part…it’s only $35 per year up to 5 kids! I feel like this is going to give my kids a great break from normal everyday book work (and will help me juggle homeschooling multiple kiddos). My kids beg me to do their spelling now. The site also has spelling lists for you if you choose to not come up with your own. You can also print out handwriting worksheets!
My #1 just loves the Easy Peasy workbooks. The pages are black and white which prevents distraction but yet presents problems in a fun game like way. My daughter likes to color the pictures after she is done with the work and loves getting a sticker on the front pages marking off her progress. I do however feel like the math is slightly behind other math curricula even though the reading is far advanced. This is why I purchased grade 3. I felt like it fits better to the level my daughter needs. I purchased this workbook on Amazon for $9! Not bad for a year’s worth of math
I have yet to find someone that doesn’t like Life of Fred. If you are not familiar with this series, you need to check them out. Life of Fred is about a little boy named Fred who is a math genius. He encounters math in his everyday life. And he gets in some pretty silly situations. I feel like these books not only expose your child to random facts about the world around us but brings joy and a break from the normal math fact drilling exercises. I plan on reading a chapter 1-2 times per a week just to give some spice and variety to our math. These books are hard cover non-consumable and look oh so lovely on the bookshelf as they all are the same size (that’s important to me ok, no judging.) These books run about $16 each however, I have found them used on amazon or at used book stores for $6-$12. You can purchase the whole elementary set on amazon but it will cost you about $120-$160. I prefer to purchase as needed.
I plan on using book lists for reading this year but I picked up this reader at a used homeschool curriculum fair for $2! My daughter is asking plenty of questions lately about our faith and feel it’s really important for her to always be learning about bible stories. Any time I can combine subjects, I do. Readers are awesome. They gradually get harder with each story and they allow you to store one book for your child that is level appropriate opposed to a bunch of random booklets, cutting down your curriculum clutter.
Did you know Rod&Staff are actually Mennonite textbooks? I find learning about the Mennonites and Amish quite fascinating. I started using this a little last year when #1 was in first grade. I absolutely love the simple no frills lessons and large print. I appreciate the exposure to our amazing God and good moral values. Some may say Rod&Staff is a little preachy, but I kind of like it because I don’t have a separate Bible curriculum so to me, it’s just subject combining. Each unit has a very short lesson that you or your child can read to you explaining the topic with examples. The lessons are at a second grade reading level so my daughter has no problems doing her grammar independently. This is also a non-consumable so all your child needs is a notebook. I found this new on Amazon last year for $10. Unfortunately, I believe it has gone up in price but you can always find it used.
For spelling/phonics/vocabulary, I plan on using SpellingCity.com for reasons I have already mentioned. I will be pulling spelling words from books she reads and a 2nd grade spelling list I found free online. The Rod&Staff English 2 eventually gets into teaching paragraphs and other writing concepts later. But until then, I am still sticking with copy-work, oral and written narrations for writing. Most writing curriculum don’t start until 3rd grade so I feel this is age appropriate.
I am also going to be reading the Little House on the Prairie series. My local library has them all so no purchase is necessary on my part. I feel like this will prep my second grader for history. I hope it gives her the idea of the past and timelines without jumping into a more formal history lesson. I plan on borrowing the cookbook from a friend and finding crafts on Pinterest to make a more complete unit study. I’m excited about future questions and conversations with my kiddos as we go on adventures with Laura and her family.
My budget this year is $200 for books and materials. I spent $150 total on my new finds and plan on saving the rest for art supplies and printing (my library charges $0.20 a page).
I hope this helps some of you find what you are looking for. Please, please, please share what you are using this year. I am always excited to hear what works for you!
Update (11-30-18): I wanted to give you all a quick update on my homeschool choices. As most of us know, curriculum can disappoint and things don’t always go as smoothly as one wishes. I actually made several changes in our curriculum since this post. I just want to be real. I tend to bounce. What can I say? I get bored easy. HAHA.
We have actually fully switched to the Robinson Curriculum, which I am totally in love with. I wrote a post about it awhile ago but was not able to purchase it and the printed I needed until now. I will post about it more in the future, once I get the hang of it.
The Easy Peasy 3rd grade workbook ended up being way too hard for my very young second grader (my fault for pushing too hard, too quickly.) So she is just focusing on memorizing math facts per the Robinson Curriculum plan.
Life of Fred actually was quite a flop for me and my 2nd grader. I was so sure we were going to like it but the stories were a little too silly for us. I love the concept but felt like there was more entertainment in the content then there was math. I will keep them though and maybe use them for supplement or fun.
I really don’t use the Spelling City anymore and wish I just used the free version before purchasing the membership. I will let my kiddos play a game on it once in a blue moon but find it a pain to drag the computer out only to listen to them fight about who gets to play first. I have started using the Modern Speller Book 1 which you can find on my free curriculum page. It is easy to use and it was free!
The Rod&Staff grammar, McGuffey readers and Preschool Prep DVDs are still going very well for us. Although, the Robinson Curriculum recommends not using the TV, I make an exception for these DVDs. My kids only watch maybe an average of 2 hours of TV a week so I don’t see it hurting anything.
So…I totally blew my homeschool budget for the year. Darn. I hate doing that! These things happen I suppose. I am very hopeful that the Robinson Curriculum will last us awhile. And maybe only have to purchase a new Rod& Staff Grammar grade 3 for next year (goes really well with Robinson Curriculum self-teaching philosophy.)
Just keeping it real y’all!
How is your curriculum working or not working for you so far? Let me know!