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Topic: What's your greatest Curriculum treasure?

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Subject: What's your greatest Curriculum treasure?
Date Posted: 2/20/2009 11:04 PM ET
Member Since: 11/23/2008
Posts: 453
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So I thought if we were going to moan about our problem curriculum we should rave about our favorites as well. For me this is really hard because I have several that I'm happy about. But if I have to wean it down to one..

It would be Math U See. Now you have to understand that with my first two kids...it was Saxon all the way. Then I got a child who I didn't know was ADD and had Disgraphia until recently. But I sure knew that Saxon wasn't going to work with him. After the aforementioned failure with Singapore Math which by the way was NOT the first math program I have used. My son has done a year and a half of work in five months. I'm praying his retention is better...but I'm looking at this VERY positively.  So if you have a kid who isn't doing well with their math program I highly recommend this program. Dolly

Date Posted: 2/21/2009 12:26 AM ET
Member Since: 2/22/2007
Posts: 10
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agreed on MUS!  Also, Sequential Spelling, Growing with grammar and Five in a Row have been my treasures I tell everyone about!

Date Posted: 2/21/2009 10:58 AM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2006
Posts: 1,443
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I like MUS as well, my son is not keen on it, but he is learning from it.  I have been trying this year to intermix MUS with other math to keep him interested.

My other new favorite is TOPS Learning...they are mostly science based, but have some math too (like measuring and metric).  They are based on a grade range (K-3 or 4-7 ork 9-12 or even K-12).  Each set is based on a specific topic, Magnets, Electicity, LIght...etc.... and All use everyday house hold matericals or basic items.  Most of them seem to be geared for minumal "teaching", there are step by step instructions (with pictures). 

We are on our 4th unit since beginning of summer. 

Subject: Natural Speller
Date Posted: 2/21/2009 11:19 AM ET
Member Since: 3/7/2008
Posts: 114
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Natural Speller by Kathryn Stout

This one book contains spelling lists for grades 1-8 plus teaching suggestions and tips.  By far this is my most economical purchase.  $20 for one book which will be used for multiple years with 3 children.

I like it so much I'm gradually adding all her other titles too.


Date Posted: 2/21/2009 12:43 PM ET
Member Since: 3/20/2007
Posts: 931
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I'd have to say the K12 curriculum (especially art & history), Teaching Textbooks (math), and Cosmeo.com.

Not a curriculum product, but I love my free membership in the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

I also like the Homeschool Freebie of the Day site.


Date Posted: 2/21/2009 2:39 PM ET
Member Since: 1/25/2009
Posts: 14
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My greatest treasure is also my biggest disappoinment. How ironic. I love BJU Press Distance Learning, but hate the damaged discs.

We always used Saxon math for my oldest son. When we switched to BJU Press, he was very impressed with their math (Algebra I). He understands the concepts better now.

Date Posted: 2/21/2009 5:21 PM ET
Member Since: 7/25/2007
Posts: 87
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I love Math-U-See, Apologia, and Easy Grammar... my daughter is mildly autistic, so we keep things as writing-free as possible.  Trying Dragon NaturallySpeaking for that.  These other things keep her interest and appeal to her in a way that she can learn the material.  Seems to be working pretty well with my son as well, though he is not far along yet.  I think he has some troubles similar to his sister's.  Perhaps a bit dyslexic?  We're working on it.

I do keep Saxon books nearby for reference.  :)

Date Posted: 2/22/2009 7:24 AM ET
Member Since: 10/26/2005
Posts: 438
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The further along I go on this journey, the more I enjoy breaking free from curriculum and following our own ideas.  I feel more enthusiastic about our school when we're constantly brainstorming new ideas instead of just following someone else's plan.  Using other's plans gets monotonous very quickly and just feels like we're going through the motions and checking off our "to do" lists without really learning anything. 

Having said that, I am really enjoying the materials from Institute for Excellence in Writing.  In particular the Teaching Writing with Style and Structure.  This is a set of DVD's that teaches you, the teacher, how to teach your children to write.  It is pricey.  But is worth every penny.  This is not a laid-out curriculum with assignments (though they sell that too) it is inspiration and guidelines for the teacher.  This isn't the type of thing I enjoyed when I first started homeschooling but I am growing into it as I get more comfortable with things.

I also love IEW's poetry memorization program and Teaching the Classics which is a DVD program similar to TWSS that teaches you, the teacher, how to do literary analysis with your students.  It's AMAZING!!!

Date Posted: 2/22/2009 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 10/9/2006
Posts: 88
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While searching for a framework text to use for teaching a co-op class on 20th century American history, I discovered Ray Notgrass and his two book course Exploring America.  His narrative writing style is more intesting than typical texts and he hits the big points that need to be covered.  He designed a Bible lesson in each unit to provoke discussion and critical thinking about the issues of that time period. 

I certainly believe that the 20th century is shortchanged by homeschoolers because it seems so recent to us moms, but we forget that our children were not noticing what was in the news until they are mid-level teenagers.  Example:  At the beginning of the year, I polled my class of 13 teenagers, age 14-17; only 3 had heard of a "hanging chad" while only one actually knew that it was an issue in the 2000 election.  The Notgrass course dedicates one third of its pages to cover the 20th century.  Find it at www.notgrass.com.

Amen to those TOPS books, too.  They really turned my family on when we worked them.


Date Posted: 2/22/2009 10:06 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 227
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What a fun topic! I'm always asking homeschooling families about their "gems." I have come across so many that are now my favorites too thanks to the many recommendations.  I am a huge fan of Little Einsteins DVD's & Magic School Bus books.  My kids have learned so much from those! If I'm sticking to curriculum's, my favorites are Cornerstone's Making Math Meaningful, Shurley English, & Lyrical Life Science.  I am a KONOS-lover as well, but it does take lots of work.


Date Posted: 2/23/2009 10:31 AM ET
Member Since: 6/6/2007
Posts: 89
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We just started using Apologia for science and my son really loves it - the experiments use items you have around the house -not stuff you have to go running around town to buy- I like that feature and my son loves that we can do the experiments.  We've used other science books in the past but the experiments were too complicated or we were missing one item and couldn't do it.

Also a huge fan of Teaching Textbooks -my son is doing pre-Algebra and can pretty much do it without my help - not that I'd be much help with algebra!?


Date Posted: 2/23/2009 12:44 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2006
Posts: 333
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Definately this year it has been Math-U-See.  The kids have quit complaining about doing math and my ds has already finished one level this year and is starting the next level.  I did start him under his grade level to make sure he really "gets It!"  I know he finally does!!!  That is so exciting to me.  It has made our homeschool So much more enjoyable this year.  My dd says that Mr Demme should be given an award for a great Math program! 

Date Posted: 2/23/2009 7:24 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2006
Posts: 181
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Not a curriclum but a guide for homeschool parents to use for resources, the books by Kathryn Stout. I have also learned a lot through her lectures. Especially on getting kids to think critically.

We just finished with some reading compehension workbooks and I learned the downsides to workbook learning even with that one topic that I thought was 'safe' or 'okay for workbooks'. Switching now to the method in "Critical Conditioning" by Kathryn Stout. Her site is design a study.

Date Posted: 2/25/2009 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2007
Posts: 173
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AAS spelling program has been a real jewel for us. We have tried so many programs and this is well laid out and not boring! He loves the magnets. We also just found a free phonics program on line. It is christian and works to reinforce what we are learning in AAS. (All About Spelling). Check it out.


Date Posted: 2/25/2009 7:48 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 52
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Bob Jones math and Apologia elementary science - both are huge hits at my house.

Date Posted: 2/27/2009 12:50 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 168
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Ours would be Explode the Code! It's easy to use, affordable, and it works!

Others would be:

Our globe-we use it all the time!

Pentime Handwriting

MCP Math-great program for both my kids

our backard-sounds silly but we have learned more science back there in the pond, creek, and woods than in any book!

Subject: Magic Schoolbus and Let's Read and Find Out
Date Posted: 3/2/2009 11:02 AM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2009
Posts: 7
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We love science--we love the entire series of Magic School Bus books, and the "Let's Read and Find Out" series.



Date Posted: 3/7/2009 11:23 AM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 699
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We don't use a lot of actual curriculum-type stuff, but one of my favorite books that we used this year is:

Used Book ~ Barron's Painless Grammar (Barron's Painless Series) by author Rebecca Elliott
Barron's Painless Grammar (Barron's Painless Series)
Rebecca Elliott
Used Book ~ Barron's Painless Grammar (Barron's Painless Series) by author Rebecca Elliott 

Book Information
Publisher: Barron's Educational Series
Book Type: Paperback
Rating: 2

ISBN-13: 9780812097818 - ISBN-10: 0812097815
Publication Date: 7/1997
Pages: 264


My boys are 17 and went to public school until this year.  One of their major complaints was that they couldn't write.   One of their big goals was to learn basic grammar in as interesting and non-boring a way as possible.  They actually enjoyed this book.  I'm not saying there was no grumbling or complaining at all, but when I talked to them they always said that it wasn't as boring as school and they did seem to learn from it.  We went throught it in one sememster and I learned a lot, too.  The type of writing was just perfect for their first semester of homeschooling.

Edit: shoot!  I can't get the picture to post.  Sorry!

Last Edited on: 3/7/09 11:25 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/7/2009 11:54 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2007
Posts: 145
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How can I get my 10 - 15 year old boys to write and love it?

That was the million dollar question. We had a terrible time getting our boys to write even a couple sentences without hassle. Then we discovered Excellence in Writing. Writing has become hassle-free! They love Andrew Pudewa's sense of humor (he's on DVD) and they are learning so much. Their stories are hilarious and they are having the time of their lives! And these are farm boys! They think working along-side dad is more important than school work.

Excellence in Writing website

Date Posted: 3/16/2009 8:23 PM ET
Member Since: 10/3/2007
Posts: 1,056
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Tricia H said "AAS spelling program has been a real jewel for us. We have tried so many programs and this is well laid out and not boring! He loves the magnets. We also just found a free phonics program on line. It is christian and works to reinforce what we are learning in AAS. (All About Spelling). Check it out. "


Tricia H, I tried to get on the link you had posted but I couldn't get it to work.

If you see this, would you please re-post it ?


Date Posted: 3/17/2009 9:52 AM ET
Member Since: 3/20/2007
Posts: 931
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Sherry, it's:


Subject: Just one choice for a favorite?
Date Posted: 3/23/2009 2:18 AM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2009
Posts: 17
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If I had only ONE choice, it would be Math-U-See, hands down! But there are so many others ...

For the older kids:

Latin Road to English Grammar (V1 & 2)

Apologia Science

TruthQuest History (so far we've done Egypt/Greece, Rome and Middle Ages)

Notgrass Exploring Government

David Quine's Introductory Worldview program

For the younger set:

Alphabet Island Phonics and Spelling (I'm now taking my 3rd child through it!)

Date Posted: 3/24/2009 12:48 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2007
Posts: 4,588
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I looked at Alphabet Island but ended up going with something else.

Date Posted: 4/27/2009 12:02 PM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 699
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This isn't technically curriculum, but as the year is winding down I'm realizing that the absolute best thing we used this year was Joy Hakim's series titled The History of U.S.   It kept us on track in our US History class and helped me make sure that we didn't miss anything major, and it prompted me to have  the boys study stuff that I might not have thought to include.  Although the backbone of our class was still the book the boys are making about the presidents, this series was a great resource.  It wasn't their main source of information because it is written for younger students, but it was our guide.  It covers a good range of information.  We found as the year progressed that the boys really liked the info about pop culture and it really brought the times more "alive" for them, so we suplimented with other books to bring in more of that.  We also used plenty of other library books to add a bit more mature perspective to the politics that I thought was more age appropriate.

Just thought I'd share my thoughts about such a good series of books.

Now, does anyone know of something simiar for World History?  I'm still trying to decide what to do about that next year.  :o)


Date Posted: 5/20/2009 10:03 AM ET
Member Since: 7/28/2007
Posts: 33
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Streams of Civilization for world history is great!