Angie’s Curriculum Review

Twice today I’ve been asked about curriculum! The following is in answer to an email Tiffany sent to me asking about curriculum. I’ll update this with links and photos…but for now, I’ve gotta get dinner on the table and a presentation at church to give tonight. So, I’ll get around to that later.

The curriculum I use is based on an educational philosophy. It’s called Thomas Jefferson Leadership Education based on a classics/mentor approach to teaching. I’m not following it by the book, but it gives me a foundation to what I do.
Most of the “curriculum” I use right now is a bit eclectic. I’m just looking into getting into a whole curriculum but they’re kinda expensive and I’m not sure how well I’ll actually follow it. We’re free spirits in this house. If the kids don’t like something, I look for something new. I find that I end up liking recommendations from a classical homeschool method called “The Well-Trained Mind.”
This last year, this is what I used (I had an 8yo, 6yo, 4yo, and destructive 2yo).
4yo: Teach reading: Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Bob Books, super easy Clifford readers
Bob Books
Math: I just start with living math…cooking, what is 3 raisins plus 2 raisins, etc.
Math-U-See for Math…I’ve really loved this program. It’s complete. I cruise through the stuff the kids already know and slow down for the stuff they need help with. Originally, I bought the teacher’s guide and the DVD. But I only watched a couple of DVD lessons (where the teacher instructs either you or your kids). My kids wanted ME to teach them. So on Math day, I would open up the Math lesson, scan it to see what I had to teach, and teach the concepts. It uses unit blocks for tactile learning for “touchy” kids.
math u see
I also supplement it with Khan Academy. He has all kinds of stuff for upper levels (Middle School +) of Math, Science, History, Computer Science. He has videos the kids can watch to learn the concept then he has questions (for Math) to review.
Writing: I just started 3rd grade print/cursive Zane Bloser writing workbook for my 8yo. I haven’t done anything formal for my other kids because they are always writing notes around the house and writing in their pretend play.
History: Story of the World by Susan Wiser. It’s a 3 part series of the World’s History, divided into Ancient History, Middle History, and Modern History. You can get activity books to go with the readings to really expand the learning, but so far I haven’t bought those. 2 years ago, we did unit studies about different countries around the world. I would just look up resources online and check out books from the library. The kids loved it but it took a little more prep work than I wanted to keep up with. This is one subject that we do all together, too.
story world
Geography: 2 maps (US and World) taped to the wall in our kitchen. It’s amazing how often the kids ask “where is that?” or “Mom, do you know where that is?” and they just look things up on their own. I LOVE environmental learning. Less pressure on me. 🙂
Grammar and Language Arts: First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. I just started this with my 8yo and it’s already helping him with grammar.
Science: My kids are natural scientists. They love checking out non-fiction books from the library about animals, bugs, outer space, ecology, biology…I haven’t had a curriculum for this. I have also had an online subscription to The Simple Homeschool which has a great science curriculum. You can sign up for her newsletter and she often gives out pdf freebies.
Spelling: All About Spelling. Great curriculum…thorough. It also helps the children (and me) learn the rules about English and why things are spelled the way they are. So it’s not just memorization. (They also have an All About Reading program which would work well for your K if needed.)
Art: we’re seriously lacking here. None. Just the coloring and projects they do on their own.
Music: Piano lessons for 8yo (Michael Mahaney is his piano teacher and he definitely is an excellent music mentor. He already has my son learning chord progressions…something I didn’t really get into in my 7 years of piano lessons), Let’s Play Music class for 4yo (I’ve highlighted the class on the Hub, the teacher is great). 7yo stubbornly refuses organized classes right now, except mom, gratefully.
Foreign Language: Getting Started with Latin and Latin Primer (we’ve been off-season with this…I feel like the basic RRRs are more important right now)
Brain Pop  is a great supplemental resource. has a lot of ideas, classes, and curriculum made by homeschoolers for homeschoolers. They even have a free online Lego Club and Magic Treehouse Club. also has a lot of ideas and curriculum co-ops to buy discount curriculum.
Core Knowledge Series is a set of books (you can check it out at the library) that gives educators (parents, too) an outline of what kids ought to learn in each grade level. Some parents I know own those books and teach directly from them. I just have an outline and use it occasionally as a benchmark.
If my style doesn’t match your style, just research stuff online, pray/meditate about it. Things will start to click. One criteria I have in picking curriculum is considering if it will morph with different learning styles since I have 4 kids. One kid is visual, another is tactile, another learns by listening, etc. So if a curriculum teaches in multiple styles (as most of these do), I’ll buy it. That way I can alter it for other kids and reuse it year after year. I rarely use a curriculum exactly as it was written because I’ll alter it for the needs of my child and our schedule. I mainly want it to guide me and help me give my kids a thorough education.
Thanks for your question!! I hope I didn’t overwhelm you!

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