Curriculum for 2012

Just before we were about to order materials this year, our family took a big financial hit. So, the loathing I normally feel for picking out curriculum was doubled. I hate picking out curriculum. No, I HATE, HATE picking out curriculum. I get very intimidated by the price tag. If it’s low, I’m afraid it won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on. If it’s expensive, what if it sucks? We have to pinch a lot of pennies around this household to get materials. I’ve actually had nightmares about picking out expensive, horrible curriculum. All that being said, we mainly focus on math and language arts/reading and let the rest fall into place. At any rate, this is what we are currently using.

Petra our 1st grader uses:

Math

ixl.com

Instead of buying an actual curriculum, I decided to sign up for an account through IXL. I’ve taught and tutored more math lessons than I can count. So I don’t really need a book to tell me how to teach her this at the 1st grade level. I just need a list of topics to keep me on track and having a set of problems for Petra to work out saves me a lot of time. So, we are using a ton of manipulatives along with IXL for 1st grade. So far this formula = math love for this little girl. She even request to do extra math a lot of days.

Spelling

Sequential Spelling 1.

I cannot rave enough about this spelling book by Don McCabe. I used it with my oldest when we started to homeschool her. Spelling test are set up a little differently. First off, there is NO studying. Second, you take a test everyday. Third, your child, no matter how bad they have proven to be at spelling, will do well. Ok, your thinking sounds ridiculous. It goes a little something like this. At this level your first word will be something like ‘at’ the next word may be ‘bat’ then ‘mat.’ Here is the special part. As your testing your child, you are writing on a white board or chalk board (we use the outer part of a 3-ring binder and a dry erase marker). We have just started using it with Petra, but Atlantis has had so much success with it, I can’t see us ever using anything else. Great for children with dyslexia. It has helped Atlantis and myself become much better spellers.

Language Arts

Daily Warm-Ups: Language Skills 1st grade

We haven’t totally gotten into this yet. Petra is still at the early stages of reading so we are focusing more on handwriting and plan to start this with-in the next month or 3 depending on how she progresses with handwriting. This includes a daily worksheet and a daily written assignment.

Handwriting

Handwriting Without Tears

We don’t actually have this curriculum. I was able to find enough materials and videos free online to piece together enough to get by with. If I were buying, this is what I would get though. Update: We actually did wind up buying the book for this. This is one of those things that there are a zillion extra little options you can purchase. I decided to only purchase the student work book. Glad I stuck with just that, instructions are in the workbook and I don’t feel the other stuff is necessary.

Reading

Explode the Code

We have just ordered Explode the Code. We also use a handful of manipulatives and several trips to the library. We started with a Teach Your Child To Read IN 100 Lessons and have decided to change. I really think if you force your child to suffer threw it, the 100 Lessons text would work. But it is incredibly, well, boring. It’s black and white text with no pictures. Petra needs pictures, momma needs pictures.  I’ll have to let you know how Explode the Code works and what we decide on to replace the 100 lessons book.

Update:

Wilson Reading

This is designed to teach those with dyslexia in grades 3 through adult. I only pulled this out and used it with Petra for a few weeks because we already had it. I think we could have made this one work, but Petra was really board with it also. It was designed mostly with older kids and adults in mind so, no cute pictures, games, or anything else that  makes curriculum fun for a 6 year old.

Reading Eggs

This is an online game sort of curriculum. Petra loves IXL for math, so I searched out something simular to do for reading. It offered a free trial, so we signed up. She really loved it and it helped a lot. However, she had made her way through about 1/2 the material in our free trial and you purchase a year at a time. I couldn’t justify purchasing a year of a program that she would finish within another 2 or 3 weeks. If they took this up to a 3rd or 5th grade level, I would have been pleased as a peach to make a purchase here. With IXL you can purchase a month at a time, I would have been thrilled with this option for Reading Eggs. Those options just are not available.

Now that it is towards the end of the year, I’ll fill you in on what we ended up doing. Petra has continued to work with Explode the code. She has also worked with a few manipulates for language arts. I read to her from a chapter book each day (we also read other small books). She also reads to me for about 30 minutes each day from books of her choice.

Atlantis our 7th grader uses:

Teaching Text Books Algebra I

I think most save Algebra for high school, but Atlantis gets really board with math if it isn’t challenging. So far we are really liking this. There is a short lecture for her to listen to and watch each day via cd rom. Explanations are also in her text book if she needs to refresh on them. Each problem in the book can also be explained on the computer screen if she needs it to be. It’s the start of our school year, so Atlantis isn’t very far into this material, but she is really liking it. She says the way it’s presented it makes Algebra seem easy.

Language Arts

Daily Spark: Critical Writing.

Atlantis has the parts of speech down so this year I wanted to focus more on writing with her. This little book has daily assignments of interesting stuff to write about. It is geared more for the high school age bracket though.

Reading

Even though Atlantis is child with dyslexia she has become a great, no amazing reader. She has trained herself to read blocks of words at a time instead of reading a single word at a time. Not exactly sure how she does it, but it works for her. At any rate, we just let her read what ever she wants. One month she might jump into a box of her dad’s old comic books and the next breeze through a couple of novels from one of Rick Warren’s series. More on Atlantis’ journey with dyslexia can be found here.

Spelling

Sequential Spelling 7

See above under Petra’s spelling curriculum to find out how I feel about Sequential Spelling.