Homeschool Curriculum

People have many questions when they hear that we homeschool. But one of the most common, by far, is: What curriculum do you use?

The short answer is that I don’t buy one bulk curriculum. Rather, I piece together a custom plan.

Last year, when he was a kindergartner, we used Montessori by Mom. And along with that I had him do some simple worksheets to practice writing his letters. He learned to read using BOB books and other similar early readers.

As I made plans for him to enter 1st grade, one of my goals was to keep the curriculum just as simple and straightforward. I felt confident that it should centered around STEAM based learning; as most of Ezra’s interests  are within those areas of study. I knew that he would light up at the chance to learn that way.

While I’m happy to share the simple outline of what we use on our homeschooling journey. I do hope you’ll lead instinctively with your own child’s interests and learning style. No one knows them as well as you do. And customizing their school experience can open their eyes and inspire a lifelong love of learning.

First Grade Curriculum:

STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math)- Kiwi Crate ; I can’t say enough good about this resource. He looks forward to it arriving every month. It has amazing value for a small monthly fee. And it is truly a wonderful way to learn. They offer different box subscription levels for various age groups (starting with 2-3 year olds… all the way to 16 year olds!). I try to build around the monthly theme with books, movies, field trips, or special activities. But even on it’s own, it successfully teaches and inspires.

Math (written)Spectrum Math, 1st grade; I like him to learn math by practical application (through engineering, cooking, shopping, or even with simple math manipulatives). However, I do like having a way to gauge progress on paper. This is a very basic math workbook, but it does the trick.

Spelling- Harcourt Family Learning, Grade 1; He tends to enjoy this text. It’s simple and to the point. The units are short. I don’t feel there is unnecessary busy work. It is very basic but has given him confidence.

Telling Time-My Book of Telling Time: Learning About Minutes; I don’t personally feel that you have to dedicate an entire school year to this, but I do appreciate having a thorough book to teach only this one important skill. It is the second time telling book that Kumon provides and is intended for 5-7 year olds. I have him skip the pages that deal with counting to 60 because he is beyond that and it would just be busy work.

Writing (and supplemental work for various subjects)-Brain Quest Workbook, Grade 1; Brain Quest covers just about every subject at every grade level. And though I don’t feel it has quite enough in any one subject to be his only text, I do greatly appreciate it as a supplement. He uses it mostly for the writing, language arts, and vocabulary sections. But we use bits and pieces from the whole book. He generally likes it and I feel it has enhanced his schooling.

Reading– Please see our reading lists, here and here, for what we use for chapter book reading. He also has easy access to shelves of children’s books and usually grabs a stack to read through on his own each day.

Educational Games and Learning CardsWildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Game (teaches botany and medicinal purposes of various plants), The Oregon Trail Card Game (we haven’t yet started teaching history, but this teaches strategy and life skill as well), Kids Read Truth cards and books for Biblical Study (we currently have the Esther, Isaiah, and Exodus materials), and Word Wizard cards (a really fun way to spark conversation and heighten vocabulary at the same time…each card asks a question using a vocabulary word in it’s context).

Activities, Field Trips, and Learning By Doing- I should note that we do not do every subject every day. Rather, I generally choose 2-3 each day and we rotate through them all. I encourage him to help with gardening, composting, and cooking daily. He also does three chore sticks each day (Monday-Friday). He is allowed to have hours of free play (much of which he spends outside) and as much independent reading time as he wishes (outside of  what I require of him). We aim to have a field trip at least once a month (often with other homeschoolers, but sometimes on our own). In addition to field trips to natural environments (beaches, state parks, etc), we have enjoyed field trips to aquariums, art museums, science centers, gem mining, the fire station, a chicken farm, a produce farm, an apple orchard, a sea bird rescue, a zoo, and a local honey company.

Additional Note: A common concern with homeschooling is cost. I have found that putting his curriculum together in this way is actually cheaper than many bundled curriculums. Each textbook we use is under $10, his box subscription is only $20 a month, and any additional book, activity, or supplemental item is something we would likely purchase for him any way to simply enrich his mind!