For our local homeschool co-op there are two aspects
- The monthly meetings (co-op) where we focus on activities for the kids
- A meeting for the mum (network) every 3-4months.
This week we had a network meeting where we came together to share some of our favourite resources or resources that have really worked for us. The idea was that we would share these things at this time of the year giving each other opportunity to see, touch and talk about these things before we start planning next year. Since I have these books already pulled off my shelf I thought I would share them with you too. (Most of these are for primary school levels as that was the age group of those coming to the meeting this week.)
Bible – I have used On the Way for many years, though we aren’t using it now. I really like the 3-9yo level the best. It is really a Sunday School programme so there is an outline of a lesson plan for the different ages but the thing I liked the best were the activities – mostly cutting and gluing type of thing which always kept the kids interested. We did Bible study following Heart of Wisdom way (so often didn’t use the lesson plans in this book) and then used the activities for our notebooking/recording.
Character Studies – We like to intentionally consider the different ways we can respond to people or circumstances (which is our character) – for this we use Character First. We study one character trait a month for the 7-8 months of the year where we have a study focus.
Math – we are using Math U See, and Life of Fred. My only concern with Math U See is that, though it covers all strands of math, it focuses strongly on Number. We have times where we take a break from MUS and use Life of Fred which covers more math areas. Life of Fred is also language based, as it it is math via a story which suits my kids learning styles. I also like to do Living Math with my kids once a week – we do this together whereas their other math times are independent studies. Many math topics are presented to our kids on a spiral – you introduce one year, and build a little at a time. An alternative way is to leave it till a bit later and introduce the whole thing at once. MathStart books, though categorised at lower primary I have found very helpful to introduce math concepts to my older kids. Perimeter, Area, Graphs, Probability, Ratio, Measurement etc. There is also a teachers manual for each level which gives extra activities.
I have recently found these Math Handbooks: Math at Hand, Math on Call, and Math to Know. They have been fantastic. They explain in a simple (and colourful) way all math concepts. All my children have referred to these over the last few months.
Grammar – Most of our grammar has been done on a needs only basis – as you write you need to use words and punctuation correctly. Words are Categorical is a set of books that has been a fun way to polish up our language arts and become familiar with terms and definitions in our language. Covering the basics like nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prounouns etc and then moving into fun stuff like compound words, homonyms, homophones, similes, metaphors, antonyms, synonyms, etc.
Music – we have only read one of these books on various composers, but we thoroughly enjoyed it and must find time to do some more. An engaging story to read aloud and as you are reading along you come up to a piece of music where you can insert the CD and listen to the piece that connects with your story. There is also a study guide which helped me see some key points ahead of time which helped direct conversation and notebooking.
Science – I have three resources that have worked well in our family. Both are based on reading aloud, discussion and notebooking. They also require very little prep (which is important to me).
1. Noeo Science. Once again though it is published for a younger grade level I found them to be more than sufficient for my non-science students. The picture books / living books are engaging and great books to have on your shelf.
2. God’s Design. We have completed the Human Body together as a family and Jessica used the plant one independently and has been using the animals to teach a couple of young girls.
3. Magic School Bus dvds. My kids favourite!
General Knowledge – no favourite curriculum list that I write would ever be complete without mentioning Five in a Row. It is my all time favourite primary school resource. Five in a Row shaped my teaching style more than anything else. It is a literature based unit study curriculum that I used for many years for general knowledge. I still love the books and enjoy seeing my kids pick them up and reminisce!
I hope this list is helpful to some of my readers – especially if you are starting out and looking for something to meet a particular need in your family. Can I suggest that you also read my web page on Choosing Curriculum.