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Homeschool Curriculum For Middle School & High School Co-op Classes Or Individuals

Updated on September 21, 2014
Our homeschooler co-op doing some community service.
Our homeschooler co-op doing some community service. | Source

High School & Middle School Curriculum For Homeschool Co-ops Or Individual Families

Our homeschool co-op has classes for all age groups, from preschoolers through high schoolers. During the 2011 - 2012 school year, our middle schoolers and high schoolers took biology, world geography, Latin roots, photography. philosophy, literature, and critical thinking. Farther down this page is the list of materials we used, my personal description or review of most of these materials, and a little information about each class. Whether you are a member of our homeschool co-op, or are a homeschooler looking for curriculum of your own, I hope you'll find this information of some use!

In the photo above, some of our middle and high schoolers are creating a flower garden for the church where they met. This was a very successful community service project! The church loved it, and it had the added advantage of providing gardening experiences, not to mention community service, for our homeschoolers!

Are you starting or participating in a new homeschool co-op this year?

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Biology

High School Level Biology

My son out exploring the living creatures of the beach
My son out exploring the living creatures of the beach | Source

"We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things." - Charlotte Mason


For Biology, we used the Holt Biology textbook, along with a wide variety of labs and other experiences as well! Getting out in nature and exploring the world around us is a fabulous way to learn many of the facets of biology! We engaged in some sort of hands-on lab almost every week.

Students read the assigned chapters from the textbook, watched you-tubes related to the topic, and answered some review questions at home. We did the labs, as well as some nature activities and other experiments or activities, at our co-op.

Holt Biology covers cells, heredity, DNA, gene technology, taxonomy, ecosystems, the environment, the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, bacteria, invertebrates, vertebrates, fish, reptiles, amphibians, animal behavior, and many other topics!

As we went through the year, I created a series of webpages with information, videos, and lots of colorful images to go along with what we were reading in our textbook. You can find the first one on Photosynthesis, Mitosis, Cell Organelles, and More here:

Unit 1: Biology Labs, Activities, Study Guides, & Videos About Cells

What You Need For This Biology Class

Each family will need their own copy of the textbook, Holt Biology. The textbook comes either as a book on CD rom, or as a hardback book. Both include the same material, so it depends entirely on your personal preferences as to which you choose. In the section below, I've provided some links to the product on Amazon and ebay.

There may be additional materials needed from time to time for our labs.

Holt Biology on Amazon

Holt Biology, Student Edition
Holt Biology, Student Edition

Holt biology has lots of color photographs and diagrams. We enjoyed using this book in our study of biology! Please note that this textbook is available used on Amazon for considerably cheaper than it is new. It's also available on CD-Rom..

 

Incorporating Nature Study along with our class on Biology

My son and I really enjoyed doing some nature study activities out of the Handbook of Nature Study! Nature study fit in nicely with our course on biology! It's nice to include a little class time whenever possible for getting out in nature and exploring the living world around us! The Handbook of Nature Study provides both activities and information about particular nature topics, many of which we also read about in our biology text.

By the way, HarmonyArtMom includes a monthly newsletter of activities that go along with the Handbook of Nature Study for those who are interested! They're a lot of fun, in addition to being educational!

Are you homeschooling one or more children?

If so, how long have you been homeschooling?

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Philosophy / Critical Thinking

Philosophy and Critical Thinking Class

The object was to create a marble run out of paper towel tubes that had been cut in half. Lots of team work and cooperation was necessary to meet this challenge!
The object was to create a marble run out of paper towel tubes that had been cut in half. Lots of team work and cooperation was necessary to meet this challenge! | Source

Roll It Along! This was one of our critical thinking activities last year! The youth designed a homemade marble run and are now trying to roll a marble down it (without the marble rolling off!), and get it into the cup below!

Philosophy / Critical Thinking - There's more to learning than just memorizing information!

The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done - men who are creative, inventive and discoverers. -Jean Piaget

This is a catapult that a small group of teens made, without any directions, hints, or help, during our critical thinking class last year!
This is a catapult that a small group of teens made, without any directions, hints, or help, during our critical thinking class last year!


Our Philosophy class was a fun and lively discussion class! The youth completed short exercises to get them thinking, then divided up into teams and discussed various philosophical questions together! We also learned a little bit about famous philosophers!

Our Critical Thinking class involved working together as a team to complete various challenges. This was a very hands-on class, and has been a favorite of the youth in our co-op for several years! The book is huge, with plenty of ideas for several years! Many of the activities we did involved designing their own plans for whatever challenge they were trying to accomplish, carrying them out, testing their model, making adjustments, and retesting! They were busy thinking critically and creatively, learning to work together as a team, and learning a valuable problem solving process, without relying on others to tell them what to do!

What You Need For This Class

Each student does NOT need their own copy of the Team Challenges or the philosophy book. A few copies for the teachers to pass around (to whomever's turn it is to teach) is sufficient.

Team Challenges: 170+ Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication, and Creativity
Team Challenges: 170+ Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication, and Creativity

We really loved this book last year!! The activities include designing and building a contraption to suspend an egg several inches below a yard stick, designing and building a bridge that can hold some weight, figuring out how to get your whole team across a "chasm" using only pair of "flying shoes" (Yes, the students actually do the activity!), improvisations, and many other fun and engaging activities! There are over 170 activities in this book which either involve partner work or small teams.

 
Philosophy for Kids: 40 Fun Questions That Help You Wonder about Everything!
Philosophy for Kids: 40 Fun Questions That Help You Wonder about Everything!

"Can you think about nothing?" That's one of many fun discussion topics you can explore. This book also provides some information about various philosophers.

 

Photography

Photography Class

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. - Albert Einstein

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. - Albert Einstein


For photography, we used Oak Meadow's high school level photography class. it includes lessons on light, composition, color (including monochromatic), complementary colors, black and white, frame, landscape, portraits, patterns, narrative, depth of field, and many other things! Each week, the students were given a new section in the syllabus to read (they're short), as well as a photography assignment. They completed the reading and photography and other assignments at home. In class, everyone got a chance to show off some of their best photographs to the group! The kids really loved this class!

What You Need For This Photography Class

1. Each family will need a copy of the photography syllabus. The syllabus contains information, as well as the assignments. (The syllabus is our textbook.) One syllabus per family (instead of per student) will suffice.

2. In addition, each student will need a notebook or journal. The notebook/journal will be used to collect ideas, clippings from magazines or newspapers, dreams or poems, or anything else that inspires you. It will also be used to record information about your photos, such as the date, subject, lighting conditions, etc.

3. Each student will need access to a camera. The camera can be either a 35 mm or a digital. (Obviously, if your child uses a 35 mm, they'll need film as well.) The author of the photography syllabus recommends a manual 35 mm camera, but also says you can use a point and shoot digital, or a point and shoot 35 mm.

Latin & Greek Roots

Latin and Greek Roots

Learning Latin and Greek roots increases students' English vocabularies.

Our Latin roots class gave students an opportunity to improve the English vocabulary by learning Latin and Greek roots. During this short class, the students played games designed to help them learn a select set of roots. Each week, little by little, we added to the roots we already knew, while continuing to review those learned previously.


Tip for others planning on doing this class, either at home or in a homeschool co-op: Start with Rummy Roots. If you make it all the way through this deck, move on to "More Roots."

World Geography

World Geography

A Trip Around The World!

"The peculiar value of geography lies in its fitness to nourish the mind with ideas and furnish the imagination with pictures." - Charlotte Mason

"Everything has to do with geography." - Judy Martz

We explored over 30 different countries on our trip around the world! Students learned about various religions around the world, did some mapping, tasted quite a few new foods, experimented with new art techniques, watched videos and read books about various places in the world, and more! This was a great class! Everyone seemed to really enjoy it!

Here's a geography game we played online some.

What You Need For This Geography Class

In addition to library books and movies, we used the following books in our study of geography:

1. The Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions

2. Material World (Optional, but recommended)

3. The Usborne Geography Encyclopedia

4. The Trail Guide To World Geography - teacher's manual (if possible) and secondary level notebooking pages

The co-op shared a couple of copies of these (so each student did not need their own copy):

1. Eat Your Way Around The World

2. Geography Through Art

You'll find my personal descriptions and various links to these products below.

Our Study Of World Geography Included A Study Of World Religions.

The Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions is similar to other Usborne books in that it has absolutely gorgeous pages, full of color and pictures, and filled with fascinating information. Most pages contain internet links to the Usborne website for more info about that topic. The Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions includes information about current world religions, such as Hinduism, Islam, Shinto, Buddhism, Jainism, The Baha'i Faith, Zoroastrianism, Rastafarianism, Christianity, and others. It also covers some past religions, such as the earliest religions, and those of Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, the Celtics, Norse, & Germanic people, and early America.

Material World: A Global Family Portrait
Material World: A Global Family Portrait

Although this book is available in our local pubic library, after glancing through it, I decided to purchase it for our family. That's how much I loved it! We referred to the various countries within it's pages throughout the year. This book is not absolutely necessary though, if you are on a tight budget..

 

What Is Life Like For People Around The World? - What are their houses like? Their schools? Their food? Their jobs? What do they do for fun? How do they dress?

Material World: A Global Family Portrait is full of photographs of everyday people doing everyday things, around the world. Of course, what's everyday to people in Asia, or Africa, might not be so everyday to people in Germany or Australia! Each chapter introduces the reader to a particular family living in that country. For example, in Brazil, we get to meet the de Goes family. We get to see their home, their furniture, their family engaging in their regular activities including how they wash their clothes, what the area is like near where they live, and more.

As I glance through the pages of this book, I feel as if I am there with them, seeing firsthand the houses in Bhutan, the huts in Ethiopia, the nightlife in South Africa, the mountains in Guatemala. In Haiti, I see a woman carrying a pot on her head. In Iceland, I see children putting on a Christmas performance at the elementary school. In Albania, I see a boy on a donkey bringing buckets of water home from the well half of a mile away. In Italy, I see a girl blowing drying the hair on her barbie doll. In Russia, I get a quick glance into a school room.


The Usborne Geography Encyclopedia - There's more to geography than just a study of cultures!

The Usborne Geography Encyclopedia is another beautiful, colorful, internet linked book. Each page is a work of art! The topics in this book include the solar system, day and night, inside the earth, earthquakes and volcanoes, rivers and oceans, giant waves, climate, rainforests and other ecosystems, people around the world, weather, maps, and more. Because it's internet linked, it's easy to find additional information about most topics on the internet!

Trail Guide To World Geography (Geography Matters)
Trail Guide To World Geography (Geography Matters)

This is the teacher's manual. It's full of fun activities!

 

Trail Guide To World Geography - on Amazon

In Trail Guide to World Geography, students learn about the physical geography of particular locations around the world. They use an atlas to answer a couple of quick questions each day about the oceans, the continents, a particular country, etc. There are also mapping exercises and other activities.

You can find out more about the program by visiting, Trail Guide To World Geography and Trail Guide To World Geography - Student Notebooking Pages.

What You Need For This World Geography Class

Each student needs a copy of the maps and activity pages in the student notebooking pages. Having a copy of the teacher's manual would be very helpful as well, but isn't as important as the student pages.

P.S. Your student(s) will need an atlas to go along with the Trail Guide to World Geography. Part of the experience for the students is in learning how to use an atlas to find out information. Of course at the same time, they'll also being learning information about the world.

Trail Guide To World Geography

IMPORTANT NOTE: Most of the Trail Guide To World Geography products on ebay are for the teacher's manual. You'll need a copy of the student pages as well. They are available on a CD.

Eat Your Way Around The World

- Not only did we get to learn about the cultures of other places, we got to sample quite a bit too!

Eat Your Way Around the World is a collection of recipes from around the world. Students in our co-op took turns preparing authentic international dishes for their classmates (and parents!) to sample.

What You Need

It isn't necessary for every family in a co-op to own their own copy, but having at least 2 to 3 copies within the co-op would be useful!

You can find a copy of it at on Amazon (follow the link below) or on the Geography Matters Website. Sometimes Eat Your Way Around The World can be found on ebay.


Geography Through Art

Geography Through Art is a collection of art activities that pertain to other countries. Some of the activities are as simple as making a sketch of something special about the country (Big Ben, Pyramids, Great Wall of China, etc). Some are related to map making (a Pangea puzzle, making a world map, etc.). Others involve using a variety of materials and techniques (batik, Terra Cotta Soldiers from China, Aboriginal stone painting, a model of Stonehenge, Polish paper cutting, and many more).

This book can be found at Geography Matters.


Extra items for World Geography - These are all optional items.

Puzzles and globe activities can enrich your study of world geography!

GeoPuzzle Europe - Educational Geography Jigsaw Puzzle (58 pcs) - by Geotoys
GeoPuzzle Europe - Educational Geography Jigsaw Puzzle (58 pcs) - by Geotoys

The pieces in this puzzle are shaped like the country! The finished puzzle is 19" x 16". (There are quite a few other regional GeoPuzzles available on Amazon too.)

 
GeoPuzzle World - Educational Geography Jigsaw Puzzle (68 pcs)
GeoPuzzle World - Educational Geography Jigsaw Puzzle (68 pcs)

Like the puzzle above, the pieces in this puzzle are shaped like the countries. This puzzle measures 24" x 12.5" when finished.

 
GeoCards World - Educational Geography Card Game - Learn As You Play! Excellent For Ages 4 and Up!
GeoCards World - Educational Geography Card Game - Learn As You Play! Excellent For Ages 4 and Up!

Use these world geography cards to play games which will help you learn more about the world. It comes with 50 cards.

 
Educational Insights GeoSafari Talking Globe
Educational Insights GeoSafari Talking Globe

This serves both as a globe to use as a reference, and also as a quiz game. Many of the questions are difficult, but of course you have the globe right in front of you to help.

 

© 2011 JanieceTobey

Thanks for visiting! Have any questions or comments?Do you homeschool?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great information!

    • profile image

      funbee lm 5 years ago

      This is a great page, there are so many creative ideas for homeschooling.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I love your Homeschool Curriculum for Middle School and High School. Your son's photograph is wonderful. He has a good eye. I just can't hardly believe that my grandson will be in the 7th grade and entering Middle School in the fall. Hope he has some good learning experiences like you have provided for your son.

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 6 years ago from Florida

      I love getting to see what other co-ops are doing! Thank you! Blessed and liked.

    • JanieceTobey profile image
      Author

      JanieceTobey 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Kathy,

      Basically, the youth will be doing the mapping and atlas work at home during the week. They will also have a few reading assignments to complete at home. At our co-op, we'll do some of the art projects and cooking from Art Through Geography, and Eat Your Way Around The World. At times, we'll also do some of the other activities mentioned in the Trail Guide. Although I don't have the weekly curriculum layout completely finished for the year yet, I'll be glad to email you what I do have ready, if you'd like. If you'd like a copy, please send me an email (rather than a guestbook comment, since I have no way to email you from my guestbook). You can contact me by clicking on my picture at the top or bottom of this page, and then clicking on "contact me" on the new page which will open up.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am using the Trail Guide to World Geography in my middle school 2 day/week tutorial this year. I was wondering how you plan to set up the lessons using the book for in class and home assignments.

    • viscri8 profile image

      viscri8 6 years ago

      Great help for the homeschoolers and any other person interested to learn.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 6 years ago from New Zealand

      Great information. Blessed.

    • ngio64 profile image

      ngio64 6 years ago

      Great lens, Blessed by the homeschool curriculum Squid Angel.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @ajgodinho: Just back to sprinkle some squid angel dust on this very resourceful lens! :)

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 6 years ago from USA

      Once again you provide really great homeschooling resources. I love to see them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a wonderful gift to the homeschool community, this is excellence in action!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you for putting all this together. Great resource.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is a great resource for homeschoolers in your groups as well as others who may be interested to homeschool their kids...well done!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 6 years ago from Royalton

      Great info on creating classes for high school aged homeschoolers.