My Homeschool Curriculum for Elementary Grades
Take a peek at my homeschool bookshelf. Actually, all the books are piled across my dining room table right now, but you can peek there too!
Ahh, the daunting task of picking out the BEST homeschool curriculum! There are so many great options from which to choose! I have searched through numerous curriculums to find what works best for my family. I am frequently asked what curriculums we use for homeschooling, so I created this page listing what we use. Below you can find the homeschool curriculums that I selected for my family for all subjects for all elementary level grades. I'm not saying our choices are the best choices for your family, but this is what is working for us right now. At the bottom I have also included what our general daily schedule looks like. I wrote this when I was homeschooling 5 children (baby - 4th grade).
My Overall Curriculum Summary
What do I use?
Math - A Beka, Singapore, and lots of games
Language Arts - A Beka and lots of book reports
Spelling - A Beka
Bible - Discover 4 Yourself
Science and Social Studies - Unit studies based on Konos Curriculum
Phonics - Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, A Beka Readers, & "Living Books"
Handwriting - A Beka, Draw Write Now, & free on-line handwriting sheets
Foreign Languages - Ecce Romani & an assortment of foreign language CD's
Fine Arts - Music lessons, concerts, CD's, museums, and art classes
Now let me tell you why and how I use them!
Are you currently homeschooling?
I have so much to say about teaching math that I created a separate page just about my math curriculum.
I use an assortment of fun games, activities, and books to compliment my math workbooks, both SIngapore Math and A Beka. I have described everything we do for math on my Math Curriculum lens, which you can view at http://iijuan12.hubpages.com/hub/my-homeschool-math-curriculum-for-preschool-through-elementary-school-level .
My Language Arts & Writing Curriculum
We use A Beka Language Arts for Grades 1-5. It's easy to implement and makes me feel like we're covering all the necessary bases.
I have tried Shurley English, which is a great curriculum, but it required too much time. I would recommend Shurley English if you have 1-2 children.
I also tried English for the Thoughtful Child, which I think would make a great supplement to any curriculum. It focuses on writing and tosses in some grammar and uses a Charlotte Mason approach. I actually think it does a better job than the above two curricula on producing better writers (which I think is the primary objective in learning Language Arts), but it requires a bit too much time from me. Again, if I only had one or two children, I might use this.
I also have both my sons do writing projects related to our unit studies. We do write lots of book reports. Whenever we read a chapter book biography related to whatever subject we're studying in our unit study, I have each of my sons write a biography/book report. After each chapter my Kindergarten-aged son writes 1 sentence about what happened in that chapter. Before he wrote sentences, he would draw a scene from the chapter. My 4th grade level son writes a 5 sentence paragraph about what happened in that chapter. When he was 2nd grade level, we would first discuss the chapter and then would write 1 sentence. I would write a sentence as well to demonstrate a well-written summary sentence. The next year he would write 2-3 sentences per chapter. After we finished the book, we would draw a portrait of the person on our biography report. Sometimes instead of this we will use a biography form or book report form. I like using the free forms available at Highland Heritage Homeschool Forms.
At the end of each of our unit studies, my sons also usually write a report about something or someone they researched during the unit. They write the report in the same fashion as the biography reports I described above.
You can learn more about our unit studies by viewing my various hubpages lesson plans. In each unit I include the books that we read (including the chapter book biographies) and the presentation topics.
This is a great curriculum if you have 1-2 children. It is also a great choice for homeschool co-ops to use!
This uses the Charlotte Mason approach to grammar and writing. I wanted something a bit more structed in its approach to presenting gammar instruction, but I think this would be a great supplement for writing.
My Spelling Curriculum
We use A Beka's Spelling and Vocabulary spelling lists. Instead of having my children just write the words over and over again, I have them write them in different ways. One day they write them in all capital letters. Another day they write them on the back of the page (so they have to remember the word). I usually make word searches and other word puzzles using discoveryeducation.com to reinforce the spelling words. At the end of each week, he has a spelling test. For every word he gets wrong on the spelling test, he has to write the word correctly 3 + the number of words he got wrong on the test times. If he spells 2 words wrong on the test, he has to write those 2 words 5 times each. That motivates him to try to spell all the words correctly.
Science and Social Studies
We study science and social studies as unit studies, so even though the main focus will be a science or social studies topic, the lessons will also include just about every single other discipline (art, drama, cooking, PE, character training, music, and more). You can find all of my unit studies and lessons linked together onto one page at Fun, FREE Hands-On Unit Studies Hub .
My Bible Curriculum
We read a chapter of the Bible every morning and evening. I use Balancing the Sword to provide basic comprehension questions to ask after we read the chapter. When appropriate, we also use The Children's Bible by Golden Books simply for the pictures as we read the corresponding chapters from the Bible.
When my oldest son was 7, we began using the Discover 4 Yourself inductive Bible study workbook series. We LOVE these! My oldest son said it's his favorite workbook among his homeschool books.
We also regularly attend AWANA club at a local church. It is a great program that motivates children to learn LOTS of Bible verses.
The Discover 4 Yourself series contains at least 15 different workbooks that cover both the Old and New Testament. Written in a fashion similar to Precepts Bible Studies, children mark particular key words as they read through chapters of the Bible. They also draw pictures of what the chapters are about, fill out crossword puzzles, answer personal application questions, and more. We LOVE this series!
This provides great comprehension questions to ask after we read the Bible. Each volume contains questions for every single chapter in the Bible. The number of questions coincides with how long the chapters are, so a shorter chapter may have 3 questions whereas a longer chapter may have 7 questions. I usually provide multiple choice options (that I make up) for my younger children. My fourth-grade level son is able to answer most of the questions without having to go back and look for the answer. The books do provide cross reference verses for further study, but we haven't used those yet. The answers to each question and the verse where you can find the answer is found in the back of each book.
My Phonics and Reading Curriculum
I taught my first 2 sons to reading using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. With my oldest son, we finished the book. With my younger son, we made it through about 75 of the 100 lessons. It's easy to implement but not too exciting.
After we finsihed that book, we moved on to the set of A Beka K5 Reading for Fun Enrichment Library. Bob Books would make another great option. I am still working through the A Beka readers with my younger son.
With my older son, after A Beka's Kindergarten readers, we moved on to easy reader books like the ones from Step Into Reading. He loved the Henry and Mudge series. The only way I would read them to him is if he read one page and I would read the next one. We continued to read books like that (he would read one page and I would read the next) until he started reading regular books on his own. He now reads a wide variety of books for his own reading pleasure, and I also assign him a historical biography to read each week.
We still do this today with many of the chapter books that we read together as a family. We read A LOT every day, and almost all of the books we read are related to what we're studying in our unit study.
I also pay my sons to read books. They each have a list on which they write the titles of the books the read. (This comes in handy for year-end evaluations.) My oldest son can only write down chapter books he's read. My younger son writes down the titles of the readers he reads and can write down the title more than once if he reads the book over again. I pay $.01 for every 10 books they read and write down on the list.
This is a classic book for teaching children to read. It is easy to implement (with no preparation required) and is a great next step after a child can identify all their letters. I wouldn't recommend finishing the book, though, unless your child seems to enjoy it. Both my sons initially loved their reading lessons from this book, but they lost complete interest and dreaded having to read a little more than half way through the book. At that point we stopped and moved on to the A Beka readers.
My Handwriting Curriculum
I used A Beka Writing with Phonics K5 & for Grade 1 with my oldest son. For second grade I just printed off from the computer handwriting worksheets with his weekly AWANA Bible verses, spelling words, or other items he needed to know. I used the free worksheets I could customize and print off from Handwriting Worksheets. Starting in 3rd grade I stopped assigning handwriting practice as he writes enough for his other subjects.
My second son loves to draw, so we have been using Draw Write Now. It incorporates a drawing lessons with a writing lesson. He loves these books! My fourth grade level son also does the drawing assignment with us. I also love that the books include particular themes, so we can choose sections that pertain to what we're learning in our unit studies. For example, since we're currently studying Africa, we are drawing and writing about the animals from Africa in Book 8 of Draw Write Now.
My younger son LOVES these books! They incorporate drawing lessons with handwriting practice. Both of my sons would get frustrated that their drawings did not turn out the way they wanted them to look. These simply step-by-step instructions teach children to draw line-by-line. I am amazed at how well their pictures turn out! The handwriting practice goes along with the picture they have drawn.
My Foreign Language Curriculums
My oldest son is learning Latin using Ecce Romani I. We are all learning bits and pieces of Mandarin and Spanish by listening to CD's that that teach those languages through songs. We usually listen to them during lunch and on short car trips.
My oldest son uses Ecce Romani, Vol. 1: A Latin Reading Program by PRENTICE HALL for Latin and really enjoys it as it teaches Latin through stories about a boy living during the Ancient Roman period. It was recommended to us by a Latin professor who is also using it to homeschool his son in Latin. Speak & Sing Chinese w/Mei Mei by Mei Mei Hu is one of the CD's we use to try to learn Mandarin. We also have some of the "Play and Learn Chinese with Mei Mei" DVD's.
My Fine Arts Curriculum
We listen to classical music CD's quite frequently as the children do their homeschooling work and on car trips. We also occasionally attend classical music concerts our children can actually see the instruments that produce the music. My oldest son is taking violin lessons, and my younger son will probably start up violin lessons next year.
We take our children to art museums. I keep the younger children's attention by having them spot animals in the art. We also attend weekly art classes for children.
Our unit studies also include art, music, and dance.
How do I fit it all in?
If you'd like to see my daily homeschool schedule, I posted them (from various ages and stages along our homeschool journey) at:
- How I Homeschool with Seven Children - This is my most recent description of my typical homeschool day including what curricula I use. I not only describe what I do and use, I also include video clips of my family learning together on a typical day.
- How to Homeschool Multiple Ages (My Daily Homeschool Schedule) - Are you homeschooling or considering homeschooling more than one child? Below you will find our daily homeschool schedule for 3 different stages: when I only had preschoolers (ages 4 and under), when I only had 1 child who could work independently and 4 who couldn't, and our current homeschool schedule that includes every age but high school. I have also included a few more tips for general home management.
- Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten - Are you considering homeschooling but don't know where to start? Do you have a preschooler who is eager to learn but you have no idea what to teach or how? Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the options? I have laid out what I do to homeschool my children when they are ages 3-5 and have also included my favorite resources for preschool and kindergarten learning.
- Homeschool Kindergarten Essentials - Are you considering homeschooling your kindergarten age child or are you already homeschooling and are looking for ideas? I have graduated 3 of my children from "Kindergarten Homeschool" and am currently homeschooling kindergarten with my 4th child. Below you will find my practical tips for your first year of homeschooling kindergarten.
- Taming Toddler Tornadoes: What to Do with Toddlers and Babies While Homeschooling Older Children - Are you homeschooling older children and you have a baby and/or toddler at home as well? I currently have three school age children along with a preschooler, toddler, and baby. A question I get a lot from homeschooling families is, "What in the world do you do with your toddler and/or baby?" Read below to find out what I do to keep my babies and toddlers busy and happy while still covering algebra, sentence diagramming, dissections, and more with the older set.
Buying Homeschool Materials
Buying Homeschool Materials
My favorite place to buy homeschool books is HomeschoolClassifieds.com. It's free to use. You deal directly with the homeschool parent who is selling the books. It is extremely well-organized and easy to use. You can also create a "wanted to buy" list of the books you'd like, and people will actually contact you if they have those books for sale!