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10 homeschool curriculum decisions I’d make all over again

10 homeschool curriculum decisions I’d make all over again

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Contrary to any other year in our homeschooling journey, I’m just now wrapping up curriculum decisions!

Oh, we’ve already dipped into some work; the new year-around scheduling a big hit with the kids.  But Mama is still slowly organizing, thinking and…praying.

I’ve spent much more time in prayer prep for our year than anything else.  More on all of this soon. 🙂


Curriculum Choices We Have Loved

As I’ve sifted through our stash of goods, I wanted to share some of my absolute favorite homeschool curriculum from the past school year.  These are favorites because they worked so well for our family!

Last year I had a preschooler, 1st and 4th grader and a 9th grader.  In no particular order, here is my top 10 list for curriculum:

1.  Apologia Worldview series

In the market for stellar books teaching children how to view our culture from a Christian perspective?  Allow me to introduce you to this series!

I wrote a full review on book 2 Who Am I and What am I Doing Here?, and we anticipate using other books in upcoming years.  My children were all incredibly engaged, and many excellent discussions resulted from our reading.

2.  Ask Me Whooo? the children’s first catechism

Along the lines of spiritual growth, this CD of songs is structured to teach little ones the Westminster Shorter Catechism for kids, adding in scriptural support for each question.  To say we enjoy them is an understatement.

As an incredibly musical family, there probably isn’t a better way for my youngest children (especially the 3 yr old last year) to learn foundational theology in bite-sized pieces.

Check it out and listen to the samples!


3.  All About Spelling

We’ve used this curriculum for 2 years now, and I cannot say enough good about All About Spelling!  Not only does it teach the how, but also the why.

Sure, we could just learn to spell with a group of like words.  But as words become more complicated, the memorization technique may or may not stick.  This program teaches why words are spelled the way they are (including the exceptions!).

We love the multi-sensory approach which isn’t gimmicky at all or simply fluff.  With 7 levels available, I look forward to using AAS for a long time!

 4.  Marie’s Words

A great set of 500 vocabulary word flash cards for the high schooler (homeschooled or not!).  Great for SAT prep or simply increasing word usage and skills.  I wrote a full review on Marie’s words – a handy tool!

Our goal is to use these all throughout high school.

5.  Science Roots for Apologia Biology

While I studied Latin in high school, my skills are incredibly rusty.

And while my biology student was in her 5th year of Latin, her understanding of specific Latin roots for science was rusty.  So, we’re glad to have found a help – here’s my full review on this little booklet.  It made biology a breeze!

 6.  Five in a Row

Oh, how we’ve thoroughly delighted in Five in A Row (though quite honestly, I take about 2 or more weeks instead of one for each book).

The boys (ages 3 – 3.5 and 6.5 – 7 last year) have fond memories of our units such as Blueberries for SalHow to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, and don’t forget We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  We plan to continue with FIAR this year.

Find oodles of helps for Five in a Row planning – I gathered them up for you! 🙂

7. Elegant Essay from IEW

We’ve not used Institute for Excellence in Writing before; in fact, I’ve not used a formal writing curriculum with the children.  By mid-year however, I was having trouble explaining some aspects of essay writing to my 9th grader.

While I appreciated her good attitude, I could see she was growing frustrated.  My teaching style for writing wasn’t instructional enough for her style of learning.

I settled on Elegant Essay from IEW, and it was the perfect solution for us both! Highly recommended.

8. Home Art Studio DVDs

I was so pleased to receive these step-by-step instructional art videos (link is to my full review)!  Interesting, informative and uncomplicated instruction from a certified art teacher — all right from home.

While my 4th grader also participated in local drawing classes, these DVDs provided her and her little brother with plenty of projects across many art genres.

9.  WonderMaps

One of the smartest geography tools ever!  A fully customizable set of about 350 maps all at my fingertips, stored on my computer? — yes please.

We’ve used the biblical maps, US and world maps, and were able to quickly change how we wanted to print them out with a simple click.  No more map books to copy.

10.  Illuminations

Another gem from Bright Ideas Press, I was so pleased with Illuminations Year 2 for high school.  It’s a comprehensive all-inclusive package for every subject except math, but we didn’t use all of these parts.  And I do mean every subject including writing, music, art, spelling, geography, life skills and more!

I appreciated how the literature guides provided thoughtful higher order questions; and the selection of books is of great variety.


As soon as I finalize this year’s choices, I’ll share!

Any homeschool favorites of yours?


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  • RebeccaAugust 8, 2013 - 8:33 pm

    You have listed some of my favorites! We have illuminations this year – and love love love Apologia!ReplyCancel

  • TrenaAugust 8, 2013 - 9:15 pm

    I have a question. I have a 7th grader and a 4th grader – boys. They are not good spellers, and I have struggled to find something. Several folks have recommended the AAS, but no one can tell me where to start. Would you have a suggestion on how I can figure that out?


  • Daniele @ Domestic SerenityAugust 8, 2013 - 9:56 pm

    Hi Trena!
    I would suggest starting with Level 1 for both kiddos. It’s that foundational. There is an understanding about spelling (the why) in Level 1 that I didn’t even know, though I knew how to spell the words.

    The Levels are not separated into grades, and do progress in a sequential order. You need to know what was in the previous book. Move at different paces for each kiddo, but you can definitely start at the beginning. Since your older one will move quicker, you may want to consider ordering more than one level at once if you can.

    Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • JerieAugust 8, 2013 - 11:29 pm

    This was very helpful. I wanted to know about the AAS levels also but never went so far as to look it up myself. We will start Classical Conversations this year so we have been introduced to IEW and I really like what I are! Thank you for writing this. It was very informative.ReplyCancel

  • JerieAugust 8, 2013 - 11:31 pm

    I like what I *see* not what I are, lol. Nursing and typing have not been mastered yet. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Debra EAugust 9, 2013 - 1:04 pm

    I loved your 2012-2013 FIAR cirruculum. I am not familiar with very many of the books in either BFIAR or FIAR. Though I know my girls would love the books you did with your boys, can you think of any specific ones that might be especially enjoyable for girls?ReplyCancel

  • BobbeyAugust 10, 2013 - 12:28 pm

    What did you think about the Not Enough Faith to be an Atheist book? Did you use it with the workbook? We’re still considering using it for DS this year but I would feel so much better if I could actually talk to someone that’s used it before.ReplyCancel

  • Daniele @ Domestic SerenityAugust 10, 2013 - 1:49 pm

    Hi Debra – off the top of my head, I’m thinking of books with girls as the main character: Owl Moon, Apple Pie and See the World, Madeline, Pair of Red Clogs, Miss Rumphius, and I’m sure lots more!

    Here’s a link with printables of all FIAR titles:

    Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Daniele @ Domestic SerenityAugust 10, 2013 - 1:50 pm

    Bobbey – we’ve not read this book. You could try googling for a review, and maybe there’s a blogger/homeschool parent you could chat with?

    Thanks for commenting!ReplyCancel

  • Debra EAugust 12, 2013 - 3:40 pm

    Thank you, that helps as I don’t know these books at all!ReplyCancel

  • KaraDecember 31, 2013 - 9:53 am

    I haven’t homeschooled, and our children are mostly all in college now, with the exception of our youngest, who is 16 and in his junior year of highschool. I wanted to mention something that has helped us a lot through highschool, especially with math help. I’m sure you’ve heard of it… Khan Academy. It’s amazing, and completely free. My college kids still use it to brush up on math and other subjects when they need it.ReplyCancel

  • LishaDecember 31, 2013 - 10:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing these! I appreciate seeing what other homeschool families are using. Wondermaps sounds amazing! We have been using Sonlight for 5 years and it is a perfect fit for us in every way.

    Happy New Year!

  • StacyApril 1, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    I was wondering about your opinion of the Illuminations program. Did you use it for your 9th grader? and if so did you feel like it had enough history for her? I like the looks of it and have MOH already but I just am not sure it looks like enough History for my liking. Thanks for your inputReplyCancel

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Daniele Evans