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Curriculum likes & dislikes

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July 1st, 2011, 01:21 PM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: The Lonestar State
Posts: 50,214
I just noticed there was a comment in the curriculum sticky asking for pros/cons about what we've used, so I'm going to copy/paste my list here and tell you what I think about this stuff. Free free to do the same!

  • Beyond the Code - I don't recommend this. Too cheesy and too easy for my taste.
  • Explode the Code - LOVE IT!
  • MegaWords - We didn't use it very long, but I liked it. He didn't really need it, so I sold it.
  • Starfall (free) - Good for preschool or very early elementary, but not a complete curriculum.
  • Progressive Phonics (free) - Good for preschool & elementary.
  • EPS Reading Comprehension from Varied Subject Matter - LOVE THIS! Do a lesson a day at the beginning or end of a school year, brush up on skills before a test, or use as part of your curriculum by doing one lesson every 10 days or so.
  • EPS Reasoning & Reading - Love this. Teaches you how to "think".
  • Abeka - Wonderful, but very expensive. This is a publisher that provides complete kits, but you can buy subjects separately as well.
  • Spectrum Reading - I like this for brushing up on comprehension or teaching comprehension. It's great. (But I prefer the EPS book.)

  • Writing Strands - Can't really comment much since we're starting it for the first time this year. It gets great reviews, though, and I like how it's not "graded". You advance to the next book when you're ready, which may be 6 or 26!

  • Handwriting w/o Tears - Love it for print; hate it for cursive. My sons therapy office uses this as well.
  • Abeka Cursive - Love it! Classic, loopy style with plenty of practice.
  • Pentime - My second choice behind Abeka. Love it.

  • Sequential Spelling (student and adult versions) - I recommend the student version for low or average spellers. I recommend the adult version for natural spellers. If you use the adult version, you'll need to pick up student version books 6 & 7 at the end, because the adult version is made for later-in-life learners. It doesn't go into the weird words you'll find in the more complete student set.

  • Song School Latin - Love it! It's recommended on their site for K-3rd, but personally, I'd call it 1st-2nd. It assumes you can read and write a little bit already, so it may not work for some K'ers, and it's a little too babyish for a 3rd grader. They'll be coming out with a part 2 soon, so I'd use them for 1st and 2nd before moving on to Latin for Children in 3rd.
  • Latin for Children - LOVE IT! Don't let the "for children" part throw you. This is a heavy-duty curriculum. You'll be parsing by the end of the first book. There are 3 volumes for appx 3-6 grades. It assumes you can read and write very well and already have a basic understanding of English grammar. It's designed to go with Shurley Grammar, but we're using Rod & Staff with it just fine. Each year of LfC is equivalent to 1 semester of high school Latin.
  • Latin Alive (own, but haven't started yet) - I love this one, too. There's quite a bit of review from Latin for Children, so it's ok to start with this in upper middle or high school. It's a 3 year curriculum that will cover all grammar and most vocabulary by the end. It's college-worthy.

  • Rod & Staff - I can't recommend this highly enough. It's wonderful! It's extremely saturated in Bible/Christianity, so if that's not your style, you'll want to avoid this one. Otherwise, it's very rigorous. It starts in 2nd and goes through 10th. Their 2nd grade book is more like 1st for other publishers, but their 10th grade book is more advanced than most college English classes. It really picks up the pace a lot around 5th grade or so. If your child is strong in grammar, start with the 3rd or 4th grade books. If you're introducing it for the first time, start with the 2nd grade book. There is a ton of extra practice and writing if you want to do it, but it can also be done completely orally.

  • Abeka - Spiral and quick-paced. I like it, but my son didn't.
  • Rod & Staff - Very "old school". This is a slow mover with tons of practice. It's appx a grade level behind, but personally, I love it. There are no bells and whistles. It's just classic math with a Christian backbone (meaning, they find a way to weave Bible into it every chance they get).
  • Kumon Workbooks - I like these for extra practice, but I definitely wouldn't use them as my entire curriculum.
  • Primary Grade Challenge Math (supplement) - Great for teaching kids to think outside the box and apply math knowledge to real situations. Use this with a strong math student who's looking for a challenge. (There's a "Challenge Math" for older kids, too.)
  • Miquon - Love this! It's a little bit old-school, but it's very hands-on, and it makes you think. It teaches algebraic concepts right from the start without the student even realizing it. It's supposed to be 1st-3rd grades (2 workbooks per year), but at the end, you'll be a bit higher than a 3rd grade level for most other publishers.
  • IXL.com - This is wonderful for extra practice or filling in gaps, but I wouldn't use it as curriculum.

Social Studies
  • Abeka - The early grades are weak, but the later grades are good.
  • Spectrum Geography - I didn't like this as much as I expected I would, but I do like Spectrum products as a whole. I'd recommend it.
  • Mystery of History - LOVE THIS!! It's written specifically for middle school, but it comes with adaptations to be used with elementary and high school. It's a 4 year cyclical curriculum that can be used over and over, and can be used with siblings, each on their own level. It's chronological and Christian-based, weaving secular and Biblical history into one. The author tries to be very unopinionated, but there are times when a lesson will have a Christian slant (and she's upfront about that).
  • Story of the World - Similar to Mystery of History, but only for elementary level, and it's secular.
  • Geography Songs - This is a fun way to learn world geography. It looks easy at first glance, but it's actually very tough. You'll learn map skills and songs, of course, but if you google the words of the songs, you'll learn history, art, music and culture as well. Do one a week for a year.
  • Evan-Moore Geography - I like this a lot better than Spectrum for Geography. (I like most of the stuff E-M makes.)
  • Galloping the Globe - We'll be using this next year for geography. I really like it a lot. You can work at your own pace and spend as much or as little time as you want in various places around the world. There are suggested additional reading materials (library), coloring pages, puzzles, flags, maps, etc. You can morph it into whatever you want it to be. (It's written for early elementary... about K-4 or so.)

  • Apologia Young Explorers - LOVE THIS! It's creation-based science for K-6th graders. There are 6 books (Astronomy, Botany, Anatomy, and 3 Zoology ... one each for land, water, and air animals). You can choose whether to do one book per year, dragging out each lesson over 3-4 weeks, or you can do one book per semester, doing a lesson per week. I prefer to do one per semester. You'll go through all 6 books as an overview in the early grades and then more in depth in the later grades. there are older and younger workbooks available, too. I haven't used them yet, but I plan to the second time around. (The younger ones are brand new, so I'll use them with Daniel. I didn't have the option with Ben. He'll use the older ones next time around.)
  • Abeka - Just like their social studies, I think they're very weak in the early grades but good in the later grades.

  • Abeka - Like it, but it's all paper crafts. I'd like to use something else, but that's very expensive!
  • Kumon - Same, although great for motor skill development.
  • Mead - I don't really recommend this unless you have a kid who's just itching to do something.

  • Hayes - I like it, but it moves way, way, way too slowly!!! They spread out over 6 years what I'd teach in 1 semester (I'm a former music teacher).
  • Abeka - It's just traditional, folk, and religious songs. Cute, if that's what you're looking for. It doesn't actually teach you to read music or anything.
  • Alfred Piano - My first choice.
  • Bastien Piano - My second choice.

  • Amplified Bible Curriculum (ABC) - Love it! For toddler thru adult, all on the same lesson at the same time, but on their own level. Expensive if you buy all the stuff they want you to use with it. This is JUST an outline book. There are no lesson plans and very few suggested activities/songs. You have to come up with that on your own.
  • Rainbow Lessons (Jane Britnell) - Great for preschool or early elementary. Hard to find.
  • Rod & Staff - Love it!
  • Bible Class Curriculum for Elementary, Middle School, Home Schools (free) - Love it... for upper elem or middle school.
  • Calvary Chapel Children's Ministry curriculum: Old Testament FREE (free) - Love it (although you'll occasinally find typos or mis-drawn crosswords)! For PreK-middle school.

  • Abeka - Love it.

Last edited by BensMom; April 10th, 2012 at 11:28 AM.
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July 6th, 2011, 07:10 AM
New_England_Girl's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Chilly New England
Posts: 6,767
Newbie here, so I don't have any experience with whole curriculums yet, but I would love to hear some more input from you ladies!

Hi, I'm Sara. I used to post here a lot when I was having the kids, but life got busy and it's been years since I was around. Now I'm back, and happy to be here.

Married to my best friend for a decade.
Mom to:

Cassidy, 6.5 yrs. Born 10/23/07, 7 pounds 10 ounces, 20 in.

Joel, 4.75 yrs. Born 6/23/09, 9 pounds 12 ounces, 21 in.

Timothy, 2 yrs. Born 3/20/12, 9 pounds 4 ounces, 22.5 in.

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July 6th, 2011, 11:57 AM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 8,365
We have one completed one year. (going into our second)


Hooked on Phonics (HOP) pre-K through 2nd grade: This has worked so well for us! My girls love it, the videos with each lesson really keep their interest and getting to read a "real" book at he end of each unit was a big reward for them. We liked it enough that my oldest DD is moving into HOP master reader this week.


First language Lessons for the well trained mind: Dry and boring my DD didn't retain anything because she just hated it.

Growing with Grammar: good program but very repetitive. There is only a few new topics introduced in grade two that weren't there for grade one, and by a few I mean just like 3-5 new topics. We switched to BJU English this year because it includes writing along with grammar studies.


Writing with Ease: Just OK, we quit it about 6 weeks in because it was just a repeat of what was in her grammar lessons.


Horizons: we have used K and 1st and just love it! it is slightly advanced but not too far over their heads has enough review to help with out being too much.


Story of the World: too dry for my DD's and too secular for me.


Apologia Science: Love this we used Astronomy last year and my DD loved it. We did switch for next year but only because I want to wait to do this series in 4-6 grades. I didn't want to go through it twice but wanted her to retain as much as an older child would.


Explorer's bible study: Good and inexpensive


StartWrite software: Good if you are computer Savy and know what you want to do for handwriting.

A reason for handwriting: ok but not good enough for us to go back to next year.
Momma to :
E-10.5yrs 11/03
S-7.75yrs 8/06
A-6yrs 3/08
J-4.5yrs 11/09
K 2.5yrs 9/11

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July 14th, 2011, 07:55 AM
New_England_Girl's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Chilly New England
Posts: 6,767
Anyone else?
Hi, I'm Sara. I used to post here a lot when I was having the kids, but life got busy and it's been years since I was around. Now I'm back, and happy to be here.

Married to my best friend for a decade.
Mom to:

Cassidy, 6.5 yrs. Born 10/23/07, 7 pounds 10 ounces, 20 in.

Joel, 4.75 yrs. Born 6/23/09, 9 pounds 12 ounces, 21 in.

Timothy, 2 yrs. Born 3/20/12, 9 pounds 4 ounces, 22.5 in.

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July 14th, 2011, 07:59 PM
christianmommato3's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: OHIO
Posts: 15,943
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Bible: Christian Liberty Press Studying God's Word series= my kids loved it. great bible book for less than $8
Math: Horizons= We LOVE this !!!!!!!!!
Spelling: Christian Liberty Press Building Spelling Skills= challenging for my kids and they like using this program. less than $8 each
Writing: CLP writing with power- ok, not using anymore;
HWT cursive- ok, just used for extra practice
Reading: CLP reading series- my kids love them. most of the books are about science and history
History: CLP= we did not like this one. Not enough meat for my kids.
Abeka= my kids love this curriculum. last year was our first year using it!
Science: Abeka= we love this curriculum
CLP= not enough meat yet again
Health: Horizons= were not big fans; ok program
Abeka= my kids like this one beter last year
English: Bob Jones= my kids love this book
Abeka= my kids and I didn't like this one; back to BJ
stay at home, homeschooling momma to Jacob(12), Alisha(10), Andrew (5)

Last edited by christianmommato3; July 14th, 2011 at 08:04 PM.
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July 16th, 2011, 10:02 PM
in_mommy's Avatar I am just me
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 14,873
Math Mammoth * - Absolutely LOVE this and the price is great too. You can download this or buy the books/cd. We just download and go.
Lifepac - Dry and boring

Language arts:
Easy Grammar * - LOVE their approach to grammar, you learn prepositions first and then DD is easily able to figure out all the other parts of speech.
Explode the Code * - Lifesaver! Helped DD with her phonics when she was a struggling reader and unable to sound out words.
Nature Readers * - Great little science readers. You can combine reading and science with these if you would want.
Spectrum - Reading comprehension book, ok book, no feelings really either way.
Abeka - Boring to DD and too childish for her as well.
Lifepac - Dry and Boring
Jolly Grammar - DS loved doing this grammar. Fun hands on activities to do with lessons.

All About Spelling * - Awesome program!!! Teaches phonics in hands on lessons. This program teaches the rules in an easy to remember method. Highly recommend this, but it is expensive, something to look for used.
Spellwell - Ok program but prefer AAS.
Sequential Spelling - Didn't like this. DD just wasn't getting the whole pattern concept and just found it to be more frustrating than anything.

History/Geography/Social Studies:
Time Travelers Unit Studies * - Fun unit studies! Highly recommend this!!
All Through the Ages * - Similar to Beautiful Feet but better and more expanded than Beautiful Feet, highly recommend this. Can be used from K-12.
Abeka - Not as in depth as I would like, more childish for my kids' likings.
Story of the World - They love to listen to the CD's while working or in the car, fun projects to do.
Mystery of History - To dry for DD.
Lifepac - A MAJOR snooze for all of us!!

Considering God's Creation * - Fun program to go through, loads of projects to do. Only draw back is that it doesn't go very in depth with each subject, but does give recommended reading sources to pursue a subject more.
Apologia - Just wasn't DD's cup of tea

Handwriting without tears * - used the cursive and printing programs, no feelings really one way or the other.
Writing Strands * - just really starting this for DD to help her writing skills.
Startwrite - used to print out handwriting sheets

Explorer's Bible Study * - good and inexpensive

Word Roots * - DD thinks it is fun to do and has helped improve her vocab and reading skills.

I Can Do All Things * - DD likes this, but DS complained that it was too hard for him.
Draw, Write Now * - They both like using this, we didn't use the writing pages so much, more the drawing portions.

Foreign Language:
Just starting so no opinion one way or the other just yet.
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April 10th, 2012, 11:25 AM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: The Lonestar State
Posts: 50,214
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April 11th, 2012, 07:32 AM
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I'm a noob, but I do have a few tidbits to offer.
I was homeschooled with Abeka for 8th grade and I loved every last bit of it. I couldn't tell if anything was weak or lacking from a student's point of view but I feel that that was the single most productive school year of my life.
As a parent I've used ACE paces for several grades and my kids go to a private school that uses that curriculum also. I like the scholastic aspects of it and think kids who use it receive a good education. My only 2 dislikes about it are that in literature, all the books about basically the same thing. It's all books about God and salvation. It's not that I'm against that by any means, we're Christian and I like my kids reading about having strong faith. It's just that they don't use any of the traditional classics like To Kill A Mockingbird or Lord Of The Flies. When home schooling my 7th grader I ignored his literature from ACE all together and gave him different books, and assignments that I made up instead.
The other dislike I have about ACE is that it's overall extremely heavily Christian. I worry that it might even border on indoctrination but that's a pretty strong word and I don't like using it lightly. Even though Abeka is Christian it seems like it's just less "in your face" about it. Or less fanatical I guess. I don't know, maybe I'm not explaining that right.
I think educationally ACE is pretty good. The kids really do learn a lot. And a HUGE plus is that other than literature it's all self contained. For each subject there are a series of workbooks and that's all. There is a page or two of reading material followed by questions to answer with a test at the end. No text books plus work books plus home work plus other assignments. The kids are very self sufficient with this program and parents really only need to guide instead of having to deal with the bulk of the teaching. That makes it really easy for new home schoolers or for someone with a lot of kids and no time management skills. Like me. lol
Anyway, just my 2 cents. Hope it's helpful to someone!
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