13 May 2010

Curriculum review 2009-2010

We're just a few short weeks away from the end of our school year, so now seems like a good to time to look back on the first grade curriculum we've used this year.

 First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind (Vol. Level 1) (First Language Lessons)

This definitely was a slow book.  I was forewarned of this in several reviews I read.  I think it helps being prepared for something that could be an annoying flaw.  We weren't in a rush, so it suited us just fine.  I adapted it by skipping some of the lessons that seemed overly repetitive, and replaced a few of the poems for memorization with poems by the poet we were studying at that time.

Verdict:  We'll be completing the second grade portion of this book next year.

Explode the Code 3 through Explode the Code/Book Six

I must admit, I have very neutral feelings about this curriculum.  my daughter is a strong reader, so I have her do a few pages out of each lesson more out of a sense of obligation than anything else.  I do want her to know the rules of phonics, and this curriculum has been a success.  Book 4 did take a strange detour away from word families and vowel sounds and spent a good chunk of time on syllabication.  My daughter wasn't quite ready for that, so we'll revisit Book 4 next year.

Verdict:  Only 2 more books left (plus Book 4).  Hopefully we'll cruise through these fairly quickly to make room for another subject.

Math 1: Homeschool Kit (Homeschool Math Grade 1) & Math 2: Home Study Kit (Homeschool Math Grade 2)

We took our time with Saxon K last year and built a really strong foundation of  math concepts, so we were able to finish Saxon 1 a few months ago and get started with Saxon 2.  (Don't you love the freedom of being a homeschooler?)  The more I use this curriculum, the more I like it.  I can see how they very gently introduce concepts, often using manipulatives, so they will be ready for them. For example, we've been exchanging dimes for pennies not just to learn the value of money, but in preparation for borrowing and carrying in multi-digit operations. 

Verdict:  We'll finish Saxon 2 next year.

Daily Word Problems, Grade 1 Math

This has been a great supplement to Saxon.  I originally ordered it because I had heard Saxon was rather weak on problem solving.  So far, I haven't seen that.  This is a fun book anyway and provides plenty of opportunity to think through some tough problems.

Verdict: I ordered Daily Word Problems, Grade 2 for next year.

Calvary Chapel Bible Curriculum

This has been a great to read through the Bible in a kid-friendly way, skipping all those non-PG stories (ahem, Bathsheba) and questions I'm not quite ready for.  We're on 2 Kings and just over 100 lessons.  Oh, and did mention it's fee?  Be still my heart.

Verdict:   Sticking with it.

R.E.A.L. Science- Life

This was a really great book.  I absolutely love the recommended literature lists.  They are a huge time-saver!  It is so packed with activities and experiments, that I doubt that we even made it to half of them.  And because of this book, we now have a fish.  (Be forewarned!)

Verdict:  We already have R.E.A.L. Science-Earth & Space on our bookshelf, ready to go.

Social Studies:

The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1

We had so much fun with this!  I found myself on the learning end more often than not.  I have very little recollection of learning ancient history as a student.  (Thank you, public schools!)  The most ringing endorsement I have is that history is now my daughter's favorite subject. 

Verdict:  I'm already reading The Story of the World, Volume 2.  Vikings, Samurai, and Knights, oh my!  It's going to be a fun year.

So there you have it. There's a lot not included in this list, but these are the biggies.   Have you noticed that it takes a lot for me to change curriculum?  A person could spend a lot of time acclimating to a new curriculum series every year.  It seems wiser to me to just adapt what you already have. I did make some changes over the summer when I compared this list to the preview for first grade that I wrote last spring.

So how did your school year go?  Are sticking with the tried and true?  Are you getting rid of any stinkers?  I'd love to hear about it!

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