It’s that time of year again — you know, when we start thinking about the coming school year. With all the craziness of this pandemic, I’ve been grateful that we are a homeschooling family and our lives have not been turned upside down. Actually, it’s been nice not running to one activity after another. It’s been really nice having my highschoolers home all day. They’ve been playing music together in the evenings out on the deck and having wild games of hide and seek all over the house and yard with their younger siblings.
But getting back to the point of this post: Many of you are thinking about new curricula for the coming year. Usually in May, my homeschool group does a curriculum share fair, where we bring our favorite books to a hostess’ home and place them on several tables. Then we wander around the home and look at all the curricula that people have brought. That’s not going to happen this spring, but we can certainly share online! So I asked my kids to tell me their favorite curricula from this year. Here’s what they chose:
Princess’ Favorite Five for Gr. 2-3
For the most part, Princess was able to teach herself cursive with this Hand Writing Without Tear’s Cursive book.
All About Spelling has been a staple in our house for more than ten years because it is so thorough. We do a spelling lesson on Mondays and Wednesdays. On Tuesdays and Fridays the kids quiz themselves.
Draw Write Now is another program we’ve used for years and years. They’re great for drawing and copy work. Encourage your kids to color and shade as best they can. Outlining their pictures with pencil crayon after they have drawn them in pencil makes the pictures look even better.
For history this year, Princess and I read all the beautifully illustrated D’Aulaire biographies. She would read a few pages outloud, narrate it back while I wrote down her narration, and then she would copy the narration. Now she’s into the Childhood of Famous Americans series.
The Language of God series by Catholic Heritage Curricula are gentle, faith-filled, and very straight forward so children can do the lessons independently.
Sparky’s Favorite Five for Grades 4-5
Sparky loved the audiobook to Story of Civilization vol. 1. He’d put on his headphones and listen to it first thing Monday mornings. Often I’d catch him listening to more than just the assigned chapter. For our list of novels and pictures to go with this book, click here.
He also enjoyed IEW’s Ancient History Based Writing Lessons. BUT, they’re a lot of work, he says. I agree. After math, this was the most time-consuming subject, but worth every minute! His vocabulary and writing skills really improved.
For grammar this year, Sparky did Language of God D. When he finished the book early this winter, we started Fix-It Book 2, which Sparky much preferred. This method teaches grammar through editing and aligns perfectly with IEW’s writing programs.
Drawing Textbook continues to be another family favorite, as it teaches drawing in an incremental way that produces great artwork. Sparky would listen to Focus on the Family’s Narnia series while he drew.
Since he’s so artistic, it is no surprise that he enjoyed nature study, especially as a break from his usual science text. On rainy days, he would simply use one of the Golden Guides to learn about and draw plants or birds.
Feisty’s Favorite Five for Gr. 7-8
Algebra I by Dressler continues to be the Algebra text of choice in our home. We tried the new Dimensions 7 by Singapore Math this year but were disappointed with the books. The program moved too quickly and made some unreasonable jumps even for a kid who completed all of the Primary Math (Standards Ed.) books by SM with relative ease. So back to Dressler we went, with a new appreciation for his incremental, systematic approach.
Ecce Romani I was a new book for us this year. I chose it because this is the Latin text being used by the school Feisty will be attending in the fall. It’s challenging for a 7th grader, but it has an excellent mix of reading (the stories are interesting) and grammar. The grammar is presented in a very clear manner. We covered half of the book this year. Make sure your student drills and reviews the vocab and grammar forms daily.
Sadlier Oxford Vocabulary Workshop was another of Feisty’s favorites, and it’s an easy way to expand vocabulary and practice testing skills. I made him use his newly learned vocabulary in his writing assignments to help with comprehension and retention. Be sure to get a used teacher’s edition for the answers.
From Sea to Shining Sea is an engaging account of American History, so it’s no wonder Feisty enjoyed it. He also used the workbook. An important skill to develop at this age is note-taking, so I made him take notes on the chapter summaries before taking the tests. These are availiable in the teacher’s manual.
Decision Point is a FREE confirmation prep book by Matthew Kelly (you just pay for shipping.) There are supplemental videos availiable online, but we just read the book and discussed the contents. Feisty didn’t care much for the Journal Questions at the end of each chapter. He is, afterall, a middleschool teen who is not introspective and who does not appreciate personal questions such as Are you going to welcome the Holy Spirit into your life? However, the rest of the book is filled with excellent content. It covers topics you and your teen really need to talk about, such as making good choices, being the best version of yourself, the quest for happiness, negative thinking, how to pray, how to read the bible, the power of habits, friendship, the nature of real love, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Holy Spirit, etc. This is one of the most comprehensive Confirmation books I’ve come across, and it’s very well geared towards young teens. I highly recommend it.
But Feisty’s most favorite subject this year, he tells me, is LUNCH.
I’ll just take that as a compliment to my cooking 😉
And one last book I’d like to mention:
Saints and Seasons by Catholic Heritage Curricula was a lovely supplement to our religion studies this year. It featured lots of beautiful sacred art, a liturgical wheel you can assemble, pictures of saints to put on a large calendar, inspirational stories, fun activities, etc. Click here to see samples.
There you have our favorite books from this year.
You can always check out our favorite books for all the grades under the “Curriculum” tab on the home page. But for your convenience, here they are:
Share the good stuff! What homeschool books have you and your kids enjoyed this year?