Our Fairly Frugal Homeschool Curriculum

I often get asked what curriculum we use for our homeschooling adventures, so I thought today would be a great day to post about our curriculum for the year.

Homeschooling is so very flexible, in that if we don’t like something, we can get something else.  It gives us a great opportunity to pick curriculum that works for our girls needs.

This is our second year of homeschooling, so I am much more relaxed and feel a bit more confident in our decisions on what to use.  The first year for every new homeschooler is very hard.  You struggle with what I call the am I doing enough syndrome, so you try to do too many things and can end up with a bit of a burn out or just plain discouraged.

Our curriculum does not have to meet frugal requirements by no means, but it is not necessary to spend a ton of money on curriculum.  There is so much stuff out there.  If you want the planning done for you, then you could possibly pay more.  If you want the whole grade level in a bundle, you will pay more.  I prefer to pick and choose from different places for each subject, which in turn generally minimizes the costs.  I will sell any curriculum we no longer use on ebay to help pay for the next year’s curriculum.

I have also been the proud recipient of some hand me down curriculum that I am either currently using, have used or are saving for the appropriate grade level.

Our 4th Grade Curriculum for Kassie:

  1. Books – reading is a big part of our homeschool.  I am a firm believer that if a child can learn to read well and enjoy it, learning is much easier and more enjoyable.  We get many books from Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap. , the public library, yard sales and thrift stores.  I often refer to the book list Sonlight has in their curriculum for ideas for interesting reads.  As I find books that we want to read, I make note of them in my notebook for future reference.  I try to list an age/grade level next to them when possible.  My kids often request books for presents as well, which makes their momma proud :-)  We usually have three books going at once; a book Kassie reads a loud, a book she reads quietly and a book that I read a loud to her.  Of course this does not include the books she picks to read on her own.  I also sometimes print Unit Studies for some of the books we are reading.  I search (thru Swag Bucks of course) for the name of the book and unit study added to the search to find worksheets, questions and anything else that may help with our reading.  We just did this with Casey At The Bat.
  2. Teaching Textbooks 4 – last year we used Saxon for math, but it has a lot of repetition.  We did like it, and I think it’s a great curriculum, but Kassie was interested in something a little different for this year, and she had tried Teaching Textbooks out before 3rd grade at a convention and really liked it.  Now I will say, Teaching Textbooks is a little behind grade level wise.  I think they are about 1/2 a year off on grade level.  Kassie has already completed 1/4 of the curriculum for the year.  I did know this ahead of time, so we are using the first half or so for review and progressing through it quite fast.  We will start Math 5 after the new year and I feel like that will have us where we should be.  I ordered the curriculum brand new after losing several auctions on ebay for used lots.  This curriculum has a very high resell value.  The used lots on ebay were going for not much less than a brand new, so I just ordered it new.
  3. Bob Jones University Press English 3 – we are almost finished with this book from last year and will be starting one for 4th grade.  I am not sure if we will continue with BJU or chose another.  I am still researching this one.  I bought the book brand new and then purchased the teachers guide used on ebay.  I will definitely resell the teachers guide.
  4. Spelling and reading comprehension – I use the spelling lists and reading comprehension from K12 Reader.  This site has a large amount of worksheets to print and use.
  5. Science – we are using The Usborne Encyclopedia of Planet Earth (Internet Linked) book.  I got this book for $ .99 plus a few dollars shipping on ebay.  It is a great book.  It links to places on the internet through the Usborne website, for more reading, great pictures and videos to learn more about the content you just read.  Field trips are also a great source of our science curriculum.  My kids love to learn hands on.
  6. Typing – we use freetyping for our typing lessons.  The site has great lessons on the keyboard and also allows you to set the goal of words per minute.
  7. Art – We are using the Mike Venezia books for our art curriculum combined with portions of this World’s Greatest Artists Unit Study from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  There is also a World’s Greatest Artists 2.  The Mike Venezia books are books are a great resource for art, music, presidents and more.  We will be using these for much more than just art.
  8. Handwriting – We using A Reason For Handwriting curriculum.  We are finishing up the “T” book we started last year and then we will purchase either “D” or “E”.  Grade level is not a huge factor here after your child learns to write, especially when learning cursive.  We just use a book until we are done.  The curriculum is great in that includes some scripture and scripture lessons.
  9. Social Studies/History – we get the most out of our field trips to the many historic places we visit.  Last year we also took part in an online study of Pilgrims and Thanksgiving that Scholastic had on their website for free.  We are finishing learning the United States at home.  We use a little book I got from target last year for a $1 called 50 Great States, as well as a map, and Sheppard Software.  Kassie reads about each state in her book and on Sheppard software and writes the capital and the state’s abbreviation in her notebook.  I occasionally quiz her on these.  She also plays the Geography games on Sheppard Software.  After we finish the Unites States, we have about a dozen more, we will learn about the United States Presidents.
  10. Bible – the girls watch Veggie Tales on Netflix and Buck Denver What’s In The Bible DVD’s for a break during school and they do their bible reading at night with their daddy.  This is a great way for him to get involved in their learning.  The Buck Denver Series is a a great series put out by the makers of Veggie Tales.  I can highly recommend them.  They have a very high resell value on ebay as well, so it may be best to purchase from the site with a coupon code.

Our Preschool curriculum for Dakota:

  1. Letter of The Week curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  This curriculum has been a lot of fun for Dakota.  Yes we use a lot of ink, but it’s still cheaper than buying a packaged curriculum.  I recycle my ink cartirdges at Staples to earn rewards to purchase more.  I laminated many parts of this curriculum at Mardell.  Our local Mardell charges $ .25 a foot for lamination.  (it’s 2 foot wide too) This curriculum includes most of what a preschooler needs, but doesn’t give too much for a preschooler.  She loves the lacing cards and the cutting and pasting. There are also some really fun games.  Some things we have adapted to use differently, but all in all I love this curriculum.
  2. Books – we read together, Kassie reads to her and she “reads” on her own.
  3. Bible – same as Kassie
  4. Netflix – there are some great learning shows on Netflix.  We are currently watching the Leap Frog ones on the alphabet and numbers.

I often get questioned about socialization in homeschooling, because we all know that the common misconception is that homeschooled kids are unsocialized.  I promise you that this is not the case.  My girls are very socialized, but they are also well mannered.  They have learned to talk to people of all ages.  They have learned to figure things out for themselves.  They have learned where to go to figure things out.  They take part on sports teams, church activities and attend field trips and play dates with friends.  They really have the best of both worlds.

In publishing this post I am in no way saying anyone should or shouldn’t homeschool.  I just put the information out there for anyone that has wondered about the curriculum we use or anyone considering homeschooling.  I also feel some of these resources are very helpful to public school students and teachers.  We had been against homeschooling in the past, but as we supplemented our children at home more and more to make up for things we felt they were not getting, we changed our opinion.  Homeschooling works for us, it may not work for everyone.  It may not be something we do forever, but for now it’s the best choice.  The most important thing regardless of your schooling method is that the parent stays on top of what the child is learning.  The parent must remain proactive and very involved.

I’ll end with a picture or two from our most recent field trip to Mid America Science Museum Homeschool Days.

Coming soon:  School helpers and resources.  I will share a list of helpful sites to help with  homeschoolers and those just wanting to supplement their children’s education.

Making a habit out of living frugal …..

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