Friday, February 10, 2012

Beginner's Guide to Homeschooling: Curriculum is Fancy Talk for Books.

I suspect that the women who work at the post office think I'm a shopaholic on account of the many parcels I receive. I do shop online frequently for clothing and housewares (such is life in a small town), but the bulk of packages are homeschool curriculum. Based upon four years of homeschooling, here are some titles I recommend:

For Language Arts...
Handwriting Without Tears
My eldest son used this program in kindergarten, and I carried on using it at home. For my left-handed kids it was great until grade 3. At that point the program transitions to cursive. Zarf enjoyed the exercises but he could not decipher the shapes he was making. I now use StartWrite software to create custom worksheets using HWT style script.  If I had it to do over again, I'd be inclined to try Explode The Code.
Daily Word Ladders, by Timothy V. Rasinski
6+1 Traits of Writing, by Ruth Culham
In the last 10 years a fundamental shift has occurred in elementary schools in North America toward a literacy based curriculum. This system is a very popular book with teachers and breaks down the process of teaching writing proficiency.
Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington

For Math...
Developed by Canadians for Canadians -- don't underestimate the importance of having a curriculum that uses metric, Celsius, Canadian currency and incorporates Canadiana into the questions:

Math Dictionary (Canadian edition)
Great reference tool that I use frequently.
Shuffling Into Math

For Social Studies...
Modern History Through Canadian Eyes, by Heather Penner
This book is a spine -- a book that offers a framework for incorporating many resources into a cohesive program. Many of the following titles are recommended by Penner.

My First History of Canada, by Donalda Dickie
The Story of the World, by Susan Wise Bauer
A Little History of the World, by EH Gombrich
Canadian History for Dummies, by Will Ferguson
Discovering Canada series, by Robert Livesey
A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World
Gold Rush Fever, by Barbara Greenwood
The Kids Book of..., by Kids Can Press
Who Runs This Country Anyway, by Joanne Stanbridge
How to Build Your Own Country, by Valerie Wyatt

For Science...
Science: A Closer Look, by Macmillan/McGraw-Hill
I can not say enough about these textbooks. They're designed for use in schools (and hence are hard to find and relatively expensive) and lay out a comprehensive program. I use them as a spine and incorporate other resources and documentaries. 
REAL Science Odyssey, by Pandia Press
A great series developed by a homeschooling mother that is based on fact not propaganda by fundamentalist fear mongers who like their "science" all tied up in a nice, neat package. My only complaint is that the titles do not jive with the Canadian model of integrating life science, earth science and physical science into every school year.
Change It, by Adrienne Mason
Move It, by Adrienne Mason
Build It, by Adrienne Mason
Touch It, by Adrienne Mason
Evolution Revolution, by Robert Winston
Head to Toe Science, by Jim Wiese
Darwin and Evolution for Kids, by Kristan Lawson
Science Is..., by Susan V. Bosak
Usborne 100 Science Experiments
Teaching Science: Yes, You Can!, by Steve Tomecek
Exploring the Solar System, by Mary Kay Carson

For Fine Arts...
The Big Book of Quick and Easy Art Activities, by Linda M. Bentley
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Cartooning But Were Afraid to Draw, by Christopher Hart
I really like Christopher Hart's books which do an excellent job of breaking down drawings into small steps based upon easily copied geometric shapes.
Drawing With Children, by Mona Brooks
The Usborne Book of Famous Paintings

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This is the third post in a series. Part 1 was a list of books for Canadians contemplating homeschooling. Deciding what to teach your child and when, was the subject of Part 2. I'll be doing one more post about "Shit you should think about buying because it will make your life easier."

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Anyone have titles they want to recommend? Or titles they want to complain about? Please share.


  1. I need more time to go through all this...thanks for doing this. I am always looking for new ideas for enriching learning around here.

  2. What about that book that tells us that dinosaurs existed at the same time as cavemen? And UFOs, Religion and You? Sadly lacking, Nan, sadly lacking. Tsk.