There are so many different homeschool curricula out there to choose from. How is a family to decide? You can buy some that sounds good, try it out, and see how it goes. You can borrow from other homeschooling families. Or you can look for a homeschool curriculum review! Reviews give you a good idea of how the curriculum works without having to spend anything, and are a valuable resource for new homeschool families and those looking to try something new.
I am an Ecclectic type homeschooler, meaning that rather than purchasing an all in 1 curriculum, I like to mix and match. For my kids I use a mix of things I create, and purchased curriculum. This helps keep costs down. It also works great for my kids, who each have a different learning style and different tastes. For this past year we used purchased curriculum for Bible, Math, and Science.
More than Words Level 1 – Homeschool Curriculum Review
More than Words is a curriculum created by Masterbooks. It is a workbook style Bible curriculum, so you write and do activities right in the same book the lessons are in. There is no separate teacher’s manual for it, but you really don’t need one. This curriculum is “open-and-go” and needs only basic school supplies to complete it. Its a 4 lesson per week, 36 week course, split into 4 quarters, with a review week at the end of each quarter.
Right off the bat I liked the simplicity of teaching this curriculum. No prep work needed and no special supplies. Just a comfy place to sit, a Bible, a pencil, and colored pencils! I liked the progression of the curriculum, starting with who God is, who we are to God, how to live a Christian life, and how to have a relationship with God. These are important things for our children to know! I also liked that they include an art, hymn, or poetry study each week that relates to the week’s key truth. Some of these key truths include “God knows everything” and “I can talk to God.”
One lesson each week in More than Words Level 1 is a character study. The curriculum teaches the children about good character traits such as Thankful and Courageous. I loved this idea, but in my opinion the curriculum executed these studies poorly. Every week is simply a new trait explained using its synonyms and antonyms, and a coloring page that may or may not illustrate the trait. I believe a lot more could have been done with the character traits, such as examples of living out each trait, or including Bible stories where characters exemplify those traits. The lack of “meat” in this area was very disappointing to me.
Overall, I would give this curriculum a 4 out of 5 stars review. I would recommend it, especially for early elementary grades. I do suggest that anyone wanting to use this curriculum supplement it with more resources on the character traits, though.
Math Lessons for a Living Education Review
Math Lessons for a Living Education is also by Masterbooks. This is their elementary math program. We used levels 2 and 3 for this past school year. This curriculum is also workbook style, with 36 lessons broken into short daily sessions. Like More than Words, it is “open-and-go” and only uses basic basic supplies.
The curriculum teaches the math lessons like a story, which works well for many children to get them engaged and apply the lessons to real life. The books are full color, which aides in keeping their attention as well. Each day’s lesson only take about 15 minutes to complete, which makes it easy on the students and the parents!
My kids did not like the story format. My son doing level 2 was especially bored by it. To me it did seem to read very young, almost like a kindergarten early reader book, even though these were supposed to be 2nd and 3rd grade level math books. I personally didn’t care for the course progression either. It is supposed to be a mastery approach curriculum, however there is not enough practice of each skill, and the skills that I believe should go together are spread throughout the book. For example, on one lesson it will teach telling time to the hour and half hour. Then a couple lessons later it will get into quarter hours. Finally several lessons later it will go back to telling time to teach reading the 5 minute and one minute marks. That kind of progression doesn’t make sense to me.
Because this curriculum did not work for us, which made me choose to stop using it and switch mid-year, I have to give it 2 out of 5 stars. However, what works for some families and some children doesn’t work for everyone, so make sure to check another homeschool curriculum review or two before making a final decision.
Exploring Creation with Astronomy Review
Exploring Creation with Astronomy is an elementary science curriculum by Apologia. The material is divided into 14 lessons, and includes the history of astronomy, everything that makes up our solar system, what is known about space beyond our galaxy, and more. All taught from a biblical world view; always pointing to the goodness and beauty of God’s perfect design. For this curriculum I purchased the textbook, the Notebooking Journal, and the Junior Notebooking Journal.
This curriculum is a wealth of information, in only 216 pages! Every lesson is thoroughly covered, but its taught in such a way that it doesn’t get boring or tedious. All throughout each lesson there are opportunities for hands on activities that go along with the topic, from putting together a homemade telescope, to building a volcano, to making clouds in a jar! Even better is that these projects and experiments use mostly everyday items you probably already have at home. The optional Notebooking Journals have even more activities, including pages for notes and vocabulary review crossword puzzles. These journals come in an original and a junior version, so this curriculum can be taught to multiple grade levels at the same time! Finally, there are even more free teaching resources on Apologia’s website, or you can even purchase a digital version of the curriculum.
The only thing my kids disliked about this curriculum was part of the notebooking journals. Each lesson has several mini-books that can be created to review the material, and my kids were not a fan of making them after the first couple lessons. I also found myself wishing there were more pages for them to take notes in the journals. During some of the lessons my kids had to squeeze their notes into the margins.
Overall, I give this curriculum 5 out of 5 stars! We LOVED it, and highly recommend it! Because of this we plan to continue to use Apologia for our Science curriculum.
The 2020-2021 School Year and a Future Homeschool Curriculum Review!
For this coming year I decided to purchase curriculum for my children’s core classes, and only create the “more fun” lessons like art and literature myself. While a little more expensive for us, it saves me a lot of time. And, that means I will have more for you next year when I do my homeschool curriculum review! This year we are using:
- Math U See of different levels for each of my 3 children.
- Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Chemestry and Physics for all of them.
- BJU’s English: Writing and Grammar levels 3 and 6
- Explode the Code levels A-C (and hopefully moving up to level 1)
- Notgrass’s US History curricula – Our Star Spangled Story for elementary and America the Beautiful for middle grades
- 180 Days of Geography for Kindergarten
I am already working on another post where I will share what I’ll have them doing for our literature studies this year. That post will come with a freebie as well!! So if you haven’t yet, make sure to fill out the form (below or in the sidebar) to become a site member. Then you will get emails when I publish new posts, and have access to my Freebie Library!
What homeschool curricula has your family used? What did you like and dislike about it? Please share in the comments to help other families make their choices for the coming school year! Thank you!