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Winners and losers this year

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As we're all looking ahead to next year, I thought it might be useful to share which curricula/books/classes/resources worked for our students and which were disappointing. Please share the reasons for your ratings, as well as the grade.


For us, 7th grade but above grade-level:




Art of Problem Solving books(Intro to Algebra covering Alg 1 and Alg 2, Intro to Counting and Probability, Geometry)----dd appreciates not being "told" math concepts, she enjoys the thoughtful problems, and she likes that she doesn't have to do 25 of the same.exact.problem every day!


Word Within the Word (Michael Clay Thompson) for vocabulary----excellent and rigorous method of learning roots (Latin, Greek, Old English/German/French) and words with 20 "lists" of 25 roots each followed by 10 "lists" of 25 words based on the learned roots. This is not for the faint of heart! Nor is it for anyone who wants to do a "list" per week! Dd takes 6-8 school days to work through the various activities and review the previously learned roots and words. We are just finishing up List 29 after starting in October of sixth grade.


Globe Trekker DVDs as part of world geography. Seeing reinforces the reading she is doing. I must caution that a few episodes are a little more adult than I would like, specifically one of the Caribbean episodes (sexualized dancing--dh watched that one w her) and Thailand (sex worker industry---would be very good for a high school student to watch---luckily I was able to skip right over that section).


Doing our own thing for science based on her Science Olympiad events (see my signature for results :D) She studied mechanics, astronomy, electricity and magnetism, and delved deeper into geology and tree botany. We used two non-major college texts (College Physics by Knight, Earth Science by Tarbuck) as well as field guides, the free open source Stellarium program, piles of balsa and bass wood, and Internet resources. We talked, talked, and talked. I didn't worry about a school schedule-----if she was deep into a topic and we didn't get to history that day, so be it.




American Chemical Society Middle School Chemistry Sigh. I really wanted this to be fabulous. I spent a lot of time during the summer prepping all the lessons. Dd hated it :( It was way, way, way too simplistic for her. She had been exposed to almost all the concepts (except bonding) while studying for two Science Olympiad events the previous year. I think it would work well for a student who has little or no exposure to physical science.

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Winners for us:


MCT: Caesar's English I and II, Mud Trilogy (only understandable after Sentence Island and PT), Grammar Voyage and Practice books.


Spelling: IEW's Phonetic Zoo


Math U See


Writing: IEW B


Logic: Intro to Logic James Nance, with DVDs and workbook




Philosphy for Kids: We've had loads of fun with this.


SOTW: we've finished all 4 books, but it's worth a mention as it's so enjoyable




WWS did not work for us, and I think it is only because my son was too young for it. I wish I'd started it when he was older.


Shurley Grammar (so glad we found MCT!)

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We've had a pretty good year. I can't think of much for duds.




Where the Brook and River Meet, which is a study based on the Annotated Anne of Green Gables, and a homemade Annotated Hobbit study done in the same fashion (somewhat) (7th-8th) - The kids adored these, learned tons, and fell even more in love with the annotated work.


Art of Poetry from CAP - Excellent. Enjoyable. They both understand poetry on a whole new level now, and I learned from it as well.


Our other core subjects were nearly all just continuing in the series we've used for some time.



I don't know that we had any outright losers. Perhaps a couple duds, good books that I'd still recommend, but just didn't work out for this year.

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MCT - finishing up the Town level and starting Voyage. My special love is reserved for Caesar's English, both volumes, they are wonderful! We have also really enjoyed Paragraph Town and Essay Voyage - not for writing assignments, but for discussion and deeper understanding about the process and goals of academic writing.


LOE for spelling only, using the Advanced spelling list. She's finally learning to spell!! The workbook programs never translated into long term memory, but the Spelling Dictation method is making her really think about words and spelling rules. It's starting to translate into her writing, too - many fewer spelling errors. And she thinks about how to spell things, now!


Homegrown Science - we've had a fantastic year doing biology, mostly using resources I've pulled together. We did work on how to use the microscope, but other than that, it's been content-based, not lab-based. Twice a week, she did her own chosen topics (entomology & WP's Equine Science). She also did McHenry's new Botany unit, and enjoyed that. We'll also finish SOS:Aristotle leads the way before the end of the year. It's been a really full but really successful year!



BFSU: I really *wanted* to love and use this, but the ratio of prep time to lesson time was way off. We dropped it early in the year.

Latin: We did the first half of Latin Prep 1, then decided to drop Latin. Nothing against the curriculum, it was excellent, though very fast-moving and intense. I do have regrets, but there just isn't time for everything in the day.



Love-Hate: I'm kind of having a love-hate relationship with WWS. She has learned a lot from it - a lot!! and I am very grateful for the incremental writing instruction, but the parts-to-whole style isn't the best fit. What I'm realizing is that I need to use the curriculum to teach writing, rather than expecting the curriculum to do the teaching. I know, duh! I do plan to keep using it. But I also plan to spend this summer surrounded by a pile of writing books, and use them to help me create a more "home-grown" plan for teaching writing, incorporating the lessons from WWS but adapting the style, and perhaps even content, and use it in writing across the curriculum much more next year.

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DD the Elder:

Winners: AoPS and Alcumus, history with many resources

No real losers


DD the Younger:

Winners: WWE, Sequential Spelling, MEP math

Losers: GWG/SWS

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Winners: Ds is in sixth grade:


Rightstart Math: it's been great for him from the beginning, and we are finishing Level G now and moving on


Latin Prep: finished 1, now working on 2. Has learned so much vocab, grammar, and logic from LP and it's translated nicely to English learning


WWS: I can't say enough about how this has helped my pretty reluctant writer. He has growing confidence!


Teaching company science courses. For Earth Science and Astronomy this year, he's watched My Favorite Universe and is now a Neil DeGrasse Tyson fan, but also watched Intro to Black Holes and is a big Alex Filippenko fan! I never thought my 11 yo would be able to watch, much less (partly) comprehend this course, but he loved it and we learned SO MUCH. We've also used several books, too many to mention here. I may have a young astronomer.


Losers: no real losers, but I feel a bit like a loser for not getting together a real science project. His interest wasn't strong and he felt more drawn to the astronomy resources that don't lend themselves well to real research.

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**** meant to say this is about my 5th grader:


We haven't dropped anything completely, but biggest DUD was probably the MP History of Medicine guides. ( didn't have dd do them. The Tiner book itself was great. There were questions and activitiy ideas at the end of each chapter, so I just had her answer those. The worksheets were unnecessary for us. That may be because of another


WINNER that I had: Prentice Hall Science Explorers 6th grade book. This was done at co-op, and it was mostly so good because of all of the hands on and projects her teacher so artfully put together for them though. I won't continue on with the series on my own at home.


WINNER: also, we really enjoyed the MP Bird Unit from the 5th grade science set. We learned a lot about birds, and have continued on with bird watching with our guides long after we finished the unit.


Another DUD was the MP Christian Studies I workbook. Again, we didn't drop the program. I ended up dropping the workbook and using the T.M. as a guide and had dds notebook each lesson. I have copied coloring pages from other books and had them do copywork, take notes, and definitions to make nice Bible notebooks instead.


OTHER WINNERS: WTM style logic stage history, Classical House of Learning Literature Ancients study alongside history, and Apologia Zoology I Notebook for my elem dd. I don't care much about the text, but the notebook is great for my 3rd grader. I read the text on my own some, and we get library videos, do the cut/paste stuff, and activities from the journal.


All of our core stuff we will continue with (Rod and Staff math, English, spelling, and MP latin.) no complaints there.

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Winners: Hake Grammar and Writing, Dancing Bears, Houghton Mifflin Math


Losers: Apples and Pears, History Odyssey


My daughter really likes the Grammar and Writing. She chose it after FLL4 because she thought it seemed most similar. She recently complained that there was too much review, so we cut it down to doing the odd exercises on odd days and the even exercises on even days, and she's very happy again. I think it is very comprehensive, and I like that it's independent.


My son enjoyed Dancing Bears for the silly ongoing story and the challenge of getting each line marked correct. His reading improved quite a bit (he's in 4th grade but was probably reading on a 2nd-grade level when we started). He was sad when he finished it.


I got the Houghton Mifflin math (1985 edition!) from the library to supplement my son's Teaching Textbooks math, and he likes the book so much he says he just wants to do the book next year. Saves me a ton of $$$!


Apples and Pears was very frustrating for my son. He worked so hard during the exercises, for several weeks, and then we would get to an assessment and he would fail it. It seems to rely a lot on visual memory, and my son's is very poor. Unlike what was stated in the book, that kids don't mind going back because they would rather work on something that's not too hard for them, my son felt defeated every time he failed. I finally shelved it because it wasn't worth the drama. I'm becoming more of the opinion that spelling proficiency is tied to reading proficiency, and I'd rather focus on reading at this point.


History Odyssey: scattered, boring, overwhelming. Sucked the joy out of history. 'Nuff said.



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Well we went from being ra-RA fans of Saxon to greatly disliking it. There is zero critical thinking or application, too much busy work, overwhelming amounts of problems. Then when I tried to cut problems out my son started failing tests. So we had to back up and restart twice.


It might WORK but I cannot conceive of a more discouraging way to teach math.



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DD#1 is a young 6th grader.




Fallacy Detective -- We did one or two lessons per week at a very relaxed pace -- taking turns reading & responding to the questions in each lesson. DD liked the one-on-one time, the fact that sometimes we didn't agree with the "answers" in the back, and the rabbit trails we were able to take because of some of the material. DD#1 has started to listen in on adult conversations (that she's previously ignored & some of which she shouldn't be listening in on) and also listens to the commercials & news on her alarm clock radio. This book has helped her to understand the types of conning that politicians in their ads and commercials try to swindle you with.




MegaWords -- I disliked it because I was really hoping it wouldn't be as big of a time suck as it was. The method used didn't resonate with me at all. It seemed like a bunch of busywork. DD disliked it because she thought it was either too easy or too disjointed (depending on the list). It did NOT translate into her spelling any better -- either according to the book or in her writing. So, while it looked like a great program, it wasn't a good fit for US. We returned to time-intensive, but-at-least-it-works-eventually SWR.

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Literary Lesson from the Lord of the Rings: We all love it this including most of the Unit Studies.


WWS: Both boys improve their writing so much with this


Shakespeare with coop class






RightStart Geometry (We loved the earlier levels)

Science in general: We are just too loosey-goosey this year.

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Winners: Newton at the Center The Quest for this is better and has more activities than Aristotle. (5th & 8th)


Sonlight H Great books! (2nd, 5th & 8th)


First Language Lessons I didn't like this for my first two, but it worked for my youngest. (2nd)




Loser The Rainbow Science -- not enough depth, experiments were simple or just worksheets

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With a 4th grader and a 6th grader



Doing our own thing for science. We're using Dr. Art's Guide to Science as a spine, and we add in relevant material from PH Science Explorers books, lots of documentaries.


Reading Pathways: making a huge difference with my late reading dd


K12's History Odyssey: We started this in January as a last-ditch effort to really get some history in,and we LOVE it!



While I love LOF, it just was not working for us. :(


BFSU - I really, really wanted to love this. I tried. And then I tried again. And again a couple more times. Too much set-up for not enough results.


In the Middle:

I'm not thrilled with Soaring with Spelling. Just isn' wowing me, or making that huge a difference in ds's spelling


Brave Writer: I LOVE the ideas, but seem to have issues implementing them.

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For my sixth grader:


Winners: AoPS pre-algebra: I'm loving this program. It is teaching me things along with DS.


Getting Started with Latin: Both my 6th and 3rd graders are absolutely loving this. They fight over who is going to translate the sentences.


Figuratively Speaking: Great, simple, but effective program.


Losers: LOF pre algebra: Too simplistic, with too much added nonsense.


Memoria Press Lit: Lots of busywork with no real meat.

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5th grade



Figuratively Speaking. Only partway through but it is great.

k12 Human Odyssey Ancients along with Oxfords First History of the Ancient World (oop)

Dolciani Pre A

Lone Pine Latin 100: hard, intense, fun, engaging..among the best choices I have made for DS.


Kiss Grammar

story of science



CPO Life Science. Wasnt a fit for us, and i had high hopes. Text was too dry, so we are using it as a guide to make sure we cover everything, and replacing with living books and Science Essentials Grades 5-6. Still doing the experiments, however.







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Patty paper geometry

Martin Gardner anything


MCT island



IEW. Ds didn't like the close hand holding. Perhaps I can try it later for specific writing styles.

MCT poetry. Not MCT's fault- ds doesn't see beauty in poetry in general.



For science, whats been terrific is a host of self reads that started with physics and is currently at chemistry. I cant keep up fast enough to come up with a more indepth plan, so its on its own spiral. Coursera's How Thing's Work is great but we want to spend a lot of time going sideways with the ideas. Working on being more coordinated and broadening out to more subjects next year. :D

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Winners gor 8th grade


WSS 1: very glad we waited till this year to use this as my son has need only a little bit of input from me on a daily basis. He likes SWB's teaching style and her expectations for each lesson are clearly laid out for him.


LOF Algebra 1 with some supplementing Lials intro to Algebra


Apologia physical science...not the most exciting, but got the job done.


Classical Academic Press's Discovery of Deduction: it explained difficult topics well and I loved the teacher manual!


Sonlight core 100: loved the Hakim series and most of the books in this core (though we do leave out the bible portion), but there are a few too many "childish" books according to my son. Bonanza Girl, Keeping Score, Bound for Oregon and few others just felt like the same plot written for different time periods. This is our last core with Sonlight and I'll miss the IG, but its time for something new!


Middle of the road:


Rod and staff English 8: so glad to be done with this series! It taught the grammar well, but oy, we're tired of farming sentences!


Third Form Latin. Loved the first two books in this series, but just got bogged down in this book, then it seems we would just start over again in Henle if we followed their suggestions, so we're switching to Lone Pine Latin...time to outsource this one.

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  • Doing our own thing for math... I had no idea I could, but I feel confident that we're focusing on areas that need focus and avoiding busy-work.
  • History Portfolio. The girls have gorgeous portfolios full of the things they've learned.
  • Human Odyssey -- a great resource
  • Story of Science -- Hakim is awesome
  • McHenry Science -- Cells was amazing, botany was great, human body worksheets were okay, starting the Brain in a few weeks! Can't wait!
  • Latin Prep -- We take it really slow because it's not a priority, but it's working well.


Losers: Not really anything... As a supplement, Lyrical Life Science and LOF Pre-Algebra have been weaker than others, but not really that bad!

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Winners (for 8th grade DS):

AoPS Intro to Algebra. We love the JOY the program radiates, the discovery based method, the thorough conceptual explanations, the varied problems.

Prego! An Invitation to Italian. Good resources for grammar and listening practice; book, workbook, lab manual and CDs make a nice complete course.



LLLoTR. Too much busy work. We don't get the hype.

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Ack I forgot about the AoPS AMC8 prep class. Ds loves! I've walked by the computer pre and post the class, when the kids hangout to chat for a bit. They're all just awesome and fun. DS is game for another despite disliking the time slot.

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For ds, currently working at a 5th - 9th grade level, depending on the subject.




A World of Adventure - I love that I can choose my own resources for history and science. The spelling and grammar are very light so far, but the lit has been very enjoyable and ds has learned a ton. I think of AWOA as a road map to keep me going in the right direction.

Dorothy Mills books, reprinted by Memoria Press - ds really enjoys these.

Heritage History cds - some of the content needs editing, but many enjoyable reads here. Ds just really loves older books.

Easy Grammar - It may not be what I would choose for myself, but it has been great for ds and he is really learning a lot with this program.

The Happy Scientist - best $10 I ever spent. Ds really gets a kick out of the bloopers at the end of his videos. I wish he was a family member that we could go visit!


Kind of a loser, but I managed to salvage it:

Subscription to Notebooking Pages - Ds is not a notebooker! I love the idea of notebooking and I'm sure it is great for some people, but not ds. What I do now is print off some pages to write my own comprehension questions for history and other readings. He will use an occasional page for a short report.

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Winners for us this year....


MCT Town and Hake Combo. We had a slow start for LA this year, trying to figure out what to use. I realized we missed MCT a lot, and the addition of Hake settled any concerns I had about MCT not teaching mechanics or providing review. My son really likes them both too.


MM and LOF combo. (See a theme here!?!) They're both fairly independent and click for DS. We went through so many math programs last year and it was rough, so I'm really happy this is going well. Once we are done with MM next year, we are trying AoPS pre algebra.


Getting Started with Spanish. DS is loving language study and this was a perfect introduction.


Mindbenders and logic books. He flies through them and begs for more.


Overall it's been a good year. We had our bearings a LOT more than last year! Looking forward to continuing with most of the above next year and adding more goodies!

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For ds13:



AOPS - difficult, but The Kid has learned so much!

WWS - provided the backbone he needed desperately.

Coursera - yay for introducing my kid to online courses! It has provided the trifecta: free, kept his interest, and lets him work under someone else.

DuoLingo - again, it's got the trifecta. And we're having family competitions, too! It has worked much better for him than Rosetta stone, Mango, and simple immersion.


Losers -

Mr. Q's Advanced Chem - rapid fire topics, not much building or working deeply while working at a higher level.



Learning Adventures - seriously, good program, but it had a few deficits that we addressed. History was often done as a lecture, so we added in Jackdaws, History Animated, and other books. The science was simplistic so we dropped it. But the reading material, grammar and writing all tied in with what he should be learning and was just slow enough in the writing department to address skills he tried to hurry through.

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Caesar's English I: My ds has really enjoyed this curriculum. We had used English From the Roots

Up for a couple of years so he already knows a lot of the roots/stems, but he has enjoyed learning

the 'classic' and 'nonfiction' words. He enjoys working his new vocabulary words into his writing

and finding them in books we read.


Lial's Introductory Algebra: After getting off to a rough start with Jacobs, Lial's saved algebra for

us this year. We like the presentation of new concepts with color-coded examples. We like the

cumulative review at the end of each chapter. My son had grown weary of constant review in

Saxon so the periodic review was a big hit. He knows he needs the review, but doesn't like having

it with every lesson.


American Chemical Society's Middle School Chemistry: Though not all of the lessons had

exciting experiments, my ds enjoyed having a hands-on activity to demonstrate each new idea. He

has had good retention of the material and has enjoyed it so much that, as of now, he plans to

major in chemistry in college. I must admit though that the stoichiometry in LOF Pre-Algebra with

Biology piqued his interest in chemistry. He just loves balancing equations. :)


Life of Fred Beginning Algebra: Ds just loves Fred. :001_smile:




Jacobs Beginning Algebra: Though my ds enjoyed the cartoons at the beginning of each chapter,

he soon grew to dislike the curriculum. It just was not a good fit for us.



Love-hate/On the fence about:

WWS: My ds has not enjoyed WWS most of the time, though he has been proud of some of the

things he has written this year, which he could not have done a year ago. Part of the problem is

that he likes variety and has not enjoyed that he does the same thing each week: narration,

outline, topos, longer narration. I'm undecided if we are going to continue with WWS or use

another curriculum for fall.

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This is for 6th grade and we are first year-homeschoolers.



Rod and Staff Spelling 7. DS doesn't particularly ENJOY this, but I think that he appreciates it. I love the exercises - they remind me of word-gymnastics. And we both like the linguistics sections.


Rod and Staff English. Grammar only. An all-around happy.


Figuratively Speaking. We have only done a handful of the lessons, but I think this is a great workbook.


Mapping the World with Art. My personal favorite:) Again, we have only done a few of the drawings so far but I can plan to use parts of this program over multiple years.


Maps Charts and Graphs. Gets the job done.


Math Mammoth. Another all-around happy...with the caveat that we are heavily supplementing so that MM6 will serve as prealgebra.


Smart Art (Prufrock Press). After floundering around with art, we have finally found a clear winner for a spine. We have access to great art museums, and Smart Art really focuses on critiquing art. I am pulling in other resources for art instruction, and I am really happy with the result.


Kid Coder. Fun for DS, and he does it completely on his own.






WWS. I love the framework, but my vision was for DS to write across the curriculum. I have modified WWS to fit my vision, but this has caused us to move slowly through the book. And we like more variety, so we take breaks from WWS. Which makes me feel like the book is taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R, a feeling that I do not enjoy!!


Caesar's English. DS really enjoys this, but we seem to have a hard time getting around to it. I wish that I would have bought the older, more concise version. We skip so much that I probably would have been happier that way. CE is a nice complement to R & S Spelling, but I find it difficult to make time for both.


K12 Human Odyssey. We started out with the online class, but we ditched that. But the textbook is a keeper. From this point forward, I am planning to pair it up with writing assignments from CTT History.




Draw Squad

IXL Math

Trail Guides to Geography

Checklists. :glare:

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Winners for 7th grade:


AoPS Pre-Algebra with the online class. I don't think this would have done as well without the online class.


WWS 2. We did WWS1 last year and were lucky enough to beta WWS2.


Kolbe Lit: I like how it has great overlap with TWTM reading list. I like the discussion questions, don't use the writing assignments. However, the best lit program in the world will not hunt your kids down and MAKE him do the reading. You still have to do that. So sad about that part.


My make my own history, lol. I finally feel like we have a groove.



Also the ACS chemistry. I also spend the summer prepping the lessons etc and thought it was going to be great. It was much, much too easy for a middle schooler. Or, at least my middle schooler. We ended up redoing Elements, adding in the chem section from CPO physical science and we are finishing up the year with Carbon Chem. So those have all been winners, lol.

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7th grade winners:

WWS - no teacher prep and she feels more confident.

k12 Human Odyssey - She loves reading it and I have her do a few worksheets from the student manual.


Apologia General Science - slow start, but now she does it independantly and does experiments with a friend once a week. Lab kit well worth it!

Jesus Calling - Daily devotions that are short and personal.

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5th grade




Human Odyssey-We both adore this book. It's so well written and interesting! We use some of the student pages, but they are really meant for older students, and Indy's not quite up to some of them. I still have him do the reading guides though, so I know he got what we read. I wish there were more offline options though.


GSWL-Indy was so sad when we finished this book. He got so excited when I pulled it out. I wish they had more books in a series.


Elemental Science Earth and Space-I cannot tell you how much we both enjoy this program. We did half a year of CPO and both found it dull, but ES is fun and interesting and he retains it.


Philosophy for Kids-OMG, I ♥♥♥ this book. Indy and I have had some great discussions and occasionally felt like our brains were going to explode.


Wordsmith Apprentice-I wish we'd found this sooner! It's really helping him feel more confident and he thinks it's fun, so that's a bonus.


Phonetic Zoo-Holy cow do I wish we'd done this program sooner. His spelling has greatly improved. His spelling is not fantastic by any means, because of his dyslexia, but this has really brought it up.




CPO Earth Science-BORING. It was...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz <-See, I couldn't even talk about it without falling asleep.


History Odyssey-We've used it in the past and it's been okay, but in trying to pair it with Human Odyssey, I nearly went nuts. They are done in a different order, so we were bopping around in the book and it was too confusing


Mixed (we will continue using these though):


Latin Prep I-There's nothing wrong with it at all, but Indy says GSWL was better. He liked just one word being introduced at a time (we did 1-2 lessons/day), as opposed to there being a list of words for each chapter. He already knows a lot of the words, so that's good, but it's not the same.


GP's Introduction to Classical Greek-This is by far the best non-Konine Greek book I've seen, but it really needs more explanations IMO. Still, he's learning it well, it's just slow going and he could really do with more exercises and explanations. I wish it had a workbook.

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Winners across all grades (6th, 4th, 1st, and K):


Getting Started with Latin: easy to implement--open and go--and my kids love translating


AAS: We have used this for a couple years now, but I thought I'd include it because it saved spelling for us and I use it to teach my youngers to read. It's also open and go and sets up a great system for introducing new sounds and rules and reviewing the old ones.


Winner for 4th and 6th grade:


Killgallon Sentence Composing for Elementary School: we were suffering with writing for a few years and this is just what we needed to gently start us moving toward thinking about how to compose a good sentence. We're going to step up to something better (or pair it with something) for next year, but it was filled with easy, fun (for my kids, anyway--it reminded them of puzzles) activities to do which made them think about HOW to compose a sentence and made them think they could write.


Winner for 1st and K;


Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization: my kids love this because they like the poems and I like it because it's open and go and I don't have to come up with the poems to memorize (which we would do without this, but this makes it so.much.easier.)





TOG: this has nothing to do with the curriculum and everything to do with how I don't like to plan (have I mentioned open and go in this post?)

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Our favorites this year:


Art of Problem Solving Books - (I own Pre-Algebra, Intro to Algebra, Counting & Probability, Number Theory, Geometry, Intermediate Algebra, and Volume I: The Basics). My daughter did well on the AMC8 and brought home a MathCounts trophy this spring, and I know these books were a great help in her training.


We've also enjoyed Mapping the World with Art. We are nearing the end, but we still look forward to this program. I have the video course and book.


No big losers this year.

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Veritas Press Self Paced 1850-modern with lit

Kids love it. I'm happy.


BJU 6 Science with DVD - all everyone said it would be. If I got a new pet I loved I'd name it 'Mrs. Vick'. Moving to 7 next year.


IEW Coninuation A. Gets it done. Mr. P is funny.


Saxon Algebra 1/2 with Art Reed DVDs. Awesome. First math change for us in 5 years and I'm very happy.


Horizon 5 and 6 - Great. Again. Love it.


Homeshool Tracker -

I'm getting it!! It's taken years but the HST fog is lifting!!



CLE LA - OK - its awesome. We're going back next year. I just needed a break. So did the kids. But it really is great. And tedious. LOL





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CC Foundations and Essentials - huge winner. I've seen huge growth in my ds and dd in writing and grammar that we would never have accomplished on our own.


CLE Math


Phonetic Zoo


Apologia General Science - it got done!


Losers (for my 8th grader):


Horizons Pre-algebra


Analytical Grammar


They are all fine programs.... but didn't quite work with our implementation, LOL.

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You know what though, it's absolutely worth every penny. It works so well, I would have paid more. But don't tell them that!


Good to know. I have got one that my need it. I didn't swing for anything high $ last year, but I am exploring options this year. So what did you need and use, did you buy the flashcards, or could I make my own? Anywhere to save $?

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For my 5th grader.




IEW - the only good thing to come of CC for us this year


Hake Grammar - LOVE that my not-so-diligient/motivated son could do this on his own. He actually loves it, even moreso for this reason.


Elemental Science - we've been using this since 1st grade, and I'm really enjoying how parts can be done independently


Type to Learn 4 - he loves this. Again it is something he can take ownership over.




Classical Conversations (foundations and essentials) - bad fit for us. I don't like the memory without context idea behind it. We didn't get nearly enough out of it to justify giving up one whole school day per week.


History Odyssey - cannot explain my level of hatred for this program. My son now hates history, which used to be his favorite. Only plus is it has helped him learn to outline. Wish it would help him learn some history. Why does the assignment say "write a short summary of x" when the material only provides one sentence about x (and said sentence is usually a random factoid in a caption under a picture)?


WWS - Great program, but we just were not ready for it. At all. Hopefully a few years of IEW will get us back to this.

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Hmm... This is kinda long but I enjoyed typing it up. It made me think through why we do and don't like some programs. Maybe it will help me with future purchases.




Rod and Staff Math - After dealing with daily tears over Saxon math last year, I wanted to try something completely different for my DS in 4th grade who generally "gets math" but needs a lot of practice to convert things to rote memory. The Mastery, no fluff, style of R&S just clicked for him and we are flying through math now. He finally has all his math facts memorized and loves math again. He loves how R&S takes one concept and builds on it over several lessons. He will often work through more than one lesson a day until we reach the level of difficulty in which he needs to practice so he doesn't feel like he wasting time. I think it has also done a great job of teaching "how to do" story problems. He has covered 2 years of math this year and will be doing R&S math 6 in the fall - putting him on track for Algebra in 8th grade. My DD in 2nd grade is doing well with it too. The triplets Buds and Bees is really driving home those basic math facts. Although, she has complained that Saxon was easier and had more coloring (ie she misses the bar graphs). The only area that I have found where R&S might be weak is geometry. This isn't a huge deal to me though and will be easy enough to add in with the MM geometry books over the summer since math is the one subject that I do require the kids to do over the summer. Oh, and another I love is the teacher guide... very well done.



Getting Starting with Latin - After several failed attempt at working Latin into our daily schedule (Prima Latina & Latin Christina, Latin for Children A and Visual Latin) this is the first Latin program that we have been able to do consistently. DS loves Latin now and has fun with the translation exercises. We did keep the LfC clash cards and chant CD to add in more vocab... but GSWL is our main text for grammar.



Classical Conversations Foundations – A CC group opened in our area for the first time this year. We hesitantly joined figuring that if we didn't like it or if it was too much work, we would drop it after the first 12 weeks. Well, we love it. All of my kids enjoy the weekly presentations (who knew), I love that they are doing a weekly science experiment since I usually shoot for one big experiment a month at home, and I've been amazed at how well they have all taken to the memory work. At the beginning of the year I thought "no way" were they going to be able to memorize that much every week. They have surprised me by mastering almost all of it. I think next year the older two may try for memory masters.



Closer Look Science – We've used this series for 4 years now. Science is the one subject that I believe should be taught with a textbook and I don't like the classical style of focusing on one subject per year in science. What a first grader gets out of biology is very different than what a 3rd grader can understand and we all get bored if we are doing the same thing for too long. I like how these textbooks are arranged by life science, earth science and physical science each year. So my kids are all studying the same subject at the same time just at a different comprehension level. We do labs together that just tie in the general theme that they both are covering (owl pellets for life science). I also believe that learning to use a science textbook is a valuable skill on its own. My kids make their own flash cards using the highlighted vocab words and glossary and take notes from the text. We also use the Reading and Writing workbooks that go with these textbooks (we complete the vocab work and some of the writing prompts) and the online review. The textbooks are beautiful to look at and engaging. My kids really like them. It is a secular resource from McGraw Hill and the only negative is that the teacher guides are just too expensive. I wish that there was just a cheap answer key for the workbook because it takes me too long to correct their work sometimes since I have to hunt through the text myself to find some of the answers. I would also like some “tests†that I don't have to write myself and am therefore considering switching to Kolbe Academy's science for my oldest next year.



Middle of the Road


R&S English - This is of course a good, solid English program. It gets the job done and gives plenty of practice. It was too much writing for my DS when he was in 2nd grade but my DD does fine with it at that level. After a couple years of workbook style grammar (BJU English 2&3), which got done but of which my son retained very little, I had him try R&S Eng again this year for 4th grade. He is moving more slowly through it (definitely not his strong suit) but he is mastering the material rather than just circling and moving on. He finds the all Bible references boring and preferred the variety of stories in BJU English which is why we don't 'love' it. On the other hand, my DD is fine with the Bible content.



Writing With Ease – I've used this program on and off for the last couple years and wish that I had just committed to it – it just didn't seem like enough writing to me and I kept trying other programs. My DS still struggles with some of the dictation and copywork (he is fine with the narration portion). I realized that it was taking DS forever to rewrite a writing assignment from his rough draft because he was copying one word at a time and missing some (it was like a form of torture for him). He doesn't have as much of a problem with the initial writing. Working on the dictation exercises in WWE 3 has vastly improved that skill for him since he now holds entire sentences in his head. So, yeah... I wish I just stuck with it. I'm using it along side of R&S English for my DD and believe that it will be more than enough for her for the next couple of years. My kids enjoy the story snippets and have asked me to get several of the books so they could read more, although they have complained that WWE took the 'best' parts. I think Misty of Chincoteague was the biggest disappointment on that front, but have they have found some favorites too.




Prima Latina/Latina Christina – I've tried to use these twice now and they just don't seem to work for us. I can't totally put my finger on it... but they sit on my shelf mocking me. ;) GSWL is a much better fit for now, I'm just not sure what we will try once we finish GSWL.


Writing Strands 3 – I liked the first couple of lessons on building more interesting sentences (we did lots of extra ones on our own) but it got confusing for my DS after that. We are using the IEW ATFF theme book atm instead, which is just ok but getting done for now. We may pull WS out again at some point (I like the writing style of WS better than IEW)... but I think my main goal will be working towards WWS for DS in 6th grade.

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No losers this year! Which is nice because of much tiredness due to pregnancy and now a newborn.



6th Grade Winners


Systematic Mathematics

The math program I have been looking for. Video-based with incremental, systematic instruction. Focuses on understanding with plenty of word problems. One worksheet a day. DS has really solidified his math abilities this year.


Daily Grammar Practice

Short, thorough, challenging. DS has blossomed in grammatical understanding without wading through a dry textbook.


Understanding Writing

Another common-sense, incremental program. I wrote a review on it here.



Kindergarten Winners


Wee Folk Art

The perfect K program as far as I'm concerned. Good books, simple crafts, baking, poems, and field trip ideas with a seasonal focus. We've had fun and DS has learned a lot. And did I mention it's free?


Alphabet Book for C-rods

Fun and backs up phonics. Too bad it is out of print.


The Reading Lesson

Loved 100EZ for my firstborn, but The Reading Lesson has a slower pace which suits 2nd DS. Simple and sweet. Combo of phonics and sight words, which I like.



For Both


Whole method of memorization

Learned about this when reading Ruth Beechick last year. You memorize by reading the whole passage at once, instead of breaking it down day by day. Easier, and better cohesion. Sixth-grader memorized most of Hebrews 11, K-er memorized two Psalms and several poems.


ETA: Whoops. Just realized this is the logic board. Ignore the K-er entry. :D

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Whole method of memorization

Learned about this when reading Ruth Beechick last year. You memorize by reading the whole passage at once, instead of breaking it down day by day.



Interesting. This is how we started off memory work with my kids, many years ago. It worked fine for my dd, who has great language skills, but was a disaster for my son, who has language and processing issues. He would pick up random words (often mispronounced) and mush-mouth through the rest. We switched to line-by-line, and then stanza-by-stanza, memorization, and he does much better. My dd is quicker to have it memorized, but my son will retain it better.



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Good to know. I have got one that my need it. I didn't swing for anything high $ last year, but I am exploring options this year. So what did you need and use, did you buy the flashcards, or could I make my own? Anywhere to save $?



I bought starter set A ($99), which includes the word list cards for levels A, B and C. I have never used the small "reward" cards because, well, to be honest, they're kind of lame. Next year I'll just have to buy the CD's for B ($79). He does it almost entirely on his own. He reads the words to me the first time he gets to a lesson, then he puts the CD in, puts his headphones on and does the lesson. When he's finished, he listens to the answers. I have to say he prefers to check them against the cards because they keep inserting that week's "rule" into the answers and it really takes forever. I still make him listen to it though as he learns better when he hears it. You can just use a notebook, but I made up a worksheet with a space for the date and score (they score it themselves) and 2 columns of lines, numbered 1-15 (only for the first column). He does the test on the first set of lines and writes any corrections he needs to on the second set of lines. I keep them in my planner book behind the week he did them.

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We had a wonderful year.



Jacobs Algebra--few complaints from ds who insists he does not like math (although he is very good at it.)


TOG--works for keeping our family together. I love that the SAPS are teaching ds study skills. I enjoy the history discussions.


Ellen Mc Henry The Brain and The Cell. Ds loves the video links and edible projects LOL. He is retaining SO much.


PH Science Explorer plus Reading Guides and Test. Ditto the study skills Ds does not like it, though. However, I think that is mostly bc studying moss does not excite him (we are doing Life Science).


IEW continues to be a winner around here. The boy continues to adore Andrew Pudewa. I'm sad that this is probably the last IEW video course we do until High School Intensive (which is short).

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Prima Latina/Latina Christina – I've tried to use these twice now and they just don't seem to work for us. I can't totally put my finger on it... but they sit on my shelf mocking me. ;) GSWL is a much better fit for now, I'm just not sure what we will try once we finish GSWL.




Wow! I couldn't have said it any better about Prima Latina! But it could just be Latin in general for me. We were doing great with Lively Latin this year until we hit the Cases of Latin Nouns and my darn English deficiencies derailed us.

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I am liking the sound of independence. I didn't shell out for AAS for her last year for one reason because I thought realistically it was too teacher intensive for spelling for me. So indepent and working for kids w/problems spelling sounds like just what I am looking for. I will be looking at it at convention. Thanks!





I bought starter set A ($99), which includes the word list cards for levels A, B and C. I have never used the small "reward" cards because, well, to be honest, they're kind of lame. Next year I'll just have to buy the CD's for B ($79). He does it almost entirely on his own. He reads the words to me the first time he gets to a lesson, then he puts the CD in, puts his headphones on and does the lesson. When he's finished, he listens to the answers. I have to say he prefers to check them against the cards because they keep inserting that week's "rule" into the answers and it really takes forever. I still make him listen to it though as he learns better when he hears it. You can just use a notebook, but I made up a worksheet with a space for the date and score (they score it themselves) and 2 columns of lines, numbered 1-15 (only for the first column). He does the test on the first set of lines and writes any corrections he needs to on the second set of lines. I keep them in my planner book behind the week he did them.

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