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What subjects do you teach without a purchased curriculum?


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I have at one point or another taught these subjects without following a specific curricula, either using my own knowledge or the combined knowledge of many different books and programs and writing my own lessons:

 

science

art

music

history

grammar

writing

literature

penmanship

phonics

geography

 

These are all elementary or logic stage...I've not attempted doing this in high school.

 

Currently I'm teaching science, penmanship, grammar, and art without curricula.

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Okay, let me expand my question.... :) For the subjects that you teach without a curriculum, what resources do you draw on to help you? Do you have a scope and sequence that you use, or a particular book that helps you understand how to teach a subject and guide you through it?

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I sometimes use the Free History Curriculum on Guesthollow.com. I mostly just use her outlines and then search my library for books they have.

 

I do a lot of science/geography/social studies all together. Right now, we are studying each continent .... we look at which countries make it up, animals, culture, etc.

 

We read lots of books ..... whatever we want.

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Okay, let me expand my question.... :) For the subjects that you teach without a curriculum, what resources do you draw on to help you? Do you have a scope and sequence that you use, or a particular book that helps you understand how to teach a subject and guide you through it?

 

 

Do I need to say it? :lol:

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My husband teaches Science without a curriculum. We address topics based on the children's interest and questions during the week. We add a new topic to the list when someone asks a question. He and I sat down and brainstormed the different areas of science and topics we wanted to be sure to cover, but we haven't had to choose from it yet...the kids are naturally curious and ask good questions.

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Let's see....First edition WTM? African Waldorf pdfs? I love your links and recommendations! Got any more? I *wish* I could get my hands on a copy of the first edition of WTM.

 

 

I do need to say it. :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

The original hardcover Doubleday early 1990s What Your _ Grader Needs to Know series books 1-6. The covers are sponge painted and do NOT have children on the front. There is no kindergarten book in the original series.

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I do need to say it. :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

The original hardcover Doubleday early 1990s What Your _ Grader Needs to Know series books 1-6. The covers are sponge painted and do NOT have children on the front. There is no kindergarten book in the original series.

 

Just picture me smacking myself in the head. How could I forget that one? :laugh: Do you know if they are hard to find?

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I only use a curriculum for math, and even that I tweak so much I'm not sure I should use it.

 

We are literature-based here for history, science, and language arts (and math too with Life of Fred).

 

I do use CM Help's website and free program for scope and sequence. Her website also helps me learn how to implement all of Charlotte Mason's methods.

 

We use Enki for the younger years (a Waldorf/Montessori curriculum). But by 3rd grade I felt ready to put together our own, with guidance.

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Okay, let me expand my question.... :) For the subjects that you teach without a curriculum, what resources do you draw on to help you? Do you have a scope and sequence that you use, or a particular book that helps you understand how to teach a subject and guide you through it?

 

 

My answer now is not the same answer I would have given yrs ago. Now I simply teach what I know they need to know. Textbooks are restricted to math and Latin. Spelling and grammar are resource based.)

 

I could not have done that when I first started. Yrs ago I used sources like Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, Sonlight, Let the Authors Speak, grammar textbooks, etc as my guide and for my own education. (For example, I knew very little grammar at all when I first started homeschooling. Now I don't use a grammar resource for instruction until they are in late elementary school.)

 

Once I was confident in how my kids mastered skills and I was confident in what they needed to master, then I stopped relying on curriculum. That changed everything in our homeschool. What I pull together for my own children is far superior than any product I ever purchased......but it is also not replicable in any real way b/c it is so uniquely for them individually.

 

Needing pre-planned curriculum is not a bad thing. Being a slave to it is. Being teacher means understanding where it is working and where it isn't and learning how to adapt instruction for our child's needs.

 

I don't think there is a "kuddos" for not using curriculum. In some cases, not using a curriculum might translate into disaster. (that would be the case with me if I attempted to teach Latin or math w/o a curriculum.) Knowing our strengths and weaknesses as educator and working within our own limits has to be acknowledged. Flip side is that curriculum shouldn't become a crutch when we know we can offer our child something better. :)

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If you are bored and have some extra money to spend, there is Guide to American Christian Education. This was sold by every early homeschool catalog when we all used to order our books by phone and snail-mail, instead of clicking "buy".

 

Ruth Beechick books were popular.

 

The Robinson Curriculum method can be applied to your own books.

 

The journal entries in The Complete Home Learning Source Book are great examples.

 

How to Write a Low-cost/No-cost curriculum is OOP but the only doable checklist I have ever found. Others are just too wide. I use this when I want to double-check What Your _ Grader Needs to Know.

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I do need to say it. :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

The original hardcover Doubleday early 1990s What Your _ Grader Needs to Know series books 1-6. The covers are sponge painted and do NOT have children on the front. There is no kindergarten book in the original series.

 

 

Hunter, can you share with us why you prefer the older edition? I was thinking of a post where someone had also indicated a preference for those.

 

Thanks! :)

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Hunter, can you share with us why you prefer the older edition? I was thinking of a post where someone had also indicated a preference for those.

 

Thanks! :)

 

The revised series is not finished. The original 6 book series was expanded from preschool - grade 8, but the grade 7 and 8 book were never published and there is a just a list of topics in a scope and sequence.

 

In an attempt to improve the original series, the revised series tried to please everyone and lost their original vision.

 

The original science is more organized.

 

When the topics were rearranged in the revised series to match American PS customs, the integration of topics was lost.

 

The revised series IS prettier and includes lot of lessons on color that were mysteriously so absent from the original series. There is audio for the music. I'm OCD though, and need my checklists finished, cause....isn't that what a checklist is about? :confused1:

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I do about 98% of our schooling with out curriculum. The only things I own are SOTW 1 and a few phonics things. So many free resources online that are pretty great even for high school.

 

For example HOLT has math pre Alg, Alg 1, geo and Alg 2 most with workbooks. Kahn has good videos for teaching concepts and so does http://www.shmoop.com.

 

Ck-12 also has many free subjects. That are quite solid IMO.

 

I piece things together based on concepts as I want them to learn them, especially with grammar and math.

 

Free Zaner-blosser spelling lists on spelling city.

 

Kiss grammar + I check out FLL from the library as often as I can (I renew it till I can't renew anymore, return it, check it out again lol I lost our copy in our move)

 

I do have to do a lot of leg work planning wise, lots of library resources, free ebooks, I print a ton of things etc.

However, my kids have excelled by leaps and bounds with my methods. Partly because with out TM's I have re-learned a lot to which better equips me to help them.

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Well I do Spelling, Literature, Science, Math (in the early years), and I have done History before too.

 

For Spelling I use the 6,000 most common words list. I randomly quiz the girls on how to spell their current words and let them play games on spellingcity.com with them.

 

With Literature I have a shelf for each girl that they can choose a book from. After they read each day they narrate to me about the chapter.

 

For Science I get a spine book and lots of books to go with it, including and experiment book (and supplies). Right now we are using "The Complete Book of Our Solar System" as a spine. History is done in the same way.

 

Math in K-2 is very easy with lots of manipulative, and a white board (math facts + -, skip counting, solving for the unknown, recognizing groups of numbers, etc...).

 

ETA: Oh yes, I forgot the easiest subject to do without curr., Handwriting & Copywork.

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Sometimes I need to be reminded that there are many things I am perfectly capable of teaching on my own, without the help of a fancy program. :)

 

 

 

For grades 1-8 we used purchased formal curriculum for:

- Math (Miquon, Singapore, MUS)

- Phonics (workbooks)

- Grammar (Winston -- but also made some of it ourselves with other resources)

- Writing (Wordsmith Apprentice. Jump In, and IEW ideas -- but also made some it ourselves)

- Vocabulary (because I liked the roots program -- though, we ended up using it in our own way)

 

 

For grades 1-8 we ended up making our own for:

- Reading

- Spelling (used several purchased curricula, but created our own out of the various resources)

- Handwriting / Copywork

- History

- Geography (i.e., used a wide variety of materials (workbooks, living books, games, etc. on our own schedule)

- Science

- Bible

- Logic/Critical Thinking (used several purchased workbooks, but created our own out of various resources)

- Music/Art

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I have been collecting links to free materials in my Pearltrees account for months. With what I've gathered (and I'm always adding more) plus a little planning, I could easily teach every single subject with just my computer, internet connection, printer, and library card.

 

The only reason I still pay for curriculum materials is because I like the convenience of having someone else decide on the scope and sequence, design the lesson plans, and provide a scheduling structure (which I often promptly ignore :D ). This applies to Sonlight which we used in the past and TOG which we use currently. Or, I buy it because it is what we've been using and it works and I don't want to risk changing things. FLL, Singapore Math, and LOF come to mind here. I often tweak and supplement purchased curriculum so much that I wonder why I spent the money rather than designing it myself. But those shiny new catalogs come in the mail every spring and I just can't help myself :drool5: .

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We learn almost everything without a curriculum for history, science, geography, art, music and literature (with some small exceptions) until late middle school/high school. At this point, my older dd is using a textbook for science.

 

We use textbooks and curricula for foreign languages, math and grammar/writing (and Logic right now too).

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Cursive. I've had the kids use cursive books before, but for my youngest...it just seems like busy work and it wears her hand out...and when that happens, then she complains and doesn't like cursive and then is close to tears. So, I printed off the internet a nice upper and lower case cursive, printed it on cardstock, and slipped it into a plastic page protector. She takes that out from time to time (usually when she needs a reminder on how to do an upper case letter). She tries to use cursive for most of her writing, mostly for spelling. Now she never complains about cursive and is really proud of her writing.

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I love the e-book Planning Your CM Education from SCM. It goes through how to schedule your own books. I started using their curriculum (with a few substitutions to work with books I already had). This has been our most inexpensive year! Many of our subjects are covered by chapter books and discussion. I've done a few activities with them, but I mostly let my DC come up with their own projects. We've done quite a few subjects without curriculum, but never all at once...I prefer some materials ready-to-go. I am hoping to do a few things over the summer, like creating some copywork pages (I use Zaner-Bloser's free generator) and possibly some customized notebook pages...our budget seems to get smaller each year, so I need to do more on my own!

 

I love the pages here, but I don't have it in our budget to buy them pre-maid. I'm thinking I could do something similar myself: http://www.homeschoo....com/index.html

 

Here are some specific subjects:

 

- Phonics--I use homemade flashcards and games along with McGuffey readers and workbooks (so I guess it's not completely made by me, but it's not an expensive program either! )

- Grammar--We're using Grammar Land with the free worksheets--once again, not made by me but free!

- Writing--journaling, notebooking assignments (Venn diagrams, acrostics, pictures, etc.)

- Reading--read and discuss good books, give them writing assignments or projects (puppets, diorama, etc.) for independent reading

- Dictation for spelling (currently using McGuffey readers)

- Handwriting / Copywork--Love Zaner Bloser's handwriting page generator, use McGuffey readers as well

- History/Bible--read books, narrate, and notebook

- SCM Scripture Memory system is great for learning Bible verses and just costs a little for your index card box and dividers--they now have pre-printed Bible verses (or you can use your own)

- Geography--CM style map drills, Geopuzzles, living books, salt dough maps

- Science--lots of books, nature walks with journals, hoping to incorporate more guided nature tours this year (through local parks)

- Music--listen to CDs, biographies about composer

- Art--look at pics, biographies, simple art books (Draw Squad, Chinese Brush Painting, youtube videos, etc)

-I'm hoping to start Shakespeare with some finger puppets and the Lamb book

 

I try to buy resource type books that can be used for multiple years instead of curriculum.

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Our Shakespeare studies are completely (and easily) self-made here.

 

I suppose I could also say the same for literature, because we use the "read good books and talk about them" approach.

 

Other than that, I rely a lot on curricula to make homeschooling open-and-go for me.

 

 

This is me too. I pulled together some different studies for social this year, so we didn't buy curriculum for that, but otherwise, I have curriculum for pretty much everything. We don't follow it to a T by any means, but it's there. Health, for example, we are using the Abeka texts this year but not the workbooks. I like having everything in a book so I'm not having to run around and gather stuff for every subject. I am not the "creator" sort. I'd much rather tweak someone else's hard work. lol

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I have at one point or another taught these subjects without following a specific curricula, either using my own knowledge or the combined knowledge of many different books and programs and writing my own lessons:

 

science

art

music

history

grammar

writing

literature

penmanship

phonics

geography

 

These are all elementary or logic stage

 

 

I would say the same as this except grammar, but add in all of Preschool and Kindergarten which I guess would include all of that.

 

This year and last for 2nd/3rd and 4th/5th it would be: literature, science, logic history, music, and art. Of course I use the Well Trained Mind which helps me plan and execute all of this. I don't do it completely on my own!

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The only subjects that I teach straight from a curriculum, no customization, tinkering, or tweaking are spelling, (AAS), and Latin. Even though I have many curriculum items that are used as spines or as references, these are the only ones that I follow exactly as the curriculum specifies.

 

Then there is math.

 

For math we use multiple programs. Each child is on a customized path. Bug uses a mix of games, Miquon, and manipulative activities. Sister uses Saxon, LOF, games and manipulative activities. Punk uses Saxon, Beast Academy, LOF, games, and manipulative activities. I follow the programs each as designed. (We do not do every one each day though, LOL!) The games and activities are pulled from a variety of sources, library books, Kitchen Table Math, education unboxed, etc.

 

I have things I consider guides, (WTM, Big Blue Book of Grammar, KISS, WWE, Handwriting without tears, and the Usborne Encyclopedia), and flesh out my plans mostly with what is available through our library system and for free online.

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I think Bible is one subject that is so much more genuine when taught without asking predetermined questions and giving manufactured answers. Faith is a living, breathing thing that is best passed on in the context of authentic, heartfelt conversation and study. So that is one subject I really like to teach without a curriculum.

 

Also, I teach a subject without a curriculum if it will better serve the student that way. For example, my daughter has always been gifted as a reader/storyteller, and using a curriculum for those subjects was squashing her love for literature and making her feel incompetent as a writer. It is more effective and encouraging for her at this point for us to do literature/writing without a curriculum. I will continue to reevaluate that as she gets older and I'm sure things will change from year to year.

 

That said, just because I am capable of teaching a certain subject without a curriculum doesn't mean it is helpful to do so. Especially when it just doesn’t get done… For things like history and science, I haven’t found a curriculum that is a perfect fit and I think I could probably do a better job without a curriculum. But I also have to be realistic with myself and what I actually will get done without the accountability and structure of a curriculum.

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cleaning, cooking, hygiene, character, table manners

 

Just kidding. :)

 

But you know, some days those subjects "feel" like really important ones.

And apparently, some days they really *are* the important ones....Like yesterday, when my 11yo swore she didn't know how to use the toaster. :glare:
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I love the e-book Planning Your CM Education from SCM. It goes through how to schedule your own books. I started using their curriculum (with a few substitutions to work with books I already had). This has been our most inexpensive year! Many of our subjects are covered by chapter books and discussion. I've done a few activities with them, but I mostly let my DC come up with their own projects. We've done quite a few subjects without curriculum, but never all at once...I prefer some materials ready-to-go. I am hoping to do a few things over the summer, like creating some copywork pages (I use Zaner-Bloser's free generator) and possibly some customized notebook pages...our budget seems to get smaller each year, so I need to do more on my own!

 

I love the pages here, but I don't have it in our budget to buy them pre-maid. I'm thinking I could do something similar myself: http://www.homeschoo....com/index.html

 

Here are some specific subjects:

 

- Phonics--I use homemade flashcards and games along with McGuffey readers and workbooks (so I guess it's not completely made by me, but it's not an expensive program either! )

- Grammar--We're using Grammar Land with the free worksheets--once again, not made by me but free!

- Writing--journaling, notebooking assignments (Venn diagrams, acrostics, pictures, etc.)

- Reading--read and discuss good books, give them writing assignments or projects (puppets, diorama, etc.) for independent reading

- Dictation for spelling (currently using McGuffey readers)

- Handwriting / Copywork--Love Zaner Bloser's handwriting page generator, use McGuffey readers as well

- History/Bible--read books, narrate, and notebook

- SCM Scripture Memory system is great for learning Bible verses and just costs a little for your index card box and dividers--they now have pre-printed Bible verses (or you can use your own)

- Geography--CM style map drills, Geopuzzles, living books, salt dough maps

- Science--lots of books, nature walks with journals, hoping to incorporate more guided nature tours this year (through local parks)

- Music--listen to CDs, biographies about composer

- Art--look at pics, biographies, simple art books (Draw Squad, Chinese Brush Painting, youtube videos, etc)

-I'm hoping to start Shakespeare with some finger puppets and the Lamb book

 

I try to buy resource type books that can be used for multiple years instead of curriculum.

 

This is an awesome post! :)

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I panicked when I realized that we didn't have the money to purchase curriculum. This was several years ago and I can purchase things now. But I'm thankful for that time period because I learned that you really can homeschool at the elementary level, and do it well, spending very little. For 1st and 2nd grade I used math I had purchased before and then purchased new math when I had to. I spent almost nothing except ink for printing and similar materials for everything else for those years. I think we could have done it without purchasing math too given the great free programs available. I even started a blog after I had been doing it a while to share what I had found with others. I've neglected that blog! But it can be done and done well.

 

Right now or in the past:

 

1. Science--I use the online, free Core Knowledge sequence to decide what to cover. I use lesson plans I find online for ideas to make my own lesson plans covering the topics. I've always done science this way and it works well for us.

2. History and Geography--Also Core Knowledge; I just make up lesson plans using online resources, library books, etc.; I'm planning to switch to SOTW soon because my boys want ancient history and I don't have the effort in me to lesson plan from scratch right now.

3. Literature, Art, Music,-has come from Core Knowledge using online lesson plans with few changes

4. Phonics--I found an excellent free phonogram based program online and used its ideas along with homemade phonogram cards and free online readers (Progressive Phonics and I See Sam)

5. Grammar--right now I'm using memory work a friend wrote for me and, as we cover each part of speech, having the boys compose a sentence each day using the various parts of speech learned. I'm adding youtube videos for fun and am doing Sentence Family also, to make it enjoyable, and that's a purchased resource. I am going to add to this with other purchased materials eventually but, right now, I'm pleased with our progress.

6. Copywork for handwriting has been most of our instruction. I just started using HWOT for cursive though.

 

What I don't feel comfortable tackling without formal programs: math and some language arts stuff (spelling for example). I mentioned that there are free math materials that are fantastic. I have purchased math here though, at least for our spine program.

 

The free phonics program I used did include spelling. I would have used it if a generous friend didn't share her spelling materials with me. There are other free spelling materials online too. Paid or not, though, I personally wouldn't make up my own spelling program.

 

I think I'll also use some more formal programs for language arts (composition particularly) in the near future. I think the use of programs or parts of programs will be better than I have been able to do on my own. I haven't found the perfect program so I'll probably combine pieces of various things. Still, I am certain I am going to add purchased resources to what we've been doing. I still think this could be done on one's own too but I've decided I just don't have the confidence to do it.

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I forgot to mention the Core Knowledge plans from Baltimore Curriculum Press online. I used the What Your X Grader Needs to Know as a spine several years for music and art and sometimes pulled from the online plans. Mostly the book as a guide and the library did the trick though.

 

Which edition of the books did you use? Hunter is a fan of the first edition. If you use the more recent series, what do you think of them?

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I have no problem w/the new editions, and I think all of mine are the new. I may have an older copy of the 5th grade. Her problems with them don't apply to me because I am not using them as my guide for the entire scope and sequence of grades 1-6 or grades 1-8. I may just choose this year to use a section (1 subject) as my guide for a content subject (or two), not for skills subjects at all though I do often have my dd read them all the way through to supplement.

 

Plus if you use the online lesson plans you can really make some good lessons out of them. I think it goes w/the new books. At least they have always matched when I am looking for them.

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I am doing spelling, handwriting, copywork, writing, reading and literature, geography and health by myself.

 

For science I use BFSU for topics and then add to it (we can never get the books suggested so I just find my own)

History I am using SOTW1, though not the activity book so I make up/look up the activities myself

 

Math is the only one I truely follow a curriculum - well really two curricula, but I do pull things from all over the place for other subjects.

 

More things I do without a curriculum: potty training, cooking, pet care, table manners, general manners, computers, telephone etiquette, phys ed (incl swimming)

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