Resource Recommendations by
VOCS Tehachapi Families

Websites:

I just found a wonderful history/geography resource that would be great to share with parents. It is a homeschool parent created website full of world geography/culture unit studies. Each country has videos, mapping activities, book suggestions, animal projects, cooking. crafts, art, music and other cultural information. It is really wonderful and just packed with good stuff!

http://homeschoolexplorations.com/

 

Special Order Curriculum:

Language Arts

The Ordinary Parent’s guide to Teaching Reading
Pros: Great curriculum! It is scripted, which I found helpful. The first 26 lessons are teaching the student their sounds through repetition, games, and a fun alphabet poem to help memorize their sounds. After that, they can READ!
Cons: No pictures, so when we got into the reading sections, my students found it boring (though they were learning lots). At this point, I started rotating between this book and Bob Books, to make reading fun.

Daybook
Pros: helps you determine if your child is comprehending what they are reading and introduces them to beginning writing
Cons: quire a bit of handwriting 

Voyages in English:
Pros: easy to understand and has a great teacher’s guide to help , really helps a child to understand what nouns, pronouns, verbs etc are and offers great worksheets to help them remember them.
Cons: a lot of writing and worksheets
Important info to consider : Both Daybook and Voyages are excellent however if your child is struggling to keep up with handwriting these books do require them to write quite a bit . 

Sequential Spelling
Pros: Great spelling program! It is great for an auditory learner because each word is spoken clearly and explained.
Cons: Don’t have any.
Important Information to Consider: Some lessons need to be gone over more than just one day so the child can really memorize the words. 

Spelling+
Pros: Helpful information on spelling and how to teach it in the front of the book.  Spelling lists through sixth grade with teaching tips for each; teaches words in patterns and commonly misspelled words.  No word searches or pages with different activities, which is a pro for me.
Cons: Maybe that you have to either copy the spelling lists or write them for the kids, but I actually like this because you can customize the lists so easily.
IITC: This book is not very expensive to buy  – $20 I think.  If you buy it yourself you can make your kids spell in the summer, too 🙂

IEW STYLE AND STRUCTURE:
PRO: The teaching video is fun and engaging. Teaches kids how to make their writing more interesting and descriptive. Keeps them writing in fun ways. Uses a very intuitive approach to writing.
CON: Does not teach the rules behind the writing concepts taught and required. This particular IEW course is not a full instructional writing program. 

Handwriting Without Tears (for Kindergarten)
Pros: This curriculum really taught my kids the correct way to write their letters and numbers in a fun and engaging way. For example, to write a small “a” the kids are taught to make a magic c, go up like a helicopter, bump, then back down to bump the line. I purchased the CD to go along with the lessons. Kids enjoyed the songs and dancing, which helped to teach as well get out some wiggles. Handwriting lessons we’re never dreaded.
Cons: None

Writing with Ease
Pros: I chose this curriculum for our Language Arts. This was not my kids favorite subject, but I have no regrets. They learned a lot this year (from the rules on capitalization to punctuation). They also learned to listen more closely and to answer questions about the stories, as well as come up with one take away point from each passage. I’m very impressed how much my 5 and 6 yr. olds learned.
Cons: The author exposed students to a different author/story each week by taking a small passage from each book. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it would have been nice to really focus more on each story.

 

Social Studies

Story of the World Volume 1
Pros: love the variety of this curriculum as well as the great activity pages you can make copies of in the back of the book . Lots of activities to choose from as well as chapter tests you can use as work samples when needed .
Cons: you have to pick and choose the activities and make sure you plan ahead with supplies.
Important info to consider : a lot of photocopies involved to have the activities for each chapter . 

Story of the World
Pros: Very in-depth, guided story of historical events. For children with learning difficulties there is an audio version that the children can listen to. This is helpful for auditory learners.
Cons: The 4th volume gets a little scary for young children. I would recommend the last volume for older children only.
Important Information to Consider: Some volumes designed for older children.

STORY OF THE WORLD:
PRO: Gives a fabulous taste of the world. Introduces children to all world cultures, events, and religions in a wonderful and respectful way. Gives great literature to go along in each chapter and fun activities.
CON: The books are packed with such great history from all over the world that it can be hard to find a focus. 

The Story of the World (vol. I)
Pros: I like the curriculum and will probably use it again when my kids are older. My kids are 5 and 6 yrs. old. and learned a lot, but I had to really break it down. Going to use something more basic and down to there level next year.
Cons: For older children. Not a lot of pictures and the stories are too long for younger children.

 

Science

Real Science 4 Kids
Pros: easy to understand and plenty of activities . The teacher’s guide was very helpful.
Cons: a lot of repetitive handwriting .
Important info to consider: You have to have the teacher’s guide to be able to complete the experiments. 

RS4K Biology & Chemistry, Level 1
Pros: Clean pages, easy for kids to see what to read next – we also found it more enjoyably written than a regular textbook. Very clear shopping lists and directions for the experiments.  One experiment per each of the ten lessons, so very easy to schedule.
Cons:  Maybe that there are no photographs? We liked the cartoons, though.
IITC: There are extensive samples of all the RS4K stuff at their site: http://gravitaspublications.com/samples/

REAL SCIENCE 4 KIDS:
PRO: Unit study approach for focused learning and time to really grasp concepts. Different levels work well together making it easy to keep different ages learning the same thing and still getting grade level concepts. Provides experiments for each chapter using simple tools, household and easily purchased items. And the best thing of all, the teacher’s guide is SO very easy to use and understand.
CON: None.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW: You will need to look ahead to make sure you have the items for the experiments. 

Sassafras
Pros: Interesting and it includes a read aloud story that is intriguing. It really makes science learning fun. It can be used for multiple levels of kids.
Cons: You have to buy an encyclopedia and other books to supplement more information. You have to make the lessons as they are not spelled out word for word.
Important Information to Consider: Great! We love it!

R.E.A.L Science (Life)
Pros: Good curriculum. Breaks lessons down for easy understanding. The stuff needed for experiments are mostly everyday household items.
Cons: I don’t really have any complaints. I used this curriculum with a 5 and 6 yr. old. They grasped the lessons and had fun doing the experiments, but I think next year I will go with something even more simple so that they will get even more out of science.

 

Math

Teaching Textbooks
Pros:Love it!!! It gives one problem at a time so children don’t get overwhelmed. It is voice guiding for auditory learners.
Cons: It seems to be a grade behind, but not too bad.
Important Information to Consider: Great for dyslexic children!

Times Tales
Pros: Helps children memorize the basic times tables through fun stories. A fun way to learn. Kids love to do it.
Cons: Don’t have any.

SINGAPORE MATH
PRO: Fun pages that incorporate riddles and mazes into the math lesson. Unit study format with a review at the end of each unit.
CON: The unit study approach is very focused, the daily lessons give only problems for the unit with no daily review. 

SAXON MATH
PRO: Great instructions, efficiently given. Great review, introduces concepts in small amounts for gradual and continual learning and understanding. Each lesson incorporates past concepts.
CON: Some children need the unit study approach, so Saxon would not work well for them. Very plain worksheet type lessons, nothing fun included. 

Math-U-See
Pros: Love it and so do my kids! There is a five-minute video we watch for each segment where the teacher explains math in a fun and easy way. The manipulative bring the concept of numbers to life. Will definitely use again next year.
Cons: None