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Want to help an unschooler buy some curriculum?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
lol. I unschool my daughter. But this year she's in a public, home school charter option. They will buy whatever (non-religious) curriculum that I request. So now I feel like I should take advantage and get some stuff to have around this year in case we get inspired.

I already have the learn at home books for K and 1st. I'm having the school order handwriting with out tears for me. But what else should I consider? My dd is in 1st, but working more at a Kindy level (except in science).

I love Oak Meadow stuff, but I know it's crazy expensive.

Any suggestions on what I should look into having them get for me?
post #2 of 18
Oooh! Look at Sonlight, they have a ton of great literature for both read-alouds and "real" books for kids to read (instead of focusing on "readers", they read from living books). They also have it parceled out into schedules and science and history stuff, but you'd likely get a lot of use out of the books no matter how you homeschool. I like that their leveled book reader groupings work well to inch up in difficulty, making it easy to find books that my kids have grown into reading.
post #3 of 18
The Story of the World by Bauer. Have them order the audio cd's if they will and your daughter likes to listen to books on CD. Also the activity guide has suggestions for further reading as well as coloring sheets/games, etc. to go along with history.
post #4 of 18
We are unschoolers. I am buying the www,sonlight.com books as well. I buy only the secular books. They are really great books. You can join the secular sonlight users group on yahoo.
post #5 of 18
We were in charter like that when Rain was little - I actually worked for them as an educational facilitator, so I reported to myself. We bought a lot of science kits - Nutshell Science, I think they were called - and also a lot of stuff through Acorn Naturalist, like guides for identifying different plants and animals, and kits for making plaster casts of animal prints, and CDs with bird calls to help identify them.

We also got tons of cool art supplies, since art is a school subject... oh, and lots of quasi-educational games, including software (Zoombinis, Oregon Trail, etc). Oh, and we got pattern blocks and cuisenaire rods and a balance sclale and a bunch of other math manipulatives...
post #6 of 18
Math-U-See!!!!! OMGosh if our charter would buy any curriculum I wanted instead of just giving us k12 I'd totally be all over that math program, especially for my oldest. Also, All About Spelling for reading and spelling. I have not used it myself, but I know a local hs'er who uses level 1 with her 5yo and 6yo to teach reading while her 9yo uses her level for spelling. Then request a huge variety of science kits and history books (not text stuff, more like pick off of readling lists like Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, and uhhhhh what's that free site with the Charlotte Mason curriculum?) to let your child explore with you. One of our favorite Sonlight books is in P3/4, the Usborne Flip-Flap Body Book. Even my 7yo loves it still. Since you can't do a religious program, just buying Sonlight as a whole is out since it is a Christian program and they make it known. But if they will let you order specific books from the curriculum itself individually, then you can choose to pick up the guide on your own (which I'll tell you now, get the divider tabs because they are awesome but NOT the binder because you can get a good one to fit for 1/4 the price at WalMart) along with the Christian conent material. Oh, Sonlight science in the lower levels is really good and NO religion incorporated in it for science K (I own that one).
post #7 of 18
I like

Story of the World
Math U See
We have some Singapore math workbooks too. My dd enjoys them.
We are using this handwriting
First Language Lessons

Maybe just some good books to have around? Generally I go to half price books or some place like that when they are having a sale and buy a big pile of books that would be good for her age, I try and have several "go" with whatever history she is doing. If they are buying the materials I would go ahead and stock up for this school year.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for reminding me about Math-U-see! I am definitely going to request that. I looked into it about a year ago and didn't get it because I was broke at the time. Sonlight stuff looks nice, I'd never looked into it before because I thought it was all religious. Maybe something language arts from them would be nice.

I'm lucky enough to have a library in the house where I live full of kid books. There's also a farm and garden outside, so plenty of science going on already. I'm trying to ask for only the bare minimum of stuff because I am an unschooler and because I know how broke CA is lol.

I love the suggestions here though. Plenty of stuff to google and drool over. Lots of ideas for if we ever get more into book work around here. Thanks.
post #9 of 18
Go look through the FUN-Books catalog, and it will be hard not to blow your whole expense allotment right there - lots of yummy stuff. Look over in the left hand column for subject categories.
post #10 of 18
Originally Posted by CrazyCatLady View Post
Thanks for reminding me about Math-U-see! I am definitely going to request that. I looked into it about a year ago and didn't get it because I was broke at the time.
It's really great for lots of people, but I'd be sure to try to get a sample before committing. I thought we'd love it, but the sample we got (and I can't even recall how we went about getting a sample, but I think it was just something they offered) showed that it wouldn't be the sort of thing that could capture my son's attention at all. And that's just something that can be true of anything - you just never know till you check it out carefully.

- Lillian

post #11 of 18
If Math-U-See isn't a good option, perhaps Miquon instead. We use Miquon as a supplemental program here to our k12 math and its a wonderful program (especially considering the price is so low compared to some other programs). Its more discovery-based using cuisinaire rods (so similar to MUS but not as structured) and the teacher lab notes book is pretty much to give some ideas on how to teach it and get your child started with discovering how to come up with answers for each page. My oldest girl does very well with it, when we have trouble with a math lesson in k12 I just pull out the Miquon guide and look up that lesson in it and find it in our workbooks for her to play with and she usually gets it pretty well (and this is my child with all the learning challenges)

Sonlight language arts is nice, but lang arts 2 regular has the majority of the reading done from "The Beginner's Bible" although the K and 1 material are excellent and fairly non-religious. If you choose to use Sonlight lang arts make doubly sure you look at the guide samples and pick based on her writing ability more than her reading ability, as there is a lot of writing in their lang arts programs (the copywork in LA K is just a couple words at a time, while the copywork in LA 1 is full sentences, and LA 2 reg has 2-3v sentences, and LA 2 int has full paragraphs, I can't comment on LA 2 adv because I don't own that one yet, I buy mine all used)
post #12 of 18
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
Go look through the FUN-Books catalog, and it will be hard not to blow your whole expense allotment right there - lots of yummy stuff. Look over in the left hand column for subject categories.
i agree ...i absolutely love this site!
post #13 of 18
Will they let you buy books that aren't specifically labeled curriculum? I say get tons of great history books from amazon - you could order Joy Hakim's set of 11 books for $110 from amazon, as one example. Same with quality literature, poetry, etc. Like a set of Little House on the Prairie books maybe? Fun-books.com is a fabulous site - love it!

ETA: Beautiful Feet has some fabulous sets of books, that I think would qualify as curriculum.
post #14 of 18
Another expensive and great math program is Right Start Math. We've really enjoyed it. May be something to look into, also.
post #15 of 18
I'm wondering what some of your objectives are for your daughter this year. Are you wanting to find some curricular materials that might dovetail with an unschooly vibe or do you want to go whole hog, for a scripted and scheduled curriculum?

My ds is doing "first grade" this year, and I've collected a ton of programs. Interestingly, I seem to be moving in the opposite direction this year. Last year was very scripted and scheduled. This year, we seem to be going in a more child-led direction.

Anyway, one program that I really, really like for reading phonetically is the BRI/ARI/I See Sam readers. They are pricey, so it might be nice to ask the charter to pick up the tab. My ds learned to read with Phonics Pathways, phonics activities from FCRR, and just lots of books. I wish I had started with the BRI readers. We're using them now for phonics review, and they are really delightful little stories with an excellent presentation of phonics.

I second the suggestion for science kits and math manipulatives. Those items can be quite pricey, and the materials are awesome to have. And although I think that a garden is one of the best science labs around, it's still nice to have good precise measuring tools, weather observation kits, telescopes, microscopes, etc.

I have actually purchased four math programs (Miquon, RightStart, Singapore, and Math Mammoth), and I am about to throw them all out the window. I think ds will do math much better if we abandon the workbooks and actually delve into some real problem-solving math. But, I can give you a review of any of those programs if you're wanting to purchase a math program with your funds.

Another idea might be the Core Knowledge teachers materials. I have the set for first grade, and while I won't be using it as written, I really do like having the set as a reference of stuff that we can check off. Other folks might really like following the CK lessons.
post #16 of 18
We have unschooled DS and even though I got some curriculum, we are pretty darn unschooly still - I bought stuff that I knew we could adapt to OUR learning style.

DS LOVES the blocks and really is enjoying it alot. He isn't a fan of math, so this was super important to me.

Story of the World Ancients
LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!! We got the book, audio book, and activity guide. Also got the Usborne Internet linked World History and Ancient History Encyclopedias (WOW!!!!)
We listen to the CDs way more than we read the book - but DS devours the Usborne books. THe activity guide has some great maps and lots of good activity ideas in it. I also like the History Odyssey paired with it.

Honestly SOTW is the base for our entire learning. DS is OBSESSED with ancients. So it makes sense. I am incorporating literature in - cuz we are listening to the CDs, reading other supplemental books like Magic Tree House and Usbornes, etc. Incorporating science in too - learning about dinos and mammals and evolution during prehistory. doing seasons for prehistoric man. will be studying the water cycle, weather, and farming when we get to Settling in the Fertile Crescent. Sprouting seeds, planting and tending our own stuff - meauring rainfall. that kinda stuff. You can make SOTW very very handson and it is already so lit based that it has been a dream come true here!

Also got a bunch of the Dover coloring books to go along with the SOTW - they are beautiful, acurate pics with factual blurbs on the bottom of each page. I am impressed, and DS likes reading them and seeing if they match up with what he has learned already.

Other must haves - A subscription to Netflix - the wealth of discovery, history channel, bbc, pbs, nova, etc movies that are on there! Amazing!!!
And a subscription to cosmeo.com - we LOVE that site. It is put out by discovery, animal planet and history channel. It is articles, videos, and brain games. It is amazing and is used on a daily basis here. DS loves searching there for various topics he is interested in, and then watching the vids. the search is limited to the site, so it is a safe search - giving him alot of freedom in his studies. And the games are fun and super educational.
post #17 of 18
Miquon, Miquon!!

I also like the Crinkleroot series for science readers.

How about the Montessori Parts of a _____ Puzzles, continent puzzles, and geometric shapes insets? They rock, kids can't resist them. Plus they can be pricey, so having a budget that doesn't come out of your pocket could make them affordable.

Oooh, and as far as Montessori stuff goes, the "language objects" sets from Montessori Services are a super-cool way to work on beginning and ending sounds---the kid gets to play with tiny toys and group them or match them via their phonetic sound, so you have a "p" card or whatever, and she places the "pig", the "pan", the "poodle" etc. in that spot. I think it's awesome. I want them even though dd is probably past that point in the reading.

Also via montessori, the "Child Sized Masterpieces" is a progressive series to learn about art history. What I like about the M. work is that to a kid it's like a game---match the two "Van Gogh Sunflowers" pictures, then it progresses to group all the Van Gogh still lifes then it progresses to group early expressionist works or whatever. Not just Van Gogh of course but you get the idea.

Moveable alphabet. Sandpaper letters?

How 'bout pattern blocks and pattern block cards?

Lots of hands-on materials if they will allow it (my charter school does).

**oh, and Miquon is cheap (leaving you more $ for all those pricey Montessori materials ), plus you can get all kinds of other activity books that use the Cuisenaire rods; just search the ETA Cuisenaire site or Amazon--there are Cuisenaire puzzle activities, fractions, even Cuisenaire alphabet books. The cuisenaire rods rock! I would get 2 beginner sets of the wooden ones as they tend to go the way of refrigerator magnets and matching socks and thus we are short some of the rods at times for activities.
post #18 of 18
You might be surprised, look at some of the approved vendors. Our charter lets us order from Barnes and Noble for any kind of books, art supplies, and a lot of non-curriculum materials. We can also use $ for classes like PE, Monart, Karate etc.
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