Recently, all the members of the TOS Crew voted on all the curriculum, books and DVDs we’d used and reviewed over the 2014 school year, to select the best in many categories. Later this week, I’ll be posting a link to the winning entries to the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards. It’s an exciting list!
Jackson and I have come up with a list of our own favorites as well, in Finchnwren’s Curriculum Academy Awards. And I’d like to share them with you today, in our personal list of curriculum faves for the year. These are products that challenged us, blessed us, exposed us to amazing things and enriched our lives and our homeschool. Enjoy!
Best Foreign Language Curriculum: Mango Homeschool Edition
Jackson has been using Mango Homeschool Edition to study Biblical Hebrew since early in 2014. It is a visually-driven, online foreign language-learning curriculum that has over 60 languages to choose from! Students interact with the computer to learn how to speak the foreign language of their choice, and Mango makes it fun and exciting, and hardly like schoolwork at all!
Best Writing Curriculum: Fortuigence
With Fortuigence’s Essay Rock Star course, Jackson completed a course of writing after watching online lessons, completing the work, and submitting it to instructor Lily Iatridis. She was both a fantastic coach and an encouraging teacher, and Jackson produced great work!
Best Grammar Curriculum: Tie between Fix It! Grammar and Analytical Grammar
This was a hard choice. So I included both!
Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Fix It! Grammar teaches grammar gently and easily. Students read a classic story (in our case, Robin Hood) a line or two a day. Fix It! Grammar leaves out punctuation, capitalization and gives several options for some words, and the student must correct what’s wrong or missing. In addition, they then mark the different parts of speech. It’s a well-rounded, enjoyable grammar course.
Analytical Grammar is a complete, well-written grammar curriculum. Its teacher’s and student’s manuals contain everything you need for a complete grammar course for middle- or high-school students. It also has a fantastic teaching DVD where the founders teach each lesson. Analytical Grammar soundly teaches grammar, and students even learn how to diagram sentences. It is exceedingly effective, and will prepare students for university work and, I believe, success in standardized testing.
Best Handwriting: Logic of English’s Rhythm of Handwriting
Hands down (no pun intended), LOE’s Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive is the clearest, simplest and least painful handwriting course I’ve ever seen. It is enjoyable to use and clearly teaches students how to make the motions for each letter. It has fantastic teaching aids. We just love it!
Best Science: Purposeful Design
We didn’t review a whole lot of science this year, but we did have some great resources that we loved. Jackson’s favorite was probably the Purposeful Design book by Jay Schabacker. It’s a beautiful book that displays the hand of God during Creation Week; what was created first; why; how does that impact humans? Absolutely beautiful book.
Best Art Curriculum: ARTistic Pursuits’ Sculpture Technique: Construct
We haven’t done a lot of sculpture and construction in our homeschool art times; normally, we paint or draw. So reviewing ARTistic Pursuits’ Sculpture Technique: Construct was a wonderful experience that stretched us. It clearly teaches four different methods and media of sculpture. Fantastic!
Best Supplementary Teaching DVD: Tie between New Liberty Videos and Go Science
We received a variety of fantastic teaching DVDs to use and review this year, and while we loved them all, our favorites came down to two very different ones; New Liberty Video’s Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Library and Educational Service’s Go Science.
One of these taught us about the origins of the Bible, the Hebrew language and the Reformation. The other showed us tons of astounding scientific experiments, many of which we wouldn’t have either the right lab equipment or the safety settings to do at home.
Best Student Organization Tool: My Student Logbook
My Student Logbook introduced Jackson to the concept of keeping a log of his work and hours. Now he keeps a record (along with my lesson planner) of all the work he does in a given day. It’s been a fabulous personal growth tool and planner for him. We love My Student Logbook!
Best Worldview Curriculum: Tie between Philosophy Adventure and Apologia: What In The World Can I Do
Our favorites in the worldview category taught us fantastic worldview lessons from very different eras. Home School Adventure Co.‘s Philosophy Adventure introduced us to eight influential pre-Socratic philosophers, and showed us how to contrast Biblical truths to their different philosophies. Apologia’s What In The World Can I Do? introduces children to the concepts of stewardship and calling, and how they can walk those out. Both are wonderful to equip your children in wisdom and discernment!
Best Book for Jackson: Wizzy Gizmo’s Who Created Everything?
Wizzy Gizmo’s Who Created Everything? was probably Jackson’s absolute favorite read of the year. In fact, he loved the first book in the series so much that we purchased the second one!
Best Resource for the Homeschool Mom: Apologia’s Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms
Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms was the most helpful book that I read (for myself), all year. Mary Jo Tate KNOWS what it’s like to be a homeschooling mother who’s trying to balance many other responsibilities. It was life-giving, encouraging, and just perfect for me. And it gave me many new skills for managing my life!
Any and all of these curricula, books and DVDs come recommended with our greatest approval and appreciation. In one way or another, each one impacted us and made our lives, and our homeschool, even better. I hope you find this list as helpful to you, as these wonderful resources were to us!