Saturday, May 1, 2010

End of the year curricula reviews!

The exclamation point makes it much more exciting, don't you think?

Now that we've either finished or are nearly finished with the year, I thought I'd start reviewing the choices.

Cursive First: I really liked this program. It's very economical and you are allowed to reproduce the sheets for use in family- so one book will work for all of my children! It's got a good multi-sensory approach that I think would appeal to most kids. It's easy to implement, and takes a very minimal amount of time. Despite the small time commitment, it yields some pretty great results. I liked this a lot, and I plan to use it again for Little Bird when her turn comes up.

First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind: When I first started using this, I gave it a pretty good review. It's all laid out for you, so it's easy to use. It's meant to work together with the writing and phonics we used, so that seemed like a great plus. There's no pre-planning needed, other then figuring out about how quickly you want to chug through it. That being said, we didn't stick with it, and we didn't love it. It was very, very slow moving. It seemed a little redundant at points. I think that teaching grammar at a young age is a good goal, but if the child needs things this slow and piecemeal, perhaps it's better to wait and focus on something else.

Math Mammoth: We aren't using this as our primary program, rather as a supplement. I do know that there are people who use it exclusively, and in a program with a child who doesn't love math and ask for the amounts Sweet Pea does I think that it's probably plenty. It's very easy to use and you can make copies as needed. This is nice because you can reuse pages as many times as needed. Parent involvement with a child who is a good reader and reasonably mathy is minimal. I like Math Mammoth. I think it's a great value and we plan to continue to use it in conjunction with a more traditional book math program.

Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading: This is a very traditional phonics program. There aren't colorful illustrations. There aren't cute leveled readers with it. There are optional flashcards (which I didn't buy). It is, however, really easy to use, as implied by the name. It's completely scripted, and you can read the script as closely or loosely as possible. It's decently quick moving and covers phonics through 4th grade from what I understand. We haven't yet finished it, but I hope to by the end of the summer. I really like it and what it's done for Sweet Pea's reading abilities and her confidence. It's been great to have the rules laid out explicitly and condensed into a short lesson. We'll use this again for Little Bird.

Primary Mathematics: This is a really great math program. I really think that the Home Instructor's Guides make it, so if you are considering using it, buy them. Please. It really takes the program to the next level and makes so much sense and lets you know what to focus on.

Rod and Staff Science: Gentle, focused on nature, lots of coloring? Check! It covers plants and animals and other things that are easy for little kids to relate to and understand, because they can see them. There's no experiments in the book we have, and although I did buy the teacher's book I don't think that you'd need it.

Spelling Workout:
I may be missing something, but this didn't really grab us. It didn't really teach the spelling words, and the activities were something that Sweet Pea just kind of whipped through. It didn't seem to increase her comprehension of the wonderful world of spelling rules, though, so we'll be trying something else.

Writing with Ease: I was SO on board with this and SO prepared to love this. I really, really wanted to. And I really tried to. And I just... didn't. It wasn't enough meat for Sweet Pea, although we did like the books chosen enough to pick some to read in their entirety. Sorry, WWE!

Story of the World: I don't know if I can fully review this yet. It was going a little over Sweet Pea's head, so we set it aside after a few lessons. Lessons she really enjoyed, but didn't seem to retain much from. So we'll be picking it back up and giving it another chance. I like what I've seen so far, but I can't fully say how it'll work for us until we try again.

That's my summation- any questions? Comments? Hints about what I missed with WWE and SW? ;)


  1. Wow, thank you so much for this review! Especially since we'll be having to pick this stuff out in a year or two.

  2. I'm so questioning using FLL/WWE. FLL is so unbearably slow. We are still learning nouns and saying the definition in our sleep. When we learn pronouns later this month I think my daughter will wonder if we switched programs, lol. We don't learn what a sentence is until after lesson 100, seems so far away! And I desperately want Satori to understand a sentence so she can end them properly.

    As for WWE, the more I think of it, the more I'm thinking we don't need this either... I'm going to transition in a new writing program this summer and see how that goes - something with actual writing. I think I have a creative writer on my hands and even though that goes against WTM, I should probably follow her lead.



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