A couple of weeks ago I featured a post by a home-schooling friend who goes by the name of CaptiousNut. His blog Marginalizing Morons is advertised as “an online home-school curriculum, for adults!” He has frequently commented on my posts and in his comment on “Have You Ever Done This?” he mentioned that he finds workbooks to be helpful in handling those “daily disasters” that can come along and throw all your home-schooling plans out of whack.
Some time later I was thinking about this and reflecting on all the different workbooks I have used over two decades of home-schooling and so, in the interest of helping you find workbooks to mitigate your own discombobulated days, I am offering my list of six workbooks that work!
Calculadder Math Drills – I have used Calculadder drills for almost 20 years. I found early in my home-schooling “career” that home-schoolers are great at getting math facts down cold, but not necessarily fast, which is equally important. Calculadder is a series of timed drills designed to help your children move to the automatic recall of facts. Calculadder starts with the most basic facts and continues through fractions and decimals review, percents, English and Metric units, and geometric concepts. It is important to note that the book numbers (1 through 6) don’t necessarily correspond to grades. You can review what is covered in each and decide which book you want to start your child at. In addition, if you have a child that might get a little stressed by the “timed” nature of the drills (like my youngest) you can always adjust the time and then gradually allow for less time to complete a page. This is a workbook activity that takes minutes a day to complete but has immeasurable benefits for your child. (Calculadder is also available as CD’s if you don’t mind printing out your own workbook pages.)
Explode the Code – It is just my personal opinion, but I believe “Explode the Code” is the best phonics program around. As a matter of fact, after struggling with my older son learning to read, I had him do a quick phonics review using “Explode the Code” in 3rd grade (on the recommendation of a home-school friend) and in a short time he was reading and loving it! As a result, the only materials I used to teach my middle son to read were Explode the Code and Christian Liberty Press Readers. (As it turned out, I didn’t use any phonics program with my youngest son because he taught himself to read by the age of four – true story!) While Explode the Code and Christian Liberty Press Readers are not connected in any way, I discovered that they dove-tailed perfectly in terms of what sounds were taught when.
Vocabulary from Classical Roots – Over 60% of the English language contains words derived from Greek and Latin roots. The premise of these workbooks then, is that by teaching our kids these roots they will have a better command of the English language and improved reading comprehension. I have successfully used “Vocabulary from Classical Roots” with my kids and wholeheartedly recommend it. I know some home-schoolers (especially those who use the Classical teaching method) will teach full-fledged Latin programs, but I just never could get motivated to do that. I believe that using these workbooks gave my children an excellent exposure to Greek and Latin roots in a format that was very easy to use. I recommend starting with “Book A” somewhere between 5th and 7th grade and then going from there. And don’t feel like you must get through a workbook every year – I believe we should make workbooks fit our home-school and not the other way around, so don’t get bogged down by the parameters set by the publishers. Allow your children to work through these workbooks at a pace that you decide is best.
Apples Spelling Drills – I need to tell you my spelling philosophy and that is, if your kids don’t need a spelling curriculum don’t waste your time on one! How do you know if your children need a spelling curriculum? Pretty easy. Are they naturally good spellers? Then they don’t need one. Allow me to explain: my two oldest children (like me) are naturally good spellers. This is something that I could easily discern by the time they were in 3rd or 4th grade (hint: DON’T start a spelling curriculum before 4th grade…you might just be wasting your time!) On the other hand, my second son (3rd child) – like his dad – is not a naturally good speller, so…when he was in about 7th grade I bought “Apples Spelling Drills” for him to use. It worked wonders. It teaches spelling very logically by emphasizing commonly misspelled words like homonyms (for example: their, there, they’re), contractions, suffixes, and other spelling rules. Easy for your kids to use, which will make your life easier too!
Maps, Charts, Graphs – I started using these workbooks many years ago as an easy introduction to using maps. As it gets into the more advanced workbooks it is a good geography program (or supplement) as well. They start out very easy. You could start your child in Book A as early first grade. My son used Book A last year in second grade and I plan to have him progress through the entire series. Again, I like to use workbooks that are stress-free for me! Maps, Charts, Graphscertainly fills the bill.
The Geography Coloring Book – I feel this workbook is not only a great geography tool but it can also be a nice change of pace for your middle- to senior-high schooler. You could use it earlier than that, say starting in 5th or 6th grade, but I think it is interesting that even colleges use this as a resource as do adults who simply want a refresher. The Geography Coloring Book is another workbook that could be used as a supplement to a geography program or as your core geography curriculum.
One last note: One appealing trait of all these workbooks is that they are inexpensive. So they can be a great addition to any homeschool curriculum you might be using.
What workbooks have you found to be a useful addition to your curriculum? Let me know in the comments!Print This Post