August 14

Homeschool Curriculum Picks: Year 5

I am so excited to share with you our Homeschool Curriculum Picks! If you’ve been following along, then you know we started homeschooling 3 of our 5 kids four years ago. Well, this year, we will be adding our littlest to the group. He is going into 4th grade. I did not plan on homeschooling him just yet, but after having him home last semester due to the forced distance learning, we made the decision that it was time.

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Though it was a tough decision, since we absolutely loved the Catholic school he was attending, we felt it was the right time and the best choice for us. I was grateful for the trial run last semester and realized he would do great with homeschooling.

boy doing school work outside on a patio table
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If you want to read about our initial homeschool journey and want to start at the beginning, you can head over to my post “Why We Homeschool: Our Homeschooling Story”. You’ll read about why we started homeschooling and you can also see what curriculum we started off with.

I know so many of you right now are debating whether to homeschool your children because of the current situation. I hope that my research and this post can help you make some decisions and show you some of the curricula I found to be the best during my research and exploring over the last few months.

homeschool curriculum picks
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Who and What Grades We Are Homeschooling

To catch you up, this is our 5th year of homeschooling. We will be homeschooling one 4th grader, one 12th grader (wow, a senior!), and one who is a mix of mostly 8th and 9th. We also have one we never homeschooled, and he will be starting his second year in community college. Finally, we have our 19-year son old that we started homeschooling in 10th grade. He did lots of dual credit and got way ahead so he will be completing his associate’s degree this fall.

a young girl a young boy and a teenage boy all wearing white t shirts and black pants and making silly faces
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So that’s what we’re dealing with this school year. We’re still not sure how the community college classes will take place, but if they’re online, then we will have all 5 kids at home most of the day! The older ones work independently in their rooms most of the time. The two youngest will be downstairs in what used to be our dining room. We decided to turn it into a schoolroom. I’m super pleased with how it’s looking and will post all about it when I’m done!

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12th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

This year, my senior will be doing most of his classes through the local community college. We have been doing this for several years, and it’s saving us a lot of college money, and he really enjoys the classes he’s taken. He may be graduating high school in December, and then finishing his associate’s in the next two semesters. Here’s what we’ll be doing at home as well as what worked last year.

Math Curriculum

For math, we used Mr. D Math for several years and the boys loved it. I can’t say enough good things about Mr. D and his program. We did both Algebras, Geometry, and Trigonometry with him. We used the self-paced courses which include pre-taped online videos with instruction. Mr. D is readily available through email and they also have extra live help sessions every week if you need them.

a screen capture of the mr d math online math curriculum website
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My senior has since completed all the math requirements for high school and college, so we are done with math! He had a great transition from Mr. D to the college level Math classes, so we were very happy about that. I highly recommend Mr. D for your high schooler!

Science Curriculum

Though our senior will be taking Biology through the college this semester, if we had to choose a science curriculum for him to complete at home, it would definitely be from Apologia. He did Chemistry and Biology with Apologia and my older son did Physics as well. We thought it was an excellent curriculum.

materials for a homeschool science curriculum for high school sitting on a desk, including the exploring creation student notebook for biology from apologia
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Extra Curriculum

Since my son is taking all of his classes at the college, we will only be doing a few extra things at home. He will be reading a lot! He loves to read, so I got him a lot of great novels that I remembered reading in high school as well as lots of classics he was interested in. Here are some of the books he is most excited about reading:

This summer I ordered all of our readers from Rainbow Resource Center. Their prices were very low compared to others, and the shipping was prompt and accurate. They offer free shipping on orders over $50. So check them out and compare prices before you buy.

a shelf with several high school literature books
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I am also having him complete The Dave Ramsey course Foundations in Personal Finance. We are doing the online, self-study high-school edition. He and I are both excited about the course. I think all high schoolers should take something that teaches them about real-world finances.

a screen capture of the dave ramsey personal finance homeschool curriculum website
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Other than music and physical education which he does every day, that’s it for our 12th-grade homeschool curriculum. We hope for a very successful final year for him!

9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

Our daughter is supposed to be going into 10th grade age-wise. Unfortunately, being in foster care set her way behind due to behavior issues. We started homeschooling her in 6th grade but had to go back in many subjects to make sure there were no gaps. She’s made great progress and is now mostly at a 9th-grade level, which was our goal.

9th Grade Math Curriculum

We used Monarch with our daughter for many years. She did great on it and was able to catch up on a lot of subjects. The only subject in Monarch we stopped using several years ago was Math. We started using CTC Math and she does very well with it. She just completed 8th-grade math and will start 9th grade on CTC when we start school. We love the way CTC is set up and it works very well for her.

a screen capture of the ctcmath online math curriculum website
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Science Curriculum

We have used Monarch for science all these years, but this year we are finally stopping our subscription to Monarch and piecing together her curriculum ourselves. For my older boys, we used Apologia for science and they loved it. They completed Chemistry, Physics, and Biology with Apologia. It is rigorous though, and we felt our daughter needed a more gentle approach.

a girl sitting on the floor holding a folder for introduction to anatomy and physiology and more books around her on the floor
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We decided on MasterBooks for her science curriculum. She really enjoyed an anatomy unit she had in Monarch so we decided on Anatomy & Physiology 1 and 2. We will be completing one book per semester. It is geared towards junior high, so I feel it’ll be a good level for her since she hasn’t used books and workbooks for a while because of Monarch. MasterBooks uses a gentle approach and I’m hoping she will really enjoy it!

9th Grade History Curriculum

For History, we debated between the 5 choices for high school from Notgrass. They have Exploring World History, Exploring America, Exploring World Geography, Exploring Government, and Exploring Economics. Since my 4th grader will be doing American History, we decided to go with Exploring America. This way we will have at least some similarities in what both kids are doing, but on different levels, of course.

close up of a girl holding a stack of notgrass exploring america books
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Notgrass also offers a membership site called Homeschool History. It is a supplemental resource with books, videos, and other audio resources that can be used alongside the curriculum. Their yearly plan is very affordable. They offer a 60-day free trial. We will be trying Homeschool History out this year for both kids!

There are also some history components we will do together as a family, and I’ve included those in the “Mixed Curriculum” section below.

9th Grade English Curriculum

For English, we are using several different elements to complete the curriculum. We will be trying Essentials in Writing for the first time. We are using the 8th-grade program because I felt it was best for her level. I signed up for their grading service which I think will be a huge time-saver. Plus, it will be great for her to see corrections and feedback from someone other than us.

a girl holding essentials in writing level 8 workbook out in front of her
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We will also be using Total Language Plus. We used it with my boys and she has done a couple of workbooks in the last few years. TLP has workbooks that correspond to literary works. They are a complete package, including, comprehension, grammar, spelling, writing, etc. We are hoping to complete 3-4 workbooks, maybe more. These are a few of the corresponding books we have for the workbooks:

top view of the books hiding place and to kill a mockingbird and the scarlet letter on top of 3 total language plus yellow workbooks
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I will let her choose which ones she does. She loves reading so she enjoys this program. We will use the ones she doesn’t complete next year.

9th Grade Electives

Our daughter loves to draw so we got her several drawing instructional workbooks and she will be using them for art. We have also been working on her deductive reasoning and inference skills which is probably what she needs the most help in. Over the summer she completed several workbooks on inferring and deductive reasoning and we have a couple more for the rest of the school year. Here are some of the workbooks we have used and will be using:

a bin holding several workbooks and notebooks
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4th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

I am most excited about our 4th-grade curriculum picks. We had never homeschooled one so young so I had to do tons of research to find the best options for us. I will be a lot more involved with the 4th grader since he’s younger and needs more direction. I’m looking forward to it so much!

4th Grade Math Curriculum

For Math, I chose Saxon 5/4. My son’s strongest subject is math and they were using Saxon in the school he is coming out of. He took their placement test and will be doing the Saxon 5/4 workbook. I purchased the homeschool kit which has everything you need. Saxon has a homeschool version and a version that follows Common Core. The 5/4 is the homeschool version. The Common Core version has “intermediate” in the name.

stacked saxon math 5 4 books
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As a supplement to his Saxon curriculum, I enrolled in Nicole the Math Lady. Nicole has videos for every single lesson in the Saxon curriculum. She gets amazing reviews and I have yet to hear one negative thing about her service. She recently added a grading option for practice problems and quizzes, so that will be a great time saver for us. Plus, the instant feedback it provides will be great for our son.

a screen capture of the nicole the math lady website
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I didn’t want the summer to go by without any math work, so we decide to try out Teaching Textbooks. My son LOVES it. Though he placed in their 5th grade on the placement test, I enrolled him at the 4th-grade level since it was summer and just for review. What I hear from other moms is that typically their children are a year ahead when using Teaching Textbooks. I also hear it’s great for kids that don’t like math. It’s fully online and can be completely hands-off for the parent. They have a Free Trial as well.

boy sitting in front of computer monitor working on math program teaching textbooks
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4th Grade Science Curriculum

For science, we chose MasterBooks God’s Design for Heaven and Earth. It’s a science curriculum that covers geology, astronomy, and meteorology. My son is obsessed with rocks, minerals, and anything geology so we will probably spend some extra time on the geology units.

a boy sitting on the floor covering half his face with the book god's design for heaven an earth
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I also purchased a set of books from MasterBooks that we will randomly pick up and look at throughout the year. It’s a 9 book set, and they are beautiful. It’s called Wonders of Creation. You can buy them as a set or each book individually depending on your family’s interests. My family loves all science so I got the set for anyone to browse.

wonders of creation book series on a shelf
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4th Grade Language Arts Curriculum

We have several components for our Language Arts for 4th grade. The bulk of his language arts will come from MasterBooks Language Lessons for a Living Education 4. It has a little bit of everything, and it is a full LA curriculum, but I feel it is on the light side so I added other things to meet our needs.

a boy holding a book called language lessons for a living education 4 with more books all around him
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For writing reinforcement, my son will be using Essentials in Writing Level 4. This will be our first year trying this program but I’ve heard great things about it.

essentials in writing level 4 workbooks sitting on a white desk
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A lot of his reading will come from our history curriculum. But there are a few extra books which he will be using with Total Language Plus workbooks. The ones we chose are:

top view of charlotte's web book and the sign of the beaver book on top of two total language plus yellow workbooks
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I also want him to do spelling, and I couldn’t decide which program I wanted to use. I purchased 3 workbooks and we’ll do them one at a time and see if we like one better than the other. These are the ones I bought:

3 stacked spelling workbooks with more books in the background
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For handwriting and cursive, we’ve been using Handwriting Without Tears over the summer and will continue with the next levels as the year goes along.

top view of 3 explode the code workbooks and one handwriting without tears workbook
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Finally, I purchased levels 5,6, and 7 of Explode the Code to test it out. I have a friend that uses it and loves it, so we’ll try it out when we get a chance.

4th Grade History Curriculum

For our History Curriculum, we will be using two different ones at the same time. I know it sounds crazy but I was so torn by which one to get, that Ryan encouraged me to just get them both! We will be using Notgrass Our Star-Spangled Story and MasterBooks America’s Story 1. We will be completing book one of Notgrass this year along with America’s Story 1. Next year we will complete book 2 and America’s Story 2 if all goes well this year. At least that’s the plan!

a shelf with 4 books from our star spangled story homeschool history curriculum and some school supplies in background
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I must say after receiving the books, I’m leaning towards Notgrass looking like it will be a better fit, but we’ll try them out and keep you posted! If we decide to use only Notgrass, then we would complete both books 1 and 2. Here’s a look at both of them:

Notgrass Our Star-Spangled Story

I fell in love with Notgrass’s Our Star-Spangled Story curriculum while doing my extensive research. It is a story based history curriculum with a Charlotte Mason approach. The books are beautiful, full of colorful pictures of actual historical figures and events. There is also a timeline book that is beautiful, and a Star-Spangled Rhythms and Rhymes book with folk songs and poems. It includes a CD with the music as well.

top view of hands holding my star spangled workbook and rhythm and rhymes book from notgrass homeschool history curriculum
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The curriculum is geared towards 1st-4th grade. The curriculum bundle comes with a list of literature that will be perfect for my 4th grader and for reading aloud. I may even have my daughter read some of the books out loud for everyone as she needs some practice with this.

Here are the literature books I got to go along with the curriculum. You can buy the literature pack along with the curriculum at Notgrass, or you can buy them individually:

a shelf with historical fiction books
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Some of these books will be read out loud for both kids to listen to and some are for my fourth grader to read on his own.

We also have an extensive collection of “Who Was” and “What Was” books that we will also use with the curriculum. My son loves them! They have an America Collection which is great if you’ll be studying American History and government.

who was book series collection on a shelf
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We will be doing a lot of reading this year! I love how the history curriculum integrates with Language Arts by including literature. If you are using Our Star-Spangled Story from Notgrass this year, check out my complete reading list PDF which includes the assigned literature, as well as additional literature recommended by Notgrass, and the Who Was/What Was books with their corresponding lesson.

MB America’s Story 1

America’s Story 1 by MasterBooks is very similar to Notgrass in its approach. It also uses a Charlotte Mason story approach. This curriculum is geared for 3rd-6th grade so it’s a bit higher level than the Notgrass one. It also comes with a literature list. I combined both lists as well as added the Who Was books that go with the topics. We have a huge, awesome reading list for the year!

top view of books for america's story 1
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These are the books we got that correspond to America’s Story 1. There are some in this list for reading aloud, some for my older daughter and some for my 4th grader:

a shelf with historical fiction books
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If after the first semester or first year we completely prefer one history curriculum over the other, then we may choose to continue with only the one we prefer. The beauty of homeschooling!

4th Grade Religion

We are Catholic, so for our Faith Formation, we chose a Catholic program. The school my son was in used Loyola Press and we like it a lot so I went with one from them. The particular one they use at his school is only available for schools so I chose Christ our Life. It’s formatted the same way and is available to anyone. I got the teacher book and two workbooks, one for my son and one for my daughter.

a hand holding christ our life workbooks
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Loyola Press has a nice section on its website which provides family resources. We use the interactive chapter review and study guides.

4th Grade Electives

As far as electives, we only have a few things we’ll be adding. I got the art program from MasterBooks, Living Art Lessons. It covers the seven elements of art. It comes with a book and a student journal. Hopefully, he will enjoy it.

several homeschool curriculum books standing on a desk
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Ryan really wants him to do a few classes on Outschool. They have so many interesting choices! They have art, coding, languages, life skills, music, and so much more! We may also use Duolingo, the free app, for him to learn some more Spanish.

Mixed Curriculum

We will be doing parts of History with my daughter and my 4th-grade son together. This is the subject I was most eager about and I’m so pleased with our choices for the curriculum. We will be doing several different history components and will get through as much as we can. I want it to be fun! To start off the year and considering this is an election year, we will be doing a unit on Government.

Gather Round Government Unit

I ordered the Government Mini Unit from Gather Round Homeschool. (Gather Round is a new curriculum from Rebecca of Homeschool On. Her website has tons of great homeschooling info.) I loved that I could get one teacher workbook and two different level workbooks. I got the upper elementary workbook as well as the high school workbook.

united states government mini unit workbooks from gather round homeschool
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I bought some reading books to go along with the government unit, as well as some president flashcards to have some fun with. Here are the readers I got:

top view of a group of american government books
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We will spend about a month completing this unit as a family. The workbooks are beautiful and we can’t wait to get started. There are other units of study that also look very interesting and we will get them if we end up loving this one.

US Geography

We will be lightly sprinkling US Geography throughout the year. I want the kids to know state locations and capitals and have a better idea of general U.S. geography. I purchased some flashcards for state capitals and I also ordered the new Notgrass Our 50 States course. It is a full-year US geography course, but we will just take it slow and do what we can a little at a time.

I also purchased this beautiful book, Children’s Atlas of the U.S.A. from MasterBooks. It’s a large book! It’s super cool. We also got The Star-Spangled State book, which they have on the MasterBooks website. And we got this great National Geographic Kids US Atlas.

a woman holding out in front of her a large children's atlas of the usa book
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Finally, we hung up this US map we’ve had for a while but hadn’t put up yet.

a woman and a boy pointing to Texas on a map on the wall
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We also hope to take a few road trips to enhance our geography studies! Any excuse for a vacation right?!

Texas History

Finally, we will also be touching on Texas History. We will probably integrate it when we get to a good point in our history curriculum. For Texas History I just purchased several different workbooks and readers and we also had a couple of books at home already. This is what we’ll be using throughout the year as we see fit:

top view of book texas history for kids lone star lives and legends
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We will also be reading some “Who Was/What Was” books about Texas historical figures and events.

I know our History curriculum may seem overwhelming but I think we can get it done. I may have gotten a little excited and carried away on History but I love it and want my kids to study it ALL!! The beauty of homeschooling is that we can shift and change as we go along if something isn’t working. So we’ll take it one step at a time and see how it goes.

Final Thoughts

Wow! That was a lot to cover. This was months of research! I hope that it helps you decide what curriculum to use with your child. Please don’t think you have to do ALL the things. You can keep it very simple and choose one thing for each subject. If I really wanted to limit myself to one choice per core subject and nothing else I would choose the following:

4th Grade:

  • Math: Saxon 5/4
  • History: Notgrass: Our Star-Spangled Story (including literature)
  • Science: MasterBooks: God’s Design for Heaven and Earth
  • Language Arts: MasterBooks: Language Lessons for a Living Education

9th Grade:

  • Math: CTC Mathematics
  • History: Notgrass Exploring America
  • Science: MasterBooks: Anatomy & Physiology 1 and 2
  • English: Essentials in Writing

If you made it this far, thanks for hanging in there! I hope our homeschool curriculum picks help you with your choices. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve used any of this curriculum or which other curriculum you love!

homeschool curriculum picks
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You may also like

Homeschool History Reading List for Our Star-Spangled Story

Saxon Math 5/4 – Easy Quick-Start Guide

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