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  1. #1

    Default Building a curriculum, how does this sound?

    I have a 2nd and 4th grader. Here's my plan:

    Math: Life of Fred

    Language Arts: Primary Language Lessons (2nd), Intermediate Language Lessons (4th)

    Handwriting: Cursive Workbook

    History: Story of the World Volume 1

    Science: Sassafras Science Adventures: Zoology

    Reading: Various Chapter Books (Read independently by each child and discussed together)

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  3. #2


    Welcome to the forum! And to homeschooling, I take it?

    In terms of checking off all your boxes, I think you're mostly there. I would suggest that a 4th grader really needs something for writing though. ILL is only grammar, not writing. By 4th grade, students should be doing some writing or working toward doing some writing. Make sure your 4th grader is really ready for ILL as well since the target audience is 5th graders who have completed a solid grammar program. For writing, since you obviously have gravitated toward Well-Trained Mind products, you might like Writing With Ease or Writing With Skill if your student is really ready. Or you might decide to branch out. You could try Partnership Writing from Brave Writer, which would be really different. Or you could use IEW or EIW or CAP's Fables, or Wordsmith Apprentice... there are lots of other options - some of them could be for both students, and others might be only for one or the other.

    In terms of your choices... choices are so individual. We liked Story of the World for the most part. You're on a secular board, so I assume you're aware of the problems with religion in SOTW? Different people have different takes on this, but I didn't find them insurmountable. If you're not sure about them, ask - this is well-discussed territory on secular boards, so there's no reason to run through it all here when you likely know. I really don't personally like Life of Fred, but again, some people do. You have to pick what's right for you. I can't refrain from warning you though that the go along novel for Sassafras Zoology is truly a mess. There are a high number of grammatical errors and typos. The science isn't well-integrated into the story. It might be too young feeling for your 4th grader. The concept is so good... the execution just leaves a lot to be desired and I'm not the only person who feels this way. Most users seem to. Just things to be aware of.

    For reading, it's good to read aloud too! It should especially bridge the gap between reading levels for your kids.
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  4. #3


    Thank you for your feedback! I'm new to homeschooling and my 4th grader is a bit behind.. I wonder if starting with Primary Language Lessons would be helpful for him?

    Both kids are reading at about the same level.

    I am unaware of the religious issues with SOTW... I thought it was a secular curriculum.

    I've read mixed reviews on Sassafras and thought we'd try it.

    My plan is to use both SOTW and Sassafras as read alouds.

  5. #4


    Only Life of Fred for math (in my personal opinion) is not enough. It's a cute enriching story-line to add to a solid math curriculum, if it is something your kids like, which they might or not, but it is definitely not a stand-alone program.
    mom to 3 girls: DD10, DD9, DD6

  6. #5


    Okay, so lots to consider...

    Life of Fred... is it enough? It's really hard to say. I'm also of the view that it's not, especially the elementary series. I think it's not enough practice. But, on the other hand, some people like it so much and they seem to be satisfied with it? I think this depends on your goals and your kids. There are SO MANY excellent secular options for elementary math that you have plenty to pick from. Singapore Primary, MEP Math, Beast Academy, Saxon, and Math Mammoth are just a few other options that also run the gamut of styles and approaches. It's good to ease in... if you're excited about Life of Fred, then try it and see how you feel after a month. Maybe you'll want to add more.

    SOTW and secular stuff... SOTW is stated to be secular. SOTW 3 and 4, IMO are completely secular. SOTW 2 is pretty close. SOTW 1... not really. In a nutshell, the author treats Biblical stories differently than other myths and pays a lot more attention to Biblical stories than some other sources for history. It's pretty easy to deal with if you like the series. It's relatively obvious which chapters have Biblical story excerpts. It's the stuff about the history of the Jews in particular. Some of this is just because of the approach of the series. Bauer's approach to history always prioritizes the importance of textual evidence over all other evidence. So, if a book written at the time or a long time ago and closer to the time says it happened one way, that's the version she's going to give the most weight to. That's in her adult writings as well. The problem is that we know that writers and early historians and so forth often told it not the way it happened. We know this from a preponderance of other evidence such as archaeological evidence, and sometimes from just common sense when it comes to mythologizing history.

    SOTW also has a totally other issue that some secular users don't like. It pays more attention to Western history and to the "great men" of history. Not much everyday people in that series. This is a purposeful choice on Bauer's part to emphasize names and stories over common folk. Look, in the end, SOTW is one of the best products for elementary history out there. It does a better job covering non-Western history than most other comprehensive programs. It's written to kids without talking down to them. It's not meant to be in depth because it's meant for really young kids. I think if you go into it knowing all this and you want to give it a try, please do. It's a good option. I'm glad it existed for us, even if we used other things.

    As for Sassafras, yeah, as long as you realize it's got majorly mixed reviews. If you want to consider some other science options... TOPS is good for experiments, Real Science Odyssey is popular around here, Thunderbolt Kids is kind of cute, Inquiry in Action is awesome and fun.

    Okay... Primary Language Lessons. I mixed up PLL and FLL. You're using the Emma Serl Charlotte Mason style series, yes? That's a different ball of wax. Totally disregard what I said before about ILL. I was mixing it up with the WTM Press series.

    Those Emma Serl books are very sweet... but also very old fashioned. I haven't looked at them in years, but I'm not sure they're secular either, just FYI. Most of the older Charlotte Mason materials are not secular, even if their emphasis isn't religious. Just be sure you're happy with the approach. Will you do the memory work?
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  7. #6


    Story of the World does present some Christian Bible stories as historical fact. It is easy enough to skip those chapters or treat them as Christian mythology or however you want to approach them. Most of the issue is in SOTW Vol I. Many, many secular homeschoolers use SOTW without issue so I'm sure you will be fine.

    What is your fourth grader behind on specifically? It would be easier to make recommendations if we have a clearer picture of what you are working with.

    The Emma Serl books do have some light religious content, just in case you were unaware.

    The only problem I see with your list is that is a whole lot of reading pretty much Even my voracious bookworm would have probably struggled with having to read or be read to for every single subject. A little variety in presentation might be something worth looking into, math and science are some good subjects to look into more hands on or visual curriculum.

  8. #7


    I agree with farrarwilliams about incorporating something more with LOF, whether it be downloading worksheets, getting a workbook or something else. 

    We started using LOF last year and while we like it, I also purchased an appropriate level workbook to use in conjunction for my 4th grader. I wanted him to keep up his current math skills while he started at the beginning of Fred. We will continue using worksheets or a workbook until we get to the intermediate books and then I will make a determination on whether he needs more.

  9. #8


    My 4th grader struggles with math and reading, while my 2nd grader is advanced in both of those subjects.

    I am planning on doing the memory work in the Emma Serl books. I'm still wondering if I should start my 4th grader out with PLL rather than ILL. The god stuff seems pretty light so I figured we could either skip it or explain to my kiddos that some people believe it but we don't.

    I do have the Flash Kids Complete Curriculum workbooks for both kids so we can use that as a supplement too.

  10. #9


    It's really up to you on the PLL vs ILL. Both books are available for free online so you can skim through them and see if the work seems too difficult or too easy. Or you could have your fourth grader listen in the 2nd grader's PLL while doing the ILL for their actual lesson. Or you could drop the grammar completely this year to work on the reading and math skills intensively. That would be my choice personally if the child struggles in those important skill areas. Grammar can be done quickly and easily later on in middle school. Getting those math and reading skills at least to the point of comfortable would take priority for me right now.

  11. #10


    What's their schooling background? What do you mean when you say your 2nd grader is ahead and your 4th grader is behind?

    If they've been in public school, then the CM approach to language arts is going to be a real 360 turnaround. That's fine! There's so much to be said for the classical triumvirate of copywork, dictation, and narration. There's so much to be said for memory work! But it's possible that an "ahead" 2nd grader in a public school classroom will have never done any of them. She may suddenly be at sea. Or she may have been ahead partially because the way the public school did things was the best way for her.

    Same thing for your son. He may be behind for all kinds of reasons. This approach could be better for him... or worse. If he's coming from a public school class, then chances are the work he's been doing is also nothing like the Emma Serl books. If he has a reading disability or another learning disability, then think about whether this is the right approach for him. Copywork and memory work can be extra challenging for some learning issues. For example, if he has a vision tracking issue, then copywork can be harder. If he has low working memory or processing, then memory work can be harder. If he has dyslexia, then he may need a specific intervention program to help with phonics if he's ever going to boost his reading skills. It's just impossible to say from what you've said here.
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