Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    Junior Member Newbie
    Join Date
    Nov 2019

    Wink Looking for a literature based boxed curriculum (new homeschooler)

    Hello! I have just joined so I'm a newbee. :-)

    I plan to start homeschool for my 1st grade son (who is turning 7 next month) after the holiday break this year. That way he can participate in the school's Christmas show before he leaves.

    I went ahead and bought the downloads for TorchLight and Build Your Library (BYL) so that I can see their lesson plans. I really like the books, but TorchLight felt like it was maybe geared more towards girls(?) Most of the book selections had a female character. If anyone has boys that have loved this curriculum, let me know!

    BYL seemed a little too "loose". Being new at this, it would put my mind at ease to have a more open and go approach... so then I started looking at BookShark or Moving Beyond the Page.

    My concern with BookShark may be that it's too much lecturing, but I like the idea of having the days all planned out, and the literature didn't seem quite as "meaty" as the BYL or TorchLight options.

    MBtP I am worried it may be too much prep work for me and too many worksheets for my son. He HATES worksheets, but I want him to do some paper and pencil work too, because I think writing is important.

    I was researching mainly BookShark vs MBtP since the entire curriculum comes in a package which I live the idea of, rather than having to gather everything individually.

    Does anyone have any favorites/suggestions? My son is very creative and enjoys making things out of paper and scissors and tape. I thought the clay projects from TorchLight sounded interesting.


  2. Ratings Request Leaderboard
  3. #2



    Although you may feel that having everything laid out for you every subject, day by day is comforting, Id be very surprised if something like that ends up leaving anyone involved happy. Youre going to move at different paces, youre going to have a half day where youre running errands, youre going to find your son is way more or less interested in something than the SCHEDULE gives time for. You will have one or two days a week where you stack your outings, so not a full days worth gets done. Your neighbor’s cat will have kittens, which are not on the SCHEDULE, but very worthwhile and interesting to visit. I can think of a dozen things that have interrupted our “routine” homeschool days - including taking the dog to the vet just today. Schoolwork still gets done, we go through a session of each subject for my 2nd grader most days, and I dont want some arbitrary merchant telling me what I should be doing every and each day.

    I can say that both BYL and MBtP are secular. They also integrate history, science, and literature (so the books will correspond to the other learning). Bookshark is a variant of Sonlight, and I cant remember what Torchlight is. All in one box curriculums tend to not fit the needs of any particular kid - and cost a lot. They make their money on new to homeschooling parents who think it will be easier for their first year. Ive used BYL for both my boys assorted years, and have never ended up following their offered schedule.

    Dont worry about your son being exposed to female protaganists - I wasnt sure my son would be interested, but he didnt seem to mind that the hero lacked a penis.
    Another source for literature based learning is BraveWriter. Her site has a lot of books to choose from (in the years we used it, we never had a dud), and a wealth of information on gentle language arts.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3


    Hi and welcome.

    We did BYL for half to 3/4 of the level 4 before we got tired of it. It is definitely not "loose" once you get into it. It is quite scheduled and busy, which is why we stopped doing it as it was just too much.

    For starting out and first grade, I would just pick something (or multiple things) that you want to focus on for the year (e.g., around the world/different cultures, an area of science, a topic of interest) and pick out your own books that look good from your local library. Then do little projects from them for art, social studies (cooking, baking, music etc.), and writing (copywork, telling a story in your own words etc.). Then that should get you more comfortable with finding how much you need from a curriculum and what you actually like to do.

    I have always found that when I purchase a curriculum (e.g., BYL or Real Science Odyssey) it always ends up being too much and we (teacher/parent and student) end up not enjoying it and just dragging ourselves through it to try get as much done as possible. Then I feel guilty that I paid for it and we did not use absolutely all of it.
    New Zealand-based freelance science copyeditor. Homeschooling DD 11 (year 7) and DD 6 (year 2).

  5. #4


    An alternative is to use the books lists you like and just add some activities and crafts each week. I would purchase a book of craft/art ideas and then use the book lists to create activities that are inspired by the book. This would give you the flexibility you need so you don't feel you have to do all of the activities, and you can choose the books that work for your child.
    A mama who teaches college writing, as well as help her 12-year-old in
    choosing his own life adventure. Using Global Village School to support our desire to develop a sense of social justice and global awareness.

  6. #5


    What about Oak meadow? I have used their high school courses and they are fantastic. I am planning on getting my son level 4 this next month.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Arrived RTB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012


    I think we all relate to the desire for the open and go program, especially when starting out. But I have found that when you patch things together, you get the best of everything, and it ends up actually being less work for you because you are not 'editing' as much.

    Things that I used with my kids that I'd use again or recommend . . .

    Brave Writer products ( specifically the Arrow and Jot it Down.
    Singapore math
    Magic School bus science kits, show, books
    Starfall (computer)
    Dragon Box (app)
    Sushi Monster (app)
    All About Reading (very scripted, but excellent for kids who struggle with reading)
    Magic Tree House books along with the Fact Tracker books to go with.

    I have used units from MBtP and it is a fair amount of worksheets. I'm using BYL with my 7th grader. I don't feel it is too loose, at least at this level, but I find that I'm altering it a bit more than I'd like to (it has been my first all-in-one type of curriculum).
    DS 14, DD 12
    Year 8

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
About us was created to provide information, resources, and a place to share and connect with secular homeschoolers across the world. aims to be your one-stop shop for all things homeschool! We will be highlighting information about wonderful secular homeschool resources, and keeping you up to date with what is going on in the world of secular homeschooling. But that is only the beginning. SHS is your playground. A place to share the things that are important to you. A place to create and join groups that share your interests. A place to give and get advice. There are no limits to what you can do at Secular Homeschool, so join today and help build the community you have always wanted. is a community and information source where secular homeschoolers ARE the majority. It is the home for non-religious homeschoolers, eclectic homeschoolers, freethinking homeschoolers AND anyone interested in homeschooling irrespective of religion. This site is an INCLUSIVE community that recognizes that homeschoolers choose secular homeschool materials and resources for a variety of reasons and to accomplish a variety of personal and educational goals. Although, and its members, have worked hard to compile a comprehensive directory of secular curricula, it does not attest that all materials advertised on our site, in our newsletters, or on our social media profiles are 100% secular. Rather, respects the aptitude of each individual homeschool parent to fully research any curriculum before acquiring it, to ensure that it holistically meets the educational, personal, and philosophical goals of each homeschooler.

Join us
Looking for a literature based boxed curriculum (new homeschooler)