In the course of four years I have certainly tried many new curriculum and books. Some paid for and some free. It has been an interesting foray into learning for me. Below I am going to begin to review materials we have used. Now bear in mind that these are only my personal opinions. I do not work for any of these companies, I have no personal malice or bias towards any one resource. These are just personal experiences and thoughts as I use the materials and deal with the business's in question. I will try to update this list of books as frequently as possible.
Algebra 1 Grades 6-9 (ebook by Carson Dellarosa)- This book was intended to help my son grasp some algebra early. It did but we found multiple errors in the answer key and the material. There were no lessons to speak of so we had to use other sources to get the actual lessons. So ultimately it was rather disappointing.
CK-12 Middle School Math Grade 6 Flexbook- This is a freeware math program through CK-12. That said it's an excellent math program for parents who are comfortable with math. Why, there is no teachers answer key. Which means grading becomes a nightmare. You have to complete the math in order to mark it. This isn't an issue if you understand the math but it does take a bite into time for the day. As a freeware material though it is very comprehensive. I would just like to see an answer key.
First Start French by Memoria Press- This program is geared for grade 3-8. Having a 3rd and 5th grader I am in no hurry to rush through the material. The program is grammar based and comes with a pronunciation cd. Throughout the material there are songs for the children to learn as well as dialogue. Each lesson has one worksheet in the workbooks for the kids to complete. I have found that for my students more review is needed. We added in a lot of review and I made up little games to help them recall the information easier.
The teacher's copy is laid out in a unique way compared to other teacher manuals I have used. Instead of the answer key being in the back, which requires a lot of flipping back and forth it's inset on each lesson page. This makes working throughout the lesson a lot easier. The speed with which each lesson is accomplished really depends on your students. I try to take two days one to introduce the material and one to do the worksheet. In this way we may have 3 whole lessons a week with a lot of oral review. Lessons are finished in a half hour or less generally.
This program is very affordable for the homeschool family as compared to other foreign language choices on the market.
Cover Story English- Wow this program seems like it is everything I ever needed to make English fun..the teacher is funny, engaging, and teaching..giving me a break.
CK12 Life Science- Very comprehensive workbook for free online. The links to video's make this science a fun watch...but if watching science makes a kid excited it's not my kids..Not heavy on experiments which leads to boredom over the long haul.
French Essentials- I bought this curriculum the other year for beginning french on a budget. I was disappointed as it did not have, in my opinion, sufficient written work to accompany it. I was looking for something that mimicked my public school experience so that it would be easier for me to teach. This was not it.
FrenchSmart Canada- Well we are always looking for French that is easy to teach and clear. I found the workbooks from Popular books very easy to use for everyday french lessons. The downside of course is pronunciation is lacking. If you remember your french its not a big deal though.
Heritage Resources- This resource company is family run out of Manitoba, Canada. I have had the pleasure of dealing with online and on the phone. I can't recommend them enough. They are smaller in size then some of the bigger resource companies out there but they offer excellent service.
These readers aren't your typical simple stories for children. They have complex language and delve into areas of study that aren't typically covered in a language arts program. I loved them. The kids learned a lot reading both of these leveled books. Each one comes with comprehension questions. The older grades also come with comprehension tests. I would definitely consider buying more of these in the future.
Homeschooling Books.com- This place has by far one of THE BEST catalogues out there at the moment. It's layout and information has proven to be wonderful year after year. The prices may be US but are very low compared with nearly every other resource supplier out there. The selection is huge! Shipping to Canada is higher but if you can order and have delivered to the States ( I live on the border) then it is ideal.
Horizons Math- I have used both the Pre-Algebra and a couple of the lower elementary levels. The biggest complaint I have is the Pre-Algebra had next to no instructions save their very brief lessons in the students workbook. This leaves a lot of questions unaided. The work compared to other pre-algebra courses is so intense that it seems to be more of a college level book. At the end of the course we were so fed up we ended up ditching the program in favor of a different one.
Latin For Children- When we purchased this program I wasn't sure what to expect. WE LOVE IT. The use of chants to recall vocab is a terrific method. The extra exercises in the activity book are a fun way to reinforce learning and the instruction manual is very comprehensive. This is without a doubt one of the BEST Latin courses out there.
Mapping the World By Heart- Initially I was impressed with the layout of the curriculum. It had a terrific premise of learning geography through map work. In the end though it became a map heavy. The kids were not impressed. Saying that however I am hanging on to this resource to use here and there as needed as an aid. It does say at the beginning that you don't have to work page by page through it and that's likely why it ended up failing us. I was trying to go from beginning to end.
Minimus Latin- Wow. If you have child who is struggling in their current latin program they will love a break with this cartoon latin program. It's great too if you want to learn about Roman history. The biggest failing is cost it's a pricey program especially since each level will not last a full year of learning.
Sequential Spelling by AVKO- This program is great if you teach it the way it was intended. If you teach it the way they lay out for you it will take time. If you have an advanced student you can just pull words off the word lists. Either way this inexpensive spelling program is sure to prove immensely helpful for nearly any learner.
Story of the World History- A history reader with tests, activities, and so much more...the kids adored learning history. Granted it's not complete what book can completely convey history. It's also very heavy on American history/influence it was written by an American so it's to be expected. We were sorry it didn't cover more history of Canada but after finishing up the fourth reader we are ready to dig into Canada's history and my kids love history so that's a plus.
Teach Yourself Visually Algebra by David Allen Herzog. Wow! What a great book. This really helped us with many of the algebraic concepts my son was learning. It is advanced material so it is good for years of algebra learning. If you had an advanced student they could likely unschool themselves through the subject. I prefer to use this as a study aid though.
Teaching Textbooks- I don't really need to write this review do I. Everyone has heard great things. There's nothing negative to say about a program that includes self marking is there? Well truthfully there is. Some of the questions can be ambiguous and open for interpretation. Your child like mine may become frustrated getting questions marked wrong when they find a question like that..the plus is you can go back in to change their scores if you feel that has happened. Personally I rather discuss why the question can be interpreted another way and accept the mark given.
The Geography Coloring Book by Winn Kapit- Wow! This book is full of excellent maps and detailed information. The one thing I would like to make clear is that the print is small and the information very statistical in nature. Is this right for you then great. Personally we have pulled the kids out now and again to reinforce other topics we are covering.
The Logic of English Essentials- This is a great program for people of all ages to learn to read phonetically. It has all the grammar, spelling rules, and is very comprehensive. Two downsides to this material, one cost, and two time. Each lesson is incredibly long and dry. If you split the lessons between days it makes it more manageable to teach the lessons.
World Geography by Teacher Created Resources (ebook)- I purchased this in an effort to find an affordable world geography that covered more topics than the usual books. What I found though was a very in depth look at countries around the world. Each country has multiple worksheets to research information on. Now this would be great for an independent learner. However if you have a child/ren like myself who hasn't yet mastered the fine art of research skills then it may be a bit more time consuming. It does come with a teachers answer key in the back of it though .