This is the question I get the most. And it’s probably the topic I enjoy talking about the most. What curriculum do I personally use for our family? Well, I can tell you that this decision did not come lightly! It took YEARS to actually find what is perfect for us. When choosing what curriculum to use, honestly, it’s a very personal decision and one that you probably won’t get right the first time around.
Since we have multiple children homeschooling at the same time at different levels (currently Kindergarten through 10th grade) I decided to go with a curriculum that I can teach one lesson with everyone and then they can complete their assignments at the grade level that they are in. The first few years I did not know that this curriculum existed. I tried soooooooooo many different styles and ways and curriculums (insert eye roll) before finally finding the perfect fit. Sometime in the near future I will write a post about all the ones I’ve tried and what we thought of them, but for now I will just keep it simple and give you The What, The How and The Why of the one I’ve settled on and LOVE.
What Do I Use?
Ok, so we use a one-room-classroom style because trying to do four different lessons for four different kids with 6 different subjects is outrageous! Ain’t nobody got time for that! Much less trying to grade everyone and teach the subjects to the little ones who maybe can’t read the instructions yet. NOPE!
The Weaver Curriculum by Alpha Omega Publishers is a Christian unit-study, hands-on type curriculum. The way it works is that every lesson in every subject is Bible based. Everything for that day’s lesson is woven together (hence, “The Weaver”) with the Bible lesson. For example: If you are learning about the great flood in Bible class, you would be learning about the different types of rocks/the rock cycle in Science. For Social Studies you might be learning about ancient culture in Mesopotamia. For Health and Safety you might learn about water safety, and so on from there.
There are 5 volumes ($75 used/$155 new). Each volume contains Bible, Science, Social Studies/History, Creative Writing, Health, Safety, Art, and Grammar (called Wisdom Words, Spelling/Vocabulary, and Penmanship). Each volume is *approximately* one year’s worth of work (however, most people take a little longer to finish it depending on how in-depth you go into the subjects). If a child started Weaver in the 1st Grade, the next year he would begin Volume 2, and so forth until he reaches the end of volume 5, in which case he would then start back in volume 1 (but would be doing 6th grade work this time)….
…..So my #1 reason for LOVING this curriculum is that you buy it once and that’s it!
And here’s a link for you to check out Cathy Duffy’s Review of The Weaver. It has a very good description of how it works.
The Weaver Volume is the structural backbone, a guide, for you as the teacher. “Day-By-Day” (about $55) is a separate book that goes with the volumes as a lesson plan for the teacher. This is only needed if you want to follow their lesson plan. With this curriculum, you decide whether to follow their outline or not…
which brings me to my second reason for LOVING The Weaver- It’s flexible!
Here is an example of the overview for chapter 1 in Volume 1
If your children are really diggin’ learning about the tower of Babel, and languages/communication and Helen Keller- You can stay on that subject and go as deep as you want! (Which is why most people take longer than a year to go through a volume).
Each volume is broken down in to units, and these units go in chronological order from Genesis through the life of Christ. (To see the specifics on each volume please check out the link above for Cathy Duffy’s review.) So by the time your child has finished high school he will have gotten through the main issues and timeline of the Bible twice and then some. Each unit is broken down into days. So the unit we are currently working on is 12 days long. If I followed the Day-by-Day lesson plans exactly, it would take us 12 school days to get finished with it.
Here is an example of Lesson 1 Volume 1 in the Day-by-Day
My 3rd top reason for LOVING The Weaver is….No consumables=Less $$$
The Weaver uses resource information for its “book-work” and illustrations. What that means is that you can use anything you want to get the information from- YouTube, the local library, and resources in your personal library to name a few….which means, in essence, it’s FREE! The volumes and Day-By-Days give you what to study and when to study it, as well as ideas on how to study it-your job is to find resources for that topic and present it to your children. I love this because it gives us a good reason (like we need one) to go to the library each week. If we are learning about sound/the ear, communication, and Helen Keller I will get books on a few different levels so that when I teach a lesson on the human ear I will start with a kindergarten level and work my way up. I might read from a kindergarten level book to everyone and then show a video of an ear exam on a healthy ear and then have my middle and high school students jump over to KidsHealth.org to learn about how the ear works on their own and then go ahead and cover Ear Safety for Health class.
Weaver does give a list of books in each unit that you can use, but most of the ones listed are out of print or difficult to find…But that’s where the flexibility comes in!- Any information covering that topic is just fine whether its books, articles, magazines, YouTube videos, websites, etc is up to you. Cathy Duffy explains this best:
“Each volume of The Weaver gives recommendations for specific books that can be found at the library to be used as supplements. They also offer supplemental resource books that we can purchase. These resource books are from the Usborne line, and also include titles from Milliken Publishing Company that are easier to use as teaching tools. The Milliken books also contain higher-grade-level material that makes them usable with other Weaver volumes and for older children.”
My Fourth reason for LOVING Weaver- Usborne Books!
Um YEAH! Who doesn’t LOVE these books!? They are so beautiful and engaging. I could go on and on about these books (did anyone say “nerd”). But the great thing is that I don’t have to buy them for this curriculum to work! I can pick them up here and there and use them as I get them added to my library. (I have chosen to go ahead and get a few each time I can so that eventually I will have all of them that are used in The Weaver)
Here’s a chart of the Usborne books used and which volume they are referenced. (I did not buy them all at once, but just got them for whichever ones I need for the volume I’m in)
Weaver Usborne book list
What about Math and Reading?
I have FINALLY found our math curriculum! I can’t emphasize that exclamation mark enough. 🙂 It has taken years of painstakingly ordering math resources just to hate it! So much money straight down the drain. *sigh* But I am so happy with the one that I am using now. I love it. It’s straightforward and simple-exactly what we are trying to do! (I only use the math and English(grammar) specifically from this site) Also another HUGE BENEFIT- It’s totally FREE!!
The reason I use the English from this site is because my kids were in the Public School system before and I had to really work with them on math and grammar because they were not at the level I thought they should be. I have chosen for my older kids to use this English curriculum instead of Wisdom Words from The Weaver, however, my youngest kids started with Wisdom Words and so therefore can easily use it (it’s just because of the way that W.W is laid out made it more difficult for me to go back and teach something like it was the first time because it builds on itself each year. If you have a Kindergarten or First Grade student I would definitely use W.W instead of using something else. Why not right?
The reading section is Weaver is left up to you. I personally just let my children pick any book they want from the library and they are to read for 20-30 minutes everyday until High School. I then require 1 hour a day. I don’t do any testing on these books because I want them to learn to enjoy reading. In my opinion, we “test” entirely too much! If the child loves to read, they will read more often and you won’t need to test them!
If you would like to test your children you can always use one of these websites
BookAdventure.com this is like the “Book-It” program used in many public schools but it’s FREE. They do not have every title in a library, so you may want to check first before getting a book and then logging on just to find out that they don’t have the test for it.
Glencoe Literature Library This has a good selection of the classics and other books. This site provides “a brief description of the novel or play, a list of its related readings, and a link to its individual study guide. Each study guide includes background information and reproducible activity pages for students.” Please note that this is not an online test that automatically checks and grades for you. This site gives a printable that the teacher would discuss and check with the student.
All day, everyday I use simple real life situations to use as a teaching moment. Now, I’m not talking about cheezy moments that everyone wishes would end…no, I mean just live life intentionally as best as you can. I don’t always catch those moments, especially on bad days, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t try on every “today” to catch as many as I can.
Everyday activities teach so many things that couldn’t possibly be attained at a tradition school setting. That’s what I love about home-school! We get to decide what they learn and how they learn it. What better way to remember that 3 teaspoons equal a tablespoon than by “accidentally” learning it while helping your mom make cookies a bunch of times around the holidays?
Or by “accidentally” learning about electricity because we went to this awesome convention and caught an amazing presentation on the Tesla Coil.
Children learn by doing, not by memorizing. You can memorize what electricity is. You can memorize measurement conversions….but you don’t truly understand those ideas until you see it, feel it and experience it for yourself.
So I try not to really stress over the little stuff because I know that they are learning far more than the ordinary child that sits still for 7 hours a day and then goes to daycare until close to dinner time. I can pour into them knowledge every time one of those catch-able moments come. And this, my friends, is…
Simple. Easy to use. Cheap or Free.-Cuz that’s the way I roll
If you wanted to look into The Weaver, I must let you know that there isn’t a whole lot of information available online about it. It also isn’t that well-known, but to me it has been the hidden gem of home school! Facebook has a group called the “Unofficial Weaver Curriculum Support”. They have some good information in the files section, as well as curriculum for sale. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any other questions about Weaver or “The Plain and Not So Plain” curriculum that I’ve discussed here.
NOTE: The Weaver has an added on supplement for grades 7-12 that goes along with the Volumes. They also have a preschool curriculum called Interlock.
Here’s a sample transcript for High School if using The Weaver for 7-12th grades
If you are interested in purchasing and feel confused by all of the information (or lack thereof) on AOP here is my suggestion- Get the Basic Five set to get started on your first year. I got mine used from eBay to save a bunch of money! Teaching Tips and Techniques (included in The Basic Five) has totally transformed the way I go about educating my children. I recommend that book even if you aren’t choosing to use The Weaver.
Please keep your eye out for “My list of Favorite Websites for Home Schoolers” coming soon! And don’t forget to hit the subscribe button before you leave if you would like to be notified when we have a new post.