Elementary Curriculum Options

Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center

Note:  Families are able to incorporate their own curriculum outside of these options.  You will need to work with your Education Coordinator (EC) to ensure that any educational program addresses the State Standards, and your student’s interests and needs.

Language Arts

Books

Read books individually or together and discuss them.  Probably the most tried and true method of learning is the simplest, and directly connected to your child’s interests.  For emergent readers, we have book bins filled with a wide variety of fun and classic books.  Keep track of what you are reading.

All About Reading

All About Reading (AAR) is a fun and engaging program that starts with essential pre-reading skills for Kindergarteners, and continues on to teach all five key components of reading. We have placement guides to help you decide which level of AAR to use for your student(s). AAR is a carefully designed, systematic, yet easy-to-use program that contains everything your student needs to become a fluent reader for life. The program is multisensory, and includes hands-on activities and games to help your child feel confident in his/her knowledge of reading fundamentals. All of the levels of AAR include student activity books and attractive “chapter book” readers with good illustrations. AAR is an  Orton-Gillingham method-based reading program, and it can be used effectively to support students who have had reading difficulties or who may have dyslexia.  However, it is an excellent program for any families that are new to reading instruction and who are looking for some support in this very important task. By using this multisensory program as it is put together, a parent can be assured that they are addressing all of the elements of teaching reading.

Pros: Easy to use, fun, engaging chapter book, made to be used right out of the box with no need for special training or experience teaching reading.

Cons: For best results, requires adherence to the sequence and the activities, and some families don’t enjoy this structure. We highly recommend you try this, though, if your student says “I don’t like reading.” This type of comment often means your student needs a more multisensory approach to reading instruction, and more steps to build his or her confidence.  

Reading A to Z: A leveled reading program.  Your Education Coordinator has an account that includes hundreds of printable leveled readers, lesson plans, comprehension questions, worksheets, and reading assessments.   You can also read hundreds of electronic books through RAZ Kids, where leveled books are available with audio tracks and quizzes. http://www.raz-kids.com/  Talk to your EC about getting your account.

Jr Great Books is a close reading curriculum that provides an integrated approach to language arts by combining reading comprehension, critical thinking, writing, and collaborative discussion.  The readers are a mix of folk tales, short stories, poetry and classic literature from around the world.  Each story involves read-alouds, discussions and writing activities to encourage students to think deeply about what they are reading.  For the early primary grades, the reader is also the consumable workbook:  K-1 include the Sailing Ship and Dragon Series, while Grades 1-2 include the Sun and Pegasus series.  Series 3-5 are for students grade 2-6, and include a teacher’s guide, student reader, and a consumable student writing book.

Pros:  encourages great comprehension and discussion skills, multi-grade family friendly

Cons:  most kids aren’t used to spending a lot of time thinking about and discussing one story; designed for classroom discussion, but can work well with homeschooling if the whole family or friends participate

Moving Beyond the Page is a homeschool curriculum that offers Language Arts, Science and Social Studies.  Designed by homeschooling teachers, this curriculum has elements of constructivist, classical, literature based, and unit studies learning.  Flexible age ranges allows for students of nearby ages to be instructed together.

NEWSELA is an online nonfiction reading resource.  Students can scroll through and select various nonfiction resources ranging from sports, to science, to current events.  The best part is that students can enter their reading level and all the contentent will adjust up or down to their ability.  Students can just use it for reading, or they can also do comprehension quizzes and writing connected to what they just read.  Ask your EC if you are interested in this new resource.

Wordly Wise focuses on vocabulary development by using the words in a variety of reading and writing exercises.

6+1 Traits of Writing:  We have collected a lot of resources on this program.  This year we added a 6+1 writing traits Daily Writing Workbook. Traits of Writing Packets explore one of the 6 traits of writing through excellent picture books.  Includes a short “teacher's guide” for additional activities.  We Can Write, We Can Travel, and We Can Celebrate series are 6+1 writing lessons connected with literature, nonfiction, social studies and journaling.

Explode the Code are phonics and reading exercise workbooks that kids enjoy.

AVKO Spelling  Research shows that reading is the best way to learn spelling, but sometimes a system can be handy, especially when learning similar words.  ERCLC also has an online membership for additional resources.

Handwriting workbooks:  Handwriting Without Tears is more upright and monochrome, while D’Nealian Handwriting is slanted and in color. New Standards place little emphasis on handwriting or cursive as typing becomes more important.  Keyboarding Without Tears is a K-5 online program that teaches keyboarding skills by the same people as Handwriting Without Tears.

Oak Meadow is a Waldorf inspired homeschool program that includes a lot of classic literature, but can also include social studies and science.  Can be a little complex to follow, and we don’t have the complete set of resources.

5 in a Row packets are a series of daily lessons related to one classic children’s book.  The folder includes ideas about how to teach not only literature, but history, math and science through the reading and discussion of the book.

Strategies for Writers and Write Now, Express, etc….series of books teach a comprehensive writing program with workbooks.  Strategies for Writers is more structured and scaffolds the writing process, while the Write... series is more open ended.  Draw, Write, Now is great for younger writers as a journal in addition to handwriting improvement.

Writing with Ease & First Language Lessons by classical educator Susan Wise Bauer are daily short lessons that require instruction, they are not independent worksheets.  Writing with Ease teaches good writing and sentence structure through copywork and dictation.  First Language Lessons provides daily grammar and language lessons  These work best for K-4 students or older students needing review.

Games for Writing and Games for Reading are wonderful activity books that have a lot of ideas about how to make reading and writing more fun.  Pair these activities with a high interest book and you have a fun language arts program.

Math

Primary Mathematics (Singapore Math):  Grades K-5.  After reviewing several options, we selected this classic but deep math curriculum.  Used by homeschoolers for years, this curriculum has gained renewed interest as an excellent way to teach the new math standards.  Has a strong focus on learning to mastery and real-world problems.  Math concepts move from using concrete objects, to a pictorial representation, to abstract numbers.  This will require more one-on-one time than most other programs.  A placement test will help us identify where to start your student in this curriculum.  Includes a student textbook, student workbook, homeschool guide or teacher’s guide.

Math Mammoth  Grades 1-7 Printable textbook, review lessons and tests.  Very thorough program that carefully works through each topic.  Since we print the books, you can write on it.  Some online support videos recorded by the author on YouTube.  EC’s can print a copy from the school server.

Beast Academy Currently for 3rd, 4th, 5th grade only (2nd is under development), this is a challenging but innovative curriculum.  Lessons are taught through comic book style textbooks and a student consumable workbook.  For students that are creative, visual learners and parents that enjoy puzzles and math discussions.

Additional Resources to Supplement Math Instruction:

Life of Fred Series (A-J) are fun, story based math problems about Fred, your average 5-year-old professor at Kittens University.

Keys to....  workbooks are great introductions to challenging math topics including fractions, decimals, percents, measurement and more.

Math Manipulatives come in various tubs and packets looking like games, but are great ways to teach math in a hands-on way.  Very important for all students, but critical for visual and kinesthetic learners.  

Dreambox is an online math support program (K-8) with various lessons that automatically adjust to the way your child learns. Use the parent’s dashboard to see how your child is progressing and guide your own math lessons.  It’s drills without killing the fun of math.  Talk to your EC about getting an account.  Recommended time is about 5-8 lessons per week, or about 20 minutes a day.

AIMS Math activity packets (various grade levels) include a complete unit on various math topics that are real-world focused.  Includes a comic style instruction book, a how-to video on CD, and printable worksheets.


Science

NOTE: California has new science standards called the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  These standards focus on recurring themes, deeper understanding, and greater emphasis on engineering.  Until these new resources come out, we are holding off on buying any new textbooks.  Instead we are purchasing more tools for science including microscopes, lab kits, and engineering and “Making” resources.  We also encourage in-depth research projects on a topic of your child’s interest: from butterflies to planets, we have a lot of great resources to support student-centered investigations.

Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) :  For grades K-12 addressing both science and social studies.  This is a resource that several of our families have tried and enjoyed.  Individual units  include a rich integration of reading, activities, and a student workbook all addressing the world or environment around us.  Samples can be found at www.californiaeei.org  We have printed copies of the student materials in the library for you to use, as well as a master copy of the teacher's guide for you to photocopy.  A digital copy of the teacher’s guide can be downloaded for free at the website above.

Science in A Nutshell Kits :  These hands-on science kits contain everything you need to do simple science experiments on dozens of topics.  When paired with the Delta science readers, these kits can become their own curriculum.  Includes a teacher’s guide and student workbook.  Best for grades K-6.

Science A to Z lessons:  Available through your EC or at the library, these downloadable lessons present various science topics and include multiple non-fiction texts, science activities, vocabulary development, and science fair experiments.  www.sciencea-z.com but requires an ERCLC staff member to log-in and download most materials.

Harcourt Science Textbook 2-5: Our traditional science textbook.  There are worksheets available (make copies in the library), but many of the experiments are designed for the traditional classroom and require specialized materials.  But good for presenting content knowledge in an organized and systematic manner.  California has recently created new science content standards for all grades.

Science Books:  We have more books about science than any other non-fiction topic.  Explore a student interest from butterflies to fungus-- we have a book about it.  The Janice Van Cleeve series has lots of simple experiments you can do at home.  Lotions, Potions and Mudpies is a favorite of the younger students.  Also looked for themed book packets on various animals and insects.

Social Studies

Story of the World: Volumes 1-4 cover the history of the world in engaging stories and simple activity sheets.  A limited number of audio CD’s are available.  Our most popular option for elementary students.  If you have a subscription to Netflix, one homeschooler has created a spreadsheet listing supporting documentaries and movies for each chapter in the text, and a blog post about activities.

Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) :  The EEI Curriculum, mentioned above as a science resource, is also great for K-12 social studies.  This is a new resource that several of our families have tried and enjoyed.  They include a rich integration of reading, activities, and a student workbook all addressing the world or environment around us.  Samples can be found at www.californiaeei.org We have printed copies of the student materials in the library for you to use, as well as a master copy of the teacher's guide for you to photocopy.  A digital copy of the teacher’s guide can be downloaded for free at the website above.

Document Based Questions (DBQ): Engaging, inquiry-based units that inspire clear, evidence-based argument writing.  Can be used for a variety of grades, but best suited for grades 5 and up.  Unit topics include a variety of US history and world history themes.   Pre-made copies available in the file cabinet in the nest next to copy machine.

History of US:  A very thorough and highly illustrated history of the Americas, from Book 1 with the Native Americans through book 10 .  A comprehensive worksheet packet accompanies the text (worksheets are available in the Nest).  Great for students in the 5th and 8th grades, but also for any student of American History.

Social Studies Textbooks: K-8 traditional textbook.  Covers all of the standards for California with lots of details and pictures.Best used as a starting off point for further reading or investigation.

Social Studies reading packets by Ananda on topics like pirates, Romans, pioneers, and many more.    

Historical fiction is a great way to do history and language arts at the same time.  Pages of the Past is a binder next to Ananda’s desk that has lots of literature recommendations connected to a grade and historical topic.  We also have the American Girl series.

National Geographic created a fun curriculum around Geography Awareness Week.  Student explorers do different activities around and about their community that earn them badges.