Curriculum Survey Results

love to read Pictures, Images and PhotosCurriculum Survey Results-July 2012

Here you will find the 2012 responses from our Sizzle Bop members to the question. . .

What Materials Work with Your Sizzling Child?

Our survey of Sizzle Bop members from two years ago was so popular, we decided to do it again.

I’m always amazed at the diversity of products used. And yet, some clear winners often do emerge. I’ve included the top winner in each category, but if it was a runaway winner, I’ve got the words “by far the first choice” after it. Then you’ll find the others that, while not in first place, were still used by so many people that they needed a special mention. Finally, I’ve included every product mentioned, even if only by one person. You just never know where the right “key” for your child’s learning may be. So we’ve included them all.

There’s also a commentary section where people have made suggestions, or shared funny thoughts.

We appreciated all of you who shared!  And hope you find it useful!

From all your friends at Sizzle Bop
and…Carol Barnier
Delightful Speaker, Entertaining Author, Adequate Wife, Pitiful Housekeeper

Author of…
How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On To Learning
If I’m Diapering A Watermelon, Then Where’d I Leave the Baby?
The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles

Engaging Today’s Prodigal

To visit Carol’s writer/speaker page


MATH1st Place Winner: Math-U-See

Other Big Winners: TeachingTextbooks, Life of Fred, Right Start, Saxon, Horizons by Alpha Omega

All other entries:

  • Bob Jones University Math
  • Living Math
  • Times Tales
  • A Beka
  • Moore Homeschool Felt: Early Math Concepts
  • Math It
  • Right Brain Multiplication (Craft)
  • ACE
  • Khan Academy
  • Hands On Math
  • Kumon
  • Singapore
  • Ray’s Classic Curriculum
  • Math Lessons For a Living Education
  • Switched on Schoolhouse
  • Cool Math website
  • Video Text
  • Beast Academy
  • Making Math Meaningful
  • Rod and Staff
  • Factivation
  • Jay Snyder Math
  • Rev Up for Math
  • Jump Start Games
  • Aleks
  • Virtual Nerd
  • Math for Smarty Pants
  • I Hate Mathematics (Brown Paper School Books)
  • Mad Dog Math
  • Learn Math Fast
  • Flashmaster (for drills)
  • Hot Dots (for drills)
  • Christian Light Education
  • for fact drill
  • Beginning Algebra by Margaret Lial
  • TimeZAttack
  • Schoolhouse Rock
  • Times Tales
  • Math on the Level
  • Math Mammoth

LOGIC1st Place Winner: Critical Thinking (by far the first choice)

 Other Big Winners: Trivium Pursuit (Bluedorns)

All other entries:

  • Brain Teasers
  • Perplexers by Mindware
  • Board games like Jenga, Mancala, Chess, Tangrams
  • Classical Conversations
  • Groundwords
  • Developing Thinking Skills
  • Mensa Problems
  • Secrets of Great Communicators

HANDWRITING1st Place Winner: Handwriting Without Tears

Other Big Winners: None

All other entries:

  • A Reason to Write
  • Getty Dubay Italic Writing Books
  • TV Teachers DVDs

WRITING1st Place Winner: Institute for Excellence in Writing (by far the first choice)

 Other Big Winners: Writing Strands, Bob Jones University Press, Wordsmith Apprentice, Sonlight

All other entries:

  • Sing/Spell/Read & Write
  • A Beka
  • Callirobics
  • Calvert
  • Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer
  • Write at Home
  • Story Starters
  • English for the Thoughtful Child
  • Hands-On Essays by Bonita Lilly
  • Switched on Schoolhouse
  • Rev Up For Writing
  • Jump Start Games
  • One Year Adventure Novel
  • Four Square Writing
  • WriteShop Primary
  • Potter’s School (on-line)
  • Discovering Voice by Nancy Dean
  • Alpha Omega
  • Stories with a View
  • Write Smart
  • Write Source
  • Draw Write Now
  • Brave Writer

ENGLISH / GRAMMAR1st Place Winner:  Easy Grammar/Daily Grams  (by far the first choice)

Other Big Winners: First Language Lessons from Peace Hill Press, Rod & Staff, Sonlight, Switched-On-Schoolhouse, Shurley English, Language Lessons / Queens  Homeschool, Learning Language Arts Through Literature, A Beka

All other entries:

  • Right Brain Phonics / Dianne Craft
  • Calvert
  • Primary Language Lessons
  • Intermediate Language Lessons
  • Teaching the Classics
  • Voyages in English
  • Vocabulary app-word of the day
  • Winter Promise Scout books
  • Mystery grammar books
  • English for the Thoughtful Child
  • Evan Moor Daily Language Review
  • Christian Liberty University
  • Bob Jones University Press (I
  • Alpha Omega Publications (note: AOP  has five different brands under their   Umbrella)
  • Vocabulary Cartoons
  • Dianne Craft’s Writing Program
  • Hewitt Homeschooling Literature/English/Grammar
  • “Royal Fireworks Press” Landry Academy uses Hewitt and RFWP.
  • Grammar Grace
  • Reading Power, Writing Power books by Adrienne Gear
  • Evan Moor 6 Trait Writing
  • Classical Conversations
  • Winston Grammar
  • Wordly Wise
  • Funny Fairy Tale Grammar
  • Funny Fairy Tale Proofreading
  • Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola
  • Click-n-Phonics

 SCIENCE1st Place Winner: Apologia (by far the first choice)

 Other Big Winners: Sonlight, My Father’s World, Magic Schoolbus Science Club, Answers in Genesis

All other entries:

  •  4-H
  • Unit Study
  • The Rainbow
  • Simple Schooling
  • Rebecca Kellerman’s Books
  • Videos from Biology 101 by Westfield Studios
  • Considering God’s Creation
  • Science readers
  • Burgess Animal Book
  • Burgess Bird Book
  • Christian Liberty Press Nature Readers
  • Supercharged Science / Aurora Lipper
  • Exploring Creation / Jeannie Fulbright
  • Jonathan Parks
  • Janice Van Cleave Books
  • Hands of a Child Lapbooks
  • Truth in Science
  • Landmark’s Freedom Baptist Curriculum
  • Switched on Schoolhouse
  • ACE
  • Rod n Staff
  • Moody science videos
  • Real Life Science
  • TOPS series
  • God’s Design for Life
  • Christian Light Education
  • A Beka
  • Exploration Education
  • Supercharged Science
  • Real Science for Kids
  • Khan Academy
  • Christian Kids Explore Science
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, by Nebel
  • Sci-Ma-Te,
  • Project Learning Tree
  • Alaska WILD! Curriculum
  • Lyrical Life Science
  • Download-n-Go interactive unit studies by                 Amanda Bennett
  • Science Smart Junior: Discovering the Secrets of Science
  • A Reason for Science
  • Moving Beyond the Page
  • Field Guide to. . . (book series)

GEOGRAPHY1st Place Winner: My Father’s World

 Other Big Winners: Sonlight, Geography Matters, Galloping the Globe, Cantering the Country

All other entries:

  • Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (on Netflix)
  • Mapping the World By Heart
  • Geography Songs
  • Holling C Holling Books
  • Ambleside On-line
  • Book of Centuries Timeline
  • Mystery of History (geography component)
  • Book of Marvels
  • Shepherd’s Software
  • Trail Guide to World Geography
  • Bringing the World to Life
  • Switched on Schoolhouse
  • ACE
  • Seterra
  • Homeschool Legacy Once a Week Unit Studies
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Christian Light Education
  • Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Roadtrip / USA
  • Expedition Earth
  • Passport Series by Amanda Bennett
  • Zaner-Bloser
  • Ultimate Geography Book
  • From Akebu to Zapotec (Wycliffe)
  • Post Crossing Website
  • A Beka
  • Complete Book of Geography
  • Mapping the World with Art
  • Black Line Maps
  • Canada, My Country (w/ Google Maps)

SPELLING1st Place Winner: All About Spelling  (by far the first choice)

 Other Big Winners: Sequential Spelling, Spelling Power, A Reason for Spelling

All other entries:

  • Institute for Excellence in Writing / Phonetic Zoo
  • Alpha Omega Horizons
  • A Beka
  • Spelling City
  • Spelling Wisdom
  • McGuffey’s Eclectic Spelling Book
  • Rod and Staff
  • Spell to Write and Read
  • Steck Vaughn
  • Switched On Schoolhouse
  • Bob Jones University Press
  • Scribblenauts, –an ipod game
  • Building Spelling Skills
  • Spelling Workout
  • Click-n-Spelling

HISTORY1st Place Winner: Story of the World (by far the first choice)

 Other Big Winners: Mystery of History, Sonlight, My Father’s World

All other entries:

  • Living Books
  • Alpha Omega Monarch
  • Chester Comix (as a supplement)
  • Beautiful Feet
  • Homeschool in the Woods
  • Diane Waring – Ancient Civilizations
  • Donna Ward
  • Calvert
  • Learn Our History
  • Tapestry of Grace
  • Draw through History
  • Ambleside On-line
  • Winter Promise
  • A Beka
  • A Living History of Our World
  • Switched On Schoolhouse
  • Truth Quest
  • Landmark’s Freedom Baptist Curriculum
  • American Adventures
  • G.A. Henty Books
  • Liberty’s Kids
  • Time History Movies
  • Bob Jones University Press
  • Christian Light Education
  • History Pockets
  • American Patriot Books
  • Amanda Bennett Unit Studies
  • Hands of a Child Lap Books
  • Knowledge Box Central Lapbooks
  • Biblioplan
  • Mother of Divine Grace
  • Hands on History with Todd Farion
  • Heroes of History Books by Janet & Geoff Benge
  • Journey Through Learning Lapbooks
  • Intellego Unit Studies
  • Living Books Curriculum
  • Classical Conversations
  • Moving Beyond the Page

READING1st Place Winner: Sonlight

 Other Big Winners: Explode the Code, My Father’s World, Hooked On Phonics

All other entries:

  • Sensational Strategies for Teaching Beginning Readers
  • Bob Books
  • Bob Jones University Reading
  • Picture Me Reading
  • Reading Eggs
  • Christian Liberty Nature Readers
  • All About Reading
  • Drawn Into the Heart of Reading
  • Right Track Reading
  • A Beka
  • Calvert
  • Phonics Pyramid
  • Ambleside On-line
  • Christian Light
  • Rod and Staff
  • Sonday Phonics
  • Take it to Your Seat Phonics Centers by Evan Moor
  • The Reading Game
  • Institute for Excellence in Writing’s PAL program
  • Landmark’s Freedom Baptist Curriculum
  • Rev Up For Reading
  • Sing/Spell/Read & Write
  • Alphaphonics
  • Exciting Novel Literature
  • EasyRead (wonderful online program from UK for dyslexia)
  • Turbo Reader
  • Dianne Craft’s Reading Program
  • Hank Zipzer by Henry Winkler—series about a kid with “learning differences”
  • Scaredy Cat Method
  • Logic of English
  • Reading Power, Writing Power books by Adrienne Gear
  • Raz Kids Website
  • Leapfrog DVDs
  • Barton Reading
  • Pathway Readers
  • Heart of Dakota
  • Tapestry of Grace
  • Living Books Curriculum
  • Recipe for Reading

 ART1st Place Winner: Artistic  Pursuits (by far the first choice)

Other Big Winners: Aeitler, Mark Kistler Drawing Squad, Barry Stebbing  — I Can Do All Things, Lambs Book of Art

All other entries:

  • Draw – Write—Now
  • How to Teach Art to Children / Evan-Moor
  • Drawing with Children / Mona Brooks
  • My Father’s World
  • Calvert
  • K-12
  • Child-Sized Masterpieces
  • Art History and Readers Theater
  • See the Light DVDs
  • Intellego Unit Studies
  • Mary Ann Kohl’s Books

MUSIC1st Place Winner: Classical Kids (by far the first choice)

Other Big Winners: Simply Music

All other entries:

  • Guitar Lessons
  • Lapbooks
  • Sonlight’s Sing the Word CDs
  • Phonics for Piano
  • Melody Lane / Calvert
  • Mary Jo Moore Piano Course
  • Patch the Pirate by Majesty Music
  • Dolmetsch on-line
  • Music for Little Mozarts
  • Art Activity Website
  • Frederick Harris music books
  • Mountain Ocarinas
  • A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers
  • Piano
  • Classical Conversations


TYPING1st Place Winner: Typing Instructor (Typer Island) (by far the first choice)

Other Big Winners: BBC Dance Mat Typing (free on-line), Mavis Beacon

All other entries:

  • AVKO Typing Curriculum
  • Jump Start Typing
  • All the Right Type
  • Scripture Typer on Line
  • Typing Tutor Deluxe
  • Sequential Typing
  • Keyboard Town Pals


Other Big Winners: My Father’s World, Picture Smart Bible, Answers in Genesis

All other entries:

  • Jesus Storybook Bible and My big book of 5 minute devotions
  • Catholic Kids Bible Study
  • Bible Study Fellowship
  • Beginners Bible
  • What’s in the Bible DVDs by Phil Vischer
  • Who Am I Series / Apologia
  • Sonlight Sing the Word CDs
  • Doorposts (II
  • Bible Study Guide for All Ages
  • Community Bible Study
  • Foundations Press: Foundations 01: Preparation For Christ
  • Bible– Scripture memory (chapters at a time)
  • Catechism
  • Institute in Basic Life Principles
  • Grapevine Studies
  • Nest Entertainment Videos
  • A Children’s Story Bible / Catherine Vos
  • Lamp and Quill
  • Queens Homeland
  • Switched On Schoolhouse
  • Landmark’s Freedom Baptist Curriculum
  • ACE
  • Switched On Schoolhouse
  • Grace From the Beginning
  • Discover 4 Yourself
  • Instruction in Righteousness
  • Action Bible
  • Navigators
  • Veggie Tales
  • Any VBS CD
  • My Catholic Faith Delivered/Faith & Life books
  • Alpha Omega
  • Kids of Integrity website
  • Children, Can you Hear Me? by Brad Jersak
  • We Choose Virtues
  • Summit Ministries Materials
  • The Kid’s Guide to Becoming the Best You Can Be
  • What Would You Do If…
  • Leading Little Ones to God
  • Explorer’s Bible Studies
  • Mystery of History
  • Positive Action for Christ
  • Keepers of the Faith
  • Bible Bee

FOREIGN LANGUAGE1st Place Winner: Rosetta Stone (by far the first choice)

Other Big Winners

All other entries:

  • Calico Spanish
  • Critical Thinking CD Rom Games
  • Silly song Latin
  • Switched On Schoolhouse
  • Speedy Spanish
  • Japanese in 10 Minutes a Day
  • (ASL)
  • Muzzy
  • Landry Academy or Potter’s school
  • Power Glide Spanish
  • Visual Link Spanish
  • Pimsleur
  • Prima Latina
  • SongSchool
  • Usborne Flashcards


We didn’t include a full package category for voting, but these were offered by members as things they’ve liked in this category.

  • Heart of Dakota
  • Life as it happens
  • Illuminations All-in-One (Bright Ideas Press)
  • My Father’s World
  • Konos
  • Switched on Schoolhouse
  • Five in a Row
  • Trail Guide to Learning (from Geography Matters)


This section is FULL of wonderful stuff, in a mish-mash, all over the place sort of manner, but I tried to give each comment a category to make it easier to find what is relevant to your search. Items were placed in this section in the order they came in. So you’ll have to meander through the swirl of ideas. But there are amazing GEMS buried here and there.

Stuff like—

  • how to play Nerf Gun Spelling,
  • building a language arts program based on your child’s own creation of a superhero,
  • another language arts program built on the student’s monthly newsletter
  • what store, probably near you, offers free classes.

In addition, if people told me why they liked a particular product, or ways that they’ve used it,  that is in here too, usually preceded with the words “Why We Love. . .”

You may want to grab a cup of coffee cause. . .you may be here a while.

OUR PHILOSOPHY–Basically, if it  1) can be tied to something he’s interested in, 2) is hands on, 3) involves a good story, and 4) doesn’t look too much like school work,  he will work with it and get a lot out of it.  This would be mostly Sonlight (as long as the teacher (ahem!)  remembers to make adjustments and not try to do every single thing 😉
We skip the vocab worksheets and learn the words by reading and talking about them. Creative writing ideas always come from the book and the more involved she is in picking the topic, the more motivated she is. As long as she’s writing and learning grammar, mechanics, and spelling–it’s all good! I even give papers she writes for other subjects like history a separate English grade.

For music, we don’t use a curriculum. For us, this has got to be a social event. A musical or a kids’ choir usually gets my Sizzler excited about it. She loves to sing. (Last year we all participated in Music Man in our local community theatre.)

SCIENCE– Just do Experiments

SPELLING—homemade games like Hangman

ENGLISH—use YouTube to reinforce concepts. (**I wish this had more explanation. We at Sizzle Bop are very curious.)

WHY WE LOVE. . .Daughter LOVES Five in a Row!

READING: WAIT till they’re ready! Letting her make up her own stories and pretend to read and reading to her.

ART– lots of hands on projects in the style of an artist we have read about

PRODUCT–Using Voice Dictation Software for writing

WRITING– we keep it simple. — copywork from the Bible– has been writing and illustrating books since three years old; I would transcribe for her when she was younger, now she writes and illustrates them all by herself.

READING–Lots of folks suggested reading historical fiction, including the creator of Sizzle Bop. J

HISTORY–Anything with a fun page to complete while I read the lesson

GEOGRAPHY—use puzzles

SPELLING—do orally

READING—Captain Underpants

ART—painting body head-to-toe

EXPECT TO CHANGE–What worked one year does not necessarily work the next (same with discipline-what worked on Monday does not work on Tuesday:). I have a lot of curriculum that was not even finished (the pages were stuck together from all the tears : ). I love my sizzler but he wears me out. I have found out through the years (he will be in fifth grade) he is not happy with anything that takes effort.

SPELLING—Any list is fine. Just do it orally and have them jump on the trampoline while spelling.

LEARNING IN MOTION–Installed a swing in living room

WE LOVE–Lego Robotics

SELF CONTROL–confidence, learning to center his self, and, oddly, social 🙂 – Soo Bahk Do karate (most any lesser known ART based  style will likely be good) – the key is finding one that has kid oriented classes and focuses on discipline – I could go on for days about the benefits of this and how it has helped my sizzler 🙂

PERFOMANCE ARTS and PE, she goes to a dance school (mostly ballet but a bit of modern) over ten hours per week. It keeps her moving and it’s like breathing for her.

PE / Family Time Fitness

WE LOVE. . .Robotics!  Our favorite: VEX Robotics…very flexible program, real world mechanical, design, CAD, simplified programming, etc. mainly for Jr. High and High School (competitions available also)

LOGIC—Legos, Puzzles, Games

READING—Patience, Time & Prayer (that’s not the name of a book, but it should be)

MUSIC—turn on my college CDs and dance

BIBLE—Scripture memory and discussion.

WHY WE LOVE. . . My Father’s World 5 year cycle.  It is an eclectic mix with great variation & mix of writing, reading, hands on, crafts, doing, etc. He really enjoys it.

SCIENCE-Apologia-I really liked the journals you can purchase–lots of options for writers/pictures drawers and everything in between

GEOGRAPHY-I use tons of maps and we always have the globe on hand to point out what we’re talking about.  I’m a AAA member and this allows me to get as many maps as I want all included in the membership

FUN STUFF—Brainware, Always Ice Cream, Xtra Math

HANDWRITING– Give my sizzler a fun 3-ring binder, some glue, colored pencils, glitter, etc., and let her copy whatever she wanted from Bible, poems, history, other reading.  This year, I’m adding in the book Kids’ Book of Creative Lettering to allow her to have fun while developing fine motor skills.

PHILOSOPHY– SHORT and Sweet and Visual and  Hands on is my motto!!!!!!!!!  It helps to keep attention!

SCHIENCE–Scholastic Hands on and 3D science books are great go alongs. Anything by Donald Silver is Awesome!

GEOGRAPHY—History Pockets and Scholastic 3-D maps

READING  I use REWARDS!!!!!  I make the goals very visual and have a laminated sheet with pictures of the books and a check off graph.

VOCABULAR—love vocabulary cartoons

VOCABULARY—word of the week

WRITING- Just Write. Don’t most sizzlers hate to write? Wish i could say this book had turned him on to writing but what it does do is teach the structure and elements of good writing in incremental steps that gets him writing without too much torture.

HISTORY—Unit studies and lap books

PE—Family Time Fitness and Homeschool PE for the PE Challenged Mom

WHY WE LOVE. . . All About Spelling– –because it has a variety of activities, my 10 y.o. can march around while he does the review box.  He prefers RULES to spelling as he always asks

“Why is it spelled this way?”     “It just is….”  doesn’t satisfy him.   It has dictation sentences to reinforce the words and he is able to tolerate the 3-4 a day.



WHY WE LOVE. . . Landmark’s Freedom Baptist Curriculum. The best thing about the LFBC program is that the books are not very colorful. (Yes, stop and re-read that line again). This initially was a turnoff for ME, but the materials have certainly proven that “less is more” for highly distractible students. Our sizzler is more focused because she isn’t distracted by busy, overwhelmingly stimulating pages. She has never once complained that there aren’t as many pictures and that the material isn’t colorful, but she does her work so much more happily now. Within the first couple of days, our daughter commented how she isn’t so distracted while doing her reading and assignments (for all of the LFBC subjects that we use). When our sizzler is particularly interested in a certain concept, we’ll look up videos online for added visual stimuli. The format also enables Landmark to keep the costs of their materials low: $40 per complete subject set (including answer keys, tests, etc.).


HISTORY- Landmark’s Freedom Baptist Curriculum. With the LFBC material being mainly self-instructional, our sizzler sister loves the fact that she can read the material herself rather than have to sit through me reading it. She’s very independent and would just rather “dive in and do it” than listen to me drone on. As I mentioned above, a great bonus with the LFBC program is that the tests and answer keys are included in one flat price along with the student books. Very Christ-centered material. Although lessons are short, it seems that focusing on the main points helps its students retain the “big picture” facts while instilling a solid biblical worldview. How could you ask for better when it comes to history?


READING- Landmark’s Freedom Baptist Curriculum. Short reading lessons from the good old McGuffey Readers and short written sections daily, too. Great character building material as well. While one McGuffey reader is used for the entire year, LFBC splits up each subject (including the reading workbook) into two semester books for the year. Our sizzler girl immediately loved how the books are thinner when divided into two books for the year. She had noticed how with her other books they were getting thicker and thicker as she began each new grade level. Having a thinner book to work with that gets switched off for another thin book mid-year is very appealing to our sizzler. She was overwhelmed by the sheer size of many of her other books. With subjects other than reading, there are just the two books (all reading material and exercises within each book for each semester). So it’s nice not to have to drag out a textbook AND a workbook for each subject. Our daughter is generally well organized, but since many sizzlers struggle with organization, the format of this curriculum would serve them well: no more missing loose assignment pages since the answers to questions are written in the same book as the textbook). I don’t mean to ramble on and on about LFBC, but it has been a tremendous help to our family, but let me just mention one more huge plus with this curriculum as far as sizzlers are concerned. The lessons are laid out each week numbered 1-5, and the lesson format is the same. For all of the LFBC subjects we do, day one is writing the definitions for vocabulary words (or matching  vocabulary words) that will be in that week’s lesson, day 2 is reading the topic for the week, day 3 involves questions regarding the reading material, day 4 involves writing a report and/or learning a Bible verse that relates to the topic being studied, and day 5 is always test day. No surprises. The child knows exactly what to expect.

HOME ECONOMICS– course for girls 6-12: Pearables Home-Ec Series (levels 1-3; great cooking, cleaning, sewing, and even organizing lessons; the sewing isn’t complicated either- I’m learning with her as we go)!

MOM LOGIC– (If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.” “If you cut off your legs playing around that baler, don’t come running to me.” )

WHY WE LOVE. . .Institute for Excellence in Writing: This is a great program for sizzlers or any kid that would rather be outside building a fort rather than writing.  It is a painless step-by-step process that gets kids writing beautifully.  I have read reviews that say it does not allow for creativity, but that is completely not true.  I highly recommend this writing program for sizzlers.

HISTORY — field trips, paper doll clothes of the era, baking authentic foods

ART — field trips, using new media to mimic artists — dominoes, duck tape, wrapping paper…

MUSIC — YouTube — cultural artists from around the world

MATH: Best practice: give them money and let them make their own purchases and calculations, even from a very early age.

WRITING- Lots of handmade books – stapled booklets of plain white paper to illustrate and write/make (or dictate story to parents to write down).

SCIENCE-Lots of handmade books – stapled booklets of plain white paper to illustrate and write/make (or dictate story to parents to write down).

READING: Read lots of books to them until they are ready to read – at whatever age. Select a wide variety of books. Continue with picture books for a long time, because there are so many interesting and creative ones. Don’t insist on chapter books and books devoid of art too early. Continue to read aloud even long after they are reading to themselves.

ART: Give them a variety of art materials and let them have at it; enroll in some classes at rec. center for more technique and variety.

MUSIC: Play a variety of music at home; take them to live free concerts and presentations as often as you can; lessons if they can handle it; group lessons might be good; have some instruments around the house; try to learn one yourself if you don’t already play. Sing. Try singing some rounds. Clap rhythms.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE: Bring them to bilingual or foreign language storytime at the library when they are young for early exposure to FL; Bring them to food markets and restaurants of other cultures; show them foreign alphabets and words on menus and other printed materials such as signs and brochures; watch some cartoons and shows in other languages – can turn on English subtitles. Try a language class, such as Mandarin or Spanish – especially if taught in a creative way.

WRITING – ENGLISH – SPELLING– – My out of the box son published and sold his own newspaper at ages 6 and 7. This year (age 12), he will compose a monthly newsletter to send to family and friends. We proof and learn grammar/spelling rules as we go and he is extremely thrilled to be doing something he likes. He writes on our other topics we study. This lets me know what he has learned. Earlier years he hand wrote and made copies. Topics covered: handwriting, computer skills, art (he included a comic), logic (he created word searches, crosswords, jumbles etc – usually pertaining to what we have studied), economics (he sold ads, subscriptions and managed his own profits -we floated him his seed money), grammar, spelling, writing, research, history and science (often wrote articles pertaining to). This probably isn’t all.

My son also makes video or computer photo documentaries on lots of things we do.  This covers planning, organizing and goal setting. He “writes” (sometimes physically, sometimes just mentally) his plans and script. Great way for me to document our days. Many times I have said that we would have to dig all this out if the state ever came knocking! We have a great time.

MUSIC – We love Beethoven’s Wigs 1-4 and classical kids cds. My kids often recognize music and the composer based on these cds. Now, they also sing the silly lyrics (often at inopportune times). I am way okay with that.

GEOGRAPHY – We have a map on our table under 20 gauge clear plastic. My kids have learned so much from that. We eat foods from all over, follow the olympics, follow the news, pray for other countries etc: all the while looking up those countries as we go. I am amazed at how much we all learn from these simple things.

EGG FUN–Lastly, we do every holiday we can. Even as my kids get older, we enjoy turning everything into a theme. One fave is hiding absolutely anything in an Easter egg. When we did parts of speech, I hid eggs with words in them all over the house. Then I had papers with noun, verb, adj at the top. Ad the kids found each word they had to come tape it to the proper paper. I have hid math problems, words from quotes or scripture that they had to put in order. With a little thought you can make anything a theme.

READING– letting them pick the books and making them practice at least 15 min a day – or read one story to their little sister

HANDWRITING- Handwriting Without Tears & Callirobics

GEOGRAPHY-Made flash cards using  Yo Sacramento book – also use Quick Pic Geography Game

WHY WE LOVE. . . THE TRAIL GUIDE SERIES by GEOGRAPHY MATTERS.  We have used PATHS OF EXPLORATION and are moving on to the next, PATHS OF SETTLEMENT.  The entire curriculum (which includes everything but math) all relates to the historical story at hand (last year we did Columbus, John Smith, Pilgrims, Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, and Johnny Appleseed–they are in 6-week units).  It helped that everything tied in with each other, as the stories were engaging and the curriculum was based on the stories. That helped tie my “sizzler” into the curriculum.  We still needed to adapt for activity, but we both agreed that we wanted to continue with the series

WRITINGtakes a class where the peer pressure to focus and get work done is terrific

WHY WE LOVE. . . Life of Fred. It surprised me that my son likes this curriculum as much as he does, but I think the key is that the story keeps him engaged and gives him a purpose for the math. Other programs don’t work as well for him, b/c once he thinks he has mastered a topic, he sees no reason to have to continue to work on it.

SCIENCE – Hands-on supplements like Scholastic’s The Body Book, any of the T.O.P.S. series, and science kits. Adding in hands-on projects that work is key.

ART – Topical studies here – we worked through Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad books, then some manga drawing books. As for art appreciation, the page-a-day art calendar put out by the Metropolitan Museum of Art has given us a little bit of art exposure, combined with some of the art appreciation suggestions on the Harmony Art Mom website (

READING- Just read the Classics

SPELLING–Nerf gun spelling. I give a word and my son spells it out using index cards with letters on them.  There is one letter per card.  Once he spells it, I check it for accuracy and if it is right, he shoots the letters in order (left to right).

ART – Free classes at Michael’s Craft store

WRITING – Online “live” classes work great for us – they are pricey, but worth their weight in gold. Landry Academy or Potter’s School and PA Homeschoolers for AP classes which are NOT live but more correspondence which is great when they get older and more disciplined – 11th and 12th grade

SCIENCE–Check out Physics Quest for free science kits.

DRAMA & DEBATE–Keys to interp – Breathing Life into Literature by Travis Herche (Great for acting) Monument Publishing.Keys to Cross Examination – Mastering Persuasion’s most important skill by Cody Herche (Great for Debating)   Monument Publishing

GRAMMAR–Mad Libs, Schoolhouse Rock Grammar Rock (video/DVD or CD only), “Grammar Grooves” CD

SCIENCE — Magic School Bus, Netflix for National Geographic specials, Modern Marvels (on History Channel), setting up a “science center” with all of those cool-looking experiment kits and just letting him “have at it”


GEOGRAPHY–Map games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Name that State; Playing our own license plate game in which kids name the capital of a state when we see that state’s plate (we also try to recall the nickname); singing the Animaniacs states & capitals song over and over again; having maps on the wall and for him to touch; having an up-to-date globe!

HISTORY–Knowledge Box Central lapbooks, Hands of a Child Lapbooks and free online lapbooks); old time radio programs from– we love them for history!; Schoolhouse Rock for America Rock (DVD/video or CD); Animaniacs US Presidents song (fun!)

SPELLING –Play Scrabble, play Snap it Up card game

ART-MaryAnn Kohl’s books, Usborne Art Treasury, Getting to Know the great artists by Mike Venezia (funny books and videos/DVDs)

CHORES–For chores in our house (which is somewhat character education mixed with life skills), I have devised a clothes pin and ribbon based system. I need to just email you a picture sometime.

LOGIC-Application moments: “Sweetie, if you keep swinging the cat like that, what could happen?”Pause while child’s mental wheels turn. “Maybe I should put the cat down?” “That sounds like a good idea to me, Sweetie. Good job.”

READING—The Island series by Gordon Korman

FUN STUFF–Rockclimbing, Gibbon slackline (PE), Wii (winter indoor PE), drama, kayaking (PE), bike riding (PE), books about Titanic, kits about dino digs

HISTORY-Best Website to encourage more learning and research –

WRITING-GRAMMAR-notebooking, write own super hero & Ben 10 stories, make up silly sentences and teach grammar from those, plus parts of speech on index cards & make up silly sentences from these.

GEOGRAPHY–The ultimate Geography book, plus our own plethora of atlases and maps, trips and library resources and geography songs, and connecting with our history lessons

CHARACTER–lots of community volunteering – animal shelter, long term care center, local museums, trash pick-up, etc…

PE– lots of outdoor hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, mountain climbing, plus they are on the swim team and have tried dance and gymnastics. They also are responsible to cook a healthy meal for our family 1x/week

FUN STUFF– – Timberdoodle Thinking putty, Dragon Dictation, Lego Education,

FUN STUFF–Math Bingo app on Iphone, Stack the States, Presidents v. Aliens, Stack the Countries

CHORES & CHARACTER– Accountable Kids = AWESOME, and “visual timers” are priceless.

GEOGRAPHY–Usborne books, “10 Days In…” board games, Spectrum Geography

PE– Total Health: Choices For a Winning Lifestyle

WORLD EVENTS-God’s World News magazine–short and fun with good pictures

Fun Stuff—Brain Box

UNSCHOOL– If I just write “unschool” for each subject does it still count? It’s the only way my son and I both get to stay sane! He’s doing great too, learned to divide when we have a favorite food, learning to read through lots of fun games, learns art from museums and making things. It works for us! We tried lapbooking, notebooking, Saxon for math, unit studies, so many more and they were all not working

STUFF WE LOVE–We love the Five in a Row books, using parts of the Prairie Primer, and products from In the Hands of a Child (lapbooks) We also love anything in the Magic School Bus line of products, Dover coloring books, and the Draw Write Now books.

KEEPING HOUSE ORDERED– Zone Cleaning for Kids from Trigger Memory System
Not curriculum, per se, but being clean and organized helps us be much more productive!

SCIENCE I like combining Apologia with the pre-packaged “experiment” kits that go with the lessons – such as what is sold at places like Rainbow Resources.  I also love the Nutshell kits (Delta Education)…everything you need to tackle a dozen or so experiments.  Experiment kits are expensive, but you cannot beat the convenience or the fun!

WHY WE LOVE– The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer – I have used this as the core for my curriculum even though it is not designed to be. It has awesome activities and really teaches History in a fun way. I use a Unit studies approach to teaching and this makes it so easy! With very little outside work, I can use this curriculum to cover History, Geography, Science, Art, Music, Foreign Language, and Writing. And it is pretty cheap which is awesome! You can get all 3 books for Volume 1 on Amazon for under $30. There are 4 Volumes but it will take some time to work through it all, and you can always revisit a time period. I love how interested my kids are in our history because of this curriculum and because it is chronological, it answers a lot of the “Why” questions that they have about life and society. It also has gives you a list of other books to use along with it to go deeper, almost all of which can be found at your local library.

MATH –we use manipulatives such as geoboards, bear counters, real money things they can hold and work with. This usually holds their attention more and helps them figure out the answers.

TYPING– HSLDA also has a site that has curriculum helps for typing and other needs for struggling learners.

GREAT RESOURCE– is the National Parks Jr. Ranger Program.  The National Park Jr. Ranger Program promotes a specific area of study (history) with a booklet to complete.  You visit the site and complete the booklet, turn it in to a Park Ranger to evaluate and you receive a wonderful badge or patch from that park.  This is an amazing tool to summarize your history lesson and your child will love to collect the badges.


MATH- Times Table Tap and Math Baseball apps

WRITING– My kids have a journal they write in each day. For the first few years they chose their own topics, and now I select topics some days and give them free choice other.

READING-ENGLISH– Learning Language Arts through Literature – I started this last year to give them some exposure to areas where we have huge gaps (my boys were in grades 6 and 7 last year; both have ADHD and severe learning disabilities, plus the eldest has other needs) Don’t worry about grade level – use the placement test on their site to find the level that is right for your child. I am finding it a bit much for my eldest, but my younger son loved the program


21 Responses to “Curriculum Survey Results”

  1. Monica Says:

    It was very helpful to see where the various curriculums stand.

  2. daniellaindie Says:

    Thank you SO much for posting this! Even though I’m “second generation” (I was homeschooled through high school), I’m finding that my Sizzling five-year-old is NOT just like me. I would wake up early, set my goals in an orderly little check box chart and have all my book work finished by 11am and spend the rest of the day reading outside. My Sizzler would rather fight ninjas and make culinary “creations” (a.k.a. HUGE messes) with his 3-year-old sister. I’m going to do some research from this list and see if I can find curriculum that will be more interesting to him than the workbook program we’re currently using. Thanks! 🙂

    • carolbarnier Says:

      I glad you found it useful. I’ve returned to it myself time after time. I only wish I’d thought to create this list years ago when we first started Sizzle Bop. Oh well. It’s never too late for a good idea.

  3. MATH WEEK – Day 5 « Sizzle Bop Blog Says:

    […] Curriculum Instead of listing curriculum here, it would be better for you to look at what all the moms in Sizzleland answered when asked what math curriculum they like to use. For the results of our Curriculum survey– go here. […]

  4. Amy Hendrix Says:

    New to your site…but I have got to tell you what a breath of fresh air you are and were at the convention! I am so glad I sat in on your sessions. I had to check out your website and blog. I know I will be back again and again. What a great idea to post the list about curriculum! Finding the right fit for my daughter has weighed heavy on me for some time (as well as tackling my own distracability & my poor time management) Workin’ on that one! Thank you so much for walking me over to where Fred was (Life of Fred) in the exhibit hall, I will let you know how my daughter Carly does with it. Your suggestions have been the best I have received since I began my homeschool adventure. I plan to review the information you shared in this blog because I think it will help me out tremendously. All the curriculum choices can be a tad overwhelming , like walking into a gourmet pastry shop and trying to pick something out that you have never tried (especially when you have never tried anything). Tougher when there are no samples to test before you purchase. The whole process of homeschooling is a real walk by faith for me. I plan to read your book that my new friend Lisa gave me. Thanks for signing it! I hope that you make it down to Greenville again and allow me to show you downtown (really clean and lively with outdoor bistros and cafe’s not to mention a huge waterfall and gardens that Monet and Cezanne would have loved to paint. Love to treat you to the Pita House, the place I mentioned with the great middle eastern food. They do make the best humus. Blessings! With Joy! Amy

  5. Katie Rozeboom Says:

    I just went to your site last night to see if you had any recommendations for my curriculum choices this year. I was so delighted to receive your e-mail today with all the best of the best for our sizzlers… what a blessing! I have benefited so much from reading your books and am enjoying the challenge of teaching “outside the box”. Thank you for the encouragement you offer – it is truly appreciated.

  6. Tami Shaw Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. Summer is half over and I still haven’t finished my grading… Much less tackled the “crafting a curriculum” deal. Aaaaccckkkk! *taking deep breaths and going to the happy place*. Fortunately I’ve made some purchases and am looking for the last couple items. Since we are a blended family, I’m obligated to formulate a game plan and share it with my husband and the kids’ mom. I confess I’m feeling intimidated. I keep reminding myself that procrastination is NOT my friend… And I pray a lot. I will be checking out this list at length. Can you or any of your sizzlers recommend anything to help this highly distractible stepmom tackle her 1st year without a canned curriculum. I’m ascairt. 🙂 LOL (I’m self entertaining…. That’s a sign of intelligence… In dogs. Here’s hopin that translates to humans.). As always, thank you for your assistance AND for all you do. Highest Regards, Tami Shaw

    • carolbarnier Says:

      I know people often say “this was lol funny” as an expression. But when I say it, I mean I literally laughed out loud, particularly at the sign of intelligence. . .in dogs. I’m pretty sure I’m going to steal that line. You’re a hoot. Meet me in “the happy place” and we’ll have coffee. 🙂

  7. Janet HInes Says:

    We are trying Son-light for science and history. Math-U-See makes sense to me, his Dad is working in this with him. I have a daily plan but we deviate from it frequently with whatever sounds interesting at the moment. I do try to connect our rabbit trails. He has a memory of a computer and the destractablity of, well, I can’t even think of anything close. Last week we had a Pokemon school day and he read some difficult words on each card. He then talked about how each one starts out as some kind of animal and then evolves. From this we did science (animals, vs. minerals), Gods creation….
    I think he is a sizzler ? ! ? !

    The other night, he had trouble falling asleep and I suggested he “count sheep”. He did and came out every 100+ or so to update us what number he was on and immediately go back to his room and count some more. He got to around 5,000 (counting by one’s) before he fell asleep. He apparently had been recording on paper every 100 or so. When he woke up in the morning he was quite proud that he counted so high.

  8. Lorraine Says:

    I remember reading that their was a specific chair made to help sizzle bop children sit longer. Are you familiar with it?

    • carolbarnier Says:

      I’ve never heard of a specific chair. But there are a couple of possibilities. One is the giant exercise ball. Another is called a Seating Disc (and air filled disc that the child sits on. One side is smooth, the other nubby.) Both of these are easily found on Amazon. Another is to have a heavy sand filled object that sits on the child’s lap. I’ve seen some designed to look like cats, others like turtles. The pressure is calming and the item on their lap discourages jumping up frequently. It also gives them something to mindlessly fiddle with. You can find the turtle model at
      Hope this helps!

  9. Jackie Ryan Masek Says:

    I look forward to this survey every year. Thank you so much for doing this…and all that you do throughout the year. You inspire me!

  10. Carrie Says:

    Thank you so much! I’m the special needs liaison for our homeschool group, and I just posted the link on our forums. 🙂

  11. Sabrina Says:

    This is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Thanks for doing the survey. It has helped to confirm that I was right in what I’ve chosen for my sizzler and has given me many more ideas. And the Motivated Moms link – again, wonderful! I just downloaded my list. Thanks to all.

  12. Lorraine Vitale Says:

    Thank you very much for providing this great resource to the Sizzle Bop Moms and Dads. You are such a breath of fresh air. I can relate to the posting … I don’t even have my grades in yet… I am currently writing my scope and sequence for my evalutation. Every year I vow to have this started before taxes:) Thank you Carol. Please keep the information coming. God’s Blessing

  13. Kate Says:

    Thank you for doing this – I just REALLY wish that the programs listed were clickable links. There are quite a few I’d never heard of but the idea of having to google each and every one is frustrating. In some cases the title (e.g. Critical Thinking) happens to be a common enough phrase that I doubt I could easily find it even with google. Just a thought for next year as I’m sure that many moms are in my same boat and would love to check some of these out. 🙂

    • carolbarnier Says:

      As I would working through the list, I thought the same thing. But I realized at that point that it would add hours (days?) to the process that I didn’t have. Next time I should either A-plan further ahead so I’ll have the needed extra time B-hire someone to do the looking for me (should we chat next year? 🙂 or C-tell people that when they send in their favorites, a link would be appreciated. Thanks for the idea. Sorry to make it harder than it needed to be. 😦

  14. MATH-in-MOTION Mondays « Sizzle Bop Blog Says:

    […] What happens when you ask all the moms and dads of Sizzle Bop what curriculum they use?  You get a great list of products from people who are in the trenches, working with, living with and loving a child just like yours. Take a look at the results of our Curriculum survey. […]

  15. 10 Things You Need for Back-to-School with Special Needs | HEDUA Says:

    […] Popular conference speaker Carol Barnier has a site for parents of easily distractible kids: She surveyed her readers about curricula and created a list of what curricula works best for distractible kids. You can find that list here: […]

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