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Tips on Designing Your Own Curriculum (piog)

Posted by on Mar. 5, 2012 at 8:25 AM
  • 8 Replies


One of the most common types of questions we see from new and potential HS'ers is "How do I design my own curriculum?" It does seem like it is this secret

So, I thought i'd just start a post explaining how I design my own curriculum. This is for my 2 boys - the oldest is 10 1/2 y/o and is special needs. This process can be changed to fit any learning style.

Designing Your Own Curriculum

As many of you know, I've always designed my own curriculum's for the boys. It's not that difficult and it's waaaay cheaper than a pre-packaged curriculum. The only things I pay for are and which are great for printables I can't find for free or make myself. Here's the general idea of how I go about designing my own curriculum's -

  1. I start my curriculum matrix using the books I have - "What Your ____ Grader Needs To Know", HS Year by Year, etc. I make a large spread sheet for the whole curriculum where I put all the lesson 'topics'
  2. I search the web for free matrix from other boards of ed on what is expected for the spread of grades I'll be teaching (my kids are not in any 1 grade, they advance subject by subject as necessary)these are added, or adjust the curriculum spread sheet. The ones I use: World Book , Core Knowledge, and Georgia Standards
  3. I make a general matrix of the expectations based on those printouts from #1 & 2. To do this, I usually write in a list of resourcces for each lesson.
  4. I add or subtract from that matrix based on my own knowledge of my boys - do I think they need more challenge, what units I want to add in, etc.
  5. I organize the Curriculum Matrix by month - Make a plan of how I can overlap lessons. It's very easy to go overboard and plan this insane curriculum. But, especially with multiple students, there are only so many hours and so many lessons you can do at once (there's also only 1 of me, but 2 of them). So I figure out how I can teach 1 lesson for different grade levels, at the same time - this means sometimes I might be teaching my youngest at a much higher grade level (then just making worksheets or lapbooks for his appropriate levels)
  6. I make a plan of how I can combine lesson subjects. Again it can get overwhelming for the kids and me if I have to teach 12 subjects in a given day -- so I'll try to look at a lesson and try to think of how I can work multiple subjects from it - -for instance, The Trans-Continental Railroad, I'll search for ways engineers measured the distance between tracks and stations or whatever - MATH, then I'll find a Magic Tree House book that touches on it - READING, the kids can research which towns were most affected by the railroad and make a Travel By Rail brochure (GEOGRAPHY/HISTORY)....yes this lesson would take a few days, but I would not have to keep switching gears between subjects.
  7. I search the web for resources - not just worksheets but research and teaching materials as well.
  8. .I usually print EVERYTHING and organize it by month, so on the last day of the month (during the school year) I grab the next month's folder and organize it into 'week' folders, then on Friday, I take each week folder and separate it into 'day' boxes (which include manipulative's and such) so the kids can just grab that day's box and we're set. (Kinda like work boxes, but a little different). This organization is based on the Month Matrix.
  9. Then I design any lapbooks we may need (I like to do a couple a month) and I get the boys' input on what they want their reading lists to be, and we choose our night-time reading books (I read these aloud).
  10. Voila, all done!
by on Mar. 5, 2012 at 8:25 AM
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Replies (1-8):
by on Mar. 5, 2012 at 9:27 AM

This is great!  I'm going to read over it closer later, but thank you so much for posting this!

by on Mar. 5, 2012 at 11:25 AM

You make it sound so easy, lol.  I would love to do our own curriculum, but DH is not on board with it. Maybe he will be in a few years when we have to buy for 3 rather than 2!

by on Mar. 5, 2012 at 4:59 PM

 great kickbutt

by on Mar. 5, 2012 at 7:58 PM

I appreciate that you shared this.  We have never planned our own curriculum before, we bought a packaged curriculum since we started homeschooling unexpectedly in the middle of the year.  I have been struggling with how to go about it.

by on Mar. 5, 2012 at 8:04 PM
I wish we could tag people on cm. Nikki(boobah) if you see this do you do anything similar to this. This sounds like what I would like to do.
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by on Mar. 5, 2012 at 8:40 PM

I'm glad you posted this.  I agree, making your own curriculum IS easy and WAAY cheaper!

I'm going to snag your post and share mine as well.

I use  a 4 year History cycle as a pivot point.  Covering every subject we can and leaving ones that are not so important or not so interesting for the next cycle.

Ancient History            Middle Ages               Explore/ Reform times                  Modern History     

This way I can go through history chronologically and teach multiple grades at the same time.  I then pull anything out of the time period that I can find.  I use many free resources such as booklists, folk music, composer songs, and art prints from tanglewood curriculum/ many others including an old College Philosophy Professor who lives here in town.  You can pull out plenty of science, social studies, writing, lit., art, you name it form these time-lines because if you study history, you will find that these things have been around since the beginning of recorded history!     Just takes research on my end and a loyal librarian!



"Bless me, I couldn't get on at all without my flock of dear, noisy, naughty, harum-scarum little lads!!

                                                                                                    Louisa May Alcott in "Little Men"

by on Mar. 5, 2012 at 8:44 PM
Marking my place so I can come back and read closer. Thanks for posting.
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by on Mar. 5, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Quoting RatherBeReading:

You make it sound so easy, lol.  I would love to do our own curriculum, but DH is not on board with it. Maybe he will be in a few years when we have to buy for 3 rather than 2!

Ive always been frugal. But my DH was laid off last year. So I'm thankful i already spent less than $400/year on HS 2 kids.

Plus w/ 1 autistic child i needed a more flexible plan.
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