The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Tess Hamre and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Classic Apple Review by Diane Wheeler

Classic Start Curriculums
Pamela Maxey

The kindergarten year is the time for laying an educational foundation. If you are looking for a well planned, but loosely structured guide for the kindergarten year, I recommend Classic Apple's Classic Start Curriculum.

This is a binder full of information that includes instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, and a book list for reading aloud. Lest this sound like too much for a young child, let me reassure you. Flexibility is encouraged and you can use as much or as little as needed for your child.

A good example of the material is the section on reading. Letter recognition and letter sounds are taught through simple activities. One idea is a special day for each letter. My favorite was Q day - treat mother as queen for the day! Or make it a quiet day for all activities. In the words of author Pamela Maxey, "Mom definitely wins on this day!" There is no pressure for a child to be reading at the end of the year, but there is plenty here to make learning to read a pleasure for parent and child.

Each subject includes a good variety of ideas and activities. There are also gentle reminders to parents to be sensitive to a child's age and ability, to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling offers and the importance of reading to children.

In addition to this binder, there is a short list of supplies to purchase. These include index cards for making flashcards, writing materials, and art supplies. Optional supplements include tapes, books, games, and CDs for added learning. Add a library card and you are set.

-- Product Review by: Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Classic Apple Second Grade Program

If you have been looking for ways to give your children an education rich in living books as well as incorporating hands-on learning, then this may be the curriculum for you. Pamela Maxey, a veteran teacher and homeschooler, has written a guide to truly empower you to educate your child. She worked extensively as a classroom teacher as well as with learning disabled students before homeschooling her own children. Her ability to think outside the box and grab her students' interest really shows in this exciting curriculum.

With my child, I used the second grade Classic Start Curriculum. It is divided into two semesters, each having nine different subject areas including reading, writing, math, social studies, and science. Each section has information that gives you the tools to tailor the curriculum to your family's needs. In the math section, some of the main objectives for the first half of the year are addition with and without regrouping, subtraction, fractions and money. For each objective, she gives hands-on activities, teaching suggestions, and explanations using simple manipulatives easily available in the home. At the core of the curriculum is developing a love for reading and all throughout are book lists and ideas for fitting reading into your school day. The reading section has ideas for reinforcing phonics skills, beginning grammar, and comprehension activities. The history section includes many biography titles so you can explore the lives of key figures in history, as well as instructions for making a timeline. This curriculum could be adapted to fit many teaching styles such as The Trivium approach, Charlotte Mason, and the style recommended in The Well Trained Mind.

One element that I found particularly exciting was the Themed Units Guide, available as a separate purchase. I used Version 1 and we had a blast implementing the ideas in this book. It is divided into seasons and at the beginning of each month, she supplies the holidays for that month, a book list, and the special theme of the month. We just started an April's Unit, which is based on books by author P.D. Eastman. Today my children had a fantastic time listening to "Go, Dog, Go!" acting it out, and then reinforcing directional phrases. Next, we cut out construction paper cars, and played a memory game with sight words. We also played a game with patterns and finally decorated our cars with glitter glue.

So much of my home schooling is full of keeping kids on task in their separate activities and being a busy overseer. It was wonderfully refreshing to do some activities with my children. My eight-year-old traced the cars and wrote the sight words while the four and six-year-olds cut out the cars. It was so wonderful to see them enjoying learning and participating together. While the Classic Start curriculums could be teacher intensive, they also include a handy schedule that gives you a great framework to build around and, when used with the Themed Units, make for a truly enjoyable and stimulating learning experience.

-- Product Review by: Jennifer Pepito, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Themed Unit Studies

Pamela Maxey has also authored Classic Start Themed Unit Studies. This book for primary aged students is organized by the four seasons and includes three themed units each for fall, winter, and spring. There is a special reading unit for summer. The themes include fish, Thanksgiving, Christmas, presidents, authors, and bugs. These, plus season specific units, make up the year. Included in the units are activities for reading, writing, math, science, geography, cooking, art, and more. One of my favorites is April - the Author Unit. Having read Go, Dog, Go! at least a thousand times, I like the ideas for celebrating author, P.D. Eastman, complete with plans for your own Dog Party!

In Pamela's introduction to the book she says, "The goal of these Unit Studies is to guide you in ideas and cause you to expand your thinking to even more creative ideas." I appreciate the work that she has done to speed parents on the way to creative and fun-filled learning for their primary aged students.

For more of what is offered at Classic Apple, I recommend a look at the website Who knows, you may find yourself celebrating National Caramel Month, reading Narnia books in celebration of C.S. Lewis birthday on November 29th, or making January 24th a school holiday for National Peanut Butter Day. There are many fun days ahead for the family using Classic Apple Curriculum.

-- Product Review by: Diane Wheeler, Senior Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine