6 Ingredients of Great Curriculum

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Finish Well Homeschool Podcast, Podcast #134, 6 Ingredients of Great Curriculum, with Meredith Curtis on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network

6 Ingredients of Great Curriculum

In “6 Ingredients of a Great Curriculum,” Episode, #134, Meredith Curtis can help you if you feel overwhelmed by curriculum choices. There is so much out there! Meredith shares how she chooses curriculum for her family by using a simple checklist of 6 things. She gives practical wisdom on what to look for in homeschool resources including worldview, flexibility, content, usability, cost value, and the fun factor.




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Show Notes

The thrill of a used book sale each May.


Curriculum should match worldviews.

As a Christian, I have a biblically based worldview. I believe the Bible is true and applies to all areas of life. I want to show my children how God’s Word relates to every subject we study.

For more information on worldview, listen to my podcast: What is Your Worldview? that explains 6 different worldviews popular in our world today.

When Worldviews Collide is another podcast that helps parents and teens recognize worldviews that contrast with Christianity.


Learn with depth. (Table of Contents for breadth; Read a chapter for depth)

I get excited when a history textbook goes deeper.


  • History
  • Math
  • Science
  • Foreign Language

Make lists of what looking for.

If I can’t find everything in one curriculum, I will often combine two separate ones.

Wholesomeness. Purity. Accuracy.


Different for every person. Some like detailed lesson plans.

Is it clear enough for you how to use it for maximum potential?

Does it seem workable or does the preparation overwhelm you?


Can it be used for the whole family or just one person?

Can it be used at home or in a homeschool co-op?

Can you rearrange the schedule? Stretch it out? Shorten it?

Is it adaptable?

Cost Value

Doesn’t mean that I get the cheapest thing out there. That can end up costing me more in the long run.

Cost value to me means that it is worth the price I will pay for it. That is personal and different for each person.

  • Am I getting what I pay for?
  • If this is core curricula, is it worth the price?
  • If this is supplemental (like timeline, cookbook, literature, map), do I really need it? And is it worth the price?

I love to go to homeschool conventions where I can actually hold and look through curriculum and living books.

The Fun Factor

The fun factor matters to our family.

If our chosen curriculum doesn’t have it, we add those things in ourselves—I usually add ideas next to the Table of Contents or lesson plans.

In our home, things that we consider “Fun Factor” are:

  • Cooking/Baking
  • Timelines
  • Movies/TV Shows
  • Games
  • Hands-On Activities
  • Creating Skits, Radio Dramas, Commercials
  • Mapping
  • Living Books
  • Historical Fiction
  • Geographical Fiction
  • Writing Poems
  • Music
  • Art
  • Crafts
  • Dioramas
  • Posters/Brochures/Booklets
  • Lapbooking
  • Blogging about It
  • Dressing Up
  • Travel
  • Field Trips
  • Writing a Story
  • Games
  • Sports
  • History Parties

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How-to-Homeschool Books if you want to learn more about homeschooling or plan to homeschool 😊

Joyful and Successful Homeschooling by Meredith Curtis Unlocking the Mystery of Homeschooling High School by Meredith Curtis and Laura Nolette Quick & EZ Unit Study Fun by Meredith Curtis Seven R's of Homeschooling by Meredith Curtis


The following books give detailed instructions so you can have your own History Parties.

Let's Have Our Own Archaeological Dig by Meredith Curtis Let's Have Our Own Luau by Meredith Curtis Let's Have Our Own Medieval Banquet by Meredith Curtis Let's Have Our Own Olympic Games


These are just a few of our many resources that work well for all ages together!

Newspaper Reporting by Meredith Curtis Travel God's World Geography by Meredith Curtis Travel God's World Cookbook by Meredith Curtis HIS Story of the 20th Century by Meredith Curtis

More Podcasts You Might Find Helpful

Finish Well Radio, Podcast #070, What Is Your Worldview? Finish Well Radio, Podcast #071, When Worldviews Collide Finish Well Radio, Podcast #069, The Kitchen Explosion 1001 Homeschool Days at the Beach | Yes you can actually spend 1001 Homeschool Days at the Beach and learn so much more than in a book! Join us to find out more. | #podcast #homeschoolpodcast #beach

7 Steps to Create High School Classes with Living Books

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Finish Well Radio Show, Podcast #107, 7 Steps to Create Your Own High School Classes with Living Books with Meredith Curtis on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network

7 Steps to Create Your Own High School Classes with Living Books

In “7 Steps to Create Your Own High School Classes with Living Books” episode #107, Meredith Curtis shares how she created all of her children’s high school classes. She began the process by listing all the books she wanted her daughter to read. From there, she went on to think about life skills, academic skills, and virtues she longed to see in her son and daughters. Finally, she packaged everything in an easy way where teens could keep their own records.




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Show Notes

It was time for high school and up to that point we had enjoyed a lot of freedom and creativity in our home school. Living books were at the center of our curriculum. When we used textbooks, we read them aloud together.

Could we carry on to high school?


Here’s what I did starting when my oldest daughter was in 7th grade. I thought ahead.

Step #1: Creating High School Classes Begins with Prayer

Surrender my children and their high school education to the Lord.

Ask for wisdom and His plan in course creation.

Step #2: Creating High School Classes Requires Book Lists

I made a list of all the books I wanted my teens to write in high school

Classic Literature: Tale of Two Cities, Count of Monte Cristo 

Great Works: Mere Christianity, Wealth of the Nations

Inspirational: God’s Smuggler, Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life

Step#3: Crossing the Finish Line Lists

I also took time to prayerfully consider what virtues, values, habits, academic skills, workforce skills, and spiritual disciplines I wanted to see in their lives

Virtues/Habits/Values: hard work, kindness, servant’s heart,

Academic Skills: essays, research, reading at college level, analysis, advanced mathematics,

Practical/Work/Community/Church Skills: leadership, interview, resume, work with a team

Spiritual Disciplines: Quiet Times, serving at church, evangelize, defend the faith

Relational Wisdom: Purpose dating or courtship, honoring parents, building wholesome friendships.

Step #4: Dividing up Books

I divided my books into different categories which became classes.

Wealth of the Nations, Larry Burkett’s economic books, and Communist Manifesto went into the economics class.

Pride and Prejudice, Tale of Two Cities, and The Mysterious Affair at Styles went into British Literature.

Bondage Breaker, Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life, and From Prison to Praise became part of a Christianity Basics course (God’s Girls 101: Grow in Christ and Real Men 101: Godly Manhood).

The Hidden Art of Homemaking became the foundation of my homemaking course.

Understanding the Times was the main book in our worldview class.

Soon all my books were divided up.

Step #5: Creating High School Classes Requires Creating Assignments

Next, I created assignments that were practical and cultivating academic and life skills.

  • Essays
  • Life Prep e.g. Apartment Project, Mother’s Helper, Change the Oil
  • Interviews to Articles
  • Book Club
  • Speeches

Step #6: Laying It Out for Quick Read & Check Off

Then I laid out the course for over a year and produced handy-dandy check-off sheets.

Step #7: EZ Folder Method

Overview of class, hours chart, and check-off /syllabus went into color-coded folders. Kids now could keep their own records for me. All work went into pockets.

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Examples: Classes I’ve Created

Create a High School Class like Economics, Finances, and Business by Meredith Curtis Create a High School Class like Who Dun It? Murder Mystery Literature and Writing High School Class by Meredith Curtis Create a High School Class like American Literature & Research by Meredith Curtis Create a High School Class like Old Testament Survey Class by Meredith Curtis
Communications 101:Essays and Speeches High School Class Worldview Understanding the Times by Meredith Curtis God's Girls 101: Grow in Christ Real Men 101: Godly Manhood
God's Girls 104: Motherhood by Meredith Curtis Real Men 102: Freedom, Courtship, Marriage, & Family God's Girls 105: Homemaking by Meredith Curtis Real Men 103: Leadership

More Podcasts about Classes

Finish Well Radio Show, Podcast #106, 7 Reasons I Teach Newspaper Reporting In Middle School with Meredith Curtis on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network Finish Well Radio Show, Podcast #096, How I Teach English in High School with Meredith Curtis on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network Finish Well Radio Show, Podcast #090, Book Clubs Instead of Book Reports, with Meredith Curtis on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network Finish Well Radio Badge, Podcast #060, 7 Benefits of Reading Classics

Living Books and Lifeschooling – Michelle Miller Howard

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Living books and lifeschoolingToday we are talking to Michelle Miller Howard, author of TruthQuest History.

For over 20 years, Michelle has been a librarian, home-education consultant, author, columnist, and speaker, specializing in top-quality living books, educational vision, and history instruction.  It began in 1985, when she pioneered, funded, and acquired a library of such rare children’s literature, which has been thriving ever since; her Children’s Preservation Library (in Michigan) now houses over 20,000 valuable volumes, serving patrons in several counties.  A second library, Living Learning Libraries, is underway in Florida, with plans for additional libraries, and thousands more rare books already acquired.

Michelle is considered a national leader/expert on living books libraries and literature, and helps others around the nation found and operate such libraries as well. She has also developed a massive database on specialized youth literature.  She is a regular contributing columnist to various national magazines and educational websites, as well as a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Michelle wrote the multiple award-winning TruthQuest History curriculum, which steers families through American and world history with deep, engaging, spiritually-probing commentary, and which embeds her vast knowledge of topic-specific living book recommendations throughout.

Here is what I asked Michelle on this episode:

  • So, you and I have never met personally, but we’ve interacted online as part of Rhea Perry’s Educating for Success group. I love all the books you recommend and you have so much knowledge in this area! Have you always loved books? Tell us why good books are so foundational to education.
  • What are some of your favorite books and how did you incorporate them into your homeschooling?
  • Tell us more about your homeschooling journey and how did you come to write TruthQuest History?
  • Is there anything in particular that helped shape your educational philosophy?
  • The definition of lifeschooling is “the individualized process of discovering your child’s God-given gifts and talents primarily through real life experiences that happen within the context of your family’s unique situations and missions.” Is there a part of that definition that particularly speaks to you and share with us a bit more about how your family lifeschooled?
  • How did homeschooling strengthen your relationships with your children?
  • How did you fit homeschooling with your family’s unique situation and responsibilities?
  • Was your family ever tempted to quit homeschooling and how did you navigate through that time?
  • What are some of the gifts that you saw in your children and how did you tailor their education around the development of those gifts?

And that’s Life as a Lifeschooler! Be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode. Hope you’ll join us next time!

Special Thanks to our Network Sponsor, Kiwi Crate!


We’d like to thank our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsor, Kiwi Crate!

KiwiCo has monthly subscriptions of hands-on projects that make learning fun! Their core offering is projects that make learning about STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art, and math — accessible and are designed to spark creativity, tinkering, and learning. Some recent favorite crates are the Slime Lab, Physics Carnival, and Paper Circuits.

Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network is excited to be able to offer you the chance to try them for FREE. To learn more about their projects for kids ages 2 to 16 AND to redeem this exclusive offer, click here to get your first month free today (just pay $4.95 for shipping)

On the Importance of Reading Aloud to Your Children

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Join Lindsey as she discusses the importance of reading aloud and gives some encouragement and ideas for the mom who may not be delighted at the idea of reading aloud to her children.Reading aloud to your children has a multitude of benefits for your family. Join Lindsey as she discusses the importance of reading aloud and gives some encouragement and ideas for the mom who may not be delighted at the idea of reading aloud to her children.












Helpful Links:

Making Narration FUN! A Free Printable Download: https://www.talkingmom2mom.com/2017/03/making-narration-fun.html

How to Read Slowly, by James Sire: http://amzn.to/2wcmCTb

Read Aloud Revival: Reading Aloud to Older Kids:  https://amongstlovelythings.com/1/

Nurturing Competent Communicators by Andrew Pudewa: http://iew.com/help-support/resources/mp3-resources/nurturing-competent-communicators

Logic of English: https://www.logicofenglish.com/


Talking Mom2Mom Links:

Talking Mom2Mom

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