*For more creative and career oriented elective ideas, check out our "Post-High School" area!
Blue Collar Homeschool Curriculum Criteria
In order to be listed in our curriculum lists, materials have to meet certain criteria:
- It must be uncomplicated to teach with.
- It must be as neutral as possible in terms of world view/religious perspectives. If it is not neutral, it must be an exceptionally good resource and be easy to "neutralize" and be able to be used by people of all faiths. This does not mean there is no mention of religion, but that religious training is not a key component of the curriculum.
- It must provide a good education which would fully prepare a student for the real world. Not all of the curriculum suggestions would be appropriate for the college bound student, but then not every student is headed for college and their needs should not be ignored as they so often are.
Items noted as "Tried and True" resources have been used by our own family, and we welcome questions!
We are not affiliated with any of the curriculum providers we recommend here, and receive no compensation in any form for our recommendation.
There are plenty of well known elective courses out there when you check out the traditional homeschool web sites. You don't need another set of links to the same old curriculum. Rosetta Stone for foreign language, Artistic Pursuits for Art class...you've seen those. You might have stumbled across a couple of ours as well, but we are presenting elective course materials that we hope are fairly new to you. One may be new because you are a secular homeschooler and would overlook some very well done Christian based curricula that could easily be secularized for use and are well worth considering. Another may be new because you've never heard of it. At Blue Collar Homeschool, our goal is to help you find easy to teach with materials that you have perhaps never noticed before. Another thing Blue Collar Homeschool encourages everyone to do is to "Think Outside the Textbook!" There are resources all around you, many available at no cost at all. See for yourself!:
American Sign Language University
Do you want to fulfill a foreign language requirement but are loath to teach Spanish or German with Rosetta Stone? Do you have a child who is more active, or responds more to visual materials? American Sign Language (ASL) is considered a foreign language and it is FUN!! How about spicing up that transcript with the real deal...a foreign language taught by a true university professor? Now...how about adding in that it is FREE?? Yea, I knew I'd get you on that one. Dr. Bill Vicars is an instructor at CSU Sacramento who has put together a FABULOUS, one of a kind resource for learning ASL. Should you want a paper trail and documentation such as grading, signature documentation of course completion, etc. you may pay for it, but that is really more of a service for those requesting it, as all content is free. Dr. Vicars has been asked by some for "proof" of course completion so created a way for folks to obtain that, at a fee. Videos show everything, and there are other resources available as well. You'll love this site!
Project plans for the carpenter in your life! Ideas from simple to complex help your Blue Collar learner find all kinds of things to create!
Everyone needs to know how to take care of one of their biggest investments, and this curriculum is perfect for teaching all the basics, including how to research and purchase an automobile! Updated for 2018 with a textbook, workbook, and suggested hands on activities, you might not find a better resource for learning about auto ownership.
Boy Scout Extension Program
Boy Scout extension program for career exploration.
Boy Scout Merit Badge Books
Time tested, these merit badge books are a curriculum all by themselves, with age appropriate projects and explorations, and a lot of learning packed into a particular subject area. Did you know there are 129 different merit badge books, each on a different subject? Girls and boys alike would enjoy many of these, and they mean you don't have to re-invent the wheel or come up with materials on your own. Anyone can buy merit badge books and use them on their own, without being part of the Boy Scout program, so feel free to wander through their web site and see what strikes your fancy.
Brigham Young University Independent Study High School Courses
Jackpot!!! You have totally hit the jackpot with this amazing diversity of elective courses unable to be found anywhere else! Yes, this is from "the" BYU, and you will be so surprised when you check out the unique offerings via online, teacher led, or traditional paper courses. While they offer all the Core Classes you might need, it is in their Electives that they really shine. Imagine not having to re-invent the wheel or pull it together from scratch for great Elective Courses such as:
- Digital Photagraphy, Art Foundations, Calligraphy
- Business Law, Marketing, Critical Workplace Skills
- Interior Design, Clothing Construction, Food and Nutrition, Child Development
- Character Education, Exploring Values, Preparing for Responsible Parenthood
- Public Speaking, Home Gardening, Drug Use and Abuse
- Speed Reading, Journalism, Small engine Repair
- Study Skills, Leadership, Essential Life Skills, Dating - Romance and Reason
- Fitness for Living, Golf, Bowling
- Psychology, Sociology, Economics
- Project - Self Discovery
I told you this was a jackpot!!! Prices I checked ran about $150 per semester ($87 per quarter credit), which might be a little high, but considering these are courses overseen by professionals, it is not bad. There are many more available at the link provided, and just about any Core Course you might need. This can provide all you need to flesh out those electives, and cover some interesting topics that are difficult to find curriculum for.
They also offer FREE courses that cover some interesting topics, some of which might be more suitable for those who are Mormon, but several whose audience would be broader. Personal Development courses in Honesty, Trust, and Study Skills are offered, along with others such as The Citizen's Guide to American Politics, Building a Functional Family, Strengthening Marriage and Family, and of course many free courses on religion and genealogy. Here is a link for those free courses: Free BYU Courses.
Building Your Future
From the Actuarial Foundation, this free curriculum includes a broad array of personal finance topics. Four booklets include handouts, tests, and teacher's guides.
Free courses in cake decorating!
Christian Light Publications
Yes, this is Christian based, but they offer textbook based courses you just can't find elsewhere! You can use it as a guideline, secularize it yourself, and the topics themselves are secular. They even have some good ones for young men! See these textbook based courses below:
- Exploring Agriscience
- Auto Fundamentals
- Beginning Woodwork
- Car Care
- Computer Service and Repair (might be outdated)
- Home Repair and Maintenance
- Keeping Financial Records
- Modern Residential Wiring
- Small Gas Engines
This is awesome! Do you have a mechanically inclined youth who loves tearing things apart and putting them back together? This is the course for them! A lawn mower and small engine hands-on course taught by former homeschool dad, Rankin Barnes, who has 32 years experience teaching Automotive Technology at state and community colleges. He was the recipient of the Presidents Award for Teaching Innovation and the Excellence in Teaching Award. He owns and manages an automotive repair business and has established apprentice programs. This man knows his stuff, and he "gets" homeschoolers...and unbeatable combination!
Dave Ramsey - Foundations in Personal Finance
Young people today enter the world post-high school with an appalling lack of knowledge about personal finance. They have no clue how banks make money, little understanding of budgeting and living within their means, they don't understand insurance, and they are highly likely to think of being able to make "minimum monthly payments" as meaning they are flush with cash! We must do a better job of helping our young adults be prepared for the real world, and financial education is a #1 priority. Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance is sort of iconic in the homeschool world. Yes, it is Christian based, and therefore "skirts" our Blue Collar Homeschool requirements to be neutral in terms of world view. It is very, very good, however, and you can always leave out any references that do not fit with your personal beliefs. There are other programs available that help teach kids personal finance, but this is so solid and designed to be a real world curriculum directed towards the high school learner. It does a fine job of instructing at their level, and introducing topics in an easy to understand way.
Do you like the idea of merit badges, but your kid is not all that interested in camping or riding the rapids? Do you like the whole "Maker" concept, and would like to help your child explore their creative side? This web site is a little hard to describe, but it is a place where your learner can earn virtual or real badges by DOING things in various categories, order patches, and share their creations online in a safe, parent controlled environment. This would be great for Unschooler types, or anyone whose student loves to just explore activities on their own, but wants those activities acknowledged in some way. This is not a curriculum, but more of a sharing and idea site, but we are including it here for those who are looking for some way to get their kids thinking about and doing creative things...looking at the DIY ideas of others might send them off in totally new directions.
Drivers Ed in a Box
Driver's training can be an expensive elective, and sometimes we don't always trust that everything we want our teens to know before they get behind the wheel has been taught. Here is a great resource to use for teaching a REAL course on Driver's Ed...yea, you know...without the stress and screaming that makes you forget to instruct about proper mirror usage. Every young adult ought to go through this course. Every.single.one.
Edx - MIT Becoming and Entrepreneur
This is a FABULOUS opportunity to learn from the experts at MIT for free! A 6 week course with 1-3 hours of week of work, you can also pay $69 to obtain a certificate for proof of learning. Don't worry, this is an introductory course so anyone can jump in and start to learn, and it covers the following topics: Overcoming the top myths of entrepreneurship, defining your goals as an entrepreneur and startup, identifying business opportunities, performing market research and choosing your target customer, designing and testing your offering, planning your business logistics, plus pitching and selling to customers. A great intro course!
Offering hundreds of courses for continuing education and career training, Ed2Go is fully online, with course length usually about 6 weeks. You can ask questions and give or receive advice at any time during the course. Upon successful completion of the course, you will be able to download a certificate of completion. These are quite reasonably priced, and the course variety is quite large! Lots of great courses for career and workplace preparation.
Great Courses - The Teaching Company
THE BEST courses EVER!!! Seriously, THE BEST!! While we have this listed under our social studies for high school as a resources, you need to think outside the History Box with this company, as they are adding some out of this world courses that would make absolutely awesome electives. How about photography, How to Understand and Listen to Great Music, How to Look at and Understand Great Art, Customs of the World, Nutrition, The Art of Storytelling...and SO many MORE! You couldn't come up with a better selections of possible elective courses, all taught by the best professors in the United States or the Masters in their fields. These are college level without the credit, but we have found that the concepts are explained so clearly, that with a little help, even a bright 5th grader is enjoying them!
High School Financial Planning Program
This is a real find, and it is FREE!! Sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education, this web site is commercial free, and offers lesson plans, student workbooks, and online practice quizzes. After registering, there are 27 lessons to work your way through. You can learn more about this program by also checking out 5 Steps to Getting Started with HSFPP.
Home Ec and Child Development - NASCO
Remember your family class in high school, and the teacher who made you haul around a baby "egg" so you could begin to get a glimmer of understanding about how difficult parenting is? As long as your baby wasn't kidnapped, requiring you to pay a ransom of one large bag of M&M's, you passed the class (Yes, true story!). Today's family classes are more sophisticated...and more necessary than ever before. Real dolls that cry and need to be changed are used in place of a fragile egg. NASCO is a supplier of all kinds of curricula, workbooks, and equipment for Home Ec., Consumer Science and Child Development courses nationwide. Their catalog is filled with materials you can use to teach any facet of family life, cooking, budgeting, sewing, etc. If you want to design a course of your own, they surely have the right materials to help you do an outstanding job!
Human Sexuality and Reproduction - Our Whole Lives
Homeschooling our kids means we must teach them about S.E.X., not just the basics, but the whole enchilada! What do we use, what will help us feel comfortable in speaking with our kids about something so personal, and what will allow them to feel comfortable enough to ask us the questions they really need answered? Well, you could do it the time honored way, by giving them a 10 minute "Birds and Bees" talk, then handing them a book to read by themselves, or you could take advantage of the precious opportunity to discuss sex from a relational perspective that also teaches the facts.
Our Whole Lives is a secular curriculum created in partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. The two denominations saw a lack of solid sex ed materials that presented the facts along with relationship information, and they set about creating one. It is a doozy. WARNING: This is a hard core curriculum, and nothing is considered "sacred" or untouchable. If your worldview tends to demonize topics such as homosexual relationships, masturbation, or pre-marital sex, then this is NOT the curriculum for you. If your worldview accepts that such behavior is within the normal range of standard sexual practices, then you really might want to check this out. Perhaps you would prefer to use pieces and parts of the curriculum, if some seems a bit overwhelming to teach your children. It is a very good way to enter discussions about sex, and to share your feelings about certain topics...if you are open to doing so. Better yet, finding a local congregation who is teaching the course would be an excellent way to get this information to your kids.
IAP Career College
Use these short certificate courses to help kids explore careers as an elective in high school or to get their feet wet post-high school. If they are selecting a career that requires experience and on the job training far more than actual classwork, moving swiftly through these online courses can help them declare themselves "certified" and help them sound more professional for a reasonable fee.
Insight Tech Ed
Drafting, graphic design, and sketching DVD courses which are thorough and teach to the individual.
Internet Martial Arts
You read that right. What will they come up with next? This is not just videos, but an interactive martial arts training program designed for homeschoolers, adult learners, charter schools, etc. What a unique course your kids could take! Often, there are no qualified instructors nearby, especially in rural living situations. This solves it! An internet hook up, and you are ready to go kick some booty! What fun, and it appears to be well organized and planned. You even submit film of yourself for grading, so this is the Real Deal. Great idea!
iPhone Photography School
Does your child want to explore the world of photography? Want a course to teach the principles without insisting on investing in thousands of dollars of expensive photo equipment? This course is a content rich, simple to navigate introduction to photography using an iPhone. While each lesson is broken down into short chunks that focus on one concept, and despite the fact that your student will not be using a DSLR with changeable lenses, this is real photography and the results will shock you. Teaching the fundamentals of the device itself, Emil, your young Latvian teacher then moves on to discuss composition, portraiture, silhouette techniques, and just about anything a far more intense course would cover without feeling bogged down with industry language. Taught by video with an assignment list, and access to a very active Facebook group where you will learn even more from others taking the course, this can be incredibly interactive. All questions posed about the content are answered within 24 hours, often with links to enrich your learning further. This is fun! There is an additional course offered on editing software, which can mean you have an entire years with of lessons. A Tried and True resource!
Khan Academy - Pixar in a Box
Learn computer animation and storytelling.
Keepers of the Faith
A self-directed club with awards similar to Scout programs.
If you'd like your learner to have access to thousands of hours of technology and business oriented courses, then this resource is well worth looking at. Featuring almost 4000 courses on web development, photography, design, business, and software development, you can learn many skills that will translate into future job opportunities. Presented in video format in small 10-15 minute chunks, these are easily digestible, and professionally designed educational classes. Annual fee is required but allows access to every course on their site.
Micro Business Curriculum
A four book curriculum series that introduces your learner to the world of entrepreneurship and explains start-up, operations, and business taxes.
Another personal finance course that has free lessons for all ages, and offers in depth teaching on a wide variety of topics. Definitely worth checking out!
An online motorcycle course.
Murray's Technical Education
Want to learn AutoCAD from a true expert and homeschooling Dad? This is an AMAZING teacher who has a true passion for teaching drafting, is currently teaching in a high school classroom as well as teaching distance courses in drafting for a community college in Florida. As a homeschooling Dad himself, he knows how we all think, and there is a mastery perspective rather than a "rush and get it done" focus. Our son completed two different courses taught by Mr. Murray, and having spoken directly to him it takes only five minutes to hear the excitement in his voice about AutoCAD, drafting, and teaching. He has a well set up system for teaching at a distance, and his courses will come at a fraction of the cost of Trade and Technical colleges, though for some families his courses might seem a little high at $396 for an 18 module Mechanical Drafting AutoCad course, and $198 for additional 9 module courses in Architectural Drafting and 3D Modeling. However, compare them to your local Trade School and you will find you will save hundreds...if not thousands. One on one attention, with easy access to a responsive teacher make this a great value for those who might want to explore the world of AutoCAD and drafting. I would also add that our son, now a high school graduate, learned so much that he designed and built his own customized 3D printer based solely on what he learned in this course, and has also made "one off" replacement parts for local businesses! One of our favorite Tried and True resources!
Online woodworking courses!
Practical Money Skills for Life - 9-12th grade
FREE online curriculum for teaching money management and basic financial principles. These 22 downloadable lessons come with suggested activities for students and worksheets, as well as a teacher's guide. Espousing the desire for financial literacy for everyone, this entire web site is chock full of wonderful resources for all grade levels, from pre-K to college. Secular in nature, it is a good alternative to Dave Ramsey, and might be a little less content to cover as well.
Public Speaking - Toastmasters
Public Speaking - Dale Carnegie
Two well known organizations that have been around for years and years, each offering online resources available for free! The Dale Carnegie courses are also offered for fee via internet. If you have a budding salesperson in your family, wouldn't this help them gain the skills they'll need for the future? Both web sites have articles, ebooks, videos and more...for FREE!
Rainbow Resource - Daily Life Skills
A combination of Daily Marketplace Skills, Daily Social & Workplace Skills, and Daily Health & Hygiene Skills which provides students with the knowledge they need to have successful daily life skills.
School of Life & Book of Life
Life skills...how do we teach them, and what do they include? Well, there are practical skills such as cooking and car maintenance which are important to learn about, but what about the "soft skills"? How do you help your child gain the skills to maneuver through the treacherous waters of relationships, workplace dynamics, and just sort of "how to live" kinds of skills? THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED! The "School of Life" is internationally known and it's founder, Alain de Botton, has been interviewed by many well known media outlets. As their web site states, "The School of Life is devoted to developing emotional intelligence. We address such issues as how to find fulfilling work, how to master the art of relationships, how to understand one's past, how to achieve calm, and how better to understand the world." The resource you can use for free is their online web site for "The Book of Life", which is described as an enormous collection of "calm, reassuring, and sane" articles written by a variety of authors. It is broken down into chapters such as "Capitalism", "Work", "Relationships", "Self", and "Culture". Each article focuses on creating self-awareness and helping the reader develop the most important of skills, emotional intelligence. This is an invaluable resource to teach your kids how to "be" in the world...how to have a joyful and satisfying life. This is a Tried and True resource!!
Sex Ed - Seattle/King County Downloadable Curriculum
Individual lessons are downloadable from this web site, and cover everything necessary for a well rounded sex ed course. Work sheets and student materials along with teachers materials for each topic covered are available. There is a fee of $49.00 per year for access to all the materials. This well done web site allows you to pick what you might want to teach or select it all and create a course. While it doesn't cover nearly as much as Our Whole Lives covers, it has all the major topics there and does a nice job of assisting the educator. If you are a little squeamish about teaching Sex Ed to your own children, this might make it a little easier.
Starline Press - All Electives
Starline Press fills the gap in curriculum to offer solid high school elective courses. Starline offers an amazing array of worktexts to go hand in hand with many topics you might want to offer your young adult learner. Want to teach Home Ec or Basic Auto Repair with some hands on work, but also want a curriculum to branch off from? Use these! Here are the elective course worktexts offered:
- Automotive Technology
- Comparative Religions
- Creative Writing
- Home Ec.
- Personal Finance
See? Partner your real world learning with some curricula, and you have an engaging and interesting credit worthy course!
Do you wish there were a cooking course that really started at the beginning, and taught people how to cook real food...the kind we are likely to find on our own grills or in our own crockpots? Do you wish you could find a cooking curriculum that walks your son or daughter through the basics, from how to properly dice an onion to how to make a hamburger and grill it correctly? Start Cooking was created to teach the basics, and then move on from there. It offers very short, simple video instructions as well as tons of other great information for the beginning cook...and the intermediate cook...which would guide your child to being able to comfortably put a nice meal on the table. Truly a well rounded internet resource that could be a full year's course as a stand alone, you must check this one out!
Storey Publishing - Country Wisdom Bulletins
Storey Publishing - Basics
What a find!!! The Country Wisdom Bulletins are 32 page booklets (There are over 200 of them!) that teach hands on skills in an easy to read, well illustrated format. You can find something to delight any student here, from fence building, to baking with sour dough, to the use and maintenance of chainsaws. These are little gems, and could provide hours and hours of educational opportunities and exploration which might lead to the discovery of a vocation, or a wonderful avocation. The Basics series offers books that are 100-125 pages in length on a variety of topics and they teach the "basics". You will find books on beading, gardening, knitting, knife skills and more.
Do you have a budding filmmaker? Someone who loves storytelling? This is a unique course with an annual membership that teaches pretty much every aspect of filmmaking, in an interactive and video based environment. Over 200 courses cover topics such as cameras, lenses, lighting, writing, editing, special effects and a whole lot more. One caveat, this is one of the resources we name here which is highly Christian, and it states boldly on its front page, "Furthering God's Kingdom Through Film". We are listing this web site as we looked high and low for a filmmaking course for our son, and found nothing that was geared toward beginning students, everything we found was far too "heavy" for an intro course. Another reason we liked this resource and are trying it this year (I will offer a deeper review after we have some experience with it) is that they showed filmmaking using tools already available to a learner...cell phones, etc. while also introducing and explaining higher tech gear. It really is solid, and it is up to you to decide if the Christian content is too much to overlook for your particular family. There are sample videos for you to investigate to see if this will fit your needs.
U.S. Department of Labor
Life Skills/Workplace Skills course.
Loads of great courses available to anyone to purchase, 4H offers a lot more than animal husbandry courses. Many courses are available that would help with career exploration including electricity, computer technology, film making, and more!
Digital Theatre Plus
How about a course in theater, both the study of performances as well as learning what goes on behind the scenes? This incredibly rich resource was pointed out to us by one of our new readers, and it is something else!! Downloadable study guides and full performances help you teach a fully fleshed out theater course. They even offer behind the scenes lessons, so those considering careers in the theater who don't wish to act can learn what sorts of skills are used in set design, lighting, and more. If you want to teach Shakespeare and have recorded live stage performances to utilize as a tool, this would be a great add on for a literature course!
Learn more about plays: Our detailed Study Guides are written by leading contemporary theater practitioners and academics, illuminating the craft of the playwright and how text works on stage. Particular focus is given to analysis of key scenes and speeches with exploration of language, character, social and historical context.
For those who have students who would like to learn more about the front and back end of theater work, this could be an invaluable resource for you. A couple of things to note, be certain at the top of the screen that you are set for an American location, also, there are levels for their offerings, so prescreen anything you are going to use for the entire family so content is appropriate. With new shows being continuously added, this is a web site to return to often to see what else is available.