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.
AGS - American History
AGS - World History
AGS - World Geography and Cultures
Here are more textbooks from AGS which are year long survey courses in American or World History, or World Geography and Cultures. Easy to work with, easy to teach from, and easy to understand. Geography, American History, and World History are not rocket science, and it should be this easy to teach! Students get a brief overview of key points in history and geography, and the series also touches on modern advancements, art and culture. While these textbooks are designed to be used as a complete stand alone history course, they offer solid information without overkill, allowing time to add in additional resources to flesh out the study of history. Many homeschoolers have partnered these texts with biographies, films, and other multimedia resources. Presenting history from a fairly neutral perspective, it offers the facts and far less opinion than some traditionally used homeschool history curricula. AGS gets the job done, simply and effectively.
Bluestocking Press - History, Government and Law
One of the more unique approaches to studying a variety of topics in the Social Studies areas, the books and study guides from Bluestocking Press span a lot of topics. Conversational in tone, each of these presents hard to understand topics in easier to understand ways. This is not written at lower reading levels, as the AGS textbooks are, but complex topics in economics, history, etc. are broken down into easy to understand bites. The questions asked in the study guides which accompany some of the books are thought provoking and meaty. Their Uncle Eric series helps a young adult learn about what it means to be conservative or liberal, how our financial system works, what our government really does, etc. These are not dry textbooks, but are very interesting and engaging reads which most can't put down once they start reading. Many a homeschooling parent has had enjoyable midnight reading from this series! Using several of their books could easily create a strong high school course. Check out this page for a recommended course of study using their books: Recommended Order of Reading . Check out the reviews on Amazon about his books, you will be pleasantly surprised and find them to be well worth their relatively inexpensive price. A Tried and True resource!
CICERO US History
CICERO US History through Rainbow Resources
A totally immersive online curriculum for US History, CICERO History is awesome! Many kids are visual learners, and prefer more interactive experiences in learning. This curriculum would most definitely help those learners get the most out of history. It is also a good tool for a break from a boring textbook. There are activities, maps, interactive timelines, videos and more which offer a very content rich course. Taught online, this can be used for ALL of US history and can be used by ALL grade levels in your home WITHOUT an extra fee! Check out the detailed review on the Rainbow Resource page linked above...and look their for a nice price reduction as well!
History at Our House
Leave the textbook behind, and join your teacher, Mr. Powell, for an audio class! Teaching homeschoolers for over 10 years, Mr. Powell has created History at Our House to teach learners all over the United States about US and World History. His courses are religiously neutral, and are designed to be attended via phone or listened to later with MP3 files. He does it all, you just register your learner and let Mr. Powell does the rest. This is a teacher whose classes are highly praised, and it is one way of getting your child to interact with a teacher other than yourself, while not having to run around and haul them to co-op classes. Excellent history presentation, but it may not work as well with students who do not learn as well using auditory skills.
Prager University - These five minute topical videos from well known personality, Dennis Prager, can enliven any social studies course, regardless of whether you agree of disagree with the perspective presented.
STEPS History - High School (STEP 4)
STEPS History - Advanced Middle School (STEP 3)
There is no better history offered today, in our opinion, than STEPS. If you want a start to finish completed history course with a worldwide focus (not Euro-Centric nor breaking US History out from the rest of the world), this is what you need to use. This is not photo heavy, but throughout the curriculum there are links to check out and film suggestions tied to the learning, If you have someone who loves to be turned loose to read on their own, if you have kids whose idea of great fun is offering their opinion, or if you have multiple kids and want to teach this in a group discussion style, STEPS can't be beat. If you have a learner who needs lots of visuals to cement things, this may not be the best option for them.
Now, let's talk a little about the differences between STEP 3 and STEP 4 levels, and why we have included both here as links for high school. For an average learner, this is an advanced curriculum. Steven David Horwich, the author, does NOT talk down to the reader, regardless of the level (Yes, even with his Elementary (STEPS 1 and 2) levels he uses a respectful tone). "STEP 3 is marked for ages 9-11 on his web site, and STEP 4 is for ages 11 and above. Check out the samples of each level and see what you think fits best, upon viewing the samples you will quickly understand that even STEP 3 is quite advanced and would be considered a great high school level for most students, and the STEP 4 would be more suitable for those who love history, are more advanced readers and thinkers, and are college bound. Make no mistake though, even the "Lower School" level would provide a far better than average history background than any standard textbook. One thing that should be added if using STEP 3 is the STEP 4 "American Civics - An Owner's Manual" and that would fill in some holes and also serve as your American Government course. This is a 100% Tried and True resource!
Study.com is an AWESOME web site, and their educational videos are so well done, you will quickly become hooked on them. Though they offer other courses, their high school history and world history courses do such a fine job of teaching, you will be thrilled. These 7-10 minute short animated videos are not frenetic in their pace, as some online learning videos are. However, they are not so slow paced they bore you to tears either. With snippets of humor injected, there will be chuckles as they are watched, and there are details...plenty of details. Their US History course consists of 165 videos, and each video has a 5 question quiz at the end. Their World History course is also incredibly rich with 211 videos. Watch a few to supplement a textbook, or use it as a core for your history courses, this web site is the future of online learning and you will love what you see, I promise. This is, however, not an inexpensive proposition as plans range from $39.99 a month to $59.95 a month. This seems pricey until you realize this can be used for any and ALL subjects (they teach all high school courses!), thereby making it an extremely affordable option for homeschooling should you elect to use it for more than history.
Teaching Company - The Great Courses
Do you want your student to learn from some of THE best professors and teachers in the United States? These largely college level courses make history come alive, and really challenge learners to think differently. There are so many appropriate courses for high schoolers that we can't begin to name them all here, but one favorite is their actual high school level course, Early American History: Native Americans through the Forty-Niners or their World History course The Fertile Crescent to the American Revolution. Though most courses are college level, there are such clear explanations of topics, along with review at the end of each lecture, that most average high school students can easily grasp what is being taught. These are excellent, truly beyond compare, and can help the homeschool student learn how to take notes from a lecture, and how to pick out key concepts. Additionally, most course books that accompany the DVD's come with suggested other resources, course outlines, and 2-3 thought provoking questions to answer after viewing each lesson. This is a Tried and True resource!