See the complete review in 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.
My Father’s World (MFW) offers complete or almost complete grade-level programs for preschool through twelfth grade. MFW embodies methodologies from unit study, Charlotte Mason, and classical approaches with a strong biblical base (Protestant) and missionary emphasis throughout all levels. Each program centers around a single guide and uses a mixture of real books and hands-on activities along with a few textbooks. Basic or deluxe packages are available for each level. Basic packages provide essential elements. Deluxe packages include additional resources for art, music, read aloud, etc. A Bible (not included) is required for every level.
MFW courses are clearly structured with easy-to-understand instructions. Lesson preparation time will be required primarily for gathering necessary materials, so planning ahead is essential.
MFW also sells many of the recommended books which might be helpful for those without easy access to a library. Interestingly, MFW has been able to keep a few of the core resource books in print by working out agreements with the original publishers for MFW to publish their own editions. These often are edited regarding issues such as evolution to make them more appropriate for MFW’s audience.
Samples of each level are available on the publisher’s website. Because of space limitations, my review of their preschool program is only on my website, and I include only a brief summary of the high school courses.
God's Creation from A to Z: Complete Kindergarten Curriculum
MFW's kindergarten curriculum focuses on beginning reading, math, science, social studies, and Bible appropriate for children who are just ready to begin learning letters and sounds. (Expansion ideas are provided for kindergartners who are already reading.) Many activities in the book—especially those not targeting beginning number and letter skills—easily adapt for use with younger or older children.
Charlotte Mason's influence is strong with the incorporation of real books and hands-on learning throughout the program....
The introductory unit, which should take about ten days to complete, covers creation and introduces the names of the letters of the alphabet. The next 26 units (centered around themes such as the sun, leaves, or water) integrate lessons on sounds of the letters and beginning blending (short-vowel words only) with the unit themes. All learning is multi-sensory, combining worksheets, oral work, listening, movable alphabet, flashcards, and lots of hands-on activities.
For example, Unit 11 teaches about insects, emphasizing the biblical concept of working hard (diligence). Ants, bees, and ladybugs are used as examples. Students learn the “A-a-Apple” song, and they learn the /?/ sound for insect. You are to read aloud about insects from any appropriate book—nine possible titles are suggested. Children either set up the ant farm from the deluxe kit or assist you in following the instructions for creating your own ant farm so they can watch insects at work.
Many learning activities use textured letters (these come in the basic package), tactile activities (e.g., finger jello cut into letter shapes, pancakes formed as letters), and verbal responses.
Simple science experiments, craft projects, and literature are built into the lessons.
Day six in each unit features a “book time” for reading a real book and engaging in related activities plus an “outdoor time” activity. Math is often integrated in lessons; for example, sorting leaves by color and size or cutting an apple in half. Skills covered include shapes, comparing and sequencing, measuring, calendar, money, graphs, fractions, time, counting, writing numbers, and an introduction to addition and subtraction....
The basic program includes a beautiful full-color set of A to Z Alphabet Flashcards....you need access to children’s fiction and non-fiction books. Extensive, annotated lists of recommended books should make it easy to find suitable books at your local library.
To make things easier, MFW offers the deluxe package that includes the basic program (with alphabet cards and A-Z Textured Letters), Butterfly Garden, an ant farm, an inflatable globe, Say Hello to Classical Music CD, Cuisenaire Rods, Cuisenaire Rods Alphabet Book, and the books What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs? and For the Children’s Sake. These items and a few others are also offered individually on the publisher’s website. A separate, optional Kindergarten Literature Collection includes a set of classic picture books for “book time” reading.
Some inexpensive art supplies such as clay, watercolor paints, and paintbrushes will be required; a few more such as tempera paints and colored pencils are optional. You will also need an extra set of Kindergarten Student Sheets for each additional student.
Learning God's Story: Complete First Grade Curriculum
This first grade program very quickly reviews letters and sounds, then introduces short-vowel words. All basic phonics concepts are presented this year. Spelling and writing both receive much more emphasis this year than in kindergarten. Science in the first grade program relies heavily upon three Usborne books...Hands-on math activities plus math resources from the First Grade Basic Package, including a colorful supplementary math workbook, provide a developmentally-appropriate foundation in math principles.
The First Grade Basic Package includes the teacher’s manual, student workbook, student sheets (which include timeline figures), Bible Notebook, Bible Reader, three Usborne science books, a devotions book, a math workbook, math flashcards, and math manipulatives.
This course builds a very strong familiarity with the Bible since it uses chronological Bible readings as well as the Bible Reader and the Bible Notebook.....
Minimal lesson preparation is required. Daily lesson plans provide detailed instruction and are easy to follow. Some cut-and-paste activities are used from time to time, and there are numerous optional projects such as a celebration of the Jewish feast of Purim.
Children are asked to draw in many of the lessons, and Hazell suggests using the book Drawing with Children for developing drawing skills. The First Grade Deluxe Package includes that book along with Honey for a Child’s Heart, Enjoying Art Together, and Peter and the Wolf CD—in addition to all items in the basic package.
Adventures in U.S. History (2nd or 3rd Grade)
NOTE: This program is designed for a second or third grader who is an oldest child. Families with older siblings should instead purchase one of the 2nd-8th programs so that all students are working on the same topics.
Adventures in U.S. History provides complete curriculum for Bible, history, geography, science, art, and music, with United States history being the primary theme for the year. There is some language arts instruction, but it is not comprehensive. Math is not included. You need to add your own math and language arts resources....
Moderately detailed lesson plans are provided for each day. You need minimal prep work before teaching the program: gathering or buying general school supplies and art supplies..., gathering library books, and reading the first sections of the teacher’s manual.
You may purchase either the basic or deluxe package. The basic package includes the teacher’s manual, a two-sided U.S./world map, student sheets (which also include state sheets/cards/stickers), Patriotic Songs of the U.S.A. CD, and books such as NIrV Discoverer’s Bible for Young Readers, The Story of the U.S., American Pioneers and Patriots, North American Indians, The Fourth of July Story, First Encyclopedia of Science, Science with Air, and Birds, Nests, and Eggs.
The deluxe package includes all of the above plus an art program, science and fine art resources, and seven additional read-aloud books....
2nd - 8th Grade Multi-Age Curriculum
While the preceding programs all have narrower age or grade level designations, the next sequence in MFW consists of five volumes, any of which might be used for students in grades two through eight. Ideally, you would use them in sequence, no matter at what grade level you begin. You might complete all five volumes in grades two through six then repeat the first two volumes at a more advanced level for seventh and eighth grades.
The first year of the five-year cycle is dedicated to concentrated study of geography and cultures in Exploring Countries and Cultures. The next four volumes follow a chronological order:
Creation to the Greeks
Rome to the Reformation
Exploration to 1850 (U.S./World History)
1850 to Modern Times (U.S./World History)
As with the other MFW volumes, these five levels use real books and lots of hands-on activities to cover Bible, social studies (history and geography), science, art, and music. You might consider this a unit study although study in all subjects is not as tightly linked to unit themes as in other unit studies....Textbooks and other resources are also incorporated to cover specific topics that might not fit with the main themes. For example, children learn the music of Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel during their study of Creation to the Greeks.
Language arts are covered separately, although children will be working on some language arts activities within the curriculum itself....
Math is not included in these volumes, although Primary Mathematics (Singapore Math) is recommended....
Teacher’s manuals feature daily lesson plans with additional notes and explanations alongside each week’s chart. Charts show specific pages and activities within the core resources....
Exploring Countries and Cultures
As the title suggests, this volume teaches about other countries and cultures. It is selective rather than comprehensive in coverage, an approach entirely suitable for a young audience. For example, while all continents are “visited,” only a few representative countries are actually studied. Protestant missionary biographies, stories from Hero Tales (heroes of Protestantism), and information from Window on the World (missionary efforts and status worldwide) are assigned for reading within the lesson plans, often coordinating with the country being studied that week....
Seventh and eighth graders have additional coursework scheduled in the lesson plans. You will need to purchase the 7th-8th Grade Supplement if you are teaching older students.
Creation to the Greeks
MFW strongly recommends that children complete Exploring Countries and Cultures before beginning this volume so that they have foundational knowledge of countries and geographic terms that will be used this year.
The outline for this study follows the Old Testament, beginning with Creation and continuing through the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the exile (book of Nehemiah). Following the biblical timeline, students also learn about ancient Mesopotamia; Egypt; the Babylonian kingdom; early North American cultures; other ancient cultures of the Middle East such as the Canaanites, Hittites and Philistines; Assyria; Greece (including some Greek mythology); India (including a brief study of Hinduism and Buddhism); early Russians; Phoenicians; and the Persian empire, culminating with Alexander the Great. Celebrating Biblical Feasts is used to incorporate study and celebration of the Old Testament biblical feasts.
Some of the core books used with this volume seem to be significantly more challenging than those used for Exploring Countries....
Rome to the Reformation
The layout and methodology for this volume is essentially the same as for Creation to the Greeks. This volume again includes many pages of optional book and video recommendations for each week of study. The assumption is that you have just completed Creation to the Greeks and already have some of the resources used with that volume....
It is important to note that history coverage is not restricted to Western Civilization but includes Japan, India, Australia, and other far flung places.
Exploration to 1850 (U.S./World History)
Exploration to 1850 is appropriate for students in grades four through eight. (You will need to add the 2nd-3rd Grade Supplement if you are teaching younger student.) Exploration combines both world history and early U.S. history. It uses core resources such as The Story of the World, Volume 3 and George Washington’s World that take a story-telling approach to history along with texts such as Exploring American History (CLP) and Building a City on a Hill.... Science this year is a study of plants and animals. Seventh and eighth graders should use either Exploring Creation with General Science or Exploring Creation with Physical Science. Resource recommendations for math and language arts vary by the student’s grade level....
1850 to Modern Times (U.S./World History)
1850 to Modern Times continues to intermix U.S. and world history, covering events in chronological sequence. The target audience is grades four through eight. You will need the 2nd-3rd Grade Supplement if you are teaching a younger student. It continues with a few books begun in Exploration to 1850. Science introduces students to physics and chemistry.