Easy Peasy is a free online homeschool curriculum for preschool through high school, generously shared by a homeschooling mom named Lee Giles. More is added to the curriculum as she completes additional course plans. It is well on its way to eventually being a complete college prep program covering all of the way through high school. This review focuses primarily on curriculum for preschool through eighth grade.
The methodology is an eclectic mix of traditional and "Charlotte Mason" methods with lapbooking and online resources. It uses real books, picture studies, copy work, and narration techniques, but it also has activity sheets and incorporates other online courses that are more traditionally designed. (I placed "Charlotte Mason" in quotes because there was no purposeful intent to employ Charlotte Mason methods even though some of the methods such as narration and picture studies look like Charlotte Mason.)
All of the resources you need are linked online. You will need to print out pages for some activities, but basic requirements other than a computer with an internet connection are paper, pencils, scissors, glue, crayons or colored pencils.
"Getting Ready" levels 1 and 2 are complete readiness courses for preschool and kindergarten levels. Daily lesson plans include links to everything you need to teach math, reading, and language arts. Reading readiness and beginning reading and writing get a lot of attention at these levels.
Giles' approach to reading is a little unusual and worth mentioning. She describes it:
"Phonics is a tool for reading words you don’t recognize. I teach my children the letter names and sounds. Then I teach them to read by sight words. Then I teach them phonics. Phonics is simple at that point because they can already read. All of this takes two years. I do this before they start 'school' so that they can do 'school' more independently and more effectively" (http://allinonehomeschool.com/about/).
She draws heavily on the phonics presentation of Phonics Pathways in the first few years for the phonics. However, because she also teaches sight reading, she expects that children should be able to read McGuffey's First Reader as they start first grade. (Reading courses are now also available as printed books.)
After kindergarten level, you can either select a grade level program that includes math, reading, and language arts in the lesson plans or you can select all courses individually.
Until recently, English courses in Easy Peasy included reading, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and composition, but these have now been separated into separate reading and language arts courses to allow for greater customization.
The lesson plans include instructions within each lesson plan (with questions and answers if appropriate). For example, students look at a picture then tell what they see in the manner of a Charlotte Mason picture study. Math questions and answers are likewise included directly in the lesson plans at younger levels. Older students often have literature comprehension or grammar questions. The intent at all levels is that students will work through the lesson plans themselves, with or without assistance depending upon their age level.
Note that Easy Peasy arranges middle school math lessons for grades five through seven in three Steps that are equivalent to grade levels. Step 1 uses quite a bit of material from Khan Academy while Steps 2 and 3 use material from many other sites. Easy Peasy has links to specific lesson material for each day with clear instructions as to where to go and what to do. These websites provide practice problems and some quizzes for middle school math. Students completing the middle school math Steps should then be ready for Algebra 1.
In addition to math and language arts lessons, "Programs of Study" round out the curriculum with history, science, Bible study, music, art, computer, and critical thinking. Designed for the entire family to study the same topics together, the Programs of Study listed on the website indicate four "Years" of core themes. Year 1 covers biology, ancient through medieval history, the gospel of Matthew and the historical books of the Bible. Year 2 covers early American history and animals, and for Bible, students study the Gospel of Mark, the Acts of the Apostles, and many of the epistles. In Year 3, students study earth science, geography, world cultures, and world history (between the Middle Ages and modern times) plus the biblical books of Job, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Proverbs, and Luke. Year 4 covers physics and chemistry (elementary level) and twentieth century history, plus the gospel of John and the prophets for Bible study. These four core themes will be repeated at high school level.
If you select the grade level program for any of grades one through eight, you immediately see the daily lesson plans for math and language arts (including reading and literature). Within those lesson plans are links to assignments in the Programs of Study. You click on which year you are using to go straight to the assignments for history, Bible, science, music, art, computer, or critical thinking for that day's lesson. (I can just imagine the work it took to create all of these links!) Separate Programs of Study are provided for grades one through four and grades five through eight so that assignments are more age appropriate. If a student is working with seventh grade level math and language arts and clicks on the Year 1 assignment, the upper level Program of Study assignment will be displayed. Likewise, a younger student would get connected to a lower level Program of Study assignment. Remember that you can always select individual courses rather than a program.
The elective course material (music, art, computer, and thinking) for elementary grades is supplemental—much less than a complete course in any one of those subjects for one year. Computer learning covers basic operations and the use of various programs and applications at the elementary level. "Thinking" (as Giles labels it) primarily consists of links to logic games. In addition to the core curricula, there are links to review activities and games for the different subjects. Introductory Spanish is included in the lesson plans for grades six and seven. Those who want to introduce a different language can use other links provided to find alternative lesson material. Links to sites for foreign languages include options for both younger and older learners. Eighth grade lesson plans include Spanish 1 lessons that can be used for high school credit.
Questions are generally in the lesson plans rather than on the activity sheets. Answers are often printed in white; highlighting with a browser makes them appear. Some answers are on password-protected pages. Also, many of the links serve as drill and practice sites. There are no tests that I could find unless they appear in a linked site. Every forty days, children are told to give parents things to add to their portfolio, so parents build a physical record of student work rather than a list of grades from tests. Sometimes a lesson plan will tell the student to take a screen shot of a completed activity that should be put into the portfolio. Of course parents are welcome to grade student work as they go. A daily progress chart provided as a PDF file is a simple chart with one small box for each day—essentially room to check off that a day's lesson was completed.
Giles rarely interjects her own text into the lesson plans for history and science. However, Year 1 history and science both begin with one of these rare interjections as she explains a Christian (young earth) view of early man and of creation and the age of the earth. Year 3's Earth Science course also supports a literal interpretation of scripture and a young earth. The curriculum is Christian, but non-Christians might still use it and skip the Bible lessons since the Christian perspective is generally lacking in most internet links.
Students who are independent readers should be able to do much of their work independently, but not all. Younger students will, of course, need much more parental assistance. Even so, this program is very easy for the parent and student to use. It could be great for a family with a number of children as long as you have enough computers or tablets with internet connections. (Note that some websites use Adobe Flash and won't run on tablets.)
Giles has also created a separate site for high school level at www.allinonehighschool.com. There are at least four years’ worth of courses for English, math, science, social studies, Bible, and PE/health. The growing number of electives include such as courses as art appreciation, music appreciation, and three years of Spanish. Courses continue to use online resources such as courses from Georgia Virtual Learning and CK12, so no textbooks need to be purchased. While Giles has created some of the high school lessons, Easy Peasy fans have contributed others.
The entire Easy Peasy website is created on a blog platform and it's quite impressive. While it isn't a full-service program with record keeping and personal assistance, you should be able get help with your questions in a number of ways. First, read the FAQs on the website. Then you might try the very-active Facebook Easy Peasy group. If neither of those avenues is productive, you can contact Giles via email. Think of Easy Peasy more as a co-op where everyone helps each other.
Sure the curriculum is sometimes uneven, depending upon which sources are being used, but you can always supplement or adapt as needed. Remember that the entire curriculum is free! If you find the Easy Peasy curriculum useful, donation links are on the website.