Curriculum Ideas for Newly Enrolled Students

The Supervising Teacher will work with the parent/student to be sure there are adequate learning materials available for the student to use until ordered materials arrive. Such interim materials can include texts and/or other resources. Learning must occur even if ordered materials have not arrived!

Please remember that there is no requirement that the student be working on every subject every day. Even if you are waiting for the arrival of an order, there are many learning activities students of all ages can do. A student can concentrate on a few core subjects, such as math, literature, and history while waiting for the science materials to arrive. With a little creativity, the Supervising Teacher, student, and parent can develop a study plan that meets the need of the individual student.

While you are awaiting the arrival of materials, here are some things you can do to get the student started.

Obtaining Text-based Materials

  • Visit the VOC Library to arrange to checkout materials for the student’s use.

  • Surplus book warehouses, school districts' discarded materials, library book sales, etc. can provide free or inexpensive curriculum materials.

  • Yard sales, flea markets, used bookstores, etc. are sources for inexpensive materials.

  • Students may use the public library as a source for books, tapes, magazines, and videos. Public libraries also provide access to the Internet.

  • Some parents may wish to purchase materials of their own for their students at local educational materials suppliers.

  • The table of contents for various textbooks can be used as a source of general guidelines for various courses. For instance, the table of contents for a U.S. history book gives ideas for appropriate topics of study for that subject. The student can pursue information contained in chapters using various methods of research: Internet research about the Civil War, videos on the subject of westward expansion or a biography about Abraham Lincoln.

  • Each of these modalities covers the subject content without requiring an official "textbook". Of course, the student could follow up his/her research with an essay or report.

Beyond the Textbook Learning Resources

The community is considered our school's campus. Supervising Teachers, students, and parents can discuss ways to use various local resources to fit the student's curriculum needs. There are many resources and learning activities readily available to our students. Learning activities may include:

  • Watching, discussing and/or writing about educational programming, science and nature-based programs, documentaries, movies based on the classics, history-based programs, media coverage of current events, books

  • Developing various skills through games (counting, spelling, multiplication, critical thinking, memorization, money counting/making change)

  • Using newspapers for studying many subjects (language arts, current events, economics, politics, consumer math)

  • Participating in learning activities offered through community colleges, parks and recreation departments, and local businesses (classes, information forums, exhibits.

  • Developing interdisciplinary studies using books, videos, audiotapes, computer programs, the Internet

  • Participating in community group learning activities (amateur radio clubs, computer interest groups, master gardeners)

  • Connect with local homeschooling groups in your area

  • Begin working in Test-Prep (Spectrum, Buckle Down, etc…) workbooks in student’s grade level. This can also give you a feel to where your student falls within grade level.

  • K-6 students: many all-in-one workbooks are available at local bookstores and Costco. They usually cover a few core subject areas.


  • Using various research materials, books, videos, audiotapes, magazines, etc. obtained from the local library (Reading selections may include: novels, magazine articles, non-fiction selections, instruction manuals, newspapers, anthologies, poetry, and primary & secondary resources)

  • Participating in local literature-related groups at library and/or bookstore

  • Read recommended grade level books suggested by state of California:

  • Attending/participating in poetry readings

  • Students can read and journal what they are reading. Identify new vocabulary

  • Choose a novel and read chapters for discussion. Read aloud to each other. Do shared reading, where everyone reads a paragraph and passes the book along for one chapter. Play Charades using scenes from novel.

  • Students in K-8 could choose their own grade level appropriate reading material and have a set number of pages to read daily. After the reading they would have to retell that section of the story to the parent. At the end of the story, the child could do a culmination activity relating to some aspect of the story.

  • Students could take passages or stories from their reading (or textbook) and find another story by the same author or another story in the same genre and do a comparison essay using a Venn diagram.

  • Students could read a grade appropriate book that has a movie of it as well. After reading the book, they could watch the movie and write a comparison essay.


  • Writing essays, reports, paragraphs, sentences, poetry, short stories, biographies/autobiographies, novel, letters to the editor, scripts

  • Developing personal journals (possibly including illustrations, writing entries, photographs)

  • Taking notes or writing responses to lectures, educational programs, news programs

  • Writing critiques or reviews of books, concerts, performances, or films

  • Comparing and contrasting novels to their movie versions, one author's style to another, various viewpoints/philosophies

  • Discerning fact or opinion

  • Outlining chapters

  • Writing letters, notes, memos (personal and/or business)

  • Creating various lists (groceries, "to do," inventories for insurance purposes)

  • Developing step-by-step how-to manuals

  • Dictating and illustrating stories (possibly with help from parent, older sibling, tape recorder)

  • Entering writing contests

  • Practicing and improving handwriting

  • Editing writing samples

  • Write new ending for a book

  • Write short journal entries using pen/paper or computer. Simple ideas can be used that cover every subject. Examples for different subjects might be:

  • English: What was your favorite book that you have read?

  • Math: Who was your favorite math teacher and how did he/she make the subject so wonderful?

  • History: If you could go back to any time period in history, what time would it be and why?

  • Science: What characteristics, beyond feathers, do you think help a bird to fly?

  • PE: If you had the choice of riding your bike or scooter all year, which would it be and why?

  • Special Interest: What painting or work of art transformed your view of art so that you wanted to be there/do that?


  • Using mathematics in building/construction activities, cooking, shopping

  • Figuring out materials needed for various projects (sewing, carpentry, gardening)

  • Calculating gas mileage, tips, sales tax

  • Keeping personal finance records (budgeting, savings and checking accounts)

  • Applying math skills in business finances/records (profit, losses and expenses involved in lawn mowing, babysitting, egg business)

  • Researching various numeric systems

  • Developing an imaginary numeric system of own

  • Grocery store- investigate/record best prices. Organize coupons. Graph spending/savings over a period of time.

  • K-2 go to

Social Studies

  • Reading about/researching the stock market. Watch/record activity of specific stock over a period of time.

  • Watching/discussing economics-related television programming

  • Using maps to plan routes, find destinations

  • Create scale models/maps (of room, house, neighborhood)

  • Reading/writing about historically significant people, places, and events

  • Researching current issues (origins of current ethnic conflicts, political issue conflicts)

  • Arguing various sides of current issues

  • Researching your neighborhood, family tree, local events, holiday origins

  • Peace Corps: and they have huge classroom resources that have lesson plans, slide shows, volunteer stories, language lessons, and podcasts.

  • Create a timeline and/or lap book for the time/unit studying.


  • Nature studies may include identification of insects, birds and plants

  • Researching pond life, tide pools

  • Researching current weather conditions, season

  • Using simple machines

  • Keeping weather records

  • Studying the stars

  • Volunteering at nature center or science museum, at local creek clean-up project

  • Research/identify local geological features

  • Watching/discussing/writing about nature- and science-based educational programming

  • Gardening

  • Animal care

  • Nature journaling

  • Go to local museums and record observations.

Study Skills

  • Taking notes on lectures, television programs

  • Using various book- and computer-based research materials (dictionaries, encyclopedias, telephone books, magazines, newspapers, card catalogs, almanacs, atlases, the Internet

Life Skills

  • Learning new skills related to meal planning/preparation, cooking/baking, sewing, repair work (automobiles, bicycles, small engines, homes, etc.), animal care, gardening

  • Completing personal inventories to help discover, assess, and gain insights into abilities, learning styles, aptitudes, interests

  • Developing a resumé

  • Researching requirements to attain future goals (colleges, tech schools, the military, career interests)

  • Locating available scholarships for camps, colleges

  • Reading biographies about successful people in various careers

  • Observe different careers

  • Enrolling in and attending ROP courses

  • Locating mentors in field of interest

  • Attending job fairs

  • Interviewing business people, college students

  • Developing apprenticeships

  • Filling out "real life" forms such as checks, job applications, tax forms

  • Maintaining personal checking account, budget

  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter, fish hatchery or other service organization.

Physical Education

  • Participating in aerobics, bicycling, water and/or snow skiing, hiking, jogging, swimming, martial arts, various sports, weight lifting, horseback riding. Be sure and record amount of time, take pictures, or have student write about it. This will be useful when reporting to your Supervising Teacher.

  • High School transcript credit for PE requires submission of PE logs and must meet time requirements. Contact the HS Supervising Teacher for support.

  • Researching particular sporting events, athletes, and/or sport and write it up in a short paper.


  • Developing computer skills in such areas as keyboarding/typing, Internet research, e-mailing, web design, programming, word processing, graphics, database, spreadsheet, multimedia presentations


  • Researching importance of exercise, nutrition, healthful lifestyle choices

  • Developing a personal health and fitness program, healthful diet program

  • Graph/record your food/exercise over a specific time period

Driver's Education

  • Beginning study through use of DMV manuals, AAA and/or CHP materials

Community Service/Outreach

  • Volunteering at:

    • food banks

    • canned food drives

    • hospitals

    • libraries

    • schools

    • museums

    • historical sites

    • veterinary clinics

    • political campaign headquarters

    • fund raisers

Visual Arts and Music

  • Listening and responding to audiotapes/CDs of various types of music

  • Researching the lives of composers

  • Looking at and responding to various artwork

  • Researching the lives of artists

  • Entering art contests, participating in band, choir

  • Developing/refining skills in metal working, woodworking, masonry, small engine repair, mechanical drawing, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, painting, drawing, sculpting, dancing, calligraphy

  • Actively listening to foreign language programs on radio and/or television

  • Go to local performing arts center- listen/evaluate/critique what you see/hear.

Online Education Resources

The internet has a wide variety of educational resources available. Valley Oak Charter has collected some favorites. They can be found on our Online Educational Resources Website.