Monday, August 1, 2011

"Not" Back to School Hop: Curriculum Week

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Each year I want to join in on this Blog Hop. It looks fun and will definitely help me figure out what I want to do concerning our school this year. This week is all about curriculum. I'm still working on the final details but I thought I'd jump in anyway.

B14 or as he's known on my school blog - Lego-Man - will be in 8th 9th grade this year. See, I'm still in denial that my oldest is ready for high school! And really, if we had started him in kindergarten at the ripe old age of five (he would have started K the day he turned five), he would be in 10th this year! Yikes! Anyway..... N10 will be in 5th grade and J7 will be in 2nd grade. Now, please note that when I say "grade" that is really an arbitrary number given to them for the purpose of outside activities. In any given subject they could be at grade level, below grade level, or above grade level. They are right where they are and it's right where they should be, but it may not correspond to their "grade." 

"Together" Subjects

  • Daily Bible study - near the end of last year, the two older boys & I took turns reading through a chapter a day in the Bible. This is two-fold. One, it helps them practice reading aloud which they both do well. It also helps us all be in the Word daily.
  • Who is God? - Biblical Worldview/Bible study.  I hate to admit I've had this book on my shelf for over a year. I saw it at our local homeschool conference last year and loved it. I bought it and never used it. This year it's going on the front burner. I'll be printing out our own notebook pages referenced in the book rather than buying the corresponding journal. I'm really attempting to use what I have this year or making do. Although, I am considering the coloring book to use with J7.
  • Character study using The Children's Book of Virtues. I had seen a study online somewhere years ago and was recently reminded of it in my blog reading. There is a huge free file online which contains notebooking, lapbooking, and worksheets that corresponds to the book. I'll be using that as well.  
  • Writing - Last year I was given the Teaching Writing/Student Writing Intensive - Level A as part of my involvement with the TOS Homeschool Crew. We still have a bit of it left to use so we'll be continuing with that. I'll also have the boys use Easy Writing for some simple reinforcement. I have an older copy.
  • History - Tapestry of Grace - Year 4. And as like most homeschooling families we'll be tweaking this. I plan to use it only for history this year and perhaps geography and fine arts. Overall I'm just dipping my feet in the water this year with it and we'll see how it goes.
  • Foreign Language - Sign language. I've always been fascinated by sign language to the point that I once planned to be an interpreter and/or work with the deaf community. I've been collecting DVDs and I'm sure we'll make use of the internet as well. I'm considering implementing a "no talking with your mouth" rule for a time period in order to force us all to practice. 
Co-Op Classes

I have a definite love/hate relationship with co-ops. I live in a very rural area so they don't work quite the way I've seen them in more urban areas. However, last year I did a "mini" one with my sister and that worked well. We focused on art appreciation, art application and music appreciation. This year we've decided to delve into geography. I'm not sure yet what we'll be using, but we'll be taking on the geography of the states. I'm sure it will be fun. We'll be meeting twice a month.

This year we're also going to be trying out a new science co-op. A friend asked if I'd be interested so I figured why not. My only concern is that B14 may not be quite ready for it but we'll see how it goes. We're going to be doing Apologia's Exploring Creation with Biology course using the first edition book (which we all already owned). The unique thing about this particular co-op is that we will be meeting weekly from August 25th through November 17th and only doing the experiments for this course. Yes, it is a crazy busy schedule but it starts snowing mid-November - if not sooner - and most families attending are driving at least 30 minutes if not longer (remember very rural setting around here). Like I said, we'll see how it goes. I'll be using Considering God's Creation (another TOS Homeschool Crew product from last year) with the younger kids (ages about 6 up to about 12).


Now it becomes a bit more confusing. I originally planned to have B14 continue on with Math-U-See, our preferred math. However, the problem is that we started this later in his schooling that I would have liked. This has resulted in him being behind where I would like him at this point. So I'm not completely sure what he'll be using for math this year. I saw Basic Math from The Great Courses (and it's currently on sale) but I'm thinking that The Khan Academy will do the same for us and that's free. (I'm looking at using the videos listed under Arithmetic). 

N10 & J7 will continue with their respective MUS books. J7 is finishing up Primer and will be moving in to Alpha while N10 will be finishing up Delta and moving in to Gamma. (I don't fret if the boys don't finish a book in a year.)

All the boys will also continue with our Calculadder Drills. I have seen great improvement in using this last year. I have the MasterPak 1 CD which I highly recommend. It has CalcuLadder 1-3 plus ReadyWriter on it. It contains all the drills for all three boys (basic addition/subtraction all the way up through advanced multiplication/division). I simply print what I need. 


This subject will be a focus for us this year. I have discovered that I have fantastic readers in both my older boys but horrible spellers. While they are getting better, I feel that this is something we really need to focus on this year. I've been hemming and hawing about what to use, but I finally decided today to stick with what I own! I sometimes get caught up in the "grass in greener" phenomena. So we'll be sticking with The W.I.S.E. Guide tweaked for my own use. It's intended to be used with the Spell to Write and Read program. I simply use the Guide on its own. It's full of great activities to extend the learning. Each boy will have one-on-one time with me to go over their lists daily and for tests weekly.

I'll be pulling out my Easy Grammar books for the boys this year as well. I plan to use Easy Grammar 2/3 (pink book) with J7 and most likely Easy Grammar 3/4 (gold book) with both N10 & B14. However, B14 might be ready for a slightly harder book, we'll see. This has been another neglected subject. I'm only linking to the regular EG site since I have all older copies of the books. This was revamped a few years ago to no longer do double grade (the 2/3 stood for a 2nd grader on target or a 3rd grader a bit behind). Now each book is intended for a regular grade. 

J7 aka Happy

J7 still needs a lot of one-on-one instruction. We'll be focusing harder on his reading lessons this year. He was just ready to start this past January when he turned seven. We'll continue with our lessons in Alpha-Phonics. He blew through the "Before the Code" books last year so we'll start out with the Explode the Code Book 1 this fall and see how he does. 


This will be a varied area. All the boys (and I) take piano lessons and I plan to continue those this fall. I'm hoping they'll all want to add violin in another year. We'll see how that goes, but our current teacher teaches both instruments. 

Sports will also fall into his area. The two younger boys want to play soccer this fall. I'm hoping to find out if there will be local rec teams for them to play on. B14 spends a lot of time just walking outside so I'm not sure how much I'll push him to do more this year. I'd love for him to start training to do a 5K run with me, but I'm not sure I can convince him of the necessity. He will be doing a health class this year. I have an older copy of Total Health and will most likely use that. 

I'm toying with adding in some live classes. I attended some CurrClick Live Open Houses and was very intrigued but what I saw. One I really want to add is the Flight Bundle by Science Jim for N10. The price is very affordable and N10 loves anything that flies. There is also a book club type class focusing on the book The Fellowship of the  Ring that would be great for B14. The last one I would absolutely love to add for the two younger boys is a live class using Ann Voskamp's book Explore His Earth. I did this book with B14 when he was about 9 or so and loved it. I do have discount codes from the open house for the last two classes that would drop the price a bit and if I plan to use things I already own for the most part, we may attempt it. Although, I would also need to buy a webcam and a headset/mic combo. I'm still thinking on these last two.

I also plan to add in a "Life Skills" class that will focus on things like how to wash dishes by hand (we have a dishwasher), how to do your own laundry (B14 does but the other two need to learn), how to cook simple but healthy meals, etc. 

Our last extra is our 4H group. It's fair time here and I had an epiphany this year. This is our second year in 4H and I just suddenly realized that the projects and paperwork need to be incorporated in to our learning time so that we aren't scrambling to complete things at this time of year and at the end of year when Project Record Sheets are due. There are some really great categories as well. For instance, if N10 does the flight class above, we could include that in an Aerospace project. Needless to say, I'll be figuring out which will fit best very soon.

Am I missing anything? Chime in and let me know if you see some glaring holes! Thanks.


  1. Looks like a great year is planned. I so agree with your note about grade levels. My boys are ahead in some areas, behind on others but everyone wants to hear what grade they are in so we just say 5th and 2nd. Good luck and I look forward to your reviews this year.

  2. Looks like a very full year. Have fun doing it and remember you are my mentor so I am watching and learning. :-)

  3. Your blog header is so lovely and yummy! It looks like you have a great year planned.

  4. Hey There!
    Your blog encouraged me to continue with some thoughtful planning for our school year. I wanted to share something that has really helped me with geography. We use Classical Conversations and the book The Core written by Leigh Bortin (the founder of Classical Conversations) has a really helpful chapter on geography. It has helped me enjoy and really be excited about geography. Enjoy your year!!!


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