Day 1

And we’re off! The kids were excited (although they all acknowledged that the novelty will wear off in short order). Because of the enthusiasm, things flowed pretty smoothly, with only one having a meltdown.

N (age 12):

Math: N warmed up with mental math. She was a bit rusty, so I helped her through the problems. Her lesson was on multiplying and dividing signed numbers. Thankfully, it was an easy lesson. I prefer to start at the beginning of a new textbook after summer break, but we ended up only halfway through her text by the end of the last school year. So, we picked up where we left off. She wanted to try her hand at unsupervised independent work for her lesson review, but I erred on the cautious side. I allowed her to do the work without my assistance, but she had to do it under my supervision.

Bible: Since we didn’t get very far in Foundations 2 by the end of the last school year, I started the whole curriculum again. N and C were reintroduced to the book of Matthew and the lineage of Jesus from Abraham. They also began memorizing Galatians 4:4-5.

Reading: N was very excited to start her required reading list during the last few weeks of summer. She read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (abridged), Gulliver in Lillput, and some poems by Edgar Allan Poe (most notably, “The Raven”). She’s also currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I’m reading the final Enola Holmes book, The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye, to N and C at night.

Composition: N and C practiced descriptive writing.

Spelling: N picked up where she left off in spelling, working on the proper way to divide two-syllable words.

Science: N and C reviewed the properties of metal.

History: N also did some required history reading during the last weeks of summer. She read some easy books (below her reading level, actually, but I wanted to give her a general overview) about colonial life in the America. She read through Samuel Eaton’s DaySarah Morton’s DayMary Geddy’s DayTapenum’s Day, and On the Mayflower. For class, she began her more in-depth study of American history using A Patriot’s History of the United States. She learned about the economic, political, and religious factors for exploration of the New World. She studied both sides of the contentious debate of whether Columbus was a mass murderer. Independently, she read The Royal Diaries: Anastasia to learn about life in Russia during the time of the czars.

Geography: N and C reviewed Egypt as they began their geography unit on Africa. I used National Geographic Kids.

Spanish: N began Unit 1 of Rosetta Stone’s Level 1 Homeschool Spanish and completed a worksheet.

Music: N started back on her scales and lessons. I didn’t do flashcards today, because I want to ease her back into things.

C (age 10):

Math: C warmed up with mental math. She began a new textbook today, so her lesson was review. She went over the ten digits used in our number system and number sequences. She completed a worksheet on addition and finished a lesson review.

Reading: C read five chapters of The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (abridged). I read a chapter of The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye to N and C last night.

Spelling: C started with a review of the previous five lessons to get her back into the swing of spelling.

Composition: Combined class with N.

Bible: Combined class with N.

History: C doesn’t have supplemental required reading right now, but she liked the looks of the books about Colonial America that N was reading. She asked if she could read them as well. Far be it from me to keep my children from voluntarily seeking knowledge, so I gave her the pile of easy-read history books. She read On the Mayflower this morning. She had her first combined class with S. Usually, the two of them are like oil and water, but they did well together. They were introduced to the early modern time period with an overview of the religious tensions in Europe between the Catholics and Protestants, and Charles V.

Science: Combined class with N.

Geography: Combined class with N.

Spanish: C started her Spanish lessons during the final weeks of summer and has already completed Unit 1, along with three worksheets and a quiz. She began Unit 2 today and completed a worksheet.

Music: C practiced her ukulele.

S (age 7):

Math: S warmed up by counting to 100 by 1s, 5s, and 10s. She recited the days of the week and the months of the year. She learned how to write the number 41. Her lesson introduced her to dimes. She visually compared a dime with ten pennies. She practiced counting dimes. She completed a subtraction problem sheet and a lesson review worksheet.

Reading: S continued her unit of All About Reading. She read some words that will be in the next story she reads. Cue the meltdown. She became agitated just looking at the word list. I isolated each word for her, and she read them quickly and with almost no difficulty. Her demeanor didn’t reflect how well she did. This set the tone for the next half-hour, and I had to give her a short break to help her gain some control over her emotions. It didn’t take her long.

Grammar: S reviewed nouns and pronouns quickly, and then I went back to the introduction to action verbs. She was still upset about reading and needed something that didn’t challenge her as much.

Writing: S copied some of the words she’s been learning to read on a worksheet that I made from the Writing Wizard website.

Bible: I’d been wrestling with what to do for Bible class for S and H. The Foundations curriculum is just a bit too advanced for them at this point. I think I’ll hit some devotional books and work through a children’s Bible with them. To begin, I started with a Veggie Tales devotional (30 Very Veggie Devos About Honesty) that has short, concise lessons and simple memory verses. This week’s verse is Proverbs 11:3. The plan is to do a devotional on Monday, followed by stories from The Action Bible for the rest of the week.

History: Combined class with C.

Science: C recently discovered Coyote Peterson. He has a channel on YouTube called Brave Wilderness that is along the lines of the old Crocodile Hunter TV show. Since she is studying biology this fall, I gave her the opportunity to choose an animal a week to study. This week, she chose the snapping turtle. So, she spent a couple hours watching all of Coyote Peterson’s snapping turtle videos.

H (age 5):

Math: H began her first math class with an introduction to calendars. She will fill out a calendar each month and color the daily squares in a pattern (this month’s pattern is light green and orange). She also started keeping track of how many days she has math class throughout the year. The lesson was an introduction to shape pieces from the manipulatives kit. She made some shapes and then was terribly disappointed that the class wasn’t longer.

Reading: H was introduced to A, B, and C. We talked about the sound each letter makes and took turns coming up with words that began with each of those letters. I’m using the poem from Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading for the consonant sounds, but not following the script exactly. I’m trying to incorporate a little bit of All About Reading into the lessons.

Writing: H copied A, B, and C on a worksheet that I made from the Writing Wizard website.

Bible: Combined class with S.

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Schedule and Curriculum (H)

H played at school here and there throughout last year, but this is the first year that she will actually be doing school daily. As per the trivium, we’re starting out with a foundation in the basics before expanding her educational repertoire.

Her weekly schedule follows:

Monday – Math, Handwriting, Reading, and Bible.

Tuesday – Math, Handwriting, Reading, and Bible.

Wednesday – Math, Handwriting, Reading, and Bible.

Thursday – Library and Art (with S).

Friday – Math, Handwriting, Reading, and Bible.

H picked up a few things last year and so she’s not starting at square one, but her curricula is pretty basic. Here is the curricula we are using:

Math – H will begin to use Saxon Math Homeschool. She will start with level K.

Handwriting – H will begin by learning to write the upper and lower case alphabets, and then move on to copywork on handwriting sheets I custom design at the Writing Wizard website.

Reading – H will use the Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. I used it successfully with N and C.

Bible – I will work through a children’s Bible with H, and will give her appropriate memory verses weekly.

Art: H will join S to work on basic drawing skills using the Usborne Step-by-Step Drawing Book.

Art Curriculum

I’m not artsy-fartsy. At all. I’m not the “crafty homeschool mom.” I cringe at the mess, the planning, and the unfettered enthusiasm that hinders following instructions. But I strongly believe art is an important part of education. I’ve tried Pinterest projects with varied success, but I feel like all the projects are disconnected. Then, I discovered Usborne art books. Eureka!

For the younger children who want to draw but are still mastering fine motor skills and detail in drawings, I’ve started using The Usborne Step-By-Step Drawing Book. I love it! It’s got simple instructions using basic shapes. Kids don’t need to be able to read well (or at all) in order to follow the directions. They’re taught how to draw animals, people, monsters, buildings, plants, vehicles, bugs – anything that a kid could possibly be interested in drawing. The book gives them ideas for backgrounds and scenery. The younger three (S, H, and Toddler R) have been “playing school” in anticipation of the start of the school year, and this book keeps them busy for hours on end. Other art books that are not quite as exhaustive are What Shall I Draw? and I Can Draw People, both by Usborne.

The older two have much better fine motor skills. I want them to continue to develop that. Almost every accomplished artist I know grew up watching Mark Kistler (aka “Commander Mark”) on PBS. N and C use his book Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad. He does a great job of teaching drawing techniques like perspective and shading.

I also want the kids to learn how to work with a variety of materials for making art. My favorite book for this is The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas. It introduces different materials, explains different techniques, tells the difference between the different types of paints and inks, and gives the kids some rather impressive-looking projects to complete.

I struggle with figuring out how to teach art history as well, but I’ve found several books that provide a good introduction to it:

The Children’s Book of Art

Art Treasury

Name that Style: All About Isms in Art

What Makes a Rembrandt a Rembrandt?

What Makes a Degas a Degas?

What Makes a Monet a Monet?

I gladly welcome suggestions for teaching art history!

Schedule and Curriculum (S)

S recently turned 8 years old. I strongly suspect dyslexia, but I haven’t had her officially tested. I don’t want her to be labeled as such. So, I did a lot of research and have been working hard to get her reading and number recognition well-established.

Her weekly schedule follows:

Monday – Math, Spelling, Grammar, Handwriting, Reading, Bible (with N and C), Biology and Botany, History (with C), and Ukulele.

Tuesday – Math, Spelling, Grammar, Handwriting, Reading, Bible (with N and C), Biology and Botany, History (with C), and Ukulele.

Wednesday – Math, Spelling, Grammar, Handwriting, Reading, Bible (with N and C), Biology and Botany, History (with C), and Ukulele.

Thursday – Library, Art (with H), and Ukulele.

Friday – Math, Spelling, Grammar, Handwriting, Reading, Bible (with N and C), History (with C), and Ukulele.

S is starting to venture into a longer school day with more subjects. At her current reading level, independent work is still a little tricky, so I’ll be spending more instructional time with her than with N or C. Here is the curricula we are using:

Math – S will continue to use Saxon Math Homeschool. She will finish up level 1 and start on level 2.

Spelling – S will start spelling this year with Spelling Workout A. I may need to rethink spelling curriculum later in light of her suspected dyslexia, but I’m going to play it by ear for now.

Grammar – S will continue using First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. She will also continue her poetry memorization. She’s anxious to begin learning Latin, but I told her she has to get through the current textbook before we move on to Visual Latin.

Handwriting – S will continue copywork on handwriting sheets I custom design at the Writing Wizard website.

Reading – This year, S will continue with All About Reading Level 1. She will also continue working through the Dick and Jane Reading Collection, which she enjoys very much.

Bible – S will begin Bible class with N and C using Foundations 2 homeschool curriculum by Anne Elliott. Memory verses are included in the curriculum.

Science: N will study biology and botany this year. I don’t currently have any set curriculum. The plan is to learn about a new animal of interest to her every week during the fall, and then spend the spring learning about people and plants. I’ll list my resources weekly.

History: S will join C in going through Story of the World Volume 3: Early Modern. She’ll do the mapwork that goes along with her study, and will do some activities as well. I will try to work in some videos on the topics that are covered.

Art: S will work on basic drawing skills using the Usborne Step-by-Step Drawing Book. I tried working through Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad with her (I love that book!!!!), but it was a bit too advanced and she got frustrated easily with it.

Music: S has decided to pursue the ukulele, so she will start working in Alfred’s Kids Ukulele Course Complete.

Schedule and Curriculum (C)

C is currently 11 years old. She’s just beginning the transition to more independent schooling and will still require a bit more instructional time with me than N will.

Her weekly schedule follows:

Monday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with N and S), Chemistry (with N), History (with S), Geography (with N), Spanish, and Ukulele.

Tuesday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with N and S), Chemistry (with N), History (with S), Social Studies (with N), Spanish, and Ukulele.

Wednesday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with N and S), Chemistry (with N), History (with S), Geography (with N), Spanish, and Ukulele.

Thursday – Library, Art (with N), and Ukulele.

Friday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with N and S), History (with S), Geography Review (with N), Spanish, and Ukulele.

I wasn’t going to give C a list of assigned Great Books for her reading class, but she saw N’s list and asked for one of her own (proud homeschooling mama moment there). Here is the curricula we are using:

Math – C will continue to use Saxon Math Homeschool. She will be working on level 6/5 this year.

Spelling – C will finish up Spelling Workout C and move on to Spelling Workout D this year.

Composition – C will continue to do assignments from Unjournaling, correcting errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Reading – This year, C will read Robinson Crusoe (abridged), Gulliver’s Travels (abridged), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (abridged), Les Miserables (abridged), The Three Musketeers (abridged), Great Expectations (abridged), Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (abridged), 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (abridged), A Christmas Carol, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and Oliver Twist (abridged).

Bible – C will continue using Foundations 2 homeschool curriculum by Anne Elliott. Memory verses are included in the curriculum.

Science: C will finish up Chemistry II by Noeo Science this fall and will begin Physics II by Noeo Science in the spring.

History: C will spend the year going through Story of the World Volume 3: Early Modern. She’ll do the mapwork that goes along with her study, and will do some activities as well. I will try to work in some videos on the topics that are covered. Amazon Prime is wonderful for educational videos.

Geography: C will continue studying the countries of Africa while learning their location on a map. I’ll continue to use the websites Time for Kids, National Geographic Kids, and CIA World Factbook to get information. After Africa, the kids will learn about Canada and then do more in-depth studies on each of the fifty states.

Social Studies: C will focus on current events in America and around the world this year.

Art: C will use a variety of media to create her own art, taking direction from the Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas. She will also study some of the great artists of the Early Modern time period.

Spanish: C will work independently on her Spanish using Rosetta Stone Homeschool Spanish (Latin America) this year. Once she completes the five levels of Spanish, she wants to study Japanese. If Rosetta Stone works out, I’ll have her use the homeschool Japanese course in high school.

Music: C will finish up Alfred’s Kids Ukulele Course Complete and will move onto Ukulele Songbook: In Notation and Tablature and The Ukulele Songbook: 50 All Time Classics. For reference, she will have Alfred’s Ukulele Chord Dictionary on hand.

Daily Schedule and Curriculum (N)

N is currently 12 years old. She’s starting to transition to more reading and independent work than last year.

Her weekly schedule follows:

Monday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with C and S), Chemistry (with C), History, Geography (with C), Spanish, and Piano.

Tuesday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with C and S), Chemistry (with C), History, Social Studies (with C), Spanish, and Piano.

Wednesday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with C and S), Chemistry (with C), History, Geography (with C), Spanish, and Piano.

Thursday – Library, History, Art (with C), and Piano.

Friday – Math, Spelling, Composition, Reading, Bible (with C and S), History, Geography Review (with C), Spanish, and Piano.

Her curriculum has changed a bit for history and reading. She’s going to move away from a history text and start reading biographies, historical non-fiction, and original sources from the time period we’re studying this year (Early Modern). I’ll list the required topics she needs to study below. She’s also going to move into reading more Great Books (for the Early Modern time period) for reading class. Here is the curricula we are using:

Math – N will continue to use Saxon Math Homeschool. The goal is to finish pre-algebra in the fall and start on Algebra I in the spring.

Spelling – N will finish up Spelling Workout E and move on to Spelling Workout F.

Composition – N will continue to do assignments from Unjournaling (I really love Unjournaling!), correcting errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Reading – This year, N will read Don Quixote (abridged), Perrault’s Fairy Tales, Gulliver’s Travels (the chapters on Lilliput and Brobdingnag only), The Pilgrim’s Progress (abridged), Robinson Crusoe, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Rip Van Winkle, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (abridged), A Christmas Carol, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. She will also be going through a list of authors from the Early Modern time period, either reading their works (mostly poetry) or their biographies. The authors are Alexander Pope, John Milton, William Blake, Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Wordsworth, Robert Browning, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Edgar Allan Poe, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edward Lear, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Christina Rossetti, and Herman Melville.

Bible – N will continue using Foundations 2 homeschool curriculum by my old college buddy, Anne Elliott. Memory verses are included in the curriculum.

Science: N will finish up Chemistry II by Noeo Science this fall and will begin Physics II by Noeo Science in the spring.

History: N will go through the first half of A Patriot’s History of the United States with me (covering Columbus through the end of the Civil War). She will also read all original documents referenced in A Patriot’s History of the United States, which can all be found in the companion book A Patriot’s History Reader: Essential Documents for Every American. I absolutely love these books! They are so full of information. They are, in my humble opinion, completely non-partisan, showing the good and the bad. They are factual and not full of commentary. There are sections of the book that address common historical misconceptions, all fully sourced. If you want a completely exhaustive history of the United States, I highly recommend these books. In addition to delving deep into American history, N will also research world history during the Early Modern time period, including: Russia under the czars, 18th century Prussia, the Enlightenment, the agricultural revolution, Native American cultures, the British in India, the French Revolution, British-French conflict in Canada, the Napoleonic Wars, the industrial revolution, Simon Bolivar, and Australia’s beginnings as a penal colony.

Geography: N will continue studying the countries of Africa while learning their location on a map. I’ll continue to use the websites Time for Kids, National Geographic Kids, and CIA World Factbook to get information. After Africa, they will learn about Canada and then do more in-depth studies on each of the fifty states.

Social Studies: N will focus on current events in America and around the world this year.

Art: N will use a variety of media to create her own art, taking direction from the Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas. She will also study some of the great artists of the Early Modern time period.

Spanish: I decided to switch from Excelerate Spanish to Rosetta Stone Homeschool Spanish (Latin America) this year. I think N and C will both do better with independent computer work, and I like the idea of a parent/educator tool that enables me to set goals and record their progress. We’ll see how it goes.

Music: N will continue to work on piano with John Thompson’s Teaching Little Fingers to Play More. She’ll move up to the next book as she progresses.

Day 35

The day before we left for Gatlinburg was not very organized, but we did manage to get everything done. Departure time was pushed back a few hours, so I didn’t have to get the car loaded the night before. That made things a bit less hectic. And you’ll notice H had a birthday! She’s “one whole hand” now. And I’m totally teacher-nerding out, because I received the next unit from All About Reading for S. Of course, I had to assign all independent work to N and C so I could unpack and peruse and set up all the materials for the new unit. I’m sorely tempted to skip that last few lessons in this current unit, but I won’t.

N (age 11):

Math: N warmed up with mental math and a worksheet on multiplication. The lesson was a review of exponents, calculating rectangular areas, and finding square roots. It was another pretty quick one, since it was mostly review. She completed a lesson review.

Spelling: N did the workbook introduction to her lesson on words with the prefixes sub-, mid-, bi-, and tri-.

Reading: N read a chapter of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Bible: N and C reviewed all their memory verses (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Exodus 20:1-17, Psalm 1:1-4) and recited the books of the Bible. They learned about Ruth’s decision to leave Moab with Naomi, and about Ruth meeting Boaz. We talked about how difficult Ruth’s decision must have been.

Geography: N and C filled in the countries of Europe that they know so far. Then, we studied the UK. They learned the difference between the UK and Great Britain. The did an overview of each of the countries that make up the UK, with a particular focus on England on the Time for Kids website.

Music: N practiced her scales (G major and C major) and her current lesson.

C (age 10):

Math: C warmed up with mental math and a worksheet on multiplication. The lesson continued to cover division. She learned the three ways to write division problems, and she had a lot of practice solving them. She completed a lesson review.

Spelling: C practiced her words with the consonant blends sp, tr, pl, and nd.

Reading: C read a chapter of Little House on the Prairie.

Bible: Combined class with N.

Geography: Combined class with N.

Music: C practiced A, B, C, E, and all her chord transitions. She played while reading music. She’s continuing to learn to play songs that coming strumming with playing individual notes.

S (age 7):

Math: S warmed up by counting to 100 by 1s, 5s, and 10s, and by counting backward from 30 to 1. We played a quick round of left/right Simon Says. S had her first written assessment. She was in too much of a hurry to listen properly to the directions and, as a result, got an entire section incorrect. The teachable moment was to listen to directions before rushing headlong into error.

Grammar: S reviewed “The Caterpillar” and continued working on memorizing “Work.” She learned more about common and proper nouns naming things.

Reading: S and I sang the alphabet song. She explored her new materials today and we did flashcards for letter recognition. I began reading The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs to S and H.

Writing: S worked on her name using a custom worksheet from HandwritingPractice.Net.

Bible: S and H learned about Ruth and Naomi.

H (age 5):

Math: H warmed up by counting to 20 and singing the “Days of the Week”. H practiced

Reading: H continued to review the vowels for letter recognition and short vowel sounds. We practiced the B and C portion of a phonics poem. I began reading The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs to S and H.

Writing: H practiced writing her name using a custom worksheet I made at HandwritingPractice.Net.

Bible: Combined class with S.