Curriculum Line up

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For all those curriculum junkies out there, here’s something to rev up your weekend!

Curriculum Fall 2014

William is in 6th grade, Louis is in 3rd grade, and Ben and Marie are in 1st grade.

Our curriculum is compiled out of my favorite materials from The Well-Trained Mind, Mother of Divine Grace School, and Sonlight.

Religion

Our most important subject!  Attend Mass during the week when possible, or read the daily readings.  Memorize Bible verses, Latin prayers & hymns, and Baltimore Catechism questions.  Learn about the saints as they come up in the church calendar.

We are also reading through Egermeier’s Bible Story Book, which we started last year.  I like this one better than the Golden Children’s Bible, although it’s very similar.

Ben and Marie take a Catechism of the Good Shepherd class during the week, and they all four go to CCE on Sunday.

We also are part of a fun VBS-style monthly co-op at our parish, which is one of their favorite activities, and we do some regular service projects with a couple other families.

The goal of religious education is a personal relationship with God, so except for the memory work, I want it to feel a little bit separate from “school.”  I never say, “Now it’s time for your religion lesson.”

Reading

Second most important subject, for now!

Ben, Marie, Louis, and I are working through the Ordinary Parents’ Guide to Teaching Reading.  It’s very dry, though, so I try to break that up with fun, easy readers from Sonlight.  Louis likes The Beginner’s Bible for reading practice.

William is reading historical novels from Sonlight Core E this year.

Add to this lots of classic children’s read-alouds from our kids’ book club list or our own shelves.

Spelling/ Vocabulary

All About Spelling Level 2 for Louis, and Level 1 for Ben and Marie.

William hasn’t used a spelling program since 4th grade, where he scored 100% on almost every test, so I recently tested him on the words used in the highest level of All About Spelling.  He spelled every word correctly.

I got a vocabulary workbook from Seton press for him this year, so he could have practice looking up definitions in the dictionary.

Grammar

William is using Voyages in English 6 from Lepanto Press for grammar.  I have not found a contemporary textbook that seemed thorough enough, in my opinion, so I found this one, which was used in the 1960s.  Grammar is a cinch for William as well, so I wanted a text that would challenge him.  This book has concepts I do not remember learning in school, and I love it.  But even this text doesn’t have enough diagramming in it for my taste, so we are also using Elementary Diagramming, by Mary Daly.

Louis has the Voyages in English 3 text.  The first lesson was on speaking properly on the telephone (it included instructions for giving the number you are calling to the operator!).  Ben and Marie will join in on Louis’s English lesson if it’s relevant to them.

They all four recite poetry and Bible passages, which give excellent practice in English grammar and sentence structure.

Writing

William and Louis do copywork every day.  Louis also does dictation every day in All About Spelling.

William writes one sentence summaries of his history or science reading for the day.  Later he can compile them into a paragraph.

Ben, Marie, and Louis all do oral summaries of stories I read to them.

Ben and Marie have the Seton Grade 1 handwriting book for penmanship practice.  Louis is using Handwriting without Tears’ Kick-Start Cursive workbook.  He’s really liking cursive writing!

Latin

Latin study improves English language skills, so it really falls under the Grammar & Vocabulary categories.  William did half of Latina Christiana I last year, so we are reviewing that now and planning to finish the book this fall.

I have a goal of working through Henle Latin I (a high school text) myself this year, so I can better understand what William is learning.  I have read the first lesson so far…in 2 months.

Math

William is in Saxon level 7/6 now.  It’s been working very well for him.

Louis is in Singapore level 2B.  It’s also a great fit for him.

Ben and Marie are whizzing through Singapore 1A.

Ben, Marie, and Louis have to find the date every day on the calendar they make at the beginning of each month.  Louis also has to copy the date onto paper.

I’m grateful math concepts come easily to our children, since we seem to need so much work in reading and writing!  Math facts recall is not always so easy, but we keep practicing those with a 5 minute drill at the beginning of the day.

History & Geography

We have been studying history in the 4-year cycle used by the Story of the World curriculum.  Well, we haven’t actually cycled yet; this is our fourth year to study history, and the time period we have left to cover is 1849-present.

I’ve enjoyed having history be a whole family subject so far (the medieval period was the biggest hit with all ages).  But The Story of the World Vol. 4 specifically says that you shouldn’t read it to children under 4th grade.  The details of the 20th century wars especially are just too dark.

But between the Old Testament stories, saints stories, and historical novels we read, Ben, Marie, and Louis won’t be missing out on history.

William has both an American history textbook (A Landmark History of the American People, vol 2) and The Story of the World vol. 4, which is a world history textbook.  He loves history, so he’s not complaining.  He has already memorized the Preamble to the Constitution and is going to start on the Gettysburg Address next week.

We all sing this state capitals song every morning.

Science

William has a textbook this year, Harcourt Science 6.  It’s a little dry, but that’s okay, we’re not going to read every page.  This is for him to fill in some of the gaps in his science knowledge and to get some practice copying vocabulary words from a textbook.

Science is also covered through our garden, nature walks, camping, field trips, library books, Legos, and all their backyard inventions.  I also read a Seton health book to them when we’re in between novels.

Nathaniel’s doing a monthly stargazing night at his school, and you can bet our kids will be there for that too.

Music

Ideally, I teach them the piano.  William can work through the practice books on his own, but everyone else needs my help.  Since everyone else still needs my help for almost everything else, it’s pretty tough to fit a practice session in for everyone in one day.  It’s happened once so far this month.  But, I’m not giving up yet!

We will go to a couple symphony concerts for children too during the year.

Art

This is my unschoolingest subject.  I have several how-to-draw books around, and the kids use them occasionally.  We play with play-dough!  They also always do an interesting craft at our monthly co-op.

Nathaniel is a self-taught artist, but when he has free time with the kids he usually takes them outside to dig in the dirt.  Once or twice a year, he will get out the watercolors and lead them in painting a picture.

I think we are going to do another art museum field trip this spring.  Last year’s trip was stressful, so I’m not going to think about that yet.

Thoughts for the fall

I had hoped (unreasonably) that last year would be the last year everyone would need a lot of help with reading.  I miss the days when they were all little and we had time to make our own play-dough or cook recipes based on a saint or story we were reading about (we never did do crafts!).  We also did no extracurriculars at that time, I had no volunteer commitments, and Nathaniel had a much less demanding job.  We also had no Teddy then so I definitely don’t want to turn back the clock!

Now we are part of two wonderful homeschool groups and have field trips, park days, American Heritage Girls and a Boys’ Club getting us out of the house pretty frequently.

I get the “how do you do it?” question often.  William does almost everything independently; that helps.  I’m very happy when I see them all playing together in the afternoon instead of doing homework and when we have time to enjoy a great story or long walk together.  No day is perfect, but it all comes together in the end.

I meant to add pictures and links, but I’ve already taken way too long and burned dinner writing this post–so it’s time to just post it!

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2 thoughts on “Curriculum Line up

  1. Interesting thoughts about SOTW 4. Does any of the material suggest what families who are doing whole family history are supposed to do with the littles while the bigger kids are doing Vol 4. This definitely makes it less feasible to do a spiral with everyone on the same history scheme. It rather reinforces my own feeling that maybe we’ll stretch out 3 with greater emphasis on US History. Then maybe some highlights from V. 4, but not the whole thing? I’m not really sure how to juggle that.

    • I don’t remember if the Well Trained Mind said what to do with your littles when you hit vol 4. The later chapters of Vol 3 were inappropriate for younger kids too, in my opinion. We were listening to it in the car and finally my kindergarteners said, “Why is there so much killing in this book??” It was just one war and revolt after another.

      My plan was to just focus on US history too the fourth year. My oldest really wants to read vol 4, so he’s going to do that on his own. The others will just get history from our read-alouds this year. If I didn’t already have so many history books, I would probably get From Sea to Shining Sea from the Catholic Textbook Project and use that for the family American history.

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