Monday, July 8, 2013

That Post You've Been Anticipating Since.... Sometime! (Curriculum Roundup 2013-2014)

An amazing thing happened last week... I read a blogging friend's curriculum round up and I didn't start hyperventilating. Isn't that great? I'm making progress!

In all seriousness - I love reading curriculum plans by home educating mamas, but they can (especially for newbies like me) contribute to that wonderful phenomenon known as Total and Complete Curriculum Overload, a condition from which I am only now beginning to recover.

It is with trepidation, therefore, that I venture to offer my own 2013-2014 curriculum roundup. While I love to share, I don't want to cause the same nervous panic in other beginning home educators. With that in mind, please remember two things:

(1) Especially due to the length of this post, I may come across as knowing what I'm doing. I don't. I am very much a beginner, so do not take me too seriously! Come back in another ten or fifteen years, and I might have some inkling of the business by then.

(2) Remember that what works for one family will not work for another. Just because I, or another mom, or a super-veteran-homeschooler mom (also known as an Institutional Pillar of Greatness) uses activity, curriculum, or schedule X, does not mean it will work for your family! Do NOT succumb to the guilt of "she does it, therefore I should!" Not true. 

With that in mind, let's get started!

A few months ago, I actually published my early elementary plan (K-3), which you can see here. That plan, of course, remained completely unchanged after this past month's home education convention, when I had the opportunity to spend hours upon hours perusing curriculum vendors. I would, needless to say, never waver in my choices!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Um... yeah. Pretty much everything on it has changed. Ah, the life of an American home educator - decisions, decisions! 

I'll post the sheets so you can see the changes I've made, but here it is spelled out. As a reminder, we have only one student right now (first grade) - though I am doing my best to work in a fashion that prepares for multi-level teaching and independent work when possible.

Also, as I write this out, you'll notice some redundancy - that is for my clarity of mind, not because we're repeating subjects over and over.

One last note: The further I get into home education, the more I am drawn to the Charlotte Mason model. More on that (hopefully) at a later date, but for now, those of you who are acquainted with CM methods will recognize various CM-themes running through this plan.


Early Elementary, Page 1 {Click to enlarge}
Early Elementary, Page 2 {Click to enlarge}

Early Elementary, Page 3 {Click to enlarge}


Family Time - This is an ever-evolving time, starting our mornings, that includes Bible reading, Bible memory, catechism, house rules, personal safety information, prayer, weather/calendar, and poetry readings. It takes less than half an hour - maybe about 20 minutes, depending on how much trouble the toddler-in-residence is causing!

Bible - One chapter read from a selected Bible book, and one chapter from Proverbs.

I know there are lots of great Bible curricula out there - but we're just not using them. I find that reading the Bible and answering the 7yo's questions does quite well for us. Additionally, I never realized how full of history and culture the Bible really is! For example, yesterday we discussed what "reclining at table" meant and how people reclined on couches to eat during Roman days. We're planning our own Roman dinner soon!

We also do a bit more of the same - by Daddy, this time! - during evening devotions.

Bible Memory - One verse per week.

Catechism - Last year we used the Small Children's Catechism (love this, and it's super-easy for young kids!); this year we are using the Catechism for Young Children, though it's a bit longer and more challenging, to match the workbook we're using during evening devotions.

Reading Skills (Phonics) - We will continue using Rocket Phonics (which is a K-2 program), as well as some easy readers (Puppy Mudge, Frog & Toad, etc.) plus some Pathways Readers that a sweet woman gave me at a recent used-curriculum sale.

Math - We will continue to use Singapore Math.

In two years (3rd grade), I will consider whether to stick with Singapore or move to Teaching Textbooks - not because I have anything against Singapore, but simply because there is something about Teaching Textbooks that is just drool-at-first-sight. We'll see. (Teaching Textbooks starts in third grade.)

Language Arts - Our 1st-grader will gets lots of informal language arts through reading, handwriting, etc., but we will not begin formal language arts until third grade. For now, we'll be sticking with the Charlotte Mason recommendation to use copywork for younger children (free sources here and here to make your own!), and the occasional notebooking (composition) page.

My plans for future language arts are rather sketchy, but two programs that I am considering for the future are Learning Language Arts Through Literature and English for the Thoughtful Child.

Handwriting - We are sticking with Handwriting Without Tears, as well as copywork.

Composition/Narration/Notebooking - **Under Construction, Please Check Back Soon!** (In all seriousness... still researching this subject, but we'll stick mainly with copywork.)

History/Geography - We'll keep this mainly informal, with lots and lots and lots of living books from the half-million book lists I use (mmm.... book lists!). I have purchased (and love!) a copy of Galloping the Globe and plan to use this in future years - we may start doing this slowly and informally (maybe a country per month, or even more slowly).

Literature - Again, informal with lots and lots of living books!

Poetry - It blew me away when I discovered last year that kids actually enjoy poetry (who knew?), and it is now a regular part of our morning Family Time.

Science - Informal, with lots and lots of living books. I am also in process of gathering a list of science topics appropriate for lower elementary, so that we can slowly work through them using the public library. Additionally, nature study (see below), one science activity/experiment per week, and a weekly Project Night with Daddy (during which they build something or fix something!).

Nature Study - A goal of a minimum 20 minutes per day outside, plus weekly nature walks and a nature notebook.

Map Skills - A friend told me that her boys' favorite part of lessons was there Map Skills books! I forgot all about that until this past convention, when I happened to see a section of Map Skills books and thought, "Oh yeah! I meant to do that!" I picked out Maps Book A by Modern Curriculum Press, and we love it. It's super-simple, and there's only one lesson per week. A very gentle introduction to maps! It's a series, so I'll be able to buy one book per year from here on out.

Typing - Not yet (soon!).

Spanish - Good question. Not yet formally, but I'm trying to speak more Spanish around the house to try a bit of immersion.

Latin - No, it's not a living language, but it is one of the best ways to learn grammar! We hope to start Latin in third grade.

Art - Drawings to go with copywork, one craft per week, and - hopefully! - picture studies. The last of those is a skill which I need to acquire and hope to begin soon.

Music - Nothing formal yet, but plenty of good music playing around the house!

I'm hoping for piano lessons in a few years... but I'm also hoping that we will be able to afford having a teacher who is not me.

Hymn Study - We sing hymns during evening devotions, but for fun we also added Year #1 of the Simply Charlotte Mason hymn cycle to our rotation.

Character - Nothing formal, but we may use Rick & Marilyn Boyer's Character Trails (because it was loaned to us!). Also, reading the book of Proverbs every day is definitely a stand-alone character education in itself!

Field Trips - A standard of one family field trip and one formal field trip per week. As of this week (week #5 in the school year), we have already added up something like fifteen field trips!

Extracurriculars - We do not have any extracurriculars slated for the coming year - however, we're busy enough (read: exhausted enough!) without them, especially with all of the play dates and park days and field trips that we do with our fellowship groups - plus library LEGO days. But we're thinking about options for the future.

For myself, I am also being "home educated" - in the art and science of home education! This includes the constant reading of many-many-many home education books, magazines, blogs, and articles - and it never stops. When I first began, I assumed that home education meant "Hop onto a few websites, pick a curriculum, order, and do it with your child." HA! I now know that I could spend the rest of my life doing nothing but reading on home education, and would hardly scratch the surface - but I do my best!


Did I miss anything?

Please feel free to ask questions or make suggestions - that last gentle suggestion is for YOU, O Institutional Pillars of Homeschooling Greatness who may be reading!

I can't wait to hear what curriculum choices you all are making for the coming year! Leave me your links so I can check them out!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing all of this! It gives me a lot of ideas to start playing around with, even though I won't need them anytime soon :)

  2. Glad you enjoyed the post, Kristina!! I know you're going to be an awesome home educator when the time comes!! :)


  3. Hi, you mentioned you were unsure of how to proceed with language arts. Since you're already inclined to charlotte mason and copywork, have you considered 'writing with ease'. Its very simple to use and has the flexibility of using your own texts. It alternates between copywork, narration and dictation activities and the lessons don't take very long. I havn't started using it yet but have a copy which im planning on starting with the kids later this year. Anyway thanks for sharing your curriculum.

  4. Homeschool Diary - Thanks for the suggestion! I will check it out!

    Right now I'm just using copywork selections from all the books we use, and we illustrate that. It's definitely a work in progress!

    Thanks for checking in!! :)


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