Monday, April 6, 2015

Homeschool Curriculum Round-up 2015-2016

In May, we will begin our fifth year of home education. Last year we discovered some great curriculum, so I assumed that this year would be a simple continue-what-works process of curriculum selection.

Not so.

In fact, the past three months of curriculum planning have been a sticky, messy, and anxiety-producing process - and we're not even completely finished.

However, our curriculum has been ordered, decisions are made as far as they can be right now, and we're moving ahead. I'm really excited to be so close to starting our school year - and I'm even more excited about being done with agonizing over curriculum!

Below is the quick-and-dirty run-down of next year's curriculum, and further down are the details.

Enjoy! Feel free to leave comments and questions!

~ Third Grade Curriculum ~

  Family Time (see notes) - Bible, Bible memory, catechism, prayer,   calendar, safety skills, manners, missionary biographies, poetry, 
  poetry memory, skills training.

  Bible – Daily Reading

       Penmanship - Memoria Press Copybook I
       Grammar and Spelling – Christian Light Grade 2
       Reading – Daily Practice
       Composition – Composition Notebooking

  Math – Christian Light Math, Grade 3

  Science – Informal plus one weekly experiment (see notes)

  Literature - Daily read-alouds and personal reading

  History and Geography – *Still undecided* plus Maps Book D

  Piano – Lessons and practice

  Art – Ambleside Online picture study

  Field Trips, Group Activities, Etc. (see notes)

Family Time
Our morning couch time involving all of the children. This includes:

Daily activities
  • Bible reading - Usually a chapter a day from a book of the Bible (chosen by Daddy).
  • Bible memory - One verse per week. We are planning to move this to breakfast time using this method. 
  • Prayer - We have a list of people and issues to pray for, and we cycle through that list. 
  • Poetry - We read a couple of pages from whichever book we've selected. The children love this - it's usually a struggle to move on from this.
  • Poetry memory - This is new for us (started a month or so back), and it's worked well so far. We are using a system in which twelve poems or Bible passages memorized means a special trip for an ice cream cone with Daddy. It's proving popular!
  • Catechism - One per week. We use the Catechism for Young Children
  • Character Books - This year we'll begin with Mary Borntrager's "Ellie."

Weekly activities
  • Manners
  • Safety Skills
  • Skills Training
  • Calendar
  • Missionary Stories (*new this year!)

We are assigning one chapter per day of independent Bible reading for the 8yo, which will be his first foray into the subject of independent Scripture study. We will adjust this (more? less?) after we see how it works.

I'm in love with Christian Light's Bible Light Units, but we did not want to overload the 8yo at this point. We're considering them for the future.

English (penmanship, spelling, grammar, reading, composition)

We made the decision to deviate from Handwriting Without Tears - not because we don't like it (we do!), but because (1) our 8yo is not ready for cursive, which starts in the third grade HWT book, and (2) we did not want to confuse him with using both the two-lined HWT paper and the three-lined paper in his other work 

We are considering Pentime, both by a friend's recommendation and by the website samples. However, I cannot look at this in person until the AFHE convention in July. Thus, in the meantime we will be using Memoria Press's Copybook I, for the profound reason that we happen to have one that we got for free at a curriculum exchange. It is excellent quality, and if we fall in love with it we will consider using the series. 

Grammar and Spelling
Christian Light Language Arts, Grade 2. (This also includes some penmanship practice.)

As this is the 8yo's first year in formal language arts (and he is not particularly strong in writing), we chose to begin with Grade 2 rather than Grade 3. 

We will continue with daily practice reading aloud. (We plan to continue this through sixth grade.) Our 8yo is far beyond grade level in reading skills, so this is one area that doesn't need a super-structured approach.

Our plans are still sketchy, but we are planning to give our 8yo a composition notebook and use short writing prompts. We may begin with oral narration (he speaks, I write) and then move to copied narration (he speaks, I write, he copies) and then eventually to independent writing.

Christian Light Math, Grade 3. We found it, we love it, we're keeping it.

We will keep science informal this year (i.e. loads and loads of library books). This method is working extremely well - score one for unschooling!

My husband has volunteered to do a weekly science experiment with the 8yo, so that will be fun. (I'll be responsible for finding experiments and gathering materials.)

We are considering Noeo Science for next year or the following year. 

Daily reading time with mama, plus lots of free reading. We also love audio books and use lots of those! Audio books are an excellent way to get in more great literature, and we have discovered many that we love.

History and Geography
For map skills, we will be assigning Modern Curriculum Press's Maps, Charts and Graphs Book D. Why not Book C? Because I got a screamin' deal on Book D, that's why! In all seriousness, these are easy and I don't think we'll have a problem skipping a book. If I find Book C around in the meantime, we'll go back to that. (Or we may just wait for the convention to buy Book C and start it later in the year.)

For history, I've had quite the time deciding between the unit study model and the textbook model. Textbooks won, and the textbook that I am favoring right now is Rod and Staff. I nearly ordered it, but my husband has cautioned me against piling up too many new studies at once on the 8yo. We will look at Rod and Staff's second grade and third grade history at the homeschool convention, and possibly buy one or both - either to start part-way through the year, or for next year.

Starting as soon as I get my act together - hopefully in the next week or two.

Picture Study by Ambleside Online. Also occasional arts and crafts. 

Clubs and Groups
Contenders for the Faith club, which includes meetings, monthly field trips, and badge-winning activities. 

Fellowship Groups
We belong to three homeschool groups:
  • A large homeschool group, which offers a monthly park day, a monthly field trip, a monthly moms' night out, and a great email group.
  • A smaller homeschool group which offers twice-monthly park days, a monthly field trip, and holiday events.
  • A group which is solely for field trips. 

We try to attend nearly all of the events offered (except the expensive ones!).

The Not-Happening Category
Subjects we will not attempt to cover this year include foreign language, typing, and formal P.E.


As you can see, there are still several unmade decisions in the above plan! I have a lot of research work to do at the homeschool convention, which unfortunately is still several months off, and we have a lot of prayer and discernment to do regarding our family's future path with home education.

However, I am feeling better now that our major decisions are made, and I'm very much looking forward to next year.

Dear readers, I can't wait to see your curriculum plans! Feel free to leave comments and questions!


  1. Looks like an exciting year ahead! Honestly, when I think about how you have two babies and a preschooler to take care of in addition to your homeschooling I'm quite impressed!!! You start your new school year in the next month or two, right?

    1. Anne, you're so sweet! I, in turn, am super-impressed with what you are managing to do with your wonderful family.

      Yes, we do have two babies and a preschooler - the babies aren't a ton of trouble right now, but the preschooler makes enough trouble for all of them! :)

      We'll be starting school the first Monday in May. It will definitely be an adventure. :)


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