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3rd Annual Not Back-to-School Blog Hop | Curriculum Week

Welcome to my version of the 3rd annual Not Back-to-School hop. It started here at m3b, but the torch was passed to Heart of the Matter last year and that tradition continues this year as well. Find this week’s linky here: http://heartofthematteronline.com/2011/07/nbtsbh-2011-week-1/

Once upon a time, I used to blog a bit about homeschool. Now people are kinda surprised to find out that our family educates at home. Not sure why – maybe it’s the stereotype of the denim-jumper-wearing, ultra-religious, gaggle of closely spaced children that I do not fit. But really? Homeschoolers are allllllll types.

I get asked all the time why we chose to homeschool.

I guess, in the whole scheme of things, it’s kind of a non-issue for us. It’s simply not something I choose to out-source. Some people use daycare, some don’t, some nurse their babies, some don’t, some send their kids away for school, some don’t. *shrug* This works for us. I don’t believe everyone should do it. I won’t evangelize the benefits, and there’re many days I look at that yellow school bus longingly and wonder what I’d do with all that extra free time. It’s a lot of work. We love it anyway.

Sooo, this post is supposed to be curricula. But um, here’s a confession. I haven’t bought a single thing for my boys for this school year. Not a book, not a pencil… nothing, nada, zip. Yet.

But, I guess in theory, I kinda have mapped out what we’ll do. I’m not really a planner kind-of-a-girl, so, this may change.

6th Grade Curriculum

math: Singapore Primary Math. Stickin’ with what’s worked since kindergarten. 6a and 6b, CWP 5 considering supplementing with fun puzzles, games, maybe some Life of Fred, etc.

reading: This kid is a voracious reader. I have more trouble keeping up with him. I used to pre-read everything. I can’t keep up anymore. Various library and home-library investments throughout the year. He just finished the Hunger Games series today. We are considering buying the older boys Kindles this year to save on book costs and so they don’t fight over the new books.

writing: Aw, man. Shoot me. We own IEW, Writing Tales, and I’m considering Bravewriter. I think we attempted IEW too early. He couldn’t write because the kid couldn’t spell. He was frustrated at trying to get ideas on paper before he knew the mechanics, so maybe this is our year for a real successful writing curriculum? No idea. But the kid fills notebooks with his stories about Warrior Cats. The spelling is atrocious, the grammar isn’t too bad, and the mechanics are all over the place. Still, he’s writing. And I bought him a dictionary last spring. 😉

spelling: Poor kid, inherited my natural spelling abilities. Which is to say, none. He will continue with Spelling Wisdom from the Charlotte Mason-esque philosophy and published by Simply Charlotte Mason. Copy work, dictation, memorization. Voilà.

grammar: Stickin’ with what works and what we know – Growing with Grammar. Perfect dose.

history / geography: The Story of the World. We’re on our second go around with this 4-year curriculum; this year will be medieval stuff. We do a lot of supplementing with period-based fiction, movies, plays, biographies about artists, scientists, and the who’s-who among the medieval A-list. We like the maps and activities in the SotW Activity book, and tend to get derailed with bunny trails in history. By far our most fun subject.

science: This is the first year Iowa law requires to report science. Prior, we’ve done experiments, raised butterflies, made things explode or light up or grow – or otherwise, just played with science. This year I need a legit “curriculum” to report, so we’ll probably do Real Science-4-Kids because *I* like their stuff. We were going to attempt this last year, but got derailed by other interesting stuff. I try to match science biographies with history, so this year will be Galileo, da Vinci, and the medieval greats.

memorization: A Journey Through Time in Verse and Rhyme. Hands down one of the best investments I’ve ever made for homeschooling. We use this book daily; the boys memorize one and move on. They memorize a handful of poems each year, some of my choosing, some of theirs. This is one of my favorite parts of our days. Fond, fond memories already.

health: This year I’m going to attempt to teach health, reproduction and sex ed. Hold me.

art/music: Out-sourced music lessons and art classes at the museum.

4th / 5th Grade Curriculum

See above for: reading, writing, spelling, grammar, history, geography, science, memorization, health, art and music. Isn’t that convenient?

Math:Singapore Primary Math 4b, 5a and CWP 3.

1st Grade Curriculum

I have a non-traditional learner for my youngest student.

math: Horizons Math K-2 and 1-1. Horizons is colorful and interesting and keeps this wiggly boy’s attention.

reading: Read alouds with his older brothers during history, as well as books from Five in a Row, Sonlight, Ambleside and Veritas Press’s first grade reading lists. He’s asked to have me read aloud Harry Potter to him, as well. Read alouds are the thing he will sit still for. He will remain put and content for as long as someone is reading to him.

phonics / writing: Explode the Code paired with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

science, history, geography: he participates in all activities, experiments, read alouds, map-building, etc. Although they aren’t official subjects for him, he gains quite a bit simply by proximity and listening in. He has an affinity for coloring maps and tends to like scientist stories. I will miss the days when he is too big to crawl in my lap and sit and look and pictures and listen in on stories.

Sooo, um… I think that’s it. I know I’m missing something. Or a lot of somethings.

We are pretty laid back. They need a little motivation to kick-start, but once they get going, they are pretty self-directed. Even my wiggly, distracted, 5-minute-attention-span kid gets into it once he forgets it’s “school”. I try to keep things light and interesting so they have lots of time for Legos and playing outside as much as possible.

Please visit The Heart of the Matter to see other homeschooler’s plans. Thanks for stopping by.


  1. I hope you have a wonderful year.

  2. Psst.

    Just thought I would tell you I took the plunge with my girl and bought her a Kindle. She’s in love. I’m holding off for the boys. There are still so many books in our library they haven’t read yet. I’m going to give it a couple of years.

    Oh, and we’re giving Writing with Ease by Susan Bauer a go around this year. We’ll see how it goes.

    :: kiss kiss ::

    • Oh goodie. Another writing curriculum to research. Do you have it in your hands yet to actually look at?

      Kindle: well, that pretty much seals the deal. Laughably, they’re trying to convince me an iPad would be a better investment. Yeah right.

      • I bought a Kindle for myself and they commandeered it. So I bought another one for myself and they are using it as well. One thing to consider is the formatting of Kindle. While I love it as well as the super long battery life, I’ve heard good things about the Nook and being able to check ebooks from the public library to read on the Nook. Just something to consider… not sure if it is all true or not, but yeah… I’ll let you do the research because I need a nap. 🙂

      • Yesterday, I found out that my entire Kindle library was stored in the archived section of her Kindle. I was under the assumption the only books that would be on her Kindle were the ones I choose. Apparently, if the Kindles are on the same account everything is shared.

        Some of the books I read are obviously not appropriate reading for a 12 year old. ‘Cuz I’m all strict like that and schtuff. ;D

        I ended up opening a gmail account & Amazon account just for our school. I deregistered her Kindle from my account and registered it under the new one. I plan on just putting all the children’s Kindles under that account. That way everything can stay separate.

        blah blah blahblahblahblah

        • Oooohhhhhh. That’s good to know. ‘Cause I’m all strict like that, too. I certainly don’t want my boys reading Twilight or half the brain candy crackliterature that my adult sensibilities can handle.

          Did you get a choice which account to join when you set up the device?

          You should totally blog about this – people need to know!

          • I bought her device using my account, so it was automatically registered under that account. It’s super simple to deregister it and then register it to a new account . . . . not that I’m excited about having one more e-mail account. Boo.

  3. SOunds like a great plan! I never plan ours out either except the base plan. Love what you are doing!

  4. I always feel guilty that I don’t force the writing thing with my boys…both atrocious spellers. (The oldest learned to use a pocket dictionary and spell check – he’s a junior in college now. Takes some pressure off me about the other boy’s spelling!) We’ve tried All About Spelling that’s helped some. I’m going to have to try your suggestion. I have IEW, too, but put it back on the shelf every time I look at it.
    I listed curriculum a month ago. I didn’t have most of it then so I’ll need to update it and link. Thanks for sharing.

  5. We love the ETC books and OPGTR! Have a great school year.

  6. Great plan. My favorite thing to do is plan. lol Now if I can keep it all together. 🙂

  7. I think it’s wonderful that you homeschool. My cousins are doing that in Maryland. They are having wonderful results. One of the oldest who was homeschool attended college and is just recently married and has a baby. She is very intelligent, giving, nurturing and happy 🙂

  8. Good luck with the birds and the bees. My son asked me how a regular chicken egg turned into a chicken and the whole conversation spiraled out of control – at the grocery store.

    We started at chickens and ended up talking about how people make babies.

    I about died.

    • I’ll be in the corner rocking myself in the fetal position, if someone’s looking for me. ACK.

  9. Super religious- check. Closely spaced children- check. Denim jumper? Not a chance 😉

    • I’m trying to think of a way to bring a hotter version of the denim jumper back in style. lol. 😉

  10. So excited to see that we have kids in the same grades and so excited to learn that you also hs since you are a fellow Iowan. My daughter is 9 oh almost 10 as she says and going into 4th. My son is going into 1st. I am so excited to keep up with your posts about hs.

  11. I LOVE Singapore Math!

    For writing, have you looked at Ralph Fletcher’s books, the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing, or Barry Lane’s books? All inspire choice and fluency which builds confidence, ability, and creativity.

  12. We will be starting IEW (again) this year as well. Our problem isn’t spelling, but the physical task of writing. I allowed typing and dictation for a long time… and now I wonder if it was somewhat of a mistake. The physicality of writing didn’t improve, but got worse. So this year will include a lot of dictation and copywork!

    Sex Ed. Yup. We’re going to do that this year with Austin as well… so I decided to just do Biology for science since it will all fit in nice and tidy. Jimmie wrote a great review on a couple of books that she used with her daughter. We’ll be using the same two books in our house. http://jimmiescollage.com/2009/11/sex-ed-book-reviews/


  13. Delicious. That’s what this post is. I love how convenient it got with #2, tee hee! I love sticking with Ole Trusty for math, but trying new things with LA. You got it, my friend, denim jumper or no. 🙂
    (do they even make denim jumpers anymore? maybe i should find that VH1 show on the 90’s in the internet…now THERE’S a wise use of my time! Who needs to prep for the fall semester?!
    hhahaha! Have a blast this year with your barbarians!

  14. Love love love paragraph 3. Describes us to a tee. I may have to quote you in a post I’ve been planning in my head about why we homeschool. Because mainly the reason is just because we want to. Not because everyone should, not because public school is evil… just cause. Looks like you’re on the ball with your plans for this year so no mommy guilt for not having bought anything yet, k? I’ve got a first grader this year, too and I miss your homeschool posts.

  15. I love the planning part of homeschooling. The execution is sometimes harder. 🙂 Have a wonderful school year.

  16. Just wanted to stop by and again say “Thanks”. Starting the blog hop has given thousands of homeschoolers the opportunity to network. We don’t fit the stereotype homeschool family either, but with the blog hop you get to see that most don’t and it is great.

  17. Thanks for starting this hop. I remember the first year of the hop and can’t believe it’s year 3 already.
    We bought a nook last year to help with the book load and love it. Our bookshelves are bursting at the seams. I’m going to try Horizons this year with my non traditional learner, a decision I made last night. I hope it works, so far everything I have used has been disastrous and she hates math (not what I was hoping for).
    Hope you have a great year.

  18. I don’t suppose you have plans for a special needs week do you? 🙂 I’d love to network with more special needs homeschoolers.

    Tammy and Parker
    @ParkerMama on Twitter


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