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Thursday, July 30, 2015

2015-2016 Curriculum

I am excited for school to start in a few weeks!  We're sticking with some familiar books and trying some new things.  Planning over the summer is so much fun.

Piano: Hoffman Academy.  I wanted to start my 2nd grader on this, but decided to let the older kids do it too.  They haven't taken lessons for a couple of years and have forgotten some things.  They LOVE lessons with Mr. Hoffman!  My oldest says remembering note names is much easier than it was when using just books.  I think the older two will advance faster than there are lessons available, but hopefully they'll be able to jump back into traditional lessons and books then.

History, Geography, Science, Literature, Art, Music:

The Family School Year 3

I don't have the books & cards yet.  They've been delayed, but at least I have access to the online version.  We are not using the workbooks/worksheets, after two years of what felt like planning double each week we will just print what we want.  We purchased our own binders and are waiting on the binder inserts and tabs from the school.  We still love the curriculum and are as excited as ever to get started. 
For Year 3 Literature we're studying 
Beatrix Potter
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
As You Like It
Click to see it bigger. Here is our timeline with all the Year 1 and Year 2 cards up. It's getting full in some places. We're doing a lot of the explorers in Year 3 and I think we'll run out of space!
See past versions:  Beginning of Year 1         Before starting Year 2
7th grade
I have tried planners in the past for the oldest two children, but they don't stick with it all year.  It's easier to look at Mom's planner than to write in their own!  But we feel 7th grade is a good time to be responsible for your own work so I let my oldest pick out what planner she wanted.  Plus, she needs to spread some curriculum out over the week and this will be a good way to plan that.  She chose this from Confessions of a Homeschooler.
It didn't print well at all, see the gaps at the top and bottom of the pages?  Plus the gaps at the sides?  I can hardly tell there's a design on the right page!  I tried and tried to get it to print without the gaps but it was either this or loose part of the pages!  Inside the cover is a year at a glance calendar, we nearly lost Sunday when printing any other way!  While the planner is cute, I don't think we'll be purchasing it again because of this issue.  I made the tabs to go in it, what fun is a cute planner without tabs?
Spelling: Words Their Way.  She's on the last level and is combining the lessons on word roots with English From the Roots Up.
Grammar: Fix It! Grammar, books 1 and 2.  We were tired of worksheets for grammar, and the children weren't retaining any information.  We started Fix It! halfway through last year and the children fell in love.  They can remember parts of speech now too.  I like that they are willing to do it and can get it done quickly.
Writing:  Writing With Skill 2.  I let her have the reigns with this program last year and while it was hard at times, I feel she did fairly well overall.  She says she felt the same way.  If it seems too difficult we'll set it aside for a year or two and do TWSS (see 5th grade below) before we pick up WWS again.  She is also doing The Creative Writer 2.  While I worry that this is too much for her to do, she feels that this is the fun part of writing and wants to continue.  She fit both in last year!
Logic: Critical Thinking 1.  Not pictured.  I am nervous about switching, as this requires more of my time.  It looks like a fun book though and I'm excited for her to learn it.
Math: Saxon 8/7:  We tried the D.I.V.E. CDs and didn't like them so we're using Art Reed's DVDs with Saxon.  He's fun to watch and my child feels she learns better by watching a teacher.
Utah History:  Can this be called a throwback?  I don't know that it's normally taught in middle school anymore, I think it's more of a 4th grade thing now.  But she is going to work through this text (it's a few years old) and learn about our state.  Plus, she'll be learning counties and county seats, mapping, and creating a timeline.

5th grade
Writing: He's almost done with Writing With Ease 3, so we're going to try and finish it.  He could use some practice with comprehension and summarizing and this is a good way to do it.
I realized that moving on to Writing With Skill is not going to work for this child, that would be too much reading and working alone, and we'd both be really frustrated.  I had heard about Institute for Excellence in Writing for many years now, but was always confused by their writing programs and put off by the costs.  When we switched to their grammar I began to see the advantages of their program.  I also felt that it would be a better choice for my son to use their writing methods.
Purchasing only Teaching Writing: Structure and Style puts a lot of work on me because I am fully in charge of teaching, lesson plans, and choosing material (for a little while anyway!).  Over the years I've wanted more control though.  Using Writing With Ease, I've wanted to incorporate our own material and develop a better understanding for their method.  I have the main WWE book and decided I'd rather use just TWSS rather than purchasing the Student Intensives.  We can work faster each day this way and incorporate Family School lessons into writing assignments!
Using the TWSS means a lot of work for me.  I've done it over the summer in preparation for school.  I just have the Unit 9 assignment to complete, and the taking notes from lectures video to watch.  I wanted to understand it thoroughly.  I'll go back and watch each unit again before we begin it.  I get more excited to use this curriculum each time I work on it!

Spelling: Words Their Way.  He's in the last level too.  He'll start English From the Roots Up when he gets far enough.  This is the public school version, the homeschool version looks boring and worksheet style.  The older two kids used this when they were in public school and it has worked well for them.  They tried Spelling Power and All About Spelling and we keep coming back to this.
Grammar: Fix It! Grammar 1 & 2.  Same reasons as above.  Workbook style grammar was torture for him last year.  This one is great fun.
Logic: Mind Benders 4 & 5 and Building Thinking Skills.  He developed a lot of patience when starting Mind Benders 4!  We'll continue the series.
Penmanship:  We're not doing a specific book but he will practice with copywork daily.  I question dysgraphia, but the only symptom is poor penmanship.  We do strengthening things and he's learning to type.
Math: Saxon 6/5.  This is the first homeschool book I purchased for my olderst, it's crazy that we're using it a second round now.

2nd grade
Spelling: All About Spelling 1.  She's almost finished, then we'll start level 2.  We combine the lessons with Words Their Way style word sorts.  AAS was boring alone, but WTW was fun.  So putting the two together makes us both happy.
Reading: All About Reading 4.  Reading has been going so well, she spends one day on a lesson, and sometimes I ask her to review a few days later.  Nothing stumps her though.  I don't want to skip the 4th level because there are some important things taught in it.  Finishing level 3 over the summer has made her excited for the next book.
Penmanship: Her penmanship is good, she just needs to fine tune it.  She'll be doing copywork, likely the sentences from the practice sheets in All About Reading, as well as some poetry.  During preschool, she learned manuscript.  In kindergarten, cursive.  First grade was for practicing both and fine tuning letter formation.  I find it fascinating that this method worked so well!
Math: Saxon 2 and 3.  She has about 50 lessons left in level 2 then we'll move on to level 3.

There will be a combination of printables and activities from various blogs. Mostly from Confessions of a Homeschooler, The Measured Mom, and 1 Plus 1 Plus 1 Equals 1. I saved everything from when my (now) 2nd grader was in preschool and we'll put it to good use again! She'll also use Fundanoodle boards for letter formation, though she's not using their handwriting books yet. She's going to have her own binder this year to put all her work in as well as her Family School papers. Towards the end of last year she would feel sad if I forgot to have a Family School paper ready for her. I've even got her own copies of the Literature books, but she'll have to share with me!
Mom School
I purchased the Uncle Eric Books in the spring and have spent the summer going over them as well.  These books are wonderful.  The series is a well explained method to understanding economics, liberty, history, and law.  It's often suggested in reviews that they should be part of high school curriculum.  I agree, I wish I understood this stuff long ago.  There are study guides available to purchase as well.  I am on book 5 and looking forward to continuing the series.  The author is up front with his position.  If you've ever wondered what on earth is happening in our country and what to do about it (and how to discern at voting time) you need these books.  You could read just the first four and have much more insight, though I imagine the entire series is going to be well worth the price.

I had hoped to gain a better understanding of the Principle Approach used in The Family School by working through this book.  I am only halfway through, and do not have all the books they suggest, but hopefully by the end I'll better understand the 4R'ing methods, Word Studies, and more.  I feel like I better understand the notebooks better after reading that chapter today!


  1. I loved using WTW in school when I taught public school. I tried to use it with my daughter at home, but I never got to it. We do all about spelling now. This year, I began using the word sorts with her combined with AAS. I am curious to know exactly how you use WTW with your older child. Do you just do sorts? Or do you do other activities too?

  2. I have my older kids do the sorts, but they are in the last level, Derivational Relations. I have them create vocabulary cards like English from the Roots Up. They still do other practice activities, their favorite is writing their words on the whiteboard and painting their words. Sometimes they will play the games on Spelling City but they haven't been doing that lately..