Homeschool Specifics

Following up on yesterday, I promised to share what curriculum we’ve used for each grade.  Remember, no one is going to do it just like me.  Use what works for your kids!  As a general intro, I am a big proponent of lots of memory work in the early years (when the kids are little sponges–in classical education, we call this “grammar stage”) and limited written work.  Though I’m listing a lot of subjects, we don’t do every subject everyday (many of the minor subjects are once a week or a unit study for a couple weeks once a semester), and a lot of our subjects take 5 minutes to do.  In general, I spend an hour on schoolwork per grade, per day.  So my Kindergartner will have maybe 30 minutes of sit-down time in a morning, my second grader will spend about two hours on schoolwork, and my fourth grader will be spending about four hours per day.  Listening to or reading books doesn’t count toward that time, nor do extracurriculars like art class or ballet.  For PE, the kids have done swimming lessons, play soccer, and run around and ride bikes with the neighbors, or go on family hikes on the weekends.

We do a four day week since we attend Community Bible Study every Thursday.  It’s a full “classroom” morning with teachers other than mom, the kids doing the pledge, Bible memory work, games, crafts, their own Bible study on the same topic the adults are studying, recess, and snack.  After CBS, we always go have a picnic lunch at the park with friends and spend a good couple of hours playing outside with two to twelve other families.  By the time we get home, we’re too tired to do much formal school, so I don’t plan much. We do a 36 week school year and take the summer off.  We do history, Bible, science, and fine arts all together.  For clarity, I’ll put down what we did with our oldest for each of those areas, as the younger ones just came along and do whatever he is doing in those joint subjects.  We’ll rotate back around in another couple years and repeat it all so that the little ones get it again.

Every year, I’ve used this really basic daily planner to plot out our school year, one for each kid.  For subjects like history or science where we want to do specific things in specific weeks, I write that down at the beginning of the year for the whole school year.  For subjects like spelling or math where we just do the next lesson each day, we wait and jot down what page we did.  The kids and I like checking off boxes when we finish subjects, and a quick glance at the kids’ planners can help me determine when we’re done for the day.  Thanks to my planners, I can look back and tell you what we did on any given day in our homeschool (or if we took the day off or went on a field trip).  I’m always intending to keep track of what books we read in a given day or week or school year, but we read too many.

 

Fourth Grade

Bible: continuing to memorize the gospel of Mark (chapters 8 and 9), CBS study on Daniel and Revelation

History: Middle Ages and Renaissance using Veritas Press’ Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, Story of the World Vol 2: The Middle Ages, and tons of historical fiction, biographies, and Dover coloring books

Language Arts: All About Spelling 4, First Language Lessons 4, Writing and Rhetoric: Fable, Sentence Composition for Elementary School

Math: Saxon 6/5, Beast Academy 4

Latin: Latina Christiana

Science: Oceans theme using a Magic School Bus Oceans activity guide, a membership to the Aquarium of the Pacific, several ocean life documentaries, and Dover ocean life coloring books.  We’ll also be reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

French: my old junior high textbook (Dis Moi!), DuoLingo, and Mango French, as well as watching Jacques Tati movies in French, but I’d like to get him into a class to practice conversational skills

Music: We’ll be spending the fall semester studying about medieval music and musicians, using materials from my neighbor who is a music professor.=)

Art: T is in a weekly art class where he has been working in pastels and will be shortly moving into watercolors.

Art History: We’ll be spending the spring semester studying Leonardo Da Vinci and visiting all of the art museums in LA that have Renaissance art on display

Geography: an old geography workbook (a hand me down from our babysitter’s family), probably just a page once a week

 

Third Grade

Bible: gospel of Mark (7 and 8), CBS study on the minor prophets

History: Greece and Rome using Veritas Press’ New Testament, Greece and Rome and Story of the World Vol 1: Ancient Times

Geography: maps of the areas we’re studying using Story of the World’s activity guides

Language Arts: Writing With Ease 3, All About Spelling 3, First Language Lessons 3

Math: Saxon 5/4, Beast Academy 3

Latin: Prima Latina

Science: Astronomy using Real Science 4 Kids Astronomy, various books and documentaries on astronomy, and Dover coloring books

French: DuoLingo and Mango French on the computer, watching classic French movies like The Red Balloon and White Mane.

Music: studied Handel, Schumann, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms using First Discovery Kids Music (only so-so), The Story of _____ in Words and Music series (excellent), and Opal Wheeler biographies

Typing: BBC Dance Mat Typing online

 

Second Grade (our second time through!)

Bible: gospel of Mark (5 and 6), CBS study on Mark

History: Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia using Veritas Press’ Old Testament and Ancient Egypt and Story of the World 1: Ancient Times

Language Arts: Writing With Ease 2, First Language Lessons 2, All About Spelling 2, Classically Cursive

Math: Saxon 3 (E is working at grade level with math, but T and S are a year ahead)

Latin: Song School Latin, Getting Started With Latin

Science: Physics using The Way Things Work tv series and simple machine experiments.

French: DuoLingo, Little Pim French videos, (pretty babyish, but they’re free streaming on amazon prime), First Thousand Words in French book with mom

Music: Intro to Mozart, Chopin, Purcell, and Debussy using biographies, CDs, and attending a concert!

Art History: Studied the Impressionists and visited several of the LA art museums to see their paintings in person.

Typing: BBC Dance Mat typing online

Geography: Evan-Moor daily geography pages, once a week

 

First Grade

Bible: gospel of Mark (3 and 4), CBS Study

Social Studies: we spent a month at a time reading books about and making notebooks about the countries where we support missionaries.

Language Arts: Writing With Ease 1, First Language Lessons 1, All About Spelling 1, finish Ordinary Parents’ Guide to Teaching Reading (we didn’t start spelling until we finished phonics, as they’re essentially approaching the same subject from opposite directions)

Math: Saxon 2 (or in E’s case, 1)

Science: Anatomy using My Body book (reproducible pages of various organs sized to put on a kids’ outline) and Bill Nye videos on various body parts

French: French for Little Boys/French for Little Girls coloring books, Little Pim French videos

Music: read about the orchestra and studied Peter and the Wolf, The Seasons, and Pictures at an Exhibition

Art History: Discovering Great Artists and artist biography videos

 

Kindergarten (Our third time around!  Ideally, only 3 days a week)

Bible: gospel of Mark (1 and 2)

Social Studies: memorized order of US Presidents using flashcards from the Target dollar spot, memorized States and Capitals using the Geography songs CDs

Language Arts: Ordinary Parents’ Guide to Teaching Reading, Zaner-Bloser handwriting

Math: Saxon 1 (at half speed if, like for our second child, the concepts don’t click right away)

Read millions of quality books aloud.  Play and move around as much as possible.

 

Preschool (only when the little ones are asking to “do school” with the big kids, I just mainly keep these on hand to occupy them during our school time)

Bible: My ABC Bible verses

Social Studies: geography map puzzles

Language Arts: Target dollar spot handwriting books to trace letters, alphabet puzzles

Math: legos and duplos, Tangoes Jr., puzzles

Read millions of quality books aloud.

Encourage lots of open-ended imaginative play with dress-up clothes, play kitchen, wooden blocks, etc.

 

Note: I’ve used our amazon affiliate links on most of the items above, so if you happen to want to order any of them, we get a small percentage if you click through and order from our link.  It helps offset the cost of hosting this blog.  Certainly there are plenty of other places where you can get most of these things (and I bought most of them used myself).

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3 Responses to Homeschool Specifics

  1. Christy says:

    Thanks so much for this, Emily. I was feeling so stuck on science, which is not my area of expertise at all, and with the resources you’ve listed, I’ve managed to come up with a plan for science with my 1st and 2nd grader that I’m really excited about.

  2. Christy says:

    I’ll be full time homeschooling my 3 boys, grades 5, 3 and 2, this fall, for the first time. I’d like to use First Language Lessons and Writing with Ease but I’m really uncertain about where to start them. Do you think that it would work to jump in at grade level? Or is it better to start at level one with anyone who’s new to the program? And would you consider using the same level for more than one child?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Christy, sorry, I didn’t see your comment until now because I’ve been moving across the country! FLL 1 and 2 are really easy–I have the first edition, but I can’t imagine that they’ve changed too much. We do the lessons orally, 5 minutes a day, max. Level 2 does build on level 1, but you could easily get through both of them in one year for your 2nd grader. For 3rd and 5th grade, at level 3, you start using a workbook to write in and doing some simple sentence diagramming. Your 3rd grader could definitely jump in at that point. Depending on what kind of grammar your 5th grader has had to this point, it might be too easy, but if he’s coming out of public school, just stick him in level 3 with his brother. I think the program could work well with combining multiple students–mine are all two years apart, so I haven’t tried that myself! The publishers are coming out with a new middle school grammar program this fall that my son will be starting after completing all four levels of FLL. There are samples of the first six weeks floating about that you can take a look at for your oldest. As for Writing With Ease, unless they’ve done this narration-copywork-dictation style program before, it’s going to feel really different from whatever they’ve done. WWE 1 is very simple, but it does a great job at training the habits we’re trying to develop through copywork and narration. I think you could probably put at least the oldest ones in level 2, where dictation is added into the mix, but I personally would find it difficult to stick a child into level 3 without at least a year or two of practice with narration and dictation. Levels 1 and 2 felt easy for my kids, but when you get to level 3, you see that they’ve actually been doing a lot of good preparation for this next step of writing. Depending on the writing skills of your 2nd grader, WWE 1 might be a good year of practice with copywork. If he’s confident and has good penmanship and listening skills, you could throw him in level 2 with his brothers. My son found that three years were adequate, and we switched over to Writing and Rhetoric (by another publisher) for a couple years as a change of pace before starting Writing With Skill (which we plan to start next year, in 6th grade). The 1, 2, and 3 don’t necessarily correspond to grades, so your 5th grader would not be behind if he did WWE 2 this year and WWE 3 in 6th grade. Susan Wise Bauer herself says that WWE 4 is really only for struggling students, and that after level 3, many kids can do something else or jump into WWS. So to sum it up, yes, I do think that the levels build on each other, but the first level of both programs is quite gentle, so you could easily speed through and/or skip with older kids. Please let me know if you have further questions–I am back online now and will be checking the blog regularly again!

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