Saturday, July 10, 2021

2020-2021 Curriculum Recap

I know many of you plan your upcoming school year over summer like me. When I was looking back over older blog posts here, I realized that I didn't post our 2020-2021 curriculum preview, so instead I will do a recap, partly to give you ideas for future planning and partly as a record of our homeschool when I look back. I'm going to add all three kids in one post (Year 2, 10, and 11) so I apologize for the length in advance. Grab your latte, kick back, and enjoy! Here goes...

Year 11

Bible & Character 

Riley continued to work through Ambleside Online's Bible Reading Plan. She also completed SCM's Life in the Word, which received groans when I originally assigned it, but turned out to be a great study. This guide leads you through seven different ways to study the bible and Riley really enjoyed it. She also read Charlotte Mason's Vol. 4, Ourselves, Book II as part of her bible and character study. 

History & Geography

Riley began working through Beautiful Feet's US & World History study. Back in the day, it was originally a two year study, but recently, it was revised to be completed in one year. However, because it's such a rich and important time in our history, especially in light of current events, we still opted to spread it over two years and added a few extra books and resources to boot. In addition to the assigned BF books, Riley read from and used the following resources...

Prescripts Cursive Passages and Illuminations: American Documents - this was continued from Year 10 and finished in Year 11

Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers by Jean Fritz

The Federalist Papers by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

Unconditional Surrender by Albert Marrin

The Story of Liberty by Charles Coffin - You may remember from previous posts that Riley has been working through two streams of history throughout her high school years. This year, her second stream of history covered the Middle Ages/Renaissance/Reformation. Riley was originally scheduled to read The Book of the Middle Ages by Dorothy Mills. However, with two online courses, work, and her other studies, she was not able to complete it, which was very well because she did an in depth study of the Middle Ages back in 8th grade (Term 1, Term 2, and Term 3) and remembered a great deal. I scheduled her too heavily this year and gave grace when needed. With that said, she did complete Coffin's book and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Riley has also been keeping a Book of Centuries since Year 7.

Government & Political Philosophy

Riley took an online Vita Beata course using several Memoria Press books for a credit in Political Philosophy. The books included:

The Republic and The Laws by Cicero

On Obligations by Cicero

City of God by St. Augustine

Riley also completed Exploring Government by Ray Notgrass, as well as the literature below...

Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough

The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

Born Again by Charles Colson

God and Reagan by Paul Kengor

I like to teach high school government during an election year. We traditionally watch the debates, attend rallies, and keep up with current events to enrich our government study. And WOW!...this election cycle was definitely a real learning experience for better or worse!! 

Science & Health

Guest Hollow Chemistry - This was our first year using a Guest Hollow course as written. I have pulled books from other Guest Hollow courses in the past, but I bought the full Chemistry plan this year. One caution I have if you use Guest Hollow Chemistry is to cull down. This was a great plan, but there are way too many books/videos/projects scheduled for a one year course of study....especially if you are taking a literature approach in other subjects. Riley had already read a few of the assigned books in former years, which allowed her to focus her time and energy on more of the videos and projects. She also notebooked through the course. In an effort to conserve words here, I plan to write a separate post about her overall Chemistry credit on the blog at some point. In addition to the Guest Hollow Chemistry, Riley read the following science and health books this year...

The Structure of Matter

Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry

Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman

Crucibles: The Story of Chemistry by Bernard Jaffe

Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif 

Total Health: Choices for a Winning Lifestyle

Nature Study

English 11

We take a literature approach to our learning in most subjects so Riley completed several books this year in other subjects like history, government, and science. In addition, she read and used the following books and resources toward her English credit...

Sir Gawain & the Green Knight by  J.R.R. Tolkien

The Divine Comedy by Dante - online Vita Beata Literature class

Beowulf by Seamus Heaney

Joan of Arc by Mark Twain

Idylls of the King by Tennyson

Fierce Wars & Faithful Loves  Edmund Spencer's Book I of the Faerie Queen

Poetry by Czeslaw, Milosz, and Edna St. Vincent Millay

Written narration, notebooking, and composition

Invitation to the Classics by Cowan and Gunness - continued from previous years - finished

IEW's Phonetic Zoo - continued from previous years - finished


Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2

Overall, Riley had a great year! She also kept and harvested a garden, milked cows on an organic dairy farm, helped homeschool Levi, took an art class outside the home, and played volleyball. As you can see, she kept very busy! I can't believe she's already heading into Year 12 this fall. Time goes so fast!

Year 10

Ruben had a pretty unconventional year. He worked many long hours outside the home in the fall and spring operating heavy equipment to pump pits, which was a learning experience in and of itself. The focus of his traditional academic subjects was completed in the winter months and continues over summer. His subjects of study have been...

Bible - Ruben is reading select assigned passages.

World History & Geography - Middle Ages/Renaissance/Reformation - Ruben is currently reading When Knights Were Bold by Eva March Tappan and then will read The Story of Liberty by Charles Coffin. Ruben also completed an in depth study of this time period back in Year 7 so the goal this year was simply a recap, as he heads toward a World History credit. He is working through Memoria Press's Geography I course as well, which covers The Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. 

Biology - Ruben did a great deal toward his Biology credit in Year 9. However, I want him to finish up the Sabbath Mood Homeschool study using Men, Microscopes, and Living Things by Katherine Shippen

Math - Ruben is working through a set of math skills and concepts pulled from a variety of resources rather than a traditional text. 

English - He re-read The Hobbit  by J.R.R. Tolkien this year and has been reading through The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien, as well as other misc. books including....

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

In addition, throughout the year, Ruben has taught himself  to weld, strengthened his abilities in auto mechanics, and engineered various small engine machines, such as repurposing a non-functioning pressure washer into a lawn mower, and combining a 4-wheeler and a mini bike into some type of ridable non-traditional looking machine. He also resurrected an old snowmobile from the 1970's and keeps all our vehicles on the road. Ruben is constantly building, tearing apart, and rebuilding any machinery he can get his hands on. He watches numerous YouTube videos and then spends hours outside and in his shop constructing and configuring. This is all part of his education! 

Year 2/3

Levi made great gains in his reading this year!! He has a summer birthday and bordered between 2nd and 3rd grade. Grades are a measure of public school standard. When home educating, we teach to the child, not any one particular grade. His books and resources were consistent with his age of 8 and included the following...

Bible & Character 

Assorted Old Testament passages from The Children's Bible. 

The Golden Bible Atlas

Oral Narration


A Child's History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer - will continue next school year

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia - excerpts

Usborne Pharaohs & Pyramids by Tony Allan and Philippa Wingate - excerpts

Seeker of Knowledge by James Rumsford

Tut's Mummy Lost...and Found by Judy Donnelly

Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs: A Book About Ancient Egypt by Gail Gibbons

Growing Up In Ancient Egypt by Rosalie David

The Trojan Horse by Emily Little

Hidden Army: Clay Soldiers of Ancient China by Jane O'Connor

The Secrets of Alexander's Horse by Tony Palazzo

Cleopatra by Diane Stanley

Pompeii: Buried Alive by Edith Kunhardt

Our Island Story by H. E. Marshall - will continue next school year

Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla

Marguerite Makes a Book by Bruce Robertson

Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans by Edward Eggleston

Oral Narration

Levi completed notebooking pages to correspond with this Bible and History study. Riley helped him compose a sentence or two from his oral narration to summarize each reading. Levi would then copy the sentence(s) and illustrate them in a notebook. I used this method with Riley when she was young and it turned out to be the start of a great thing, as her notebook pages have evolved over the years into beautiful scrapbooks of her education. You can read more about our notebook keeping here


Under the Home - Where We Live: A Home Geography, Part II

Notebooking pages

Science & Health

The Great Dinosaur Mystery & the Bible by Paul S. Taylor

Under the Home - Animal Nature Study

Notebooking pages

Naturalist Kids Podcast

Wild Kratts on PBS Kids

Oral Narration

Language Arts

Prairie School by AVI & Memoria Press Lit Guide

Animal Folk Tales of America by Tony Palazzo & Memoria Press Lit Guide

All About Reading 2

Core Skills Phonics 3

McGuffey Pictorial Eclectic Primer with The Lesson Book

Memoria Press Grade 2 Literature

A Child's Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa

Animals Animals by Eric Carle


Oral Narration


Rod & Staff Arithmetic 2

Fine Arts

Memoria Press Music Enrichment

Memoria Press Art Cards

Under the Home Studio Art - Drawing 2D and 3D Shapes

Levi also attended an art class outside the home. 

Overall, Levi had a great year! As mentioned before, he made tremendous progress in reading, as well as math. Due to me working outside the home, Riley guided him through most of his lessons. I chose the books/resources and created the schedule that she implemented. Some of his lessons had audio books/story components so Riley would set it up and Levi would listen, while she worked on her own lessons. Then they worked together on other subjects. Riley and Levi have very similar personalities and many common interests. She is nine years older than him, very mature, and kind, but firm so he respects her. 

I am very proud of all three kids and their accomplishments this year! It's been a little difficult to balance work with homeschooling, but they persevered and we have all been blessed by the fruit of our labor. 

I do plan to post a few follow-up blogs to showcase some of the new curricula and resources we used this year, namely Guest Hollow Chemistry, Under the Home, and McGuffey readers with The Lesson Book. These were all new to us and ended in success so I can't wait to share!

This post contains some, but not all, affiliate links. Proceeds from the links allow me to continue homeschooling and adding future content to this blog.  

Monday, February 22, 2021

WOW...It's already 2021!!!

Living without expectations is hard but, when you can do it, good. Living without hope is harder, and that is bad. You have got to have hope, and you mustn’t shirk it. Love, after all, “hopeth all things.” But maybe you must learn, and it is hard learning, not to hope out loud, especially for other people. You must not let your hope turn into expectation.

                But whatever you hope, you will find out that you can’t bargain with your life on your own terms. It is always going to be proving itself worse or better than you hoped.”  – Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

OK, so I didn't hold to my aspirations of getting back to blogging last year. Can you believe it's been a whole year since my last post!?!?!! And oh my, what a year it's been! So much has happened that I could never have imagined. 

2020 began with big changes for our family, unchartered territory without parents. When you are a little child, you depend on your parents, but as you grow, you can’t wait to be independent. Then you become a parent and it becomes apparent that you need your parents more than ever! Then one day those parents are gone, and you feel lost, but those children require you to carry on. Fortunately, you see characteristics in your children that remind you of your parents and you realize how foundational the lives of each generation are. The stories of those that have gone before us are stones on which we are built. This brings comfort and hope. It is where we found ourselves at the beginning of 2020. We held hope in a new decade and sought comfort in the future of our children, knowing those in the past, affect us in the present, and carry each generation forward.

Of course, there was also Covid in 2020, but early on, we chose to put our trust and fear in the Lord, not in a virus, civil unrest, a vaccine, or the government. Each day, we put one foot in front of the other, carrying on with life as much as possible. We didn’t have any estate sales this year, but I did begin a new office job in January outside the home. We are still home educating our kids. The Farmer is carrying on with the farm.

A highlight last year was getting chickens! Well, we got five chickens in the summer of 2019, but only three of them survived last winter. We believe a weasel got one of them, but not sure about the other. In the spring of 2020, we ordered 16 baby chicks from a hatchery and they arrived April 8th, but one was dead upon arrival. They were all supposed to be laying hens, but we are pretty sure one of them was a rooster. Sadly, he met his death by dog.

After a few more casualties, later this summer, we bought 10 more hen chicks locally. Riley also bought a rooster. She named him Monte Cristo after The Count of Monte Cristo, a favorite book she read in 2020, and a friend gifted us another rooster, which Levi wanted to name Davante Adams. 😊 In the fall, one of our spring hens hatched three chicks. We currently have 21 hens, 3 chicks, which are starting to lay, and 2 roosters in total. The laying hens are providing us with an abundant supply of the most beautifully colored eggs! It has been a super fun project for the kids and they are learning many life skills.


Speaking of RileyAnn, she is currently in 11th grade and continues to love animals, sports, and milking cows. Even though her softball season was canceled in 2020, Riley was able to play her second year of volleyball in the fall with a local homeschool volleyball team. She had a beautiful garden last summer and she will tell you, she canned way too many peaches and pears!...but I will tell you, they are so good!!!

Ruben is in 10th grade. He started a new job last fall, pumping manure pits, with the same company I work for. Even though he put in many long hours for a couple months, he loved it and much prefers work over school! Ruben spends his free time tinkering and rebuilding. He bought an old 3-wheeler last year and loves terrorizing us with it, LOL. Ruben continues to grow and has now caught up with The Farmer, surpassing that six-foot mark.


Levi is currently in 3rd grade. He still loves math, but has made great gains in reading, which is becoming a close second. Levi also enjoys animals and the outdoors. He missed playing baseball last summer but helped Riley with her garden and caring for the chickens. Levi loves it when Ruben pulls him on the sled behind the 3-wheeler, but mom can’t watch!

The Farmer and I made a quick get-away in the fall. We traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada in October for the grand opening of Barry’s Downtown Prime, a new steakhouse opened by my boss. Even though the shows and many sights were shut down due to Covid, we did see the Hoover Dam, which was amazing!

As you can see, life carried on for our family last year even in the face of adversity. Although our future may seem uncertain, as believers, we can rest in the hope and assurance of our Savior. We can also look to those who have gone before us and continue their story with those moving forward. If you are weary, I encourage you to crack a bible or even search online for references of the word "hope" in the bible. I can't make any promises of what 2021 may bring, but for now, I'm still here and plan to carry on!!


Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. – Romans 12:12

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Welcome 2020!...Looking Forward to a New Decade time flies! I'm not so sure it's all been fun, but it does pass nonetheless. It's been a few months since I posted and much has happened throughout that time. Today, I will share a bit of a recap of 2019, as well as plans moving forward. This quote from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which we read at the beginning of 2019, pretty much sums up the mixed bag of emotions the year brought forth.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”        ― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Ruben began 2019 with infection and drains in his leg from his farm accident on Black Friday, November 2018. Also, Levi broke his foot at the beginning of March 2019. We spent the first few months of 2019 at doctor's appointments and hospitals. Then our year ended with the unexpected passing of my dad the week before Christmas 2019. Even though we book ended with the worst of times, the best of times filled the in between. We still have much to be thankful for and I've been trying to stay focused on that. 

I love fresh starts so the prospect of looking ahead to not only a new year, but a new decade is very refreshing to me. We have a clean slate once again. Although we're only six weeks in to 2020, it has already brought many changes. When dad passed, I was named executor of my parent's estate. I also assumed guardianship of dad's brother, my uncle. In addition, I started a job off the farm the first week of January. I really enjoy it so far, but much of my time has been spent finding balance. We are still very much committed to home education and I've had to find creative ways to continue meeting the needs of each of our children.

Every time we say yes to something, we have to say no to something else. Throughout these added responsibilities, our house has also fallen in to disarray. Thankfully, it's not that big so a couple hours of TLC on the weekend really makes a difference. And, our kids are all capable of pitching in, which I'm very grateful for.

Unfortunately, this blog has also fallen by the wayside and I feel badly about that. I know for some, blogs are a thing of the past, but I still enjoy blogging and have been thinking a great deal about it. I do plan to continue, but it will be in a limited capacity. I used to aim for three posts a week. Now, it will more likely be three to four posts per month, depending on the season. Also, I hope to bring RileyAnn alongside. She will be assisting me in posting book and curriculum reviews.

So, all that to say, I'm still here and not going anywhere, it's just that my presence will be limited as our life has taken a different direction. Everything has a season and I'm embracing the new year, the new decade, and the new season we are in. Thanks so much for reading over the years. If there are particular topics regarding books or home education you are interested in learning more about, please feel free to post in the comments. Hopefully, you'll continue to follow along!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

2019-2020 Year 10 Curriculum Preview

We are finished with our first term of the 2019-2020 academic year, but I wanted to follow through and post a preview of RileyAnn's Year 10. You can find Ruben's Year 9 here and Levi's Year 2 here.


Riley will continue to read through the AO Bible Reading Plan this year. She also finished copying Psalms last year and began copying Proverbs this year using the Journible Series.


Riley is studying two streams of history this year: Ancient Rome and American 1800's to the Civil War. She is using Classical Lessons for The Book of the Ancient Romans by Lisa Kelly for her Ancient Rome study and TruthQuest AOR II by Michelle Miller along with Paul Johnson's A History of the American People for her American history study. She has been assigned to read from the following books...

The Book of the Ancient Romans by Dorothy Mills
The Children's Plutarch: Tales of the Romans by F J Gould
A History of the American People by Paul Johnson
Landmark - Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo by Frances Winwar
A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee - autobiography
Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglass - autobiography
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
Up From Slavery - The Autobiography of Booker T. Washington
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Riley is also picking and choosing books from our personal library at her leisure from the TQ guide to accompany her American History study. She writes narrations and keeps a book of centuries as she reads.

Science & Health

I decided to take a more traditional textbook approach for Riley's biology this year. She is using Modern Biology by Memoria Press. The lessons include reading from the text, online instructional lectures, vocabulary, question/answer, and coloring pages. In addition, Riley has been completing misc. biology labs with Ruben. She is also reading from the following books spread over the course of the year...

Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif - AO Year 9-11
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Dr. Paul Brand & Philip Yancey - AO Year 7-11
Great Astronomers by Robert Stawell Ball - AO Year 7-9 (Be sure to get the Diamond Books edition. It has the original illustrations and is worth the extra money.)
That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles by Dr. Joe Schwarcz
For the Love of Physics by Walter Lewin - Part 2 of Sabbath Mood Homeschool study guide

English - Literature, Poetry, Composition, Spelling, Recitation

In addition to the literature that Riley is reading for History, she is also participating in a local High School Book Club that I'm facilitating. The students are reading the following titles and then gathering for discussion throughout the months of October through March...

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Silas Marner by George Elliot
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 

Riley will study the following poets using the Poetry for Young People series and a variety of online sources, reading a different set of poets each term...

Term 1 Phillis Wheatley and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Term 2 Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning
Term 3 Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman

Riley writes daily narrations and is working on IEW Phonetic Zoo Level C for spelling. I would like to add a resource for more formal composition, but it may or may not be this year. Riley is also memorizing Psalm 23 for recitation. She uses PreScripts American Documents Cursive Passages and Illuminations from Classical Conversations for penmanship.


Riley started the year with Harold Jacob's Geometry, but because of my lack of time to participate, she became easily frustrated. A couple weeks into the term, I switched her to Teaching Textbooks Geometry. It is going much better. We opted against an online math course this year for financial reasons, but I still needed something to allow Riley to work independently. A friend gifted us TT and it's doing it's duty.

Fine Arts
I have outsourced our Term 1 and part of Term 2 Fine Arts this year. Each of our kids is participating in a local homeschool choir and art classes outside the home for the first half of the school year. Once their out of home semester has ended, we will include art and music study in our Morning Time.

This post does contain affiliate links. Proceeds from the links allow me to continue to provide future content on this blog.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

2019-2020 Year 9 Curriculum Preview

Even though, we are in week 11 of our 2019-2020 school year, I want to go back and post curriculum previews for high school. This year, RileyAnn is in 10th grade and Ruben is in 9th grade. I posted Levi's Year 2 back in Sept, but have been making some adjustments to Ruben's Year 9 schedule. Here is a preview of his general plan for Year 9....


I have assigned misc bible passage readings based on Ruben's history plan.


Ruben is using an older edition of Notgrass Exploring World History as the spine of his history study. It's a two book set, but he will only complete the first book this year, which runs from Creation to the Middle Ages. Angel used this same set for her history several years ago in 9th and 10th grade through My Father's World. Although, I am not using MFW for Ruben, I have created a similar set up in that he will read from the Notgrass text a couple days a week and then I've added a variety of history and literature supplemental books, which you can see pictured above. We will call it Ancient History and Lit. As noted above, his bible readings are also linked to this study. In addition, he completes notebook pages with narrations, map work, and drawings from his reading. We did study this same time period three years ago, when Ruben was in 6th grade so he read many great Ancient Civilization living books at that time too.


Ruben is studying biology this year along with Riley. Although, they are using different books. Riley is taking a more traditional approach, using Modern Biology through Memoria Press. I've built Ruben's biology using a variety of resources, including Apologia's Exploring Creation with Biology. Because they are studying the same subject matter, they are able to have discussion and complete labs together.

We use the Apologia Biology book as the spine and then I've added other living books. So Ruben's lessons consist of watching some of the Apologia Biology DVDs, reading misc. picture and chapter books, completing some of the Apologia labs, and keeping a notebook of vocabulary, narrations, lab notes, and drawing diagrams/illustrations from the books.

For example, you can see some of the resources pictured below that Ruben is using for a study of bacteria. He read the books, watched the DVDs, collected pond water and is growing cultures for various experiments from the Apologia text, we've discussed all this, and he has kept a notebook of his study. I've drawn from multiple websites and resources to find living books and tried to create a multi-sensory experience for him. Here are links to some of the books and resources Ruben will be studying aside from Apologia...

Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif 
Archaea by David M. Barker - This is part of a series of six books. We will use several in the series.
Bacteria by Judy Wearing
Protists by Rona Arato
Fungi by Judy Wearing
Tiny Creatures, The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies
Golden Guide Pond Life George Reid, edited by Zim and Fichter - There are many books in this series.
One Small Square - Pond by Donald Silver - There are many books in this series as well.
Pond by Jim LaMarche
The Golden Book Encyclopedia set
Gregor Mendel, The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe
Nature Study as a Part of High School Biology by Barb McCoy
Guest Hollow Biology
Exploring the World of Biology by John Hudson Tiner
The Book of Trees, An Introduction to Botony Through the Study of Trees by Sean Brooks  - published by Memoria Press
The Biology Coloring Book by Robert Griffin
Biology 101 by Wes Olson

Natural History

Seasons of America Past by Eric Sloane - Ruben is a fan of Sloane and this book has been a hit so far! I spread it out so he will read just a few pages one day each week throughout the year.

English - Literature, Poetry, Composition, Spelling, Recitation

In addition to the literature that Ruben is reading for History, he is also participating in a local High School Book Club that I'm facilitating. The students are reading the following titles and then gathering for discussion throughout the months of October through March...

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Silas Marner by George Elliot
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 

Ruben will study the following poets using the Poetry for Young People series. He will read from a different book each term.

Carl Sandburg
Robert Frost
Langston Hughes

Ruben is writing narrations as part of his English credit. I also draw from IEW's Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons and other resources for formal composition. He is working through IEW's Fix-It The Nose Tree for grammar. Each of the kids is currently memorizing Psalm 23. Ruben has also been reading through The Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien in his free time. I will be adding Spelling and possibly a couple other misc. language arts resources second term.


As with other subjects, I'm using a variety of resources for math. I've been taking a more developmental approach with Ruben working through various math concepts to ensure he has a good foundation for algebra and geometry. He is currently working through an old Modern Curriculum Press workbook. We are focusing on solidifying operations, decimals, fractions, and percents.

Fine Arts

I have outsourced our Term 1 and part of Term 2 Fine Arts. Each of our kids is participating in a local homeschool choir and art classes outside the home this semester. Once their out of home semester has ended, we will include art and music study in our Morning Time.

This post does contain affiliate links. Proceeds from the links allow me to continue to provide future content on this blog. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Summer & Fall 2019 Mother Culture...

I was looking back at old posts and realized, I didn't share my summer reading list so I will include progress here in this post along with the fall list. Click here to see where I left off in spring.

Summer Mother Culture

Upon reflection, I actually read quite a bit this summer all things considered. Reading in community is a big push for me. I love the accountability it brings, as well as the camaraderie. I find I am most productive when reading with a group.

Here's what I read this summer....

CM Study Group

I finished A Practical Guide to Culture by Stonestreet and Kunkle in August with my CM Study Group. There were a few nuggets in this book, particularly if you are a media friendly family, and maybe more so if you are involved in public school. However, some parts felt like preaching to the choir because sadly I'm not sure those that need to hear the message are the ones picking up the book. Stonestreet and Kunkle do tackle some difficult cultural issues such as pornography, sexual orientation, gender identity, and entertainment from a biblical perspective.

There is a rhythm to the chapters so each is written in the same format, beginning with introduction, followed by bullet points or numbered action points, and closing with a review. This makes A Practical Guide to Culture an easy read, as it's in an understandable format. There are also study guide questions at the end of each chapter, which makes it a great book club or study group book.

Overall, I did quite a bit of underlining in the book and will use it for a quick reference if needed. I would most likely not read the book a second time, but would recommend it to those looking for ways to glean ideas on handling the cultural pressures on our kids today.

Convivial Circle

In June, I finished reading Beauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott, in an effort to facilitate an online study group at Convivial Circle. I was really excited to finally read this book that had been on my list for some time. I've heard Andrew Kern, Martin Cothran, and Cindy Rollins all mention it at some point. Honestly, the book started really strong, but lagged for me toward the end. I don't know that Caldecott ever closed the circle in my mind. I was left wondering about a few points he brought up, but never finalized.

Overall, it was worthy in spite of being very philosophical. Maybe a second reading would better enlighten me. I would like to blog more about this book in the future.

Read Along

The kids, Steve, my father, and I set out to read The Pearl by John Steinbeck in August. We enjoyed our True Grit study so much that we wanted to continue. I believe dad, Riley, and possibly Steve finished, but Ruben and I did not. It's still on my nightstand and I aim to get back at it this winter.

Summer Schole Sisters

It's always so hard to see summer end, but I am left this year with extremely fond memories of reading Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset with my Summer Schole Sisters. Undset's trilogy had also been on my want to read list for some time...maybe since I first heard Wes Callihan mention it on a Schole Sisters podcast back in Episode 14. I have been thinking about Kristin periodically since finishing the book.

Kristin Lavransdatter is set in Medieval Norway. It is the story of a life beginning with Kristin as a young girl and ending with her death as a woman, wife, and mother of eight sons. I must confess, I was not hooked after Part I, The Wreath. Instead, I was actually annoyed by the ignorant ways of young lovers. However, Part II, The Wife persuaded me and Part III, The Cross, totally sealed the deal!! I can't recommend this book enough and will definitely read it again at some point.

Fall Mother Culture

CM Study Group

Our CM Study Group has moved on to When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy Today edited by Elaine Cooper. It's a series of essays from various educators contemplating the importance of a Charlotte Mason education and how to apply it one hundred years later. It's an older book, published in 2004, but certainly still relevant.

High School Book Club

Riley and I are starting a High School Book Club this year. It's a spin off of the High School Community I facilitated last year. However, we will simply read and discuss classic works this year at Riley's request and not include composition, current events, Shakespeare, and recitation. Our High School Community was fabulous, but a lot of work. Other members agreed and were not able to continue in the same format this year. This book club will follow more closely to the Middle School Socratic Book Clubs that I led a few years ago.

Riley was instrumental in choosing the five titles we will read. The two fall books are: The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I'll save the winter reads for another post.

My fall list is short, but plentiful. I have many other books on my nightstand. However, with the Journey: An Education for Life retreat not too far off, I'm not adding any others until winter. I will actually be speaking about Mother Culture and my reading habits at this year's retreat!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

2019-2020 Year 2 Curriculum Preview....

I've been tardy in posting my curricula choices this year because I wanted to try some things before solidifying them. We are now three weeks into the 2019-2020 academic year. I've made a few changes, but am finally finding a rhythm.

Levi is in Year 2 by public school standards. However, he is young for his grade with a June birthday so having just turned seven, we are somewhere between 1st and 2nd grade. Honestly, last year started well, but if you've been a long time reader here, you know it dropped off after Ruben's accident in November. Ongoing medical appointments and therapies were very time consuming. Then in March, Levi broke his foot. Needless to say, strict academics as scheduled took a back seat. Although, that doesn't mean learning didn't happen. It was simply different than originally planned.

This fall, I picked up where Levi left off with math and phonics last spring. One of the beauties of home education is teaching the child where they are at, rather than teaching the curriculum and trying to make the child fit. I see no need to start with new curriculum because it's a new year. We will just continue what we were doing, then add in some history, literature, and enrichment. In addition, Levi will participate in homeschool choir and art first semester outside of our home, as well as, a Charlotte Mason co-op for early elementary homeschool students throughout the year. The topics covered there will be:

Memorize Psalm 23
Hymn Study
Composer Study
Artist Study
Science & Nature Study
Presentation (Show & Tell and Recitation)

Levi attended the CM co-op for the first time last week and really enjoyed it. It was kind of like a Morning Time in community. At the end, the kids were allowed to run around and have play time in the gym. I'm sure Levi would say that was his favorite part. :)

Regarding his studies at home, here is a list of resources I will draw from....

Bible, History, and Literature

Heart of Dakota Little Hearts for His Glory - parts and pieces with modifications
Holy Bible - King James Version
Devotions for the Children's Hour by Kenneth N. Taylor
History for Little Pilgrims (Christian Liberty Press)
History Stories for Children (Christian Liberty Press)
The Adventures of Reddy Fox by Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse by Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Grandfather Frog by Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel by Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Buster Bear by Thornton Burgess

In addition, I'll be adding many picture and other literature books.

Reading and Phonics

Memoria Press First Start Reading - We started this last spring and I really like it because it's systematic phonics instruction with writing. The program is geared for Kindergarten-1st Grade. However, I feel it's better suited for 1st-2nd Grade because of the writing component. I don't use the program exactly as written, partly because Levi is an older student and partly because there is some busy work designed for classroom use. Overall, I think Memoria Press has a great phonics/reading program that's easily adaptable to Charlotte Mason's methods. There are five leveled workbooks in the program and we are just about finished with Book B. There is also a separate Phonics workbook and some readers. I anticipate finishing the entire series by the end of the academic year.

Penmanship and Copywork

In addition to the writing in Memoria Press First Start Reading, we will occasionally use the Draw, Write Now series for copywork. We started this last spring after reading The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Levi really likes to draw so it was a hit. Do you see the bee on the plant? ;-)


We also started Rod & Staff's Beginning Arithmetic 1 last spring and will continue with it this year. Memoria Press recommends this program as well. They use the first half of the book in Kindergarten and the second half in 1st grade with some other supplements. We will just continue through the book as written at a slightly quickened pace without supplement unless he hits a wall or begins to struggle. Levi loves math and seems to have a strong grasp. Honestly, it's been pretty easy so far, but I love the repetition in R&S so we will continue. I anticipate beginning the next level as soon as he finishes the first regardless of his age or grade.


Lastly, I absolutely LOVE Memoria Press's Enrichment program! They offer it at a Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd Grade level. However, I think it could be used for multiple ages throughout with some modifications. I may even include some of the resources in our Morning Time. Actually, some of the same resources are used all three years so they are intended for multi level use.

The Enrichment program covers things like Art, Music, Poetry, Literature, History & Culture, Science, and Nature Study through the use of Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. It more or less encompasses what one might include in Morning Time. The art cards are beautiful! Gyo Fujikawa's A Child's Book of Poems is amazing! There is a wonderful playlist through YouTube of classical music that I play while we are drawing, journaling, or doing copywork. Levi has enjoyed many of the pieces. Literature, History & Culture, and Science is taught through the best of the best picture books. Many are classics and/or Caldecott medal winners. We read several of the books from the Kindergarten Enrichment last year and will continue with the First Grade Enrichment this year. Again, I'm not worried about ages and grades. I look for beauty, interest, and resources that are developmentally appropriate.

Overall, I'm really excited about Levi's year ahead. I've been trying a few different schedules to see what works best. I started the first week pretty bare bones with Math and Phonics before adding the other subjects in Week 2 and 3. I will continue to add until we find the right balance. I'm also not afraid to cut if it gets to be too much. Fall is a very busy time of year for us so I will reassess after Term 1 to see what needs to be added or subtracted in Term 2, which is usually more laid back. I'm confident we will find our sweet spot!

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