Friday, October 16, 2009

Our Curriculum

I've been meaning to do this post for what - 2 months now? I am SO excited about our curriculum this year! We started school in the middle of September and nothing has disappointed me yet!

I posted here that I wasn't sure how the Lord was leading me regarding our curriculum. After lots of encouragement (and loaners!!) from some wonderful homeschooling friends, I felt peace and a little excitement about scrapping the boxed curriculum we used last year and researching/picking myself what the girls would learn from for this year. I spent about 3 weeks CONSTANTLY on the computer, researching, reading reviews, researching some more. Here's what I came up with.

To teach both girls together:

SPELLING: AVKO's Sequential Spelling - Audio, Visual, Kinesthetic, Oral. This spelling curriculum uses all of these senses to learn to spell. Rather than introduce words as they're presented in graded reading, S.S. teaches spelling by word families, much like phonics. The girls are tested every day, but the tests are used as a learning device, not as a method of evaluation. I give the girls their word and they spell it to the best of their ability. I immediately show them the correct spelling if they missed it, and they correct their word at that time. Don McCabe, the developer of this curriculum, feels it is much more beneficial for the children to correct their own mistakes when they make them, not hours, days or weeks later. I'm finding that I agree. The words build on themselves every day. On day 5, both Emma and Sarah spelled "beginning" correctly. I am very pleased with this, and I'm thankful I found 3 years worth on Amazon!

BIBLE: Character Building for Families, Vol. 1. - I am so happy with this, too! Lee Ann Rubsam has created this unit study on 12 Biblical character traits that we should all be aiming to improve in our lives. These include: Obedience, Orderliness, Diligence, Loyalty, Deference, Cheerfulness, Gentleness, Contentment, Gratitude, Truthfulness, Servanthood and Hospitality. Each day includes Bible reading of Jesus and others exemplifying (or not) the specific trait we're talking about. Scripture memory and prayer are also a daily activity. This has not only been good for the girls, but the Lord has spoken to me quite a bit, too!

SCIENCE: God's Design Science Series - We're using God's Design for Life this year. This works very well for the two girls together. This year we will go through 3 books: The World of Plants, The World of Animals and The Human Body. So far, everything has been VERY hands-on, which we love. The girls retain what they've heard so much better when they DO something with it. We've taken hikes through our little acre of land to distinguish between our evergreen and deciduous trees, we've disected pinto beans to see all the parts of a seed, and we're currently examining 5 different jars of seeds (in different conditions) to see which germinate and why. Next year we'll probably use this same series, God's Design for Heaven and Earth. The three books in this are Our Universe, Our Planet Earth and Our Weather and Water. I'm looking forward to it!

HISTORY: The Mystery of History - Ask either Emma or Sarah what their favorite subject is and they will both scream "History!" They LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Linda Hobar has written this Biblically based curriculum with Activities for younger, middle and older students. We're using Volume 1 which covers Creation to the Resurrection. We learn about 3 different historical events/civilizations/wonders each week, Monday through Wednesday. For example, this week we learned about Stonehenge, Early Egyptians (including heiroglyphics and pyramids), and the Minoans. On Thursdays we make figures for our timeline, and Fridays we review and do some mapwork. The first week covered Creation, Adam and Eve and Jubal and Tubal-Cain. On Adam and Eve's day, the girls had to try to sculpt a person or an animal out of clay to see how difficult it is to create a person. They each made Eve, a baby, AND a bunny. I'll have another post soon with pictures of some of the activities we've done with this.

In addition to the above, Emma and Sarah also have work they do individually, with or without my help.

MATH - They're both doing Horizon's Math. Based on some reviews I'd read, I went on and got the 2nd and 3rd grade editions for Emma, because Horizon's is about a year advanced. I'm so glad I did this! Multiplication tables are introduced in 2nd grade, so I'm afraid she would have been overwhelmed starting out at the 3rd grade level, having never seen them before. I'm currently doing 2 lessons a day for her out of the 2nd grade book. When we finish it, we'll start on 3rd grade. I'm pretty sure she and I will do math all year through, summer included. I'd like her to be able to start the 4th grade edition next year when she's in 4th grade. Sarah is doing great so far in the 1st grade edition.

LANGUAGE ARTS - First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. Sarah is doing the 1st grade level while Emma is doing the 3rd grade level. This is a classic Language Arts curriculum. The girls are memorizing parts of speech and other such things. Each lesson has lots of review, with a little more info than the last. Sarah is already learning about proper and common nouns and she really seems to get it. This isn't terribly exciting curriculum, but I'm pleased with it over all.

LANGUAGE/SARAH - I ordered Explode the Code which is a worksheet based phonics program. Sarah is breezing right through it. I have 3 books for the year, but I have a feeling I'm going to need to order a few more. I had planned on Emma using this too, but it's really a little elementary for her. I just give Sarah her book, and she does as many pages as she feels like (usually 5 or 6). It's very much a lot of review for her right now too, so I'm pretty lax with it.

CREATIVE WRITING/EMMA - Writing Strands, written by Dave Marks. I've started Emma on Level 3, which is just perfect for her. Marks believes that children will become better writers not by memorizing parts of speech and such, but by writing! (Kinda like riding a bicycle - you learn by riding). The book is written TO Emma, so I hand it to her and stand by for any questions she may have. She wrote her first paragraph today about her tooth fairy doll, sans the topic sentence. Enjoy!

"Twinkle's shiny red braided hair was beautiful in a pale yellow bow. She held my teen in a gold and purple pouch when I lost them. Her clothes were beautiful. They're pink, purple, red, white and green. Also, she wore some cream and lipstick. I played with her whenever. It was fun! My sister realy, realy, realy wanted to steal her"

Dontcha just love it? I think she'll be doing quite well by the end of the year.

HANDWRITING - A Reason for Handwriting. Emma is continuing with cursive, and we're working on manuscript some more with Sarah. This is your typical handwriting practice, with the exception of the end of the week. The workbooks contain lots of bordered handwriting sheets in the back. The girls "practice" through the week is words to Scripture. On Friday, they are to color their decorative paper, and use their best handwriting to write their Scripture for the week on it. We then mail this to someone, take it to someone we know is sick, and we might even hit up a nursing home or two by the time the year is done. I love that I'm also teaching the girls to think of others, and they love coming up with who they want to send their sheet to.

In addition to all the above, a dear friend loaned us all of her Sonlight Core 1 and Core 2 Readers and Read-Alouds. I LOVE THESE BOOKS!!! Each of the girls is responsible for reading the Readers each day, and I am responsible for reading the Read-Alouds to them each day. It's great cuddle time! Emma's readers consist of books about George Washington, Sacagewea, Thomas Jefferson, etc. Sarah is reading lots of Dr. Seuss on her own. It's absolutely amazing to see the difference in her reading in just a few short weeks! Our current Read Alouds are Charlotte's Web for Sarah and Strawberry Girl for Emma. I will definitely be buying these 2 groups of books for the girls every year. It's an investment I'm more than willing to make!

Believe it or not, we're usually finished with school within 3 hours or so. I haven't been able to purchase my Art curriculum yet. We'll be using Artistic Pursuits just as soon as we can. Again, this is something we can do through the summer if need be.

WOW - I didn't imagine this would be so long! Hope you're still with me! ;) Just thought somebody out there might be a little curious about what we weird homeschoolers do each day. :) God has blessed our family so much through homeschooling already this year!

Oh, I purchased almost EVERYTHING from Rainbow Resource. This is an amazing homeschool curriculum site! They were consistently lower than most new things on Amazon and eBay. Another homeschooling friend gave me their catalog, which is probably bigger than a New York phonebook! I just pick it up and browse through it sometimes. Think I'll get a headstart on next year!

The best deals I got were from Homeschool Classifieds. Yes, those products were used, but when you're just buying the teacher's manuals, it doesn't really matter.

As soon as I can get it photograph ready, I'll get a post up with pictures of our schoolroom. Feel free to ask me any questions, I'll try my best to answer!


  1. Makes me wish I could come to your school. I'm very proud of you and how the girls are loving and learning through homeschool.

  2. Makes me wish we lived near Hendricks Academy...I'd sure be willing to help with the teacher's salary for my kids to be able to get in on it!!! :)

  3. I love Rubsam's Character Building Vol 1. Didn't like Vol 2 quite as much. We are going through the first volume again!

  4. My blog reader must not be working right... I've been missing your posts and didn't know it!

    I love curriculum posts!

    We are using Story of the World for history. My plan is to use it for 4 years and then start over in 4th grade with MoH. Since you have seen it and used it, I'm curious if you think it would be appropriate for a 4th grader?

    We will also be starting First Language Lessons soon. It is one of the first curriculum items I bought... probably almost 2 years ago! Even after having it that long I wanted to wait a few weeks into first grade before starting it. Now it's just a matter of making the habit of adding it in!

  5. I love this!!! I'm so excited that God pulled it all together so beautifully!


It makes my day when I hear from you. Sad, but true - so make a girl feel good, eh? :)

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