Our Curriculum Plans for 2017-2018
-3rd grade boy
-1st grade girl
Our homeschooling method is VERY laid back. We’re of the opinion that young children naturally love to learn and our job is to nurture and guide their God-given curiosity and thirst for knowledge. So we don’t push the structured school time for very little ones because “school” is woven into the rest of our lives. I wouldn’t be doing any formal schoolwork at all with our preschooler if she weren’t bound and determined to keep up with her siblings.
With each passing year, we have to add a little bit more structured school time as the kids get older, but we really do this gradually. Before first grade all we do is read alouds. In first grade we add math (and handwriting if there seems to be readiness). In second grade we add geography and history. The 3rd grader is adding science and Latin this year. And everybody will participate in art and poetry.
Ok, here we go!
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We actually have three things going for math right now. I like starting out with Singapore Math (1A and 1B) in 1st grade so that’s what we’re doing with (almost) six-year-old Lucy.
It’s written as a narrative and Benjamin really enjoys reading each chapter. Then we do the short practice section together so I know he understood the content. We supplement with Khan Academy math. (A great free online resource!) Khan Academy is great for drilling the concepts until the student achieves mastery. But since Benjamin raced through a ton of Life of Fred books last year, I can tell he needs a little more practice than LoF offers to really nail division, so we’re going to grab the 3rd grade Singapore workbook, too.
So to sum up:
1st grader: Singapore
Preschooler: not starting math yet!
Because my 3rd grader is super internally motivated and already loves to read for pleasure, I don’t make reading part of our “schooling.” It it ain’t broken, don’t fix it! I do enjoy reading aloud to all three kids so we make that part of our days. I usually do our read alouds first thing during or just after breakfast. The kids are allowed to color or play with LEGO while I read.
For preschoolers, I really love the Catholic preschool curriculum Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven by Sarah Park because the picture book lists in it are worth the price of purchase. I go to this book first when I’m ordering books from the library.
I don’t think anyone’s ever too old for GOOD picture books, but a couple of years ago we added chapter books to the mix, particularly for bedtime reads.
We’re currently reading Redwall by Brian Jacques and the Molly books with the girls at bedtime and The Green Ember by S.D. Smith and Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl with Benjamin. These are a few of the titles we’d like to read to them this year:
- Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
- The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
Last Year’s Read Alouds/audiobooks
- Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
- Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
- Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls by Caryll Houselander
- The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- The Felicity books
- The Kirsten books
- The Addy books
- The Samantha books
- The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart
- The Trumpet of the Swam by E.B. White
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
- Secret of the Shamrock (Chime Travelers) by Lisa Hendey
Read alouds from other years:
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
- Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
The 3rd grader also did a lot of reading on his own this year with library books. It’s a fun era!
If you’re interested, you can read about our favorite authors and favorite picture books. We’re also very into audiobooks. I came up with a big list of audiobooks we especially love and where to find good audiobooks (and free ones!)
We used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann to teach our oldest to read and now we’re almost done with our first grader and a third of the way through with the preschooler (I told you she insists on keeping up with the pack!). Highly, highly recommend.
Now that the first grader is able to read some on her own, we got some Bob books for her to practice with and she loves them. She’s not as confident a reader as Benjamin was so we’re easing into reading more with her.
So to sum up:
3rd grader: Read alouds, reading chapter books on his own
1st grader: Read alouds, 100 Easy Lessons, Bob books
Preschooler: Read alouds, 100 Easy Lessons
Last year was the first year we added handwriting to our curriculum. Benjamin had been resistant to practicing handwriting to we put it off for an extra year and I’m glad we did. We started out with Handwriting Without Tears, the first grade level even though he was in second grade. He whizzed through it and we did second grade, too and started on third grade (cursive) this summer. It was definitely worth it to wait an extra year until he seemed ready and he caught up just fine. We might add some dictation and copywork when he finishes learning cursive but I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.
3rd grader: Handwriting Without Tears (cursive)
1st grader: Handwriting Without Tears (printing)
Preschooler: Handwriting Without Tears (preschool)
Story of the World audiobooks — We loved Ancient World and we started Medieval last year but haven’t finished it completely. We’ll probably finish us over the next couple of weeks. Not sure if we’ll grab the next in this series or hold off a little bit since we’re adding some new subjects in and I don’t want to over do things. You can also get Story of the World as a print book.
For American history we’re just watching Liberty’s Kids. The kids enjoyed watching them last year and we’ll probably finish the series this year.
To sum up:
–All three kids: Story of the World and Liberty’s Kids
This will be the first year that we’re doing any formal science. But we’re adding Astronomy (from Memoria Press) and plan on doing plenty of stargazing and are supplementing with D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths.
3rd grader: Astronomy, Greek Myths, Stargazing
1st grader: Greek Myths read alouds, Stargazing
Preschooler: Greek Myths read alouds, Stargazing
We participate in a Catholic homeschool co-op that offers Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the girls and some enrichment classes for Benjamin’s grade. Last year he did music, sacred art, and P.E., the previous year he did science and history. This year it looks like he’ll do P.E., geography, and nature drawing.
To sum up:
3rd grader: P.E., Nature Drawing, Geography, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd II (for ages 6-9)
1st grader: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
Preschooler: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
The kids will all be doing some faith formation with Catechesis of the Good Shepard but I think we will supplement that this year with Sophia Institute Press’s Family of Faith.
I don’t think we’ll push this too much this year since it’s Benjamin’s least favorite thing to do. But now that he’s tackled a lot of handwriting skills, it should be a bit easier than in the past. He does like emailing grandparents so we’ll do more of that (and his spelling really isn’t bad at all, so I’m not interested in adding that on as a separate subject at this point). I’m interested in any curriculum suggestions for composition that you love, though! Nothing super time consuming.
To sum up:
3rd grader: some composition, emailing grandparents
1st grader: none
All the kids love learning poetry! Last year we memorized some Robert Louis Stevenson and Hillaire Belloc poems.
This year trusted friends recommended The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist which is a collection of TONS of poems for the early years through high school. It will last us forever! Really looking forward to memorizing some poems.
All three kids: Harp and Laurel Wreath
This year I’m adding Simply Charlotte Mason picture portfolios and I’m so excited about it. I got three of these beauties (Fra Angelico, Giotto, and Botticelli). We’ll do these together with all three kids.
We’re also adding some Latin to our curriculum (also from Memoria Press) for our 3rd grader.
When I write it all out, it looks like a lot, but we RARELY do more than an hour or two of structured school time/day. And we don’t even school every single day. We will take our time, make adjustments when needed, and not stress about finishing everything by next June. Homeschooling is about so much more than checking off boxes. I am not all about weighing young kids down with workbooks and I am all about them mostly climbing trees and digging in the dirt while being surrounded by good and beautiful ideas.
Happy curriculum hunting to my fellow homeschoolers!
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