Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Our Homeschool Curriculum 2014-2015

It has been nearly 2 years since I made my last blog post.  My life just got so busy that it became necessary to put my blogging aside for the time.

I just thought my followers would like to know what curriculum I'm using this year.  I like to read what other homeschoolers are using.  Mostly because I think the combinations people use are fascinating.  I've learned about a lot of new curricula that way.  I have 3 girls and I will call them by their nicknames.  I don't like going by graded levels, so for the sake of not putting them in a graded box, I will include their age instead.

Missy Boo, age 10

Language Arts: Living Literature by Cindy West. We really like this curriculum.  It is literature based and for grades 3-5.  It doesn't cover a full year so I've had to write my own lessons to go along with it to make it last an entire year using literature of our choosing.  I just used Cindy's LL as a model.  So far, I plan to use Little House in the Big Woods and By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder and anything else that we might find interesting.

Copywork: Most of her Copywork will be included in her Language Arts but she will also use our Scripture Memory verses.

Reading:  Some of the titles will be of her choosing, some will correlate with Living Literature and others will be from the 1000 Good Books List.

Math: Christian Light Education (CLE) Math 400.  This is our second year with this math program and she really likes it.  Honestly, in some areas I think this math is a little more advanced (as far as grade level) than other programs but I love how its laid out and how it allows her to be more independent with her math.
Plus Living Math!!

Geography:  Trail Guide to World Geography.  She requested that we use something for Mapping and Geography independent from all of our studies. I already had this in my home library, so I thought I'd use it.  I got it for Christmas from my mom (Thanks, mom!).  That lets you know how much of a nerd I am. The Teacher's Manual has the questions in it but it is really nice to just print the Daily Drill questions and maps from the CD-Rom.  If you plan to use this and have the money purchase the CD-Rom, it's worth it.

Art: Art with a Purpose: ArtPac4. While we love art it just always seems to be on the back burner.  I'm hoping that her using this independently will get it done.  It's our first year with this, so we'll see how it goes.  Really and truly, it's a great value for a whole year of art.
    She also has an art co-op class this fall (one day a week) and the it will be using lessons from this book: Discovering Great Artists.

Science:  Another co-op class this fall (one day a week) and we will be using Focus on Chemistry for grades 5-8.  

Piano: Alfred's Premier Piano Course 1A.  She got this for Christmas and has been DYING to use this.  We will begin this next month.

Fomowhop, Age 8

Language Arts: Learning Language Arts Through Literature- finish Red Book and Begin on Yellow Book.   

Reading: Some titles for reading will already be in LLATL but we will also use the Sonlight Grade 2 reading list (I bought the readers used for about 1/3 of the new price) and 1000 Good Books List

Copywork: Most of her copywork is in LLATL but she will also be using her Scripture Memory Verses for copywork.

Penmanship: A Reason for Handwriting C.  I bought this for $1 at our homeschool group's used book sale.  Only a few of the cursive letter practice pages were missing.  If I need practice pages I can use the Amazing Handwriting Worksheet Maker. Its FREE!

Math:  Christian Light Education (CLE) Math 200. 
Plus Living Math!!

Geography: Co-op class this fall (one day a week). She will be learning about US State facts and mapping.

Art: Art with a Purpose: ArtPac3

Science: Co-op class this fall.  She will be studying Hands-on Physics but I have no idea what curriculum-- if any-- that the teacher will use.

Missy Boo and Fomowhop Together

Five in a Row.  We will be using a random selection of books from Volumes 1-4 and studying according to the season or whatever strikes our fancy.

Bible: Finish Foundations 1: Creation to Christ and begin Foundations 2: Christ our Messiah.

Netts, Age 3 

Don't think I'm going to go out and buy a complete all-on-one preschool program with additional bells and whistles.  That's just not for me.  I've learned my lesson with little ones.  Learning comes naturally for them and they learn best through play.  I simply need ideas for fun activities and learning moments.  I'm mostly including a list of books that I will use for inspiration.  I bought all of these books used (except the ebooks on Currclick and they were on sale) so this is an inexpensive preschool "program" that I can use for the next couple of years.

Unplugged Play by Bobbi Conner- using the Preschool section

Toddler's Busy Book and Preschooler's Busy Book by Trish Kuffner

365 Days to a Smarter Preschooler

Science is Simple by Peggy Ashbrook

Before Five in a Row

The Little Hands Art Book by Judy Press

What to Teach before the Numbers by Amazing Grace Learning Centers

What to Teach before the Letters Volume 1 and Volume 2 by Amazing Grace Learning Centers

Homeschooling the Early Years by Linda Dobson

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Freebies for Teaching Cursive

Just a few days ago my 6-year-old daughter expressed her wish for me to teach her cursive handwriting.  I'm not really looking forward to this, honestly.  I made the unfortunate mistake of trying to teach her to write in cursive when she was 4 years old (yes, go ahead and laugh I know that was dumb on my part) and it was AWFUL.  I taught her older sister cursive when she was 6 and it was a great success.  We used A Beka with her and I still have the teacher books and the half used workbook from our previous attempt.  My problem is: I have no extra money to spend on a new workbook or curriculum.  It's Christmas time for goodness sake!! But I am a Thrifty Homeschooler and I will find a way to teach her cursive on a shoestring budget.

IF I had the money to spend right now I would simply buy the A Beka Writing With Phonics Workbook for 1st grade.

My other option (which would be a little more expensive) would be to purchase The Joy of Handwriting   for instructions and practice and the A-Z Crawly Critters Cursive Penmanship for extra practice once all the letters were learned.

But like I said before I have $0 to spend on this new change.  She has interest and that's whey it's crucial to start now.  She has been a little jealous that she can't read the cursive handwriting notes between big sis and me.  I've searched all over for cheap/free options.

First, I looked through what I already had (since I've already taught one child cursive).  I already had a laminated cursive letter chart for reference.  I have Cursive Letter Formation Flashcards that I bought used. A dry erase board for demonstrating letter formation is such a plus if you can't splurge on the flash cards.  I also have writing tablets for different levels (I knew there was a reason I bought these at the back to school sale).

So I've got the materials I need but now I need the worksheets and instructions.  Here is some of the free printables and information available.  While I favor the traditional cursive for our homeschool, I did my best to include several different styles of cursive.

This site is my favorite for creating my own worksheets.  It has the most beautiful cursive out there and the letters connect!!

Jan Brett Cursive Tracing pages by the popular children's author.

Teacher created cursive handwriting worksheets and animated letter formation videos.

This page will take you to the Printable Cursive letter handwriting pages on Crayola.

Cursive handwriting worksheets.  The worksheets have to be done in order since they have a specific layout of letters.

Upper and lowercase worksheets.  For some reason the lower case r doesn't look like cursive to me.

Cursive letter formation video on Youtube.  The letters are done from a-z

Teaching Cursive lens on Squidoo

Printable worksheets for lower case and upper case by Bible ABC Worksheets

Free printable pages in different fonts

Free printable cursive handwriting worksheets on Squidoo

Free printable lined paper for cursive lessons

Donna Young's cursive handwriting worksheets

Printable lined paper in different sizes by Donna Young

Printable Cursive letter charts-- if you don't already have one-- to be laminated or put in your child's notebook.  New American Cursive  all kinds plus bookmarks

Monday, October 22, 2012

Read Alouds for Grades K-8

I love books! I have a literal weakness for them--the hard copy kind not the electronic kind.  Every book in my house is a treasure and I try to teach my girls to be good stewards of their books.  While I am a book lover, I'm also a book snob.  Living books with beautiful written stories and with well chosen words just melt my heart but there isn't anything I can't stand more than junk "literature".  You know those books written to appeal to kids that are written in kid terms and don't have any character value whatsoever.  It's hard training my kids to pick the treasures from the junk.  I have a commitment to only read them books that have character value, books that challenge them and books that touch their heart.  It's not easy because junk "literature" is everywhere!  I am going to do my best to only list books that have value and that will enrich your time together.


First off, I would like to talk about reading more to your children.  There is nothing more precious than read aloud time.  There are some wonderful activities you can tie into your reading.  Creekside Learning (who is known for providing a superb living book list) has some ideas to make your reading time extra special.  Ten Ways to Read More to Your Child

101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up -- The books listed are picture books.  Chapter books are most often read for read aloud time but there is nothing wrong with a picture book every now and then. Personally, there are some listed that are not-so-great but overall it's a good list.

Read Aloud list for Mighty Girls -- I have listed this site in a previous blog post but it had to be listed again.  The books listed here are not about girly princess but girls that are strong and courageous.  Some of the books listed I've never heard of so I can't say whether all books listed are wonderful.

Top 25 Read-Alouds -- by Simple Homeschool.  I love lists by other homeschoolers.  You can relate to their struggles of finding good books.  Most listed here are good choices but personally, I wouldn't have listed Harry Potter (for faith reasons).  But to each his own.

101 215 Read Aloud Books for Elementary Aged Children -- This list started out as 101 which was fantastic on it's own but the writer let her followers add to the list and now it's a whopping 215 books.  Great selections with books you can't miss with your children (in my opinion).  I'm glad to see that they listed classic books here that other lists are missing.

Chapter Books for the Younger Kids -- I somewhat disagree with this title.  It's listed for ages 3-8 but I think children as old as 12 can enjoy some of these books.  I was so glad to see Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder; An Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye (I can't believe I didn't read this as a child.... but warning she does run away from home but for good reason); and the Grandma's Attic book by Arletta Carlson.

1000 Good Book List-- by Classical Christian Homeschooling.  Massive listing for books for K-12th grade.  Although it is for the purpose to make a reading list, I believe if you use the books from their level or go one level higher you can use those books as a read aloud. 

Reading Aloud to Your Children --  by another homeschool mom.  She made a list of books that she read to her son and has shared them on her blog.  While I think the books she listed are above MY children's grade levels, it can still be utilized in your homeschool.  She has grades 1-5 listed but I believe her list is for more like grades 2-8 but that's just me.  Although, if you're classical homeschoolers you may not need to make any adjustments.

Sonlight Curriculum-- You can't have a book list without at least looking at the books listed by Sonlight.  A few books have been recently disputed by homeschoolers (and for good reason) but you can't ignore their taste for lively literature.

The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease is a well known book for his study of reading aloud to children and his book list.

Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt is more written for faith-based families who want to read to their children not only for quality time but for character value as well.  Can't miss this wonderful book.

I hope that I helped you more than overwhelmed you with all these book choices.  Like I said before, junk "literature" is everywhere.  My 6 year-old is the worst about picking out junk to bring home.  She is like a magnet for those goofy illustrations and horrendous texts and story lines.  Some days I want to ban her from the library just to save from an argument or two but I know if I keep on keeping on and teach her the value of books, it will benefit her the rest of her life.  Don't give up the fight.  Demand good books. Read good books and spend time with your children.  It's so important.  Until next time!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Earth Science


Earth Science is the subject that I have the hardest time trying to teach. I can't classify rocks on my own.  I need a lot of help in this area.  It's the area of science I struggle with the most since I need to see, feel and touch science to understand it.  Some of these resources have been such a big help to me. 

My plans reflect a Christian perspective. Although some of the resources featured do not line up with my beliefs, I believe they make for some interesting discussion and using a Christian, young earth book along-side to show what God says and why he made it that way. 

Home Science Tools-- Earth Science Experiments.  This company feature Christian products for homeschoolers.

Geology and Earth Science Unit Studies-- for grades 3-8.  I have not personally looked through this in detail so I can't say for sure what to expect.

How Rocks are Formed Homepage -- Very cool.  Has animated models of how rocks are formed with visual learners in mind.

 Rocks and Minerals Station and Geology crafts by the Crafty Classroom.  I really like this set up for visual and hands-on kids.

4 2 Explore has earth science units by topic for homeschoolers
Coral Reef
Natural Disasters
Floods and Flooding

Geology Rocks--- Great book to use as a spine or supplement for earth science studies.  It's not free but you can get a copy very inexpensively right now. You can also check this out at your local library.

Let's Go Rock Collecting-- Great book for the younger set. Also not free.

We will Rock you---Rock Cycle Song Video.  Very cool.  Visual and auditory kids can easily catch on to the different rock types.

Backyard Rock Classification-- For the younger set.

Geology Unit Study by Cindy Downes.  This is for grades K-8th grade.  This free unit will last about 12 weeks according to her lesson plans.  It's all nicely laid out and labeled.  I like it when it's easy-to-use.

Kids Investigate Volcanoes on Squidoo

Earth Science/Rocks and Minerals Unit -- Great for K-6th grade.  This mom has listed a variety of resources and experiments. 

Earth Science Projects-- by the Homeschool Den.  Mostly crafty and hands-on for K-4th.

Old Earth Science Resources for grades K-5th grade

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fall Activities and Unit Studies

As the leaves turn from their summer green into their Autumn colors the weather turns cooler.  We enjoy apples and pumpkins with the season's change.  Long sleeves come out to play. Jackets and coats are lovingly pulled out for use and children go out to play.
Fall is my favorite season of the year.  Seeing God's creation change seasons and enjoying special outings is what makes it so special for me.  I hope this year you can make it special for your family.  There are so many activities and unit studies to be enjoyed in the fall.

Pumpkin School by Our Journey Westward is a great example of Living Math and what we can learn from pumpkins.  You will also cover science, language arts and history and geography.

Vintage Fall Coloring Sheets   These page are so cute.  I've always disliked giving kids cartoon-y coloring pages.

Autumn sheet to colorPrintable Autumn or Fall page 

 Easy Art Projects for Fall.  by Hodge Podge.  Most projects are with chalk pastel.  

Fall Books for Kids for PreK-3rd grade. Nice book list.  

Fall Book List about apples, leaves and pumpkins. K-3rd. Some of these books I hold with sweet memories.

Fall Fun Unit Printables by Homeschool Creations. PreK-2nd grade.  They also have a fall book list on the widget thing.  

Math with Candy Corn- Learn place value, estimation and other math skills with candy corn.

Free Vintage Fall/Autumn Nature Study, Literature and Poetry by Happy Hearts at Home.  Great for those who are CM homeschoolers and even if you don't follow that method.  It begins in 1st and stretched to fifth grade but I believe you can make this work in middle school as well.

Unit Studies and Nature Studies

Apple Unit Study on Squidoo

Fabulous List of Fall Freebies and Resources-- Links for notebooking pages, crafts, unit studies and more.

APPLES resources on Homeschool Share

All About Autumn Leaves Unit Study a fun study for PreK-6th grade.  That's right, someone has finally made fall fun for the older set.

Autumn Thematic Unit on Squidoo with free printables.

Apple Seeds and Apple Blossoms Unit Study on Squidoo with some Johnny Appleseed thrown in for good measure.

Oaks and Acorns Nature Study by Handbook of Nature Study Blog


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Math Dice Games


Games are great for the homeschool lifestyle.  Nothing solidifies learning a new concept or reviewing an old one like a game.  There are so many different kinds of games that can enhance learning but today I'm featuring Dice Games for Math. 

Math Dice Games are usually very inexpensive.  Most of the items that you need to make up a game are probably already in your home. 

Math with crazy mixed up dice- Practicing math facts with different dice can be fun.

Dice and Domino math games with Printable page by Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Introducing Math Concepts with Dice with fun ideas on using the different kinds of dice on the market.  Ideas are listed by concept.

It's getting dicey- a kindergarten teacher shares how she stores her dice and a neat way to keep the dice from rolling onto the floor when little ones are playing.

Free Dice Games for fact families and greater than/less than.

FREE Dice Games

Roll the Dice math game are addition and subtraction--not fact families.

Dice Math Practice for Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Fractions

Math Fact Family Roll and Write

Count Down! Great practice for counting backwards and subtraction.

Roll the Dice Math Games on Squidoo.  Even has games for place value and geometry

40+ activities with dice --even dice printables

Also check out my Pinterest board: Math- Games and Manipulatives

Math Dice Jr.

Math games and dice to purchase

Big Tub of Math Dice

Math Operation Dice

Math Dice Games on Rainbow Resource

Count Down!  We love this game(s) in our house

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Life Science Resources


Life Science. A topic in science that covers all living things.  This is usually covered in the elementary years but you can take what you need from the different sciences and use it for any grade. The different area include: human body, animals, botany and living and non-living things.

Mr. Q's Life Science Curriculum.  This is a whole life science curriculum for FREE.  There is a Parent Copy and a Student Copy you can download.  You can download the unit, the chapter or the whole text. 

Biology 4 Kids.  I know it's listed as biology but there are some things on this site that can be used for advanced life science lessons.

Zoom on the PBS website has science experiments for many areas of science. Scroll down to the "Life Science" section and you can click on an experiment and it will take you to a page with instructions for the experiment and also the results of the experiment submitted by kids who have tried them.

Free Human Body Curriculum for PreK-1st grade, 6th-8th grade and high school from Guest Hollow.

Home Science Tools has made a list of life science experiments for you to try out.

Life Science Unit Study lens on Squidoo.  There is a book list for all areas of life science.  Nicely put together unit.

Ms Nucleus Life Science Unit for Elementary Students. Not visually appealing to the eye but has some nice supplemental ideas for a life science unit. They also have a unit for SECONDARY STUDENTS. Check out the biological science and human biology links.

Squidoo has too many human body units to list here.  Check out the search page for all their human body lenses . You'll find unit studies, lapbooks and experiments.

Squidoo also has Botany and Plants Unit Study.

Human Body Units listed for K-8th grade

Life Science Unit created by a 6th grade teacher.

Living Science Book List for the different areas of life science.

Books on the Human Body

For more life science resources, check out my Pinterest boards

Science- Plants

Science- Animals and Life Science

Science- Human Body

Homeschool Science - This is my catch-all board for things that aren't dedicated to a particular branch of science