2014-2015 Homeschooling Curriculum

I know I’m late on this, but I thought I’d better document what we’re doing this year.  I didn’t have to order a ton of new books since we are still finishing up some from last year <ahem> so I ordered a few extra history books for William.  He has read my entire set of U.S. History encyclopedias and has a huge interest in the world wars so I picked up some new books for him to read on his own.  He has already finished the biggest one within a few days and finished the book of war stories just today.


~~~Adelaide (4) Preschool~~~

Journal – one entry a week.  She draws a picture and then tells me about it so I can write down a description.

Handwriting Without Tears – These books are so great for teaching handwriting and the kids love them.  This is one of two books I had to purchase new for Adelaide.

First Language Lessons Level 1 – I’ve used this basic grammar/language book with each of the kids and I like the variety of things it covers.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons – We gave up on this book last year because Oliver was demanding too much of my time.  We’ve started it again and are on lesson 40 so we’ll finish well before the end of the year.  Adelaide will be the 4th child I’ve taught to read using this program.

Saxon Math Level 1 - Adelaide is loving having a real math program this year.  Each lesson has two worksheets so I do the lesson and one of the worksheets on the first day and then save the second worksheet for the next day.  She would happily do everything in one day but I don’t want to move through the material too fast.  She is only in preschool after all.  I had all the materials and only had to purchase new workbooks.  We’ve definitely gotten our money’s worth out of this program.


~~~Henry (6) First Grade~~~

Journal – one entry a week.  He writes two sentences and then draws a pictures.  I help him with spelling any words he wants to use.

Spelling Workout Level B – I’ve used these books since we started homeschooling on the advice of my sister-in-law Sandy.  We’ve been really happy with them.  Spelling is tricky for Henry, but he does a lot better if we do the final tests orally.  He gets all tricked up when he goes to write them down.

Handwriting Without Tears Character – I thought it would be fun to try one of the themed handwriting books since Henry can make most of the letters nicely.  It’s been nice to have something to write about instead of random words.

First Language Lessons Level 2 – We didn’t finish this one last year so we are just continuing on this year.  We’ll finish well before the end of the year and that’s okay.

Writing With Ease Level 1 – I’ve never found a writing program that I love. This one is fine.  We are continuing on with what we didn’t finish last year. Its fine, but the kids get bored with it. If we are homeschooling next year I’ll probably look for something different.

Saxon Math Level 2 – He’ll finish this up mid year and then we’ll move on to level 3.  It’s a little easy for him right now, but I don’t want to move him too quickly.

Mind Benders Book 3 - The kids love these books.  I’m sure he’ll have the whole book done in a few months and when he does, I’ll look for some other sort of critical thinking book to exercise his brain.

Piano – Henry started piano lessons this summer.  He has a 30 minute lesson once a week and I have him practice everyday as part of our schoolwork.  He practices for about 15 to 20 minutes at this point.

Mavis Beacon Typing – Just a little bit each day.


~~~William (8) 3rd Grade~~~

Journal – one entry a week.  He writes half of a page and can write about anything he wants.  Sometimes he tells a story and other times he writes about whats happening or what he wants.

Spelling Workout Level D - He is still learning to read cursive so I usually print the words in his book next the cursive list words.

Handwriting Without Tears Cursive – William is loving learning cursive.  I got him a cursive president book to use when he finishes the basics.

First Language Lessons Level 3 – Finishing it up from last year.  It’s a good grammar program though he thinks grammar is pointless.  I’ll probably move to Winston Grammar next year.

Writing With Ease Level 2 – Finishing this one up too.  I cut out some of the dictation because I think it’s overkill.  I’ll look for something different next year.

Saxon Math Level 5/4 –  William was so bored with level 3 last year. I started covering 5 lessons at a time and he was still bored.  We ended the year with some left to finish in level 3, but I gave him the Saxon placement test and then moved him up to level 5/4.  I’m so glad I did.  He’s liking the format better and is able to grasp the concepts without getting too bored.  I’ll have to see how it goes throughout the year when the concepts get more advanced.

Mind Benders Book 4 – He loves these puzzles.

Piano – William also started piano.  Weekly lesson and daily practice and already I can see the improvement.  He went from not liking music to enjoying piano within a few weeks which is wonderful.

Mavis Beacon Typing – Just a little bit each day.




Story of the World Book 4 – Great history books!  The maps and activities are too old for the kids this year (we didn’t have a problem with the first 3 books) so I read the chapter aloud to them and then quiz them on review questions.

Co-op – We’re doing the co-op again this year.  We had a good experience last year and have doubled the classes for this year.  Our first class starts next week.

Reading Aloud – I’ve been reading aloud to the kids while they have a snack (after P.E.) and it’s been a good way to get us ready for the day.  We’re reading The Five Little Peppers And How They Grew right now.

Daddy – William Hike

On Saturday morning, Ben and William made their annual hike together.  They hit of Lake Serene and had a beautiful time of it.  They counted 387 man-made stairs on the trail (one way) and William was proud of himself for not stopping to take a break on the way down.



In addition to the beautiful glacier lake, they saw three waterfalls.  William loves anything to do with water so this was a great hike for him.

I love these boys of mine!

Seventh Third First

Molly got up at the crack of dawn this morning to get ready for her first official day of junior high.  I forgot to snap a picture of her and thought about running to the bus stop to humiliate her, but decided to snap one after school instead.  She said she had a great first day of 7th grade and that she has lots of friends in her classes.  Today was filled with orientation type stuff and tomorrow will be the first day of real school work.  Henry was totally jealous when he saw her prepping all her school supplies tonight.

Even though I started our homeschooling year two weeks ago, I snapped first day pictures of the other kids today too.  William is looking super grown up to me lately.  It’s 3rd grade for him this year.

I can’t believe that Henry is nearly seven.  He’s our first grader this year.  He wants to be a professional athlete when he grows up.

Adelaide still has another year of preschool before she’s eligible for kindergarten.  (Darn that January birthday!) I started her on kindergarten work anyway to keep her from getting bored and she’s doing great.


First Day of School Eve

Today was the last day of the summer break.  It was filled with cleaning, summer reading assignments, errands and hunts for last minute school supplies.  While I was busy making sure Molly had everything she needed for junior high tomorrow, Ben and the boys were putting our fire pit together.  The fire pit has been a labor of love this whole summer and it was absolutely perfect that Ben was able to finish it tonight.  After dinner, our little family gathered around the fire and roasted marshmallows.  It was such a happy moment and it made me all teary-eyed.  I love this little family of mine.

After the kids were washed up and ready for bed, we had our family scripture study and then Ben gave each of the kids a father’s blessing for the new school year.  It was a wonderful ending to a beautifully busy day.

The Evergreen State Fair

We took a family trip up to visit the Evergreen State Fair today.  It was our first time at this particular fair and it was really fun.  It had most of the same stuff as we usually see at the Puyallup Fair but it was a whole lot closer to us and it has the added bonus of being held during the summer so none of the kids have to miss school.  We may still pull the little ones out for one last hurrah at the Puyallup Fair in a few weeks, but it’s too hard for Molly to miss school and soccer.

I loved all the animals that we were able to see.  There were the cutest, tiniest baby goats, deer and a wallaby (or two?) in the petting zoo.  One of the goats tried to eat Molly’s sweater, my shirt and Ben’s belly in the petting zoo.





We looked at lots of animals, watched horse races, ate some yummy fair food, walked through the vendor booths and admired the exhibitions.  It was a great and exhausting day.



Homeschooling with a Toddler

Last year I did most of our homeschooling with Oliver on my lap.  He was always either nursing, screaming or throwing the papers off the table.  It was difficult and I’m sure it was a major contributor to my burnout.  This year he is older and able to be distracted for longer periods of time, but he still likes to be near me, sitting at my teaching desk and drawing on my papers.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’ve changed things up a bit and I think it’s more manageable than last year.

In the mornings after breakfast, we do our chores (about 20 minutes of whatever needs to get done) and then we head outside for P.E.  Oliver loves to be outside so this is great for him.  Last year I used our organized team sports and co-op gymnastics class as our P.E., but this year I’m going for a daily approach and a little more structure.

We’ve been spending 30-45 minutes outside doing various drills and activities.  I usually have the kids run laps around our giant yard to warm up and then I mix things up to keep everyone interested.  We’ve done obstacle courses, soccer drills, basketball drills, jumping jacks, jump ropes, balancing exercises, climbing races, sit ups, bike riding and all sorts of silly games.  My goals is to get them  nice and tired before we come back inside.

When we come inside we get a snack and then while they eat and do quiet activities I read aloud from whatever book we’re working on together.  Right now it’s The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney.  Oliver is quite happy about snacking and listening to me read, especially since he just got to play outside.  After a chapter or two I’ll start the kids on their school work and Oliver will move between different activities that I’ve set out around the room.  The littler kids get to spend time at the “stations” when I’m busy helping someone else with an item of schoolwork.

My favorite toy from my Montessori school days was the large grammar farm.  I loved the little piglets and setting up all the pieces just where I wanted them.  I briefly thought about trying to order a set from a Montessori supply place until I saw the price.  They are so expensive!  So I decided to buy a few sets of small plastic animals off of Amazon instead and use the animal flash cards that I had printed and laminated off some Montessori website a few years ago.  Oliver loves this bin!

I also purchased a small set of buttons and spools for fine motor skill work.  Oliver hasn’t tried this one yet, but Adelaide really likes it.

We are still using the magnet board that I picked up from Ikea last year.  In addition to the large plastic alphabet letters we already had, I added a set of foam picture magnets.  Oliver loves anything to do with magnets so this has been a good one.  I’m hoping to use it to build his vocabulary and to work on sound recognition with Addy.


A favorite of everyone are these simple dot painters.  They are great because the kids can paint, the colors don’t get mixed together, and there are no messy spills to clean up.  I know there are worksheets and such that you can use along with them, but so far plain old blank construction paper is working just fine.



The counting bears are not new, but I added the dollar-store scoop and Oliver loves it.  He spends a lot of time scooping the bears into the colored cups and then dumping them back out again.

When all my tricks have run out I call for an early lunch (usually around 11:30am).  We break for about 30 minutes to eat and then Oliver goes down for a nap.  As soon as his head hits the pillow I’m rushing all the bigger kids back to the school room to finish up our work.  We’ve been working until about 4pm, but in that time we are able to get so much done.  It is quiet and miraculous and wonderful.

I have no idea what we will do when Oliver stops napping.  Right now I’m just pretending that he’ll nap forever.



Kendall Katwalk Trail

Ben took the day off of work today so that he and Molly could squeeze in a daddy-daughter hike before junior high starts next week.  He chose the Kendall Katwalk trail for their hike and the pictures they brought back are beautiful.  Molly wore her swimsuit under her  hiking clothes so that she could take a dip in the frigid lake and they saw the cutest little furry animals that we later learned were called pika.  (Thanks Google!)  The hike was 14 miles round trip and they both came home tired, dirty and very happy.





I feel like we’ve been gypped as far as family time goes this summer.  All of July was taken up with the reunion planning and execution and then Molly had to be away so much of August, William had scout camp, Molly had girls camp and Ben had several small and one large hiking trip to take with his scout troop.  Those are all good things, but it meant that we’ve barely been able to spend any time all together as a family.  Now we’ve arrived at the last week of summer and we’re scrambling to fit in as many family activities as we can in between making sure everyone has what they need for the new school year.  I’m so grateful that Ben is able and willing to take time off from work to make these kinds of experiences happen.  This family of ours is the most important thing in both of our lives.  Families are forever.