Sunday, August 14, 2016

A 2nd grader and a kindergartner and a tag-along -- OH MY (curriculum choices)

My baby is pushing 3 years old, and I still catch myself marveling at the fact that I have three children. THREE? WHAT! They are so precious and I'm thankful for another year of home education with them.

This year is the first year that I'm throwing academics at two kids. I'm nervous at how that's going to look this year, but ya know what? We've had a few days in our routine already, and I think it's going to be OK.

My Ker, a 5.5yo girl, has been anti-academics for awhile. I backed off and let her be. I think she figured it would cramp her style.

So I was surprised when the other day, she said she was ready for kindergarten and she wanted to get down to business. I was extra-surprised when on day 2, she woke me up all "Let's GET TO IT, MOM." Oh, really? Well, let's get coffee first, kthx.

The routine is a work in progress. We'll get there. For now, here's the curriculum lineup. I should admit that I am an acknowledged curriculum junkie, I have an enabler support group, and it is what it is. I sold some unused stuff to assuage my guilt. I know I'm pulling from too many sources and trying too much, but shiny things! Pretty things! ALL THE FEAST, LETS' BINGE!


  • Logic of English Foundations (cursive handwriting version. Covers reading instruction and handwriting. We have completed the first seven lessons AND I LOVE IT AND SO DOES SHE).
  • RightStart Math A, 2nd edition. Used this with the firstborn, it's a hit and perfect for K. So far, so good, and she already knew the "Yellow is the Sun" song thanks to her brother.
  • Morning time participation. I ought to do a separate post on what this is looking like right now.
  • An art and nature class (16 sessions, and all of my kids plus myself will participate!)
  • Nature Explorers co-op (2x a month at nature parks with friends). 
  • Brave Writer's Jot it Down! for her, plus 2nd grader. I think she'd dig it.
  • Adding some books, bible, activities from My Father's World K? I don't know. It is probably too much to try and work this in somehow, beyond just putting the literature in a box and reading it together. This really might be pushing what is reasonable here. 
  • PLAY! 

2nd grade:

I want to respect the fact that my son is still a young guy. He's 7.5, and if we go by public school cut-offs, he's a 2nd grader. I want to push him academically and help him grow, but at the same time I want him to have plenty of time for play. My goal is to finish our normal academic stuff by lunch time to allow for open afternoons. Time outside, field trips, park days, library, museums...that sort of thing can fit in the after lunch spot. To that end, we cannot/do not do all of this stuff every day. Some of it might be once per week; some might be for only a few weeks for the year.

He loves science, likes math, likes reading, likes creating.

Here's his lineup. Oy. Good luck, dude.

Language arts:

  • Logic of English Essentials, 2nd edition (reading, spelling, grammar, vocab, basic composition). (More on my switch from AAR/AAS to LoE)
  • Read aloud, read-to-self 
  • Vocabulary Cartoon of the Day (really fun thing to start our one-on-one time. I have him read it aloud. Takes less than a minute.)
  • Vocabulary Workshop C (probably overkill...but I like the format and I think it will help for independent work practice and getting a handle on more standardized/workbooky answers for standardized tests at some point). Haven't added this yet. I saw an earlier edition, and I much prefer the later edition which has a story with the vocab words in context. I like how the book explores nuances of words.
  • Other grammar: Mad Libs, Grammaropolis, Schoolhouse Rock, copywork, Ruth Heller grammar books
  • Rhythm of Handwriting cursive (Logic of English publication)
  • Brave Writer Jot it Down! For writing and creative projects. These look fun, and I liked reading more about the Brave Writer lifestyle.
  • Brave Writer Quiver of Arrows: We have already read several of these titles, so I think I will do audio books for a 2nd run through for those. We'll see. Started with House at Pooh Corner, which we've had on audio for awhile, in addition to the physical book. So fun. We did the first week and I'm happy with it.
  • Read-aloud literature pulled from a variety of sources: Brave Writer Quiver titles, Ambleside Online, Sonlight, Heart of Dakota, etc.
  • Audio books, probably while we're in the car to co-op stuff.


  • RightStart B, then moving on to C. We took a summer break rather than plowing through. So far, I don't regret that decision, though it seems he has forgotten a bit. Maybe he's just a little rusty?
  • Singapore Math 70 Must-Know Word Problems level 1. A problem or a few a day as independent warm-up and practice. Grabbed it at HPB, it's fine for a warmup.
  • Process Skills in Problem Solving level 2. Probably will need to hold off on this one for a bit. Will finish the above workbook first, and maybe pull this one in as a once a week thing.


  • TruthQuest American History for Younger Students 1, and favoring using books I own from the Beautiful Feet American history list. Throwing in some biographies of scientists when it makes sense.

Nature study and natural history:

  • Burgess Bird Book and Dover coloring book for each kid (probably going to save this for winter). We have enjoyed getting to know the birds in our backyard by watching our feeders and using the field guides I leave on our window sills. Throw in a bird app to hear bird calls, and boom. Fun. Doable.
  • Reading nature lore, pulling from Sabbath Mood lists. We recently finished the James Herriot Treasury and loved it. Currently reading Paddle-to-the-Sea. It is just so beautiful! Right up my son's creek, because he enjoys tracing water sources to their end point.
  • Exploring Nature with Children. This one just came on my radar. Seems like a doable, practical, no fluff nature study, yet fun and enriching for all. It will point me to Handbook of Nature Study readings (optional), a library go-along list, a poem, an art work, extra go-along activities -- but most importantly giving us weekly topics of focus based on season. Check out the sample, as it explains the premise better than I just did. A 20% off coupon code is on the FB page right now through August 20.
  • Nature park co-op meetup with friends twice per month.
  • Art and nature class thing along with sisters


  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding vol 1. 2nd ed. I like the variety, the connections and the thinking required. Don't like that it's not open-and-go and that could be the downfall of it. We'll see. 
  • Mystery Science -- got a free membership! They might be still giving away some. Go see. I plan to just let him have at it and facilitate as needed for gathering supplies/grabbing library books.
  • Intelligo unit study on Astronomy. Grabbed this as a freebie and chose it for the internet links to perhaps save some time. 
  • Lots of interest-led stuff. Lots.


  • Maps, Charts, and Graphs. I chose this because it was straight-forward, practical, and something he can do independently. Sure, a multiple-choice format isn't Charlotte Mason-approved. Test-taking is a skill he'll have to use at some point, though. I never said I was a Mason purist.
  • Looking at our big ol' wall maps of the USA and world. They're prominent in the play room and get looked at quite a bit.
  • Geopuzzles
  • Finding locations that come up in our reading/life on Google Maps and/or our wall maps. I like seeing a location in context and adding street view.
  • Books from Give Your Child the World (on sale for $7ish and yours truly wrote the highest-voted review on Amazon!)

Fine arts:

  • Piano lessons using Hoffman Academy. Check this out! It has FREE video lessons that are so well done. They are getting ready to add a subscription option and different setup, so I haven't purchased the optional add-on packs, but I likely will once I see the format.
  • Poetry tea a la Brave Writer? Adding a poem-a-day to morning time? Still thinking.
  • Picture study using Claude Monet art cards from a postcard pack purchased from the art museum. If the prints are too small, I might find a digital version and cast it to our TV
  • Hymn (sing, eventually memorize)
  • Drawing: Draw, Write, Now book series for at-will creation, maybe some morning time involvement. Art Class DVD instruction
  • Artsy fartsy: I am not spending one second on Pinterest looking for ideas. I just buy stuff from the Dollar Tree or the craft store -- miscellaneous supplies or boxed craft kits. Here ya go, have fun with it!
  • Classical Kids podcast
  • Classical music just whenever. It happens kinda often actually as led by my 5yo, plus time in the car.

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