Saturday, June 14, 2014

2014 - 2015 Curriculum Choices

I am busy planning our next school year which starts on July 14th. We have very limited funds to spend on curriculum this year. I am so fortunate that with a little bit of creative thinking and letting go of some of my ideals, I was able to find the majority of our books on my own shelves! We will be doing the majority of our lessons together next year since I have a 5th grader and a 6th grader. They learn in a similar way and both prefer math, science and listening to literature.

Literature ~ Literature is one place where I had to let go of some of my ideals. For instance, we will be reading some books that are not in chronological order or that I have been saving to read when I thought we would be traveling to that destination. However, they are all worthy books and will be enjoyed even if they are not  presented at the perfect time. I also have unit studies to go along with almost all of the books that cover language arts, art, music, science, history, geography and sociology. We will be using the lessons from these other disciplines that apply to our current studies.

  • The Saturdays
  • Neil Armstrong Young Flyer
  • The Cricket in Times Square
  • The Trumpet and the Swan
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins
  • Julie of the Wolves
  • From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  • The Year of Miss Agnes
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963
  • A Long Way from Chicago
  • A Year Down Yonder
I also have a selection of books that I held aside for too long and are a bit on the junior side but are still worthy of enjoying. These may be used when things are crazy busy or we are reading intensive history books.
  • Yonder
  • The Big Orange Spot This is one of my favorite childhood books and the kids have heard it many times before. However, I want to share some of the fun art activities in the FIAR unit study with them.
  • Song and Dance Man
  • Angel Child, Dragon Child
  • A Chair for My Mother
  • Frank and Ernest
  • Rehema's Journey ~ A Visit to Tanzania
Science ~ Once again, I looked at what I had and what we had not yet covered instead of what my ideal would have been. We do have some good material and the kids will have a blast with what I dug up.

  • Real Science-4-Kids Physics Level 1
  • Our Solar System and Space travel unit study ~ This will go nicely when we are studying this period in history.
  • Nature study ~ I plan on picking a place to study for the entire year and watch it change. I haven't decided where this place will be yet. It will probably be a pond, lake or wet lands in our area.
History/Geography ~ This is my favorite area of study and I am always trying to get my little crew to agree with me. As always, they say history is "okay", but "let's do more science"! This year we will be doing half of the year focused on history and half of the year on geography. Maybe they will like the map work and literature approach to geography.

  • We will be finishing World War II for the first five weeks of school ~ America, Japan, Pacific Theater and maybe Africa.
  • Unit study on the space race
  • Unit study on the Civil Rights Movement
  • All the rest ~ History of the 1960's to current (I will probably be only mentioning the Korean and Vietnam wars and come back to them when the kids are older. They are getting burned out on war.)
  • Geography Unit Study ~ Minn of the Mississippi, Seabird, Paddle to the Sea, and Tree in the Trail
Language Arts ~  I was really pleased to see what I had on the shelves and that my kids had "grown into" some of the materials I own. My main focus for language arts this year is writing -- reports, research papers, journals -- you name it. We also need more grammar work. The only thing I didn't already have is the next level of All About Spelling. I will be purchasing this in September. They are both halfway through their complete curriculum books and the rest of their independent workbooks will be focusing on writing, reading or grammar.

Tom Sawyer's independent work

Little Red Riding Hood's independent work

They will be doing some group language arts, too. Our spelling is done together. We will also be exploring together Grammar Ace and different forms of writing.

We will also be using the Language Arts Explorer Junior How to Write series. Our library has about 8 of the 24 in the series. They are easy to read and do a good job explaining in detail how to write things like lab reports, poems, a play, emails, ads, comic books and fractured fairy tales.

Math ~ I am going to have to buy our math program. We will continue with Teaching Textbooks. They both need level 5. We will also continue with Life of Fred books. I am going to borrow the next two books from a friend. The kids have done a wonderful job with this combination of math curriculum.

Art ~ My mother will continue to teach much of the art lessons next year. After searching my shelves, I found a few books about modern artists already on my shelves. I also found two masterpiece art coloring books and two anti -coloring books. These will be used for creative coloring and to review artists we have already studied. We hope to study two artists each five weeks and do one craft/art project that isn't related to a particular artist. We will learn about the artists below and others of my mother's choosing. There are many modern artists represented in the Getting to Know Great Artists series in our state's library system.

  • Alexander Calder
  • Rivera
  • O'Keefe
  • Edward Hopper
  • Andy Warhol
Music ~ Music is not my kiddos's favorite subject. They enjoy music when they are dancing, but they are not interested in singing or playing an instrument. We will only be doing music appreciation this year. I have one  music unit study left from years ago that we have not done. It is about Edward MacDowell. Otherwise, we will be exploring the birth of rock music and its growth into modern times.

Bible Studies ~  I know I have shown Draw to Learn the Life of Jesus as part of my curriculum before. However, we have only made it through about eight lessons. Every year something gets dropped and this is one of the things that has been dropped in past years. I hope we are able to stick with it this year. I really think it is a great program.

Life Skills and Health ~ Our health studies will mostly be around taking care of our changing bodies. My students are 10 and 12. It is time to learn about pimples, deodorant, and all the changes that boys and girls go through in their early teen years. For some time now, we have maintained open conversations about our family's courtship beliefs and what intimacy in relationships looks like. We will continue those conversations in gentle ways. In addition, Tom Sawyer, who has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, struggles at times with lots of social situations. For example, he does not always recognize when he is being bullied. We will continue to work on creating social stories that help him deal with more complicated issues within relationships.

  • What's Happening to Me
  • The New Social Story Book
  • Comic Converstations
  • American Girl Doll Health and Beauty Cards
Our life skills will be a continuation of perfecting chores and cooking skills. 

Wow, this turned out to be a long post! Thanks for hanging in there.

Please join me at the not back to school hop ~ Not back to school hop
Blessings, Dawn


  1. You reminded me of a few books sitting on our shelves, that need to be pulled out and used.

  2. Looks like a fantastic year. You did a great job pulling from your shelves. I don't have to get much either. Unfortunately, I need two levels of Teaching Textbooks and some Chemistry stuff for Trey so that will be pricey. Praying for it all to come together!!

  3. I always admire your schoolwork, so seeing what materials you use is fun. I use and love many of the things you have listed, but there are a few new ones for me that I will now check out!

  4. What a great collection to be able to pull off your shelves! I'm going to look into the Language Arts Explorer series. It looks like it covers a lot of unusual stuff like how to write a cartoon! My guys would love that! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Even though I'm not homeschooling right now, I'll always be a homeschooler at heart, and I just love seeing how you put your plans together. I also have to say that I adore the book Yonder, and never get tired of reading it to GracieGirl. It's such a beautiful book that I think your kiddos will enjoy it, even if it is on the young side.

    That said, I am so thrilled to have caught up on your blog. I have fallen so far behind, and I know you understand why. I'm happy to know what's happening with all of you, and I've been praying, even when I didn't know the specifics (like Tom Sawyer's knee!).

    I understand the endless hours spent on the phone, and I really admire you (I'm actually in awe!) for being able to keep up with homeschooling.

    I never realized how much Little Red Riding Hood and my GracieGirl have in common! They have many of the same interests. I wish we lived closer!

    I loved the letter that you wrote about Goldilocks' homeschooling and learning experiences. Did you happen to see the Anderson Cooper piece on living with auditory hallucinations? I thought it was very interesting, and it really helped me understand how hard it is for E to comply or focus.

    Here's a link, if you're interested:

    I hope to do a better job of keeping up! :)


  6. I love that you pulled many things you already had on your shelves! We adored The Saturdays when we read it as a family. Such a fun book. I like your plans, sounds like a great year ahead!

  7. WOW Dawn you had a ton of choices right on your own shelves! That's great. Seems like you have a great handle on the upcoming year. I hope you enjoy the few weeks left of your summer!

  8. Great job for pulling together resources. And you are tackling so much! I'm impressed. :) Where have you found a FIAR unit for The Orange Spot. I've never heard of that book and didn't see a unit for it at FIAR. Just curious. I hate to miss any of those! Looks like y'all have a full and fun year ahead! :) Thanks for sharing.

  9. That is quite an impressive collection that you have there. It all looks like a great school year too. I can't wait to read about each week!