I can’t believe we have been homeschooling for three years now! Or four if you count pre-k and all the great learning we did at home before I even knew I was “homeschooling.” What an adventure it has been! And one that has truly gone by so very quickly.
Our co-op showcase is coming up in two weeks, so it looks like we’ll be wrapping up this year, taking a short break, then moving on to new territory in June some time. I’m so excited! I have some new ideas in the works and am planning on a year-round schedule that would allow us to work for four weeks then take a week off throughout the year with an additional time off during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring. We should still be able to get in 36 weeks of school, so I’m looking forward to putting it all together.
In this post, I want to share the curricula we used this year in hopes that it can provide ideas or inspiration for anyone looking for new options. I also want to share it as a resource for non-homeschooling families, who would like new ideas to share with their children throughout the summer months.
This year was life changing in that I began to use the curriculum as a tool rather than follow it in its entirety. I read books on Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophies and the wholehearted approach and felt so much freedom in steering off the path in order to create something that worked for our family. (This post has more information on the books that shaped our homeschool.)
Overall, I followed the wholehearted educational model from Educating the Wholehearted Child and found it helpful for plugging in all the pieces. The components of the model are as follows: Discipleship Studies, including Bible study, devotionals, scripture memory, etc.; Disciplined Studies, including phonics, math, language arts, spelling, vocabulary; Discussion Studies, including history, geography, literature, art and music studies; Discovery Studies, including nature walks, nature study, science, and creative exploration; and Discretionary Studies, including skills specific to each child. We didn’t always do everything everyday, and we used looping quite a bit to cover more areas throughout the week. There were also times when we focused on one thing more heavily than another or took much-needed breaks to focus on the move or the baby; but in the end, we accomplished more than I had expected. It was truly a fruitful year.
My son is 7 and my daughter is 4, so we used this model for 1st grade and pre-k in order to best meet both their needs. Here is what worked for us throughout the year. (For kinder and pre-k3 choices, click here.)
Bible Devotions–My Big Book of 5-Minute Devotions: This book was part of our My Father’s World curriculum, and we absolutely loved it! Each devotional had a brief overview of a specific animal. We learned all sorts of wonderful facts that closely tied in to the Bible lesson of the day. Comprehension questions and a Bible verse were also included with each day’s devotional. This was such a nice treat for my little ones!
Bible History-My Father’s World Bible History Lessons: These lessons included a Bible story reading, activities, a timeline, notebooking, and a Bible Reader that my son could easily read independently. We loved how these were put together and will continue using these lessons into next year.
Character Training-Our 24 Family Ways: A Family Devotional Guide: This devotional included 24 Biblical family ways, relating to authorities, relationships, possessions, work, attitudes, and choices. Each day includes starter questions, Bible scriptures, discussion questions, and a prayer. Coloring pages for little ones are also included. I found this to be a great way to explain how to live out our faith, but I did have to modify some of the questions for my children. We only made it through 7 of the family ways so far, so we will most likely continue this next year and possibly again when they are a bit older.
Phonics/Comprehension–All About Reading Levels 1 & 2: This curriculum has been so helpful to our family, and I love what it has done for my son’s reading ability. My daughter has recently started Level 1 as well, and I love that it has the flexibility to be used in multiple ways by eliminating or reviewing certain activities. Read my full review here.
Phonics/Spelling–Explode the Code Books 2-3: These workbooks have been a wonderful supplement for my son. They follow the sequence of All About Reading pretty closely, so it has been a nice way for him to apply what he has learned and practice independently.
Handwriting–Handwriting without Tears: My Printing Book and D’Nealian Handwriting: Both workbooks have provided the practice needed in handwriting. For additional handwriting practice, we have also used the proverbs copywork pages found in My Father’s World.
Typing: Keyboarding without Tears: This program is very user-friendly, and it has been a fun way to get started with typing skills. Each practice session awards the child a “sticker”, and as the student accumulates stickers, he is then able to earn “trophies,” “ribbons,” and “plaques.” A progress chart also helps add to the fun.
Math–RightStart Mathematics, Levels A & B: This program has been amazing for us! The instruction is completely different than the way I was taught, so I struggled at times with the lessons, but as we have moved further along, I have been able to see how well each of the pieces has laid a foundation for truly understanding mathematical concepts. It’s genius! I will have to write a review on this one soon. We absolutely love it and will be continuing with Level B into next year. We also used The Complete Book of Math from our MFW package for extra independent practice and application.
General Curriculum-A Year of Playing Skillfully by The Homegrown Homeschooler: We loved, loved, loved this curriculum! We had such a memorable year with all of the wonderful activities in the book. Read more about it here!
Handwriting-Handwriting without Tears-My First School Book and Letters and Numbers for Me: We’re still working through the second workbook, but it’s a nice treat for my 4 year-old, who loves workbooks.
History: This year our focus was on Bible history, so our readings in this area were focused on Biblical stories from Genesis onward. We will be doing additional world history readings next year.
Art Study–Enjoying Art Together by My Father’s World: This resource includes 20 paintings by a variety of artists along with discussion questions and notes. My kids have really enjoyed noticing the details of each piece, and it’s been neat to see how they are applying what they’ve learned during art as well.
Music Study–Peter and the Wolf (part of My Father’s World deluxe package): We just started with this, and it has been a hit with the kids! They love listening to the music and enjoy imagining the story in their minds. My Father’s World also includes instrument and character cards to bring the story to life.
Literature/Read Alouds: This is where we have ventured into far-away lands and enjoyed the stories of all sorts of characters. I wish I had kept a log of all the books we have read, but it will have to be something I plan on for next year. For now, I’ll try and list the ones that were most memorable for us.
Geography: I purchased these Melissa & Doug Countries of the World Write-a-Mat, and we referred to them when we read about new places. We also liked the book Me on the Map as a neat introduction to it all.
Art–Drawing with Children (part of My Father’s World deluxe package): This book was the resource that was recommended by MFW, so we used it for much of the year. My mother-in-law is a former art teacher so in addition to this book, the kids received lots of opportunities for hands-on art fun!
Nature Study: We enjoyed many nature walks throughout the year, including some at Guadalupe State Park, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands, New Mexico! We also enjoyed exploring our community parks, along with monthly guided walks at the local conservatory. The children kept nature notebooks throughout the year and drew pictures to capture their adventures. This post has more information on our first nature walk.
Science Facts and Experiments-Throughout the year we used the Usborne Science Activities books, included in the My Father’s World package we purchased. These have thorough drawings, explanations, and experiments to try. We also read a number of living books on different topics the kids wanted to explore.
Creation Science–Creation Proclaims, Volumes 1-3: These science videos have been such a wonderful resource for the kids. They include a number of interesting animals that completely defy evolution. The narrator, who was a former evolutionist, shares fun facts along with a Bible reference that shows how awesome God’s design is. The kids love these and took it upon themselves to capture what they have learned in their nature notebooks.
Calendar/Spanish: About once a week or so, we fill in our calendars, review the months, days of the weeks, seasons, and the weather. We also used this time to review them in Spanish and sing made-up Spanish songs to learn body parts and household rooms and items.
The children enjoyed a number of activities throughout the year, such as swimming lessons, a local athletic program for homeschoolers, at-home dance lessons with friends, storytime at the library, and Lego Club! They also learned to rainbow loom with a good friend and enjoyed baking, cooking, gardening, and decorating alongside me. In the fall, we attended a homeschool co-op where they also attended grade-specific classes one day a week. We also took field trips to the planetarium, fire station, local corn maize, Sea World, Doseum, zoo, and more!
This year was filled with changes, including a new baby and move, but it has also been filled with learning and fun. I am so grateful for the opportunity to homeschool and am so very excited about the upcoming year.
In full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through any of these links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. My reviews and thoughts on these products, however, are completely my own and not affiliated with any companies. I do want to note that I often order many of the above items at Christianbook.com where many of the items are often priced much lower.