Pinning All My Hopes And Dreams On…2012-13 Curriculum

We’ve named our homeschool after St. Bruno the Great. He was awesome and therefore, so is our homeschool…at least in title anyway.

August messes with my head because, on one hand, I’m all “Yay, we’ve finally wrapped up another school year! No school for a month!” while on the other, I’m completely “Aaaaa! Only a month until we start another year of school! I need to write up lesson plans and completely overthink how and why I homeschool!!”

So now that it’s T-minus 10 days (give or take a beach trip) until things start back up, I’m in heavy duty neglect the laundry and scum in the tub planning mode. Thankfully, things are coming together. This will only be my sixth year of homeschooling, and while I continually make mistakes and revise (some times I feel like this whole experience has been a rough draft up to this point) we have found some things that work across the board for our family.

I love learning what other families use for homeschooling, even thought it often sends me into a frenzy of late night researching and second guessing my own curricula choices. In this post, I thought I’d list all the exciting books and text we’ll be using for school. If you’re one of my non-homeschooling readers, I will try to keep you in mind and keep it funny while still being edu-taining for other homeschooling moms. (You can visit my Must Haves page for links to many of the texts. Links provided for other books so you can see what the heck I’m talking about.)

Addie, Grade 5

  • History- Story of the World Year One. Her second time through. I’ll expect her to do much of the reading on her own. I hope to update my History Downloads with some of her favorite books from this year. Tony found some musty tomes on Amazon he’s convinced she’ll love. That is, if he can ever let them out of his sight.
  • Math – She will finish Abeka 4 and start Abeka 5. We also use the test/ speed drill books. I love Abeka. Addie hates it. She’s excellent at math so I win. Ha!
  • Writing – I invested in the Institutes for Excellence in Writing series…finally. But only because I found it so dirt cheap at a conference used curriculum table. (Although because it cost more than $50 Tony almost passed out.) The older three will follow the IEW format using their history, literature and science books for inspiration. I haven’t been satisfied with the narrations I was getting from my older two. Other writing programs combined with assigning more narrations wasn’t helping. I’m hoping this program will help them glean the important details from what they’re reading and convey them more clearly.
  • Spelling – Sequential Spelling with Byon.
  • Literature – Booklist in progress. With Addie, I can usually assign one book a week.
  • Latin- This is Tony’s territory. To the best of my knowledge, he’s using Catholic Heritage Curricula’s program with some supplementary readers for Classical Academic Press thrown in. I know Latin is central to our family’s classical homeschooling philosophy but when it comes to teaching it myself I…zzzzzzzzz.
  • Art – After two years of drawing books and Discovering Great Artists, I decided Addie and Bryon could use a little more formal drawing instruction. I thought the Seton Art 4 book was a step in the right direction.
  • Music- Addie is really gifted with music IF SHE WOULD JUST SIT AND ACTUALLY PRACTICE. I refuse to let her quit piano because I know she would hate me when she’s older but she wants to take another instrument so I said fine, but you have to keep working on the piano so when you get tired of the harp/violin/flute/dulcimer all is not lost. She agreed.
  • Geography/Mapwork – Although SOTW is great with including mapwork in their curricula, since I did not purchase activity books for years 2,3 and 4 I constantly forgot mapwork. We have a globe that I use often but I was not convinced my children knew anything about geography or reading a map accept that New Jersey was the pink state. I purchased the Map Skills work books Level D for Addie and Byron to make sure all the bases are covered.
  • Logic – The Well Trained Mind recommended some brain teaser books for 5th graders to start preparing their minds for the next phase of the trivium. I purchased the Mind Benders Book A1 for Addie and she’s excited to have a ‘puzzle book’ for school.
  • Science –  Most families I know have that one subject that sort of falls through the cracks every year. I love history so we’re on top of history, but science, Meh. I like science but, in the grand scheme of things elementary science just wasn’t that important. This year however, I picked up Christian Kids Explore Biology for all the kids. It’s not the perfect program, but I’m tired of hobbling together science curricula that always falls short or looses steam. (I’m looking at you Physics Kit! Ages 8+ my butt! Try 38+….) We’re using that with the Usborne Science Encyclopedia and Handbook of Nature Study. Addie and Byron will do most of the unit reviews, and experiments, while Edie can focus on the coloring pages and simpler activities.
  • Religion – We try to be very liturgically minded in this house, but I noticed that while my kids were great with traditions (Our Lady of Guadeloupe= Taco Night, Feast of St. Lawrence = BBQ, St. Nicholas Day = chocolate in shoes) they’re weren’t always the best with catechism answers or prayers. So in addition to their CCD work, which is minimal, each is using a Seton Religion Book this year. Addie and Byron will work together on Religion 4.

Byron Grade 3/4

  • History – Story of the World Year One
  • Math – Abeka 3
  •  Writing – Institute for Excellence in Writing
  • Spelling – Up to this point, every spelling program I have tried with Byron has failed to help him learn to spell. Not phonetic based, not copy it a million times based, not play fancy games on the computer based. Nothing. I could say, well he’s just a bad speller like his father and I, and just keep giving him workbooks that teach him nothing, frustrate him and waste our family’s time and money. But, at the suggestion of a friend, I’m trying Sequential Spelling. It can’t make him spell any worse than he already does. And Addie’s going to do it too because she’s an excellent speller and will excel at any program so why not just kill two birds with one stone?
  • Literature – Always tough to plan lit for Byron because he reads at a different level than Addie did at the same age so I can’t necessary use the same books. (Shakes fist at children.)
  • Latin – I’ll just add our kids get all their grammar at this point through Latin. I don’t think kids retain intense grammar at this age, but that’s just my opinion. Tony and I think it’s more important for them to be exposed to good writing (and intelligent conversation) where they will absorb good grammar naturally.
  • Penmanship – Handwriting Without Tears 3 – Hopefully I won’t cry when I try to teach him cursive. If you saw my husband’s handwriting, you know I’m fighting a losing battle.
  • Art- Seton Art 4
  • Music – Attempting to play John Williams on the piano as much as I allow him to.
  • Geography/Mapwork- Mapwork D
  • Science – Christian Kids Discover Biology
  • Religion – CCD materials, living la vida liturgical and Seton Religion 4.

Edith Grade 1

  • Phonics – We’re picking up with Explode the Code Book 2 1/2. I love this series and wish I would’ve used it with the older two.
  • Reading/Literature – I decided to use real books instead of readers this year. I looked at suggestions from Veritas Press and The Writing Road to Reading as well as what was on my bookshelf already. Although she can read, Edie prefers to snuggle on the couch and be read to. I’m hoping the use of real books will motivate her to take the initiative and read more on her own.
  • Math – Abeka 1
  • History – Story of the World Year 1, with me reading all the chapters aloud.
  • Writing- I’ll work with her, using the IEW format, to create narrations from her literature books and history selections.
  • Penmanship/Copywork – She’ll continue to work on handwriting by copying her memory work and some narrations.
  • Memory Work – This is another subject I always drop the ball on. Yes I know these little ones are sponges just waiting to soak up all these interesting facts, prayers, bible verses, etc. but I really hate practicing this stuff over and over again. I don’t want to memorize it! This year, I want to record all the memory work in advance on CD and let her listen to my soothing voice with headphones on. Hopefully, recorded mama can keep her cool reciting a Stevenson poem for the 50th time. Here’s some of the things we’re hoping to work on. 
  • Art – Activities from the SOTW Year 1 activity book
  • Music – I’m going to attempt the Introducing Your Child to Classical Music program again this year but playing the songs at lunch time. I’ve already got the playlist set up on iTunes. I just have to shove sandwiches in their mouths and hit play. Then BAM! – Mozart effect.
  • Geography/Mapwork – Maps from the SOTW 1 activity book
  • Science  – Same as the other two but using Usborne books for younger children and lots and lots of coloring! Thankfully, Edie loves to color.
  • Religion – CCD materials and Seton Religion 1

Fulton will also start PreK but that’s another post for another time. I’m exhausted after typing all that. But it looks impressive right? Except for those spots where I keep saying “drop the ball” but, overall one gets the impression my kids are on their way to Harvard right? Right?!?!

If you homeschool, DO NOT leave me a comment criticizing one of my choices. We are blazing ahead with this stuff come hell or high water. I will be off school the month of December; criticism must wait until December when I can add a new book to my Christmas list. If I have one more box of books delivered to the house now, I think Tony will cut up my Visa.

Otherwise, I’d love you supportive and reassuring comments. Now back to my lesson plans!


  1. Comment #1 (I have to comment as I read or I’ll forget)- hubby read Heidi out loud to us last year. LOVE. THAT. BOOK. Had never read it before. And The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables are my 2 all time most favorite books of all time…which is to say that your daughter is about to have THE BEST YEAR OF HER READING LIFE.

    1. Just started Heidi this week, Dwija! Love it so far. DH is also reading aloud The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren, and Half Magic by Edward Eager is on deck.

      I gave DH my budget for this year back in June (split between August and December) and I was worried he would pass out. Instead he shrugged and said, “Seems like a bargain for what their getting.” Could have knocked me over with a feather.

      I love all your curriculum choices, so no suggestions or criticisms here. 🙂 Funny stuff, and thanks for sharing.

      1. Astrid Lindgren is a favorite here too. My husband’s biggest complaint about how much I spent on materials is that it leaves him with less from the schooling budget to spend on Latin books.

      2. Half Magic is so great! Back when child’s stories showed that actions have consequences…

    1. I did have it memorized! Then my card expired and I kept entering the wrong security number from the back of the card!
      Addie has read some of these books before just for fun, but now I’m actually going make her write stuff about them. Bwahahaha! I’m hoping that by using some familiar books, it will help ease the transition into our new rigorous writing bootcamp.

  2. I can’t believe you’re not having the kids read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged!!!

  3. I’ve just recently reached the point where I have all the poetry selections for the year recorded, so it takes me seconds to insert them into the playlist I put on when the kids have Quiet Time… Of course, I’m in Australia, so we start school at the beginning of February! Maybe next year I’ll have it done before the school year starts:-)

    1. I’m in awe! I wish I would have recorded more of our memory work up front. Finding the time to record it in the midst of everything else means I’m still reading the memory work over and over again, or scrapping it entirely. I should probably just buy a CD or something at this point.

  4. I know this is an ancient post, but my daughter is in what we call 3rd and a half grade and I’ve used and liked Well Trained Mind Grammar. However, level 4 just isn’t working out, I’m curious how you liked IEW for this grade. Also, how did your daughter and piano turn out, we are in the same boat. Did Introducing Your Child to Classical Music work?

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