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2014-15 Curriculum or Too Many Books; Act Like You Care

It’s that time of year again where I over share ALL the books and materials we’re using for our upcoming school year. Being the curriculum nerd that I am, I love reading what other people are using and checking out new-to-me materials, so naturally I’m assuming you’re dying to learn everything about the 2014-15 St. Bruno’s school year.


Fulton, First Grade

This year my goal is just to have Fulton, and Teddy, learn to sit quietly and listen and work on something for 10-20 minutes at a time without screaming. I understand that both need more help than healthy kids of their ages, but I’m pretty sure I’m allowing too many demands yelled in my direction and not expecting enough focused activity. Fulton is six and Teddy will be four October 8th; it’s time to play hard ball.

(For the record, I’ve stopped using Fulton’s iPad during school time unless it’s a reward. There are lots of educational games but I find them more of a distraction than a learning aid. Maybe in  a future post I can detail his favorite education aps with the caveat that I question how educational they really are.)

Reading/ Phonics: The Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading. I’ve got this on loan from the library. It’s very similar to 100 Easy Lessons but I prefer the order in which sounds are introduced, and a few other little things.

Star Wars Workbooks for Math and Phonics. I just discovered these over the summer, so we’ll finish up the old ones and then either move into the 1st grade books or I’ll transition into Explode the Code.

Plus, lots of read alouds, done on a rotating basis with Edie.

Tony wanted Fulton to do Can You Find Me? by Critical Thinking Press. I’m just going along with it.

For religion, he’ll have Faith and Life CCD work and we’ll be reading daily bible stories as a family. He’ll also sit and listen along when we read history and science.

Edie, Third Grade.

Reading: I actually bought an old school reading textbook. It contains fifteen stories that are actual children’s books rather than summaries from longer stories or poorly written graded reader type things. I just got tired of trying to find “real books” at her ability/ grade level. I was either picking too high or too low. So when I saw this at her grade level and realized it had enough titles to entertain us for a trimester, I snapped it up for a song. I’ll expect her to read aloud to the little boys a couple of times a week.

Writing: I also had a workbook to go along with the reader that contains writing, vocab, spelling and reading comprehension activities. Some are a bit overkill, but I’ve always tried to tie all her English subjects together so this just makes things easier for me.

If all goes well, I will continue to buy books in the series for the remainder of the year.

Penmanship: All the kids start cursive at third grade. I’m going with Catholic Heritage Curriculum’s (CHC) handwriting book because it give enough practice without overkill.

Math: Abeka, finishing book 2 and moving into book 3. Life of Fred was too much reading for Edie, and it was hard for me to find the time to read every chapter to her and go over the work with her in the morning. She asked to go back to Abeka and I was happy to oblige her.

Latin: Tony is in charge of Latin and he’s chosen CHC’s Little Latin Readers for Edie.

Religion: CCD work using Faith and Life plus family bible story read alouds, plus the joy of living in a liturgically focused family!

Byron, Fifth Grade

Literature / Writing: I’ve signed Byron and Addie up for an online course based on The Hobbit. They’ll be reading chapters from The Hobbit each week, joining in class discussions and completing weekly projects and quizzes. They’ve both already read the book, but I think it will be a good first opportunity for them to talk about the book with their peers and a teacher who isn’t me. If all goes well, I’m hoping to sign them up for additional literature courses for the winter and spring terms. Things like penmanship and spelling will be incorporated into this work.

Math: Math-U-See Delta. Byron really liked Life of Fred, but was getting hung up on the long division. He asked to try Math U See for a bit to get more practice. I think he’ll complete this book pretty quickly and then I’ll be curious to see if he wants to go back to Life of Fred or stick with MUS.

Latin: CHC’s Little Latin Readers new higher level books, but I’ve been told he might go back to Latin for Children after the first trimester.

Religion: CCD work with Faith and Life plus everything else I’ve typed twice before.

Addie, Seventh Grade

Literature/ Writing: Same course as Byron. I’m also expecting Addie to do reports and presentations, on a historic topic of her choice, every two weeks this year. It’s about time she learned to research, write-up a few pages and talk about something. To say she’s “hesitant” would be an understatement. Seriously, times like these I’d like to drop my kids in a school for a couple of weeks so they know how great (easy) they really have it.

Math: Life of Fred Addie LOVES this series and she works through it mostly on her own. Tony helps her with any questions because it’s already beyond me. Addie says she wants to complete the series up through Calculus, which is amazing when I think back to how many tears I encountered when she was forced to do Abeka. I always knew she could do the math, but now she enjoys doing it- praise the Lord!

Latin: Lingua Latina

Religion: CCD Faith and Life, plus I make her read a few questions out of the Compendium daily.

Logic: Yes, as classically inspired educators we’ve enrolled our daughter in an online Logic class. It’s a very inexpensive course and we thought it would be a good introduction. I will be trying to learn over her shoulder so she doesn’t get smarter than me.

French: Totally Addie’s decision. Tony’s aunt, who is a retired language teacher, has offered to give Addie guidance and lessons via Skype. This will be very low stress and informal.

All together now!

History: We are on Year 3 of our history cycle which covers 1400-1776 and varies from the years covered by Story of the World. We do use Story of the World, volumes two and three this year but we supplement heavily with other books including this AWESOME title put out by Hillside Press. It’s going to solve ALL my Reformation lesson problems.

Science: Ah, the weakest link. This year we’re going to use The World of Chemistry, at least for a couple of trimesters and supplement it with chapters from the Usborne Science encyclopedia.

The kids will also be working on getting their Chemistry badges from their favorite new website DIY. If you’re not familiar with it, check it out. My kids are in love with completing challenges and earning patches while seeing all the challenges their friends complete. For a fee, you can get a paid membership with includes mentors to guide you while you’re working on a patch. I’m thinking about upgrading so when a chemistry experiment goes awry, as they always do, the kids can ask somebody what went wrong without that somebody (me) having no. freaking. clue and basically giving up on science for the year. Plus, you get free patches. WOOT!

Art: We’ll also be using DIY for art. We’re already drawing as a family once or more a week using the techniques in Drawing with Children. This year, I’d like to keep working through the book while earning requirements for the Illustrator badge. I’d also like to do some picture studies of various artist from our history cycle since we’re entering the Renaissance.

Outside curriculum, the biggest change will be to our schedule. I’m dropping back down to a modified four-day a week schedule again. I used to take Wednesday’s off when the kids were little but eventually added it as we added more subjects. However, currently our schedule requires us to do more subjects in the afternoon and honestly that almost never happens. Consequently, we don’t do history, art or science together as much as I’d like. Plus, the kids have been doing Latin in the evenings when their dad got home which wasn’t ideal either. Nobody was in the mood to jump into school mode at 8 p.m. and completing Latin assignments during the day wasn’t going well.  So this year we’re tying to move, with the kids approval, Latin to 6:30 a.m.. I know, I was shocked when my husband suggested it and even more floored when the older three all agreed to it. But this way, Tony can help them with their work before he leaves for the office.

Additionally, while Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday will follow a schedule close to last year’s, Wednesday will be free of 6:30 a.m. Latin and focus on just the subjects I used to push-off until the end of the day. Additionally everyday, including Wednesday, will include project time for the kids to research or finish work for any subject or badge. This is also going to be my dedicated time to correct work, something I’ve had a hard time keeping up with. And everyday we’re done by lunch, which I need for my sanity. I realize that goal will be harder as the kids get older but I feel like it’s doable now, without sacrificing their education. My children still need time to run outside, build Legos, play with toys and be kids. This schedule includes all the work my husband and I feel is important without drowning them in busy work. You can see a break down of the week HERE.

In the past I’ve written up curriculum posts, but never updated as the year progresses, and I can tell you we always make changes. This year, I’m hoping to update after we complete our first trimester and then later in the school year. I’ll let you know how the schedule pans out (will we last a week???) and what books get replaced. Have you written a curriculum post? Leave a link in the comments so I can check it out! (And yay if you made it to the bottom of my post!) Check out past years curriculum posts HERE and HERE. 


  1. This sounds great. I’ll have to look up more about the Life of Fred, it sounds fascinating. Let me know if you need any help with the chemistry, I’m available via email or skype.

  2. I saw those Star Wars books a few weeks back while scrolling through Amazon, too! Please keep me posted on how they work out for your son. I have a kid who just might enjoy learning through them.

    1. I think for Pre-K or K, they’re fine but I think it’ll be more of a supplement for 1st or higher. They’ve been great to help him review skills and help me find his weak spots.

  3. I was going to use STOW vol. 2 this year but have been worried about those Reformation chapters. I just got the other book, so I am excited to see you will be doing the same thing. My husband also bought the Star Wars Math K book. He was rather excited about it. So now I think I might run off and pick up that phonics book too!

  4. So is Life of Fred the only curriculum you use with Addie, or do you need to supplement with something else as well? I am reading the Butterflies book with my six year old, and she really likes it, but it doesn’t seem quite enough. Do you use other workbooks so she can practice more? I would love to hear how you use this series. I have one son who is more inspired by narrative than numbers, but I’m nervous about switching him to just Life of Fred. But then, I’ve only seen the first two elementary books. Thanks for telling all about your curriculum!

  5. I think you’re kids will love Time4Writing. My sons benefited a BUNCH from each course they took!

  6. I love the Star Wars workbooks! why did it take so long to come up with this idea? I got one for my preschooler just for some reinforcement over the summer.

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