2015-16 Curriculum: Fingers Crossed

I don’t know how many of you care, but I like documenting my curriculum from year to year. This is my fourth curriculum post ( No. 1, No. 2, No. 3). I always intend to do a mid-year follow up with myself to see how things change but it’s never happened. Maybe this will be the year. (Someone remind me of this in December and April). As you recall, I write all my own lesson plans so you probably won’t find this exact line up of materials using any well known curriculum company.


2015-16 curriculum

Addie, 8th Grade

Latin Lingua Latina Tony plans all the Latin which is why you didn’t see it mentioned on my lesson plan posts. Since he’s been working from home more, he’s been teaching them from 7:30-8:30 four times a week, spending the most time with Addie.
Literature Brave Writer’s online literature club. Books for that class, plus history selections include I Am Malala, Life of Pi, The Great Gatsby, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Scarlet Letter and A Tale of Two Cities. I love many of these books myself and enjoy having a student old enough to discuss literature with me.
Logic Classical Academic Press Art of the Argument Class
Writing Institues for Excellence in Writing Beginner Class taught online through Currclick. I tried teaching this myself before but found it too parent intensive. Now Addie and Byron can take this wonderful program while another IEW accredited teacher reviews and grades their work. Addie’s Logic class will require a few research papers during the second half so she will probably take a half year writing course while Byron will continue through the spring.
Math Khan Academy The older four are all doing math through Khan Academy. The videos help answer any questions when I’m too busy or unsure myself. The parent dashboard shows me how much they cover, where they’re struggling  and they can see themselves their progress. Plus, Khan academy will keep assigning problems or suggest videos for trouble spots. The goal is to have them pass the NJ ASK math test at their respective levels at the end of the year.
Spelling Spelling Power by MCP All the kids will still complete spelling tests online with Spelling City as all the lists have already been entered by other users! Score!
Religion Confirmation year!! Our 8th grade CCD program uses Faith and Life, Seton plus, I think, a detailed paper on her Confirmation saint.

Byron, 6th Grade

Latin Little Latin Readers, Sancta Missa
Literature The Princess and the Goblin, The Story of Lafayette, My Side of the Mountain, The Reb and the Redcoats, The Matchlock Gun, Shhh! We’re Writing the Constitution
Pre-Logic (Critical Thinking) Mind Benders These books are fun and all the kids have enjoyed them.
Writing Online IEW class with Addie
Math Khan Academy
Spelling MCP Spelling Workout
Phonics MCP Plaid Phonics The two MCP series tie together to help reinforce spelling and phonics rules. I still think Sequential Spelling is awesome, and highly recommend it for struggling spellers, I just can’t seem to find time to give a test everyday.
Religion Faith and Life

Edie, 4th Grade

Latin Little Latin Readers, Britannia et Galli
Literature Trumpet of the Swan, One chapter a week of Story of the World Edie’s reading instruction flew under the radar for many years. When I should have been focusing on phonics, I was dealing with Fulton’s diagnosis, my high risk pregnancy with Teddy and then difficulties teaching the older kids. In typical middle child fashion, she was loving, cooperative and often crept away to play without doing much work for along time. However, beginning during the last trimester of our 2012-14 year I introduced Harcourt and then Reading Street books. I focused on bringing her reading up to par and by the end of last year she was reading through chapter books like Charlotte’s Web and The Courage of Sarah Noble. Edie still does not like to read unless snuggled next to me, but she is now reading her literature and history books with no complaint and happily reads picture books to her siblings. If you want to use real books with your elemetary readers but don’t want to order a ton of books or rely on your library, I highly recommend these books.
Pre-Logic Mind Benders
Writing Time4Writing, Elementary Paragraphs. Byron and Addie took this course in 2013-14 and I was very pleased with the results. I was happy we could afford to enroll Edie in this online class. I would like to enroll her in Elementary Essays later in the year. Each class is eight weeks.
Math Khan Academy
Spelling MCP Spelling Workout
Phonics MCP Plaid Phonics
Religion Faith and Life

Fulton, 2nd Grade

Phonics/ Reading Instruction – Confession; after only a week and a half in, my selection for reading instruction is going no where. Fulton struggles, more than any of my children, with learning to read. Even as the writer of this post, it has been a huge challenge for me to not freak out, especially because I know he is insecure about his inability to read. I have tried so many programs, apps, games, books and more to help him, with only minimal progress over the last three years. But of course, the resources are endless. I have two more methods I’m going to try. Most kids are reading by seven, but I know it takes longer for others. I just never thought it would be my kid who struggled so hard. This will probably require an update after the first trimester.
Literature Audio books: Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Boxcar Children
Math Khan Academy
Typing Handwriting is almost impossible for Fulton. I wonder if it’s why he struggles with reading; he can’t copy anything down. (We use movable magnetic tiles to build words.) This year I’m hoping to help him figure out a typing system on his iPad. Maybe it will help with reading, but in the long run, it will be the most practical way for him to communicate.
Religion FIRST HOLY COMMUNION PREPARATION!!!!!!! St. Joseph’s First Holy Communion Catechism, plus lots of prayers.

Teddy, Pre-K (K?) He’s an early October birthday so, it could go either way.

Phonics Explode the Code series: Get Ready for the Code A
Math Target $1 Bin Math Workbook
Handwriting Dry erase board with letters, plus the tracing in his phonics book.
Religion He’s enrolled in the Kindergarten CCD program at our parish. They color a lot.

Family Subjects Completed on Fridays. (In general, our schedule is very similar to last year’s. Addie’s increased online workload means she’s often doing work in the afternoon but she’s got her own planner and is learning to spread out her work throughout the week.)

Art Drawing with Children and Drawing for Older Children and Teens Such a great series. My kids all produce great work using this method. There’s also a few lessons in Discovering Great Artists we’ll do throughout the year. I expect them to complete the Sculptor and Potter badges on DIY (the coolest website for kids ever) within the first two trimesters. Lastly, I try to set our computer’s screen saver to a different famous artist, tied to the same time period as our history studies every couple weeks.

Music The older three all take lessons and practice daily. Occasionally I remember to put on non-pop music. I did compile a short playlist on YouTube of some biographies of a few composers and artists.

Science Fourth cycle science is physics so we’re using Exploring the World of Physics, Basher Physics, Usborne Science Encyclopedia, and Usborne First Science Encyclopedia. I cover topics in the encyclopedias, then the older kids read appropriate sections in ETWOP and Basher. All the kids love the Basher series and often pick up the books for fun.

History Fourth cycle history; modern era, the American Revolution until the Cold War. Lesson plansbooklist here. We use Story of the World as a spine and the older kids read books relating to each weekly topic.

Shakespeare We started reading Shakespeare aloud last year when we encountered the Bard in history. We’re continuing the practice with ‘Twelfth Night’ this trimester. I’ve got a picture book to introduce the play, I will read a modern translation from ‘No Fear Shakespeare’ and then we will watch a production. The older kids can read the original play and we will discuss certain passages mentioned in Ken Ludwig’s book ‘How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare.’

Phew! It looks like a lot when it’s all written out in a post like this. I would really love a smooth year with no bumps in the road. And for my other two wishes, a million dollars and a beach house. Any questions? Suggestions? Chastisements?


  1. My friends are always surprised to learn that I was in the remedial reading class at school in second grade. I believe I was eight. Now I read a lot, and faster than average (fast enough that I mostly finish books in a single sitting).

    In any case, I wanted to encourage your son that he might need to practice a whole lot more than other kids just like I did, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to be a great reader someday. Remember every time you read you are growing your reading brain! I’ll be praying that he has a breakthrough soon – for me I needed to memorize enough sight words that the laboriously painful work of phonics didn’t overwhelm me.

  2. But also, so many interesting resources that I will enjoy googling! Thanks for sharing. I love curriculum posts.

  3. It cracks me up that you use the term “trimester”…every single time I read it, this thought pops into my brain,,,,”Wait…is she pregnant?” Every. time. Even within the same post.

  4. I just snagged that Drawing with Children book myself…and am COMPLETELY lost about what markers to buy…any suggestions???

  5. Have you ever looked into Seton Home Study? http://www.setonhome.org/
    I am 24 now, but from 7th-12th grade I used Seton and I LOVED it. You write essays, send the essays to teachers based in VA and they send the graded papers back with comments on how to improve. I learned so much and my mom let me follow the curriculum at my own pace. Their textbooks are all Catholic based, too.

  6. If you can find a vision therapist in your area, it might be worth considering having Fulton screened. My second son struggled mightily and went to three optometrists, who all said he had 20/10 vision (better than usual). He would start strong at age 9, and by the third sentences was faltering worse and worse. I finally found a vision therapist (Dr. Paul Lederer in Arlington Heights, IL (Chicago area), very well known in the field) who explained his eyes did not track together properly. Therefore, he would start strong but the muscles would get tired and his vision would get blurry. It caused headaches, etc. You can probably call Lederer’s office and get a recommendation for your area. Now my sixth child needs it, for a different reason. It is so, so worth it!!! Vision therapists work with all kinds of special needs every day, so that’s not an issue. Although all the optometrists told me vision therapy was hogwash, I will tell you that having a now 16 year old who reads a lot, voluntarily and without headaches, is worth every bit of time, money and effort put into it.

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