2016-17 Curriculum Post for Homeschoolers Who Like Way Too Much Information

This is the probably the latest I’ve ever posted my curriculum choices, so hopefully no one has been waiting to purchase books based on my recommendations. (I’ll be the first to tell you that you value my opinion too highly.) But regardless of what anyone else thinks, I enjoy making a note of all my choices for the year and then promising you a follow-up piece that I never deliver. In this post, I’ll try to make a note of any changes in curriculum from the year before, with an explanation as to why we switched up. (And there’s a liberal dose of affiliate links throughout so watch out y’all!)

2016-17 curriculum

Addie – 9th grade (HIGH SCHOOL?!? HOLY CRAP ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!)

I’m not listing Addie’s books because she is enrolled in Queen of Heaven Academy. You can check out their website to see what they offer. I will add that after using a ton of math curriculum with Addie (because she hated most of them and I’m the world’s worst math teacher) she still passed the Algebra placement test. Phew! She also tested into the 10th grade Latin class which I think speaks volumes to whatever the heck Tony teaches the kids.

The main reason we decided to enroll Addie was because I wanted (needed?) to outsource higher math and Addie herself really excels in online classes or any class in which I’m not the teacher. In addition, QHA’s ninth grade courses picked up exactly where I would regarding history, literature, science, and religion, so I didn’t feel like I had to compromise anything I wanted her to learn, EXCEPT for Logic.

Addie excelled at Classical Academic Press’ online Informal Logic class last year, and we really wanted her to take the Formal Logic class, however we knew it would be an adjustment with the course load already on her plate so, for now, she’s not taking a separate Logic class, though we’ll see how it goes and hopefully be able to add it back into the mix next year.

She will still do art with Byron and Edie, and listen to Shakespeare with the rest of us. She has off classes on Friday so that is the day we’re now doing our family courses.

Family Courses

Shakespeare- One play a trimester (ideally)

We didn’t finish As You Like It last trimester so we have to wrap up reading it, and then we’ll watch the play. In the que is Hamlet which I’m really excited about. I took Addie and Byron to see the play “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” last spring and even though we’ve only read a few plays thus far, I was happy to see that the older two got most of the jokes and themes that run through many of Shakespeare’s work.


I’m excited to see Catholic Heritage Curriculum’s new art program. Last I heard, I still have another month to wait before I can get my hands on it. <GROAN>

Until then, we’ll continue with Drawing for Children. When done consistently, I really see an improvement in my kids’ work.

Science Experiments

Everyone is doing a set science curriculum this year. In the past, I tried to piece together this and that around one branch of science (either Biology, Earth Science, Chemistry, or Physics). However, lessons were inconsistent. Now, Fulton and Teddy are doing CHC’s Behold and See 2 and Edie and Byron are doing Behold and See 5. On Fridays, I will do simple experiments with Fulton and Teddy, and Edie and Byron will do their experiments together (much to their sheer delight).

Story of the Bible

This is a great series I previewed before. We’re listening to the CDs together, and I think it will be a real compliment to our history lessons which focus on the Ancient Era.

Ideally I also want the kids to share oral narrations on what they’ve learned in history while we’re all seated together, but I’ve forgotten this twice already so, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the trimester.

Byron 7th grade (also, HOLY CRAP! What is with all these big kids?!?!?!!?)

Religion – Faith and Life, Seton Confirmation Prep (He’s in 8th grade at our parish. You know how it is with October birthdays.) All our religion books are what is used in our parish’s homeschool based CCD program.

Math – Abeka 6 – Byron really wanted to stick with Life of Fred (which he picked back up last fall after we all agreed that Khan Academy was not a great stand alone program.) However, I told him if all goes well with Addie, the goal is to enroll him in Queen of Heaven in two years.  Life of Fred, at the pace he was going, didn’t seem like it would prepare him to enter Algebra, and I REALLY need to outsource high school math…or all of high school. So, although, it wasn’t his first choice, we’re going back to Abeka, a grade behind to make sure he knows all his concepts after a couple of years of jumping around.

Latin – Latin Alive Book 1 with DVDs – Tony does a great job overseeing Latin, but it’s hard to squeeze in time to teach so we’re relying on the DVD lessons a bit more this year.

Logic – OLPH Online Logic Course – good introduction to formal logic. Weekly reading and online quizzes.

Spelling- Spelling Workout with tests on Thursday via Spelling City – Last year I did Spelling Workout from Modern Curriculum Press and the related Phonics program. Although they tied together, it seemed like too much busy work so this year, I’m just using the spelling. and honestly, I don’t care if they get 100 percent on every test. I feel like however many they get right is more words that they now can spell, plus, it’s a good vocabulary booster.

Literature -two novels a trimester, with one tying into history. He’s starting this year with The Count of Monte Cristo (abridged) and he just told me today he was enjoying it; inside I did a happy dance.

Writing- Writing with Skill Vol. 1- Byron started this last spring. It’s challenging, but he’s able to work independently, it uses selections from good books and I just like the approach to writing more than other programs we’ve used in the past coughcoughInsituteforExcellenceinWritingcoughcough.

Penmanship – I bought this book, but I don’t recommend it at all. Instead I’m having him copy the quotes into his notebook using the book as a guide for letter formation. I don’t neccesarly think all middle schoolers need penmanship, but, Byron does.

History – The Story of Civilization – One chapter a week, with tests on Wednesday, narrations Friday. I really like this book. The program was designed to be a Catholic Story of the World, and it delivers. The only difference between the programs is that TSOC has videos that can be watched for each lesson, but it does not include a recommended reading list of additional books you can check out from the library, or purchase, to accompany each chapter. If you like to round out your history reading with living books, I recommend also purchasing ‘For the Love of Literature’. I also like how TSOC focus on Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures rather than introducing too many ancient cultures from around the world like Story of the World. While there’s nothing wrong with learning about ancient South American or Indian cultures, I prefer a more in-depth look at the above mentioned three, especially since they tie more closely into the history of Western Civilization. But if you want a broader ancient picture, than Story of the World will definitely give you that.

Music –  piano lessons, 25 minute practice a day. This is nonnegotiable in our house. Music is a subject like every other and there’s no screen time without music practice. I can’t say that anyone is passionate about music right now, however there is constant improvement and they’re all to the point where they are finding music they like and are working on learning it themselves.

Edie – 5th grade

Religion – Faith and Life

Math – Abeka 4 – Last year when we stopped Khan, I happened to have a 3rd grade Abeka book on hand. Edie finished that and I expect her to move through the 4th grade book with little trouble. Even if she uses a book a grade behind, she will not be that far off what is expected of 5th graders in math because the Abeka program is so rigorous.

Latin – Latin for Children, Primer A with DVDs

Spelling- Spelling Workout

Literature – Two to three literature books per trimester. Edie tends not to read for fun, so I have to keep a close eye on her and assign plenty of good books. Although she tends to not pick up chapter books on her own, she is always picking up picture books to read to Fulton and Teddy.

Writing – Writing Tales, Book 1 – A friend of mine was getting rid of this book and I snapped it up. It’s got writing, but not too much, some basic grammar, a little spelling and it uses classic tales for the lessons. Edie is able to work independently and I’ve seen a wonderful improvement in her writing since we started this book. We started it last winter so I expect to move into book 2 by our second trimester and I believe it will prepare her to eventually move into Writing With Skill without any trouble.

Penmanship – Random cursive book a friend gave me.

History – Story of Civilization Edie has mentioned how much she enjoys reading this book, which, from her, is a big freaking deal. Hopefully, the enthusiasm continues.


Logic – Mind Benders
Music – Guitar lessons, practice 25 minutes a day

Fulton – 3rd grade

Phonics – Oh, Fulton, Fulton, Fulton. His brain is wired in a completely different way from any of my other children. After experiencing some success with Reading Kingdom, we hit a wall and we had to take a break. I moved him to Reading Eggs and he started at the beginning, reviewing old concepts he still hadn’t mastered. This year, I’m moving away from online programs and going back to working with him one on one; this time using Reading Reflex. I do not have an “official” dyslexia diagnosis but it is probably the easiest and quickest way for me to describe to someone why he’s still struggling. He has made some progress, but it’s slow and hard and I’ve accepted that it probably will be for a long time.   Rather than writing, Fulton does some parts of his lesson by typing on his iPad and his typing skills are very good.

Religion –  Faith and life

Math – Right now, he’s still using Math Seeds, which is an offshoot of the Reading Eggs website, but I’m looking at other, non-online, math programs. If anyone has any thoughts on Shiller Math, or can loan me some materials (I’m totally serious and will pay shipping both ways), please let me know. I can’t find them used ANYWHERE and it’s so expensive to buy new, especially without trying it first. Fulton also struggles to grasp math concepts and while he enjoys online math, it doesn’t seem to help him understand things any better. But workbook math isn’t a great option either since he can’t work through problems with pencil and paper. He’s a great auditory learner and can memorize facts I review with him. (He easily mastered his prayers and catechism questions for First Holy Communion last year just by repeating them verbally with me.) So, I’m hoping to get him to at least memorize basic math facts and skip counting with some songs or chants.

History – Because I’m cheap and already have the complete Story of the World Vol. 1 audio set, Fulton and Teddy are listening to those chapters together. By the time they do the ancients again, they’ll be able to read The Story of Civilization book.

Latin – Song School Latin – learning Latin through songs, and possibly some Minimus activities when we’re studying the ancient Roman era.

Literature- Listening to audio books with Teddy. Right now their listening to Mary Poppins. Next up is Peter Pan.

Art – We’re doing arts and crafts from the Story of the World Ancients book and liturgical crafts from Seton Art 1. (In reality it’s a lot of me doing crafts and Fulton giving me orders but that’s okay.)

I do wish it was easier for Fulton to learn reading and math, but I understand that his struggles with these things do not mean he’s stupid. I would hate for anyone to ever get that impression based on what I share here. But seeing as he’s so limited physically, I just wish he didn’t have to struggle so much academically as well. However, there are some things that come easy for Fulton and I’m sure the older he gets, more of these talents will make themselves known.

Teddy- 1st grade

Phonics – Explode the Code, Bob Books, CHC Readers – Teddy has picked up reading fairly quickly. If I’m not careful, he will call out the answers when Fulton is struggling. (Thus far, Fulton does not mind this and will sometimes ask for his younger brother’s help before I can stop him.)

Handwriting – Star Wars Writing- I thought this was more of a handwriting book but we’ll probably take our time moving through the lessons while also writing on a white board or lined paper. Teddy is able to write, but it’s hard for him to make a dark mark with a pencil so we do most of his books in marker.

Religion- Faith and Life

Math- Abeka 1

Man, does this post get longer every year or what? To compare to years past:





If you made it this far, you might be a homeschooler.  Got your picks written up somewhere? Share a link in the comments below. I always like to second guess myself. Not really, but share anyway.


  1. Thank you! Love it! Especially the “non-core” subjects like logic and Latin. I would love, love, love to hear how you get your day started. I have a 7 yo (and one in preschool and a 2 yo) who could love to spend her day reading books, doing puzzles, and coloring encore heading off to ballet and soccer. She is bright and curious, but getting her started on something besides reading her choice of book, puzzles, or coloring is like announcing that we are all about to start root canals. She would be a great unschooler but I wouldn’t be a great unschooler parent. How can I get my day going without gnashing of teeth?

    1. We start everyday at the same time, and always have, plus we follow a pretty regular routine throughout the day. I’m not saying there’s no gnashing of teeth, but it is what it is. Eventually the kids get that this is how things are done and go with the flow. Your kids are still young so I would make sure you have plenty of breaks through out your school day for play and movement. I didn’t make my kids sit for more than 25 minutes for a subject when they were little, and I started them at 15 minutes for some subjects. Their ability to sit still and work will come with age, even if the enthusiasm is a bit lacking. Now it’s rare that I even have to remind my older kids it’s school time. They simply get up, get dressed and fed and start work at 9 a.m. So be patient with yourself and your children! It will come time in time! 🙂

  2. I love these posts! Was just looking at Schiller myself but couldn’t buy it without seeing it first either. $$$$ Hope it’s a great year!

  3. Hi Kelly! I don’t homeschool, but I graduated with an elementary ed degree, so i love to read about different curriculums. 🙂 I have a thought about Fulton’s troubles: have you had his eyes checked by someone who specializes in children’s eyes? I ask this because I have 2 boys (out of 7) who have had eye issues that have been fixed with extensive vision therapy work. When one of the boys was only 3, he was running into walls and when he tried to learn to read, everyone thought he might be dyslexic. It turned out that his eye tracking and binocularity (eyes working together) were very poor and we needed to do a lot of different vision therapy eye exercises to help strengthen his eyes. It was slow going at first, but he’s a freshman in high school this year and doing awesome. He reads (and comprehends) above grade level. If you want more information, just let me know.

  4. I think it is so cool that you include Latin in your curriculum! And Logic. We sorely need logic in our society, and I wish that everyone took at least one course in logic at some point. Your post makes me so excited to homeschool someday!!! (currently my only child is 3 months old and will barely sit still for storytime)

  5. We’re also studying The Count of Monte Cristo, to tie in with history. When I taught this in High School, the kids, especially the boys, were very enthusiastic about it. And Latin, and logic – my 8th grade daughter is taking an online class from Memoria Press. Best wishes for a great year.

  6. Just a thought: I had a kid that had a hard time reading and seemed kind of dyslexic, butnotreally. He had a convergence insufficiency where the eye muscles either wouldn’t quite track together, or his brain had a hard time melding the images (this kid had had a stroke). Anyway, cutting a rectangle out of an index card so that he just saw one row at a time (part of a row, really) made a big difference and it’s cheap to try. 😉

  7. LOVE Song School Latin!! Simeon is much loved in our house. I suspect some dyslexia with my oldest, too, and one of our speech therapists mentioned that was a possibility with children who have a speech delay, so that’s probably the case for her. Anyway, we’re using All About Reading, because it uses the Orton Gillingham method, which I guess is what they recommend for kids with dyslexia? Still painful at times, but I’m seeing improvement and increased confidence! The company also does free consultations, I think? Going to go check out Reading Eggs, too!

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