Welcome Back to St. Bruno’s: 2020-2021 Curriculum Picks

We’re wrapping up our second week of school so it’s the perfect time to share my annual curriculum post! It’s littered with affiliate links so feel free to click and toss some pennies in my hat. (More links coming as I get time to add them.)

After only homeschooling Edie and Bryon for the last three years (while Addie took all her course work through Queen of Heaven Academy and the local community college), I’m now back to homeschooling Edie, Fulton and Teddy for all their subjects, plus overseeing a French course for Byron. But as I’ve mentioned numerous times, I’ve had lots of time to plan and think about what I wanted to accomplish this year and so, two weeks in, I still feel pretty good about my goals and choices. (Which is better than some years!!) And for all the complaints, tears, and times I want to gouge my eyeballs out, I think I’m mostly enjoying myself. I think it’s because I’ve made homeschooling my focus for now and included things that I enjoy learning and doing. However, my mom has been visiting and helping with the housework; once she leaves, everything may go down the toilet, but hopefully not.

Family Subjects

I used to do “family subjects” on a set day of the week. All the kids did religion crafts, science, history, listened to Shakespeare, art projects- whatever! on one day instead of regular academics. I also used that day for errands, trips, etc. But as the kids got older, and Addie did more online courses (beginning in middle school) the family subject day fell by the wayside and everyone did mostly their own things all five days of the week, with only a family reading of Shakespeare persisting on Fridays. Once Fulton and Teddy were enrolled in school, I brought back family subjects in the form of a “morning meeting” since “morning basket” sounded too juvenile. Except for the periods around Fulton’s surgery and our move, it worked well. Once Fulton and Teddy came home in March, I introduced them into the morning meeting mix. I like bringing everyone together in the morning, and I like the fact that despite the range of ages, everyone can learn together. Addie, as a graduate, no longer needs to wake up in time for morning meeting (much to her relief) and Byron is exempt as well as his college classes are in the morning. Below is what Edie, Fulton, and Teddy are learning at the beginning of their day. (*Edie doesn’t study these subjects with us during morning meeting.)

  • Prayers – We start by reciting the Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Our Father in Latin. Kids at our parish need to have those prayers memorized in time for their Confirmation so we added them last year for Edie’s sake and we’re just keeping at it for Fulton’s.
  • Latin – We’re memorizing the Credo in Latin and English. We hear it every week in Mass (in Latin), but I’m not sure the kids have it memorized and we never hear it in English since we rarely attend the Novus Ordo. I just thought it would be useful. For the last trimester, I’m going to introduce some Minimus to the younger two since we’ll be covering ancient Rome in history.
  • Shakespeare – At least three plays this year, starting with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We read No Fear Shakespeare and then watch the play.
  • Art Appreciation – Monday – We’re using Ambleside Online’s list of artists for the year. You can download prints and learn how to discuss art here. We don’t do narrations, we just talk about what we like/ dislike.
  • Music Theory* – Tuesday – Since Fulton and Teddy aren’t studying piano, I’m just reviewing basic musical theory with them (how to read music, etc.) because I think it’s an important skill. Teddy would like to take voice lessons but it’s tough with COVID so, we’ll work on this in the mean time.
  • Religion/ Liturgical Year* – Wednesday – Using Catholic Heritage Curriculum’s 4th grade religion text Saint’s and Seasons of the Liturgical Year. The older kids got bombarded with activities and books on the subject, but it dropped off the radar for awhile. I’m doing my best to make sure Fulton and Teddy get some of the same experience.
  • French* – Thursday – Totally came out of nowhere, but Fulton and Teddy expressed an interest in learning French (maybe due to Byron?) so I pulled out some materials I got back when Addie was younger and expressed an interest in learning it, and am using them to introduce basics words and phrases. I also like the Learn French with Alexa YouTube Channel.
  • Music Appreciation – Friday – We’re following the Ambleside Online composer schedule for the year. Edie (who enjoys classical music) can listen while she studies, and the boys listen while getting stretched or at lunch time.

Byron, 11th Grade

  • Three courses a semester at the local community college for dual credit. For the fall he’s taking a math, Art History, and Art with Computers.
  • French Glencoe Bon Voyage! Level 1 – I purchased the workbook, student text and teachers book. I know enough French to teach this level, maybe level 2 as well, but I need to practice a bit more to get up to speed. Byron’s interest in learning French stems from his scout group’s plan to do a pilgrimage to Chartes, France in 2021.
  • Religion – The high school CCD class at our parish led by our pastor. I decided to put Byron and Edie back in CCD since my plan to just “find something religious for them to read” hadn’t panned out. Of course, in-person CCD classes are on hold at the moment so I’m not sure when this class will actually start back up and how Father will handle remote learning for his class.

Edie, 9th Grade

I wound up not enrolling Edie in any online courses and instead created several classes on Google Classroom to collect and grade her work. I’ve used Schoology (another learning management system) in the past, but since my older kids already have Google accounts, I found it easier to work with Google Classroom. For the few courses I’m not monitoring through GC, I’m checking work and tracking her grades in a spreadsheet. (To learn how to use Google Classroom in your homeschool, please check out my new book. )

  • Math – Teaching Textbooks Algebra – Edie used the free trial and enjoyed it so we’re giving it a go. The fact that it’s fully online now and doesn’t require 4,293 discs made me finally willing to commit to the program.
  • English – The Good and the Beautiful – This seems to be the new curriculum company taking the homeschooling world by storm. I like that it’s all inclusive (literature, memory work, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary) and the student can work independently. Edie isn’t a huge online class fan, and works well on her own so this felt like a good fit. I can give a better review once we’re a quarter of the year in. Most of the work is completed in workbooks, but the writing assignments will be submitted in Google Classroom.
  • History – The History of the Ancient World – I love the Story of the World series. Yes, there’s anti-Catholic stuff in some of the books, but I love how complete they are, along with the activity books. So it was a no brainer that I selected their newer high school level book for Edie. I’ve been trying to read it along with her, and I really enjoy it. It’s not a dry history text. I also purchased their teacher’s guide and use that to help create weekly question assignments, and quarterly essays, in Google Classroom.
  • Classics – I’ve selected a few Greek plays (The Oedipus Plays, Lysistrata, The Bacchae), along with The Iliad, for Edie to read this year since she’s studying ancient history. I’m having her complete a couple quizzes on Spark Notes each week related to the assigned readings, along with a paper at the completion of each play. I’ve staggered the Classics assignments so she’s not writing papers for this class, history, and English at the same time. All the work is submitted through Google Classroom.
  • Science- Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Physical Science – We had all the texts and answer keys from when Addie took this her freshman year so I simply purchased the Student Notebook, which gives space to keep notes and record labs, along with a detailed daily schedule. I’m creating the quizzes in Google Classroom (using Google Forms) to help me with correcting and grading.
  • Logic – The Discovery of Deduction – I really wanted Edie to continue with Logic, but I didn’t want to overwhelm her, so we’re doing this book over the next two years. I find the style of Classical Academic Press more engaging and entertaining than other Logic programs (my older three all did The Art of Argument and didn’t hate it and even enjoyed parts of it.) She’s completing the workbook but submitting essay questions on Google Classroom.
  • Korean – How to Study Korean.com Edie also has an interest in learning Korean thanks to her love of K-pop. She’s going to use the same website Addie learned from, but at a much slower pace.
  • Religion – High school CCD class. We’re still waiting for her Confirmation to be rescheduled.

Fulton, 7th Grade

  • Reading Horizons Elevate Program This covers reading instruction, basic grammar, and spelling. There is a library of readers available on the site that we use (with comprehension questions). Fulton also uses Spelling City on his iPad for spelling tests (and to play games when I need to work one on one with Teddy). This program also lets me know the Lexile Level Fulton is at so I can select additional books for him to read from our bookshelves, or the library, at the correct level. This program is designed for dyslexic readers ages 10 and older and I highly recommend it.
  • Math – Abeka workbook and test booklet- My favorite program for elementary math. He reviews math facts with a simple flashcard app on his iPad.
  • Religion – CCD at our parish. Faith and Life Series. Typically the kids meet once a month and parents are expected to teach the majority of the material at home. For now we’ll be turning in work once a month instead of classes.

Teddy, 4th Grade

Teddy’s choices are pretty straight forward. I like Catholic Heritage Curriculum (CHC) workbooks and I like Abeka. No need to try anything new or get crazy. It’s fourth grade. Been there, done that.

  • Writing/ Grammar – CHC Language of God, Level C
  • Spelling – CHC My Catholic Speller, Level C
  • Literature – CHC The Treasure Trove of Literature and the Art of Understanding It, Level 1
  • Math – Abeka Math Grade 4 workbook and test booklet
  • Religion – CCD classes. Faith and Life Series (I don’t really like this series but it’s what’s required.)

Specials for Fulton and Teddy

Things like art and music were always called “specials” in the boys schools, so I got in the habit using that term myself even though it annoys me. The following classes the boys do together in the afternoon, except the last one.

  • Monday – History – The Story of the World Volume 1 (SOTW)– This is my fourth time doing the ancients, though, in looking through my old lesson plans, I’m not sure how much I did the last time with Fulton and Teddy since it was the year I decided to put them in school. So for them it’s all new, or at least feels that way. I have the audio book version and the activity book, and we’ve started hanging a timeline on the dining room wall. I enjoy studying ancient history so honestly, this is fun for me.
  • Tuesday – Art – We’re primarily doing art projects from the SOTW activity book. Some require more help from me than others, but again, I really like this stuff and when I enjoy it, I tend to be a more cheerful teacher. It’s also my goal to help the boys learn to do more art on either Fulton’s iPad or Tony’s Samsung tablet. Drawing can be very frustrating for them and I’m working on learning how to find ways to make it easier for them to express themselves through digital art. I’ll have to update you on how it goes.
  • Wednesday – Science – CHC Behold and See 4 – This text focuses on the study of the human body and health. I’m using it along with some Usborne books and a lapbook. The boys love science and this week while studying the brain and nervous system we watched videos of brain dissections and I made a brain cap for us to take turns wearing. So science is a lot of oral narrations, fun discussions, and general weirdness more than anything else. The lapbook is more so I can create a fun record of what we’ve learned.
  • Thursday – Nature – I know, nature study. WTH am I thinking right? But rather than yelling at my kids to go outside and “Draw something! I don’t care what it is! Just stay outside and look at nature!” I’m actually going outside with them and focusing on a specific part of the natural world to study. Right now it’s birds. I’m using The Handbook of Nature Study and a simple bird guide. As the weather cools off, I want to get to some local parks with paved trails since it might be the only activity they’ll get for awhile outside church and the library.
  • Morning Stretches – Everyday at 10 a.m. – During this time we listen to either an audiobook (currently The Iliad for Boys and Girls on Librivox) or the terms classical composer. I needed to schedule a set time in the a.m. for stretches because otherwise I forget, the nurse forgets, or we don’t get to it because it’s hard work and by 3 p.m. (the time I initially set aside for stretches back in March) nobody has the energy or patience for them. So far we’ve been consistent, though audio books are the clear favorite over classical music.


We’ve got a good schedule going. I’ve given generous blocks of time for each subject so that if something is challenging, or we want more time, we have it. But usually there’s gaps between each subject block so Fulton and Teddy can play, go outside, or generally yell at each other. (And I can decompress.) I’ve scheduled time to check work with Edie and Byron and am trying to help them manage their schedules and workload in the least intrusive way possible. I’ve learned I need to step in more to help, but still give them plenty of room to figure out what works for them. It’s a delicate balance.

If you’ve made it this far, you must be a homeschooler! But also a disclaimer- if this looks overwhelming please understand the ability to pick curriculum, create lesson plans, and schedule my day came from years of homeschooling. I also had tons of time to plan this year which helped immensely, especially when it came to creating all of Edie’s Google classes. Plus, I know first hand how fragile all this really is. I think it’s probably my best planned out year ever, but that doesn’t mean it’s fool proof. Don’t compare your homeschool, or distance learning school, to mine. I’d love for my year to go as good as it looks on paper, but I know we can have a great year if that doesn’t happen. Homeschooling works in all kinds of ways. Go easy on yourself.

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