Curriculum Update 2012

With a new year beginning, I like to take a look at what we are using for our homeschool curriculum.  For me, it’s good to do this every few months just to make sure that what I chose for the year is still working and heading us in the direction of the goals we want to achieve.  Thankfully, this year so far has been going very smoothly.

Lilly is 5 now and could be in Kindergarten but I prefer to not push too early and want to let her continue with preschool for another year.  She will start Kindergarten in the fall.  Toby is 7 and is considered 1st grade, really just for the sake of giving him a grade to say when people ask.  As far as curriculum goes, he is well beyond first grade in all subjects.

We do most subjects together but I work with each child individually for reading, writing and math.

Here’s what’s on our plate this year:


Lilly:  Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, Bob books, and a mixture of games and activities from our supply and from online.  She recently used a gift card from Christmas to buy herself some Biscuit Readers and is doing so amazing reading them.

Toby:  Catholic National Reader Book 2-he is really enjoying learning to read cursive.  He is always reading a Magic Tree House Research Guide or a chapter books of his own choosing.  He rarely has trouble finding a new book to read.  We use narration as an assessment.  Both kids are currently doing a winter reading challenge.  Toby is working on reading for at least 1 hour every day and Lilly gets points for each book she reads.


I put this in it’s own category because it’s mainly our family read alouds.  I read to them while they are eating meals, at bedtime and any other opportunity we find.  On our book list this year are:

Finishing the Little House Series, Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare, Narnia series, The Door in the Wall, Understood Betsy, Heidi, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Call of the Wild, Whittington, Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator, The Incredible Journey, Bridge to Terabithia.


Lilly:  Writing Our Catholic Faith Kindergarten

Toby:  Writing Our Catholic Faith Grade 2M


Toby:  Teaching Textbooks 3 and the test booklet from Math U See Beta

Lilly:  Math U See Primer, math games and misc. math activities


Together:  Christian Liberty Nature Reader 2, nature study, lapbooks, misc. projects and research on topics of interest


Together(mainly Toby but Lilly likes to help):  Rand McNally Geography and Maps Beginner, map copywork.


Together:  Story of the World Volume 1


Together:  Religion 1 for Young Catholics, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at church, daily bible reading and devotion, scripture memory box.


Together:  The Golden Treasury of Poetry  A book I scored at a garage sale last year!  We read random selections once a week, sometimes trying to memorize ones we really enjoy.

Art Appreciation:

Together:  Norman Rockwell  I picked up a calendar last year full of Norman Rockwell art.  We basically look at one and talk about it together and then keep it on display in the school room for a few weeks before changing to a new one.

Arts & Crafts: 

Random seasonal craft activities and daily drawing using the Draw Write Now series.


Together:  Beethoven  Once a week, sometimes more often, we’ll listen to Beethoven while we have “recess” in the schoolroom or work on a craft.


Jumping on the trampoline, riding bikes, playing outside, exercising with me from a video(when I make time!).  Both kids really want to take gymnastics so I am looking into that.  We will also be starting a homeschool PE class at the Y in February and Lilly will be taking a park & rec ballet class.  

Spelling/Writing/Vocab:  Toby does some spelling activities from the Super Teacher Worksheets site but we do not put much emphasis on spelling yet.  In Charlotte Mason style we will pick up spelling through dictation in a couple of years.  I also don’t require much of any creative writing yet.  He writes freely though making signs for his room, notes for play, thank you and birthday cards, etc.  In a couple of years we will start requiring written narrations.  We have a “word of the week” chart on display in the kitchen which has been a fun vocabulary builder for both of the kids.  We also use Vocabulary Cartoons once in a while to discuss and become familiar with more difficult vocab words.

We have a great appreciation for the Charlotte Mason method and try to pull in as much of her teaching philosophy as we can.  We emphasize reading great literature, narration, art and music appreciation, nature study, and copywork.  We do not test to see what the children do not know but instead use narration and discussion as a way to assess what they do know.

I truly believe that this style of learning has created in our home an environment of curiosity, wonder and a love for learning.  Quite often the kids come to me and ask for more information about a topic or outright ask if we can “study” something that they are interested in.  They enjoy gaining knowledge, not because it is being poured on them in hopes that some will stick but because they truly are interested in the world around them.  They enjoy learning new things and are constantly doing so.  They usually don’t even realize that they are learning because it is such a way of life for them.  The laid back atmosphere this method of teaching creates is major bonus!



  1. //

    Hi Maria,

    I’m big a blog reader of yours for years. Always love keeping up with you adventures! We have decided to homeschool this year and I’m of course feeling overwhelmed. I think my kids are right behind yours, my son is almost 6.5 and my daughter is almost 5. My son is advanced and my daughter is obviously early for kindergarten but showing huge interest so we will dabble in it and see how it goes. Did these curriculums work for you last year? I have many of the same on my list and just feeling hesitant about it all. Obviously hate to jump in and then realize they aren’t working for me. But I’m sure it’s all trial and error. Thanks for sharing your life with everyone!


    1. //

      HI Lindsay, I apologize for not getting back to you. As you can see, we’ve been distracted from “normal life” for a while. I do recommend the things on that list but I also want to say to take it slow and just enjoy reading together and exploring the world. Have fun and don’t push anything right now. Toby is 8 and will be 2nd grade this fall and I just now feel like we will raise the expectations, a little. I will try to get back to you when I feel like thinking about school again. I hope you understand. ~Maria

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