Not Back to School Blog Hop : 2011 – 2012 curriculum

Not Back to School Blog Hop

It’s the 3rd annual Not Back to School Blog Hop over at Heart of the Matter. I’ve tried for the last three years to participate and something always comes up and I do a week and forget the rest. This year, I’m going to try harder and to all 4 weeks. The  first week is curriculum. Choosing curriculum is like a thorn in my side somedays, I’m just never sure I’m choosing the right one for us and I have no problems leaving something behind mid year because it isn’t working.

C is in 4th grade this year, wow how time flies. The way we are doing school is going to be different this year. I have been trying for the last 3 years to find something that fits us. I don’t want to do school from 8-4 or 9-3. I don’t want to be tied to a table all those hours. I want school to be fun, hands on and interesting. I also hate the fact that we can never seem to get past the core subjects to the fun stuff. So this year I’m changing it and going to a 2 week block schedule.  For two weeks we will do science, geography (US and world), nature study, and I am hoping to add in some unit studies and a language.  Then we will switch and for two weeks we will do math, grammar, literature, handwriting, spelling/vocabulary, and writing. I think this will help us get through the day better, give us the break we need sometimes and keep us (read me) from getting burned out too quickly with a lot of hands on projects.

His curriculum:

MathLife of Fred -  We are finishing up fractions, and then we will start decimals and percents. I didn’t think my reluctant reader would like this series but he loves it. I think because it explains the whys behind math vs tons of review and boring explanations.

GrammarGrowing with Grammar 4 – I really like Growing with Grammar. It’s self explanatory so that the student can work independently and still learn. There is some diagramming so he is learning to diagram sentences, which is important to me.  He likes it and it takes maybe 15 minutes a day.

WritingWriting Strands 2 and 3 - this year we will be finishing Writing Strands 2 and starting Writing Strands 3. I’m glad I waited until this year to start a formal writing program. Waiting until C was ready has made things go much smoother. We will also be doing some journal writing in the form of a blog this year. C has some fine motor issues that make writing well a pain. So I am going to combine learning to type with journal / blog writing.

Handwriting - New American Cursive - C wants to learn cursive so why not? I’m not really pushing it, he doesn’t have to be perfect but  I do want him exposed to it.We spent most of the first part of this year in OT for fine motor issues, SPD and handwriting. His print has  improved but his cursive is neater,it’s really weird. After we finish the workbook I have the Start Write CD to create my own handwriting worksheets for him to practice his handwriting.

Spelling and VocabularySoaring with Spelling and Vocabulary 4 – our spelling and vocabulary are combined this year. This is the one subject we will have to double up on to complete the whole book in our allotted time within our block schedule. Much like Growing with Grammar it is set up so the student can work fairly independently. There is a pretest at the beginning of the week, and then a workbook page for 4 days and a test at the end of the week. So far we like it , a lot.

Literature – I started reading a book I have been seeing popping up on Pinterest and on teaching blogs called The Book Whisperer. I’ve only read one chapter so far and I’m already changing my plans for literature this year. C is a very reluctant reader, it’s something I have to push for him to do. So this year, I’m going to let him choose his reading, within reason. We are going to talk about genres, every week we will pick a different genre to study and he will have to read a book of his choice in that genre. We are also going to work on our library skills so we can stop asking the librarian where things are all the time. He will journal about the books he reads on his blog.

ScienceElemental Science: Biology for the Logic Stage – The curriculum is writing intensive so I took that out and added in extra hands on and lab activities for C to do. I’m not exactly thrilled with it, it’s not exactly what I want, but it’s secular *sigh*  We will be dissecting animals this year also. And now that I just saw that that REAL Science is coming out with a level 2 Biology and since I much prefer their program, I think we may be switching.  In fact I just emailed them to see when it is coming out, and we may stop science until it comes out.

UPDATE – since Biology Level 2 isn’t coming out for a few months, and I really can’t get into Elemental Science we are going to do REAL Science Odyssey Chemistry and then move into Biology when we are finished.

History and Geography – This is a change from when I first made this post. I’m switching things up. I let C pick the order of the states, countries and US history subjects we will be doing. I’m going to pull from various places using unit studies, living books and hands on activities to teach US history and US and World Geography. These are:

Confesstions of a Homeschooler’s Expedition Earth and Road Trip USA

Amanda Bennett’s Passport Series

Teacher File Box


Homeschool Share

Nature Study – I’m going to use the Handbook of Nature Study but beyond that I’m not sure. I’m going to wait until late September / early October to start this, because well, it’s too HOT right now. We will journal these on mine and C’s blogs as well.

I also have no plans for language right now, I’m hoping to figure that out in the near future also. Art and music will be done through US and World Geography this year. PE will be swimming, yoga class, kids zumba class, and lots of outdoor play time.

This year I’m also adding K into the mix. She will be 3 in October and is doing a preschool program that I am working on writing right now. It is literature based and hands on. We will do a theme revolving around a story a week. So far we have read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Brown Bear Brown Bear and next week is Dinosaur Shapes. She’s loving it and in the last 3 weeks has learned all of her colors and shapes. She is also tagging along on C’s geography and nature studies.

That’s our plans for this year as of right this minute, stay tuned because they could change.

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  1. I am loving our Road Trip USA by Erica ! Such fun stuff !!

  2. I am awaiting a couple levels of LOF after numerous failures in Math the last two years. Fingers are tightly crossed!

    • We love LOF. We’ve had failures in Math for the last two years also. Horizons had too much repetition/ Teaching Textbooks was boring and again the repetition got to be a bit much.

      • I tried those two and MUS. I am not going to supplement LOF besides multiplication drills my older two still need. I am also looking at the block schedule idea. :)

  3. You’ve picked lots of great resources. I’m trying a new schedule as well. I’ve scheduled 6 weeks spread through out the year where we will just work on science. I’ve picked some fun science kits that we will complete during that week since no other subjects will be on the schedule. Hoping your schedule works as well as I hope mine works!

    • I like the idea of doing nothing but science for a few week too. I love the flexibility of being able to play with schedules that suit our families the best. There is no right way!

  4. I’m totally diggin’ your two-week blog plan, my friend! I’m sitting here with my coffee, thinking, “THAT’S how I’m going to get all my stuff done this year!” HA! Thanks for posting, and for linking up at HOTM I wish you all the best this year!! I’m here by way of the HOTM blog hop, and I hope you’ll stop by and see what all we (will hopefully) be up to this year!

    • Thanks! Today was our first day, it went well. School only lasted 2-3 hours, by the time he was done, we were done and we got 99% of everything on our list done. So happy about this new plan. I really think it’s going to work for the best.

    • Thanks! So far I’m liking our two week block plan. We’ll see how the year progresses but so far so good.

      • Well, I’m keeping tabs on you, haha! So glad to hear that the first days rocked! I’m still trying to figure out how to take larger plans and bust ‘em up into weekly and daily shots (my oldest REALLY loves the daily To-Do List. I think she and FlyLady would be buddies). I end up throwing my hands up and finding chocolate. Or coffee. Or both. :)

  5. Sounds like a great plan–we are changing our schedule this year, too. I think it helps to focus on one area for a while, instead of switching every day (at least that’s my theory–we’ll see how it goes!)

    My son (9) wants to do cursive as well. His printing is so-so, but I figure I’ll let him try cursive since he’s interested.

    I LOVE Life of Fred! We tried it a couple of years ago and I decided my kids weren’t quite ready, so I shelved it. This year, we’re going to try it again, and the kids are really excited!

    Just stopping by from the blog hop! Hope you have a great year of homeschooling!

  6. Karen Woodward says:

    There’s so much to choose from it’s mind boggling! Sounds like you have a good plan. Have a blessed school year!

  7. I am stopping by from the Not Back to School Blog Hop. We LOVE Life of Fred and Writing Strands. We were looking at Elemental Science, but I think we are going to try Real Science 4 Kids…were you talking about that Science or the R.E.A.L. Science? I am trying to find a science program…

    • REAL Science from Pandia Press, I think we are going to do their Chemistry until their Level 2 Biology comes out. We really enjoy their science, it’s experiment based which works well in our house.

      • Thanks so much! Last year was our first year homeschooling and we basically did Science kits. I never really liked science in school…but once we started doing the experiments it all made sense! I am going to look more closely at this program–thanks!

  8. Crystal Jarvis says:

    Can you tell me what workbook you are starting in for cursive? I have a 4th grader too who wants to do cursive, I just didn’t know whether to start workbook 1 or higher workbook.

  9. Awesome Literature Idea!!! How did it work out?

    • Sad to say it didn’t work as well as I thought it would and my plan failed. We are trying something new this year.


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