Saturday, August 11, 2012

'Not' Back to School: Our Curriculum

Believe it or not, I am actually a little late to iHomeschool Network's 4th annual blog hop, Week One.

I think I am about #500 to join this week's hop about curriculum and supplies.

Well, the more the merrier, right?  : )

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Although it looks like we have/do a lot, do keep in mind that we do not use ALL these supplies everyday and we rotate subjects throughout the year. Being well-organized just helps life to flow better around here and makes MY life easier, in the short and long run. Happy Mom = Happy Family.

My plans and supplies, like many homeschool parents, come along with much prayerful thought and consideration. If you have questions, I am happy to answer through the comments section here.

Divide and Conquer

I have two 'sets' of learners this year, plus a new baby.

Cute Kids 1 and 2 are (almost) age 10 and (almost) age 8.
Cute Kids 3 and 4 are age 5 and (almost) age 3.

The first year of homeschooling my oldest when he was 7, I wanted to expand our routine and added in a 'light' version of Charlotte Mason home education via Ambleside Online with our usual relaxed, unschool-y learning routine. It was just my oldest that I had "table time" with at that point, but there was plenty of learning going on in an informal way for everyone. We did narration, copywork, and nature study. Science experiments happened occasionally and math was intuitive: counting and spending money, cooking and measuring, and other normal things.

The next year, I added in his younger brother, but did less narration with both, choosing to focus on basic reading and writing skills, plus establishing habits and character training and learning to do housework as a family. I'm really grateful I followed the Spirit and my intuition to establish that routine and healthy foundation to move forward from. It's vital as we begin this year.

This year, 2012-13, I want to be sure to have time with the older and younger set, (I enjoy being with them!) and it really does not work for us at this point to combine everyone, everyday. From the previous years, I also took notice that the kids learn very quickly with a 2:1 child to parent ratio, so a 5 day-a-week schedule was not necessary!

Monday-Wednesday-Friday in the morning for about an hour is my oldest set's "Table Time".
Tuesday-Thursday in the morning for about an hour is my younger set's "Mommy Time".

Having three kids ask me what day it is and what they will be doing was driving me up the wall!

This provided a fantastic solution: the magnet is placed on 'today' and the kids know what to expect!


I am very flexible, so while this is the 'default' (to keep us in a habit), I don't mind taking things out of order every once in a while, such as reading practice at nighttime with an older child or including the younger ones in an art project with the older ones occasionally. We are a family, and that has it's advantages!

I am also considering doing our weekly routine for 6 weeks and then taking one week to just relax, catch up on errands, go places or have friends over.

Daily Routine for Everyone

Chores / Breakfast
Table Time or  Mommy Time
Play Time
Lunchtime / Devotional
Quiet Time / Watch shows / Play computer games
Clean up / Prepare dinner / Set table
Eat dinner / Clear table
Outside playtime / Take a walk / Play at park
Family music time or watch movie together
Brush teeth / Jammies / Family prayer / Read aloud / Bedtime

Obviously, when we have friends over or a dentist appointment, the routine will look differently, but my goal is to maintain the morning for our family and plan play dates and appointments in the afternoon, after lunch, when possible.

Daily study, even for a few minutes at a time, is the beginning of building study habits for life.

Table Time (older set) M, W, F

Reading practice
Narration (Read aloud, the kids tell back what they heard) or Try this during quiet time later that day
{{ Break }}   Run around, trampoline, snack, drink, etc. Set timer for 15-20 minutes.
"Weekly": Art, Music, History, Math, Nature/Science, Foreign Language

"Weekly" means alternating one subject per week, so that's four subjects a month. I'm playing around with the idea of maybe doing one different subject a day, so three per week, so each subject repeats once a month. Plans are meant to be refined around here! When we begin, I'll find what is comfortable for me and the kids and plan accordingly. The goal of the "weeklys" is to introduce the kids to a variety of topics and experiences for them to interact with personally; the focus is not on rote memorization or fluency in the entire subject.

My hope is that one, even one, activity may spark an interest to know more and then they can expand on that and search out to learn more, if they so choose. We are in this home ed thing for the long haul, I am not concerned with "grade level", and they have years to develop their own foundation of knowledge in a variety of subjects. I just like to have the focus to explore cool things together! and feel like I am doing what I consider my job is: to be their "tour" guide and introduce them to the wider world around them.

Which brings me to our learning materials! Now, there are so many more websites and books and music CDs and prints for artist study, and experiences, we use that I could go on endlessly. My Learning Resources page has more, if you are looking for that.

Over the course of a year it is AMAZING how much they glean from everyday experiences. But, these are the basics I have on hand to do together. I choose which resource to use when for the weekly subjects based on my intuitive sense for what the child is ready for, as well as what I feel like doing with them. That's how I roll  : )

Where the daily resources reside. Preschool/K in the red basket to the right and the older set's books are in the brown cardboard tray to the left.


{ The Basics }

Reading practice:

Phonics Pathways and Mormon Little Books {Sale on those HERE!}




(Print outs in binder from Ambleside Online lists for free)


{ Weekly's }

: Art :

Split into :
1) Appreciation using Ambleside Online Artist Study list; print off pictures to study.
2) Hands-on! We regularly make birthday cards to send to extended family, paint, use playdough and play clay, draw, coloring books and crayons, and do crafts.





: Music :

Split into: 
1) Appreciation by listening to selections on Spotify based on AO Composer Study list & reading about the composers' lives using library books.
2) Making music : keyboard, lap harp, singing, family music time with guitar and fiddle

: History :

Timeline this year! Religious events written in one color above center line, another color below the line for secular world events. Also, we'll record events from family devotional/scripture study and from Story of the World, volume 1 : Ancient History. Family birthdays and founding of the U.S. and other odd dates will make their way on their (the invention of Lego, anyone?)

This subject often leads into geography, as well, which is great because the timeline in our hallway is near the world map.



: Math :

 Giant geoboard, counting money, measuring, building with Lego and blocks, and everyday experiences offer plenty of experience with math for younger kids. My oldest son learned all his addition, subtraction and some of his multiplication and division without formal lessons. We continue to explore math regularly.

Life of Fred book 1 looks like so much fun! Can hardly wait to begin!

Games are a fun and efficient way to teach math skills and strategical thinking.
I close one eye and pretend they are neatly stacked :o)

: Nature / Science :

Nature walks and playing in the garden are our main science study times.

The free science idea cards are from
Vicki Cobb's science experiments are way fun and kids always have questions about bodies, right?

: Foreign Language :

Spanish is an easy 20 minutes with a CD to learn some songs with and coloring pages for each child. The French book, activity and board game and listening tape were from the library book sale for pennies. I'll focus mainly on Spanish, but consider introducing French with a few games and cards around the house near everyday items.


: Odds and Ends :

Extra ideas I find online or think up are written on slips of paper and neatly tucked in envelopes to pull out during our 'weekly' time. Variety is the spice of life! And, boy, is our life S P I C Y !   : )

Linda Dobson's book is also a fantastic resource. It's a compilation of a bunch of neat, creative ideas to explore math, art, history, reading, writing and more.


Cub Scouts provides one more opportunity for me and my husband to do activities with our oldest son.
Our second son will become a wolf cub scout this year!


 Character Qualities and Devotionals

Last, we introduce a new character quality we work together on as a family the first Monday of each month at our family night. This works well when Dad is on board, as well. It keeps us all accountable to each other and working together for success. We are not perfect, but learning all the time.

There is a scripture that goes along to illustrate the quality of the month and these are written on 3x5 cards. These two 3x5 cards stay on the fridge all month long and we recite them together occasionally during dinnertime. When the month ends, the cards go in an index card case and a new set is created for the next month. This idea is based on the Duggar family's chart.

In the same box, I have other scriptures and the 13 Articles of Faith written on cards that we review for family night or during dinner as a family.


For our family, pictures from the LDS Gospel Art Kit provide easy lunchtime devotionals.

I display the pictures in a plastic page protector with magnets on the back on the fridge.
That way, the family sees it often to reinforce the lesson and it's easy for me to read the abbreviated story on the back of the picture while the kids eat and then slap it back on the fridge after the meal is ended.  After I tell the story, I give the older 3 boys a chance to re-tell the story in their own words (narrate) and when the story is learned, I change out the picture with a new one.

Gospel Art Picture and 10 Commandments and 2 important commandments above it.

Listening in the car or during Quiet time or sometimes before bedtime works for us.

A fun book that we enjoy that ties into "putting on the whole armor or God".

Our family's Book Of Mormon reading list. We are s l o w l y chipping away at this.

More books I rotate for devotionals. Good thing there are 12 months in a year! ;-)

I just love being with my little ones!

They are so sweet; we really enjoy our moments together.
My goal in teaching them is for them to feel valued, get to know Jesus Christ, and have fun!

Mommy Time (younger set)  T / TH

Movement! Take a walk, ride bikes, jump on trampoline together, dance
Scripture story and song : (10 total) One per week and then repeat OR same story for 2 weeks
ABCs and 123s : After Lunchtime / Devotional or after Quiet time

{ ABCs & 123s }

Homemade ABC collage

We {heart} Dover books!

Because we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I find ways to share the gospel with them by reading scriptures from the Bible and the Book of Mormon and recent church history. I also sing songs and pray with my children through-out the day as a main component to their education. It brings a gentle spirit into our home and teaches us all truths that helps us be happy together in our family. Here's the schedule for the younger set. Older kids are invited to join in if they can be quiet and let the little ones have the attention.

{ Scripture Stories }

1. Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, Moses
2. Birth of Jesus
3. Jesus' Childhood
4. Jesus' Baptism
5. Miracles of Jesus & Teachings
6. Atonement
7. Resurrection
8. Plan of Salvation
9. Joseph Smith's First Vision
10. How We Got the Book of Mormon


Songs & fingerplays are integral and such a fun way to learn. (Luckily, I like singing!)



Felt board and figures in expandable folder file, organized by story.

Coloring books

Super $1 Store find, and the art and story are very well done even!

There is so much to explore and learn together! 
Home education is a treat.

Click on over to the hop to see 
499 other families' curriculum choices  : )

Happy planning!

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  1. Oh wow! Hats off to you Eve! It gave me so much appreciation for mums homeschooling multiple kids. My schedule and routine is a lot simpler having only one child:)

    1. Your reading list with your daughter is something I enjoy seeing, too. I can hardly wait until my girls are ready for that kind of reading!

  2. You sure do seem to have your plan down pat... that is awesome! This is our first year, we are doing University Model schooling! and using A Beka books.. any tips?

    1. Gotta start somewhere, right? That's how I view start-of-the-year plans; they always change as we go! Wish I had tips for you, but I am not familiar with those resources. Best wishes on *your* first year, how exciting!

  3. I loved reading about your homeschooling! It's so helpful to see how others are planning out their days!

    1. Thanks, Jen! I'm glad you stopped by!


Thanks for your comment today! I love reading your thoughts, too. :-)