Monday, September 09, 2013

2013 Homeschooling Choices - 1st, 6th, and 7th grades

On Thursday I asked y'all if you'd be interested in my big-kid curriculum chatter and several of you said yes, so let's do it.  All the people, all the things.  First individual subjects, then combo stuff.

Katie, 7th grade

Math: Saxon Algebra 1

This is the math curriculum I grew up with.  She and I have the same frenetic brain zoomy all over the place learning style, so I knew Saxon with its spiraly spiraling would work for her.  And it makes her feel fancy to have a hardback text book that she can't write in.  Don't ask me.  I don't make the rules.  Well, yes, I do make the rules.  And the rule is "if it makes you like school work more, sign me up."

History: The Old World and America

Last year we went with the Angelicum history suggestions, which included All Ye Lands for 6th grade.  We loved, and still love, that book.  The 7th grade suggestion, on the other hand, got not-so-glowing reviews from people who felt the same way we did about the 6th grade book.  They recommended we save it for high school.  So instead I found this great little book and so far (I think she's....6 lessons into it?  She got tired of not doing school over the summer.  I know.  Weirdo.) we like it.  I like the faith tie-ins and the not-dumbed-down language.  She loves the variety of questions at the end of each lesson.

Grammar: Advanced Winston Grammar

I can't remember how I stumbled across this while preparing for last year, but I went ahead and got the basic and advanced levels and we're using it for the second year in a row.  One worksheet per week for the entire year could get you through both levels in 2 years.  I think we'll end up drawing it out to last all of middle school, though.  I'm in no hurry.  The practice is straightforward and the little cards that the parts of speech are written on seem juvenile, but for visual and tactile learners both, they are really useful.  The workbook has easy tear-out pages and you can photocopy for use as many times as you need to within your family.  Cha-ching.

Lizzy, 6th grade

Math: MCP Math Level F

Lizzy loves hating math.  It's her favorite hobby.  She won't try Saxon ("Anything that Katie likes I'm going to hate!"), we tried Singapore last year, and now we're trying MCP.  Sighs and grouchiness all around.  She understands it.  She just doesn't enjoy it.  And whatever temperament it is that insists all things be enjoyable?  She has that.  Whatever.  Learn what an exponent is.  Do some percentages.  Don't mess up your order of operations. Stop rolling your eyes.  This is all I ask.

History: Story of the World

This was kind of a last-minute decision.  We were going to do All Ye Lands but then a few weeks before school started she saw the Story of the World book and started reading it just for fun.  I scoped out the teacher's manual and even though I had bought it for Paul (first grade) I realized that it was designed for multiple grade levels at a time.  And I could tell right away that there was stuff she (and I!) doesn't already know.  So why not?  I asked her if she'd like to do this instead and save All Ye Lands for next year and she hopped on board.  I think it's going to be a lot of fun, honest.

Story of the World Vol. 1: Ancient Times, Revised, Softcover

Grammar: Basic Winston Grammar

She is halfway through this book already (we started it last year) and so we're just picking up where we left off.  I think in total we'll shoot for a minimum of 15 lessons this year to finish this level but if we end up having time for more, we'll just keep on trucking and start in on the advanced level.  Again, perforated pages and permission to copy all the worksheets for use in your own family

Combined Middle School Subjects

Latin: Prima Latina

This course is going to be so simple and fun and usable by every age group.  Now if you went to UD with us, you are probably sobbing a little that the children of Tommy Borobia, knower of all languages and major-er in Latin and Greek, are barely picking up Latin in middle school.  Travesty to be sure.  Anyway, it is what it is.  The generous Rebekah (do you read her blog?  She is on my list of "women I need to meet."  Will it make her feel old if I say that she just seems to ooze wisdom?  I don't care.  She does.  And she's funny and lovely and good and lots of other positive adjectives. Also: incredible hair) sent me oodles of homeschooling materials near the end of last year and this was in the box.  Sign from the heavens!  So obvi we're doing it.

Language Arts: um....wordly things?

Here's what I mean.  They read.  A lot.  Lots and lots of reading.  Should I do a book or reading list someday?  Maybe.  Some people mentioned that.  Anyway, I don't want to suck the fun out of reading by making them constantly analyze things and prove to me their reading comprehension skills.  I don't need to.  I know them and their comprehension is stellar.  Anyway, just like last year we're doing poetry from The Harp and the Laurel Wreath.

I love this book because you can use it for all grade levels forever.  One book, a hundred purposes.  What I do is assign a poem per week (more or less depending on length).

-Day one: they copy the poem out of the book into their notebook using their best handwriting.

-Day two: they write down any new-to-them words and look up the definition in the dictionary (alternate option: research historical event that the poem is referring to)

-Days three thru five: memorization of poem with recitation on Friday or sometime during the weekend

They are also going to be participating in a writing workshop during our weekly co-op where they'll have the opportunity to learn and practice peer editing et al.  Good stuff.

Geography/additional history: Complete National Geographic DVD roms

The other day I mentioned this set of cd-roms.  It is so incredible and you can find it used for a fraction of the new cost.  We've got the syllabus from Angelicum but this is another one that I'm being flexible with.  If it takes three years to get through it, that's cool.  The articles are excellent for them to stretch their reading skills, particularly the articles written in the 20s and 30s and the photographs are, of course, wonderful.  We're shooting for one "assignment" per week, but I've given myself permission to skip around or entirely skip certain articles based on interest level in the topic.  So freeing!
Complete National Geographic on 6 DVD-ROMs - Updated Edition


I should probably have this more mapped out, but honestly I just don't.  The vague notion I have is for each one of them to pick a saint, research where the saint was from, family history, country history, cultural devotions, details about their canonization, what was going on in the world during their lives, and then give a speech with a visual presentation at the end of each month.  That would mean eight projects through the course of the school year.  We'll see if I add or adjust that as time goes on

Science: Behold and See 6

I am S-T-O-K-E-D that our co-op this year is doing an experiment based science class for middle schoolers.  We're happy to read words 'round here, but I kinda suck at having the supplies for experiments handy up in this here casa.  All the middle-schoolers will be doing this class together and then they'll be participating in a science fair at the end of the semester/year.  That slash means "I can't remember if they're doing one or two and that just shows you how bad I am at planning in advance"

Paul: 1st grade

Math: MCP Level A

A lot of what is in the very beginning of this book is too easy for him.  So guess what?  We just skip it!  So magical.  Yay being in charge.  Overall though, I like the unhurried pace and sufficient practice in this book.  I'd rather have too much practice that I can skip past than not enough which requires that I print extra practice sheets or something, know what I'm sayin'?

Reading: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Ooooh, if you missed Paul's kindergarten post, you can read it here.  I talked about and use this book last year, too, but stopped about half-way through.  So we're picking up again where we left off and moving forward.  Little dude is a very young first grader what with his birthday being at the end of August and all.  If he was going to public school, we wouldn't have sent him at all last year, so at least for these beginning years he'll hover a little "ahead" or a little "behind" on certain things, depending on how you look it at it

Science: Behold and See 1

We'll see how much of this we use.  Probably I should have thought a little harder about whether this book was necessary seeing as it is set on a farm and talks about things like how gardens grow and animals and stuff.  Hmmmm.  Yes.  Probably could just, like, go outside.  Which we might do.  But the book is very cute and age appropriate and not annoying.  So there's that for anyone who has a different set-up from ours.


Spelling doesn't really make sense until you can read, so there's no formal spelling program going on over here.  We read a poem out of The Harp and The Laurel Wreath and talk about what it means.  Then one day a week we practice handwriting by using words out of that poem and then on another day he picks a line to copy straight out of the book.


For two years he's done Cathechesis of the Good Shepherd at our parish.  This year we're taking a break because he'd be in the same classroom for the third year in a row.  Instead we're going to read out of the many saint books for kids and children's gospels that Tommy's sister has sent us over the years (nun sister in law for the win!).  That combined with celebrating feast days and listening to his big sisters' presentations (and Mass, of course.  Did I even need to write that?) should be sufficient.

History: Story of the World

Paul's gonna be doing this along with Lizzy.  Different and fewer activities but overall same time period.  We'll see how it goes!

Spanish and Art

These two are classes being taught at our co-op this year for the lower elementary grades.  Fun!

And here's the link to Paul's kinder post again because we're still using the calendar and letter and number charts for Cecilia.  And don't forget out loud reading time and all the other things that families normally do.  Do I need to include that kind of stuff?  I didn't think so.


Holy.  Moly.  That seems like a lot.  It doesn't feel like a lot when we're doing it, I swear!  I mean, here it is 10:23 on a Monday morning and we still haven't started school.  Heck, we're all still in our pajamas.  What?  It was a tiring weekend (for some reason).  And it was raining.  Who can get out of bed early when it's raining?  No, this is totally reasonable.  Really.

Please, feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to respond directly or write a post filled with all the questions and answers. Remember, this is only our third year though.  But I was homeschooled-in-someone-else's home for most of my childhood.  So I don't know where my helpfulness lands on the Useful Scale.  I'll let you decide.

Edit!  I totally forgot about art and "p.e." for the big girls.  Mea culpa.

For art, they're taking a class on Wednesday mornings called Mosaic Fused Glass with our local homeschool partnership.  And p.e. is horseback riding lessons on Thursday afternoons.

Okay, for real this time I think I'm finished.  Is it nap time?

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  1. What is the coop? Does someone else teach science in the coop?

    1. In the co op, two other homeschooling moms lead the experiments for all the kids. We still do the reading and discussion here at home, but the hands on mess is there :)

  2. Since I am only doing pre-K with my 3 1/2 year old, here it is at 10:42 am and we are done for the day with "school" and still in jammies. I thought staying in jammies and not having a set schedule was a perk. ;)

  3. Oh my gosh, I did the same thing when I got Behold and See 1...I was all "you want us to plant peas in a cup" and chart the weather when we had just spent all weekend outside (um, noticing weather and such) and we were planting this huge A garden that will actually grow things we can eat for dinner. It's cute but really really really redundant if you do that sort of stuff in your normal life. I ended up selling it. Oh, and it REALLY bugged me that the order of the seasons that were talked about didn't match what season it actually was outside. Like the first chapter is spring and most people start in fall or something like that. All that to say I don't do science anymore with the little ones and don't worry about it at all.

    We used Prima Latina a few years back with John Paul but I don't recommend the Latina Christiana that follows. We're going to finish I and then I'm looking for something better.

    That Natl. Geographic set looks awesome.

  4. Looks like an awesome year! Thanks for all the over-the-top description, I think you're pretty wise yourself, Old Lady!

  5. Looks like an awesome year planned! Enjoy!

  6. I have a question. How long does it take your middle ones to get done with everything? I have a 5th and 6th grader. We start around 8 and we are always done by 10. I am feeling like I need to add in more, maybe? I don't know. We cover math, language arts, grammar, and history in that time with a little logic thrown in. Am I crazy to think that this is enough?

  7. Dwij -- next year when you get ready for First Communion Prep, I HIGHLY recommend this program: Communion with the Saints. It's a family preparation program. We did it this past year and loved it.

  8. There's a Story of the World audiobook (three, maybe even four volumes actually). We listen to it in the car and the whole family loves it.

  9. I searched and searched and gave my children placement tests (the LUVED that). I finally went with Horizons math because of my 9 year old. He is math-resistant. I think my oldest (11) could have done any type of math, but I wanted the same for all the kids... and the 9 year old really balked at the page covered in numbers that is Saxon. Horizon has colors and pictures and sections broken up, and random bible things being it's a Christian company. I'll be back to peruse your other selections later, thanks for sharing!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this. It helps me immensely to see what other people are doing.

  11. Love your choices! Thanks for sharing with us. We're using a lot of the same books. Have you considered Math-U-See for Lizzy? It's fun, visual, and hands-on. Also, for Paul, are you aware that CGS has three years of presentations for each level? If Paul has only gone to Level 1 for two years, there is another year of presentations he has yet to see and experience. Also, I love Apologia science for the same reasons I love Story of the World: one easy-read lesson for all children at once (plus the projects are fun and mom-friendly). You are doing such a great job. Thank you again for sharing your curriculum choices. God bless you!

  12. Interesting...I love seeing what other people are using. We just started using The Harp and the Laurel Wreath this year, and I love it. The kids all love it to.

    For math, we just switched to Math Mammoth. I really like it, and it's very affordable, which is always a nice bonus.

    Look like you got some great books there! And, I'm glad I'm not the only one who starts school after 10:00 AM.

  13. STORY OF THE WORLD, baby. We are 4 weeks into it and I am so loving it. I'm learning with the kids and since we're doing it with *our* co-op, the kids get to do the projects. Today they built pyramids!!!!! (Too many exclamation points? I think not.)

    I must second the rec for the Jim Weiss audio version. Soooooo fun to listen to together. One warning which I've heard over and over: SOTW vol 2 isn't historically accurate with respect to the Reformation.

    I second the awesomeness of Rebekah. I want to be her when I grow up.

  14. STORY OF THE WORLD, baby. We are 4 weeks into it and I am so loving it. I'm learning with the kids and since we're doing it with *our* co-op, the kids get to do the projects. Today they built pyramids!!!!! (Too many exclamation points? I think not.)

    I must second the rec for the Jim Weiss audio version. Soooooo fun to listen to together. One warning which I've heard over and over: SOTW vol 2 isn't historically accurate with respect to the Reformation.

    I second the awesomeness of Rebekah. I want to be her when I grow up.

  15. This is what I get for reading too fast... when you wrote "Language Arts:um...wordly things?", I read it as "worldly" and thought, "that doesn't sound like Dweej!"

  16. I read it the same way at first lizbethsa!

    We're doing Story of the World too and liking it a lot so far. I contemplated doing Behold and See this year but needed to keep to a budget so I decided surely I could handle basic science....and nearly made myself insane trying to map out THE PERFECT SCIENCE YEAR. Oy, it was ridiculous. So we're studying one animal or plant per week all fall with weekly nature journal entries, in the winter we'll study the human body, and in the spring we'll plant a garden and talk about it. There, biology, done.

    I'll have to bookmark this for when my kiddos are older, I like some of the suggestions for the older girls. And thanks for the review on Saxon. Generally I hate Saxon (I used it when I taught K-1 in public school) but the 11 year old girl we're adopting has a mind that sounds like your daughter's so I'm thinking it might actually serve her well to go with Saxon or some similar spiral method.

  17. For those looking for an awesome Latin curriculum, try Oerberg's Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata. It's an inductive method course meaning that all the grammar is taught directly through the story. There is nothing but Latin words and labeled pictures/grammar explanations IN LATIN in the book. But, a middle schooler can pick up the book and start to read it immediately. Heck, an adult can do the same thing! So, Dwija, you could study it right alongside them and learn Latin as well and talk to your husband in Latin! I do with my husband sometimes and it's awesome. There is also a workbook with exercises and teacher's materials with an answer key so you can make sure you are on the right track. I learned Latin in college from the Oxford Latin series, but when I started teaching middle school Latin, I was looking for a new series (the school had been using Wheelock's Latin), and I stumbled upon Oerberg's Lingua Latina. It changed the way I understood Latin myself. Check it out!

  18. The nashville Dominicans just created a religious curriculum that's completely free that's all based around a saint and a virtue for each month, goes from pre k thru 8, and seems least intimidating and pretty comprehensive for this new hs momma. I think they are calling it virtues in practice? Might be worth a quick google :)

  19. Does Lizzy hate math as much as Paul hates My Little Ponies? I am just trying to get a gauge on this.

    Also, I am so glad we live close. I am going to pick your brain apart in coming years. Woo hoo!

    And, please do update on mosaics and independent Saint projects :)


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