Back to School! HHA Week 1

We’ve survived our first week back to school! SO much life has happened in the 2.5 months since I shared we had purchased our new home. It has been an absolutely crazy summer, living and working in two different cities hours apart as we transitioned!

We finally tied up all of our loose ends in Little Rock and settled here fully August 1. We rushed to finish remodeling and unpacking so that we could all dive into school!

We didn’t quite make it, ha! Our garage still has quite a few boxes we haven’t even touched and some projects remain undone, but I’m really proud of how much we accomplished despite the chaos.

Now we’re all back to school! Brandon is starting the third semester of his Family Nurse Practitioner program. Farmer Boy headed to public school for the first time, and is absolutely loving it. Cowboy chose to homeschool again, and we’re planning an amazing year here at Hawthorn Hill Academy (#pretentioushomeschoolnames). I’m continuing my studies with the Herbal Academy of New England. We’re enjoying this rare time of all studying different things. It makes for fun dinnertime conversations. 🙂

Cowboy and I are really excited about homeschooling this year! I’ll be honest, last year was a terrible year altogether, which really affected our homeschooling. We tried to make the best of things, but it still wasn’t great.

This year though, we are settled into a house we absolutely love, with a dedicated school room. We bought all new supplies and decorations, a luxury which made everything feel new and exciting. Since it is just Cowboy, I planned resources that are a perfect fit for him. He loves getting ALL of my attention for those hours. 😉

Since we homeschool moms obsess over love to read about curriculum, I’ll share the rundown of our year as well as how our first week went.


For math, he’s continuing with Math Lessons for a Living Education levels 3 and 4. I’ll be honest, I got sick of MLFLE’s stories halfway through level 1. I prefer my math without a dose of heavy handed moral lessons apparently, ha! But the math itself clicked with Cowboy and helped him master concepts he had been struggling with.

We’ve also added Brainquest books this year. Brainquest isn’t a curriculum really, but they have giant books for each grade level that contain a variety of subjects. Yes, they are workbooks. Yes, it is busy work. But Cowboy is constantly asking for extra math busy work for fun. Crazy kid! So I bought two Brainquest books in different grade levels and he is doing math sheets from them for extra practice and review.

Language Arts

For Language, we’re continuing with The Good and the Beautiful level 2. I was really impressed with this curriculum last year. We took the reading assessment on our first day and he nailed it with flying colors, and could be placed in a higher level because of that. But we find the phonics reviews helpful in practicing his speech sounds each day. He has a repaired cleft palate and proper articulation is a constant battle. The reading portion of this curriculum is actually perfect for that, and keeps me diligent with his practice.

Because we used a very laidback Charlotte Mason language curriculum when we first started homeschooling, the grammar portions of this are NOT review for him. For example, level 2 includes sentence diagramming, which we had still never even touched on when finishing level 3 of our previous curriculum. The included spelling isn’t a review for him either, as he has always struggled with that subject. The writing assignments are perfect for him, and we love the art study incorporated directly into the book.

I really can’t say enough good things about this curriculum! It is my favorite homeschool investment. We love it, and I continue to be impressed with how much it includes at this price point.

Creative Writing

Cowboy has requested more creative writing assignments this year. Rather than using a specific curriculum, I’m assigning creative writing projects related to our other work. For example, one of our Brainquest activities this week was an “alien interview.” He made up a conversation between humans and an alien from outer space. By the end, we were both giggling so hard that I had tears and he fell out of his chair! It’s a simple thing, but such a great way to get those creative juices flowing and to practice expressing his ideas in written language.

History | Social Studies | Geography

For history, we are continuing with Story of the World. This week, we picked up where we left off in Volume 1, with the Medes and Persians. We studied Persian art, read about some of the Persian kings, and read the story of Esther.

We’ll finish covering the Greeks and Romans this semester, then move into Volume 2 and the middle ages next semester. We’re doing both a wall timeline and a book of centuries, with the timeline pieces from Homeschool in the Woods. We’ll also be supplementing our spine with literature, and the internet-linked Usborne Encyclopedia of World History. Exploring the internet links is his favorite part of the week!

I also added the above pictured workbook Maps & Geography for grades 3-6 this year. I really love the way it develops map reading skills, by starting with easily understandable concepts like a floorpan. It also gives us activities for practicing fine motor skills, in a way that can’t possibly be “babyish,” because the book clearly says for grades 3-6 on the cover. 😉


For science this year, I’ve decided to embrace Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. In the past, I’ve tried to balance a science “curriculum” with once a week nature study. I found that we rarely accomplished much in nature study, while the curriculum bored Cowboy and certainly wasn’t retained. So this year, we are diving deep into Exploring Nature with Children. Instead of viewing it as a supplement, I’m making it our entire curriculum! Nature walks are now as much of a priority as math! For each topic, we’re reading supplemental books, watching videos, using the internet linked Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia, and doing related Brainquest pages. I’ve also been collecting activity kits and STEM projects related to our weekly topics. We are SO excited about everything we have planned!

This week, our topic was “The Five Senses.” If you’re following along with ENWC, you’ll see that we are taking August out of order. 😉 We started with a fun Berenstein Bears book where Papa takes the cubs on a nature walk and talks about experiencing nature through our senses. We went on our own nature walk and did a scavenger hunt for textures, a quiet listening period, an herb smelling/tasting experiment, and made lists of everything we could see.

We also read the August poem in Elsa Beskow’s beautiful book “Around the Year.” We’re keeping the book on our nature table and will start each month by reading one of her poems. On our nature walk, we collected things for our nature table and spent time recording our exploration in our journals. It was a great way to start our nature study for the year!


For music this year, Cowboy and I are both taking piano from my grandmother, a gifted concert pianist. I am loving it every bit as much as he is, and I’m so happy we are living in the same town with her so that we can share this! It’s definitely a highlight of each week.

We’re also continuing to study various composers. Our composer for this term is Chopin, who is quickly becoming a favorite. We take a laidback approach to composer study. We simply look up some biographical information and then have the music playing in the background during our tea time. Easy and enriching.


Most of our art is already incorporated into our other subjects! We draw and paint for nature study. Picture study is included in our language arts program. We choose a picture of an ancient artifact or structure from Simply Charlotte Mason’s “What They Left Behind” series to go with our history each week. So we won’t be doing a formal art curriculum, but we WILL be doing more fun arts and crafts than I have ever included before. Thank you, Pinterest, Dollar Tree, and Target. 😉


Cowboy is starting baseball this fall with The Miracle League. He is so excited! I’m really happy he has an opportunity to do a sport in a supportive, safe environment. I can’t wait to cheer him on at games!

It is going to be an AMAZING year!! We had a great first few days back and can’t wait for week 2!

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