Last week, the boys and I visited a homeschool co-op we will be joining this year. It was curriculum show-and-tell day in the mom’s meeting. Is there anything homeschool moms love discussing more than curriculum?? I began the morning thinking I had my entire school year already planned, but of course I fell in love with a language arts program I had never seen. As soon as I got home, I began researching it obsessively and ended up ordering it that evening. Curriculum is an addiction. Hello, my name is Courtney, and I’m a homeschool curriculum addict. It’s been 3 days since my last purchase.
The meeting also reminded me that I’ve promised a few friends a write up of our plan for next year! We made the difficult decision to move away from our beloved MFW curriculum into a more eclectic approach. In many ways, we are still following along with the MFW family cycle, as we will be focusing on ancient history and even using some of the same resources. I purposefully chose to do this so that we can jump back into MFW without skipping a beat if I find myself missing the benefits of a planned “box” curriculum. But I want to experiment with fully charting our own course this term rather than modifying a course to work for us. Please know that I LOVE My Father’s World! I owe so much to MFW for teaching me how to homeschool my children. I highly recommend the curriculum. It just isn’t the right choice for us this year.
Below, I’ll list what we are doing for each subject with links (NOT affiliate links).
Both of my boys recently began Level 1 of Math Lessons for a Living Education. We started it early because my youngest had already completed the math goals I set for him for this past year and was ready. This level is complete review for my oldest, and he does it in addition to his primary math curriculum. I know it sounds crazy to have him doing double math and working below his level, but he absolutely loves this math and begs to do it. I think the review will end up being a huge positive for him, as he is still a little shaky on place value concepts and this curriculum presents them in a different way.
So this year, my youngest will do MLFLE. My oldest will use the same MLFLE book for review/fun, and continue moving through Singapore. We also invested in the full set of LOF last year. Both of my boys love it! I will start “Apples” with my youngest this year, and my oldest will move on to “Dogs.” We tend to use LOF as a once a week math supplement, usually on our nature study days when we keep bookwork light.
Language Arts / Phonics / Reading / Spelling / Writing
The Good and the Beautiful was my purchase after co-op day! I was planning on piecing together our language arts program with a variety of resources. I wasn’t really happy with any of them though, except for Language Lessons for Today. LLFT has been a favorite of ours due to the sweet, Charlotte Mason style approach. However, I didn’t feel that I had a cohesive approach to phonics for my youngest, and my older son is really struggling with spelling and sounding out unfamiliar words. I suspect that he learned to read in public school by memorizing sight words. I don’t think he has a solid grasp of phonics and spelling rules. We recently started using Spelling Wisdom by Simply Charlotte Mason, which is a beautiful spelling curriculum, but unfortunately it is not effective for him.
Enter the co-op show and tell! Two moms brought The Good and the Beautiful and I was so impressed by it! It is such a truly beautiful approach to language arts. Like my beloved LLFT, it uses a gentle, Charlotte Mason inspired approach. But it has a broader focus than LLFT, and frankly looks more visually engaging. It includes phonics, spelling, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, literature, writing, geography and art appreciation. All this in one simple curriculum, at an amazing price (or FREE, see below). I knew immediately that it would work better for us than what I was piecing together. When I began researching it and saw review after review praising it, I was sold.
I ordered the K-Primer for my youngest. It helps a child master letters/sounds and begin reading small words. I love that this level includes mp3s of songs to sing! The included reader is beautiful. He has learned quite a few of his sounds this year but hasn’t reached mastery with them yet and is struggling to sound out words, so we are starting with the primer. I hope for him to feel successful and proud as he works through it.
I ordered level 1 for my oldest son, because while he passed the reading assessment with flying colors, he was unable to pass the spelling assessment for level 1 (spelling gets us every time). I really like the way TGTB level 1 handles spelling and hope that reviewing (or learning for the first time??) those basic phonics rules and spelling rules will help him make a breakthrough. Overall it may end up being below his level, but if it solidifies those concepts it will be worth the time and effort. Of course we also have LLFT Grade 4 already purchased and ready to go as well! So as with math, I keep working to challenge him, while also reviewing those lower level concepts.
A couple of notes about TGTB. First, their grades do not match up to normal grade levels. Be sure to do an assessment test before ordering, as they seem to be roughly a year ahead of typical grade standards. Second, most of this curriculum is available for FREE in PDF form for those who want to self print. Yes, you read that correctly. Many full levels are FREE downloads on the official site. The printed materials are shockingly inexpensive for their quality and scope.
History / Literature
Our history “spine” is SOTW. I am so excited to be spending a year on the ancients! Alongside our spine, we’ll be using a variety of resources to cover History and Literature:
- Story of the World Volume 1
- Story of the World Activity Guide
- Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History
- The Kingfisher Illustrated History of the World
- “Homeschool in the Woods” timeline figures and notebook (this was a big splurge but well worth it!)
- Ancient Egypt: Make it Work
- Boy of the Pyramids
- Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors
- The Librarian Who Measured the Earth
- Archimedes and the Door of Science
- The Children’s Homer
- Aesop’s Fables
- The Gilgamesh Trilogy
- What They Left Behind Picture Portfolios: Egypt, Greece, and Rome
- D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths (found this treasure at Half Price Books for only $3! Score)
- Trojan Horse
Our plan for history is pretty simple. We’ll read a chapter of SOTW and do the map work and coloring sheet from the activity guide. We’ll read relevant information for the chapter from Usborne and Kingfisher (the activity guide even has the relevant pages listed for both!) and check out any interesting internet links from Usborne. We’ll add information to our timeline, read our accompanying book selections, and enjoy a picture from the archaeology portfolios. The activity guide also has many arts/crafts/project suggestions for weeks when we want something fun and crafty! We will also continue to implement a book basket of related library books for free reads, and I’ll be pushing my oldest to do some challenging independent reading and narration.
The list may look like a lot, considering some of these are quite lengthy read alouds. But honestly, this feels so much less overwhelming to me than a MFW teacher’s manual/grid! I love that it is not scheduled for me. I have looked through everything and made notes about which timeline figures, read alouds, and picture studies go with each SOTW chapter. But other than that, I feel complete freedom to go through it at our own pace, diving deep and savoring as desired. While my goal is to spend one calendar year on ancients, I’m also completely fine with it if it takes us 9, 16, or even 18 months. I love having the freedom to simply enjoy our learning instead of feeling like I need to check off boxes.
Science / Nature Study
Our primary focus for science will be nature study. We will continue on with our much loved Exploring Nature with Children. I also purchased The Good and The Beautiful’s nature journals, which were again a fabulous price for a really sweet journal with prompts. I plan on making these independent projects for the kids, while we use ENWC for more “formal” nature studies, if there is such a thing. We also have a few read alouds for science!
- Constellations by H.A. Rey (yes, the H.A. Rey who wrote Curious George also wrote some delightfully illustrated children’s books on the constellations!)
- Find the Stars by H.A. Rey
- Outdoor Secrets by Margaret P. Boyle
We keep a variety of field guides and nature books on hand to help with nature study. Some of our favorites are:
- Fun with Nature Take Along Guides
- Handbook of Nature Study
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds
- Eyewitness Tree
- Nature Anatomy
My boys BEGGED me to find a science experiment book that actually works. We were pretty disappointed in all the experiments we did last year in Adventures. I did some research and found that the science MFW recommends for CTG, “Science in the Beginning,” actually has great reviews for being an experiment book that actually works. I promised we would give this a try, and the boys are very excited. We’ll probably do one day of nature study per week, and one day of SITB/Experiments per week.
Bible / Faith
We’ll be reading through The Jesus Storybook Bible this year. We will also be using the MFW recommendation of Victor’s Journey Through the Bible, which has color photographs of the region, artifacts, etc. I’ve really enjoyed looking through Victor’s, it was a great investment!
Art / Music
We won’t have a separate art program this year, it will simply be integrated into our other subjects. We’ll do art appreciation through The Good and the Beautiful. We’ll work on various techniques while we nature journal. We’ll study ancient art through our picture portfolios. We love art and incorporate it pretty naturally around here!
We have struggled to implement music study, but we are going to make a bigger effort to do that well this year. We plan on studying three composers we have already touched on, in a more in depth way (Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky). We haven’t purchased any additional resources for this, I’m simply going to be more deliberate about making it a part of our week. We’re also debating either piano or ukulele lessons.
So there we go! I’m really excited about our upcoming school year. We’re currently finishing up our year of Exploring Countries and Cultures, then we will probably take 4-6 weeks off for a short summer break. The plan right now is to dive into our year of Ancients the first week of July. We can’t wait!