Here is the annual blog of what we’re using in our homeschool this year. This blog will likely take me forever to write so let’s jump right in! As a reminder, C is 7 years old (2nd grade) and D is 5 years old (Kindergarten). This will be my third year homeschooling C and my first year of homeschooling D (she was previously in a play-based preschool and sometimes did Montessori lessons in the afternoons). Our homeschool is a mix of Montessori and Montessori-friendly curricula. We also use some Classical/Charlotte Mason style resources. And I also make it up as I go along when I feel so inclined.
One final note that I’ll make as I get started (so much for jumping right in…). When we started homeschooling C for Kindergarten, we did coop 1 day/week (4 hours) and then I had 5-6 other “school hours” with her each week. So she was maybe doing school 10 hours a week. For D, she will get about 13-14 hours/week simply because that’s how much time we will spend in our school area doing school with C. So I have added more extras here in terms of history/handwriting/science that I think is necessary in Kindergarten. Please know that I think it’s fine (perhaps better!) to do less, I just know she’s not going to leave the school room so I’ve planned more for her but believe me, if she wants to wander off and build LEGOs, I’ll be absolutely delighted!
If you want to read about last year’s choices, here are the two blogs:
In our homeschool, we focus on the following subjects:
- Bible/Faith formation
- Language Arts
- Spanish – new this year!
We don’t do all of these every day/week but these are our main focus areas. Given my children’s ages, everything except for math/language/Bible has the goal of “expose them to the concept” with the knowledge that they’ll see all of the information again at increasing depth as they get older.
We will continue with the book Long Story Short for our main Bible study this year. This book goes virtually line by line in the Bible and it’s main theme is the overarching story present from start to finish in the Bible.
I have also recently felt called to do more “catechism” with the kids. Although the word is usually associated with Catholicism, it actually just means teach a summary of the Christian faith in the form of questions/answers. We will be using the free app from New City Catechism which has 52 questions/answers including a children’s version (Q1: What is our holy hope in life and death? A1: That we are not our own but belong to God). I’m hoping to spend 1-2 weeks per question but we’ll see how it goes.
We will open the year with the Fundamental Needs lesson. I think it’s very important to begin with this lesson as D starts to begin history; she will work through the introductory lessons as well as the notebook I designed on this topic. C will again practice researching the fundamental needs of a specific civilization (likely the Romans).
I have opted against teaching the Great Lessons to start the year. Although I absolutely loved teaching them, I don’t want to teach them every year in our homeschool and because my children are two years apart, I can teach them every two years and still adequately cover this material. My plan is that everyone will receive these lessons in first, third, and fifth grades. For my extensive coverage on how we approach it, please see this page: Great Lessons
After those first 1-2 weeks on fundamental needs, we will again be using History Odyssey by Pandia Press, this time using the “Middle Ages” level. We really enjoyed this curriculum last year and I love that it’s Montessori friendly but still all planned out for me. It uses Story of the World and the Usbourne Children’s Encyclopedia as “spines” and I’m able to provide follow-ups for both girls from the last of activities by modifying them slightly (e.g. expecting C to write what she remembers from the lesson while taking dictation from D).
This is a topic where I have to split the girls because they’re working at different levels and there’s absolutely no way to combine lessons.
C (2nd grade):
Our major topics this year will be:
- Finishing decimal fractions
- Number lines with decimals/fractions (number sense)
Math activities each week will include a number talk (mental math practice) and she is also working through the lessons on Khan Academy and Beast Academy on her own. She LOVES math so she spends a lot of time here.
She is transitioning from primary to elementary level math so our major topics will be:
- Review of the golden bead operations
- Math facts
- Stamp Game
- Large bead frame
- Place value
- Fractions (which I covered extensively here: Learning Fractions)
- Multiples/Factors – may not get to this
- Commutative/Distributive property – may not get to this
D will also do number talks this year and Khan Academy if she chooses that in her free time. For this age, I love to use task cards (C often just rolls dice to make her own problems) and we’ll be using these as she transitions from primary to elementary: Junior Math Bundle (Aff link)
I had every intention of teaching science together this year. I really, really wanted that to work. But given that I want to continue our curriculum from last year for C (Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding – BFSU), I couldn’t make it work. C has already had a year of lessons and is ready for the second half of the book having completed all the prerequisites. D hasn’t heard any of the prerequisite material yet. And the worst part is that if I start D on BFSU next year, I’m in the same boat with my son the year after that. Gotten myself in quite a pickle… I’ll let you know what I end up doing!
So what I’ve decided to do is focus on biomes this year for D. There will be some overlap in the Earth Science portion of C’s lessons and it’s the best I can do. I really do love the biomes lessons that I taught C in her first year and I’m excited to do it for D so it’s really not that big of a deal. Also the last month of BFSU is plants so I can include D in those lessons as well. C will continue and finish BFSU this year. We’ve really enjoyed this inquiry based curriculum and I would highly recommend it as Montessori-friendly.
Another place where we have to do separate lessons! As with math, we mostly follow a Montessori sequence with language arts but I am adding on a couple pieces of additional writing work for C since that was identified on her annual testing as a place where she could use some additional skill building.
C (Grade 2):
- Continue/finish grammar box work – This is the study of parts of speech, she has completed noun, verb, article, adjective, adverb, pronoun and preposition. We will finish up with conjunction and interjection this year
- Word study – This is the study of types of words. Examples would be prefixes, suffixes, plurals, possessives. This year we are focusing on writing adjacent word study like those listed; other examples would include synonyms, antonyms, etc. which I consider more advanced
- Sentence analysis – (After we complete grammar box work) – This is the study of how sentence structure works in English and complements the grammar work with the goal of allowing children to write more clearly.
- Essentials in writing (Level 2) – This will be a new one for us. It’s a curriculum taught via DVD (4-5 minute lessons) and then the child completes writing assignments in a workbook. This was recommended to me by another Montessori mama and I’m very excited about it. While it would be possible for me to teach writing, given the other things I’m going to have to cover this year, I’m very happy to outsource this. I love the gentle approach since each lesson is short, this will be no more than 1 hour/week but by the end of the year she will be writing a short letter or a narrative passage.
- Alphabetization/Dictionary Skills: This is one of the key skills I taught C when she first started Kindergarten and it proved to be essential to other aspects of her learning so I plan to do the same thing with D! It’s very empowering for them to be able to look things up in the dictionary or encyclopedia index because they understand alphabetization and how to use guide words
- Early grammar boxes: We will focus this year on the noun, article, verb, and adjective. These lessons have lovely, memorable introductions (called “Key Experiences”) that really help the children understand the parts of speech.
- Handwriting: We are using the Grade 2 handwriting curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful . Although this doesn’t feel entirely necessary (C didn’t use a handwriting curriculum), I like that it’ll give D some independent work that will encourage her to physically write. With C, I didn’t really encourage her to write much in Kindergarten and although she’s developed good handwriting, I don’t see the harm in practice. The copywork is lovely (lots of Proverbs/nice sayings) and I think she will enjoy it. We are using Grade 2 because when I looked at the sample, I could see that since she can already do basic letter formation, she was better suited to Grade 2 which is refining the letter formation vs. learning to form them (Grade 1)
Both children will participate in discussions of read-alouds/other literature about once a month. I’m using the “Teaching the Classics” method from the Center for Lit and I’m very excited about it. The premise is that it teaches you about the tools of literary analysis (ex: setting, characters, etc) that you can use with any book. I’m very excited about this gentle introduction to literature discussions and I think this will be a very useful tool for me as someone who loves to read but does not remember high school literature class fondly. I just need to be diligent about scheduling these discussions once a month so that they actually happen!
D will get a little geography as part of History Odyssey but no formal political geography this year. As part of science, she will finish the year on landforms which was one of C’s favorite things in her Kindergarten year.
For C, last year we focused on the geography of Africa (political, topographical, and biomes) using our beloved Pin It Maps (post here). It was incredible how much she learned and retained and she really enjoyed working through all the various aspects of learning the geography of the continent. If you do use Pin It Maps (aff link), be sure to check out the FREE command cards for each continent available on the site. We now own Africa, Europe, and Asia along with the land forms set.
We also paired these lessons with the wonderful book “Children Like Me” which features elementary aged children from around the world. There are 4-5 children from each continent so we focused on all the children featured in Africa alongside our geography study.
Geometry. So true confessions: I’m sort of over teaching geometry at this level. I feel like I’m just giving one-off lessons with weird vocabulary (tangent! secant! apothem!) and am not connecting it well to useful information/why it matters in real life. Also, I’m finding myself a little less motivated to teach geometry because I know they’ll have to learn it all over again at the high school level. I know, I know…I should get over it but there’s a part of me that feels our time might be better spent on things that they can learn now and build on vs. having to repeat (because I truly don’t think C remembers much except angles/triangles/quadrilaterals from this past year).
For D, she was never exposed in Montessori primary to any geography and I feel that the nomenclature/concepts introduced in the geometric cabinet, the geometric solids, and the constructive triangles are very useful so we will start there.
For C, I think we’re going to focus this year on equivalency and area as those topics seem both useful and manageable to me. I will let you know how it goes. Sorry about the bad attitude…I guess I’m just geometry grumpy right now.
For Art, I will use Evan Moor’s curriculum called “Teaching Art to Children”. I’m very excited about this Montessori-friendly art curriculum that I think will keep us on track this year. I profiled this curriculum on my Instagram (@mchomeschool) under the “Curriculum” story (I also profiled History Odyssey). If you don’t have Instagram, you can use this link to access it from a regular computer browser: McHomeschool Instagram
The girls will also take Spanish this year. Both have had some previous exposure but I don’t think retained much. We are starting with an in-home tutor from a local language learning company. Depending on how it goes, I may supplement with additional curriculum/3 part cards for vocabulary but mostly I want to get them speaking. They will do the class together for 45 minutes/week but I’m hoping to increase that as they get older. There are also online forums for language learning that would also be an option but right now I feel like they’re a little young to be interacting with an adult online even with my supervision.
A final note
In case you can’t tell, I’m very Type A and organized. Pre-planning everything helps to limit my anxiety about what we’re doing on any given week/day because I am not a person who likes waking up without a plan. If you are a person who prefers to be more spontaneous, a) that’s so awesome, I aspire to be that way and b) I hope you plan in a way that meets your needs and feel no pressure from my plan. There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. I only put this out there to help make you aware of resources that may be of assistance to you and your family. I wish you all a wonderful school year. Know that I am praying for you as you set up your plans and I would love your prayers/kind intentions/positive vibes in return!
Affiliate link disclosure: A handful of links on this post are affiliate links (the majority are not). I am only an affiliate for products that I actively use in our homeschool; most (all, I think but not 100% sure) were actually purchased by me before becoming an affiliate. I make very little via affiliate activities and right now I’m saving for a blog upgrade because I’m about to run out of space on this blog sinceI upload so many pictures. So, I really appreciate if you use my Aff links (at no additional cost to you) so that I can continue to blog and include an excessive number of pictures because that’s how I roll 😉