Monday, July 29, 2013

School Curriculum 2013-2014

First, I would like to say that I post this because I REALLY enjoy reading what others have posted on this topic.  It has helped me a great deal to look at what others have used year after year.  Each family has such different needs that there is no one-size-fits-all plan.  But, this is our plan for this year.  *Check out the Art/Music/History section for something I am really excited about.*  I have Aiden in 5th grade, Alex in 4th, Riley in 2nd, Remy in Kindergarten and Oliver (14 months) getting into things, climbing on top of stuff, and being adorable :0).

Second, I need to briefly summarize how things work around here.  I keep my kids moving at their own grade/learning level in the skill areas: reading, writing, grammar, spelling, handwriting, math, and Greek.  Those are things that kids have to learn how to do incrementally. They are also the things that teach them how to teach themselves.  We lump the rest together and do it as a family as much as we can (see Circle Time).  Science, history, Bible, poetry, art, music, etc. are content areas.  They are things that the kids are going to learn about again and again.  You can never teach them ALL of it, but it's my goal to give them access to a ton of different things from lots of different categories in a fun way.

So, to sum up, we focus on nailing the three R's (Reading wRiting, and aRithmetic) and then just have fun with the rest.  Here is our plan for this year.

Aiden (5th Grade)
Reading: Assigned fiction books from me and lots of other "just for fun" books
Writing: Writing with Skill level 1
Spelling: All About Spelling
Grammar: Rod and Staff Grammar level 5
Vocabulary: Vocabulary from Classical Roots
Math: Saxon level 6/5
Greek: Hey Andrew Teach Me Some Greek level 3
Piano lessons

Alex (4th Grade)
Reading:Assigned fiction books from me and lots of other "just for fun" books
Writing: Writing with Ease level 4
Spelling: All About Spelling and Explode the Code book 3 1/2
Grammar: First Language Lessons level 4
Handwriting: Italic book D
Math: Saxon level 5/4
Greek: Hey Andrew Teach Me Some Greek level 3

Riley (2nd Grade)
Reading: Assigned fiction books from me and lots of other "just for fun" books
Writing: Writing with Ease level 2
Spelling: All About Spelling and Explode the Code book 3
Grammar: First Language Lessons level 2
Handwriting: Italic book C
Math: Saxon level 2
Greek: Hey Andrew Teach Me Some Greek level 2

Remy (Kindergarten)
Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading LOVE this book.  I've used it with all my boys.
Get Ready For the Code
Learn Your Letters Learn to Serve  This is my first year using this and I LOVE it!  It is a fun crafty program that is extremely low key and user friendly.  My favorite part is that each week you are thinking of people who's name begins with the letter of the week.  You pray for them and make something for them and deliver it (or you could serve them in some way).  This has been GREAT for Remy.  He looks them in the eye and says, "I made this for you." We made little notes to hand to them explaining what he is doing.
Mathematical Reasoning level A
Lots of picture books that begin with the letter of the week.
All About Spelling We are easing into this and using it mainly to teach the phonograms.  Nothing too heavy, but it helps with his phonics skills.

**The Things We Do All Together**

Bible- Our most important subject.  The first part of this post has some good things to say on the subject.  We try to get them used to reading it as a discipline while also making it something they truly enjoy and something our family enjoys talking about together.

Aiden and Alex are reading through the Bible in a year with the same schedule that Jeremy and I are using.  Riley is reading the New Testament part of our schedule.  At 7:30 we are all in the living room reading our own selections for that day (one of the kids goes outside to read...he says it's more quiet :0).  Remy looks at a picture Bible if he is up at this time.  Then in the evening when we do our family Bible time Jeremy reads the New Testament reading for the day and we chat about it.  That way the readers are hearing for the second time and usually have something to say about it and Remy gets to hear it even though he can't read it himself yet.  We also pray and sing songs during this evening time.

Aiden, Alex, and Riley copy a portion of the Bible each day.  Right now they are working through Psalm 119.  We read one chapter from Proverbs at lunch (the chapter that matches the day of the month).  I can't say enough about reading Proverbs to your kids.  It helps them and me as we work through discipline issues throughout the day.

Prayer is another focus of the year.  We want to help the kids learn how to pray and for it to be a natural part of their life.  I'm reading Prayer Saturated Kids for some practical ideas.

I also want to start using this plan for scripture memory again.

Aiden and Alex are reading Who is God together as often as they can comfortably fit it in.

Art/Music/History- This is my first year to really get creative and have fun with things in my own way.  A friend of mine from church told me about a popular co-op that teaches history to the upper grades in a unique way.  They teach about scientists (their lives and inventions) and how they impacted history (or were affected by the period of history they were in).  I thought I could do the same thing with artists and composers!  So I picked out some of the most popular artists and composers and organized them in order of date.  I'm going to try to cover artists and composers from the same time period at the same time.  I am keeping it low key.  I'm just reading books about them, looking at pictures, listening to music, and doing art projects that I never used to make time for.  Here are some of the resources I am using:

Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists
What Makes A Monet a Monet (and others in the series)
Books by Diane Stanley
Books by Laurence Anholt 
Activity book by Laurence Anholt that goes with his picture books
Smart About Art series
Who Was Pablo Picasso (and others in the series)
Professor Noggins History of Art
Usborne Art Flash Cards and these
Usborne Book of Famous Paintings
The Life of Leonardo DaVinci
The Story of Painting
The Story of Art Sticker Book
Steve Augarde's Leonardo DaVinci
Discovering Great Artists
Artistic Pursuits

Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers
Opal Wheeler Biographies of composers
The Gift of Music
Classical Music for Dummies
Beethovan Lives Upstairs and other Classical Kids CDs
Nest Entertainment History Videos
Children's Music Masters CDs
Masters of the Renaissance by Jim Weiss
Any other great biographies I found.

Poetry- I don't know much about poetry, but we are jumping in anyway.  I am simply reading a poem every day by the same author for a week or more.  That is it.  We are just getting our feet wet one poet at a time.  One of the ones we are starting with is here.

 Science-We took the plunge and signed up for a Supercharged Science Mastery Program.  Aiden LOVES science and wants to do projects all the time.  I spent about a month researching and did not find any negative reviews for this program and tons of really impressed moms.  So far...we love it too!  It looks like just what we have been wanting.  It is a bit confusing to figure out what is available so contact me if you want some more info.

Read Alouds-I am just picking great books to read aloud to the kids.  I sometimes use this time for chapter books about artists or composers, but I also take breaks from that and read a classic book or extra picture books.

Last, but not least, we make sure the boys fit in exercise, playing outside, and enjoying nature.  And we encourage them to think of ways to serve people on a regular basis.

Well, that about sums it up!  Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dressed for Success

How do you look most mornings at 10:00 a.m.?  How do your children see you each day?  Are you ready for the job that you have to do?  Are you dressed for it? 

Here are two articles that I read long ago and I remember them both often.

Dressing to the Shoes by Flylady
I have been doing this for years and it makes a big difference in feeling ready to go.

The View from Childhood by Charlotte Siems
I would also say that you can look cute and put together in a cute pair of sweats, a t-shirt, and some tennis shoes.  The point I got from her article is to fix your hair, put some make-up and earrings on, and look nice.  Don't wear stained, dingy looking clothes just because you might get spit up on.  I do have a cute apron and use it daily.

One more thing.  You are never fully dressed without a smile.  It might sound cheesy, but it is true!  A smile is always the most wonderful accessory to make you look and feel your best.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Michael Card says in the case of  Sleep Sound in Jesus:

"Lullabies come around three times in the course of a lifetime. When we are babies, if we are fortunate, we hear them sung to us by our parents.  When we are parents, if we are wise, we sing them to our babies.  Then when we are grandparents, if we are especially blessed, we have that last wonderful chance to sing them again as we gaze into a little face, bits and pieces of which remind us of all our loved ones.

Beyond their covert purpose of coercing an infant to sleep, lullabies are songs we sing to show the love we have for our children, to show them our concern and to simply let them know we are there with them in this dark and fallen situation.  Lullabies can be simple didactic songs wherein we teach our infants with the rhythms and sounds of Scripture.  They can also be blessings wherein we plant the seeds of dreams, dreams which never completely leave them.

Lullabies are also songs we sing to ourselves.  They help reinforce the love which abides sometimes too deep within our hearts.  They are tools to bring it to the surface.  They remind us of our protective and comforting roles as parents.  They are artful ways of loving our children.

Finally, lullabies are songs we sing to God.  They can be prayers of thanksgiving, petitions for angelic protection or simple prayers of adoration for the gift of God we are trying to sing to sleep.

At the heart of it all, what lullabies are basically about is loving~loving our children and loving God and maybe even loving ourselves a little as in one of those rarest of moments we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are doing exactly the right thing~loving our children and God and singing simple, sleepy songs to both of them"
I just loved this when I read it.  I will also add the idea that it is a time to instill bravery and courage into our boys.  What better way to combat scary things at night than to sing to my boys about brave men and women who have gone before them.  With all of this in mind I'll share the lyrics to Oliver's favorite bedtime hymn.

Rise Again Ye Lionhearted

1 Rise again, ye lion-hearted
Saints of early Christendom.
Whither is your strength departed,
Whither gone your martyrdom?
Lo, love's light is on them,
Glory's flame upon them,
And their will to die doth quell
E'en the lord and prince of hell.

2 These the saints by fear unshaken
Facing danger dauntlessly;
These no witching lust hath taken,
Lust that lures to vanity.
Mid the roar and rattle
Of tumultuous battle
In desire they soar above
All that earth would have them love.

3 Great of heart, they know no turning,
Honor, gold, they laugh to scorn,
Quench desires within them burning,
By no earthly passion torn.
Mid the lions' roaring,
Songs of praise outpouring,
Joyously they take their stand
On th'arena's bloody sand.

4 Would to God that I might even
As the martyred saints of old,
With the helping hand of Heaven,
Steadfast stand in battle bold!
O my God, I pray Thee,
In the combat stay me.
Grant that I may ever be
Loyal, staunch, and true to Thee.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Clay Trumbull wrote a wonderful little book entitled Hints on Child Training over 100 years ago.  It has been a while since I read it, but the last chapter has really stuck with me.  It was about bedtime. 

Bedtime is one of the most important times of the day with your children.  The words that you speak to them at that hour ring in their ears while they lie there drifting off to sleep.  They are more vulnerable and receptive at that time than any other time of day.  If you take time to listen they will often tell you things that you would otherwise miss.  Even a teenage boy does not quickly outgrown a goodnight kiss from his mom.

And yet, bedtime can be one of the most stress-full time of day for parents.  We are ready to be "off duty."  We grow weary of the requests that stall turning off the light.

Realizing how important bedtime is in the lives of our children should make us take a step back and send them off to bed with a blessing from us.  Leave them with a snuggle, a smile, or a back scratch.  Ask them how their day was and let them know that you feel blessed to be their mom.  Read them one more story.  Say "I'd be happy to" when they ask you to bring them a drink.  Tell each one of them that you look forward to seeing them in the morning.  Pray a blessing over them.

Let those things bounce around in their head while they drift off to sleep.