Our 2017-2018 Curriculum

Our 2017-2018 Curriculum

Our 2nd Grader:

2nd Reading  Geography and Missions2nd Bible 2nd Spelling

 

  • Reading/Phonics: All About Reading: Level 2; beginning chapter books; Explode the Code books 5-6 ; Read Alouds – Fairy Tales and Fables (with reader’s theatres and art)
  • Spelling: Joyful Heart Spelling Skills
  • Writing/Grammar/Composition: BJU English 2
  • Math: Horizons 2, Xtra Math
  • Science: Apologia Exploring Creation with Botany (with our nature notebook)
  • Social Studies: Geography and Missions
  • Bible: God’s Gospel, From the Lips of Little Ones (Catechism), AWANA Sparks
  • Music: piano practice, choir, Trail Life, Home Art Studio

Our 4th Grader:

4th Literature  4th Science  Bible 4th Math

 

  • Reading/Literature:  literature books of our choosing with corresponding comprehension guides; once a month book club; free reading
  • Writing/Grammar/Composition: BJU English 4; Spelling through Scripture; Word Roots Beginning
  • Math: Horizons 4
  • Science: Apologia Exploring Creation with Botany
  • Social Studies: Geography and Missions
  • Bible: AWANA T&T, daily Bible Reading/How to Study Your Bible
  • Additions: Art at Co-op, Violin lessons, piano, American Heritage Girls, choir, Home Art Studio 

Our 6th Grader:

6th Language Arts   
6th Science science&history6th History

 

  • Reading/Literature: Veritas Press Omnibus 1 Secondary (including Chosen by God, Till We Have Faces, all books in The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Best Things in Life, Unaborted Socrates, The Eagle of the Ninth, The Screwtape Letters, and The Holiness of God)
  • Writing/Grammar/Composition: BJU English 6
  • Vocabulary: Word Roots 2
  • Math: Horizons 6
  • Science: God’s Design for the Physical World – Heat, Inventions & Technology, and Machines
  • Social Studies: Beautiful Feet Books: History of Science
  • Bible: Student Leader in AWANA/Trek, daily Bible Reading/How to Study Your Bible
  • Additions: Trail Life, Student Worship Choir, Khan Academy – Coding!

Our 8th Grader:

8th Literature8th Physical Science) 8th Composition8th History

 

  • Reading/Literature: Veritas Press Omnibus 2 Secondary (including The Hobbit , The Fellowship of the Ring , The Nine Tailors, The Dragon and the Raven, Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Winning His Spurs, The Two Towers, Henry V, King Richard III, and The Return of the King)
  • Writing/Grammar/Composition:  Introductory Guide to High School Writing: Poetry, Short Stories, Research, and Essays; Easy Grammar Plus
  • Vocabulary: Word Roots 2; Homophones
  • Math: Shormann Algebra 1 with Integrated Geometry (0ver 1 ½ years)
  • Science: Apologia Physical Science
  • Social Studies: Beautiful Feet Books: History of Classical Music
  • Foreign Language: Getting Started with Spanish
  • Additions: Student Leader in AWANA/Journey, Cello lessons, Piano Lessons, American Heritage Girls

Our 10th Grader:

10th Chemistry 10th History10th Christian Literature 10th Literary Analysis10th Health

 

  • English 10 (Literary Analysis, Christian Literature, and Composition)  1 Credit
    Windows to the World: An Introduction to Literary Analysis by Lesha Myers
    (and Literature Analysis Notebook); Great Christian Writers – Full Length Christian Novels, Study Guides, and Composition; Time 4 Writing Online Courses – Essay & Research
  • Algebra 2 with Integrated Geometry  1.5 Credits
    Shormann Algebra 2 with Integrated Geometry
  • Chemistry  1 credit
    Discovering Design for Chemistry by Dr. Jay Wile (including labs)
  • World History  1 Credit
    Exploring World History by Ray Notgrass
  • Bible: Issues in World History  1 Credit
    Exploring World History by Ray Notgrass,  Bible, AWANA Journey – Bible Reading and Scripture Memorization
  • Spanish .5 Credit
    Homeschool Spanish Academy – online one on one tutoring
  • Physical Education and Health  1 Credit
    Total Health; Gymnastics
  • Instrumental Music 2   1 Credit
    Violin and Piano (lessons, practices, and performances)
  • Additions: Student Leader in AWANA/Journey, American Heritage Girls, Student Worship Choir, Driving Practice, PSAT Practice, Recreational Blog and Script Writing

___________________________________________

Would you like to see our curriculum choices from previous years?
2016-2017 (9th, 7th, 5th, 3rd, 1st)
2015-2016 (8th, 6th, 4th, 2nd, Kindergarten)
2014-2015 (7th, 5th, 3rd, 1st, PreK)
2013-2014 (6th, 4th, 2nd, K, preschool)
2012-2013 (5th, 3rd, 1st, PreK, 2 year old)
2011-2012 (4th, 2nd, K, 3’s preschool, toddler)
2010-2011 (3rd, 1st, PreK, 2 year old, 4 month old baby)
2009-2010 (2nd, K, 3’s preschool, toddler, baby arrived end of year)
2008-2009 (1st, PreK, 2 year old, 6 month old baby)
2007-2008 (K, 3’s preschool, toddler, baby arrived mid year)
2006-2007 (PreK, 2 year old, 7 month old baby)
                  – Joyful Heart Character
2005-2006 (3’s preschool, toddler, baby arrived mid year)
                  – Joyful Heart Bible and Rhyme
2004-2005 (2 year old, 6 mo old baby) 
                  – Joyful Heart Learning

Recipe For a Sweet First Day

Recipe for a Sweet First Day

What do you get when you blend together the first day of school, 2 parents attempting to speak with a British accent, 3 yummy baking challenges, 4 traditional first day activities, and 5 excited homeschooled kids?  Well, you will get the recipe for an exciting Great British Bake-Off themed first day of homeschool, of course!

Tea

Ingredients for a Sweet First Day

1 Day of School
We typically start each homeschool year on a Friday and celebrate it as our ‘Fun Start Friday’.  The kids look forward to the first day and try, throughout the summer, to get me to tell them the top secret first day theme.  Why do we do this?  Well, because, let’s be honest, the rest of our homeschool days are fairly full and organized with academic pursuits that we usually attempt with a great deal of diligence.  Our first day is designed to build excitement and anticipation for a brand new school year.  It also creates lots of fun memories for our family.  This year’s theme was ‘We’re Baking Up One Sweet Year’ and was based off of the Great British Bake-Off television show.

Breakfast

2 Parents attempting to speak with a British accent
Please notice that I said, ‘attempting’.  The kids actually do much better at this than we do!  We ended up being so busy that we forgot to do this through much of the day.   However, we could be heard saying a lot of ‘On your mark, get set, bake,’ ‘No soggy bottoms,’ and ‘It’s a good bake.’  We also tossed around some baking idioms.  It was so much fun!

3 Yummy Baking Challenges
If you have watched the Great British Bake Off, then you know that each show consists of three challenges – The Signature Bake, the Technical Challenge, and the Show Stopper.  We were a bit zealous and did all three bakes on one day.  One or two bakes would have been sufficient.  The kids stuck with it though and we didn’t finish our Show Stopper until 7:30 at night.   It was a long first day, but we all had a blast!

What were our baking challenges?
1) The Signature Bake – Scones

Scones2 Scones1  Scones3

2) The Technical Challenge – Scripture Cookies

ScriptureCookies1 ScriptureCookies2ScriptureCookies3

3) The Show Stopper Bake – Decorative Cakes

Showstopper1 Showstopper2Showstopper3

4 Traditional First Day Activities
There are a few activities that our family will commonly do on the first day of school , regardless of the theme – Growing in Grace Sheets, Encouraging Notes, a Scripture focus, and an art or craft project.

  1. Growing in Grace Sheets
    We have the kids think through some of their favorite things (colors, school subjects, books, Scripture, etc.), envision what they want to do this year as well as when they grow up, and consider their areas of strength and weakness.  We also have them draw a self portrait each year and record their new heights and weights.
    GrowinginGraceSheets
  2. Encouraging Notes
    The kids have to think and write a note of encouragement to each of their siblings.  (I write a note to each child as well and place it on the inside of their place card to read at breakfast on the first day.)
    EncouragingNotes1EncouragingNotes2
  3. A Scripture Focus
    We may have sword drills or pass out Scripture references for each child to read aloud.  After reading, we briefly discuss the verse(s) and how to apply it.  Often, the focus will be on love, the fruit of the Spirit, or how to grow in wisdom according to the Bible.  One particular verse will be our theme verse for the entire school year.  This year’s verse is from Psalm 119:103…
    How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.
    Bible2 Bible
  4. An Art or Craft Project
    To go along with our baking theme, we had each child complete a cake chalk pastel drawing! ChalkPastelCakes1ChalkPastelCakes2

5 Excited Homeschooled Kids

IMG_2210

I had to hold back tears of joy several times throughout the day.  Seeing the kids’ enthusiasm and eagerness to participate as well as realizing the privilege we have of being able to enjoy this sweet time with them was priceless.

Showstopper4

Thank you, Jesus, for such a sweet, memorable start to our homeschool year.

Including Teens: Planning for Their School Year

Including Teens in Planning

If you know me, then you understand how much I  love researching, planning, and organizing – especially in regards to school.  For me, it is more than just a requirement for preparing for another homeschool year.  I actually find it enjoyable! 

As our children have grown, I’ve begun to include them in some of the curriculum selection process.  No, they don’t seem to enjoy it as much as I do.  However, especially as they enter the teenage years, I think it is important for them to be able to have a say in what they will be learning as well as in how they will be learning.

What does this look like?

Starting in middle school, I’ll give them a few options for subjects like history and science as well as seek to somehow include something they are really interested in learning more about. 

For our 6th grade son this year, that involves lots of science – including learning about inventions, reading biographies of famous scientists, and making a science timeline for his history.  It also means making sure he has time during his school day to continue learning how to code with Khan academy.  He is beyond excited for these changes and additions this coming year! 

Our 8th grade daughter loves music.   After looking at curricula, we encouraged her to use her history time this coming school year to study classical composers through biographies and learn about the orchestra and each type of musical instrument.  She also has space in her day to continue practicing her cello and piano, as well as music appreciation.  This is a perfect fit for her this coming year and she is very much looking forward to these aspects in her daily school routine.

For high school students,  it is even more important for them to have a part in the decision making process for each of their subjects.  I explain the graduation requirements, suggest several options, show them online samples, and encourage them to read descriptions in the numerous homeschool catalogs that grace our mailbox. Then, we allow them to attend a homeschool conference with us and to share in the vendor hall experience.  We then talk about the possible positives and negatives of each curricula that they or I are interested in.  In the end, my husband and I are the ones with the final say, but our teens and preteens know that they have had a part in the decision.

It is so encouraging to see the different personalities, passions, and interests that God is developing in each of our children.  By allowing our teens and preteens to participate in  making decisions about THEIR education, we can more easily purchase and plan for curriculum that is tailored to their interests.  This, in turn, causes them to approach their schoolwork with a greater sense of ownership, determination, and satisfaction. 

All of this equals a greater joy in learning!

A Summer Reading Adventure

Summer Reading Adventure

I recently pulled a gem of a book out of our book baskets as I was cleaning out our school room.  My Father’s Dragon is a story I remember our oldest two daughters thoroughly enjoying, but, I had somehow failed to ever share it with our younger kids. After they looked at the cover and quickly glanced through the book, their eyes lit up!  I knew we would have to embark on a summer reading adventure (AKA a boredom buster during the dog days of summer).  Won’t you tag along on our adventure?

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 1

Print out a map of both islands from the inside cover and an image of Elmer.  Move Elmer as you read and follow him on his adventures!

Map

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 2

After reading the chapter, grab a paper sack and send the kids on a hunt around the house for items similar to those that Elmer packed for his journey. (We added a stick of gum, lollipop, rubber band, compass, toothbrush and toothpaste, magnifying glass, pocketknife, comb, brush, hair ribbon, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and an apple.)  In each chapter, as Elmer encounters a problem, see if kids can predict which item from his knapsack he will use to form a solution!

KnapsackItems

My Father’s Dragon: Chapters 3 – 4

Let everyone peel and eat a tangerine (or clementine) as you read these chapters!  Then, let your children try jumping on the ‘rocks’ (paper plates, paper, napkins. etc) to cross from one side of the yard to the other.  Also, have fun figuring out what the mouse is trying to say using this sheet from Glimmersnaps… My Father’s Dragon Mixed Up Talk Sheet .

Rock Hopping

My Father’s Dragon: Chapters 5

After reading the chapter, learn more about gum or read a fun story involving gum such as Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by McCarthy or Lester Fizz: Bubble Gum Artist by Ruth Spiro.  Then, encourage your children to make large tiger faces however they desire.  Once their tigers are complete, cut a small round hole where the tiger’s mouth is.  Let the children insert a balloon.  And, there you have it, a tiger chewing bubble gum and blowing bubbles!

MakingTigers3TigersBlowingBubblegumTigersBlowingBubblegum2

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 6

The fun activity accompanying this chapter comes from Frugal Fun with Boys.  Ahead of time, hard boil an egg for each child and then set it in a bowl filled with dark colored soda for an hour or more.  This will discolor the shells.  After reading, let the children use an old toothbrush and the toothpaste to scrub the egg (reenacting the cleaning of the rhino’s horn).Eggs1Eggs2

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 7

Want to recreate the lion’s messy mane and then pretty it up?  Have your kids paint a small paper plate to resemble a lion’s face.  Then, they can hole punch all along the outer edge and attach strings of brown and yellow yarn.  Finally, they can braid the strands and attach colorful ribbons.

      LionsMane1  LionsMane2

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 8

Using a magnifying glass, have your children go outside to explore!  Encourage them to look under rocks, on a tree, in the grass, etc.  What did they discover when they looked more closely at nature?  Have them draw one or two things they found.

LookClosely

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 9

You just can’t read this chapter without letting your kids enjoy a pink lollipop!  After reading, encourage your kids to pretend to be Elmer and design/create a bridge any way they wish.

PinkLollipopsBridgeConstruction2Building the Island

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 10

Elmer finally meets and rescues the baby dragon!  Celebrate by making and eating blue and yellow stripped cupcakes.  Then, refer to the description of the dragon back in chapter 2 to draw or craft the dragon!

CupcakeMakingBlue&Yellow Cupcakes    Dragon2Tracing   Dragon2Pieces
(printable pieces to trace and cut out onto your own stripped paper)Dragon2DragonPuppet

Our younger kids looked forward to reading My Father’s Dragon and doing the above activities each day.  You could easily make this adventure even more educational by creating a lapbook and/or adding Vocabulary and Discussion Questions for each chapter as well.

And, now we are off to continue our summer reading adventure, learning about Elmer and the dragon, as we read through the next two books in this series…Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland!

Being Intentional

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At the end of a challenging homeschool day, my husband is the first to remind me of our vision for our children’s learning at home…

  • a love for God
  • a love for His Word
  • a love for others
  • and a love for learning
How can I keep that in my thoughts?  How do I keep that focus? 

As a homeschool mom, I see two clear strategies that can assist me in staying focused on our goals.

1) Being intentional in spending time with Jesus…

The first way, and probably most obvious, is to personally stay close to the Good Shepherd.  I need to make sure I am making time to meet with the Lord a priority.  Am I reading my Bible each day and meditating on what He says through His Word? Am I taking time to pray and listen from my Savior?  Am I leaning on Christ and letting Him direct my thinking, words, activities, and day to day?  If I neglect this most important relationship, my vision begins to wane and I can gradually lose the focus of ‘love for God, love for His Word, love for others, and love for learning’ – turning it completely to academics and the stress of trying to do more and more, and entirely missing the heart.   How do I know this?  Well, sadly, it is because it has happened frequently to me along this homeschool journey.  I need a constant reminder to sit quietly and rest, to lean on the One who has called me to this journey, and to abide in His Word.

2) Being intentional in sharing Christ, His Word, and biblical truths with our children…

A second way to attempt to stay focused is to incorporate more of God’s Word and learning through using the Bible during our school days.  When choosing curriculum, I try to look for (or create) resources that are founded on and transmit a biblical worldview.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates,  so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
~Deuteronomy 11:18-21

It’s about being intentional in what we choose to use and do
during these short years we have been given with each of our children.

Some academic areas are easier than others to find materials that meet that criteria.  For example, we have discovered numerous science and history curricula that integrate the Bible and subject matter quite well.  Other areas, however, seem to be lacking and seem much more difficult to integrate.

Can aspects of language arts be taught using the Bible?  Yes!  One example is teaching spelling skills, handwriting, capitalization, spacing, and punctuation using verses of Scripture.  Joyful Heart Spelling Skills uses this method and was developed from a desire to incorporate God’s Word with the learning of spelling skills for early elementary students.  Joyful Heart Spelling Skills focuses on 73 spelling rules, starting with three letter CVC words and gradually builds and progresses with more difficult skills.  Each spelling skill is practiced during the duration of the skill focus through use of copywork, dictation, word sorting, building words, color writing, and a variety of hands on suggestions for forming words using a different medium or practicing the skill in a more hands on way.

Teaching spelling in this manner allows us to gain one more time during the day in which we can intentionally set His Word before our eyes, write it, think about it, and talk about it – enabling us to learn both academically and spiritually.

 

Want More Information about Joyful Heart Spelling Skills?

Spelling – Bible Copywork and Dictation
Spelling – A Rules Based Approach
Spelling – Build It
Spelling – Write It a Different Way
Spelling – Making it Varied
Spelling – When to Start

To succeed in keeping our focus and vision before us involves being intentional.  Staying close to Christ and in His Word as well as utilizing resources with a biblical emphasis can help us stay the course – instilling a love for God, a love for His Word, a love for others, and a love for learning.

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