Our 2020-2021 Curriculum

 

I truly feel that embracing the homeschool lifestyle has helped to create  a strong bond among all of our children.  They’ve always been there for each other, supported one another through the highs and lows, and truly have been each other’s best friends and cheerleaders.  So, as our family begins to think about another new school year, there’s a twinge of sadness, but also great expectation — Our oldest daughter graduated from our homeschool in May and is heading off to college in the fall!  We are so excited for her as she begins this new journey in her life, but we will all greatly miss her joyful spirit, hugs, insights, and, simply, being with her each day.  I’m thankful for the ability to text, FaceTime, etc. as I know all of the kids will want to continue to keep in close contact with their big sister – one of their very best friends.

As our oldest prepares for moving to a dorm and beginning life and academics at college, our own planning for a new school year at home continues as well.  Below are our curriculum choices for 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th grades this coming year!

ELEMENTARY

Our 5th Grader…

  • Reading / Literature:
    — 180 Days of Reading Grade 5
    — Literature Books – Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lassie, The Unsung Hero of Birdsong USA, The Indian in the Cupboard, Twenty One Balloons, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Hatchet, The Toothpaste Millionaire, LongBurrow series (Podkin One-Ear), and Peter and the Starcatchers
  • Spelling/Vocabulary: Beginning Word Roots, Word Ladders
  • Handwriting: Handwriting Skills Simplified E: Cursive Writing
  • Writing/Grammar/Composition: BJU English 5
  • Math: Horizons 5 (and moving into 6)
  • Art: 1-2 times per month instruction as part of our co-op
  • Bible: Awana T&T, daily Bible Reading
  • Additions: Trail Life (Mountain Lion)

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Our 7th Grader…

  • Reading/Literature:
    — Reading, studying, and participating in a once a month book club using the following books – Fever 1793, Sweep, A Long Walk to Water, Music of Tigers, The Bridge Home, Journey to the River Sea, Anne of Green Gables, and Harbor Me
    — Veritas Press Omnibus 1, Secondary self paced online lessons with reading and comprehension of the following books – Chosen by God, Till We Have Faces, The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Last Battle, The Best Things in Life, Unaborted Socrates, The Eagle of the Ninth, The Screwtape Letters, The Holiness of God
  • Writing/Grammar/Composition: Foundations of Composition (online, live class) including Jensen’s Punctuation for grammar, Sentence Composing for Middle School, Word Roots 3
  • Math: Saxon 8/7
  • Bible: Student Leader in Awana/Trek, daily Bible Reading
  • Art: 1-2 times per month instruction as part of our co-op
  • Additions: violin lessons, piano, gymnastics, ballet, writing/editing a novel

5th & 7th GRADE  ‘TOGETHER’ SUBJECTS

  • Science: Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology 

  • Social Studies: The Renaissance, Reformation, and Early Explorers using Mystery of History 3  (with a homemade notebook)

 

HIGH SCHOOL

Our 9th Grader…

  • English 9: Classic Literature/ Literary Analysis and Composition
     
    (live, online course)  – Romeo and Juliet, The Prince and the Pauper, Our Town, King Arthur: Tales from the Round Table, Silas Marner, The Giver, The Scarlet Letter, Up From Slavery, The Importance of Being Earnest; Easy Grammar Ultimate Grade 10 
  • Algebra 2 with Integrated Geometry:  Shormann Algebra 2
  • Biology: Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology
  • World Geography: North Star Geography by Bright Ideas Press
  • World Religions & Cultures:  But Don’t All Religions Lead to God?, World Religions: An Indispensable Introduction, Mimosa, Listening to the Language of the Bible, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, Sundar Singh: Footprints Over the Mountains, Queen of the Dark Chamber, Jacob Deshazer: Forgive Your Enemies,  I Dared to Call Him Father, God’s Global Mosaic, Foreign to Familiar,  iWitness Heresies and Cults
  • Spanish 1: BJU 1 (in conjunction with a live, online course)
  • Intro to Architecture: Design Drawing by Francis Ching  (in conjunction with a live, online course)
  • Physical Education & Health: Apologia Exploring Creation with Health & Nutrition, walking/running, indoor exercise
  • Additions: AWANA Journey

 

Our 11th Grader…

  • English 11: American Literature and Composition
     
    (live, online course)  –Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and Other Puritan Sermons, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Young Goodman Brown and Other Short Stories, The Raven and Other Favorite Poems, The Gold Bug and Other Tales, Evangeline and Other Poems, Humorous Stories and Sketches, 12 Years a Slave, The Red Badge of Courage, The Road Not Taken and Other Poems, The Great Gatsby, The Old Man and the Sea, The Pearl, My Antonia
  • American History: Notgrass Exploring America
  • PreCalculus:  Shormann PreCalculus
  • Spanish 4:  Homeschool Spanish Academy
  • Introduction to Computer Science: Computer Science Principals: The Foundational Concepts of Computer Science and various videos from online resources, including Crash Course Computer Science and Crash Course Navigating Digital Information
  • Graphic & Web Design: Web Design with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and JQuery by Jon Duckett (in conjunction with a live, online course)
  • Physical Education & Health: Apologia Exploring Creation with Health & Nutrition, walking/running, indoor exercise
  • Instrumental Music 3:  Cello lessons, Piano Lessons, Member of the local youth orchestra
  • Additions: AWANA Journey, beginning a local cake business, SAT prep, career assessments

ALL TOGETHER

  • Bible Devotions: Bible, The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study: A Survey of the Bible (oral)

 

Praying for a productive, joy-filled, relationship strengthening, and gospel centered year of learning for our family – whether at home or away!

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Would you like to see our curriculum choices from previous years?

2019-2020 (12th, 10th, 8th, 6th, 4th)
2018-2019 (11th, 9th, 7th, 5th, 3rd)
2017-2018 (10th, 8th, 6th, 4th, 2nd)
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

What’s a ‘Typical’ Homeschool Day?

A common question often asked by parents considering homeschooling for the first time is, “What does a typical day look like?”

At first thought, it seems like this would be a fairly easy question to answer, but it’s actually a bit complex. This is due to the fact that 1) one of the greatest benefits to homeschooling is the flexibility and 2) a key goal in homeschooling is to encourage a growing independence and a continued love for learning. Also, another question implicit in the original is often ‘What should I, personally, be doing?’, which is even harder to answer since each family will have a distinct set of circumstances. 

Flexibility

Flexibilitythe quality of easily bending without breaking; the ability to be easily modified

I love these definitions of flexibility! And, they definitely describe the homeschool lifestyle!  One of the greatest benefits to homeschooling is the flexibility – being able to modify or adjust as needed – without it ambushing the entire tone, progress, or atmosphere of your home environment.

One way to  embrace this flexibility is to adopt more of a routine or flow to the day.  Many homeschoolers have found that a flow is easier to maintain as opposed to attempting to adhere to a strict time schedule.  Planning a typical flow or sequence to the day is beneficial, such as: wake, breakfast, chores, bible/devotional time as a family, math, language arts (grammar, writing, phonics, literature), lunch, science, history, free time, dinner, chores.  Planning in this manner allows for less stress or battling feelings of being behind. (There won’t be a need to say, “It’s 10 o’clock. The schedule says we should be doing phonics now! Quick, let’s put this away and get started on…”)  This also recognizes and allows for that flexibility!  Homeschoolers can take a deep breath and contemplate what might be best for their family at the moment, realizing that it will all even out over different days.

Homeschoolers also have the blessing of flexibility to be able to tailor what their kids are doing based upon the needs, progress, and new interests they see develop each day.  Parents and children in homeschooling families have the time and flexibility to either speed up or slow down the pace of their lessons depending on how they respond to the new concepts being presented. Children have the freedom to be able to progress at their own rate.  A child may need additional time learning one concept, but less time with another skill or lesson.  They may not have much interest in one topic, but want to delve in and explore, in greater detail, another idea.  Having more of a flow to the day aids in this.

Also, homeschoolers do not have to do every subject every day.  If the children have lost focus and everyone needs  a break to regroup or the day has just been long enough (moms pick up on these cues ;-)), the uncompleted  subjects can  be saved for the next day and marked to start with those.  For example, most math curricula contain 180 lessons, including tests, so the goal is one lesson per day, but some days a lesson may take longer. Homeschoolers can either choose to continue and tackle it, and in turn remove a different subject that day, or give students a break and continue tomorrow knowing that on some other day additional time may need to be devoted.

Some subjects can also be divided before the year begins to allow for completion within just 3-4 days per week instead of five.   History and science curricula are more suitable for this, as well as electives. This gives more freedom to focus on math and language arts.

As a quick note, given the amount of flexibility, it is important for homeschoolers to keep track of what is completed each day and ensure that (as required by most states) 180 days of learning is met.  However, homeschoolers typically don’t have an issue with days and requirements as there are so many opportunities for learning each day!

Independence

Many homeschool families desire to instill in their children a sense of ownership over their learning.  This can be accomplished by gradually giving students subjects that they can work on independently (always with the reassurance that parents are readily available to come alongside them) and by giving them the freedom to make some decisions regarding their school day. 

As students become more proficient at working on some schoolwork independently, they can be given  all of their assignments for the day and be  allowed to choose the order they wish to approach their subjects.  As students mature, they can often determine when they feel most focused and learn to gauge when they should complete subject matter needing most concentration at that point in their day.  They may choose to work on more challenging subjects first, alternate between longer and shorter assignments, or reward themselves at the end of the day with their favorite course. Oftentimes, after a couple weeks into the school year, older homeschool students develop their own routine for their day!

By encouraging independence, students begin to be more self motivated and self-directed, increasing their confidence and their enjoyment of learning.

Accounting for Family Differences

There are so many factors in determining a homeschool schedule. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ by any means!  What works wonderfully for one family might not be doable for another.

Since each family situation is unique, there are many variables involved!  These variables include the number of children in the home, grade levels working with, whether there are babies and toddlers, the differing attention spans, personalities, learning styles, whether the teaching parent also has additional employment, etc. 

Not only are the situations different for each family but circumstances also change within the family unit from year to year. Necessary adjustments are made as new members of the family are added, as seniors graduate and start a new season, and just as children grow and mature. 

All of these are reasons why it’s sometimes difficult for homeschoolers to describe their ‘typical day’!


After prefacing our family’s schedule with the above explanation, below is my attempt to describe a ‘typical day’ of homeschool with our 12th, 10th, 8th, 6th, and 4th grade children during the past school year.  My goal in sharing is not to tell you ‘the’ way to approach your homeschool day, but to share one way that has worked for us. (And our routine and methods have changed considerably within our own family over the years!)

With so many teens in our home this past school year, we allowed our children to awake and get started with schoolwork on their own time frame (although usually no later than 9am).

Each child had a prepared weekly chart of subjects that I aimed for them to complete each day, all of their materials placed in work boxes, and a breakdown for each subject outlining what constitutes a day’s work.  (We used file boxes to contain materials for elementary aged children and drawers for middle school.  My 10th grader wanted to utilize drawers also, but my 12th grader opted for a basket and binder.  All texts and resources not currently in use were stored on a bookcase that we could easily access.) 

Sample Weekly Sheet and Day by Day Subject Outline

Elementary  Level Workbox (description)

Middle School / High School Drawers (description)


High School Binder
(contains the Weekly Sheet in the front to record what is done each day and the Day by Day Subject Outline behind each labeled tab)

All of our children were able to choose the order of their subjects to do each day.  Although, math and language arts were typically completed before lunch.

Any phonics/reading/literature was completed with mom (5th grade and younger) while the oldest four had either an in person class or an online live English class (literature, grammar, composition) one day per week with assignments to work on the other days.

For English and math (6th grade and younger), they would read the textbook explanation, come to me for clarification, work on their assignment, and then come back to me for any needed corrections or reteaching after I checked their work.

Our children who were 7th grade or older had a daily, online, self-paced math lesson with assignments completed and graded on the computer.  (Usually my husband could assist with any concepts the older students struggled with, but the children also had the option to email the instructor for help as well.)

All five students also had daily AWANA work. The older students did their devotional section and memorized their verse(s) on their own and then asked me to listen to them as time to practice before AWANA night. For our 4th grader, I’d help him with memorizing the verse(s).  I would write out the verses on a dry erase board and we would practice using the ‘erase a word’ method.

After lunch was when our 4th and 6th grader would usually do science and history with me. I’d read aloud as they worked in their notebooks, and then we would complete any related experiments.

My 8th and 10 graders read the science text on own and completed their corresponding notebook work. Experiments were completed in a group setting two times per month.

This was similar for my 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students’ history/ cultural issues coursework.  They would read the text on own, come to me for oral questions/answers, and, sometimes, watch a scheduled video.

Several children also participated in instrument practice on their own each day, following plans set in place by their instructors.

 

Here are some glimpses into our day from previous years, too…Day in the Life

As you can see, homeschooling days are full of flexibility, growing independence, love, and learning!  May you give much grace to yourself and your children as you work together to create your own ‘typical’ homeschool day!  And, as you embark on this new journey and way of learning, may the homeschool lifestyle become a blessing to you and your family.

Hands On Science Learning

 

For the past few years, my children and I have been blessed to be able to meet two times per month with a few other homeschooling families.  We’ve enjoyed participating in art and science together – reinforcing concepts through hands on activities and learning alongside our friends!  

This past school year, our homeschool group used Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics for our 3rd – 6th grade children (while our high school aged girls used Apologia Chemistry).  We explored topics such as the states and properties of matter, atoms and elements, physical and chemical changes, mixtures, the three laws of motion, different types of energy, magnetism, and simple machines.  It was a full year of discovery!

Apologia incorporates a ton of experiments within the text, and we did many of them as we came to them during reading.  However, when we met together as a group, we wanted to provide opportunities to review vocabulary, reinforce concepts, and do additional activities that would support what we were all learning at home. 

Refraction of Light

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After collaborating with the other moms for ideas, I created experiment packets for each meeting time that we then worked through together.  If you’d like to utilize these same hands on activities, the Hands On Chemistry and Physics Experiment Packets are now available for sale over at my TPT Joyful Heart Learning store!

We had such an enjoyable year of learning with friends, and we are all looking forward to our next year of science explorations together!

Pointillism Sunflowers

Pointillism Sunflowers

What began as an afternoon lesson for three children on the style and technique of pointillism turned into an enjoyable family art affair of pointillism and more!

We began by watching an art student’s tutorial on pointillism – learning briefly about Georges Seurat, seeing how to make a color wheel, learning how to create a graphite transfer, and being inspired by an elaborate pointillism Taj Mahal.

Next, we practiced the technique of pointillism by using markers and following along with another tutorial.

1 -Pointillism Practice

We also experimented with various sizes of tips – ends of paintbrushes, Q-tips, erasers, and small stamp sponges.

Next, we got out our primary colored acrylic paints and set to work creating a pointillism color wheel.

2 - Pointillism Color Wheel5 - Pointillism Practice

 

After all of that practice, we were ready to jump into our main project (and grandma joined us, too).

Step 1- Choose a sunflower!

5.2 Sunflower Project

Step 2 – Create a Graphite Transfer

5.5 - Graphite Transfer6 - Graphite Transfer7 - Graphite Transfer

 

Step 3 – Ready to Paint!

8 - Ready to Paint

Step 4 – Add dots

9.5 - Pointillism9 - Pointillism10 - Pointillism

and dots…

11 - Pointillism

and more dots!

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We discovered that this type of painting requires a great deal of patience and perseverance! 

 

Up until this stage of our project, the kids were very focused and only wanted a few pauses for stretching and a snack.  They were highly engaged and motivated!

After an overnight break, we started up again the next morning

to add more dots!

 

13 - Pointillism

14 - Pointillism

 

At various points, the older kids in our family decided to join in on the fun, too!  One chose to utilize the graphite transfer technique with a different image, one chose to use the graphite technique followed by regular painting, and one used a combination of brush stroke painting and pointillism.

 15 - Pointillism16 - Just Paint17 - Just Paint

 

Our completed pointillism sunflowers!

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And more!

20 - Pointillism
We had a wide age range of artists – elementary, middle school, high school, mom, and grandma.  Above, are some of our artists’ completed works!  Each of us experienced such a satisfying and relaxing time with family and friends as we let our creative expression flow!

Stacking Up the Learning

Stacking Up the Learning Themed 1st Day

As a homeschool family, we enjoy marking the beginning of a new school year in a special way.  We set aside the very first day as a ‘fun day’ with a chosen theme, food, related Scripture, and activities!

 

Although the theme is typically kept secret from the kids until the morning of the first day, this year they had a little hint.  I requested, a week beforehand, that they each needed to be prepared to arrive to breakfast dressed as a book character of their choice.

Here’s the cast of characters that showed up on our first day of school this year…

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Chaya from Jennifer Nielsen’s Resistance, Hermione from Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Cole from Brandon Mull’s The Five Kingdoms series, Sherlock Holmes from The Lock and Key series by Ridley Pearson, and Petra from Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card!

And, the surprise theme was revealed…

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Stacking up the Learning!

We began our day with our tradition of first day notes at the table, a Scripture reading, and, of course, cupcakes for breakfast – this time ‘stacked’ pancake cupcakes.

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I think these Scriptures are very fitting for the theme.  For, even though each year our children are gaining academic knowledge and skills, it’s even more important to remind ourselves to continue to add to our learning of God’s Word, hiding it in our hearts, applying it, and growing in godly character and Christ-likeness.

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After breakfast, they all completed their yearly Growing in Grace sheets (updated this year) and wrote encouraging notes to their siblings. These were later shared during lunch.

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Next, I had them grab their character’s book and head to a comfy spot.  They took turns drawing a ‘Find the Quote’ card and then they all searched their books for a line that would fit the prompt.  For example…’Find a quote that could be used as step 5 in my evil plan to take over the world.’  Or, ’Find a quote that could be used as a sentence that would sound great if read in a Southern accent.’  It was hilarious and turned out to be a perfect, engaging game for our wide age range of children (ages 17 to 9) this year!

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They then participated in a silly, friendly competition of book balancing.  A few may have got creative on how they chose to balance their books.

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Next, they enjoyed a snack of gummy ‘book’ worms, watched a couple videos on literary elements, and used Jenga blocks to play Story Element Stack.  (This was super easy for my older kids, but they were good sports!)

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For lunch, they constructed and ate tortilla sandwich books.

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The kids then enjoyed a game of Literature Pictionary!  They took turns selecting a card containing a book title (well known children’s books, middle grade fiction, and some popular young adult titles). On their turn, they used a dry erase board and markers to draw clues for their siblings to guess the book.

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Last, I gave them a large, open-ended project that they worked on the rest of the afternoon. They divided into teams and set to work creating a video book review or book trailer for a favorite book or series of books.  They loved scripting, finding props, acting, and filming their videos.  These were later shared with family at the end of the day.

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Oh, we also ‘stacked’ chocolate and marshmallows on top of graham crackers – enjoying yummy s’mores over the fire pit.  =)

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A few things I wanted to do, but that we didn’t have time for were…
-Photo Shelfies  (taking photos of each child with their favorite books behind them on a shelf)
-Watching an online tour of book printing and binding
-Creating Watercolor Book & Verse Quote Posters and Book Marks

(Maybe we’ll sneak these in some other time!)

 

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Here’s to another great year of learning!



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