Friday, September 18, 2009

This year's curriculum

I thought some of my homeschooling readers may be interested in our curriculum choices this year.

Our main curriculum this year is going to be "Galloping the Globe", a geography based unit study. I found a copy of it at the homeschool convention this summer, and immediately fell in love with it. A unit study covers all subjects - except math and language arts - for all grades (at various learning levels). For moms with several children, this means that much time is saved by not teaching children individually. Unit studies often also use available public resources such as libraries and the internet, which saves a lot of money. One main goal of unit studies is to teach children to love learning by making it fun and interesting.

For example, next week, we are going to learn all about China. The curriculum gives lots of suggestions for books that can be borrowed from a local library. Learning about the Great Wall of China, Marco Polo, and various emperors of the past covers history. Social studies that week will focus on studying Chinese holidays. For literature, books that are set in China or relate to the country in some other way are listed. There are suggestions of Bible passages that relate to themes in these various books. Science next week will focus on animals that are traditionally found in China, such as panda bears and orangutans. The book also lists many other activities that tie in with China, such as playing ping-pong or making a Chinese meal to conclude the weekly study.

For Math, all kids will continue to do Harcourt Math. I really like this course a lot. The books thoroughly explain new concepts in simple terms, which is conducive to self-teaching on days that I am pinched for time. The books are advanced, without being frustrating or overwhelming. Plus, because the books for 3rd-6th grade are non-consumable hardcovers, I only have to buy them once. K through 2nd grade are consumable workbooks, but all can be found quite easily and inexpensively on ebay etc.

For English, I wanted to find something that had a relaxed approach and would engage young minds rather than bore them to tears. In past years, we used A Beka and Bob Jones, both of which were nice but required too much involvement from me, were too repetitive, and often not mentally challenging. With that in mind, I tried to find something different and better, but so far, we really have not had enough of a chance to use the new books and give an opinion on them. First impression is very good, though.

These are the subjects we will be working on Monday-Thursday. In the chart below, subjects that will not be studied on Fridays have a gray background.

Fridays are reserved for music lessons and field trips. All three boys are getting free violin lessons from a wonderful teacher in town, whom God put in our path. For field trips, we try to do something every week, such as visiting a museum, touring a factory, or going on a nature hike. I also signed the boys up for homeschool science classes at the Arizona Science center. They last about 2 hours, and we go one Friday each month. This week, the boys learned all about magnifiying and got to use various microscopes. Of course, they totally loved it. The science center also has loaner boxes available to take home, which contain all the info and materials needed to complete projects on certain subjects. We took home "Light and Colors", and Solomon has eagerly been working through it. Fridays are also our library days, where we go and check out the books for the following week's subjects.




Bible reading –family

daily reading of the One Year Bible as a family

Bible reading - independent

continue to read OT 2-3 chapters/day

continue to read the book of John, 6-8 verses/day


Bible memory




Reading – family read-aloud

Little House series. Currently in “Farmer Boy” (book 3 of 9)

Reading - independent

Whatever they choose – once our kids finish learning to read, the problem is not getting them to read, it’s to get them to stop and instead work/play/run around.

A Beka Handbook for Reading, mics. A Beka readers for K5 and 1st grade


Harcourt Math grade 4

Harcourt Math grade 2

Harcourt Math K


Natural Speller

Natural Speller



Daily copywork – copy Proverbs (cursive), about 4-5 verses/day

A Beka Writing with Phonics grade 1 (cursive)

A Beka Writing with Phonics K5 (manuscript), ABC Writing Tablet K4 (cursive)

English – Grammar

Simply Grammar

Primary Language Lessons

A Beka Letters & Sounds K5

English – Composition

Writing Strands

Social Studies (Science, History, Geography, etc.)

Galloping the Globe – this is a wonderful one-year unit study that focuses on one country per week, tying in science, history, literature, cooking, etc. Very fun and educational!!!

Foreign Language

Spanish: weekly class at church

German: online Auralog course through library, practice with Mom

Spanish: class at church

German: practice with Mom

German: practice with Mom

Arts & Crafts

The World of Little House

Little House in the Classroom

These are just two books we are using this year to go along with our family read-aloud. The kids make lots of crafts on their own every day. They love to draw, color, cut, glue, build, and generally make the school/dining room a complete mess EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Yes, there is some frustration in that sentence. We have too many books with great craft ideas to list them all here. The kids really like most of the ones in the “Williamson Little Hands Books” series.


weekly piano and violin lessons, daily practice

weekly violin lessons, daily practice

weekly violin lessons, daily practice


one or two 1-hour meetings/week at the park with Sportskidz Arizona

Hope you gleaned some ideas from this post if you are still looking for school books this year!


  1. I work for BJU Press, so I am a little prejudiced toward their materials!;) However, I am delighted that you put so much thought into finding curricula that meet your children's needs. I speak to many customers on the phone who are disorganized and confused about homeschooling their children. It's refreshing to see how well you manage the process. I hope you have many successful learning experiences this year!

  2. I was just curious, after I read the bit about China, do you ever discuss other religions with your children?

    I don't mean this is a 'nasty' way or anything, just wondering. When I was in school I was always fascinated by other people's religions and what they believed.

    I've known several families who would discuss other religions and how it was different from their own, etc etc.

  3. Just an FYI: There are no Orangutans in China. They are only found in Borneo, an island in Southeast Asia divided between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. Thought the information might be helpful as errors like that tend to jump out at me.


Your KINDLY WORDED, constructive comments are welcome, whether or not they express a differing opinion. All others will be deleted without second thought.