"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3

Our Curriculum


Second Grade and Sixth Grade

We are heading into our sixth year of homeschooling--which I can't believe at all!  I still feel like a newbie in so many ways.  (Which may have something to do with the fact that every year we do different things, curriculum, outside classes, etc--so in a way we kind of are newbies every year!)

However, in some ways I'm getting my sea legs.  This coming year, for instance, for the first time, I am going to rely primarily on Unit Studies for my youngest's curriculum.

And I'm only a little bit scared of it!

We have done bits and pieces of Unit Studies each year, and each year we seem to do bigger bits and pieces.  My kiddos love them, and really demonstrate that they learn effectively through this method. So, really, it's been me that's had a hard time making the transition to using them as a primary way of learning for the whole school year.

Now I'm ready.  And so very excited!  I'm looking forward to a fun year where Bug continues to learn to be excited about learning and enthusiastic about his schooling.

So what exactly do I plan to cover with unit studies?

--Reading.  We will be collecting plenty of fiction and non-fiction books about each topic.  Bug has always been a strong reader and enjoys it, so I don't see much of a struggle here.  We will do some reading aloud, some oral narration, and lots and lots of silent reading.

--Science.  A given, when I show you my final unit study list for the year.

--History.  Also a given.

--Geography.  This will be included in the studies, but we will also be doing a study on the United States as a family as well, so it's like "double duty".

--Writing.  As in handwriting.  Lots and lots of copy work based on things we are learning about.  Bug's spelling and composition skills are pretty rough right now, so we will work a bit individually on these another way.

And the "other stuff"?

--Math.  We will be using CTC Math and Singapore Math.  Bug does well in math, but gets bored quickly with textbook approaches, so hopefully mixing these up will hold his interest.  We are also still working on getting addition and subtraction facts memorized using our Learning Wrap Ups.

--Spelling.  We will be using the dictation exercises found in one of our Heart of Dakota manuals:  Bigger Hearts for His Glory.

--Bible.  We are using Apologia's What on Earth Can I Do? through the summer, and after Labor Day, our Community Bible Study will start back up.  This will be a nine-month long study on Mark and some of the Epistles, and Bug will have work assigned every day.  We are also continuing devotions kind of daily, and working on memorizing Scripture.  Both unit studies that we have chosen also are Christian-based, so hopefully we will be bathed in God's Word every day.

--Poetry / Artists / Composers / Nature Studies.  We are going to try to head back to our Charlotte Mason roots and incorporate each of these things one day / week.  My plan is to use the Great Artists Study from Confessions of a Homeschooler and various composer studies on the internet.  Poetry will be done with his sister, who will be studying Emily Dickinson this year.

What Unit Studies will we use?

I am not the kind of Momma who wants to do her own Unit Study Creation.  I buy them.  I especially like them when they are scripted or include "point and click" downloadable links!  Because of that, we've always loved Amanda Bennett's Unit Studies.  Now that I've gotten more comfortable with the concept, I will also be branching out into KONOS.

Here's what our year looks like:

August -  October

Amanda Bennett's Space

KONOS Explorers

Amanda Bennett's Autumn Treasures

Amanda Bennett's Birthday Bonanza

November - December 

Amanda Bennett's Thanksgiving

KONOS Christmas

January - March

KONOS Kings & Queens

Amanda Bennett's George Washington

KONOS Frontiersmen

Amanda Bennett's Easter Promise

April - May

KONOS Safety

Amanda Bennett's Terrific Tigers

Amanda Bennett's Baseball

I can't believe I have a sixth grader again!  Sixth grade just feels like such a grown-up age.


This year we are sticking with Heart of Dakota again for Firefly.  It is one that both of us enjoy very much!  I have skipped around a bit for her, so this year we will be working in Resurrection to Reformation, and learning about the Middle Ages, Shakespeare, and all of the things that come with that time period.  Heart of Dakota will cover her Science, Writing, History, Poetry, and Geography.  We will also be using their Drawn Into the Heart of Reading program for reading, comprehension, and literary study.

In addition or substitution, here's what else we'll be doing:

Map Drill and Geography:  We'll be studying the 50 states and capitals this year as a family.

Bible:  We will be doing our own Bible study this year, finishing up Apologia's What on Earth Can I Do, and participating in Community Bible Study as well.

Literature:  We're going to read aloud as a family, and work our way through some fun classics.  Right now we are reading The Secret Garden.

Art Study:  Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler has a collection of the World's Greatest Artists studies.  We are going to do some of that this year.

Math:  Trying to use Math U See this year.  We can't seem to find a good fit for Firefly and Math.

Sigh again.  I hate teaching math.

Grammar:  We will be reviewing IEW's Fix-It Grammar.  I'm excited to see how this goes...

Spelling:  Continuing to work through All About Spelling.  We will start about halfway through Level 3 and just continue to work.  This has been a great fit for Firefly!

Extra:  We will be working a third of the year continuing in Mango French, then moving to Typing, and then attempting Latin.  Or maybe not.  Depends on how ambitious I am.  We are also continuing Firefly's brain exercises five days / week, courtesy of Dianne Craft.  Soccer never ends, and I am looking forward to lots of fun field trips this year.


First Grade, Fifth Grade, and Eighth Grade

I LOVE this time of year!  All of the new books are so clean and shiny, and there is nothing but excitement (on my part, at least) about the new school year coming up.  I know from experience that it's not nearly so exciting in say, October, but for now, the giddiness is just sooooo wonderful!

Here is what we have chosen to use in our homeschool this year...

Math:  Teaching Textbooks.  Turtle will be finishing up TT7 and heading straight into Pre-Algebra.  If we get really ambitious, we will try to get in some Algebra I, since she would like to have it done before she starts 9th grade, but we'll see...

History:  Since Turtle is set on going into the public school system next year for high school, I'm feeling some pressure to close any "gaps" in her learning.  (Yes, I know there is no such thing, but I'm good at putting pressure on myself.  It makes me more comfortable, lol!)  So this year we will be reading through The Story of the World.  All. Four. Volumes.
At least, that's the plan.

Geography:  It's finally time to get through those pesky states and capitals.  We will be using Memoria Press States and Capitals.  And a lot of memory work.

Science:  Turtle will be included in a co-op this year (yes, I know.  I'm doing it to myself again.)  One of the subjects she'll be doing through the co-op is Apologia Biology.  There are lots of wonderful things about this.  First, she will be with some good friends.  Second, I don't have to teach Biology.  And third, when she has to dissect things, (which she doesn't know about yet), it won't be with me!  Plus, she will go into high school with a Biology I credit under her belt.  Yay for co-op this year!

Bible:  We will be doing Community Bible Study again this year, studying the book of Romans.

Literature:  Yay for co-op again!  World Literature will be taken care of through this class.

Grammar:  We will be using various workbooks and daily practice-type websites to keep her grammar fresh.  She's been through two years of Classical Conversations Essentials program, so she has a great grasp on it all already.

Extras:  I am blessed to be on the TOS Review Crew, so there are always fun things for us to review and take a look at.  As these come up, Turtle will use them.  She is also going to continue with competitive soccer, as well as her photography.  All three kiddos will be taking art class this year, too!

Math:  Teaching Textbooks, again.  I've found it's just better to remove myself from the whole math deal as much as possible, especially as my daughters like to fight and cry about it.  We will also be using some Life of Fred here and there.

History / Literature:  Back to my tried and true, Heart of Dakota!  This year, Firefly will be working through Preparing Hearts for His Glory, which is a one-year historical overview of Creation to present day.  I'm so excited to be getting back to this with her!!

Geography:  Firefly, Bug, and I will also be working on the United States this year.  I'm not completely sure what we're going to use for this--there's just so much out there!  But since I've used Expedition Earth before successfully, we'll probably just go ahead and use Erica's United States Geography as well.

Science:  Unit Studies, Unit Studies, Unit Studies!  We will be continuing with Amanda Bennett's series because it's just been so successful with Firefly so far.  And yes, I am aware that it covers WAY more than Science, but don't tell Firefly!  We will use it in our Science slot each day and then just let her figure it out...
She will also be enrolled in co-op, where they will be studying inventors, physical science (yuk!), and anatomy.

Bible:  Community Bible Study here, too!

Language Arts:  We have been so blessed by so many of the review products we've received--and we're using lots of them here!  For writing, we will use Institute for Excellence in Writing's Student Writing Intensive A.  For Grammar, Essentials in Writing--we will finish the 4th grade level and then move into the 5th grade--the grammar portion only.  And for Spelling, we will continue with All About Spelling--finishing Level 2 and beginning Level 3.

Extras:  What won't she be doing?  Co-op also offers composer study, she will continue with competitive soccer, and will be taking art class.  American Girl Book Club is another activity that will be filling up her calendar, as well as playdates, doctor's appointments, and therapy.  
She also is my joiner, so whatever comes up, she wants to do.  She will only be limited by my interest or ability to get her where she wants to go, lol!

Math:  Bug will be finishing up Math Mammoth First Grade (thank you again, TOS Crew!), and then will switch back over to A+ for Second Grade Math.  We are also working through Life of Fred:  Apples.  Mostly because he likes to mix it up and also because that's what I have!

History / Literature:  Heart of Dakota's Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.  This will cover beginning American History and it looks like tons of fun!

Geography:  United States, with his sister.

Science:  Yep, this one is a toss-up.  I'm thinking of using the Science in Heart of Dakota, and I'm thinking of using Unit Studies, and I'm thinking of trying some Apologia.  I don't really know where we're going to go here...

Bible:  My Bug is finally old enough to go into the "big boy" class at Community Bible Study!  He will be studying Romans along with the rest of us.

Language Arts / Phonics:  We have been using Explode the Code, which he is starting to whine about.  I bought Rod and Staff from a friend, and frankly, I'm pretty confused about that whole thing.  I think we may end up just continuing Explode the Code.  For Spelling, he will start with All About Spelling Level 1, and for "Grammar", we may look at First Language Lessons.

Extras:  Bug will also be doing co-op, with physical science and composer study.  He wants to try flag football and baseball, and he will keep doing Boys Book Club.


Kindergarten, Fourth Grade, and Seventh Grade

New curriculum makes me happy.

I know, I know.  We've already covered how much of a nerd I am!

But, really, it does.

And I can NOT wait to dive in to the choices we've made this year!

It's kind of an interesting year for us, you see.  We have decided to let Turtle have a go at middle school, so that pretty much leaves me with a Kindergartner and a Fourth Grader to school.

And I've decided on a four-year history cycle to base our group work around, which doesn't always mesh so smoothly starting it in K and 4th grades.  (For a Type A momma, it gives us one extra year, you see...History Cycle for 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th, then again for 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th.  See where I'm going with this?)  I decided to take that extra year this year, and study world geography.

Then, when we go into ancient history next year, we will all know the places we are reading / learning about.

Theoretically, anyway!

Sooooo, after looking and researching and asking and reading, we have decided to use Expedition Earth and Expedition Earth Animals from Confessions of a Homeschooler as our core together curriculum.  We will be visiting many different countries this year, reading about them, writing reports on them, and experimenting with their languages and foods and cultures.

And for Bug, when there is a Five in a Row book we can use to add to that, we will.  For example, during the week we are studying China we will be rowing The Story About Ping.

Other group / together curriculum we are going to use is:

Bible:  Community Bible Study, as well as We Choose Virtues and Character Studies from Confessions of a Homeschooler

Poetry:  Library books

Picture Study:  Usborne The Children's Book of Art

Composer Study:  Library CDs or Zane Education

Fourth Grade:

Math:  Multiplication Made Easy, followed by Singapore Math--again.

Reading:  Abeka readers, as well as some classics

Science:  Abeka Understanding God's World, as well as monthly Zoo School

Composition and Grammar:  Writing Tales

Spelling:  All About Spelling

Art and Piano are both outsourced this year, thank goodness!  And PE happens on a very regular basis, especially for my Firefly.  Added things for her include Occupational Therapy, Counseling Visits, and American Girl Book Club


I am in love with Heart of Dakota.  Really in love with it!  And so, although I meant to make Kindergarten as "non-schooly" as I could get it, I couldn't stay away from Little Hearts for His Glory.

And you know what?  Bug likes to have his workboxes full, so this will help.

Little Hearts is a complete curriculum, for the most part.  It will cover some history, from creation to present day, emphasizing Bible stories.  There will be some very basic science discovery experiments, rhyming songs and games, fine motor skill practice, and storytime.

For times when he wants "workbook-y" stuff, we'll use:  Handwriting Without Tears, Explode the Code, Singapore Earlybird Math, and some Abeka readers.

Truly, I am blessed with this kiddo.  He is reading well and understanding numbers already.  I kind of feel like we already did Kindergarten and I wasn't paying attention, haha!  So this year will be slightly more structured, with lots of reading practice and lots of fun projects!


Preschool, Third Grade, and Sixth Grade
Yay!  Here it is:  the unveiling of our "this year" curriculum, that I am oh-so-excited about!  (at least until February, when I start to drool over all of the new catalogs and second-guess myself for what's next.)

Together Subjects:

Heart of Dakota, Bigger Hearts for His Glory:  I am so, so, so excited about starting this program.  It is geared for 7-9 year-olds, so it should be perfect for Firefly, and we will use the extension pack for Turtle.

Bigger Hearts also covers this subject, and I have also added a state study / lapbook that I ordered from Curriclick.

Covered through Bigger Hearts (can you see why I really like this curriculum?)

Combination of Bigger Hearts, Community Bible Study, and Scripture Memory (we use the system listed by Simply Charlotte Mason)

Art, Vocabulary, and Timeline are all also a part of Bigger Hearts for His Glory.

Firefly (Third Grade):

Switching to Singapore Math 2A this year, in another attempt to take away the tears that come when we open a math book.  We have actually begun the lessons, at a snail's pace,  slowly, and have narrowed the crying down to about 50% of the time.

This is also covered in Bigger Hearts, but we have also joined a co-op this year that is doing Apologia's Human Anatomy, so we're going to (lightly) cover that with the Junior Notebook.  We'll see how that goes.

Pictures in Cursive, from Queen Homeschool.  I really like this, too.  We can combine picture study with cursive (and I can check off two boxes for the price of one, haha).

First Language Lessons, Book 1.

All covered through Bigger Hearts and Drawn Into the Heart of Reading.

Occupational Therapy and associated practice, Continued social skills therapy, piano, French (maybe--we used Muzzy for fun last year), and of course, lots and lots of soccer!

Turtle (Sixth Grade):


We're mixing things up for her a little this year, too, also in an attempt to end the tears (except in her case, they are MY tears as well as hers).  We are continuing with Life of Fred: Fractions, and we are going to try to supplement with some worksheets and Singapore Math 5A.  We'll see how it goes...  We haven't found it in our hearts to start yet.


Our co-op will be doing science for Turtle's age, too, so we will be tackling Apologia's Exploring Creation with General Science (7th grade, I believe).  Probably a little tough for her, but I'm excited to see how she does.  We may or may not use the extension pack from Bigger Hearts for some science as well.


Pictures in Cursive


Spelling Power


Since the Heart of Dakota program that I chose is geared toward younger kids, and since Turtle is pretty smart at reading and writing, I decided to "beef" up her language arts by continuing her in our Classical Conversations Essentials program.  She (and I) will meet once a week in class for 45 minutes of grammar, 30 minutes of math drills, and 45 minutes of writing, following the Institute for Excellence in Writing's American History curriculum.  As part of her grammar for Essentials, we'll be using Our Mother Tongue.  Eeek.  Grammar scares me.  Big time.


We started this last year by borrowing Power Glide Latin from a homeschool lending library.  I liked it and would like to continue it, but odds are I won't be able to find it again.  So I'd like to continue Latin, but haven't found what I want / can use yet.

Reading and History:

Both will be following the extension pack for Bigger Hearts, as well as some co-op History reading.  We will use Drawn Into the Heart of Reading for 6-8 Grade as well.  I am really excited about some of the fun books we have lined up!


Piano lessons, presentations at co-op, lots of life skills training, and, again, lots and lots of soccer.

Bug (Preschool):

Ha!  He's the one I've agonized about (in case you haven't been keeping up with my posts).  Looks like we are going to:



Take walks

Build with Legos


Draw Pictures

Listen to Sisters' Stories

Use Play-Dough

And so on and so on . . .

(Of course, I couldn't completely let go.  There are some really cute workbooks at the Dollar Spot at Target right now, for those just-in-case moments when I really need him to do SOMETHING so that his sisters and I can work ; )

So that's where we are this year.  I'm linked up with Kris at weird, unsocialized homeschoolers for a peek into lots of other curriculum closets!  Can't wait to see what you're using!


Fifth Grade:

We have definitely used a mixed batch for this school year!  I'm not sure where I was headed when I started, but it has been a fun journey so far, to wherever we are going!  Hmmm, maybe for next year I can make a plan that I will stick to and that won't involve lots and lots of cross-outs, lol!

For right now, though, this is what it looks like:

Turtle:        Math:  We started out the year about halfway through Saxon 5/4.  I had gone backwards from where she finished last year to make sure she really had mastery of the math.  She hated it, I hated it, there were lots of arguments   discussions along the way, but she finally finished it!  We had a party--literally!  Now she is working through Life of Fred: Fractions.  We both enjoy it much much much more, and I am supplementing it with timed multiplication and division worksheets and other worksheets I find online that cover the subject in the chapter we are on.  Can I mention again how much we love Life of Fred?

                   Science:  Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy.  We began the year working on this together, but I've found that she seems to be enjoying it more now that she is doing it on her own.  It dove-tailed nicely with the science we did this year in Classical Conversations.  We also went through body changes and growing with The Care and Keeping of You, by American Girl, and a lapbook that went with it that I found on http://www.homeschoolshare.com/.

                    Literature and History:  Here is where we have veered most off course this year.  We started out using living books recommended by Simply Charlotte Mason in Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation, and Epistles.  We really did a good job following the schedule--for about a week.  Since then, I have gone back and forth on using Story of the World, Famous Men of the Renaissance and Reformation, and just book lists.  We also studied the Middle Ages and Renaissance in CC. 

                    Grammar and Writing:  Turtle went to the Essentials class in Classical Conversations, which (very thoroughly) covered her grammar and writing for this year.  We used the Institute for Excellence in Writing method and materials for writing.  Our Mother Tongue was recommended for grammar, but we went without it for this year.

                     Spelling:  We are using Spelling Power, and she is in Level E.

                     Latin:  I found Power Glide Latin in a homeschool lending library this fall, and we are enjoying using it (me more than Turtle, I'm afraid).

                     Bible:  We started out the year in Awana, but ended up dropping out after about two months.  Now we study Bible by doing devotions, scripture memory, Bible studies found on http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/, and Bible stories.  I'm really excited about next year's curriculum I found, though.  More on that next time, lol!

                     Everything else:  Turtle loves art, and I found a local artist that was willing to give her art lessons twice a month.  We did that through December, and then it got too taxing on our budget.  Both girls were also enrolled in an art class through the city, which was wonderful, but was cancelled in January.  (I'm finding a trend here . . .)  For now, we have to settle for less structured art activities and artist study.
                       We try to include nature study, poetry, typing, Shakespeare, cooking, yoga, and piano where we can throughout the week, and Turtle is very active in soccer, playing four to five times a week.  Our Classical Conversations Foundations class also covered:  Latin, Geography, Math, Grammar, History, Science, and a Timeline, with artist studies and orchestra lessons, too.

                        Phew.  I'm sure I've forgotten something, and I know I didn't cover what I do with Firefly, but Quiet Time only has six more minutes, and I'm sure they are keeping track!  I'll finish our list up later this week, and I'm almost sure what we're doing next year, so I'll be posting that too.  I'd love to hear what works for your families!



  1. Wow! Another family doing Latin! I'll have to rethink doing Spanish! LOL Stopping by to wish you and your family a great year!

  2. Very nicely laid out! All the best to ya -

  3. My comment got deleted..err! Ok, I didn't know you guys were signing up for CBS this year. We are too. Oh, and we are going to have to head to Walmart this week for some duct tape. ;) Thanks for linking up to the NOBH! :)

  4. I find it so interesting to read about what other people are using and what has worked for them. I've never heard of the Pictures in Cursive.

  5. Thank you for sharing in detail your journey. It was so refreshing to read I (and one of my girls) weren't the only ones with Mathematical tears. I'm going to look into the math you are using. I decided on Rod & Staff math, hoping we also have a 50% reduction....we'll see. Have a super year!



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