2017-2018 at Godbold Academy

I’m finally mostly planned out for this coming school year. I usually don’t do quite so much pre-planning, but I’m having a baby late October/early November, so I figured I should plan out all I could in advance. A couple new things for us this year: First, I planned in terms instead of just all year. 5 terms total. Three 12 weeks terms, an Advent term, and then a summer term. The kids have been begging me for a more traditional summer, so I have taken their request and we made a compromise. (We usually do year round school.) They will still be completing their third term after the local schools get out. But then they get an actual summer term, which will mostly just consist of each of them having a required reading list. The other new to us thing is the Morning Basket. It is a Charlotte Mason homeschooler thing, but I have adapted it a bit for our more classical methods. More about that if you click the Morning Basket link below.

I did look into switching from The Well Trained Mind to Ambelside this year. I love a lot of things about Ambelside, but ultimately felt The Well Trained Mind is still a better fit for our family. I did look over the Ambelside reading lists for the corresponding years of history and picked a few of those suggestions that I thought might be a good fit for my crew. The Well Trained Mind is really adaptable on a child by child, family by family basis. You have a wide variety of ways the method is really done and worked out in families. We’ve used it from the beginning of our homeschool journey. (This is our 8th homeschooling year.) I’m always tempted by other things, but ultimately decide every year to stick with The Well Trained Mind. It just fits us best.

This year, I am homeschooling 5 kids. One of those is an optional one who is currently opting in. (“School” in our house is optional until you are 6 years old.) Grade levels also get a little mixed when you’re talking about homeschool, especially when you’re not just using a box curriculum. Kids tend to move at their own pace and advance quicker in some areas than others. I kind of average out their level and that is what grade the kid says they are in, since “What grade are you in?” Isn’t usually meant to be answered with, “Well, I have the vocabulary of a high school sophomore, but in math, I’m around grade 6. In literature, we read higher level books than our ages would suggest. And in Grammar, I am on grade level.” People usually expect something more like, “I’m a sixth grader.” Believe me, getting testing scores back for homeschoolers learning in non-traditional methods is quite amusing as they may very well likely place in every single grade in something. But on the average, this year I have a preschooler, a first grader, a fourth grader, and two sixth graders.

This year should prove to be a bit of a challenge for each of them as I am realizing they can do some pretty hard things. They are typically limited by the challenges, or lack there of, that I give them. We are not doing Latin this year, though that is a typical classical homeschooler subject. We are incorporating it a little in their vocabulary studies. We are also leaving out handwriting for the time being. They have a lot of writing to do, so I am not too convinced a full handwriting course is really necessary this year. If I change my mind, I can always add it in for Term 2 or 3 or even the Summer Term.

To save us from an infinitely long post, click on the links to the individual parts of our school year below.

Morning Basket

First Grade

Fourth Grade

Sixth Grade

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Sixth Grade Curriculum 17/18

These two are doing most of their work outside of the Morning Basket time on their own. They are much more capable of getting things done without my help these day. I write their work to be done in their planners and they check it off as they go. They have weekly and daily assignments to complete each week.

Math

Teaching Textbooks 6

Literature

Pinocchio

Treasure Island

The Secret Garden

The Pied Piper of Hamelin (The Bargain Book A Treasury of Fairy Tales from Barnes and Noble does have this story included.)

Grimm’s Fairy Tales Selections

A Little Princess

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Robinson Crusoe

Rip Van Winkle

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Bambi

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Gone Away Lake

The Beggar’s Bible

The Wind in the Willows

For each book read, they will have to write a brief book report including information about the author and intended audience, setting information, why they think the book was written, and what they thought of the book. They will also have to write a character list for each book they read. They also have 30 minutes a day of additional reading time, but they can choose any book they like for that time and they only have to keep a list of what they have read. One will likely choose Goosebumps every day. The other will likely choose Harry Potter or Hunger Games.

History

You Wouldn’t Want to be Sick in the 16th Century

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Sign of The Beaver

Calico Captive

George Washington’s World

Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution

Amos Fortune, Free Man

Who Was Davy Crockett?

In addition to the Morning Basket History and the additional history reading, each week this age group has a few tasks to complete. They have to write the significant information on their timeline. They also have to look up the appropriate section we are covering in the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and write an outline for the information they read. They also have to find the locations we cover in the Atlas and then also find them in their Geography Coloring Book and color the pertinent areas. This is pretty much the way The Well Trained Mind lays out history for this age. We are using The Story of The World 3 Activity Book to help line up the Kingfisher readings with our Story of the World readings.

Science

Who Was Galileo?

Ocean of Truth

In addition to the Morning Basket Science and their Science reading, they have to choose a topic related to our science work that week, research it, and then write one to two pages on the topic.

Critical Thinking

We’ll be covering one chapter each week in the book Fallacy Detective.

Grammar

Selected assignments in Writer’s in Residence. They used this last year and didn’t finish it, so they are working on finishing it up this year. I still don’t like it as a whole, so I’m just picking out the parts I want them to read and the assignments I want them to complete.

Easy Grammar 6

Word Roots Level 1

Bible

In addition to our group Bible study and family devotions, they are doing Walking In Peace on their own.

Music

These two are also learning to play an instrument this year. One has chosen the violin, the other is still deciding.

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*** Most classics are cheapest on Amazon. Puffin is one of my favorite publishers. However, I love Barnes and Noble hardback classics. Take your declaration of intent or homeschool ID to your local Barnes and Noble for an Educator’s Discount Card, which will save you 20% on books!***

2016-2017 Homeschool Curriculum Review

We haven’t yet moved into our next school year, but the planning for next year is coming along. This past year was our 7th homeschooling year. We had 4 official students and 1 who insisted on jumping into the fun with us. (Preschoolers do that from time to time. Sometimes they want to participate. Sometimes they don’t. Before age 6, we let them choose. Play time is learning time for that age, so I’m not comfortable pushing them toward rigorous studies just yet.) I figured I’d let you guys know what worked and what didn’t this school year. But I always like to give an update on what worked and what didn't, since my opinions may change by the time we get closer to the end.

Overall, we have used The Well Trained Mind throughout our schooling days. We’ve been a little more relaxed in the Grammar stage. Some of the suggested resources haven’t worked for us, so we have found alternatives that work.

I had two fifth graders this year, one third grader, one kindergartener, and one preschooler.

Math
We used Teaching Textbooks 5 and 3 for these guys this year. Teaching Textbooks has been the best math program for these guys. These two started with Singapore Math and then switched to Teaching Textbooks for fourth grade. We no longer buy the workbooks, because my kids only use the computer disc portion of the program. Each lesson is well explained, having them do practice problems as they go. If they don’t do well on a lesson, you can go in and delete the grade and let them try again. They get two tries at each problem, and the program explains how the answer is achieved. It gives immediate gratification, telling them if they are right or wrong on each problem before they move on. The kids do very well with this program. I have read some reviews that say the grade levels are off, but I have not found that to be the case. Each year starts off pretty easy, but builds back to more difficult concepts. So, a student may find it easy at first, but there is more challenge coming. My only issue with the program is the cardboard cases the CDs come in. I feel like for the price, they should come in some durable CD cases for long term use. I’ve had to move all our discs into a zippered CD case. That works, but for $99 a set (higher in the higher levels) they should come with something more durable than paper. The program keeps up with the grades and you can check them at any time. We don’t usually do grades, but since the kids were doing it all on their own, it helped me keep an eye on their progress.
We started the year with Essential Math K. He flew through it. It wasn’t a challenge for him at all. We switched to Life of Fred about halfway through the year. It introduced more complex topics and he liked the storytelling aspect. The preschooler joined us for these lessons, but will likely need to do them again.

Grammar
I signed the older two up for Wordly Wise Online through Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. They didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. The program isn’t well laid out. It is very confusing and takes a lot of time per lesson. I also felt like they weren’t really learning much for the effort being put in. We stopped it mid-year and will not be picking it back up.
We also grabbed the new Writer’s In Residence program from Apologia. Each student needs their own book. And the books are hefty. While I like some of the content, overall, the program didn’t work well for us. For one, it isn’t well laid out. The grading rubric is confusing. Everything has to be graded, which is weird for us since we don’t really grade things. Some of the assignments were frivolous. Also, it got really messy. It is a huge workbook, so I expect all the work to be done in the book and fit in the book. But there were several times when things were cut out of the book (which annoys me greatly) or they had to paper clip extra pages into the book. I felt like they could have made it all work, but didn’t. If the kids are needing to use separate paper, I would have just liked it in textbook format with all the work being done on their own paper in a separate notebook. My kids did learn from the program, but it was far too parent intensive and far too convoluted. You will need at least one of the Teacher’s Guides. I won’t be continuing this program. Even if I wanted to, I can’t. They released Volume 1 of 4 last year but haven’t released Volume 2 yet. I have such mixed feelings on this program. Some of it is SO good. But then some of it is SO bad.

I kept my third grader signed up for Explode the Code online. I absolutely love that program. It has worked so unbelievably well for him. He enjoys it. It challenges him. He is finishing up the program now, so he won’t be using it next year. I’ll be looking at buying it again for our rising first grader, though.

History
Our history years aren’t lining up smoothly because we spent longer than a school year on Ancient history. We use Story of The World. This year, we started a history co-op with some other families in our church. That slowed us down considerably, so we didn’t finish a full year of history this year either. We finished up Story of The World 2 and then moved into Story of the World 3. We tried the audio version of Story of the World 2, but the kids hated it. They did not like listening to the CDs. So, we went back to me reading it to them from the book. When we started Story of The World 3, I added interactive notebooks. It would have worked well for just my kids, but in the co-op setting, it got a little hectic. We will be continuing Story of The World 3 next year, but these two will be moving into the Logic stage, so they will be adjusting how they do history. (Technically, the Logic Stage begins in 5th grade, but my kids needed an extra year of writing and grammar before they could really tackle outlines and summaries.)

Science
We found a really awesome Science curriculum that works alongside Story of The World so well. Berean Builders Science is chronological science, studied by scientist and discovery. That has made so much more sense to my kids and given them a better understanding of how we come to know what we know. I’ll admit, they watched a few too many documentaries that had distorted their view of science. Because each documentary presents everything as fact, not theory. Then the documentaries would contradict one another or come from an atheistic world view. My kids became super skeptical and I was having difficulty drawing them back into the subject. The Berean Science books have been perfect to hook them back in. We started using Science in the Scientific Revolution along with Story of the World 3. There are experiments to better understand the discoveries made. It has been awesome. The kids love it, they are actually engaged, and they better understand the scientific process and how new discoveries change the way we see the world.

Handwriting
I have never used a proper handwriting program. However, my kids really needed it. They were having a lot of trouble writing clearly enough to communicate their ideas. So, I opted for an actual handwriting book. I chose Patriotic Penmanship. I liked the selected quotes. I decided to keep my third grader in print writing because he was only 7 and he needed some reinforcement on the proper way to make letters. One of my fifth graders did introductory cursive and the other did her proper grade. The workbooks are great. I had them work on a two page spread, one lesson, each week. Day one they would just practice making a letter. Day two they would practice key words. Day three they would work on a full phrase or two. Day four they would write the entire quote. It didn’t take more than a few minutes each day and I simply asked for very hard work for those few minutes. All of them have improved their handwriting significantly with just a little work each day. I will definitely be ordering Patriotic Penmanship workbooks again this year. Each child needs their own workbook as they are consumable.

Bible
For our Bible study for the older kids, we used Herein Is Love: Genesis. This one has a lot more lessons in it than the Leviticus book. The kids really enjoyed it and I think they learned a lot. It does a great job of weaving the whole story into the beginning story.
For the Little Guys, we used the Jesus Calling Storybook. I was not as in love with this Storybook Bible as I was with the Jesus Storybook Bible. It has little notes from Jesus, but they are worded oddly and it makes it a little difficult to follow in a read aloud format. But the kids liked it and they did learn.

Geography
We used my Operation World geography plan. It went really well. It helped open my kids’ worldview and show them more than what is outside their front door. I was really happy with how it went and will continue it next year.

Kindergarten
I purchased Alpha Tales and Phonics Tales at Costco for the little guys. We did not get into the Phonics Tales. It will really be a toss up this year if we do that book or The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading. I’m not sure which will work better for these guys.
I also signed them up for ABCMouse.com mid year. They have loved it. They can use their tablets to play. I signed up for the assessments, as well, but found that portion pretty worthless.

Reading
I basically let the kids pick what they wanted to read this year instead of using the reading list from Well Trained Mind. Turned out, that was a mistake. Well, the kids really loved reading, but they essentially spent the year reading junk books. I did strongly suggest a few classics that they did read and enjoy. The third grader loved the Roald Dahl books we have and finished all the Magic Treehouse books we own, plus ventured over to the Imagination Station books. The fifth graders read Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. They also read some Judy Bloom. But they did read a bunch of Goosebumps books and other junk type books. Next year, I’ll separate the required reading and the fun reading a bit more.

I kept track of everything in a composition notebook that I used like a bullet journal for schooling. This helped the planning significantly. I’ll be doing the same again because it worked so well. Though I’ll likely opt for a real bullet journal this year. (I’ve been using a bullet journal for a class I am taking and another one for the upcoming 2018 year. I’m liking the customization so much more than a standard planner. I also have one that I’ve been using alongside my 2017 planner for notes and things. I do like having separate planners for each of those areas, since I feel like everything together just gets too cluttered.)

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Preschool

We officially started “Homeschool Preschool” a couple weeks ago. I had planned on waiting to do anything “formal” for another year, but the kids were begging me. (When can we learn to read? When can we do that book? When can we have school? Will you teach me?)

I had read A Well Trained Mind and decided we’d go that route. It makes the most sense to me. It seems the most compatible to my education philosophy and the easiest classical route to implement. Of course, the book doesn’t have you doing any “formal” education until the kids are 6. Not that you don’t teach them anything before then, but that learning and teaching before then is more “informal” and unstructured.

Well, the Goblets (term coined by The Pastor’s 5th grade class) were itching for something- anything- structured. So, I decided to start small. Our goal for the summer is for them (the two bigger ones) to learn to read. We also decided to get started on science, because they are EXTREMELY interested in scientific matters.

For reading, I snagged The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading on Amazon. It is a complete reading program. The Goblets seem to like it. The lessons are very short and each reviews the lesson before.  The Princess wanted to do the whole book in one day so she could commence with the reading. However, I told her we should take it slow. So, we have been making letter pillows each day to go with the letter of the day.  The kids love that. Imogene has also been writing her letters, though the book doesn’t call for that. (I may need to go ahead and get her a handwriting book since she is wanting to go that route.)

For science, I decided it was the perfect time to begin Zoology. Why zoology? Well, it is first in The Well Trained Mind and we did buy The Princess zoo passes for her birthday! We’ve been following The Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals, covering one topic a week. We started broad and we’ll move to more specific topics later. (Last week we covered habitats. Next week we’ll cover defense mechanisms.) We supplement each week with books from the library. And, of course, we visit the zoo weekly to look into our topic further and in person. The kids are really enjoying it. I’m really excited to see them loving learning so much.

Examining a baby elephant statue.

Getting up close and personal with the animals.

Loving his letter E pillow.

What I’ve Been Reading

My camera is dead. I’m pretty sure he’s all dead. (Only thing left to do is empty his pockets and look for loose change.) He was simply broken. I fixed his brokenness, but unfortunately the cure killed him.

So, instead of my usual pictures of things I’ve made and instructions so you can so the same, I’ll do a post of reviews of books I’ve read recently. (And I’ve been reading, A LOT!)

The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Bauer (click the book title to go buy it)

The Pastor and I are considering (more like planning) homeschooling the beautiful little ones. We decided to look into the classical method more thoroughly, so I bought The Well Trained Mind. I like their method. It makes a lot of sense to me. We will more than likely be going this route. The book lays out a classical education in a very straight forward method. Jessie and Susan give you the books they recommend and even give you helpful links to find them (though most of the resources are available on Amazon). They even suggest how much time you should be spending on each subject for each grade level.

Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras by Scott Westerfeld

So, yes, I am a nerd. I did read this series (originally intended to be a trilogy, but ended up a trilogy plus one- or maybe we should call that a Trilogy Plus or a Super Trilogy!) intended for teens and I really liked it. I’m going to briefly describe it, just know that it is infinitely cooler than it sounds!

Set in the future, after man was almost wiped out by a … well, I don’t want to give any of the book away… a 15 year old Tally finds herself awaiting the day she’ll be made pretty. In this new world, one your 16th birthday, you are surgically transformed to be pretty like everyone else- creating a perfect world where everyone is equal. Tally’s new friend Shay has other ideas and Tally’s world is turned upside down. As she fights for what she has always wanted, Tally finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy bigger than herself.

Believe me, you’ll finish Uglies and move right into Pretties. It is too captivating to put down. For parents wondering about the appropriateness for teens- here are the nuts and bolts for you. There are brief mentions (mainly in Pretties) of sex, but nothing in detail or explicit. They are simply passing remarks about the danger of having sex with the first Pretty you meet. There is also a main character who lives with her boyfriend in Pretties. Nothing at all is mentioned about intimacy during this. There is no foul language that I recall. There is a lot of drinking, especially in Uglies and Pretties. It isn’t condoned or necessarily condemned, just the way the world is at that time.  You can decide if that is okay for your kid.

Tithe by Holly Black

Yes, another teen book. However, I did not like this one. The story was intriguing enough, but the writing quality and poor taste ruined the book. Needless to say, I’ve got no desire to read any more by this author.

It is the story of a girl, Tithe, who sees fairies. She gets caught up in a mystical fight for control over the magical beings.

Parents, here are the nuts and bolts for your teen. There is underage drinking and smoking, which seems to be accepted as a normal thing. The main character is a high school drop out, which seems to be condoned, but not directly. This book also deals with homosexuality, as one of the main characters is gay. It also has many sexual undertones without being explicit. There is a lot of cursing, especially in the beginning of the book.

Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson

I really like this book! It is an encyclopedia of all this cleaning! Mendelson offers many insights on making your house a home- from your dinners to how you wash your shirts. This book is fabulous!

The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

If you don’t know the value of reading to kids, or don’t see the value in reading to kids, then this book is for you. If you know the value of reading to kids, but need a good list of books to read, then this book is for you.

The first half of this book is about reading aloud to children. It has the whys & statistics. The last half of the book is recommended books to read. Yes, you could spend the ime searching all that out yourself, or you can buy (or borrow) the book and save a little trouble.

To Spank or Not To Spank by John Rosemond

I’m still not quite sure where I stand with John Rosemond, or rather, where he stands with me. At times, I think, this man is making a lot of sense. Other times I think, this dude is nuts if he thinks I’m doing THAT to my child. Regardless of how I feel about Rosemond, I don’t like this book. It came across as a defensive response to some unknown argument. It was very “everyone but me is wrong” in it’s tone. If you’re looking for a discipline book, read his other stuff. (Most of his books are repetitive and he is very vocal about discipline in all of them, so you’re sure to find his opinion on the subject in any of his books you pick up.) Unless, of course, you enjoy a good one-sided argument.

Absolutely A-line by Wendi Gatz

I bought this book to make Imogene’s Easter dress and possibly some summer clothes. It did come with a pattern. I’m not sure about you, but I can always come up with dozens of ways to alter/embellish a simple pattern without a book to tell me how. The embellishments are simple. The alterations are not mind blowing. However, I didn’t have an A-line dress pattern, and now I do. And it made me feel pretty good when my dress turned out as nice (if not nicer) than most of those pictured in the book.

The dress I made using the book.