On the day we finished school this year, I began planning our curriculum for next year. I found these free printables from Homeschool 101 very useful for planning, particularly the Year-At-A-Glance for Multiple Kids printable. Here is what I have settled on.
Anne (First Grade)
To continue working on phonics, Anne will be using All About Reading and All About Spelling this year. The All About Reading curriculum has a nice balance of working with manipulatives, colorful worksheets (which Anne loves) and games to give students a strong foundation in reading.
She will begin learning about grammar with English Lesson through Literature, Level A. With this curriculum, we will read Beatrix Potter books, Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, Edith Nesbit's Five Children and It and so much more. Using sentences from these works, we will talk about basic grammatical rules and she will practice writing short sentences.
Anne will begin studying geography and history with Confessions of a Homeschooler's Road Trip USA. If she chooses, she will sit in with her sisters' history lessons, which I will discuss below. Similarly, she can sit on science lessons with her sisters (especially experiments), but it will be very advanced. Therefore, I will be doing a weekly first grade science lesson with her using Interactive Notebooks Science.
For math, we will continue using Math-U-See. As I discussed in my previous post, Math-U-See uses manipulatives that allow children to fully understand what they are doing when they do a math problem. For each chapter, the creator of the program provides a short video lesson (4 to 5 minutes usually) and then the child works on the concept presented throughout the week until she has mastered it.
Clare (5th Grade) and Meg (6th Grade)
Many of Clare and Meg's curriculum choices overlap and so it is easiest to present them together. For math, the girls will do different combinations of Math-U-See and Beast Academy. For Clare, her primary curriculum will be Math-U-See. Clare does best in math when she understands why certain problems are done certain ways. She won't just memorize a math fact or do a problem because you tell her that's how it is done. She will always ask, "But WHY does that work?" Math-U-See seems to answer her questions most effectively.
She, however, enjoys Beast Academy. This unusual curriculum uses a comic book with monsters to present math concepts and then works students through fun math problems and games to hammer the concept home. For Clare, we will use Beast Academy to supplement her work. Meg, on the other hand, responds best to Beast Academy. We will use that as her primary curriculum and supplement where needed with Math-U-See. While it might be cost prohibitive to use Math-U-See as a supplement in most cases, I can use it for Meg because I have both Clare and eventually Anne who will be using that curriculum.
For grammar, both Meg and Clare will use English Lesson through Literature, Level E. I'm very excited about the books we will be reading together this year. The curriculum works through several O. Henry stories as well as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Little Women and Around the World in Eight Days. While this curriculum uses those texts to then cover writing and grammar (and throws in art appreciation as well), we will supplement a bit. Independently, Meg and Clare will be working through a grade-level Spectrum Spelling workbook as well as IEW's Fix It! Grammar. Clare will also be working with me on IEW's U.S. History-based Writing Lessons, while Meg will be doing IEW's World History-based Writing Lessons. Would it be easier for us to do the same writing course? Yes. However, the girls can be strangely competitive when it comes to these types of things and I decided that it would be best to have them working on different topics, even if they are learning the same methods of writing.
For history, we will be combining a few resources. As our basic textbook, we will be using different sections of The Good and the Beautiful's History 1 and History 2. We are using both volumes because we have already covered some of the time periods using different texts this past year. The Good and the Beautiful's curriculum is designed for homeschoolers who need to present the material to various age groups and then make it more or less difficult depending on the children's various ages. Therefore, Anne will be able to sit in with us for some of this.
While The Good and the Beautiful curriculum will provide us with our major history facts, I love the historical time period book compilations from Beautiful Feet Books. Our "living books" (see my previous post discussing Charlotte Mason), will mostly come from those compilations. This year we will be discussing Ancient Greece, the Medieval period, the French and Indian War through the Constitution, and World War I. As you can see, I am very much not a believer in teaching history in pure chronological order. My girls love history (especially Meg) and we seem to do best moving around to keep interest levels high.
As a bonus to history this year, we will be doing a unit on the presidential election. Sonlight is offering a free downloadable curriculum for the election that I will be using. In the weeks leading up to the election, we will replace one lesson a week of history with a lesson on the presidential election. Additionally, to reinforce her U.S. geography, Clare will be joining Anne for Road Trip USA. This is a curriculum also meant for homeschooling families, so it can be used for various age levels. Clare will be supplementing this with Draw the USA. Meg, who is pretty much an expert in American geography, will be working on Draw Europe.
We had ups and downs with science this past year. With Meg entering the middle school years, I knew I wanted to offer a more complete curriculum to the girls. I decided on Apologia's General Science for Middle School. The curriculum comes with a very thorough student workbook, which allows the student to reinforce the textbook as well as keep lab reports. We will only do science two days a week (we will do history the other three days), so I anticipate this very thorough curriculum lasting us over the next two school years.
Finally, Clare and Meg will be doing typing and handwriting from The Good and the Beautiful. Anne will also be doing The Good and the Beautiful handwriting for her grade level. These books use pleasant and uplifting poems and verses to reinforce good handwriting and typing. The older girls will be assigned a certain number of pages to complete independently during the week. Perhaps the positive content will contribute to their character as well as improve their handwriting and typing.
I will admit this all seems rather overwhelming as I detail it here. However, I have been able to set out a reasonable schedule that incorporates all of these things. Additionally, both Meg and Clare anticipate doing foreign language classes through a resource such as Outschool. They also both independently do coding and animating work through Khan Academy, which I anticipate they will continue to do through the next school year.