Our Homeschool Curriculum for kindergarten

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | classical homeschool kindergarten

These young years are the best! I love all the hands-on games and manipulatives and dry-erase activities and stickers. My littlest is in kindergarten this year. Because there is so much available for free or for very cheap at this level (both online and at the local dollar store), I keep our homeschool curriculum for kindergarten pretty simple for the most part, with a few fun surprises sprinkled in. Phonics and math are our priority, while the other subjects he is enjoying simply because of the whole-family learning approach we take to those subjects.

Our Homeschool Curriculum for Kindergarten

History and Geography

As I’ve mentioned in my other curriculum posts for 4th grade and 6th grade, we use Tapestry of Grace as our core for history, Bible and worldview, literature and writing. I love using Tapestry for whole family learning, and my youngest is enjoying this opportunity because my older kids are using the curriculum. The fun thing about whole family learning is that my youngest is already used to being part of our routine. Last year, he listened to our read-alouds, completed his own notebooking crafts, and made his own display board. He was right in the middle of all of it, and he has no expectation that it should be any different. So this year as he enters kindergarten, the only difference will be that he is more aware of what we are studying and more capable of completing the projects on his own. And he’ll have his own portfolio to show off at our unit parties.

While my older kids use a lot of the projects from Homeschool-in-the-Woods and History Pockets, my kindergartener will be using more of the Story of the World activities from the pdf I purchased four years ago when my older kids were little. Oh, and he’ll have some cool Usborne sticker books that have the older kids envious.

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | classical history

Littlest will also be tagging along in our Visualize World Geography curriculum, learning countries from around the world through stories and pictography. One thing I’ve learned over the years is to never underestimate my kids. As a preschooler, he learned his continents and could locate the pyramids and the Ishtar Gate on his Vtech globe we picked up from a thrift store. He fully intends to hang with the older ones during geography time this next year.

Phonics

I loved using Logic of English Foundations for my daughter. It was key in helping her work through her dyslexia challenges and learn to read. With my littlest, I knew right away I’d be using this curriculum again. I love it! Solid phonics—the best I’ve seen—and lots of fun kinesthetic activities to make learning to read busy, active, and fun. One of the greatest challenges of teaching busy young kiddos to read is having them sit still long enough to read the book or list of words. But Logic of English Foundations is very good at incorporating games throughout the curriculum that has my kids running the stairs to read a word, going on a “word hunt” around the house to find strips of paper to read, playing phonogram bingo, and tons of other engaging activities.

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | Logic of English Foundations

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | Logic of English Foundations

We started Foundations A toward the end of this last year, so we’ll be wrapping up Level A and completing Level B for kindergarten. While he is not reading yet, all of the tools and skills are in place. He understands sounds and blending. He’s just a step or two away from putting those skills together to read.

Math

My littlest loves math. He devours it. While I intended to take our time through preschool math, he took off. Consequently, he’s got a good head start on kindergarten math skills. I’ve chosen to start him with Math Mammoth 1. While it is technically first grade, it starts slowly enough that I think he will do just fine. Plus it will continue to challenge him throughout this next year. Otherwise, I’m afraid we’d be done with kindergarten math by November. Another perk is that I already own this curriculum as a pdf, so it costs me nothing right now to have both my fourth grader and my first grader working through this curriculum.

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | math mammoth

As a bonus, I’ll also have some Star Wars Math on hand for him. Last year, he bought the Star Wars preschool math from Barnes and Noble with his own money, and worked the entire book in about a week. I’m telling you, this child consumes math!

Science

At this stage, I’m pretty laid back about science. My plan is to read fun science books together, either from our own personal library or from the public library, and then play science board games with his older sister. I picked up SomeBody game for our anatomy unit and Hit the Habitat Trail board game for our animal science unit.

homeschool curriculum for kindergarten | science board game | gameschooling

My little guy is raring to go. He simply cannot wait for kindergarten. And the more I organize his homeschool curriculum for kindergarten—and counting bears, cuisenaire rods, sticker books, and phonogram tiles—I can’t wait either.

You can check out the rest of our curriculum here:

Our Homeschool Curriculum for 6th Grade

homeschool curriculum for 6th grade | classical homeschooling | homeschooling ADHD

We’re delving into “middle school” this year for the first time. My oldest is so excited for this milestone. He’s my Flint Lockwood (from Cloudy and a Chance of Meatballs), my absent-minded, super-dramatic, techy science guy. So putting together his curriculum is always a lot of fun. For the most part, we are classical homeschoolers, making a few adjustments here and there for our rampant ADHD. To accommodate for personality and attention-span, we include lots of variety with short lessons. None of our subjects extend beyond 20-30 minutes at a time, but I serve up a variety each day to keep all his firing cylinders on task. In classical terms, he will be in the logic or dialectic stage this year, learning to think critically and make deeper connections with what he is learning in his homeschool curriculum for 6th grade. 

Tips for Shopping Homeschool Curriculum online

tips for shopping homeschool curriculum online

There is nothing that beats being able to hold a curriculum and flip through its pages when you are trying to decide what to buy, but that’s not always possible. Whether you simply can’t make it to a homeschool convention, or the curriculum you are interested in isn’t anywhere to be seen, shopping homeschool curriculum online can be done. Even though it’s not quite the same as seeing a book “in person,” you can still get a good idea of what a curriculum is like with a few simple tips.

Tips for Shopping Homeschool Curriculum online

DIY Science Curriculum for the classically inclined

DIY science curriculum | classical science | classical homeschooling | DIY homeschool curriculum

Of all the subjects, science has probably taken me the longest to find a curriculum that I really like. Over the last several years, we have tried a number of approaches for science.

  • We’ve learned science through lapbooks and creating mini-books.
  • We’ve done unit studies and read living books.
  • We’ve watched a whole lot of Magic School Bus and Wild Kratts and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
  • We’ve dabbled in a few different curriculums: God’s Design, Christian Kids Explore, and Sassafras.

And while we’ve enjoyed different aspects of these, none have been even close to ideal. So, I did my own thing this year, with some inspiration and direction from the Well-Trained Mind. And just in case you are a DIY homeschooler, too, I’ve assembled a few steps for a DIY science curriculum.

4 Steps to a DIY science curriculum

Step 1: Find a core resource or encyclopedia

Any resource you love will work: Usborne, Kingfisher, DK, etc. I found the World of Science encyclopedia from Master Books and have absolutely loved it. World of Science is formatted similarly to an Usborne or DK encyclopedia, except that this resource is Christian. No millions of years or evolution to wade through, but rather the book begins with the idea of a Designer who had a thoughtful design and a creation that reflected His order. It’s colorful, interesting, easy to use, easy to follow, and includes some experiment ideas in the back of the book as a bonus. This particular book covers basic physics and chemistry topics. A companion encyclopedia World of Animals covers some simple biology and animal science.

DIY homeschool curriculum | DIY science curriculum | Master Books | World of Science

True to the classical homeschooling method, I assign a couple of pages a week for my fifth grader to read and outline. His outlines consist of Roman Numeral main points; he is learning to pick out the main ideas or topic sentences. Occasionally, I’ll require him to write a summary paragraph or copy a diagram. He also looks up new terms in the glossary at the back of the book and copies them for his notebook. He has loved using it as much as I have.

Step 2: Choose an experiment kit

Search Amazon or Homeschool Science Tools, Target, Wal-mart, Hobby Lobby, even local thrift stores. Choose an experiment kit that fits with the topic you are covering. For instance, when we learned about electricity, my son had a snap circuit kit we picked up from the thrift store; this term we are studying principles of physics and simple machines, so he is using a gears and levers kit. Later this year, we will begin some chemistry and try out a couple of chemistry experiment kits.

DIY homeschool curriculum | DIY science curriculum | experiment kits

Each week when his outline is complete, he is free to select an experiment from a kit that I’ve purchased to go with what we are studying. This is the “delight-directed” component of our science; he is free to pick an experiment from the kit that interests him. I know that these experiments are on topic, and he loves being able to choose his favorites. Then, after completing an experiment, he fills out an experiment form. We are using forms from notebookingpages.com, but there are tons of free printables online and on pinterest.

Step 3: (optional) Find science DVDs at the Library and on Netflix

As a fun bonus, I search for DVDs in our local library and on Netflix for the topics we are learning about. I’ve found that searching by specific topic has the best results; for instance, searching for gravity, light, force, motion, energy provides better results than searching for physics, geology, chemistry, etc. Some of these DVDs do contain evolutionary ideas (Bill Nye, for instance), but I’m okay with discussing that with my kids, especially since they’ve had an opportunity to begin studying from a Christian source. Use your own discretion.

You could also use the same strategy to search your library for additional reading on your topic if you prefer. Because of all the reading I assign in our other subject areas, I don’t choose to assign additional science reading. 

Step 4: Make a plan

Be as detailed as you need to be, but I love to keep it simple, personally. Below is a picture of my actual plans for this last term. I counted up the number of pages in the unit we wanted to cover and divided by our 12 week term. Since it wasn’t a perfect fit, we needed to outline more reading pages on certain weeks. On those weeks, I did not assign an experiment. Of course, he was welcome to do one after his assignments were complete, but it wasn’t required.

I did not assign specific experiments. You could easily do that by looking through your experiment booklet and comparing it to the topics of your encyclopedia. But for us, this is a great compromise. I provide some parameters (“you are going to learn this topic and use this kit”) and allow him the freedom to pursue his interest within those parameters.

DIY homeschool curriculum | DIY science curriculum | lesson plans | classical homeschooling | classical science

I printed off a bunch of experiment forms and placed them in his notebook. He can choose from several different styles to find a form that fits best with his particular experiment. Each week, I look over his outline and his experiment form (and he usually can’t wait to show me his actual experiment).

What about the youngers?

Middlest (3rd grade) and Littlest (preschool) usually join Oldest for the experiment demonstrations and videos; in a sense, he teaches the material to them. Middlest also fills out her own form.  I did pick up a Magic School Bus chemistry kit for our chemistry unit later this year so that she has some age-appropriate experiments. As she gets older and more skilled in her reading and writing, I’ll have her completing more assignments (reading/outlining). But for right now, I limit the amount of writing I require from her.

So far, I have loved our DIY science curriculum. The kids are learning a ton, are very independent, and are still able to incorporate a lot of hands-on experiments that don’t require my constant supervision. It’s been a win all around. For the first time in years, I feel good about science.

Hip Homeschool Moms

Preschool Curriculum for Homeschool: a plan for playful learning

Preschool Curriculum | homeschool preschool

It feels as though my Littlest should still be pulling tupperware out of my kitchen cabinets and beating on pots and pans while the olders do school. (Although I’m not entirely sure he won’t be doing exactly that. Ahem.) But the baby of the family is feeling the urge to grow up. He’s begging to do school with his brother and sister, wanting his own lessons and supplies, and pretending to read whenever he can. I’ve let him set the pace and started with some preschool activities.

Still, this year will be focused mostly on playful learning, putting learning in front of him in a lot of different forms of play and seeing how motivated he is. My preschool learning goals for him are very fluid: learn to count and recognize numbers as high as he can; learn the alphabet and sounds; love to learn!

So my preschool plans and resources come with this disclaimer: we may or may not use everything and/or finish our books. And I’m okay with that. When he’s ready, he will take off. But right now, he needs to play. And I’m always so surprised by what a preschooler can learn when you least expect it. They are “ninja” learners. 

Our pace for preschool is very relaxed; we get out the activities when he asks to do them. Usually, he chooses at least one activity everyday, and we get through all of our preschool lessons about 2-3 days out of the week, which is plenty! I’m not planning on starting the Foundations textbook until January, and even then, I’m taking it very slowly. Whatever we have left, we will finish next year along with the level B book for kindergarten.

I really do love this stage, where “school” is playful and fun and creative and colorful. I’ll miss these days. I may just have to pre-homeschool someone else’s kid when mine have outgrown all this. I’ll need the excuse to keep playing with counting bears.

2016 Fifth Grade Curriculum

fifth grade homeschool curriculum | classical dialecticI’m flabbergasted that I’m teaching fifth grade this year. Fifth! When did this happen?

As sad as I am to see all the little boyishness disappear, I do love to see who he is becoming—the thoughtful questions he asks, the deep discussions he initiates, the connections he makes. It is rewarding to see him grow.

It’s just one more reason that this year is so exciting. My son is starting his second rotation through history, finishing the grammar stage of learning and edging into dialectic. This year for fifth grade, he will be comparing civilizations and contrasting mythology with the Bible. My husband’s post-graduate degree in apologetics is coming in handy to answer all of his deep questions, as well. So here’s what’s in store for fifth grade.

Core resources:

Extras:

I still keep his assignments mostly 10 to 15 minutes, with math taking slightly longer at about 20 minutes, which means he can still finish his independent assignments in a couple of hours. He meets with me for about a half hour 3-4 days a week, and then 1-2 days a week we all come together for a couple of hours of history read-alouds and projects. He’s also grading his own daily work this year, which means I only grade tests and quizzes. It’s a schedule that gives us a lot of variety without draining their enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, I think the variety feeds our enthusiasm.

 Check out our curriculum for 3rd grade and preschool, too.