We started back to school this week! Here is what we’re using this year in our homeschool to foster a joyful search for wisdom and beauty and the formation of habits of Christlikeness. Read to the end to find out what new things my kids are loving so far.
- Spelling Wisdom from Simply Charlotte Mason
Note: This is a studied or prepared dictation program, as opposed to a traditional spelling program, using excellent literature, Scripture, hymn lyrics, etc. Follow the link to watch the helpful video explaining how this works.
- Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)
- Fix It! Grammar from IEW
Note: This grammar program is parsing one sentence a day with increasing complexity in a story format. All three of the above language arts components are intended to begin in about 4th grade and up.
- Copywork/Handwriting: My kids neatly copy (in cursive) their studied dictation, a line or two from their poems for memorization, and specific Scripture verses on alternating days.
- Plutarch: Life of Publicola from A Charlotte Mason Plenary (with additional discussion questions from Anne White’s free Publicola guide on Ambleside Online) Note: A Charlotte Mason Plenary is a secular Charlotte Mason resource while Anne White has a decidedly Christian worldview and, therefore, ties many of her excellent Plutarch discussion questions in with Scripture. However, I prefer the more modern translation of Plutarch used by the Plenary and the neatly annotated layout of their guide, so I’ve used their guide (and their good discussion questions) and added in some of Anne White’s discussion questions.
- Mathematics: An Instrument for Living Teaching from Simply Charlotte Mason
Note: This is an explanation and grade 1-12 scope and sequence, not a lesson by lesson curriculum. A lesson by lesson curriculum is currently in development, with Book 1 published, from Simply Charlotte Mason.
Gymnastic (Physical Education)
- Swedish Drill Revisited
Note: This is not “gymnastics,” despite my title for this category. It is a core strength exercise program that involves drilled commands, fostering the habits of careful attention and immediate obedience as well as strengthening and disciplining the body and encouraging grace and balance.
- The Young Traveller in England and Wales by Trease
Note: This book is out of print, though reprints seem to be available (I have no experience with these). It was originally published in England by Phoenix House under the above title and in America by Dutton under the same title with American spelling, The Young Traveler in England and Wales. See this blog post by Nancy Kelly on this series of books.
- WonderMaps from Bright Ideas Press
We will do a variety of tracing, freehand drawing, and various labeling exercises of the United Kingdom this year using WonderMaps. Note: This could easily be done without WonderMaps. I happen to have purchased the program a number of years ago during a big sale, and it’s very user friendly.
- The Young People’s Story of Architecture (2 volumes) by Hillyer and Huey
Note: These books are out of print. However, vintage used copies seem to be fairly readily available online.
- Scripture Box app
We use this for Scripture memorization, Books of the Bible, Scripture Chapter Content, Catechism, Creeds, Grammar memorization (ex. helping verbs), Math skip counting, Poetry memorization, Shakespeare memorization, and History Timeline Song. The app incorporates daily learning and rotational review. Read here for a more full explanation for our morning convocation and how it follows a gospel-shaped liturgy mirroring our church’s corporate worship.
- Hymns to the Living God
- Religious Affections Catechism
- Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children by Edith Nesbit
- Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (read aloud and a passage memorized together)
- Poetry by George Herbert (read aloud and a poem memorized by each person, including Mom)
History and Literature
Our history studies this year are a somewhat non-traditional choice for Americans. We are taking the year to study the United Kingdom in anticipation of a trip there during Scott’s sabbatical next semester. Thus, our history doesn’t follow the usual “cycles” or “streams” but centers around the history of England, Scotland, and Ireland. (You’ll notice our geography goes along with this theme, and our architecture study was chosen with this in mind as well.) Our literature choices are also British and include authors such as J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, Beatrix Potter, Robert Louis Stevenson, G.K. Chesterton, James Herriot and others.
History Spines (not pictured)
Of the above selections, these are some new things this year that my kids are especially enjoying so far:
- Picta Dicta
- Swedish Drill
- Our Island Story
- The Young Traveller in England and Wales
- The Young People’s Story of Architecture
Hopefully I’ll get a chance to pop back onto the blog and share our checklists for the year so you can see how all this comes together in our day. Even with a toddler and a nursing baby in the mix, we’re finished with all of this by lunchtime, which leaves lots of time for free reading and imaginative playing and the business of being children.