Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Cider Mill Schoolhouse: 2014-2015

It's that time, my friends. 

The sun is shining, berries are bursting juicy on the bushes, and the surf is calling it's siren song from the nearest shore. Yes, indeed, it's that most wonderful time of year...

Homeschool Planning Time!!!

Actually, at this point in my homeschooling career, I begin planning for fall in the spring. We school year round, but sometime around early May, my enthusiasm starts to wane, and we go into "school light" mode, spending more time in the sun and gearing up for birthdays. I use this relative downtime to evaluate how the year has gone and get ready for the school year to come.

Many of you have been asking me what I've got planned for this year. For those who aren't familiar with our family, I have a 7-year-old entering 2nd grade, a 5-year-old who will be starting Kindergarten in earnest this year (we did some Kindergarten work throughout the last school year, at his request), a 2-year-old, and a newborn. Phew! 

I've been homeschooling now for 4 years, and while I've got things pretty "down" in the Pre-K and Kindergarten department as far as what I like, my oldest remains (and will likely always remain) my guinea pig.

That said, here's what we've got cooking for the coming school year.


READINGTeach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons; early readers, such as the Little Bear and Frog and Toad books

MATH: Math-U-See Primer

HANDWRITING: Handwriting Without Tears: master all capital and lowercase letters and numerals

CIRCLE TIME: This is a special "class" I've created for my toddler, Pre-K, and Kindergarten children. To be honest, though, at age 7, Sophia still loves participating, too! It's a time when we gather to sing, do fingerplays and movement exercises, and I try my hand at a little formal storytelling. We cycle through songs and other exercises monthly and stories weekly. I've been working on crafting this part of my Pre-K curriculum throughout the past year, and I'm hoping to get the whole curriculum posted as soon as possible.

James will also be attending a STORY DRAMA class at our local co-op.


MATH: Math-U-See Beta

GRAMMAR & SPELLING: Evan-Moor Grammar & Punctuation Grade 3; Evan-Moor Paragraph writing; DOLCH sight words, grades 2 and 3; Evan-Moor Building Spelling Skills Grade 3

WRITING: Sophia loves to write! Because writing happens organically for her (she usually writes and illustrates at least 2 stories a week), I prefer a very informal approach to this subject. I want her to maintain ownership of this art that she loves. Basically, I pick some of her better stories as they come along and work with her on editing and "publishing" her work. We talk about story structure, voice, sentence structure, and word choice as it pertains to a story that is already her own. This year, I'm also challenging her to write one informative/research piece on a topic of her choice. (I'm guessing it will have something to do with either rabbits or horses--her favorite animals.)

HANDWRITING: Catholic Heritage Curriculum Handwriting, Grade 2; St. Anne's Helper Self-Study Catechism First Communion Manuscript and Cursive Copybook

READING: Sophia will be keeping a weekly log of books she reads, as well as doing an in-depth guided analysis for one book (chosen by me) each month. This monthly reading list includes Black Beauty, The Courage of Sarah Noble, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Little Mermaid, Little Pear, Charlotte's Web, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Sarah, Plain and Tall, A Little Princess, Josefina book of her choice, a Kirsten book of her choice, and Anne of Green Gables.

* Please note that while Sophia is at grade-level in most of her subjects, she is a bit advanced in reading, so these may not be suitable choices for some second graders.

MUSIC: Daddy teaches this one! Sophia will be learning to play the pentatonic flute this year, utilizing songs from Music Through the Grades.

BAKING AND COOKING: Sophia will be starting her very own recipe binder as I teach her to master making two snacks, breakfasts, and lunches, and one dinner.

GEOGRAPHY: Take It to Your Seat Geography Center, Grades 2-3

Sophia will also be taking DRAMA and PHYSICS at our local co-op and SPANISH at the local elementary school.

While I'm passionate about individualized education, the truth is that I'm a mama of four young children, and sometimes, you just need to keep things simple. To that effect, I've done my best to teach the whole crew together whenever possible. As Sophia gets older, I will give her additional assignments

SCRIPTURE: Daily Gospel reading (and Mass readings on Saturday Night); Through the Bible With My Child*

*Note: This is a Protestant resource.

CHARACTER BUILDING: Devotional Stories for Little Folks; Devotional Stories for Little Folks Too; Building Good Character (we try to implement and track one new virtue every two weeks)  

HISTORY & GEOGRAPHY: Story of the World, Volume 3 - I started out with this series two years ago, reading the book aloud, but my kids love the audio CDs so much that we've switched to listening to them in the car on the way to co-op. On the way home, I ask questions and we discuss the chapter we listened to earlier. Later in the week, we use our world map and globe to study the places we are learning about. Sophia also does mapwork from the accompanying activity book.

LITERATURE: This is basically our daily family read-aloud selection. I try to have one book for every month, and if we finish ahead of schedule, then I add a second one.

ART: Seasonal and liturgical crafts during our Family Nights; Art Masterpieces: A Liturgical Collection

HANDWORK: This is purely student-led, but I'm planning on helping the children with fingerknitting projects, as well as teaching them to needle-knit or crochet. Daddy will likely take them under his wing for the occasional home improvement project and is hoping to do some woodworking with them this year!

That's all for now! 

Don't worry, though, I haven't forgotten about that Pre-K curriculum I promised. I'm working hard to make sure it's in tip-top shape first, which (let's be honest) is taking about a bazillion times longer than I had planned. Bazillion. It's a thing.

I really and truly am hoping to have it up as soon as possible, but I don't expect it will happen by September. Just too much life going on! Hope you understand - but if you're anxious to get it sooner, keep the project in your prayers. Every little bit helps!


  1. Thanks Bethany! It was neat to read about what you guys will be doing for this year's homeschool. Listening to and discussing the History of the World CDs as you drive to and from your co-op is a *great* idea! Also, I love the literature choices for Sophia - many of my favorites from childhood are on that list.


  2. Thank-you soooo much for this post! I had been REALLY looking forward to it over the past few months! I'm thrilled to get some new book title suggestions to use with my own 6 year old! Hoping you all have a wonderful academic year ahead! ~ Mrs.C

  3. I would love to see the list of books that she reads through, at the end of the year! (I can always use great book title suggestions for young children! ) Teresa

  4. Have you ever read the Fairchild Family series?! They are so, so sweet! They would either make wonderful Read-Alouds or be a great addition to Sophia's reading list as they are right around her reading level I think.. ~ Sarah

    1. I had never heard of them, Sarah. We love All of a Kind Family, but that's a new one I will have to check out! Thanks for the recommendation.

    2. Looks great! As an elem ed teacher, I have one suggestion...hold off on Black Beauty and Anne of GG. She might be able to decode it and read for plot but she'll appreciate it--and you'll get a ton of great lessons out of it--when she is older. looks wonderfully planned and interesting.


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