Planning Our Homeschool Year: Books and Curriculum

This year should be blessedly normal. I’ll have three normal Ambleside Online years, no combining. My 12 year old will do year 7 (something between full and lite), my 10 year old will be in year 5, and my 8 year old is starting year 3. My daughter, who is 4, will turn 5 in November and will be doing a very loose year 0. Basically she’ll be doing a reading lesson, one reading per day, and a few things with my 8 year old, such as painting, crafts and playing with the math manipulatives. Most of her books will be from the Year 0 list or from A Picture Perfect Childhood.

We will do Bible together, alternating the Old and New Testaments. We’ll also be reading church history and mythology as a group. Some grammar (via The Mother Tongue) and Latin (I Speak Latin) will also be done as a group. I’m making an effort to simplify this year. Books instead of workbooks, less printing (and hopefully less paper).

Year 7 for my Budding Engineer

My eldest is very mature and a hard worker. He lives to build things. He dreams of wonderful inventions. He is also dyslexic, so our setup looks a bit different from your “average” AO year, although I’ve tried not to change too much. I think his reading level (and independence) are going to increase dramatically this year! Here are some modifications we are making for him (regular and lite AO year 7 for reference), especially for term one:

  • Maybe More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell for his devotional reading (replacing How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig) — because I own the first book and I’ve heard the Selfish Pig book has some areas that may need more maturity or may not fit some families at this age.
  • What Everyone Should Know About the 20th Century will be our “current events” book for the beginning of the year. In our combo years we missed this book. We finished This Country of Ours and then launched straight into the Greeks. It is written “newspaper style”, so I think it will be a great bridge.
  • Animal Farm will be read before Watership Down. Most likely I will get him the audio from the library for WD and let him do it at a faster pace with his afternoon books. I don’t want him to miss either of these book.
  • Second Book of Marvels: The Orient for term 1, and then The Brendan Voyage for terms 2 & 3. Because I didn’t want to rush Marvels in the tail end of summer. It’s been one of those seasons.
  • Wilderness Predators of the Rockies instead of Lay of the Land. I like both books, but Predators focuses on the areawe are in, and my son should be able to read it solo. I thought of reading Predators outloud, but decided it’s better for older children. We’ll save Lay of the Land for later on.
  • A World in a Drop of Water another “do first” book. This one we’ll do in term 1, then start Adventures with a Microscope in term 2. Because of my son? Nay. Because of his mother, who has very little microscope experience and wants to start with something more laid out. 
  • We are delaying two books: Ourselves, because I’m hoping to do a discussion on the AO Teen forum next year, when my son is 13. And How To Read a Book, because he is still young and he has more important reading skills to work on at this time.
  • I’m not sure yet on the longer biographies for terms 2 and 3. Most likely we will do both (as in the regular year) but it is possible we’ll do only one (as in the lite year).
  • Oh, and we are so excited about the new science books! I will be slightly changing the schedule for science, because two of the observations in chapter one which are over 10-12 weeks. We will be in a different state for (hopefully) most of the winter, so we need to start the sunrise, noon, and sunset observations ASAP in September to complete them by November. I’ll also be adding The Mystery of the Periodic Table (which was added to year 6 recently) to my son’s reading stack, but I won’t be scheduling it.

As to non-AO books, here is a loose line-up that is prone to change:

Year 5 for my Little Lawyer 

There are a bunch of options in year 5, so here are the options I plan to use:

  • Story of Mankind instead of Abraham Lincoln’s World. I don’t own ALW, and I don’t really want to buy it. I know some people love these books, but I’m not one of them.
  • I haven’t yet decided between What Everyone Should Know About the 20th Century and Story of the World 4. I have a feeling, for this boy especially, I’ll buy SOTW4.
  • The Tale of Beatrix Potter for our term 2 biography.
  • A Child’s Geography of the World by Hillyer for geography. We are saving Halliburton’s books for year 6. (He read the David Livingstone book in term 3 of year 4).
  • Bumping Wild Animals I Have Known to term 3. Because I’m not doing that one before/during hunting season.
  • For Isaac Newton we’ll read The Ocean Of Truth. For Alexander Graham Bell we’ll read The Talking Wire (assuming I can find a copy!). For George Washington Carver we’ll be using Dr. George Washington Carver (Scientist).
  • We’ll be substituting The Age of Fable and Trial & Triumph.

And non-AO books:

  • Math …. I’m officially leaving MEP. I love it, it’s a great program, but I have to face facts: it’s not getting done. I’m going to toss Zacarro’s Challenge Math at him, plus I’ll let him choose from other items on my math shelf. Hopefully that will cover the exploration side of MEP. In term two we’ll either start Practical Arithmetic, book two or Ray’s New Intellectual Arithmetic for basic fact practice and mental math. But for term one he’ll join my eldest for Your Business Math … I’m not sure if they can do this without competing, but they assure me they will.
  • Christian Liberty-Eclectic Reader Book D for enunciation and reading aloud. This boy is an advanced reader, but he is painful to listen to when reading aloud. I hope to address that this year. There are 65 selections in the book, so we’ll do two stories a week. It is a reprint of one of the Woodward series of readers, but I’ve been unable to find an online copy to link.
  • For dictation we’ll either use the reader above from CLA, or, if that doesn’t work out, we’ll use Spelling Wisdom book 2. I hope by the year’s end to be pulling dictation straight from his reading books.
  • Getting Started with Latin, he’s done part of it, so we’ll probably skip the first lessons. I’m also encouraging him to read from Lingua Latina if he desires.
  • He will do Spanish and Greek with his older brother. He has been toying with German on his own, and I plan to encourage him to continue with this.

Year 3 for my Wild Man

Year 3 has a few options, and we’ll make few other changes, namely moving some things to group time:

  • Leonardo Da Vinci will be our term one biography. We will definitely do Shakespeare in term two, but we might also do Good Queen Bess if the library has it. For term three I have Landing of the Pilgrims, although if I see the Squanto book for a good price I will probably buy it.
  • We’ll do the online book with the updated place names for Marco Polo (thank you, AO!). We also have The Adventures of Marco Polo for maps and pictures.
  • We’ll continue Parables from Nature as a group, and probably keep Shakespeare that way too. For Pilgrim’s Progress we did (as a family) a lovely dramatized retelling (I believe the retelling was written by Baldwin). I am very sorry but I can no longer find the link to this! This year we are going to do the full dramatized version from Orion’s Gate, again as a group.
  • Again, we’ll be substituting for Trial & Triumph and The Heroes.
  • Gleaning from the Form I Time Table, I’m adding more handicrafts and painting or drawing to my son’s day. As was pointed out on the AO forum, these “fun” activities also develop key mental and physical skills.

For non-AO options:

  • Miquon Math for his pencil & paper work, and we’ll either use Ray’s or Strayor-Upton for mental math drill. I may also use Primary Challenge Math with him.
  • Teaching Reading with Bob Books. Did you know Brandy at Afterthoughts wrote this? I am thrilled to have found it. I’ve been floundering all year between too dull (Blend Phonics) and too hard/complicated (Treadwell Primer). My son is flying through the Bob books so far, and then we’ll go to the Treadwell readers. But TRWBB is simple enough for me to grab and go plus it keeps my son’s interest. (I’m also using this for my DD, since she is interested in reading.)
  • I will be playing copywork by ear. We may use the cursive section of Italics: Beautiful Handwriting for Children and/or perhaps the Alice in Wonderland copywork pages from Mainly, I don’t want him copying things he can’t read, thus developing the incorrect habit of copying one letter at a time instead of the whole word. I may just do the low tech method here.

I think that covers most of our specifics. Next time I’ll post our schedule (which is ready) and our morning basket plans (which are not!). And I plan to post sometime around the end of October on how things actually worked out.

4 thoughts on “Planning Our Homeschool Year: Books and Curriculum

  1. Hi, I have read your post on dyslexia when you started dancing bears. Can you give an update on how this has worked out? Do you see improvements, etc? Thanks for any insight/ advice.

    1. Yes! My son is now in Dancing Bears, book C. He is reading much better on his own, although he still has trouble with proper nouns and specialized words. He has read most of the Christian Liberty Nature Reader and the Montana Hunter Safety manual solo. For his year 7 books it looks like he’ll be able to manage about a fourth on his own for term one – a vast improvement since he couldn’t read any of the schedule books on his own at the beginning of last year. I’ll try to get an update on him in a few weeks, after I’ve seen which of the books he can manage solo (sometimes the first chapter / introduction is not a good indicator of the difficulty of the rest of the book).

Comments are closed.