My Homeschool Curriculum Picks (2nd Grade And Kindergarten)


(Donut picture because that's how we started off our school year - with donuts!  Also note that there are some affiliate links in this post.)


Well, this has definitely been my most requested post as of late, so I thought I better get a move on and share our 2018-2019 curriculum picks!  If you would like to see our first grade curriculum picks, check out this post.  If you would like to see how that went, read this.  If you want a little more about my homeschool philosophy (and homeschool philosophies in general, which I'll be referencing), click here.

All my friends who have considered jumping into homeschooling in recent years have mentioned to me how overwhelming it is to choose curriculum, so I think people are naturally curious about what other people are using.  I love reading curriculum posts!  My love of talking curriculum has more to do with being a nerd about this sort of thing.  I haven't found myself too overwhelmed because I have my vision for homeschooling and my educational philosophy figured out pretty well at this point (I credit being a homeschool student and reading way too many books about homeschooling).  The trick for me is just learning how to pick things that fit with my homeschooling philosophy, but that also fit with my kids' learning styles.  I think we've hit on some good ones for our family (for the most part - there are still kinks to be ironed out, as you'll see below)!  Here is what we are using this year.

First, who is in school?

This year Wyatt will be entering the second grade, and Gwen will be entering kindergarten.

Wyatt has to meet our umbrella school's requirements for days and subjects, so I have curricula picked for these different subjects and we will work through it all together and include the little ones where possible.

In our family we're more casual about kindergarten, so Gwen will start reading and math instruction, and join in other subjects wherever she wants.  We do not technically even have to start doing school instruction, or keep records, or have her registered anywhere until next year.  So we'll just make it fun, because my main goal for teaching younger elementary kids is that they are enjoying what we are learning!

We do not do formal preschool at all, so if Clyde or Clarice want to join in with a subject, I have workbook pages and a few crafts at the ready, but nothing planned out.  I personally think preschool-age kids should mostly learn through play and just join in when they're interested.



Reading

What We're Using:  All About Reading
How I'm Teaching It: Separate levels for Wyatt and Gwen.

Halfway through our last school year we switched reading programs.  We started with Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, which I think was excellent for teaching blending - however, the end of that book gets a little redundant, and Wyatt and I were both hating it by Christmas break.  So I ordered All About Reading to continue on from there, and we are definitely sticking with it this year! I have both of my kids on it now.  I am a little torn with how to start off with Gwen though - the thing is, Wyatt had a really solid start with 100 Easy Lessons, and honestly a lot of the All About Reading curriculum is really easy for him because he had a whole different reading curriculum under his belt already.  I'm curious to see how we like All About Reading when we start with it from the very beginning.

Writing

What We're Using: Institute For Excellence In Writing
How I'm Teaching It: We're doing this subject for the older two together.

Last year was mostly handwriting practice and copywork for us - this year I wanted to start getting into different writing concepts with Wyatt, but also to fit in some handwriting and copywork with Gwen.  Enter IEW!  I looked up their K-2 curriculum online and was so impressed.  I really like Andrew Pudawa and his approach for teaching writing, and this curriculum is going to work really well for us this year.  It starts with the basics, like learning to properly form letters, and moves into writing short paragraphs by the end of the year.  The first part of the year is going to be brand-new for Gwen and review for Wyatt, and then the second part of the year will be more stretching for Wyatt and maybe just a preview for Gwen.

Math

What We're Using: Rightstart Math
How I'm Teaching It: Separate levels for Wyatt and Gwen.

I completely loved Rightstart last year, and we are continuing with it this year!  It is a math curriculum that uses manipulatives, but also has a heavy emphasis on learning to do math problems in your head, and learning through games.  I think to teach math, it is important for you to find a curriculum that approaches numbers in a way that feels natural to you, and that's how I feel about Rightstart - it teaches math the way I already think about math.  I also love that it's a spiral curriculum, meaning it circles back to concepts throughout the curriculum and approaches them in different ways.

History

What We're Using: Beautiful Feet Books - Early American History
How I'm Teaching It:  All together, including little kids.

We used Beautiful Feet Books for history last year, and I love it.  To me it is the perfect curriculum for elementary history for several reasons - first, it teaches through real books ("living" books, which is a Charlotte Mason concept), and many of the books for this grade are colorful picture books, which even the little ones enjoy.  It's important to me to let my kids learn history through reading actual books, instead of slogging through dry textbooks.

Second, I love how flexible this curriculum is - it comes with the books and a study guide.  Last year we needed school to be really gentle (hello, I had a baby in the middle of the year!), and BFB was perfect for that.  We went through half the curriculum last year, and will finish the other half this year (this particular level can be used over one year or two).  Since I don't expect to be having a baby this year (ha!), I'm excited to put a little more effort into history and find more supplementary resources, maybe even squeeze in a couple for-fun projects.  This curriculum is totally conducive to that - you can do as much as you want, or the bare minimum, and your kids are still going to learn something!

On the side, we'll be reading/listening to Story of The World: Middle Ages, because that is what our co-op is covering this year.  We will just listen to this in the car or read it in the margins to keep up with co-op, at least until we figure out if we should be doing more co-op prep work.  We may be picking up more living books from the library that coordinate with this time period to read during morning time as well.



Science

What We're Using: Who The Heck Knows! (not a real curriculum)
How I'm Teaching It:  It will be all together, when I choose which of the four (yes, FOUR) curricula will take priority.

Guys, I am hanging my head in shame right now for how overboard I go on science.  There are so many good curricula out there!  I love all science topics and don't know how to choose! Part of the problem is that I have a hard time picking because I love it all, and part of the problem is that we joined a homeschool co-op this year (more about that later), and the co-op is doing two, count 'em, TWO science curricula in one year.  What is going on???

Okay, sorry for my little freakout; this is what I'm working with.  Get ready for a long section.

Our co-op usually uses Apologia elementary science books, which I am all for because I absolutely love Apologia for science.  Apologia approaches each scientific subject from a young earth, biblical perspective, the books are written with a Charlotte Mason style, they are fun to read, and they emphasize giving kids practice in the scientific method.  I love them.  What I don't love is that the co-op is doing Apologia Physics and Chemistry and Apologia Human Anatomy for science this year.

Now, the reason for this is that they like to pick the same science subjects for all the grade levels in the co-op, so people with large families can work on science together.  Which is great.  Just maybe not so great when your oldest is only in second grade, because I think Chemistry and Physics and Human Anatomy are pretty intense subjects for a kindergartener and a second grader.  Especially with Chemistry and Physics, it requires a level of abstract thinking that kids at this age literally do not have the mental capacity to understand yet.  The author of these two books even said in a Instagram TV video recently that these two subjects are not going to be geared toward the younger elementary ages as much, and we'll have to take these courses slower.  Except that the co-op decided to do both in one year.

I have no idea how in-depth our co-op is going to go on these subjects (it's our first year), but I decided myself that we are not going to go that in depth.  We're going to pick up some fun books at the library related to Chemistry/Physics/Human Anatomy, touch on some of the topics so we sort of keep up, and then just have fun with whatever they do at co-op.  Then we'll do our own science curriculum at home.

For our science at home, as of right now I have a multitude of curricula and resources to choose from, so we may be switching it up mid-year if what we are doing isn't working.  But I decided to go with Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding. This isn't so much a curriculum as a guide book for teachers and parents on teaching different science subjects to K-2 grade.  I really love how the method in this book emphasizes teaching kids to observe and ask questions, and for this year, I like that it covers a variety of subjects.  I wanted to cast a little wider science net for my kids this year to see where their interests lie, and to give them some foundational knowledge in different scientific fields, before we go back to a more focused subject with Apologia next year (but not Chemistry And Physics).

The only thing I don't love about this science guide is that it's not written from a Christian perspective.  From what I've read, any problematic lessons about evolution/Big Bang theory don't come into play in this particular volume, but the author certainly is coming from a secular humanist worldview.  I feel fairly comfortable with using it for this year because as I said, this book isn't a curriculum so much as a guide book for teaching science concepts to young children.  All the information is filtered through me,  so I will certainly be pointing my kids back to their Creator through every subject we touch on.

We also picked up Exploring Nature With Children, which is our fourth science curriculum.  This is a nature study guide.  I struggle with knowing what to look for on our nature walks, and I love how this guide lays out everything for you - we just grab the pages for that day's lesson, and off we go.  This will be more of an enrichment subject, so we'll do it only once per week.  We did the first week's lesson already, and it only took about 15 minutes in the outdoors, so it's completely doable, and it was so fun!

Bible

What We're Using: Community Bible Study (group meetings once per week) and daily Bible time.
How I'll Teach It: Only Wyatt will have homework this year from our Bible study meetings.  The little kids just love learning while we're there!  We're doing a short daily study each day during morning time all together.

Last year we joined the CBS I went to as a child, and we loved it.  It was really refreshing to me to get together with women my age as well as women who are older and wiser than me and really dig into different books of the Bible.  I was also really impressed with how much even my little, tiny kids picked up from their classes, and we all love the time to get out and fellowship with other believers mid-week!  Our CBS has a homeschool program, so the older kids do the same study as the adults.  Wyatt and I will be studying the same books this year, which is really cool.  I love it.

Geography/Social Studies

What We're Using: My Story (Master Books)
How I'm Teaching It: Only Wyatt will go through the workbook this year.

This is a miscellaneous subject I threw in here.  I flipped through this book at a homeschool conference and decided I liked it for an intro to different cultures around the world.  The lessons are really short, it's written from a Christian perspective, and I just wanted to cover our bases since Geography is not my strongest subject.  I am hoping to add in the Beautiful Feet Books Geography study when I have enough money saved for it!



I'm going to write another post about the resources I'm planning on using for our Loop Schedule and Morning Time, which is a catch-all for all the things that I want to do but that we can't fit in every day.  Stay tuned for that!  But the curriculum above is our core, and overall (with the exception of science) I'm feeling really settled and happy about it!  If you have any other questions about anything I mentioned, or you want a more in-depth look at something, speak up and I'll add it to the queue of posts to write!










One Thing That's In Our Morning Basket



This week we started school!  You know those yearly surveys that parents give their kids at the beginning of school years or on birthdays?  I've never been organized enough to do one of those, and to be honest, I'm kind of regretting that now.  I think those surveys are not only an opportunity for watching how your kids grow over the years, but also seeing who they are in the right now.  With a big family and the busyness of life, it takes more planning to sit down and ask my kids questions that matter, to intentionally learn more about their personalities, preferences, worries and joys.

I have been asked a few times to share my curriculum choices for this school year, and that post is coming as soon as I have a minute to sit down and write it!  But I wanted to share a quick post about a resource that I'm hoping to add to our morning basket routine, just for fun, but also to take that time to intentionally learn more about the inner workings of my sweet kids.




I had the opportunity to be a part of the launch team for this book, and I jumped on it, because this book is the type of thing I've been looking for to help me slow down and take time to ask my kids about what makes them tick.  I obviously haven't read the whole book since there are 365 entries, but there are some fun questions, and some more serious questions.  There is space enough to write one child's answer for three years.  I plan on using it more as a book of prompts and recording my kids' answers elsewhere, or splitting the questions up between kids and doing two a day.  It's meant to be used with just one child, but I think it can be easily adapted for multiple kids, and I am excited to try it out!

Stay tuned next week for more on my curriculum choices for the year, and what else is in our Morning Time basket!

Note: I am on the launch team for this book and received a free copy from the publisher.  This is my honest opinion.


The Summer Album: The Sequel


Let's continue with my recap to our summer, shall we?  See yesterday's post for Part One.

Our 10-Year Anniversary

We celebrated our 10 year anniversary this summer!  Anniversary trip is still to come, but we did go to a fun local restaurant/petting zoo/park to celebrate.  The kids ran around and played, and we ate Southern comfort food.




Ballet Class For Gwen

Gwen has been dying to do ballet all year, and was beside herself with excitement when we finally signed her up!  She loved it so much.  We will probably be doing another class for her in the future - it was so sad to see her disappointment on her last day of ballet.  Clarice also dressed up in ballet clothes and tagged along a couple times.




Art Projects On The Porch

A lot of the summer looked like this - just having around at home and goofing off.


Naps

We took a lot of naps.


Lots Of Birthday Parties For Friends And Family

There were a lot of birthday parties this year.  We went to splash pads, and a couple bouncy house parties (one coming up this weekend).  


Trip To Six Flags

A friend of mine got a season pass to Six Flags, and invited me to go with her for a mom's day out!  Derek and I went to an amusement park a couple years ago, and we got sick on a few of the rides but found our sweet spot by the end of the day, so I figured I'd be fine.  My friend and I had a ton of fun, riding all the roller coasters and getting a chance to talk uninterrupted by children!  I did get nauseous between rides though and had to sip a lot of water - why are adult stomachs not as hardy as kid stomachs?  It's just not fair.  I'm bringing Dramamine next time.


$1 Movies At The Theater

Some of our local theaters do $1 kid movies over the summer, so we went to see a couple of them!  I want to go more next summer, it's a fun day out for all of us and it's a nice little break for me!



Campfire In The Backyard

They finally lifted the fire ban toward the end of the summer, so we had a backyard campfire strait away!









Camping On The Porch

We also threw in camping on the porch, because why not?





Trip To See Dinosaur Footprint Fossils

We had an opportunity to hear a creationist geologist speak at a nearby area with dinosaur footprint fossils.  His talk was more geared toward the adults, and I found it interesting (until we had to dive out because the sun was becoming a little too much for Georgie).  The kids were fascinated by the dinosaur footprints, and we all wished we could search through those rocks on the side of the road for fossils.







Last Hoorah For Summer Camping Trip

We decided to take a camping trip on the last weekend before we started school this week!  We went to a KOA, and it was amazing.  They had a water park included in the price of the campsite, so we spent several hours there, letting the kids play!  The water wasn't very deep, so I could just let them go off by themselves while I watched.  It was so much fun!  We also snuck in a hike and trip to "Whit's End".  We got one more campfire in before the summer ended.  It was lovely.










Now Autumn is officially welcome to start!

The Summer Album




Every year, summer goes by so fast.  I start off with all these great expectations of all the fun things that we will squeeze into these warm-weather months, and by the time August rolls around I'm left wondering what happened.  But sometimes it helps to take a look not at what I had planned for the summer, but all the things we actually did!  And then I realize that we actually did make the most of our summer, just in a different way than I planned.  So this post is just a little recap of our summer, complete with photos of my cute kids.  Read on (and perhaps comment and tell me one unexpected fun thing you did this summer!).


Antique Store Trip And My Birthday Party

I wrote more about this in June, but Derek planned a birthday party for me wince I turned 30 at the beginning of the summer!





Trip To Visit My Grandparents

In June we took a trip to visit my grandparents, who live part of the year across the state.  We love visiting them!  They are also game people, like Derek and me, so we take the opportunity to have game nights!



Fishing With my Grandparents

This was the kids' first time fishing! They love it now, and are constantly asking us to go again!  The boys both caught a pretty good size trout, and Gwen had another one on the line but it got away!








Hiking With My Grandparents

We went hiking when we were there too!






Exploring Local Ice Cream/Coffee Shop

This summer, I decided to try to take advantage of the amenities we actually do have in our little mountain town, instead of always driving to the city.  We visited our local ice cream/coffee shop, and took advantage of local parks.  It was nice to stay closer to our home when we wanted to get out, and I'm looking forward to continuing more local adventures in the fall.



Hikes (By Ourselves And With Friends)

We went on several hikes this summer, by ourselves and with friends!  The big kids are big enough to actually hike this year, and Georgie was still little enough to carry in my baby carrier, so we were in a sweet spot.  Next year will probably be more difficult again while Georgie is learning to walk, so I'm glad we were able to get into the mountains a little this summer!












Fourth Of July - Fireworks and Fun At My Parents House!

We had a lovely 4th of July!  We went to fireworks on July 3rd by ourselves, and then spent the actual 4th with my family at my parents house. 







Come back tomorrow for a few more photos!  I got a little carried away and had to split this into two posts.







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