The Back to School Post, Part II – What We’re Using

In the midst of all that we have going on here, I’m still trying to get a couple of series up and running around here.  I don’t know if there’s a whole lot of purpose in posting what we’re using this year when we’re already into the second quarter, but perhaps it will be of use in the future to myself or someone else.  Regardless, enjoy!

I hope to return next week with a piece on some digital tools I have discovered that have increased my productivity.

Art – the girls each take art as an outside class on Friday mornings.  Also, Grace and Emma are taking private lessons as they prepare for the MAACS fine arts competition in the spring.

Bible – the three older girls each have their own devotionals they are reading as well as individual Bible reading.  As we are moving through the school year, I feel like we need something more structured, so I’m thinking/praying about what else we can do.  They are each responsible to write what they learned that day in their journals, as well as two or three things they are thankful for.  As a group we are memorizing the book of James.  This started around February when Ann encouraged her readers to memorize Colossians.  I liked the idea but didn’t really want to memorize Colossians, so using the same format, I made cards for the book of James and glued them into a moleskin book.  We were solidly through the first chapter and well into the second when school ended last spring.  I had good intentions of continuing through the summer but it just didn’t happen.  So, we’ve been reviewing James 1 and are on to James 2. My goal is that we will have the whole book memorized by the end of the school year.

Geography – this is another class taken on Friday mornings by the younger three.  They are using Ann Voskamp’s A Child’s Geography.  Emma is also doing a study on the fifty states this year, which requires her to do some research and record certain facts about each state.

Science – a Friday class using Apologia’s Land Animals of the Sixth Day.  The girls love this class and I do too.  The teachers are wonderful and they are learning so many great things about God’s creation.  Science is one of those tricky subjects for home schoolers.  I know that we aren’t covering the broad spectrum of items I remember covering in grade school science, but I also don’t want to have science in the girls’ minds equal lots of boring workbooks just so we can discuss electricity and weather and plants.  I am confident we will get to all of those things as time goes on.

Handwriting – we are just using simple workbooks this year to work on this skill as well as requiring the older two to do more of their work in cursive.  Handwriting is a stupid hill I have decided to die on and so our girls will learn to write neatly even if it’s the death of me.  😉 

Language Arts – Ellie is using Rod & Staff’s Preparing to Build English 2.  Yes it’s a second grade book and she’s in first grade, but she’s up for it and we do it all orally.  Chandler is doing Rod & Staff Beginning Wisely 3.  Emma started out in Rod & Staff this year, but about a month in we switched to Shurley Grammar 4 as R&S just was not working for her and I had to be humble enough to make a switch for her sake.  So far, we are both much much happier.  Grace is using Rod & Staff Progressing with Courage 6.  This will be her last year with R&S, and it may be everyone’s last year with it to be honest.  It’s a wonderfully simple yet thorough program, but we’ve just had way too many tears over the years because of it and I’m praying about whether or not it’s worth all that.

Math – Ellie is using Horizons Math 1.  We have used Horizons for years and really like it.  However, having to personally grade math books for four students was becoming a little tedious, so the older three all moved over to Teaching Textbooks this year.  Oh, how I love Teaching Textbooks!  I think my love for Teaching Textbooks may be even greater than my love for my iPhone.  Even better is the fact that the girls love it too.

Readers and Read Alouds – Clearly this is a subject with far too many items to list.  We are practicing reading poetry aloud and I will be reading a variety of missionary stories and well as some other books with the girls this year.  The girls are reading through books on the Sonlight readers list.

Spelling – all the girls are using Spelling Power.

Latin – Emma and Chandler are going through Latina Christiana I and Grace is going through Latina Christiana II.  This is our second year using this program.  I’m not entirely sure yet if we will do it again next year or if we’ll try something else. 

Vocabulary – Emma is using Wordly Wise 3000 grade 4, Chandler is using Wordly Wise 3000 grade 3.  These are workbook style programs, which have pros and cons.  For right now they are good for getting the girls used to learning vocabulary words.  Grace is using her Sonlight Core 6 for vocabulary.  Each week I find key vocabulary words from the Instructor’s Guide for the books she’s reading and she looks them up, uses them in sentences, and is tested on them at the end of the week.

Writing – We using various things from Institute for Excellence in Writing.  We used the video program last year and I saw huge improvements in Grace and Emma’s writing ability.  We are continuing to work on this this year.

Anyway, that’s it for us. 

Pray for us if we come to mind, please.  We have made great strides against the head lice issue, but I am still doing regular checks and lots of laundry to make sure everyone is clean.  Nitpicking x 4 can wear a girl down before too long.  Not a huge deal and I’ve worked really hard to keep a balanced attitude (by God’s grace), but I would really really really like to be able to say with certainty that we are “lice free” in the very near future.  🙂

For His Glory ~

~ Sara


One thought on “The Back to School Post, Part II – What We’re Using

  1. Just a quick note about writing. I’ve been meaning to post on FB, but keep forgetting. Julia took a live class the last two years based on IEW, loved it, and she learned so much. Now, the teacher is offering the same class in a webinar format. Rachel is taking it this year and I love the fact that we don’t have to leave the house. Patsy Brekke is the teacher and she calls it Writing Foundations. You can find WF on FB, or there is a really good description of her classes on her website,

    Ms. B (as the kids call her) is very entertaining and has come up with really fun ways to teach the techniques to the kids. All the info and printouts for the class are extremely organized…I think b/c she has done it for so long, she has the process down to a science. And, she is available to answer questions via email during the week. In any case, I think its an incredible option for writing.

    Hope you have a great rest of the day! And no more nit picking. 🙂

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