Category Archives: Curriculum

Mid-Year Curriculum Update

This year we changed things up quite a bit curriculum-wise for our 6th grader. If you read my post Our 2016 – 2017 Curriculum Plans then you may remember our 6th grader had a full line-up of workbooks plus online curriculum. Around October I realized he was greatly lacking in his history knowledge and I was struggling to find a way to make the subject fun and memorable. (History is my least favorite subject.) Researching online I stumbled upon the Acellus Academy homeschool program. I tend to research things to death, so I watched MANY of the sample lessons and talked to fellow homeschool parents in online groups who also use Acellus.

Acellus Academy is an online video lesson program where students watch videos of a teacher teaching a lesson, then answer 5 – 20 questions after the video. A typical day’s lesson may include 3-5 videos, depending on the length of the videos. Best part of all? It’s an app you can download to a laptop or tablet, and the children can wear headphones so they aren’t disturbing others.

On Acellus, our 6th grader is taking:
6th Grade Math (once a week)
6th Grade Language Arts/Reading (5 days a week)
6th Grade Science (3 days a week)
Ancient Civilizations (2 days a week)
Middle School Health (2 days a week)
Middle School Finance (2 days a week)

In addition to Acellus, he’s continuing to take:

Saxon Math 7/6 (4 days a week)
Easy Grammar 6 (3 days a week)
Switched on Schoolhouse Spanish (3 days a week)
Spelling City (4 days a week)
IXL online (2 days a week)
Computer Coding

All in all, most of the book work he now has is the Saxon Math. He likes math, but like most kids, he doesn’t want to spend a lot of time doing problems. It takes coaxing, prodding, and sometimes even bribery to get our son to complete the number of math problems Mom deems appropriate.

Fast-forward to this week, we started our 3rd grader on the Acellus Academy homeschool program as well. I had noticed her watching some of her brother’s science and health lessons she seemed to really enjoy them.

Here are the courses our 3rd grader is taking on Acellus:
3rd Grade Math (once a week)
3rd Grade Language Arts (5 days a week)
3rd Grade Social Studies (3 days a week)
4th Grade Science (2 days a week)
Ecology (2 days a week)
Fine Arts – Music (2 days a week)

In addition to Acellus, she’s using:

Horizons Math 3 (4 days a week)
Sequential Spelling (LOVE this spelling program!) (5 days a week)
Easy Grammar (3 days a week)
IXL online (2 days a week)

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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Curriculum


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Our 2016 – 2017 Curriculum Plans

This school year our children will be in 6th and 3rd grade. Well, those are their “official” grades anyway. (More about this at What grade are you in?)

This will be our 6th year homeschooling; wow time flies! Before I list what curriculum we’re using this year, let me preface this by telling you I know some people would go crazy without having an all-in-one curriculum. If this is your first year homeschooling then I recommend an all-in-one curriculum for your sanity. The curriculum we’re using I’ve found to work best for our children’s learning styles.

For our 3rd grader we’ll be using:

easy grammar 3Horizons Math 3
IXL Math (online)
Khan Academy (online) for additional help & instructional videos
Switched on Schoolhouse Language Arts (trying this out for the 1st time)
Easy Grammar 3
Spelling City (online)
IXL Science (online)
Harcourt Science 3rd grade
IXL Social Studies (online)
Learn Our History dvds
Typing Teacher (online)

For our 6th grader we’re starting on:

math lukeSaxon Math 7/6 & Teaching Textbooks (haven’t decided which one we like best yet… they’re both new to us this year) *See update below
IXL Math (online)
Khan Academy (online) for additional help & instructional videos
Easy Grammar 6
Spelling City (online)
IXL Language Arts (online)
Reading Comprehension 6
IXL Science (online)
Science Is…
IXL Social Studies (online)
New World History & Geography (Abeka)
Switched on Schoolhouse Spanish (1st & 2nd quarter)
Computer Coding (online) (3rd & 4th quarter)

scratch games

IXL online consists mostly of practice questions/answers, but it’s a wonderful resource to assure we don’t miss an important topic. What’s even better is we have access to all of the grade levels at once! This is hugely helpful when a child is ahead a grade level in some subjects, but not in others.

For reading both children have daily silent reading requirements and read-aloud several times a week as well. Both children also keep a writing journal throughout the year. Their typical writing assignments include poetry, fairy tales, idioms, short essays, book reports, etc. This is simply what works for us.

This year our children are also enrolled in these classes outside of the home:

  • American History – co-op (3rd grader)
  • Plant Biology – co-op (3rd grader)
  • Literature – co-op (3rd grader)
  • Chemistry – co-op (6th grader)
  • World History – co-op (6th grader)
  • Art History & Elements of Art – local artists (both children)

***Update 9/2016: We’ve decided on Saxon math for our 6th grader. He didn’t like doing his math on the computer and now that he’s been using Saxon for a few weeks I’m in love with it. 🙂

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Posted by on June 26, 2016 in Curriculum


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Curriculum Plans for the 2015 – 2016 Year

As August is quickly approaching I’ve been gathering our books and jotting down plans for the upcoming school year. Our oldest is starting 5th grade and has stayed on target or a little ahead of schedule in most subjects. Our youngest technically started 2nd grade in February (the joys of having a late birthday), but for ease of explaining what grade she’s in we’re considering her to be in 2nd grade this coming year.

5th grade booksFor our 5th grader:
Harcourt math (we’ve moved on from Horizons math since we needed better instructions on the “how” behind the math), IXL math (online), Khan Academy (online)
IXL language arts (online)
Easy Grammar 5
All About Spelling, Spelling City (online)
Literature K12 level 5 (this is our first time using this curriculum… we’ll see how it goes)
Writing K12 level 5
Music K12 level 5
Art K12 level 5
Vocabulary – Sylvan, Spelling City (online)
Reading Comprehension – Sylvan
Social Studies – unit studies
US History – public school book & online resources
Science – unit studies & ABeka Health grade 5

2ndgrade booksFor our 2nd grader:

Horizons Math grade 2, IXL math (online), Khan Academy (online)
IXL language arts (online), Daily Language Review
Shurley English 2 (grammar)
All About Spelling, Perfection Spelling
Horizons Phonics & Reading, Explode the Code
BJU Reading 3
Social Studies – unit studies & Famous Americans
Science – Lifepac, ABeka Health grade 3
Music & Art – assorted online resources




daily weekly assignmentsAs for when to do which subjects… that’s where the planning and organizing comes in. Obviously all of the subjects can’t be done on the same day. Otherwise we’d be doing lessons and school work for 8+ hours a day.

Subjects like math, reading, writing, and spelling are done daily, while grammar and science are twice a week. Music, art, and health are typically once a week subjects. I use a simple system of post-its on the books to keep track of which books are done which day while planning. Then I can list my plans in Evernote (or a notebook if I’m feeling old-school).

You’ll notice I like to use multiple resources for teaching some subjects. Some things, like IXL, are simply for practice, but not geared towards learning new concepts. Resources like Khan Academy and Spelling City are great for teaching, practicing what they learn, and then applying the knowledge in their book work.

So, this is my basic plan curriculum-wise. It may change a bit as we get past Christmas (things always seem to evolve as we go) but staying flexible is key. Hope your school year planning is going well.

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Posted by on July 18, 2015 in Curriculum


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Ready for the 2014 – 2015 School Year

school area2 2014We are all set for starting school this week and I’m too excited to sleep! To celebrate, we have a tradition of going on a field trip the first day of school. This year we will be visiting the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center.

The main attraction at the Exploreum right now is the LIVE African penguin exhibit! We’ve been looking forward to seeing them all summer, though I think I’m probably more excited about the penguins than the children are.

Our children will be in 4th grade and 1st/2nd grade this year.
Why the 1st/2nd grade? Because we started our daughter in K5 a year early, which put her doing 1st grade work last year. We went at a slower pace throughout 1st grade so she will still be finishing up 1st grade math and reading this fall, but is at a 2nd grade level in the other subjects. This is actually pretty common with homeschooled children. It makes the question “What grade are you in?” quite interesting. I expect her to be in the 2nd grade books by January or February, but we’ll go at whatever pace she needs.

luke 4th grade booksHere is the list of curriculum we’ll be using for our 4th grader:
Our American Heritage – Geography
Heritage Studies 3 – Social Studies (using this with both children)
Horizons Spelling & Vocabulary
All About Spelling
Horizons Math 4
Discover the Wonder – Science (using this with both children)
Daily Language Review – Language Arts
Easy Grammar 4
Phonics Plus
Reading 3 (finishing up some lessons from last year)
Cursive Writing 3rd & 4th Grade
View from My Window – Writing
Write on Track – Writing

Online curriculum: – Math
Easy Peasy Online Homeschooling – Typing Lessons & additional Social Studies lessons

*Side note: I’m aware a couple of the books in this picture are the 3rd grade level instead of 4th grade. I was feeling lazy and just grabbed the books that were closest to me. The covers are different colors, but you get the basic idea.

brooke 2nd grade booksOur 1st/2nd grader will be using the following curriculum:

Horizons Spelling & Vocabulary
All About Spelling
Horizons Phonics & Reading 1
Arithmetic 1 – Math
Horizons Math 1 (this is more advanced & fast paced so we’re doing this after the other book)
Grammar Skills
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Explode the Code – Phonics & Reading
Heritage Studies 3 – Social Studies (using this with both children)
Discover the Wonder – Science (using this with both children)

Online curriculum:
Reading Eggs – Phonics & Reading
Easy Peasy Online Homeschooling – additional Social Studies lessons

Our children are also enrolled in co-op classes that meet once a week. Our oldest will be learning about Alabama history, elementary chemistry, and grammar; while our youngest learns about science, geography, logic & critical thinking, and PE. The children absolutely love their co-op classes and I enjoy having them learn from different adults besides just boring mom all the time. 🙂

Do you have a question about curriculum or anything else about homeschooling? Feel free to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

***This post contains affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for more info.

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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Curriculum


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Our Curriculum Plan for the 2013-2014 School Year

I wrote this post back in June, but due to vacations and summer events I’m just now getting around to posting it.

Since our children finished kindergarten and second grade I’ve been preparing their curriculum for the upcoming school year.  My husband and I believe in year-round education (because learning never really stops) but we still take several weeks off at the beginning of the summer so I have time to plan for the next stages.

I follow a loose schedule of teaching our children in 6 week sessions; taking 3-5 days off in between with a longer break at Christmas time.

1stgradecurriculumThis may sound like I’m pushing our children too hard, but we don’t do every subject every day. Instead we spend more time doing the things they are interested in. Some days are spent mostly on reading, while others may be science and art days.

By the time a 6 week session is over hopefully our children have had fun learning a variety of things. That really is the point isn’t it? To instill a love of learning for life.

Here’s my plan for our 1st grader:

MathHorizons Math and IXL Math at
SpellingAll About Spelling
Phonics & ReadingHorizons Phonics & Reading and many actual books
GrammarShurley English (I don’t use all aspects of this book, but I love the jingles)
Writing – weekly journal drawing along with a sentence to go with it and Easy Peasy at  (online lessons & videos)
Science Purposeful Design Science
Heritage Studies

Art & Music – various books, cds and online sources

Here’s my plan for our 3rd grader:

Math – Horizons Math and IXL Math at
Spelling – All About Spelling
Phonics Phonics Plus
ReadingBJU A&B Reading (I’m not overly fond of this book, but it was free)
Grammar – Easy Grammar
Writing Horizons Penmanship and weekly journal writing
Science Purposeful Design Science
Heritage Studies
Art & Music – various books, cds and online sources

3rdgradecurriculumSomething I try to keep in mind when making my curriculum choices is each child is unique.  Just because I used book A for our oldest child doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best book for our youngest.

Many of the books I’ve chosen for our son this year are unfamiliar to him and me.  I may get half-way through the first quarter and realize a particular book just isn’t going to work for us.

It’s difficult for me to change my plan once I have everything all set.  I mean, it’s my PLAN and I can’t deviate from it, right?  Well… if I said it more like, “It’s MY plan…” then it’s easier to see where the problems can come in.  Just because a particular book or curriculum works for ME doesn’t mean it works for my child’s learning style.  I find that I often need to remind myself of this along the way.

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Posted by on August 18, 2013 in Curriculum


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Online Science Curriculum – Science4US Review

Our family had a wonderful time exploring Science4Us over the past month.  The short video lessons, cross-subject games and humor were wonderful at grabbing and keeping the children’s attention. Science4Us is full of hands-on activities and projects as well.


Geared for K5 – 2nd grade, the lessons are categorized into four groups; Physical Science, Inquiry Science, Life Science, and Earth/Space.

The program was easy for me, the teacher/parent, to use.  I simply set up each child’s assignment from the management screen and when they logged on what they needed to do was right there in front of them. 

The lessons were fun and engaging for both our 5 yr old and 8 yr old. I was surprised at how excited they both were to have their “science time” on the computer. While one child was doing the lesson, the other would hang out over their sibling’s shoulder watching.

Both of our children learned a ton!  Not just about science, but about language and math as well! The Science4Us program crosses subjects and is wonderfully laid out for multiple age levels.

The cost for individual pricing is only $7.95 per month, per child.  Compared to other online programs this is a BARGAIN!

I honestly can’t think of any cons.  This is rare for me, because generally there are cons to most everything.  If I come up with one over the next week or two I’ll be sure to add it here.  😉

Our family thoroughly enjoyed this program and I would highly recommend Science4Us to anyone with younger elementary aged children.

Thank you Science4Us!

***Disclosure: I was invited to try out Science4Us for 30 days in exchange for my candid review.

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Posted by on August 9, 2013 in Curriculum


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Online Science Curriculum Review Coming Soon!

Science4Us can be used as a complete science curriculum or a summer science  supplement; and I’ve been given the opportunity to try it out for 30 days in exchange for a candid review. My review will be my own opinion and based on how the online science program worked for our family, so be sure to check back.

luke making slime


Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Curriculum


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Curriculum Review for Time4Learning

Recently I signed up for a 1-month free trial for Time4Learning.  In exchange I agreed to write a curriculum review on my blog.  So, here it is…. 🙂

We have a daughter starting Kindergarten and our son is starting 2nd grade.  They both initially loved Time4Learning and the cute little mouse animation at the beginning.  The program is very simple to navigate, even for our youngest child.  The biggest thing I had to remind both children was to use the Time4Learning “back” arrow when they finished a lesson and wanted to do another one instead of hitting the “x” in the right corner.  Even when they did make this mistake, it was easy for me to get them back where they wanted to be in a few clicks.

The Kindergarten lessons were fun, engaging and totally had our daughter hooked.  She would typically go through 2 lessons, visit the playground area and sometimes go back to do another lesson.  I loved that I could adjust the time setting for how long each child had to stay on lessons before they could have access to the playground.

Our second grader enjoyed the math, science & social studies lessons.  The lesson animations were at age level and were kept short enough to not lose his interest.  He was less than thrilled with the Language Arts lessons which all seemed to start off with sock puppets singing and dancing.  This might not be a problem for some second graders, but he felt the sock puppets were too young for him (babyish – my word, not his) and all the music and singing along with the sock puppets was a major turn-off for him.  I wish that I could have skipped the sock puppet part and just jumped ahead to the heart of the lesson.

The concept of earning “playground” time was confusing for our children at first.  Our Kindergartener expected there to be an actual playground looking animation for her to play with.  When I explained she could click on any of the numerous games listed she was fine with it, but then several days later she kept mentioning she couldn’t find the “playground”.  I think it just took her a while to get the concept that the playground was a list of fun game links.  Our son also seemed disappointed in the playground at first, (again, I think he expected something completely different) but once he played several of the games I could tell he was enjoying himself.  A better name for the “playground” would be the “game room” or game area.

Overall I was quite pleased with Time4Learning, but at the $20 per month price I would have to think seriously before using it for a full school year.  Science and social studies would likely need to be supplemented with library books simply to be able to delve deeper into the topics Time4Learning has.  I would also add in daily written work to tie in with what the children are learning online.  For our family, I feel that this would be a great curriculum to use over the summer months or perhaps one quarter if our children seem like they just need a change in pace from their current lessons.

On a scale of 1-10, (1 being terrible and 10 being awesome,) I would have to give Time4Learning a 7.  I hope you’ve enjoyed my review and feel free to add your comments below.

As a member of Time4Learning, I have been asked to review their online education program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. Write your own curriculum review or learn how to use their curriculum for homeschool, after school study or summer learning.

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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Curriculum


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Online Curriculum Review Coming Soon

Time4Learning has invited me to try their online curriculum for 30 days in exchange for an honest review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so come back and read about my experiences. Visit them for information about lesson plans, homeschool portfolios or writing your own curriculum review.




Posted by on June 10, 2012 in Curriculum


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Is Fancy Curriculum Neccessary?

Many people just starting out with homeschooling seem to think they need fancy curriculum to teach their children.  While it’s true that some of the boxed curriculum sets may be easier to teach, they tend to be very expensive and may not suit your child’s needs in each subject.  I’ve found that it really helps to read curriculum reviews online and talk with other parents who have children of similar ages.  My favorite book for choosing curriculum is “100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum“.  This book can be quite overwhelming for someone in their first year of homeschooling, so I’d recommend reading it in very small dosages to keep from feeling lost.

Did you know some parents teach the lower elementary grades by using inexpensive workbooks, library books and the many free resources available online?  Seriously!  Here are some of the 2nd grade workbooks I’ve picked up from yard sales and thrift stores. The top two books cover all the basic subjects and focus on the typical things learned by 2nd graders across the US.  The bottom left workbook is a reading/literature/writing book and the bottom right is a math homework book.  Both of these are used by the public schools here in Alabama.

There are many educational DVDs available at the public library which can be used to help teach some subjects.  For example, I’ve found DVDs on numerous topics in science, history, math, grammar, phonics, and reading.  It’s also important to check out non-fiction books AND quality fiction.  I find that many parents tend to forget about non-fiction for the younger elementary grades.  Be sure to read aloud to your child as well as having them read to you.

To make learning even more fun I recommend these awesome online resources.  (They are listed in no particular order.)

Spelling City – Vocabulary & Spelling lists and activities
Khan Academy – video lessons in math, science and more
IXL – math, plus standards for each state listed
Illuminations – math activities & lessons grades K-12
EZ Tales – online books & reading activities for ages 2 – 10
Cool Math for Kids – lessons & games in more than just math!
Fun 4 the Brain – many subjects, even up to middle school
– learning games for K-5th grade

If you happen to be like me, you might take the eclectic approach and use a combination of curriculum and workbooks from a variety of sources.  I’ve never used a boxed curriculum set and though I’m sure it works for some people I really don’t think it would fit for us.  Like many children, our son has strengths and weaknesses in different subjects.  If I feel that he isn’t understanding a certain concept I simply try to find another way to tell him or show him.

If you’re looking for a FREE way to homeschool using all online resources then definitely take a look at Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool.

Whether you choose fancy curriculum or go another route, remember to keep things fun and they will enjoy a life of learning.

Happy teaching!  🙂


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