Back to School! (And Our Curriculum Plans)

Wow! Today is the first day of 6th grade for Andrew. I can hardly believe it. I keep telling him to stop growing up but he doesn’t listen. LOL!

First Day of 6th Grade

1st day of 6th grade!

I am really excited about this year. It is our first year going *all in* with the Mother of Divine Grace program. Andrew already had his orientation classes for the Latin, History Book Club, and Fine Arts Appreciation courses. They look like they are going to be a lot of fun.

For religion, he will work through the St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism and read through the Gospels of Mark and Luke. He will also go to CCD again this year. I love the program at our church and it is a good supplement for his spiritual development. (It also gives him another opportunity to be with other kids and participate in the Living Stations of the Cross put on every year by the 6th-8th graders.)

For Math, he will continue with the Right Start Math Program. He is halfway through Level E. I love that this program is level based, rather than grade based. He can work through the program at his own pace and it has lots of manipulatives which Andrew loves.

For English, he will use the Lepano (Voyages in English) books. Most of the lessons are done orally and has a *Catholic flavor* I think I will like. He will also be diagraming sentences with this program.

He also starts Editing this year. He will use the book, The Great Editing Adventure, and for each lesson he will use a dictionary and thesaurus to edit and rewrite a paragraph or two.

For Spelling, he will continue the All About Spelling program. He is going to begin on Level 4.

For History/Geography, he will be learning about ancient Egypt. He will be constructing a timeline and using an Atlas. This class meets online once a week. He will meet online every other week. He will also be reading The Old World and America and several historical fiction books.

For Science, he will be using the Concepts and Challenges in Science books which are exclusive to Mother of Divine Grace. Because I had been doing my own thing up until now, we are using the 5th grade books so that he can get in line with their science sequence (just don’t tell Andrew!).

For Latin, he will be following the online program specific to Mother of Divine Grace and meet online once a week. I love how these books show how Latin is the basis of many of our English words and the connections between the two languages.

For Fine Arts (Art Appreciation) he will meet online once a week and they will learn about various art periods and terminology, look at and discuss pieces of art work, and listen to different music pieces. He will also be responsible for writing a short paper for this class.

For Poetry, he will spend the year memorizing three or four poems from The Harp and the Laurel Wreath focusing on one stanza a week. The first poem he will learn is “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Lord Alfred Tennyson.

Finally, for Typing, he will continue to practice his typing skills using typing club.

Mother of Divine Grace also encourages all 6th graders to read for at least 45 minutes a day.

Whew! I know it looks like a lot; however, several of the subjects only take 10 or 15 minutes a day, such as the poetry memorization, typing, and religion. Even the history, Latin, and editing classes should not be more than 30 minutes to complete so his work should be quite doable. 🙂

I hope these give you some ideas if you are looking to home school. Or, if you do homeschool, what books/programs do you use?


Tweetable: Back to School! (And Our Curriculum Plans)

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Curriculum Review: Mother of Divine Grace

I can’t believe that Andrew has just finished up fifth grade! This year we chose to use the Mother of Divine Grace program for the first time. Previously, we used the Catholic Heritage Curricula which I loved, but Andrew wasn’t a huge fan because the program is a little too workbook heavy for hist taste. Then I switched to putting my own curriculum together which worked well.

Curriculum Review MODg

However, as we were approaching fifth grade, I wanted to find a more structured, academic program. Up to this point, I knew I was doing well on my own but I wanted to make sure that I was on the right track and giving him a good education. I knew several families who were happily and successfully using the Mother of Divine Grace (MODG) Program so after some research my husband and I decided it was worth the try.

What I like

Oh, gosh, where do I start?! There are a lot of things to love about this program! First of all, Mother of Divine Grace is a fully accredited distance learning school based out of California that uses the classical curriculum approach. It is a gentle program, especially for the younger grades, with not a lot of workbooks or writing. However, it is still a rigorous, broad spectrum program that is on par with any top-notch traditional school. With this program, the student gets a well-rounded educational that is fun and challenging at the same time.

I also love the flexibility of the program. There are several levels: you can just buy the curriculum as is and use it on your your own. Or, you can take advantage of the teacher services and learning support services. Of course, you can also substitute any of the course materials for something else if it works better for your family. For example, we use the Right Start Math Program instead of the Saxon program recommended by MODG because Andrew likes it and has been doing well with it.

Another thing I love about this program is the opportunity to work with a consultant. This alone is worth the cost of the tuition! The parents have to chance to speak with their consultant several times a year and they help put together a customized curriculum, offer support, and answer an questions the parents may have. I just love our consultant. She is patient, throughout knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the program and has been such a great help.

Additionally, as the higher the grade level the more online options there are. There are A LOT of online classes available to students, especially in high school. Most of the online courses start in fifth grade but as the student progresses there are online classes for math, science, language arts, several foreign languages and enrichment courses. For sixth grade, I have Andrew signed up for the Latin, History/Literature book club, and Art Appreciation.

What I don’t like

Not a dislike, just a heads up, really. The program is a little pricey compared to some other programs and has several fees included. However, the people at MODG are super willing to be flexible with the payments. There is a discount for paying in full, there is a set payment plan, or if you discuss it with them, you can come up with a customized payment plan.

And to be honest, the program is well-worth the price. I personally believe that I need to invest in my son’s education and MODG is a wonderful place to do it. 🙂

I definitely give MODG five (5) stars and seriously doubt that I will ever switch to another program!


Tweetable: Curriculum Review: Mother of Divine Grace

Columbus Day Activities

As you know, today is Columbus Day. It is the day we commemorate Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas. If you are looking for some information or activities for your homeschool (or to supplement regular school), here are some ideas:

Columbus Day Activities

Image by steinchin (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain


The Homeschool Mom

Homeschool Journeys

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom

*Please note that a couple of the links mention the controversy surrounding Columbus Day (I didn’t even know there was one!) and some critics who believe Columbus Day is associated with Knights of Columbus, thus making it “too Catholic,” so check out the links at your own risk. 🙂


Tweetable: Columbus Day Activities

Our Home Education Curriculum for 2015-2016

I can’t believe that Andrew is officially in fifth grade. How did that happen?! In any case, in honor of his first day of school, I thought I would share what we will be doing this year.


Over the last few years we tried several different things: including Catholic Heritage, and a mix-up of several sources. Personally, I loved Catholic Heritage but it was too workbook heavy for Andrew. He is all boy – very physical and needs to be actively involved with learning. I also needed to supplement the program a bit too much for our needs. Therefore, I stopped using this program after first grade and started to put my own classical curriculum together for a few years.

Now that Andrew is in fifth grade, I feel like I need to settle down and get more “academic.” I want to make sure that I do all I can to help him success in high school and beyond. I also feel like what we have been doing needs some tweaking again. Of course, all plans are subject to change, but here are our initial plans:

1. Our curriculum will be centered on Mother of Divine Grace. I am behind in getting him registered, but will be doing so this week. In particular, I will be signing Andrew up for some of the video classes which I hope he will love.

2. For math, we will continue with the Right Start Math program. We have been using it for a couple of years now and Andrew does really well with it. It is loaded with manipulatives and minimal with the worksheets. (Although, Andrew still moans and complains when he has to do them!)

3. For spelling, we are using All About Spelling. Andrew is behind and struggles with spelling. I’ve tried just about everything I can think of and I am so glad we found this program. We worked through level one in May and June and by the end, Andrew had already improved quite a bit. After we get through level two, I think I will do an in-depth review of the program.

4. For grammar, we may be continuing with Kiss Grammar. It is a free, all-inclusive, and in-depth grammar program. Andrew isn’t a huge fan of grammar in general and particularly thrilled with this program, but we are either going to stick with it for another year or use the grammar course through Mother of Divine Grace.

5. To supplement, and for extra help, we will be using There are a ton of free and paid clubs, classes, etc. that I plan to have Andrew participate it. This website comes highly recommended my one of my homeschooling co-op friends so I can’t wait to give it a try.

As for physical education, Andrew has “gym” for an hour once a week with our homeschool co-op, he also does hockey 3x week, and basketball 2x week. There will also be activities, classes and field trips with the co-op.

That’s about it! Looking at it, it looks like a lot, but most of the classes are only 15-20 minutes, so I am expecting it to be doable. If not, I will tweak/change as necessary.

If you are looking to homeschool or looking to tweak your current program, I hope posting my curriculum gives you some ideas.


A Peek Into Our Summer Homeschooling Schedule 2015

Yes, we are one of those who homeschool year-round. However, we do a shortened schedule, and we do take the whole month of August off.


Here are our plans:

Reading: Andrew is required to read for a minimum of 20 minutes a day, and I read out loud to him regularly.

Right Start Mathematics: Andrew loves this program because it is very hands-on and the worksheets are minimal.

All About Spelling: Andrew has been struggling with spelling, and I am so happy I found this program through the All About Learning Press. The website suggests starting with level one for new participants and I am glad that we did. Level One has been mostly a review and an introduction into the program, and has been going wonderfully. Andrew LOVES this program. He is gaining confidence in his spelling, and loves the hands-on approach this program has, just like with the math program. There are a variety of programs offered through this site, ranging from free clubs to more expensive (and intensive) programs. We are going to do a variety of these programs according to Andrew’s interests.

How about you? Do you homeschool year-round? If so, what are your plans? Let us know in the comments!


Just FYI: These are NOT affiliate links (meaning I am not compensated for sharing these links).

Our Curriculum Plans for the 2014-2015 School Year

In our family, we usually homeschool year round, although we take the month of August off and bigger chunks of time off during the rest of the year. Therefore, I usually take time in August to plan for the new year starting in September. This year, I decided to do my planning early so that I can really enjoy our time off in August, especially since my school year at Georgian Court University begins August 25.

Andrew enters fourth grade this year, and honestly, most of the resources we used last year we are using again, making this year’s planning pretty easy. 🙂

Math (Done Daily)

We are sticking with the RightStart Mathematics program. There are several reasons I like this program. First, it is an affordable and comprehensive program. Second, it is a hands-on curriculum with lots of manipulatives and games. Third, Andrew likes the program and that works for me!

Language Arts

We loosely follow the Charlotte Mason, and try to use “living books” and resources when possible.

Reading/Reading Comprehension – We get a variety of books from the library (our favorite place!) for Andrew to practice his reading. (Done Daily)

Handwriting – In the past I used to teach him cursive. Then I moved on to handwritingworksheets to create custom sheets for practice. Now that Andrew is getting better with cursive, my plan this year is to give him various writing prompts and have him write a paragraph or two or three…to help develop his creative thinking and writing skills. (Three times a week)

Grammar – We use the program. The lessons are short, with interesting stories to use for practice. (Daily)

Spelling – For third grade I used the k12reader spelling list and it worked well so we are using their 4th grade spelling list for this year. This is their list. (daily)

Science (daily)

Last year we focused on the planets and the solar system, and then we moved on to Earth science, including living and nonliving things, using a combination of and other resources gleaned from the library and online. This year Andrew is going to learn about the scientific method and then move on to chemistry (starting with the above website) which he has been asking to learn about for a while. He really wants to do some chemistry experiments!

History (3 days a week)

We  have been working through American History, and just recently finished learning about the Guilded Age. This year we are going to finish American History to the present and then move on to World History, starting with Canada, Central America and South America.

Geography (2 days a week)

Andrew has been learning the US states and capitals to go along with History; therefore, we will continue that trend and he will learn about Canada, Central America, and South America as we learn about them in History. We use geography games, such as Seterra which Andrew loves to play.

Physical Education (daily)

I try hard to make sure Andrew gets in some form of exercise and play every day. He also does basketball and this year he wants to play soccer. Also, the boys have an hour of physical education every week at the homeschool co-op with one of the dads where they focus on various sports and training.

Religious Education (daily)

I love our church’s religious education program and usually send him to CCD, but this year, my classes are on the same day, so I will homeschool for religious education. However, I will be using the books from the CCD program and working with them so that he gets “credit” for the time we work on it. Also, we read the bible together often, and of course we do our daily prayers. Andrew is working on learning the Hail Holy Queen.


I am not as consistent as I’d like, but I will also try to get time in for music appreciation, art appreciation, life skills and crafts.

Whew! That’s it. If you are looking for ideas for your homeschooling curriculum, I hope these will give you some suggestions and inspiration.


P.S. Just to let you know, in my Etsy shop I offer some planning worksheets (attendance record, weekly planners, and a literature list) that you may find helpful for planning your new homeschool year. Also, from now through August 31st, you can get 15% discount off anything in the shop when you use the code “BACKTOSCHOOL” (all caps, no quotes) during checkout. 🙂

Top 10 Scripture Verses to Memorize with Your Children

Memorize scripture with children

(This post, first published in 2010, continues to be very popular. I’ve added a pdf version so that you can print out the verses to use with your family. The link is at the end.)

One of the things we are doing is trying to memorize scripture with Andrew.  We want him to develop a love of scripture, encourage character development and promote growth of virtue. Normally, we make it part of our home-schooling day, but I’ve slacked off a bit over the summer. 🙂

It is a lot of fun learning scripture with Andrew! We make a game of it and we take turns testing each other. He gets a real kick out of “being the “teacher”. lol!

With our home-school starting up again, we are getting back on track. Here some of the scripture verses that we will be working on memorizing over this school year:

1. Colossians 3:20 “Children obey your parents in everything for this is pleasing to the Lord.”

2. Exodus 24:7 “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”

3. Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

4. 1 John 4:8 “God is love.”

5. Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

6. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

7. Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, as it is the wellspring of life.”

8. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave us His only begotten Son; so that anyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life.”

9. Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

10. Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His mercy endures forever.”

What about you? What are your favorite scripture verses? What favorite scripture verses are you memorizing with your family? Do share in the comments!

(This is linked to Top 10 Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)

UPDATE: I made a PDF out of these scripture verses in case you wanted to memorize some (or all) of them with your family. Rather than writing each one out, feel free to print out the PDF here: Scripture Verses to Memorize with Children No opt-in required.

Our Home Education Curriculum 2012-2013

Our Home Education 2012-2013

For kindergarten and first grade with used the complete Catholic Heritage Curricula. As I mentioned in my review of the program, I was very pleased with the program and was going to continue with Catholic Heritage for a few more years at least. I’ve changed my mind.

Oh, I’m still pleased with the program. I would still recommend Catholic Heritage to others. I kind of wish I could use the program again. The more I’ve prayed over it and reflected about our home education experience up until recently, though, I realized that I needed to make a change. A big change. The thing is, as much as I loved the program, it didn’t fit our needs, or Andrew’s way of learning or even Andrew’s personality.

So this year, I’ve put together my own home education program based on the Charlotte Mason method of teaching. I chose this method because I like the gentle, hands-on method of teaching, the short time periods for each lesson and the emphasis on living books and narration. I think this method will work well with Andrew. As a matter of fact, when I started showing Andrew what he will be doing for school he was so excited he wanted to skip camp and start school right away!

To put my curriculum together, I relied heavily on the inspiration and suggestions of the following websites: Simple Charlotte Mason,
The Ultimate Guide to Homeschool Scheduling, and Simply Convivial’s Homeschooling Planning, A year at a time series. I also used FiveJs year-at-a-glance calendar to get an overview of the whole school year. I am also adapting my own version of Amongst Lovely Things color-coded progress list, however, I am using last year’s version which I think will work better for me.

So, without further ado, Here is our plan for Andrew’s second grade curriculum:


Religious Education:

Bible Memorization (5 minutes)

Bible Reading (5-10 Minutes)

Little Acts of Grace (10-15 minutes)

Memorize the Apostle’s Creed (5-10 Minutes)


Right-Start Mathematics (20 minutes)

Chore payment counting and sorting (save, give, spend)

Language Arts:

“Delightful Reading” and spelling using my adapted method (15 minutes) – I am planning on getting the full curriculum for this soon. It just isn’t in our budget quite yet.

Handwriting practice by doing copy work (10 minutes)

Composition: (Writing a sentence or paragraph on a subject of choice. 5-10 minutes)

Narration: Reading a chapter from a book and having Andrew explain it back in his own words. (20-30 minutes)

Literature: Read-alouds as per our compiled list (done as part as our night-time routine. (Here’s the pdf if you want to print it to use for your family)


Pimsleur Spanish DVDs (30 minutes)

Physical Education:

Free play and/or directed play + weekly karate and weekly Co-op gym class


Drawing, sculpting, coloring, etc. (30 minutes)

Trice Weekly


Guest Hollow’s Little Otter’s home-school curriculum (30 minutes)


American History:

From Sea to Shining Sea for Children (30 minutes)

Supplemental videos and DVDs


Scrambled States of America the book and the board game.

Art Appreciation/biographies of artists:

Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Auguste Renoir (30 minutes)

Music/Music Appreciation:

Bach, Mozart, Beethoven (30 minutes)


CCD and First Communion Prep on Tuesdays 4-5 pm

Home-school co-op on Fridays 1-3pm

In case you want to print out this schedule in order to adapt for yourself, here’s a pdf copy of the curriculum in list form and a pdf copy in chart form.

I haven’t completely fleshed out all the books I will be using, especially for handwriting, composition and narration, but I have some idea. I will probably add these as we go along.

My next step is going to be putting together a daily schedule so I can figure out how I am going to fit in our home education with me going to back to college full time. It is going to be tight, but with God’s help it will work out! When I have the daily schedule finished I’ll put it up for you.

How about you? Is your home education curriculum solidified yet? What programs or curriculum are you using? Do share in the comments.


Teaching Kids How to Handle Money

Teacking Your Kids How to Handle Money

Yesterday, Dawn over at By Sun and Candlelight wrote a great post about Kids, Money and Chores. She asked the following questions:

” 1. Do you give your children an allowance, and if so, must they earn it by doing chores?

2. How do your children handle their money – deciding what to spend, save, and give?

3. Do your children have jobs outside the home?”

Great questions, no? I posted my answer over at Dawn’s blog, but I wanted to do so here as well for two reasons: 1. I can give a more comprehensive answer; and 2. I’d love to hear my readers (that would be you!) handle this topic with their children.

In my answer to Dawn’s first question I stated that we don’t give allowance – not exactly, anyway. Nor do we connect doing chores with getting paid – in a way. We kind of combine the two. There are certain chores that Andrew has to do (without pay) just because he is part of our family. These chores include making his bed, keeping his room clean, picking up after himself, putting his laundry away, setting the table before meals and helping to clear the table afterwards.

When those chores are done, and done well, then he can do other chores that he gets paid for. These chores include helping with the garden, sweeping or vacuuming the floor, dusting, or whatever else he and I come up with. The cost for each chore depends on the time and difficulty of a particular chore. What makes this different from an allowance is that he gets paid for the chore the same day, and not weekly. Sometimes he gets paid immediately after the chore and sometimes at the end of the day.

The reason we do this is because, well, it works for us! Andrew is only 7 (so obviously #3 is taken care of, he doesn’t work out of the home) and he likes the immediate reward of getting his money right away. He gets his money and makes a big deal out of counting the money (homeschool activity) and putting it in the band. When he gets older we will be switching to a weekly payment – with a twist (taking out “taxes” – more on that in a future post).

How does Andrew handle his money? We follow a system similar to Dave Ramsey. Andrew has three banks. Part of his money goes into a bank for saving, part of it goes into a bank for giving and the rest goes into a bank for spending or short-term saving. (Either this week or next I’ll do a post showing how this works.)

Our biggest challenge in teaching Andrew how to handle money is being consistent. I’m the frugal one in the family and Michael is for sure the spender – although he is MUCH better now of the last few years than ever before. We’ve done the Financial Peace University program and learned tons from it. We are doing our best to follow the principles laid out in the program. We’ve struggled, are struggling, financially but we are working on getting debt free and following the system the best we can. We want to teach Andrew by example and we want him to develop good money habits NOW while he is still young.

How are you teaching your kids how to handle money? Do you have a system in place or just ‘winging it”? How would you answer the above three questions? Leave your response in the comments.

Homeschooling During the Summer: What Does it Look Like?

Homeschooling During Summer

Do you homeschool year round? I don’t know many families who homeschool through the summer months, but we do. It is a decision my husband and I made back when we first talked about homeschooling (before we were even married). If you are curious about homeschooling throughout the summer, here’s my take on why I homeschool year round and a peek into our daily schedule.

Why homeschool during the summer?

  • I don’t want Andrew to lose the skills he learned during the “normal” school year. I remember when I was a kid and returning to school after the summer months when we spent up to a month re-learning everything that was forgotten during the summer. I don’t want that for Andrew. I want our review time to no more than a week or so.
  • Structure. I want to keep our days somewhat structured, with lots of flexibility, so there’s not too much down time that he gets “bored.” Plus, having a regular schedule and routine helps with Andrew’s behavior. He knows, for the most part, going into each day what is going to happen.
  • Life skills and projects. Homeschooling during the summer allows me to focus on teaching Andrew life skills and getting to the hands-on, “fun” projects we didn’t get to during the “regular” school year.
  • To keep Andrew reading. Andrew’s a little boy who is not a big fan of reading. He loves books and loves for me to read to him; but he doesn’t want to do the work of sounding out the words himself! It can be frustrating at times, but having him do school in the summer as part of his normal routine, he is less likely to fuss when it comes to practicing his reading.
  • We can take longer breaks during other parts of the year. We take the whole month of December off from school. We also take a longer Easter break and more days off throughout the year. Homeschooling throughout the summer allows us to take those longer breaks. (We do take the month of August off as well…)

What a typical summer homeschooling day looks like.

First of all, it is much more flexible than the rest of the year. We incorporate more field trips, hands-on learning and build our schooling into regular daily activities. We only do “formal” schooling Tuesday-Thursday which leaves Mondays and Fridays free. We also take the month of August off. And, Andrew will be going to camp for the first time this year. That said, here is our plan for the summer:

  • Reading and math using online games and worksheets, as well as flashcards. (Andrew loves flashcards.)
  • Spanish using the Pimsleur Method. It is an audio program only, so Andrew can get an ear for the language without having to worry about grammar or reading and writing the language.
  • Science using some really cool YouTube videos I found and small experiments.
  • Character building and life skills (such as small sewing projects and learning to “cook” small meals).

Do you homeschool year round? What does your summer curriculum look like? Do share in the comments!