We had just begun our second year of homeschool curriculum, when Sugar Plum arrived unexpectedly. We choose to homeschool year round to allow for breaks at any point in the year (vacations are much less stressful when everyone else is in school) and having a structured day and schedule has always been beneficial for both of our kiddos.
Our homeschool is quite eclectic. When we decided to take the step towards homeschooling, I searched for months trying to find the perfect curriculum. After realizing a prepackaged curriculum wasn’t going to work for our kids, I picked each subject individually. I decided to combine a classical approach (I love the concept of learning stages) with a bit of Charlotte Mason approach (living books and nature).
After completing our first year, there were not many changes I wanted to make to our curriculum. I really felt that the curriculum we used fit our kids learning style well.
This made the choices for our curriculum easier the second year. Here’s a breakdown of what we are using for first and second grade.
Math – Horizon’s Math
The kids liked Horizon’s math, it was taught in a simple manner, had colorful pages and problems. I liked that it used a circular approach, bringing different concepts in and out so they didn’t get bored with repetition of concepts after they’d mastered them, but they would come back as a refresher a few lessons later. We played some extra games and did some fun activities to make math more fun and really make the concepts stick. The kids seemed to do well throughout and by the end of the year I felt we’d made great progress.
Grammar – First Language Lessons
The memorization, dictation, copywork and lessons in First Language Lessons appealed to me from my initial research. I was not disappointed. Sunshine excelled with this last year and even Mister Man caught many of the concepts from listening in while I was teaching Sunshine. We did some extra activities, last year, in addition to the lessons to make it a bit more fun and I plan to continue that this year as well. I believe any hands on task helps them grasp the concepts. This year, Sunshine will be tackling year 2 and Mister Man will delve into year 1, although I do think he will fly through it since he grasped much of the content last year.
Writing – Writing With Ease
I used this loosely last year without the workbooks and I am hoping to get more from it this year. We will also add writing prompts for our journal efforts. I did love how this worked along with First Language Lessons.
Spelling – Spelling Workout
The kids LOVED Apologia Astronomy last year. The only change we are making in regards to the way we are handling science is instead of using their notebooking we are making our own with more gluing, coloring, hands on activities. My kids are not fans of writing, and the junior notebook was heavy on writing. I have found many resources to supplement for the note booking aspect.
We really enjoyed Mystery of History last year. It was a lot of information for our 4 & 5 year old, buy I still feel like they got a lot out of it. I spent some time finding supplementary books and activities to make the more major events/people stick in their minds and I intend to do this again with this volume as well.
Geography – 50 States
This is something I don’t use a set curriculum to teach. Last year we focused on the whole world and memorized countries, capitals and continents. I started with the world, because I wanted my kids to realize there is more out there than just the USA. This year we are starting the USA. We will be memorizing states and capitals, eating local cuisine (Eat Your Way Through the USA), reading living books about the states/regions, as well as note booking with fun activities. I also purchased a few supplemental activity books, that will add to our note booking efforts.
Religion – Book of Saints and Finding God
This is one area we are changing up a bit. We used Faith and Life last year, and while I feel like the kids got a lot out of it, it was very boring. This year we will be trying Loyola Press Finding God, I’m hoping this will keep their interest better while still teaching them as much. Religion is definitely one area I do not want them to be bored, their faith is one thing I want them excited about. While religion is only the start of their faith journey, if they’re excited about it, hopefully that excitement will develop throughout their lives.
Latin – Sing Song Latin
Put anything to music and my kids are excited. That’s precisely why I went with this curriculum for Latin. I’m excited to see this in action. I have never taken Latin so we will be learning together, which is exciting!
Reading is very flexible each day they must read 30 minutes out loud, any book they choose on their level and one below their level (read to Sugar Plum). They also read a lot of the textbooks/living books during each subject.
Last year we focused on different artists and composers, read some living books and looked/listened to their work. This year for art we are talking about the technical aspects: color, subject, medium, etc. It will be less of a structured experience and more open to experimentation in their artwork using different techniques. We are not using a set curriculum for art, but have instead chosen to focus on more art projects and fun to grasp the concepts. I hope it will open their eyes to different options in their art.
For music Sunshine takes piano lessons and Mister Man is beginning work with rhythm. We will continue to listen to different composers during our school day and I always pick up some living books about music and art from the library. We will also add in some fun activities throughout the year to emphasis important points.
So that’s our curriculum for this coming year. Now it’s your turn. What curriculum are you using this year?