Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Year 5 school plan (2016-2017, age 10)

Here it is, our annual plan! Our homeschool is secular, classically designed (based loosely on the Well Trained Mind), and not at all grade centered—we do things depending on Calvin's pace and interest level.

I will come back through the year, or at least at the end, to update our progress.
X indicates an accomplished goal
+ indicates an added goal or activity/resource

June 2016-June 2017
Age 10 (public school grade 5)

Building Foundations in Scientific Understanding Vol. 3 (we'll spend at least two years with this book)

Technology and Engineering
Snap Circuits Student Guide (with Snap Circuits Pro SC-500 kit)
Javascript for Kids
Lego Mindstorms (beginning with Geek Mom's lesson plans and branching out from there)

The Arts
Drawing with Children on level three (first term)
Artistic Pursuits grades 4-5 (second term)
X Art and theater classes through our homeschooling group
Piano Adventures Level 5 (plus Performance, Theory, and Pop Rep)
X Public school band classes—clarinet (twice weekly rehersals, plus performances)
X Boychoir of Ann Arbor (twice weekly rehersals, plus performances)

Physical Education
X Twice weekly dance classes: tap and ballet
Biking, running, or yoga twice weekly depeding on weather
Hiking several times a month  

Math and Logic
Math-U-See Geometry
Perplexors Level E 
Building Thiking Skills Level 2 (first term) 
Red Herring Mysteries Level 1 (second term)
Mind Benders Book 4 (second term)

Language Arts:  
Avancemos Level 1 Homeschool Package plus the Cuaderno

MCT Level 4 Grammar of Literature plus the practice book
MCT Level 4 Vocabulary of Literature
MCT Level 4 Poetry of Literature
MCT Level 4 Writing of Literature

Assigned (mostly read-alouds) for discussion and analysis (one or two a month):
Moby Dick
David Copperfield
The Red Badge of Courage (with Novel Ties study guide)
Frankenstein (also Gris Grimly's version)
War of the Worlds (possibly this version)
A Christmas Carol 
Silent Spring
All Quiet on the Western Front (with Novel Ties study guide)
Paradise Lost (with this plain english assist)
A Separate Peace (with Novel Ties study guide)
Animal Farm (with Novel Ties study guide

Social Studies 

Draw the USA (first term)
Draw Europe (second term)

Story of the World Volume 4 with the student workbook (I'm not sold on this curriculum: it's too biased and not secular enough, but we've been successfully using it as a backbone and supplementing with literature, living history books, and documentaries as the true meat of our study).

Supplementary reading for history (about 1 book per week; we won't get through all of these but will choose at least one per topic area):
Where Soldiers Lie, Wilson, John
Begumbagh, George Manville Fenn
The Sebastopol Sketches, Leo Tolstoy
Out with Garibaldi, G.A. Henty
The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily, Dino Buzzati
Rebels of the Heavenly Kingdom, Katherine Patterson
Flags of War and X Battle Scars, John Wilson
Stories of Young Pioneers, ed. Violet Kimball
At Her Majesty's Request, Walter Dean Myers
The Shadows of the Ghadames, Joelle Stolz
Nory Ryan's Song and X Maggie's Door, Patricia Reilly Giff
Journey to the River Sea, Eva Ibbotson
Where the Flame Trees Bloom, Alma Flor Ada
Caddie Woodlawn, Carol Ryrie Brink
Ties that Bind, Ties that Break, Lensey Namioka
The Night Journey, Kathryn Laksy
The Wave, Todd Strasser
China's Long March, Jean Fritz
Bud Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis
The Bread Winner, Deborah Ellis
Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
The War that Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Twenty and Ten, Claire Hutchet Bishop
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Eleanor Coerr
Hiroshima, Laurence Yep
Escape to West Berlin, Maurine Dahlberg
The Year of Impossible Goodbyes, Sook Nyul Choi
The Fire Eaters, David Almond
Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone, ed. Joyce Carol Thomas
Escape from Saigon, Andrea Warren
Phoenix Rising, Karen Hesse
Red Scarf Girl, Ji-li Jiang
China's Son, Da Chen


Year 4 school plan (2015-2016, age 9)

Our homeschool is secular and classically designed. It is based somewhat off the the suggestions in the Well Trained Mind, but we don't pay a lot of attention to grade expecations; instead we follow Calvin's pace and interests to determine where we are and what we are doing each year.

I will come back through the year, or at least at the end, to update our progress. An X means the goal was accomplished (or the book read), a + indicates was an added goal. No marks mean we did not accomplish or dropped the goal.

June 2015-June 2016
Age 9 (public school grade 4)

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Volume II (this is our second year with the book and we will probably finish it) (completed)

Typing with Mavis Beacon (completed)
X Blog upkeep 
+X Gaming (mainly Minecraft)

The Arts
Piano Adventures Level 4 Lesson, Performance, Theory, Technique, and Pop Rep (finished)
Piano Adventures Level 5 Lesson, Performance, Theory, and Pop Rep (started)
X Boychoir of Ann Arbor (twice weekly practice)

How to Teach Art to Children  (completed)
X Photography: Capture Your 365
X Classes through our homeschooling group (theater, sculpting)

Math-U-See Algebra I (completed)
Perplexors Level D (completed)
+X More Perplexors Level D (completed)
Orbiting with Logic (completed)

Physical Education
X Running or biking twice weekly (only in good weather)
X Gym once weekly through our homeschooling group (first term only)
X Dance class once weekly: Musical Theater

Language Arts
Foreign Language 
Spanish for Children B (completed)

Spelling Workout Level H (completed)
Michael Clay Thompson's Level 3: the Voyage Series: (all books completed)
MCT Grammar Voyage and Practice Voyage
MCT Caesar's English II
MCT Essay Voyage
MCT A World of Poetry 

Reading: in addition to choice and history supplementary reading, we will have one to two assigned books per month, many of which we will read aloud together and discuss, some of which will also have accompanying study workbooks. 
Holes, Louis Sachar (with study guide)
X The Yearling, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (with Novel Ties study guide)
The Canterville Ghost, Oscar Wilde
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beacher Stowe (with study guide)
Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
Treasure Island and X Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson
The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare (with Novel Ties study guide)
Kim, Rudyard Kipling
The Last of the Mohicans, George Fenimore Cooper
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin
The Secret Garden, Francis Hodgson Burnett (with Novel Ties study guide)
The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy
The Invisible Man, H.G. Wells 

History and Geography
The Story of the World Volume 3 and Activity Book (we use this as a backbone only and supplement heavily with reading and video materials)

Supplementary history reading (about 1 book a week; we won't get to all of these, but will pick at least one title per topic area):
X indicates read, + indicates added/ to the list mid-year (and read)
I, Juan de Pareja, Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
The Wheel on the School, Meindert DeJong
Pocahontas, Joseph Bruchac
The Broken Blade, William Durbin
The Samurai's Tale, Erik C. Haugaard
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Kate Douglas Wiggin
Grimm's Fairy Tales, Grimm
The Cat Who Went to Heaven, Elizabeth Coatsworth
Rama and Sita, David Weitzman
A Journal of the Plague Year, Daniel Defoe
German Hero-Sagas, Barbara Leonie Picard
Egg & Spoon, Gregory Maguire
Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare
Mr. Revere and I, Robert Lawson
Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes
My Brother Sam is Dead, James Lincoln Collier
Ben and Me, Robert Lawson
In the Reign of Terror, G.A. Henty
Kashtanka, Anton Chekhov
Lyddie, Katherine Patterson
The Monkey King, Aaron Shepard
The Gate in the Wall, Ellen Howard
Midnight is a Place, Joan Aiken
The Courage of Sarah Noble, Alice Dalgiesh
Lewis and Clark and Me, Laurie Myers
Streams to the River, River to the Sea, Scott O'Dell
The Legend of Lord Eight Deer, John M.D. Pohl
Nightjohn, Gary Paulson
The Journal of Jesse Smoke, Joseph Bruchac
Only the Names Remain, Alex W. Bealer
The Whale Rider, Witi Ihimaera
The Call of the Wild, Jack London
+ White Fang, Jack London
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple, Karen Cushman
By the Great Horn Spoon!, Sid Fleischman




Weekly book shelf, 11/14/14

This week in history: Vikings! (SOTW ch. 14)

We have used many books in the "Biographies from Ancient Civilizations" series, and I keep coming back to them. They provide information that is far more detailed, and far more correct, than that which is provided by Story of the World. In this chapter in particular I was disappointed by several pieces of misleading, if not outright incorrect, information. We relied on Erik the Red a lot this time around, and really enjoyed reading it together.

This happy little Usborne book really caught Calvin's fancy; he drew long houses and dragon boats all afternoon after reading it. Focused more on their general way of life than on the details of any particular Norsemen, this picture book is full of charming cartoon-like sketches and good-natured humor.

East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon is a collection of traditional Norse fairy and folk tales. It reads with the same dark magic as books like Lang's Fairy Books, or the works of Grimm brothers. Wild tales with unimaginable hardships and unforeseen outcomes. The old tales didn't at all shy away from death and disfigurement. They're fascinating, and we really enjoyed them together.

And because he couldn't get enough of Vikings this week, Calvin also read two books about them for his free reading. Beorn the Proud is anther title from the "Living History Library" series. It is the story of a young girl who believes she was the only survivor after her town was destroyed by Viking invaders. She is taken captive, and is eventually befriended by a Viking boy. Calvin couldn't put this book down, but he found large parts of it heartbreaking. Thankfully it comes with a happy ending.

And Life as a Viking is a choose your own adventure type of book (from the "You Choose Warriors" series). These books are truly just for fun, but fun they certainly are. Since there are books from several different eras we will probably pick up others as we wend our way through history. Just for fun.

In science this week: protecting our food and other things from fungi and bacteria (BFSU2 B-17). All of our energy was focused on seeing and understanding this time, rather than reading, so hands-on activities instead of books.

But in literature this week, a fun treat. In Building Poems we were studying Rime Royal, so we read Chaucer's Parlement of Foules together. I read it aloud from a modern English translation while Calvin followed along with an Olde English approximation. When we reach Chaucer in history we will revisit the poem again, and if we're lucky that will be around Valentine's Day.

Lastly, Calvin is still making his way through the "Chronicles of Prydain" series, this week devouring book three, The Castle of Llyr. He really loves these books and has been heard wandering around the house pretending to be one or another of the characters and talking to others. Our home is a great forest of adventure these days.

Lastly, we are still reading The Subtle Knife together most night's before bed.


Weekly book shelf, 11/7/14

This week in history: Charlemagne (SOTW2 ch. 13).

Two main books this week. This first we didn't read in its entirety, but only large sections of. These books are great in information, not so hot on delivery—they are too much like the overly busy DK books with multiple side bars and insets and too many odd icons cluttering things up. But they are a good source of factual instead of fanciful information.

The Son of Charlemagne is historical fiction. It comes from the "Living History Library", a series of about fifty historical fiction biographies from a wide variety of eras. The series is endorsed by Christian homeschooling sites everywhere, and I believe it was written for that exact purpose, so the stories are clean and tend to have a bit of that bias, but they are well written and enlightening, really bringing the time period to life for the young reader. This is not the first book from the series that we've used, and I know that Calvin has found them easy to read and hard to put down. They make great supplementary history reading, but some are hard to find in libraries.

In science this week we were still in the land of the decomposers (BFSU2 lesson B-16), so we were still using Steve Parker's Molds, Mushrooms, & Other Fungi. We also used a few mushroom field guides just for fun.

For his reading comprehension notebook this week, Calvin flew through The Black Cauldron. In this second book in "The Chronicles of Prydain", Taran continues his quest to become a hero with a number of friends, new and old. Together they must find a way to destroy the Black Cauldron so that the evil Arawn can no longer use it to raise the evil army of the dead. Adventure packed and very exciting, it's easy to see why this series has remained in print for so long.

And some extra reading: "The Secrets of Droon" book series. I think he read the whole series this week, getting one pile of books after another from the library. These books are really easy reading, and pretty poorly written. I consider them the junkiest of junk food reading. But they are an imaginative world of magic, which is something that Calvin loves, and I don't believe a little junk food reading has ever hurt anyone.

And we're still reading The Subtle Knife before bed at night.


Weekly book shelf, 10/31/14

In history this week, The Story of the World took us to the time of Tariq bin Ziyad and the Islamic invasion of Spain. One of the things I've been increasingly disappointed with in SOTW is its bias—its white, male, Christian bias. It's a continuous problem in all history books for children, really, so to this week's schedule I added some reading on the Islamic faith and what it means to be a Muslim. Muslim Child came highly recommended, oddly enough, by the SOTW. It is a collection, as it says, of stories and poems about the Islamic faith. It is written fairly well and illustrated with tasteful sketches in black and white, but it did come across as proselytizing, or felt a bit like propaganda to me. At least we are learning quite a bit about bias in general.

In science this week we tackled the world's decomposers (BFSU2 B16). For comparison of the various kingdoms, in particular the animal and plant kingdoms, we used Flowering Plants and Mammals from the Classifying Living Things series. For the main portion of our week study, though, we used Steve Parker's Molds, Mushrooms, & Other Fungi. All of these are great books for understanding the criteria that determine kingdom classification, and for deeper study of Kingdom, and more detailed, classification.

For his reading comprehension notebook this week, Calvin picked The Book of Three. It's the first in the five book series, The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. Taran, a young pig-farmer, is chasing a runaway pig when he meets a prince, and thus begins his quest to become a hero. Calvin was unable to put this one down.



Calvin was also reading Carl Sandberg's Rutabaga Stories. It was a favorite of my dad's when he was little, so when we found his old copy, Calvin decided to give it a try. It's a collection of stories that display Sandberg's talent for the truly absurd. And hilarious.