Our Curriculum this School year.

This year I was able to attend a homeschool convention and at the Geography Matters vendor booth I found our treasure for this year!

I really like the idea of unit studies in home education as it eases my workload with multiple students and keeps us all on the same learning path together.  I have tried other unit studies and they overwhelmed me with too many options of exploring the subject matter. An overwhelmed or confused mind says no, so we ended up searching for new ways of learning and that was expensive and frustrating for me. I was looking for SIMPLE and FUN in our learning path this year, and yet something that would still CHALLENGE their minds and grow their character.

Here’s what we ended up with:

For 5th grade:

  • Our core unit study- Cantering the Country,  encompasses everything we need except for math. Find it at www.geomatters.com.  This has each of the 50 states in it, an overview of their history and important facts, a list of resources for the state in general and then suggested significant people in history from that state to study, science of their state bird, tree, rock, flower; and character of their state motto or pledge.
  • We are weak in our language arts so I also have Learning Language Arts Through Literature- the Purple book, to enhance this part of our studies.
  • The Word of Life Quiet Time will be our family Bible core, even John and I have one and no matter what age, we all read the same passage. Our church is starting Word of Life Clubs this year too so it will help the kids with that program as well and we’ll have more accountability in our verse memorization too. I’m really excited about this part of our program!
  • Go Science is a 6 pack DVD set I bought from Vision Forum ministries. It has high energy science demonstrations that also have spiritual applications to point to our Creator. My 5th grader has a major hunger for experiments that I can never seem to satisfy so I am hoping that watching these will excite all of us to try them ourselves when possible or be happy some days, just watching his demonstration.
  • Math is going back to A Beka Arithmetic. We tried Teaching textbooks last year, and while he loved the computer aspect of it and many days voluntarily did more than one lesson, I felt it was leaving gaps in his math program that had been so strong with A Beka since preschool. We are actually finishing a 4th grade book before I even purchase 5th grade because I feel like he had too much fluff math and not enough of the clues and foundation that he will need in the coming years.
  • Eat your Way Through the USA is a cookbook that can also be found at www.geomatters.com. Our kids love to help in the kitchen and this adds to the sensory learning aspect of going through each state in our unit study!

1st Grade:

  • Cantering the Country unit study.
  • A Beka Arithmetic 1
  • Learning Language Arts Through Literature, the Blue Book.
  • Word of Life Quiet Time.


  • Cantering the Country Unit Study, this is for 1st-5th grade but she is very capable of learning with us.
  • Word of Life Quiet Time – Gopher Buddies.
  • A Beka Arithmetic K

That’s it! That is our core curriculum. I am looking into electives like Spanish and Art for them as well and have my eye on two in particular. (I’ll share later)

We’ll be doing lap books for each state each week (some states may take more time, some less) and I am hoping to have the kids do presentations each week on Skype for family members to:  1. help solidify what they’ve learned by sharing it, and 2. help them grow in being confident presenters.

We are doing school at the kitchen table and anywhere else we are led this year too, we tried a school room but I think we all felt suffocated in there so it is pretty much empty now. 🙂

Hope you enjoyed a peek inside our school cabinet! It also has fun preschool activities inside for our 2-year-old, but she is so little that the most important thing for her is beneficial busy-ness like coloring, puzzles, starting with scissors, glue sticks, and singing songs that teach too. 🙂

No matter what, I want to instill a desire to learn in our children. I want them to love discovery and look at each turn of the page as an exciting adventure. I know not all school is fun for every learner, and we definitely have areas to improve in, such as writing, spelling, and even reading, but the important thing for me is to keep trying to find the style that will click with them and pursue it. I think we found it this year and I am so thankful for that.

My homeschool convention journey…

This year I attended the HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) convention in Richmond, VA. We use to live in that area so the 10, almost 11 hour trip for this wonderful convention and the opportunity to see an old friend again and some family was completely worth it.

My husband couldn’t get the time off work so the kids and I made a whole week of the trip and spent Tuesday driving, Wednesday playing with cousins in the pool, Thursday through Saturday in Richmond for the convention, visiting a good friend,  and hotel pool play, and Sunday at church with family and pool time again. Monday was a big day filled with going to the National Zoo in D.C. and taking a boat tour of some of the D.C. monuments.  It was a long day but lots of fun! (Other than the massive headache I ended it with that made it hard to even move or see straight…I’m thankful those don’t hit often)

The convention wasn’t what I originally dreamed it would be for me… a complete mommy break with me slowly strolling the convention booths and thoughtfully considering the plethora of choices that are presented. (whew! That was a sweet dream, but not a practical one!)

Instead, I had our four blessings with me, we drove around the 6 block radius of the convention hall for almost a half hour looking for available parking, stomachs were hungry after walking through one aisle. One! Ha! So we took a break within the first 20 minutes and spilled our drinks, chips, and various other munchies in the table area.

I made a decision after realizing that going to sessions wasn’t practical with four kids to purchase the convention MP3’s and that decision was so very freeing to me. I didn’t have to be upset that I was missing encouragement and refreshment or new ideas, I’d get them later and focus on enjoying my children now. I’m so thankful I did that!

God cares about my heart and wanted me to enjoy the children that I had been dreaming of having an escape from! We all had a great time, the boys enjoyed controlling Robots and getting their “robot drivers license”, the girls made bracelets, we played with puppets, watched amazing young jugglers, shopped the massive used curriculum, and my highlight was getting to meet Debbie Strayer.

I really had not heard of her before, but God knew she was exactly who I needed to speak with and be encouraged through. Debbie is the author of Gaining Confidence to Teach, and the co-author of the Trailguide to Learning series. (there are more too, but those are the key one’s I’ve looked at) 🙂  I spent a lot of time (at least the kids thought so) at her Geography Matters booth and even left after one conversation and came back in an hour or so for more.  She was friendly, understanding, empathetic, and offered practical solutions laced with grace and wisdom. She felt like someone I could easily spend hours at the kitchen table chatting with and an oasis to me as I have felt my soul to be in an emotional desert for some time. (especially in the long dark winters of our north country dwelling place)

I began reading her Gaining Confidence to Teach last night as it just came in the mail and within the first 3 pages she showed me again why I so enjoyed our short conversations together. Her daughter put it best… “She lives in the real world, she knows things aren’t always perfect”. (her daughter told me this when I was going to have the children apologize to Debbie for her having to sit them down and stop a squabble)

That’s it! That’s why I connected with her, I love transparent and real people. She is a woman who understands that life happens and chooses to allow God to teach through those happenings and make her a more effective ministry to others for Him. It’s what I desire, what I’ve been taught by wise leaders in my youth, to take each moment good or bad, and to glorify God because of it.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Some people think we as Christians shouldn’t share when we are having a hard day or season or when we are struggling in certain areas, but in truth, in hiding our own weaknesses we are hiding the ability for others to see God at work in us.  I’m not saying we should be complaining or moping, or constantly negative, but things happen in life that aren’t fun! IF we are vigilant to seek God’s will for each happening, we are bound to bring glory to Him, or perhaps someone else may be able to help our perspective change to see His hand. I desire to always be willing to be used by God, even  if I feel inadequate. According to the above verse it would show God’s power even more greatly if I know that I was weak so that His power would be perfected.