School 2013-2014

This post is an update on our school year.  I took the “Learning Plans 2013-2014” and have updated what actually happened (in bold) next to what I’d planned (in italics).

Every year, I struggle with what we didn’t accomplish.  But I think we’re learning to make the most if the year we do have. (That’s a life skill, right?)  This year’s ups and down had so much to do with our move.  Living with my parents affected our physical fitness and the quantity of “work” we did, but we learned much about respect and communication and patience.  We deepened relationships.  We went to Guatemala and there, too, had to learn to be flexible with our expectations and to make the most of our opportunities.  This spring, we have had the gift of guests again, and we’ve been making the most of short bike rides and long-distance relationships.  So without further ado, here’s our year.

Jonah: 8th grade, Owen: 5th grade, Moriah: 4th grade, SweetP: Kindergarten (as she would say, at last!)
Bible: Last year we added more independent reading of the Bible (each child) as well as family reading and verse memorization. We’ll continue that this year. I would like each child to read a full gospel and an epistle. We read John and 1 & 2 Thessalonians.
Math: J: Intro to Statistics, O: Singapore Primary Math 6B/New Elementary Mathematics 1, M: Singapore Primary Math 4B/5A, P: Singapore Primary Math 1A (and maybe B, depending on how it goes). Jonah completed Intro to Statistics (fall) and College Algebra (spring). Owen completed 6B, Moriah completed 4B and 5A, and Phoebe is almost done with 1A.

Latin: Henle Year 2 (for J). He does this very independently. I am hoping to find him an online class or club to support him in it. He worked with a tutor in the fall, scored summa cum laude on the National Latin Exam Year 1 and continued working in the spring.
Spanish: Rosetta Stone Level 2 (O & M), and phrases for all of us. I’m planning to add in more written Spanish, starting with the worksheets from Rosetta Stone. Hard-to-quantify progress was achieved by all. We got a big boost from our tutors at Celas Maya Language School when we were in Guatemala.
On our tour of Takalik Abaj

Arabic: Rosetta Stone Level 1 (O&M) and special tutoring with Papa. Both Moriah and Owen have decided not to continue with Arabic for now. They were ready to quit in the winter, but I made them finish the year.

Writing: ETC 1 and copywork (1 word at a time) for P. Classical Composition for M & O (moving into Fable Stage) and Cheria/Maxim for J. I totally forgot that we were going to do copywork for Phoebe. She finished ETC 1 and Set 1 of the Bob books. We stopped the Classical Composition after the first semester., because it just wasn’t working for us. We did a lot of journaling and a weekly writing assignment about the books we read.  We used a CD game, Editor in Chief, to practice proofreading.


I would like to have them write 3-4 reports this year, though I haven’t decided which subject we will choose. Jonah did some formal reports, and all four kids wrote up their science projects.

Geography: US geography as it fits into the Civil War and nascent statehood; A Child’s Geography, Vol. 1 (Voskamp). We made it through about 5/6 of the way done with A Child’s Geography. I’m not sure how much they learned from it.

Programming: I’m not sure why I forgot to write this on the original plans, but I did. Owen has been working his way through Kidcoder: Game Programming and practicing what he’s learned on scratch. I think it’s working.

Music: We’ll continue with piano using Faber, and Composer Study: Haydn, Tchaikovsky, O’Connor, and Stravinsky. We continued playing piano but did no composer study.

Art: Picture Study of Copley and Manet. We didn’t do any formal picture study, either. We went to the art museum three times and really enjoyed all three exhibits, and we just went to see the Chiluly exhibit at the Denver Botanical Gardens.
Dale Chihuly’s Blue Boat:
Science: Apologia Astronomy (for O, M and P) and Apologia Biology for Jonah. Jonah’s favorite course this year was Apologia Biology. We finished the elementary astronomy book and made it to the planetarium once, but no one loved it. The younger three designed, executed and wrote up science experiments. We supplemented our reading by watching NOVA specials and Ted talks. Our favorites Ted talks: Multitasking and Dragonflies that Cross Oceans.  Our favorite NOVAs: Making Things (a series with David Pogue).

Finding out about acid and bones:


Nature Study: We plan on continuing our Nature Study walks and charting. I would like us to do Trees again in the fall and winter, and birds in the spring… as well as whatever else catches anyone’s eye. Our Nature Study was fairly limited this year. Highlights included the specimen trees planted in the parks by my parents’ house and a fuzzy black caterpillar we lost in their basement (and found 2 days later).  I guess having chicks counts in as studying birds, right?
Literature: Shakespeare, As You Like It. We found a good audio book version and enjoyed it. Poetry (hopefully every Friday)- I would like to read some Emily Dickinson, Carl Sandberg, and Walt Whitman. We read some poetry every Friday. Our favorite poets this year were Emily Dickinson, Carl Sandberg, and Edward Lear.


We managed a lot of reading, both as a group and independently. Starting in December, the three older kids had to read 3 non-fiction books a week (2 biographies and 1 other) and a novel. They did a good job with this. With Phoebe, my goal was to read her at least two illustrated books, apart from the longer books she listened to with us. Everyone else wants to listen to these, too, so we usually begin our read-aloud time with a picture book or three. We discovered a few favorites (marked by a *).
Our read-alouds included:

  • Strawberry Girl (Lenski)
  • Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (Willems)*
  • James Herriot’s Treasury for Children (Herriot)
  • The Library Lion (Knudson)*
  • Anne of the Island (Montgomery)
  • Just So Stories (Kipling)*
  • The Penderwicks (Birdsall)
  • Knuffle bunny: a cautionary tale (Willems)
  • Artemis Fowl: the Arctic Incident and The Time Paradox (both by Colfer)
  • The Princess and the Pea (Childs)*
  • Henry Higgins and the Clubhouse (Cleary)
  • The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag and A Wild Herring without Mustard (Bradley)
  • Dead End in Norvelt (Gantos)
  • Cinderelephant (Dodd)*
  • Little Women (Alcott)
  • The Queen of France (Wadham)*
  • By the Shores of Silver Lake (Wilder)
  • St Francis of Assisi (Kennedy)*

Individually, each of the kids read a mix of novels of their choice and mine.

History: As our History “spine,” we are back to Abraham Lincoln’s World by Genevieve Foster. Once I have our literature/history selections roughed out more fully, I will post them here. Our goal was to cover from the end of the Revolutionary War through the end of the Civil War. Here is the list of our history read-alouds:

  •  The Great Little Madison (Fritz)
  •  Hispanic Heritage: Wars of Independence (Sanchez)
  •  Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph de Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George (Ransome)
  •  The Wonder Child (Stanley)
  •  The Battle of the Alamo (Jeffrey)
  •  Lewis & Clark (Bertozzi)

All of these came before reading Foster’s Abraham Lincoln’s World, which took us most of the winter and spring (and was completely worth it).

At the Denver Art Museum


PE: I didn’t have this as a subject on our page of learning plans, but I think I should have. I will have it on next year’s plan! We didn’t do winter swim team and thus lost much of our fitness. We did take a lot of walks, and the boys really thrived on riding their bikes. My grand skiing plans were a bust… although we did ski in the end, and we did enjoy it. Owen did cross-country in the fall, but half his season was canceled because of the flood. In the spring, Owen played volleyball, and the girls played soccer.

Service and Job Training: This is another section I wish I had planned more intentionally, and I will in the future. Despite the catch-as-catch-can nature of our service this year, we learned a fair amount. The boys worked for Meals on Wheels with my dad. The children continued to donate money to buy rice for the refugees near us. Owen & Moriah participated in the 30 Hour Famine through World Vision. And we learned about Guatemala and served some there.

On our tour of the Catedral de Santiago in Antigua, Guatemala


I’m not sure where else to put this, but Jonah took the Red Cross Babysitter’s Training Course (hooray for an in-house babysitter!!). Owen and Moriah both volunteer with the nursery at our church. It seems like it should come naturally, but actually we have to learn to pay attention to other people’s needs. Who knew?

Next week I hope to post our plans for 2014-15, and it will appear as a page on the sidebar.  (At some point, I’ll post a book list of the history books the kids read independently, but right now those lists are in my bedroom in a pile of paper so big it makes me want to cry.)


One thought on “School 2013-2014

  1. I’m saving this post in feedly, I love book list posts, when I read that your lists were nearly making you cry, I almost cried because mine are too.

    Before K leaves for college, I want to figure out how to plan a homeschool year without all the angst. At least I do enjoy the day the box of new books arrives.

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