Monday, August 3, 2015

Year 4 in Our Home :: Overview

We've been living with these plans for a month now and they feel like a great fit, so I'm ready to share them here.  These are my fourth grade plans for my two oldest, Vincent and Gianna.

As always, we draw heavily from Ambleside Online's wonderful bookslists.  These are based on their Year 4 programme.  Their site has weekly breakdowns for the whole year, as well as exams and study guides for some of them, so be sure to take a look!  (My booklist here is posted with permission from Ambleside Online.)  

I have marked the portions of our schedule that are directly from AO in blue.  The rest are my own selections.  Portions marked in pink are are not narrated, either because they are added readings for just my older two or because they are part of our Morning Basket and done as a family.  (More about that below.)

ReligionBible - Acts of the Apostles in Schuster's Bible History (Term 1), two epistles from the Douay-Rheims Bible (Terms 2 and 3)

Saints and Catholic History -  Lomask's Isaac and the Indians  (Term 1), Demarest's The First Californian (Term 2), Garnett's The Red Bonnet (Term 3)

Spiritual Reading -  Hunt's The First Christians (Term 1), Mother Mary Loyola's Hail Full of Grace (Term 2), Mother Mary Loyola's Forgive Us Our Trespasses (Term 3)

Mass - St. Augustine Press' Treasure and Tradition

Catechism - St. Joseph's New Catechism No. 1

Liturgical Year - Flos Sanctorum

World - George Washington's World, A Child's History of the World, Our Island Story

National - Marshall's This Country of Ours

Biographies - Daugherty's Poor Richard (Term 1), Abigail Adams (Term 2 and 3)

Catholic - saints by time period as listed in religion, 
The Catholic Faith Comes to the Americas

Keeping of Timeline and Century Chart
Natural History
and Science
Kingsley's Madam How and Lady Why
Fabre's The Story-book of Science

Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas
GeographyHolling's Minn of the Mississippi 

World - Hillyer's Child's Geography of the World

State - O'Dell's The Cruise of the Arctic Star (one section weekly)

Weekly mapwork - formal Keeping of maps of the Thirteen Colonies (This Country of Ours), California (The Cruise of the Arctic Star and The First Californian), and the Mississippi River (Minn); noting of places mentioned in other readings on printed maps of Europe and America

Map drills - countries of Asia, countries of North America, cities of California
LiteratureShakespeare - Much Ado About Nothing (Term 1), Midsummer Night's Dream (Term 2), A Winter's Tale (Term 3)

Plutarch / Citizenship - Marcus Cato (Term 1), Philopoemen (Term 2), TBD (Term 3)

Robinson Crusoe (Term 1 and 2), Kidnapped (Term 2 and 3), The Incredible Journey and various short stories (Term 3)
PoetryTennyson (Term 1), Dickinson (Term 2), Wordsworth (Term 3)
Music StudyBrahms (Term 1), Shubert (Term 2), Palestrina (Term 3)
Readings from Opal Wheeler book for each composer
Art StudyVelazquez (Term 1), Corot (Term 2), Waterhouse (Term 3)
Readings from Hillyer's A Child's History of Art 
ArtWeekly art lesson with instructor
Daily drawing drill
MusicWeekly piano lesson and daily practice
Nature StudyWeekly nature study outing and journal entry

Monthly object lesson and in-the-field sketching session focusing on Trees with our nature study group

Keeping a Calendar of Firsts as a family
ItalianDaily work, one unit each month, including songs, games, rhymes, picture narration, conversation and review

Written work including translation and copywork twice a week

Amy Steedman's Legends of Italy
LatinWritten and oral work twice a week from Getting Started with Latin
HandicraftsCooking (Term 1), more sewing with felt (Term 2), wet felting (Term 3)
Language ArtsCopywork - daily cursive practice with Startwrite pages, weekly print entry in Prose and Poetry Copybook

Dictation - one studied dictation passage weekly

Grammar - discussion of parts of a sentence alongside dictation work and Latin
Daily math drill from one of the following - Wrap-ups, Singapore Challenging Word Problems, topical worksheet printed from

Daily lesson - Jacobs' Algebra/Singapore 6B

Weekly lesson - from 
RightStart Level G

Occasional supplement in lieu of lesson - from Challenge Math or Math Olympiad 
Free ReadingPulling from Ambleside Online's Year 4 free reading list with lots of additions for my book-loving kids
Scheduled Free Reading
Together -  The Secret Garden (Term 1)Swallows and Amazons (Term 2), Gone Away Lake (Term 3)

Independent -  Bambi (Term 1)Calico Captive (Term 2)Johnny Tremain (Term 3)
Other Assignments and ProjectsReading Log
Physical Education - Calisthenics during memory work, weekly run with Mommy
Typing - twice weekly using
Memory WorkBible - The Parable of the Salt and Light, the Ten Commandments, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Christmas Story in Luke 2 (continued from last year)

Poetry - from each term's poets

Hymns - Veni Creator Spiritus, St. Michael Byzantine chant, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming, Veni Veni Emmanuel, Dear Guardian of Mary, Adoremus Te Christe

Folk Songs - Scarborough Fair, The Ballad of Davy Crockett, Red River Valley, Lavender's Blue, Billy Boy, O Dear What Can The Matter Be, Goodnight Irene, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Come Along Little Dogeys

Shakespeare - from plays read

Prayers - Confiteor in Latin, O St. Joseph, Divine Mercy prayers, Apostles Creed in Latin, St. Alphonsus' Night Prayer, Words of Consecration in English and Latin

Some notes about our Year 4 plans:

:: Not-Narrated Readings.  As I mentioned, the selections in pink are not narrated, most of the time because they are part of our Morning Basket but occasionally because they are additional independent reading for my older two.  I do like to add a bit of reading to the schedule since they are such eager bookworms, but I usually don't ask them to narrate it.  So I suppose it is more a method of directing their plentiful free reading time rather than adding schoolwork, if that makes sense.

:: Italian.  I will also write more about our Italian plans soon as they are more robust this year.  Now that Gianna and Vincent are a bit older, I'm adding in some written work, which they are loving!  We're also added in a few new resources that are livening up this year's studies, and I'm doing a weekly prep session that is keeping forward momentum going.  I only hope it lasts. ;)

:: Language Arts.  We have some additions to our Language Arts this year: dictation and grammar.  I could mention Latin here too, because I'm finding that it all ties together quite nicely.  I'm printing their dictation passage for the week as a cursive copywork page.  I also print a couple extra easy-to-read copies for them to study from and for us to use for grammar chat, finding subjects and verbs and whatnot.

We're also continuing copywork, obviously, but we have moved to cursive only.  (Last year we alternated between  print and cursive.)  They are still doing cursive on pre-made sheets using Startwrite, and then they have a weekly entry scheduled in their Prose and Poetry notebook, which is printed.  And we added in typing twice a week, which has been a huge hit.

:: Math.  Both of them are still accelerated in math, so I'm just trying to keep up!  Gianna finished RightStart Level E last year and spent the last half working through Singapore 5A/B.  This year she's finishing up Singpore 6A/B, and then she'll move into the same book Vincent is using, Jacobs Algebra (he started in Jacobs last year after I decided that he really didn't need a pre-algebra program).  We'll see if it's as good a fit for her as it has been for him!  If not, I have the Key to Algebra set on my shelf, so we can try that as well.  They are also doing one worksheet from RightStart's hands-on geometry program (Level G) together once a week, using the drawing tools that they used in the other RS levels.  This is something they are able to together and is a nice break from traditional math.  And they have a five-minute review drill each day on math facts or calculations.

:: Religion.  I am really excited about our Catholic supplements this year!  I was wanting to add more Marigold Hunt and more Mother Mary Loyola to our schedule after really enjoying their books for the past couple years.  We read Hunt's Book of Angels and St. Patrick's Summer and Mother Loyola's First Communion last year; this year we're doing Hunt's The First Christians and Mother Loyola's Hail Full of Grace and Forgive Us Our Trespasses.  The first book ties nicely in with our study of the Acts and Epistles this year, so we're reading through the companion chapters in Schuster's Bible History alongside.  And Mother Loyola's books will fit nicely into our liturgical year as I have the first planned for Christmastime and the second for Lent.

They are also reading a couple pages weekly from a book focused on the history and celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass: Treasure and Tradition by St. Augustine Press.  My husband and I have found a few small misprints/errors in this book, but the spreads are lovely and the rest of the content is solid.  I can't think of another book quite like it.  It's not a living book in the traditional sense, so I'm not asking my children to narrate it.  But they love poring over non-fiction books such as these and the artwork included is beautiful.

Cate is doing sacramental prep this year, so the big kids are following along with her in their own catechism, which I read during our Morning Basket time.  And I chose saints books based on this year's history cycle, one on the Catholic presence in the East and one in the West.  I'm particularly interested to read about Blessed (soon to be saint!) Junipero Serra since we are in California and will be studying California geography this year too.

:: Literature.  As usual, I have pulled all our literature selections from Ambleside Online.  We are choosing different Shakespeare plays based on what is playing locally.  In fact, we are headed to a production of Much Ado About Nothing this weekend!  My Shakespeare plan is to read the play in Lambs' version (which my Year 1 student can join us for), and then the older kids and I read along as we listen to the full version as an Arkangel Shakespeare recording.  The recordings are fabulous.  We're also doing Robinson Crusoe as an audio (the unabridged Blackstone version) while reading along with the text.

:: Geography. Speaking of, I took Brandy's wonderful advice and scheduled an extra geography book this year that is based on our state history: The Cruise of the Arctic Star.  The wonderful thing is how this and The First Californian tie together so nicely--we're going up and down the coast and learning about the founding of cities and the topography of the state in both books.  Alongside, the kids are working on a watercolor map, inspired by Heather.  And in case you're in California and want to read the same geography selection, check out Brandy's breakdown by chapter and a printable bookmark I made.

:: Nature Study.  We still love doing a weekly nature study outing with friends!  This year we'll be getting out weekly as usual, but once a month, we're planning a more focused lesson.  Our goal is to study six native trees throughout the year, with a different area of observation each month (branching, leaves, nesting, lichen and moss, etc.).

And the children (and I!) will be responsible for one nature journal entry per week, as always.  I've started teaching the kids dry brush more formally too (those are some of Gianna's first mussel shells above).


I think that about covers it!  I've tried to anticipate some of the questions I usually get about our schedule, so I apologize for the length. ;)  If you have other questions, let me know.

 Over the next couple weeks, I'll be posting...
:: our Form II binder
:: our updated weekly schedule template and how I've been doing my weekly planning
:: our Morning Basket plans for Term 1
:: my Year 1 and kindergarten plans for Cate and Xavier.

(And just as a last note: I'm sure this is obvious, but please remember that our plans are just that--our plans for our family.  I share them because I know many of you are looking for examples of different ways to live out the Ambleside Online curriculum, or to deal with eager and early learners within that setting, or to make Catholic additions or substitutions to the curriculum.  This is one way in one home and isn't meant to work for all families or all children.  So take what you want and ignore the rest!  Another place to look for the ways other families live out Year 4 is the Ambleside Online forums--lots of diverse examples there!)


  1. Wow! This is a fantastic peek at what you are doing. So organized! I'm in awe! :)

    1. Organization is the only thing that keeps me sane! LOL Really, though, real life is never quite as well-oiled a machine as it looks on paper, right? :)

    2. Right! :) Why doesn't it fall into place EXACTLY!? ;)

    3. It's called chasing dreams and catching life!

  2. I love your blog! Thank you for all your pictures and examples! Have you used AO from the beginning of your HS journey? Also, may I ask how old your Y4 kiddos are? I'm looking at your layout thinking my kid is nowhere near ready! :D

    1. They are 9 and almost-9. And yes, we have been doing AO since they were in Year 0. :) If you're coming to AO later or just have a less school-inclined son, it's *perfectly* fine to have your children in a "younger" year. The readings scheduled are so rich and meaty that the "years" in AO definitely don't correspond to traditional grades. :)

    2. How did you choose AO as opposed to other curriculums?

    3. I chose AO because I felt like they most closely held to CM's vision for education (which I just love!) and because their booklist appealed the most to me. I am an unabashed fan of the classics and of rich literary works, and their list is chock full of those things! I also love that the AO community has so many engaged and helpful moms working to help one another and share resources. That has been a big help so that I don't have to reinvent the wheel every year! It's definitely the best fit for our family and we have loved our experience so far.

  3. Always love your planning posts. You are just a term ahead of us, so it always gives me useful ideas as I look ahead. :) Looking forward to seeing your binders...hopefully sooner rather than later? I need to buckle down and finish our school planning once we are home again next week. :)

    1. Thank you, Jen...I have been loving your relationship posts! I spent a lot of time this summer reading CM and just thinking through the principles (thanks to a local CM study group that's going through Brandy's guide together) rather than doing tons of "planning," and it has been such an effective use of my time, so I am totally on board with your approach to the new school year. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Do you have any advice on finding geography read alouds or specific state history books? We are form Ohio but live in Virginia, and I'm trying to find some for each state. I'd love any input :)

    1. Hi, Hollie! I'm only familiar with California selections, but this would be a good question to ask on the AO forum in the Book Substitutions and Recommendations area.

    2. I live in Wisconsin and we have (from our State Historical Society) magazines/textbooks that were used probably for the last 2 generations as state history texts titled "Badger History". I think they were written at the 4th grade level (that is the year that WI students learn state history). We also have LOTS of state parks/nature study "classrooms" & the like that have MANY resources at each of those places (mostly natural history or the sciences), maybe your state(s) have those as well. My Grandma once found a book titled "Santa comes to Wisconsin" and a WI ABC book. Those types of books have been HUGE treasures at our house as well! Also what about field trips to museums or nature spots? Another hit with kids as well. I know that I have been to my hometown's own museum (about the town) over 20 times! Or even visit your state capitol/historical state buildings.
      Jennifer's blog (Wildflowers and Marbles) has a Alabama State History unit I believe.
      A couple of note on state history....
      keep it light & "fun" (not too heavy & deep)
      keep it as engaging & interactive as possiple
      Good luck!

    3. Great advice! We love our local nature centers and museums too. The docents there are always full of helpful information, and the gift shops are my favorite places to find field guides and history resources.

    4. We follow the same nature centers & parks idea when we vacation at other states. Those place seem to just have so many resources. The more hands on resources for the kids the better. :)

  5. How do your kids get through RS Math so quickly since it's built to be teacher intensive? I have two boys I began level E with last year (we love it) but I have such a hard time seeing how it could possibly be more independent or move faster - they are often waiting on me for the teaching time! I would love any tips. They both love and do well with math...

    1. Hi, Miranda! I have said it before here, but I just want to reiterate that my oldest two handle math very easily, particularly my oldest son, who is particularly gifted in math. So I don't suggest this for everyone--only those that might be dealing with children that are similar. But we have very often done 2-3 lessons in one sitting with RS. My son doesn't need much explanation at all--literally a few sentences from me pulled from the script, and then he's off with doing problems. I also didn't require him to do all the problems for the pages that were overly easy for him. Sometimes I would explain a new topic and he would look at me with a "yeah, of course, why are you teaching me things I already know?" look, and so I would move right along to the next lesson. ;) I did not plan to do RS that way, but he was just not deterred by anything I threw at him and would have been bored if I had done otherwise. If you're dealing with something similar, feel free to email me and I'd be happy to share more ideas with you for your gifted math learners. :)

    2. Have you ever considered Saxon Math (more "intensive" math) or other math curriculums with your kids?

    3. RightStart has worked great for us, so I have no desire to switch to another program. I think it lays a great foundation in the elementary years. I haven't used it, but I can't imagine Saxon would provide a greater challenge--RS is plenty challenging in my opinion. It's just that my mathy kids aren't necessarily going to be satisfied with any traditional program as written. That's why I'm thankful that homeschooling allows us to move at our own pace! :)

  6. Always fun to peek into your plans. My son read Gone Away Lake over the summer and really, really liked it. He kept begging me to stay up late to just read one more chapter. This is high praise form him because he tends towards non fiction. And we also added Geography of the World in this year! Minn goes so quickly and I wanted to add GOW in, so this year seemed like a good fit.

    Thanks for linking to the audio of Robinson Crusoe. After reading aloud for a bit, I do believe I'm going to switch over to audio and following along. I had originally planned to do that, then just decided I was pulling in too many resources. But it is definitely one that an audio version would enhance. We also use audio for our Shakespeare as we follow along. It's the most audio books at once we will have ever done because I normally prefer reading aloud. But with those two, I need professionals. =)

    We have not started Plutarch yet. I figured we'd ease into that next term and just do two lives this year. How is that going for y'all? The study guides look fabulous and I've read through Publicola myself. I'm really interested to see how my son will like it. Are your kiddos enjoying it?

    Hope your tennis elbow is improving. Now that your kiddos are doing typing, maybe you can dictate your emails to them to type, ha! =)

    1. That's great to know about Gone Away Lake! It's one of those books I had never heard of before the AO booklist, but I have read so many great reviews recently that I wanted to read it alongside them this year. :)

      A Child's Geography is so good. We are all just loving it so far. I knew I wanted to include both Halliburton and Hillyer (the two Y5 geography options), so adding it to Year 4 was the natural choice. But what I didn't expect is how much my Y1 and kindergarten kids are enjoying it too! I'm glad I decided to add it to our Morning Basket reading rather than schedule it as an independent read for just the bigs.

      The audio for Robinson Crusoe has been a big help. The chapters are very long, so it was not one I was going to read aloud...but I didn't want to hand it over to the kids alone either. That and Shakespeare are perfect uses of audio, I think. It's definitely a good fit for us.

      Plutarch is going really well. The sections are short and I really appreciate Anne White's discussion guide because it's making it so easy for me. She mentioned over on the forums that she's planning to make them available for print and on Kindle, and that will make it even easier. I was considering starting with Poplicola/Publicola because I know that was suggested on the forums, but then I took a look at Marcus Cato (which is on the rotation for fall term) and decided to just go with that. So far, so good, so I may just continue with the rotation selection for winter term too.

      That is a great idea about the typing! LOL I hadn't thought of it before, but it WILL be an excellent addition to my blogging routine to have a couple personal typists in the house. ;)

  7. I missed this post somehow. I live for these posts, lol. I find that the way you organize suits my family with minimal tweaking so I eagerly await posts like these. We copied your binder timeline and it is working so well. I wish I could come into your home for a day or two and observe the flow from one thing to another. This is what I struggle most with.

    1. I think that's what most of us struggle with--I know I do! :) Around here, the flow always takes a transition time to perfect, every time I make any took us three uncomfortable weeks before we settled in this term. I'm happy we're over that hump. Now we'll see how many adjustments we have to make when baby arrives! ;)

  8. Thank you, Celeste, for taking the time to share your plans! I am a year behind you with AO so I always find it helpful to see what you are doing with your kids. Do you mind me asking what you are doing for grammar? Are you using a particular program or are you putting the lessons together yourself? What about dictation - are you picking the passages yourself from your kids' readings?

    1. I am not using a particular program right now since we are just going through the most basic information (nouns and verbs, identifying the subjects and verbs of a sentence). And yes, I am using our dictation exercises for this, which I'm selecting and printing from Bambi, one of the Y4 free read books. You can see a photo in my post about our Form II binder:

      I did just grab a copy of Winston grammar (I found one cheap used) for us to dip into later this year, and I have KISS grammar (mentioned on the AO site) on my tablet to use and download grammar worksheets from for when we need help on a topic. I imagine pulling some of those out later on this year too.

      Hope that helps, Megan!

  9. This is so interesting to look at, thank you for taking the time to share it! We're incorporating more and more of the AO recommendations all the time, and it's always very interesting to see what other families are doing with it all.

    1. You are welcome--thanks for stopping by! :)

  10. Don't you feel that you should be finding Literature (and really all other resources!) from Catholic places such as Seton MODG or Kolbe? Do you feel that it is "risky" to not be putting catholic homeschool materials in front of your kids? Do you ever think about putting more catholic materials in your curriculum?
    How do you teach/do Shakespeare with such young students in your home?

    1. Hi there! I understand your concerns, but I have to say that this isn't something that I worry about, and I'll try to explain why. I think it depends quite a bit on your definition of "Catholic." :) Since you mentioned MODG and Kolbe: if you look at their booklists, I think you'll find a LOT of overlap between books recommended at AmblesideOnline and the books recommended by these Catholic classical programs. That is because true Catholic education acknowledges the beauty in literature, art, music, and so on even when those materials are not written by Catholics or even obviously religious in nature. A book or work of art is "Catholic" by virtue of having Truth, Goodness, and Beauty shine through them.

      I'll include here a note from the Mother of Divine Grace website that I think you'll find helpful, as it highlights the view Catholic educators of many centuries (including saints) have taken:

      "While not every text in the program is explicitly Catholic, we avoid all materials which are opposed, explicitly or implicitly, to the truths of the Faith. The Catholic Church is universal, and has always made her own what was best in human culture. St. Augustine explains why:

      "...if those who are called philosophers, and especially the Platonists, have said aught that is true and in harmony with our faith, we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it. For, as the Egyptians had not only the idols and heavy burdens which the people of Israel hated and fled from, but also vessels and ornaments of gold and silver, and garments, which the same people when going out of Egypt appropriated to themselves, designing them for a better use, not doing this on their own authority, but by the command of the same way all branches of the heathen learning have not only false and superstitious fancies and heavy burdens of unnecessary toil, which every one of us, when going out under the leadership of Christ from the fellowship of the heathen, ought to abhor and avoid; but they contain also liberal instruction which is better adapted to the use of the truth, and some most excellent precepts of morality; and some truths in regard even to the worship of the One God."
      St. Augustine in On Christian Doctrine, Book II, Ch. 40

      "Guided by this principle, we have included materials that do not come from Catholic sources in our curriculum."

      I hope that helps shed some light on my Catholic homeschoolers--not just me, but also those that use Kolbe and MODG--might not feel bound to use all materials that are explicitly Catholic in nature.

      That said, we actually do use quite a lot of explicitly Catholic materials in our curriculum as well. I beef up our religion readings and memory work quite a bit in lieu of any religious materials scheduled in AO, and I supplement in history and literature too, as I try to outline in our school plans. (For more direction in that vein, do check out Mater Amabilis, which uses many AO books but also substitutes Catholic readings, as I do.) We do Catholic memory work, poetry, and penmanship. I have shelves and shelves of Catholic books and schedule extra religion reading for our Morning Basket and family studies as well as on Sunday afternoons. We are positively brimming with Catholic culture here and I don't see the need to make our math, foreign language, science, and every other topic we study by explicitly Catholic in nature. My aim in all is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. :)

    2. In terms of Shakespeare--we love Shakespeare, and yes, even my young ones. :) Shakespeare has been a favorite of Catholics since he first wrote his plays. (You may be familiar with Joseph Pearce's assertion that Shakespeare may even have been a recusant Catholic, which I find convincing.) He does have tragic, gruesome, dark, bawdy, and romantic moments sprinkled throughout his works, all of which might not be appropriate for small children. For my littlest readers, we use the Lamb and Nesbit versions, which are lovely retellings but also edited for a younger audience. For my older children, we are reading through the original plays now, and I am starting with plays I think they will appreciate. You will find if you have read Shakespeare with children that the bawdy bits go right over their heads and they "take what they need" from the reading. (That is a Charlotte Mason point and it's very true.) Similarly, children who have been raised on fairy tales, folk songs, and stories of martyrs and the true sorrows of our Catholic faith are not generally disturbed by tragedy as one might think. (I'm not speaking here of the ultra-sensitive child, but rather of the average classically-educated kid! :)) So my kids love Macbeth, for example--it is not disturbing to them in the sense one might expect, but rather an opportunity for them to encounter the tragedy that exists in the world through the lens of an outsider, experiencing that tragedy through literature rather than through the visceral medium of movies or video games and rather than through real-life difficulties. And the language is the peak of English experience as well, so there's that. ;)

      I hope that helps to answer your questions!

    3. Thank you for taking the time to answer this all!
      Good point about the good, the true & the beautiful! I completely forgot about that! Do you ever supplement AO books with Catholic study guides? Like Ignatius Critical Editions or something? Do you ever consider using more Catholic criticism/supplements at any point?
      Joseph Pearce's thoughts on Shakespeare are essential to any Catholic studying Shakespeare.
      God bless you in homeschooling your kids!

    4. No, we don't use any study guides at this point, as our goal isn't analysis but rather connection with the stories at this age. In later years, I imagine that yes, we will be informing our reading with Catholic criticism. :)

    5. I have never thought of Shakespeare in terms of connections instead of analysis. Great idea!

    6. WOW Celeste! Thank you for those inspiring thoughts! I may just need to go re-write/plan my entire literature curriculum!!! I really like how you put such rich catholic perspective on how to study literature. I love it! Your words are SO true especially with younger students. Thanks for writing all this out--what great advice! Although I like to pretty much exclusively use catholic literature and study guides I see your argument. God bless!

    7. Just to encourage you: there isn't anything wrong with using exclusively Catholic materials either, so if that's what you're comfortable with, go for it! It's just a matter of preference. :) Blessings!

  11. When will you begin planning next years' curriculum?

    1. I usually begin planning once we've finished the current year, which is usually in April for us. (We start our school year in July and finish early to take advantage of the nice weather in spring.)

  12. How much of your curriculum is self taught/independent work vs. mom/teacher taught?

    1. It depends on the grade and the child. My older two are very independent at this point: I do one reading a day with them, as well as family work with them (Morning Basket readings, poetry, Italian, picture and music study). They do all their other readings, Latin, math, penmanship, typing, and so on alone or with each other.

      My Y1 and kinder students are pretty much entirely mom-taught and probably will be so for at least the next year. My 6yo daughter is working on reading but isn't a fluent reader yet. When she is, I'll gradually start to have her read some of her own assignments and move toward independence...but I don't anticipate that happening until closer to Year 4.

    2. How do you balance teaching those kids & time spent with your other little ones?

    3. That's why I do most of our schooling during naptime, when the three littlest are asleep. I like to keep the time that they are awake fairly free so that I can spend time with them and so that my littles and bigs can spend time with each other (which they wouldn't be able to do if they were spending the whole morning on lessons). So 12-2 is our big "naptime school" block during which I do most of the school I need to get done without littles around, including all read-alouds for my Y1 and Y4 students. I also do a bit with my big kids on the weekends or in the evenings when my husband is home and playing with the littles--though I like my bigs to be able to play with Daddy during that time as well, so I try to keep that at a minimum. ;)

    4. Good tactics. :) Whatever works, right?

    5. Exactly! And every year a new baby comes and we have to adjust slightly, right? :)

  13. Thank you so much for posting this! I just love seeing your schoolwork plans! I'll have to consider some of this for my own (sometimes CM) homeschool with my 2 11th graders (18m apart), 8th grader, 6th grader, 3 4th graders (triplets!) & 2 in kindergarten (17m apart) (not to mention I also have a 2 year old & a newborn!). I especially love to see what other CMers do. In a perfect world, I'd only use CM. But, this isn't a perfect world. I mostly use Seton & then a huge mix of other stuff that I make into my own curriculum to fill in Seton's gaps. We love using Seton! I have been using them from the beginning mainly because they are so Catholic. I am glad that AO is working out for you! How much do you need to change around what AO has to make your curriculum more Catholic?

    1. I'm glad you have found something that works well for you too. I have several friends that use Seton and love it, so I understand the appeal--it's just not for me!

      In the early years, there isn't much about AO that needs changing. We use our own religion resources in lieu of theirs, and the Reformation section of Our Island Story has a couple sections that I skipped. Obviously, I also supplement with pertinent saints' lives and bits of history here and there to give a fuller view, but the "bones" that AO provides are quite good on the whole. (You can read more about specific substitutions in my Year 3 plans since that is Renaissance and Reformation year.) And I know several Catholic ladies using AO in the later years that are basically taking the same approach--substituting their own religion/devotional resources and making the history a bit more meaty. So far, so good. :)

    2. Are history, literature and religion the only subjects that you need to adjust? Do you use AO's bible plans ever?

    3. There isn't anything wrong with AO's Bible plans in the sense that they really only schedule actual selections of the Bible to read, and you could do the very same sections in a Catholic translation (we like the Douay-Rheims) rather than the KJV and it would be a fine Bible curriculum. However, when I plan religion, I like to schedule readings in the following rough categories: Bible, saints' lives, devotional, catechism, and Mass study. So I do substitute my own Bible readings simply because I like to schedule that out as a family according to my own preferences.

  14. Celeste---We are about the start Lomask's Isaac and the Indians. I was wondering do you use any other resources to fill out the story--such as maps, native american indian books, etc? We just finished August Derleth's Father Marquette and the Great Rivers---and we used some maps of the Marquette/Joliet route and it also dovetailed so nicely with the history and geography in Minn of the Mississippi. While the children were getting involved in the story line and adventures--it really helped them to have some concrete references to understand some specifics. Thanks

    1. You know, we didn't, but you certainly could use a map alongside! I think that would be a great supplement to cement some of the travels mentioned in the book. The kids seemed to have a handle on the area thanks to the reading we did in This Country of Ours at the end of last year, which talked about the French-Canadian settlements, the Indians and the Dutch, and the settling of that part of New England--so they didn't ask for one to help them along. But mapping Isaac and the Indians would be a worthwhile activity, I think. We *are*, however, doing that for our reading of The First Californian (about Fr. Serra) this term, since the geography of California hasn't been covered in our history readings yet.

    2. Maps work so well!! Especially if you tie map work / making into the lesson plans.

  15. Can you talk more on your Italian study?

  16. I know this is an old post, but I was wondering the name of the author for The First Californian. Thanks!

    1. Hi Rebekah! It's Donald Demarest:

  17. Hi Celeste,
    I'm having a hard time locating The Catholic Faith Comes to the Americas. Can you recommend another book that could be used to supplement history with?