Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2015-2016

“What curriculum do you use?” is probably the question I get asked the most.  So I’ll just delve in:


2nd/3rd grader: (she’s at different levels in different subjects)

4th grader:

5th grader:

Wow!  That looks like a lot when I type it out!!  And I’m sure I missed a lot of little things we do.  However, we do not do every subject every day, so it’s not as bad as it seems.  We still have plenty of hours in the day for play and hobbies and of course minecraft.

A bonus of having a big family and lots of kids to teach, is that most of the books I buy can be reused.  I find that homeschooling gets a little easier on my wallet every year!

First things first…

Before I delve into one thousand and one posts about what and how we use our home school curriculum, I’d like to talk a little about how I keep all those balls I juggle up in the air.


Let’s face it, teaching multiple grade levels at once is TOUGH! So to stay on top of things, I’ve come up with a few little tricks to make the school day run more smoothly.

First, assignment sheets!  Every evening I fill out an assignment sheet for the next day.  This details all of the work each child is supposed to do that day.  The kids have to finish every thing I list on the sheet before they can call the school day done.  If there are incomplete subjects done, they have to finish it on their own time.  All work is due Friday by the end of the school day.  Honestly though, the kids never have problems finishing the assigned work.  And this is for 3rd grade and up.  2nd grade down kiddos do most of their work with me. :)


Second, I must be prepared!  Once a month or so, I have a copy or print out fiesta.  I copy math forms (used in Saxon), religion quizzes, and print out anything needed for crafts etc.  I made the mistake of not doing this last school year (new move, little baby to take care of, excuse, excuse, excuse!) and I found myself constantly running back and forth from the school room to the office to make copies often.  Those little minutes add up!  Not to mention if I’m out of the class room for more than 5 minutes, the giggles start and the school work stops.  Not that I mind the cute giggles!

Third, and most important, prayer!!!!  I try to start each school day with prayer time.  I’ll admit I forget more than I like (which means a lot during our busy morning routine), and those days are always hardest.  Prayer in the morning calms and centers us so well!  I also set a reminder to go off every day at noon for the Angelus.  And I found a wonderful scriptural Rosary book we’ve been using.  My goal is to say at least one decade a day.


I hope to eventually add “circle time” in the mornings where we read a bit of scripture, pray and practice reciting some of the kids poetry memorization.  But in order to do this, I have to actually wake up before the kids do.

Yes, I realize the pictures in this post are random.  C’est la vie.

It only took 6 years

We’re on our 6th year of homeschooling.  This seems so strange to me.  I never intended to homeschool, and up until this point, I considered us a “new” homeschool family.  I never really let it settle in my mind that this is a permanent situation.

Until this year.  And this year has been such an amazing school year so far, that I find myself eagerly looking forward to homeschooling years beyond this one.


This year I’ve embraced my homeschool vocation and have really allowed education to thoroughly weave its way through our day to day life.  And because of my attitude change, my children are much happier and eager to learn.  IMG_0353

I know that my attitude isn’t the sole reason why our school year is going so well. :)  Aside from my kids trying their best and just being awesome kids, I’ve finally found the mix of curriculums and resources that work extremely well for our family.  So over the next few weeks, I’ll give little reviews about different programs and insights to how we use them.

I’m not an expert on homeschooling, but I’m getting to be an expert on my kids!  Perhaps someone out there can benefit reading how to homeschool a kid with ADHD or how to manage teaching 4 grade levels while taking care of a toddler and a baby while juggling (kidding!) or how to encourage little ones to keep a nature journal.  These are things I’m learning along the way, so maybe, just maybe I can help someone out there!

So stay tuned for an overload of homeschooling posts!

A Glimpse into Neverlands




I find that the best conversations and learning opportunities I have with my kids are while they’re freely doing their own thing and wanting to verbalize what’s going on in their mind, imagination, little worlds.  I cherish those little peeks into their puzzlers.


I decided to start adapting that learning style to parts of our homeschool day.  Instead of sticking to a strict schedule with clock times written down, we now follow more of a routine, not necessarily tethered to a clock.


Our day starts with a bit of scripture time (when I remember!  I’m getting better) and discussion followed by some keyboarding and math facts practice.  After that, the older kids go off their own way to complete independent school work while I spend around 1 and 1/2 hours with Matthew.  He’s the type of “get all my school done in one sitting so I can spend the rest of the day playing outside or with toys” type of kid.  He really does enjoy our little school time together though, and so do I.

We then break for snack and play time.  After play time, I start helping the older kids until lunch.  Lunch break is good and looooong!  The kids usually talk me into reading to them. We’re reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and my voice hasn’t given up yet!  After lunch, the big kids and I take about 2 more hours to finish up our work.

Since we’ve adapted this loose routine, I find the kids are much more thoughtful and not rushing through their work.  I also find that I’m more keen to let conversations veer a bit off track when one of the kids is processing some thought.  This especially happens during literature time, which is my favorite time to let minds wander!


I love being visited by the littlest ones during the school day.  I’m able to sneak in a few (a lot) of books for those cuties.  Stella, Max and Matthew flitter in and out of the classroom, steal pencils, and cause general mayhem which usually leads to laughter, or sometimes fights and tears to be honest.


This way of teaching the children always makes me feel like Mrs. Darling in the first chapter of Peter Pan.  She tidies up the kids minds as they are sleeping and puts things straight and in their proper places.  A bonus to tidying up the kids minds is that I get a small glimpse into their Neverlands.

St. Francis









One of the many blessings of being Catholic is liturgical living.  Sunday was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. We had our dog, Annie, and our turtle, Hermione (Fr. Chuck’s first turtle to bless), blessed at our parish then went to a nearby bird sanctuary for a short hike. St. Francis, pray for us.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.



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ADD and homeschooling.  I know there are many of us who walk this path.  It’s a hard, rocky path but occasionally the path smooths out.  This happened for me when years ago, someone mentioned the word workboxes.  My son has a terrible time trying to stay organized and he used to feel so overwhelmed at the beginning of the school day.  So after some research, I decided to give workboxes a try.


Last school year was our first attempt, and it was beautiful!  My son’s tears and frustrations decreased considerably.


The nitty gritty:  I purchased the Trofast (I always want to call it Trogdor! darn you Homestar Runner!) storage unit from IKEA.  Little labels were sketched out and laminated. The female side of Velcro is on the back of each label, and two male sides are on the drawers.  Labels are on the left for uncompleted work then moved to the right when completed.  In each drawer are all the books Liam needs to complete his work.  His pencils, erasers, rulers, and other supplies are all in a basket on his desk.  And it’s as simple as that!


Over time I’ll transition Liam out of the workboxes and into a locker style something.  I’m sure as he grows, his organizational skill will improve, and these workboxes will hopefully give him a leg up.  I don’t use these with the other children since I have limited space and they seem to be doing fine without.  However, I can see how workboxes would be fantastic even for kids without ADD or any other learning disability.

Cabin in the woods part 3




Here we are at the beautiful Bear Lake.


Believe it or not, the hiking paths here were pretty crowded.  However, the snow and ice gave everything a feeling of enormous stillness.  Everything was so soft and quiet.  I could have spent hours here, but poor Max and Matthew were finally done by this point.


These three amassed a great collection of Junior Ranger badges on this vacation.


Estes Park is such a cute little town.  The food is wonderful (and thanks to the anonymous couple that paid for our meal at Poppy’s Pizza!!!  We said a rosary for you, whoever you are!)




Liam and Jack had mountain man training from Jason.


Mirror selfies!  Stella was really sick for most of the trip.  She finally felt better the last few days but still begged for me to hold her the entire time.  I didn’t mind one bit!


Matthew and Max honed their climbing skills.  This was a pretty steep hike and these tough little boys handled it!



Over the ridge we found blue skies and gorgeous fields.


One of the kids took a picture of “butt rock” because we’re classy.


Qwirkle was our game of choice while waiting for dinner.


If only the chipmunk knew what the BBQ pit was used for…

The repeated sentence on this trip was, “When we come back here…”, so I think the kids had a great time.  Even though it’s a lot of work for me and Jason to take so many little ones on a hiking vacation, we still had a great time too.  I am looking forward to the day when our hikes can last longer and over much harder terrain.  Soon!

Cabin in the Woods part 2


Picking up where we left off…Liam drawing on a snowy day.


Matilda stole the camera for a quick selfie.


The kids found these really fantastic building blocks that were made from stone. A quick google told me they were made from sand quartz, chalk, and linseed oil.


Tilly bird watching.  Two little magpies greeted us every morning.  The kids loved watching the magpies play and fly around.



Zelda was saved by Link, Luigi, and Michelangelo.


Liam is special.


The snow in the forest was breathtaking.


Can you spot the chipmunk?


I’m really impressed with how well the littlest guys kept up with all the hiking.  I was holding Stella, so she made me do all the work.


I took so many pictures of Moraine park, but I couldn’t capture it well.  This area was so beautiful!  The fog lifted after a while and herds of elk grazed along the park.  All so wonderful.


Just a few more pictures to come…

Cabin in the woods part 1


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Here are a TON of pictures from our vacation that was allll the way back in May.  We stayed at an off-the-grid (run by nothing but a couple of solar panels, no interenet, no phone, no tv…Heaven!) cabin in the middle of nowhere in Roosevelt National Forest.  So here’s how a family of 8 vacations! Enjoy.


How sweet are Jack and Stella by the fire?!


An elk visiting for breakfast.


Yes, I bathed my baby in the kitchen sink!  One shower with 8 people, so I had to make do.


Jason became our bearded mountain man.  It was super cold, so we had to keep the fire going all week.  Pa Ingalls would have been proud!


The kids spent hours by the creek in front of the cabin.  They spent the time rock hunting, rock tossing, and building forts.


This is a completely working outhouse.  Last school year, the kids learned that outhouses in Colonial Williamsburg were called necessaries. Max kept running to this outhouse saying, “I need the necessary!”


This fog was carrying some huge snow clouds behind it.


When it was too cold and snowy to be outside, the kids spent time drawing or writing comics.  Here is Matthew explaining to Matilda the robot he wants her to draw.


This is Matilda’s robot creation.


A hill rose up behind the cabin.  This is the “mountain” Liam told everyone he almost reached the peak of.


Vacation reading: The Road, Pioneer Girl, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Reading The Road in the middle of nowhere with pitch black nights was not a good idea.  I was kinda scared!


Jack creating a comic.

More pictures to come…


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