Tag Archive | Homeschool

Our Curriculum This Year

The students at Terrace Hill Academy are crazy!

The students at Terrace Hill Academy are crazy!

School has been in session in our household for almost 3 months now.  We are tending to start a little later in the morning than I would generally like due to my early morning fatigue (thank you, pregnancy).  However, we are learning a lot and having lots of great discussions, and I am really enjoying seeing the academic growth of my children.  The difference between this year at this time and last year at this time is vast.

This year, Terrace Hill Academy has 2 students enrolled:  one in 2nd, one in 3rd.  There are also 2 preschoolers present in the household, making things fun and a bit crazy. One is 3 and is full of life and passion and energy.  The other recently turned 5 and the day he did so, he developped a sudden and avid interest in school.  This child is a fascinating combination of easy-going and totally persistent.  He’ll say, “I’m hungry mommy, can I have a treat?”  I will reply, “No, it is not time for a treat.”  He’ll say, “Ok, mommy.”  A few minutes pass.  He’ll say, “I’m hungry, mommy.  Can I have crackers?”  I’ll answer, “No, honey, it is not time for crackers.”  He’ll reply, “Ok, mommy.”  A few minutes pass.  He’ll say, “I’m hungry mommy.  Can I have a cheese stick?”  Then, unless dinner is minutes away, I finally offer him an apple or a carrot.

So he has been doing this with school.  “I want to do school, mommy.  Is it time for my school yet?” (Repeat this according to his pattern, as described above.)  I can’t resist him for two reasons:  1.  He’s interested!  Let’s not let all that great enthusiasm go to waste!  2.  He will drive me completely mad if I don’t do something to get him to STOP ASKING.

So, these are curriculum choices and academic plans for a 3rd grader, 2nd grader, and a “Transitional Kindergartner” (whose occasional school buddy is the 3 year old preschooler).

Elementary School (2nd & 3rd grades):

Bible– We are reading through the New Testament and will learn 10-12 new hymns  (Transitional Kindergartners and Preschoolers are required to be present at this time)

Phonics and MathLanguage Arts includes phonics, copywork, reading, and literature

      Phonics– We complete one lesson per week in Logic of English D, spending 5-10 minutes to complete one section of the lesson each day  (We finished Logic of English C a few weeks ago).

      Copywork– My 2nd grader and my 3rd grader each select a sentence or passage from our literature, history, or science book, a verse from a poem or hymn, or a passage from the Bible. They may not repeat the genre in the same week, so they are exposed to a variety of different types of works and sentences.  I plan to find some proverbs, quotes, and wise sayings to include in their options.

       Reading– My 2nd and 3rd graders each have an Independent Reading Notebook where they keep a log of the books they read.  We also chart the types of genres they are reading, keep  track of their reading goals and have a place for recording their responses to their reading.  I assign only a very few books for them to read themselves (at this time), and for the most part let them choose what they will read.  We visit our local library weekly and I try to assist or guide their choices a little bit, hoping to whet their appetite for good, living books that are at their reading level.

Reading Notebook

       Literature– I read aloud living chapter books that either correspond to the history we are studying currently or that I think my children would love.

History– We are finishing The Story of the Romans and then will move on after Christmas to The Story of the Middle Ages.  Both of these books are from Nothing New Press and are very interesting and enjoyable to read.  We also supplement with a number of living history biographies and books about specific topics in history.

Science– We finished Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy and have just begun Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Botany.  We will take many (hopefully weekly) nature walks to observe and explore creation firsthand and take special note of the plants that are all around us.  We will also read Seed Babies and Little Wanderers as they correspond with my Boatany lessons.


Math– My 2nd grader is working her way through Singapore Math 2A and will begin 2B this year.  My 3rd grader completed 2B a couple of weeks ago and is now working his way through 3A.  Playing AnimaLogic is a fun math class reward or enrichment and both my 2nd and 3rd graders enjoy the logic puzzles this game provides.  We are also participating in a monthly Math Group with other homeschoolers in our area who use Singapore Math.  It is a great opportunity for my kids to work with other kids to solve problems and gives them plenty of concrete, hands-on practice with mathematical concepts appropriate for their level since the mom who leads it has SO MANY awesome math manipulatives.


Extras– The plan is to do Art Study, Composer Study, Poetry, Geography, and Nature Study each weekly.  We are also working our way through Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and François and watching our Whistlefritz Spanish videos.  We also try to spend some time drawing and doing handicrafts.  I’m sporadic at best at arts and craftiness, but I am trying to get better.


Transitional Kindergarten & Preschool

Letter of the Week– We are focusing on a letter each week, reading quality picture books that highlight that letter and completing a page for a personal alphabet book.  Both Z-urchin (5 year old) and Shortstop (3 year old) participate in this and LOVE it!


Number Sense– We will be working on understanding number bonds in the numbers to 10 by focusing on a different number each week or two and spending a good amount of time on number bonds of 10.

They are also creating number cards

They are also creating number cards

Extras– Our kids have a blast during our weekly visit to the local children’s museum where we have a membership.  I purchased three games/resources to use with my Transitional Kindergartner: Penguins on Ice, Logik Streetand Miniluk.  Z-urchin absolutely loves these activities- in fact, we all find them fun and intriguing.  I highly recommend these resources!  I am hoping to do some fun sensory and science experiments and activities with my preschool boys this year.  They also watch Leap Frog and Reading Rainbow with our Netflix Streaming subscription.  I love these programs for they are engaging and educational and give me a solid- peaceful- half hour to focus on schooling my older two.




Our Curriculum Choices for 1st/2nd Grade

1 Curriculum

It is hard to believe that another school year is beginning.  Terrace Hill Academy will have two official students this year: my 2nd grade son and my 1st grade daughter.  We also have two unofficial preschool students (aged 2 and almost 4) who really love to run around like crazy; noise and chaos and mayhem seem to follow wherever they lead.  I think I’m going to need to do something about that.

Anyway, planning school is one of my favorite things to do, so although I have had illness, moving, house renovations, VBS responsibilities, four children to care for, many meals to prepare, visiting family, and many birthdays to celebrate this summer, I have managed to come up with a school plan for this next year.  And I’m excited about it.

Bible:  We will be reading through stories of the Old Testament and watching through the What’s in the Bible series by Phil Vischer (we LOVE these videos!) as they correspond with our reading.  We will also be reading Wisdom and the Millers, some stories of Trial and Triumph, and Little Pilgrim’s Progress.  We will continue to learn hymns together as a family, about one a month or so.

Math: We will complete Right Start Level B.  With X-man, who will finish about half-way through the year, we will start Right Start Level C.  We really like this curriculum.  It is well-laid out and easy to use.  I find it easy to tailor to my kids’ needs and the kids love the games.

3 Math


Language Arts: For phonics instruction, the kids are working through Explode the Code books.  We also have a plethora of easy reader books.  Each student will select a book and read to me or their dad ten minutes every day until we finish the book, and then they will select another.

We will read poetry from my collection of favorite poems and each will select a poem or two to memorize.  They will also use poetry, literature or history selections, verses, and hymns as sources for their copywork to practice penmanship and to be exposed to proper spelling and syntax.

We will read many short and long stories that correspond with our history readings and our science topics.   A few of these include: Burgess Bird BookMr. Popper’s Penguins, Trumpet of the Swan, and Greek and Roman myths.



History & Geography:  This year, we will be studying ancient history and read through a few of Guerber’s historiesStory of the Ancient WorldThe Story of the Greeks and hopefully we will at least begin The Story of the Romans.  I have the Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World to use as a supplement and for all the awesome pictures.  For geography, we will use Knowledge Quest’s  Map Trek: Ancient World.



Science:  During the first semester, we will study birds with (the 1st half of) Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  In the second semester, we will study astronomy with Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy.  We will also be using the accompanying Junior Notebooks and we will continue to do nature walks and nature study as normal.
 I must add here that I am so very excited about finally starting this series.  This was the first curriculum I ever chose after we decided to go with homeschool as our educational path.  I was pregnant with my first child and I was researching homeschooling curriculum because I’m crazy like that.  And also I love curriculum and school planning.  Anyway, so I’ve been looking forward to when it would be time to use this series for nearly 8 years now.  So I am SO excited!  (Here’s hoping it at least meets my expectations, since they have been a long time growing!)

Spanish: We will be using Cherrydale Press Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and Francois We will also read and memorize short Spanish nursery rhymes from the book ¡Pio Peep! and watch the Whistlefritz DVDs.

Art:  We will study 6-8 paintings of 5 artists: Renoir, Bruegel, Rubens, Waterhouse, and Degas.  Each student will select 3-5 new crafts to learn and enjoy.  We will continue to practice drawing using a variety of drawing lesson books (and internet resources).

Music: We will listen to and discuss the music of 5 famous composers: Vivaldi, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and Beethoven.  Hopefully we will begin piano lessons this year.

Physical Education:  We will get daily exercise through bike riding, walks, jumping on the trampoline, and playing active games as a family and/or a variety of exercise videos/video games.  We may also participate in some community classes, such as ice skating.

So that’s the plan for Elementary School at Terrace Hill Academy.  I’m looking forward to all the learning and fun I’m going to do and have and what an awesome bonus if my kids learn anything with me.

Homeschool Teaching Techniques: 5 Tips for Teaching Bible

Teaching Techniques

Bible is the most important subject I teach my kids.  In fact, God’s truth and good news revealed in the Scriptures is  foundational and central to all that we learn and do.  As they grow, learn to read, develop maturity and understanding, my methods for teaching the Bible to my children will change.  For now, I want to introduce them to the Lord through the stories He tells about Himself and His dealings with the people of this world.

To that end, I came up with a plan for going through the Highlights of the Old and New Testaments.   With Penny Gardner’s list as a reference and skimming through the Bible, I listed 180 Old Testament stories (with a theme for each of the 36 weeks) and 180 New Testament stories (again, with a theme for each week).

That is the backbone of our Biblical studies.  I want to share with you my 5 favorite strategies for teaching the Bible in our homeschool classroom:

A Joyful Noise

A Joyful Noise with Breakfast

1.  Bible with Breakfast:  I think that starting the day with the most important subject is a good practice.  It reminds us all of our priorities and it starts us off on the right foot and sets the mood (at least for me!) for the whole day.  Given that, I have found the best success with doing our Bible lesson during -or right after- breakfast.

It is convenient, for the kids are already at gathered at the table.  Mentally, it is helpful for me to start school so early- I have found that I am more likely to keep the ball rolling with school for the day if I have started at breakfast.  Finally, even if nothing else gets done for the day, we have at least done the most important thing.

2.  Begin with a Hymn:  I’ll be honest here.  I’m actually not my best in the morning.  I find myself a little too sharp, impatient, short with anyone who tries to talk to me.  So beginning the morning with my children by worshiping the Lord together is beautiful and uplifting.  I love it.  It is precious.  It helps me not snap their heads off when they ask for more food.

We do a hymn a month (chosen to correlate somehow with our Bible stories) and when we are first learning the hymn, I will play it on YouTube for the children and we sing along with it.  After that, we just sing together a capella.

A Bible3.  Flannelgraph:  Several years ago, I purchased a set of Betty Lukens flannelgraph.  It was a lot of work to cut out all the pieces (over 600 figures).  But it was well worth the effort.  The figures are absolutely beautiful and vibrant and my children love having the story told to them with flannelgraph.  It is true that this is a very old-fashioned medium, but every child I’ve taught- my own, or in Sunday School- is very drawn to the use of flannelgraph.  And then they want to play with it!

4.  Narration:  After I tell the story, I want my children to tell me back what they just heard.   I usually have to ask a few questions to encourage them to remember it all.  Then often, we discuss what the passage teaches us about how we should live or what God is like.  We have had many deep and interesting conversations come from these discussions.  These conversations are the very best part of our whole homeschool.

Often, I will help them narrate by using the flannelgraph to aid their memory.  Eventually, I would like them to use the flannelgraph to tell back the story.  (Just not when they’ve just had syrup with their pancakes.)  We will also occasionally act out the story we’ve just heard and I have plans to have them make popsicle stick puppets someday to narrate the story.  And then practice it to give a show to Daddy!

5.  Bible Journal:  They have composition books where each page has half a page blank for drawing purposes.  Right now, about once a week or so, I have the children choose a story from that week to illustrate in their journal.  Then they dictate to me the story and I write it down for them.  I have been impressed with the details that they remember from the stories.  They love drawing and telling me these stories and so their Bible journals are quite a treasure.