Curricula 2015-2016 - 4th Grade - Silas

Sunday, August 16, 2015

With one week to go before school starts I finally got around to taking pictures of what I have planned for both boys this year. I had plans all set to use HOD Preparing, but my little guy Silas threw a wrench in my plans by announcing that he really wanted to learn about the Middle Ages. He has never had anything specific in mind, so I decided to listen. There is something to be said for allowing child directed learning to happen. I never anticipated how much we would love MFW ECC and traveling the world last year, but as he began to have choice over the additional countries we chose to study I saw a budding learner grow. It was a very difficult decision to set aside our plans for this year, but after I finally let go of them I had peace.

There are many wonderful programs to study the Medieval, Renaissance and Reformation period. I had never thought we would veer away from HOD, but then the Veritas Press catalog happened to me. I honestly have never given VP a second glance, but then a friend I respect was using it with her son. The VP catalog arrived shortly after and I saw all those wonderful book choices for VP Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation (VP MARR.) I started out as a classical homeschooler, but fell in love with Charlotte Mason. I've learned since that you can enjoy both worlds. Veritas Press is a classical education company. It is very different than what we have been doing it in the past, but I intend to use it in our own way with a little CM flair. There is a very loved Self-Paced Online version of this program, but we chose the You Teach version. I've shared the covers for the TM, Student Notebook and Timeline Figures Binder here.

This whole thing started when my sweet friend Michelle sent me these cards. The main spine of VP is their History Timeline Cards. Each year you study 32 events and/or figures.

*Edit - We made it through the Renaissance card and finished out the year with unit studies. I decided I didn't want to cover church history with my 10 year old. We will get around to that again in HOD RtR.

The front of the card tells you the event. The back of the card has a summary of the event plus optional resource books to use to study the period. One of the things I noticed in previous years was that we were failing to do any review. This year we will cover all these events and figures while also reviewing what we have learned.VP comes from a reformed perspective. We are not reformed, so there are figures we will not spend as much time on. I plan to camp longer on the Vikings, The Feudal System and the Renaissance than any of the other cards. You typically go through a card a week, but we will have a lot of fun learning about the ones I mentioned. They are too good to speed through!

These are the history resource books used. There are a handful of others sitting on my shelf. We won't read every resource listed every week on each card, but it is nice having them if time allows.

I made timeline figures of the events and people we will study to go on our Pandia Press Wall Timeline. You can find them here.

It took me quite a while to figure out how to use VP. There is a CD that includes a memory song of the material we will study. Each week the we sing the memory song to reinforce what we have learned. The CD also has the Teacher's Manual on it. VP doesn't have a schedule in their TM. I won't use the TM exactly as it is intended to be used, but more for ideas. We will employ the tests from time to time as that is a skill we haven't worked on. I ended up choosing readers and read-alouds from their book lists and from other sources. There is a schedule you can purchase that I felt was overpriced, so I ended up making my own schedule. I tend to make a yearly schedule anyway. It ended up being nice scheduling books at our pace rather than someone else's time frame. I basically used their book lists and built my own program. It was really fun choosing books and activities myself.

These are all the books Silas will read this year. Some of them are VP choices, and some are not. It looks like a lot, but many of them don't take long to read.

VP has comprehension guides to go with some of their book choices. I didn't want to do a full blown literature program this year, so I chose a few guides to do. I may add one or two more if these go well.

There are some activities scheduled in the TM, but not as many as we are used to doing. I am actually really happy about that. It gives us time to find some of our own ideas. There are a lot of great ideas in these books. I especially love Great Medieval Projects You Can Build Yourself.  This book has a lot of history in it to to explain the period. I also plan to buy a medieval cookbook soon. You know we love to cook!

We will continue with Rod & Staff English. There are no bells and whistles in this program, but I think it is truly one of the best things out there. You can do much of it orally. I had been following HOD's R&S schedule. I will instead use these books at grade level for Silas.

I had taken a break from All About Spelling last year, but I am going to go ahead and use it this year. My son really enjoys it. He always did really well in R&S Spelling. He absolutely loves spelling tests and is a great speller. He also enjoys the exercises in AAS. I was over it after a few years, but like R&S I feel AAS is also one of the best things out there. I know there are other great programs, but I saw a marked difference with this one. I will share how I made my student workbook in a separate post.

Last year we switched back to Singapore. I had veered into CLE math which I think is a really great program too, but he was beginning to be able to do it in his sleep. This kid is really mathy. I started him too early in Singapore 1, and we hit walls in 2nd. I didn't know then how to slow down a program, but now I have more confidence. He did really well in Singapore 3. There were definitely hard days, but it is challenging in a good way.

We will continue with Life of Fred. Last year we finished the elementary series and are into the next set of books. We will use these 2 days a week and finish all 3. I also added Challenging Word Problems as these will really develop his ability to apply math to the real world. Silas loved Logic Safari Book 1 last year, so we will continue with the next book this year.

This year we will use R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Chemistry Level 1. I own Apologia's Physics and Chemistry book and considered it as well. I normally love Apologia, but that particular book was a little overwhelming to me. I could see it being a fabulous book in a co-op setting however. I wanted to cover chemistry because it is the one area of science we haven't really touched yet. We have covered life science until I can't take it anymore - at least for now. Silas still loves to memorize things. I am working on a really big Periodic Table of Elements to put on our wall. I'll share that when I'm done.

Last year we focused on world geography, so I'm keeping it simple this year. We will review the countries we learned with our map puzzles and geography games from last year. Silas still needs work on his penmanship. I will require mostly cursive this year on his school work.

Silas will use the Bible Quiet Time plans from HOD Preparing. We will use this CD to memorize passages of the Bible.

Most of the rest of these plans we are doing together. Last year I felt Aedan was too isolated, so we share read-alouds this year. These are the books we have selected for this year. I feel like we have missed way too many classics. I scheduled some of them to go along with our SCM Character Study.

This year we will play art by ear and will likely do projects that go along with our studies. I prefer to be inspired in art rather than scheduled. My boys loved Art Fraud last year, so we will go through Art Auction Mystery. These are really fun books to study great works of art. We had planned to do a composer study, but my boys are really into music these days. We will do a We Rock! History of Rock music lab each week. I will make a music appreciation sheet to go with this that I will share soon. I'm really excited about this :) 642 Things to Draw is a really fun book to get the creative juices flowing. It just has simple boxes with an idea of what to draw.

This is a really great book for Medieval and Renaissance. There are modern artists too, but when we come across these famous artists in our studies we will do some of these projects.

642 Things to Write About is like the art book above. There are plenty of silly ideas to write about. I plan to use these when I'm still working with the other boy to give the one who is waiting on me something to do. My boys love writing stories, so this is a fun little option. Grammar-Land is a book I've always wanted to do with the boys. There are free printable worksheets here. I didn't schedule this, but we will do it this year.

I heard Sonya from Simply Charlotte Mason speak at our homeschool conference. I already had owned these Laying Down the Rails books, but I hadn't yet implemented them. Hearing her speak gave me the motivation to really put these great tools into action. There are a LOT of character traits to work on. She told us not to read them all or it would make us cry. She said to focus on 6 per year. I did schedule the traits. We will go through 2-3 lessons a week that focus on the trait we want to work on. Not only is this great for the kids, but it's great for me. I realized looking at these traits how many I personally have to work on! I also had printed out all the Kids of Integrity lessons from Focus on the Family. These are fabulous too! We will use some of the ideas to go along with the 6 traits we have selected.

This year we will focus first on the big 3 that Charlotte Mason said were cornerstone traits - Obedience, Attentiveness and Truthfulness. In talking to my husband he added to the list he thinks our kids need to work on; Kindness, Generosity, Cleanliness and Manners. I had meant to add a scripture verse, but time got a way from me. I printed these 2 to a page or you can print them larger or smaller if you like. I have shared these printables here.

If you read my Rest post you are probably thinking this doesn't look simple, yet somehow it is. There is a lot more wiggle room in our schedule this year that will leave room for more exploration should we be inspired. I'm so looking forward to our year and all the new things we will experience together! I hope to share many of our memories with you. Here's to a fabulous 4th grade year!


  1. So many great resources -- so many I'd never heard of! Your homeschool plans are always so inspiring.

    We're trying HoD for the first time this year -- excited to see what's in store.

    1. We have loved all our years in HOD. I'm sure you will have a great year!

  2. Wow, wow, wow! You are amazing to pull this all together in such a short time - after already being done with all your plans! It really looks great! (I don't feel bad for being an influence on you anymore, haha!)

    1. I do hold you partially responsible! I'm super excited though. We will have lots of fun I hope :)

  3. How are you implementing writing? What did you like or dislike about BraveWriter?

  4. I am curious about the All About Spelling workbook you I missing the blog post you did on it?

    1. I found worksheets someone made on the WTM forum. I bound them and put a cover on them. The worksheets were here :)

  5. Hi, Can you tell me why you didn't continue with MFW? It seems like you really enjoyed your year with ECC.

    1. Monarch RoomOctober 24, 2016 at 7:52 AM
      I loved our year in MFW! That year was mostly great because of all the field trips and activities we added. I dropped the science and some of the books that weren't working. I did a lot of tweaking to that guide. Most of those fun were things I added for fun were Five in a Row activities. I knew I wouldn't be able to sustain that kind of work each week every year. I love that MFW is as little or as much as you want it to be, but for me it's easier to subtract than to always have to add. The book basket is crucial imo, and that's a lot of work each week. We actually ended up ditching the plans you see here in favor of some unit studies. This year we are back to Heart of Dakota. I love and appreciate so much about MFW. Ultimately HOD is a better fit for our family - at least for now :).

  6. I use the VP Old Testament and Ancient Egypt course with my class. We use the cards, CD, and some of the ideas in the Teacher's Manual. What do you include in your student notebook?

    1. I included some of the printable student pages from the PDF that were on the CD.


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