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8th Grade Mid Year Homeschool Curriculum Review

This year had me a little anxious when it came to Zachary taking a few high school classes (truth be told). He and I had a few great conversations prior to (and during) this school year to make sure he was ready and prepared for a little more accountability and intensity (if you will) associated with taking a class for a credit. 

Here’s the thing: I am very much of the mindset that not all of my kids are on the same academic course. Do I want them to excel in their studies? Absolutely. Will they all put the same effort in? Likely no. Not all of our kids will be dual enrolled in the community college. And that is JUST FINE. Really – it’s fabulous.

That said, I’m really pleased with how Zachary has been doing and working so far this year. Granted there are days when he would prefer to put in the absolute minimal effort required to get an assignment completed, but we are finding a good groove, tailoring things to his interests and strengths, and moving from there. Ah, the joys of homeschooling! 

8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Here’s the mid-year look at how each of these subject areas is progressing: 

Math: We are loving the online version of  Algebra 1 from Teaching Textbooks – not needing to worry about WHICH computer we log on to the program with (or where) has made things so much easier. There are a few things he keeps tripping up over, but fortunately each time he is figuring it out more quickly. 

Physical Science: One of the things I love most about our Physical Science from Exploration Education are the hands-on labs and building projects Zachary has to complete. There are times when he is learning that he can’t just throw something together and skip steps (shocking, I know), and fortunately for him (or much to his dismay) I have enough leftover pieces from prior lab kits with the girls that he is able to rework something he may have done incorrectly – and slow down to get it done right.

He’s had the most fun (and frustration) making the steamboat since it actually floated and worked. And also because it involved matches. 

Geography: I wasn’t quite sure how geography would go over with Zachary this year since it involved a whole lot more memorization and reading for him as well as sometimes having to dig for answers, but he has done great with North Star Geography. He is working through the program over two years, rather than one year like his sisters did and in some ways I like that option (although I do feel he could push himself a bit more as well). 

Prior to this year we haven’t done a lot of weekly quizzes or tests with him, it’s been more 1:1, but with this being a high school class I’m wanting more a paper trail (call me paranoid). But he has done SO WELL and been learning a lot. 

Language: We definitely could be doing a bit more with this program than we are, but with the shift in reading material (see below), Zachary has worked through the units for books he has completed and then we have skipped over some material that I felt he didn’t need to work on because it overlapped something we have already covered or he has already mastered that specific area – a bonus to homeschooling !

Poetry: We’ve finished up the bulk of  Grammar of Poetry, and one of the best parts of the class was participating in a poetry workshop at a nearby Shakespeare theatre. It was a full-day event and tied in so well with the program we were using. 

Reading: Zachary has read a few books that tie-in with the Learning Language Arts Through Literature (Gray) program, but in December I may have upped the ante for him a little bit. He is NOT a reader (not a fan of reading, rather). So we discussed various book series he might enjoy (because of course whatever I choose is never enjoyable – just insert me rolling my eyes here). 

He decided to read some of the Harry Potter books – and YOU ALL. The boy has been reading for school each day WITHOUT COMPLAINING and some nights staying up until late to read just a bit more in the book. He finished one this weekend and spent much of his Sunday afternoon with me and reading. It was so great to see. For his reading out of school time, I may have also thrown in some bonus Fortnite time to reward him – but he has now declared that it is his favorite series ever – so huge win.  

Writing: We are working through the second half of the WriteShop Basic Set 2 program. Zachary has been doing really well with this program as well and his writing has improved so much, other than typical grammatical errors and his usual here-and-there spelling mistakes because he doesn’t run spell check. 

Spelling: Confession: we’ve only done 2 lessons of All About Spelling Levels 6 . Yep. Need to step it up a little here. 

Art: Confession #2. Zero art with either of the boys. Big fat zero, nada, nothing. In my defense, they are very involved in swimming and Boy Scouts. If starting fires can count as art, Zachary is passing with flying colors. 

Bible Studies: I held off in this area until after Christmas break, so the boys and I will be starting the Do Right study this coming week, just after our halfway point.

Swim Team and Boy Scouts – Zachary has not only grown taller, but he’s gotten so much stronger this year. Just after Christmas, he was asked to join the Level 1 group of our swim team. He’s been dropping time like crazy in his events, qualified for the state swim meet, and is so close in several events to qualifying for nationals. 

Traveling to Pittsburg with our team was a big step for him this year and he’s really been pushing himself to both work hard and improve his stroke technique. The season hasn’t been without struggle though. We lost our primary coaches in October and were thrilled to have a new head coach join the team, but he was only able to stay a short time because of a health issue with a family member. Despite all of those changes though, it’s wonderful to see Zachary’s improvement. 

Boy Scouts continues to be one of Zachary’s priorities as well and he will be ranking up at the next Court of Honor (and thinking of Eagle Scout projects next!). They haven’t had the opportunity to camp as much lately since the weather has been crazy ridiculous with ice one weekend and rain/sleet/FRIGID temperatures another. While they have camped in snow before, the 20 degree temps weren’t something to get too excited about. 

That’s about it for our mid-year wrap up.

How are things going with your homeschool time? 

 

Planning the Middle and High School Years

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

One thing that has been a huge help to me in mapping out the upcoming years with our kids  is this middle school and high school planner. Essentially I am able to get an extended view and map out the future years to see what we need to work on and when it might fit in best -and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall. 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

 

 

 

 

8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

My word for Zachary this year is FOCUS. He is a boy with many interests who can excel in many things, but sometimes his focus can be hard to refine. Along with the focus, we are honing in on doing things well and completely (the first time).

He is a teenage boy. :) 

Both of our girls worked on a few more credits their 8th grade year, but if anything I’m realizing that each of our kids has different learning curves, interests, and also doesn’t need to start on credits as early. Yes, it’s a bonus, but not a necessity. That said, Zachary isn’t in the same place academically (and that’s perfectly fine), so he will be working on 3.5 credits overall throughout the year. 

Below you’ll get a peek at our 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices – a look at the new (and favorite) programs we are using for the upcoming school year. An * depicts curriculum/programs that are new to us this year. 

*feed readers, please click over to the blog for some of the additional links to curriculum

8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 3.5

 

Math

We have the paper version of the Algebra 1 book, but this year Zachary will be working on the online version of Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1 (3.0). It follows along with the book, and I’m excited that I can log in on my laptop and see what he is doing since everything is stored online! (He’ll earn 1 credit for this class.)

Geography

Another program we will be using again is North Star Geography. In the past we have worked through it in one year, but this time we are choosing the two year schedule for Zachary. When completed, he will have earned a full credit as a high school class. 

Language & Spelling

Zachary will be using Learning Language Arts Through Literature Gray, and his reading will be tied in with his language/grammar program. There are four main books as the focus of the curriculum: Daddy-Long-Legs, A Lantern in Her Hand, Eric Liddell, and God’s Smuggler.   We will likely add on an extra book or two over the course of the year, but these are the four we will start with. 


This year we will also be working through the Grammar of Poetry from Compass Classroom. There is a local workshop that will tie-in with what we are learning in the program, and Zachary will earn .5 a high school credit for this class. We will also be continuing with All About Spelling Levels 6  for spelling. 

Writing

We will be continuing with the second half of WriteShop (Zachary completed WriteShop Basic Set 1 last year). Used it with both girls and LOVE it! 

Science

Both Laurianna and McKenna used Physical Science from Exploration Education. When they worked through the program, they were in a smaller group co-op setting, so this year will be a little different with Zachary doing it with me each week, but he is really looking forward to the program and the hands-on projects.

Swimming

Zachary and Kaleb have both asked to swim the full year again. With Zachary’s growth the last year, he has been dropping time like crazy and is hoping to qualify for nationals (he did last year), but this year will definitely be more difficult for him. The last few months have seen him becoming more focused on what he enjoys and loves and how it will impact him in the future (thinking ahead to college – yikes!).

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with Zachary the past few years:

Planning the Middle and High School Years

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

One thing that has been a huge help to me in mapping out the upcoming years with our kids  is this middle school and high school planner. Essentially I am able to get an extended view and map out the future years to see what we need to work on and when it might fit in best -and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall. 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.

7th Grade Mid-Year Homeschool Update

The past few days I’ve shared a mid-year update for our 11th grader and also one for our 9th grader – today, our 7th grader, Zachary, is on deck.

In the first bit of this school year, our boy managed to become both a teenager and also pass me in height. Zachary is currently eyeball-to-eyeball with his dad, but OY!

Incidentally, boy wonder has one of two dress codes, even when the weather is freezing: a sweatshirt and pants or NO SHIRT and shorts. Because of his growth spurt lately, I’m rather inclined to let the shorts go all winter and not deal with finding him pants unless absolutely necessary. (true story)

I’ve realized we have very few pictures of him this year. Someone isn’t as happy to see the camera pulled out most days. :) 

7th Grade Homeschool Update

One thing that we started this year – watching CNN10 in the morning with both boys. They have really enjoyed this addition (and it’s only 10 minutes to our day). Our biggest frustration with it is our streaming speed. Inevitably it freezes up as we are watching and it’s easy to get distracted and/or sidetracked because they want to finish it. 

Here’s a peek at what we have been working on this year for 7th grade: 

 

History – One of the main switch ups for us this year was our history program. Granted, it wasn’t huge, but around the end of October Zachary mentioned that he wasn’t particularly enjoying the history we were using (not a set curriculum per se, but it just wasn’t working overall). After one lesson, Zachary started spouting off all this information about the topic that he had learned years prior via Mystery of History

At that point he asked if we could use that program instead. We’ve gone through the set with the kids in years prior and have all the books, so we pulled them out and have been working through books 1 and 2 instead. 

Writing – This is one area that is pushing Zachary into a bit more independence this year. I had his WriteShop 1 text printed and spiral bound which has been GREAT for him – mainly because he can’t lose it. (cough)

Not that my child loses anything. Ever. 

I truly love the WriteShop program and the foundation it lays for future years with our kids. It has been instrumental in helping our girls become the writers they are and is encouraging to see Zachary working hard in this area as well. 

Boy Scouts – Granted, I know it’s not on the list, but Zachary has been rather motivated by Boy Scouts this year and moving up in rank. Kaleb was able to join this fall too. His troop is working through one badge a month (above would be part of his cooking badge). 

It’s been great too seeing him take his brother alongside and help him out with Scouts as well and also more leadership with his troop. He ultimately would like to become an Eagle Scout by the time he is 16. 

Science – This is one area that Zachary has been moving through rather quickly. Typically he is supposed to work through 2 lessons and one lab each week, but he ends up working on more lessons. 

He’ll complete his book before the end of the year for sure, so we are looking at some other options (STEM related) for him to add-on. 

Co-op – We only have one co-op we are a part of this year, and Zachary has been working on a forensics class. It’s one we pieced together using several different texts for our middle schoolers and has focused on different areas such as handwriting samples, fingerprints, and other similar topics the last few months. 

Bible – Zachary has almost finished up the last two books in the Who is God series. This is another area that he has been working ahead in. 

Vocabulary: We actually haven’t started this yet! We will be starting after the first of January on this. 

MathPre-Algebra is actually going great! Truly. :) It may not be his favorite of all subjects, but he is doing well and that’t the important part. 

 

How is YOUR year going so far? 

7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Many of Zachary’s 7th grade subjects will be worked on independently, but history and read-alouds are areas he and Kaleb will be joining up together. We are cycling through history and will be starting up this year with world history. 

Zachary definitely needs a little (or a lot) of direction throughout the day. He never stops moving. Or talking. (grins) This year we will be focusing on responsibility, serving others, and following through on projects (even though we might not always enjoy what we’re doing). This will be the first year Zachary will use a full Student Planner, but he is actually looking forward to it (and I know I’ll have to keep up with him to write things down too). 

7th Grade Curriculum Choices

One subject I think Zachary will really enjoy this year is the Word Up Vocabulary program from Compass Classroom. McKenna absolutely loved it when she used it a few years ago (both funny and engaging), so I think it will be a great fit. 

Co-op Learning



We are still in the midst of co-op planning for the upcoming year. At the moment we have plans for Zachary to help out with the 4th and 5th grade boys on STEM projects, but we may see if there is something else we can work in for him. 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with Zachary the past few years:

Planning Middle School

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

These free middle and high school planning printables have been such a huge help to us as we started mapping out Zachary’s middle and high school years. As much as I don’t want to think about the fact that he is growing up, it has helped me look at the bigger picture and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall.

 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

 

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

I’ll be sharing more in the upcoming days and weeks on what our other kids are studying this year, so stay tuned for those posts. 

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2017

 

What subjects are you excited to work on this year with your kids?

Just One Peanut (and a whole lotta laughing)

Sometimes you overhear conversations between kids and just have to scratch your head. Or laugh out loud for HOURS after when the conversation comes back to mind. 

Zachary (age 12) was in search of a peanut for a science project, and the following conversation took place between him and Kaleb (age 10). Why this particular situation even happened in the first place? I have no idea. But I do know that it possibly speaks to my pantry cleaning abilities (although I have no idea how long it has been hiding). 

So I just continue to laugh. 

 

Zach: I need a peanut for my experiment but I don’t know where to get one.

Kaleb: Just one peanut?

Zach: Yeah.

Kaleb: Only one?

Zach: Yeah…

Kaleb: I have one.

Zach: What?

Kaleb: Here I’ll show you. *leads Zach to pantry*

Zach: You have just a single peanut?

Kaleb: Yeah look. *pulls cereal boxes away to reveal single peanut sitting on the shelf* *picks up peanut* Here.

Zach: Why… do you have this?

Kaleb: I put it there a while ago. I was saving it.

 
Apparently being the fourth child means one has to hoard and ration food, wherever one is able. Because I have NO idea when the last time was that we had peanuts in the house.
 
For real. 

Our Homeschool Happenings – First 9 Weeks of 2016

My plans to keep updates on our homeschool happenings every two to three weeks are way overdue. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been working hard at school, just that a momma has been a wee bit sidetracked with other things and at times has a lack of pictures to share (especially of the older two). 

We have officially finished nine weeks of homeschool. Gah! The last week of October we took a week off, which gave me a little bit of a chance to re-evaluate where we were with each of the kids and tweak our schedules to make sure we were getting everything in that needed to be done, including adjusting things as necessary (i.e. laying down the law with a kiddo or two and making sure they were back on track). 

I will say, that means also taking a hard look at a few of the things I am (or am not doing) and making plans to follow through in those areas. I’m just as guilty of ignoring some things and thinking I’ll tackle it later, which can be both to my detriment and the kids. Although we have a weekly schedule, there are subjects that are very easy to put to the side and say we will get to them ‘tomorrow’. We have a lot of tomorrows stacking up in our house, people. Am I alone in this? 

That said, here is a quick sum-up of what we have been doing the last six weeks (or so) by kiddo. 

4th Grade –  Kaleb

View our 4th grade curriculum choices HERE. 

 reading-with-amelia-bedelia

Our biggest focus this year has been improving Kaleb’s reading skills. While there have been a few days with tears (from both myself and him), the last month and a half has shown remarkable improvement for him. While we are using the lessons from All About Reading 3 still, we have currently put aside the reader and picked out a huge stack of books from the library for him to read to me. His current favorites are from the Frog and Toad series (or Amelia Bedelia), so he will typically read one story a day to me from the reader. I’m not sure what it is about the AAR readers that gets him worked up (I think the smaller and tighter text overwhelms him, because he quickly says the same words in other settings – it’s interesting). That said, I’m not stressing about it right now because his fluency has picked up and he is reading with inflection and happily – so we are good for now. I do feel the AAR lessons are still very important because they show him how to break down words and read proficiently as well. 

super slime

We haven’t had a formal curriculum this year with Kaleb (which I am having a love/hate relationship with). Together he and I have picked out experiments to work on. In October we worked through a few different homeschool science kits and otherwise are using the book Smithsonian Maker Lab as our guide for the year. The hands-on experiments have been a great incentive for Kaleb to keep up in all his other subjects too. :)  You can see how we made the above in this Facebook video – a fun and quick lesson on molecules. 

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The boys have been working on history and we are currently studying the American Revolution. At home we are working through lessons and once a week we get together with a few other friends for hands-on projects. In the last few weeks we have tried a few colonial dishes, created gardening tools from deer bones and sticks, making a simple compass, and taken a few field trips to learn about colonial life and Native American tribes. Based on the above picture you can tell one of the cooking projects wasn’t well received (hasty pudding). The ginger cakes though – HUGE hit! Overall it’s been a very relaxed learning time and so much fun. 

homeschool world geography

Geography has been slow-going at best, but we’re taking it slower because that’s what Kaleb wants to do (and I’m all good with that). We’ve gone over basic world geography and while we aren’t doing super in-depth studies of each country, if Kaleb wants to look at something more we go ahead and do that. He really enjoys using Little Passports whenever we have a chance because he can also get online and play games to go along with the countries we study. 

writeshop E lesson

We held off starting our WriteShop D lessons until three weeks into school and now we are having a great time working through the activities. Kaleb doesn’t like the physical part of writing, so he dictates his stories to me and we work on them that way. When he has a final copy, and depending on the length of his story/project, he might copy a portion of it of the entire thing. 

spelling you see lesson

One thing we have added to our daily routine for Kaleb is Spelling You See C. We didn’t have a handwriting program this year, so we are using it primarily for that purpose and also for additional reading practice.  He loves the daily practice and it has also been great for him to work on daily identifying various vowel blends and additional reading and dictation work.  

Ivy Kids Pezzettino Kit

Another thing we try to work on several times a week are a few of the activities from one of our Ivy Kids Kits. Sometimes it’s a simple activity like creating a puzzle or a writing activity, and other times we had a chance to play with some fun new art products. Above were three activities we did to go along with our Pezzettino book. 

6th Grade – Zachary

View our 6th grade curriculum HERE

robotics for kids - Q the robot from EEME project

Zachary has absolutely been loving his robotics project from EEME. The most recent one he worked on has really piqued his interest in robotics. We have had so much fun playing with Q the Robot too. :) 

reading in the dark

A few days ago I shared a picture of Zachary, albeit blurry, but it was one that literally brought tears to my eyes. Two years ago, Zachary was in the same boat as Kaleb when it came to reading, but at the start of his fourth grade year, something literally “clicked” for him. 

We had a swim meet this past weekend and Zachary brought along three books with him to read. Not one – THREE. And a flashlight so he could read in the car on the return trip. Diary of a Wimpy Kids may not have been my first choice of reading for him initially, but now that he chooses to read on his own, I’m a huge fan. :) Especially since he read five books from the series over the course of the weekend. 

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Zachary’s planning sheets are doing well keeping him on track (most weeks). He still has a difficult time staying focused throughout the day and tends to be the wanderer in our group. :) Having him write down his daily work and track it himself has been a good stretch in independence for him. Overall he is staying on target with his subjects (and may be ahead in one, but please don’t tell him that quite yet!). 

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Every now and then the boys take a break together to work on LEGOs or Little Bits together. In the above they were creating a soccer ball kicking machine. 

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Field trips have been something we’ve really focused on this fall too. All of them have focused around our US history studies, including a trip to Monticello where we toured the gardens and shelled beans together. One of the best parts of our field trips this year has been taking them with another local family. In case field trip are something you push off to the side for another day, you may want to check out my post  Your Homeschool Needs a Field Trip

 

Another thing Zachary has really been enjoying is his time in Boy Scouts. Rick and I are still trying to wrap our brains around how the badges and various ranks all fall into place, but he has been working hard toward advancing to First Class by taking on added responsibilities with his troop. Unfortunately for me, this means he is even more into fires, knives, and also poison ivy. :) The bulk of his birthday and Christmas presents revolve around items he would like for camping and Scouts – which is a good thing!

8th Grade – McKenna

View our 8th grade homeschool curriculum HERE. 

high school physical science

McKenna has finally gotten into a groove with her schedule of classes. The first few weeks were a little bit hectic/crazy and she felt overwhelmed, but she has really embraced her studies and jumped all in. The physical science class has her working on many hands-on projects (above she is building a miniature house that will have wiring). She has also worked on a glider, boat, and battery powered car as well. 

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North Star Geography honestly scared the girl a bit at first and she went overboard crazy memorizing every tiny detail on maps. Since then she has been working at a pace that is keeping her on target in her class and she loves the hands-0n aspect of the class as well. In the unit covering the structure of the earth, she created a ‘lava lamp’ of sorts to learn about the earth’s mantle. It honestly makes me happy that she and Laurianna still are able to include so many hands-on learning helps with their curriculum instead of having it be just reading and memorization. 

high school lit 

Speaking of reading, McKenna has logged in some major reading already this year and is now fully into reading Jane Eyre. As time consuming as the class is, it has been great to see her digging into literature and writing some solid papers for her literature class.  

10th Grade – Laurianna 

View our 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices HERE

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Most days, this is where you will find Laurianna – on her bed, headphones in and working hard on schoolwork. With the boys moving around a lot in the school room, she finds it easier to focus on her work where it’s a little quieter. 

apologia chemistry - candy bonds

Chemistry might be a rather dull class all by itself, but when you add candy to equation (literally), it can perk it right up. Laurianna is working on a chemistry lab with one of our friends and they had a very candy-filled day to go along with learning various bonds during Apologia Chemistry time.

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Granted the above image doesn’t quite seem to fit in with anything, but we may have had a little bit of fun using SnapChat filters during a semi-boring video on Benjamin Franklin. Mind you, I rather enjoyed the video, but the kids were starting to lose interest, so we opened up a few filters and brought the laughter in.  Seriously you all – sometimes we just need to have a little fun. Colonial times never looked quite so hilarious…

notgrass history creative assignment

Laurianna’s artwork overall has been fun to see from her general art class, but during Exploring America from Notgrass history time she has turned in several different projects that I have loved. She wrote and illustrated a children’s book, “George Washington’s ABCs” and above is one of the pages from the book. It is seriously adorable and may have earned her some huge points. :) 

That’s the sum-up from the last nine weeks or so. How is your school time going with your family? 

 

Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices…

Click any of the images below to see our homeschool picks for the current school year. You’ll also find links to past year’s choices in each post. 

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016