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Eighth Grade Year in Review – Homeschool Curriculum Choices

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8th Grade Homeschool Year in Review

Laurianna’s eighth grade year was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. Seriously. Somehow the start of last year really had me realizing that every little thing mattered. We were on the verge of HIGH SCHOOL, deciding if she would be taking high school credits and the panic set in.

The bulk of Laurianna’s work was independent, although there were several classes that we did in a co-op setting, because we have some fabulous friends and it was much fun interacting with a few other high schoolers (and commiserating together on their science or literature woes). Laurianna is very dedicated and responsible in managing her time, so although we had talked about what programs she would use, she put together her own schedule for the weeks and years. There were a few times we had to review her plans and reorganize things, but otherwise we met weekly to go through her work, correct papers, and look at what was coming up next.

You can see all of our 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices for the 2014-15 year here, but below you’ll get a good look at what we used for Laurianna’s eighth grade year and what we will be continuing on with in the upcoming year.


The plan: North Star Geography (1 credit) and Wondermaps


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Hands-down, North Star Geography from Bright Ideas Press was the BEST addition to our curriculum and Laurianna’s workload. If there was one thing I heard constantly, it was how much she absolutely loved the program and it was her favorite. She earned a full credit for the program, and I rather loved the grading sheet that was a part of the program (and did all the computing for me).

There were many hands-on projects that Laurianna worked on throughout the year, and I hope to share her hydroponics project with you all soon. Between mapping, learning country facts, and the well-laid out program, it was a definite win for our year.


Physical Science from Exploration Education (1 credit), The Fossil Book and The Cave Book from Masterbooks (1/2 credit)

Glider from Everday Exploration

Science was one subject that we worked on with a very small co-op this year (four kids). One of the moms took on the weekly teaching and the kids were responsible for the reading assignments during the week and working on their lab projects (these varied from building a glider, a miniature house, solar-powered fan, or other projects). The kids each brought their assignments during the co-op meeting and ran additional experiments together and had their lab booklets checked out as well.  Overall, Laurianna really enjoyed the program, especially the hands-on projects.

Her second semester she started working on the two Masterbook science classes for a total of 1/2 credit. Both of these books are counting toward her elective classes.


Introduction to Literature (1 credit)

Homeschool Week in Review-17

Literature was another class that we opted to work on together in our small co-op. This was the class that I taught and having the small group worked very well. Each week we spent time talking about various writing techniques and reviewing the most recent assignments together. Writing is one area that is so important because it covers so many different aspects of life and will follow the kids wherever they go! This year we focused on putting together a strong essay (see the fun hamburger essay outline that Laurianna drew for herself and friends).

Hamburger essay outline for literature

Next year we will be working through the next book in this literature series. We read some fabulous books together (see Laurianna’s reading list here) and at the end of each unit we watched a movie version of the book to compare/contrast if it followed the book or completely digressed (more often then not it was the latter – but it was still fun).

The best part in working with the small group was the opportunity to work on peer reviews and share different writing styles with each other. Having someone else read, edit, and review your papers can be very intimidating, but the kids all handled it so well.

It is also here that I remembered why I though teaching high school English was not the direction I wanted to head. While I love many of the aspects of the class, having four papers to grade each week was crazy enough and I cannot even imagine having a crazy amount of papers to review each day/week.

My only ‘complaint’ with the program was the not-so-clear-cut grading scale/rubric. For my sanity I ended up creating a grading rubric for each type of paper, along with checklists for the kids to review before handing papers in. These were similar in style to the ones that I was familiar with from WriteShop, giving the kids and parents a clear idea of what was expected and how they could improve papers.

Grammar & Spelling

Easy Grammar 180 Daily Teaching Lessons, All About Spelling Levels 6 & 7

This was a fairly ‘light’ area for Laurianna this year. The Easy Grammar lessons were overall review for her, and we did spelling lessons sporadically throughout the year. She is a very proficient speller and we will finish up level 7 with her next year.


Algebra 1 from Saxon Math (1 credit)

Saxon Algebra 1

Algebra is probably one of Laurianna’s least favorite subjects overall. She is still muddling through two tests and reviewing some of the material – it just isn’t her favorite area. While she didn’t struggle completely, it was the subject that took her the longest to complete each day and made her eyes want to gloss over.

Next year she is still debating on using Saxon for Algebra 2 or moving back to Teaching Textbooks. The main reason for the switch to Saxon was one of her friends was using Saxon, so she wanted to as well. We’ll have to decide in the next bit, but fortunately have both on hand just in case.


Greek Myths from Memoria Press (1/2 credit)

Laurianna really enjoyed reading the Percy Jackson series, so she thought that Greek Myths would be along the same lines. It wasn’t quite what she expected and while it started out okay, she now wishes she would have chosen something else as a 1/2 credit elective. (grins) She did finish the class during her first semester and earned the 1/2 credit, but has mentioned to her younger sister that it might not be the best option for her. Overall a good lesson in perseverance and finishing what we start.

Foreign Language

Spanish Tell Me More program (1 credit)

We didn’t quite get the first year finished and had a glitch in our software. When the program was initially purchased, Tell Me More was their own company, but they were bought out by Rosetta Stone. Trying to figure out how to get past our glitch was put on the back burner since we weren’t sure where to go for customer service. Fortunately, because we started it her 8th grade year, we have a little bit of wiggle room and will finish it up and move on to year 2 shortly.


Dynamic Literacy Word Build Elements

Although we intended for Laurianna to work on this, we ended up shelving it because she was working on so much with literature and Daily Grams.


Mystery of History 4 combined with Story of the World 4 (see below); Liberty Kids dvd series

Laurianna worked primarily on taking good notes this year and getting ready for an independent class next year. She took the quizzes to go along with the class as well but decided to skip the coloring pages (grins).


Picture Smart Bible – wrapping up our Old Testament Studies and 90 Devotions for Kids – morning devotions

The Picture Smart Bible coloring pages were something Laurianna enjoyed, although our switch back to Grapevine Studies was her favorite study overall.


PE, Art, and other electives

homeschool January 2015-36

The other co-op we were a part of included an art class that Laurianna really enjoyed. This year they worked on creating marionettes and decided to make characters from the book of Esther. When they were finished, they helped sew the costumes, created scene backdrops, wrote a play, and put on a 15 minute presentation for the co-op.

Click the images below to see our 2nd Grade Year in Review4th Grade Year in Review, and 6th Grade Year in Review. Stick around too – I’ll be sharing our curriculum choices for the upcoming school year soon!

2nd Grade Homeschool Year in Review 4th Grade Homeschool Year in Review

6th grade homeschool year in review


New to Homeschooling?

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! Here are a few posts that you might find helpful as you discover what is best for your family. Be sure to 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

Additional Resources: Unfamiliar with some of the curriculum choices above? Follow the links below to learn more about the companies and resources:

Curriculum Choices from Years Past…

If you’d like to see what curriculum we’ve used in years past, click on one of the posts below. Grade levels taught each year are listed with the posts.

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy .

10 great tips for people who are teaching a struggling learner


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  1. Thank you so much for your posts on middle school and high school. My oldest of 7 children is starting 9th this year, I am nervous to say the least. I appreciate your detailed and organized information, very helpful!

    • You can do it, girl!! Last year was a huge (deep breath) year for me, but it was so much easier than I thought it would be. Yes, there are different challenges and things to focus on, but it was really wonderful. I will definitely be sharing more this year from our older two! Let me know if you have any questions! :)

  2. Demetria says

    I have an 8th grader this school year and things really do change as they grow older. We enjoy some
    If the curriculum you mentioned- namely Grapevine studies. Anyway, have an awesome upcoming
    School year!

  3. Stephanie C says

    I have a rising 8th grader and 7th grader, and it’s starting to sink in what that means and how I need to focus their studies. I really appreciate seeing what your older students are doing, as well as hearing how things worked out over the course of the year.

    I have two questions. First, what resources (book, articles, seminars, etc.) have most helped you feel comfortable about homeschooling through high school? Second, I’m planning on using Campbell’s Introduction to Literature. Would you mind sharing your rubrics and checklists, if not on the blog maybe via email? Or share tips on how you formulated those? I have a degree in secondary English Ed and taught middle school language arts, but I still feel intimidated about these upcoming years. Thank you!

    • Stephanie – as far as resources go, our local homeschool convention (HEAV – Home Educators of Virginia) had some great sessions available. I bought the mp3s so that I could be encouraged throughout the year. I also have a great friend that is at the same point and walking alongside me, so that always helps!

      I would be more than happy to share the files with you for the Intro to Lit! I’m hoping to share them eventually on the blog, but feel free to email me and I can send you what I have via email as well. I have a degree in English Ed too, and I know how overwhelming it can feel and be!! You are always more than welcome to email me if you need encouragement!

      (hugs girl!!)

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