Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, I had it almost completely done and...well, it vanished. God is in the deleted blog posts, right?!? ;)

We had a wonderful history year last school year. Making our own plans was a bit cumbersome, but very worth it. This year, we are continuing with the second year of U.S. History. When I sat down to plan the year I assumed like last year we would use The Complete Book of U.S. History as a spine and add in lots of books... However, as I sat down to look it over, I realized that The Complete Book of U.S. History took more of a "social history" turn that we would have liked in the second half. I scoured the shelves and settled on the Veritas Press 1815 to Present cards as a spine. I looked through all the usual lists (Sonlight, TOG, BP) and picked some nonfiction books to provide a great spine alongside the VP cards with The Complete Books of U.S. History to fill in any gaps.

Here is the link to the schedule: U.S. History Year 2 Overview/Schedule

After last year, I have discovered that we really enjoy studying history in chronological units-- for this year, we will be studying the following units:

U.S. History Year 2 Chronological Units:

I. Westward Expansion (1830's-1850's)
II. The Civil War (1840-1870)
III. The U.S. Grows (1865-1900)
IV. Changes (1890-1920)
V. Trouble (1914-1945)
VI. New Frontiers (1950-present)

I picked my topics/units, lined up the VP cards, assigned The Complete Book of U.S. History (though we will most likely only use this when we don't have other resources on hand for the topic), added living books, hands on notebooking, and unit projects. I also scheduled any of the NEST history DVD's we happened to have on hand, but they are not necessary.

Veritas Press cards 1815-Present
The Complete Book of U.S. History

Remember the Alamo
Buffalo Bill
If Your Traveled West in a Covered Wagon
Clara Barton
If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War
If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad
Harriet Tubman
Bully for You Teddy Roosevelt
If Your Name was Changed at Ellis Island
The World Wars
The Story of Ruby Bridges
A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr.

Many of the Sonlight Core E Readers and Read Alouds are scheduled as well. (These can be seen on the schedule.) I scheduled both upper grammar and lower grammar readers (from Sonlight), but not every week has a lower grammar reader. I added what I had on the shelves for my 2nd grader from the SL grade 2, 3, and 4/5 readers that applied to the time period. We will just fill in with the rest whatever he wants to read.

A note about read alouds. Many read alouds are scheduled. We will not read all of them. I am adventurous in my planning, but try to be realistic in my expectations. We will get behind and end up skipping some. Some we will read over the summer, some will remain unread for future use. It is what it is. We are currently 4 weeks into this schedule and still only reading the first scheduled read aloud. It happens. Review weeks (which are scheduled three times throughout the schedule) are great read aloud catch up weeks.

Last year we discovered interactive notebooking. Basically similar to History Pockets or Lapbooking, but you do projects, activities, and interactive notebooking pages that get put into a 3 ring binder, providing you with a wonderful "scrapbook" from your history studies.

Hands on History Pioneers
Hands on History Civil War
Scholastic Interactive maps
TruthQuest History binder builder (American History year 3)
TQ Memory cards and maps (American History-- second half of year 2 and year 3)
VP 1815-Present Teacher's Manual (I used a few of the projects from here, but not many and it is not necessary if you do not have it).

(The Hands on Histories and the Scholastic Interactive maps were purchased during the Scholastic $1 sale). 

Here are a few samples of what the kids have done so far this year:



Projects. I both love them and hate them. My kids love love love them. I love the idea of them, but find that I struggle to actually get them done. Last year we planned one project per unit, and bought a "kit" for as many of those as possible. Amazingly, this way they get done!

I. Westward Expansion (1830's-1850's)-- Covered Wagon, pan for gold
                                               Here is the completed Covered Wagon Project.

II. The Civil War (1840-1870)-- Freedom Quilt (using patterns found online, we will make mini quilts using felt and glue)
III. The U.S. Grows (1865-1900)-- Grow peanuts, make homemade peanut butter
IV. Changes (1890-1920)-- Wright Brothers model airplanes
V. Trouble (1914-1945)--Photojournal of the Great Depression (include recipes and choose one to make)
VI. New Frontiers (1950-present) Man on the Moon diarama

One of the main areas I knew we needed to work on was in review. I have not seen a whole lot of retention in previous years history studies which while it is to be expected from young children, it can still be disheartening.

Timeline Cards
The timeline cards from last year helped significantly and I planned to do them again, until I stumbled on the TruthQuest History timeline cards which were well priced and wonderful. I printed them on cardstock, laminated them, and cut them out. Quite the project, but they are a huge hit so far!


Veritas Press Teachers manual
The VP teacher's guide has worksheets and tests for each card. While I don't have my kids fill them out, they make wonderful jumping off points for discussions and are great for oral review.

History is getting more fun and more engaging every year. The kids love the VP memory song, the timeline games, the hands on history notebooking, and I love all the books. As long as I don't get caught up in trying to do it all, we should be great!

Ready for a great year of U.S. History Year 2!

It's Monday, starting the second week of school. Two kids sit around the kitchen table working on math worksheets, one pretends to sleep in the next room... It is calm, peaceful. . .quiet . . . mornings like these are great. They are just not very usual. Actually they are downright practically nonexistent. In fact by the end of typing that sentence the peaceful moment was gone. It has taken me 10 minutes to write that sentence because of the chaos that can ensue in .2 seconds around here.

I have a type A personality. As in AAA. I appreciate organization and a good plan. As the youngest of 6 children I am no stranger to chaos, and I can appreciate it even, but there are certain areas of my life I like organized and planned. Books and homeschooling fall into this part of my life.

My oldest has inherited my bent for perfectionism. It can get ugly.

A wonderful morning can easily be derailed by a glass of milk spilled all over the table. Normally perhaps no big deal, but add a laptop, an ipad, an iphone, and several hundred dollars of curriculum and . . . yup. Chaos. Chaos derails peace. I feel flustered, frustrated, agitated, and often angry over seamlessly small things.  I am not proud of these moments. Too many of these moments have left me ashamed and defeated. I have allowed circumstances to steal joy and peace too often.

This summer I spent some time reading and listening to speakers online. The message was constant: Learn to find peace in the chaos. I read Teaching From Rest: A Homeschoolers Guide to Unshakeable Peace,  a WONDERFUL book I would recommend to any homeschool mom. Such a good word! I was all poised for a RESTFUL and PEACEFUL experience in our homeschool this year.

And then <enter children> real life, didn'tgetthememotoberestful children.

Day one went pretty well. Day two ok. Day three rough and day 4 downright horrible. I was sending SOS texts to my husband, ready to send my 2nd grader to school...locking myself in the bathroom. Why? Ummm I think it involved clocks. You know past/ many hours from 3am to 9pm....yup. Craziness. How can something so simple go so . . . wrong. There was no peace. No restful teaching. Only chaos. I was defeated. I was so upset with myself. I had such unmet high expectations...of myself.

My printer kept going offline the entire two weeks before school I was printing and planning. The first week of school it was still an issue. A working printer is a major necessity in our homeschool. I was sending frustrated texts to my husband. Why have you not fixed this? What is the issue? I need a new printer!

I listened to a short audio this summer that was wonderful-- "Why Homeschool?" . . . (a few theological issues if you are not Catholic, but hey! The point was great) where the speaker talked about how God is in the spilled milk. We often get frustrated by things like spilled milk (or broken printers . . . or kids who can't tell time) and focus on how the distraction is "taking us away" from what we have to do. However, the speaker states that God is the author of the spilled milk. The spilled milk, the broken printer, the child staring blankly at the window-- that is what God had planned for that moment. The broken printer is God's will for my life at that moment.

Who am I to get frustrated or angry at God's will? Who am I to question the perfect will of the sovereign God? The same God that controls the wind and the waves controls the spilled milk and the dysfunctional printer. I am called to rest in His sovereignty. The chaos that all too often reigns? The distractions. The unavoidable yet unwelcomed hiccups in the day? Embrace them. God doesn't care whether or not we finish the math page, but he does care about how I treat His children. He cares about the relationship. And so do I.

Prayerfully approaching today with diligence, grace, and rest . . . even though the printer is still broken.

I cannot believe we started our new school year last week. I usually start planning the next school year before the current one even begins and then tweak the plan along the way. As we begin the 2014-2015 school year, this is the line up that made the cut (subject to change at any moment of course!):


4th Grade


Math Mammoth 4B-5A (starting the year with a lot of review before we jump in using the Math Mammoth review books)


First Language Lessons 4 

CAP Writing and Rhetoric Narrative 1 (for the Fall, unsure where we will go for the spring)

Rod and Staff Spelling (finish 4 and move onto 5)
Evan Moore daily reading comprehension

2nd Grade


Math Mammoth 2B-3A


Writing with Ease 2

First Language Lessons 2

Handwriting without Tears 2 

All About Spelling 2 (move to 3 when we finish)

Sonlight readers



ASK Science Kits (Weather, Matter, & Human Body) with the Usborne Encyclopedia, notebooking, and videos.

U.S. History Year 2/Modern (a mix of Veritas Press, Sonlight, and TruthQuest)
Outside science and history classes 1x a month


Sara Jordan's Bilingual Songs/ Duolingo (E)

Bible Study Guide for All Ages year 3


Singapore Math Essentials

All About Reading Pre-level

Handwriting without Tears Pre-K

Five in a Row vol. 1 (very lightly)

2014-2015 Curriculum

by on 9:09 AM
I cannot believe we started our new school year last week. I usually start planning the next school year before the current one even begins ...
We just completed our first day NOT back to school. This summer seriously flew by and even up to last night I had my doubts about actually going through with starting school today. I am glad we did, as we had a successful first day. Well, no one cried and I didn't lock myself in a bathroom so that counts as a success, right?!?

J was literally jumping up and down last night in excitement and anticipation of school today. E was excited too, though a little more subdued. C-- well, he just assumes the euphoric world of summer Wii and Legos continue forever . . .

They all were up and dressed early and we jumped into a lesson of Bible Study Guide for all Ages. (The intermediate lessons take so long, I have negotiated with myself to be content with half a lesson a day.) ;)

After Bible, we ventured into the first day of school pic adventure. I refused to get frustrated over first day pics so they are what they are! ;) (oh and it was starting to rain so it was a quick point and shoot!)

E started the day at the piano at 8:30 while C and J played a bit.  We all started Bible at 9:00 and the morning ensued a rather fast paced revolving door of mom's attention. J's first day of Pre-K 4 was an amazing success as even now she is in the other room drawing the Yangtze River and a house boat, though school for the day is done.

C escaped to his Legos just after 2 when the final Spanish Greetings review was completed. E is finishing up her day reading a few chapters from American Girl Meet Kirsten. J is walking around saying si, por favor (yeah, no context whatsoever, but hey! It's cute!)

It's funny, I assured myself we would not be a slave to the schedule today...we would take it how it went and be relaxed (this year my homeschool goal is "teaching from rest" and yet, amazingly everything on the plan got accomplished, and though I am deliriously tired, I think everyone is still smiling. That may never happen again, but I will take it today.

It felt like a long day . . . J played most of the day but had just enough interaction with me to keep her content and engaged, but C worked consistently until lunch and then after a little break finished out history, Spanish, and a read aloud. E's only break was lunch and she just walked down the stairs to end her day...8:30-2:45. Since that includes piano, read aloud, and lunch-- I imagine it is as realistic as we are going to be for 4th grade. (I do assume we will get more efficient as time goes by.) Unfortunately that only leaves 45 minutes until she heads off to 3.5 hours of gymnastics. Busy kid!

4th grade, 2nd grade, and Pre-K 4 are under way!

How about a FREE PRINTABLE for your first day of school. Don't forget to leave a comment, I would love to hear about your first day adventures!


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