Curriculum..dundundun

I keep meaning to do this, so here it is:

We have an on again/off again homeschooling style (sorry..I know it offends UK folk, but I’ll never get used to saying ‘home-edding’, and just forget ‘home-based edding’..). By that I mean that we have a fairly set curriculum, but it’s entirely hashed together eclectica-style and just about anything can and will interrupt it, be it a homeschooler outing or just a sunny scottish day which is too rare to waste indoors.

So generally, mornings are left as free time. Nyssa is the only morning person in the house, so I’m afraid she has to work around us. After lunch is time for chores (and no, I’m not going to sugarcoat them by calling them ‘happy tasks’, etc. Chores are work and they suck and it’s best that they get used to having to do crappy labor that they’d rather avoid). Our afternoon learning Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays is ‘Unit’ (which currently is anything that can be related to water), maths, and history (we’re currently on ancient civ). Tuesdays and Thursdays is Spanish, spelling, and writing. Weekends are arts/crafts, music, games, leisure reading, etc. though in reality, these activities get interspersed into the week because I can’t bear to go so long with no board games.

Our math program is MathUSee.


Once you get past being taught by a guy who could be Dr. Phil’s brother, it’s quite good. I unnecessarily started the kids in Alpha, which was painfully boring (anyone want two sets of mostly unused books?) but got them used to the idea of manipulatives, ‘decimal street’, etc. We’re in Beta now, which is not much harder, but I do think the kids need reinforcement in their skills before we move on. The program goes up through quite high levels in maths in UK editions, so I imagine we’ll stick with it. It’s also sort of awesome to have a DVD teacher to make fun of, er, learn from.

Our history program is the homeschool mainstay, Bauer’s ‘Story of the World’.


I like it because the text is written in a narrative style which is engaging to my kids. The accompanying activity/resource book usually has at least one decent activity for each lesson. I wish the author spent more time on pre-literate humans, but for obvious reasons that is technically beyond the remit of a historian.

For Spanish we use the latin-american online edition of Rosetta Stone.


I like it a lot, particularly as we have an awesome set-up with a wireless mouse and keyboard on the coffee table and the tv as the monitor. The kids sit at the table, and I sit at the whiteboard easel madly scribbling down new vocab as it’s introduced. I’m not an aural learner, so I insist on written activities and lots of flash card games. Nyssa, I’ve discovered, has a bewildering ability to memorize her vocab.

We use Avco Sequential Spelling, which the kids and I like and teaches the concepts they need. That’s probably all you need in a spelling program, to be honest. I like this one because there’s no pretest/final test with words being abandoned once ‘learned’ nonsense like we had in school. I say a word, the kids try to spell it on their own, and then we correct it then and there before moving to the next. Words get revisited, which is think is very good. One other selling point–particularly as we’re paying in US $$ and you can download your own text to print out, this program is seriously cheap.

Writing is generally just prompts I pull out of my ass, the variety being in whether it’s related to another subject, if it’s to be free-write or formulaic, etc. I’m mostly just looking for the kids to flex their creative muscles, as I find that when they’re delving into their brains for something interesting or funny or shocking, the good vocab and impressive sentence structures come out as well.

Our next craft is going to be silk painting and nuno felting, hopefully at some point a combination thereof. I trawled ebay for the necessary goods, I have a shedload of fibre left over from my Woolfest haul last year, so we’re ready to go. That is, as soon as I clean up the landing, which is our designated craft area. It’s another good weather day today, so as the kids are tearing it up in the garden, I’ll be attending to the mess. Anyway, I was inspired by this lovely gal down south, Rachel, who is textile artist. Here is her felting tutorial: click

I’m lucky in that my kids don’t moan when told to read. It probably helps that I have a generous book-buying policy. At this point I generally try to encourage Nyssa and Joseph to read more reference-type and chapter books, respectively, because they naturally gravitate towards the other. Nyssa is particularly amusing in what she’ll want to read about. I’ve had requests for toilets, mushrooms, and Elvis, for example. Joseph is fairly predictable in what he wants to read–Doctor Who and space books. He has expanded his interests in include Star Wars recently, and we were fairly annoyed to not find any good books for him at the shops. Shall have to try Amazon.

We adore games. Our next acquisitions, inspired by our new grown-up friends we met in the Isle of Wight, are to be Carcasonne and Halli Galli.

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2 Responses to “Curriculum..dundundun”

  1. fairylaura Says:

    Carcasonne! Fantastic game. Alhambra is pretty good too. πŸ™‚

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