The pandemic has fueled demand for academic lessons outside of core curriculum, as districts seek flexibility and digital materials that engage students.
Hi friends! We’re nearing the half-way mark for our homeschool year, and so today I’m sharing our 9th grade mid-year curriculum review, and letting you know what’s working and what’s not!
Since we’re doing mostly online work for my 9th grader this year, I knew it would be a bit intense and take more time than in years past. I think overall we’re happy with our choice, and I’m not ready to toss anything out at this point. But I will say that doing history, math, science, and Spanish, all online, has been a challenge.
Each of our online subjects take about an hour, and then of course she has English, Writing, and Literature on top of that. So she is definitely putting in some work this year! I think looking back I would probably choose the same curriculum, mainly because I want to keep her on track for graduation. However, I might have used something like Story of the World or Abeka (text book based) for history, or possibly skipped a formal writing curriculum for the year. I feel fairly confident in her writing skills, and since many of her subjects already require her to do writing assignments, we could have probably skipped it this year. As a matter of fact, as some of you may know, she’s already an author!
But in the spirit of not quitting, we have decided to go ahead and finish out the year! That said, I have eased up on some of the BJU assignments that are given out. If you’ve used BJU Press before you’ll know that they have several quizzes, reports, tests, essays, and projects due for each subject. As we go through our week we decide which of those we want to do and which we want to skip. I’ve also allowed her a little leeway on tests, so for example, she has had times where there were a few major tests scheduled all on the same day. If that happens I will usually allow her to spread them out and take one a day instead.
All in all she’s doing well with her schedule, and while I am giving her some leeway as I mentioned before, I also think it’s an good time to start teaching those important time management skills. When she gets to college she will be dealing with managing her classes, and most likely will have multiple tests per day. Especially around mid-terms and finals, so we’re working through that and making sure she has the necessary skills to manage her time without getting too stressed.
Our 2020-2021 9th Grade Curriculum:
Hello friends! Well, we made it through our first semester of my daughter’s senior year! Honestly it went so well! She did a great job in her college dual enrollment classes and even won a $100 scholarship for her work in her graphic design course.
Since she’s doing dual enrollment, that means that her classes change at the semester mark, so I thought I would share what she’ll be doing for the 2nd semester of her senior year.
She’s continuing with her Word of Life Challenger Quiet Time for Teens, and Pre-Calculus with Geometry by Shormann Math as those are both going well. I do think the Shormann does a decent job at college preparatory math, it is also a CLEP prep course, so we may have her take the math CLEP and see if she can test out of that at the end of the year. She’s already tested out of the English CLEP so she earned 3 credits that way which was nice.
For her second semester she’ll be doing Psychology 101, Art History 101, Photoshop I and II, Adobe Illustrator, and Business Marketing for Social Media. The last few classes are a lot of fun and go towards her degree in graphic design, the first two are just standard general education courses she’ll have to take either way.
She is just staring there second semester, so I’ll keep you posted, but I’m fairly confident she’ll be able to keep up with all of her courses and by the end of this year she will have 27 undergrad college credits accumulated! We’re discussing the possibility of her taking 1 summer course so she can get a full 30 credit hours this year, then next year she’ll do another year of dual enrollment so she can transfer into a university as a junior.
There are so many different options for higher education now, and while we don’t know if this is the right path for everyone, it’s working for us so far and hopefully we can get her a leg up on college and graduate with as little debt as possible!
Our 2020-2021 12th Grade Curriculum:
Download a copy:
For more info, check out our 12th Grade Curriculum video!
Whether we’re strewing or following an interest-led unit study, I love having stacks of books around on topics my kiddos are excited about. We’ve gone through some pretty interesting obsessions, spent years following rabbit trails, and immersed ourselves in a pretty varied number of topics. One of the most enduring interests, however, has been animals.
Whether it was oohing and ahhing as toddlers or memorizing interesting facts to spout off at the dentist’s office, animals have always been an easy interest to embrace. There seems to be no limit to species, habitats, diets, and more to learn about, so animals are a solid choice for unit studies, science subjects, gifts, art projects, or just entertainment! I’ve pulled together lists of books that range from educational to entertaining, something for the toddler and the teenager, books that are breathtaking to look at and interesting to read. Go wild!
Books for Animal Lovers to Learn More
Not all animal books are created equal, as any animal lover will attest to. Often they’re full of colorful photos and short paragraphs, but nothing new to feed the interests of a creature nut. The Horse Encyclopedia is a beautiful volume covering everything from the history of horses to their care and breed standards. A fun and quirky book, The Truth About Animals is packed full of interesting – and sometimes hilarious – stories about how animals behave outside of cute viral clips. Vanishing is a stunning book featuring vulnerable and endangered species that will surely be appreciated by the most avid of animal lovers. A gorgeous gift, An Anthology of Intriguing Animals is full of great information, where on the other end of the spectrum is Ugly Animals, a hilariously fun and interesting book packed with less attractive members of the animal kingdom and wildly interesting facts about them. Another interesting angle is The Wildlife Detectives, which details the science of overpopulation and how ecosystems can be affected by just one species.
Books Featuring Animals as the Main Character
There is something so comforting and timeless about snuggling up to enjoy a tale told by a character with a tail. Many beloved stories of my own youth featured animals as the main characters, and I’ve loved sharing them with my family and finding new classics! Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH begins a trilogy of lovable and gifted rats that are downright human. More recent favorites, The One and Only Ivan and The One and Only Bob are moving and engaging stories of animals experiencing emotions we can all relate to. As a bonus, The One and Only Ivan was recently adapted into a movie! The Redwall series is packed full of action, historical fantasy, and lovable rodents, with so many books that your animal lover will be engrossed for months. A fun and lovable classic, The Cricket in Times Square is a must read, and Call of the Wild graphic novel is a unique way to enjoy another standby animal story. One of my own favorites as a child, Black Beauty has sequals, numerous movie adaptations, and a beautiful story. Something new and fun, The Finn Chronicles: Year One is a quirky collection of stories told from the perspective of a therapy dog. My own animal-loving kiddos loved Pax and the enormous collection of Guardians of Ga’Hoole books, another series that will enthrall for months on end.
Books for Young Animal Lovers
It’s a simple fact – kids love animals. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, kids of all ages are entertained and excited by furry, flying, scaly creatures. The Fascinating Animal Book for Kids offers tons of interesting photos and facts, and Jake the Growling Dog uses a pup to discuss emotions and the control we have over them. Perfect for the youngest of animal fans, First 100 Animals and the Alpha Tales box set are colorful and educational, promising plenty of repeat readings. After Dark is full of poems about nocturnal creatures, and the DK readers like All About Bats are great resources for emerging readers who love animals.
If you’ve got an animal lover in your life, you’ll want to snap up several of these titles! Whether you use them to entertain or educate, your whole family will be certain to enjoy them. Use them in a strewing stack, a morning basket, as an animal unit spine, or just the fun of reading a good book together. Enjoy learning about so many interesting creatures, and be sure to let me know in the comments what books for animal lovers you’ve enjoyed!
The Learner’s Lab is the community created just for your quirky family. It’s full of creative lessons, problem solving activities, critical and divergent thinking games, and the social-emotional support differently-wired children and teens need most.
All from the comfort of your own home.
This community was created to support children with intensities and help you as you help your child learn and grow. We provide resources just like this all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for children. They learn skills to help them copy and you learn how to help them along the way.
Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!
We love unit studies in our homeschool, and one of the most enjoyable and in-depth studies we’ve ever done has been a full-on dive into the middle ages. From the intricacies of the feudal system to the innovation and art, the middle ages have plenty to throw yourself into and learn about. I’m sharing some of our favorite books and topics from the days of yore to help you feel like you’re walking the streets of medieval Europe, no heavy chain mail required!
There are stacks and stacks of fantastic books to devour when learning more about the middle ages, so it’s hard to narrow down some of our favorites. Outrageous Women of the Middle Ages is one of a great series of books telling the stories of often-overlooked historical figures, from all regions of the world. Another favorite series of ours are the Horrible Histories books, and the Measly Middle Ages entry gave us the good, bad, and ugly history that we’ve come to expect. While exploring what life was like during the medieval time period, books like How to Read Medieval Art and Children and Games in the Middle Ages give unique and interesting information. No history book list would be complete without the You Wouldn’t Want to Be… series, and You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Medieval Knight is a wonderful addition to your collection. For older learners, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England gives incredibly realistic and engrossing descriptions of life during the middle ages.
Historical fiction is one of the most enjoyable aspects of a history unit. We love gathering up for a read aloud and immersing ourselves in the world and lives of iconic characters. For something fun and different, The Three Musketeers graphic novel is engaging and entertaining. Catherine, Called Birdy is a classic, along with The Adventures of Robin Hood, Adam of the Road, The Door in the Wall, and, of course, King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table.
We love rabbit trails around here, especially with my love for self-directed learning. The middle ages offers a near-endless list of topics to explore, such as ink-making (which we read more about in the gorgeously-illustrated The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane), the beautiful work of scribes and monks (seen and explained in Calligraphy of the Middle Ages and How to Do It), and the beauty of illuminated texts, such as those shown in Toward a Global Middle Ages, which offers perspective from around the world. The Medieval Warrior was a big hit here, full of medieval weaponry and battle tactics to pore over, and The Story and Language of Heraldry is a surprisingly interesting tenet of the caste system and knighthood. And while I’ve already shared one from the series, You Wouldn’t Want to Work on a Medieval Cathedral has too much fantastic information on cathedrals and their construction to leave out!
The middle ages was a time of beauty, invention, learning, and a whole lot more. Don’t be afraid to devote an entire school year to reading, projects, more reading, and more projects as you dive down the medieval rabbit trail!
Geography, quite frankly, is where it’s at. *pause for laughter* In all seriousness, geography is a cornerstone of learning about the world around us, but isn’t always something fun to study. Simply memorizing where places are and an interesting geological feature about each place just really isn’t that engaging. Gameschooling is a long-time family favorite it our homeschool, and it’s a perfect fit for studying geography! Check out some of these great geography games that help make learning a little more fun, and the world a little smaller.
A classic game (and the much-loved book) The Scrambled States of America Game is as educational as it is fun! 10 Days in the USA challenges players to plan trips from state to state, and United States Geography Bingo is pretty self-explanatory but plenty of fun. You could take the United States Memory Matching Card Game on the road with you, or take a pretend road trip with Race Across the USA. To get the whole family in on the fun, plan a few nights with the American Trivia Family Edition!
The whole world opens up when we learn about the world around us, and games like The World Game are perfect for those competitive learners who can’t quite travel the globe. Mapominoes Africa is part of a great series of dominoes that teach the geography of all the continents, just as Ticket to Ride: Asia is part of an enormously fun and beloved game series that explores the countries through various games and expansion packs. Explore the World, Continent Race, and Globe Runner are all wonderful games that add the element of competitiveness and excitement as players learn about the world in a race to win the game.
Geography isn’t just for big kids! With games like Little Passports Where To? and Wild Kratts Race Around the World Game, planning trips around the world is more fun than overwhelming. Tools like the United States magnetic puzzle, an Our World jumbo puzzle, or this Seek and Find Around the World book are perfect for younger siblings or little learners to begin familiarizing themselves with the great wide world. And as part of the great Ticket to Ride series, there’s a fantastic version for younger players, Ticket to Ride: First Journey.
Geography can be a lot of fun to study, especially when including games. Try adding in international snacks, history, music, and all the culture you can gather to really help build deeper connections to the places you learn about in your homeschool. There are so many ways to learn, why not have a little fun while you’re at it?
Poetry may be the food of love, but it’s not always a tempting snack to kids. Poetry is a beautiful and useful tool for teaching various parts of language, and some of the most beautiful, haunting, and enduring phrases of our time are found between sweet refrains and stunning stanzas. But with such a traditional history, incorporating poems into your homeschool can sometimes fall flat. Never fear! I’m rounding up some unique poetry resources that replace some of the flourishes with fun and promise to make poetry studies a favorite in your homeschool.
One of the best ways to get your kiddos engaged in poetry is to start with fun poems. Silly, absurd, even a little immature! Once your kiddos see what language can do when describing an armpit, they’ll be hooked. For Laughing Out Loud, or anything written or edited by Jack Prelutsky, really, is a classic that covers tons of topics, full of silly rhymes to elicit laughs, just like The Armpit of Doom. While still quite humorous, I’m Just No Good at Rhyming adds another level of cleverness to the poems. For something different and engaging, Hip Hop Speaks to Children is an absolute gem that your family will enjoy over and over. When working mindfulness into your day, the works in Breathe and Be are a perfect and relaxing contribution. The NatGeo Book of Animal Poetry is a fantastic addition to a morning time basket or a gateway for younger kiddos to enjoy poetry with captivating photos!
Don’t get me wrong, we love the silly stanzas and the giggles that erupt when we share ridiculous words together, but there’s something so idyllic about classic poetry. The Random House Book of Poetry for Children is the perfect first collection, positively filled with classics and beloved ballads. Poetry for Young People – Maya Angelou is an entry your kiddos will thank you for (and the whole Poetry For Young People series, at that). Sure, it’s got some silly standbys, but Shel Silverstein has to be considered a classic poet at this point, and Where the Sidewalk Ends is the best way to introduce his work to your kids. Emily Dickinson is another classic poet in her own right, and her collection in Hope is the Thing With Feathers is filled with gorgeous language sure to awaken those butterflies in your tummy that flutter when moved by beauty. An industry standard, A Child’s Garden of Verses is classic, beautiful, and everything you envision about introducing children to poetry. And while they may not be for everyone, The Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allen Poe are too iconic to leave out!
One of the most creative ways poetry has become more mainstream and exciting has been the introduction of spoken word performance and novels written in verse – literally book-length poems that tell stories with some incredible weaving of language. Emmy in the Key of Code and The Crossover manage to tell intriguing stories for tweens, drawing the reader so deeply into the story that kiddos often forget they’re reading poetry. Words With Wings and Love That Dog are two of the most popular novels in verse and are just so enjoyable to read. Rhyme Schemer is a powerful story that emphasizes the importance and beauty of language, and The People Shall Continue is a moving account of the strength of first nations people and their proud history.
Poetry really can be a blast. There are so many different and unique ways to enjoy and study it now that the subject doesn’t have to be retired to the vaults full of old-fashioned homeschool studies. Using humor, hip hop, moving stories, haunting tales, and the most incredible feats of language sculpture, poetry awakens something new within the reader and earns its place on the schedule. It may even stir something new within an unrealized poet.
As a writer, I don’t hate language arts. While I didn’t always know this was what I’d do, I was always engaged during language arts class and had a deep love for reading, writing, and, to my friends’ dismay, correcting grammar. But having always been so comfortable with language and writing, it can sometimes slip my mind that not all of my kiddos are naturally strong or drawn to it. In fact, some of my kiddos are bored by it.
Maybe you’ve got a bookworm whose love of words bleeds over into a comfort with language arts. Maybe you’ve got a reluctant writer or a kiddo who is in such a hurry to get their thoughts out that they can’t be bothered to worry about spelling. Maybe you’ve got a twice-exceptional kiddo working through a language-based learning difference. Whoever you have in your homeschool, language arts doesn’t have to be a chore, a bore, or a battle. Check out these fun resources and tools I’ve found to help add some smiles while studying similes!
Fun to Write
Writing seems to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it subjects with school-aged kiddos. Sadly, many more of them seem to lean more towards the “hate it” camp. Some of these resources are so fun that they could be seen as downright tricking your kiddo into writing, but we’ll keep that between us. Revolting Writing, while full of potty humor and gross-out writing prompts, keeps kids engaged by teaching vocabulary words that make them giggle and providing scenarios they’ll want to write, if for nothing else than the humor. Once Upon a Pancake and Finish This Book are like beefed-up Mad Libs, providing a structure and encouraging the child to create a fleshed-out story on their own. Of course, Mad Libs themselves are a fun way to play with language and review the parts of speech. Encourage your kiddos to get creative with their descriptions and story-telling with blank comic book strips, too! Equal parts writing and keepsake, the Q&A a Day Journal is a fantastic way to start every day with writing that’s meaningful.
Fun to Play
We’re big fans of gameschooling in our homeschool. Adding in an element of fun or competition always seems to draw in the most reluctant learner! Boggle is a classic game to help practice and build spelling skills, and reading comprehension dice are an active and engaging way to discuss the books you read together. Metaphors, similes, adjectives, prepositions… the Figurative Language in a Jar and Grammar in a Jar games are easy and travel-friendly ways to practice elements of language arts that don’t always show up in fun ways. No homeschool is complete without Story Cubes, which are fantastic for creative writing prompts and imaginative story telling. One of my favorite aspects of language arts is learning synonyms, which can be practiced with games like Don’t Say It!, where players must think of alternative words… or else!
Fun to Read
Explore and understand punctuation with books like Eats, Shoots, & Leaves, Semicolons, Cupcakes, and Cucumbers, or Twenty-Odd Ducks, that take black and white grammar rules and turn them into colorful, memorable stories. If you’re diving into classic literature, check out Guinea Pig Classics for a fun synopsis, like this version of Pride and Prejudice told with captivating cavies! Language arts is about so much more than just memorizing rules, it’s about learning to enjoy words and stories. Ella Minnow Pea is one of those stories, using brilliant language and techniques to enthrall readers and deepen a love for what can be done with language. If You Were an Antonym is another fun story, using pictures and examples to explain just what an opposite word is!
Language arts may seem dull, what with all the rules and red lines, but at the heart of it all is creativity – the ability to rearrange a finite number of characters into infinite words and stories. I know not everyone will join me in my natural enthusiasm for it, but these resources are sure to sway more than a few reluctant kiddos.
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