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Our Curriculum Scrapbook

Updated on June 17, 2015

A Visual Walk Through Our Homeschooling Years

As a homeschooling mom I'm always asked, "How do you know what to teach? Do you use some kind of curriculum?" Those that are familiar with the abundance of materials available will inquire about what products I've tried and ask for my opinion, "What do you think of Singapore Math? Have you used Saxon?" I've developed this hub as an overview of our choices for homeschool through the elementary years.

As you browse, you will see the choices I've made in regards to curriculum, our favorite books, and several handcrafts. I have even included some of the possibilities I'm considering for the near (and distant) future. We've had a lot of fun - I hope you get a feel for how exciting homeschooling can be.

Kindergarten :: Our First Year

A Year of Trial & Error

As a former teacher, I had over the years considered homeschooling even before I had children. The option was always in the back of my mind. In Oregon, a child is required to be 5 by Sept. 1st. to begin Kindergarten. Sweetie's birthday falls in mid-September so she wasn't supposed to begin Kindergarten until the fall of 2008.

In the summer of '07, she was showing all the signs of being academically, socially, and emotionally ready for Kindergarten despite the arbitrary requirement of the state. We thereby opted to give homeschooling a try, knowing that if things didn't go as planned we would register her for Kindergarten in '08.

That first year, we opted not to buy any curriculum but rather to learn from our surroundings and from what life presented us. I spent much of this year researching homeschooling methods and philosophies. Exploring what 'homeschool' looked like. My research led me to the theories of Charlotte Mason and John Holt. Soon thereafter, I discovered The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. Though vastly different, I was intrigued by all three approaches. I knew immediately that my homeschool would be an eclectic mix of each.

Unit Studies Our First Year - Kindergarten & Preschool

  • Ancient China
  • The Iditarod
  • Insects
  • Maple Syrup :: Sugaring
  • Vertebrate Animals
  • Ancient Egypt

Our Favorite Books :: The First Year - Kindergarten & Preschool

These are the books that we love to read (or listen to) again and agin. Timeless stories and illustrations that we still remember to this day.

First Grade :: Our Second Year

It's All Coming Together

Following our year of experimentation, I felt much more comfortable going into 1st grade. I had done my research. I had made connections. I had found my niche. It was now time to really put it all together and 'make it happen'.

I thereby purchased curriculum for math (Singapore 1A and 1B) and history (Story of the World - The Ancients). For language arts and science, I knew I would follow the suggestions of Charlotte Mason and keep lessons short and concise. Lessons would be derived from our weekly readings and nature walks. Foreign Language, Art & Music would also be key components of our curriculum.

I had an agenda - I knew where I wanted to us to be at the end of the Grammar Stage (4th Grade) - but I would allow the children to lead us there.

Unit Studies We Enjoyed - First Grade & Preschool

Our Favorite Books :: The Second Year - First Grade & Preschool

As we began to homeschool in earnest, a new routine developed. In the evening, DH and I assist the kids with preparations for bedtime (brushing, flossing, picking up their rooms, etc.). When they are both tucked in ... I sit down to read aloud from a chapter book. Many of the selections are my own childhood favorites. Others are related to our current studies. From these, I have selected our favorites to highlight here in hopes that you, too, might enjoy them with your children.

2nd Grade & Preschool :: Our Third Year

We continue to enjoy homeschooling more and more. The flexibility it provides our family is priceless. As we continue on our journey, I have discovered that we are more and more 'unschoolers' ... allowing our personal interests and the activities of life direct our learning. We spend less time involved in planned lessons. Our days are free flowing and we squeeze in math & language arts lessons between activities. We have a lot of discussions while traveling in the car from one activity to another. I know we have made the right decision.

Unit Studies Our 3rd Year - 2nd Grade & Preschool

3rd Grade & Kinder

Our 4th Year

We rolled into our 4th year of homeschooling and continued much as we had done in previous years. Nothing really changed, though, of course I slowly began to expect more from the little guy.

Our Favorite Books :: The 4th Year - 3rd Grade & Kindergarten

Our Passions

  • Running & Swimming
  • Taekwondo :: Sweetie studied Taekwondo for four years and received her junior black belt in July 2011. Presently, we are taking a little time off to explore other interests.
  • Traveling :: We enjoy traveling all over the country and hopefully, as the kids get older we'll be able to extend our explorations to other countries. Our first trip abroad was a recent road-trip through British Columbia & Alberta, Canada.
  • Mandarin :: Sweetie has been studying Mandarin for four years now. Originally, she was in an immersion class for 4-6 year olds. Now, she takes private lessons with the instructor. She absolutely loves anything related to the Chinese culture. She is excited that her little brother is now taking lessons as well and she delights in helping him with his homework.
  • Trains :: Buddy has sold all his Fisher Price GeoTrax trains to upgrade to HO gauge model trains. When doing math or other lessons, I've discovered I must relate everything to trains for him to take interest! His collection of HO trains has grown and he is now amassing a collection of N scale trains, a collection he began when we traveled to Scandinavia.
  • Our Scandinavian Heritage :: As a descendant of Norwegian immigrants in the late 1800s, I was delighted to discover that we have a Sons of Norway lodge locally. We have been active members of the lodge for years and enjoy the many cultural and social opportunities the lodge has to offer.

4th & 1st Grades

Our 5th Year

This year has brought about many changes. First and foremost we relocated to California and thereby discovered that homeschooling laws are significantly different. The state has seemingly discovered that they are losing out on tremendous amounts of money and have thereby worked hard to recoup some of those dollars.

I love to talk about homeschooling. Leave a note or ask a question.

Curriculum Scrapbook Guestbook - Your comments are always welcome. Relevant links are accepted (HTML okay).

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    • EvaVarga profile imageAUTHOR

      Eva Varga 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      @anonymous: I haven't developed a concise unit for China like I did Africa mostly because as students of Mandarin Chinese, our cultural and historical lessons have been sprinkled throughout our years of study. I should sit down and compose a Squid lens of these lessons but have yet not had the time. There are many great China lenses by Jimmie, however. Here's one she has done on Ancient China -

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love your blog. Thank you for sharing! Have you done a China study like the Africa study?

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      I love seeing what homeschoolers are doing for curriculum - gives me inspiration to do it myself! Great lens :)

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      What a great lens! 5*

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      What a great idea for a lens. I am in the finding out what works stage with my daughter, although she makes is very easy. As long as she is learning something she is a happy camper and just soaks it all up! 5*'s and faved

    • profile image

      MikeMoore LM 

      12 years ago

      I like it! I thought about home schooling my son. However, he has some learning disabilities and I wasn't sure I could do a good job. Your lens should be very helpful to those parents who are on the edge of making that big decision.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      12 years ago

      very interesting and helpful lens :-)

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      I have so much respect for homeschooling Mums. And welcome to RocketMoms!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Singapore Math rocks!

    • profile image


      12 years ago


    • MsSnow4 profile image

      Carol Goss 

      12 years ago

      Very nice Lens, I home schooled my children when they were little

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      12 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      This is a wonderful idea (and I'm not just saying that because I did a lens like this too). When people ask you what curriculum you've used, you have it all in one tidy spot. And since you're starting early, it will be easy to keep up with.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      12 years ago

      A very warm welcome to Rocket Moms. I home school my 3 children. It is great to meet you!


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