Classical Curriculum for a Flexible Lifestyle (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by Tsh Oxenreider of Simple Mom

Children’s ages: 6, 3, and 1
Educational Philosophy Influences: Classical, Charlotte Mason, and Leadership Education

I‘m a newbie when it comes to homeschooling. This can’t be overstated enough — those of you who feel completely green at homeschooling, count me among your throngs.

While we have a very nomadic lifestyle, I actually thrive quite a bit on structure, so my homeschool plans reflect this. Part of this is preemptive: I also have two other little ones, a business to run, a book to start, speaking engagements, and travel plans. If I don’t somewhat structure our school, I’m afraid it’ll never happen.

So. Here are our plans for first grade this next year.

Classical Conversations

We will most likely sign up for Classical Conversations this next year. I like its emphasis on memory work, even though this next year’s subject matters won’t exactly align with what we’ll learn at home. I value the basic act of memorization, and the content will eventually come in handy at some point.

The other main reason for our involvement will be to socialize — we’ll be in a brand new city, and it’ll be a helpful way to meet people.

Learning words: Grammar, Writing, Handwriting, Spelling, and Reading

I really love Peace Hill Press. I love their philosophy of education, their materials, and the people behind the scenes. So ultimately, most of my resources come from them.

I plan to use Writing With Ease and First Language Lessons for grammar and writing. I admittedly haven’t used them yet, but many of my friends have, and in flipping through these texts, I think they’ll serve us well. We’re going to ease into this gently.

Tate learned cursive in kindergarten this past year, so I’m going to just keep going with it. I use StartWrite software to create our own handwriting practice pages. We mostly do Bible verses, poems, and quotes to aid our memorization.

We’ve used Spelling Workout this past year, as part of our after-schooling activities. It’s nothing fancy, but it works. We’ll start with workbook B next year. We may veer into All About Spelling, after reading Heidi’s glowing post.

For reading, we’ll do lots of quality read-alouds and provide plenty of solo free reading time. Hooray for library cards!

Learning the world: Geography, History, Foreign Language

Understanding the world is a high priority in my educational philosophy. It is vital to me that my children understand geography and cultures, not only because we travel a lot, but also because the world is shrinking. One of my favorite reasons for us living overseas is that it gives our kids a unique, global perspective on life.

For history, we’ll use Peace Hill Press’ Story of the World, volume 1. I love the emphasis on learning history chronologically, so we’ll study Ancient Times. We have the audio version, so we’ll listen to them in the car, check out books at the library, and create a master timeline.

For geography, we’ll copy maps repeatedly, improving cartography skills slowly over time. We’ll make this our major focus on geography, but we’ll also include Operation World as a text, exploring a new country every couple weeks or so. This is something we’ll do as a family, since we all love exploring the world and its myriad cultures.

I asked Simple Mom readers what foreign language Tate should study this next year, and I agree with the consensus — whatever she wants. She’s currently interested in all things French — the food, the language, the wine making process (no idea why!), Madeline, you name it. So we’ll be doing French 1 on Rosetta Stone as a family — not only because she wants to, but also because French is a genuinely useful language worldwide. It’s one of the mostly widely-spoken second languages, and we could live anywhere in the world, literally, in the next few years.

I used Rosetta Stone when we lived overseas and had great results with it. I also used it to help teach English to Albanian students in Kosovo about ten years ago. It’s expensive, but I’m a fan nonetheless.

Learning how things work: Math and Science

Because Kyle and I both work from home, often working on projects together, he has agreed to take on primarily teaching math and science this year. Otherwise, I simply won’t have time to write.

Jamie gave me an unopened copy of the alpha level of Math U See, so we’re going to try that out as our primary math resource. We may also supplement this with Singapore Math.

We’re going to explore plants, animals, and the human body (life science) using mostly the library and creation. But our main texts at home will be DK First Animal Encyclopedia, Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia, and Green Thumbs. We’ll keep this pretty low-key and interest-led, which shouldn’t be a problem, since both Kyle and Tate enjoy learning these things. We also have the Planet Earth series, so we’ll use that, too, just for fun. And nothing can beat walking outside, collecting bugs, and seeing what happens.

Learning other stuff: Bible, Art, Music, Home Ec, and getting out the wiggles

Peace Hill Press sent me their new Bible curriculum, Telling God’s Story, and we’ve already used it a little bit. I love it! I really appreciate how the curriculum starts with Jesus, His life, and His teachings. It keeps Him as the center and foundation, and the lessons provide lots of opportunities for discussion throughout the week. It’s also flexible — we can study the same passage every day for a week, or we can just do the lesson for a few days. There’s plenty of activity ideas to pick and choose. We’ll keep using it in the fall.

Tate enjoys drawing, so I’ll do my best to kindle this interest of hers with Drawing With Children. We’ll also study an artist each semester or so. None of us in the family are musically inclined, but we do love listening to it, so we’ll also study a different composer each semester.

I want our kids to leave the house knowing how to bake bread, balance a checkbook, and sew the basics, so home ec is important to me. Tate has chosen cooking for her first course — so this year, I’m looking forward to Spaghetti, Scrambled Eggs, and Smoothies 101. (This mostly involves her helping me cook dinner.)

We’ll probably join Bend’s Park and Recreation and enjoy living in a beautiful location! We love being outside, so Tate may join a hiking group or some other sport. Or we may just spend lots of time together, running around.

Finally, Tate is traveling with me to the Middle East this fall, which will undoubtedly provide myriad learning opportunities, as well as good mother-daughter bonding time. I genuinely look forward to our next year together, exploring the world.

Alright, more experienced homeschoolers — what are some good chapter books for a six-year-old, for both reading aloud and solo reading? I need ideas.


About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of The Art of Simple and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and she believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.


  1. Sounds Fabulous!! I am betting you will reap much fruit this year. And, as one who has been homeschooling for 19 years now, your joy and enthusiasm are the main ingredients for success. That and, of course, prayer! 🙂 May He bless your year beyond your wildest imaginings.
    I Live in an Antbed’s latest post: Pages in Your Familys Heritage of Faith- A Link-Up

  2. We’re doing STOW vol. 2 next year, and that Bible one looks great! We loved FLL for first and second grade, my daughter was sad to finish that book. I haven’t done formal spelling with my little one yet (7) and I’ve been looking into different ones, so thanks for the suggestions.

    For read alouds, we’ve been loving the Little House on the Prairie Books for second grade this year, and my little girl read Little Women last summer on her own. She still says that is her favorite book no matter what! We enjoy the American Girl Stories, too. My older daughter, 14, read the Narnia books aloud to my younger one for fun, and she enjoyed those immensely, too.

    I like to look at the different literature-based programs (Sonlight, Veritas Press, Tapestry of Grace, etc) and see what books they are selling for different grades and time periods of history… we’ve found great reads that way!
    Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s latest post: Teach Your Daughters to Make Cinnamon Rolls

  3. Melissa says:

    Can you speak to how secular friendly the rest of Peace Hill Press’ offerings are? I am always slightly apprehensive when looking at curriculum and not always being able to tell if Christian teachings are a part of all the materials.

    • Completely secular. Telling God’s Story is their first “religious” printing, from their new offshoot of Peace Hill Press called Olive Branch Books. Hope that helps.

  4. Are you really moving to Bend, OR?! You’ll be very close to us! Any speaking engagements planned in the area? 🙂

    • No speaking plans as of now, but that may change. I have heard of interest in planning some form of Simple Living meet-up, maybe in the Portland area. I’ll let you all know if that happens!

  5. Reading is our family passion! We began our homeschool journey years ago with Sonlight and have gently moved toward Classical for the the emphasis on memory work. Both have been worthwhile! I agree with Angela above that some of our best, most cherished book suggestions have come from Sonlight’s catalogue. Some of our favorites for our young readers have been: Mr. Popper’s Penguins (good for geography), Caddie Woodlawn, Understood Betsy, The Year of Miss Agnes, the Sign of the Beaver and many others.
    (I’m half-way through YOUR book and am finding it inspirational, encouraging and most of all MOTIVATING! Thanks.)
    Gretchen’s latest post: Thwim Thuit Theason

  6. I love Ambleside’s book lists. We’ve found some gems there.

  7. How exciting! My oldest is just finishing his first grade year. Here’s what we did:

    Right now we are making our plans for second grade and thinking of switching to Math-U-See as well.

    Here are summer reading books we’ve enjoyed in the past, as well as some great suggestions from my readers:

    Hope it helps, and thanks for your great ideas. We’ll be looking into Rosetta Stone 🙂


  8. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy the “Curriculum Fair” articles. I love reading about what works for other people. I so enjoy your daily posts. Please keep up the good work. Your blog is the ONLY one to which I subscribe. THANK YOU!

  9. Books ~ one of my favorite topics! : ) Ideas for read alouds: the original Winnie-the-Pooh books, Little House books, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Little Pear books, Gooney Bird Greene, The Year of Miss Agnes, 26 Fairmount Avenue books (Tomie dePaola), Stone Fox, The Little Riders, Charlotte’s Web, All-of-a-Kind Family, Heidi, The Journey that Saved Curious George, Betsy Tacy books, Caddie Woodlawn…
    Ideas for solo reading: Is she reading chapter books? These might be a bit hard for her but the American Girl books are great. Also, Boxcar Children, some of Beverly Cleary’s books, Magic Tree House, Escape by Mona Dunckel, Children of Noisy Village and Happy Times in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren, Dolphin Adventure and Dolphin Treasure and Dolphin Freedom, Henry Reed…
    You are going to have such fun and make many wonderful memories enjoying good books together!
    Laura’s latest post: A Bit of Remodeling

    • Thanks for the input! Yes, she’s reading shorter chapter books, so Magic Treehouse and the like are great, if anything just for whetting her appetite and helping her read freely. I plan to check lots of those out at the library this summer.

  10. I have a question for you BTDT moms – when did you start homeschooling your little ones? I have an 18 mo and twins on the way (next Tuesday, if not before!). I don’t want to start to early, but don’t want to get delayed either. Of course, with the 18 mo, we have continual learning as he explores his world but it’s certainly not defined. Your ideas today are great!

    • I started around 4 with my oldest, but I definitely wouldn’t rush things. Pre-reading skills are invaluable. Teach letter sounds while reading alphabet books. Watch Leap Frog Letter Factory and Word Factory (on DVD). These were magic for us!! Have Nora Gaydos readers available for your children. They are phonics based, incremental, and begin with simple consonant-vowel-consonant words. Talk, talk, talk to your kids. And read, read, read, read with your kids about all sorts of things. Picture books, geography, science, history, cultures…. I also can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get home routines in place before adding in structured learning. Other than that, take cues from your kids. Relax and have fun. 🙂
      Heidi @ Mt Hope’s latest post: Mt Hope Academy 2011 Week 19

      • I completely agree with Heidi that preschool does not have to be formal school in any way! Just let your little one learn through your life and he’ll be perfect!
        Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s latest post: Classical Curriculum for a Flexible Lifestyle 2011 Curriculum Fair

      • Thanks! That’s kind of my philosophy now, he figures stuff out on his own quite well so I don’t push anything. We just do learning activities that feel right and are normal for an 18 month old. Kind of cute, he has crib sheets with letters and numbers on them and has been asking what they are and repeating them. I don’t think he cognitively knows what they are but he is figuring it out! It’s so fun to watch them grow and learn!

  11. Any thoughts on how you’re going to schedule subjects and fit it all in? I want to homeschool, have been dabbling with FIAR with my almost 4yo, but with a demanding part-time job I get scared about how I would cover all the bases in any given week! You have lots of (very cool-sounding) bases listed.

    • Hi Brenna — I’d like to hear more about what you mean by “schedule subjects.” Do you mean what my schedule to do all of the above looks like? Or do you mean fitting in more than I’ve already mentioned?

      My general answer is that I don’t plan on teaching everything, because there’s no way on earth I can, nor can my kids learn everything. My overall goal with education is to foster a lifelong education, so that my kids’ innate thirst for learning isn’t squelched by “schooling” (which can look like a variety of things in a variety of settings). So I don’t anticipate fitting it “all.” I plan to provide the tools for sound thinking and creative exploration for the rest of Tate’s life. In my educational philosophy (which I glean from the classical method), the foundation is reading, writing, and math. When those are solid, the rest can much more easily be enjoyed.

      My goal is to provide structure for those foundational things and lots of room for my children (especially when they’re young) to explore their interests. We’ll work through animals, or ancient history, or the works of an artist, moving at a steady pace. If she wants to park at koala bears for a week or two, great. If she wants to spend a month exploring ancient Egypt, fine by me.

      Does this help? Let me know if you’d like more info. There are tons of posts to explore here at Simple Homeschool as well.

      • This is a total newbie question obviously, but it seems like some homeschooling families set goals for how they use their curriculum, which subjects, how often and when, for about how long per week… All the moving parts start to seem a little overwhelming to me, especially in comparison to how relatively relaxed FIAR is. Just wondering if there’s some planning system that is especially appealing to you, something relatively simple that would help a parent plan and feel productive in a freeing rather than overwhelming or oppressive way!

  12. Tsh, you’ll do just great. Tate is such an eager beaver that I’m sure things will run smoothly. Don’t worry if you find you find you can’t fit ALL those things in! 😉

    You know suggesting books is my favorite thing to do. I have various lists on my blog, probably not very organized, but here are a few favorites:

    Charlotte’s Web
    LHOP series
    The Secret Garden
    The Hundred Dresses (every child should read this, IMO)
    The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
    The Family Under the Bridge
    Treasures of the Snow
    Five True Dog Stories
    The Birchbark House

    Solo reading:
    Little Women, Swiss Family Robinson (Stepping Stones chapters series for early readers — Eliza recommends)
    Frog and Toad
    Magic Treehouse (not great lit, but very appealing to kids just beginning chapter books)
    The Cobble Street Cousins series by Cynthia Rylant
    Babymouse graphic novels

    Lots more, but gotta go read with my own! 🙂
    Hannah’s latest post: Weekly Wrap-up

    • Thanks for all this, Hannah!

    • Totally agree about The Hundred Dresses and Family Under the Bridge. Loved Five True Dog Stories, but kept crying at the end of just about every story. My son would look over and ask, “Are you crying again, Mommy?”

  13. Not a homeschooler, but I just started reading The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo out loud to my boys (2-4-6) and we all love it. They were also mad about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. What a fascinating curriculum you have lined up. Thanks for sharing. As a native Oregonian, I have to say Bend truly is beautiful. Happy trails- I hope you enjoy your new home!

  14. Just FYI, the link from Simple Mom isn’t working. It links back to the Simple Mom article, not the Simple Homeschool article.

  15. Thanks for all the book ideas! I should add that this year Tate read (or was read to) Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Little House in the Big Woods, Winnie the Pooh, a collection of poems from A.A. Milne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Don’t know if that helps jog some more ideas…. I really appreciate the input so far!

  16. Looks like a great plan, Tsh! We love SOTW, too. My four children love, love, love history thanks to this and still not tire of listening to CDs when we travel. Thank you for other info, too! 🙂

  17. Jennifer says:

    Just throwing in another reading idea: The Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald. Loved them as a kid and can’t wait to read them to my girls!

  18. ooh, adding Operation World is a great idea! I haven’t used that book much since I was in college. Filing that idea away for when we get a few more years under our belt.

  19. Here are my book recommendations:
    Jenny and the Cat Club (series, Esther Averill)
    Half Magic (and others by Edward Eager)
    The Railway Children (and others by E. Nesbit)
    The Princess and the Goblin (George MacDonald)
    Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren)
    Dominic, Abel’s Island, The Real Thief (William Steig, LOVE THESE!!)
    The Moffats (series, Eleanor Estes)
    Treasures of the Snow, Star of Light (Patricia St. John)
    Understood Betsy (Dorothy Canfield Fisher)
    Babe: The Gallant Pig (Dick King-Smith)
    The Saturdays (series, Elizabeth Enright, LOVE THESE!!)
    Heidi @ Mt Hope’s latest post: Mt Hope Academy 2011 Week 19

  20. Julie S. says:

    Hi Tsh!
    Looks like a great, workable list of curriculum. I have used them all except your bible and science. As far as chapter books that have not been mentioned already, I would recommend:
    Owls in the Family
    Homer Price
    Secret Agents Four
    In Grandma’s Attic
    More Stories from Grandma’s Attic
    Baby Island
    The Milly Molly Mandy Storybook
    Misty of Chincoteague
    Charlotte’s Web
    Stuart Little
    Ballet Shoes
    There are so many great ones! Enjoy!

    • I forgot about In Grandma’s Attic! I read that all the time as a kid. I’ll definitely add that one in. And we did Stuart Little when she was 4, and she loved it, so she’d probably appreciate it even more now. Thanks for the ideas.

  21. Lucy turned 7 this March, and we’ve seen huge strides this past year in her reading ability. I totally agree with you, that just getting their appetites “whetted” for reading voraciously is the goal.

    Lucy does a lot of reading at bedtime now, and is really sensitive to even slightly scary or suspenseful elements in these young chapter books… so Magic Treehouse is not her favorite. And from my perusal of the American Girl books, I feel as though some of the themes they contain are still a tad mature for her. The series that got her hooked on reading was the Flower Fairy Friends series (Poppy’s Perfect Home, etc), which is quite close to twaddle in my book, but we went with it. I credit them with getting her to get lost in a book, so I’m happy. Since then, she’s gone on to the Ivy and Bean series, and also a series of short story treasuries published by Kingfisher (Stories for six-year-olds, Stories about Pets, Funny Stories, etc).

    Right now I’m reading Freddy the Detective to her, and it looks as though there are a zillion in that series.

    I love, love, love this stage of learning, when the child is beginning to develop that love of reading!

    • Tate loves the Flower Fairy books! Twaddle-ish, yes, but not awful. It’s her mindless reading, and it’s fine by me. We just pass them on when she’s done with them, so they don’t accumulate in our home.

      I love this stage, too! It really is fun to read and learn alongside her.

  22. Kathryn Sanchez says:

    we belong to the CC in Eugene, OR and we love it! If you ever come to Eugene and need anything (or just want to meet another homeschooling family here), look me up!

  23. I’m appreciating this homeschool curriculum fair also. This will be yr one of our homeschooling experience and I’m still learning. I’m also planning for next year and these suggestions, tips and testimonies are a great help.

    Thanks for having it!
    Tracy @ Hall of Fame Moms’s latest post: End of the world

  24. My sister has started a homeschooling resource blog at It’s all (the homeschooling stuff) so interesting. Alas, I send my kids to public school.

  25. Love this post! I don’t homeschool but you make it look so easy. We have moved frequently with our children, who are much older than yours, and we have found that moving has provided an enormous education far beyond the classroom. Also, our children are adept at making new friends easily and can have discussions with people on a multitude of topics. Moving frequently didn’t seem like a good idea at the time but we are thrilled with what our children have learned.

  26. Tsh, I can’t believe how similar our upcoming year sounds! Just last night I settled for sure on Writing with Ease together with First Language Lessons (which we already began this year). We’ll be sticking with Explode the Code as well, to keep up with phonics. We’re also doing Story of the World, which we love (started it this year as well). We’ll be adding in geography with Leagues and Legends and reading aloud A Child’s Geography of the World, but I like the sound of Operation World a lot, too. And, we use Math-U-See (we’re finishing up Alpha this summer, we’ll do Beta in the fall).

    For science, we’re doing Zoology (focusing on creatures that swim) with Apologia’s Young Explorer series. Our spelling is Sequential Spelling (it looks way too hard at first glance, but it really isn’t and I was surprised at how Abbie caught on to it when we started a couple months ago). For Art (my worst subject!) we use ArtPacs for simple activities, we’ll be learning about famous painters for art appreciation, and my husband is helping Abbie to start her own “business” selling her watercolor paintings. Gotta start young with that entrepreneurial spirit! 🙂

    For reading, Abbie has enjoyed Magic Treehouse, Chronicles of Narnia (but she thought Magician’s Nephew was too scary), Anne of Green Gables, Little House, etc. I’m planning to get her a set called Our Canadian Girl, with younger elementary level historical fiction (I bet there is a US equivalent). She’s currently on Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland, and I think next will be Stuart Little. We’ve also loved the book “Five Little Peppers and How They Grew” (truly delightful and so wholesome!) and I want to get the entire series.

    Some novels on my list from Veritas Press for her include: Ballet Shoes, Misty of Chincoteague, Baby Island, Boxcar Children, Owls in the Family and Railway Children. I highly recommend VP as a source for excellent literature at appropriate reading levels!

  27. MathUSee suggestion: friends I know who have started w/Alpha often find it more frustrating than those who start with Primer. Even if your daughter is more than capable of doing Alpha, it might be worthwhile to fly through Primer first. This preps them to understand the blocks a bit better, I think. Plus, it gets you used to Demme’s teaching style (on the video) and by the time you start Alpha, you will all feel more confident.

    We love SOTW on audio. We use Tapestry of Grace, but for car rides, the curriculum provides chapter recommendations from SOTW that coincide with our studies. The kids love it!
    Lora Lynn’s latest post: Independent Woman

  28. I had no idea you were in Austin! I am in Plano. Are you moving out of state? We used FIAR for a brief time this year. Now I am doing CM with recommendations from SCM (LOVE Outdoor Secrets for Science) and incorporating some of the other curriculum we purchased this year (we switched 4x). I think for next year I will be using a lot of resources from AO-I really liked the look of it. My children (2nd and 4th in the Fall) are really enjoying the CM method as well.
    Best wishes on your new adventure-

  29. I’m going to be using a lot of the same things you are for our first grade next year. As others have mentioned, catalogs can be a great resource for booklists. I get booklists from sonlight and from veritas press.
    Dee’s latest post: May 16

  30. Make sure you get a library card when you get to town. We have a really great library here. Also don’t forget to visit the High Desert Museum…membership is well worth the $….Be patient with the weather though…warm days will be coming soon…Any questions about the area, feel free to contact me.

  31. some good initial chapter books that my children have loved:
    Boxcar kids, Grandma’s Attic, Bobbsey twins, any Frog and Toad/Wind in the Willows books, My Father’s Dragon, Paddington, Amelia Bedelia, Little House on the Prairie, Little Bear, Animal Ark series, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Then What Happened Paul Revere?, Old Mother West Wind – anything by Thorton Burgess, Aesop’s Fables, Magic Schoolbus, American Adventure series.

    As far as read alouds – I love Kildee House, Calico Bush, Walk the World’s Rim, Little Britches series, Secret of the Andes, old missionary biographies, Jungle Doctor (series), parables by Lilias Trotter, The Great Turkey Walk, a newer series called Lion Boy, and my absolute favorite: The Wheel on the School!

    Those are just a few of the books we’ve used over the past 10 years of home schooling, but those are favorites and are ones I don’t mind reading over and over again!

    Hope you get lots of good ideas with all of these comments!
    richelle’s latest post: Multitude Monday – 1000 Gifts

  32. I loved the title of your post, because it describes my own family! I think sometimes people assume “classical” means “rigid and strict” but that isn’t at all what drew me to Classical Education. I loved the fact that it seemed so developmentally appropriate and that its goal was to teach children how to learn by giving them an excellent foundation and building from there.

    I’ve loved reading through some of the book rec’s, instead of adding a new list I thought I’d just mention some of my favorite books that recommend good books to read : ) I pull from Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt and The Book Tree by Elizabeth McCallum. I also use the Sonlight and Veritas Press catalogs to get ideas. Happy reading!
    Paula’s latest post: Plea from a Pastor’s Wife

    • Love Honey for a Child’s Heart! Such great ideas there. And yes, I agree completely with what you said about the classical method — it’s not about being rigid, it’s about tapping into their natural development stage and fostering a love of learning with a solid foundation for the future.

  33. This is wonderful. We are currently using Ordinary Parent’s Guide and have plans for using more Peace Hill in the future. (My oldest turned 5 in February.) I am so happy to hear more about the Bible curriculum. We loved everything that we have read about it, but had not heard directly from anyone using it yet. Thank you for taking the time to write about your plans.
    kristy’s latest post: DIY Tree Lamp @Craftzinecom blog

  34. This is a timely post! We are currently looking into a University-model school that uses classical curriculum (2 days in traditional class, all other work done at home), and I have been anxious to hear more first-hand accounts from people who know & love classical education, Thanks for sharing,

  35. Wow! I didn’t realize you are in Bend! Welcome to beautiful Central Oregon… I hope you can stay awhile! We live in Redmond and are planning on using CC, as well. Thanks so much for this post- it aligns perfectly with the things we are hoping to teach our kids, though ours are a bit younger than yours. blessings!
    Tori’s latest post: Pruning

  36. Wow, I read your post and almost felt like I was reading my own plan for next year! Lots of similarities…one of the biggest being we are in transition ourselves and so we are appreciating the flexibility homeschooling brings.

    I imagine you have seen it given your Classical leaning, but didn’t see it mentioned so I thought I’d throw out the 1000 Good Books List as another great resource!

  37. I love your home school plans! We live just up the road from you, in Redmond so outdoor activities are a must-when the weather allows it! We’ve found great success by being flexible and willing to do lessons differently when we can get outside and play. We’re also toying with idea of CC here in Redmond.

  38. Thanks for sharing! I was just about to email you to pick your brain on this very topic 😉

    • We can get together and chat about it soon, too! I want to see you before we leave (and we can talk about other stuff, too, not just education… 🙂 ).

  39. My son just finished K. They did Singapore Math & it is AWESOME. The workbook says It is the Standards Edition Earlybird textbook published by Marshall Cavendish Corporation.

  40. Thanks so much for adding this great post to our curriculum fair, Tsh! Sounds like a fun year you guys have ahead of you! 😉
    Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s latest post: Classical Curriculum for a Flexible Lifestyle 2011 Curriculum Fair

  41. For learning to read, we loved “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” by Siegfried Engelmann. For learning online, and is pretty fantastic.

    For reading aloud, how about:
    Raggedy Ann and Andy (the original series by Johnny Gruelle)
    My Father’s Dragon
    The Indian in the Cupboard
    The Great Brain series

  42. Oooo, and one more:

    The Cricket in Times Square
    Ann Waterman’s latest post: Being an Older Mom

  43. I love All About Spelling. Love it. L-o-v-e it. Get it. Now. I’m telling you, you won’t be sorry. Did I mention LOVE?

  44. I’m very much inspired by parents who are homeschooling their children. I think it is exactly what the new generation of kids needs – more bonding time with their parents. Plus, it can also help save for other things such as college. We are trying to cut our expenses (summer camps and afterschool activities are killing us) and we discovered that we are spending way too much for our daughter’s “education” (she’s only three and a half). Homeschooling seems to be the perfect solution for our new (frugal) lifestyle. Thanks for the inspiring articles! I love your sites!
    Weng’s latest post: Avoiding Take-out Food Could Save You Hundreds of Dollars

    • Glad to hear you might consider it! It’s not the only right option, for sure, but it’s definitely one most families should at least consider, in my opinion. You can find lots of good posts around here that might help explain more of the 101 behind homeschooling. I’d start with the “Popular Posts” list on the far right sidebar.

      • Thanks, Tsh! I just started bidding on some of the “beyond five in a row” books on eBay. I think I’ll start from there in the summer and see how my daughter will like it. This means, I’ll be visiting your homeschooling website pretty often!
        Thanks again.

  45. Christie says:

    Welcome to Bend!

    If you haven’t yet connected with our online homeschooling group for info on the local happenings, email me for the link. 🙂

  46. What a helpful post! Thanks for all the curriculum tips. I want to try Rosetta Stone so badly, but can’t afford it right now.
    My mom and I used to read to each other, each reading a page, then switching. My favorites were the Boxcar Children series, The Little House on the Prairie, and Little Women.
    The Little Wife’s latest post: Swing Set

  47. Lisa C. says:

    I’m still amazed at the fact that Tate learned cursive in kindergarten!

  48. Loving this discussion! I’m finishing my 6th year of official homeschooling- 3 school aged this year. It’s such a wonderful journey. I too have used the Peace Hill Press stuff- and wanted to throw in that after we finished through the 4 year cycle and wanted something similar but new this year, we turned to The Mystery of History. It is more decidedly Christian (which we liked) but is structured similarly and I could use lots of the literature suggestions and activities we might not have gotten to the first time around. I, too, like others here compile my reading lists by gleaning and combining Sonlight, Veritas Press, and Ambleside’s literature lists. Having homeschooled for a while, I would encourage moms newer to homeschooling to major on the majors in the beginning- focus on the “3 R’s” as they used to say- Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic- and add in the other stuff once you’ve got those things going well : ) If anyone is in need of more assistance, particularly in figuring out how to begin and get started and what curriculum to use, I am a homeschool “coach” ~ . I LOVE to help families get started in this journey (and I have 2 degrees in education) figuring out their family’s purposes and goals in homeschooling, their educational philosophy/approach, and finally getting started looking at curriculums that fit those things. God bless you on the journey, ~Katherine
    Katherine @ Making Disciples at Home’s latest post: Spare time to pray for your children

  49. I liked the singapore math for it’s visual approach. But, was disappointed that you have not included measurement along with observation in your science studies. Yes, you can do lots of measurement with pre-reading and pre-counting kids. Just use the most basic measurement, one to one correspondence.

  50. How exciting. Your year sounds fabulous. Most of my favorite books have been spoken of already. I would add The Littles, Cam Jansen, and The Borrowers. Also the Boxcar children (original) and the easier readers that have been added. My America books are for children a bit older but are great for learning history through reading and some of them might make good read alouds.

    For french language I wanted to recommend Muzzy. We had fabulous luck with it (we had an old VHS from my childhood so it may have changed a little here is the link It is for ages 2-12 and you can add it to Rosetta Stone.

    • I hadn’t heard of this, so thanks for the tip! I’ll go check it out.

      • Johanna says:

        My son loves Muzzy. He is only 3 though. I am bilingual -French/English- so I’m thrilled to see your daughter learning French. 🙂

  51. Tsh, I grew up in Bend and we were planning to move back there recently until we had a medical emergency in our family. It is beautiful there and you’ll love all the outdoor opportunities. Floating the river (right down the center of town!), camping up at Cultus Lake, skiing Mt. B, hiking Three Sisters. Oh, I’m jealous you’ll be living there! If you have any questions about Bend, let me know!

  52. we’re enjoying reading through the chronicles of narnia together. my daughter’s only 5 and she’s enjoying them, so i’m sure tate would, too. i’m also looking forward to getting into little house on the prairie and the boxcar children… all the books i remember really liking in elementary school. 🙂
    andie’s latest post: just checking in!

  53. Stephanie Dustin says:

    My Father’s Dragon (trilogy)
    Betsy and Tacey
    Laura Ingalls Wilder series
    House at Pooh Corner
    5 Children and It
    Magic Treehouse series
    Sounds like you have a great year planned. I encourage you to check out any local kinderconcert series or plays available in your area too.

  54. Can you tell me more about your experiences with Rosetta Stone. Did you do all five levels? How well were you able to communicate with native speakers afterwards? I’m using Rosetta Stone Italian now. We’re going to Italy next year and I’d like to be able to understand the language somewhat.

    As for chapter books, my daughter is five but loved reading Nate the Great Series last year. My son’s not reading yet, but we read the Magic Treehouse books together during lunch and then I find resources based on the book’s subject (Ancient China, Vikings, Dinosaurs) and we play with what interests us.

    • My family and I travel to a new country every year, and are preparing to make our move to Japan (in 3 weeks!). I recently started using and am pretty pleased with its easy navigation, helpful tools, and mostly….the fact that it is FREE! It is not Rosetta Stone, but is a GREAT free alternative : ) You might want to have a look and see how you like it before spending the big bucks…
      Shannon Hughes’s latest post: etsyglam1

  55. Chapter books! My all time favorite time of the day is at the end when my kids (10 and 7) are snuggled in their bed and I read another few chapters of our current story.
    Right now we’re on the 5th Little House on the Prairie book (2nd time through for my 10 year old daughter). My kids are enthralled. There is so much to discuss. Such great character lessons they absorb. Which brings me to the unabridged version of Little Women. I think my daughter was 8 when we did that. Something to look forward to. We read Little Men after that too. She loved Anne of Green Gables. They both loved The Borrowers and the Indian in the Cupboard series. An unexpected favorite was the story of the Wright brothers from the Childhood of Famous Americans series. Excellent. Narnia series for sure. We’re planning on The Black Stallion next.
    There are so many for kids a little older like: Julie of the Wolves and Julie’s Wolfpack, My Side of the Mountain, the Redwall Series (my all time fave, especially on audio with the author narrating)…could go on & on but I should stop. Have fun!
    Oh, and welcome to the west coast! We’re your northern neighbors up on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

  56. M Bohler says:

    Love your plan for your 6 year old! We are finishing our homeschool journey with my youngest now 16 but I have a young granddaughter with a homeschooling future ahead so I still love to see what people are doing. You may want to check out for art/music selections by term. They also have wonderful literature and history selections. Thanks for sharing.

  57. H. Deaton says:

    Hi Tsh!!

    Wow this is inspiring! It sounds like you have a lot planned for your year and that is great! I am a homeschool graduate and we are just begining a family of our own- so I am speaking from the student/self learning perspective. My advice would be to figure out which things are of most importance and focus on those when it comes to class room learning. My best learning memories were made outside involving animals, gardens, forests, hiking, camping, and generally being involved with science hands on (kind of sounds like your plan for science as well 😉 The other things I remember as a little homeschooler were when my mom would allow me to use chocolate chips at the table for math, then letting me eat them! lol Feel free to do things the way you want to do them and let the books simply guide you. You asked for book suggestions and I know you have probably heard it before, but still I will highly reccomend Little House on the Prairie (the whole series). I also loved reading American girl (unabridged) ages 7- 10. They are exciting and easy reading so she can go it on her own. Anyway, I really love reading about what you are doing/using and pray you the best as you begin your homeschool journey! <3

  58. For read-alouds, my 6-year-old son and I loved the Dr. Doolittle books, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and The Chronicles of Narnia (which also segued into some fabulous discussions about the nature of God).

    I am also a big fan of The Story of the World books. They read like a fascinating adventure story, and my son and I both learned so much. As a side bonus, my troublesome 3-year-old enjoyed it as well.
    Sarah b.b.’s latest post: Ode to a Dress

  59. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is a great book that I remember fondly from my childhood. I’m betting your little girl would love the American Girl series too.

  60. Just to add to all your planning 🙂 I have posted two lists of our favorite read-alouds, one that is geared more toward the younger crowd (your 6yo?) and one that leans more toward boys:

    Read-Alouds for Boys

    Read-Alouds for Beginners

    And a smattering of other posts that might be helpful:

    Classical Education Links for FREE Resources:

    Our Favorite School Supplies

    I also have an MP3 of a workshop I give called “Practical Classical”, or how to actually do this thing when there are more than one child in the home. You can find that and a few others on choosing curriculum, homeschool organization, and of course preschoolers here:


  61. My 6 year old also LOVES the Little House series. And of course Charlottes Web.

  62. Hah! Very funny on the French comment. Noah picked up French VERY well this year so far – if Tate would want a Skype Friend to chat with, we’d be obliged to help further her education!

  63. As far as languages, I would suggest Arabic because it is so different from English it will give her a wonderful new perspective for examining English and as long as we use fossil fuels it could bring many occupational opportunities.
    A few cool things about Arabic, it is widely studied in India, Indonesia, all over the continent of Africa, and of course in Gulf countries. Arabic is written in script form, like cursive. There are 39 Arabic letters, it is read from right to left and many English words come from Arabic. Algebra, and alcohol are 2 that immediately comes to mind. Learning Modern Standard Arabic will alway her to learn Urdu (Pakistan) and Farsi (Iran) easier. Just as learning English enables German based languages. Plus Urdu, Arabic, and Farsi are all written in basically the same manner. (English, French, and Romanian are basically written the same.) Arabic calligraphy is displayed as art.

  64. I’m late in the game to add my two cents but thought that the list I just shared might be helpful for you too. Best wishes for a great first grade year!

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