Monday, August 5, 2013

Planning for my 2012 5th Grader: Theme...Must.Read.Aloud

Nope.  That is NOT a typo........I mean for it to say 2012 in that title...because I wrote it last summer.........but I might as well adapt it for 2013-14.........since most of it was a bust. :/

The post below was originally written in late August 2012.  I was planning my youngest's school year 2012-13......and these were the plans which arose.......

I never did post these.  I still had more fine tuning to do.......and then I just never got back to do that.  But, I did get all of the resources into their respective we trodded (did you know that is not really a word????  trotted, then) ahead.  I am posting these here today.......because I have another blog post to publish......and it will make more sense and be more useful if these plans go public. (....though after fine-tuning this post and adding the purple italics may cause me to change the focus of the other post......)

In parenthesis, and in this color, are the up-to-date comments about how the year went in each subject.....and how I expect to utilize them for this upcoming school year.


     I love my little man.  He is only ten now (eleven now) .....but I know my time with him is going to go fast.  According to my predictions, I only have eight more years left to homeschool him......which sadly translates to only eight years of homeschooling for my home-education career.  Unless, he decides he only needs three years of high which case that number gets reduced to a brief seven years. As I recently posted on Facebook:  Hear that sound?  It is the sound of my heart breaking.  So sad that there is an actual end in sight........(....and if he follows in his older brother's footsteps and attends the Independent Study Program at the local high school to play sports......I only have three years left.  Hopefully, he will stay home for his schooling......)

     But, it is not yet here.  And I need to make the next 7-8 years good for him.  Last year really did feel like a bust.  Oh, we got some math done.....but not as much as he was capable of.  We learned a lot about WWI and WWII.......but not as far as we should have got.  We never reached the Korean or Vietnam Wars.  The art study was brief.  He finally read his first chapter book.....but the fluency still has not clicked.  And, there were not enough read-alouds.  Thanks to his sister adding him to an IEW writing workshop she was leading, we found that he is a prolific and capable writer, in spite of his slow fluency in the reading department.  He probably has a gift of putting pen to paper.  I suppose if I add in to this list his sports accomplishments last year (we call that education, of course)....he improved and excelled in basketball, learned excellent team leadership skills with soccer, and had an amazing year pitching in his baseball league and the All-Stars.

     As I go through the school resources left out and about on the shelves on the boys' rooms for last year's Great School Plan, I will use this space to write my thoughts related to planning for this boy for this new school year. That starts, like, next week, right?  Supposedly.  ;)

     I am also trying to keep in mind that one of the reasons last year was a bit of a bust was because I was working more hours in order to make up for the decrease in income after my husband was laid off.  Since I will definitely be working at least the same amount of hours this year, I must find a way to plan for him to work independently on the days when I cannot be there or when I feel ill.

Keep in mind that most of this is done in a Charlotte Mason style.......or in a strewing kind of unschooly way.......whatever that means.  :)  This is just a guide.  It gives me a place to start.....but most rabbit trails are followed.  The resources are rich enough to give him a well-rounded year.....even if we only do about half of it.  Of course, all of it is literature-based.  Because that is my style. :)


A major goal is to give him the resources to complete his First Holy Communion Notebook or scrapbook.  I made a comprehensive plan for him, but never followed through and now his FHC is many years past.  But........he loves scrapbooking, and now that he is older, he will be more independent doing it. So that part will make it easier for me to leave him to his own devices........

I plan to give him the lessons I had planned to go with it......with lots of picture books.  He will grow closer to his faith and create memories and connections while doing a hands-on project......something he thrives on.  I am excited about this.  It will also include using the New Catholic Picture Bible as well.  Nice thing about this project?  It is already gathered in one box with all of the supplies......and the lesson plans.  Please pray this finally works out. (Pleeeeease pray!) He will be too old for it, eventually. 

I might have him read through the appropriate book of Living My Religion series........but we should have enough if the above works out.

(August 2, 2013 comment:  BUST. 

For this next year, I will try yet again.  I looked at the Living My Religion series and picked out Book 6 for him.  He will need to be preparing for his Confirmation and it looks like a good fit for that. I will also use the booklet Preparation for Confirmation According to the Baltimore Catechism because it is what our priest would like him to have memorized for the sacrament. I think that putting the Notebook together will help him to spiritually prepare for confirmation.  I may have to call it a Confirmation Notebook now. :) )


     When I viewed my stack of wonderful picture books on the Revolutionary War time period, I realized that I had never read them to Malachy. In looking back at his homeschooling, I came to see that this kid has had two seasons of ancient history and two seasons of medieval history and two seasons of WWI & WWII.  Yikes.  That is what happens when we follow the high schoolers in their history.

     So, I am going to start with the French and Indian War....and go to the Revolutionary War.....along with anything in between and around.......and that will probably be all we get to.....if we have the same experience my other kids did......loving this time period so much and enjoying all of the rich resources that we could never stop.  :) Know anyone else who has spent a year on the French and Indian War?  Three years on the Revolutionary War period??  Yeah, we really did.  Those are some of my kids favorite years of homeschooling.

I am still trying to decide if there is going to be a spine.....maybe a Genevieve Foster book....or perhaps Father Furlong's sweet little text.

     For the French and Indian War, I am definitely going to use Albert Marrin's book, Struggle for a Continent:  The French and Indian Wars.  This was the first book of his that we had ever read.  And we loved it.  All of us have read several other of his history books.....and we are never disappointed.  He takes his historical research and turns them into great stories, pleasing both this mom and her kids.

     I will also have him listen to the audio version of Madeleine Takes Command, another family favorite read aloud.

     In addition to me reading most of his history aloud to him, I will have him read simple biographies of Americans of those time.......starting with Dan Morgan: Boy of the Wilderness, I think........and also see what American Saints of that time I can throw in as well.  I am thinking Father Marquette, Father Jogues, St. Kateri......

I have a nice "My State Book"......I could have him work on that independently with some books on California so he can have some easy practice doing research.  Not sure yet about this......might be too much.

(August 2, 2013 comment:  BUST........I tried the Foster Book...but it sort of made me crazy....too little info and too many pieces of little info.  We only read about 25 pages of Marrin book. History is a hard subject for a full-time working mama who wants it literature-based for someone who cannot read a lot on his own.  This issue is the inspiration for that other post I am working on.  I need some ideas and help.......

Oh!  Another partial-success was that I realized I could give him his American history through Great Courses Lectures.  I then just wrote little quizzes for him from the info in the booklet.  I would have liked to have had more discussion with him.....but he has a good memory, so I am sure he got something out of them. So, that could be an option for this school year.......

As for this next year, I am not sure what to do.  I could just continue down the path I set above.......And now I think he is old enough to do the My State Book research on his own......I was tempted by my excellent library on Lewis and Clark history.....maybe I should just pick out a few BIG historical things that occurred and give a big focus on those, rather than an huge overview?  I hope to get his Book of Centuries updated and ready for him to use independently.)


He loves this kind of I should try to find something that he can do that is somewhat independent.  I will probably do something similar to what Simply Charlotte Mason recommends....  We did it a bit this last year (oh!  another pro for last year!) and it went well when we did it.  I will begin with Canada and the United States so it goes with his history.

I will read this book to him:  Maps:  Getting From Here to There by Harvey Weiss.

We had started the Holling C. Holling geography unit a couple of years ago, starting with Paddle-to-the-sea.....the Beautiful Feet Unit.  I might delve into that, too.......I have some of their beautiful maps to use.

(August 2, 2013 comment:  mostly BUST........we did do the Simply CM geography drill for a few weeks....and I utilized another workbook as well, that was mildly successful. 

 For this year, I should just plan to do the same.........)


He will move forward to finish up all of the Math-U-See books he has left:  A few lessons of Delta, and then Epsilon and Zeta.  We might not finish all of them.....but it will be our aim. I think he might get to meet with my older kids' math tutor once in a while for some inspiration.  He likes her. 
I hope it will keep him on track more this year.

Since he will finish with the MUS books before he will probably be ready for Jacob's Algebra, after talking with my math tutor friend, I have decided to just have him work through the MUS pre-algebra keep him in practice.....but that is for next year...and I am concentrating on this year......

I found a copy of G is for Googol:  A Math Alphabet Book by David M. I will read through that slowly.....over a few weeks or months.

And any other math literature that comes our favorites such as Sir Cumference and the Knights of the Round Table......and the others in that series.

(August 2, 2013 comment:  BUST.......he could, but wasn't motivated to move fast without some prodding.  I finally gave in to try Teaching Textbooks 6........that worked well for about 6 weeks in the spring till we went out of town....and he has not touched it since. I never did read anything math lit. 

For this year, I will resume with the Teaching Textbooks 6.....since he is so independent with it.....and he likes it well enough.  Our Educational Facilitator with our charter school was thinking of having a Math Workshop with some kids his age, working with "real life" math.  She is a Math Major.  I sure hope she follows through with that idea.  I just sent her a remind and  encourage her.)


     I am a little unsure about what I want to do.......

    I took a look at some of those Creation Science books by Apologia.....but they did not feel right for right now.  Maybe next year......

     I think I am too tired and busy to create unit in the old days..... this moment, I think I will take a look at doing the Beautiful Feet's A History of Science.  Not sure I will have enough time to do all of the read aloud required......but I might give it a try.

     Nature study is simply a given in this family.  Hopefully the smoke that has choked up all of the month of August will finally pass away so we can get back to the  out of doors.  We have been housebound for entirely too long.

      I hope to set him up with a nature sketchbook.......he loves to draw......and perhaps when I am unable to be with him, he can reproduce those drawings for me.

Take a look at.......
Zingy Science
Khan Academy

(August 2, 2013 comment:  BUST........mostly.  Finally in the spring, I began reading the Beautiful Feet books to him.....which he enjoyed.  And here it is, August 2013 now.....and it is smoky yet  again. It has been so long since we have had a summer without smoke......that I cannot even remember when that last summer was......maybe 2007?  While I never inspired him to use a Nature Notebook or draw from nature, he certainly got lots of quality time in nature.  That is one area I can usually keep alive around here. ;)

The other way that I was able to salvage some science was to have him go one day a week to my friend's home to do organized chemistry with her daughter.  That was definitely NOT a bust!

I looked at the Khan Academy......and I cannot figure out how I am supposed to utilize it.  Anyone have any advice???

For this year, my friend has agreed to take him again this year.  I think I will continue with the Beautiful Feet science as best I can.......and keep on hanging out in Nature, of course.  And I have like 20 science experiment kits that someone ought to be using..... :/ )

Language Arts:


This kid will be such a lover of literature.....if I can just get him fluent.  He had all of those early reading signs at age four.......and yet still has not fallen in love with reading at age ten (eleven).  It makes no sense.  So, this year, I want to read to him like crazy.....and keep him reading something......till he takes off.  He will, right????

I might make a shelf for him of easy chapter books.

Encyclopedia Brown.....have him read these aloud to me.......till he just wants to dive in on his own.

I need to try to remember to offer him some of the sports stories written by Matt Christopher.  I had a few already....and just picked up three more for free at the library.

(August 2, 2013 comment:  mostly BUST.....he is still not picking up books on his own.......but his fluency has improved, thanks be to God!  I did read aloud to him......just not enough.  We never tried the Encyclopedia brown books......I still might. I did get him to read a few Gary Paulsen books....but I really want him to get lost in books....sheesh.  Oh!  I was able to get a Kindle for him to use.......just to see if that would help.  Not much.

For this year, just keep on reading.....I will have him read aloud to me as I can remember.......and to keep him reading something, always.)


     I am going to start the year with Amazons and Swallows by Arthur of those great classics I missed as a child.  My oldest did not care for it....but two of  my others loved them. Thanks to the generosity of a friend (Hi, there, Helen!), I have the entire series.  I am hoping that we do fall in love with them.......that series should keep us busy the whole year.  This will be only the second time I have read a book just with him as an audience.  I realized this summer that I have to do that now.......I do not have all of the kids available at the same time for our family reads anymore......maybe because they went and grew up on me???  :(

      I will have one family read aloud.....with the three youngest kids (10, 15, 17).  We started The Hobbit this summer.  My two youngest have never heard it read aloud nor have they read it. I want them to have the family-read-aloud memory of  Tolkien's books. And the oldest of the youngest, the 17 year old, says she wants to sit in as well.  We all want to be ready for the movie that is coming out in December......and now I see it will be three whole movies!  How cool is that!?  They cannot leave much out with three movies!

     I will continue to expose him to Shakespeare through the two books: 


(August 2, 2013 comment:  This was not a total BUST........we are over halfway through both books, a year later.......sigh.  As for the movie........I am quite angry with them for messing so much of it up. Grrrrrr.  We ended up with an amazing and unexpected World-Class Shakespeare experience last spring.  There will hopefully be more plays for us to see through the end of October.

For this year, the two books mentioned will be our read-alouds. And we will squeeze some Shakespeare stories in there.  We must!)


     This is pretty easy to plan.  IEW, or Institute for Excellence in Writing, is our preferred method of teaching writing.......the one homeschool program I have tweaked the least for our use.  The best part:  my oldest daughter is a very fine writing teacher and will continue to teach Malachy in one of her writing workshops.  I am so blessed. Bonus:  she teaches lots of poetry and grammar and lots of other LA stuff, as well.

(August 2, 2013 comment:  NOT a BUST at all.  Anne was wonderful and Malachy progressed so very well.  I just went through his writings from last year......a very prolific little writer.  And he thrived on the poetry she shared.

For this year, we will continue with the same plan.  My daughter will be able to continue teaching at least one more year......while she works on her graduate degree and teaching certification. More poetry and continue to work through the Continuation Program B.  Did I mention that I was blessed???? So is Malachy.  :) )

Picture Books:  Willa and I are creating a challenge for this......

(August 2, 2013 comment:  BUST?  We were consistent for a few months........we meant to be stay consistent.  Maybe we need a sign on our bathroom mirrors to remind us? :)

For this year.......Willa and I will have to discuss this possibility.)


Phooey!  I had forgotten that I was going to start him in the Latina Primera? this year......but Vicki over at Creating With Wisdom reminded me.....

(August 2, 2013 comment:  partial BUST.  We did get through five lessons.  It was easy for him.

For this year, we should review and get going.  I can give him lessons and he can use the workbook the rest of the week.)


      Malachy has natural artistic talent.  I always try to keep him exposed to all art stuffs, just in case he makes it a permanent part of his life in some way. Not sure where it will go...but I want him to have a chance to practice all of the skills.......he is generally good at drawing, creating, crafts, painting........etc.

     Having been a lover of art from way back when I was young, I have collected many resources for all-things-art-related.  I just need to decide what to use for him...and then follow through.  For once.

His artsy sister has recently returned home from her year away in while she is studying art at the local Junior College, I am hoping there will be some trickle-down teaching from her, to him.

I have an old set of six videos from Calvert School, Discovering Art. I will probably use this until they are done.  I like that they model skills and share art history as well in an ongoing story.....even if they are a bit goofy and over-acted.  The information is sound.

I also have a book I want to read through with him called:  How to Be an Artist:  the Fun of is just a quick self-published book that I came across.  I like how it seems to give the perspective of what an artist sees when he or she looks at things.

I will provide a blank sketch diary and just assign him to use it on those days when I am not any way he wants.  Some of my kids would be intimidated or put off by this....but not Malachy.  Or his artsy sister.  :)

I just came across my copy of Storybook Art:  Hands-on Art For Children in the Styles of 100 Great Picture Book Illustrators by MaryAnn F. Kohl & Jean Potter.  I may combine this with our Picture Book Challenge. 

Hailstones and Halibut Bones for sure.  Ah.  turns out I will not have to do this one oldest daughter Anne, who is teaching his IEW Writing Workshop, wants to do this for his the hook!  This is good...but I am a bit sad........I was looking forward to sharing it with him.  This book needs its own post.  Perhaps I can wait till Anne teaches with it and create the post then.  I love this book and I want all to enjoy it as well.  Excellent poetry and art possibilities!

 (August 2, 2013 comment:  BUST.  Yep. Like all of it.  I did create a Pinterest board for online art lessons and loaded it with watercolor lessons so that he and I could work together.  We got as far as watching a lesson late one night....inspired. Of course he did do art on his own.  Oh!  We did get to take him to an awesome Art Walk in the town south on his 11th birthday.  Very cool.  Loads of fun.

For this year, I would like try to accomplish the above, plus watercolor lessons together, local Art Walks when we can make least one in Ashland, Oregon......and some artist studies.  I have TONS of art and art history resources.  I really need to tap into those for this kid.  My four older kids got lots of artist study.......I want him to get the chance. )


     He has a great interest in food preparation.  Thinks he might want to be a chef, I think I will encourage him to choose one recipe a week to try.  I wonder if he will do mostly desserts.  He is quite partial to making pies.  :)

(August 2, 2013 comment:  This was only NOT a BUST.....because he loves to cook.  He made at least five or more different kinds of pies........and some of them up to five different times. Of course, I never did tell him to try something once a week......maybe I will this year.

Once a week may be too much between all his sports, etc.......and I want him to find cooking relaxing and I will aim for 1-4 times a month, at his preference.  I think he cooks more in the fall and winter anyway.......)


      Not sure what subjects will get covered, but I have made arrangements that once a week he will go to my friend's home to "do school" with her daughter who is about 18 months younger.  They are good playmates and she could use a peer for some schooly stuff, like doing science labs.

((August 2, 2013 comment:  NOT a BUST.  But only because I was not responsible for it.  Sigh.  Like I said above, under science, they did chemistry lessons and experiments.

For this year, we will repeat this......)

Using this platform, of blogging, as I sit here and plan, has been so helpful in exciting me about the new school year.  Finally some positive school spirit.  :)

(August 2, 2013 comment:  TOTAL BUST......I was only excited for a moment.  But rereading this post and reevaluating the almost inspiring.  And it is only the fourth day in August!!! Yay, me!)

I have told my boy that based on our current crazy and hectic schedule, that he will need to be flexible enough to do schooly stuff whenever I call him to it:  day or not, weekday or weeknight.

(Definitely will need to do that again.....but better this year.)

WOW.  This is quite a project.  Hope I can get at least half of it done!  So, I am now off to get started!

(August 2, 2013 comment:  BUST.  Yep.  TOTAL.  I doubt we even got 25% of it done.)


And so, all of that above, not in purple italics, was written about this time last year.  I guess I will probably just keep the same general plan because it was a pretty good one in the first place.  ;)  Definitely ambitious.

I am wondering if it will help if I put his subjects in their own bins instead just one for all help me not feel so overwhelmed.

Wow, I am actually going to post my plans for the school year.......before it even starts.  Haha.....only because I had written my plans last year, but never posted.

Smoky Summer Blessings,


Edited to Add, on August 23rd, 2013:  Really?  I forgot Music!  We have weekly piano lessons with a Classically-trained teacher........he is our sixth homeschool student to take lessons.......and she thinks he may well be our most musical.  It is his 5th or 6th year.....I can't remember. We also need composer studies......

Keyboarding.  He needs it.  Especially with all of the writing he does for his writing workshop.


  1. Chari
    Your plans sound like mine, so many busts! Well reading through the 4real archives when planning recently I came across some excellent advice (from Jen Mack - who else;)that I followed when planning. Take everything off your board, then put back on 'what worked'. Then work from there. I looked at the areas that I consistently had busts on. (writing is a biggy) then taking Jen's advice, don;t try to have too many books (ah just what I was doing) now I just have one, just one for writing and finally we are getting it consistently done!

    What can a working mum do with a not yet independent reader? Audio and online are your friends. I'm assuming you have a list of audio sites? if not and for suggestions.

    Also we have used Kahn though more the teens, they watch and are supposed to write narrations (not the supposed to!) for science we've loved Steve Spangler's and Bill Nye, though not as much
    and we had intended to use

    and audios for history when you aren't there such as Gobrich World perhaps.

    and suggesting you par down, take off Latin, Cooking, Art and Pic Bks till you have mostly consistent wins. This is what I did, I'm not so demoralised with the not dones now. and maybe rather than try to do science, geo and history, think like the highschool program, only focus on geo for 6 mths and then history for 6 mths.

    And try not to get too down about Malachy not reading for love{{{}}} It is so hard I know but my Malachi wasn't reading functionally until 9 and not for love until 11!!!! My oldest ever and then he read and read and read. Now at 14 can you believe I have to tell him to put his book down and get his work done. and yet he is my child with a photographic memory I think. He remembers lessons from 8 years ago. Hang in there, hard I know{{}} Going through it again with another 9yr old.

    whew I think I just wrote you a whole post!

    1. Sorry for my delayed response, Erin. Thank you so much for your supportive words. I always appreciate you and your thoughts and ideas.

      I will take another look at Kahn. It looked so High School-ish to me.....and I could not best figure out how to use it.....

      And....he finally cannot put a book down.......I pray that continues with more books.

  2. Chari, I'm curious, what is the "the booklet Preparation for Confirmation According to the Baltimore Catechism"? Also, did you know that OLVS now uses "Living My Religion" in their lesson plans? To help you get through the book you could just buy their plans here. Simply Charlotte Mason has come out with their own geography workbooks. If you haven't seen them, here they are. I've been thinking of using some of them. And for Latin, have you ever looked at "Latin's Not So Tough"? My soon to be fifth grader is using those books. You could start with book three. I think those books are much more user friendly than the ones from Memoria Press. They have short lessons and are excellent for a preparation for Latin in high school. They are also not very teacher intensive.

    Thanks for sharing you plans. I love to read what other people are doing.

    1. Sorry for my delayed response, Eva! That booklet is from Angelus Press........and it is basically the Baltimore catechism questions for preparing for Confirmation.

      Thank you for your advice, recommendations and ideas. I wish I could try the other books.....but as he is my last one.....I think I probably will not invest in more matter how tempted that I am ;)

      Thank you so much for coming by and leaving a message. God bless you!

    2. Thanks for your reply. I completely understand, there comes the point when you have seen enough and don't want to bother with new things. Pretty soon my last child will be first grade and I am already thinking about what books to get rid off because I believe I won't need them anymore.

  3. Thank you for your very honest post and a peek at how another homeschool family does HS. You know, I think there are many more of us out there who have more "busts" each year than we'd care to admit. I know I do. But, I also see reading your post the wonderful things that your son is doing and the exposure he is getting via read alouds to so much, and I think you are doing so great. I find it hard to juggle three children with my illnesses but each year have wonderful intentions. It's a start of another school year here in January 2014, and I guess by Feb I'll be cutting out and leaving off a whole lot of what I had planned ;-)

    1. Sorry for my delayed response, H SA Mom!

      I appreciate your kind words. Last Fall was pretty much another bust.......but I am not giving up......there is always this semester....... Good luck to you, Eva! Hope you are feeling good. God bless!


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