Saturday, May 14, 2011

Archiving School Plans

Hi all,

I am getting ready to post the plans for next school year on Our Academy page and wanted to archive last year's plans.  So this post is a cut and paste of that page for my personal records.  If you are new to Olive Plants, feel free to scan this post at your leisure.  I wrote a mini-review of each program we used at the conclusion of the year because I like to know the thoughts of other mom's concerning a curriculum before I buy.  I hope you find it helpful.

If you're an Olive Plants regular, thanks for sticking around!  This post is old news for you, so please, feel free to skip it.  But, please do return soon because I can't wait to tell you about our plans for next year!  It's my favorite time of the year!!


Oh yeah, here are the completed plans and reviews. 

*smacking forehead*

My comments and reviews are typed in red.


We plan to follow the New Testament portion of the Bible in one year plan. Our History curriculum and Orville's Omnibus studies include large portions of the Old Testament which we will read as well.

The boys will also continue to memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism for training in doctrine.

This plan worked really well. It took some tweaking, particularly because Orville's Bible reading schedule in Omnibus was tough. He and I completed each of the following books of the Bible this year: Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Minor Prophets, all four Gospels, Acts, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, James and the Revelation.

Wilbur read all four Gospels, Acts, Galatians, James, and the Revelation.

We plan to read Romans over summer break and memorization of the Shorter Catechism is on-going.


Diana Waring's revised curriculum, History Revealed: Ancient Civilizations and the Bible.

I think this is a GREAT history program! We had to tweak it to fit our needs (isn't that what we homeschoolers are all about?!). Each boy only read a few of the supplemental recommendations because their regular reading list was weighty this year, particularly Orville who was also completing Omnibus I.

The boys really enjoyed Mrs. Waring's CD's and listened to them many nights while in bed before falling asleep. Overall, I think the worldview and Biblical content on them is great. However, I did disagree with some of the content (doctrinal issues). The differences were slight, and I was able to use those sections as teachable moments by presenting what we believe and by "showing proper respect to everyone and loving the brotherhood of believers." (1Pet 2:17). We disagree with Mrs. Waring on some points, but we do not discredit her Christian testimony or all of her teaching.

I did add in Story of the World Book 1 because History Revealed focuses so heavily on worldview that it does not present as much historical content as I would like.

Language Arts

I am teaching both boys from the Institute for Excellence in Writing's Student Writing Intensive course.

To better understand the methods of IEW, I am also watching their Teaching Writing Structure and Style.

All I can say is "Best Decision I EVER Made!" You can read more about our experience here if you would like.

Both boys will complete Daily Grammar Practice. Wilbur will complete the 4th grade book, and Orville will complete the 2nd 1/2 of the 6th grade book and the 1st 1/2 of the 7th grade book.

We have used this curriculum for several years now and love it. Orville completed the 6th grade book and has completed about half of the 7th grade book. Wilbur finished the 4th grade book and has begun work on the 5th grade! It took plugging away at it for a couple years, but it finally "clicked" this year for him!

Wilbur will complete All About Spelling, Level 3.

He finished level 3 and is almost half-way through level 4! We are going to keep working on it over the summer! Second Best Decision I Ever Made!

Orville will complete Omnibus I from Veritas Press.

Wowzers! What a program!! Okay, I'm not going to gloss anything over here. This is one tough study, and Orville hated it at times and loved it at others. He completed all the primary reading selections and thought it was great for the first two studies: Genesis and Exodus. We have studied these two books of the Bible so frequently in the past that he basically has them memorized, so they were easy to read and it was easy to transition into the higher-order writing and discussion activities.

Then he had to read an edited version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Not a fun week at our house! Michael and I had to do that thing that parents do and nudge him along by encouraging and rebuking, and he survived.

After jumping that hurdle, he went on to enjoy the subsequent studies (excluding Last Days of Socrates). His legal mind sprang into action as he analyzed the Code of Hammurabi and his knowledge of history from having read works like The Last Days of Rome, The Twelve Caesars, and Herodotus leaves me dumbfounded (and feeling a bit ignorant).

The results? We have seen huge growth in his thinking and reasoning and his ability to write a thorough response. This was something we had to work on CONSTANTLY throughout the year. He wanted to give simple answers (ones that could be written quickly), but we required him to do rewrites, and he is maturing as a scholar.

We decided, however, that reading the secondaries was requiring too much of him. He did complete Chosen by God and the Holiness of God (both by Sproul), but at a very slow pace. We did not require him to complete the questions in the Omnibus text for these works. Instead, I also read each book and took notes. We discussed these works chapter-by-chapter and compared our notes.

We dropped all other secondaries except for...

We will read each of the seven books in the Chronicles of Narnia series and use the Narnia Comprehension Guide from Veritas Press as a discussion guide. This will be a time that the boys and I switch turns reading aloud.

LOVED IT! It took a concerted effort on our part to make time for reading as a family; however, we all think it was time well-spent and are so glad we did. The Narnia Series was a perfect read, and the Comprehension Guide gave us a good resource for quickly and easily checking their understanding. We also used the book Roar! as a companion to The Silver Chair and Last Battle and wished we had had it from the start. Doug Wilson's What I Learned in Narnia is on their summer reading list.

By March, we had finished Narnia and moved on to Shakespeare. We read Julius Caesar, also an Omnibus I secondary reading assignment. It was a tough read, but can you guess who understood the plot better than any of us??? Wilbur, the youngest of us!!! We were really proud of him and had a lot of fun assigning roles and having our own little reader's theater!

Wilbur will complete Rod and Staff's Pathway reader for 4th grade with accompanying workbook for his independent reading work.

Readers and workbooks do not fit my homeschool philosophy, AT ALL! However, going into this school year, we had some concerns about Wilbur's progress in Language Arts and decided to take a more traditional route. We hoped it would give us more insight into which skills were causing him trouble.

It did not take him long to complete each daily assignment and it gave him something to complete independently when I could not work directly with him. It also eased many of my fears as he completed the skills-based activities with ease. It did allow us to isolate a few trouble spots and work on them. He finished the 4th grade set and has moved on to the 5th. We are going to keep this study going over the summer.


Orville will complete Singapore Math, Levels 6 A and 6 B.

He is almost done! This is the only curriculum that we have used from the 1st to the last level. It makes me feel simultaneously proud of him and sad. Where did that little boy go who was learning to count and add? Emotional mommy issues aside, this has been a great elementary math curriculum.

Wilbur will complete Singapore Math, Levels 4B and 5A.

He is almost finished, too, and about to start level 5! My BABY!!!


Orville will complete Apologia's General Science course.

If there is one area where I get a big ol' fat F for the year, it is science. (Although I think coordinating a science fair should give me enough extra credit just to pass!) Orville finished five modules before Christmas break, and I decided for the sake of my sanity to drop the study altogether after the break.

I know this is a highly revered curriculum within the greater homeschool community; however, I found the format frustrating. No supplemental work is included. The hands-on activities are excellent, but I never felt like setting them up because I was too exhausted from finding ways to help him retain the content. I felt like the module review basically gave the test answers to him, so then I felt uncertain about how much he was really learning as opposed to just parroting back to me. I don't like being the one Apologia naysayer, but it just did NOT work for us.

Wilbur will study Zoology III through Apologia's Young Explorer Series.

Wilbur loves these books and has almost completed this study. Nonetheless, I have decided to take a new approach to science for next year. What is it? Well, you'll just have to wait and see! :)

Foreign Language

Both boys will complete Lively Latin's Big Book I (the second 1/2).

We're done with Latin!!! We're done with Latin!!! I really do like Lively Latin, but we have new plans for foreign language/word study next year. Again, you'll just have to wait and see! :)

Orville will continue to study Japanese with Rosetta Stone. He is taking a leisurely pace with this study as it is a delight-directed study for him.

Orville did not complete much of his Japanese study this year.  We were just too busy with other things and we bought this for him three years ago to complete as there is time.  He will keep working on it as he wants.

Fine Arts

Both boys will complete Harmony Fine Arts for 5th grade and The Violin Book, Books 1 and 2 by Eden Vaning-Rosen.

I really like HFA! The boys do, too!! This study was particularly good for my VSL. The author, Barb (Harmony Art Mom), really understands right-brained children. From this curriculum, Wilbur gained an appreciation for history (through art history) which increased his interest in our regular history studies. He also decided he might want to be an architect when he grows up! In a nutshell, HFA opened his eyes to a world of possibilities.

The Violin Book, however, did not work so great. I do not think the fault lies with the program. Rather, I bought very cheap, very poor quality violins. I spent more time tuning the things than they did practicing. I even lost a toenail because of them. Well, that was the straw, folks. After my injury, I couldn't look at those violins without shuddering and because they would not stay in tune for more than 3.8 seconds, we dropped violin.

Moral of this story?

Don't be cheap like me. Buy a good violin!

Orville has become very serious about his piano studies and really does not want to study violin anyway, and Wilbur wants to focus on art and architecture. So I guess we learned this year that we are not violinists.

Wilbur will complete Artistic Pursuits 1st book for grades 4-6.

He has almost completed it and really enjoys the assignments. He has grown as an artist this year!


Both boys will take tennis lessons and go swimming twice per week. They go for a morning run with Michael twice per week, too.

After the toe injury, swimming was out. I had to keep my foot bandaged and dry for almost two months. They took tennis lessons every week until Christmas break during which time Orville broke his arm. They rejoined the class just last week. (Orville's arm has completely mended, like new!)

Extra-curricular Activities

Both boys participate in our local Mathletes team. The group competes in the National Math Olympiads.

Orville was the second-highest scorer on the team! He earned a patch this year and missed earning a silver pin for the top 10% by one question! Wilbur's total score improved from last year and he missed the patch by 1 question! Both are great accomplishments...good job, guys!

We are active members of our local homeschool association. Our group holds an annual International Festival, Spotlight Night, and Field Day. We also take 4-6 field trips per year. The boys' favorite event of the year is the annual skating party!

Ay, ay,'s like a blur! I know they had fun, and all the activities added so much to their educational and social experience this year. I am thankful for SDHSA and all it affords our family!

All plans listed on this blog assume "Lord willing".

Some of our plans for the year panned out. Some things did not work out as we hoped while other happenings completely took us by surprise. Through it all God has been teaching us how to live abound by praising Him and receiving His blessings with appreciation and to live abased by being content whatever the circumstances and resting in and trusting His Providence. We can do all things through Christ Jesus who is our strength. (Phil 4:12-13)

Our plans for 2011-2012 are in place, and I will share them here soon. Thank you for reading and may God bless you as you homeschool your children!


I am blessed! said...

I'm impressed at how well you kept up with your original plans. I got a Big F for language arts this year. I'm using Calvin as my excuse. I mean, do we really need to study language arts as a separate discipline? We'll do better next year. I'm interested in knowing more about Omnibus and Diana Waring's history. And the violin thing- I can relate, except I don't even know how to tune it. My mom drives it to the shop when we're between lessons and it's out of tune. I know nothing about the violin, but Measle just earned an O for Outstanding in a local festival. I'm so proud of her-now if we could get her to practice.


Laura at By the Bushel said...

I'm intrigued by Omnibus. I'm familiar with publisher but not with text. I think my oldest will thrive in this when it's time (he's 2nd grade) next year. But content wise he is a deep thinker in the history area.
I am also using the same science program/books and determining specific resources for Latin/foreign language. I'll have to look into Rosetta Stone.
Thanks for posting!!