Homeschool Curriculum in Practice

What does your homeschool week look like? If you’ve chosen your homeschool curriculum for the year you may be questioning, what now?

Tip #1: You Purchased a Homeschool Curriculum Guide, not Rules.
No matter how much you paid for your curriculum, remember they are guides. You don’t need to force your kids to do every suggestion in the book, every activity, or follow the curriculum in exact order. If your kids are progressing and learning, you’re doing it right.

I’ll walk you through my week and give you some of my own examples of straying from the curriculum and making it work.

I organize each day of the week to have a subject focus. Check out my post on homeschool curriculum planning and organization to learn more about how I design the week ahead.

  • Math Monday
  • Around the World Tuesday (History, Geography, Culture)
  • Word Wednesday (Reading, Writing, Literature, Poetry)
  • Science Thursday
  • Creative Friday (Art, Music)

I do my best to make the subject of the day a priority, but it’s not perfect. The imperfections are what makes Homeschooling wonderful.

Homeschool Math Curriculum Day

Or not?

Tip #2: You can change the plan

We typically use Beast Academy Grade 3 and Beast Academy Grade 2 as our homeschool math curriculum guides.

We had one more ski lesson to squeeze in this week before the snow melted away from the mountains. The kids are ahead in the math curriculum, so I chose Monday as our last ski day. I consider ski lessons part of the kids’ Homeschool Physical Education, so this is school, homeschool style.

We use the 40 minute drive to and from the mountain to listen to audiobooks. This week, they are obsessed with Wonder by R.J. Palacio. They are so excited to get in the car and get the book going again. They’ve even asked to stay in the car longer when I pull into the Ski Lodge parking lot. It’s not Math, but getting a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grader excited about the same chapter book, that’s a homeschool win!

Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Homeschool History and Geography Curriculum

Tip #3: You can build off the curriculum
Tuesday is Around the World Day, or our day for History, Geography, Culture, and Current Events. I use Beginner Geography & Maps Activities as well as Little Passports for our Geography lessons. But, I leave the curriculum guides behind for special events, like Voting Day, Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Inauguration Day, Presidents Day, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, etc.

This week, we are in the Asia section of the Beginner Geography & Maps Activity guide. The curriculum guide has maps and activities to complete. Our favorite activity this week was the Tangram Game that was invented in China.

To build from the maps and activities in the book, I added books and videos to create a mini Unit Study on Asia. I love a curriculum guide with recommended books. Unfortunately, this is not one of them, but I still get some great topic ideas to look for in the library.

From my home library I had The Empty Pot by Demi. The artwork in this book is beautiful. The story is about a boy named Ping from China. Ping loves flowers but is unable to grow one in the emperor’s contest. There are some great life lessons about honesty in this one. We’ve read this book many times, but it was good to bring out again and remind the kids that Ping is from China, a country in Asia, bringing the map studies to life.

If you don’t have access to the book at your local library, there is a great Read Aloud from Storyline Online on YouTube.

I also picked up The Blind Men and the Elephant by Karen Backstein. The story is based on an ancient parable from India. This was an easy reader, so I assigned this book to the kids to read on their own.

When I searched for Japan and Russia in the Children’s section of our library, I found a couple of holdings from a series called Disney’s Small World Library. These were definitely dated and felt like a mistake as I read the book out loud. The Kite Flying contest in Japan inspired my daughter to draw a picture of she and I in Japanese Kimonos while flying kites. She was vocal when I read only the boys fly kites in the the Boys Day competition described in the book. I was not familiar with Boys Day in Japan, so we did some research to find out more. We discovered Boys Day had been changed to Children’s Day in 1948! Oy! So poor book find, but the imperfections can turn into wonderful. We had a great lesson researching Japanese history.

I also pulled together a series of videos from YouTube to round out our Homeschool Asia Unit Study. You can check out the full Playlist on my YouTube Channel, Couture Homestead Homeschooling.

I didn’t use all of the videos, but having them all saved in one place made it easy to pull up when I needed them. My son was super excited about the height of Everest after reading Everest by Sangma Francis (he is my numbers guy). I had plenty of Everest videos saved to my playlist, so while his interest was peaked, I pulled up a few Everest videos so he could take a deeper dive.

Homeschool Writing and Reading Curriculum

Tip #4: You can alter the curriculum design
As you can see from Monday and Tuesday examples, there are already several read aloud books built into every day of the week, not just Word Wednesday. We do take an extra focus in writing on this day, paired with recommended readings from Draw Write Now.

The Draw Write Now series is intended to be daily writing exercises. The books were designed by a now retired 2nd teacher who combined drawing lessons with hand writing skills. There are 8 books, with 3 themed sections in each book. Instead of doing daily writing assignments, I group each of the themed sections as a Unit Study. This week was Savanna Animals which included 9 animal drawing with writing samples.

I ask the kids to take turns reading the passages about each animal. There is also a question on each page, such as, “Why do hippos leave the water at night?” or “How many miles do elephants travel?” We discuss the question and make guesses at the answer. I then read aloud the correct answer from the guide.

After the kids read the passages aloud, I share the book I have paired with each animal (or topic, depending on the section theme). There are suggested readings in Draw Write Now and I try to find those in my local library. If I can’t find the exact match, I look for something on the same topic.

Draw Write Now suggested African Wildlife by Barbara Bach to pair with the Hyena Drawing and Writing page. The cover of African Wildlife looks beautiful, but my library didn’t have this holding. Instead, when I searched Hyena in the Children’s section of our library, I found Pinduli by Janell Cannon . Pinduli is an endearing Hyena who teaches us the power of our words, both good and bad. This one was a hit!

Let’s recap my curriculum design changes. I’ve already changed 1) the curriculum from a daily to a weekly schedule. 2) I’ve added a reading element to a Writing curriculum, 3) I’ve also changed up the book recommendations. Now, if I haven’t change the curriculum enough, 4) I don’t make the kids draw and write every animal or, 5) write exactly what was written for each animal. After reading and discussing each animal, I let the kids choose their favorite animal.

I have two 8 year olds and it’s fun to see their personalities come through with their writing and drawing task. I have one who follows the instructions intently and wants his drawing perfectly by the book. It takes encouragement for him to add details not included in the book. The other 8 year old loves when I say, “I had trouble finding a book for the giraffe and the ostrich this week.” She sees this as a challenge to create her own giraffe and ostrich characters and write a storybook. A book is more work than the 5 sentences I asked of her, but she also throws aside the book’s drawing guide and writing instructions, as well as penmanship, spelling, and punctuation to boot.

Once again, I have a playlist of videos on hand saved to my YouTube Channel, Couture Homestead Homeschooling. Some of the videos are read alouds I have found from the suggested readings in Draw Write Now. Others cover more about the Savanna Habitat or the Animals of the Savanna.

Homeschool Science Curriculum

Tip #5: You can change the curriculum schedule
I use two science curriculum guides, Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding and Exploring Nature with Children

I typically start with Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding which is more likely to have indoor lessons and experiments we can work on in the cooler morning hours. As the temperatures warm up, we head outside for our nature curriculum.

Last Thursday we had ski lessons in the morning. When got home from a morning in the (cold) fresh air, the kiddos were pooped. I opted for spending the afternoon on the Building Foundations lesson about Classifying Animals. We could cozy up inside with hot chocolate, warm blankets, and get our animal classification game on. We skipped Nesting Bird Week.

BUT, the imperfections make homeschool wonderful. This week, our bluebirds returned to renovate the nest they built in our yard last year. Woot! Woot! This week ended up being the better week for us to study Nesting Birds.

I have a Nesting Birds playlist of videos on hand saved to my YouTube Channel, Couture Homestead Homeschooling.

Homeschool Art and Music Curriculum

Tip #6: Go with the flow
I use Art History Kids for our Homeschool Art Curriculum and SQUILT for our Homeschool Music Curriculum.

This month we are studying Musicals with resources from SQUILT. The Lion King is a favorite in our house, so I decided we would take a deeper dive with The Lion King on Broadway. While I was checking out The Lion King website, I found an Educational Materials section of the website. This included a FREE 40 page educational guide as well as a 10 episode video series going behind the scenes of the show. Jackpot!

I had SO MANY ideas to fill the day. After watching episode 3 or 4 with the actors preparing for the show with make-up, masks, and elaborate puppets, my daughter couldn’t wait to try it herself.

She grabbed the face paint from the craft closet and turned herself into Zazu! This was not in my plan of activities for the day. But hey, it is Creative Friday. She is being creative, artisitic, and applying her knowledge of the lessons. Homeschool success.

Have questions? Suggestion? Contact me!

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