Fourth Grade Readers [2016-2017]

Before we can talk in depth about my curriculum choices for Sydney, it’s time to first tell you about all the good books we are reading!

The way I schedule this is pretty simple, she has 4 weeks to read 1 biography and 1 fiction. We have 8 weeks to read a read aloud fiction. She gets to pick the order, I don’t care so long as they all get read by the end of the school year.


The Phantom Tollbooth | Holes | The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Running Out of Time | The Indian in the Cupboard


Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics | Tuck Everlasting |Skinny Bones | The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane |Because of Winn-Dixie
Lunch Money | Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library | Ella Enchanted | Sara, Plain and Tall | Prince Caspian


Christopher Columbus | Sally Ride | Pablo Picasso| Eleanor Roosevelt | Abraham Lincoln
Harriet Tubman | Sacagawea | Rosa Parks | Annie Oakley | Roald Dahl


First Grade with Audrey

I previously talked about switching curriculum midyear with Sydney, and a reader commented to ask about Audrey! So, here it is. Miss Audrey Thyme is now 6 years old and she’s in the 1st grade.


Audrey is currently taking the following classes as part of her first grade curriculum; reading, grammar, history, science, math, art, dance and piano. She does piano with a lady from church who puts together a wonderful Harry Potter themed piano curriculum and we LOVE IT. Audrey is a Hufflepuff 😉 She’s currently taking ballet and musical theatre with out beloved Teacher Annie.

PicMonkey Collage

Audrey was not reading at the beginning on first grade. So our main focus was on getting her ready to read. So we focused on reading, math and art. At the beginning of the school year we were doing science with Book Shark but I didn’t love it, especially because Sydney was doing a different level and it left me feeling exhausted trying to teach two different sciences. She joined in on Story of the World history lessons, but they quickly lost her attention. Slowly, but surely she started picking up on reading. In February she completed All About Reading Level 1 and started on Level 2. Since she was starting to read we decided it was time to add in some grammar. Sydney had just started The Good and the Beautiful for Language Arts and since they offered a free download I went through the table of contents to figure out which lessons to teach Audrey. The Good and the Beautiful have their own reading curriculum and spelling involved in their Kindergarten and First Grade LA. I didn’t want to include that since she was doing well with AAR, so I combined the lessons from K and Level 1 for a modified version for Audrey. She is absolutely loving their curriculum!

Like I said, Story of the World just wasn’t holding Audrey’s attention and my brain works very similarly to Audrey’s. So it also wasn’t holding MY attention. Since I was absolutely loving G&B I decided to give their history program a try. And guess what?! It totally rocks. My girls are loving it. It’s basically my dream curriculum, I really wanted to teach history in a “family style” setting so that all my kids could go through history together and then have assignments based on their age. This is perfect for that and even has the assignments listed out by ages! Big win.

Since I wasn’t loving Book Shark with two different science curriculum I decided to give Real Science 4 Kids a try. Even though the name really bothers me, I don’t like reading bingo. But it offered the opportunity to teach multiple children at the same time so I decided to give it a go as well. What we were doing wasn’t working. So if it’s not working it’s time to figure out why and how to fix it! This curriculum is VERY different than how I’ve ever taught science before, and it’s too soon to say for sure if it’s working or not. But I am enjoying it, and it’s not leaving me as exhausted as Book Shark was.

Math-U-See is one of the few things we’ve kept the same this year! It’s also the only math curriculum we’ve ever used. No complaints, ever. Audrey loves it, she’s whizzing through Alpha this year and is amazing at her addition skills!

Home Art Studio is in the same boat as MUS. We’ve used it since the beginning of our homeschool journey, and we aren’t changing it now!

So there is Audrey’s official curriculum list. It’s a bit smaller than Sydney’s load was when she was in 1st grade, but we like to tailor everything to the needs of the child. Audrey is flourishing with this load and honestly I think I probably overloaded poor Sydney when she was in first grade. Audrey benefits being the second child 😉


When Boredom Hits…

So…it’s been a while since my last post. Quincey is now 8 months (tomorrow), Sydney turned 9, and Ruby turns 2 next week.

I love my blog and I really need to get better at updating this! Eeesh.

Well, here’s the update on our homeschooling situation.


I’ve posted before about when homeschooling becomes hard and how it’s best to just power through the times when you have zero motivation.

But what about when that time stretches for a lot longer than a few weeks?

We’ve used Sonlight/Book Shark since our first year of elementary school with Sydney (2012), and we’ve used The Well Trained Mind’s programs for history, writing, and grammar since the first grade with Sydney (2013.)

But this year, in the 4th grade? Sydney and I were BURNT OUT and BORED.

It was bad, guys. Really bad. We ended up so far behind and just hating it, we’d get ready to do Writing with Ease and she didn’t want to do, and what’s worse? I didn’t want to teach it!

And it wasn’t like she hated writing, she is currently in the process of writing her own book, she’s always making  up stories and wanting to write them down.

We just didn’t want to do the curriculum work.

So what do you do then? Do you suck it up and push through?

In our case, NO. I found a new curriculum. What’s better is that they offered a free download for it!

Enter The Good and the Beautiful curriculum.

Sydney and I are both really enjoying it!

I like that I’m not reading the exact same instructions every single day. I like that in the 4th grade she’s mostly responsible for doing her own work, but that there are times we can do it together.

I like that it incorporates art history into it.

I’m pretty much in love!

We also had to do some major changes with our science and our history curriculum, because it just wasn’t happening.

And school not happening? Not really an option!


2015-2016 Curriculum List

Yesterday marked the first day of our 5th year of homeschooling. And this year is Audrey’s first day of Kindergarten. Every single year I wonder how I got here, how is it that my kids are even old enough to be in school?

But here we are, and here is the list of curriculum that we will be using this year!

Sydney is in the THIRD GRADE. Like Whoa.


Math: Math-U-See Gamma

Science: Sonlight Science D (Biology, Taxonomy and Human Anatomy)

English: Writing With Ease Level 3, First Language Lessons Level 3, All About Spelling Level 3+

Reading: Ginger Pye, School Story, B is for Betsy, Enyclopedia Brown, Betsy & Tacy, Along Came a Dog, The Lightning Thief, James and the Giant Peach, Ramona Forever

Handwriting: A Reason For Handwriting Transition

Art: Home Art Studio 3rd Grade

Read Alouds: Little House in the Big Woods, Stuart Little, The Cricket in Time Square, Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, Prince Caspian

History: Story of the World Volume 3 (Early Modern)

Biographies: This year we are focusing on some biographies and she will read one each month from the Whoe Was…? Series.
Clara Barton, Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Sally Ride, Louis Braille, Claude Monet, Queen Elizabeth, Franklin Roosevelt, Daniel Boone, Babe Ruth.


Math: Math-U-See Primer

Science: Sonlight Science A (Biology, Biotoany, Physics)

Reading: Bob Books Box 1+

Handwriting: A Reason For Handwriting K

Art: Home Art Studio Kindergarten

Read Alouds: Sonlight A


Together they will be reading Old Testament Stories and doing Expedition Earth: Europe!


When You Think You’re Failing

Since I’ve spent this entire school year pregnant, and then with a newborn it’s had it’s challenges.

Especially since this is Audrey’s first year doing school with us.

And unfortunately she’s gotten the short end of the stick.

 Preschool hasn’t gotten done.

And not because she isn’t cooperative. Unfortunately it’s just the opposite, she’s been begging to do school.

The cute assignments have gotten done. Eventually.

Reading took a back burner and we just worked on flash cards.

The stories I was suppose to read to her just didn’t happen.

And our coconut tree? Yeah, it’s got the letters A and B on it. :(

In short, I was failing Audrey.

First step? Realizing it.

Second step? Make a plan.

Luckily I’m great at making a plan.

So one Sunday night I opened up that weeks folder for school, grabbed the four books for the week. I made four piles, one for each day of the school week. I stacked them on top of each other (the books being the divider) and I left it on the table. With our All About Reading book on top.

I also realized that piano practice had slipped through the cracks. So when it’s time to do school I sit down with Audrey first, while Sydney plays the piano. When it’s time to switch Audrey to reading out loud I have Sydney start her math worksheet.

Audrey and I work through her pile of things to do, finishing with a book being read her to. Often I do this while I’m feeding Ruby, but the point is that we do not leave the table. We stay right there, because if we get up it won’t get finished. After I read her book to her, she reads to me from All About Reading.

We are going back over the first book and making sure she can read each of the stories fluidly with little time spent sounding out each. and. every. word. We are going slowly to make sure the concepts are reinforced.

After a few months of using this method I can say that our school work goes a lot smoother, Audrey is happier and her reading has improved drastically!

So what do you do when you’re failing your child? Stop. Fix it. Make a plan. Start again. Make it work.



Combining All About Reading and Bob Books

AARBob copy

Bob Books hold a special place in my heart. They truly do. As a four-year-old I learned to read using these books. I thought it was super cool that there was a character named after me. Everyone whose name is Sam is short for Samantha, don’t you know?

I also taught Sydney how to read using these books. But we picked my brain along with an awesome blog called Teaching Reading with Bob Books. While this was a great success with Sydney I didn’t think it would go over well with Audrey.

Audrey doesn’t like to sit still. She likes to play games. She likes to be entertained.

She also gets frustrated very easily.

We use All About Spelling as part of our curriculum with Sydney and I love the methods and style. Shortly after we started using the spelling program they came out with a reading program, and it has lots of fun games and exercises to teach kids to read. Which is right up Audrey’s alley.

My only complaint against All About Reading so far is just that it takes until the 5th lesson for them to start reading out of a book. I loved that (almost) instant gratification children get when they read a WHOLE book by themselves for the first time. Especially since each lesson takes more than one day for Audrey to complete. As I looked through the sequence of AAR I realized pretty quickly that I could supplement Bob Books in where they fit best. So far this is just a tentative list, as it’s based on the sequence provided by AAR in their level 1 manual. But here’s the list:

Mat can be read after AAR lesson 2
Sam can be read after AAR lesson 3
Dot can be read after AAR lesson 8
Mac can be read after AAR lesson 8
Dot & Mit can be read after AAR lesson 8
Dot & the Dog can be read after AAR lesson 8
Jig & Mag can be read after AAR lesson 8
Muff & Ruff can be read after AAR lesson 10
10 Cut Ups can be read after AAR lesson 10
Peg & Ted can be read after AAR lesson 12
Lad and the Fat Cat can be read after AAR lesson 14
The Vet can be read after AAR lesson 14

As you can see the 10 books from the first set of Bob Books fit in with the first 14 lessons of All About Reading level 1. Most after lesson 8. You might want to split them up as you see fit. By lesson 15 they have read 11 short stories from the readers, so my plan is to slip the Bob Books in when there is a lull or as something to read to Daddy when he gets home. Audrey has done this with the first two Bob Books and it is so exciting to her to sit on daddy’s lap and read him a story. I will probably continue to do this with the other sets of Bob Books I own.

Have you used Bob Books to supplement All About Reading?


2014-2015 Curriculum


This year is going to shake things up a bit in the Sherman household. This year I’ll be adding a new student, AND adding a new baby! This is something that I’ve spent a good deal of time and energy worrying about. How am I going to juggle both girls’ educations and the demands of a newborn? Will one of them not get enough attention or time? Of course these emotions, worries, and thoughts are very similar to the ones I had when I was pregnant with Audrey. So I’m hoping the answer will be exactly the same. Everything will be great, nothing will be the same, find the new normal.

sydneyI still can’t believe that Sydney is already in 2nd Grade! What?

Gospel: Studying the Doctrine and Covenants and Baptism Prep (more about this later.)
Art: Home Art Studio 2nd Grade
Math: Math-U-See Beta
Spelling: All About Spelling Level 2 and up
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting Level B*
History: Story of the World Volume 2: Medieval
Writing: Writing With Ease Level 2
Grammar: First Language Lessons Level 2
Science: Sonlight Science C (Geology, Meteorology, and Mechanical Technology)*
Read Alouds: See here. *
Readers: Sonlight Readers Level 4/5


Audrey will be doing preschool this year! She will be doing Letter of the Week curriculum by Confessions of a Homeschooler. She will also be doing bits and pieces of Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten and All About Reading Level 1 and up.

*Personally when I’m reading someone’s blog and they’ve switched curriculums I always wonder why. So here are the answers to the whys:

From Handwriting Without Tears to A Reason For Handwriting: Sydney really enjoyed HWT and had no problems with it. It’s a great handwriting curriculum. My only problem with it is simply that they teach writing on a different set of lines, this didn’t confuse Sydney at all but Audrey was VERY confused by the paper. How tall do you make that letter A? I had also noticed that when Sydney was doing her copywork or narrative exercises for Writing With Ease she didn’t know how to form her letters because WWE uses traditional lines, which differ from HWT. So to help keep things all uniform, we are switching.

From Apologia BACK to Sonlight Science: We used Sonlight’s science curriculum for Kindergarten and we really enjoyed it. I planned on using it with Audrey when she was in Kindergarten. My reason for switching last year was because I wanted a curriculum I could easily do with all the children at once. Apologia fulfilled that. However, there were many theories they discuss that I don’t agree with, some paragraphs that I wondered why they were included those were things I could ignore, and censor out. However, what I couldn’t ignore was when Apologia came out with an anti-Mormon statement. It was uncalled for and I refuse to support such a company. I was really sad about this because I did love Apologia, I loved the rich pictures it provided and the easy experiments. But I feel like going back to Sonlight is a good fit for us!

From Sonlight Read Alouds to my own choices: This is simply because there are SO many good books! I poured over a few lists (including Sonlight’s) when choosing our readers, and added a few childhood favorites!

nbts-blog-hop-calendar-2014I’m participating in the Not Back to School Blog Hop!


2nd Grade Read Alouds

In the previous two years we’ve just bought Sonlight’s read aloud kits. And I loved them, but I wanted a little more choice. So I poured over SO many lists for 2nd grade readers for Sydney for this upcoming school year. I now present to you what I decided upon for 2nd Grade. A few months ago I started labeling all the spines of my books so I could easily identify them. I bought Sonlight’s stickers but I have my own method for which grade they correspond to.


Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Little House in the Big Woods by Lauren Ingalls Wilder
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Stuart Little by E.B. White
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Mary Poppins by Dr. P.L. Travers
The School Story by Andrew Clements
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka
Jumanji by Chris Val Allsburg

*These are my Amazon affiliate links. Any purchases will help bless our home school for next year, and is greatly appreciated :)


All About Learning

Yup, here’s an update for you!


Sydney passed off All About Spelling Level 1! I think she already spells better than I do 😉 She was so excited to pass off the last of her lessons and then help me get prepared for Level 2, her favorite is the Word Jail for those pesky rule breakers. After her first lesson in Level 2 she complained that our jail didn’t have anyone in it.

Jordan told me I’ll need to devote a whole room to all the rule breakers in the English language. He’s very supportive that way.


This year Miss Audrey has been working her way though All About Reading Pre-Level 1. They have it divided into 3 sections, capital letters, lower case letters, and then the sounds. She just passed off all the capital letters, so we were getting ready to change our chart, and start reading a new book! She was very excited to be 1/3 of the way done. She can’t stop talking about how she can’t wait to learn to read next year. <3


School Doesn’t Need to Be 36 Weeks.

We have entered into our third year of homeschooling, and I’ve learned a very valuable lesson.

School doesn’t need to be thirty-six weeks.

Really, it doesn’t.

It can be 37, 38, 40 weeks. And that’s just fine!

One of the wonderful thing about homeschooling is that we get to do things our way, and on our time schedule.

We have several subjects this year, all of which I have deemed necessary and important.

Some days we do great, and other days we don’t do so well.

This has made me very stressed out trying to stick to a schedule that is all very well planned out. I wasn’t giving myself any wiggle room, for life things that happen. You know the things that happen that you don’t plan for? Like Audrey falling out a window, or Audrey getting into a car accident, or Audrey having her tonsils removed.

Audrey adds a lot of unexpected events to our lives.

So I’ve added a few weeks randomly in the school year, and plan on adding weeks to the end of the school year as our “catch up weeks.” If something gets missed during our 4 weeks on, 1 week off schedule I’ll just keep going, and catch up during one of those built in catch-up weeks.

But what if we’re caught up? Well, then we get a bonus week off!

I already feel a lot less stressed!