8th Grade Curriculum

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Our daughter has reached 8th grade (2023-2024 school year). She is “the baby” in the family, so this reality hits hard. How can this be? Anyway, here are her courses this year: English, Math, US History, Bible, ASL I, Performing Arts, Personal Finance, Sewing, PE.

Sewing lesson

Our daughter wanted to learn sewing so we found a friend who was willing to teach her.

For English, Bible, and US History she is taking Notgrass US History, a wonderful curriculum which offers enough content to grant three credits. That’s not just a good deal. We are very impressed with Notgrass in general and proud that they are from Tennessee. Continue reading »

Third Grade Curriculum

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You have asked, so I will answer. Which curriculum did we have actually use in third grade? Without further ado, here it is:


Reading – Mensa for Kids, K-3 book list Also, the National Spelling Bee Bookshelf titles. They change from year to year. User discretion is advised. We have had to skip some titles because of their political or occult content.


Spelling and grammar – Logic of English Foundations, C and D; once finished, we started LOE Essentials – Level A

Story of the World Volume 2

Story of the World Volume 2


Writing – Writing with Ease, Level 1 – if your child is not yet writing well, do some more copywork. Alternatively, you can make your own sheets online. I had a book for cursive copywork with nature facts and Bible verses, titled Cursive Copywork. Continue reading »

Second Grade Curriculum

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“What curriculum are you using?” That is one of my favorite questions from homeschooling parents. I love talking about the great curriculum available to the homeschool community. Since several of you have asked, I will take some time and share our choices, grade by grade, in several posts.

Latin and French for Children

Latin and French are totally optional in second grade.

As a rule of thumb, I go with The Well Trained Mind recommendations, but not every single thing. I have not started teaching my children Greek, for example. Besides, her recommendations for spelling have not worked for us. Continue reading »

Mango Languages Review

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When it comes to learning foreign languages in our homeschool, I feel right at home. No pun intended. As a polyglot, I naturally want my children to pick up as many languages as possible. You know how some people want their children to learn piano AND violin? I want my children to speak several languages.

They are bilingual to start with, so why not add a few more languages to their repertoire? Enter Mango Languages, an online language learning program. Featuring 60+ languages, the Mango Homeschool Edition can help your homeschoolers pick up a language by immersion. I like the fact that they employ native speakers. You can really tell the difference.

Mango Languages recording feature used by children

My son and daughter loved the recording feature of Mango Languages. They got really silly with it, but I allowed it because I remember acting silly when I first took language lessons, too.

Once you decide which package will work for your family and purchase it, they will provide you with login information for every student. Of course, parents can learn, too. My children are taking French, Spanish, Latin, and Romanian. I am studying Italian and brushing up on my Latin.

Here are the price packages available:

1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year total
2 subscriptions is $28/month or $175 /year total
3 subscriptions is $38/month or $225/year total
4 subscriptions is $48/month or $275/year total
5 subscriptions is $58/month or $325/year total

Anything over 6 subscriptions is a special group rate that will depend on the number in the group. As far as homeschool curriculum goes, I think these prices are more than reasonable. The question is, once you have it, will you use it? That’s always the question, whether it’s a backyard pool or a book you bought at a seminar or a subscription to language learning online. But I digress.

Personally, I am already trying to immerse my children in other languages. As we live our lives, I speak to them in Romanian. When daddy is around and he has to understand what I am saying to the kids, I switch to English. However, I read to the children in English, Romanian, French and Spanish, depending on the books they pick. I also mention to them several things in French and Spanish as we go through the day.

Mango Languages Review

It’s really random, as these idioms strike my fancy. So I used Mango to organize our language instruction. The kids loved it in the beginning. It was a new experience. It was computer time. They don’t get much screen time (TV or computer) because I don’t believe it is good for their brains. Besides, they will spend their adult lives in front of screens, so I want their early school years to be as low-tech as possible.

Over time, they started getting bored with it. Mango Languages is pretty much a set of virtual flash cards that get repeated so you can get drilled. By repetition, you can store up vocabulary in your long-term memory. You know what they say, “Repetition is the mother of learning.”

This is the screen you should see once you are logged in. The directory of languages looks impressive, doesn’t it?

Mango Languages Review

I love Mango Languages because I am motivated to learn languages. But, if the why is not strong enough, the how will not follow.

That’s where the going gets tough. Do you have the mental fortitude to continue, once the newness wears off? With my kids being so small, I did not enforce instruction if they did not want to do Mango Languages on a particular day.

Even so, I dare say they learned quite a bit. And so did I. If nothing else, all this language immersion, whether by me, at random, or systematically, through Mango Languages, has trained them to wonder how we say something in another language. Now and then, throughout the day, they ask me, “How do we say this in French (or Spanish, or Romanian)?” You know they want to learn when they ask questions.

I first thought we should study only French and Spanish. Then, I thought I should look into Latin, as well. Just to show them how close it is to Romanian and some of the things they already know in French and Spanish.The children asked for Romanian, too, taking me by surprise. It was fun to sit there and listen to my mother tongue being drilled into my children. As if they don’t get enough of it daily. But it was neat for them, I think, to get Romanian from somebody other than mommy.

Personally, I appreciated the grammar notes. I love grammar, so any bit of grammar I get helps me with my database of knowledge about what is or isn’t acceptable in a language. The other thing that I took great pleasure in was the explanations of the literal translation in different idioms.

We say, “What’s up?” in English, but nobody looks up when you ask them that before they answer you, for instance. The same goes for other languages. Knowing the literal translation helps with creating the sentence – at least, for me. It also fascinates me to see how different cultures view the world. Where the English ask how you are, the French would ask how it is going, while the Romanians ask, “What are you doing?”

I did notice that some translation was a bit random. For instance, we do not say “What is your name?” in Romanian. We ask, literally, “What do they call you?” However, the answer can be, literally, “My name is…” or, “They call me…” So when the English version was “My name is…” and I wanted to translate, I used “They call me…” and it was wrong. They supplied the literal translation of “My name is…”

I suspect the same is true about other languages. I noticed it in French. Regardless, there is a lot of learning that goes on and, should you learn one way of saying things, you should count yourself blessed. At least, you know one way of expressing yourself in a different idiom.

There are tests and there is tracking coming up as they continue to develop this software. Personally, I am in awe of this whole experience, even in its beta version. One thing I have not done is get in touch with other people who study the same languages. There is a community with chat rooms one can take advantage of in the software, if you should feel so inclined.

Since my children are only four and six, I need to be there for technical support, for guidance, to help them navigate the different screens and to help with any questions. Older students would not need their hands held through the process though. The software is intuitive. The product is intended for ages six through adult.

By far, the best aspect of using Mango Languages for my children was the recording feature. The student listens to a native speaker pronounce a phrase. Then, the student can record her own voice pronouncing the same phrase. One can play both recordings simultaneously to really listen for differences in syllables, accent and pronunciation. My kids loved that feature.

Here are the social media links for Mango Languages:

Twitter: httpss://twitter.com/MangoLanguages
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mangolanguages/
Facebook: httpss://www.facebook.com/MangoLanguages

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Home Art Studio DVDs Review and Giveaway

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Home Art Studio DVDs for grades K-6th is a part of my birthday month giveaway extravaganza. Homeschooling can get a little rough around this time of the year. So I think a lot of homeschoolers should be interested in a curriculum that keeps the kids happily making art while mom can catch up on her work around the house. No textbooks required, no busy work, no power struggles.

Sculpey cinnamon buns and plate

We made cinnamon buns on a plate out of Sculpey, a clay one bakes in the oven before painting

But this award-winning art curriculum is more than just something to do to get over the winter blahs. During the school year, homeschool students can tackle one session a week and create different art projects in different media. Through painting, sculpting, drawing and coloring, children can express themselves while learning different techniques and even a bit of art history.

Home Art Studio DVDs K-5th plus holiday DVD

One lucky winner will receive all six grades plus the holiday DVD of this homeschool art curriculum

We have done five lessons so far from the Kindergarten set and our only problem is that once we get started, we don’t know when to stop. From a winter landscape to Van Gogh’s sunflowers, to a happy sun and sculpted cinnamon rolls on a plate, we had fun. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Van Gogh's Sunflowers, one of the projects on Home Art Studio DVD for Kindergarten

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, one of the projects on Home Art Studio DVD for Kindergarten, as created by one of my children

I really like art but I would not know where to start and how to teach it. This DVD set does all the work for me and in a professional manner, too. I cannot say enough about how impressed I am with Ms. Volin’s relaxed, inviting teaching style.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the kindergarten curriculum. I only recommend curriculum we use in our homeschool. To enter the giveaway, please sign up for our quarterly e-newsletter on the right hand menu by March 1.

3 Simple Solutions for Music and Art in Homeschooling

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In homeschooling, just like in traditional schooling, it can be tempting to set music and art aside for when we have time (or money). How can a busy homeschooling mom add music and art to an already full schedule? Here are my solutions (besides violin lessons):

1. Can You Hear It? will start you on this quest to steal a few moments for classical music and art appreciation simultaneously. My kids love this book and CD, which we got from the library. We soon got our own copy from Amazon.

I play the music during meals, but, also, while I cook and they play nearby. We open the book and turn the pages as the tracks change. Sometimes I read to the kids from the book. Other times, we listen and comment on what we see.

Small girl having tea and looking at painting

My daughter listens to “Carnival of the Animals – Aquarium” while looking at the corresponding painting in “Can You Hear It” and enjoying a bagel and raspberry zinger tea; my son is not in the picture because he was finishing up a LEGO project before joining us.

2. A Year in Art offers us visual pleasure as we enjoy our afternoon tea time, a tradition we started about a month ago. Around 4pm, I put a tea kettle on the stove and get out some scones, or biscuits, or bagels, or graham crackers, or toast. I use what I have on hand.

We open the book and look at 3-5 paintings while sipping tea and enjoying something sweet. They have questions. We look for answers together. Sometimes we locate towns and countries on a world atlas.

3. Free concerts – We catch the Knoxville Youth Symphony concerts several times a year and, also, the Sevier County Choral Society concerts (December and May). I used to sing with the Choral Society before I became a mom, so it sort of feels like a reunion for me. If you check your local newspaper or Google free concerts in your area, you should find similar offerings where you live.

I have felt the liberating and relaxing effects of art and music in our homeschooling enough, that I am thinking about experimenting with doing music and/or art before math, reading or writing. I’ll let you know if I have enough courage to implement it on a regular basis. So far, I have done it once and we all loved it.