Christ, Coffee, and Chaos

Striving to capture our homeschool adventure as we endeavor to walk the narrow path.

Category: Homeschool (Page 1 of 2)

Wins & Lessons For 2017’s 1st Term

We’re a term in and I wanted to share our lessons learned in the first 6 weeks of our first official school year. You can read our original plans here where I cover John’s 1st grade and Mary’s PK curriculum choices. Mostly what I’ve learned is that I’m not very disciplined. In kindergarten it was really easy to have a reading lesson, go on a nature walk, read a Bible story and call it good, but things are slowly getting more serious and Mama needs to step up her game a bit.

First, Our Wins

The kids are having a blast and learning tons so even though we’re a little behind in… every… subject… I’d say we’re totally owning this homeschool thing.

The Japanese materials I’ve found make me feel like a total rock star. We began the Hiragana alphabet (free) which was pretty boring so we added Rapid Japanese and I am now the best mom ever. A few days ago I asked the kids if they wanted oatmeal with breakfast in Spanish, John replied in Japanese and Mary signed in agreement. YES! I did something right. It might be the only thing I’ve ever done right but at least it’s impressive. We are also using a Hiragana ANKI deck and a vocabulary ANKI deck with audio so we’re not limited to my Japanese abilities.

They continue to love all of the materials we were using last year including Reading Lessons Through Literature, Hey Andrew, The Al Abacus, and Explorer’s Bible Study. Story of The World, Apologia Astronomy and Artistic Pursuits are all working well but not completely adored. Loop scheduling was a success but our Sabbath scheduling wasn’t necessary due to the aforementioned lack of discipline on my part.

This is John’s independent reading loop. I mark what he does on the line for the day and record everything at the end of the week. I have loops for John’s seatwork, Mary’s seatwork, group seatwork, the arts, independent reading and our book basket. Sometimes I’ll write down a page number for assignments or simply a dot to mark that that category has been covered.  Black means English, Red signifies Spanish and eventually we will include green and blue for Japanese and Greek.

Lessons Learned & Changes Made

Despite the fact that both pupils have a desire to learn Japanese I need to set them at different paces because John was irritated at my lack of willingness to let him move forward. I have moved both of them back to Ray’s Arithmetic because it’s just better than anything I’ve found. The Fluent Forever pronunciation trainer was just too much for them so I am now teaching reading using La Pata Pita.

And Finally I need to read aloud more. My strategy so far has been to read at meals and during drawing time, have my husband read after dinner while I clean up, and assign John read aloud time.

Free Vintage Spanish Texts

As I’ve stated before me encanta viejos textos y estoy trandando de raise my children bilingual. I love the books by Emma Serl, Primary and Intermediate Language Lessons, and decided buscar el equivalente espanol, but I found a whole lot more and thought podria ser bueno compartir. Here is lo mejor de what I found mas simple a mas complejo.

Traditional Texts

Beginning with grammar First Spanish BookNew First Spanish book or Primer Libro de Espanol is a beginning book that focuses on explicit instruction, lots of examples and student accuracy. Bibliografía de La Gramática y Lexicografía Castellanas, y Sus Estudios Afines is a Castilian grammar text that starts at the beginning while Curiosidades Gramaticales, Gramática Ampliada del Idioma Español y Sus Dialectos and Maraña Del Idioma; Critica Lexicográfica y Gramatical both appear to be advanced Spanish grammars. The Principles of Grammar: Being a Compendious Treatise on the Languages, English, Latin, Greek, German, Spanish, and French is a totally awesome thingy I found and I just had to share!

Next up is composition. Elementary Spanish Prose is an English text intended to teach beginning Spanish composition while Manual de Composicion Literaria and Elementos de Literatura: Retórica i Poética both seem to be aimed at the high school/college crowd. Filosofía de la Composición de Edgar Allan Poe is also a thing.

A Phonetic Spanish Reader is… a phonetic Spanish reader, Primer Libro de Lectura is a reader with a heavy focus on vocabulary acquisition and Primeras Lecturas en Español focuses on culture.

Spanish Literature, A Primer with only 152 pages is an English chronological survey of Spanish literature that could easily be started in middle school. Estudios de Crítica Literaria, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, and Volume 5Miscelánea Literaria, Política i Relijiosa, and Volume 2, and finally Trozos Selectos de Literatura y Método de Composicion Literaria, Sacados de Autores Arjentinos y Estranjeros are all anthologies.

History of The Spanish Language and Art

Orígenes de la Lengua Española is about the origins and evolution of the language whereas Historia de la Lengua y Literatura Españolas is more about Spanish writings. Primer Diccionario General Etimologico de la Lengua Espanola looks pretty cool but I don’t have the time to really play with it right now. It is huge and while I love the idea of it the print is very fine and I’m not sure it’s usable after being scanned. Primer Almanaque Histórico, Artístico y Monumental de la República Mexicana is filled with illustrations and looks muy interesante.


Curriculum and Routine For 1st Grade and PreK

We plan to start school July 31st and we’re trying out sabbath schooling which is school for 6 weeks followed by a week long break. I’ve changed my mind again (I do that) and we’re starting our first history cycle with Story of The World and corresponding Artistic Pursuits lessons. We’ll also be doing interest-led science as well as Bible as a family while keeping the skill subjects separate. Además, I’ve been completely revamping our Spanish studies. John is my writer and lover of languages while Mary wants to do school with her older brother but is not interested in a challenge at this time.


John: Reading Lessons Through LiteratureEvan-Moor Grammar & Punctuation and homemade copywork.

Together: Jot It Down including poetry memorization, word play, big juicy conversations and story telling.


John: Getting Started With Spanish as an introduction to grammar and daily copywork.

Mary: Learning to read in Spanish first using Fluent Forever’s Pronunciation Trainer.

Together: Fluent Forever lifestyle utilizing homemade ANKI decks, Salsa (free), radio, and a literature list to be determined. We will continue to pull from this list as we’ve loved all of it so far. 


John: Song School Greek


John: He’s taken an interest in Japanese which is not only a total shocker, but a completely foreign language to me which I have extremely little experience with. I’m going to work on the hiragana alphabet with him while I get my barrings.


John: School Arithmetics Book 1 ($Free)

Mary: After she finishes MEP Reception she will move on to Singapore Earlybird.


Together: Explorer’s Bible Study with varied evening devotionals and Heroes for Young Readers with the Activity Guide.


John: Selected Readings From The Well Trained Mind and Story of the World.

Together: Story of The World Volume I with the Activity Guide.


John: Let’s Read and Find Out Level 1 and Christian Liberty Nature Reader 1.

Together: Apologia Astronomy as a read aloud only and audiobooks by Thornton Burgess ($ | Free).


Together: Artistic Pursuits will be done formally alongside Story of The World because the K-3 series is in chronological order, but my children have constant access to art supplies and how to books which tend to occupy much of their free time. We are also reading through the artist and composer series by Mike Venezia.

Teacher Resources

The Well Trained MindHandbook of Nature Study ($ | Free), Knowing & Teaching Elementary MathematicsFluent ForeverJot It Down, and The Ultimate Homeschool Planner.

The Routine

They wake up around 7 after I’ve had my personal Bible time and worked out. We typically grab a quick snack, read some poetry and head out the door for a two mile nature walk. If we decide that’s not a good idea they take advantage of the aforementioned art supplies, GeoPuzzles, Snap Circuits or library books while I play around on the computer get housework done.

After our walk we have a well deserved, protein rich breakfast while John or I lead the devotional and we go over new memory work. Right now we’re learning 10,000 Razones, The Ten Commandments Poem, and family phone numbers.

Following is showers and and the baby takes a nap while we have screen time (gasp!). Usually John plays with Google Earth or Adobe Illustrator while Mary watches, or they watch Magic School Bus in Spanish.

After the baby has effectively fallen asleep we have school. I get John started on things he can do solo first so I can work with Mary for about 5 minutes before John and I finish up. Then we listen to music, audiobooks, or recorded memory work while I do housework.

Sometime around 11 we all get back together for yoga, read alouds, and structured activities like science projects or art until lunch, followed by quiet time.

Spanish Lessons Through Literature

I had not originally intended to teach my children to read in Spanish until they were older but my son had other plans when it came to his academics, as per usual. I was fortunate to learn about a new program called Spanish Lessons Through Literature which is right up my son’s alley.

There are several courses available by Renai Ruiz, aka Maestra Renai. We’ve only taken the alphabet class which is FREE, (Oops! Apparently not free anymore due to company policy) and the shapes class, which is less free but awfully close! This woman knows her Spanish and you can pay a lot more to get a lot less. Not only was she professional and fun, but the class had other students and was interactive! As soon as we signed on two of the students began talking about a class they had taken previously together, despite the fact that these children lived in separate states. John (6) who adores geography thought that was just fabulous.

The shapes class covered shapes as the main content, but each class begins and ends with a song which would be nice to memorize and sing in the car. So much material is covered that the teacher emails you a handout to review and further explain content.

1st Grade: Thinking Out Loud

I’ve begun planning out next year and like the look of things so far. I had originally intended to begin our first 4 year cycle in 1st grade, but I think my daughter would benefit from it if we waited until she was in kindergarten and could participate. I strongly considered Berean Builders Science, but have decided to line it up with our second history cycle so all of my students can benefit from it.


Reading Lessons Through Literature Level 1 2Xwk
Homemade Copywork 3Xwk

Ray’s New Intellectual Arithmetic  (Free Version Here) 1Xwk*
School Arithmetics Book One (Free Version Here) 4Xwk

Homemade Greek & Spanish 5Xwk

Tapestry Of Grace Primer 3Xwk
Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding 1Xwk
Artistic Pursuits 1Xwk

Memory Work

CC Foundations Guide
Fighter Verses**
Hymns For a Kids Heart
English and Spanish poetry

Book Basket

Supports for TOG & BFSU

YWAM Heroes for Young Readers
The Ology
Leading Little Ones To God
The Church History ABCs
Wisdom & The Millers
Ahora Puedo Leer Mi Biblia

Tales From Shakespeare
Books from Suppose The Wolf Were an Octopus
Various poetry books

Canta de Colores

A Child’s Book of Character Building
Question Mark


Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader


Beethoven Who?

*These are oral exercises which will take less time than the worksheets in School Arithmetics. I believe it will be perfect for Mondays when memory work is introduced because of the time we will need to cover the new memory work.
I promise I’m not torturing my child, I just like options.

**Never mind; I didn’t realize how expensive this is! There are free coloring pages all over the web. So far I like these.

The Beginning of My Greek Journey

Learning Koine Greek

I began the journey of learning Koine Greek over a year ago, but between the fact that my companions do not take the expedition as seriously as I do and the fact that my recent pregnancy was plagued with nightly migraines, I have acquired very little understanding of the language. As of late I have begun moving forward on my own memorizing both vocabulary and grammar, as well as deepening my proficiency with English grammar as I am a product of California public schools.

Choosing A Greek Curriculum

I chose Basics of Biblical Greek by William Mounce because I only cared for the ability to read scripture and it seemed like the most efficient way to do so. I regret not using CAP’s Greek Alphabet Code Cracker first as I didn’t realize what a hang up the alphabet would be for me in the beginning. I hear it can be completed in a month. I use the free ANKI deck which is quite well done, as well as a Greek New Testament that I try to read from every day. Other supplemental materials I haven’t tried include a reader, audiobook, and audio vocabulary review. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics is supposedly an excellent follow up to BBG, but I have yet to hold it in my hands so I have no opinion. Mounce’s site is difficult to navigate at first but is a plethora of free resources.

Things Unrelated to BBG Worth Mentioning

Reading Koine (workbook, looks fantastic!)

The Potter’s School (Greek & Hebrew)

Greek 101 from TGC (a focus on Homeric Greek)


A Reading Course in Homeric Greek (also not Koine, but deserves an honorable mention)

Free resources 1 & 2


My Crisis Of Homeschool aka Our Kindergarten Curriculum

A crisis? In kindergarten? What does this bode for my future?

I was so looking forward to all of my wonderful plans until I discovered that my son isn’t going to learn as much or enjoy school as much as he could, if I were to follow through with them. Shocking, I know. As it stands we’re continuing with the same resources for skill subjects, but using a book basket for content subjects. I’ll tell you what we’re doing now and update at the end of the year.


Egermeier’s Bible Story Book with memory work. We’ve done John 1:1-5, Psalm 23 and are now working on Matthew 5.

Language Arts

Reading Lessons Through Literature twice a week and English Lessons Through Literature three times a week.

Math & Logic

Ray’s Primary Arithmetic with Cuisenaire Rods and RightStart games, and Developing The Early Learner.

Foreign Language

Hey Andrew! for Greek and Memrise for Spanish as well as Pio Peep! for memory work. We also read, listen to and watch lots of Spanish because I’m trying to make it a lifestyle.


Drawing With Children.

History, Geography, and Science

This is where the book basket comes in. Right now we’re enjoying the Let’s Read and Find Out Series, The Big Book of History and picks from Sonlight’s PK curriculum and Core A but I will give a full list at the end of the year.

School: What We’re Doing Now

For us school consists of reading, math and memory work. Other than that I have this smorgasbord of educational materials and toys that we can use during school, not during school, in the car, or take to church while I’m working. I wanted to share my smorgasbord. I recommend everything I’m including in this post.


Reading Lessons Through Literature: phonogram review everyday, 3 spelling words a week, copywork of his choice on non spelling days, 5 minutes a day.

Math: Miquon, Rays or playing with the rods: his choice, at least 3 times a week, 5-15 minutes.

Memory work: Bible verses, everyday, 2ish minutes.

Our Favorite Things

Bible: Bible For Kids app from You Version is great for retention while The Jesus Storybook Bible sparks great conversations. My ABC Bible Versus is my personal favorite for application of scripture.

Reading: The 20th Century Children’s Book Treasury, Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics and Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes are our personal favorites from Sonlight 3/4. is an excellent free resource for early learning.

Math & Logic: A huge recommendation for Cuisenaire Rods and Developing The Early Learner.

History: Classical Conversations Timeline Song is an amazing resource!

Geography: Geopuzzles. Everyone should own this. My son’s political geography knowledge is beyond that of most adults.

Science: The Magic School Bus, which is available on YouTube in English & Spanish, and Snap Circuits.

Foreign Language: Salsa and our favorite books in Spanish.

Music: Since I’m our church secretary I know what songs we’re going to sing in church and I teach him those with a YouTube playlist. Daddy teaches piano on demand with the oooooooold version of Step by Step.

Art: Art For Kids Hub and Arttango are both free, and The Big Yellow Drawing Book has been a huge hit.

Toys: Lincoln Logs, Magnatiles (they have played with these everyday for over a year!), wooden train tracks,  and Playsilk.

I Suppose It’s Time For a PreK Update

I mentioned our plans in my last post, but things have evolved and I wanted to share what we actually do on a daily basis.

First we pray and read a Bible story from Beloved Bible Stories, The Jesus Storybook Bible, or The Family-Time Bible in Pictures. This takes no more than 5 minutes.

Then we do our memory work which takes about 5 minutes:

His Getty-Dubay Italics Handwriting takes about 2 minutes.

We are using Education Unboxed which is free, and the RightStart Activities for AL Abacus for math concepts. This takes as long as he likes.

Casually we watch The Magic School Bus, Salsa or El Mickey Mouse, and do Pinterest style art. I also plan to soon implement Drawing With Children. We read for about an hour a day, and Daddy’s teaching him piano on demand. Our favorite things are Cuisienaire Rods, Sketchbooks (so they can watch their progression and build upon old ideas), Reading Lessons Through Literature phonogram cards, and almost every book mentioned on the AO list, in Sonlight 3/4, or by Dr. Seuss. We also love our Appletters and plan to purchase Spanish Banana Grams.

So, We’ve Decided to Have a Formal PreK Year…

I am not really an advocate for beginning school at the age of 4. I am actually a bigger fan of the idea of beginning formal education later rather than earlier, but we need more structure in our day and John really enjoys what little school we do and is asking for more so we are taking the plunge and will officially be homeschoolers soon! I have been so exited all this time, and now I am tremendously nervous.

Anyway, without further ado, this is our curriculum plan for our 4 year old boy for the year of 2015:


Beloved Bible Stories, by Rhonda Davies.

Language Arts

Reading Lessons Through Literature will eventually cover Spelling, and Reading for the elementary ages, but for now we are just beginning the phonogram cards and some light writing. I said originally that I was going to use Logic of English, but after spending time with both programs I feel that Spell to Write & Read is a better fit for our family.


I found Education Unboxed while looking for something fun for a child so young. Next year I intend to start Ray’s Arithmetic, possibly paired with RightStart, but for now I do not believe that a twenty minute math program is a great idea for John.


We are not really using a curriculum for this yet. We are using flash cards and I am teaching him some basic conversational skills.


Matt has been teaching John using the Step by Step course which is how he learned. I imagine that they will work their way through the entire program in the next six years or so.

Memory Work

This year we are just concentrating on songs we sing at church and Bible verses. Simply Charlotte Mason has a great free resource for scripture memory.

Read Alouds

So far we have used Ambleside Online Year 0  to select most of our books, and will continue to do so.

I am intentionally trying to keep things light, so that we are not doing everything that caught my attention, but I will recommend a few things for you to check out that I heavily contemplated for us this year. I would not be surprised if they they all make the list next year.

Sonlight PreK

RightStart A

Beginning Thinking Skills

Linguistic Development Through Poetry

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare

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