Homeschool Curriculum: 4 Moms, 35 Kids

Today the 4 Moms are posting again about picking a curriculum.  Be sure to check out what KimC, Connie and the Deputy Headmistress have to say.

I’ve written 3 other posts about choosing a curriculum that will give you the background for this post:

My heart and homeschool curriculum
Method counts – how you use what you choose
God’s method for education

Some things to remember.

  • We have 10 children.  We will be using more books and resources than I have listed to educate our children this year, but these are the things that we will make a specific effort to work through.
  • Our method of  homeschooling  is laid back and relationship based.  We use these resources as tools, not necessarily as written.
  • We school year round. We will NOT be doing each of these things everyday.  As a matter of fact some subjects are seasonal.  (Nature journals during the summer months and more writing during the cooler months, for example.)
  • We do not sit down and do this during ‘school time’.  We read Bibles when we first get up, work on memorization after breakfast, read aloud before nap-time and after dinner, take nature journals when we go to the park, narrate at the dinner table and discuss history in the car.
  • The methods that you use to educate your children are just as important, if not more so, than the curriculum you choose.

Our kids:

Amber 13, Kaitlin 12, Matthew 10, Alyssa 9, Carter 8, Sadie 6, Savannah 5, Colby 3, Nicholas 2, Baby girl due July.

For those who would like more info, most links in this post go to an in-depth post about the product or to a post explaining how we teach a subject or use a resource in our home.

All children:


  • Bible reading – Fluent readers- Read through the Bible.  Beginning readers – read through the New Testament.  Little ones work on memorizing the catechism.
  • Bible study – Fluent readers Sonlight 6 assignments, beginning readers Sonlight 1 assignments.  All will listen to the Sonlight 6 Bible reading.  Of course everyone takes part in family worship.
  • Bible memorization – Psalm 1 – 16, 120-134 using Jamie Soles Cd’s “Pure Words” and “Ascending“.  (In the near future I’ll tell you more about these Cd’s and give you the opportunity to win some of your own.)


In our house history is a family discussion and one of our favorite subjects.   Each day we read and discuss living books.  We keep  a time line of important dates and we look up places that we read about on the map.  We also use our history studies as a basis for many of our other assignments.

This year we will be combining Sonlight Core 1 & 6.  We will be using resources from both of these Cores to create a multi-level history plan for our kids.  We will NOT be using Core 1 with some of the children and Core 6 with others.    We will be supplementing Sonlight with The Mystery of History, to incorporate more Biblical history.  Do not let the plethora of curriculum scare you.  This will be our 7th year using Sonlight as a basis for our history curriculum and are familiar with how it works best for our family.   It is a tool that we use.

This is the first year that we’ve used more than one level of Sonlight. Sonlight can be very relationship and family friendly when used in this manner.

Language Arts

  • Narration – (daily) all children who are able to talk
  • Literature – All children listen to read alouds from Sonlight 1 & 6.  Read lots of other fun books as a family.
  • Getty Dubay Handwriting for 5, 6, 8 and 9 year old.  (Unnecessary since the children do copy work or dictation each day, but I like the lovely italic style it produces.  Hmmm, now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder if this is something that we should allow the children to drop.)
  • Copy work, dictation or writing – depending on child’s ability.  (It is within this context that we teach both spelling and grammar.)


This is obviously part of language arts, but we have children at different levels doing different things so it’s easier to format it separately.

  • Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons – 3 year old unless he stalls or loses interest
  • Rocket Phonics and Sonlight 1 advanced readers – 5, 6 and 8 year old.
  • Sonlight 6 readers – 9, 10, 12, 13
  • All non-nappers have an hour of free-reading each day.  They are generally reading things like G. A. Henty, Shakespeare (Amber’s recent favorite),  C. S. Lewis, Brooks, Milne, Sewall, etc. in addition to an assortment of biographies, Landmark and science books, although they have been known to choose things like The Bobsey Twins and Redwall on occasion.

School age children:


  • Composer Study by Bright Ideas Press – little ones (2-6) listen to music
  • Lessons (piano or violin) for the oldest 5



  • Artistic Pursuits – Beginning readers finish K-3 book, fluent readers finish 4-6 book, then move into Jr./Sr. high book 2.


We began using online math in the middle of last year and will continue through January.  Our plan is to continue to use ALEKS for Algebra 1 and beyond, but we will re-evaluate Mathletics.

  • Mathletics until they finish the 8th grade level work.  This is not required for our little ones, but since it’s computer time they beg for a turn.
  • ALEKS for those finished who’ve completed 8th grade Matheltics.

Physical Education

  • Cross Country – The children compete in both the spring and fall and run fairly regularly during the off seasons.

Older kids:

Greek(Why we teach Greek)

Character study/Worldview

Mark is working through the study of these books (one at a time) using  Kevin Swanson’s “Christian Classics Study Guide”  Jr. Level –  10, 12 and 13 year old

  • “The Story of John G. Paton”
  • “Patrick’s Confessions and Breastplate”
  • “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners”
  • “The History of the Reformation or Religion within the Realm of Scotland”
  • “The Confessions of St. Augustine”



Did you get all that?  Clear as mud?  Have questions?  Ask away, then go see what the other moms of many have to say about their homeschool curriculum.

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41 Responses to Homeschool Curriculum: 4 Moms, 35 Kids
  1. Holly
    May 13, 2010 | 7:54 am

    Thanks! That is wonderful information. I like the style of schooling you have found works best for your family. My boys seem to respond well to that, too. I will be looking more into some of your selections.


  2. Eowyn
    May 13, 2010 | 8:16 am

    I really liked Apologia. This was my second year with it. Sounds like a lot of fun. I am going to do geometry and health this summer.


  3. Celee
    May 13, 2010 | 8:33 am

    Thanks for all the links! I ordered the Jamie Soles CDs this morning and can’t wait til they get here. We love memorizing Psalms and are up to verse 24 of Psalm 119. I’m hoping we can finish it this summer!

    Do you have your kids work on Greek independently at breakfast while they work on their memorization? We were working through our Hey Andrew books together, but I’ve let my almost 11 yr old and 9 yr olds get ahead of my 6 yr old. I think they’ll be a book ahead by the end of the summer.

    Will you do Greek for 3 yrs then switch to Hebrew or start your younger ones cycling through Greek at that point? It seems like we should make it through book 8 within three years so I was just wondering. That’s my plan for now.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Ironically perhaps, in light of my last homeschooling post, our children all work on Greek independently, although they do work together to review their vocabulary cards each day.

    Since we aren’t doing Greek as a group, we are letting our children work at their own pace and starting the younger ones as they become ready.


  4. Michelle
    May 13, 2010 | 8:50 am

    Thank you for this, Kimberly!

    We’re finishing up our 7th year of homeschooling and have gotten to where we love the curriculum we use, but one thing I always struggle with is providing good, suitable books for the kids to read independently. Honey for a Child’s Heart and similar books have helped with that, but I still feel that I need to pre-read everything. That can be difficult to keep up with! Reading your post has me thinking about Sonlight’s Reader packages. We’ll be studying Exploration to 1850 (My Father’s World) next year with kids from 7th grade to Kindergarten, and it looks like Sonlight may have some good book packages that would go well with this.

    Thank you! I love reading your blog.. We’re just about two years behind you and it’s inspiring and helpful to see what’s just around the corner. 🙂

    God bless,


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:


    I find it necessary to pre-read all of the Sonlight books that our children will be reading independently. Just so you know that I’m not giving a blanket recommendation for Sonlight readers. 🙂

    I’ve heard some wonderful things about MFW and hope to have an opportunity to look at it in the future.


  5. Annie Harbert
    May 13, 2010 | 8:50 am

    I like the amount of information you have provided. Are there any websites that you pull free activities from for your 3 and under children?
    I get the Dover Sampler in my email that I can print free activities from for my kids but I am wondering if there are any other sited you get materials from so your littles can work with the older ones.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We don’t generally do busy work or worksheets with any of our children. We read and discuss and those who are old enough write at their level. Other than writing, we don’t require much paperwork from anyone. So I don’t have anything to suggest or maybe I’m not understanding your question?


  6. Brandy
    May 13, 2010 | 8:51 am

    We love Jamie Soles! I am so glad to see him get a mention here. He is a wonderful songwriter and his songs are so rich with biblical content!


  7. Shannon
    May 13, 2010 | 8:52 am

    I love that you’re teaching your family Greek. From my college education, to which we are still in debt, I think the single most useful thing I took away was the study of New Testament Greek. I loved reading the New Testament in it’s original language (that was years ago), and you have inspired me to pray about including this in our homeschool curriculum as well. (Mine are still ages 4, 2 1/2 and 3 months.) 🙂



  8. Jama
    May 13, 2010 | 9:15 am

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoy seeing what you are doing. We did Apologia Astronomy this year. I loved learning about how God’s design for Earth and our sun are perfect to sustain life. Are you familiar with Donna Young’s website? She has lots of info/supports for Apologia. I’ll look up the link and send it to you.


  9. Heather
    May 13, 2010 | 10:22 am

    I am so happy to see that you school year around. We do too. It’s so much easier to have a year around routine but I feel so alone this time of year when all of our homeschool friends are finishing for the year.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    You are not alone! We finished up our ‘school year’ yesterday and will begin again on Monday.

    We call it the end of a year when we finish the Sonlight level on which we are working. Everything else just keeps going and we order new books or make a new plan as needed.


  10. Eowyn
    May 13, 2010 | 11:38 am

    One last thing… I have been reading Shakspear also (my choice)!


  11. […] My heart and homeschool curriculum Method counts – how you use what you choose Our curriculum choices for 2010 […]

  12. Cheri
    May 13, 2010 | 2:08 pm

    I have loved the motivation and practical ideas you have provided for me this year, my first year homeschooling! I have a 5 year old son and a 3 year old daughter that I am homeschooling. We have loved Sonlight!

    I am looking for advice: We will finish core K next year, then start core 1, etc. How do you handle the younger ones – I do not want to do multiple cores since the time periods would be so different. But, at the present schedule, we would do core 3 (which I understand to be too intense for little ones) when my oldest was 8 and the youngest only 6. We also use Sonlight science and hope that my littler one can just tag along the older level with a few modifications – we discuss instead of filling in the worksheets anyway. We do memory and Bible together as well. Then, I will only have them independently doing LA and math. How did you manage the Sonlight levels in relation to the multiple ages? Any advice for me?


    Beth Hudson Reply:

    @Cheri-I’m in the same boat as you. I’m trying to figure out what Core to start with so that things won’t be too difficult for my younger boy by the time we get to Core 3 (not knowing how good of a reader he will be in a couple of years makes it hard to decide when I want us to be doing that Core). I’m thinking of getting on and chatting with one of the Sonlight people to try and figure it out.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:


    See my comment to Beth about selecting a Sonlight Core located further down the page.

    I ran into a similar problem with Sonlight, we began Core 1 when our oldest was 6/7 and when we got to Core 5 our oldest was the youngest age for tackling that level and the younger ones were obviously…younger. 🙂 We took a two and a half years to cover Core 5 to give the children some time to mature. We supplemented with several different resources and also spent some time focusing on other subjects.

    Another option would be to choose a completely different curriculum all together to use for a short period of time to give your kids time to age. Unit studies would be an obvious choice.

    So that would be my advice, wait and start Sonlight 1 when your oldest is toward the upper range of suggested ages.

    Something I neglected to mention to Beth is that it is very easy to “beef up” a Sonlight Core for an older or advanced student, but a little more difficult to make it more understandable for younger kids. (A good example of this is Core 4 when Sonlight goes into a lot of discussion of economics as they relate to The Great Depression. That is difficult to make more simple for younger ones to understand.)


    Beth Hudson Reply:

    Ooh, I’m glad to hear you say that it’s easy to beef up a curriculum. Here’s the problem I’m running in to. I’m trying to decide between Core 1 and Core 1+2.

    If I use Core 1 this coming year (which would mean using Core 2 next year), I’m worried about my older daughter (who will be in “3rd grade” this year, and is a very, very good reader) not having anything to read (as far as Readers go) when we do Core 2 (she would do Core 1 with Readers 2 Advanced).

    But if I do Core 1+2 this year, I’m worried about my son, who will be in “1st grade” this year, having to do Core 3 as a 2nd grader. He is an average kindergarten reader right now (just getting really comfortable reading CVC words), and I’m worried that the Core 3 readers will be too much for him when the time comes.

    It’s not so much the Readers that I’m worried about with my daughter (since I could supplement with harder books for her when doing Core 2), but the Language Arts aspect. They have LA programs that go along with whatever Readers you use, so I’m not sure what I’d do if she used the same Readers two years in a row. Although, I really like your idea of just naturally teaching spelling and grammar in personal writing. She is a very natural learner, and I think she would do well with that.

    Oy! Sorry this turned into a novel! Any suggestions for my dilemma? 🙂


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    My kids always have read a lot more than just the assigned Sonlight readers, a lot!!

    Something else to consider. Sonlight purposefully assigns readers that are a little below the child’s reading level especially in the early years. They want children to LOVE reading and not to be burdened. So I would imagine that by the time you get to core 3 (or not far into that year) your son will be able to read those assignments. An easy option if things are too difficult for him is to just slow the pace down. Have him read half or two- thirds of the assignment each day.

    Does that help answer your question?


    Beth Hudson Reply:

    Yes, thank you! I think I’ve decided what I’m going to do. Thank you so much for all your help!


  13. Betty
    May 13, 2010 | 4:25 pm

    I always have a hard time choosing curriculum. We school similarly to you. I have a Nature Study meme that I use to help us keep tract of our Nature Study. My Ds is dysgraphic so an actual journal is a “turn off”.


  14. […] Method counts – how you use what you choose God’s method for education Our curriculum choices for 2010 […]

  15. Beth Hudson
    May 13, 2010 | 5:39 pm

    Glad to know that other families school “year-round.” We are scheduled to be done with our current year at the end of May, and I’m eager to start again soon. Partly because my 6-year old son is doing so well that I don’t want to lose our momentum, but mostly because I’m excited to start using Sonlight (once I figure out which core we are going to do). I’m thinking maybe the beginning of July, if I can wait that long!

    I’m thinking of doing Apologia Astronomy this year, but wondering if it’s necessary at my kids’ younger age. What age did you start doing formal science curriculum?


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Really want to know when we started doing formal science? We’ll be starting on Monday. 🙂

    We have done Sonlight science for the past 3-4 years, but that is much more laid back, reading, discussing and some experiments.

    As far as picking a Sonlight Core, my suggestion is to pick a Core so that your oldest is at the high end (or just above) the suggested age range. Then think long term, it’s easiest to split into two levels when your oldest children reach Core 6, so consider that as well.

    We are just finishing Sonlight 5 with a 13, 12, 10, 9, 8, 6 and 5 year old. Did the little ones get the whole depth of meaning and discussion? No, but they do know a lot about the different cultures and countries that we studied and they will cover it again when they are older.

    Does that make some sense?


    Beth Hudson Reply:

    It makes sense for me. Thank you. I think I’m going to go with Core 1+2, since doing Core 1 this year would mean that my super-good older reader would be required to read the same books again next year (my younger one would move from Readers 1 to Readers 2, but the older one would be stuck on Readers 2 Advanced). The person I talked to at Sonlight said my younger one could use Readers 2 while we were doing Core 3, and that we could read the Readers 3 with or to him if they were too difficult.


  16. MamaHen
    May 13, 2010 | 7:08 pm

    We have used Apologia for three years and love it. We did Astronomy this past year and it was really good.


  17. Debi
    May 15, 2010 | 1:10 am

    This is all so good to hear. We have 11 children, 9 at home and 7 still in our homeschool. I agree with what you’re saying. Bless you!


  18. MomStarr
    May 16, 2010 | 3:50 pm

    Thanks Kimberly for sharing! I ordered some of Keven Swanson’s books. So helpful in really fine tuning our mission in our homeschool. I can get so swamped with ideas and interests and such that I can’t focus on what really is necessary and good for the children and our family in general.


  19. Jenn
    May 16, 2010 | 5:47 pm


    Wondering how (or if) any of this will change when your baby is born? I remember you posted in March about your basic daily schedule. Are you able to keep to that schedule fairly well with a nursing newborn in the house?

    Our seventh is due in July and I am trying to plan next year out as realistically as I can. Thanks 🙂



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Great question Jenn. Generally we are pretty good at keeping the same basic schedule when we have a nursing baby. I do a lot of reading aloud or listening to reading or school work while nursing the baby and when I’m not nursing I’m wearing the baby. Of course things will change and depending on the baby’s personality the changes may be dramatic.

    Also, since we school year round, it is very possible that we’ll just pick some subjects to drop for a while until we get things back together.


  20. Jamie
    May 17, 2010 | 9:49 am

    Thanks, Kimberly! You explain things so well. I have been researching like crazy the last few weeks. All kinds of curriculum, reading reviews, different ways of schooling, etc., and we have finally (mostly) decided what we are doing next year! We will be doing sonlight Core 1 with our three oldest (Kindergarten, first grade, second grade). Our two older ones will do Sonlight’s Language Arts as well. Our kindergartener will be doing some Sonlight and also some of the Five in A Row stuff with Titus, who will be *shockingly* in (if he were in school) 3K. We don’t really “do” preschool, but we like the Five in a Row series, and it will be nice for him and Hadassah to do something together. For science we are doing Apologia Astronomy. What is undetermined at this point is math. I’m still looking and figuring it out. At this point in time, we’ve mostly been working math facts and word problems. I’m ready for something more structured!!! I remember the days when I was homeschooled and the questions was simply “so, do you use Abeka or Bob Jones?”. Wow, times have changed! I have appreciated all your posts (and the other moms posts, too!) on the importance of HOW you want to homeschool. That really shaped what we chose for the year.


  21. Sylvia
    May 23, 2010 | 12:22 pm

    Loving your web page 🙂
    I have really enjoyed reading thur your site,&
    We are also a year-round homeschooling family too!
    You have quite a selection this year for your curriculum..I wish I could be that type of home-schooling mom (blush)
    I just use a Online program for everything..
    ( )
    Just easier and I guess after a few failed curriculum choice I am lil gun shy to try anything else..but we have been using this for 2 yrs now and my kids really like it sooooo…I dont worry..but I still love to hear what others are using kwim…
    anyways just wanted to say Great site 🙂


  22. Kathi
    May 26, 2010 | 8:20 am

    We are really considering buying “Hey Andrew!”…I’d like to know how you feel about it after using it for a year? We want to use it with Kylie (13), Korinne (10), Connor (almost 8), and maybe TJ (5). I’m going to copy the Greek Alphabet and teach them that first. And we followed the link to the Greek NT, and are going to start listening to that. **What levels would you buy?


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I still really like “Hey, Andrew” after using it for a year.

    Funny, because this is just not the type of program that I typically recommend, but it fits the needs of our family. I believe that when our children finish with this (there are 7 levels) we will probably seek out a Greek program that is a little more rigorous, but we’ll see.

    I started our ‘older’ kids in level 3 and our 8 year old in level 2. (Level 2 reviews all of the alphabet.) I’ve been pleased with those placements. Our 8 year old probably could have gone into level 3, but the extra year of maturity has been good for her. I think that she would be struggling a little if she was in level 4 this year. At least she wouldn’t be as self-sufficient as she is able to be in level 3.


  23. […] and Pure Words) are simply Psalms set to music.  We are using those Cd’s as part of our curriculum this year to help our children memorize Psalm 1-16 and […]

  24. Kristal
    August 4, 2010 | 9:44 pm

    Wow – you have got some great things listed! We are SL’ers…. finishing up Core 4 with two and starting Core 1 with another. I’m going to look up the character studies and the fallacy… never heard of those.


  25. L2L
    August 5, 2010 | 2:48 pm

    ahh glad to find your blog again. Somthing funny happened to my reader and alot of blogs I kept up with were deleted. We are working on family relationships this year and taking it easy academically. We are a military family and some issues have come to light and we feel that this is a critical time in our oldest sons life and these issues need to be worked through. It’s going to take alot of work but thankfully I still have loads of time and lots of love to come in handy!!! Adding you to my reader now and look forward to catching up with your summer!!!!


  26. Moving On | Raising Olives
    November 24, 2010 | 5:26 am

    […] books and resources that we want to use with our children. (Our distinctives and methods and other curriculum choices have remained the […]

  27. Betty
    March 4, 2011 | 3:15 pm

    Hi Kimberly! I JUST found your website. I look forward to spending more time on your site when I get a chance. We’ve always used CM methods, but the past few years I’ve had a hard time fitting in read alouds. I have a 15, 13, 13, and 7 yo (who is still learning to read). I homeschooled the older 3 together till recently, but realized that I was holding them up when I couldn’t get to our readings. So, I’m seeking the Lord about how to do things differently next year.

    How do you fit read alouds in? Do you have alot of grading? Do you have a highschooler? I’m really seeking the Lord about this. Thanks for any thoughts!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Betty, welcome to my online home.

    This year has been more of a challenge for us to fit read alouds in also. I read aloud in the morning to our younger children (we’re doing Sonlight 1) and I’ve ended up spending time each afternoon reading aloud to everyone (during this time period I focus on higher level books). Mark also reads aloud to the older children after family worship most evenings.

    Our kids do online math so the only subjects I’m currently ‘grading’ are Greek, copy work and writing. I generally do this while I’m listening to the beginning readers read or narrate.

    Our oldest is 14, she is doing mostly high school level work but we call her 8th grade.

    Please feel free to ask any other questions you may have.


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