A Gentle Feast: Cycle 3 Term 1

With all the madness going on in the world  seems to be getting crazier by the day  the curiosity about homeschooling is growing. I often get asked: 

Do I write my own curriculum? — quick answer: no
What curriculum do we use? — more on that below 

(I don't often get asked "why" anymore; must be because the reasons to homeschool are only increasing and are becoming quite obvious.)

While I feel like we are still so new to this homeschool life and my kids are quite young, I thought it would be most helpful to write a summary of what our homeschool looks like. There are so many options available now and every homeschool looks a little different. This is just a quick look at what works for us. 

Before we jump into curriculum, summer is worth mentioning! It was a blast, loads of fun were jammed into just a few months and I'm looking forward to getting back into the school routine. Mom is tired! 

Some highlights were going to the County Fair (we missed that so much last year!), getting a puppy (Ruby the Border Collie), playing t-ball and baseball, swimming, visiting family, camping and seeing the Blue Angels at an air show! And likely more summer fun that I can't remember right now. :) 

We started school this week and the timing has been perfect. Ideally school should only take us 2.5 hours or so; but throw in almost one-year-old S and the days are more unpredictable. 

I will say, the older that my boys are getting, the more I love homeschooling them. Our youngest is my wild card and I do my best to keep him busy eating, playing while trapped with us in the gated living room or sleeping. Three-year-old C is able to listen to many of our subjects and plays quietly for the most part. Eventually he does get restless and tries to distract his older brothers. 

Here's a look at our plans for the new school year:

This is our third year of using A Gentle Feast and, with each year that we use this curriculum created by Julie Ross, I grow to appreciate it more and more. This is our last year of all the kids being in "Form I", which is grades 1-3. We are in Cycle 3 this year: Reforms, Revolutions, and Reconstruction.

For each year, I have bought the Morning Time guide along with the main curriculum book. The Morning Time Bundle is worth every penny! Each Term's memory verse, composer/artist study, poetry, hymn and more are included and for each Form student  from 1st grade to 12th. 

Saving the hassle of pulling things up on the laptop or gathering picture studies here or poems there is worth it. 100%. We are working through the Spanish plan included in the AGF resources as well and happened to find the "Let's Speak Spanish" book free somewhere. 

I do pull up episodes of "Classics for Kids" for our composer study on Chopin this term. They have awesome free material there to supplement each composer. 

Sidenote: For the Hymn each month, we do follow along with Happy Hymnody's schedule instead. They have a video and printable lyrics each month on their website. 
I receive a booklist with the AGF curriculum and then look up the books in our library's online catalog (over the summer). For any books that aren't available there, or special ones that I want to keep on hand, I used mostly abebooks.com this year along with Rainbow Resources for geography items. Two friends also run excellent bookstores on Instagram that are perfect for hunting down quality living books: Eaglecove Books and Vienna's Window Seat Finds

With our boys in 3rd grade (E),  K/1st (W), and pre-K (C), we cover the majority of the subjects together but my expectations are different for each (of course!). For map work in Geography, for example, E labels his own map, while I will label W's for him. Then C just colors the map and we don't even worry about labels! 

E and W narrate after readings and sometimes read the books aloud to us. E has his own independent reading to do along with copywork. Both E and W are fluent readers and spend time reading to their younger brothers for their pre-school and pre-pre-pre-school :) The more practice reading, the better.

Subjects we share are: Bible, the "Beauty" Loop, Spanish, Natural History, Geography, History, Nature and Sol-Fa (ear training and voice exercises). 

Some of the Geography, History & Natural History resources for Weeks 1-6

Individual Totes. These have made my life SO much easier this week! Each boy has his own independent study tote with Language Arts, Math and any extra resources or tools they need. Even the baby has his own tote for toys to keep him busy! 

This has kept things neat and school books are no longer strewn across our house, kitchen table, couch, etc. I carry the day's subjects in my school bag, along with a planner, the Bible and Morning Time guide. This will make taking school to different rooms, on the road or outside much easier. 
Starting with the youngest guys, baby S's tote is filled with toys, Tupperware or measuring cups, like I mentioned above. C is my 3-year-old preschooler and honestly I just need to keep him busy. He has new crayons for the school year and I bought him a book on sale for $4 from Rainbow Resources. Good enough - that's his school for the year. 

He listens along to the Bible and other subject read alouds and recites poetry & Scripture memory work with the older brothers. These young ones are capable of so much more than we realize! Forget Baby Shark (can't stand that song. I prefer "Busy Bee" from Nursery Tracks, which is equally as annoying :), young ones enjoy quality music and books as well. 
W is 6 and in K/1st grade... determining grades is confusing in homeschool! Basically, he reads and does math at the 1st grade level but, if I were sending him to public school, I would have him in Kindergarten for more time to develop and grow. Summer birthdays are hard!

He narrates our readings and then uses a mixture of last year's Phonics Museum book and 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight & Sound from AGF. For math, he is loving Singapore Math's Dimensions Math! Seriously. I have to make him stop each day! He. Loves. Number Bonds. 
E is 8 and in 3rd grade. He is working through the Lower Elementary Language Arts plan and desperately wants to learn cursive. I will grab him the cursive book for the next year, since this one is already here and in print. Whoops :) "Riding the Pony Express" is his independent reader and I have him write a sentence about each chapter in his narration notebook. For math, he's finishing up in his Dimensions Math 2A book (not corresponding to grade levels) from last year and enjoys learning multiplication and division. 

As far as testing, which is required in Minnesota, I plan to test E at the end of Term 1 this year instead of waiting til the end of the school year. Testing went well last year and personally it is helpful as a teacher to have your students assessed! We went with the CAT paper test last year and plan to keep on that path. 
Another HUGE help this year: I'm using a Plum Paper planner for school/and the rest of life and it is AWESOME. A homeschooling mom and co-op friend recommended this planner and I couldn't be more pleased with it! Comment below or email me for a referral link and 10% off discount :) 
That's all for now! Have a blessed start to the new school year and to God be the glory!

Explore the A Gentle Feast curriculum here and feel free to email me or comment here with any questions! Disclaimer: This post contains my A Gentle Feast affiliate link. If you click it, and make a purchase I will receive a commission.


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