Homeschooling Update: Finished with the First Quarter of Core A

Sonlight Core A 1st Quarter CompletedLast week we finished week 9 of Sonlight’s Core A, which is the backbone for our homeschooling year. Something about finishing a quarter seems like a real accomplishment, and that I need to stop thinking of us as having just started the curriculum. 🙂

Structuring Our Day

Daily checklist September 2015Last year I briefly tried writing the day’s tasks in a spiral notebook (idea found via Catherine I believe), but that didn’t last long. What works better for us is a 3×5 card, flipped sideways, where I write the tasks. Why the difference? I’m not entirely sure. Some of it might be because there is more limited space that way, and some of it may be because when we’re done he gets to throw the card away (a.k.a. put it in the recycling bin), so it’s more satisfying.

Whatever the reason, it’s working well for us, so I’m continuing with it.

Daily assignments are done in no particular order, although we do usually have to work around the baby’s needs. Some of the readalouds happen while they eat breakfas – it’s helped break the watching tv in the morning habit we fell into over the summer, so I’m happy to continue with it lest they start asking for a show again.

History & Geography

Ongoing reads:

Usborne Children's EncyclopediaThe Children’s EncyclopediaThe Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia endures as the biggest hit of the entire curriculum – G loves it so much. Most days he clicks through the links that are included as well – they’re hit-or-miss, but every so often he finds a real gem, so it’s worth trying them all.

Living Long AgoThe Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: Everyday life through the Ages (Explainers Series) is still lots of fun, although I wish I’d remember to look ahead and see what projects are mentioned in it – they look like some easy ways to add a hands-on element to the curriculum. G really wanted to make a ruff like they wore back in the day, and I was scrambling to find some paper that would work.

Our substitute for I Heard Good News Today is The Story of ExplorationThe Story of Exploration, and I am quite impressed with it. Invariably I learn something new from each section, and feel compelled to pass it along to my husband. I really enjoyed the section on Marco Polo, and now want to read more about him. What an incredible story!

New this month

Sticker Dressing ExplorersWe’ve added in Sticker Dressing – Explorers, which combines beautifully with that Story of Exploration book. So much fun, and the easiest hands-on-element I can imagine. Love this book! G is always delighted when it’s time to do another page in it.

Read Alouds

Ongoing reads:

The Llama Who Had No PajamaWe continue to read from the poetry books The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseThe Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose: A Treasury of More Than 300 Classic Nursery Rhymes and The Llama Who Had No Pajama, although our pacing has slowed down; we’re roughly on schedule with what the Instructor’s Guide says.

New since last time

In Grandma's AtticIn Grandma’s AtticIn Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series) by Arleta Richardson. I tried, really I did, but I’ve shelved this one. I hoped it would be like Little House books, and I think it wants to be, but the framing of each story is clunky, and the moralizing is heavy-handed. It was disappointing, especially because when Amazon had a sale on the other books in the series I bought them all. At least they were inexpensive, because I don’t think we’ll be reading them.

Here's a PennyHere’s a PennyHere's a Penny by Carolyn Haywood and Penny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood. We liked Here’s a Penny enough to get the sequel, which I finished reading last week. Cute, old-fashioned stories that my kids enjoyed. Did they love them as much as some other books? No, but that’s ok.

5 True Horse StoriesFive True Horse StoriesFive True Horse Stories by Margaret Davidson. Five True Dog StoriesFive True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson is scheduled for later in the Core, and I added this on somewhat impulsively. It’s a great fit for this level, although the writing is nothing special. I shared more about it yesterday.

CapyboppyCapyboppyCapyboppy by Bill Peet was previously included in this core, and I added it in – I’m so glad I did! It was a cute story, with charming illustrations. The full story of what happened with Capyboppy is not cute, and the book reflects different values regarding wild animals, but it was still worth reading.


The Story for ChildrenWe’re continuing on with our substitute Bible, The Story for ChildrenThe Story for Children, a Storybook Bible. We’ll likely finish it well before we finish the Core, but I’ll just add in another Bible (we have several children’s versions that we already own)


Math Mammoth 1A We just finished chapter 2 of Math Mammoth 1A, and have started chapter 3 on place value. So far, he has no trouble with place value, and thinks it’s super easy. Chapter 3 is the final one in 1A, and then we’ll move on to 1B (which I already have printed and waiting).

For whatever reason, math seems to be the subject where I am most tempted by other options, and can’t seem to stop looking into what else is available. Why do I do this, when as far as I can tell Math Mammoth is working?


The “spine” of science is the Encyclopedia mentioned above, but it’s supplemented with other books, both officially according to Sonlight’s schedule, and unofficially according to my own picks. 🙂

Eggs and ChicksWe read Eggs and ChicksEggs and Chicks in one day (love those books!) and we’ve finally started the Science ActivitiesUsborne Science Activities, Vol. 2 book – reading it, watching the DVD that goes along with it, and doing some of the experiments. The one where we put a coin on the top of a bottle’s mouth, and then poured warm water on the bottle to heat up the air inside? Big hit here. Both with the kids who love seeing the coin “jump” and with me because of how easy it is.

A Journey Through the Digestive SystemWe’ve also been reading the Max Axiom graphic novels. He got some for Christmas, and some for his birthday, and he loves them. He goes and gets a new one off the shelf whenever he’s ready for it, and he’s already talking about how he needs more of them. Maybe Christmas again?

Language Arts

All About Reading Level 4 Soar with Reading Activity BookAfter breaking from it over the summer, we’ve started All About Reading Level 4. Lesson 1 was a review, and it took us about 3 weeks to get through it (there was a lot of sickness in there too delaying things). We’ve since moved on to the new material, and that’s a lot more fun than review.

All About Spelling Level 2All About Spelling Level 2 was added in last week, and after a slow start through the review of lesson 1 he’s back learning new material. Once again I am so pleased with the letter tiles – they make it so much easier for him to spell! He does it that way about half the time, and the rest of the time he dictates to me, but either way he does not want to do any of the writing himself. Which is kind of funny, because…

Getty Dubay Italic Handwriting AHandwriting has seen a dramatic change – it used to be his most loathed subject, and now he’s saying it’s his favorite! I have to watch him, because he wants to do it on his own, and do extra pages, but I try to see what he’s doing as he occasionally tries to form letters in … creative ways, and I want to correct that before the habit gets ingrained.

Billy and BlazeHe’s doing a lot more reading on his own, and that’s lots of fun to see. He picks out his own books at the library (they’re invariably silly ones with super heroes, ninja turtles, or lego characters, but whatever. Have fun kid.), and then I also give him ones to read. Lately he’s working his way through the Billy and Blaze series. He’s finished the first two books, and is waiting (somewhat impatiently) for me to get him the third. I mix that in with Syd Hoff and Dr. Seuss books and other easy readers, and it ends up being nice practice for him. He still needs/wants lots of white space on the page, or he gets overwhelmed. The reading he does with All About Reading is challenging for him, so I like also giving him other books that are easier, to build his confidence, improve his fluency, and help show him that reading is fun.


He’s now a senior green belt in tae kwon do – not sure if he’ll be ready to test in October for the next belt or not. We’ve missed a lot of classes due to visitors and life getting in the way of things, so he’s a bit behind as far as prepping for the test as far as I can tell. But, I am far from an expert so he might be just fine to test then. We’ll see.

I keep looking into continuing swimming lessons, especially through the winter when I’m always hunting for ways to keep the kids active when it’s hard to play outside. I’m praying about finding a way to pay for that, because right now it’s not in the budget. They’d love it though, especially since our summer lesson season was even shorter than expected because of our unexpected trip west.

Art & Music

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 I mentioned in the last update that I was doing a “graduated” restart – not adding all of the subjects in at once. Art and music are the ones that have had to wait. We’re starting them next week, now that everything else is in a good routine. We’ll still be using Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 as we’d barely started it last year before putting it aside for the summer.


Awana has started up again – G is in his second year as a Spark (his sister is in her last year as a Cubbie). We’ve switched locations, and although it’s not as close as the previous church, they have their program on Sunday evenings, and I think that’s going to work better for our schedules.

Looking Ahead

We don’t have any visitors planned, or anything else of significance that should disrupt our schedule and routine, so I *should* have lots to report next month as far as progress goes. However, I know that nothing is certain, so we’ll just have to see how it goes! We had a couple of bumpy days as we got restarted with it all, but overall it’s going really well and I think we’re all enjoying it!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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