Hits and Misses 2013 Edition

We have fizzled out another school year. At least this year we had distractions at the end that kept us from finishing strong. But, it was our absolutely best school year ever. And, of course, I am already elbow-deep in planning next year (more on that to come). So in the meantime, here are a few of our hits and misses from this year accompanied by some lazy-photographer phone photos.


All About Spelling
Is it really possible to love a spelling program? Maybe not, but my affection for All About Spelling comes close. Olivia is finishing up AAS 1 this year and will begin AAS 2 next year. John will start with AAS 1. This program is perfect. The lessons are scripted, but also easy to wing with just a brief read-through. There is no prep for the teacher beyond the initial set-up. We spell the words with tiles, orally, and in writing, so we get the systematic input of information needed to help remember spelling. And the best thing? When Olivia asks how to spell a word all I have to do is remind her of the rule, and she figures it out for herself. The rule and phonics based program has also strengthened her reading. This one is mom-intensive, but I am not sure that you could find a truly effective spelling program that is not.

PAL Reading and Writing
PAL was a nice, gentle introduction to reading for John. He did not seemed inclined to burn up the books this year, so this was the perfect program to ease him into reading. And that boy can decode. He loves the Phonetic Farm sticker set that comes with the program. We plan on picking up the program next year just where we left off.

I did not do the writing portion with John for kindergarten, but I did use the second part of it with Olivia. We worked on dress-ups and the writing project and ended up with a product that she really enjoyed making. We finished about mid-way through the second part of the year and I decided not to move on to the third part with her. This was mostly for personal reasons and life, but I have to say the writing selections in that third part were less than inspiring. I have a feeling when we get there with John I will be subbing more interesting topics. You can read more about how we used the program in my in-depth review.

 A Miss: First banana split ever. They decided they would just rather have a cone.

Classical Conversations
Oh my kids love, love, loved Classical Conversations. And we learned so much. The weekly class was good for us as was all of the memory work. They really just soaked it up and learned so much – did I say that already? For various reasons we will not be doing CC next year, but will be doing a similar memory-work based co-op with about seven other families. I have a feeling it will continue to be the highlight of our week.

Home Art Studio
Art with Miss Volin was probably the most requested part of our year. This year we did the Home School Art Studio Program DVD 1st Grade based on world cultures. Olivia and John both loved it, it is super-easy for me, and we will be continuing with Home School Art Studio Program DVD with 2nd Grade next year.

Geography Studies
These were the best things we hardly ever got to. I had close to 30 countries planned, and we maybe got to 1/3 of them. Talk about mom-guilt. I do have a document with everything outlined. Its not pretty, but I am happy to share.

A Major Hit: They love the pool already! Thomas is kicking back with our amazing babysitter
Paxton. Could not have survived the year without her.


Math for Olivia
Of any kind, shape, or fashion. We started with Singapore, moved to Saxon, hung out at Math on the Level (which she enjoys, but is much too stressful for me) and finally ended up with Math-U-See. And that is where we are staying. She likes Mr. Demme, and we are just putting our head down and barreling forward with it.

Preparing to Receive Jesus
I had great hopes for this sacrament prep program from CHC, but it really fell flat for us. It ended up being much more busywork than what I had expected. The meat came from the readings and discussion, so that was what we did. We ended up not using or making all the little booklets that came with the program.

And honestly that is it. There were a couple of other things we did not complete, but that was more us and our situation than it was the fault of the curriculum.

Always a Hit: Coffee on the back porch.



  • Erin says:

    So loved reading this:) and I agree for spelling to be effective it does need to be mum intensive, took me years to work that out but it is true.
    I’d really like to understand more just what you did with CC? is this concept something I can do and adapt to material I already have?
    Are you needing ideas for FHC prep?

  • Sarah says:

    Yep, yep, yep…. I nodded my way all through this. We need to bring out our Home Art Studio, though. It’s so simple for mom, I don’t know why we haven’t done more of it…

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