Category Archives: Planning and Registration

Schools Start Back Today

…But does this desk seem to say to you, “She’s all ready to start today”?


No, I didn’t think so either.

Some of those books are school books though,

but many of them aren’t.

Some are books that people have borrowed and returned

and I still haven’t squeezed back onto my bookshelves.

People, when you return, you must borrow more or it creates a shelf-shortage!

At present I’m drowning in books

(Hmmm…what a way to go!)

and they are spilling over onto my desk.

Yesterday I decided to go and buy two new book baskets to try and corral the overflow,

but I came home with no new book baskets

and, instead, a brand new tyre.

Oh the damage a little rock or bolt can do when you drive over it at 110km/h.

So, suffice it to say that my desk is not school-ready,

neither is my head.

Hang on, I have done some work towards starting school.

Before the tyre debacle, I went down to Officeworks,

and fought my way through the school parents

(I need a medal for that alone!)

to buy the boys two graphing calculators for Math.


I did feel faint at the cash register,

handing over what seemed like my life savings,

(and, yes, I did say that I bought TWO),

but the purchase made Ethan the happiest boy on the planet.


He loves all things techie

and a calculator that is more like a computer

was right up his alley.


I don’t even know how to switch the thing on

and Ethan is already writing little computer programs on it!

So, see, I am a good homeschool Mummy.

I’ve bought books, lots of books,

I’ve put a second mortgage on the house to buy two fancy electronic abacuses

and I’ve even printed up my homeschool planner for the year.


But, it just seems too early to be returning to school.

Don’t you agree?

I mean, wasn’t it just Christmas last week.

We’re not ready to go back.

Okay I’M not ready to go back.

So shoot me. We are taking another week off school and starting next week.

Plus, we have 150 pages of our Noah Webster biography to finish reading,

so, when I say we are taking the week off,

I mean that we are sitting around reading aloud from a history biography,

which means we are technically doing school anyway.

Oh this homeschooling life.  It just seeps into real life when you aren’t looking.



The Plans for 2018

Well another year of school is about to begin.  So, what’s the plan for this year?  Well, it’s as optimistic as ever, but, aim high I say and see where you land.

In Math, the biggest decision of all has been made – what Math series to use now that Singapore Math is completed.  I didn’t like what I saw of the homeschool Math series, so we decided to do an Aussie school textbook.  Yes, I heard you all gasp, but that’s what I decided.  I don’t think our brains will shrivel up and die but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for any brain atrophy.  I’ve also compiled a fun looking list of Math documentaries and books to work our way through.  I’m particularly looking forward to reading, “A Beginner’s Guide to constructing the Universe”.

In Language, we’ll be following a very similar path to previous years.  We’ll continue working our way through Michael Clay Thompson’s Grammar series as well as completely daily sentence diagramming and parsing.  We’ll continue studying and quizzing spelling in our own ad hoc way (I never did find a book series I liked enough to stick to for spelling).  We’ll continue using “Lost Tools of Writing” because it’s excellent, aiming to write one essay a fortnight.  We’ll use the skills being taught in Lost Tools of Writing, but select the writing topics from what we have been reading and learning.   We’ll also be completing daily written narrations of what we have been reading.  Homer’s “Odyssey” will also be read and studied with the guidance of Wes Calihan in his Old Western Culture series.  (Last night I also bought, “Homeric Moments” to add to our reading discussions.)  We’ll continue to use the skills taught in “Teaching the Classics” as we read through various other classics, starting with “Around the World in Eighty Days”, followed by possibly “Frankenstein” and “Gulliver’s Travels” (unless something else steals our attention away before then).   At least one Shakespeare play is always on our list so this year it will be Hamlet as that is what is being performed by our favourite performers.  They are also performing “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” so we’ll read that as well before we go to see it.   Actually, there are three other performances that I’m considering this year and all of them have books too, so we’ll have to read those as well.  As always, we’ll be reading aloud, reading independently and listening to audio stories in the car.   Who knows what titles those will be.

Latin will pick up exactly where we left off.  One boy uses Visual Latin and Lingua Latin and the other boy uses Latin’s Not So Tough (which means that I end up doing all three Latin programs on the weekend to make sure that I’m on par with their abilities and can help them if need be).

History is my favourite subject so we have lots planned for History.  Nope, still no textbook, even though my eldest is technically a senior now.  We’ll be reading biographies, historical fiction and non-fiction, and then watching documentaries in the evenings.  We’re learning about a real hodge podge of things.  We’ve already studied all the main civilisations and periods in general, twice in fact, so we’re digging into areas that are either completely new to us or simply intriguing.  We’re going to explore the Mexican American conflicts and relationship; the Byzantium Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the 30 Years War, the partitioning of India, the orphan trains in the US, Hitler’s Youth and the Lebensborn Program (and probably other things that lead us off on tangents; we often find ourselves on a tangent or ten).  We’ll also be continuing our learning about significant historical people.  Last year we didn’t get to Mussolini, Churchill or Mao so we’ll start off with them.  Then we’ll explore Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Paine, and more about Franklin.  (Oh and add in Tolkien.  I just bought his biography so we’ll read that too).  Oh yes, and we are still working through the dvd course, “Modernity” and “American History”.  Sadly, these keep getting set aside because books lure us in more than a video ever will.  I’ve also pondered re-listening to all of our old “Story of the World” audio cds.  It’d be good to listen to it now that we are more familiar with much of History.   Oh and because there are clearly more than 24 hours in a day, I also want to select one good book to read to review Australian History.  (I’ve got a few options but just haven’t decided).  I’m hoping we can do a little road trip through Canberra, Melbourne, Tassie (yes I know it’s a state and not a city like the rest) and maybe even Adelaide, so of course we’ll need to do some pre-trip reading.

In Science, (brace yourself, some people may feel the urge to hyperventilate) we will still not be using a textbook.  I know, I know.  Jay Wile’s books are the bees knees.  I’ve heard.  I even bought one one time, but I couldn’t bring myself to use it.  The textbook approach to Science just doesn’t fit with my philosophy of education.  So, instead, we are going to use “Science Matters” as a bit of a launching point or spine book and add in related books as we move through the topics.  I knew “Science Matters” was the book for us (even though it’s secular, which just means we’ll be analysing the content as well) when I read this quote in the introduction:

“We feel very strongly that those who insist that everyone must understand science at a deep level are confusing two important but separate aspects of scientific knowledge.  The fact of the matter is that doing science is clearly distinct from using science; scientific literacy concerns only the later.  There is no need for the average citizen to be able to do what scientists do.”

This sums up perfectly how I feel about the way Science is taught in schools so we are going to take a different path.

As well as exploring the topics in “Science Matters”, we’ll also be reading biographies of Scientists, starting with Scott Kelly’s “Endurance:  A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery”.  Okay, not exactly a biography and possibly not even what you had in mind when I said ‘scientist’, but it’s a fascinating read.  Yes, there will be some better known scientists on the list too, like Newton and Einstein.  Into the mix, we’ll also throw what people like to call ‘popular science’ (which I think is a derogatory name for it).  We’re going to start with “What Einstein Told His Barber” and probably others by the same author.  Books like these are great for launching you into further studies.  Yes, there will be hands on Science work.  There always is, but it’s rarely planned out beforehand.  We allow the books to inspire us to activity.  (I know, even I think I sound like an unschooler, but, trust me, I’m not.)  Oh and we also have a number of Science-focused youtube channels that we like to watch.

In Geography, we’re going to be reading “Prisoners of Geography:  Ten maps that Explain Everything About the World” and the author’s second book, “Worth Dying For:  The Power and Plitics of Flags”.  We’ll also be reading the two “Book of Marvels”, one focused on the west and the other on the east.  We’ve just discovered these little treasures.  We’ll also be continuing to read books that focus on world issues, in particular poverty, slavery and AIDS.  We also have a few more books set in Africa that we want to read (we spent a good chunk of last year reading about life in various African countries).  Then we’ll move onto Cuba and Canada.  How much do you know about Canada?  I can count on one hand how many things I know about Canada.  That’s disgraceful, considering the size of the country.  Oh and we are still memorising and reviewing maps of the world.  We’re also going to try using the book “Draw the USA” so see if we can learn to draw the maps of the world.

In Civics and Citizenship, we’re continuing on with Plutarch.  We’re also going to read Charlotte Mason’s “Ourselves”.  We’re going to continuing watching Prager U videos and we’ll probably brush up on our government knowledge before we head to Canberra.

In Economics, we’ll finish reading the money related books in the Uncle Eric series.  We’ve also enrolled in an online economics course called, “The Economic Way of Thinking”.

In Technology, it’ll be a big year.  There’s a 3D printer in the house now so we’ll be doing lots of designing on Fusion and plenty of printing.  We also have a “Little Bits” set and some more Arduino, plus books on both.  The boys did some Arduino in December and loved it, so they found some more under the Christmas tree.  Yep, they are well and truly set for technology this year.  We also have a number of STEM workshops books at QUT, a book on city infrastructure to read, and a pile of technology and design documentaries we want to borrow from the library.

In the Arts, we’ll also be busy.  We have a number of orchestra performances already booked, and are drooling over a number of theatre performances (Around the World in 80 Days; Jasper Jones; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Hamlet; and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead).  There’s a couple of art exhibitions we’ll be visiting and I want to dabbling in some marbling with the boys.   We also going to use Charlotte Mason’s art appreciation methods using the paintings in “50 Paintings You Should Know”.  I’ve also bought a couple of art history books that focus on the symbolism within art created before the Modern era (good luck finding ‘meaning’ within modern art!).  (I’m still waiting for these few titles to arrive so I hope they are good.  I’m looking forward to reading them.)

Finally, in PE and Health, we’ll be doing all of our usual activities – swimming, riding, scootering, trampolining etc.  We’ll also be reading a number of interesting health books, starting with “Very Very Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918”, moving to “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” and “Gulp:  Adventures on the Alimentary Canal” and adding in a number of documentaries.

Well, that’s the basic plan for our year.

Now, when should we start…Tomorrow?  Hmmm, let’s not be too hasty.  🙂


Posted by on January 22, 2018 in Planning and Registration


Classical Education

Recently, I was asked to describe how I approach Classical Education, and, in particular, how CIRCE fits into that approach.  Well, the question was different, but that was the heart of the question.  So I thought I’d share my response below:

Woah, big question.  It’s kind of like asking, “How do you parent?”.  It’s not a nice tidy thing that I follow in a lock step manner and it’s always changing.  But I’ll give it a go.  :)

How do I use CIRCE as my path?  Well, firstly, it is and it isn’t a path.  CIRCE, in one sense, isn’t a path but rather inspiration from excellent speakers and writers.  It’s not a curriculum either (although they do produce an excellent writing program).  But it is a path in that CIRCE points to a direction that they believe we should be heading; a Classical direction whose primary goal is wisdom and virtue (which differs from the standard ‘line up all your duck in a row ready for university entrance’ goal).  So that’s primarily the crux of CIRCE – they are reviving Classical Education and giving teachers and homeschoolers the tools they need to join the revival.  (CIRCE’s Classical Education differs from neo-classical education, which is the umbrella the Well Trained Mind falls under; neo-classicals aim to revive academic standards.  I need to distinguish between the two as it confuses people to think about Classical Education, when the only example they have of it is the WTM).

How then do I use CIRCE to teach?  CIRCE does not offer a curriculum, or step by step approach.  Instead they offer Classical methodology, specifically mimetic teaching and Socratic discussion.  Mimetic teaching is a form of imitation. Students are invited to ‘gaze on’ a model of an idea that you wish to teach.  For example, if I wanted to teach my students about honour and leadership (this is a lesson I have taught), I would offer a story or event that showed this idea (we read the story of Shackleton and the Endurance).  That would be my model.  As we read the story, I would use Socratic questions to draw the student’s attention towards the truth about honourable leadership in the story.  (Socratic questions are essentially questions that lead the student towards truth while at the same time destroying any false ideas they may have.)    In this way, the student would learn about virtues but they would also learn about people and events.  In the Shackleton example, they would also use three of the seven liberal arts (which are grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy).  As they read the story of Shackleton, draw out honour and leadership ideas from the story, write about the idea and apply it, they would be using grammar, logic and rhetoric skills.  So the liberal arts are the intellectual skills that are used while ‘gazing on’ the ideas of truth, beauty and goodness, while in the search of wisdom and virtue.  (CIRCE doesn’t consider the liberal arts as stages like the WTM does).  This is basically my interpretation of the ‘how’ of CIRCE and Classical Education.

Does it have a bit more of a road map?  Well, not really.  It’s like CIRCE is saying, “You should visit Rome”.  How you get there is irrelevant.  The details don’t matter.  As long as you end up in Rome.  So, with my example of honour and leadership, the model we used is irrelevant.  I could have used any number of worthy people.  (CIRCE isn’t in the habit of laying out a specific ‘road to Rome’). Instead, it’s up to us to determine what story or painting or experience or event would best speak to our children as they gaze upon it and are helped to extract the truth we want them to take away from it.  And, of course, you don’t just present one example to gaze upon.  Over time, the students will be exposed to numerous models.

One criticism of this approach is that we are trying to create godly virtues without God.  But that is not so.  What CIRCE describes is an ‘ordering of affections’.  It’s teaching the children what is good and what is not, what is true and what is not, what is beautiful and what is not.  Essentially, what is God like and what is He not.  However, while on earth, with our flesh and minds, we can only experience shadows of what God is like (it’s an entirely different matter with our spirit).  So Classical Education trains our minds to dwell on the shadows of God – shadows of truth, shadows of beauty and shadows of goodness.  Looking in the right direction is the best that we can do in bringing our children to God and His ways.  It’s up to our children to reach out to the source, the author, of those shadows, and then He will show them real Truth, Beauty and Goodness (which of course is Himself).  That’s the hope of Classical Education as outlined by CIRCE.

So how do I plan for Classical Education?  In many ways, it’s pretty run of the mill but just with a different mindset.  I teach skills with a textbook or a curriculum.  The three R’s are necessary in order to access the true, good and beautiful things.  In content areas, I don’t usually start with a list of virtues I want to explore (maybe I should but I don’t; I haven’t got much experience under my belt yet so I wing a far bit of the journey).  Instead, I list the things we want to learn about – things we are currently interested in, making connections with, have a question about or should know something about.  From these concepts, people, events and places, there are numerous opportunities to see God’s shadow (truth, beauty and goodness).  For example, we’re currently focused on looking at Africa.  Last term, we chose to read about Albert Schweitzer, an unknown (to us) name that came up when I googled people linked with Africa.  When we started reading, this man’s life and work displayed so many virtues for us to gaze on.  Sometimes, like the time we read “Building a Fire”, we read about people who do not place their hope in God and who do not display truth, beauty or goodness.  In that case, the story isn’t offered as something to gaze on and turn towards.  It becomes more of a cautionary tale; as what life might look like without God in our lives.  (In order to use these kinds of models, the student must have experiences with many examples of truth, beauty and goodness, so they can quickly identify its absence.)  So, when planning, I plan in a fairly ordinary way, deciding on the content we want to study, not because I want my students to memorise and regurgitate it for an exam, but, because it may contain things of value to us – examples of truth, beauty and goodness.  Therefore, education is a bit like a sorting process for us.  We explore all manner of things and put them into categories – those things worthy of gazing upon and those things which are not.

Do I plan everything out in advance, or just wait to see where the wind and tides will take us? I’m a ‘wind and tides’ type of gal.  I have a loose plan of where we might dig, while looking for gold, but if something else comes along, I’m happy to pick up our shovels and go and investigate.  Often we have several gold mines open at once.  Imagine us picking up rocks and checking them over to see if we have a piece of black coal or a sparkling treasure (a nugget of truth, beauty or goodness).  We pocket the treasures and, after inspecting the coal, toss it back.  (Perhaps we wouldn’t be exposed to as much coal if I was more experienced with Classical Education.)  When those gold mines are completed, we head back to where we left off and continue on, until another glimmer takes us off on a tangent.  So planning on paper is fairly easy.  I merely set out in what direction we might head: a list of things that interest us or that we should explore.  To that, I add a list of good books worthy of our time.  I might also add documentaries, excursions and activities that might help us dig deeper.  I don’t dwell on specifics and they usually take care of themselves.  For us, the topic we are studying is what usually indicates what we should do with the learning.  For example, when we were learning about the Periodic Table, one of my boys decided that he was going to make one for the wall because we’d been frustrated by not being able to see what was being described in the book we were reading.  Often times, we write in response to what we have learned.  This past week, my boys wrote an essay about whether two characters in a book we read, (Tank Boys) should have disguised a German soldier and smuggled him into the Australia army.  Given our truth, beauty and goodness mindset, one of their final argument was: “In God’s eyes, all men were created equal and these Australian soldiers made the decision to love this German as themselves.”  Did they learn about the content that I wanted them to learn in the book?  Yes.  But, at the same time, they learned about something of infinitely more value.

Do I still read everything aloud to my boys?  I do because I see great value in reading aloud.  As I read aloud to both boys, we are able to engage in dialogue, which leads to greater learning.  Questions are asked, lines of thought are explored, and I can Socratically engage them in pulling out and forming ideas.  I can’t imagine how this process can happen if I send my boys away to their rooms to read by themselves.  I don’t feel like there is anyone to guide and mentor them when they sit in isolation.  Even in the classroom there is a guide, someone to lead them out of immaturity.  So, I see that as my role.  I’m not just the person who determines the path and resources they will use, I’m also the person who will walk the path with them as a mentor in the process.   As an ex-classroom teacher, I also always check back to see why certain teaching patterns began – why is independent work so highly valued in the classroom.  In my experience, independent workers were valued because they didn’t draw on my time.  I could set them a task and then get on with teaching those who needed my direct instruction.  In a classroom, or a bigger group of children, this is a necessity.  There’s nothing wrong with it but I think we have set it up as the ideal for all situations.  As a student in highschool, I remember working independently in several classes.   I completed work quickly and so the teacher told me to work ahead.  I remember it as a rather lonely experience and sometimes a difficult one.  I had to figure out new concepts without the experience and direction of a more learned person.  I could ask the teacher but she was busy with those who needed her more and so I would only ever get a quick explanation.  So, based on my homeschooling experience, my experience as a student and school teacher, sending my children off to complete their day’s work alone isn’t something that I see as valuable or necessary (given that I only have the two students).  Of course, there are exercises that each child is expected to do alone.  I’ll set tasks and expect each child to work on them but I’m always available to help.  So, during school hours, I’m not off cleaning the house or anything.

Packaged curriculum, with all their well laid plans, are a huge temptation, aren’t they.  :) And there’s nothing wrong with them, if they fit your goal.  I often have new homeschoolers come over for a cuppa and a chat and the first thing I ask them is how they imagine homeschooling to look in their home.  Some people are totally honest and say they just want something they can open and do without any fuss.  It may be because they feel insecure or they have limited time because they have to work outside the home or have a large family.  At that point in their life, simplicity and ease is their primary goal and distance ed or packaged curriculums tick both of those boxes for them.  Others imagine different scenarios and may need different resources to fit their needs.  Think of curriculum like traveling the world.  Some people want a travel agent to plan their trip and tell them where to go and what to see with all the details organised for them.  Others thrive on making their own plans, going places others might not go, and leaving things a little open ended so they can embrace unexpected opportunities.  And still others daydream about having a travel agent make their plans, but where they plan to go and how they plan to travel might not be something that travel agents can do for them.  I find myself in this latter category and, while I am tempted by all the glittering curriculums, after dabbling in many of them over the years, I have learned that they won’t take me where I want to go, and they always leave me feeling disappointed.

I think the most important thing to do at the start of the homeschooling journey is to figure out where you want to take your children, where you ‘truly’ want them to end up.  It is a journey after all, and people who journey need to know where they are headed.  In my early homeschooling years, I never really stopped to think about where I wanted education to take us.  I immediately jumped into researching methodologies and curriculum.  I never stopped to think about where we were heading and whether that’s where I wanted to go.  School and society taught me their purpose for education and I just followed along, aiming to fill the kids’ heads with facts to get them into university or jobs.   I didn’t even know there was something more we could aim for.  CIRCE were the people who introduced me to the stars, I suppose you could say.  People accuse Classical Educators of being idealists, wasting their time on stars when their feet should be firmly planted on the ground doing earthly things (like worrying about uni and jobs).  But, Classical Education reminds me of the story of Peter walking on water.  Jesus told Peter to keep his eyes on Him so he could rise above the stormy waters.  My goal is to train my children’s eyes towards Jesus so they can do more than just earthly things.  Lofty?  Sure.  But that’s what goals are supposed to be.  And if our children can ‘walk on water’ so to speak, I feel confident that those all-important university placements and jobs will be thrown in for free.  :)

So that’s my attempt at explaining Classical Education as inspired by the wonderful people at CIRCE.   :)


Learning Plans for 2017

Here in Australia, the end of the school year is also the time to start planning for the new school year.  Since I have to hand in my homeschooling paperwork, plans and reports in early December, all of my ‘Back to School’ plans are already completed…but I won’t start purchasing resources until part way through January.  There’s already enough stuff to buy in December with Christmas coming.  But I don’t tend to buy all of my resources up front anyway.  I only buy those books that we’ll use first, purchasing the rest as we need it.  This helps spread the book costs over the whole year.  Plus, it allows us to be more flexible and alter our plans as we go, without too much wasted money.

Anyway, this is what I have planned for 2017, although it’s bound to change and expand as the year progresses.  We love a good tangent.

For Language:

Most of our Language program will stay the say.  We will continue with MCT grammar resources, continue learning Spencerian cursive, continue diagramming sentences, and continue using “Teaching the Classics” literary analysis methods.  We will also continue to write narrations and use IEW writing methods.  However, we will be adding the “Lost Tools of Writing” (LTW) to our writing repertoire this year.  IEW gave us a great grounding in ‘how’ to write and LTW will mentor us in ‘what’ to write.  I think it’ll be a great shift for the highschool years.  We might also add in “Marie’s Words:  Picture Words in a Flash” which is a box of vocabulary flashcards.  We will, of course, continue to read.  We are going to read “The Iliad” and use Roman Roads Media video course to guide us through.  (I’ve also bought the Circe literature guide for the Iliad, while it was on sale, but I’m yet to see it so I’m not sure how/if we’ll use it.)  We also plan to read:  “The Chrysalids”, “Gulliver’s Travels“, “Around the World in Eighty Days”, “Dracula”, “Frankenstein” and “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine”, Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations”.  However, this list is bound to change as the year progresses.  We are terrible at sticking to a book list.

For Math:

We will continue on with our current Singapore Math text but very soon we have to part ways with Singapore Math as they don’t seem to extend into the senior years.  😦  Oh course, for Math we always manage to find something interesting to read and watch.  Currently, added to my Netflix list, I have the Math documentary, “The Code”, which should be interesting to watch.  I’ve also ordered a book about Blaise Pascal.  No, I don’t have a nice pre-formulated list of Math books or docos.  We just add them as we find them or as the interest takes us.

For Science:

This coming year we plan to study Physics topics.  It almost goes without saying that we’ll view Wes Olson’s “Physics 101” dvd series first.  We love ALL of his dvd series.  We watch them for fun, that’s how good they are.  Since we don’t use textbooks (ick!), our Science reading will consist of numerous great books.  In the past, we’ve used the resources from Guesthollow, and hope to do the same for our study of Physics.  However, they have not yet released their highschool Physics programs, which they suggested might be ready for the current US fall.  There’s no sign of it yet, but, I’m holding my breath, crossing my fingers and hoping like crazy that it’ll be available before the end of January.  If not, we’ll just start reading a Physics title of our own choosing, until Guesthollow comes to our rescue with their excellent resources.  We’ll also be reading about related Scientists, like Einstein and Newton.   All of this reading is always accompanied by plenty of hands on activities and exploration.  Sometimes the books suggest the activities but, mostly, a great book creates an interest in the reader that must be expressed, which is when we look to Google for ideas.  Oh and we’ll also be visiting the Hadron Collider exhibition at the Queensland Museum.  How did they know we were studying Physics this coming year?!

For History:

We have a real hodge podge of jumping off points for History this year.  When we sat down to make a list of interests and a list of big gaps to be filled, this is the list we came up with:  English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell; British Colonies and their relationship with Britain, specifically Ireland, India and Africa; Modern Conflicts, specifically Afghanistan and the Arab-Israeli conflict; Destruction of the Jewish Temple and the siege of Masada; Mexican-American War; Armenian Genocide; and the Byzantium Empire.  I look at this list and get so excited by the smorgasbord of great books we can read in order to study these topics.  Oh and we also want to read some biographies about a few key historical figures that have drawn our attention, namely Winston Churchill, Mussolini, Mao, and Booker T Washington (I suspect we’ll add more as we progress through the year).  We also have two video courses from Compass Classroom that we want to watch – Modernity and American History.  There’s a curriculum that comes with these but I think we’ll be happy to discuss what we’ve viewed and write summaries and response essays.  In History, we write a lot of summaries and essays.

For Geography:

We planned to study the countries and cultures of Africa this past year, but, we got so caught up in other countries and cultures that we never arrived at Africa.  That’s okay.  We will study it this coming year.  Once again, I’ve prepared a smorgasbord of interesting looking books set in Africa.  We use these as our launching point for our studies.  I’m thinking we may start our reading with “King Solomon’s Mines” and see where that leads us.  We’ll also be reading about people linked to Africa, for example, David Livingstone, Jane Goodall, Mary Slessor, and Albert Schweitzer.  We’ll also be reading books focused on the issues of poverty, refugees and the plight of girls in some countries, starting with “No Ordinary Day”, “Boys Without Names”, “Long Walk to Water”, and “Parvana”.

For Civics and Citizenship:

This time we are making Plutarch a priority.  It got pushed to the end of the queue this past year and, consequently, didn’t end up happening.  So this coming year, Plutarch is a priority.  We’re also going to read Albert Marrin’s “Black Gold:  The Story of Oil in our Lives” and Uncle Eric’s “Are you Liberal? Conservative? Or Confused?“.  We’ll also be reading about Aboriginal history, culture and current issues, starting with the book, “Welcome to My Country” and “Riding the Black Cockatoo“.

For Economics and Business:

We’ll be watching Compass Classroom’s “Economics for Everyone” videos.  We’ll also read  “The Money Mystery”, “Uncle Eric Talks about Personal, Career and Financial Security“, and maybe also “Capitalism for Kids” and “Common Sense Business for Kids“.  We’ll also be looking at advertising and reading “Made you Look” and watching some Netflixs documentaries – “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold“, “The Persuaders” and “The Merchant of Cool“.

For the Arts:

As always, we’ll continue to go to the theatre and the orchestra.  I’m keeping a keen eye on local theatres to see what is coming in 2017.  We’ll also be attending two Shakespeare plays by our favourite performers.  We’ll be reading “Art that Changed the World” and visiting the galleries we have access to.  (I’d like to take some gallery tours this coming year.)  We’ll also continue to study artworks the Charlotte Mason way.  Currently our list of desirable arts and crafts includes scratchboard drawings, bead craft, leather craft, string art and Aboriginal dot art, so these, and others, will be explored in the coming year.

For Health and PE:

For PE, we’ll continue to live active lives – riding, swimming, trampolining and all those good things.  For Health, we’ll read “The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence“, and “Chew on This:  Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food“.  We’ll also watch the series “Drugged“, which is about the effect of different drugs on your body, and “Foodmatters” and “Food, Inc“.  For personal development, we’ll be reading “Do Hard Things“, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and maybe also “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“.

And for Technology and Design:

We’ll continue providing our boys with resources to explore technology and design.  This is an area which we don’t really ‘teach’; we just use technology and get better at it.  However, we will be reading and watching a few engineering things.  We’ll be reading “Engineering the City“, “The Art of Construction” and “Building Big” and watching “Engineering Connections“, “Engineering Disasters” and “Engineering an Empire“.  I dare say these will lead us all sorts of hands on tasks.


These plans should launch us into a year that is full to overflowing.



Posted by on December 15, 2016 in My Library, Planning and Registration