Hits and Misses 2016-2017 year

I noticed quite a few people were asking others how certain curricula/subjects went this past year and I know we normally have a hits and misses post which can help answer these questions so I thought I would start one up. I love these posts as much as I love knowing what people have picked out for the upcoming year.

Diana Waring History- Now we didn’t get through as much of this as I would have liked because I had a hard pregnancy and I am now dealing with 2 new little ones BUT what I did get through was awesome. My children did some projects independently and surprised me. They wrote a rap to help remember the days of creation, they have written some wonderful paragraphs/essays and short books, we got some music and art appreciation in. Overall I am happy with this. We have to speed through the rest of the year to finish ‘on time’ and we will be sticking with her 3 year plan as of right now.

All About Reading- My 1st Grader and I worked slowly through level 2 of AAR (again my fault not hers) but we are definitely learning and now I am getting back to myself we are speeding through to the end. We will be finished in no time (before summer).

Abeka Letters and Sounds and Language 1- We had no plans to do this but as I was not at my best when we started out the year my 1st grader wanted workbooks to work on alone. I used Abeka- I didn’t use the lesson plans, rather these were used to reinforce what was being learned in AAR plus more. I would circle 2-3 pages and she would get them done daily. I would then go over the sounds and she sped through this also. I bought the books in January (as she had finished other workbooks in December) and we will be done before summer only a few more weeks worth of work left.

Complete Canadian Math Grade 1- Now I am not one to use these kinds of workbooks but the season we were in this just worked. Again I would circle pages, explain a new concept and send her off to complete the pages. She did so well that she finished the book, and when I put her sisters in Grade 4 Teaching Textbooks she was able to do some lessons and got 100% (more on this later)

Teaching Textbooks- (more on this later)

IEW/ Fix it Grammar- Fix it Grammar was a wonderful reprieve from all we have done up to this point. It was straight to the point and we could move on. Great for independent studies, short concise lessons. IEW had my children writing like they have never written so far. I see an improvement in their over all writing. I tried to finish in a year but then it got overwhelming so we will continue through this year with IEW Intensive A.

Bible- We recently started Polished Cornerstones to work on character building, family time and incorporating many subjects into one… Writing, art etc… It has led to come very interesting discussions and more time as a family as we realize we all have work to do.

Experience Astronomy- No fault of the curriculum. I struggled to get outside with the children to map the stars, I struggled to keep up with the schedule. We are playing catch up but I finally decided (as we are behind) to watch the videos and notebook about what was learned. We do the quizzes as a family and we are still all learning. :slight_smile:

The Good and the Beautiful Grade 1- Not necessarily a miss, we just didn’t do it. I was doing fine with the above choices and didn’t have time to implement this. I plan to use it in the future and we are doing Grade 2 this year for sure- printing as I type.

BJU Math- Now I must say this hurts. I wanted to use Teaching Textbooks or Math U See last year. For Math U See I thought the cost would be a lot, for Teaching Textbooks I was worried it would not be vigorous enough and so I went with Grade 1 and Grade 4 Math. Grade 1 I was teaching (as you know anything teacher intensive wasn’t working this year) Grade 4 was distance learning- I still ended up spending an arm and a leg… sigh. Well the only subject we fought to get done everyday was math! They hated it, I hated marking the millions of pages for the Grade 4 math and both children had to wait on one another to watch the video so a lot of time was wasted. One of my children likes to just get on with it and one is a dawdler so you can imagine how that went. Then it would be time for me to mark the work and it became an unpleasant chore. Last month I spoke to hubby and we both agreed to count our losses and switch to Teaching Textbooks, our home has become peaceful again. No more begging for math to be done. I don’t have to remind, tell off or cajole. TT is the best decision we have made regarding math. I believe we will stick it out.

If you had read my picks for this past year originally you may notice I only stuck with a couple things I originally planned on mainly because I found out I was pregnant in May which is the time of year we also go to the conference. I realized some of my original plans probably weren’t going to work and I was looking for a more independent approach for my olders. Hence BJU math etc…

I hope this helps with anyone wondering how things went and I can’t wait to hear everyone else’s hits and misses.


Most of what I posted earlier worked for us. Here they are:

7th: Kipling; Millay. Booklists as we go along
4th: Carroll; Rosetti. Booklists as we go along

Schoolhouse Teachers prealgebra; worksheets on various skills for 4th grader

Intro to Agriculture using Storey Publishing’s Your Calf, Your Goats, Your Chickens, Your Rabbits, and Your Sheep
Incorporating study of animals into 4th grade world geography

Social Studies
4th grade world geography using a booklist

Language Arts
7th Grade–switched from ABEKA to the Daily Grammar website; inconsistent with writing assignments
4th Grade–after the first week or so, did not use the file folder games I had; did not implement copywork

Social Studies
7th grade–before the school year started, ds wanted to switch from Middle Ages to Canada. After two books on Canada, he wanted to do something else. So I turned it into a world geography course.

Art Study–couldn’t do consistently

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My last year here! I think pretty much everything worked out well this year! We’ve used:

Apologia Advanced Biology - my daughter has been looking forward to this for a few years. She won it at a science fair and really enjoys studying the human body (plans to go into nursing). They cow’s eye dissection was pretty cool (note, I only look on occasionally–she does all the dissecting, and, well, I have to mentally prepare myself to stomach dissections, LOL!)

Math-U-See Pre-Calculus - Okay, Pre-calc is as far as I ever went in math, and I remember nothing! I’m glad for the DVD lessons and the teaching examples and solutions worked out.

Math-U-See Stewardship - My oldest also used this, good course.

Notgrass Government - second time for this one too, again a good course. My dd doesn’t really like history but did enjoy this.

Understanding the Times - We use just the book, but I know there are lectures too. I like this before my kids go off to college because it gives them a good overview of 6 main world views and how/why they think about various topics. I don’t want my kids to be shocked when they go to college (and I don’t think they would have been with the history we’ve done and conversations we’ve had–but I think this course really helps us solidify and tie things together more for them).

Total Health - easy half credit but good solid information, and a good basis for some discussion. I like the goal reports and the encouragement to set health-related goals.

Literature - I pulled a variety of Sonlight books that we haven’t gotten to over the years, and have at least 1 book from every 100 level core, LOL! The most are from 400 (to line up with government), with 7 books, but this does make me chuckle! I did pick up 2 or 3 new ones I couldn’t resist.

Writing - Essentials in Writing 12 (parts), and working on scholarship essays.

She’s also doing some art lessons, guitar lessons, and a PE class at the Y (maybe I should put the last one as a miss since she has a boyfriend from that class now, and as ready as I thought I was going to be for this stage–she is 18 after all–I’ve learned that you really aren’t ever ready for this stage!!!)


@Proverbs31 I hear you! We just switched our struggling 6th grader to TT and it has been the best decision ever for us!

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I feel like we are getting closing to finding the best fits for our family, most things were hits!

Science -AIG Earth Science/Weather/Space
Spelling - IEW Phonetic Zoo
Bible - Grapevine
Writing - IEW Intensive A
Grammar - IEW Fix It (can you tell we love IEW?!)
Reading - All About Reading 1 and 2, Explode the Code for reinforcement
Handwriting - A Reason for Handwriting
Geography - Trail Guide to US Geography
Math - Math U See (for my 1st and 4th grader) Teaching Textbooks (6th grader)
History - Notgrass Adam to Us

Math U See for my struggling 6th grader. She has always had a hard time with math and MUS was slowly getting more frustrating for her. And the pressure of her 4th grade sister catching up was making the situation so much worse. We switched to Teaching Textbooks and it has been wonderful. No more stress of “staying ahead” and she loves the independence of the computer. Big win!

Mystery of History - we wanted to love this. We started Volume 1 last year and it just moves so slow. We only do history 2 days a week and it felt like it was going to take until the end of time to finish all 4 books! We switched to Notgrass Adam to Us and just picked up where in history we left of in MOH. We have enjoyed it much more!


Here are the things we have been using this year. Almost all were hits except for a few listed at the bottom of this list.

Bible: Continued Bible Road Trip (always a hit) and added in Trail Guide to Learning: Light for the Trail as well (alternated days with Bible Road Trip). The Trail Guide was mainly for character study, but it turned out to be a wonderful addition and sparked great conversations. We also watched one Friends & Heroes episode every Friday and are almost through all 3 seasons now. All of these were hits.

Enrichment/Riches: Hymn Study, Nature Study, Art, Poetry (only one of these per day)

Trail Guide to Learning: BIG hit! We love this.

Math: Life of Fred for my 2nd grade son, Practical Arithmetics for my 4th grade daughter—both hits!

Science: We added God’s Design for Science: Our Universe to our Trail Guide to Learning. I wanted this to be a hit, but unfortunately it was a miss. I think it might just have been over my kids’ heads, so we are going to try the Plants one too from this company and hope it goes better.

Chinese: Continued from the past several years—it’s a hit! We brought in a native Chinese speaking tutor this year a few times and that was fun.

Language Arts: Trail Guide to Learning covers everything we need in this area. However, my 4th grade daughter enjoys additional challenges grammar and spelling. So for her I added IEW’s Phonetic Zoo B and IEW’s Fix It Grammar. She is also finishing up with All About Reading. My son is also still continuing All About Reading as well.

The only misses I would say we encountered were the AIG’s Our Universe and maybe our Nature Study resource. We are Using Exploring Nature with Children, and while it is a great curriculum, I found we rarely pulled it off the shelf and delved into it. We are going to keep going with it though because it is great material, it’s just not my strongest area.

One major hit was moving to loop scheduling this year! That has helped us move through all of our subjects consistently and made each day interesting and a little different from other days. We will continue this for sure!


Can you explain more about the loop scheduling? I know what it is but how do you implement it that works for you?

Hi @Lindsay! Sure! I will preface this by saying I probably do not follow the loop scheduling rules, but I found a system this year that actually worked for us, and we’ve stuck with it throughout the year.

Basically I began by dividing our subjects up into 6 categories. We school 4 days a week (co op on the 5th day), and here are the categories we use:

1: Bible and Character
2: Enrichment (Art, Poetry, Nature Study, and Hymn Study)
3: Trail Guide to Learning (this is the main curriculum we are using for multi-subjects, so anything you don’t see listed elsewhere on this list is included in Trail Guide)
4: Math
5: Foreign Language and Science
6: Language Arts (Grammar, Spelling, Reading)

We do loops 1-3 in the morning and 4-6 in the afternoon. So, a Monday morning might look like this:
Trail Guide to Learning

However, if we only get to Bible and Trail Guide before lunch, we do not move on to the next Enrichment “loop” (for example, Poetry) the next morning (and we also don’t try to fit that missed subject in during the afternoon–we always just move on to loops 4-6 after lunch). Instead, we keep Art in our schedule the following day in that morning Enrichment Loop slot. So the next morning would look like this:

Character study (because we completed Bible the previous day, we move on to Character on this day)
Art (because we did not complete it the previous day, it stays on the schedule until we do)
Trail Guide to Learning

This works well for us because there are typically some subjects that I just don’t love to teach :smirk:. So before we moved to this type of scheduling, I would plan that subject for, say, Wednesday. If Wednesday rolled around and we just didn’t get to that subject, I wouldn’t have it on the schedule again until the following Wednesday, and if this happened multiple times, we would find ourselves WAY behind in that subject. However, with this type of loop scheduling, that subject stays put in that slot until we complete it, and then we move on to the next subject in that loop the following day.

Here would be a sample afternoon schedule:
Math (we do this every day)

If we don’t complete Grammar, we don’t move on to Spelling the next day. We keep Grammar right there in that loop slot, so the following day would look like this in the afternoon:
Science (because we completed Chinese the previous day)
Grammar (stays here until we complete it)

One of the best things about this type of scheduling for our family has been that it makes every day different! We were all kind of getting tired of the "these subjects Monday, then these on Tuesday . . . " type of scheduling. This way, we might have Hymn Study one morning and Chinese in the afternoon whereas the next week, we might have Poetry in the morning and Chinese that afternoon (depending on which loops we made it through in the previous days). I thought it would be difficult not having a standard subject order each day, but it has actually been very freeing! And we have accomplished more of every subject this year than in any of our past years. So for me, that is a sign that it is something that our family responds well to.

It is also super easy to plan, because I just look at each loop and see what comes next in each slot (or what needs to stay put if we didn’t get to it yet) and jot it down on the next day’s schedule. I tried to upload a sample of the Word doc I use for planning, but I am technologically challenged, so that didn’t work. :smile: I can, however, e-mail it to you if you’d like.

I hope this helps!


I love this! Thank you for all the info!

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I have a HIT to share! My 5th grader finished his Apologia: Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics way early in the year (by the end of February), so I was looking for another short science book to complete the year. He has LOVED “Protozoa: A Poseidon Adventure” by Ellen J. McHenry. It’s available here:

It is only 6 chapters long, so for us not a complete year of science, but my son has loved it and loved learning something that was a completely new topic for him. It has some neat projects that are do-able and interesting to tweens too! Recommendation is age 10-15.

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Story of the World - I continue to appreciate this more and more, especially how the writing draws in my child in and how she keeps refering back to past sections in ways that make review easy.

ADDITION FACTS THAT WORK/SUBTRACTION FACTS THAT WORK - So easy, and fun…my child likes learning math this way, and so far it seems to be working.

ALL ABOUT SPELLING: Continues to be a good, easy curriculum to use.


Math U See: Takes too long to wrap my head around how it’s trying to teach it–need a simpler script like AAS and AFTW/SFTW, and I really think my son needed to wait to try to learn all the addition before doing subtraction…I think that hindered, not helped him. Worked great for place value but just hasn’t done well after that.

My daughter has been in First Grade this year and turned 7 in January.

Abeka Letters and Sounds 1 – This is our third year to use Abeka Phonics and I have been very pleased with her progress. She is reading like a champ! I’m a little disappointed that 2nd grade phonics will be a review of 1st grade, but I’m hoping she will breeze right through it.

Abeka Readers – We both have enjoyed most of the stories. I bought the Reading guide that goes along with it, but stopped using it, so that was kind of a waste.

Apologia Astronomy – We only did one lesson, but my daughter loved it. I plan on doing the whole book in second grade.

We started school the last week of August due to a trip to CA for my niece’s wedding. I don’t know how we got behind, but for the last couple of months I have had to double and triple up on lessons in order to finish by my deadline of Friday, May 26. We will actually finish on Thursday!!

Abeka Math – I don’t dislike it, but I don’t love it, either. For several months I’ve been wanting to make a switch for next year. I have decided to switch her to Singapore Math.

Abeka Science/Social Studies/Health Readers – I read them out loud and we discussed the content, but other than a few – very few – sparks of interest, neither my daughter nor I could get excited about it. I have the readers for 2nd grade, so I will do the same thing – read from them – but my main science and social studies for the year will be Apologia Astronomy (and Botany if we finish Astronomy early) and Expedition Earth.

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I had never heard of loop scheduling until you mentioned it. After a couple of hours of Google searches and reading blogs on the subject… I like the idea! I think it will help us fit in more things that we want to learn about. I would love to see your Word doc. My email is a gmail account with the username mrsavakinsey Thank you!!

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This is my second year of pure homeschooling - without the use of a public school at home online program. Our first year we had so much fun homeschooling, so I don’t know why I decided to switch everything up this past year! Ug! It turned into a very stressful, falling further behind, terrible year!

So HITS:. Language Arts:. We tried BookShark Language Arts this year, and we really really liked it. They use the natural method which I really liked. I really like the writing assignments that they provide as well. So, this was a hit!

Art:. We continued to use K12 art - independently - we love the art assignments, so this was a hit!

Math:. For my younger ones we used BJU math - and we really really loved it! I love how they review at the end of each lesson. The lessons are not too much. For my older ones they switch to Teaching Textbooks, which we love, love, love! What a life-saver to me! I also love how much review they do. In any one day they don’t have to do 30 problems of division, which I love.

I thought it would be a grand idea to switch to BookShark. While I still love the idea of reading living books, it was almost too much reading for us, so instead of being fun, it became stressful and we kept falling further behind.

Science:. BookShark Science - while I like the concept, and at first I really loved the science, it just got to a point where I didn’t like how we never got deeper into anything. I didn’t like the snippets of information. I didn’t like how the experiments at the end of the week were just thrown in. I also didn’t like how much work day schedules they have. Even with a 4 day week, we just kept falling further behind their schedule, which was really stressful.

History:. BookShark:. Again love the concept (next year we are going back to Story of the World, and trying A History of Us Condensed and adding in living books) but it was too much. Too much unimportant detail on somethings while other things were just snippets of information. I didn’t really like the core books for any of the grades. Also all the readers and read alouds just proved to be too much! We had no time for any other literature, (nor time for the language arts section, which we liked, honestly) and that was frustrating to me.

I think that is everything! We are dumping this school year (I couldn’t even make it through the last couple of months), we are calling it complete, and going back to what we did and enjoyed the first year!


Ooh, love to see someone who has used MUS so high up! Great job! We just finished pre-algebra. I considered switching to TT last year. I think he would have liked it. My husband wanted me to stay with MUS and I’ve always liked it too. Have you found anything that helps expand on concepts if they’ve ever tripped you up? I look on YouTube or Kahn Academy but sometimes it doesn’t help. Thanks!

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I think I’ve contacted MUS twice over the years for questions on how to do something that I just wasn’t getting, but otherwise I find that watching the video again or studying the lesson in the Teacher’s Manual has answered our questions. Best wishes to you as you move into the upper levels!

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