Category Archives: classical liberal arts education

Catholic Schoolhouse at Home for Beginners

As we wrap up our second school year using Catholic Schoolhouse and interacting with many educators on Facebook interested in the program, I thought it would be helpful if I went through and wrote out some of the things I have learned about how to use this program at home only or in conjunction with the Chapters.  I do not want anyone to start using or be confused on how to use this REALLY SIMPLE and amazing program. Even though I had five children at the time in our school, only my smaller children used this program.  My oldest was a junior in high school when we started and I didn’t want to uproot him at this point so he completed his studies with Our Lady of Victory School but unenrolled. So my children at the time were ages 4, 6, 8, and 9 when we started using Catholic Schoolhouse.
Last year was our first year using Catholic Schoolhouse, we started with Year 1 so that we were following along in the Blog and the Chapters even if there wasn’t a chapter near me.  We started mid school year because we ALL needed something different (burnout and all that jazz).  It was totally a leap of faith and after begging DH about doing this mid year, he agreed and we did it.  
Since it was our first time using it I decided to keep it simple and just follow the program.  We did, we loved it and this year continued on to Year 2 but this time I  went ALL OUT and got WAY TOO MUCH to do, some of which we didn’t even touch.  Mid Year (it’s like the Heavens open for me in January that I always have AHA moments during this time) I read Dorothy Sayers’s The Lost Tools of Learning.  HA!  I should have read this FIRST!  Then I’d realized I was trying to do too much. We minimized and voila! found our happy medium!  We learned SO MUCH and had SO MUCH fun! So what do you need to do to get hooked like I am?  Here you go, an easy to follow, step by step approach to using CSH at home.:

STEP ONE: Read this First!

If you are new to Catholic Schoolhouse, before doing anything else, please read Ms. Sayer’s free pdf article entitled The Lost Tools of Learning.  It really helped me grasp the bigger picture about what Classical Education really is and what I wanted for my homeschool and my children, to enjoy educating them. 

STEP TWO: Decide on the Year to Work on!

Here is the Scope and Sequence broken down by year.

STEP THREE: What to Buy?

As a new Catholic Schoolhouse parent, you only need the Tour Guide, the Timeline Cards, and the Music CDs.  You can build your ENTIRE curriculum around these three items.  If you want the Science experiments that line up with the Science memory work, get the Supplemental Science Guide. (If you are like me who never got around to doing hands on science, this is a MUST!).  If you want Art projects that line up with the History memory work, then get the Supplemental Art Guide. (If you are like me that left ART for the very last and never had time for it, this is also a MUST!). So in addition to this, please DO NOT think you need to spend more money or your sanity on other things that you may not have.  You will need to decide which Year you want to start with.  I highly suggest you do the same year as the chapters even if you are not in one yourself (or yet).

STEP FOUR:  Check your bookshelves!

You will be surprised to find you probably have many living books that line up with CSH already.  Add these books in gradually and do not be like me and over do it!  đź™‚ Keep it simple, one book per topic should cover things.  If you are set up in quarters, one read aloud per time period is fabulous.  Read it together and have LOVELY discussions with all your children.

STEP FIVE: Add math and Language Arts/Phonics
You will want to add a mathematics book of your choice and also a Language arts program and Phonics book of your choice.  Use what you already invested in or what you already have at home.  Chances are you will not need to switch out of this OR eventually decide you want to do something simpler as I did for Language Arts. You can also check out Kathy’s “What Else Should I Use?” PDF
So the bottom line is you DO NOT need to supplement to this program if you don’t want to with just one exception, you will want a Math book and a Reading program.  You can, however, just stick to the memory work and do your separate math and language arts and phonics lessons and you and your children WILL still walk away with an amazing classical education and an incredible love of learning.  
Make sure you follow my blog as I work through my series of blog posts on using Catholic Schoolhouse At Home.  Next time, I will be writing about What CSH at Home looks like.
Have a beautiful day!
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Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2012-2013 for Cor Iesu Academy

After much testing, trying, and searching for the right curriculum, we believe Todd and  I, have found the right one for us.  I am so excited!  We have selected the curriculum for next school year!  We first began by looking for something just for our rising high schooler but decided that all the kids needed to be on the same page.  We are going to follow the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy Classical Liberal Arts Curriculum.

Why Classical Liberal Arts Education?  We really would love a program that would allow for at least some of our children to work together, in addition to allow a natural approach to learning (read not so much seat work).  From our experience thus far, with our children, they strive best when they are challenged and engaged in learning (maybe all children are like this?  I’m not sure.)  In addition, our homeschool has a strong devotion to the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and this program not only is named after the patron of our school but his works served as excellent model for the classical liberal arts approach!  The Classical Approach has an emphasis on what is known as the “trivium” – teaching in the sequence of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The classical method is decidedly better at training the mind to think, reason, and even to contend and argue one’s case against contrary ideas.  The way things are going in our world, we believe this is one of the best ways we can better prepare our children through home education.

This statement, from their website, is what finally SOLD us on using this curriculum for our family:

Our program gently prepares the child to learn from the great books and understand the great ideas essential to that same work of integrating faith with reason. A classical presentation of English and Latin grammar and the arts and sciences equips the student with the tools of learning; a cyclical study of the grand eras of western civilization–Greek, Roman, Old World and New–guides the student (and the teaching parent!) through the historical and literary masterpieces that for centuries have inspired students to such noble academic effort.”

There are Cycles to choose from, and after a thirty minute conversation with a representative of their’s I believe this is what we are going to set our goals towards (before you say it’s too expensive, please see my suggestions at the bottom of this post on ideas of saving on books):
Our 2012-2013 Curriculum

Grade 9: Greek Cycle:  Greek History & Astronomy
1.  RELIGION:  Old Testament I & II:
  • Introduction to the Bible
  • Ignatius Bible


  • Christ the King: Lord of History
  • Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures: A Concise History: Volume I to 1740, 3rd Edition
  • Old World and America
  • Herodotus’ The Histories
  • Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War
  • Xenophon: The Expedition of Cyrus (Anabasis)
  • Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures: A Concise History: Volume I to 1740, 3rd Edition
  • Plutarch’s Lives, Volume 1 (Modern Library Classics)
  • Plutarch’s Lives, Volume 2 (Modern Library Classics)
  • Great Dialogues of Plato
  • Alexander the Great: Man of Action, Man of Spirit
  • Alexander of Macedon: Journey to World’s End

3.  LITERATURE:  Greek Literature I & II:

  • Bulfinch’s Mythology: The Age of Fable, The Age of Chivalry, and Legends of Charlemagne
  • Homer : The Iliad
  • Iliad, The (Cliffs Notes)
  • Herodotus’ The Histories
  • Homer: The Odyssey
  • Odyssey, The (Cliffs Notes)

4.  FINE ARTS:  

A)  Art Appreciation &; Analysis: 
  • Art And: Critical Thinking and Art Analysis
B)  Greek Playrights:
  • Aeschylus : The Complete Greek Tragedies: Aeschylus II
  • Aeschylus : The Oresteia : Agamemnon; The Libation Bearers; The Eumenides
  • Sophocles : Antigone, Oedipus the King, and Electra (Oxford World’s Classics)
  • Euripides: Medea, Hippolytus, Heracles, Bacchae (Focus Classical Library)
  • Great Dialogues of Plato
  • Aristophanes: Four Plays by Aristophanes: The Clouds, The Birds, Lysistrata, The Frogs
    5.  SCIENCE:  Astronomy I & II:
    • Creator and Creation, 3rd Edition
    • Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist
    • Essential Cosmic Perspective, The (5th Edition)
    A)  Formal Composition II:
    • Format Writing
    • Great Writing: A Reader For Writers

    B)  Formal Grammar I:

    • Jensen’s Grammar 

    C)  Formal Logic:

    • Traditional Logic 1 : Intro. to Formal Logic 
    D)  Pennmanship:
    • Handwriting 5 for Young Catholics (to review the basics)
    E)  Punctuation:

    • Jensen’s Punctuation
    7.  FOREIGN LANGUAGES:  Classical Latin I
    • Wheelock’s Latin : 6th Edition, Revised
    • Wheelock’s Latin : Workbook for Wheelock’s Latin, 3rd Edition, Revised
    • Wheelock’s Latin : A Comprehensive Guide to Wheelock’s Latin: Newly Revised for Wheelock’s 6th Edition

    8.  MATHEMATICS:  Algebra II

    • Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2 Kit
    NOTE: I wish my kids would be ready for Cycle E:  Greek History & Astronomy so that they would be able to discuss things with our older son but that Cycle is labeled as appropriate for Grades 4 – 8, my two would be too little for their book selection.
    1.  RELIGION:  Religion 4
    • Faith and Life 4: Jesus Our Guide
    • Baltimore Catechism
    2.  SOCIAL STUDIES / WORLD HISTORY: Classical History
    • Story of the World : Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition
    • Story of the World Vol. 1 : Ancient Times, Activity Book
    3.  LITERATURE:  Literature
    • Landscape With Dragons, A : The Battle for Your Child’s Mind
    • Paideia Program
    • Let the Authors Speak : Guide to Worthy Books
    4.  FINE ARTS:  
         A)  Art Appreciation:
    • Faith and Life 1: Our Heavenly Father (Student Book)
    • Faith and Life 4: Jesus Our Guide (Student Book)
    • Art-with-an-Active-Eye Notebook
         B) Art Practice:
    • Art With a Purpose : Artpac 3
    • Art With a Purpose : Artpac 4
         C) Music Appreciation:
    • Classical Kids
    • Mozart’s Magic Fantasy: A Journey Through ’The Magic Flute’
    • Hallelujah Handel!
    • Beethoven Lives Upstairs (Audio CD)
    5.  SCIENCE:  Anatomy & Health
    • Body Book, The
    • Blood and Guts: A Working Guide to Your Own Insides
         A)  Grammar/Composition 2:  
    • Voyages in English 2006 Grade 2, Student Edition
         B)  Pennmanship:
    • Handwriting 2 for Young Catholics
        C)  Reading Skills:
    • Catholic National Reader Volume 2
         D)  Spelling/Reading Skills:
    • Explode the Code Book 5
    • Explode the Code Book 6
    7.  FOREIGN LANGUAGES: Latin Chant
    • Minimum Repertoire of Plain Chant
    8.  MATHEMATICS:  Mathematics G
    • Math U See Gamma : Student Kit
    • Math U See Gamma : Teacher Pack
    • Starter Set 1 (Manipulatives)
    • Skip Count and Addition Facts CD and Book
    • Math in a Flash Multiplication flashcards

    1.  RELIGION:  Religion 1

    • Faith and Life 1: Our Heavenly Father

         A)    Grammar/Composition 1

    • Voyages in English 2006 Grade 1, Student Edition

         B)  Pennmanship:

    • Handwriting Without Tears 2 : Printing Power
    • Handwriting Without Tears : 2nd Grade Printing Teacher Guide
    • Handwriting Without Tears : Slate Chalkboard

         C) Reading/Spelling Skills

    • Little Angel Readers Set A-D : Readers, Workbooks, and Teacher’s Manual
    3.  MATHEMATICS:  Mathematics B
    • Math U See Beta : Student Kit
    • Math U See Beta : Teacher Pack
    • Starter Set 1 (Manipulatives)
    • Skip Count and Addition Facts CD and Book
    • Math in a Flash Addition flashcards


    For the little ones ages two (2) and four (4), we are going to use a new curriculum (which I will also be reviewing):

    by Sarah V. Park (Hillside Education)

    In this creative curriculum, you’ll find easy-to-use activities to introduce your preschooler to the alphabet. For each letter, Sarah has provided:

    1) Saint of the Week suggestions
    2) Virtue and Scripture verse,
    3) Crafts & Activities,
    4) Collage ideas,
    5) Picture Book lists, and
    6) Recipes.
    Tot School

    For our two year old we will also use a little of the Preschool curriculum above but mostly Montessori Activities: Puzzles, board books, hands on activities!

    Three Simple Strategies on Funding this Approach:
    The Classical Liberal Arts approach *can* be pricey and when I posted our curriculum selection, that was one of my friends pointed out.  I will be taking advice from veteran homeschool moms whom have been using this approach in the past.  
    1)  Use your local public library:  You *can* buy all the books and build your library but if you don’t have the money to do that, you can always use your local library system and supplement your curriculum (this just requires more planning on your part ahead of time).  

    2)  Buy your curriculum by Semester:  Plan your lessons ahead of time by semesters and months.  Look up what you need and budget yourself so that you purchase it in two parts.  Semester One would be ordered in the Summer and Semester Two books would be ordered in the Winter (December)

    3)  When possible, buy used:  There are so many ways (when allowed by the publisher) to buy books and textbooks used.  You can do this by either asking locals in your area if anyone happens to either be selling a book or have one sitting on their shelf without being use (who knows maybe they might even loan it to you, if they know you and would like to do it?).  Another method is to look online.  Here are three places I search for used curriculum:
         A)  CathSwap (on Yahoo Groups)
         B)  Catholic Swap/Chat (on Facebook)

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