Going Gaga Over Math Curriculum. Yes, REALLY.

My boys are lying in their bunk beds right now talking about their MATH CURRICULUM.  Yes, seriously, that is really happening.  Beau, the child who hates math, pulled out the second book in the series, plopped down in a comfy chair and skipped ahead of the rest of us, IN HIS FREE TIME.  Now he is filling his brother in on the good stuff.


homeschool curriculum ideas

Who would have thought I’d be going gaga over a math curriculum?  Thinking back to last year, when I started contemplating homeschooling, I thought the best option was probably the K12 program (aka public school at home).  I changed my mind on that after about 20 minutes of research.  I’m not saying it’s not a good option for someone else, but I knew it wasn’t right for us.  It would defeat my purpose in homeschooling, which was primarily to give my kids a custom designed education.  But what else was there besides K12?  Ha!  Silly me, I had NO IDEA!

Turns out there are about a gazillion options out there; enough to make your head explode.  So research I did, until my head exploded and I had to piece it back together.  The good news is, post head explosion, I think I put together a pretty good curriculum.  I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights for those who are interested.


My primary goal is to READ, READ, READ.  Classic books, not so much “twaddle” (as Charlotte Mason aptly described it.)  Yesterday we finished Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and I must say, I think I enjoyed it more than the kids.  I appreciate the genius of Rudyard Kipling’s work so much more than I ever could have imagined when I heard it *cough* thirty years ago.  It was such fun to read aloud!  I can’t wait to start The Jungle Book!  (Did you know these books are in the public domain and you can get the e-books for free?  Yay!)

I also have All About Reading (for Finn) and All About Spelling for both boys.  I have a feeling Finn is going to fight me on it, so I’m waiting until we get really comfortable in the routine before introducing it.

The program I personally got excited about was the writing intensive from the Institute For Excellence In Writing.  Now the question is, is it for Beau or for me?  Okay, it’s for Beau of course, but I’m certainly hoping to pick up some tips and tricks along the way.  Beau groaned when we popped in the first video class, but soon he was pretty engaged by the topic and style.  He and Dash sat on the floor and ate cheese and crackers while they watched it.  We’ll do the first exercise tomorrow.  BTW, Beau thinks he’s already too good of a writer to need it.  Anyone know where we can get some lessons in humility, lol?


Finn is really interested in nature (although he would never admit it), so I got the Handbook of Nature Study, along with a nature journal for each boy.  (They’re just normal journals.)  So far we have a rolly poly and a worm drawn in them.  I think they’ll be great to throw in a backpack and take on a hike as the weather cools down.  We also have an elementary chemistry book and a Magic School Bus Science Club subscription for doing experiments.  Of course, I found out *after buying the year subscription*, that after having the Magic School Bus in regular school, the boys consider it a total drag.  I think (hope) they’ll be able to over look that for the sake of some cool experiments.

homeschool curriculum ideas


Oh, sorry, you’ve been waiting for this one?  Well, I gave it away in my last post, but the curriculum we’re most in love with is LIFE OF FRED.  AGGHHHH!  PURE GENIUS!!!  You know Finn didn’t want to like it.  The first day I told him just to play on the floor and listen.  Pretty soon he was up on the couch, begging to see the pictures.  He still tried to tell me he didn’t like it.  “Really, Finn?  You didn’t like “Butter fries are buh-terrrrrr”?????”  He busted out laughing.  Even Finn couldn’t deny liking that.  And no, I’m not going to explain.  You’ve got to read it.  No matter if your kids are in regular school or homeschool or whatever.  I’ll stop waxing poetic now, you get the picture.

So, some people do use Life Of Fred as a stand alone math curriculum.  But we’re also doing Miquon Math using Cuisenaire Rods as a manipulative.  Beau is awesome at memorizing math facts.  He’s a word guy and I think he remembers number sentences as ACTUAL SENTENCES.  He remembers the WORDS, but the concepts are all fuzzy.  So we’re starting at the beginning of Miquon with both of them (six workbooks for grades 1-3).  The workbooks are such that I can make them easier for Finn and harder for Beau.  Right now Finn thinks of the Cuisenaire Rods as another toy, doing  all kinds of fun and imaginative things with them, which means he is playing right into my plan, ha ha ha!  (Please excuse my maniacal laugh.)  But really, Finn impressed me by comprehending right away that each rod stood for a number and he didn’t have to count to recognize which was which.  I had to count.  😛

homeschool curriculum ideas

Finn working on his Miquon book, adding his own style with a stripey shirt and bird flying away from the scarecrow. You wouldn’t expect Finn to color it per the instructions, now would you? 😉

So, that’s the basics.  I’ve got some other subjects and tricks up my sleeves, but you’re getting bored and I’m getting tired.  I’ve got to get up and teach little boys in the morning.  And there are still dishes in my sink.  Only thanks to my mom coming by today and helping me they aren’t piled up to the ceiling.  Thanks Mom!  Anyways, this isn’t going to be easy, but I think it’s going to be Good.

P.S.  I’m linking this post up with the iHomeschool Network Back To School Blog Hop.  First time I’ve done one of these, so hopefully I don’t mess it up.  Anyhoo, here’s the link if you’re looking for more great homeschool curriculum ideas!  And if you happen to have stopped by from there, thank you for visiting!  I hope you’ll pop your email address in or hit the ol’ Facebook like to keep up with The Ordinary Chaos!  And Homeschooling Friends, do share what you’ve got planned for this year too!  Hope to hear from you all soon. 🙂


  1. Lots of our favorites on your list!! Looks like a wonderful year for you all.

    Popping in from the blog hop.

  2. Cyndi Szalma says:

    Yeah! Keep up the good work, Jennifer.

  3. Sherrrill says:

    Looks like you’ve had a fantastic week of homeschooling! What an innovative concept; that learning could actually be engaging, enjoyable, even fun…I think you may have something there 🙂

    If I come over to visit on Monday, can you work with me on my math skills?( I use the term “skills” very loosely.)
    They lost me in third grade with long division.

    • Hee hee, yes, it’s very easy stuff so far so we can ALL handle it. 😉 In a few years Finn may be the one schooling us all in long division (with Fred’s help, of course). 🙂

  4. Linda Gillette says:

    after reading todays blog on home schooling, I had to find out WHO FRED WAS. haha
    After checking into it I think it sounds like a wonderful.tool that can be used all the way thru high school n even college if the boys want. You are amazing and I am so glad you have your mom close by.
    I commend you for making this kind of committment to your children’s education.


  1. […] anyways, if you’ve been reading here awhile you know how much we love Life Of Fred math in our homeschool.  I am so stinking excited about the new series!!!  And no, we […]

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