Claritas Cycle 1
The Claritas Publishing Cycle 1 Memory Guide “includes 28 weeks of grammar pegs in the following subjects: History, Math, Science, Latin, English Grammar, Scripture, Geography, Hymn, Timeline. This full-color, beautiful guide will take your family from Creation through the Fall of Rome.”
Everything is sung—from Latin declensions to history lessons—to fun tunes in order to help with memory work. Claritas is the alternative to the Classical Conversations Trivium-based curriculum without having to pay tuition for tutor and community/coop meetings.
It was ambitious to do this in our very first year of homeschool enrollment. So we ended up not doing all of the 28 weeks because it became too overwhelming. Perhaps we needed the accountability and encouragement that a community can provide. However, the advantage of doing it at home was being able to master the memory work without any pressure from a group.
Story of the World and Mystery of History
Our homeschool provider required us to use The Mystery of History for our history book, but I decided to use Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. My gateway drug to classical education was The Well-Trained Mind by Bauer and Dorothy Sayer’s “The Lost Tools for Learning,” so I may have sentimental reasons for choosing this curriculum. The chapters are shorter and are better fitted for younger children in the Kindergarten level. The accompanying study guides and coloring books make learning even more delightful.
Having said that, I recommend the Story of the World with a caveat. Although the chapters are conservative, Bauer does not write from a distinct Christian worldview as The Mystery of History does, or other history curricula like BiblioPlan or Tapestry of Grace. If you want to learn why history is not neutral, you could listen to a talk by Gary Williams in the Pastor’s Academy podcast called “Hostile Histories.”
This is why we study history alongside a solid Bible curriculum.
Bible Treasures and First Catechism
I chose Bible Treasures: Genesis to Ruth by Christian Liberty Press, a Reformed homeschool publisher and provider based in the US. Bible Treasures is “the first of a three-part Bible story book series based on Catherine Vos’s original Bible story book.”
It is well-illustrated, containing stories, questions, and memorization activities, including the well-known First Catechism. Its goal is to help students understand God’s wonderful plan of redemption.
The text is divided into 36 weekly units, with five lessons per unit. At the end of each week, students will be able to actively participate in fun crafts and activities that will help them review and remember their lessons, with a cumulative review unit at the end of the text. An answer key is found after the cumulative review.
Bible Treasure provided the structure that I needed in teaching the Bible. The illustrations, activities, questions at the end of each lesson, plus the memory verse and First Catechism were very much welcome.
I use this Bible curriculum alongside Marianne Vos Radius’ Bible story book called The Tent of God and a First Catechism curriculum by Great Commissions Publications called Kids’ Quest! Catechism Club in order to bring home the catechism lessons.
Christian Liberty and GCP are both thoroughly Reformed and Presbyterian in their content, which aligns with the doctrines that are taught in our confessional Presbyterian church.
Math U See and Rod & Staff
I chose Math U See Primer for my child because the manipulatives and visual materials help promote a multi-modal approach in basic arithmetic. The teaching videos by Mr. Demme introduce each lesson at the start of every chapter, and it is something that my daughter looks forward to for every new lesson.
We have tried one too many math curricula, including Horace Grant’s Arithmetic for Young Children and Simply Charlotte Mason‘s Elementary Arithmetic: Book 1. Not only that, we also tried using Early Bird Singapore Math Kindergarten 1A up to 2B. But it seemed too fast and it assumed so many things.
We love Math U See because the lessons are incremental as it uses the mastery approach, meaning it introduces concepts one at a time. Rod & Staff’s Mathematics for Christian Living Series enabled my daughter to practice these concepts through daily drills. The pages seem dry and traditional, but learning by rote applies the maxim repetitio mater memoriae, which means “repetition is the mother of memory.” It is exactly what my daughter needed to review and practice the concepts she has learrned. Rod & Staff’s Basic Arithmetic is also recommended in the Memoria Press core curriculum, and their special needs curriculum, Simply Classical.
Both Math U See and Rod & Staff materials are locally available through Philippine distributors.
Explode the Code and First Language Lessons
We would have wanted to get Barton System for our reading and spelling curriculum. But alas, it was too pricey. So we ended up with the Hornet Literacy Primer by WordWasp, along with weekly reading intervention classes at Literacy Ladder. My daughter is dyslexic so she needs systematic and explicit phonics instruction which the reading specialist provides for her. We supplement her reading and spelling classes by doing Explode the Code at home.
As an introduction to grammar, we used some of Claritas Publishing’s memory work while slowly going through Level 1 of First Language Lessons. We have abandoned FLL during the second half our homeschool year because I realized that it is not really essential during the Kindergarten years. But we’ll pick it up again for next school year.
Claritas Life Science and Nature Stories
Using the Claritas science memory pegs, Life Science provides more context about the information we’ve been memorizing. We did tons of experiments and crafts following this curriculum, and it was quite enjoyable since both my children enjoy learning about God’s world.
I supplemented this with Nature Stories by Florence Bass, which is otherwise known as the first book in the Christian Liberty Nature Readers. This move was partly due to the fact that we were transitioning to including more living books in our homeschooling.
Handwriting Without Tears and Copywork
Part of my philosophy in a developing a classical christian curriculum is to include Rhythm (or Movement) on top of the four Rs that is Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Religion. Rhythm includes fine motor skills like handwriting.
We have used Handwriting Without Tears for a few years, and even though the Letters and Numbers for Me (Orange) book lasted only for a few months, it helped my daughter write legibly.
She has since finished the Yellow book designed for first grade, and is now onto to the Green book that is made for second grade. The Handwriting Without Tears program comes highly recommended by occupational therapists worldwide, including ours.
I also use copywork for our homeschooling. I let my daughter copy question and answers from the children’s catechism in a notebook. The catechism provides us with the content to practice copywork and instill the habit of focus and attention, by imitating the language, grammar, and vocabulary.
These writing notebooks by Avanti come in handy for copywork because of the big lines. I also made similar copywork printables from the Westminster Shorter Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism which are now available at the shop.
Filipino and Latin
We read a lot of Filipino living books and used the materials by Buksan to help us in our first year of Filipino lessons. We also sing songs to aid us in acquiring more vocabulary. I also created a playlist on Spotify for these Filipino songs.
On some days, we sing songs from our Latin curriculum, Song School Latin by Classical Academic Press. It’s a gentle enough intro to Latin, that even her little brother chimes in whenever we start singing.
As for Chinese, we’ve resorted to just speaking the language at home along with a few themed activities from time to time.
We read a lot of books at home, along with the Top 100 Books for Preschool that I curated. Here are our free reads for a full Kindergarten homeschool year:
- Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
- Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
- Five Children and It by E. Nesbith
- The Magicians’ Nephew by C. S. Lewis
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
- The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis
- Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
We’ll be continuing the Narnia and Harry Potter series, or perhaps read more from the Little House series for First Grade. Or the Hobbit. Who knows?
That wraps up our very first year of Kindergarten homeschooling from February 2019 to March 2020.
Soli Deo Gloria