A Year Considered – 9th Grade

I can’t believe she’s in high school!  It does amaze me!  And, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t find it a little bittersweet!

I remember when….
…and now…
A cowgirl at heart!!!!
The girls are great friends!  The little Doodlebug loves her big sister!!!!  Here they are sharing popcorn in front of one of our Friday afternoon movies (I think we were watching the 1938 Robin Hood with Erroll Flynn).
Hard at work!
She caught me!

My Granny told me time would fly.  She said I’d blink and they’d be grown.  She told me to treasure each and every moment – and I have!  Our little Sweet Pea hardly fits into that name any more – she’s a lovely young lady, with roots deep in the heart of the country; she has big ideas and a spunky spirit.  She’ll tell you she’s a country girl, and intends to have her own ranch one day.  She loves animals, and especially horses!

She has an amazing imagination, and a wonderful ability to communicate!  Her homeschool years have not always been easy or perfect!  We’ve certainly faced challenges along the way!  Sweet Pea taught me to relax into our own style and helped me see through the years that a Charlotte Mason education, lived out faithfully, consistently, and daily in its simple methods, really does yield a lovely, wide and generous education.  She loves learning, and I credit that with the method which unfolds the beauty and excitement of the adventures and perspective of the author’s of the living books who speak directly to her through their pages – it’s absolutely nothing I’ve done!   Well ok, I handed her the book!  :)My country girl intends to stay in the country, and her passion is to learn all she can about Homesteading!  Toward that end, she’s really self-educating through Countryside Magazine and The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery!

So…you’re wondering what our 9th grade year looks like?  I hope this year is the beginning of a panorama of ideas and landscapes, inspiring stories, noble thoughts, and interesting studies for the first of her high school years.  The following plans are spread out over a period of 4 terms of 8 – 9 weeks each.  As of this post, we have completed our first term!

**NOTE** For some of the books listed only a portion will be read this year – I note that next to the book like this – (not the entire book)

** Religion – This year our studies spring from an amazing Catholic high school series which was gifted to me – Our Goal and Our Guide by Father Clarence Elwell.  This is a fantastic course in Catholic religion written originally in 1945.  The first book in the series which we’re using this year is Our Quest for Happiness.  What’s wonderful about these books is that they are heavily cross-referenced with Father John Laux’s religion series (which is also on my shelf), as well as a few other Catholic high school series (of the time), and the books offer amazing literary reading choices that underpin the chapters and units covered.  An absolute gold mine!  The writing is beautiful, there are many AMAZING illustrations throughout (in color if you have the 1945 edition), and the content is outstanding!  My daughter has no trouble narrating the reading to me from this text!  The original series is out of print, but the book was revised in the 50’s and Lepanto Press now sells reprints of the entire series in hardback!

In addition to the above, Sweet Pea will be taking a course from our priest which he is offering for high school students using Father Laux’s book, Chief Truths of the Faith.

A few of the living religion books I have on her course of studies this year are:

** History & Literature – Studies this year cover the period of the Middle Ages (5th century through the 15th century, but we’ll read a little up through the 18th century).  American History is not a focus this year save informal mentions as it might relate contextually to something being read.  The focus for this period is the significant impact the Catholic Church had on the preservation of culture in Europe, particularly during the Dark Ages, with coverage of the Crusades and the Reformation.  Toward that end:

The following are books that Sweet Pea has chosen to read on her own:

There will be oral and written narrations of these books, along with additions to her Book of Centuries.  Our favorite and only reference at this point is the book, The Timetables of History by Bernard Grun.  Amazing reference!  Wonderful!

** Geography – springs from History studies.   This year we’re using Why Greenland is an Island, Australia is Not – And Japan is Up For Grabs by Joyce Davis.  It’s a great book for uncovering the why of certain boundaries which makes it super helpful in approaching Current Events!  It’s a fantastic book!  If you’re interested, you can view my plans: Why Greenland Is – Geography plans.  We only work with this book one day a week, so the plans are written assuming 1 day a week, over 8 week terms, with 4 terms in a year.  In addition to this book, a good atlas is essential!  For cost, size, and content, my preference is The National Geographic Collegiate Atlas of the World.  Many of our Natural History/Science books cross subject boundaries and fit under a Geography heading as well.

** Natural History/Nature Study – We’re continuing our studies here by following along with a few naturalists.  At this point, Nature Study is not a formal topic, though I do still make time in the day for a 10 minute nature walk and a 10 minute nature sketch.  This is pretty simple and straightforward, and is something that Sweet Pea very much enjoys.  Her sketching is becoming quite lovely, and she enjoys the use of color pencils as well as watercolor as her preferred mediums.

** Alabama Natural History – As part of connecting with and learning more about our local natural history, I’ve written a course for Alabama Natural History that both my 5th grader and my 9th grader (and I!!!!) are really enjoying!  (If you’re in Alabama and would like a copy of the lesson plans email me and I’ll be happy to share them!).  The series springs from a set of programs entitled Discovering Alabama narrated and written by Doug Phillips.  They’re just wonderful – we’re all learning so much about our state’s natural history!!  The programs cover an amazing and wide variety of topics.  They are available through the library system, viewable on PBS, and downloadable (for free) from itunesU.  I downloaded all of the programs we needed to complete the year of Alabama Natural History as I’ve written it, put them on CD’s, and we watch a program every 2 – 3 weeks, completing projects and special *themed* nature walks in between.

** Science – This year Sweet Pea is digging into Physical Science…with an ever present emphasis in one of her passions – Meteorology!  We’re going to continue using living books to approach high school sciences:

Slight tangent….
Intimidated by high school science?  I’d like to do a longer post reviewing an AMAZING NEW RESOURCE for CATHOLIC high school-homeschoolers in SCIENCE!!!!  But, I don’t want to forget to mention this resource to you, and it’s so appropriate to mention right now!!!  How long have we been waiting for this????  A Catholic science teacher with a tremendous passion for and knowledge of the SCIENCES!!!  Do check out CatholicScience.com!!  The online classes offered are written for and to Catholic high schoolers home schooling science.  Mr. Baruzzini has a number of classes already available online!  WONDERFUL!!  And, so needed!   

** Language Arts – Our approach is detailed here, with more detailed review about composition here, but I’ll list a few specifics we plan on using this year:

** Math – We’re continuing to plod along with Saxon Algebra I.  To quote my brother, it’s adequate.  LOL!!  Please don’t write to tell me all the issues with this program, I’m very familiar with them!  However, it’s also got some good points – it’s content is thorough, if nothing else.  We do hit walls occasionally, but (so far) we’ve been able to brainstorm creatively, work hard, and find ways around those walls!  We’ll just keep rolling as long as we can achieve mastery without insanity!  LOL!!  In addition to regular algebra work this year, I’m incorporating some math logic games that used to belong to my brother and sister.  These are all Wff’n Proof logic games:

The instructions for these games are not for the faint of heart – so be forewarned!!!  But, they are challenging, exciting, and engaging math and logic games!

** Logic – I’m still working on this one!  Right now, we’re using The Art of Argument by Classical Academic Press.  Too soon to tell on this one.  I’ll let you know!

** Latin – We’re finishing up Latina Christiana I (I know…we’re so behind the curve with Latin!).  We should finish this up mid-year and from there we’ll either pick up with The Book of Roots or Latin Grammar: Grammar Vocabularies and Exercises in Preparation for the Reading of the Missal and Breviary by Cora and Charles Scanlon.

** Fine Arts -We are continuing in much the same way that we always have with Fine Arts.  We’re continuing this year with our Fine Arts Fridays, though we do poetry and art a little every day.  We’ll be studying various artists and composers together as a family, and completing picture study as a family using the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Art Page-a-Day Calendar.  Here are my 9th graders resources this year:

For an idea of how this all works – how such a wide and varied curriculum can fit into a day, read over our plans:

That’s year 1 of high school!  This method of education is truly twice blessed!
It (the Charlotte Mason method of education) is twice blessed, it blesses him that gives and him that takes, and a sort of radiancy of look distinguishes both scholar and teacher engaged in this manner of education…” (Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, Volume 6, p. 27)
May we all be twice blessed!
To read this year reviewed, check out the 9th grade Delights and Duds post!

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  1. Wow, Jen! I love what you share!
    My dds are doing work that is very close to what you are planning and both of them are VERY interested in learning more about homesteading, horses, sustainable farming, herbs and outdoor survival.
    (My dds are by age supposed to be jrs but I “held them back” because they were making such rapid advances in their processing issues and they needed more time to develop and grow and are going to be considered in 10th grade this year along with their brother!) …yep, that would be 3 graduating from homeschooling at the same time..be still my heart!

    At some point, I will get back to blogging. I am just starting to compose in my head again…lol
    I plan on a lovely retreat in the hospital when I have my little lady where I will finalize my plans!
    I am so excited this year, aren't you??!

  2. These are so great Jen! I just love reading your posts about school! They make me want to be a student again and have you teach me! LOL! I might need a download of the Alabama nature study. My hubby was contacted about a job in Athens. Were just waiting to see what happens! 🙂

  3. Ladies,
    I'm so glad you enjoyed the post!

    Donna Marie,
    Take any idea you find and run with it! Maybe something here will springboard new ideas…in your head…while you're in labor! LOL!!! I'm certain that all (3) 10th grade years will be amazing!!! Prayers for you while you labor…and brainstorm!!!!

    You're so kind! Just email me if you need a copy of those AL natural history plans! They're written for 4 – 12th grade and lots of fun! Good luck discerning job opportunities! Hey…Athens isn't too far from us!

  4. Thank you for the link! I hope that the Catholic Science courses provided at CatholicScience.com do provide the needs that Catholic homeschoolers are looking for, and would be happy to answer any questions parents may have. Thanks for highlighting these new courses.

  5. Jen

    Another great post:):)
    I'm so re-energized by these CM highschool posts:)

    Re logic: We finally started this year, using Nathaniel Bluedorn's The Fallacy Detective,(Marilyn's rec) the children are loving it, at least one night a week David reads a chapter at tea and we all get in and have a great discussion.
    And they often refer back to the lesson in general life:):)

  6. Michael,
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Catholic high school science is such a wide open niche, and I'm so grateful your passion and knowledge of the the sciences will fill that niche!

    Offering online courses makes wonderful use of the internet and makes these courses available to so many families! I'm thrilled to be able to get the word out!

  7. I'm thrilled that we're talking CM high school as well, Erin! May this be just the beginning!!!

    Hey thanks for the pointer on The Fallacy Detective! A dear friend loaned me a book that I'm considering using. The title is, Logic: The Art of Defining and Reasoning, by John Oesterle. It was an introductory logic course for college based on Aristotle and relying on St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Albert the Great as major commentators. The book is divided into 3 parts based on the 3 acts of the intellect (which is taken from the Commentary of St. Thomas on Aristotle's *Posterior Analytics*). I'm thinking of covering one part, or act of the intellect, each year so that we may move slowly – considering, narrating, and working our way through in a manner which really allows for retention.

    It is solid. And challenging. And out of print. Naturally. Copies can be found, and I did find one inexpensively, but I had to really hunt for it. For the most part, copies of this book are pricey.

  8. Thank you, Jen. I'm going to be visiting and plagarising your list. I have a 9th grade daughter this year. A little (a lot) challenging since she is a melancholic artistic type. Very sensitive – and since I'm melancholic myself, I'm not very good at encouragement.

    I have used the Quest for Happiness series for quite a few years now – my father had a set on his shelves. I second your enthusiasm for it.

    The Examination of Conscience book looks interesting. My daughter is getting into the temperment study (you know, the melancholic navel-gazing thing).

    My daughter did not like Jane Austen (my older daugher loved it, as I do). She thought all the females were too shallow. I'm thinking she needs to be a bit older with more experience of the world to really appreciate it. Especially the humor of it. I wonder how the melancholy, broody Jane Eyre would do?

  9. Hello Jen,

    I'm delighted to have found your blog this week. Thank you for sharing so much inspiration and wisdom.

    My heart is overflowing with gratitude to you for taking the time to post such thoughtful posts filled with so many helpful lists of books and resources and photos (it really helps to see what an organized room looks like, to have an example to strive for).

    I can appreciate all the time and the care they take. What a great service to those of us who aspire to give young people a noble education!

    They come at the perfect time in my journey and meet a real need.

    Thank you so very much.
    Honey Bee

  10. Jen, could you share a little about what Pathways in Science is? Also, just curious what map skills workbook you are using?


  11. Thank you all for your kind words! I'm so glad if these lists were helpful in some way, or give some ideas! Take whatever you can that might work for your family. To God be the glory!

    The book, Pathways in Science, is a text made available through Castle Heights Press. You can find it here:


    The book is really better suited to a middle school student, and while it does offer some good vocabulary, I thought the concepts offered weren't quite up to a high school level physical science. As we followed along in the text with Chemistry living books, it was clear that the living science reading was light years ahead of the text, and that reading along in the text was providing no additional assistance in terms of outline, nor was it being retained. I asked my daughter to write an essay for her term examination covering chemistry – she could recount great details about the living books she read, but I noticed that not a significant detail was present from the text. So, we dropped it, finding that the narrations, both written and oral, of the variety of living books being read were offering a solid foundation in physical science for us. We're also supplementing with some finds and resources available online.

    I'll consider it a good learning experience for me that just because we're covering high school material, a text does not always = necessary, helpful, nor does it translate into retention or learning. However, handing my daughter the book, Chemical History of a Candle, by Michael Faraday, opened up her imagination, and her narrations of this book meant she *knew* that book and those ideas! The same thing happened with the other living science books I gave her.

    I'm using a book called Science Scope, by Kathryn Stout, to ensure proper coverage of high school appropriate topics and coverage in science. You can read from this scope and sequence, and get a good feel for it on google books (the book covers science concepts for grades K – 12, and is a big help if you're NOT a science teacher):


    I feel I should also mention that Pathways in Science is written from a literal Creationist point of view, a fact which most find helpful in considering a resource. And though I'm certainly grateful for an acknowledgment of God as Creator and Author of all of Creation, I found the few references to faith to be out of context and forced.

    Now…your question about map workbooks! My daughter really enjoys these workbooks for fun…she finished her workbook up in a couple of weeks, so we'll just be working on mapwork familiarity ala SCM:


    The workbooks my kids enjoy are found here:


    I hadn't given her a workbook in some time, so I just handed her the 7th grade workbook.

    Hope this helps, Jennifer!

  12. Thanks for taking the time to share details with all of us! It is so helpful to walk the CM high school path with those who are very specific about what they are doing.

    Thanks for mentioning Edwin Way Teale! I requested his book “Autumn Across America” and it arrived yesterday. I couldn't put it down! We'll definitely be using this as part of our high school nature studies this fall. Awesome!

  13. Jen,
    Thanks so much for your kind words! It is helpful to me when others share their CM high school experiences and ideas! Someone else's idea might spark one of my own and really help illuminate our path!

    And, I'm so glad you're enjoying Edwin Way Teale! He wrote an amazing amount, and it's all just wonderful! I know you'll all enjoy him!

    Thanks so much for your kind comment!

  14. Uh oh! Why not the entire book of Catholic Girl’s Guide? I gave this book to my daughter and am hoping that I didn’t scandalize her with something that I was unaware of!

    1. No worries, Julie! Part of the reason I didn’t use the entire book is that half of it is a missal/prayer book for following the Mass. The entire Catholic Girl’s Guide is wonderful and I give a copy to each of my girls!

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