Catholic education is above all a question of communicating Christ, of helping to form Christ in the lives of others – St. John Paul II the Great
By seventh grade, students should be reading from a real bible, as opposed to a children’s version. Sacred scripture is both beautiful and powerful. Encourage your children to read the bible prayerfully.
Have your students read the Gospel of Mark and answer questions from Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum orally. These questions are in the Gr. 7 section of the book.
In the second semester, have them read the Acts of the Apostles. Have your students write your their own questions to discuss with you. The Navarre Bibles have excellent insightful commentaries.
Friendly Defenders Flash Cards – Here’s an easy introduction to Apologetics. Have your children memorize one card a week and discuss it with him. Memorizing these will prepare your children to defend the faith when they go to highschool and college.
Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux – This will probably appeal more to girls than to boys since it can come across as being rather saccharine. However, this autobiography is a beautiful spiritual classic and will hopefully inspire your students to a deeper understanding of the workings of God’s grace.
For the boys, Dominic Savio: Teenage Saint is an excellent substitute.
If your kids have completed Primary Mathematics through 6th grade, they are probably ready for Algebra 1.
Dressler Algebra 1 – My mother-in-law taught highschool math for twenty years at a private school in New York City. She swears by this book and has taught my two older kids Algebra I with it via FaceTime.
Algebra with Pizzaz – Free online! These provide additional practice and cover most if not all the topics in algebra. Each page of exercises has a riddle which the student solves by answering the questions. Print them out. The answer key is at the end. Very clever!
Alternatively, you might want to look at Saxon Algebra 1
GRAMMAR AND WRITING
Voyages in English 7, (2011 Loyola Press) – text, practice book, test book, and Gr. 6 Practice/Assessment Key. This is an expensive but excellent program. I have not seen many grammar programs that are as thorough or analytic. The Daily Maintenance exercises in the Practice book provide daily practice with diagramming and continual review. To reduce the cost, look for a used textbook at Amazon. My kids read the textbook on their own and do the exercises in the Practice book. Thus there is no need for the Teacher’s Manual, which is very pricey.
Fix It! Grammar, Teacher’s Manual Book 4 – If you think your child needs practice with editing, this is a very beneficial book. Purchase the Teacher’s Manual and you will be provided with a code to print out the student book. This is meant to be a complete grammar book on its own and is an excellent complement to IEW’s writing lessons. Since we only use it for editing, I do not have my kids do all the other activities, such as labelling clauses, prepositional phrases, sentence openers, etc.
For writing, use one of the Theme Based Writing Lessons by the Institute for Excellence in Writing. I cannot recommend this writing program highly enough. The genius behind IEW’s program is that it teaches writing, which can be nebulous and subjective, with concrete and manageable steps. Students are given tools and vocabulary with which they can expand and develop their writing style. Parents are given checklists to help them objectively assess their children’s writing assignments.
Alternatively, IEW’s Student Intensive Writing Continuation Course, Level B is a set of DVDs where the student can watch Andrew Pudewa teach a series of writing lessons. This is a great resource if you feel overwhelmed at the thought of teaching your child how to write. Be sure to watch along with your students so you know exactly what they need to do for the assignments.
Whether or not you use this writing program, I highly recommend listening to these free podcasts by Andrew Pudewa, the founder of the Institute for Excellence in Writing.
Sadlier Vocabulary Workshop Level B, 2005 Ed. – student book and teacher’s manual. To save the books for younger siblings, I have my kids write the answers in a notebook. This gives them additional practice in spelling the words.
Each week my children copy and memorize a new verse. At the end of the week, they recite as much of the poem as they can. This is an excellent way to fill your child’s mind with beautiful language patterns and imagery as well as sharpen his memory.
The Harp and Laurel Wreath – This is a wonderful collection of poems presented by level. Encourage your students to start memorizing some of the poems by Shakespeare.
Poetry Primer – After years of copying and memorizing poetry, our kids are more than ready to write their own. We use this as a short unit on poetry towards the end of the year. It’s a great introduction to analyzing poetic techniques and writing your own poetry. Students learn about tropes, rhyme, meter, etc. For a more thorough course in writing poetry, try the Grammar of Poetry.
Reading 7 for Young Catholics: Thinking Skills – This is a wonderful introduction to literary analysis using short stories. It can easily be done in 16 weeks. Highly recommended!
The Christian Novel Study Guides are another excellent way of helping your student to recognize literary devices in the novels they read. These guides allow a student to complete a study of a book in about two weeks, are discussion-based, and compared to other guides, they are very affordable. Generally, we choose guides and novels that relate to what we are studying in history.
Cue for Treason: A Tale of Shakespearian England is a fantastic way to introduce your students to Shakespeare. This is an exciting story about two runaways who become actors who meet Shakespeare.
Tales from Shakespeare – Introduce your students to Shakespeare’s plays with these well-written stories.
Also, check out this post: What to do About Reading Comprehension.
Encourage your child to read literature on his/her own. One way to get a child hooked onto a book is to read the first few chapters aloud. If a book is really exciting or intriguing, they will be happy to finish it on their own.
Also, continue to read aloud to your children. According to this study, reading aloud is the best way to help children develop word mastery and grammatical understanding. Perhaps just as important, reading aloud to your child is a wonderful way to bond with him and to develop his moral compass. It’s our favorite part of school. We usually read historical novels or picture books from our history book list, saint biographies, and classic children’s literature.
Depending on the student, we use Cambridge Latin (text only) and/or Second Form Latin. If your student is new to Latin, have him/her begin with First Form Latin. For more info, check out my post: For the Love of Latin.
HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY
For History, see the following:
Gr. 7-8 Ancient and Medieval History Plans with free notebooking pages!
All of the Young Explorer books by Apologia are great for delving deeply into one subject. You can order experiment kits for any of the books at Setonbooks.com
For 7th grade we have used Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology.
Many homeschoolers have posted quizzes on Quizlet for each of the chapters in these books. This is a great way for your students to learn the science vocabulary.
ART AND MUSIC
Draw and Write Through History series. Choose a book that corresponds to the time period in history that your child is studying.
Paint by Number Museum Series – If your child has the patience and interest, this is a great introduction to painting.
Little by little, build a collection of classical music and play it for your kids. I give my kids their daily dose of classical music during breakfast.
If you can, encourage your children to sing in a choir or learn a musical instrument. It is so enriching and worth the time, money, and effort.
Finally, if your child is interested, give him/her a guitar along with The Hal Leonard Guitar Method. All-Star taught himself to play using this book.