Second Grade

*Disclaimer: for those unfamiliar with Sonlight, Core number does not necessarily equal grade level. I’d hate for anyone to think that I’m throwing first grade material at my second grade students just because of the number on the Core!

We’ll be embarking on our journey into second grade in just a few short weeks, and I think I’ve finally got all of our curriculum for the year sorted out.

Following last year’s introduction to world cultures, we will now be learning about world history (and geography) from creation to the fall of the Roman Empire with Sonlight Core 1. I’m especially looking forward to learning about ancient Greece with Turkey and Bunny, and I’m also excited about many of the year’s read-alouds. Even though they don’t all directly relate to our history lessons, we’re going to be reading a lot of childhood classics, starting in week one with a nostalgic favorite of mine, Charlotte’s Web.

We’ll be using Sonlight for language arts, as well. We’re about one third of the way through language arts/readers 2, so part way through the year we’ll be finishing that and starting language arts/readers 2 intermediate.

We’ll also continue to use the A Reason For… series for both handwriting and spelling. I decided not to use the transition to cursive text until next year, so both handwriting and spelling will be text B this year.

Sonlight continues to be my choice for science, as well. Like the Core, we’ll be in science 1 this year, and there are so many topics that Turkey and Bunny are excited about learning! Turkey is very excited about the astronomy aspect, and Bunny can’t wait to learn all about animals.

One change this year is that we will *not* be using Sonlight’s Bible program. I decided to go with some CPH materials for both Bible and catechism for second grade, and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been able to come up with. We’ll read through A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories, and use the accompanying Old and New Testament workbooks for Bible, and My First Catechism and the matching activity book for catechism. You just can’t start too early (and they’ve already memorized most of the Small Catechism, anyway!).

We’re continuing to use Horizons math–level two this year. I’m pretty nervous about teaching them all the things they need to learn in second grade math, but I was nervous last year, too, and that seemed to go well, so we’ll see…

I have this year’s Sonlight electives to use, although we’ve already listened to the Bernstein Favorites CD approximately one zillion times. We’ll keep listening to the Classical Kids Collection CDs, and we’re also going to learn about Bach this year.

I’m embarking on a new subject this year, for both the children and myself. We’ll be using Prima Latina to give us a basic introduction to Christian Latin. I’m both very excited about this, as Latin is a very important element of classical education, and terrified, as I’ve never studied Latin myself. I figure we can all learn together, and if all else fails, Daddy studied Latin in college, so he can help us!

I think that’s all. It’s going to be another busy year!

Homeschool Review: “A Reason For…”

We’re on our second year of A Reason for Handwriting ( we started with Book K last year, and have moved on to the now-alphabetically-sequenced Book A), and our first year of A Reason for Spelling (also Book A). Even though it’s early in the school year, I have a pretty good feeling for both programs.

I was very impressed with the way Handwriting introduced proper letter formation in Book K, using a tree-house as a guide. My children thought it was a fun way to learn, and even though Bunny still has some work to do on writing well (which is all about her rushing, and not about her understanding of what she’s *supposed* to be doing!), Turkey has excellent printing already, and they both know how letters are supposed to be written.

We’re still working on reviewing what we learned last year now that we’ve started Book A, but looking ahead, I love that we’ll be using Scripture to practice handwriting (even if the translation used isn’t my first, or even second, choice!), and I also love the fancy border sheets, which reinforce the idea that handwriting is a public way of communication, and should look nice.

So far in Spelling, we’ve worked on phonics review, and it’s been very much like the Explode the Code series. The activities have been fun, and the bonus activities suggested in the teacher’s guide are geared toward every kind of learner, even kinesthetic. What I like most, though, is the way the lessons line up with the lessons in the Handwriting book. Of course, this only works if you’re using the same level of handwriting and spelling at the same time (which we are), but I think it’s a great way to reinforce the Bible passages used, and to bring in needed repetition in spelling and writing well. And why wouldn’t you link the two? It seems like a very natural way to learn, which is one of the things I love about our main curriculum, Sonlight.

I’m definitely looking forward to learning cursive and spelling harder words in the years to come with the A Reason For… books!

Thought I Had It Figured Out

So, I’ve settled into a routine with school, and am very happy with the choices I finally made.  Anyone who has read my blog knows the deliberation that went into choosing the curriculum for our first year of homeschool. And it wasn’t even a matter of choosing a company, because it didn’t take much comparing to realize that Sonlight was right for our family.  So, I finally decided–Sonlight Core P 4/5, with Readers K, A Reason for Handwriting K, Pattern Blocks for math, and extra Read-Alouds in the form of the Little House and Rocky Ridge series (and I know that most of that probably only made sense to those of you that are involved with homeschooling, because when I first started looking at this stuff, it sounded like a foreign language to me!).

So, we have our materials, and I’ve even planned long term what cores/readers we’ll use each year, God-willing, as long as this continues to work for our family.  And even though we’re only in week seven, I’ve especially started looking to what we’ll be doing for first grade next year, because I still think we may finish this core early, and even if we don’t, we’re looking at a more year-round approach to school, so I’ll need the new materials sooner than the average family would.

But then today, it hit me–spelling.  We should probably start some kind of spelling program next year, and that hadn’t even occurred to me before now.  What to use?  Sonlight offers two options, but neither one of them is “theirs” as far as I understand, so I don’t really feel any particular loyalty to them, and frankly, I’m having a hard time getting excited about either offering.  

I did, however, stumble upon A Reason for Spelling today.  I had forgotten that the company that makes A Reason for Handwriting does anything else–I haven’t even looked at their website since we first decided to homeschool, and I was trying to decide on a handwriting program.  But, on a message board I frequent, someone mentioned A Reason for Spelling in passing.  So, I looked into it, and I have to say, I’m impressed. I already love A Reason for Handwriting (as do Turkey and Bunny).  I love the Bible focus, I love the treehouse approach to letter formation, which seems to be really helpful in teaching children how to properly write letters, and I love the fun page that’s included with every lesson (as, again, do Turkey and Bunny).  

So, I’m thinking that since I’m already impressed with the company, I should stick with it, especially as it appears that the spelling and handwriting books starting with Level A at least try to have complementary lessons, which would be beneficial.  After looking over the placement test, Turkey and Bunny would already be well suited to Level A, although I’m not planning on starting them on it now…apparently, they’re better at spelling than they are at reading (is that normal?  I have no idea–I’m still new to this!).

So, does anybody have any experience with A Reason for Spelling?  Fell free to comment, as I’m still open to suggestions!