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: “The Classical Kids Collection” CDs

One of my favorite things to use in our homeschool this year has been The Classical Kids Collection CD set (specifically volume 2, as well A Classical Kids Christmas).  To be honest, I haven’t yet been able to purchase volume 1 of the set, and I don’t really plan on buying Daydreams and Lullabies (although I am sure it is also excellent), but I love the five CDs we do have!

These CDs don’t just offer music by a composer, they weave the music into a story.  My children aren’t great at listening to stories on the radio, CD, etc., (the American Tall Tales CD we listened to this year was a burden to get through!), but for some reason they were riveted by the Classical Kids stories.  I think this is partly because the music breaks up the narration some, but also because there are children’s voices on the CDs, which they can relate to, and in general, all of the narrative voices are quite pleasant.

Volume 2 contains four CDs, which can also be purchased individually: Song of the Unicorn; Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage; Tchaikovsky Discovers America; and Hallelujah Handel.  The first CD is a compilation of medieval music, while the other three (obviously) focus on works by individual composers.  Tchaikovsky Discovers America was by far our favorite, because it’s an enchanting tale about some children hopping a train with the composer as he attempts to escape his commitment to conduct at the grand opening of Carnegie Hall.  The other CDs in the set were also excellent, but the story on this one captured our attention in a special way.

A Classical Kids Christmas was equally wonderful, using music from different time periods and composers to tell the Christmas story in the form of a Christmas pageant much like children used to participate in.  Different traditions and characters from around the world were shared, and the selections of music were wonderful–some familiar and some completely foreign.  The whole story very much mirrors the St. Charles Christmas Traditions walk that has become such an important tradition in our family.

The Classical Kids Collection volume 1 is on our list to purchase as soon as possible.  Like volume 2, this also contains four CDs, each focusing on a specific composer: Mr. Bach Comes to Call; Beethoven Lives Upstairs; Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery; and Mozart’s Magic Fantasy.

These CDs are a wonderful way to introduce children to classical music–the different composers, different sounds, and all the things to appreciate about this art form.  This is the type of resource that can be instrumental (pardon the pun!) in the development of a life-long love of music in children.

Christmas School: Miscellaneous Resources

We had a blast with Christmas school the last two-plus weeks!  I was very fortunate to have a wide variety of resources to use: Books, CDs, and DVDs.  Some I got from the library, some I picked up from either the warehouse sale this fall or when I had gift certificates.  Many I already had, even before we had children.  So, I had a good 10 years or more to collect some of this stuff, without even knowing then that I’d be homeschooling now, but it was all put to good use this year.

We started “Christmas School” on December 5, the day before the commemoration of Nicholas of Myra.  I thought that since it was so timely, it would be good to start with Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend.  This is a great children’s book that introduces readers to Nicholas’ faith and generosity, as well as the fact that he was a real person.

That day, we also began our Christmas trip around the world.  I found a fun book(Christmas Around the World) that gives a basic introduction to the Christmas activities in twelve countries, including how to say “Merry Christmas” in that country’s native language, what the main symbol of Christmas is in that location, and a general overview of when the holiday is celebrated (not always on December 25), and what that celebration looks like, from food to activities to present opening.

I found one other book at the library that I used in our trip around the world: Christmas in the Philippines.  This book wasn’t a storybook, so it’s not like I could just sit down and read it to Turkey and Bunny, but they did enjoy looking at the pictures (and there were many), of what Christmas looks like in that country. There were also some interesting looking recipes at the back, but Asian cooking is not my strong point, so I don’t know if any of those were good.

A book that provided me with some craft activities, as well as possible explanations for the meanings behind the 12 Days of Christmas was The Adventure of Christmas.  There are lots of great ideas in this book, for a variety of ages, so I’m sure I’ll be using for many years to come.

One storybook we really enjoyed was The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book.  It’s as good as the original Lion Storyteller that we’ve been reading in school, and we read a lot of the stories in it.  Some of our favorites included: “Old Befana,” “Wenceslas’ Winter Walk,” “A Flower for Christmas,” “The First Christmas Tree,” “Francis’ Christmas Pageant,” “Father Joseph’s Christmas Song,” “Brother Comgall’s Christmas,” “Papa Panov’s Visitors” (a great story illustrating the words of Jesus in Matthew 25: 31-46), and “The Cobbler’s Sons.”  There was also a whole section of Bible stories at the beginning of the book, and we might try to read some of those before it goes back to the library.

Turkey and Bunny also had two coloring books they enjoyed using.  The first, the Christmas Around the World Coloring Book, had beautiful pictures detailing Christmas celebrations in many different countries.  In retrospect, this book was probably a little too detailed and advanced for them, but they didn’t color all the pictures, so we’ll probably be able to use it for several more years.  The second, Christmas Traditions, is a fun book that we picked up at our favorite Christmas festival. The pictures were much less complex in this book, and it had the added bonus of Turkey and Bunny having seen a lot of the characters at the festival, so that was probably the more popular of the two. Both also had pictures of the Nutcracker story, so they were very useful on the days we were learning about that story.

My favorite purchase at the warehouse sale (as soon as I saw it, I knew I needed it for Christmas school), was Sacred Songs of Christmas.  This is actually a book and CD set, and includes the lyrics and music for 19 Christmas hymns and carols.  It’s a beautiful book, and in addition to the lyrics, contains stories, poems, and verses from other hymns.  We gained more insight to some of the hymns we associate with Christmas, as well as some of the characters and places in the Christmas story.

We also had a few other Christmas CDs that we listened to during different school activities.  The best was the Classical Kids Christmas CD.  I continue to be impressed with this series of CDs for children, and the Christmas version is my favorite so far.  It’s organized much like a children’s Christmas program, and includes songs from around the world, and showcases some of the other holidays associated with Christmas in various Christian cultures.  The Time-Life Treasury of Christmas was also helpful to us, primarily for listening to the 12 Days of Christmas on the days we were doing our special Christmas math activity, but also for providing festive background music on a few occasions, and listening to songs such as “Feliz Navidad” and “Adeste Fidelis” when we were learning about Christmas around the world.

While the Nutcracker was our primary source of videos in Christmas school, we did have one other show we watched, the final day of school.  It was an episode of The Seasoned Traveler, which is a PBS show.  This particular episode, entitled “Christmas Markets,” allowed us to see what Christmas markets are like all around Europe, but particularly in Germany. It may not have been a story like the Nutcracker, but Turkey and Bunny really liked it, because it was real–a show about a real event, at real places, that real people can go to.

We had a lot of resources to go through this year, but I’m already looking ahead to years down the road, and what we might add to our school as the children get older.  Included on that list are The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (I still remember reading about the Herdmans when I was in grade school) and The Annotated Christmas Carol (which is probably still several years off–I don’t think Turkey and Bunny will really “get” it; they don’t really “get” the Muppet version, either!).

That’s a lot of books–it’s a good thing Turkey and Bunny like reading as much as I do!