2017-18 Curriculum

We’re getting dangerously close to the end of the school year, so I guess I should share the curriculum we’ve been using. My usual disclaimer applies…the beginning of the school year was so long ago, I can’t promise that I’ve remembered everything we’ve used all year!

Religion

For Turkey and Bunny

  • God’s Old Testament People

For Ladybug

  • One Hundred Bible Stories and workbook

For Chickadee

  • A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories and workbook

Math

For Turkey and Bunny

  • Math-U-See Geometry

For Ladybug

  • Horizons Math 5

For Chickadee

  • Horizons Math K

Language Arts

For Turkey and Bunny

  • Writing Strands Level Five
  • Wordly Wise 3000, Book Nine
  • Analytical Grammar

For Ladybug

  • Spelling Workout E
  • Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Success Grade Four
  • Wordly Wise 3000, Book Five
  • Writing with Ease Level Four

For Chickadee

  • Sonlight Language Arts K
  • Fun Tales
  • Explode the Code Primers
  • A Reason for Handwriting K

Literature (all with accompanying Memoria Press guides)

For Turkey and Bunny

  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Beowolf
  • The Canterbury Tales
  • Henry V

For Ladybug

  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • Heidi
  • The Canterbury Tales

History

For Turkey and Bunny

  • The History of the Ancient World

For Ladybug

  • Story of the World volume 1 and supplemental materials

Science

For Turkey and Bunny

  • Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology

For Ladybug

  • Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology: Land Animals of the Sixth Day

For Chickadee

  • The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature

Electives

  • Duoligno (Italian, German, and Spanish)
  • The Art of Civilized Conversation
  • A Rulebook for Arguments
  • All About Korea (during the Winter Olympics)

Read-Alouds

  • The Ramona Series
  • The American Girl BeForever series from Kaya through Julie

 

2016-17 Curriculum

I had such good intentions to share this at the beginning of the school year this time, but you know how it goes. As always, I’m hoping this list is fairly complete, but it’s easy to forget resources we used way back in August and September! Anyway, this is at least a pretty decent overview of the materials we’ve used this school year.

Religion

Math

Language Arts

For Turkey and Bunny

For Ladybug

History

Science

For Turkey and Bunny

For Ladybug

Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library (for Chickadee)

Electives

Read-Alouds

Literature (with accompanying Memoria Press study guides where available)

For Fun

2015-16 Curriculum

I get worse and worse about sharing our curriculum every year! Now that we’re almost ready to start the 2016-17 school year (our ninth year of homeschooling!), I thought it was time to share what we used last year, when Turkey and Bunny were in seventh grade and Ladybug was in third. As always, this is a basic list…I’m sure there are things that have been left off, especially since I waited so long to write it down!

Religion

Math

Language Arts

For Turkey and Bunny:

For Ladybug:

History

Science

For Turkey and Bunny

For Ladybug

Electives

Read-Alouds/Literature (all with accompanying Memoria Press study guide)

2014-15 Curriculum

I never did get around to sharing our curriculum for the last school year (sixth grade for Turkey and Bunny and second grade for Ladybug), so before I share what we’re going to be using for the 2015-16 school year in a few weeks, here’s what I remember that we used last year. I may have forgotten some of it by this point, so don’t assume that we had gaps in our education if you don’t see something…it’s probably just my forgetfulness!

Religion

Math

Language Arts

For Turkey and Bunny:

For Ladybug:

History

Science

Electives

Read-Alouds

The book basket selections were so extensive last year, they’re too numerous to even try to list. Let’s just say there were a lot of good books that tied in with our other studies!

2013-14 Curriculum

I just realized that I haven’t yet shared our curriculum for this school year! I assembled it myself again this year, since last year seemed to go pretty well.  Hopefully I haven’t forgotten anything here, but no promises!

Religion

Math

Language Arts

For Turkey and Bunny:

For Ladybug:

History/Geography

Science

Electives

Read-Alouds (Anything we don’t get to will go in the book basket)

Book Basket (This is just a selection of some our book basket options, and some of them might turn into read-alouds)

2012-2013 Curriculum

I’m trying something new this year…I put our curriculum together myself! I needed to find something for Turkey and Bunny’s fourth grade year, and Ladybug’s kindergarten year. I wanted some things they could do together, and some grade-appropriate things, and I also wanted to continue the survey of American History that we began last year. I don’t think I’ll be doing this assembly every year…I just couldn’t find what I was looking for this time around, so I decided to try it myself. Never say never, though…if it goes well, maybe I’ll look into doing it again in the future!

Religion

Math

Language Arts

For Turkey and Bunny:

For Ladybug:

Latin (Only Turkey and Bunny will have formal Latin studies, but Ladybug is welcome to listen along and absorb vocabulary!)

History/Geography–We’re studying the Civil War to the present day. I tried to make sure every decade from then to now was covered either in a history book or a read-aloud.

Science

Electives

Read-Alouds–I’m not sure we’ll get to all of these, but whatever we don’t read out loud will be turned into book basket selections.

Bonus Read-Alouds (a few special titles I specifically wanted to share with Ladybug in her Kindergarten year, in addition to our regular read-alouds.)

Hopefully I didn’t leave any books (or whole subjects!) out. I won’t even try to list all of the book basket titles we’ll be using, but some of the series will include You Wouldn’t Want to…, If You…, Childhood of Famous AmericansWho Was…?, and multiple American Girl series (those focusing on historical, albeit fictional, characters Addy, Samantha, Rebecca, Kit, Molly, and Julie). This list also doesn’t include the books we’ll be using for our Thanksgiving and Christmas units…and those lists are plenty extensive themselves!

Third Grade: Week Eight Wrap-Up

Something that’s very important to constantly pay attention to and evaluate when homeschooling is whether or not your curriculum is still working for you. It can be easy to pick something and think you’re stuck with it long-term, but this isn’t the case. I am not by any means encouraging curriculum-hopping, because I think consistency is important, and if you hop around too much, you may manage to miss important lessons and skills. But you shouldn’t be a slave to your curriculum, either–it’s supposed to work for you, not the other way around.

I’ve had to switch a few things up in the three-plus years I’ve been homeschooling. The first switch came at the end of our first year–Kindergarten–when I realized that our Language Arts program was moving too slowly for Turkey and Bunny, and they needed a more advanced program. I learned a similar lesson with a spelling curriculum we were using last year. I also changed our core curriculum after last year, because we needed something more hands-on than Sonlight offered us.

Now that we’re almost a quarter of the way through third grade, I’ve realized that I need to make a change again. We’ve been using, and liking, Horizons math. I’ve realized lately, though, that the level we’re using isn’t providing enough of a challenge for Turkey and Bunny. Yes, new concepts are being introduced, but they’re mastering them almost immediately. And while Turkey likes math so much that he doesn’t mind doing the same thing over and over, Bunny is bored to tears. She will take forever to complete a lesson, not because she hasn’t learned the material, but because she is so bored with doing the same things.

So, I sat down and evaluated the scope and sequence of Horizons fourth grade math. Frankly, I don’t know why I’ve been so reluctant to do it before. Homeschooling allows a wonderful flexibility in choosing appropriate, challenging materials that children need. Yes, there are things that we haven’t learned yet that they’ll need to know. But, there’s also plenty of opportunity for review at the fourth grade level. So, I made the decision to teach a few more key concepts from the third grade book, and then move ahead to the fourth grade books. At the worst, we discover it’s too advanced, and move back to third grade, and keep the other materials for next year. But, I’m hopeful that this will provide the additional challenge they need–the last thing I want is to give them the impression that school is boring, when one of the big benefits of homeschooling is supposed to be fostering a love of learning!

Third Grade: Week Four Wrap-Up

I’m a day late in posting this, because I wanted to include today’s field trip, which was the conclusion to this week’s history lessons.

We’ve spent this week, (and part of last), learning about Native Americans with Adventures in My Father’s World. It’s been a very fun and informative week, and included some great read-alouds, interesting book basket choices, fun crafts, and the aforementioned field trip. I’m really loving My Father’s World, because not only are there great books as part of the curriculum, they’ve also planned out the crafts for me, which I’m not too good at on my own. It’s easy to just add in field trips where applicable, and really run with the program!

First, our read-aloud books. One of them was new to us–Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims. I think I read this book as a child–it has certainly been around forever! I had a difficult time with the beginning of the book, because it seemed to contradict everything I’ve learned about Squanto. As it turns out, it appears, at least according to this biography, that Squanto traveled to Europe once before he was kidnapped, and that’s the part of the story that confused me. We did get into his kidnapping late this week though, so I felt a little better about the quality of the book we’re reading.

Our second read-aloud was not new to us–North American Indians. I’ve used this book the last two years, for Thanksgiving School. It’s a great overview in the differences between the different groups of Indians in this country, divided by geography. It can’t go too in-depth with any one group, but it really gives a feel for the way different tribes lived, from the homes they lived in to the food they ate.

Our book basket books were also old Thanksgiving School selections, but it was the first time Turkey and Bunny read them on their own, so they were able to glean different information from them this time around. The overwhelming favorite was Native Homes, which shows, as the title suggests, the different dwellings of different Indian tribes. They really enjoyed comparing different homes, (a lot of them are very similar to wigwams), and each had a favorite home style.

They also read If You Lived With the Iroquois. I’m a big fan of this series–we have several titles. It’s written in a Q&A format, and answers all of the down-to-earth questions children have about what it would be like to be a member of this particular nation. It covers everything from how they would bathe, to religious beliefs, to medicine, to holidays and festivals. As an adult, I always learn something from these titles!

The final book basket choice for the week was Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving. Turkey and Bunny actually read this last week, too, as that’s when we started our Squanto read-aloud, but I wanted to make sure they were really familiar with the story. This book gives a good, short summary of the native’s life, with an admittedly strongly Christian slant.

Turkey and Bunny had two crafts this week as well. First, they made construction paper wigwams. This is actually more difficult than it sounds, because of the amount of glue involved. I really think they gained an appreciation for how difficult actually putting together a real wigwam would have been!

They also made a paper teepee. We’ve done this project before, but this time, they really enjoyed decorating their miniature homes. They had a much better understanding of how Indians actually would have decorated their teepees, and included things like pictures of buffalo and other animals.

Finally, we had a field trip to Cahokia Mounds, the largest old Indian settlement north of Mexico. We walked through the Interpretive Center, which has a great display that depicts every aspect of the Mississippian Indians lived, from food preparation to children playing, and everything else you can think of. They were also having a special event, with demonstrations of many different activities, including Atlatl throwing, story telling, and hoop dancing. It was a great day to visit–we all learned a lot!

Pictures don’t really give an adequate idea of just how tall Monk’s Mound is, so you’ll have to take my word for it–it’s enormous! Being afraid of heights, it was a bit of a challenge for me to climb it, especially once I realized just how high up I was! But the view is amazing–you can see the St. Louis skyline, and all of the surrounding area.

Third Grade: Week One Wrap-Up

I’m hoping to write more consistently about our homeschool experiences this year, by way of a weekly wrap-up. Instead of giving a summary of everything we’ve done in a given week, though, I’m going to share curriculum I particularly like using, or a good story from the week, or a field trip we’ve had…that sort of thing.

Now that we’ve finished our first week of third grade, I have a better feel for some of the new materials we’re using this year. So far, I’m very impressed with the curriculum I purchased from Beautiful Feet Books.

I really love the History of Science. The whole approach to this program is great. Turkey and Bunny are reading, (and from a pretty wide selection of books, too!), and discussing, drawing, mapping, doing copywork, and creating a timeline. It’s such a great variety of activities that it doesn’t feel boring like some other programs tend to. Turkey and Bunny, (and, I confess, their teacher), have really enjoyed learning about Archimedes and his world this week–we’re looking forward to learn more about ancient Greek scientists next week!

The History of the Horse is very similar in layout. Readings from a wide variety of sources, drawing, (we have a whole book dedicated to learning how to draw horses), copywork, etc. I know it’s kind of a strange topic to study in school, but I thought it would be a fun elective. It’s an interesting combination of history, zoology, and literature. Even Ladybug, who is way too young for the notebooking activities, is enjoying following along in the books, (especially the Handbook of Horses, which has lots of great photos), because she loves horses.

I really wish I could try out some of Beautiful Feet’s general history programs. From what I understand, however, they teach a Providential view of American history, and I won’t be teaching that in our school. I am hoping to use their History of Classical Music program in a few years, though, which I’ve heard is just as good, if not better, than the two we’re using this year!

So Many Books, So Little Time

In revising my long-terms goals for homeschooling, I’ve come to a terrible conclusion: there’s just not enough time to teach all of the things I want the children to learn!

Take science, for example. For the last few years, we’ve done Sonlight science, and I’ve been pretty happy with it. It’s time for a change, though, so for our upcoming third grade year, we’ll be doing Beautiful Feet’s History of Science program. But I also want to use some of My Father’s World’s science in the future (not third grade, thankfully–it’s a repeat of what we did this year, so we’re able to fit in the BF program), and I want to use at least some of the Apologia science that isn’t already scheduled in MFW. But, there are more years worth of science programs that I want to use than I have years left of elementary school to get through. Scary.

Foreign language is another example. Will we have time to study all of the languages I’d like to fit in? Besides Memoria Press’s Latin, I’d like us to get at least a basic grasp of French and German (probably with Rosetta Stone). And then I think maybe we should study Spanish, too. And the children have some ideas of languages they might like to add, including Greek and Italian (I have no idea why). Obviously, we can’t do it all. But how do I maximize our time so that we can learn as much as possible?

Thankfully, the history cycle is pretty straightforward. Every four years, we study the same thing, so I don’t have to worry about us missing any major points in history. I can’t guarantee that we’ll get through all of the extra books I’m hoping to read, however!

Math and language arts are really the only two subjects I don’t have to worry about, because it’s not like you can even try to do two programs at once, and once you find something that works, it doesn’t make any sense to jump around. So that’s a relief right there.

The rest of it, though…well, I’m starting to feel more like a “real” teacher struggling with this dilemma, anyway!