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!



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.



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 Twenty Wrap-Up

Another busy week in third grade! We’ve continued to work on fractions and division, (with remainders!), learned about the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, and “The Star Spangled Banner” in U.S. History, and wrapped up our study of subjects and predicates in grammar. We also continued our Latin review from last week, which was an eye-opening exercise. I always figured that foreign languages would be Bunny’s “thing,” because she’s always had such a good grasp of language in general. And she does fine at it, although, she hasn’t yet memorized all the declensions we’ve worked on. Turkey, on the other hand, I assumed would struggle a bit with learning another language, because he’s more of a math/engineering guy. What I didn’t take into account, however, is that Latin is a very logical language, which really appeals to his brain, and so he’s been able to memorize everything, from vocabulary to conjugations to declensions, with amazing speed. It’s really quite impressive to listen to him rattle off a declension!

We started a new religion program for Lent this week as well. I’m using this in the same way as I did our Jesse Tree during Advent–instead of our regular Scripture readings, and readings from our Bible Handbook, we’re using the Scripture readings from the Jesus Tree, but this time, we’re doing it twice a day, once from the ESV, and once from a children’s Bible. We are continuing our regular study of the catechism, and making sure we do a lot of review, especially as we prepare for Confirmation on Palm Sunday. We’re also reading through Amon’s Adventure this Lent, which isn’t directly related to our religion lessons, but is complementary.

We also managed to find time for a really cool field trip this week. While the mastodons and mammoths didn’t really have anything to do with what we’re currently learning about, (I just really wanted to see the exhibit while it was in town!), the History Museum itself has a lot to do with the Louisiana Purchase, especially the 1904 World’s Fair exhibit, and that tied in nicely with our history lessons, even though I hadn’t planned that timing in the least. We had another circumstance of unintentional good timing this week, too, as we learned about the state of Louisiana in general, and Mardi Gras in particular–quite timely. I love when things like that work out with no effort at all on my part!

We’ve only got about three more weeks of school left, before we take a break due to Chickadee’s arrival. Hopefully, in that time, we’ll be able to plow through a lot more of our material, so we don’t have to keep working all summer long!

Third Grade: Week Three Wrap-Up

This week, I’d like to share a little bit about our experiences with Latin.

Last year, we started with Memoria Press’s Prima Latina. It’s meant to be a gentle introduction to Latin, (both for students and teacher), geared toward about second grade, although it can be used with younger children if you’re really ambitious. I really liked the layout of the weekly lessons, and I especially liked that it was written with the assumption that the teacher doesn’t know the language, (which I don’t!). The main focus of Prima Latina was building vocabulary and some longer pieces in Latin, including the Sanctus and the Lord’s Prayer, and strengthening the student’s foundation in grammar.

So, our first year of Latin was successful, (even Moose and Ladybug learned the Sanctus, just from listening to us practice), but I was a little concerned going into the next level of Memoria Press Latin–Latina Christiana I. You see, the last few lessons of Prima Latina started to go into declensions and conjugations, obviously as a preparation for what we’d be learning this year, and that scared me a little. OK, a lot.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that Latin this year is going just as well as it did last year. There are now approximately ten vocabulary words to memorize each week, but so far, only two have been new–the rest have been review from last year, (which would also be helpful if we hadn’t done Prima Latina at all, and had just jumped right in with this program, which is totally doable). There is also a new Latin phrase to learn each week, just as there was last year.

We have been working on conjugations since week one, but the first two weeks focused primarily on making sure the verb endings were properly memorized, and then using them to conjugate amo, the Latin verb for love. This week, we delved deeper, working with other verbs we already knew, and conjugating them, as well as translating the already conjugated verbs back to English with the correct pronouns. Turkey and Bunny have really taken to it–in fact, they memorized the conjugations before I did! (I do think I’ve got it down now, too…finally!)

There is more history tied into this year’s lessons, which I like. The teacher’s guide has a full section dedicated to Roman history. This would be even more beneficial if we were currently studying world history, but even though we’re not, it’s good to refresh some things we learned about last year, and that we’ll be studying again in the future.

Now, I haven’t ever used anything other than Memoria Press, so I can’t compare it to other programs. I do know, however, that I have been so pleased with Memoria Press that I have no intention of switching to a different Latin curriculum. I’m looking forward to starting First Form Latin in fourth grade, (which, if we complete it successfully, will be the equivalent of a full year of high school foreign language), and after completing that series, eventually moving on to Henle Latin. There are many other resources from Memoria Press that are tempting to use in the future, including a study of Greek Myths, which we will be using in fifth grade. I also recently discovered that Memoria Press is beta testing a Greek curriculum, which is also exciting, as Turkey wants to learn Greek eventually–that may have to be added to the homeschool to-do list!

The First Day of Third Grade

Today Turkey and Bunny went “back to school.”

For today, anyway, the school room is organized, books are on the shelves where they belong, the table is free of clutter–a week from now, it’ll probably be a completely different story, but today it looks good!

Turkey and Bunny are very excited about the things they’ll be learning this year, especially American History and writing in cursive. Here’s a brief rundown of our daily schedule:

In addition to all of that, we also have elective Fridays, where we’ll be learning about musical instruments, (we’ll be going through Those Amazing Musical Instruments, plus a coloring book), and composers, (we’re still using the Classical Kids Collection volumes one and two CDs), as well as horses, with Beautiful Feet’s History of the Horse. Plus we’ll use Fridays for playing educational games, such as Reading Roadway USA and the Scrambled States of America, and even the occasional Lego building activity, like the Lego White House from the Architecture series.

It’s going to be another great year–I’m so excited to get started!

Making (More) Connections

It seems that the most obvious times I see my children making connections in school, Latin is involved.

We’ve been learning the Latin numbers, 1-10, over the last few weeks. First 1-5, then 6-10. For those unfamiliar with Latin, the numbers for 7-10 are septem, octo, novem, and decem.

After they had memorized the numbers, and pronunciation, I asked Turkey and Bunny if they recognized the numbers for 7-10 at all? Did they seem familiar? Could they identify any kind of derivatives? They both thought on it for a bit, and then Bunny came up with the answer–September, October, November and December!

I asked her if she could figure out why, and she immediately started to say, “September is the seven…” But she knew that wasn’t right, because September is the ninth month of the year, not the seventh as the root of the word suggests. So, that gave us the opportunity to talk about the difference between the old Roman calendar (which only had 10 months) and our current Gregorian calendar.

It’s so much fun to watch them figure things out, and it’s a great bonus when teachable moments pop up on top of it!

Making Connections

One of my greatest joys in homeschooling is seeing my children make connections to what they’ve learned, especially when the connections are made outside of our regular school-time.

We’ve been reading White Stallion of Lipizza, which is a fantastic book, and the children have been loving it. Even the two little ones have sat with us, and looked and listened–it’s just a great story. Last night, though, I got a glimpse of those connections being made, and it was so exciting!

In the chapters we read last night, there were several references to Greek mythology–both Atlas and Apollo were mentioned. And Turkey and Bunny were so pleased with themselves for knowing what those stories were, and figuring out how they related to the story we were currently reading. That’s another fun part of homeschooling–seeing their confidence grow as they learn.

We also stumbled upon the word coronation in our reading. Now, that may not sound terribly exciting, except that corona is one of our vocabulary words in Latin this week. Again, they were excited, because they recognized the root word, and knew that it was related to what we were learning. They needed a little guidance to come to the actual definition of coronation–how many of those do we see in America, after all–but the important thing was the fact that they could recognize a derivative when they heard it.

These connections show both that they’re remembering what they’ve learned, and that they’re getting how to apply it. And I have to say, that’s very beneficial to my confidence as teacher!

Using “I Love Lucy” in School

I have used this I Love Lucy clip in school twice since Christmas. The first time was when we were reviewing the different sounds “ough” makes in Language Arts; the second was when learning about vowel sounds in Latin, and how they always make the same sound (just as Ricky points out is true in Spanish).

I’ve always known I’d use this in school–it was just a matter of waiting for the right time. Turkey and Bunny loved it because it’s so funny, but they also understood the point I was trying to make. How great is it when you can successfully use I Love Lucy in school?!?

Beginning Latin

We have wrapped up our first five weeks of Latin using Prima Latina.

I think this is one of the most fun and interesting things we’ve done in school yet, and the children, especially Turkey, seem to agree with that assessment. From a teacher’s standpoint, I can say that they’ve learned more grammar and vocabulary in these five weeks than they have all school year…and maybe in school, period. Given that grammar is one of the things I feel our current curriculum is weak in, I’m grateful to have some instruction and reinforcement, even if I was surprised that came via (look–one of first vocabulary words!) a foreign language, and a dead one at that.

I have now witnessed first hand how true it is that young minds are more receptive to learning a foreign language than adult minds. Turkey and Bunny barely need to see a word and its translation more than once, and they have it memorized–not so much true for me. And over the course of five weeks, they have memorized the whole Sanctus in Latin. I’m still peeking at the words in the teacher’s manual, and they’re saying it rather confidently. They also don’t have the hang-ups about pronunciation that I do. After dealing with English for such a long time, it’s very difficult for me to train myself that vowels are always pronounced one way in Latin, but I guess since they’ve had less time to get used to the oddities of our language, they don’t struggle as much with that as I do.

I think learning other languages is very important (and the lack of that instruction is part of what makes American schools inferior to those in Europe and elsewhere), and Latin is a great place to start. So much of our grammar and vocabulary comes from Latin that even when we’re learning a foreign language, we’re reinforcing our own Language Arts as well. And a foundation in Latin should also make learning some languages much easier for them in the future.

I know there are other Latin curriculum out there, and I’ve heard good things about them, but I really like Prima Latina, and am planning on continuing with Latina Christiana I next year. I’ve never actually studied Latin as a language, and I’ve found that the teacher’s guide is very helpful, and doesn’t require that the instructor be familiar with the language. There are CDs available with the pronunciations that might help me with my mental block regarding them, but I’ve also heard that the Southern accent on the speaker is almost unbearable, so I’m no hurry to go out and buy them. There are also flashcards available, which I may look into getting in the future, but for now, I’m making my own (and hoping my children can read my handwriting!).

The only problem I’ve really had with the program is that when I scheduled it, I included the review “lesson” at the end of the week it immediately follows–I should have provided a full week for each review lesson, as they’re quite in-depth and lengthy. It’s too late to change that now, though, as I’ve scheduled it through the end of the year. That’s my fault, and I know for next year (as long the program is set up in a similar fashion) to reserve those extra weeks–even with the review lessons added, there are fewer weeks of Latin then there are of our school year.

I also really like that the program approaches Latin from a liturgical perspective. Turkey and Bunny have both whispered to me in church that they’ve noticed Latin words in the hymnal/service, (and they’ve also greeted their Sunday school teacher in Latin). It’s exciting to see them making connections from what they’re learning in school to an important part of their everyday life. It may be a “dead language,” but it still has a wealth of practical application for us today!