Monday, December 31, 2007
For Grammar, we are using Sonlight's new grammar curriculum, The Grammar Ace.
I listed out the lessons and the activities we will do. It takes us two days to do one lesson. I was doing grammar two days a week, but I think we'll increase to three days a week so we can finish on time.
I make up my own reading and literature "curriculum", following the philosophy that it's better to just READ. Now that David's in junior high, I have instituted a little more structure. Emily is a good reader, so I've started having her do a little more as well.
Here are the books that they will read for the rest of the year.
David - 7th grade, second semester
Adam of the Road - Elizabeth Janet Gray (finishing from before Xmas)
The Book of Three - Lloyd Alexander
Captains Courageous - Rudyard Kipling
C.S. Lewis (Heroes of the Faith) - Sam Wellman
The Bulletproof George Washington - David Barton
The Life and Times of Washington - Enzo Orlandi (reading these two together)
Once a week or so, he will do an exercise from Adventures in Greatness: Speed and Comprehension Reader (A Beka).
Emily - 5th grade, second semester
Pilgrim's Progress (A Beka edition) - John Bunyan (finishing from before Xmas)
The Secret Language - Ursula Nordstrom
Meet My Friends - Joni Eareckson Tada
Amy Carmichael (Women of Faith) - Kathleen White
Island of the Blue Dolphins - Scott O'Dell
Plain Girl - Virginia Sorensen
The Midwife's Apprentice - Karen Cushman
Once a week or so, she will do an exercise from Read and Think Skill Sheet 5 (A Beka).
I need to find some online reading guides for some of these books, but I didn't have time to do that yet.
For their literature study, they write every day in their literature journals to respond to what they've read. They can write a summary (which they usually do) or they can respond in some other written way to the selection. (James does this too on a smaller scale.)
If there are comprehension questions, they answer them in the lit journals as well. Any book reports are also written in the literature journals. They will do a book report for each book, I believe.
They will do one entry a week from English from the Roots Up and play Rummy Roots once a week or so as well.
They will do Spelling Power four times a week. David will do handwriting once or twice a week. Emily will do handwriting three or four times a week. They are both working on their cursive.
I think that's it. I am going to find some online reading guides (free!) and then work on James and Suzy's plans, which are much easier. Then I just have History and Math to do, I think. Oh yeah, Art and Music.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
We will learn several new hymns and praise choruses - one of each for each month. Here are the choices:
January - Holy Holy Holy, Jesus Lover of My Soul
February - Stand Up Stand Up for Jesus, As the deer panteth for the water
March - He Lives, Thank you Lord for saving my soul
April - All Creatures of Our God and King, Have Thine Own Way Lord
May - Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, There's just something about that name
We will finish up two curriculums that we began in 2006, I think: Bible Study Guide for All Ages: Volume 3 by Charles and Mary Baker and Character Building for Families: Volume 1 by Lee Ann Rubsam.
We will do lessons 280-312 of the Bible Study Guide for All Ages. This covers the remainder of the book of Judges, and the complete books of Ruth and 1 Samuel. We will continue with Volume 4 beginning in the fall, I think.
We will finish a study on Service in the Character Building curriculum and complete a short study on Hospitality. That will bring us to the end of that book. I will buy the next volume to work on next year.
Finishing those books will take us to about mid-March, so I poked around to find something else we could do to finish the last two and a half months of school. I had purchased The Model Family: God the Father and Jesus the Son by Ray and Charlene Notgrass three or four years ago. This looked like it would fit ok into our plans, so I decided to use it. We will finish 7 of the 13 lessons by the end of May. Hopefully we can then work on the remaining 6 lessons over the summer, finishing in time to begin the new volumes of Bible Study Guide and Character Building in the fall.
Need to print out the hymn and praise chorus lyrics for the kids and make some copies to be completely ready.
David is working out of Backyard Ballistics. He has completed only a couple projects from this book so far. I need him to complete all of the book before I will consider this subject complete. I am calling his science work: Applied Science: Ballistic Engineering. Doesn't that sound fancy? He's pretty much learning the physics that goes into creating weaponry.
If you're wondering what kinds of projects David will be working on, here is a project list that the author - William Gurstelle - put on his website.
I do plan to have David work on a website for these projects. He has a webpage done for one of the earlier projects, but we never published it anywhere.
There are a LOT of materials needed for this book, everything from Sterno to lots of PVC to things I've never heard of. So, it'll be costly, but I bet he'll remember THIS science way more than he would reading a dry textbook. And he may actually be able to apply the physics principles later on too.
OK, now the three younger kids are all working together on some simple science concepts. Last year we did Considering God's Creation and that stretched both Bob and me nearly to the limit. So I wanted something simple this year.
Suzy is Kdg, James is 2nd/3rd, and Emily is in 5th. I found a book called Science Mini-Journals from Scholastic, aimed at grades 2-4, which seemed close enough to me. There isn't a whole lot of content and the story-writing prompts are kinda lame, but I think the little booklet format is fun. There's enough information that I feel good about using it as a jumping-off point anyway. We will do several activities for each topic, some writing, and read some related picture books. That's not much science for a 5th grader, I know, but she got a LOT last year and she's in no way ready for what David is doing. We'll do something more involved next year again.
Anyway, those are all planned out and photocopied (did that in the fall), although I have to find the picture books before each topic.
We've been doing Science and History in alternating weeks. Not sure what we'll do now.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Stay tuned here for lesson planning progress.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
I redesigned our schedule to be more friendly to a momma who doesn't get home from work until well past midnight and who rarely gets to sleep before 2 am. This way, I can sleep a little more in the mornings and Bob can get them ready and started on their work. The schedule needs a bit more tweaking, but when doesn't it?
We start with prayer time and I am usually still in my jammies then, with a big cup of coffee! Then David and James begin their language arts, doing the independent parts first, so I can finish getting ready for the day. David does his reading and writing in a literature journal, while James does some independent phonics practice (read: WORKBOOK pages! lol) Meanwhile, Emily and Suzy are doing math, under Bob's supervision. Suzanne has been so extremely excited about her lessons, now that she is in "kindergarten"! Once I am ready, I do reading and phonics instruction with James. He also writes in his lit journal.
After this segment, they switch, and I do phonics instruction with Suzy while Emily reads and writes in her literature journal. At this point, Bob is doing math with the boys.
At some point, I gather them all together and do group instruction in Science OR History (we are seeming to do alternate weeks so far this year), as well as Bible and any other group subjects, such as Art. I give any grammar or writing assignments at this point as well.
We have lunch and I read aloud. Our current read aloud is The Secret Garden. They spend a little time on chores and then they finish their studies for the day, which would be anything not finished yet and Spelling with Dad. We are usually done by 2pm, but always by 3pm when I leave for work. My goal is to have them done by 2pm so that we can spend an hour being together. That usually ends up being half an hour though, since I need to spend some time getting ready for work. I am streamlining that process though too.
Soccer keeps Bob busy in the evenings. With 4 kids playing and practices or games almost every night of the week, he is always running someone to practice or picking someone up! Saturday mornings are filled with soccer games also!
Everything is about EASY this year!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Raising Readers: Helping Your Child to Literacy
by Steven Bialostok
(emphasis added by me!)
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Well, I hate to be a copycat, but Jennifer posted her curriculum choices for next year, and since I have mine mostly worked out, I thought I'd do the same. So, thanks, Jennifer, for the impetus!
For those that might not read regularly here, I have 4 children and work full time on second shift. My kids are David, age 12-1/2 in 7th grade; Emily, age 10 in 5th grade; James, age 7-1/2 in 2nd or 3rd grade; and Suzy, age 5 in kindergarten. (Only homeschoolers could be unsure of their children's grade level! lol)
All kids - Baker Bible Study Guide for All Ages - Finish Volume 3
and alternate with:
Character Building for Families – Volume 2
David - Math U See – continue with Pre-Algebra, then move to Algebra 1
Emily - Math U See - Gamma and memorize all math facts
James - Math U See – Finish Beta, start Gamma
Suzy – learn the numbers and practice counting
All will do child-chosen silent reading and mom-chosen instructional reading (some aloud, some silent).
All will listen to Read-alouds, Mom-chosen, of general interest
David – still deciding (perhaps Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings?)
James – Finish Alphabet Island Phonics 2B, Explode the Code 3 & 4, & Phonics Pathways (to supplement when needed
Suzy – Alphabet Island Phonics 1 and Bob Books when ready
David – Sonlight Grammar Ace
David & Emily - continue with Spelling Power
David Self-Instruction in Handwriting (Zaner-Bloser) Cursive
Emily Self-Instruction in Handwriting (Zaner-Bloser) Neater Printing & Cursive
James Self-Instruction in Handwriting (Zaner-Bloser) Printing
Suzy - Writing the Letters and her name
All kids will write back and forth to me in their Journals, and write to others via the postal service
Composition for David and Emily will be Institute for Excellence in Writing's course - Student Writing Intensive B.
David – Apologia General Science (or possible Physical Science, if co-op offers this class)
Emily, James, Suzy – Scholastic Science Mini-Journals (9 mini units on various science topics)
Might do From Sea to Shining Sea & Sounding Forth the Trumpet since I already own those, thus continuing our American history study.
Or we may go on to Mystery of History Volume 2....
All kids will play AYSO soccer in the fall & spring.
All kids will have PE at co-op twice a month.
May also include Spanish, which I can teach, but I might get Rosetta Stone instead.
Will include in some form: Music Appreciation, Art, Geography, Typing
Saturday, May 26, 2007
So, next year, I will be back home with my kids. Well, actually, starting June 16! lol
Things will be very different for us though, as I will be working full time, just not during the "school day". My job is Monday-Friday from 3:45pm to midnight. I am working in a plastic injection molding factory as a machine operator.
But I will be teaching MY OWN KIDS AGAIN! Praise the Lord!
Saturday, April 14, 2007
We will take a break from World History and do some American history before going on to MOH2, mainly because I cannot afford to purchase it right now.
I already have The Light and the Glory for Children (by Peter Marshall and David Manuel), as well as the 2 continuing volumes, so we will read these and do some corresponding activities before going on to MOH2. This will give us a "quick" survey of American history.
(Note: I am doing all the planning, but my husband Bob is doing almost all of the actual teaching!)
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Michele asked about the alphabet soup! Sorry, Michelle, and any of my other confused readers!
IEW is Institute for Excellence in Writing. It is the curriculum written by Andrew Pudewa, who spoke at INCH last year.
SWI is the Student Writing Intensive put out by IEW. It is the beginning curriculum and it comes in 3 levels, depending on the age/grade of the student(s) using it. It is a DVD-based curriculum, with Mr. Pudewa providing instruction to the students via video. There are lesson plans as well, which I have, but they are less useful without the DVDs.
TWSS is Teaching Writing: Structure and Style. It is an informational DVD set for the teacher. I had intended to teach writing with just this information, but am finding it would be easier if I had the SWI.
So, on my curriculum wish list? SWI-B.
Monday, April 9, 2007
However, last night I wasn't feeling very well and purposed to sleep late today, which I did. (At least compared to my usual 6:50 alarm.) The kids were encouraged to clean their rooms during that time, and they made some motions like that might be happening.
Right about the time I was hoping to start our lessons, Suzy got out her tiny pot of playdough that came in her Easter basket and asked if she could play with it. I agreed, and this led to James dragging out the playdough drawer. Emily joined in and they've been playing with playdough for over an hour now and don't show signs of stopping!
I find that amazing! If I had PLANNED for them to play playdough, it might have lasted fifteen minutes. So, today is Playdough Day. (or at least Playdough Morning!)
In other news, I've decided to put the IEW curriculum aside until I can afford to buy the SWI. The TWSS is too complicated for Bob to take over and I often don't have time or energy to teach it when I get home from work.
I have a book on writing poetry that I think we'll do for a couple of months. That shouldn't be too taxing for Bob to handle.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I currently am in my second week as an instructional aide at a local Christian school from 8:30-1:00 Monday-Friday. I am a teacher in all but job title, since I am the sole math instructor for the 3rd/4th graders, and I have autonomy over my lesson planning and teaching methods.
Bob has been teaching the kids, with lesson plans that I leave for him. We will continue this through the end of this school year and re-evaluate then. I am looking for full time work, but still am not sure where the Lord is leading us.
My heart is still at home with my children, although I do love my job. I would dearly love to be able to remain at home. I don't think I'd ever complain again.
Friday, February 23, 2007
He has been here for nearly 5 years watching the teaching and the learning happen, so it stands to reason he'd be pretty aware of how it works. He does often help the kids one-on-one with their math or listen to them read aloud, but other than that he really never taught any lessons.
So, this was a pleasant surprise to me actually!
Friday, February 9, 2007
I got the idea from my friend Jennifer who has Friday Fun Days weekly. Since we have co-op twice a month, I didn't want to dedicate one day a week for Fun Day, but figured that monthly would work for our schedule.
I also was encouraged to do this when I read It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend by Richard Lavoie. This book is about social relationships and children with learning disabilities. The author noted that board games are excellent ways for children to build social skills. Board games encourage things like taking turns, putting others' desires ahead of one's own, handling disappointment, and more, as well as academic skills like counting money and reading.
So, on our Monthly Fun Day, each child picks a board game and we play it for 45 minutes to an hour. That's 4 board games in case you lost count of my children. Today we played:
- Star Wars DVD Trivial Pursuit (choice of James, age 7)
- Go Fish with Barbie cards (choice of Emily, age 9)
- Lord of the Rings Monopoly (choice of David, age 12)
- Tractor Tipping (choice of Suzy, age 4)
My kids are sorely in need of practice in handling disappointment. lol
Monday, February 5, 2007
We got a falconry book from the library and he has been reading it. He would have to be 14 to train as a falconer and it takes 7 years to complete the training. So, it would be 2 years before he can even begin. However, I am hoping to schedule a presentation from a local falconer and/or a local artist who draws birds of prey.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Language Arts has been a sticking point for me for years now. I have a BA degree in English and I am a voracious reader. I like to think I am a competent writer as well. So, it stands to reason that I would want an above-average language arts curriculum, doesn't it?
However, despite lots of looking, I could not find an effective curriculum that would accomplish my goals, meet my children's needs, and not be a drag at the same time. Every now and then, I'd find something that looked promising, but upon closer inspection, I'd find something about it that wasn't what I wanted.
So, I've basically pulled together my own curriculum using different components instead of an integrated curriculum. I'll give you a list of the materials and then discuss how we use them.
- Spelling Power, beginning around age 8-9
- Grammar workbooks from no particular series, starting in about 5th grade
- English From the Roots Up, beginning around the same time
- Rummy Roots, to go with English from the Roots Up
- Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) for composition, just discovered it, but using as soon as a child's language skills allow them to read comfortably and write 2-3 sentences
- Handwriting, plain old Zaner-Bloser
- Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
- Journal Writing
- Reading real books
- A Beka reading comprehension speed drills
- Writing letters to real people
Grammar - I don't think early grammar instruction is useful or beneficial at all, unless the child specifically requests it. I think all the grammar that is generally taught (and retaught and reviewed and retaught) in the elementary grades can easily and more effectively be taught in one junior high school year. In this opinion, I am referring to the mechanics of writing more specifically known as parts of speech, sentence structure, and punctuation. I think all of these concepts are better learned in the elementary years by modeling and practice during actual REAL writing instead of endless boring worksheets and drills. (Sorry, Easy Grammar users!)
So, even though I have an twelve-year-old son, his first study of grammar was last year when we did a short workbook from the teacher store. (Frank Schaffer, I believe) It was a basic introduction, and generally worthless, if I am being truthful. He was in fifth grade. This year, in sixth grade, he is doing another cheap basic workbook, probably because I feel a little insecure in my convictions about this, having never actually used this method all the way through before. He does a page a couple times a week or so, so it's not a major component of our language arts curriculum. We do Mad Libs from time to time also, so this helps with identification and understanding of parts of speech.
I would really like to peruse Analytical Grammar to see if it is workable for us. The philosophy behind the program seems to fit with mine. Anyone have it that I can look at? It's pricy or I would have ordered it by now. Probably next year will be David's Grammar Year.
Ok, this takes forever! lol I'll work on the other components another time. Stay tuned!
LATIN? Why would I teach my kids Latin? And if I am going to teach Latin, why am I not using Latina Christiana or some other full Latin curriculum?
Well, I don't want to waste time actually teaching my children to read Latin, unless they feel called to do so. It IS a dead language after all, and I daresay that any important Latin works we might want to read have been translated, and translated well, into English already. Why re-invent the wheel?
But because Latin has had such a great influence on the world's language, including English, I find it important to learn some Latin. And Greek too, for that matter. I think the main benefit to studying these languages will be to increase the understanding of English vocabulary and spelling.
So, I chose English from the Roots Up to study Greek and Latin root words. We study one root word a week, usually, by copying the root word onto a card. On the back of the card, we write the meaning and some examples of English words based on that particular root word. This is not an in-depth study at this time, just an overview, but I have noticed the children integrating these root words into their vocabulary by pointing out places they notice the roots and then stating the meanings.
I cannot give all the credit to English from the Roots Up, however, as we also play Rummy Roots about once a week. This is a rummy (go fish) type card game that helps the children match Latin and Greek roots to their English meanings. They enjoy it, although my oldest is much better at it than his sister 2 years younger, and he does take advantage of his skill. I look forward to my younger son also being able to play in the near future and this changing the dynamics of that game!
Composition - After seeing IEW curriculum at many conventions and ads in many magazines, I still found the purpose and design of the curriculum difficult to discern. I finally got to hear Andrew Pudewa speak at the INCH Convention last May and was so impressed that I decided to order the curriculum anyway, despite having no understanding of how it worked!
A friend and I went to another convention and cornered the IEW rep and asked her some questions to help us figure out exactly WHAT to order. We decided to jointly purchase the Teaching Writing: Style and Substance DVD seminar and work our way through the confusing thing together. We were assured by the rep that as soon as we began to watch that things would become clear, and you know what? She was right!
We soon enlisted some other friends to watch with us, and now we have a small group of moms meeting monthly to watch a section of the DVD, work through the corresponding exercises, and talk about how the curriculum is working out in our homes.
I have started the program with David, age 12, and Emily, age 9. David has shown remarkable ability in keyword outlining paragraphs and rewriting them to make them stronger! Emily is also doing well. As soon as James is able to write a few sentences and read comfortably, I will begin the program with him too.
I may try to purchase the student seminars for next year, as I think that will keep ME more accountable to doing the program, but they are not necessary. These techniques can be used with any available books.
Handwriting - Having had a hard time with handwriting myself, I try not to create too much pressure on my kids for handwriting. However, I realize that I do need to put a little more effort into teaching correct formation. I dislike the "modern" styles of penmanship, such as D'Nealian, and much prefer the traditional ball-stick methods, also known as Zaner-Bloser. I purchased a reproducible handwriting exercise book from the Zaner-Bloser company and make copies for my kids.
I am going to redouble my efforts towards handwriting too, as it has been mostly a time filler exercise here. David and Emily both need some intensive cursive instruction as neither feels comfortable writing cursive as a default handwriting.
Ok, enough for now. I have a few more components to discuss and then I can describe how I put it all together.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
If I work full time, I will still make the lesson plans and Bob will carry them out. He is home all the time due to a work-related injury. He is applying for disability so the almost 5 years he has spent at home with us so far will likely become permanent.
I explained to him how we do Bible, Science and History. He already knows the Math procedures, as he helps the kids with math most days. The Language Arts is going to be a bit confusing, so I will have to figure out something else, I think.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Our new co-op session began yesterday. We meet every other Friday for 8 sessions. Our day is from 9:30-2:30 at a local church. 146 other children from 62 other families join us in this endeavor. And, oh yeah, I am the coordinator! lol
I am teaching a class called Make Your Own Toys, based on Steven Caney's Toy Book. It's going to be a fun creative class and I have 14 students enrolled.
These are the things my kids are taking this time around. A 25 minute lunch period intervenes between 2nd and 3rd hours.
David - age 12
1 – Lego Robotics 2 (Part 2 of the class he took last time.)
2 – Dodgeball (All Dodgeball all the time!)
3 – Open Gym (Free Play in the gym with sports equipment)
4 – Leathercrafting (His goal is to make a wallet.)
5 – Business & Money for Kids (Equipping kids to start and run their own businesses. David is a little apprehensive about this class still.)
Emily - age 9
1 – Open Gym
2 – Drawing (A talented teen teaches this class.)
3 – Fun with Fabric (Making things from fabric without sewing machines.)
4 – Choir (There are 2 BOYS in the class this time around, shocking all the girls! lol)
5 – Physical Education Girls (Yesterday they did 5 laps around the gym and played clothespin tag.)
James - age 7
1 – Ancient Civilizations (Doing a History Pockets book on, what else, Ancient Civilizations! lol Pockets books are cutting, pasting, coloring)
2 – Ink*redible (learning about rubber stamping)
3 – How to Draw Racecars, Dinos and More (Just what it says!)
4 – PE ages 6-9 (Organized games for the lower el kids)
5 – Caldecott Lit Pockets (Another Pockets book, this time on Caldecott-winning picture books.)
Suzy - age 4
1 – Open Gym
2 – Heroes of the Bible (Bible stories and a craft)
3 – Kings Kids (Learning about character - "My teacher, Shiloh's mom, said, "NO LYING!!!" in my class!"
4 – Crafts for all Seasons (Making crafts)
5 – Playdough (Playing with playdough)
They all love co-op and look forward to it immensely. I love it too. It's great to see so many homeschool families all in one place, to see the moms connecting, to see the kids making friends, to see such creative learning opportunities!