Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I resisted Math-U-See for years. Too expensive, I said. Too exclusive; why, it's only sold through distributers! I am sure it must be trendy and have no substance.

So, first I used Miquon because it was cheap, but still manipulative-based. Then I flip-flopped over to A Beka, because although the Miquon was non-traditional, I also found that it wasn't very effective or very well-organized. But I missed the hands-on and hated the busy work of A Beka. Then I looked at Saxon - eww! I must have done some other things in there too, including some Walmart-type workbooks.

Then my friend Barb gave a short presentation on MUS during our homeschool support meeting. I was enthralled. It made sense! It was hands-on! It was mastery-based! She had been using it for years with her four kids and still liked it! I was sold.

I went to place my order only to find that they were coming out with new books in the next few weeks, so I breathlessly waited for the new editions.

Oh when I finally got them, I was so excited, but also intimidated! I had to make something called Decimal Street. Man, I was a little overwhelmed by that, but I finally buckled down and got to it. It was AWESOME!!

The lessons all come on DVD. I use the DVD's to teach the kids. I sit with them and watch their new lessons and then they do the pages pretty much independently, unless they have a problems. Mr. Demme explains things very thoroughly and clearly, using the blocks to illustrate. I often learn to look at math in a new way myself! The nice thing about the DVD is, no matter how many times you replay it, Mr. Demme is always just as sweet and patient as he was the first time. Unlike Mom. LOL

I like the fact that there are 6 pages per lesson and you can do them all or just 1, depending on the mastery the child has of the information.

I love the blocks! A friend just told me she was trying to do MUS and it wasn't working out well. In the course of the conversation, she told me she hadn't bought the blocks! What? You're teaching MUS to a 1st grader without the blocks? I don't think I'd attempt that! I think I've convinced her to order them! LOL

This will be our second full year with Math-U-See and I don't foresee us ever needing to change curriculums!

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Mystery of History

Thanks to my good friend Maryann, I found the perfect History curriculum. In my humble opinion, of course. :-)

HERE IT IS!! The Mystery of History: Volume 1 by Linda Lacour Hobar.

As soon as I picked it up and started paging through it, I knew it was perfect for us.
Short lessons written in a conversational manner
Starts at Creation and has a Biblical point of view
Includes Biblical events mixed in with other historical events
Can be done with all age students
Not a traditional "textbook" or a workbook
Has cool hands-on activities for each lesson
Organized chronologically and includes history from all over the world, not just western civilization
Includes timeline work
Includes map work

Hobar has written Volume 2 and is working on Volume 3. There will be 5 volumes when it is all completed. When I get to the end of Volume 5, I plan to start over again with Volume 1.

I planned my lessons out by writing down the pages we plan to cover each day and by choosing the activities we plan to do. I noted the items needed for each activity, so I am not surprised on the day that we need a white sheet cake and colored frosting.

Several of the homeschooling moms I know have also decided to use Mystery of History. I am excited that other people will be doing it alongside of us, because that only can mean more support!

If you are still looking for a history curriculum you can really enjoy, give this one a try! (Will post more later in the year, after I've had a chance to try it.)

Alphabet Island Phonics

I used Alphabet Island Phonics to teach Emily to read and it worked very well. Now it is entirely possible that Emily would have learned to read easily with ANY program. I didn't discover this program until David had tried A Beka phonics, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and probably some other things that have thankfully faded into the depths of my memory. David had a much harder time learning to read than Emily did, but I have a feeling that is just their different learning styles and not the curriculum. HOWEVER, I was very pleased with Alphabet Island Phonics and plan to use it with James and Suzy.

Eagles Wings Products - Alphabet Island Phonics

I am going to start using Alphabet Island Level 1 with James next week. He is 5-3/4. We will start with the kindergarten level curriculum, even though he is going into "first grade". There are 2 sections in the first level.

Each lesson is supposed to take 15 minutes, but in my experience with Emily, they took longer. Songs, games, stories, and more are all included to make the phonics rules memorable. There are workbook pages too to reinforce the concepts, and since we are doing phonics and it is important to see the letters and to write them, I will likely have him do all of the workbook.

Depending on how quickly he picks it up, we may supplement with Phonics Pathways and the Pyramid book that goes along with it. If he needs more practice, I will add those in.

Looking forward to introducing James to the world of reading!