Friday, August 14, 2015

Our 2015 -2016 Curriculum Choices

One of the best (and most intimidating) parts of home schooling for the homeschooling parents is choosing curriculum! There is just soooo much out there! And each family and kid is soo unique! What are our goals? What will fit us? How can I do this for the best price;)

So I am sharing these choices as what I really have hoped and prayed will fit us this year! Thankfully, while my kids are very different, we can do (and re-use) a lot of the same materials and just tweak them a bit to fit each kids' strengths and aid their weaknesses! And I've learned through the years that sometimes a curriculum works for us and sometimes it doesn't.... just finish it, drop and replace or let it go:)

What we are doing together...

Over the summer as I prayed for our new school year and began looking through curriculum (and saw my oldest grow taller), I really began to ask what I needed to do to really give my kids a strong spiritual foundation. For years we have included devotion, Bible reading and memorization, character development, and lots of great application. So this year we will continue doing those things... like we will be reading Psalms looking for what it teaches about God, continuing to use Our 24 Family Ways as a guide to point us to better character, creating prayer cards to be more diligent in prayer and adding in Apology Who is God? as our weekly Bible Study. I am excited!

Looking through the dividers to see the world in different ways (colors) like our lesson described.

Memory Work is done together during our "together time". We began learning the verses from Apology Who is God. We are also working through the Medieval Vertias Press Timeline Cards, science facts, and memorizing portions of various Shakespeare plays using How to Teach Your Child Shakespeare.

We are using our favorite friend SOTW for history:) This year we are diving into the Medieval world with Story of the World, Volume 2. The challenge for us is making it work with 3 different levels. It's honestly our spine and then we add in encyclopedias, resource books, and projects at the kids' levels. Another challenge for me is finding corresponding literature at the kids' levels and what they enjoy; I use a couple of different lists to help, like The Well Trained Mind, Tapestry of Grace  and Ambleside Online reading lists.

For now our guide for science is Anna's science book How the Earth Works. I have divided it into 18 weeks of reading and study. Chris and Lydia will follow along with similar topics in the Usborne Science Encyclopedia and supplemental library books. Anna's book includes hands-on experiments with almost every page, so we'll pick one (or two a week). We'll follow a similar 18 week schedule/assignments with How the Universe Works and Apologia's Astronomy book after Christmas!

I am also hoping to do "nature study" once a week using Handbook of Nature Study by Comstock and the free resources for the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Alone the older kids are going to do Daily Grams as independent work throughout the week. Together I am excited to be supplementing it with Fix-IT Grammar by IEW! We are using vol.2 Robin Hood and after our first week I feel this is a really great fit for us. Not only are we learning grammar, but applying it to passages that need to be corrected.... which unfortunately, is the way many yearly exams test grammar skills. I love fun it is to do together and so far they are asking to do their short assignment each day! 

Writing is always a challenge for us. The kids write narrations, summaries and (now) outlines as they read science, history and literature. So they are writing constantly.... it's just not in a formal manner and while I will look over their work, I often don't correct every error in their daily work. It's a record of their reading and ability to process what they've read and learned. So we needed something to push them to be better writers without being another writing assignment. I decided to follow The Well Trained Mind in using Writing Strands 3... it looks a little simplistic, especially since they've been used to IEW topical assignments. I do hope to get IEW Medieval Writings to supplement.... we probably won't do all the writing projects from there, but pick and choose what fits us best.

An opportunity came our way at the beginning of the summer, a homeschooling family with our group offered to teach some horse basics and learning to ride lessons. We were thrilled since the girls had been asking and asking. They diligently study their horse units so they can have those sections quizzed and checked off by our leader. They are working towards going on a trail ride sometime in the fall ( or whenever they are ready).

Our county home school group meets every Friday for all sorts of activities like field trips, holiday parties, service/ministry opportunities, PE, and 4-H! The kids have made friends in the group and I truly love the support, encouragement and fellowship I get to have with the other homeschooling families.

What we do individually (but sometimes together)...
Some silliness while on a nature hike

Anna (6th)
Math - Saxon 8/7 with DIVE
Spelling - Spelling Power and Word Roots
Grammar - Daily Grams 6
Reading - Literature suggested by WTM, AO and TOG for Medieval
Spanish - Rosetta Stone 
Logic - Reading Detective
Music - piano lessons

Chris (4th)
Math - Saxon 6/5 with DIVE
Spelling - Spelling Power
Grammar - Daily Grams 4/5
Reading -  Literature suggested by WTM, AO and TOG for Medieval
Spanish - Rosetta Stone  
Logic - Think-It-Through Tiles.... eventually Building Thinking Skills and Reading Detective 
Music - piano lessons 

Lydia (3rd/4th)
Math - Saxon 6/5 with DIVE
Spelling - Spelling Power
Grammar - Daily Grams 4
Reading -  Literature suggested by WTM, AO and TOG for Medieval
Spanish - Rosetta Stone 
Logic - Think-It-Through Tiles.... eventually Building Thinking Skills and Reading Detective 
Photography Basics and enter local contests

Nate (K)
Reading - Letter Factory Set of DVDs, OPGTR and AlphaPhonics
Math - Saxon 1
Logic - eventually....Think-It-Through Tiles (totally thrift-ed these... a great find!!!)
Reliability with chores
Completing tasks
Following directions
Polite Manners
Tying Shoes

Linking up to

Friday, August 7, 2015

Our 2014-2015 Curriculum Wrap -Up

As I am working towards putting together a new semester... a mixture of "yippeee" and "ugh"... I can't help but look back at last year.

The new texts and the very used books (thrifty to the core!).

The huge amazing curriculum that I got to borrow, that just didn't fit:/

The simple text that I really thought I hated, that turned out to be exactly what we needed:)

Our biggest change last year was Tapestry of Grace, Year 1 that I go to borrow from a super generous friend (curriculum and a lot of resource books). I had heard from lots of different places how great TOG was and I really looked forward to covering the same topics with the kids while challenging them at their own levels. Oh! And it's all planned out, so all I needed was to find the books and go!!!



it didn't! I mean it did have ALL it said, but it didn't. The Bible study were more readings with questions and didn't have assignments for each week. So one we we'd read a few chapters, another week there was nothing and the following week there was 20 chapters, which made planning Bible each week a challenge:/

Often you hear people calling TOG "a buffet". And while some can handle seeing all the vocabulary, topics, readings, alternate readings, and projects in front of them, it was overwhelming to see all the things that the kids and I WEREN'T going to do each week:/ Our priorities were in different areas and I just couldn't find the time or understand the need for doing each one.

So went back to Story of the World, vol 1.... sort of:) I used TOG's schedule and some of the resources, but kept SOTW as the core:/ The main reason was because TOG didn't have a single source that we could read together before jumping into the deeper resources.

One thing I LOVED about TOG, Vol 1 though was that it really did help us look into the biblical world. There were insights that really have stuck with me. And I am amazed how much knowledge about the nations around Israel that we got to explore and learn!!

And I loved the reading/literature ideas. We read a lot of the books that TOG suggested! Many of the books that were suggested for the different stages really didn't fit the kids' levels or interests... so the ones I had seen on many different "must read" lists, I read aloud:)

Honestly, I really wouldn't have known if TOG was a good fit for our family if I hadn't had the chance to use it!! Again, I found the resources they suggested to be awesome, it just didn't fit the way my brain works and the goals I have right now with our time together. Great books though! And having volume 1 during the Ancients study was awesome for us.

Another resource new to us  last year was Christian Kids Explore Biology. From the description and Table of Contents it looked like it covered everything we wanted. When I finally had it in my hands I was frustrated with the simple lessons and how the human body was just a week or two of one page lessons.Thankfully I had planned to use it as the spine and then add in science books and encyclopedias (suggested from Well Trained Mind).

It ended up being exactly what we needed. It gave us structure we could do all together, but then we added in a LOT at the kids' level and different projects. With the resources and the spine it just all came together!

I am thankful I can look back on last year with relief... LOL!! We had a great year and pushed through to accomplish all I had wanted by completing the Ancients and Biology well... even with some materials I wasn't sure would work for us;) They ended up working in their own way, by us tweaking them to fit us better!!

And some memorable pictures of our year!
Trying to complete normal tasks without use of the thumb to grasp.

Dissecting an owl pellet.

Exploring a battle ship.

Listening to Nate read sight words from a reader!

Discovering planes, ships and plants at the Air and Space Museum.

Finding the different types of plant roots.... in the yard, of course;)

Lots of photography and visits to the "bird zoo" (we've been 4x since Christmas, gotta love an annual pass)!