Homeschooling 2014-2015

Friday, August 29, 2014



 

I can't believe we are starting our fifth year of homeschooling this year.   

It has been a wild, crazy, fun, blessed time and I'm excited for what is still to come.  I share our yearly plans, programs, and curriculum on this blog for a couple reasons.  The first is for my own records, believe it or not!  Documenting everything here helps me stay focused and keeps a good photographic record of what we plan to study throughout the year.  The second is to encourage and inspire (hopefully!) other home educators.  I pray that as I humbly share my thoughts and plans, your heart might be stirred by even some small tidbit found here!  I also know how tough it can be to find quality resources and curriculums, so I pray this might bless other families with some ideas!

We don't really follow 'grades' in our home, but for information sake, our children are, Simon (age 9), Audrey (age 7), and Alex (turns 6 September 5th).

So, in light of those thoughts, let's get started. 



This year, we're doing something quite different in our homeschool.  We are following much more closely a Charlotte Mason schedule with short lessons on a variety of interesting topics.  This gives that wonderful 'smorgasbord' of information and inspiration that Mason spoke of so often.  

Each child has their own large binder with dividers for individual subjects: Social Studies, History (this will also be in a separate binder for Mystery of History), Geography, Art and Art History, Music Studies, Poetry, and French.  The children also have their Math books as well as separate Language Arts binders, which I talk about later in this post.

This is different from our typical unit study based set-up that we have followed in previous years.

The binders for the kids' core subjects.



For my planning, I use a large binder of my own with several dividers and sections.   These include: Year at a Glance, Weekly Plans and Schedule, Canada Studies, Reading and Book Lists, Lesson Plans and Ideas, Co-op and Field Trip Plans, Charlotte Mason, and Five in a Row.

Our Weekly Schedule is a double page layout that I created, because, well... I'm the type of person who likes laminating and making spread sheets and writing in little printed boxes with a really sharp new pencil.  *wink*

In all honesty though, I've never found a purchased 'schedule' or teacher's planner that worked for me.  After using Sonlight last year, I created our own layout that works with Charlotte Mason-style learning.  The left sheet gives an individual schedule for each child.  It includes their Language Arts, Copywork, Phonics, Reading, Spelling, Dictation and Math and is split up daily.  These are all considered "individual work" in the Charlotte Mason method.

The right sheet has our Family/Group Work.  Across the top are the days of the week and in each box is a different subject of "class".  The subjects change depending on what day it is, making it easy to fill in as I plan.  I can look at the schedule and know that every day we have all our individual courses, our Bible and devotionals and Literature.  Then on Monday we will have Science, Social Studies, and Poetry, on Tuesday we will have Geography, Art and Picture Study, and French, etc.


Individual plans for one week.


A snap of the Group Work page for one week.



Language Arts



This year, I am really excited to have found some wonderful Language Arts programs for Audrey and Alex.  They are both using the Language Lessons series from Queen Homeschool.  These are beautiful, Charlotte Mason-inspired language books.  They include language development (phonics, grammar), poetry memorization, narration, comprehension, dictation, as well as picture study and journaling.  Love these books!



Simon is using First Language Lessons for the Well-trained Mind Level 3.  This series follows a more classical approach to language.  Classical isn't far off Charlotte Mason, and I see a lot of similarities between the two styles of curriculum.  I chose Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind for Simon because he is a more logical learner and doesn't really enjoy picture study and imaginative writing right now.  This series has been great for him.


Alex is learning to read using the simple but proven Alpha-Phonics along with his language lessons, reading with Mom and working through the I Can Read It books from Sonlight's Language Arts program.




Spelling


I really love the All About Spelling program.  We are working through Volume 1 and 2 this year.  The books, the lessons, the manipulatives,  they're all great.  Not only is it a spelling program, it also really helps children improve their reading and writing skills.  It's also pretty fun and engaging.



The program comes with the Teacher's Manual, the magnetic letters, blends, and vowel teams, as well as the work cards.



The All About Spelling magnetic letters are fantastic.  We bought a simple magnetic white board to use for lessons, which is recommended by the program.


Language Arts Binders

The children have Language Arts binders with these dividers.  It works well at keeping them organized.


Additional Language Arts curriculum we've used and continue to use.  We really enjoy the First Language Lessons series and will continue to use them as a resource.  This year, I plan to work through Simply Grammar with Audrey as well.

  Math

For Math this year, we are sticking with Teaching Textbooks for both Simon and Audrey.  I started this curriculum three years ago and I really love it for our kids.  Alex is still working through is K Math from Horizons.  I used Horizons for the younger grades with Simon as well.  We have also used some of the Charlotte Mason style Math from Queen Homeschool.


Science


Our Science curriculum this year is Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day and Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. We are continuing with Zoology 1 from last year, as we started in the Spring.  This is the whole reason we hatched chicks.  And a duckling.  And I spent 4 months of my life losing sleep while tending to tiny birds of various shapes, sizes, colors and personalities.  Oh, homeschooling...

This program truly makes the children think and they have learned so much.  I almost didn't give it a chance - it is, after all a text book. (Insert scary music...)  And for me 'text book' is like a bad word.  The nice things about *this* text, however, is that it is written in a wonderful, conversation, living-book tone.  We've really enjoyed the learning and the projects, experiments, and the notebooks have been invaluable as learning tools!

Completely creation-based, young-earth, biblically sound Science curriculum.  Love it.





Social Studies


We are using Donna Ward's Canada, My Country along with a myriad of other Canada-related resources this year.  Our goal is to study Canadian geography, basic Canadian History, and Canada themed activities and lots of great Canada-inspired living books.





Bible, Prayer, Scripture Memory and Devotionals


We love spending time in God's word every day.  Many of our subjects are biblically based, but we also try to enjoy devotions, reading scripture, and scripture memorization.  We are using The NIV Adventure Bible along with the NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions for daily readings.  I also purchased a wonderful children's bible (to add to our many!).  The Complete Illustrated Children's Bible by Harvest House Publishers is wonderful.  Very detailed with double page color illustration on every page.  Audrey is using the I Can Read Beginners Bible for her reading as well. 




This year I am introducing the children to Apologetics as well.  We will work together with our home church through Lee Strobel's Case for a Creator for Kids as well as research and look into many of the topics more in depth at home.  We are also working through Cracking the Covenant Code for Kids.  The Big Bible Guide will act as a supplement to our Science Curriculum, offering further creation-based information and research about God's world.




Hero Studies - we try hard to always be reading about worthy heroes.  This is also an element of a Charlotte Mason education.  I believe in giving our children real stories of real people of faith whom God has used in wonderful ways!  We have been reading through Dave and Neta Jackson's Hero Tales.  I highly recommend this series!  They have been a huge blessing to our family.  We plan to read through all of Volume 2 and 3 this year.   Volume 1 was finished over the Summer.


Prayer- This year we hope to read from Window on the World, as well as work through "We Ask for India".  'Even Donkeys Speak' is a book about how God is moving in Asia from Gospel for Asia, this can be used as an inspiring tool for prayer as well.


Our prayer basket has been a wonderful part of many family meals.  We write the names of people, places, needs on small pieces of paper and place them in the basket.  The children draw the papers from the basket, giving us a focus for our meal-time prayer.


We got the idea for our Scripture Memory Verse Box from Simply Charlotte Mason.  It took some time to put together, but it is a wonderful tool and a great way to keep learning and memorizing new scripture.  Details on how to create one are here.




History


This is our first year using Mystery of History, which is a well-known biblically based History curriculum.  It is a very in depth study of the early church through the middle ages.  I'm pretty sure this program will take us longer than the year and I might spread it across two years, depending on how much we add to it and pull from it.  The book is HUGE and so full of stories, ideas, and history that I was quite overwhelmed when I first opened it!


One thing we learned from Sonlight and from the Charlotte Mason philosophy is to invest in a Book of Time, or a historical timeline.  We place stickers of the people we study and the historical events we discuss in the appropriate place on the time line as we work.  This really helps the children understand a more chronological history of the world.





Geography


This year we are working through Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography, which is available free online through Ambleside Online.



Art, Art History and Music Studies


This is our first year working through Artistic Pursuits.  We are starting, naturally, with book 1.  I'm excited to do an actual art program, and this one is highly recommended by homeschoolers.


As part of our Art studies, we also do Picture Study (through our Language Arts as well) along with studying famous paintings, artists, and art history.  These three books by Usborne will be used as resources for these topics


I was blessed to find this very rare copy of "Beautiful Music" from the Tree of Life publishing company.  This book covers topics like 'why music?', understanding music, the orchestra, and various famous composers.  It is from a biblical perspective, which is very lovely.  Many Psalms and Hymns are used as topics of study and discussion.  We will also study various composers and read through Lives of Musicians.



Literary Unit Studies - Five in a Row Volume 4


This year, I hope to cover one Five in a Row book from Volume 4 every month or so.  This is in combination with all our other work but will take the place of (for a week or two) many of the other studies.  If we are studying a Five in a Row book, for instance, we will not do our Canada studies, Mystery of History, Artistic Pursuits that week.  Instead, the FIAR study will cover different topics related to Art, History, and Geography.


We absolutely love Five in a Row, and although a completely unit study based schedule was becoming challenging for us, I couldn't resist continuing with the FIAR curriculum.  It is just so rich in living books and wonderful learning.  To read my review of FIAR, click here.



As requested, here is a snap of our 'schedule' of sorts.  Usually most of this can be accomplished in the morning hours, given we stay focused.  I move through the lessons depending on the day, what the children are busy with, and what fits in with other commitments.  Hope this helps, slightly?





So, there it is... our year at a glance...  Lord willing, it should be a wonderful, exciting, BUSY year!

Be blessed, friends!




 

15 comments:

  1. Inspirational!!! Thanks for sharing :)

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  2. You are in for a fabulous year! I love following most of Mason's ideas, especially the shorter lessons with my youngest (who's 9 and has a short attention span). I used to be a big planner, but now I just have goals in my mind...and a Dollar Tree weekly and monthly planner where I jot down activities and a few notes here and there. Our 11th years starts on Monday. (Labor Day is rainy here so might as well get going! LOL) All the best for a great year!

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    1. Sounds lovely. Thank you, and to you too.

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  3. Would you mind posting your daily schedule? I also do Charlotte Mason along with a literature based homeschool and I am struggling with getting it all in on one day and still giving them lots of instructed free play for the afternoons. Thanks!

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    1. Sure, Janelle, no problem! :) I struggle some days too, but the kids are starting to get used to the idea that 'school' is taking longer now that they are older!! ;)

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    2. Thank you! Are there some days where you scratch everything and spend the day outside? I'm such a rule following box checker that I'm having a hard time being flexible and allowing more fun into the day.

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  4. This is just wonderful and so inspirational! I was totally looking forward to a post like this since you came back to the blog! I didn't see any mention of the Math program your using this year? So glad your back ;)

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    1. Thank you so much. That's so humbling and heart-warming. Haha, you were right - I forgot the photo of our math stuff, so I've added it! Thank you so much, it's nice to 'be back'… *hug

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    2. Quick question for you about Math. I've read the TT is a year behind compared to other Math programs like Horizon, Abeka, Christian Light, etc. Did you find that when you went from Grade 2 into Grade 3 TT that it was just a repeat of concepts already learned? Do you find your children are retaining what they learn from it? I've read a lot of really awful reviews and a lot of really great ones. I have the opportunity to buy TT 3 (book and CD) for a great price for my 3rd grader but I have my concerns because it is computer based and there is no teachers manual for me to follow along and make sure I too understand the concepts and how they are being taught.

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    3. Hey Malanie - Yes, I've heard that a lot too. I didn't find it to be a problem at all. I do, however, hear that TT is 'behind', however, I use the term loosely (behind according to whom? right..?) I didn't find TT to be a repeat and they really loved the first grade. What is great about it, is it doesn't do too much repetition. I teaches concepts simply and fully and moves fairly quickly (perhaps to a fault... we are spending 2 months reviewing past lessons right now because it just moved a bit too quickly for me as they weren't memorizing their times tables). The firs lesson for the first year of TT is MATH 3. The first lessons is "Simple Additions" like, 4+0 and 6+1. Very very simple. But it moves quickly and by the end of the book they are doing fractions, addition and subtraction with carrying (333+976) and they have learned a TON. I like the format as it builds their confidence int he first lessons and moves forward. The only caution with TT is that you ensure the children are really getting it before whizzing through the lessons, as there is a new concept EVERY lesson. So, if you are doing a lesson a day, it is literally a new concept every day, which can be overwhelming if the stuff is a bit harder. We generally do a lesson every 2 days and spend day 2 reviewing and doing further questions on the same concepts. Hope this helps. The computer component is fantastic and acts as the teachers manual in my mind. Really great program at least for us! Hope this helps! :)

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    4. This helps tremendously! Thanks so much! :)

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  5. Hi Cassandra! Oh my goodness, I LOVE your blog. And these posts on curriculum have been extremely helpful to me. Can I ask you a couple of questions? I'm sorry if any are too personal. I looked for a Facebook page so I could private message you, but I couldn't find one!

    First, our family has four kiddos: ages 4.5, 3, and 18-month-old twins. Yeah...it's busy. ;-) This past Spring, we started Classical Conversations with my oldest, who is in PreK. She will begin K in the Fall. Despite liking aspects of CC, we've decided that it will be best to not continue next year for a variety of reasons. One is simply the fact that I'll need to supplement their program so much to be satisfied with what my kids are learning, that it's too expensive to buy a bunch of curriculums and also still pay tuition. Which brings me to my first question: I see you have a LOT of curriculum choices: FIAR, Sonlight, AAS, Apologia, among others...plus a variety of books. Are there any tips you could give me as to how you pay for it all? I know I can find some on eBay, but I was wondering if you had any other suggestions. :-)

    Second, how much time do you spend on school per day? With so many little kids, I have to get creative. My oldest can't really work independently yet and will definitely need my attention for a lot of her school work. I'm planning to do some during nap time, but won't be able to fit it all at that time.

    Third, how long does it take you to plan for the year? You seem super organized! I am also, by nature, but lack the time I'd like to really devote to it. I'm currently planning a few days this summer to have a little retreat for myself while my husband takes the kids...I'm hoping it will be enough!

    Blessings! :-)

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    1. Hi Jenna! Thank you so much for your sweet comments. Yes, you sound BUSY. First of all at those ages, I would say - take a DEEEEEEEEP breath. I wasn't doing anything formal with my kids until my eldest was 6. :) As for paying for these various options - well, I try to find things second hand and to be honest, I have, in many cases, I have had success either in person or on many different Facebook groups, etc. Also, at your stage, I would say you def. do not need a curriculum. Books can be borrowed from the library or purchased second hand through other Moms, Garage Sales, Thrift Stores, or websites like Thriftbooks.com.

      As for your question on how much time? When my kids were your kids' ages - none. My days consisted of playing, doing crafts, reading, and going for walks/to the park/to a local mommy play group. We didn't do anything formal. Even now, our days are short... with a 10, 9, and 7 year old, I'd say we spend about 2 hours a day on 'formal' school and most of that is reading and liberal arts (like poetry work, music, art, etc.). Kids are learning all the time. As long as they are presented with enlightening and interesting surroundings (ie: fun and educational toys, art supplies, creative things to play dress up, etc, and nature..) they will learn tons. Lots of reading together too! (You read aloud).

      As for your third question - haha. I literally re-plan every few months. I have learned that 'planning for the year' is a work in progress and that's why for my 2016 post I put 'subject to change' because it will likely change... and I always add and take away aspects of our year or we end up on crazy side roads for weeks as a time... so, planning is an ongoing adventure.

      You can take full days away to plan, but, you may be disappointed if your plan that you worked so hard on doesn't work out. I've experienced this. For me, I prefer to have a loose plan of the materials we'd like to read, but that's about it for the 'plan' right now.

      For example, for your kids' ages, I'd just have a list of books you would like to cover in various 'subjects', like NAture Study, Social Studies/History, Geography, some poetry... and enjoy! They are still so young! Don't stress. You are a million miles ahead already considering you are thinking of all these things!!!

      Have you considered Five in a Row? It is a very lovely, inexpensive, gentle approach that really helped me get into the groove of homeschooling. I hope this helps.

      xo.

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