Humbling, overwhelming, joyful, challenging, and enlightening are just some of the ways I would describe homeschooling on a any given day! Oh yes, BUSY is a good one too!
Since we start most of our school years in August, we're usually ready for a shake-up come January. Almost every year we revamp at this time. As a home educator, I am constantly assessing how the children are relating to and learning with specific curriculums as well as teaching methods.
Since we try to cling to many of Charlotte Mason's philosophies, we use hundreds (thousands?) of living books every year for learning, teaching, discovering, and growing. Every subject is filled to the brim with wonderful whole books. It would be impossible for me to list all the books we use in our home. We can go through 50 picture books a week, and are always using books as resources and reading novels and shorter chapter books! So, keep in mind, below is a highlight of the more 'curriculum' type books we use. You do not, however, even need curriculum to learn and grow well in the home… a big 'ol pile of rich, engaging living books is a wonderful place to start with any child and at any age, especially under six years old.
Schedules and Weekly Plans:
Can I be completely honest and say - it makes me feel so weird to share this type of thing on here! My little hand-typed in NeoOffice files aren't the hight of blogging excitement! I share only because of how many Moms have asked me to post our weekly times tables and schedules.
For our daily scheduling, I created my own files using a simple 'table' setting in a word processor. These are my life-line and I couldn't function day to day without these outlines and plans. Each week is a four-page spread with one page for all Individual Work, two pages (see below) for our Family/Group Work, and a final page for my own review of the week and room for notes for the upcoming week. This pages also serve as a very detailed record of our year.
Curriculum, Books, and Hopes!
Five in a Row
This year we are following Five in a Row Volume 4 for the most part. We are also finishing up some books from Volume 3 and will do Who Owns the Sun? from Volume 1. We love our Five in a Row as you can see by our growing collection of titles we've studied!
Last year we discovered this wonderful Language Arts program from Queen Homeschool. I have really enjoyed working through these gentle, Charlotte Mason-focused books. I plan to review them coming up soon with lots of photos and descriptions!
For Spelling this year, we are using Spelling Wisdom Book One from Simply Charlotte Mason. We have also started implementing the Schoolhouse Spelling program from School House Teachers (review coming in a few days!). For grammar and composition we are using Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola (a revamp of Charlotte's original grammar series), and for cursive we are using Pictures in Cursive from Queen Homeschool.
I was given Alpha Phonics about a year ago to review. At first I was very unsure about the program in general - it seemed quite dull, very 'school-like' and I wasn't very excited about the appearance of the books or the readers. However, after almost a year of using it in our home, I really do love the program. It is incredibly effective at teaching reading quickly and efficiently. Alex is working through Alpha-Phonics along with several readers including the "I Can Read It" series from Sonlight. A full review of Alpha-Phonics coming in the next two weeks!
Poetry memorization and copywork are a big part of our language arts studies as well. Every week the children have one poem or a stanza of a larger poem to copy and try to memorize. This can turn into a creative art project as well. This is also a great way to find spelling words and grammar rules. We really enjoy this Charlotte Mason flavour to our language arts. Above is an example of a weekly poem that was inspired by one of the Ramona books.
Some of the many Fairy Tale, Mother Goose, and Poetry books we are using this year.
History and Geography
This year, we were introduced to Mystery of History Volume 2 through a co-op that we actually never ended up attending. It was a gift though because I bought the curriculum, and then loved it so much I kept it. And we have been really enjoying this program. I wouldn't say it is entirely Charlotte Mason, but it definitely leans towards the learning the literature method. The engaging narratives, use of history timeline and narration, and the chronological study of history all fit very well with our philosophies.
The history timeline we're working on in combination with our studies in Mystery of History.
The beginning of our timeline.
An example of the author's writing style.
An example of an activity from the Charlotte Mason Geography.
For geography we are also using Canada, My Country by Donna Ward, which we've enjoyed for simple Canadian history and geography.
Math for the two older children is Teaching Textbooks (can't say enough positive things about TT), and Alex is still working through Horizons Math along with the Charlotte Mason Math photographed below.
We are also using this Queen Homeschool Math for a living education. This is much more geared to a Charlotte Mason style of learning and our children do enjoy these books. They are a stand-alone curriculum, but I use them in combination with other books.
Love this book from Simply Charlotte Mason. This highlights all the habits Charlotte focused on, many biblical character traits and life skills/habits. It is pretty intensive and we've only touched on it, but it is my prayer to really work on habits this year. I hope to post a review of this resource soon!
Bible, Faith Studies, and Scripture Memorization
We love our Scripture Memory Box that I created with the help of the 'how-to' tutorial over at Simply Charlotte Mason.
We're reading through the 3rd volume of Hero Tales this year and we absolutely love this series. Not only is it great for Hero Recognition (a part of a Charlotte Mason education), it is such a faith builder! The stories of the believers in these books are both uplifting and a challenge to our daily walks. Our nine year old son especially love these stories.
Here are some of the resources we use daily in our home - the Adventure Bible for reading God's word, the Adventure Bible Devotions book, and The Complete Illustrated Children's Bible. I can't say enough about the illustrated bible. It is by far the most detailed 'picture' bible I've found. It has over 600 pages and is very well written and illustrated. Our children are constantly begging me to 'keep going!'. Published by Harvest House.
Some more books we're planning to study/read.
Music and Art Study
We were blessed to get this Tree Of Life program for Elementary Music for only a few dollars at a homeschool sale and it is great! We are using it slowly but steadily in combination with composer studies and living books about various composers. Right now we're working on Haydn.
Another two books we have absolutely loved this year - ARTistic Pursuits and Come Look with Me. ARTistic Pursuits we have used for hands on art projects and simple picture studies and the children have truly enjoyed it. Come Look With Me is a great series of books for easy to do picture studies of beautiful paintings. This red book is all portraits and art with children as the subject(s). We also just starting using Everyday Easels from School House Teachers which I truly love and will review in the next week.
Some of the art resources we use regularly.
This year we started our first Nature Calendar of Firsts. It is very simple, just printed basic grids with numbers pasted in a sketch book. At the top of each page is simply the month printed. This is were we can keep track of 'firsts' of each season as we observe them in nature.
I'm really excited to start using these wonderful nature studies from Shining Dawn Books. NaturExplorers is hands-on, easy to use, and there are so many units to choose from. Full reviews of various units and giveaways are coming soon!
Nature Study is our science, especially for this year. I feel like we really need to focus on getting back into nature more and learn through smell, touch, feel, etc. We were focusing on a text-book style science program but I feel its high time to toss the text and get back to how our children truly love to learn science... by experiencing God's creation!
The book I can't recommend enough...
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola has been one of the biggest encouragements to me as a home educator. Highly recommend this book!
Thanks for reading, friends...