Homeschool Plans for 2015 and more Charlotte Mason for our days...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015





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.

So, here's how it looks for us...  please forgive the photo quality, the shots weren't coming out the best!

This is our weekly schedule with only a few changes made for 2015.


Weekly Plans - 

 

Page one of Family/Group work includes our Bible and Scripture Memory, Hymn Study, Literature, Poetry, Folk Tales and Songs, and usually various other planned readings.



Page two of our Family/Group work includes things like Geography, Hebrew and French, History, Art and Picture Study, Music and Composer Study, Science/Nature Study, and Handicrafts.  This page is also sometimes switched out completely for a Five in a Row planning sheet if we are doing a Five in a Row unit that week.



One thing I added this year that has been very helpful is a Reading Log.  I try to keep track and record all the books the children are reading, which is quite the task, but very nice to have at the end of the 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!





Language Arts


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.


Timeline.


The beginning of our timeline.


An example of the author's writing style.





For Geography, I've included Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography, which is available online for free.  It's a great intro to World Geography and written in perfect Charlotte style, since, well, it's written by Mason herself!

 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


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.



Habit Formation


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.



Nature Study


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...  






6 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post! I just received Alpha Phonics in the mail yesterday, so I will be anxiously awaiting your review. It seems a little dry to me as well. I don't have a strong phonics background, so I knew I didn't want to be without a program and I researched like crazy before deciding on one. I am also patiently waiting for Math Lessons for a Living Ed. It looks like a fun engaging curriculum for my 5 and 6 yr olds.

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    1. Thanks, this is the encouragement I need to get on that review!!! :)

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  2. Cassandra,
    I am preparing to start Math Lessons for a Living Ed early this week (book 1). I was wondering if you use the manipulatives in the back of the book. I see lots of beans and lots of baggies in my mind and it feels like it could get confusing. I was thinking about purchasing manipulatives from Math U See, but I am willing to give the houses and beans in baggies a try. What are your thoughts? I would appreciate any info. Having a hard time finding others who use this curriculum. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Kelly, I did use the manipulatives to the best of my ability, yes. I had several tiny zip-lock bags from the dollar store and I did use them with our daughter. I've always found teaching place value to be a bit tricky/confusing. To be honest, I did have Math U See before with "Decimal Street" and the tall blue sticks for tens and red squares for hundreds, and so on... they were ok, a bit easier in theory, but I'm not sure worth the money. You could easily create your own free manipulatives. For my little guy, I think I will literally cut out my own from construction paper. (small squares of a certain color for units, tall rectangles in blue for tens, etc.)... I think it might be less confusing than the beans when you get into hundreds. Another thought might be to use beans for units and use cut-outs for tens/hundreds? Hm... let me know how it goes because I'm right there with you!

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  3. Love this! We tried MOH this year but my boys were bored out of their poor little minds. So we are just reading YWAM books for American history figures for now. I finally dusted off my copies of Laying Down the Rails and just got the first Hero Tales from the library to read with my boys.

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    1. Thanks, LaToya... yes, my kids have been bored in part of MOH, but overall they do like it and I shorten the readings and add some other books at times. My eldest is the one who truly loves it (he's nearly 10). :) Sounds like we have the same taste. The Hero Tales has been a HUGE blessing to our family. We are on Volume 3 and the kids still beg us to read more. Esp. my eldest. xo Cass

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