Our Choices for Individual Studies / Morning Rotation - 2016, Term 1 and beyond. {Language Arts, Math, Reading, and Notebooking...}

Wednesday, August 10, 2016





So, last week I posted about our Morning Time and Family Loop plans for this year, Term 1.

If you haven't read that post and are genuinely interested in how our year (or a creatively put-together, Charlotte Mason-inspired year) looks like, I'd definitely start there.  A huge part of our learning is covered in our Morning Time and Family Loop.

Once we finish up Morning Time, the kids move into their Morning Rotations (Individual Work).  This is where they are covering their Language Arts, Math, Notebooking, and Reading.  

This year Simon is our 6th grader (oh, my goodness!),  Audrey is in 4th grade, and Alex is in 3rd.   I can't believe how fast these kiddos are growing up...  I don't really like the whole 'grade-level' thing but I add this to give perspective for our planning.  Simon is 11, Audrey 9, and Alex just turns 8 at the beginning of September.




Plan Your Year

I can't write this post without acknowledging how much Plan Your Year helped me plan this year.  I had never really looked at each of our children individually, evaluated their strengths and weaknesses and set actual, straight-forward goals for their upcoming year.  This is a new practice for me and it was SO helpful.  I also used a ton of the planning tools and print-outs to help organize our kids' individual work and curriculum choices.  I honestly love all Pam's resources.


Plan Your Year Ad


The Plan Your Year resources come with several printables as well as an ebook that walks you through the entire planning process.  It is an amazing resource.

One of the Goals Worksheets that helped me pick and choose our focus and the right resources for each child.





Morning Rotation

The reason I call this part of the day Morning Rotation is because, well... I basically stole the term from Sarah Mackenzie.  *wink*  But really, it's a great name for this part of our day because we do the same thing she does - the kids rotate through having individual time with me.  Sometimes they can do a bunch of this work on their own, but often they need me to help walk through it with them.  They take turns with Mama, rotating through... so... yea, "Morning Rotation" works.  We also often call this their 'Individual Work/Studies" and they know what that means.



How we Roll...

I also feel like I need to add - I'm not super normal in the way I use resources. (Or the way I do anything, for that matter... ) 

Many Moms pick one resource and work through the whole thing from Lesson 1 to the last Lesson and that's that.  We usually (wait, sometimes...) get through entire programs, we just do a bit of bouncing around while we work through it. 

So, you might see that one of my children has 3 writing programs listed in the plans.  Well, that's because we will literally move from one to another and back again as we feel led or as I see fit.

There are a lot of great resources out there and we use bits and pieces of many different 'programs'.  I may LOVE one aspect of one but not implement other aspects.   So, please don't think I'm a crazy person, making our kids do unimaginable amounts of work (hardly...)!  We just use resources in a creative and flexible way which allows us to tap into more than one curriculum, especially with Language Arts.



Choosing a Focus

In the spirit of Charlotte Mason, our kids have quite the 'feast' set before them every year with regard to reading, learning, curriculum, and ideas presented within the home.  In the midst of this we will be choosing a focus.  This is one area that needs work that will get some extra attention through the school year.  


This year, our focus is Language Arts - 

specifically Reading, Discussion Studies, Writing and Spelling.







Notebooking


Notebooking is a huge part of our homeschool.  I haven't added it into the individual spaces below because I wanted to talk about it here.

The children all use Notebooking for their Individual Work/Rotation as well as some of our Family Loop work.  This includes adding copywork, poetry, scripture, quotes, as well as pages in nearly every 'subject' area - Art and Picture Study, Composer Study, History, Geography, Nature Study... you name it.  If we are studying it, we are probably Notebooking about it too.

I have shared extensively about our Notebooking experiences and just how much we rely on Notebooking to carry us and enforce the wonderful things we are reading and learning about.  I couldn't imagine homeschooling without Notebooking!

I couldn't imagine doing all the Notebooking we do without our NotebookingPages.com membership either - so I always recommend this site to homeschoolers looking to get into a lot of Notebooking.  *smile*



Notebooking Pages LIFETIME Membership






Thoughts about Brave Writer...


Ummm.... ?!  

How have I not heard of Brave Writer before this year?   

I feel like I must have been living under some kind of writing curriculum rock to have not heard of this amazing program before now!!!  Especially as a Charlotte Mason-inspired Mama...!  So, in case you're out of the loop like me - it is imperative that I share this discovery with you!

The wonderful people at Brave Writer were generous to offer me the opportunity to review The Writer's Jungle  (that full review is coming this month!).  I feel like this chance to review The Writer's Jungle will be a revolutionary moment in our homeschool writing journey. Until now I have struggled SO HARD with finding writing resources that fit our philosophy of education.  So many are boring, too formulaic, full of busy work, and drive me and my kids to run from writing instead of nurturing a love for writing.

I'm extremely excited to implement several aspects of Brave Writer this year.  We will be using the philosophies and ideas/assignments in The Writer's Jungle all together, each child is doing their own titles/level of their Language Arts program (A Quiver Full of Arrows for our youngest and The Arrow for the other two), and we will be adding Poetry Tea Time as well as the Friday Free Write to our weeks.  (Yeah, I went a little Brave Writer crazy, but I'm in LOVE!)

I purchased A Quiver of Arrows for our 8 year old and The Arrow issues for our 9 and 11 year old through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  I actually got a really great deal price-wise, but the even better deal was for The Arrow!  I was able to purchase back issues/units in the titles I wanted!  Rather than subscribing to the 2016-2017 year, I actually got to choose which books we would use this year.
This allowed me to purchase 10 issues and I added the free unit they have on their website, so 11 issues of The Arrow in total.  Simon will use 6 of those, Audrey will use 5.

Although they are using the same level of The Arrow, it is imperative (IMPERATIVE!) that they do their own individual studies for Language Arts.


I used 1 1/2 inch binders and printed out all the units and placed them in the binders with dividers for each book.  It works!

The Writer's Jungle was sent to me as a PDF from Brave Writer.  I had it printed at Staples and Bound for about $30 (SO expensive to bind/print ... but worth every penny!).



The titles for A Quiver Full of Arrows - these titles do not change, there are 10 titles for this level and they come in a package.  I got a great deal (40% off) on the pdf download at Homeschool Buyers Co-op.
 

Titles I chose from past issues of The Arrow.  Not photographed - James and the Giant Peach.

Can't wait to share more in my full review of this amazing 'life-style', as Brave Writer calls it!







So, now... on to sharing some of our resources for Language Arts and Math:



I may just be over-thinking this, but I honestly struggle so much with sharing our resources.  

I struggle because I know SO WELL that what works for our kids may not work (at all) for yours.  And what worked for one child last year, may not work this year.  And what I think is going to work - may completely bomb.  OR what I think will bomb will completely work.  Yeah, there are a lot of variables.

So, I share here to simply give ideas, to share resources you may not have heard of or considered - not because these are the only ones that work or the "BEST" even.  Just because they are what has worked for us or what we are trying out on the recommendation of others or based on my own research for my kids' needs.  These resources help us but they do not rule us... we use them as we can and as they fit into our learning philosophy.







  Plans for Simon - age 11


Here are some of the resources we will be using for 6th grade Individual Studies/ Morning Rotation:





This is Simon's 4th year with Teaching Textbooks.  I can't express enough how much I love this Math Curriculum.  There is a computer based component where the concepts are taught in a fun, interactive, professional way and then a book based component.  The concepts are taught thoroughly and clearly.  There is minimal busy-work and no 'drill and kill' style worksheets.  It's awesome! He is thriving with it, so I plan to stick with TT all the way through.

I did share above about my Brave Writer discovery, so I won't babble on and on.  The plan for Simon is to work through the activities in Writer's Jungle as well as The Arrow Language Arts.  We will also be trying our hand at the Friday Free Write, which I'm slightly nervous about but also excited to see if we can make the kind of progress that so many other families seem to make with this simple method.


Books Simon will be studying for The Arrow -




I actually have full reviews of both of these resources coming very soon.  I love everything Simply Charlotte Mason puts out.  Their stuff is just so gentle, so engaging, so easy to use, and so effective.  Spelling Wisdom is a dictation program and Simon will be using Book 1.  Using Language Well goes along with Spelling Wisdom (you can't do Using Language Well without it).  Simon will be working through the dictation and language arts throughout the year.


This is a completely free Dictation program from the early 1900s.  Last year I downloaded PDFs of year 2 through 6 and had them printed together in a bound book.  Both our older kids actually really like this program.  It is super easy to follow and gives Dictation exercises for every day of the week - TONS.  They progress slower than many of the Dictation programs I've seen, which works well for daily use.

Simon is currently at the very end of the 2nd year.


  • For Reading 
Simon is a voracious reader.  I can't keep books in this boy's hands long enough!  It is actually hard to keep up with his book 'appetite' sometimes.  Especially since it matters very much to me that he is reading quality literature.  I don't need to time him or ask him to read - he does this freely and in huge blocks of time.  Especially between 9 and 11pm!

It is hard to say exactly what titles he will have read and narrated from by the end of the year, but here are just some of the titles on his reading list:






Plans for Audrey - age 9



Here are some of the resources we will be using for 4th grade Individual Studies/ Morning Rotation:



As I said above,  I love this Math Curriculum.  Audrey is able to use all the computer-based CD-Roms that I purchase for Simon.  All I needed to do was purchase her a new workbook ($40).  If you are using Teaching Textbooks with multiple children, that is a major bonus! 

Math is definitely not her favorite, but she loves this curriculum because it is easy to understand, there is minimal busy-work and no 'drill and kill' style worksheets.  It's awesome! 


 The plan for Audrey is to work through the activities in Writer's Jungle as well as The Arrow Language Arts program.  

We will also be doing the Friday Free Write, which I'm sure Audrey will absolutely love.  Writing comes naturally to her, and she loves to use her creative mind to put ideas to life on paper.  I'm excited to see how using these Brave Writer resources will help her improve her writing skills and ability to discuss and understand more complex pieces of literature.



Books Audrey will be studying for The Arrow -


Audrey will also be working through (throughout the year) Write Shop Junior, Book D.  I will be reviewing Write Shop in full in the coming weeks and months.  It is a wonderfully hands-on, engaging writing program that will appeal to my tactile, language-driven, eager-to-learn daughter. 

 (Yes, my 4th grader will be using TWO Writing programs this year - but we will move through them at a relaxed pace.  Besides, she's my girl who so longs to write and is always asking me for 'more work'!) 

From what I've seen so far, I would describe Write Shop to be like the All About Reading / All About Spelling of the Writing Curriculum World.  Very hands-on, very organized, bright, colorful and high quality, and very much open and go.  The program even includes Notebooking pages.  *smile*

There are even packs you can purchase to make things easier for you (pre-prepped games, cut outs, etc.).  Click here to see what we got for this year.  There is a nice combination of language games, encouraging reading aloud (and tracking your reading), a bit of fun grammar, and writing projects/assignments that are clever, direct, and seem fun to work through.

The games will also be shared with her brothers during family learning times because they will be so much fun to do together.

I will give much more detail in my review, once I've had a chance to work through a few lessons with Audrey and a few games with all the kiddos!


WriteShop: Teaching writing has never been easier!



  • Dictation Day by Day
This is a completely free Dictation program from the early 1900s.  Last year I downloaded PDFs of year 2 through 6 and had them printed together in a bound book.  Both our older kids actually really like this program.  It is super easy to follow and gives Dictation exercises for every day of the week - TONS.  They progress slower than many of the Dictation programs I've seen, which works well for daily use. 

Audrey is mid-way through Year 2.


  • For Reading - Nature Liberty Readers + various titles
Audrey started reading later than many children.  She wasn't REALLY reading until about age 8.  We used All About Reading with her and (just like her brother) she grew in leaps and bounds in a very short period of time.  I honestly LOVE All About Reading and can't say enough wonderful things about the program.

Now?  She's a great reader and enjoying early to mid-range chapter books and wonderful stories. She really enjoys the Christian Liberty Nature Readers and will be working through Book 2 and 3 this year along with Narrating from them.  She also has a whole bunch of other titles on her reading list.

The goal is 15-20 minutes (at least) of independent reading time or reading to Mom. 


Some of the titles on Audrey's reading list this year:






Plans for Alex - Age 8


I can't believe my little baby turns 8 years old at the beginning of September.  Where on earth is the time going?  I honestly BLINKED.

He has grown by leaps and bounds over the past year.  I really think age 7 is a magic number for boys when it comes to academics.  Trying to do much before then for me is almost pointless (this is my experience anyways).  He learned how to read (oh, how we LOVE All About Reading!), improved greatly in his printing skills, and starting doing wonderful narrations from Aesop's Fables.  

He also participated in Morning Time and all our Family Rotation work. 

This year's plan?  Focus on Language Arts.  


Here are some of the resources we will be using for 3rd grade Individual Studies/ Morning Rotation:









Alex is super excited to start the awesome Math he has seen his siblings doing for the past few years!  TT starts with Math 3 - so this is the starting point for Alex this year.  He is also able to use all the computer-based CD-Roms that I previously purchase for Simon.  All I needed to do is purchase him a new workbook ($40).  If you are using Teaching Textbooks with multiple children, that is a major bonus! There is minimal busy-work and no 'drill and kill' style worksheets.  It's awesome! 


I chose A Quiver of Arrows for Alex because I think this Language Arts program will fit him perfectly.  We own and have read nearly every book in the program already but will read the ones we haven't read and re-visit the ones we have as we move through them this year.  

I will do a full review of A Quiver of Arrows in the next month or so.  It honestly looks like such an amazing Language Arts program and I'm really excited to see how Alex grows and develops with this added challenge!


Some of the titles from A Quiver of Arrows -


  • Narration from Aesop's and 50 Famous Stories Retold
Last year we took the advice of many experienced Charlotte Mason educators and introduced Oral Narration to Alex with Aesop's Fables.  I purchased the Milo Winter version of the book and we just read through them.  I read aloud, he narrated.  It worked fabulously and his skills in narration are quite good.  This year we will continue through Aesop's and also introduce some of the stories from 50 Famous Stories and have him do Oral Narration from those as well.


  • For Reading - reading aloud with Mom from various readers and early chapter books.
We are total believers in readers.  (Oh, that rhymes!)  I kind of subscribe to the same philosophy that THIS post by Sarah Mackenzie communicates.  We are in the 'giving our kids easy to read/series books' stage for Alex.  He used All About Reading over the past year and absolutely loved it as well as FLOURISHED in his reading skills.  

Now, he's ready for lots of books that are simple enough to read but nurture his love of reading.  

Reading happens every day for Alex - the goal this year is 10 minutes a day of individual reading and reading aloud to Mom.  Hopefully, by the end of the year he will be curling up on his own to devour great books.



Here are just a few of the titles he will read this year:








A Few More Thoughts:


We will be using Write Shop Junior, Book D this year in our Morning Time.  This writing program offers a ton of hands on activities that work well in a group setting.  It will be a challenge for our youngest but a good fit for the other two children.  I'm looking forward to seeing how adding 'grammar games' to our Morning Time works out.



Although both older children are using The Arrow from Brave Writer this year, they are studying different books.  Sometimes it is just necessary to give kids (even kids who are working at the same level in a subject) their own work.  I realized this a couple years ago when our homeschool days were constantly upset by competition between our two eldest kids.  They just needed their space.  So, they will each have their own Arrow work to do.

I was able to purchase past issues of The Arrow at a great price through Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  This was AWESOME and I highly recommend checking out this option if you are interested in using the Language Arts programs from Brave Writer!  I was able to pick and choose the titles I wanted to study with the kids (I picked ones we wanted to read and titles I already had on hand to keep things a little less costly).  The transaction was flawless and the price was awesome.  I'll be honest, the site looks a bit sketchy (not sure why...?) but it is legit!  It totally worked like a charm and I'm really excited about my savings and my titles.



Family Read-Alouds

I included several of our Read-Aloud options in my last post about our Morning Time and Family Loop, but I wanted to post our Family Read-Alouds here too.  

This is such a HUGE part of our homeschool, friends.  Reading aloud is what keeps us passionate, excited about learning - peaceful, connected to literature.  Reading is just a family culture we've established, so reading through large quantities of books has just become the complete norm for us.  We are blessed.

These are our novel read-alouds.  This does not include read-alouds for History, Geography, Nature Study, Morning Time, etc.  These are simply books that we read together for enjoyment as well as to further our learning in certain topics/time periods, etc.

This reading is usually done in the evenings or during quite times in the afternoon or while the kids eat lunch.

Some of the titles on our read-aloud list this year:














A little freebie -
Printable Writing Prompt Collection free for subscribers (limited time)



I hope and pray this post is encouraging or inspiring to you in some small way.

Blessings as we prepare for another brand new 'year' of homeschool.





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2 comments:

  1. I'm using Brave Writer for the first time this year too. I'm really looking forward to digging into it. I love its holistic approach to Language Arts.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just wanted to say how much I adore Catwings. One of those great finds i wasnt expecting. I check out all 4 from the library for my boys and starting reading the first one and didn't stop. Sat there and read all of them for myself and cried at the end.

    Who says kids books are only for kids? Lol

    ReplyDelete

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