Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to {Home}School Curriculum 1st/2nd grade

     My sweet Luca is a challenge compared to Nico. Luca struggles a lot. We spent last year adjusting and changing math and reading curriculums so he is a bit behind there. He is progressing though. Luca is a workbook and visual kind of kid. He likes working in the workbooks but he also needs pictures to associate with things. He likes some hands on stuff but not if it requires a lot of detail work. (He is totally the opposite of Nico). The 2014-15 school year brings us to wrapping up some things from last year and moving on in other subjects.

     Here is his line up.
     Language - Shurley English for homeschoolers. We absolutely love this. I wish I had found it when Nico was younger. Luca does great with it. They have songs to help remember parts of grammar. Luca loves to sing and remembers better with this method. The teacher's guide is scripted. The lessons are short and repetitive but not to the point of 'I am sick of this.' We are finishing Level 1 this year and will move to Level 2.
     Reading - Reading has been a struggle. We many things but have settled comfortably on McRuffy Press Phonics. You have to visit the website to read about this one. It is colorful, the books are funny, there are short lessons and reviews for 'grading'. This is great for us because there are games, flashcards, workbooks, and many other things to keep the variety going. I am also adding in some Hooked on Phonics readers I had from Nico.
     Math - We are also using McRuffy Press Math we are finishing up 1st grade this year. Again, there are lots of games and short lessons with a lot of variety. I have also started to add in MathUSee because I like how it visually shows you the math. Luca had issues with it two years ago because he couldn't remember his colors. He also needs to write things down vs being able to quickly verbalize his answer. He can fly through an addition worksheet quicker than flashcards due to the processing it takes to verbalize it.

     Science - Winter Promise The World Around Me and combining it with once again McRuffy Press 1st grade science (only because I had it from when Nico was younger). McRuffy is full of fun experiments and everything is in the box. The World Around Me covers all topics and is the Charlotte Mason style of reading books and doing hands on. I bought just the guide and will buy the books separately.

     US History - Intellego Unit Studies K-2 Civics: Symbols of America Here is the description from the website K-2 Core Curriculum - Civics: Symbols of America In this fun and interactive unit study, designed to meet and exceed state and national standards, your children will explore civics through the national symbols and patriotic music of the United States! With over 33 activities and 14 hands-on exercises, your children will be fascinated from beginning to end. Each chapter includes current and active links to videos, hands-on activities, maps, readings, worksheets, charts, interactive websites, games, and much more to provide a multisensory approach to learning about the nation.
     We are going to give it a try. Nico didn't really like Intellego as it wasn't comprehensive enough for him and it was too much back and forth websites, reading, etc. I am thinking the more basic ones will be better for Luca. This should only take about 20 hours. I will reevaluate from there and decide if I want to switch to Abeka for Social Studies or continue with Intellego. I did like Abeka for 3rd and 4th grade for Nico.
     Spanish - We will use Rosetta Stone

     Art - Artistic Pursuits K-3 This is a book I had left from Nico as well. The boys will not be able to attend art classes this year so I want to do it at home. Now that I think about it I am going to choose one for Nico to add once a week.
     Music - I don't usually incorporate music only because Nico hated to sing. Luca on the other hand likes to sing and can use some help with rhythm. I also have a piano at home collecting dust since Brian moved out. I do not know how to play the piano but found a curriculum that says I don't have The Hoffman Method Piano we will give it a try and see what happens. I even have a full keyboard we can put in the schoolhouse for lessons and practices can be completed in the house on the piano.
     Luca will continue with Hip Hop dance, tumbling, and karate for his extra curricular activities.
     That wraps up our line up for the year. One of the many wonderful things about homeschooling is I can change and adjust our curriculum to fit the children's needs. I have learned it is not about how I learn but how they learn. 


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Back to {Home}School Curriculum 7th/8th grade

   It's that time of year again across the nation. Teachers are hitting the classroom again prepping for the new school year. Kids are dreading the end of summer break. Parents may or may not be ready to get their kids back in school. It is the same way here at home as we gear up for our 2014-15 school year. I have been puttering around in the school house rearranging things and selling the curriculum Luca (my youngest) is finished with. This summer I spent a couple days putting screening up on the porch of the school house. This way we can open the door (once I get the screen door on) and let air flow through, or we can comfortably sit on the front porch for reading time or completing lessons without being bothered by bugs.
     This year is going to be a little different for us. I have quit my job of 23 years working midnight shift over the weekends (Sunday -Tuesday), to take on a job working 2nd shift (3:30pm-midnight), Monday-Friday (weekends and holidays off). I am excited about having fresh mornings to get school completed. Before I would sleep until 10 or so then have to get the kids motivated to start school after they have been up watching TV and playing for a couple hours. I was also so tired I would be testy and just want to get things done. My days will be busier with school then work, but I am looking forward to those weekends off to get on a schedule to keep my house in order.

     I have my lessons lined out in general for the school year as far as subjects and weekly agenda on curriculum goals. I am using A Simple Plan Homeschool Planner I used it last year and loved it. It has planning pages, monthly calendars, weekly layouts where I can add both boys lesson plans, student records, a place to list Things Accomplished, Special Activities, Supplies Needed, and a Reading List for each month. (They have an online planner and an physical planner. I prefer having it in my hands as I am not always by the computer when planning or getting school work done.)
      Okay, onto the curriculum list! Nico is 12 and is around the 7th/8th grade area. This year he will be more independent in his studies as far as being responsible to get things done at a required time. He is also becoming more self motivated to start his assignments without me telling him what to do. He gets to pick what order he does his subjects in. I don't blame him because it gets boring doing the same routine every day. Sometimes my brain is not ready for math at 8am. :-) Here is his list.

      Science - This was a tough choice this year. We do so much in nature ourselves I have yet to physically complete a biology section in our school year. This year we are taking on Biology. I had an awesome curriculum I wanted only to find out they wouldn't sell me the teacher guide. I could do it without the guide, but I like having the lesson plan layout and extra help if needed. (I have a biology degree and work as a chemist so am confident I can do it, but do love the guidance just in case). Anyway, I decided on my second choice of REAL Science Odyssey Biology Level 2. I like it because it has a set up to organize in 2, 3, or 5 days a week. We are chosing 3 days a week. Each week includes 2 labs, reading, answering questions, and review.

     Geography - Mapping the World by Heart This will take us into the next school year, but I am okay with that. I want us to be able to take our time and really learn. Nico is also very particular about his drawings so it may take a while. I have heard and read so many good things about this curriculum. Nico is pretty good at geography anyway, so hoping this adds more fun to it.
     Writing - Last year we attended Essentials through Classical Conversations. We loved it. However, this year it is not going to fit in with my new work schedule. I have found Cover Story Middle School Writing Curriculum. It is from the same creator of The One Year Adventure Novel. Nico really advanced in his writing last year so I did not want to lose that skill. This curriculum is presented on DVD's so I am a little more hands free for the teaching part of it. The previews are entertaining. The schedule is laid out nicely and does include some grammar, however, the focus is more on writing.  (We will use last year's Essentials grammar charts again this year so we keep up on those skills). Nico will be responsible for his journal writing and paying attention to the assignment guide. Of course, I am there to guide and help. We are also continuing with Fix-It by IEW. This helps with grammar.
     Math - We are sticking with MathUSee. Nico has been using this since preK and does really well with it.

     Vocabulary/Spelling - Nico has always had issues with spelling. Last year we used All About Spelling and he progressed. I ran across Soaring with Spelling and Vocabulary in Practical Homeschool magazine. We are starting with Level 7. It is laid out in 5 daily lessons.
     US History - We have traveled to Washington DC and our state capital, Jefferson City. We toured Jefferson City's Senate and House chambers. We have discussed some politics,  the making of laws, and watched Presidential campaigns but have not sat and actually studied the Constitution. I don't believe at 4th grade they are able to fully grasp all that information. This year though we are taking the plunge. I scoured the internet for a nice complete study of the US Constitution, not just an overview or workbooks. I decided on American Government and US Constitution, Part I. This is the description from the website "Curriculum, "The 5000 Year Leap" and 6 DVDs curriculum contains: textbook "The 5,000 Year Leap", suggested class schedule, suggested course requirements and grading standards, teaching objectives for each lesson, reading assignments, quizzes, examinations, and lesson presentations (6 DVDs). Additional textbooks may be purchased in the "Books" category For high school aged students." I am loving this because it does have the DVD's to give the presentations. I am not a government political type guru so this will be a big help for me. We will also get to the second part later in the year, "The Making of America".
     Spanish - We will be using Rosetta Stone this year.
     Nico will continue with his competitive Hip Hop and Karate as the extra curricular activities.
That will cover Nico's curriculum for the year. I think our days will go smoothly and Nico will grow in his studies this year by leaps and bounds. I am working to set us up for his High School years ahead. (I can't believe that time is almost here).