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Oh, the Curriculum!

And the purchasing has begun!!! Our next school year  has been on my mind for the past month or so. I’ve been making lists, researching, crossing things off, researching some more, and adding things on… I’ve got a pretty good list going, which I will probably post in the nearish future, even though it is subject to change. 😛  Now I get to spend my night perusing all these new books! And the nerd in me finds that rather exciting.

Homeschool Curriculum

A little sneak peek @ the first wave of resources we are adding to our homeschooling arsenal. 😉

 

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2012-2013 Curriculum 2.0

Since my original post on our curriculum for the year (back in September), I have made a good number of changes, so I figured it was about time for an updated version!

🙂 Here it is…

Language Arts

We left behind Time4Learning for various reasons – mostly math related issues. Now we are using How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and Haden’s progress since starting has been amazing, and we are only on lesson 40. I’m sure it isn’t the most interesting program to use out there, but it is effective and our lessons are never more than 15 minutes (usually less). I wish we had made a change sooner. As a supplement, we are using the program, ClickNKids.

Math

Time4Learning Kindergarten curriculum worked in hands-on activities, and used living math books to reinforce concepts introduced in the online lessons, which really worked well for us, but that stopped in their First Grade curriculum. After considering some various options, I decided that Living Math really is the best fit for us. So, now I am building my own lessons each week using various resources. Pintrest has really been my friend, and I’ve actually worked together a pretty awesome Living Math board. A little shout out for Education Unboxed too! I was so happy to find this website. Education Unboxed is filled with instructional videos on how to use Cuisenaire Rods to teach math concepts – way more than I ever could have come up with on my own.

photoTools for Living Math 🙂

 

Science

All my original plans for science have been working out well, but I have been working in more science than I originally planned. It has definitely become a favorite in our house! After we started school for the year, I bought Elemental Science’s Preschool Series Used because I had the opportunity, and since then have been working in parts of it on the subjects that we haven’t done much study on. It is a little young for him, but it has been easy to make it more meaty by using their extra recommended reading books. It uses the book Science Play, which is what I used to build the Toddler science class I just finished teaching with out co-op. (I have every intention of posting my plans soon, so others can use them.) I love that it is not textbooky. It is notebooking and activity heavy. Also, I appreciate how easy it is to use their lesson plans flexibly, and that there are additional things you can add in if the interest is there. I’m planning to use their Elementary level Biology for next year.

Elemental ScienceStudying dirt in our Exploring Earth Unit. Experiment: He collected dirt from our backyard, added water to the jar and stirred. When it settles the dirt separates into layers. He drew/colored what he saw and labeled his layers.

 

Other Stuff

We have made some other cuts too, like our Road Trip U.S.A curriculum. I doubt we will try to use this again unless Haden or Addison show interest in learning more specific things about individual states at some point. Now, I am winging Geography too, and using cool things I find on Pintrest. Like this video, which I think my kids have watched at least 25 times in the past 2 days. Enjoy! 😛

That pretty much sums up our changes! Everything else has worked out just fine. 😛 Annoyingly, I feel like summer is right around the corner, and then I have to start thinking about the next school year. :/ Sigh.

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A Peek at My Week: The First Week

Whew! It has surely been a busy week. I won’t bore you with every tiny detail. I’ll just bore you with some of them. 😛 Last weekend was spent with my family hanging at the lake for my birthday. After having an insanely crappy week, with insanely crappy weather, my birthday weekend really made up for it. The weather was gorgeous, and there is much to be said about drinking lime-a-ritas, playing board games, messy BBQ ribs, and flying at high speed across beautiful water for an adrenaline rush. Even if my whole body did hurt the next day. Hurt like I’d fallen down a flight of stairs kind of hurtin’. I’m just hardcore that way.

This week marked our official start for First Grade! I tried my best to make it feel special for the kids.  I do fondly remember first day of school excitement from my youth. We took the kids not-back-to-school shopping, so that they could pick out a first day outfit. They were uber excited to dress up nice for the first day, as opposed to their usual pajamas, or just running around in their underwear fashion they normally sport. 😛 I cooked them sausage pancake muffins for breakfast, which is something I rarely do. Have I mentioned that I am not a morning person? Plus, I surprised them with an awesome cake, which I very heavily relied on Michael’s assistance to actually make look good!

I wish I could say that our school week went off without a hitch, but that would just be a complete lie. We ran into a couple of problems with new curriculum this week, mostly easily rectified problems. One of them, however, has me a bit stressed out. That would be our math. My choice for math was a super easy decision for me, because we are just continuing on with our Time4Learning. We liked it for Kindergarten, so I saw no reason to switch it up, and I assumed it would be a smooth transition from Kindergarten to First Grade math. That isn’t exactly the case though. I won’t get into a long winded explanation on why we are having problems, but it looks like I am either going to have to pick something new or do some supplementation to start with and then use throughout the program. I’m leaning more towards the second choice. I’m hoping it will work itself out in the end.

Highlights from our homeschool!

This was out first week back at co-op classes too, which went really well. The kids had a lot of fun and being with a smaller group this year at a smaller location is going to do wonders for my stress levels. SO I am a happy mama.

We spent our weekend seriously kicking butt, getting some stuff done around the house! You can always tell when something big is coming up (Haden’s birthday party), because that tends to be the only time we get shit done around here. My upstairs bathroom went from being this insanely “blah” powder blue to a beautiful Bermuda blue! We had so much extra paint that we decided to spread the blue across the upstairs and did accent walls in the hall and both bedrooms. 🙂

And we made a firepit in the backyard! We have some backyard camping plans for the near future!

[box] Soooo, how was your week?[/box]

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Our Next School Year: The Plan

This past weekend was our local Homeschool Expo; I wrapped up the majority of my shopping for the upcoming school year while I was there! I still have a few miscellaneous books that I need to buy off of Amazon, but we are otherwise set for the year. I am pretty pleased with the way everything has come together, although there was a few moments there when I was planning and researching that my head was seriously hurting. 😛

We are doing year-round homeschooling, so although we have  taken a couple of short breaks this summer, we have not had an extended one that would clearly mark when we “go back to school.” I am going to consider the beginning of September as our new year, since Haden is two weeks away from being finished with this year’s Math, although he won’t finish his Language Arts until around October. But whatever.

So here it is! A summary of everything we will be using this year. 🙂

Language Arts & Math

We will still be using Time4Learning, because we love it so much! I really feel like it is the best fit for Haden (& me!), especially because he is a pre-reader, and the online lessons are a great way to introduce new concepts to him without me having to walk him through everything. Then, using the Teacher’s Guide for each unit, I plan activities to enforce the things he has been learning and to make sure that he isn’t confused about anything.  We use the recommended books list for each unit, and we have especially been enjoying some of the living math books.

Plus, I’ll be using the Cuisenaire Rods Alphabet Book: Problem Solving A to Z that I bought last year, since we never got around to really using it.

Literature

I’m moving AWAY from so much classical literature this year. This past year I used a book list of classical literature for his grade level and many of the ones we read, we just didn’t like all that much.We are going to continue pulling books from our Time4Learning lists, as well as other lists. Probably some of the ones I have pinned on Pintrest.

We did enjoy our Mr. Popper’s Penguins Literature Unit from Confessions of a Homeschooler, so I am planning to work in her units on Little House in the Big Woods, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Stuart Little.

Handwriting

We are picking up where co-op left off and doing Handwriting Without Tears at home this year. I actually sat in on their workshop at the Expo this past weekend (the only one I actually attended!), and listening to them talk more about the method behind the curriculum really solidified my choice for me. Their curriculum goes up through 5th grade and I highly doubt I will be using anything else. Along with the 1st Grade Teacher’s Guide & the My Printing Book, we will be using the Rock, Tap and Learn CD & the Slate Chalkboard during lessons. I also bought a big stack of their double lined paper for Haden to use on anything else that he does, so that he won’t have different paper line sizes confusing him and making writing harder.

If I had known that I might score freebies, I totally would have went to more workshops. 😛 I got some Pencils for Little Hands and a sample pack of FLIP crayons. Haden really loves the little pencils, they seem much easier to write with and hold.

Geography/History

I’m pretty excited about starting this one – Road Trip USA! Road Trip USA is a U.S. Geography/History notebooking curriculum, that uses National Geographic’s United States Atlas for Young Explorers as it’s core resource. The curriculum is broken down by state and includes state facts and history, famous people, fun projects that tie in, and cooking projects. I’ll keep you posted on this one! I really wanted to give it a try because it looked fun and it is very affordable, but I do expect to have to do some tweaking to it. I’m just hoping that it will be minimal. I plan to do this over a 2-year period. I bought a new wall map, a magnetic USA puzzle, Color and Learn: Colonial America & Wee Sing America to go along with it.

Science

I pieced together our science this year after deciding that we wanted to focus on Nature Study, Astronomy, and Plants/Gardening.

The Handbook of Nature Study Blog has a bunch of great curriculum and if you sign up for updates, you will get tons of ideas and freebie notebooking pages. We will be working through her Outdoor Challenges, using the Handbook of Nature Study, by Anne Botsford Comstock and a bunch of Peterson First Guides.

Along with utilizing internet resources, especially Pintrest, we will be using these books in Science …

Gardening with Children

The Kids of the Night Sky: Official Book on Skywatching

National Geographic: 13 Planets

We will also be doing more Animal Classification this year as a tie in with our Road Trip U.S.A. Each state has animal cards that will be classified and sorted onto our “Animal Wall.”

Physical Education

Even though we are breaking from our yoga at the moment, I suspect that we will be doing it off and on throughout the next year. I really don’t worry too much about my kids getting enough exercise, because they are so active anyways! I have started doing workout videos most mornings and the kids have been happy to join in with me, so we will continue to keep doing that. So far it seems to go a long way towards making me feel better, even if I can’t make it through a whole workout! Skinny does not = fit. Just so you know.

Also, I printed out these P.E. cards from Confessions of a Homeschooler, which seem like an easy way to throw in extra exercise.

Art/Cooking

Draw Write Now: Book One (On the Farm – Kids and Critters – Storybook Characters) – Haden really wants to be able to draw things, but gets frustrated that his pictures don’t turn out as he would like them. The Draw Write Now books break down how to draw things in such an easy and simple way! I’ll be learning how to draw chickens and whatnot with him. 😉 If he enjoys working through this book, I’ll likely continue buying more. There are 8 total in the series.

The Usborne Art Coloring Book – This book is full of pictures based on famous works of art that Haden can color. I thought this seems like an easy way to dip our toes into art appreciation without doing serious studies on it, because he just seems to young for it.

We will be doing cooking projects of some sort once a weekish. Some weeks I will be using Road Trip U.S.A. for this, but on the weeks that we don’t have one from our Geography, I will probably rely on finding something on Pintrest.

Tot School

Since Addison has been getting more involved in school, I decided to put together a little bit for her this year. Nothing extravagant, and mostly just to entertain and distract her. She has really enjoyed keeping her Yoga notebook, so when I recently stumbled upon these printouts for toddlers on the 1+1+1=1 blog, I thought making her a Tot Time Notebook would be fun! So I did. 😛

 

 

I’m also adding Do-a-Dot pages, which are so easy to find for free on the net. Addison loves do-a-dot pages. And FYI, you can save money and skip spending $12 on a pack of 6 Do-a-Dot markers and buy Bingo Markers at the Dollar Tree instead. At the expo I bought I Can Paste! and some new lacing cards for her, so I think her workboxes are pretty well set with things to occupy her when she needs it.

 

[box] So what are your plans for this year? I always love reading about what other people are doing![/box]

Not Back to School Blog Hop

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Sneak Peek at Next Year

When we got home yesterday, it felt a little bit like Christmas. Why?

Most of my awesome new purchases for our next school year had arrived! After researching, going back and forth with myself, and giving myself a pretty good headache, I finally got my game plan together for Haden’s first grade year, and so I may have went a little wild marking purchases off of my list before vacation. I still have things that I am hoping to find at the Expo in July, but I’m feeling pretty good about my choices so far.

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That Time of Year: Curriculum Choices

It is officially that time of year, when summer seems right around the corner, and my thoughts seem to be running forward, towards next year, and trying to figure out what curriculum we are going to use for school. I’ve already started keeping my list of things to investigate at the Southeast Homeschool Expo in July, and every time I see a homeschool blog post about curriculum choices, I eagerly devour them, looking for new ideas. One of my favorite homeschooling blogs to follow, Simple Homeschool, is doing a Curriculum Fair right now, and in the midst of reading their blog, it occured to me that I might have something helpful to offer as well. So I thought I would jump on the bandwagon, and share what we have been using this year in our mish-mash of curriculum.

Progressive Phonics – We have been working through the books, reading anywhere from 3-4 pages per week, which cover a few new words, plus doing the handwriting sheets that go with our new words. I think it has been really effective; we have seen big improvements with Haden being able to break words down and sound them out. I like Progressive Phonics because It is Free!, but Haden has become a little bored with it recently. It definitely isn’t overly exciting, but the books are pretty silly, so that helps.

 Time4Learning – We love it! We used it some during Pre-K, and Haden has always really enjoyed doing the online lessons. I think the benefit here is that it feels more like playing games to him; it is fun and he enjoys the characters. We have been mostly using Time4Learning for our Math, but we are beginning to use it for Language Arts, as well, since we are breaking from Progressive Phonics. Earlier this year I felt like he wasn’t retaining much from the Language Arts, which was why I switched to Progressive Phonics, but I only realized recently that I haven’t been using the curriculum to its fullest potential. (Thanks Que!) Besides the online lessons, there are many suggested activities, worksheets, and reading recommendations to go with each lesson, that can be found in the parent log-in section, under lesson plans. Doh! We don’t much use worksheets (in general), but the activity ideas have been awesome.

We have also been working through the limited Science section that is offered for Kindergarten.

 

Science: We pull from a bunch of different things depending on what we want to do. I’ve pretty much been going unit study style at Science. We have many of the  A Just Ask Book series, which are Science readers. Plus, we have the Explore and Learn Series, and have just been using them for Science so far.

 

I’m just wingin’ it half the time. The internet is my friend, especially Pintrest! If you aren’t on Pintrest, you should be. It has been an amazing resource for homeschooling extras, ideas and crafts. Amazing. It is where I found the free Going Green Unit Study that we are working on right now, and the Oceans lapbook we will be doing before we go on our cruise next month. 🙂 Among many others…

We also read tons. Everyday. I use the crap out our library, constantly putting books on hold, so that I can just walk in, pick them up and go. Some days library trips with my kids, and trying to find books, just doesn’t go well. I have been pulling books from this list of Classical Literature, and we are steadily working our way through them, plus many other books that aren’t on that list.

 

Angel Bear Yoga – I love their curriculum and have taught it twice with our co-op. This is a creative way to teach kids yoga, reinforce positive character traits, and learn about nature. It is very versatile so you can change things up, add extras to extend your yoga time, etc. We keep our sessions short, doing the main lesson, not much “quiet time”, and then do the coloring pages to add to our yoga book. This is great for kids 3-9.

Have Fun Teaching – These are probably my favorite. We own all the CDs and the Alphabet DVD. I am constantly using the music CDs in everything that we do. The music is great, really well done, and I find them way more interesting than most of the children’s music that you find out there. It makes you want to boogie, so that is what we do! 😉 My favorite CD is by far the Science Songs; my only beef is that it includes a Creation song, which I might find more forgivable if it also included a Evolution song, but it doesn’t. The website has tons of freebies, so it is not to be missed. The have a huge selection of printable options, and music videos you can watch on their YouTube channel.

I figure it is also worth adding OUR co-op to this list, because it really offers a large variety curriculum & topics for Haden, some of which I might not have touched on myself. We have been members for over a year, and in that time he has been able to enjoy classes for Clay & Pottery, Geography, Handwriting Without Tears, Science Explorations, Fun with Nature, Numbers, Art, and Reading & Crafts.

 

Our favorite online Freebies:

National Geographic Kids – Videos

Cool Math Games

Brain Pop Jr. – Not all of this is free, but they do have a nice freebie section. I think we are about to sign up for a membership soon, because Haden loves it so much. 🙂

ClickSchooling – Subscribe to their email list. They send one link per day, for a web-based curriculum idea. I have found some really cool stuff through them!

Handbook of Nature Study – Seriously. Subscribe to this blog.

 

What have you been using this year? Tell me what you love about it. 🙂

So I can add it to my list…