Sunday, June 2, 2013

Another Curriculum Update

This is a sad little blog.  Sorely outdated and neglected.
Here we go again, another curriculum update, this time for the 2013 school year.

All 3 kids:
Picture Smart Bible - we absolutely love this Bible survey course designed to engage us with various styles of learning.  We draw a symbolic picture of each major act or story in the Bible, summarize and retell each book.

Story of the World Volume 3
with the Activity Guide - this volume covers world history in the Early Modern Times from Queen Elizabeth to the Gold Rush.
We also choose our literature to read from this hisorical time period, based on many recommendations from the Activity Guide.
We use the Audio Books in the car and at home to follow along.
We also love Jim Wiess recordings of classic tales and literature.

Life of Fred - we are working our way through the elementary series quickly as a review of basic concepts for Mary and William and introducing some new ones for Robert, while laughing at such a silly character, Fred, who is a 5 year old professor at Kittens University.  Hilarity and practical math.
Math on the Level - this is still our core math curriculum, based on progressing through skills at your own pace, practicing for mastery and then building on the concept with further learning.  Fred introduces many new skills, which we can practice in our 5-a-day book.

Science with Dad -  Galileo for Kids:  His life and Ideas; Isaac Newton for Kids:  His life and Ideas; K'nex Simple Machine Science Kits; gardening with mom

First Language Lessons level 2 - we're progressing through grammar basics, memorizing poetry and classifying sentences.
Alphabet Island Level 2B - We're finishing up this phonics/spelling curriculum with our friends from Alphabet Island.
Reason for Reading - we're working on fluency and inflection in story telling with these easy Bible readers
Independent work:  Reading Comprehension workbook, Time and Money skill book, Reading for the Gifted student, Wordly Wise Book 2; Rosetta Stone German.

Mary and William:
First Language Lessons level 4 - This is the final book in this series (at least for a while).  Students diagram complex sentences and practice writing mechanics.
Reason for Spelling - we love the variety of activities in this book and the ability to adjust the level of each spelling list for each student.
Independent work:  Wordly Wise Book 4; Daily Word Problems, Daily Language Review; Rosetta Stone German; Mavis Beacon Typing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Freshen up

Every year, around Mother's Day, I attend the homeschool book fair in Arlington, TX to get a feel for what's new and how I can solve any of our problem areas.   I saw a lot of neat things.  I purchased some and just drooled over others.  I can't incorporate everything, but I'm hoping to document some things here to refresh my memory when the time is right.

Here's our current curriculum line up, including my new finds:

Math on the Level
Alphabet Island Phonics Level 2A
Science - Dad in the Lab
A Reason for Handwriting A

Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind Level 1
Story of the World Year 2 and Materials
Write Shop Primary Book A 
Atelier Art

Mary and William:
Math on the Level
A Reason for Spelling
Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 4
Write Shop Primary Book C
Reading for the Gifted Student Grade 3

Math for the Gifted Student Grade 3
Story of the World Year 2 and Materials
Science - Dad in the  Lab
Lifepac Bible Level 3

We cycle through various Bible studies and devotional books fairly quickly.  Most books can be finished in month or two.

Impressive programs that I hope to incorporate some day:
Visualize World Geography
Picture Smart Bible

Friday, January 13, 2012

Another Year, More progress

We're at the brink of promotion for each of my students again.  Some curricula have grown with us, others we are trading in for new.  I've simplified things this year by replacing our History curriculum with something more manageable for me.  Here's where we've landed so far.

Math on the Level
Alphabet Island Phonics Level 2A
Science - Dad in the Lab
A Reason for Handwriting A
Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 1
Story of the World Year 2 and Materials
Rosetta Stone Italian

Mary and William:
Math on the Level
Eagles' Wings Phonics Handbook
Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 3
Reading for the Gifted Student Grade 3
Story of the World Year 2 and Materials
Science - Dad in the Lab
Lifepac Bible Level 3
A Reason for Handwriting B
Mavis Beacon Typing
Rosetta Stone Italian

Friday, September 23, 2011

Monday with a Mad Genius

We listened to the audiobook in the car.

The Magic Treehouse: Monday with a Mad Genius #38 by Mary Pope Osborne

Jack and Annie ventured into Renaissance Florence and spent the day with Leonardo da Vinci.  They watched him try to fly, scoured his notebooks for good ideas and helped him capture Mona Lisa's smile.  

Is Cursive Passé?

I was asked recently if I will be teaching my children cursive, after all, public schools consider giving it the boot.

Hmmm...I'm thinking back to the torture of teaching my students manuscript.  The long tear-filled hours of practice over what should have been a 10 minute drill, despite the name of the program "Handwriting Without Tears."  Handwriting became such a dull and painful assignment that we nearly "lost" one of our students to self-deprication that reached into all subjects.  

One of my students just decided to have beautiful manuscript writing one day.  From that moment on, writing was an exercise of pride, though slow and painful for mom, even to this day.  The other student truly hasn't progressed in handwriting in the last year and much of the work is near illegible.  Past torture has tainted the attitude toward writing in general.   I'm worn out teaching handwriting and I haven't even gotten to cursive yet!!

I remember being a third grader, learning the difficult slant and slope, loops and curves of cursive writing.  And after I'd finally gotten manuscript down, suddenly all of my teachers demanded that I write in only cursive. AND then, they piled on long division!  Third grade was hard!   I wondered why on earth I'd worked so hard on manuscript, when it was being stripped from me. By sixth grade, the teachers just asked for legible work.  I went straight back to manuscript and perfected a stylized, though minute version of the balls and sticks I'd learned in Kindergarten.  They never said it had to be legible without a magnifying glass.  Today my writing is some cross of the two, lazily dragging my pencil between some letters, but not others.

Some homeschool families skip manuscript all together, citing reasons like a young child's motor ability being more attuned to loopty loops.  Cursive also helps students with dyslexic tendencies to succeed in spelling and writing, as cursive letters can not be written backward and the constant flow of cursive, without lifting the pencil seems to guide their brain into the next letter without struggling to identify it.  We did not opt to begin this way, as I have a special  place in my heart for ball-and-stick manuscript.  And I don't even want to discuss D'Nealian.

One of my students, the one with the sloppy manuscript, has asked when I will teach the curvy letters.  I thought perhaps they would be easier to form than manuscript and thus make the handwriting neater, so I offered a few short lessons hoping to gauge whether script suited the one student better.  Most definitely not, it only gave permission for one sloppy letter to blend into and crowd another.

I usually advocate for tradition.  I like real books, with real paper and real glue and dust smells, but I see the convenience and have benefited from ebooks on numerous occasions.  Multiplication speed drills.  A little competition against the clock is good practice, even if it does "stifle individuality."

The truth is, I don't want to teach cursive.  I don't like it and believe the need for it is fading.  I see the need for this generation to learn to read cursive, and of course they must learn to sign their names.  But, I feel our time may be better suited taking a proper typing course.

Some argue that without cursive, how will those poor deprived students label geometric figures?  They'll pick up what is necessary, just like characters such as ∞ and π are learned as the situation warrants.   What about taking notes in meetings and brainstorming on the whiteboard?  Please!  Neither of those were ever done in proper cursive anyway.  Note taking dove into the digital gadget a few years ago and grocery lists and brainstorms (though I keep mine digitally, as well) will still be made of whatever slopified writing the author creates for himself (which I imagine will look very much like D'Nealian and is why I despise it).  Won't it be sad when our newest generation visits the National Archives and can't read the Declaration of Independence?  I hate to say it, but it's already illegible, from fading as well as an old style script.  I suppose this won't be much different than looking at any old document.  Scripts and styles change.  Old English script is almost entirely illegible now, as is old German.  And thank goodness, some good typist has transliterated the Declaration and its content is available all over the web.  

Yes, traditions change and some of us long for the old days for old days' sake.  If having ship to my door, air conditioning, instant world-wide communication, online bill pay, and direct deposit mean that our children must give up the precious cursive in lieu of typing 90 wpm, fingerprint scans, e-signatures and debit cards, I'll (not too sadly) bid cursive instruction and the hours of tears adieu.  

On which side do you fall?

Friday, July 29, 2011

What do we do all day?

It's that time again!

Even though we've continued to school through a good portion of the summer, the back-to-school feeling in the air makes me want to reorganize and begin fresh.

I'm stocking up on $0.25 boxes of crayons now because I know in March they will be $2.50.  It's time to organize the school room again and take an inventory of what is working and what isn't.  I've made several adjustments through the year and I feel like we are on the right track.  Now that regular schools are returning, it's time to step our game up and really get hard at work too. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A New Endeavor

We began a new subject of study today.  I've long felt it important to instill musical knowledge and appreciation in our students, but as I was not taught well in my youth, I did not know how to incorporate this in our home studies.  On the recommendation of the My Father's World curriculum, I purchased the $3 CD "The Story of Tchaikovsky in Words and Music."  I can say without a doubt that it was $3 well spent.  I immediately enjoyed listening to the selected music while a narrator discussed the composer's life.  I learned so much!

Until this afternoon, I didn't know if the children would enjoy or listen to the music and story, but they seemed enthralled and made observations about the music and the story.  We will continue to study the great composers in this way as well as learning about the orchestra and its instruments with a book and CD combination called "Those Amazing Musical Instruments."

I'm so excited to share this learning with my students.  I'm learning so much with them!