Monday, August 22, 2011

What are we doing for homeschool - Fall 2011 curriculum

I've been debating how much detail to share about our school days this year.   But esp. since Traci mentioned it today, I guess I'd better at least get an intro posted for inquiring minds ; )

One of the speakers at the homeschool conference we attended this summer kept saying that the best thing about homeschooling is that it is "forgiving and flexible."  It is freeing to know that anything that doesn't seem to work for our family is subject to change, but for the time being, I thought I'd share our current plan.

First, I chose to work on the Letter of the Week curriculum with Charlotte, so I planned out our year to encompass a week for each letter of the alphabet (in ABC order) with some holidays and special lessons mixed in.  I followed our local school calendar just to keep myself accountable.  I planned an art project to mostly abide with the LOTW theme and keep a good mix of artistic mediums.  You'll hear more about science later.


 Then, I worked out a daily schedule.  The girls participate together through circle time and then our 9:30 lesson either has an age appropriate seat work for Charlotte (Monday and Tuesday) or we are doing a lesson together (Thursday and Friday).  Obviously we do PE and snack together.  Then Charlotte has her LOTW laminated games to do nearby while Caroline and I do Math (or if it's a bad day, playing upstairs or watching TV).  And then she's napping when we do our afternoon lesson and homework.


Math: Saxon Math 1 - I mainly chose this because I was able to borrow my neighbor's $50 teacher's manual and because one of the coop options we are considering uses this curriculum in the higher maths.  For each lesson, we complete the front part of a worksheet during the lesson and then Caroline completes a very similar worksheet on the back during "homework" time.  We are doing level 1 because my neighbor said the levels seem to fall a grade behind and I am finding that to be true, given some pre-math training during preschool.  I seems to have a "big one" as far as a new subject we start each semester and Math is our "big one" for Kindergarten.  There are two huge workbooks of worksheets and I want to make a good effort at getting through, so we will try our best to do Math daily.

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears (orange) - Caroline made huge strides in muscle control and willingness to work on handwriting towards the end of the summer.  We are working through the book in ABC order, doing the capital and lowercase letters at the same time.  I teach the letters on paper (or dry erase or aqua doodle) during our lesson and then she completes the HWT workbook as "homework."

PE: Family Time Fitness - I found this on a Confessions of a Homeschooler and signed up for the one week trial.  They e-mailed me five days of warm-ups, actives, and cool downs, which I condensed and laminated on five colored pages.  I think it will be enough variety to give us something to work towards during the months that the girls don't play outside during school hours.  We like to do our warm-ups to the Nutcracker suite and pretend we are ballerinas and then we usually listen to a VBS song to do our active stuff.

Spelling: I'm working on putting All About Spelling in our budget, but for the time being, I've pulled all the Kindergarten words from Hooked on Phonics, plus the helper and Dolch sight words, and sorted them alphabetically in a spreadsheet (I love my spreadsheets).  We are going to work on the set for our letter of the week.  I got some Read Write Build mats that we are going to use with our Reading Rods (ABC blocks that click together) during class time and then I made a worksheet for her to practice writing them (more handwriting practice while reinforcing spelling) for "homework."  I don't plan any formal tests.

Science:  We are interested in joining a Classical Conversations group at some point and so I borrowed their teacher's guide from my neighbor and pulled my favorite and most basic science facts from each of the three cycles to build our plans for the year.  Classical education believes there are three phases to learning and right now Caroline is in the grammar phase.  She's learning the building blocks for science even though she doesn't have the capacity to process it.  So during this phase you focus a lot on memorization.  This week our fact is "What are the parts of the Earth?  Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere, Crust, Mantle, Core."  Although she doesn't have to understand it, we read an excerpt from a children's book that related, colored a book about the layers of the Earth, worked on picking the right cards to put the question and answer in our pocket chart, and even did a puzzle with Daddy from Target that shows the layers of the Earth (gotta love the dollar spot).

USA: We are going to memorize the states this year, mainly because my friend, Anne, introduced us to a super cute song.  And the girls learn so well that way, I figured why not.  I even found another Target dollar spot workbook for both the girls to work on together.

Reading: We are continuing with Hooked on Phonics in the 1st grade box.  I'm so not concerned about this right now since my mom and I both suspect Caroline is reading on a 2nd grade level.  I'm working on an assessment to do this week instead of HOP so I can have a good baseline.  Kevin and I have decided that since Caroline reads so much by choice that we don't want to make it a requirement for school.  She is earning rewards such as "movie night with mom" by doing a book journal and I'll encourage her to keep up with that.  I'm also reading the Borrowers Avenged and The Wind in the Willows aloud.  We'll work on reading some of our children's magazines together so we have some on-level and new-to-her material.

Other stuff:  I'm working on doing Quiet 1, 2, 3 so I can have some "mommy time" during the afternoon (seriously, I've tried it once).  We are also using Funnix Math for some educational computer time.  I got it when it was free and it was amazing at getting Caroline to practice writing her numbers with minimal effort on my part.  I'm also going to input her spelling list at Big IQ Kids, which I feel could have a more user friendly GUI, but Caroline likes it.

In the pipeline: Two other curriculum I'm saving for are Writing with Ease and First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind.  I'll probably add the spelling or one of these curriculum to be my "big one" for the Spring semester.