Friday, August 10, 2012

"Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop: Curriculum Week

I thought it would be fun to participate in the "Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop this year.  Sadly, I'm not together enough to have my fall plans all lined out already (do you understand what you are asking for when you request an organizing post from me?!).  So... you get my summer plans that we are still following (we school year-round with periodic breaks where we deem them appropriate).

I will look at the fall plans so nicely laid out by other ladies... and mine will just fall into place while I do that.   Shh, don't tell me that's not how it works! ;)

Not Back to School Blog Hop

For those who are new here, my children's ages and "grades" are as follows for 2012-2013 (I'm not really a fan of grade levels, but they communicate):
1) age 12, 7th grade
2) age 10, 5th grade
3) age 8, 3rd grade
4) age 5, Kindergarten
5) age 3, Preschool
6) age 11 months, enrolled in Project Destruction... an advanced, free, international program for gifted young walkers everywhere.  Hmm, I think some of the others have yet to graduate from this.  Better get on that. :)

Summer 2012 Curricula:

Bible:  We just use the Bible for the most part.  We read it, and discuss or explain it as needed. Sometimes we'll look up places on a map.  When I have Bible time with them, I take narrations at times, and/or have the children who are able read a portion aloud.  When John does Bible time with just the children, or during family Bible time, he often asks more questions.  I also ideally have the older ones read a chapter per day independently (I tried moving it to the early morning recently and I'm not sure whether that's working as well as later in the day or not... when we get back to more consistently being all at home and doing something that better resembles our schedule again, it will be easier to tell, I hope).

Bible Memory:  We use a card system similar to this one found at Simply Charlotte Mason.  All it requires are note cards, tabs for the cards, and note card boxes.  We are pretty pleased with it overall.  It's a great system for review and for the memorizing of smaller quantities of verses at a time.  For memorizing a complete chapter, it can be adapted, but we also find just reading the whole passage aloud or recording it onto a tape or CD and playing it frequently to work well for that with little ones (they can memorize delightfully quickly at young ages before they can read for themselves, so there's no need to slow them down by breaking it down verse-by-verse).  I'm sad to say we haven't been very consistent with memory work this summer.  It is something that definitely works best w/consistency -- especially the note card method.

Math:  We use Math U See, and have ever since we began.  Overall, we're pretty satisfied with it.  There are a few things here or there I could nitpick, but it's working -- they're learning.  Some of them enjoy it more than others, but that's pretty typical for math.  I think they all like Steve Demme. :) 

Grammar:  This summer, I started Easy Grammar Plus with Bethany (age 12) and Peter (age 10).  I didn't shop around for it, so I don't really know how it compares to other options.  It was given to me by my sister-in-law, who very kindly passed on to me a lot of materials she no longer needed since her children have graduated.  It's suiting our purposes very well so far.  It's a no-frills approach, and that's okay with me.  It's grammar.  It doesn't sing.

Oh, wait, maybe grammar does sing... not this program, but we do have a tape from Audio Memory which another friend gave us a while back (who has also generously blessed us with a lot of used curriculum), which has songs about grammar that the children enjoy.  I don't know where it is right now, which is sad b/c I've been thinking it would be nice for them to hear and tie in with their studies... (my attempts at organizing have yet to yield enough fruit to keep me from misplacing things...).   You can hear samples of the songs at this link.

Phonics: (for Zion, age 8)  We use Phonics Pathways, which has worked well for us and was a low-cost option.  I got this a long time ago and haven't really looked into alternatives much just because it worked.  Our copy is very tattered with lots of use (and has a different cover than the picture below).  We also do reading practice with easy readers or other books when they get an appropriate stage -- various types we've collected over several years.  Zion is really doing well with reading, but still has some phonics concepts to cover in the book.  The older ones graduated from phonics some time ago.  Tirzah (age 5) will hopefully start sometime this school year.

Typing:  Bethany is using Perfect Typing Essentials, another gift from my sister-in-law.  And now you're wondering whether I ever have to buy anything!  Ha, yes, I really do.  But this program seems to be going pretty well for her.  She gets to be my guinea pig.  I'll decide before long whether I want Peter to start it this fall or wait (depending on how much else he has going on).  Zion has already done some in play.  I won't require it of her, but I won't be surprised if she wants to do more of it. 

Copywork:  We use Zaner-Bloser's Self-Instruction in Handwriting to help teach printing, and then later on, cursive.  After they have the forms down, they simply copy selections from either the Bible or quotes from books they've read.  Sometimes there are other things we have them copy for emphasis -- such as learning the months or days of the week, etc. 

Read Alouds:  I haven't been doing much reading aloud with them lately aside from Bible; except for picture books with the young ones, it's been minimal this summer.  Mostly it's because we've been doing lots at night at bedtime, when I'm often tending to baby Abraham, and John has been reading something to them that they and he are excited about, so that's nice.  But I do miss it, too.  We did finish Black Beauty not too long ago (probably longer ago than I think, though), and we're still lingering over The Prince and the Pauper.  We were reading them concurrently for a while, which was probably a bad plan, and The Prince and the Pauper was perhaps not the greatest selection for most of them at this point in retrospect, either.  I enjoyed pre-reading it, but while they've been interested, it hasn't been one of those they're ecstatic about (or we probably would have finished it by now). 

John's been reading them some of the History of US books (currently volume 5).  The first time I saw those I wrote them off, because Joy Hakim's liberal slant comes through frequently in her writing;  however, the books are well-written and quite engaging, and have a lot of educational value in spite of this, so when we had a chance to get a few at tremendous discount, I went ahead.  We have lots of other history books to give balance, and when reading aloud portions can be discussed and/or skipped over.  My oldest can list pros and cons of various history authors as she sees it, and I'm glad she's learning to keep in mind that the writer makes a big difference in the writing.

In addition to those, they read Amos Fortune, Free Man (which I preread and really wanted to read aloud myself, but they were needing another to start one night when John was reading to them), and possibly other things I'm not thinking of.  I'm not even certain whether Amos Fortune was before summer even started, ha -- I'd have to dig back and hope my records said when, which I don't want to do right now. :)

John also just started reading one of the books on MY reading list (wry grin), Education of a Wandering Man.  I asked him to please stop telling me about all the good parts and reading so much to me, because I didn't want to feel like there wasn't much point to my reading it myself!  So he decided to read it to the children instead, lol. 
Free Reading:  They have opportunity to do quite a bit of free reading currently.  Some take more advantage of it than others (one would rather do math lately, ha, so I let him).  We have a lot of books available in our library, and I'm working on selecting/prereading/editing more.  Many of the books they like are selected from Ambleside Online's book lists, but we have a wide variety.

That's the main stuff we're doing for our children's education this summer that typically might fit in the category of curricula.  [Question: Why do I feel like a dork writing the technically-correct plural form of  "curriculum"?]  I don't think I left out anything huge.  Of course, all of life is learning, really, isn't it?  But that's another (soap) box, and don't worry, it's one I'm not opening right now. :)

Right now, I'm in the process of planning for the fall.  Many of the above materials will simply continue on into the fall, but we will add other things.  The past couple years I've been somewhat more casual about planning, but really that's not my preferred method overall, and this year I really want things lined out well.  I'm a bit intimidated because my oldest will be in 7th grade (HOW did that happen?!).  It marks the beginning of some higher-level learning for her, and also points to the limited number of years we have left before she graduates.  Suddenly it seems like there's so much to get into that time!

What are your school plans?  (Feel free to leave a link in the comments if you have a blog post.)

Check out other moms' homeschool curricula at the "Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop!

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  1. Hi Amber, what a beautiful family you have, and I love your childrn's names! Your summer/fall plan so far looks very organized to me. ;) Amos Fortune Free Man is on our list this year! I'm looking forward to it. And we love Easy Grammar over here. It is definitely no frills and to the point! :)

    Math U See is an awesome math program. My older son wishes we had done MUS from the beginning. He is in love with the higher maths and claims that Mr. Demme does an excellent job of building into the higher maths year after year, so I think if it's working, it's worth it to stay. It only gets better! :)

    Thank you for stopping by! :O) Blessings on a great year!!!

    1. Well, thanks. I guess I can live with seeming more organized than I am, ha. Check out my "school room" post and you'll see I have a way to go. :)

      Amos Fortune was good overall, though quite sad some, but it was a good perspective for my children to get. I'm not a huge fan of fictionalized biography ,but often it seems there isn't anything better, and this one was pretty good overall I thought.

      Thanks for your thoughts on MUS. I think it's pretty good but just lately as my son has become so interested in math I've wondered whether I'd chosen what will suit him best if he continues to have such interest. I'm glad your son likes the higher math with it, too.

      And thank you likewise, for stopping by and following, and the well-wishes. I hope you are blessed with a great year as well!

  2. Ah! Had to smile! We are Phonics Pathways buddies and also live by the index card box with scriptures idea from Simply CM. Sweet! That was fun to see. I have heard good things about Math-U-See (of course). Haven't bitten the bullet and gotten it, yet. It's fun to see what you all like to learn with!


    1. How neat that we both use Phonics Pathways and a similar card system! Yes, I think MUS is worth looking into, though I don't know a lot about other alternatives since we haven't used them. It is fun to see what others use, I agree. I need to stop looking at everybody else's books and rooms and work on my own soon while my baby's still sleeping, though, ha!

  3. Hi, your curriculum looks great. All of your children look so sweet! I really like what you said about grade levels. The longer I homeschool, the more irritated I get with "grade levels", but you're right, it is a communication tool for others. Most people don't speak any other language. It's very nice to meet you.

    1. Thank you! Yes, in our earlier homeschool years my kids would give people blank looks or look questioningly at me when people asked them what grade they were in, and I came to realize they needed to be able to have something to say that wasn't too cryptic, ha. Nice to meet you, too. :)

  4. I would love to join in on these fun posts but, alas, I am too busy packing and painting and trying to assist Alan's remodeling. It's fun to read yours though!

    1. I completely understand. I got too busy to finish the whole series, too, though they've left the links open and I may still do them. We'll see. You could still do yours, too... :)