Archive for August, 2011

Back in the saddle

Posted in Uncategorized on August 31, 2011 by depechemom

***Oh how I make myself laugh!!  I put this together over a week ago with every intention of adding in links and editing.  Well guess what??  That just might never happen.  Sorry not to give credit to all the publishers and such.  If there is something you want to know more about, just ask.  I’ll happily provide more info.***

I’m going to do my best to jump back in the blogging world.  We’ve moved to TX for the year and, as such, I’ve started homeschooling the kids.  We started last week and are having a great time.  I’m not a “all in one” curriculum type, at least not this year anyway.  I reserve the right to change that opinion at some point, should we decide to continue homeschooling.  I followed the basic recommendations of the book, The Well Trained Mind, with a few adjustments.

Here is what it looks like for each child:

Belle (4th grade)
Grammar: Building with Diligence: English 4
Spelling: Spelling Workout D
Reading on her own: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Handwriting: Zaner Bloser Grade 4
Math: Math U See Gamma
Science: a unit on Astronomy
History: Where We Live/Texas History

The Boy (1st Grade)
Grammar: First Language Lessons
Spelling: Spelling Workout A
Reading on his own: Henry and Mudge books and Little Bear books
Handwriting: Zaner Bloser Grade 1
Math: Math U See Alpha
Science: The Kingfisher First Animal Encyclopedia
History: same as Belle

Little Lady (PreK-Kindergarten)
Reading: The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading
Handwriting: Zaner Bloser Kindergarten
Math: Math U See Primer
Science: same as The Boy
History: same as Belle and The Boy

A few notes about why I picked what I picked…Belle has never had a formal grammar book.  She knows the basic parts of speech, but I honestly don’t know if she learned them in school or just doing mad libs with me.  I never saw evidence of grammar work, but I know much more happened in school that what I saw coming home.  The book I selected has a Christian perspective.  It isn’t so much that it overtakes the topic of the book, and it has brought up some good discussions between Belle and I concerning religion.  It is fairly dry, as any grammar book would be, but I firmly believe in teaching these concepts.  Belle is such a gifted writer, and I want to make sure her stories remain sound grammatically as well as imaginative.  I don’t think it is realistic to do a lesson every day, but maybe that will become easier as the routine settles in.  This book also includes writing prompts every few lessons.  I like having this as one of our options.

I also firmly believe in having weekly spelling words.  What I like about the Spelling Workout books is they give a list of words plus several workbook assignments.  Sure, I could come up with a list of words for them each week, but the assignments would be a pain to create each week.  We will supplement the assignments with fun games like Bananagrams and possibly some online games as well.

In a true classical education, the reading assignments tie in with the history assignments.  With us just starting out, I wanted the kids to have assigned reading that I knew they would love.  Belle is in a big Harry Potter phase right now, but hasn’t had the discipline to read all the way through the books.  She tends to prefer shorter books she can get through quickly, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to encourage it.  Also, I haven’t quite decided what we are doing with our history.  Do I pick one time period for all three kids and dig deeper with Belle or do I pick one time period for Belle and another for The Boy and Little Lady?  I just couldn’t decide, so I put off the decision by beginning with a Texas History unit.  We’ve talked about our address, phone number, city, county, a map of TX, the state flag, and the state bird so far.  I bought a simple kids book about TX to get us started.  We will delve deeper into the actual history-explorers, important landmarks, etc.-once we finish covering the basic state facts.

As for math, the Math U See books just arrived on Friday, so we haven’t actually used them yet.  Instead, we spent the week doing basic review and simple math with dice activities.  On Friday, I let them do basic drills on the computer.  I’m looking forward to digging in to the Math U See books next week.  I’m sure that the Primer books weren’t really necessary for Little Lady, but she needs things to occupy her while the others are in school.  She doesn’t do well with the play while your brother/sister finishes this lesson.

Science is another area where I was undecided.  The Well Trained Mind suggests a study of physics in 4th grade, though the experiment book they recommend is so old.  I just wasn’t sure it was the right fit for us.  So instead of chancing the order, or just going to look at the bookstore, I postponed the decision with a constellations unit.  We have a couple of excellent books I haven’t taken the time to really study with Belle, and this seemed like the perfect time.  The One downloaded an excellent app onto the iPad that made star gazing really awesome.  It’s only available on the iPad, though.  I was surely missing our house in the woods with excellent views of the stars last night.  Our house in TX is in a traditional suburban neighborhood, complete with star-blinding street lights.  Thankfully the iPad made things much more clear.

For as much as I struggled with Belle’s science, picking the book for The Boy and Little Lady was easy.  I knew LL would love learning about animals, despite not needing a formal Science curriculum for Kindergarten.  And getting to learn about them with The Boy?  Even better!

Whew!  That was an excruciatingly long post, but I know I will like being able to go back and read this one day.   Sorry if I bored you to tears!  Here’s a cute pick of my sweet children on the first day of school: