Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back to School!

Well, it's August and I've decided we are going to go ahead and plunge into schooling for 2013/2014!  As I looked at the calendar, the desire to have breaks throughout the school year and still finish in May won out over the desire for a few more weeks of summer break!  I have not ordered all our curriculum yet, as the refund is still processing (BUT HAS been initiated yay for something done right!), but I have compiled the list of what we will order.
For the first two weeks of school I will be doing some placement testing for their new math program, review, start new writing lessons, and basically use review to get a schedule somewhat worked out.
As I always love to do, here is what we have chosen for this school year, for 4th and 5th grade! (I cannot believe I just typed that!)

I did not upload these pictures in any particular order.  Here's something new I hope to accomplish using regularly! We used Artistic Pursuits in 1/2 grade I think.  The 4/5 grade book has a very simple supply list so I plan on doing some FUN art with the kids this year!

For grammar, we will still use First Language Lessons.
It's scripted, and LOTS of review after the basics, but it is really giving a good foundation in parts of speech and sentence structure. Can't argue with results!

Isn't that a very practical looking method for writing cursive?
I want to encourage Katie and Noah to use more cursive writing this year, so we have another practice book to use. Plus, I think it's just good for their brains to do something like this and copywork!

We are going back to Abeka for American History this year.  They have a good year of it for their fourth grade so that's what they are both going to use.

For literature/reading this year we are going a very different route!
Memoria Press and Veritas Press have literature guides for various classic novels.  I just gave Katie and Noah the choice of many of their titles ranging from 2nd grade to 6th grade and they chose two to start out the year.  I made them choose at least one from the "recommended" titles for their grade level (which I believe are pretty advanced!).  Katie chose Little House in the Big Woods and The Hobbit.  Noah chose The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and a book called Adam of the Road.
When they finish these we will order again for what they choose next.
The guides seem to be very thorough, taking them chapter by chapter through learning new vocabulary, "sayings" of the time period, plot, themes, and comprehension. I am very excited about this new approach and I think it will help them really understand what they are capable of reading.

We are going a complete new direction with Math this year.  Up until this point we have used Math-U-See.
And I have had no issues with it whatsoever!
But, I was thinking toward them being exposed to a little more each year at this point, and to be honest, I felt that they were getting a little bored with the same person on the DVD lessons all the time.
At the expo I went through a demo of teaching textbooks and think it will be wonderful!
The lessons are on computer disks and walk them through "teaching" the lessons and doing problems on the computer for each lesson.  It also automatically keeps up with their grades and the parent can easily see how many times they attempted a problem, if they viewed the explanation when they DID miss one, and all sorts of interesting things. 
I'm excited to switch things up a bit!
There's also the book which they can use to write in for a change of pace from the computer every once in a while.

Science in back on my plate this year, so we are making it simple with a return to Abeka.
I know science is supposed to be interactive and fun, and this is more of a textbook approach, but oh well.
It was good enough for me in 4th/5th grade, ha ha.

I love this spelling program.  I have to be honest, when I bought the workbooks last year and started going through just reading out lists for them to spell every single day it was pretty boring pretty fast. 
But I have never seen so much improvement in their spelling skills over one year! I most definitely agree with this approach and that just memorizing a list every week is far inferior to this method! This year I am ordering the student workbooks as well (as opposed to just writing the lists on notebook paper every day).

Abeka History for 4th grade includes working through a "State Notebook" project.
I know Katie and Noah will enjoy this, they LOVE to work on "projects."

We used Wordly Wise last year and I think it's a great program for exposing them to new vocabulary! Higher level application and using it in a testing format are included in these workbooks too.

And finally, my most favorite homeschool curriculum of all time.  
This is because it takes something that I just could not wrap my head around how to teach and makes it SO ridiculously simple! I LOVE THIS!
I now understand why on any Q&A or forum, if a writing program was asking for, the overwhelming response was IEW.

Change to our schedule:
We are signing up with the local church co-op again this year called CHAT.  We participated in it when the kids were preschool, kindergarten, and 1st grade-ish.  We took a break for a while to do science classes at Education Play Station, but for many reasons it seems that this will be a better fit for us this year.  I am looking forward to the mommy social time as well.

I am also going to try a daily theme schedule.  Math and Reading, as well as vocabulary and spelling and handwriting every day, but taking one day per week to spend a couple of hours on each of Language, Writing, Art, Science, and Social Studies.  Rather than do all of those every day I hope that taking one day to work solely on one of those areas will be productive and help us get more done.  It's difficult to work through so many transitions and subjects every day and I truly hope this will solve that issue!
Math and Reading will be almost completely independent, as well as handwriting and vocabulary. This means my daily instructional time can be easily accomplished through spelling, and our daily "Theme" subject.
I am excited at the prospect of this resulting in more quality instructional time during Ruby's nap!

That's pretty much it! I'm looking forward to a productive year, Katie's last year as an elementary student, and Noah's fourth grade year!

Oh, and HERE is a link to my pinterest board with all the ideas for Ruby's busy boxes! I think she will have a fun year too!

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