Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Back to School 2014! (picture heavy and long!)


Big changes this year for our homeschool! #1 is that Ruby will be attending a twice per week 3 year old program at Education Play Station.  It's the same place that Katie and Noah have taken afternoon homeschool classes for years now, and only a five minute drive.  This will open up our day twice per week to get a lot DONE! (Both the big kids AND Corey we hope!)

Secondly, I am giving Katie and Noah more responsibility!  They are going to have their planners with the week's assignments and be in charge of making sure it all gets done.  Of course there will be several things that I have to do with them, like science, and math lessons, introducing new language lessons, etc.  But a lot of what they do daily, vocabulary, reading comprehension, etc. will be ready and available for them to start on first thing, and even work ahead as they like.




I offered Noah several choices for cute covers, but he wanted one made plainly. ha.



Inside is their pencil pouch, weekly plan sheet, and dividers with pocket dividers for each subject. The pocket dividers have any worksheets and such that they will need.




And this is where it really gets exciting for me, as the busy wife, mom, and teacher.
I have the ENTIRE year's worth of their plans...DONE.
Yes, 36 weeks, 180 days, all written out.
I am considering getting a fireproof file cabinet for them, no joke, haha.



I was going to make copies of them, but I am relatively sure we won't lose them.  And I am only putting one week at a time in their planner.  I may make copies, but it's not on my have to get done list before next week.




Here are all their workbooks and textbooks divided up.  The plan is to put these on their desks or somewhere more convenient for them to access daily, but we don't have their desk areas set up.
We are having to wait a bit in between getting loft beds to get this all set up, but I look forward to their having space and a school area that is not a centrally used area of the house.  That proved to be quite a challenge last year. It's not just adding and subtracting and beginner chapter books anymore.  They need quiet!


I also have a separate set of my own plans similar to their sheets, but I found I didn't need to write as much on it since they have such detailed directions.  But I did have time, since I finished everything, to make this (above) overview of the year. I hope that this will help me stay on track with offering enrichment and beyond the page activities.  I want to be more diligent with getting extra books from the library, so this list will help me stay on top of that.  I have also been browsing and finding online resources, websites, youtube videos, etc to go along with what we are doing.  These are things I've desired to add in the past, but got bogged down with the week to week and the micromanaging of the basics. As you can see we are focusing on a second year of American History,  beginning with the post revolutionary war period.



I put all the maps, science notebooking, math work, literature studies divided up for the year in this file box.  This is actually a bankers box because that's what I put our stuff in at the end of the year.  So it will just go back in as they finish each week.  They each have their own 36 folders.

Now, because I am a nerd, I will show exactly what all they are doing this year.


I discovered these books from Rainbow Resources last year.  We started some and I went ahead and ordered the next books for this year at the same time.  These are more like a regular school reading textbook.  It has excerpts from many different works and walks them through analyzing, connecting, looking at author's style and craft, etc and all that jazz and buzzwords.  They will do these once or twice a week and independently. I just showed one of the books obviously.  I will say just in case someone somewhere actually reads this post, that the above pictured book was listed for 5th grade and the 6th grade book moves up quite a bit in skill and is less colorful and appealing than this one. Just FYI.  The subject matter is varied as well, everything from personal concentration camp stories to funny poems. I also have a poetry study worktext that I ordered from them that we will do once a week on Fridays together.  Poetry is kind of difficult for this age, ready for beyond rhyming verse, yet some abstract things are more difficult to grasp. The book I got gives exposure to several different styles and walks through analyzing them.


Another book from Rainbow Resource.  This is a quick daily reading comprehension test skills type workbook.  Can be done in less than ten minutes per day, or as Noah liked to do last year, do the week's worth in one sitting.  It helps me remember to teach them certain things about this "type stuff" that I don't think of till they miss a question using the strategy, or whatnot.



We are sticking with Sequential Spelling.  I did not order the workbooks this year, but I will just have them do the lists on notebook paper in their notebooks.  I think I will alternate between doing the daily tests aloud and having them just copy one of the lists on their own, that way they are still being exposed to the words on a daily basis, even if we don't have time some days to sit and do all the words.  I love this program!


Also using Wordly Wise again.  Love it.  This will be independent work. Each book has 20 lists, so I have them take two weeks to complete the work for one list most weeks.



We are changing Language/Grammar programs this year.  We had used First Language Lessons the past two years, but about 1/3 way through last year it just got SO tedious.  The workbooks are really boring and extremely repetitive.  I decided to go with an oldie but goody and use Abeka.  
We aren't doing the Composition lessons included, but they are very heavy with the basic grammar and sentence structure/writing as well.  A nice change, with some alternate terminology which I think will be useful for them to be exposed to for a while. This will alternate between being independent and something I do with them depending on how much they already have learned about whatever lesson they are doing.


I actually lack plans for the second half of the year for Writing/Composition because this program will be finished at Christmas.  But, it does have suggestions in the teacher book for what to do next if you don't want to purchase another level of their program yet.  I've decided to wait and see how they are doing with their writing to decide what to do the second part of the year.  I've sang the praises of this program on another post, still loving it.

And now, my favorite part of the curriculum choosing!
Literature studies!
I spent a lot of time looking at suggested readings lists, reading levels of various books, etc. 
It can all be so subjective for the topics, etc of good literature.
So, I combined a lot of different suggestions, my own previous experiences, and what I could find online for free study resources to choose these books for the year.


The first half of the year they will read the same books.  I remember enjoying A Wrinkle in Time.  I've never read Shiloh, but feel they should read it, from the synopsis I think they will enjoy it. I found some good study packets online for both of these books.
After they finish these around Thanksgiving, they are going to do a biography of their choice with a report.  Yes, they could easily breeze through these books faster, but with the study packet that goes along chapter by chapter, it will take longer to complete.  I think it's good for them to be forced to read at a slower pace and think more about each aspect of the story.



In January, Noah will read Old Yeller, while Katie begins Little Women.
Both of these books have free study questions I found online, and both even have a website with links for exploring different things in the book.  Animals, rabies, etc for Old Yeller.  And a Louisa May Alcott website with a virtual tour of the Orchard House, and many other fun things to do.


I then plan to do the old "compare the book to the movie" idea.  We've never really done this formally, so I think they will enjoy doing it with several of the books they are reading this year.

It will take Katie a good bit longer to "study" through Little Women, so Noah will move on to this one:



Katie read this over the summer on her own, and I think Noah will enjoy it also.  A free study guide was found online.

















By the last month of school, they will almost be on the same timeline again, so I chose some short easy reads to finish out the year. Frindle for Noah, and Tuck Everlasting for Katie. I found study guides for both of these online as well.  I think they are going to have some good book reading and study done this year! Now, to plan a trip to McKay's to go ahead and get copies of all these books!




One 9 weeks for the year we will work through this health book for science time.
Health is going to be big this year.  Several big milestones on the horizon for my preteens.


Yes, they will be in 5th and 6th grade, but this will still be a resource for us this year as we study American History.

My favorite find is this book:


$3 each at McKay's for two copies, so perfect! It has a chronological walk through of many interesting American History topics.  Interesting drawings and photos.  Nothing fancy, but it's a good resource.


We are also going to be using these books.  I cannot remember where we found or acquired these. We bought a set of some kind of books from a friend's yardsale, I can't remember if it was these, or if we got these from a grandparent.  But it is great for throwing in an in depth look at major historical milestones.


The publish date is 1977. I was able to plan to use one almost every week of our History study. In addition to those, we are doing US Geography, states and capitals mastery, and lapbooks to go along with the Civil War and Oregon trail (already printed and ready in our folders).  I hope to add more, but I definitely had a great basic plan ready to do. At the end of the year we are going to do the Georgia State History notebook project that I had planned to do last year but didn't get to actually do.


Abeka Math 5 and 6.  I will be learning a lot as I work through the 6th grade program with Katie this year.  Well, relearning.  We will be delving into pi and areas of circles, compound interest, and tons of more complicated fractions concepts.  Yay! I don't buy the teacher manuals anymore.  These student books have boxes that walk through each new concept.  I have found the Abeka teacher manuals just include more drills and repetition daily which honestly, as helpful as it might be to make them super robot math machines, I just don't have time.  Some people may spend 8-4 doing school, but I just can't, we live in the real world, haha. I got things to do and places to go!

I didn't get a photo, but we will be returning to Home Science Adventures this year. Microscopic Exploration, Insects, and Light. I would love to do a more intensive science program, but maybe I can alternate a heavy history year and a heavy science year.  I just don't have time for both! This program is mainly experiment based with some notebooking and the kit comes with everything down to the last cotton ball and rubber band.  We plan to do a couple of lessons/experiments per week while Ruby is in class and also do a lot of our history reading and Writing curriculum those days.  We will see how it goes in action and see what we have to adjust. The place that Ruby goes is a actually 5 minutes driveway to driveway.  Seriously, leave any earlier and you are too early, haha.  That's a big reason it will work for us.  The time she's away will be completely usable time.  And Katie and Noah are old enough to stay here and get started on work while I take and pick her up.  Corey is usually home during those hours as well, so he will be able to work on his schoolwork some and save more of our weekends! 


I really like this Bible study program I found recently.  It's called Bible Study for all Ages.
You get these workpages that lead through a particular passage and the workpages are adapted for different age groups. Same Bible verses, different pages and pictures with different depths of activities to study it for different ages.  So Ruby can follow along and do things on her level, while Katie and Noah learn more in depth about the topic.  Have I been repetitive enough with this? haha.
Anyway, it can actually take a good amount of time to work through each one on the advanced pages, so we will plan to do one lesson of these per week throughout the week together as a family.


I feel that we have a very full year ahead of us.  And I also feel it will be very productive and fulfilling! I look forward to seeing if planning out the entire year works well.  I had thought of doing it several different times but never actually took the time needed to do it.  I really hope it pays off!
We are continuing Noah with karate, he gets to go twice a week.  And Katie has weekly violin lessons.  Since her extracurricular is a solo activity we decided it would be beneficial for her to go to a class at EPS as well. So, she is going to take a geography class once a week.  It uses Around the World in 180 days by Apologia and studies countries and mission work around the world.  I think it will be a good fit for her, give her some extra geography study, and give her a chance for group interaction.

Tentative Weekly Schedule:

Monday: School 8:30-1pm, breaks for snack and lunch.  Katie at geography 1-2:30
Tuesday: School 8:30-1. Ruby at prek 9-12. Karate 5:30-6:15
Wednesday: School 8:30-1. Nothing else!
Thursday: School 8:30-1. Ruby at prek 9-12. Violin 1:45-2:15 
Friday: School 8:30-1. Nothing else! 
Saturday: Karate 10:15-11am

I plan to do a library day either Tuesday or Thursday in  "town" if I need things from the big library, or any other day at the local location.  We've been fairly consistent this summer so I hope we can keep up the pattern!
We plan to start next week, which will be a week before Ruby's and Katie's classes begin. I am excited, yet not looking forward to earlier mornings!