I know, I know. I haven’t blogged in 87 years and then when I do jump back in it’s about curriculum. Which might be interesting to like two people. And one of them is me. (One of them is I? Huh. Sometimes English is a twit language, as my high school English teacher was so fond of saying.)
I am going to try to get back in the swing of things with blogging, but honestly I am just in a really busy season so we’ll see how much I have time for on a regular basis. Right now I’m getting ready for our new school year, which starts next Tuesday, so I have school stuff on the brain. Hence this post.
Anyway, this will be our third year homeschooling. I feel like we figured out a routine that worked well for us last year, so we’ll be doing something similar this year. I will share more, I hope, about our schedule and our day and how we make it work (or muddle through, as the case may be) at some point in the future. But for now– well, Bubs is starting fourth grade and Stinky is starting second. At three, Squeezy is still young to do anything that’s really like school, but I am going to be doing some early-preschool type stuff with her. I haven’t gotten that all hashed out yet though.
Like years past, the boys do history, science, and what we call “specials” (art, music, etc.) together. Their more grade-related subjects they do separately.
Subjects We Do Together
History: The Mystery of History. We did not quite finish up with volume one last year, so we are going to try to rush through it over the next several weeks. It’s set up to be done in three lessons a week, so we’re going to do five each week and hopefully be able to finish it fairly quickly. Then we will move on to volume two, which covers the early church and the middle ages. I’m pretty excited about it. We have a bunch of living books to read (some as read-alouds and some for the boys to read on their own), which I think will really enrich their knowledge and make it all more fun.
Science: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. I know it’s a weird name! It’s the first of three books about zoology in the Exploring Creation with . . . series that we have used before. Basically it covers all the flying animals God made on the fifth day of creation– insects, birds, and bats. This year I splurged on the notebooking journals to go with it, and I’m really excited about them. We plan to use our membership to the Omaha zoo quite often as we study zoology. They have an indoor butterfly and insect exhibit as well as an outdoor aviary and an exhibit that is completely full of budgies. So we should get to see a lot of what we’re learning about up close!
Specials: For music, both boys will be taking piano lessons again this year, just as soon as I find a teacher in our new area. I know. I’m a terrible procrastinator. We also enjoy Sarah’s weekly series Lunch with the Composers at Frugal Fun for Boys. Each week she introduces a composer and a piece of music and provides a video of that piece being performed. I like that this gives us a brief introduction to composers that the boys can then study on their own if they choose. It also exposes us all to different instruments and types of music, and usually branches out into us watching several classical performances. We are adding a once-a-week study of our state, Iowa, to our curriculum this year, and will do weekly art projects (sometimes to go along with different artists), computer skills practice, and cooking projects to round out our “specials.”
Bubs– Fourth Grade
I cannot believe I have a fourth grader this year! It just seems crazy when I type it out! Here are his subjects:
Math: We are sticking with Horizons math for fourth grade. Math is kind of a battle for Bubs– not that he can’t do it, more just that he dislikes it. But Horizons has worked for him in the past and I am definitely a member of the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” camp. We round out math with speed drills, online practice, math games, and flashcards. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth but we get it done.
Reading: Rather than a reading curriculum this year, we are using a living-book approach. Bubs loves to read and devours books like candy. He reads well above his grade level and his comprehension is great. So instead of insisting on readers, I’m using a combination of free reading, where he chooses what to read and logs it in his reading log, and assigned books. Once we get into our new history book, many of the books I assign will go along with what we are studying. For assigned reading he will prepare book reports.
Grammar: We’re going with the same curriculum we used last year for Bubs for grammar, Climbing to Good English. It includes a nice mix of grammar rules and writing. It’s a very simple, old-school curriculum, which I approve of.
Spelling: I am using the spelling lists from Super Teacher Worksheets as a starting point for our spelling studies this year. Spelling is an area I have struggled to find a good curriculum for. I wanted to use something else, but the cost was prohibitive. So I’m combining STW’s lists and some of their activities with ideas from Pinterest and my own ideas. We’ll see how we do.
Latin: This is new! Bubs and Art will be working together, using Latin for Children, to learn Latin. I’m so glad for my husband’s love of old languages and his willingness to help me out with this. I’m excited for Bubs to learn Latin, and I hope he catches some of Art’s enthusiasm!
What’s Missing: We’re not using a handwriting curriculum with Bubs this year; he has fairly amazing handwriting for a boy his age, and I felt like he was going to have too much work. I will be expecting neat handwriting on all his assignments and probably assigning some copywork once a week (to go along with one of his other subjects) to give him extra practice in handwriting. I also am not using Ambleside this year as a literature curriculum. I felt like the suggestions were getting too difficult and not fun. I really want to expose my kids to great literature that is also fun and enjoyable to read, so I am hand-picking our literature selections based on books I love and our history curriculum. Most of Bubs’ literature will be read by him, but I will still be reading some aloud, just because it’s something we enjoy!
Stinky– Second Grade
Math: Stinky will also be using Horizons this year.
Reading: I really liked using the Pathway readers with Stinky last year and will continue using them this year. We are a bit behind, so he will be doing the first grade books for the first part of the year. Since the books slowly become more difficult, I thought that would be better for my new reader than just jumping up a grade. Stinky will also occasionally be doing assigned books that match our history lessons, and will do book reports for them. I’m trying to find ways to implement Stinky’s loves of movement and building things and creating into his book reports, so I envision some shadow boxes and other creative book reports in our future.
Phonics: Stinky is nearly done with the Explode the Code series. I imagine he will finish the last book by the middle of second grade, at which point we will decide if we need to continue with phonics curriculum or not.
Grammar: I’m going to be using First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind with Stinky this year. I like that it can be mostly done orally, especially at first. This plays to Stinky’s strengths because it doesn’t require him to sit still!
Spelling: As with Bubs, I will be using STW’s lists and beefing them up with other activities.
Handwriting: Stinky will be using A Reason for Handwriting B this year. When Bubs was in second grade he learned cursive, but I don’t think Stinky is ready for that yet. Instead we will be focusing on doing his BEST work and forming letters correctly. Then in third grade he will learn cursive.
Literature (read-aloud): Most of what I read to Stinky this year will be based on our history studies, but I will also be using other books as I see fit. We’re starting with Understood Betsy, which is one of Ambleside’s suggestions for second grade, and which I read to Ryan and really enjoyed.
The Fun Stuff
A couple things I’m really excited about for this year: We are starting a reading challenge for everyone in the family. Each book read will earn a square on the wall, and when we go all the way around the school room we will get a big family reward. Not sure yet what that reward is going to be, but we’ve had some fun ideas. I am also going to be putting an “I Wonder” board in our school room. When someone is curious about something, he or she can write the question on a piece of paper and tack it to the board. And then once a month or so we will have an “I Wonder Day” and will try to find answers to our questions! I think it will be fun and will give the kids an opportunity to pursue their interests.
I am also really hoping to get the boys more comfortable using the computer, including teaching Bubs some basic photo editing, helping them learn keyboarding, and maybe by the end of the year having them set up with a blog where they can write about what they’re doing in school and life.
I think it’s going to be such a great year. It’s taken me awhile to get excited about it, but I really am now. I am so blessed to spend my days with these kids, and to have the privilege to teach them.