During a conversation this morning on my personal Facebook account I was asked about the changes I'm making in our curriculum and what I recommend for visual learners. Facebook does NOT give me enough space to share my thoughts on the topic so I looked for a post about our curriculum this year. Imagine my surprise that I never shared that information!
So for my Facebook friends, homeschooling readers, those considering home schooling, and the just plain curious I give you the SMB home schooling curriculum 2010-11.
This year I have a 2 year old, 4 year old, kindergartener, and 2nd grader. I'll group everything by ages, sort of.
2 Year Old:
I use ... nothing. He's only 2! I don't intentionally work with him on shapes, colors, letters, numbers. Nothing. Poor child.
However, we do count a lot as we clean up, we sing the Alphabet song as we go about our business. We talk about colors as he gets dressed. School for him is just part of our daily life. It must be working because the boy can count to 10, knows random letters, and can tell you the correct color of a crayon about half the time.
It helps that he's #4 and listens to the other 3 all day long.
4 Year Old:
Ellie is ... well, my girlie. She's only 18 months younger than Ben and likes to keep up with him. So once school started in the fall she needed her own school books to use while "The Brothers" (as we call them) did their school.
My goals for Ellie are very low: learn letters and their sounds, develop eye/hand coordination for writing, be able to write her name.
My friend, Stephanie, blogged about using Get Ready for the Code, Get Set for the Code and Go for the Code with her daughter. It sounded like a great fit for us this year.
I bought all 3 for Ellie and she LOVES them. In all honestly, I only spend about 5 or 10 minutes working with her. But she faithfully pulls our her "Fish Book" and now "Dinosaur Book" and works her pages until The Brothers are done or playing with Sam sounds like more fun. It keeps her occupied and she's gradually learning the sounds letters make. I'll share more about the Code books in a minute.
I also bought Ellie a couple of general preschool workbooks from Wal-mart. They are only $10 and have everything a child needs at this stage. We're using Big Preschool Workbook Ages 3-5 published by School Zone. It's colorful and fun for her to use.
Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:
Yes, most of what my boys do is exactly the same, except for language arts. I just require more effort from Will (2nd grade) than I do Ben (K).
Science: Apologia's Exploring Creation Flying Creatures.
We LOVE this series! We studied Swimming Creatures last year and will use Land Animals this fall. The textbook is professionally written, edited and bound. It contains lots of diagrams and COLOR photographs (which is rare for HS materials).
The material is written from a creationist world view so you don't have to deal with the theory of evolution, which I like at this early stage.
This year we bought the notebooking journal that goes with the textbook but I don't think we will for the fall. After a few chapters it started to feel like busy work instead of reinforcement. I hate busy work. If you are into lapbooks I've seen companion lapbooks for sale as well.
You may be wondering how I do this with both boys. Actually, all 4 children participate in science. We all sit on the living room floor or couch while Will and I read the chapter aloud to everyone. We talk about what we are learning and looking at the pictures. The reading level is just a little challenging for my 2nd grader which is good for him.
I also supplement the textbook with picture books and non-fiction children's books from our library that relate to our current chapter. This aren't a formal part of our school. They are just available for my kids to pick up and read for fun.
Math: Saxon Math. 1st Grade.
We'll be throwing it out and trying something new this fall. I'm open to suggestions that are mastery focused and NOT hands on or requires tons of help from mom.
History: Early American History (Primary) published by Beautiful Feet Books.
This literature based history course uses a teacher guide book and over a dozen children's picture and chapter books. I love the approach. Not loving the guide book.
According to the website this guide is intended for K-3rd grades. After about a week of making me crazy I threw out the guide book (well, not literally. I did spend good money on it!). I felt like the concepts we're too high level for my children and the activities of journaling and writing were too involved.
So, we read the books that came in our jumbo pack. I also found tons more children's books on the same topics at our local library. We watched Liberty's Kids on NetFlixs. And took field trips, after all, we live in NEW ENGLAND!
If you look at the intermediate level package it uses many of the same books from the primary level. I'm holding onto the guide and I think we'll revisit early American history in a couple of years.
Phonics: Explode the Code
Ben started the year knowing letters and sounds. He's now on book 4 (in April) and reading simple readers. The switch hasn't flipped yet where reading is like breathing for him but he's close!
I highly recommend Explode the Code. The black and white illustrations are VERY engaging and fun, especially for boys. Each lesson is 10 pages long but you can take that as fast or as slow as you want. It's phonics based but also includes some sight words. There are 8 workbooks with 6 workbooks that are 1/2 books, meaning if your child needs more help with the concepts in book 4 then you move to book 4 1/2 instead of book 5. The boys will finish this series next year.
Handwriting: Draw. Write. Now
Draw. Write. Now. These are drawing and handwriting non-consumable books that come in a set of 8. You can buy them individually but if I love having the whole set.
The premise of Draw. Write. Now. is that children dislike practicing the same letter over and over on a worksheet. So instead, give them a picture to draw with 4 sentences to copy that describe the picture. The motor skills are still being developed but it's a lot more fun!
I recommend buying the notebooks that go with the series. On one page is a blank box for the drawing and on the facing page are manuscript lines for their writing. It's fun to have all the pictures together and see the development from the beginning of the year to now.
Also, we didn't work our way through the books chronologically. I chose the day's picture based on what we were studying in history and science. This only worked because I have the whole set. I've also found similar how-to drawing books and made up my own sentences when our lessons didn't have a good example in D.W.N.
Language Arts: Alpha Omega LifePacs Grade 2.
LifePaks worked great for us this year as I adjusted to teaching 2 (sort of 3) kids, running a household and blogging. If you need a language arts that doesn't require a lot of time and attention from mom then I recommend LifePaks.
For my non-homeschooling friends that have made it this far, I recommend Draw. Write. Now for children who enjoy drawing or need a little help developing their fine motor skills over the summer. I also recommend the Code books for preschoolers learning to read and elementary students that need a little extra help over the summer.
What curriculum have you used, loved or hated this year?