Thursday, January 8, 2015

2014/2015 Curriculum Choices

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I had typed this post MONTHS ago.  I never pushed publish.  Precious.  That's a great example of how crazy our year has been.  
I do want to share what we are using, so you know what I am talking about later.  I would like to finish this semester with a weekly wrap up to help myself stay mentally accountable for blogging and taking pictures of our school days.

We traditionally homeschool year round, with the majority of our time off in the fall and winter when we can spend more time outside.  As our calendar has adjusted to a less desert, more humid climate, we bumped our first day of school up to the 28th of July.  The rest of the year has an ebb and flow pattern, scheduled mostly around my husband's military schedule and seasonal opportunity.

I love going through all the homeschool blogs I follow and reading their curriculum choices and reviews.  Inspired by the many posts I have read in the past months, I thought I would share what we are using this year.

This year I will have students in 7th, 5th, and 4th grades.  Having said that, please know that grades aren't always standard in homeschooling.  My 7th grader is doing some online free English and literature college classes, but is working through 6th grade math.   One of my 4th graders is finding 5th grade math quite easy, but is struggling with reading comprehension.  The VERY BEST part of homeschooling is being able to meet children right where they are academically and help them master the things they struggle with before they move on.  There really is no one left behind in my school.  We also get to gently push our children to move as far as they can each academic year.  My goal is for them to love the learning process, always be curious, know important events/vocabulary/processes rather than just names and dates, and to always work their hardest to do their very best in whatever they do.

Whatever you do,
do your work heartily,
as unto the Lord,
rather than for men
Coll 3:23

Here is what we have chosen to work on this year.  

Everyone:  My Father's World 1850 to Modern Times  We use this as a general base for our history, geography, science, and music.  We tend to add a LOT to each of those subjects, but it is a good starting point for us.  We have always been successful with MFW, and we learned the hard way last year that we don't need to change what we use just because everyone else is.  
(Seriously... If I am homeschooling my unique children, why would what works for someone else's very different family automatically work for mine?  Trial and error is also a challenge and blessing in homeschooling.)

Math:  We will continue with Teaching Textbooks.  In the spirit of the phrase "if it aint broke don't fix it," we will stay with Teaching Textbooks as long as our children enjoy it and learn from it.  I am NOT someone who should teach math, but I am someone who can watch along with my children and help them when they need it.  I am grateful for Teaching Textbooks every single school day.
Teaching Textbooks: Math 6 Kit
Math 5 a Teaching Textbook
Teaching Textbooks Math 3 Kit 
Math 4 Teaching Textbook 4-CD Rom Set & Answer Booklet

We also work on math concepts using games like Math Dice and Multiplication Bingo.  We do flash cards and some other multiplication/division computer games as well.
Do you have any math games that you LOVE???  I have several math lovers who would love to know about them!

Language Arts:
  We switched our Grammar program mid year last year, so we are working hard to finish last year's pick.  I had heard a lot of great reviews of Rod and Staff English.  I was worried that the children would find it to be too boring and loose interest and struggle with it.  They recommended we make sure that Josh started with their English 5, and have been glad he is getting that strong foundation. We are done with our first full year of English with Rod and Staff.  I can not tell you how much we love it!  It is inexpensive, thorough, and simple to teach.  I have learned an awful lot while I have been teaching it.  I have no doubt that our children will excel in their future studies just because of our time this year.  I can't wait to see how much more in depth it will get.  Once we start the new year's worth of work, we will be using Interactive Student Notebooks to help them keep the important information all in one place.  This is my Pinterest board for ISNs.  (We begin ISNs next week.  :-) )

This is what we have in our shelves...

We are using Spelling Power, Fourth Edition for spelling.  I also have the children learn the spelling of whatever words we are doing for vocabulary or science vocabulary.  We are really working on spelling this year because misspelled words are driving me batty.

J will be taking Native American Literature, Early American Literature, and creative writing using an online college program.  He can not get dual credits for a few years, but this kid could knock out all of his english requirements early. He is amazing.
M, N, A will all be doing Abeka for reading comprehension.

We have well over 200 books on our reading list this year.  I am trying to keep better track of the books we read this year so we can take a look at how much their reading improves.  I have had 3 struggling readers, who are finally reading confidently.  J LOVES reading.  He and I have that in common.  He reads quickly and remembers all of the details, just as I do.   The rest of the children are getting there slowly.  It has been a struggle to find books and genres that each of them really enjoy.  I still read several stories aloud to my children each day.  I enjoy that time together, and they often will keep asking for "one more chapter" until I start to loose my voice.

  Our main curriculum includes a general science this year.  We will use that science but add to it often.  This week we started using these great little science books...   They have neat science experiments and great explanations.

We pull art, music, and other electives from the internet or books.  We try to stick to creative activities that relate to what we are learning about.
My A will be doing a lot of handicrafts this year.  She has learned how to hand sew, embroider, knit, and paint in the last few years.  She is a creative soul, and I love learning new skills along with her.

It hardly seems like a decent list of all that we do, but it is the core of what happens every week here. I love to add Scout badge work, Bible study, character study, random holiday related unit studies, and other lessons in to keep us from feeling like we are living a "Groundhog Day" kind of life.

Are there any other MFW peeps out there?

Thanks for reading.  I really appreciate that you spent time here.