"The stores are filled with excitement to get public school kids geared up with new pencils, backpacks and even a new wardrobe just in time for Back-to-School. Missing out on all that buzz can be a bummer for homechooled kids and their parents – so we’re continuing the tradition with our 2nd Annual Not Back-to-School Blog Hop." Quoted from Darcy from Heart of the Matter.
Week 1 of the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop is all about curriculum. What we'll be using and how excited we are about it. As usual, I can summarize the basis of our school year with one really cool banner.
This will be our eighth year using Sonlight for History, Literature, and Language Arts. We occasionally use Sonlight's Science as well, although this year it will be just individual titles instead of entire packages. We will be starting World History again, with Core 6 as our basis and Core 1 and 2 books added in for the youngers. Mystery of History volumes 1 and 2 will be our spine instead of Story of the World.
Other than Sonlight, I'm only going to focus on four additional curricular things we are doing with each child. Even though it won't be a complete picture of what we are doing this year, this post still got very, very long. Sorry. That's what's happens when you have 5 kids and are an eclectic homeschooler.
My 8th grader --
He will be doing Sonlight Core 6, with Mystery of History volumes 1 and 2 and Sonlight's Language Arts 6, over one year. He also is finishing up the six week Kidswrite Intermediate class at Bravewriter. This class focuses on transitioning kids from elementary to high school writing requirements and so far has been beneficial to him.
Keys to Algebra series along with Life of Fred Beginning Algebra. Actually, he started the Keys to Algebra books at the tail end of last year and it's going well, but then I found out it only covers Algebra I topics. Now I am madly researching Algebra II options to go along with Life of Fred Advanced Algebra. Life of Fred is a great word problem/deeper thinking supplement, but it covers things too much, too fast, on too deep a level to stand alone, at least for my kid.
Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology. Yes, this is a high school level course but this kid is more than ready for it. Honestly, I think I'm more excited about doing Biology than he is. I've been waiting for high school Science since this kid was preschool and we were first deciding to homeschool. We'll be doing the labs from this course with a couple other families, sort of like a mini co-op. Fun, fun, fun!
Recreating StickMan: Introduction to 3D Interactivity. At the Arizona homeschool convention last month, we met a family that is producing tutorials teaching kids how to use the open source (i.e. free) Blender 3D graphics software. Blender is no light child's play program. People the world over are using it to produce Pixar-like animated short movies and much, much more. The Recreating StickMan tutorials teach designing and programing video games, and while simplistic in scope (the character is a stick man) the process would be the same for a much more complex game, only with loads more detail. This is obviously an elective, but one that my son is personally excited about and motivated to complete. Add to that that the content is worthy of at least a half credit for high school, and we both are super happy about it.
My 6th grader --
She'll be doing Sonlight's Core 6, with Mystery of History volumes 1 and 2, and Sonlight's Language Arts 6 all over one and a half years. Along with Core 7, I plan to have her spend a total of three years on World History, slowing her down just a bit so that she doesn't start Sonlight's Core 100 before the 9th grade. Other items she will be doing include (but aren't limited to):
A Virtuous Girl, by Queen Homeschool Supplies. This is a Bible devotional/study/workbook for Proverbs 31:10-31. She does this independently during her 30 minute Bible time each morning, along with some time in prayer and any Sunday School assignments she may have. I don't correct or even look over her work in this, as I want it to be her time with the Lord. However, I have told her that I am free for any discussions or questions she might have.
All About Spelling level 4. I actually plan to buckle down and get her through all of level 4 and 5 this year, and hope to get through 6, the final level, as well. The only reason it took all of last year to do level 3 is simply because we were doing well if we got to it once a week or so, not because it was difficult for her. I plan to make Spelling a priority in her day this year, aiming to do it first thing in the morning right after Bible.
Singapore Primary Mathematics 5B. Along with it she's doing Singapore Challenging Word Problems 4, which is sadly out of print but I bought books 3 through 6 before Sonlight was completely sold out and I just make the kids use a spiral notebook. I've read a rumor that it will be republished, however. Anyway, she is not "behind" to be doing Singapore 5B and Challenging Word Problems 4 in the 6th grade, not by a long shot. When kids finish Singapore 6B they are usually ready for Algebra I, and the word problems in Challenging Word Problems 4 are eerily similar to problems I was given in my College Algebra class but Singapore teaches how to solve them without Algebra. When she finishes Singapore 5B and Challenging Word Problems 4, she'll do Life of Fred Decimals and Percents, before moving into Singapore 6A and Challenging Word Problems 5.
See the Light, Drawing Children to Him. I picked up this DVD that teaches chalk drawing at the convention, and free with purchase was the first three lessons of their online drawing videos as well. We haven't had a chance to try these out yet, but if my daughter likes them as well as I think she will I will consider subscribing to their online video lessons for the rest of the year.
My 2nd grader --
This kid, along with my K'er, will be listening in on Mystery of History volumes 1 and 2 over one and a half years, with books from Sonlight's Core 1 and 2 added in as appropriate. Basically, I'll be restructuring Cores 1 and 2 to more closely match the times covered in Cores 6 and 7.
Egermeier's Bible Story Book. This book is actually scheduled to go with Sonlight's Core K, which we did last year, but I feel it is better with slightly older children so I saved it for this year with my son.
My Calendar Book by Christian Light Publications. My older kids both learned the days of the week and months of the year easily through normal daily living and the occasional calendar lesson. This child is just not having the success with this method, and he needs concrete day-in and day-out instruction, I think, to get it to sink in.I'm hoping this workbook will be just the ticket.
Discover & Do Science DVDs and the Usborne Science Activities books that go along with them. With 4 official students this year, and not one of them fully independent yet, I need to minimize my teaching time wherever I feel I can without too much compromise. These DVDs allow this son to watch the experiments and then he can go ahead and do them himself without much, if any, help.
Miquon Math Red book. I'm a huge fan of Miquon and love the great foundation of understanding of Math that it develops in kids. My son is already half way through the red book and will move onto the Blue and Green books as the year progresses.
My Kindergartner --
This is the kid that is leaving me with the feeling of ACK!!! this year, not because he is or will be hard to teach (quite the opposite, he is bright and eager), but because he makes 4 official students this year, 2 of them still learning the most basic fundamentals of Reading and Math. This kid will tag along with our Mystery of History volumes 1 and 2 study mixed with pieces of Sonlight Core 1 and 2.
Sticker Activity ABC book. He is doing Sonlight's Language Arts K, and one of the activities scheduled in it as a letter is introduced each week is for the kid to make a "letter page" with the letter written large and pictures of items that start with that letter pasted all over. Sonlight's Instructor's Guide does include pages of little pictures to use for this purpose, but I've done LAK two times before I know that as the year moves on we will be less and less likely to pull out the scissors, paper, color pencils, and glue (I have this thing against glue, which is also why I do digital scrapbooking instead of traditional scrapbooking). Anyway, this little activity book has stickers for each letter of the alphabet all ready to go, and attractive alphabetically ordered pages to place the stickers on. I bought it from Rainbow Resource at the convention, and what I paid is more than worth the savings in time and hassle I'll get all year long.
Singapore Earlybird Mathematics. My little guy loves this book, and is burning through it. It is bright, colorful, solidly introduces the most basic of number concepts, and yet has just a little to do on each page which is perfect for the younger crowd that likes to do a lot of pages at any given setting. I like to start with book A while the child is still in preschool, which is why my son is almost finished with this book and will be moving into book B before too long.
My First Book of Cutting by Kumon. I found this book at a used curriculum sale in June, with only 2 pages (out of 80) missing out of it. It was only $1.00, so I picked it up and it makes a fine addition to my K'er's workboxes. I find his fine motor skills to be a bit behind for his age, and the cutting activities in this book are fun and fairly no-mama-needed exercises to strengthen his hands.
Pattern Blocks and Cards. Despite this kid having always loved puzzles, he has hardly used the pattern blocks that I have had since my oldest was about his age. I suspect because unlike puzzles the pieces don't lock in, and his avoidance of these blocks may be related to his fine motor skill difficulties. So, I'm starting him with the easiest cards in this kid and having him build the designs or pictures on a piece of felt so the pieces don't move as much. I will add, however, that this kid is the only one that I have found that doesn't love the pattern blocks. Even my sisters, then aged 14 and 10, loved playing with them one Summer when my Dad brought them for a visit.
My preschooler --
Last, and certainly not least if she has anything to do with it, is my preschooler. My usual practice for preschoolers is to simply bring them along with whatever I am doing and not to do anything academic until they turn 5, which for my kids where their birthdays fall is usually the second half of the year before they start Kindergarten.
Sonlight's Core P3/4: Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Fun. This, the youngest Sonlight Core, isn't really "school" so much as it is great books to enjoy together. I'm not doing this systematically with her, yet, but it makes up the basis of most of the reading I do specifically with her (she also listens in somewhat on the reading I do with my K'er).
Preschool Scholar workbook. This isn't nearly as "school-ish" as it seems. It was simply the best inexpensive, colorful, preschool workbook that was both easy enough for my little girl to do and not limited to a single subject area. I bought it to make her happy that she had school work like her "bruvvers", and it serves that purpose well.
Lauri Puzzles and other puzzles. I love the durability and originality of the Lauri puzzles, and they are the only preschool puzzles I pay money for. However, I have been given a number of wooden and cardboard preschool puzzles as well that I do make use of in my littlest one's workboxes to encourage her to keep quietly (or at least mostly quietly) busy while I do school with the other kids.