Monday, July 9, 2007

Christmas in July

Well, sort of; it's as close as you can get for a homeschool mom, anyway. I waited expectantly for the Fed-Ex and US Mail truck as if it was December 24th and I was six years old again. It was so fun, and I was not disappointed! All of my curriculum choices have been made for next year, books ordered and delivered.

Now it's time to get busy! I want to plan each subject out in the next three weeks so we can start on August 6th. Many moms I know are in the, "Do what comes next" vein and don't need (or desire) to schedule everything out. Honestly, that's been me for the past two years as we worked through our last year of preschool and then kindergarten - each year with a new baby in my arms. But that's not how I operate most effectively. For me it's imperative to know not only where I am but where I am going, therefore I need a detailed plan for the 40 weeks we will be schooling next year.

Here are my final decisions for what I will be using for first grade and where I am in my planning of each subject (for anyone who may have been waiting with baited breath since my "Curriculum Crisis" post):

Math: This was my easiest choice. Thatcher loves Horizons and says math is his favorite subject. I can't keep him away from next year's book; he sits and looks through it as if it were a toy catalog! We'll be working through the second grade book because we started with the K book in pre-K. My only change for this year is that I have torn all the workbook pages out, three hole punched them and put them in a binder. I will give him only one page at a time to reduce his temptation to get off-task by looking to what's ahead. Also, I am taking the Teachers' Manuals to Office Depot to cut off the binding and three-hole punch the entire book. That way it will be easier to make copies of all the student worksheets. We will do five lessons a week to complete the book in 36 weeks. That means one day a week we will do two lessons since we school four days a week.

Language: Another easy one - finish First Language Lessons. We will start at lesson 40 and complete the book this year. We will do language four days a week to complete the book in 40 weeks. I love the repetitive nature of this book as well as the poetry memorization. It is a perfect fit for us.

Phonics/Spelling: Finish Explode the Code 5 1/2, 6 1/2, 7 and 8 and then move on to Spelling Workout. We do two lessons a week so it should take us 26 weeks (52 total lessons in the four books) to complete ETC. I will evaluate where to start in Spelling Workout when we get to that point.

Handwriting: I decided not to purchase a program but create my own. I loved the idea of A Reason for Handwriting but I don't want to introduce any more scripture to his plate. He already memorizes lots of verses at AWANA's each week; I would rather expose him to a little less he can retain rather than so much he can't grasp any of it. After reviewing letter formation of all 26 letters and numbers we will use his weekly AWANA verse for handwriting practice. We will use handwriting paper from Donna Young's Homeschool Printables website.

Read-A-Louds: One of my main goals for this year is character development for my sweet but oh-so-impulsive and socially immature son. I researched great books to read to him which will give us avenues to talk about virtue and provide role models who exemplify the traits we want him to emulate in his own life. I also purchased many books that would teach him about animals - a subject we'll be studying in Life Science and one in which he has expressed great interest. Most of these books I bought because they are not readily available at our local library or I would be using them regularly enough to justify their purchase.
In addition we will finish the last three books in the Chronicles of Narnia series, read Stuart Little by EB White, Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling and Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. These are just our bedtime read-a-louds. We will also be doing lots of history read-a-louds as well.

Reading: I will be getting the majority of our readers from the library this year. We'll have a "Reading Basket" I will fill every three weeks. I will also pre-read all books and have simple oral comprehension questions to go along with each. Thatcher will choose one or two books a day - depending on difficulty - to read silently to himself. Then we will go over the oral comprehension questions together and read the book aloud with each of us reading alternating pages. We will then record the book(s) on a Reading Log. Sometimes I will have him read into a tape recorder so he can go back to listen and evaluate himself. His oral reading skills need work - not due to lack of ability but lack of willingness to slow down! He has no patience for oral reading because he can read silently so much faster. As a result, he mumbles as he tries to read as quickly as he possibly can.

History: (drum roll please...) After much debating, I went with SOTW, and I am so excited I did. Once I found out that Volume 4 nor 5 of Mystery of History would be published when we got to that point, I knew it was not the program for us this cycle. I spent all day yesterday reading through the Activity Guide, looking at maps and thinking through how all of this would work. During all this I came to the realization that I am thrilled about history this year. Today I ordered the Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient China narration pages from History Scribe. Tomorrow I am going to decide whether or not to use the review cards in SOTW or purchase the ones from Veritas Press I have heard so much about on the WTM message boards. I also am still trying to decide which timeline is going to work best for us. Homeschool in the Woods shows several beautiful examples on their website. I love the idea of a wall time-line but I am not sure I want to dedicate my only available wall to one subject - even if it is a really important one! BTW, I am also taking my AG to Office Depot to have the bindings cut off and the entire book three-hole punched and put in a binder. Like with math, this will make my life much easier.

Science: I am using the Life Science plans that Jessica from Trivium Academy created with a few changes. I found videos on United Streaming to go along with each lesson and have created one copywork selection for each week as well. I am still not sure how much copywork we will be doing so I may or may not use these. I figured I wanted to have them, just in case.

Art Appreciation: We will have an "Artist of the Month". The featured artist's picture will be displayed in our classroom along with some of his/her works. I purchased a set of six art postcards for all nine artists for only $1.25 each from Rainbow Resources! I also purchased a biography written by Mike Venezia from the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series for all nine as well. I love this series because they each showcase lots of the artists' works, are fun yet very informative as well. I hope to get Sister Wendy's Story of Painting to help me (a complete art-phobe who cannot draw stick figures much less discern art techniques!) learn before I teach my son, too. The artists we will learn about this year are Kahlo, Rivera (both Mexican which was important to me for our heritage - my dad is Mexican - and the fact we will begin learning Spanish this year), Monet, Renoir, Rembrandt, Degas, Picasso, Van Gogh (my personal favorite) and Chagall. We are not yet studying the artists chronologically because I wanted a gentle introduction to art for both myself and Thatcher. More of a time to explore and dabble. In the logic stage our studies will get much more focused.

Art Instruction: We will be using Mona Brooke's Drawing with Children and the lesson plans posted on Paula's Archives. As I mentioned, an artist I am not, so I will be learning right alongside Thatcher. I want to look into the Draw Squad materials for a later time. I have heard they have lots of "boy appeal" but for now I am happy to start here. I also plan to use some of the Art Tango videos from United Streaming to supplement.

Music Appreciation: Similar to art, we will regularly feature a composer, put his picture in our schoolroom and read a biography from Mike Venezia's Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers series. I also purchased the Classical Kids Vol. 1 and 2 set of CD's to listen to in the car and as we play. I cannot find anyone who had anything bad to say about these CD's. They were an investment but one I am sure we will enjoy for years to come. I still need to find a CD of simply the composers music at Half-Price books to listen to as well. I decided to only focus on the five composers featured in the Classical Kids CD's this year so we will be learning about Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Handel and Tchaikovsky. With art and music I will supplement with lots of additional books from the library.

Spanish: We will be using the Spanish lessons on United Streaming this year. For a little more than I was going to pay for a Spanish program I purchased a year's subscription to United Streaming where we will have access to literally thousands of videos for every subject under the sun. The Spanish lessons come with teacher lesson plans and worksheets as well. I will supplement with my own vocabulary review as well. These first few years my goal is to teach Thatcher as much vocabulary as possible as well as develop a love of the Spanish language and culture in him. If you are interested in learning more about United Streaming you can sign up for a free 30 day trial on their website.

Other things to work in: I have both Mind Benders and Manners Made Easy. I love both of these items and definitely plan to incorporate them - just not exactly sure when or how yet. I think I will have a much better idea once we get started in a few weeks.

This was one of those posts that if not a single person ever reads, it's okay. It helped me so much to type it all out. That's what I love about blogging: it forces me to get it all together for a possible audience. If you did hang in there and read it all, let me know. I would love to give you a cyber (((hug)))!

9 comments: said...

Jennifer - I read your (entire) post on what you will doing this year. I found it very helpful. I am a stay-at-home dad who will be homeschooling our 6-year-old daughter (first grade). You are using some of the same curricula that I will be (e.g., SOTW). I am also a big fan of The Well-Trained Mind. I hadn't heard of United Streaming. Our daughters are Chinese and we would like them to learn their native language, but hadn't decided how to go about doing that. We will check out United Streaming. Thanks. Chris.

Jennefer said...

You are welcome and good luck on your homeschool journey! Your girls are so blessed to have such an involved daddy.

my5wolfcubs said...

Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your year -- looks wonderful! Oh, and I *love* your little "Smooth Stones" symbol.
Lee (WTM board)

Jennefer said...

My sweet husband is the graphic guru in our home. Anything on my blog that is not text is his brain-child! I will pass on your compliment to him and thanks so much!

Momto5Minnies said...

WOW, you are definitely ready to put your plan to work!

I am still waiting for curriculum to arrive at my doorstep. I hope that I will be thoroughly impressed with my choices.

I haven't heard of United Streaming either ... I'll need to check that out.

Heidi said...

Ooh! I love the picture of all your books. That would be Christmas at our house as well. :) Your plans look great. It makes me want to get started on my September plans! We aren't starting 1st grade until January, though.

Great job!

Jenny in Ca said...

Wow Jennefer, it all looks so good and well thought out! I am one of those 'do what comes next' people, and it is not working real well for me- I am trying to be more organized. Honestly, even the thought of counting the lessons and figuring how many lessons/weeks it would take us..makes my eyes glaze over. I should get over that tho, shouldn't I??

We did some SOTW last year, and really loved it.
For timelines, Sonlight has a nice timeline book-we are using those with cut-outs from homeschool in the woods, I just ordered the ones sonlight sells, they are pre-sticked, nice!

I feel the same way about getting packages, I love getting books in the mail, and a big curriculum order is just like Christmas for me too!

thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

looks great

WE love unitedstreaming! One of the art tango lesson we liked and the project turned out cool was the heart drawing!

Jenny L. said...

Thank you! What wonderful resources you have here. I have also purchased the timeline book from Sonlight and am pleased with it.