Thursday, November 1, 2012

Curriculum and Routine 2012-2013

As I said before, this year has brought about a refreshing sigh of relief into our school.  

Taking this deep breath has allowed me to focus on the things that really, friends, our church, The Little Mermaid...hey, how did she get in here????  Oh yeah, she is in absolute control of our lives until next weekend!!  Karsyn is in a local production (Central Community Theater if you're from around here) of The Little Mermaid which means that we spend a whole lot of time singing Under the Sea and Kiss the Girl.  She loves theater and drama, and has begged for years to "be on a stage", so this fall we signed her up.  She loves it I tell you....LOVES IT!!!!  But what I love is that I have come to a place in my homeschooling walk where I can be okay with practices until 10:00 at night, knowing that if we sleep in the next morning all will still get done....or it won't, and either way it is okay!!!!  This has been a crazy phase of our lives.  SO WHAT!!!  I don't want to wash out all the excitement with the all too familiar, "I hope you know that we are still getting up at 7:00 in the morning, and you will still get all of your chores done Missy.   I hope this play is worth it."  {I'm most likely paraphrasing} No, I want this to be a time of excitement for Karysn who has dreamed of this for many years!!!  Will she still get her chores done? Yes.  Will she get up at 7:00?  No.  Will school start at a quarter til 11:00?  Maybe.  And that is okay.  THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS WE HOMESCHOOL!!!!!!!  Why is that so hard for me to remember sometimes.  I laugh at myself because I always see people's blogs say that they blog to have an account of their days and some memories to look back on.  I blog so that I can read my own blog posts and beam myself back down to earth.  I am just flaky like that.  I will write all about relaxing our homeschool and then wake up in a complete tailspin that we are relaxing around here!!!  Then, I just quietly click on over to read and remind myself why I wanted to be more relaxed!!!  Medication??  Maybe!!!

I truly think that is just a characteristic of being a momma.  Even if its never said, we all just want what is best for our children, and we sometimes try too hard to get there...or go in the complete wrong direction....or have to wave the white flag in surrender that maybe that wasn't the best plan.  And guess what???  Our moms did the same thing.  They just didn't have social outlets to let the world know.  

So, ANYWAY!!!  Our curriculum this year is very basic.  We are only trying a few new things and have settled in nicely to a routine!!!  We have also changed our schedule up a little bit, which I will share with you too.  Hope you've got some coffee!!!!  


This year our schedule looks alot like last year's, except we have implemented a very distant, off the beaten path version of the workbox system.  We use these hanging wall pockets.  I put all the books they will need for each task in the pockets, and they go from pocket to pocket as needed.  When the pockets are empty our day is done!!!!!  They are working very well and are a great space saver since they hang on the wall!!!!

Something very different this year, that has been so great, is eliminating time slots.  I have always (being a teacher) assigned blocks of time to everything we do.  This year, we are just doing things in order. Eliminating times has really taken alot of pressure off if we want to extend our studies with a movie, have a trouble spot in math, or just need to go outside!!!  FREEDOM!!!

So it looks a little like this on a good day....

1st{most of the time around 8:00}
We start our days after breakfast and chores with our reading for the day from Jesus Calling.  I am reading this devotional as well, so it is really neat because the girls' reading doesn't go as deep as mine which gives us something to discuss.  I love it!!  After that, the girls have their assigned Bible reading for our History.  This year we are studying Ancients from Creation, so we are learning the Biblical account alongside the historical timeline.  We are just finishing up with Genesis and learning all about the Egyptians.  It is really neat to see how our world has come to be from the beginning.  We use the Bible, of course, as well as The Catherine Vos Children's Story Bible, and the Victor Journey Through the Bible.  It really makes things clear to read the scripture on day one, then follow up each day after with a paraphrased version that elaborates.  It is really working nicely.   Also, Karen at Simply Living for Him is doing the Bible as her main text this year, and has tons of good resources that I have also incorporated!!!We also review and learn new memory work during this time.  The girls have memorized the continents and oceans, days of creation, and 5 longest rivers in the world so far.  

2nd{most of the time around 8:30/8:45}
After Bible and Memory, we dive into History.  Because its the Ancients, it just naturally flows.  We are using Story of The World Volume 1 as our spine, along with lots of library books, movies, and anything else I can get my hands on.   We also use the Biblioplan program for our History/Science Co-Op that we do once a week.  I have mixed reviews on this program.  If it were up to me we wouldn't use it, simply because it just doesn't work for our family.  The way that it is written is very magazine like with alot of "snippets" of information which just confuses us around here.  It works for our Co-Op though, and our teacher does a really good job making things clear.  Without her, though, I feel like it would be a mess. She is a one of a kind!!!  I generally read a Chapter from Story of the World aloud while the girls color, play with blocks, crochet (now that its getting cooler out...its just what they do), or try to kill each other!!  LOL!!!  Then we have questions to answer about what was read that they will have to answer in Co-Op so we do those and follow up with the Biblioplan sometimes.  Sometimes I skip it altogether honestly, because it is just a program that doesn't come naturally, so its a chore.  They do have maps with the Biblioplan that I like.  They are basically the Story of the World maps just with additional information, so since my girls are bit old (according the Story of the World recommendations) for Volume 1 this kind of beefs it up a bit...especially for my 6th grader.

After History the girls go outside to see the chickens or ride the golf cart or play with the dogs or here lately pogo stick.  I stay in most of the time, fold some clothes, start supper, or do something around the house.  When the arguing starts I call them in!!!

3rd{ usually around 10:00}

After Bible and Memory, we break up for Math.  Kamryn does hers completely on her own because she says I confuse her (imagine that) and I work with Karsyn.  This year we are using Saxon.  Right Start was a great start for us, but now that the girls are getting the hang of things I wanted to switch to something that looked a little more like Math.  They each need lots of review so Saxon has proven to be WONDERFUL!!!  I have to say though that Right Start did a great job for Karsyn though, who now understands things much better than she did a year ago.  A hands on math program was just the trick for her.  She now loves Saxon.  She does 5/4 and Kamryn does 7/6.  Its great and it's proven.  The only downfall is that it does take an hour.  There is just no way around it.  But the kids both say they feel like they know something when they are done!!!

4th{usually around 11:00}
We continue with "Pocket Work" as I like to call it until lunch.  The girls each have piano and language arts to do now.   Most days Kamryn will practice piano first while I work with Karsyn using All About Spelling for her spelling and Abeka Language for her grammar.  I must say that she is outgrowing All About Spelling, which is a testament to the program.  When we first began using it she had a really tough time.  Now she knows most of the rules before they teach it.  GREAT PROGRAM!!  I will be sad when we complete Level 3, which is where we are now, because I think we will move on from it to a more commonly misspelled word program like Spelling Power.  Again, All About Spelling has been great!!!  

As far as grammar goes, it is really an mistruth to say that we use Abeka.  Being an English teacher, I am only using the Abeka Scope and Sequence.  We use Language A, which is the 4th grade grammar program.  This year is a foundational one.  By the end of the year using this program, Karsyn will have learned every part of speech, capitalization rule, and basically all of the basic grammar functions.  I use the worksheets occasionally, but find that if I have her write a summary of what we learned in history or a paragraph about something, she will show me what she needs work on.  Using Dianne Craft's methods, which you can read more about here, I don't say anything to her about what is wrong, but instead create a lesson for whatever it is to do the next day.  Then I have her look at the paragraph and tell me what is wrong.  We usually will spend the rest of the week working on whatever that may be.  She has a hard time crossing over from worksheet to writing, and this has helped her tremendously!!! 

For Kamryn, a natural speller, we focus more on vocabulary from what she is reading.  I try to pick out some words that she will define and use in her writing for the week.  She is also a grammar whiz, so we have stopped formal grammar for now.  In 8th grade I think we will do a review using something like Analytical Grammar.  I'm not really sure yet, but for now we're holding off.  She was into some advanced stuff that even this English teacher didn't think was useful.  She mostly reads or writes during this time and works with her vocabulary words.  Both girls have assigned books for history and they read a chapter each to me.  

Lunch{usually around 12:00/12:30}

5th{usually around 12:30/12:45}
I have found that if I try to break here for anything {nature study, quiet time, etc.} we will never regroup.  We get right back to it after lunch and the race is on to clear the pockets.  Usually we only have science left, so its not too hard to do.  For Science this year we are doing Exploration Education's Physical Science.  It is a computerized program that uses projects that the students make to learn the different concepts of physical science.  It is a great concept, but seems to be very advanced and moves quickly.  My 6th grader rocks and rolls.  Its kind of tough for the 4th grader, but we chug along.  I supplement it ALOT with Bill Nye and the Magic School Bus and any kind of youtube anything I can find.  We also use reading comprehensions from Ed Helper to hammer in the details.  Physical science is a tough subject and this program does make it fun. I also like that its a no fluff program.  It summarizes nicely and speaks to the kids in a way that is much easier to understand than your typical text.  We like it!!!  So far we have built a race car that has helped us to learn about force and work and now simple machines.  Its fun!!!

By the time we finish science its usually somehow 2:00.  I don't require quiet time regularly after we finish school because I feel like they just want to play!!!  I have started putting in a little rest period before lunch where they will read or write or have some kind of assignment in their rooms that they must do and then stay in their rooms until lunch.  For us that works much better.  Its amazing what they will come up with when they are by themselves!!!

So that is our day, most of the time, and while it is very basic I do feel that we are getting some good stuff done.  We don't do art or music appreciation nearly as much as I would like, but we do manage to fit it in here and there!!!

On Mondays we have our History and Science Co-Op after lunch.  On Wednesdays the girls participate in a local choir, and on Thursdays they have their piano lessons.  Oh, and every single day till midnight Karsyn has theater.  Not really, LOL, its just the week before the big show!!  Things are getting serious!!!  Lots of fun!!!!!

I am feeling good about this year!!!!  Sorry that I have no pictures!!!!  I have got a post coming with lots....and a series on starting a one room school house style Co-Op!!!!!!  Stay Tuned!!!!!



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