Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Back to the Books

When we took a break from school at the end of May, I was the only one who was not rip-roaring to jump into the freewheeling days of summer.  The kids were looking forward to playing outside, swimming, popsicles, a day at the beach and unstructured time.  I was lamenting the end of a very productive and fulfilling school year, and I was hesitant to forsake the peaceful flow of our days. 

With the advent of a new school year (we begin August 8), I wonder two things:

1) Now that I've finally adjusted, how am I going to leave behind this happy summer routine?  (The same way I adjusted a few months ago, I guess.)

2) Does anyone really want to hear about all my curriculum choices again this year?  (If everyone is as nosy as I am about what other families are learning, maybe so.)  

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Our school curriculum is divided into two general categories: work the children do independently and work we do together as a group. Gavin (8), Maddie (7), and Owen (5) are my official students this year, but the little ones,  Benjamin (2) and Alaine (11 months), will join in anyway!

The Independents

This is what we used to refer to as table time, but since it can occur anywhere from the living room floor to the top bunk in the bedroom, we now call it pencil work. 

English:  Now that Gavin  has learned to real well, he has left phonics work behind.  He will alternate between handwriting (Learning to Write Cursive) and copywork (copywork folder).  He will also do lots of independent reading on his own as he delves into the world of chapter books. 

Owen and Maddie began working through Alphaphonics together this summer and will continue as the schoolyear progresses.  (Maddie used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Explode the Code last year and has a basic grasp of reading, but it hasn't clicked for her yet.)  I'm also ordering her A Reason For Handwriting in an effort to combine handwriting and copywork.

One of the highlights of English for two of my kids is memorizing poetry.  (The other child detests it!)  Every few months, I'll have them choose a new poems to work on.  They will  memorize it and learn to recite it expressively.  It always motivates them if I choose a poem, too.

Math:  After abandoning Making Math Meaningful for Gavin midway through last year, we stumbled onto Kumon Math Workbooks and found them to be a much better fit for us!  (I was a mean mother and had him continue to do math one day a week though the summer so he wouldn't forget his multiplication facts!)

Maddie and Owen will be learning math with Big Second Grade Workbook and Big First Grade Workbook, respectfully.  It is super fun, super colorful, and proof that school curriculum does not have to be expensive! 

The Togethers

 I look forward to this part of the day.  While helping each child with their independent work sometimes has me pulling my hair out, having everyone learning together keeps me sane! 

Bible: We love Rod and Staff's Bible memory coloring books.  This year we are going to learn The Lord's Prayer during our fall term and the books of the Bible during the spring.  (You just cannot beat R & S's prices!) 

We'll continue to read through Bedtime Bible Storybook by Daniel Partner (though not at bedtime), but I'm expecting that by Christmas, we will be finished and looking for a new book.  Any ideas? 

We will continue our missionary study by reading a section of Hero Tales by Dave and Neta Jackson one day a week. 

History and Geography: We plan to continue our journey through American history this year.  We will begin with the post-Civil War era and (hopefully... probably.. .maybe) continue through to present day.  I used TruthQuest: American History For Young Students III to compile my book list, but since we don't use the TruthQuest commentary or Think/Write activities, I guess you can say we simply read our way through history. 

Before we delve back in, though, we are going to take the month of August to read Sea Bird (by Holling C. Holling), using Beautiful Feet's Geography Through Literature and the accompanying map set

Science: Since we began homeschooling, we have done Charlotte Mason-style nature study and nature notebooking for science.  Gavin, in particular, looks forward to this part of the school week.  Since he is going into fourth grade, I wanted to make sure we were "doing enough" for science so I looked into beginning an Apologia elementary science book.  Even using Suzanne's laid-back, no-pressure approach seemed like too much pressure for me, though, with a toddler and a baby so instead, I am pulling together my own in-depth nature study focusing on trees.  I was inspired by Anna, and like her, we plan to do lots of reading and lots of "field work," identifying trees in our yard.  We also plan to plant a tree in the house this winter and transplant it to our yard in the spring...and choose a tree in our yard to sketch in all 4 seasons. 

Art:  Art study is the highlight of Owen's school week.  This year we plan to study the paintings of Wassily Kankinsky.  (My boys are both fascinated by abstract art so while it is not my favorite style of art, I am expanding my horizons.)  We will also study Winslow Homer (much more my style!). 

Music:  We so enjoyed Hymns For a Kid's Heart at the end of last school year that have purchased Passion Hymns For a Kid's Heart for this year. 

As always, we'll fill in our learning with visits to the library, penpal letters, painting and coloring, outside play, baking, cooking, and Charlotte Mason co-op.

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What are you teaching and learning this year?  If you write about it on your blog, leave me a link!

Not Back to School Blog Hop


  1. Thanks for sharing! I love hearing what other people are doing. I mainly started my blog in hopes to benefit others who are like me and want to see what others are doing in the daily grind of homeschooling (we're just starting out, though), so thanks for telling us your plan!

  2. I love seeing everyone's choices. Have a great year.

  3. I get excited about all things homeschool, even after 20+ years of homeschooling! Unfortunately, I am soooooooooo behind on my school planning this year that I could not share a thoughtful, lovely plan as you have shared. Yet. But before we jump into our school year in September, I'll eke out some time to think and plan and tweak and try not to overwhelm my only student with all of my great ideas! (Poor Bekah!) ;-)

  4. Have you seen 'The Jesus Storybook Bible'? It is AMAZING!! That might be your 'next' together book after you finish up the bedtime one :-> Let me know what you think!

  5. I loved reading this! Since I'm just beginning my homeschool journey, it's fun to read about what other people are doing. I always like to hear what works and what doesn't.

  6. I have loved reading this... although, I always love getting a sneak peak at the plans of other homeschooling families. :)

    Enjoy the last days of summer!

  7. OH I love reading about books, plans, homeschooling, choices, learning! So fun!

    I have to update with a xanga post about what I actually decided to use this year. I've made a few changes since my first post.

    Thanks for the link for learning the books of the Bible. I'll be utilizing that at some point!

  8. Stopping by from the blog hop!

    your kids are adorable.

    Looks like a great year!

  9. I finally wrote about our choices for next year:

  10. What a beautiful blog! Have a wonderful year! :)

  11. This looks great! So fun to see what you're going to do.

    I'm hoping to get something posted about what we're going to do soon too... we'll see!


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