Well, as a homeschooling mother of four, teaching a 1st Grader, two almost 5 year olds(PreK) and an almost 3 year old preschooler...it doesn't get much more exciting than this: Curriculum Choices!!
I wasn't really sure how to put my exuberance over this years curriculum into words...but that's never stopped me before, so here goes...
I did realize however, that if I put all the curriculum into one post...well, perhaps that would be too much excitement for most people to handle in one go. So, I decided to make two separate posts...This one covers the subjects that all four kids do mostly all together...so it's stuff that can be made to work for mulitple age levels. (as in, not yet three years old to just over six.)
And then Part II will cover the subjects that we do separately by age. We are in our second week of this school year...so, who knows what I will change. haha
So, good morning class, let's stand and start by saying the:
Pledge of Allegiance
We start our day by saying the pledge together.
We use some calendar notebooks that I got free from Confessions of a Homeschooler. But I can't find the link that I got them from for free anymore. If you find it...she has a preK one and a regular one...which I like because the boys are in a very different place than Asia. We cover the days of the week, time, chart the daily weather, etc.
The kids really enjoy Calendar Time--and the downloadables are free!
I know people have all sorts of ideas about how you should teach Bible if you homeschool... Some people say, that it should never be taught as a 'subject'...that you should cuddle up with your kids on the couch and have a time of devotions...but you should definitely never make your kids feel like the Bible is a subject to be taught and learned.
Well...I definitely want my kids to have a relationship with the Lord and not just think of it as another subject to be learned...but I do think there is a time and a place for it...as in...people go to seminary to learn more about the Lord....but that doesn't mean that they don't/can't have a relationship with Him.
Anyway...before I get on that particular Soap Box...
We start our official school day with Bible.
We are reading from Egermeier's Bible Story Book again this year...and reading The Awesome Book of Bible Facts when it has some facts that correspond with the Bible story that we are reading. Sometimes if the kids are really lucky...I have my act together and while they were sleeping the night before I was printing out a coloring sheet for them that goes with what we are reading.
We are also adding many of the major people from the Bible to our timeline.
We are using "God Our Provider" from Sing the Word this year... I think they are pretty good CD's that put Scripture to music...(they are super expensive on Amazon...much cheaper on Sonlight or on the Sing the Word website) My kids learn really well through singing... So, right now, we are harmonizing our way through:
The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein;
for he has founded it upon the seas,
and established it upon the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD,
and vindication from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
At night, we separate the boys and girls for bedtime reading...For some reason, putting our frisky foursome in one room at bedtime quickly turns into a sibling war zone. So,even if only one of us responsible adults is at home, we have separate story time. For some reason bedtime with 4 kids in the same room is just too much for them...or maybe it is just too much for us.
Asia is currently reading aloud from the Jesus Storybook Bible to Skye and I...
Brian takes the boys and is reading to them either from The Beginners Bible, The Lamb or The Jesus Storybook Bible.
I never developed a love of poetry as a child. To assuage my guilt at never becoming cultured in this way, I'm making sure my kids are going to love poetry, whether they want to or not. So, we are continuing to read one poem aloud every day from Ambleside Online Poetry anthology, available for free here.
I haven't really figured out an official list of books to read aloud this year... We generally do our read alouds at night... Though I read some with the kids in the afternoons when I have time.
But lately, I've read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to the girls and now we're reading Matilda.
Over in the boy's corner, Brian has read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Glass Elevator, Henry Huggins, Ribsy and is currently reading Voyage With the Vikings. When one of your sons is named Leif, anything about Leif the Lucky goes over pretty well.
This year, we've turned a bit more classical in our History/Geo...we are studying history chronologically. This year is all about Ancient History. We do this on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Just a note on this...I actually don't agree with the dating of prehistory that Susan Wise Bauer presents in her book. But so far, that's the only thing I haven't liked in her curriculum. I just explain to the kids that people believe lots of things about when the earth began. And I tell them what I believe...but that only God knows for sure.
On Friday, we do some "extra" reading on whatever subject we've been covering that week. Normally, people would just get some books from the library to do this...but since we don't have a library... I have a few books that we are using from our own slowly expanding homeschool "library."
We are also making an Ancient History lapbook that I downloaded for free from here.
We'll also use Friday to work on any extra projects we want to do for fun.
As mentioned before, the other thing we do outside "regular" school time is listen to the Story of the World audio book. It is very well done and even Brian & I have been learning a lot.
We are doing Science on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This year we are using Apologia's Exploring Creation with Botany.
A few people have told me that Apologia is too difficult for kids in early elementary. And I guess for me...it just depends on what you want your kid to get out of it. The first chapter does cover some difficult terms such as botanist, biologist, astrobiologist, phylums and even taxonomy...etc.
We haven't finished chapter one...but after the first section this is the Narration that Asia gave to me...from what I had read aloud to her.
"Plants are living things and God made all living things. Scientists use Latin. Botany is the study of plants."
So, she didn't remember ALL the big words...but she was exposed to a lot of good information, and she got what I think she should have gotten out of the lesson.
We also have a few fun "extras" as we study Botany this year. And we have a bit of an herb garden that the kids helped plant.
We continue to observe the nature around us... The highlight of this week has been the stinkbug that laid eggs on the fence and has been staying with her eggs. And, this afternoon...news flash. Two more stinkbugs, both with eggs as well were discovered.
Asia has decided she thinks that stinkbugs are like turtles. As in, they lay their eggs in one place, the babies hatch, and the baby stinkbugs grow up, and go back to the same place to lay their eggs when they become adults. Well...a hypothesis is where scientific investigation starts.
I'll start off by saying... I AM NOT CRAFTY OR AN ARTIST! But I do enjoy art and I figured that I can teach Art History... So, this year I invested in these books from a series called Getting to know the World's Greatest Artists. I actually got the lessons and lapbook materials for free from Confessions of a Homeschooler's Worlds-Greatest-Artists-Unit-Study. It is available for download free(this month) here.
We are studying one artist a month and of course, the artist is getting added to our timeline.
This month we are studying Michelangelo. Slater's favorite sculpture is "David"...and today he drew this picture. It gave me a good laugh. Brian said that I should censor it. I actually, think the reason he liked the "David" sculpture is because of the story behind it...he loves the story of David and Goliath.
When I was planning my curriculum for this year...I looked at various foreign languages and thought... in what I then thought was a moment of brilliance...I should write a Visayan (the language spoken here) curriculum for the kids.
Our kid's friends learn English in school, so they usually practice their English when they're talking to our kids. So, they aren't learning as much as we had hoped that they would. Language is a complicated thing here...Visayan is the heart language of people where we live, but their school is normally taught with a combination of Tagalog, Visayan and English. Local television is mostly Tagalog, English, and a little Visayan. Because of this, most people are bi- or tri-lingual, with varying degrees of fluency. So, our kids don't just "pick up" the language the way they might in a more monolingual society.
Well, back to my moment of brilliance...about 1/2 way through my curriculum development, etc...I realized that it wasn't really a "brilliant" idea...it was a stinking TON of work.
As they say, genius is often close to insanity, and sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. haha So, I enlisted Brian's help...and he found pictures for our flashcards. Then, he did a translation check of my curriculum with Wendel and printed out the pictures for me. Then, I laminated them all and am trying to cut them all out... But I still only have a few lessons cut out...since my paper cutter is starting to get dull.
Anyway...We have a 32 week curriculum which includes around 360 words...which will give our kids a good start on basic vocabulary.
We have plans of creating a second year...but we'll give it a while before we start that.
We are using Total Physical Response (TPR) to teach basic nouns and verbs. TPR in its simplest form is pointing at objects and saying things like, "This is a serving spoon. This is a pot. This is a grater." Then, after the student has heard the new word a few times, saying, "Where is the serving spoon? Where is the pot? Where is the grater?" And, the student points at the corresponding object. It can get a lot more complicated than that, but that's the basic idea. The kids (mostly Asia) are learning about a dozen a week. They are also learning some Practical Expressions every week.
We made these awesome flashcards... At least they better be awesome because they took a ridiculous amount of time to make. To all of you homeschool bloggers who put together your own curriculum all the time and share it...my homeschooling hat is off to you...curriculum creation is a LOT of work!
Along with TPR, they can also be used to play Go Fish, Old Maid, and Memory...because learning language should be fun!!! And, because we are starting with the most common items in the household, we can practice a bit whenever one or more of the objects is around.
One of the greatest things I have learned during our homeschooling adventure is to start off with PE. Seriously!!! It makes the rest of the day go WAY smoother. Life tends to start VERY early here...as in, we are extremely excited that the boys have started to sleep in until 5:30 AM this week. So, it's easy for the kids & us to get some exercise in before we start our regular school day. If it is not too wet outside the kids ride their bikes and scooters outside for a while after breakfast.
If it is too wet out...the girls practice ballet, they all do a Taebo video or some ABC exercise cards that I found online for free.
I have found that the twins tend to behave WAY better if they have gotten some energy out before we get into the "classroom".
Asia continues to take ballet lessons on Saturday afternoons.
And, Skye just had her very first ballet lesson this last Saturday. She'll continue them on Saturday mornings.
I really want to get the boys into a Taekwando class...but need to look into it some more. We may just wait until we return from furlough.
And if it's not raining...we spend every possible minute outside... running around our yard, riding bikes and scooters, checking once again to see if the stinkbug eggs have hatched, etc.
So...that's Curriculum Plans...Part Uno. Check out our Curriculum Plans Part Deux here!