I do my homeschool planning and reflection two times per year – once in August and again in January. At this point in our homeschooling journey I am very eclectic in my approach in teaching the children. We have decided to take a structured approach to teaching math, reading and writing and leave the other subjects open to how and what the children want to learn. Here are some resources and curriculum that we have used up to this point in the year and what I think of them. I have divided it into sections for each child and their grade level if they were attending school, however I often find we are doing work that is at a higher or lower grade level depending on what we are using and learning about.
My youngest – Skittles really enjoys doing ‘school’ work. He sees us learning at the table and doing ‘workboxes’ and wants his own. We started this year off with Tot Trays that you can read more about over at 1+1+1+1. I purchased these trays last year and we use them constant in our homeschool for all sorts of projects and crafts. You can even see them being used for potty time in this post here.
Skittles likes to do Lapbooks – a mini version which has been called a Tot Book. So we did a few of these this year already that you can get for free here.
Around October he really wanted to do ‘workbooks’ like the other children and he wanted to start writing and doing more than cutting, pasting and colouring. So I moved onto a workbook from Critical Thinking Co. These are quick short lessons that I could do with him in all subject areas that he really enjoyed doing. So we would just do these whenever he would bring me the book and ask.
Crafts: Skittles loves to do crafts, gluing, play-doh, rice trays and anything with stickers or foamies. This keeps him very occupied while I am working individually with the other children and/or he can do this with one of his siblings if I am having 1on1 time with each of the older children.
Music: Skittles has been doing music class since 2010 and has been attending Music for Young Children. This month (January) he just started the Sunrise program where he gets his own book, bag, blanket and learns the music critters. This program is fantastic the way it introduces children to music. More on this program in another blog post.
Before Five-In-A-Row (BFIAR): We love all the books listed in this curriculum, and have been using it for at least 4 years! (including Book 1) We love doing the lapbooks related to these books in this curriculum. We have found some great free ones from www.homeschoolshare.com, but also some more in depth ones from In the Hands of a Child and A Journey Through Learning.
Smarty Pants is my 5.5 year old that loves Smarties, but also will often answer his brother and sisters questions. I have not really done much formal schooling with him until this year, but he has done much of what Skittles has done, and doing a lot of learning through lapbooks and listening to his sister do her work.
I started in January 2010 a more structured approach as he could sit longer. He likes doing hands on activities, crafts, colouring, math manipulatives and lapbooks; depending on the topic. He really likes doing research and doing projects or unit studies.
Saxon Math Grade 1:
I started this with him in September 2011, but I often can’t get him to sit every day and do it, so we complement what he’s learning in that with worksheets, math websites and even just activities. It’s funny how I never asked him to count for me until he started this program and he could count much farther than what I would have thought…but he did have 4 years of listening to his sister count every day! He doesn’t get the confusion after the number 11, which I’m very excited for him about!
Critical Thinking Co:
He loves these books as well and he has already worked through 2 books. He will sit for a while when it comes to working in these books with me, and it covers a few subject areas. I see these more as fun, but it definately provides an opportunity to talk about reasoning and logic. He is working in two books right now. Here is the first, and the link for the second.
Explode the Code:
Smarty Pants has been doing Explode the Code for about 1.5 years. He started with Get Ready for The Code and we worked in this books simultaneously while doing Writing Road to Reading (WRTR) as well. When we would do these books I would apply the handwriting and phonogram sounds from WRTR with the activities from Explode the Code. He really enjoyed these books, but since has totally skipped Book C, so will start Grade 1 with him by the end of January 2012.
Spalding: Writing Road to Reading
I found this program out of searching and searching for something for my oldest, and started it with Smarty Pants this Fall 2011. He has been really good at sitting with me (usually while he eats breakfast or a snack) to do an Oral Phonogram Review and we have started Written Phonogram Reviews as well. We also do phonogram practice with games and such. I really like this approach to teaching children to read as it also focuses on handwriting at the same time. We have not started phonogram practice yet since our holiday break, but will continue next week. Most days we get this practice in every day, but once the Explode the Code Grade 1 books arrive, I will be able to have him sit longer, since this kid really likes worksheets!
Grade 3: Kit Kat
Kit Kat is my oldest and will be 9 years old in a few short months. She loves crafts, music, art, writing, reading, Lapbooking, unit studies and playing with her brothers. I must say that her interests at this point, guide a lot of our homeschool, but Smarty Pants is definately catching up as he gets older in voicing his learning goals.
Saxon Grade 2: We’ve been using Saxon right from the beginning, and she really enjoys Math. I have the Grade 3 book, but haven’t yet since there are a few other lessons I want to go over before jumping to the next book. We won’t be starting at the beginning of Grade 3 book, since we have sort of been jumping around the Grade 2 book. Last September, Kit Kat attended a local public school for 7 weeks so that put us really behind, since she didn’t learn any new concept when attending school. But it put us behind quite a bit in our Saxon lessons. I will be starting her in the Grade 3 book by the end of this month (January) and will start probably lesson 50 or so in Grade 3. Its taking up a lot more time than usual as I have to look ahead and see if that lesson is necessary, but we should be all caught up and ready for Grade 4 Math in September.
Spalding: Writing Road to Reading
I taught Kit Kat how to read using a variety of different methods since it was my first homeschool experience. I used Phonics methods, worksheets, flashcards that I made, Explode the Code and others for spelling, grammar, etc. I wasn’t happy with the approaches that many programs took, as I wanted something very thorough that taught everything about language; handwriting, spelling, grammar, writing, sequence, logic, etc. I could not find something that I was absolutely comfortable with so I created my own using a variety of materials. Then, I had a 3rd child and found myself pressed for time. Then I found the Spalding Method. I LOVE it! I will be writing another post about it where you can read more about this method.
We have been moving along nicely using this method, and her spelling has improved dramatically. Even Skittles like repeating the phonograms after her at the breakfast table:)
French: Rosetta Stone
Kit Kat has always wanted to learn languages, and she started Spanish at 4 years old. This year we started using Rosetta Stone, and she really likes it. She will sit and do an entire Unit!
Kit Kat also studies music and plays the piano, takes step-dance lessons is a Brownie and enjoys skating and swimming. We do many different Unit Studies in Geography using our Little Passports that arrives in the mail each month. I will center a month’s unit on that country once it arrives.
That is basically the curriculum choices we are using right now. You can read other posts about what we are doing in our homeschool where I will give you resources in each post.
You can also see our Lapbooks on my website at www.Lapbookdiva.com
Note: these photos are actually of the children from 2010. I will update with newer ones when I can!