Curriculum Choices 2012-2013

Homeschool Curriculum

Finally, my updated 2012-2013 Curriculum post! See other curriculum posts here:

See our new Weekly Wrap-Up posts here where I share more about what our group time together looks like, as well as a peek into Krash and PacMan’s homeschool life!


Back to School 2012-1043

Ladybug ~ Tot School, age 3 1/2

Back to School 2012-1059Krash ~  1st, age 6

Back to School 2012-1070PacMan ~ 5th Grade, age 10

Back to School 2012-1030 Family

FAQ ~

I heard your boys are enrolled in a cyber school, how does this work?

Yes, they are and we have a VERY unique situation.  We are enrolled in a cyber school but we traditionally homeschool just like someone using Calvert who bought it from their site.  The only difference is that my kids get their supplies, curriculum, computer, printer, and MUCH support for free.  We are so incredibly blessed to have this option, it is working for us right now.  I teach them every single subject, and we use traditional Calvert texts and books…hardly anything is done online for my boys-except fun games and such we have access to.  This is another perk for us we have free access to: First in Math, Study Island, Let’s Go Learn, Brain Pop, and more.  These sites are amazing.

If you are wondering what state we live in, you can email me privately.  I just don’t publicly share the name of our specific school and location online.  Let me emphasize that all sates are different and ALL cyber schools are different.  I personally do not know ANYONE else who has a situation like mine {except a few who are enrolled in my particular cyber school}, most are much more controlled from what I have heard.  Here is a place on Calvert’s website that allows you to seek out using Calvert with a partner school in your state.

Would you use Calvert even if you didn’t get it for free through your state? 

I am not sure.  I do love it, but I think I would look into something like Sonlight or My Father’s World ~ with a more Christian backbone.  I have heard great things about those.  I also think Mystery of History and many products from Bright Ideas Press look awesome.  I would probably piece together subject by subject, although the box curriculum approach is really nice and works for us.  So, maybe I would stick with Calvert, maybe not.  I honestly don’t know!  I have NO problems with Calvert, and it has served us well since PacMan’s PreK year.  I specifically have really enjoyed Calvert from grade 2 on, which is the beginning of where I am not as comfortable teaching!  I absolutely love Calvert this year {5th grade} and am really benefitting from the box approach in a grade I am so uncomfortable teaching!

Why are you using All About Reading for Krash if Calvert has a good reading program within it?

Honestly-I got AAR to review and decided to review it fully to help my blog readers.  I do not need a program to teach reading, I have done it with hundreds of children and it just comes naturally for me {I am a former Kindergarten teacher for any new readers}.  Something I truly love.  I followed Calvert’s program with Pac, but still basically did my own thing, which is what I have done with Krash too.  BUT, I get tons of questions from moms who tell me that teaching reading does not come naturally for them!  They want me to recommend a program and up until now I couldn’t since I had no experience with any homeschool reading program {other than Calvert}.  I can’t recommend Calvert’s reading program separately {it is great, but it only comes with the complete box curriculum}. When given the opportunity to review AAR Level 1, I jumped at the chance, knowing this would give me the experience I needed to give my readers an opinion on this reading program-which so far is amazing and definitely what I recommend!  I used All About Spelling Levels 1 & 2 with Pac and loved it.  We went to AAS when he began struggling early on.  He has now went back to the Calvert spelling program and does fine. Our great experience with All About Spelling led me to want to review All About Reading.

Will you enroll Ladybug in the cyber school when she is in PreK?

Probably not, I am thinking of taking PreK-1st and doing it myself for her.  But, that may change and we may enroll her if Calvert is still available.  Being a former K teacher, I just really, really enjoy doing my own things for these lower grades!

Will you always homeschool?

We believe in making this decision on a year-by-year, kid-by-kid basis.  We had no idea we would ever be homeschoolers, so we realize that we have no clue what God has in store for our family.  For now, we cannot imagine not homeschooling, and are very thankful to have been led here.

Are you against public/private school?

Absolutely NOT!  I believe that the decision of schooling needs to be made by individual families based on so many different circumstances.  I NEVER thought we would homeschool, but now am so glad we do {although it was very rough for me the first year}.  Some homeschooling families need to go back to group education for various reasons or during different seasons of life and who knows-that may be us one day.  I know the Lord will guide us each year in making this decision and I trust He guides families individually in this area. 

Why do you homeschool?

Honestly we started because of the area we live in.  We are inner city missionaries living in one of America’s toughest neighborhoods and the schools aren’t anything to jump for joy about.  We looked into private school but it just wasn’t in the budget, and it wasn’t something we really felt called to.  We have fellow missionaries on our team who homeschool and even though at first I thought they were a bit nuts-ha ha, I now adore them and the knowledge they have shared with me.  Although the decision to homeschool was made due to circumstances, we now feel we would continue even if we had the opportunity to send our kids to a great public school.

Do you have a daily schedule or routine? How do you “do it all”?

Updated: See our A Day in Our Homeschool Series Here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 {part 4 coming eventually}.

Loosely, yes…but we seem to work better being a bit more flexible.  We know what we need to accomplish and we usually do that-but we tend to go with the flow more since Ladybug often has sassy attitude problems and throws our mornings off a bit.  We school intensely each afternoon while she naps…even if she doesn’t sleep she is in her bed from at least 1-3:00.  This afternoon quiet time is vital to our day!

We try to keep a basic outline of a routine…Calendar Notebooks first thing, Pac upstairs to accomplish independent work while I play with the little 2 {focusing on Ladybug for at least 30 minutes each morning}.  Snack, recess, lunch… Then nap for L-bug and individual school for the boys.  We usually finish up all school around 3pm each day.  In the middle of it all we fit everything in somehow!

We still use a lesson plan blog for PacMan, and Krash is pretty easy going with following my lead for school, so we don’t have a super cool plan, we just get things done.  I now categorize Pac’s blog by colors {green-independent, blue-possibly need help, red-with mom}. It is SO easy and we both love it.

It is hard for me…the whole schedule thing.  We have good and bad days.  We have on and off-routine days.  We get things done most of the time and then there are days when I let the little 2 watch too many “educational” DVDs.  There are days I adore being with my kids all day long and days I wish I could bury my head in the pillow and not emerge for hours, or possibly days!  If you are struggling with creating a routine/schedule that works…know you are not alone.  I have been at this homeschooling things for 5 years now and I still struggle.  We get through yes-but it is still a struggle for me.  I often get asked how I “do it all” and I wrote a post about that here if you’ve wondered my thoughts on this topic.  The post is older but still applies!


If you have any other general questions about our curriculum, please leave in the comments below and I will do my best to add the answers to this list!



Curriculum Additions {and subtractions}

Before I type up our big curriculum 2012-2013 post, I thought I would highlight the main additions and subtractions.  We are adding a few things and there are a few things I am letting go, for now.

What I am letting go…

I am letting our Daily Calendar Notebooks go, for now.  It isn’t something that they kids “need” right now and there are other things I am wanting to fill that time with.  They certainly may come back, but I am starting the year off with just a basic calendar time, focusing on our monthly Calendar Connections theme, some basic calendar activities mostly for Ladybug.  Nothing fancy.

Calvert 5th Grade comes with an optional Art History class, and we have opted to not do that one.  Based on what we are adding down below, I felt it was best to not overload the kid with something he doesn’t have an interest in right now.

Other things to be let go are to be determined, I have a few things in mind, but gotta test out the new routine before I make any concrete decisions.

 

What are we adding?

For PacMan

PacMan, age 10, will be using Calvert 5th grade as his base, with the following additions {most are once a week}.

Who is God?

Who is God

I bought the textbook and the notebooking journal when I was at the 2:1 Conference last spring.  Pac and I have done 2 lessons together and are both enjoying this.  In a nutshell, this is a Christian Worldview Curriculum.  You can read more about it on Apologia’s website, and down the road I will certainly share more of our thoughts!


Home Art Studio {3rd grade DVD}

slide2 We did a few lessons to preview last year, and loved them.  It will be a part of this year thanks to our preview! Krash also has the option to join us and has chosen to!  You can see all of our past and upcoming Home Art Studio posts here!


Christian Heroes Series  Christian Heroes

I found these books late last year and he read Jim Elliott over the summer, and has already started Nate Saint {by his request, he loves them}!  I hope to read these with him throughout the year, mostly to inspire conversation between us. These books are published by YWAM and you can buy them directly from their site too!YWAM

 

For Krash

Krash, age 6, is using Calvert 1st grade as his base and continuing with All About Reading Level 1, with the following additions.

All About Spelling Level 1All About Spelling 1

When Pac used Calvert 1st grade he did not do well with their spelling program.  I ended up buying AAS to try to back track with him, and it worked.  We did levels 1 and 2 together and he was good to go.  We are now back to using the Calvert spelling, as he has become a better speller.  I still think AAS is better, I just didn’t have time to do both with him.  For Krash, I am supplementing with AAS from the beginning, to be sure he doesn’t fall behind the way Pac did.  We will do Calvert’s spelling stuff too, but our main focus will be AAS.


Draw, Write, Now

Draw Write Now

We have had Draw, Write, Now since Pac was younger!  Pac still enjoys drawing with these books, they are incredible.  I will use them with Krash this year, to work on basic drawing and also handwriting!  Be sure to check Amazon and the Barker Creek site before ordering to see where to get the best deal on the set!

For All Kids

{mostly the boys}

Sticker USA Activity Book

StickerUSA Activity Book picture

We were sent this package to review and I was thrilled when I opened it!  It is a book with all of the printables, AND a cd so you can print as many copies as you need!  In the book are also flashcards and stickers to use on the pages.  If you run out of stickers and need more than one set, they give you the stickers in clipart format on the CD too!


Continent Boxes

Continent Boxes

You have already seen our Europe Continent box,  I am looking forward to focusing on one continent per month this year!


Stay tuned for our complete 2012-2013 Curriculum Choices post later this month.  Check out other homeschooling moms and their curriculum choices!

nbts-blog-hop-calendar-2012

Not Back to School Blog Hop



Our Current Curriculum

I have been working on this for months now and finally have it as done as it will get for now, I will update and change it in the future.  I hope this page helps answer some of the FAQ concerning our curriculum. There is a link to this page in my top navigational bar, under the “Homeschool Help” section.

This list was updated April 2012.

As we change and add/delete programs, I will come back and update this page!

IMG_2780 IMG_2773 IMG_2799

Ladybug  ~ Tot School, age 3

Krash ~ In between K and 1st, age 5 1/2

PacMan ~ 4th Grade, age 9

Family

  • USA Geography
  • World Geography
  • New Testament Overview, from Grapevine Studies
    • This is a once a week thing we are using as our family time, it is targeted towards Krash and PacMan, but Ladybug is included too.
  • Calendar Connections
    • We are using these mostly for PacMan, but depending on the theme, Krash and Ladybug pick up on the facts too.
  • What’s in the Bible DVDs
    • We are watching the episodes together during school time and discussing them.  Ladybug obviously doesn’t really “get it”, Krash tends to pick up on some of it but needs to watch episodes repeatedly.  PacMan LOVES them the most and is really learning a lot.  I hope to continue using these on a regular basis in the future too!
  • Speekee Spanish & Boca Beth
    • Ladybug is the biggest fan of these, but these programs have helped us all pick up on some simple Spanish.
  • iPad

FAQ ~

I heard your boys are enrolled in a cyber school, how does this work?

Yes, they are and we have a VERY unique situation.  We are enrolled in a cyber school but we traditionally homeschool just like someone using Calvert who bought it from their site.  The only difference is that my kids get their supplies, curriculum, computer, printer, and MUCH support for free.  We are so incredibly blessed to have this option, it is working for us right now.  I teach them every single subject, and we use traditional Calvert texts and books…hardly anything is done online for my boys-except fun games and such we have access to.  This is another perk for us we have free access to: First in Math, Study Island, Let’s Go Learn, Brain Pop, and more.  These sites are amazing.

If you are wondering what state we live in, you can email me privately.  I just don’t publicly share the name of our specific school and location online.  Let me emphasize that all sates are different and ALL cyber schools are different.  I personally do not know ANYONE else who has a situation like mine {except those enrolled in my particular cyber school}, most are much more controlled from what I have heard.  Here is a place on Calvert’s website that allows you to seek out using Calvert with a partner school in your state.

Would you use Calvert even if you didn’t get it for free through your state? 

I am not sure.  I do love it, but I think I would look into something like Sonlight or My Father’s World ~ with a more Christian backbone.  I have heard great things about those.  I also think Mystery of History and many products from Bright Ideas Press look awesome.  I would probably piece together subject by subject, although the box curriculum approach is really nice and works for us.  So, maybe I would stick with Calvert, maybe not.  I honestly don’t know!  I have NO problems with Calvert, and it has served us well since PacMan’s PreK year.  I specifically have really enjoyed Calvert from grade 2 on, which is the beginning of where I am not as comfortable teaching!  I absolutely love Calvert this year {4th grade} and am really benefitting from the box approach in a grade I am so uncomfortable teaching!

Why are you using All About Reading for Krash if Calvert has a good reading program within it?

Honestly-I got AAR to review and decided to review it fully to help my blog readers.  I do not need a program to teach reading, I have done it with hundreds of children and it just comes naturally for me {I am a former Kindergarten teacher for any new readers}.  Something I truly love.  I followed Calvert’s program with Pac, but still basically did my own thing, which is what I have done with Krash too.  BUT, I get tons of questions from moms who tell me that teaching reading does not come naturally for them!!!  They want me to recommend a program and up until now I couldn’t since I had no experience with any homeschool reading program {other than Calvert}.  I can’t recommend Calvert’s reading program separately {it is great, but it only comes with the complete box curriculum}. When given the opportunity to review AAR Level 1, I jumped at the chance, knowing this would give me the experience I needed to give my readers an opinion on this reading program-which so far is amazing and definitely what I recommend!  I used All About Spelling Levels 1 & 2 with Pac and loved it.  We went to AAS when he began struggling early on.  He has now went back to the Calvert spelling program and does fine. Our great experience with All About Spelling led me to want to review All About Reading.

Will you enroll Ladybug in the cyber school when she is in PreK?

Probably not, I am thinking of taking PreK-1st and doing it myself for her.  But, that may change and we may enroll her if Calvert is still available.  Being a former K teacher, I just really, really enjoy doing my own things for these lower grades!

Will you always homeschool?

We believe in making this decision on a year-by-year, kid-by-kid basis.  We had no idea we would ever be homeschoolers, so we realize that we have no clue what God has in store for our family.  For now, we cannot imagine not homeschooling, and are very thankful to have been led here.

Are you against public/private school?

Absolutely NOT!  I believe that the decision of schooling needs to be made by individual families based on so many different circumstances.  I NEVER thought we would homeschool, but now am so glad we do {although it was very rough for me the first year}.  Some homeschooling families need to go back to group education for various reasons or during different seasons of life and who knows-that may be us one day.  I know the Lord will guide us each year in making this decision and I trust He guides families individually in this area. 

Why do you homeschool?

Honestly we started because of the area we live in.  We are inner city missionaries living in one of America’s toughest neighborhoods and the schools aren’t anything to jump for joy about.  We looked into private school but it just wasn’t in the budget, and it wasn’t something we really felt called to.  We have fellow missionaries on our team who homeschool and even though at first I thought they were a bit nuts-ha ha, I now adore them and the knowledge they have shared with me.  Although the decision to homeschool was made due to circumstances, we now feel we would continue even if we had the opportunity to send our kids to a great public school.

Do you have a daily schedule or routine? How do you “do it all”?

Updated: See our A Day in Our Homeschool Series Here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 {part 4 coming soon}.

Loosely, yes…but we seem to work better being a bit more flexible.  We know what we need to accomplish and we usually do that-but we tend to go with the flow more since Ladybug often has sassy attitude problems and throws our mornings off a bit.  We school intensely each afternoon while she naps…even if she doesn’t sleep she is in her bed from at least 1-3:00.  This afternoon quiet time is vital to our day!

We try to keep a basic outline of a routine…Calendar Notebooks first thing, Pac upstairs to accomplish independent work while I play with the little 2 {focusing on Ladybug for at least 30 minutes each morning}.  Snack, recess, lunch… Then nap for L-bug and individual school for the boys.  We usually finish up all school around 3pm each day.  In the middle of it all we fit everything in somehow!

We still use a lesson plan blog for PacMan, and Krash still uses workboxes.  I now categorize Pac’s blog by colors {green-independent, blue-possibly need help, red-with mom}. It is SO easy and we both love it.

It is hard for me…the whole schedule thing.  We have good and bad days.  We have on and off-routine days.  We get things done most of the time and then there are days when I let the little 2 watch too many “educational” DVDs.  There are days I adore being with my kids all day long and days I wish I could bury my head in the pillow and not emerge for hours, or possibly days!  If you are struggling with creating a routine/schedule that works…know you are not alone.  I have been at this homeschooling things for 5 years now and I still struggle.  We get through yes-but it is still a struggle for me.  I often get asked how I “do it all” and I wrote a post about that here if you’ve wondered my thoughts on this topic.  The post is older but still applies!


If you have any other general questions about our curriculum, please leave in the comments below and I will do my best to add the answers to this list!



What’s Coming for Ladybug…

IMG_2780

Ladybug is finishing up her Tot School Printables units now and we will then take a break from school over the holiday season.  I have plans in place to begin in January and I wanted to share those with you!  She is currently 32 months old, for those wondering!

First, I must say it was a difficult decision for me to decide where to go next with her.  Why?  For a few reasons…

1st ~ she is more academically advanced than Krash was at this age and also interested in learning WAY more.

2nd ~ I am a planner and although I love the free play learning, I need to have some sort of plan to go by and she seems to enjoy this too.

3rd ~ Krash began RRS Preschool when he was close to 4, which seemed to be just about right.  She will be ready for it earlier than he was but it’s not quite yet.  She could handle the school skills part of it, but is way too little to grasp the Bible verse and application portions.  I knew I needed to do something in between Tot School Printables and RRSP.

My assessment of her interests and knowledge:

  • she can identify almost all upper/lowercase letters
  • she knows many letter sounds but not consistently
  • she pretends to read, OFTEN
  • she LOVES the written word and is very drawn to reading
  • she LOVES writing, drawing, coloring and anything regarding holding a writing instrument in her hand!  Her Tot Time Notebook is one of her favorite things. She will sit at a table and work for a very long time {totally unlike my boys}.
  • she can count to 13, identify numbers 1-10 and many beyond 10.
  • she knows all of her shapes, including hexagon, crescent, oval and the rest in TSP
  • she knows her colors
  • she does not know rhyming words
  • she loves to learn with me, and also independently

Based on the above and many other factors, I have created a plan that I am hoping will work for her, me, and our lifestyle!  That is what I recommend-finding something that works for ALL THREE…the child, the parent, and the current season of life.  This is why it is so hard to compare what someone else is doing with their child, there are just so many factors that need to play into your decision.  What I am about to outline may not work for you, for any or all of those reasons, or it might sound like a perfect fit for you also!  All kids are different, all parents {home teachers} are different, and seasons of life present challenges {new baby, finances, # of kids, jobs, etc.} that sometimes can make the biggest impact on our decisions!

On to our plans…

The base of her Tot School will center around All About Reading Level Pre-1

imageI was sent this to review a few months back and initially wondered how exactly I would use it.  After looking through it and letting it roll around in my head, I realized this would be wonderful for Ladybug to do a bit earlier than I would have normally done something like this with either of my boys.  I also thought it would be an awesome and fun review for Krash to join in with us.  Krash is working through AAR Level 1, which is totally different.  The review that he will get by “playing” with us during Ladybug’s AAR time will be wonderful.  I don’t think he will always participate, but I like to unite the kids whenever possible.

AAR Pre 1 goes through the alphabet A-Z, upper case first and lower case second.  It hits on the big 5 skills for pre-reading, which prepare young kiddos to be successful readers.

  1. Print Awareness
  2. Phonological Awareness
  3. Letter Knowledge
  4. Listening Comprehension
  5. Motivation to read

Ladybug is more solid with her letter knowledge and motivation to read, but not the rest!  This seems to be the perfect fit for her. She will be 33 months when we begin, her 3rd birthday is in April.

We will go along with the AAR book and just move at her pace. I do not have a letter-of-the-week plan.  If she gets through in 2 days, then we will move on, if it takes 2 weeks, that is fine too!  I am preparing to have go along activities for each letter to keep her busy-this girl LOVES to be busy!

Example, for letter A I plan to do what is planned for AAR and also have the following ideas ready {we may or may not complete them all}

ABCs K

  • Letter Aa Maze & hopefully PowerPoint show if I get them done soon! These would be a fun build on review, to review the letters we have done and add in a new letter when we get to it.  These shows/printables focus on both the upper/lower case letters, and although AAR separates them, I will keep them together in other areas such as this-especially since she already knows most letter upper and lower.
  • Book and Story Props {she loves these and we will hopefully be adding more to our collection}
  • Tot Time Notebook Printables: She has her A-Z set and colors through the entire set almost daily, I plan to add new worksheets to her notebook as we move on. I also plan to make theme notebooks for her, similar to her Christmas Fun Notebook.
  • Preschool/Tot Pack…if there is an obvious theme, a seasonal/holiday theme, or something she is interested in at the time.  I do not plan to drive myself nuts matching the letter she is on with our theme.

She will also continue with Tot Trays, Learning Toys, and all of the other hands on and FUN components of Tot School.  I will rotate her shelves out with fun toys, and trays each week {if I am on top of things!}.

I am spending the week after Christmas ironing out and preparing her plans, so these are just the basics.  Many people have emailed and asked me so I wanted to share as soon as possible!

I know many of you will have questions about All About Reading Level Pre-1, and I promise to share weekly in my future Tot School posts so you can see first hand how it is working for us {or if it doesn’t}.  Other than preparing a few things, I have not used it yet!  So, stay tuned for ongoing reviews as we work our way through it!  If you are looking for a review from someone who is using it now {that I personally know}, here are a couple for you to peek at; Homeschool Creations, Delightful Learning. Their reviews are mostly what sold me on the idea that it might be the perfect fit for us.

Is your tot transitioning into a new phase soon?  What are your plans?