Thursday, September 8, 2016

Homeschool year 2015-2016 Re-cap

I wanted to make sure I remembered what we did for school last year.  A cousin asked me about homeschooling for Kindergarten, and since I've done that with all my kids and just finished with Leia, I responded with the following (what we did and my philosophy):

Personally, for Kindergarten, I don't really use a single curriculum.  If you want to look at curriculum, look up Homeschool Reviews and you'll find the top ones like Abeka, Sonlight, and many more (or go to a homeschool conference!). There are so many good curricula out there, but I feel like Kindergarten is still mostly play; they can't help but learn through play. I don't stress and I don't push. Just make lessons fun, lasting only 5-10 minute stints in the beginning, progressing to 30 minutes or so by the end of the year. You might do a bit of reading early in the morning, a writing bit in the middle of the day, and a math bit in the afternoon. 

I start teaching them to read with the movie LeapFrog.  This is a movie that teaches the letter sounds. Then I start having them put together words with the simple stories on the website and doing the activities there. That website is free and fantastic! They will first learn how to make words by putting the letter sounds together, but then learn more difficult stuff like 'a silent "e" at the end of a word makes the first vowel say it's name'. There are also wacky words in English like "you" and "said" that you can't sound out. Those just need to be flashcards that you learn by memory. Starfall has some matching games for those. 

After they're able to read all the simple stories on Starfall, we branch out into other books on their level: Dr. Seuss, Frog and Toad, Little Bear, No Mail for Mitchell, etc. Just go to the library weekly (or thrift stores) for more books and read, read, read! The kids will pick it up. 

 I order handwriting books for 1st grade from Rod & Staff (Mennonites) just so they can get good at writing their letters, and their 1st grade reading books because I like them. They talk about God making the earth, and hard work, and family. (The pages that don't match my beliefs, I just skip over.) Just be consistent. Almost any curriculum works if you are consistent. For math we love RightStart because it has a lot of manipulatives and helps them to do math in their head, but we switched to Singapore a couple years back because it was cheaper and easier on the teacher. They're both great and your kid will be very good at math. 

 Additional, (not necessary) stuff: For History/Geography we love Story of the World. They have interesting lessons that you read to the kids while they color the printables, (and lots of ideas for supplemental crafts and projects with each chapter). Also find poems or other things to memorize like the pledge of allegience, days of week, months, etc. This year Leia learned a few, but all I remember right now is the Now I Am Six poem by A.A. Milne

Art, theatre, dance, gymnastics, sports, music, languages, field trips are all great supplements! Do them as you can. I always have a schedule so I know if it's Monday, I am adding a History lesson to our usual mix, or if it's Friday, we're doing an Art project, or if it's Wednesday it's our library and music lesson day, etc. I need a schedule or I'd forget and never get anything done, but we're always willing to drop everything and go on a field trip if we need to get out. We can always make it up later.

One more thing, perhaps the most important: We start each day with the scriptures and a prayer before the kids eat breakfast. The stories of character, faith, and trust in God are most important. For kindergarten you could do scripture stories (my kids liked the Old Testament a lot when they were kindergarten age). They even have the short scripture videos online and you could sit with them and watch one a day.  We used to read it together and immediately watch it together.  It helped to really remember and understand it.

Ideas will come to you specific to your children. Trust the spirit. For example, I had all these charms I received at Girl's Camp.  I didn't really care about earning them, but people seemed to care that I got mine, and would bring them to me.  I don't even know what they were for, because I was usually just busy cooking and such, but whatever.  So not wanting to waste them, I decided to make them rewards for Leia learning certain things.  She earned one for learning to tie her shoes.  Another for learning to put a ponytail in her own hair.  She earned one for doing dance class all year.  Learning to Read was another one.  Very basic sewing, learning her Left & Right, Math, Music and Art, Cleaning (she cleans off the table, puts away clean dishes, and cleans her room), etc.  We didn't do enough writing, or learning to braid, or to memorize phone numbers and addresses, but we're getting there.  Oh!  And she also learned how to make her own scrambled eggs and sandwiches and noodles.  Each of these charms stood for one of these accomplishments, and she loves her necklace!!!

 She doesn't know or care that these are all nautical themed charms from Girl's Camp.  They're adorable no matter what!!!  It was my gift to her for being a fantastic Kindergartener!!!
Now on to the rest of the family.  Like I said, we had a schedule, and Wednesdays was our out of the house day.  We went to the library for story time for Leia and Charles.  The library always did a craft in conjunction with story time, so that saved me from having to come up with crafts, though I do have my plan written here from previous years:

Evan likes crafts and he'd always go in and help Leia and Charles while I picked out a new stack of books for them.  The older boys got books while they were in story time too.  Then we'd have a picnic in the park next to the library.  I envisioned us playing games at each picnic or having a spelling bee during that time where the kids could try to spell each other down, but we didn't have enough time.  We'd pack up and leave immediately for piano lessons with Rachel.  Sam and Evan would each take 1/2 hour back to back while the rest of us sat in the car and read our new library books. Then we'd finally head home, but with just enough time to drop everyone off, breathe, and leave again to take Dallas to his piano lessons with Miss Diane.  While he was at piano, I'd run to Walmart across the street and quickly return to take him home.  It was a great system, and my kids grew by leaps and bounds musically this school year!!!  Maybe it helped that I exercised with friends at the church each morning and they could fan out and use all the pianos, (with several lessons from Marjorie on the organ too).  They got lots of practicing in this way, and it was less of a headache for everyone at home.

Wednesday's were also the days they went to the church at night for scouts and other activities.  Thank heavens for the church and scouts!  Lots of friends and lots of learning and growing opportunities.

Leia did not do violin, like I'd hoped. She's just not ready yet.  I felt she needed something to help with her coordination and some friend time, so I put her in dance classes.  Seeing the same girls (most of whom also homeschooled) each week was a real treat. It was a great time, and she loved it for the most part. 

I have somehow not kept track of all the books the kids read last year, but it was a lot.  I guess I could go to their library accounts and look up their history, but that seems like too much work.  I tried to have them read one book a week, but they always checked out more for fun.  I love that kind of self directed learning!  Sam would get tons of science books just to learn things that were interesting to him.  Evan and Dallas too.  These are reading lists I compiled from several great sources, so the assigned books came from these lists, though they've been updated since this. 

Dallas Reading List (7th Grade):
Wonder – kid is different at school
All Quiet on the Western Front – German point of view WWI – non fiction
Johnny Tremaine – Revolutionary war historical fiction
National Velvet – Inspirational horse race
The Moves Make the Man – sports, race, friendship
The Good Earth – historical fiction Chinese farmer

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass - Fantasy
Neighbor Rosicky – Czech farmer
The Red Badge of Courage – civil war historical fiction
Madame  Curie – woman scientist non fiction
Great Expectations – English poor
I’m Nobody, Who Are You? - poetry
Narrative of the Live of Frederick Douglas – slavery, non fiction
The Three Musketeers – French guards
My Family and other Animals – Greece, memoirs, non fiction (ish)
The Fun of It: Random Records of my own flying and of women in aviation – biography non fiction
Washington: Indispensable Man – biography non fiction
Robinson Crusoe – desert island
Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Franke – WWII non fiction diary
You Come Too by Robert Frost - poetry
A Raisin in the Sun – play, black family in chicago
The House of Seven Gables – Massachusetts, murder mystery
The Old Man and the Sea – Cuban fisherman
The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories – short stories
Kon Tiki – norweigan expedition, non fiction
A Boy of Old Prague – jewish ghetto
Kim by Rudyard Kipling – British India
To Kill a Mockingbird – racism in south
Good Night Mr. Tom – WWII, England evacuations
The Crucible – salem witch trials
Mutiny on the Bounty – English navy 1788
Island of the Blue Dolphins
The Scarlet Pimpernell – French revolutoin
Animal Farm – political commentary, animals take over farm and establish totalitarian government
Harriett Tubman: Conductor of the Underground Railroad – Ann Petry – non fiction
Edgar Allen Poe – select poems/stories, horror
The Chosen by Chaim Potok - jewish
The Yearling – boy raises deer
The Light in the Forest – white boy raised by indians
The Little Prince – boy leaves planet to travel universe
Early Moon by Carl Sandburg - poems
Ivanhoe – norman conquest at time of crusades
William Shakespear
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – girls coming of age 1900
The Red Pony and The Pearl – John Steinbeck
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

Tom Sawyer
Journey Home by Yoshiko – WWII Japanese americans
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days
Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington – autobiography slave to teacher, non fiction

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells – sci fi travel to future
Ethan Frome – farmer taking care of wife
The Sword in the Stone, The Once and Future King*
The Bridge of San Luis Rey – bridge collapses, monk tries to prove hand of god
The Virginian – pioneers in Wyoming
21 Balloons

Sam Reading List (6th Grade):
The Secret Garden
Moccasin Trail

The Borrowers
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Rip Van Winkle
The Call of the Wild

Code Talker Bruchac
Tale of Desperaux
Ender’s Game
At Her Majesty’s Request – African princess transported to vicotrian England, non fiction
The Greatest – Muhammed Ali bio, non fiction
The Mighty Mars Rovers – Rusch – non fiction
Saladin: Noble prince of Islam – non fiction, crusades

Confucious – Freedman, non fiction
Bodies from the Ash – Pompeii, non fiction
Invisible Allies: Microbes – helpful microbes, non fiction
The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn –Historical fiction mystery, japan

Prarie Song by Conrad – Pioneer times on the fronteir
The King’s Shadow – Welsh Serf
Run Silent, Run Deep – WWII Submarine
The Endless Steppe – WWII Siberia
The Poison Place – Former Slave living in Philidelphia
After the Dancing Days – Post WWI, young girl befriends soldier
Stones in Water – WWII Italian/jewish boy who are friends
Splendors and Glooms – kidnapping mystery
The Rifle – Paulsen – story of a rifle through time
Soldier’s Heart – Paulsen – civil war story, non fiction ish
The Outlaws of Sherwood - Mckinley
Good Night Mr. Tom – WWII, England evacuations
The Phantom Toll Booth – fantasy with math twist
Team of Rivals – Dorris Kearns Goodwin, Lincoln bio non fiction
Growing up in Zion – children’s journals, letters in pioneer Utah non fiction
A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal – Journal of girl in new Hampshire
Watership Down – Animal Fantasy
Midsummer Night’s Dream – play by shakespear
The wizard of Earthsea

Evan Reading List (4th grade):

Duel: Burr and Hamilton’s Deadly War of Words
Black Beauty
Anne of Green Gables
The Secret Garden
The Lord Needed a Prophet – a look at latter day prophets
The Librarian of Basra – non fiction, librarian in Iraq trying to save her books
Stranger at the Window – Alcock – Mystery
Number the Stars – WWII Jewish escape story
The Westing Game – Solve mysterious death, win money
Journey to Topaz – Japanese concentration camps
Cousins in the Castle – Mystery
The Magician Trilogy (snow spider) – Welsh mythology, fantasy
Here There Be Unicorns – Poems, short stories
Walk Two Moons
Song of the Trees – Prequel to Roll of Thunder
Each Kindness – Woodson – Show kindness as child, consequences when we don’t

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg – Civil war era stories
Jason and the Argonauts – Evslin, story of golden fleece
Mistakes that Worked – non fiction, inventions
Masada – Waldman – jewish roman battle, non fiction
Mary on Horseback – nurses on horseback to rural Kentucky, non fiction
My Side of the Mountain
The Jungle Book
The Witches – Roald Dahl
The Pushcart War – truckers try to drive pushcart vendors off new York streets
Stolen Bones – Carris – Dinosaur bones mystery
His Majesty, Queen Hatshepsut – Egyptian Historical fiction
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes – Japan post WWII, leukemia
Leonardo DaVinci – Stanley, bio non fiction
Heat – Lupica – Cuban baseball youth
The Courage of Sarah Noble

Leia List (K):
Enourmous Turnip
Nursery Rhymes
Listening and Family Books:
A Year Down Yonder
A Long Way From Chicago
American Tall Tales
Old Yeller
A Teacher’s Funeral
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Walk Two Moons

Read aloud books: 
Little House on Praire Series
The Hiding Place
Five Children and It, Nesbit
The Little Princess
The Silver Skates, Dodge
Swiss Family Robinson
An Owl in the House, Heinrich
Wild Animals I Have Known, Thompson
Beautiful Girlhood
Boston, Ochlan
Little Women (5th grade)
Ourselves, Mason
My India, Corbitt
Eureka!  It’s an Airplane!, Berdick
Good-bye Mr. Chips
Lost Horizon

I feel bad because I didn't keep track of all their books past about halfway through the year.  The bold ones are ones they read up to that point.  They needed do more in depth studying, and to write more papers, or learn more grammer and vocabulary.  Certain things like that the school, I admit, does better.  Homeschooling with 5 at home isn't easy!  But there are tradeoffs and my kids are rich in things that cannot be graded, so I'm okay with a lack of perfection.  I'm glad we have a good school to fall back on, but also know that the Lord would make up the difference for things I failed in.  I mean, it wasn't like my highschool was great.  Many schools are failing many kids today.  I'm still retaking things in college I should have learned back then!  No school is perfect, but it's worth trying to achieve the best possible outcomes, which is why I decide each year what I think will be best for the spirits I've been given stewardship over. 

Below are our original plans for their individual studies.  We didn't accomplish everything, and changed some things.  Homeschoolers all go through this.  Science for example, we ended up changing to the Abeka standard curriculum for their grades, since Pat just didn't have enough time to do both math and science with them.  If we homeschool for highschool we'll do it with other teachers online to teach those difficult but crucial subjects. I never stress about this stuff, because my two science classes in highschool were such a joke; I know I can't do worse than that!  Pat's a different story.  He grew up in Elk Grove, not South Sac, and had a wide range of challenging core classes and exciting elective classes.  Asi es la vida

1.       Science – Make Electronics electricity book
2.       Math – Singapore Math 8
3.       Reading
4.       Writing
5.       Music
6.       Typing
7.       P.E. – Soccer
8.       History
9.       Language/Culture
1.    Art

1.       Science – Electricity with Dallas, Space books and experiments from library
2.       Math – Singapore 7
3.       Reading
4.       Writing
5.       Music
6.       Typing
7.       P.E. – Baseball
8.       History
9.       Language/Culture
1.   Art

1.       Science – Electricity, engineering and building, PBS Nova
2.       Math – Singapore 5
3.       Reading
4.       Writing – Handwriting Cursive,
5.       Music
6.       P.E.- Soccer
7.       History – Mapping the World by Heart, Costco DK Books
8.       Language/Culture
9.       Art – Picture Study portfolios

We also memorized or studied several poems this year.  Benjamin Jones-Aileen Fisher (Evan got to recite this for Pack Night one night!), Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening-Robert Frost, You Come Too-Emily Dickenson, Go Forth To Life-Samuel Longfellow, Trees-Joyce Kilmer, Invictus-William Ernest Henley, The House by the Side of the Road-Sam Walter Foss, Summer Morning-Rachel Field, Good Timber-Douglas Malloch, Mother Teresa quotes, He Sent His Son-Mabel Jones Gabbott, Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1- William Shakespear, The Road Not Taken-Robert Frost, Halfway Down-A.A.Milne, It Will Show in Your Face-author unknown, I'm My Own Grandpa-Shel Silverstein, The Bridge Builder-Will Allen Dromgoole, Dreams-Langston Hughes.

And we read each morning and finished the New Testament!

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