2nd Grade and TK Currlculum Choices: 2016-2017

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I’m a planner!  I don’t know how obvious that is by this blog and my infrequent posting, but my school runs pretty smoothly.

So here it is, our curriculum for next year!

Transitional Kindergarten:

Language Arts:

Handwriting without Tears – They have a new TK book!

All About Reading – Pre-reading

Math:

RightStart Level A

Science:

Interactive Science Journal with topics including types of scientists, scientific method, five senses, what is alive, diurnal/nocturnal, birds, lights, bugs, properties/describing words (soft, hard, bumpy), types of matter, slime kit, animal research, and plants.  Units will be purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers or free units from Pinterest, since I need a plan!

As interested, tag along with big brother in chemistry.  But only if she’s interested.

Nature Study / Journal

History:

Story of the World Vol. 3 and Activity Book – Tag along with big brother with read alouds more at her level that follow the time line.

Other Stuff:

Art Class

Swim Lessons

Harmony Fine Arts: Art and Music Appreciation Grade 3 (Mostly just picture study, tagging along with big brother.)

 

Second Grade:

Language Arts:

All About Reading – Level 2

First Language Lessons – Level 2

Writing with Ease – Level 1 (finish), Level 2

All About Spelling – Level 1 (finish), Level 2

Math:

RightStart Level B (finish), Level C

Science:

Real Science Odyssey Chemistry

Nature Study / Journal

History:

Story of the World Vol. 3 Early Modern and Activity Book

Other Stuff:

Art Class

Freerunning

Swim lessons

Harmony Fine Arts: Art and Music Appreciation Grade 3

Typing

 

Toddler –

Potty train if we’re lucky.

Learn to not touch every single thing he sees, especially in stores.

Talking in more complete sentences.

Cut out all that biting and hitting stuff!

 

 

 

End of the Year Reflection: 1st Grade and Preschool

It’s the end of the school year!  While it’s fun to look ahead to summer and all the activities, trips, vacations, and just plain fun days, it’s also important to look back and reflect on the past year.  What worked, what didn’t, what needs to change and stay the same.  So here’s my 1st grade / Preschool reflection.

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Preschool – Planned for Princess Preschool with a focus on a different Disney Princess each month.  I planned out fun arts and crafts projects for 2x a week.  It started off great in the summer time but the moment I added Green Bubbles into his first grade schedule, it totally collapsed. This did not work at all.  Thankfully, it’s preschool and all she missed out on was arts and crafts.  I’m sad about that because it really was supposed to be something just for her that she loves, but she won’t have any major holes in her education at only 3/4 years old.

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1st Grade – I just now realized I never actually wrote a post about our 1st grade curriculum choices so…

Language Arts: All About Reading Level 1, All About Spelling Level 1, First Language Lessons

Math: Singapore Math 1b, 2a

Science: Real Science Odyssey Earth and Astronomy

History: Story of the World, Vol 2. Middle Ages

So how did it go?  We switched up a lot mid year.  History and Science were good fits and we will stick with them for next year as well.

What didn’t work and what we changed:

Math, we hit a road block which was totally my fault.  Singapore is a great program, but requires a lot of preplanning which I wasn’t doing.  We didn’t do mental math exercises, work on memorizing facts, use manipulatives.  It was open and go workbook which worked great until the last part of 1b which I noticed him slow way down and not get it.  We switched to RightStart Level B mid year and are blowing through it because it’s simple.  But it’s reviewing facts he didn’t pick up the first time so I don’t want to skip ahead.  He’s learning mental math strategies a lot easier and loves using the abacus and the lack of writing. I love that everything I need is right there in the book including needed supplies, games, review.. everything.  It’s so much easier for me to be open and go without skipping important things.

Language Arts, I noticed we had a major lack of writing going on which I also fixed in mid-year.  We added in Handwriting Without Tears Grade 1 and Writing with Ease level 1.  Since starting these, I’ve noticed his writing stamina improving.  It’s gentle copywork that slowly adds length over time so it doesn’t overwhelm him.  We do Writing With Ease 4 days a week, since nature study is typically a no school day for us.  In level 1, there is two days of copywork, one day of narration, and one day of narration that he then copies.  On the one day of narration, I have him to a page from Handwriting without Tears so he’s still writing something that day.

All about Reading is awesome and looking back to where we were in the beginning of the year when he struggled to read cat to where he is now is simply mind blowing to me, especially in just the last few weeks when he’s able to read so much more quickly and fluency is finally starting to kick in.  We started All About Spelling the beginning of the year but took a long break to focus on reading.  We started back at All About Spelling just recently and he’s flying through it.  The only time he struggles are with sounds that he has problems with due to his speech errors.  He completely understands the rules from when we learned them in All About Reading that I almost feel like All About Spelling isn’t needed if it wasn’t for him needing the extra practice with those select sounds.  I use it to help review those sounds, make him more aware of them, and practice saying the correct sounds so it’s not only spelling, it’s also extra speech practice!

We also took a break from First Language Lessons for a month and just played mad lib games.  It was a fun break and Green Bubbles loved all the silly stories we made up. I love the flexibility of putting something away for a short amount of time to just have fun and picking it back up again later.

I finished the year feeling like I finally found my footing.  Of course, that all changes next year with Little Miss entering into formal school age.  Hopefully it won’t take me as long to get into our routines with two as it did with one.

 

 

 

Homeschool Planning Part 1

Not going to lie, it feels like Christmas!

We got most of our curriculum in now, only missing our math.  Green Bubbles was just as excited as I was.  Well, maybe not.  But he did ask to start school almost right away just because he wanted to do those magic school bus kits!  If you haven’t tried them, you really should.  They are fun, follow the scientific method, and are perfect for hands on learning for the younger crowd.  I’m making him wait to do them when we hit that section in our science and he can’t wait.  I like having something for him to look forward to that he’s that excited about.

So what do you do when you get new books in?… Plan!  I’m delving into these books.  Many of these are new for us this year. There’s as many different methods for planning as there are homeschoolers.  Some plan out the entire year in detail, others go monthly, or weekly.  Some homeschoolers plan it out the day off and really just fly by the seat of their pants.  I have totally done all of the above methods before as well and may I recommend NOT doing the last one.  Scrambling the day off to put together supplies only to discover your missing something important (where’s the tape?!) is not fun.  Planning the entire year out doesn’t work well for us either because things always come up that get you behind track and then you feel the pressure to catch up the entire time which is a losing battle.

So, I’m trying a new method this year!  I still want to see things out pretty far in advance because I’m crazy like that.  But I don’t want to attach any of it to a specific date.  Donna Young is a great website to use if you want to make your own calendar.  Her forms, calendars, and planners are all free to download so it’s very budget friendly. She has everything you could ever need there from How to Plan for beginner homeschoolers to Household forms for chores, shopping lists, and housework.  There are even handwriting sheets, math worksheets, and pretty much a form for anything you can think of.  I highly encourage you to explore it for yourselves.

From there I downloaded her quarterly planner, one for each subject.  I pulled out the All About Reading book and wrote one lesson in each day on the planner.  Since it is a quarterly planner I am able to get 9 weeks planned out on one piece of paper (per subject of course).  Then, as we actually do the lesson, I will then write it in on a weekly planner that I also got from Donna Young to check it off our list.  I know that last step isn’t really needed and many people could skip it completely.  We have to turn in a learning log of what we covered every month and it is much easier to create these monthly logs when I  have a weekly lesson plan to look back on.  Or, I should say, an accurate weekly lesson plan that didn’t get behind because I was only writing in what we ACTUALLY did that week.

I put all of these into a 3 ring binder for myself.  I divide the quarterly forms under different dividers by subject.  I put a school calendar at the very front of my binder with all holidays and vacation days marked for quick review.  There are also dividers for field trips, unit studies, notes, weekly schedule that I fill in as we go, and a weekly calendar that includes lists for library books needed that week and supplies we need for our history activities or science experiments.

Of course, these are all paper planner resources. Check back tomorrow for part two in my homeschool planning post all about online planners.

Note: These are my honest opinions.  I was not given anything, or even asked to write these reviews. Nor do I receive anything if you follow the links.  I just like it and wanted to let others know about them.

10 reasons we homeschool

My husband and I are a very traditional couple.  Like 1950’s traditional.  He brings home the bacon while I take care of the kids and house.  Well, I try and take care of the house.  Or maybe I don’t really try that much at all.  Anyway, when it comes to things about the kids it’s nice knowing he will always support my decision.  Even if that decision seems to come from out of the blue and isn’t on most people’s radars.

After Green Bubbles was born, and I mean 2 months after he was born, with my husband’s encouragement I went back to school.  I already had my associates degree but never continued on to get my bachelors like I had wanted.  My priorities had changed since then anyway and, after a little soul searching, I changed my major from English to Liberal Studies.  Why liberal studies?  Because they had a track for elementary education and I thought teaching was where I wanted to be.  At the time I thought I would be a teacher.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I didn’t want to be a teacher.  My first class that I had observation hours in made me realize that there had to be a better way.  I did observation in a 1st grade classroom and while many children did excel I saw many that didn’t.  There were boys who were high energy, constantly in trouble, and as punishment were made to miss recess and sit still.  How could that possibly help?  There was an English language learner who sat in the back of the classroom, lost and confused, and totally ignored.  There was no time to help her.  Another student with behavioral problems who was actually kicked out of school for a time for throwing things at other students, spitting at students, and hitting the teacher.  First grade!

I knew then and there that I wasn’t going to send my son into that.  Besides having a classroom of 35 6 year olds to one teacher with a flawed system, there was such a huge push on test scores and testing in the schools.  Teaching to tests isn’t real learning.  I told my husband what I thought and he agreed.  That marked the beginning of our resolve to homeschool our children, before Green Bubbles was even one year old.

Over the years I’ve added a few more to my list.  Some because of children and being in the thick of it.  Serious and silly, here are 10 reasons we homeschool.

1) Because the public schools in our area, even the ‘good’ ones, aren’t that good.

2)  I want them to learn at their own pace.  Be that a year ahead in math, or a year behind in reading, it is their pace and not what someone who has never met my child thinks their pace should be.

3) We can get outside!  This one is huge for us.  We can go hiking at 10am on a weekday, head to a museum anytime we want, get our wiggles out at the playground down the street anytime we desire for as long as we want.

4) Follow their interests.  If Green Bubbles wants to learn about bridges, we can drop our science and take a week or two to study bridges.  (This was awesome, by the way.)

5) The friends we have met have ranged in age from toddlers to teenagers.  And they are all respectful, get along, and are generally more socialized then many public school kids I’ve met.  Espeically the teenagers…

6) We can stay in our pj’s all day long.

7) I don’t have to wake my children up at 6am to get to school by a certain time.  They wake up when they aren’t tired anymore.

8) No packed lunches!  At least, not everyday.  We still have packed lunches on fieldtrips and nature days.

9) No peer pressure to wear name brands, do drugs, or other random things.

10) Studies show homeschool students actually perform better on tests, are more likely to attend and graduate from college, and generally just be happier.

I would like to point out that religion or sheltering my children were no where on that list for those that think all homeschoolers are sheltered religious fanatics. 
 
And just in case you were wondering, I did finish my degree anyway.  I’m a firm believer in having a back up plan.  If anything were to happen later on, I needed a real career I could go to.  I focused it on natural sciences however so instead of elementary school I could go into middle school science.

What does Galleon’s Lap mean?

Do you know what a Galleon is?  
It’s defined as a sailing ship in use (especially by Spain) from the 15th through 17th centuries, originally as a warship, later for trade. Galleons were mainly square-rigged and usually had three or more decks and masts.”   They were a way to travel the world before we had things like trains, cars, or planes. 

  
So why did we name our homeschool after an old ship? 
We didn’t!  If you haven’t read Winnie the Pooh, the original books by A.A. Milne, your missing out.  Not the Disney movies or books, but the original.  It’s full of laughter, love, and childhood innocence and I totally fell in love with them while reading them to Green Bubbles as bedtime stories a few years ago. He was to young at the time to truly appreicate the humor of the books and I intend to reread them to him again as a literature book for school.  But even as an adult, I’d recommend reading them just for yourself.  The stories are so very sweet.  But what does Winnie the Pooh have to do with Galleon’s Lap?  The very last chapter in The House At Pooh Corner has Winnie and Christopher Robin visiting Galleon’s Lap to say their goodbyes.


So what is Galleon’s Lap?
It was the only place in the Forest where you could sit down carelessly, without getting up again almost at once and looking for somewhere else. Sitting there they could see the whole world spread out until it reached the sky, and whatever there was all the world over was with them in Galleons Lap.” – A House at Pooh Corner, Chapter X. 

What I Want? 
A Galleon is a large sailing ship.  A way to see the world and travel to new places.  Galleon’s Lap was a magical place in Pooh Corner that allowed them to see the entire world.  I want our homeschool to be a place that my children can meet the world, explore, discover, but also be in a comfortable and safe place to do so.  While they are a little young to be truly going off into the world, they aren’t to young to show them how big the world is, and the magic that’s within it. Christopher Robin said goodbye to Winnie the Pooh when he went off to school, but I hope my children never have to say goodbye while they are learning.  I hope they have plenty of time to also just do nothing.

 And just in case you want your own copy of Winnie The Pooh, just like us, there’s a link to a good copy.  The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh  You are never to old, or to young, to have Winnie in your life.  

Our Family

Who are we? 

We are a family of 5.  Wow, it feels weird to say that.  I always knew I wanted to have 3 children and now that I do it feels surreal.  My husband and I have been married for 10 years and there are times where it doesn’t feel like that long, and then there are times where it does.  We’ve had our ups and downs but are enjoying life together and with our family.

Green Bubbles is our oldest.  He’s 5 years old and entering Kindergarten this year!  You may wonder why we call him Green Bubbles and I honestly wonder at it myself.  Like many kids, he has discovered Minecraft and totally loves it.   When you create a new account they ask for a name and we let him pick his own.  Green Bubbles is what he came up with for himself so it feels like an appropriate nickname for him.  He does see a speech therapist currently to help with articulation problems but he doesn’t let it slow him down.  He is sweet, social, and joyful.  Current loves: Minecraft, Flag Football, Iron Man.

 Little Miss is 2 years old, in the middle, and the only girl.  I’m actually very grateful for that because she is an independent little spit-fire.  Having a sister to share with would probably lead to conflict.  She is a girly girl who loves to get dirty, just as happy playing with babies as she is with hot wheel cars.  Her loves of the moment: pink, glitter, and all things princesses.  Although Frozen and Elsa hold a special place in her heart like most little girls right now. 

Megatron is a happy baby.  The youngest, we’re still waiting to really see his personality come out and shine.  My favorite thing about this age is watching them discover the world around them and how much they change just day to day. Where did Megatron come from?  Since he was our third we kept the gender a surprise which means we didn’t have a name for him until after he was born.  But we had to call him something, so Green Bubbles decided Megatron would make a really cool name and it just stuck. Current loves include: sucking on his hand, rolling out of his bouncy seat and swing at every opportunity, and trying desperately to crawl despite lack of any progress.  He’s also got a special place in his heart just for his siblings. 

Curriculum 2014-2015

I love this time of year.  I walked into Target yesterday and got positively giddy at the back to school section.  Is there anything more exciting then shelves full of pencils, crayons, markers, paper, notebooks.. you get the idea.

So in honor of “Back to School” I thought I would share our curriculum choices for 2014-2015.   Now, I may have 3 kids, but only one of them is old enough for a real curriculum.  I learned a lot from last year’s TK.  For example, I’m awful at just winging it and really need a little more structure for what to study and when.  So, even though it’s just Kindergarten this year, we have a lot more ‘formal’ curriculum.  But that doesn’t mean I’m going to push Green Bubbles to hard.  Everything will still be kept to his pace and when things stop working, we’ll take a break and switch it up a bit.
(Note: There are some affiliate links below)

Megatron – Baby!

Megatron’s job this year is to just keep growing.  I’m sure we’ll see crawling, first words, first steps, none of which require any type of curriculum.  I think it’s important to keep that in mind for the older two as well.  So much learning takes place every single day, no matter how old you are, without a well planned out curriculum to follow.

Little Miss – Tot school/Preschool

  I totally intend to just keep doing what we’re doing right now.   Using weekly themes for her, reading everyday, and just exploring what she’s interested in.  She’ll sit in as desired on Green Bubbles lessons and I’m sure she’ll suck up whatever knowledge she wants to in the process like she already has.  I’ll probably grab some fun packs from Confessions of a Homeschooler and 1+1+1=1 for her to play with as well. 

Green Bubbles – Kindergarten

Language Arts
 – Handwriting without Tears: Letters and Numbers for Me  : We used HWT last year and it was great. The preschool level only teaches upper case letters.  That was great at the time but over the summer Green Bubbles has started getting frustrated that he doesn’t know how to make many of the lower case letters.  Thankfully it’s something we’ll be covering this year so I’m sure he’ll be as excited as any little boy can be with handwriting.

All About Reading: Pre-reading – This is one I wish we did last year and I have hopes it will help him learn his ABC’s better then my letter of the week type approach we did last year.  Green Bubbles is not one of those kids who just picked up the ABC’s and phonics sounds all by himself (unlike Little Miss which, from what I can tell, knows more letters than her brother).  All About Reading does more than just letters though which is why I picked it.  Stay tuned later in the year for our review to see how it worked out for us.

History
 – The Story of the World: Volume 1: Ancient Times and Activity Book – We’ll be reading through Story of the world and using at least one activity and various books recommended in the activity book to supplement. Also, there should be a few history related field trips coming up. Hopefully, this will help history stay fun since it will be more hands on than what we did last year.

Science
 –R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey- Life (level one) – We tried REAL Science for Kids last year and it started out great but mid-book we struggled.  Odyssey has more hands on projects and activities so I’m hoping it will be a better fit for my guy.

Magic school bus kits including: A Journey into the Human Body, The Wonders of Nature, and The Magic School Bus – Microscope Lab

– Nature Study – We have a group of friends we meet with weekly at various nature centers, beaches, and wilderness parks in the area.  This is still very informal for us and isn’t really guided yet.  1st grade we’ll step up how structured we are with this.

Math – Singapore Primary Mathematics Standards Edition Level 1 – We did the Early Bird level (Kinder) over two years, preschool and TK.  Depending on how Green Bubbles does we may stretch this out two years as well or pick up our pace and complete it in one year.  He does well with math but I don’t want to burn him out.
 
Electives
Swim Lessons with Blue Buoy Swim School: Green Bubbles has been asking to  go back ever since we stopped for summer.  He loves his swim teacher and has improved dramically from last year.

Flag Football with i9 sportsWe’ve done two seasons now and Green Bubbles keeps asking for more.  He didn’t enjoy t ball so I’m glad we found something he likes so much. 

– Art – I still need to figure out how much funds we have left over from our charter school.  If there’s enough I’d like to enroll him in Art Steps. A friend goes here and it was highly recommended.