So for the big PLAN! I am a bit giddy about this, so bear with me. I truly hope and pray it will bring a bit of peace to our homeschool thru organization and knowledge. With it, both Skylar and I will know what is needed each unit, and each day. It will be laid out clearly and easy to follow. We will try to follow a daily schedule, where each day we do math at the same time and English at the same time.
I am trying to set out the clear path NOW… so we know which way to go LATER!
I will do my best to explain it, but please ask if you are interested in learning more.
Our basic program is broken down into 5-day units (34). This is not meant to be a M-F week, but just the next day as it falls on the calendar. So if you take a day off for a field trip, you just pick up the day after with the appropriate day. No need to squish stuff into a calendar week.
Now, that is the theory. However, I found last year that as soon as we tried to do something different like Bible study, grocery shopping, or homeschool group, if we went in the morning, no studying was to happen that afternoon. It just was impossible to start our day at 1pm. So I learned to adjust and we shopped in the afternoon and did school in the mornings.
That is the basic plan again, and I have tried to add in some breaks, some lighter days, etc. But, I think we will tend to try to do a unit in a week, so we can keep things on consistent days. (For example, grammar on M,W,F, Spelling on T,TH.) That will just make our days easier. I took into account the days we have regular activities (scouts or riding) and scheduled less for those days if possible. (For example, I decided to do math only 4 days a week, so we won’t do math on Mondays, which is our short day due to riding lessons.)
I also tried to make a shorter day on Friday, so we can do field trips or have movie afternoon, or just take the afternoon off. Because I am not going strictly off the guide, I can do that! I’m a rebel that way! ; )
MY CURRICULUM CHOICES
I started with the plan in the Bigger Hearts for His Glory guide, and made a HUGE spreadsheet. Today, I will share the selections I made for each subject and a bit of why I chose each one. Tomorrow, I’ll explain more about how the plan is going into action.
History/Bible/Poetry/Music: 5 days: For these subjects, I plan to pretty much go straight from the Teacher’s Guide for Bigger, with the extension readers for history. Another HOD mom made a basic historical figures chart, upon which I expanded and built my spreadsheet. It starts with the history text, adds in the readers (which correlate to the historical figure or period), and the poem/Bible/music. I am also adding in a bit of the Beautiful Feet Books American History for Primary Grades, to supplement and add interest to the subjects.
I also printed a bunch of coloring pages that go with the topics. Towards the end of last year, I found that if Skylar colors while listening to the read-alouds, she retains more than if she just tried to sit and listen. Crazy, it seems, but true. So we found coloring and activity pages that match the subjects that she can put into her history notebook along with the writing and copywork pages. A main resource for this is the Easy Make & Learn Projects shown above. These were on sale for download a while back for $2 each or something crazy. The projects look really fun and Skylar is excited about them!
State Study: 5 days: I am adding in a state study that will somewhat correspond to the history. We’ll start with the earliest states discovered (Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, then build to the 13 colonies, and move west as the history program does. Each state she’ll do part of a mini report (a Scholastic sheet I got called “My Great State Report”) that tells the state bird, motto, capital, etc., as well as color the flag, talk a bit about history and map the state. I had a book on states/capitals/regions that has about 1 worksheet per state that she’ll do, and a map to mark interesting points of interest. We also have a giant dot-to-dot state book that has almost one page per state, which she can do for fun to go along with her state study.
Art Appreciation: 3 days (T,W,TH)
Since I love art and art history, and I think it’s important to learn to look at art, we are adding in this component as well. I have a couple American History and American Art books, and I have chosen a variety of styles of art, again correlating to the state or historical events of the unit. We’ll look at one painting or sculpture each week, talk a bit about the style and artist, and learn to do Charlotte Mason style narration on the art as well. I think we’ll do an art project in the style of the week, or corresponding with the science lesson about every other week or once a month. (That part of the plan is coming along, but not quite finished yet!)
Language Arts:3 days (M,W,F): I suffered to make my plans for writing and grammar! I finally decided to use Rod & Staff 3 for the grammar component, with a bunch of copied worksheets from a variety of other sources to reinforce and add interest. (My daughter actually LIKES to do worksheets so we have made lots of those!) I found a Spectrum Writing 3 book that I will use as a writing core, and add in some creative writing with “Let’s Write!” and “Write Away!” to make things a bit more fun. These books have some fun creative ideas like ‘write a message in a bottle,’ or ‘Write a fairy tale from the wolf’s point of view.’ It is these types of activities that will keep my child engaged in writing; at least, I hope so!
Spelling: 2 days (T,TH) + test on Friday: I have chosen to use All About Spelling for our spelling program. I think we will be able to use level 3 as a review and get her into this new style of spelling, and move on into level 4 about halfway thru the year. I am excited to have been told about this program (& more excited to have found exactly what I needed at the consignment sales!) It is phonics based spelling system that grows and is exactly what I was looking for last year but couldn’t find. It has a great kinesthetic component with letter and sound magnets, flash cards and rule cards. Plus, it lays out what to do and say each day in the teacher guide. I can’t wait to start this one!
Math: 4 days (M-TH): We are using Singapore Math 3A & 3B. We are a few units into 3A, so we will continue on with that this fall. On my schedule I only laid out a few months of math. Skylar often will work ahead in math so I have learned not to get too far out in that area or my plan gets messed up. Or, she will become stymied with a particular topic, so I will jump around in the textbook to find a topic that will be easier, then return to the more difficult subject later. Since we are a bit ahead already in the math, I am letting her do it only 4 days a week or less if she works ahead. Then on the 5th day we do math games or puzzles during math time. We also use a variety of logic and critical thinking books that I think we will do during our daily circle time.
Science: 3-5 days: Bigger Hearts for His Glory has a nice light “living books” science program based on the One Small Square Books. We tried a few of those last year, but were not completely thrilled, so I am not sure Skylar will enjoy that program. Also, she really likes science, and wants to do more, more, more! So I laid out the basic themes for each unit as in the guide, and correlated those with lessons in Apologia’s Swimming Creatures and Flying Creatures. We will do both books this year with or without the lessons in the Bigger guide. We’ll see which we end up liking better, but she is pretty excited about learning about dolphins and birds! The Bigger guide has light science daily, and I have added in the Apologia plan with about 7 days of lessons in 10 school days so we can take a break, catch up or learn more!
Reading: 5 days: Skylar is an excellent reader, but needs some more work on narration and analyzing the reading. We are using a variety of the HOD suggested read-alouds and extensions, as well as the DITHOR list. I am a bit of a Goodwill junkie, so we have an extensive $1-$3 library from which I pick for her reading. I tried really hard this year to have her independent readers, extension readers and read-aloud titles to go together by theme or historical period. Last year we were reading about pilgrims in history and Little House on the Prairie in read-alouds and it made everything more confusing for both of us. I feel that by keeping things in (time) line, we may get bored of the period, but at least we won’t be confused. Saturation! And here and there I have a modern reader thrown in to break up the monotony. We’ll see if it works!
Copywork/Cursive: 4-5 days: Built into the curriculum is at least 2-3 days a week of copy work, in Science, Bible and Poetry. We began a bit of cursive last year, and we will build on that this year using “I Can Write Cursive” by CLE press. It is a very affordable book that doesn’t have a lot of repetition. It begins with basic instruction on how to make the letters, AND it has an A-Z copywork section in the back that has a new fact about birds or bugs each day. It also has the entire Psalm 23 in small sections to copy as well. I mapped it out to not be done in alphabetic order, but to correlate with the science topics of the units and it worked out great. We will use this book about 2 days a week and use the suggested copywork in the guide the other days.
Tomorrow, the plan in more detail…
I do want to add here that I haven’t purchased all of this curriculum new. I am a bargain shopper! I did my research early this spring on what I was interested in. I frequent the used book stores with my reading list. And we had a few local homeschool consignment sales that I hit very hard. I did extremely well on my shopping and found almost everything I was interested in at great savings, some at much less than 50% retail. It was a blessing for our family and it allowed me to get things to compare at my leisure, which I know I can re-sell. By shopping locally, I didn’t feel I needed to attend a homeschool conference this year to shop, and that was a big savings in time and money! I am confident I have found a lot of curriculum options we will continue with for the next few years, whether we stay with HOD or not.