The Curriculum Choice

May 22, 2009

Apologia Elementary Science

Filed under: charlotte mason, classical, Curriculum choices, Science, Written by Kristen — Kristen @ 12:08 am

Apologia publishes a full-range of science texts for the Christian homeschool. They began with high school science texts which have been very popular with homeschoolers for many years. More recently, Apologia began publishing elementary texts. Currently, the elementary science series includes five titles: Astronomy, Botany, Flying Creatures, Swimming Creatures, and Land Creatures. These texts follow the immersion principle of learning. Rather than study a wide-variety of unrelated science topics during the course of a school year, these texts dig deeply into one science topic.

Features of Elementary Apologia Books

  • Engaging hard-cover text with many full-color pictures
  • What Do You Remember? questions to discuss
  • Common household items used in experiments and projects
  • Master list of necessary materials
  • Notebooking activities included

All of these texts have 13 or 14 lessons. But don’t be fooled into thinking that with a small number of lessons the books won’t last a whole year. These are not short lessons. They each include 10-20 pages of text (I read these aloud). In addition, all the lessons include at least one notebook assignment and either an experiment or project. Many lessons have both a project and an experiment. I like that the author has clearly separated projects and activities from experiments. In the experiments, the scientific method is emphasized including discussions of variables, controls, hypotheses, data collection, and drawing conclusions. So although the book could easily be read in less than a school year, completing all the included notebook pages, projects and experiments will extend this text to easily encompass a year’s study. However, if you do want to complete more than one of these texts in one school year, the Astronomy and Botany books are a little shorter than the Zoology books.

I love that this one text can be used with all my students. I can customize the notebook assignments to fit their abilities. (Some of the notebook assignments have two options: one for older students and one for younger.) My first grader loves to sit and look at the pictures. He doesn’t participate in very many of the activities, but he is still learning with us. Many first graders could easily participate more than mine does. My daughter who is in 3rd grade now, completed the astronomy book when she was in kindergarten. She completed the notebook assignments and still remembers much of what we studied. I say this as a reminder that this text is easily adapted to the needs of families with widely varying ages and abilities of children.

So why would anyone not like Apologia?

You will not like this text if you do not want to include any of the Bible in your science lessons. These texts are unapologetically (pardon the pun) Christian. The author believes in creation and presents evidence that supports creation in the text. It does not give equal time to evolutionary theory believing that is better left to science geared to older students. Of course, most any animal book checked out of the library contains references to evolution, so this book helps provide a balance with its absence of evolutionary content.

You might not like this text if you want a more traditional approach to science including worksheets, tests and quizzes. The reinforcement of material in these texts is through talking about the text and creating notebook pages. The writing style is also different than most science books. These books are written like the author is talking directly to you. I don’t mean vernacular speech, but it contains questions that are somewhat rhetorical. It also goes into great detail.  Additionally, if you want to study many different topics in one school year, these texts would not be a good fit.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the other Apologia Elementary Science books, they are available from many vendors of homeschool products. They can also be purchased directly from Apologia at their website for $35.00.

Written by Kristen

The Curriculum Choice

May 13, 2009

What Kind of Homeschooler Are You? Tips for Defining Yourself

Filed under: Curriculum choices, Homeschool philosophies, Uncategorized, Written by Kari — snailstrail @ 8:23 am

Homeschoolers are in a world of their own. To outsiders, all homeschoolers are the same…weird. But inside the world of homeschooling, you quickly become defined by your method of teaching. When you meet another homeschooler, some of the first questions asked are, “What curriculum do you use?” and “What kind of homeschooler are you?” To new homeschoolers, this can be completely overwhelming and finding your options can literally drown you in information. I know that there are a lot of moms that are just like me.

I began researching homeschooling, and how to do it, while I was pregnant with my first child. I was still teaching in a public school at the time, but I knew one day that I would have the blessing of homeschooling my kids. I am a first generation homeschooler so I had no idea that there are actual methods and theories about teaching your kids at home. I also didn’t know that there are curriculum just for homeschoolers. Almost 5 years later, I am still trying to define what kind of homeschooler I am.

Before you google your eyes out, turn off your computer and sit down and write out everything you believe about education. This is your mission statement; it will become your foundation for all of the choices you will have to make. In my mission statement, I included how I believe my children learn. I also included how I think that learning is assessed. Brenda has written a great article that can help you as you write your mission statement .

After you have your mission statement, and you feel you need to put a label on what kind of homeschooler you are, find the methods/theories that best suit you based on your mission statement. Research the homeschooling methods out there and find one that matches your core beliefs. If there are several that match you, you might be Eclectic. As you make a list, write down what you like and don’t like of each method. Here is a list of just some methods:

* Classical
* Unschooling
* Charlotte Mason
* Ruth Beechick
* Traditional
* Eclectic
* Unit Studies
* Notebooking
* Lapbooking
* Religion or Faith Based
* Virtual Schooling or Hybrid Schooling or Distance Learning
* Deschooling
* Umbrellas (your child learns under an organization, a public school, or private company)
* Montessori
* Enki
* Waldorf
*Reggio Emilia
* Delayed: The Moore Method
* Accelerated
* Principle Approach
* Thomas Jefferson
* Relaxed
* Delight Directed
* Child-Led
* Research Based
* Radical unschooling

Now that you know how you will teach your child, you have to find the tools to do this. There are so many curriculum choices on the market that there are conventions just so that homeschoolers can check them out. There are three main ways to find your curriculum. First there is the boxed curriculum. This is curriculum that covers every subject area for the entire year. Everything is mapped out for you, may even be scripted, and often comes with all the materials your child will need. Your second option is to pick and choose specific items from a boxed curriculum. You might just want to buy the math materials or the reading books. Another option is to create your curriculum from free online resources, or resources from the library. You also have the freedom to design your own curriculum.

There are three steps to developing your identity as a homeschooler. First, write your mission statement. After you have this ingrained into your heart, find a method that fits your beliefs. And finally, find curriculum that matches your foundational beliefs and method. The great thing about homeschooling is that you have the freedom to teach however you want to teach. And you can change your methods and curriculum whenever you want. Even if it is in the middle of the school year. If it isn’t working…move onto something new. One thing that can give you a concrete foundation is your core beliefs in how you believe your children learn best. In homeschooling, it doesn’t matter what kind of homeschooler you are. It doesn’t matter what curriculum you use. Because, as a homeschooler, you are doing what is best for your child.

Written by Kari Wilcher

The Curriculum Choice

April 25, 2009

Review of Tapestry of Grace

Filed under: classical, Curriculum choices, history, Literature, Written by Kristen — Kristen @ 6:12 pm

What is Tapestry of Grace?

Tapestry of Grace is a Christian, classical, history-focused, multi-disciplinary, unit-study curriculum for the entire family.

Christian

Christ is the central focus of this curriculum. Tapestry of Grace presents the history of the world showing that history truly is His Story. Christ, His coming, and His sovereignty are woven throughout the threads of this comprehensive curriculum. I should mention however, that the curriculum makes use of many secular resources.

Classical

Tapestry of Grace uses the classical model of the Trivium for instruction.The assignments are divided into Grammar (Lower and Upper), Dialectic, and Rhetoric levels. In the dialectic and rhetoric levels there is an emphasis on reading many of the “classic”  works.

History-Focused

Tapestry studies the history of the world chronologically and all the other subjects are studied within their historical context.

Multi-Disciplinary

Tapestry of Grace includes assignments in history, literature, Bible, worldview, geography, government, philosophy, art appreciation, hands-on activities, and composition.

Unit-Study

Each year of Tapestry of Grace (there are 4 total) is broken down into 4 units. These units are history related and within each unit are assignments in the before-mentioned disciplines.

For All Ages

Tapestry of Grace can be used for all your school-aged children at once. Not only that, but there are extensive teacher’s notes for mom to learn as well. They even have a special summary CD for dads called the Pop Quiz.(not included in the year plans) The unit celebrations are intended to be shared with the entire family, or even extended family and friends.

How does Tapestry of Grace work?

There are four different year plans in Tapestry of Grace.

Year 1: The History of Redemption: From Creation to the Fall of Rome

Year 2: Between Ancient and Modern: From Byzantium to the United States Constitution

Year 3: The 19th Century: From Napoleon to Teddy Roosevelt

Year 4: The 20th Century: From Teddy Roosevelt to September 11th (Coming soon)

The program is designed so that a student completes each year plan and then begins the rotation again, studying the same topics again at a higher level.  It is not necessary to begin at Year 1.

Each year plan has four units with nine weeks per unit. The introduction of each unit begins with a summary of the history included in the unit, and an explanation of how the unit fits in with previous history studies. It outlines the scope of the unit and provides some general information about the topics that will be studied. Also included are ideas for a unit celebration. These unit celebrations provide an opportunity for a compilation of everything studied in the unit to be displayed and presented. Unit 1 of each year plan also contains a guide to help users get started with Tapestry.

Following the unit introduction are the week plans. There are nine weeks in each unit, for a total of 36 weeks of study in each year plan. Each week’s plan is divided into several sections.

  1. Threads – These are the weekly learning objectives for each of the subjects studied in Tapestry of Grace. The objectives are divided by subject and level. (1 – 2 pages)
  2. Reading Assignments – These sheets give the assigned readings for all the threads and levels for the entire week. The scheduling of the reading is flexible, and will vary between families and from week to week within a family. There is one page of primary resources and one page for alternate and extra resources. The alternate resources provide additional flexibility to the program. (2 pages)
  3. Weekly Overview – These pages include vocabulary words, people to know, time-line dates, activities, and geography activities for the week. (2 pages)
  4. Writing Assignments – There are 12 different levels of composition assignments. These assignments are usually related to the history lessons that week. (3 pages)
  5. Student Activity Pages – These pages are designed to be used by the student. They contain questions about the history and Bible reading for the week, as well as geography assignments and suggested activities. There are often separate literature assignment sheets. These are usually about 2-3 pages for both the lower grammar and upper grammar sections, and longer for the dialectic and rhetoric levels. These pages are conveniently color-coded in the corners by level for easy identification.(Length varies – Year 3 Unit 1 Week 1 has 14 pages)
  6. Teacher’s Notes – This section is usually the longest section of the week. It contains articles with background information for the topics studied in the week. In addition, it contains the answers to the literature worksheets and the discussion questions. One of the most impressive portions of this section, and perhaps of the entire curriculum, are the discussion outlines to be used with dialectic and rhetoric students. (Length varies – Y3U1Wk1 -14 pages)
  7. Glance into next week –  This handy page lists things the parent should be aware of in the upcoming reading assignments. It sometimes includes budget-stretching suggestions for combining students of different levels into one text. (1 page)

What do I like the most about Tapestry of Grace?

  • Multi-level teaching – I love being able to teach all my children at once. Right now, it is not as hard to do, because my youngest is only 2-1/2 and not in school. But as I look ahead, I see the value in being able to have the entire family studying the same history topics when my children are in, for example, 9th, 7th, 5th, and 1st grades,
  • Non-consumable and reusable – Tapestry of Grace is more than the typical non-consumable curriculum that can be passed down to younger siblings. It can be reused by the same students, as well as being passed down to younger siblings. I can conceivably use each of the Tapestry of Grace year plans four times!
  • Unit-study approach – I love how so many subjects are covered in Tapestry of Grace. I love to add in projects and writing assignments that go with our history studies. Also, understanding the Bible in its historical context is invaluable.
  • Flexibility – There are so many ideas and resources listed each week, that it would be impossible to do them all, so I can pick which ones are best for my family. I have the ability to schedule the reading as well. Many of the suggested books are available from the library and often there are easy substitutions for those that are not.
  • Product Support – The customer support at Tapestry of Grace is excellent. They have promptly answered questions and provided help. There is a user’s forum at the Tapestry website, as well as very active Yahoo groups for general and year specific support.

What are some specific topics?

I received Year 3 Unit 1 Digital Edition to review. In addition I received the corresponding Map Aids. The unit is entitled Napoleon’s World. The 9 weeks are:

  1. When John Adams was President
  2. Napoleon: The Man and His Career
  3. Early Industrial Revolution
  4. Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase
  5. Jefferson and the Supreme Court
  6. Madison and the War of 1812
  7. Reshaping Europe and South America
  8. South America in Transition
  9. Monroe and the American Hemisphere

I love the literature selections for this unit. One of my very favorite books, Pride and Prejudice is studied for four weeks of the unit by the rhetoric students. One of the dialectic books is Frankenstein and the Swiss Family Robinson is included for upper grammar. You can search and see the recommended books for any of the units or the entire year plan at www.bookshelfcentral.com. The searches are quick and easy. You can even copy the results to a spreadsheet so you can sort them by level or subject.

There are some great activity suggestions for this unit. Lower Grammar Students can write with a quill pen, make a water wheel out of Legos, make a silhouette, and practice counting money. Upper Grammar students spend much of the unit on an invention product and learning about the branches of American government, including preparing a Supreme Court scrapbook. Dialectic and Rhetoric students make a display board with major Napoleonic figures and an inventor project, as well as building models of the Supreme Court Building and the Arc de Triumph. All levels listen to violin music, learn how to cook food from South America, study the Star Spangled Banner, and learn proper etiquette concerning the American flag.

The Map Aids are a tremendous time saver. They include black-line maps specific for each week. You don’t have to worry about finding maps, just print them out and go.

What about the Digital Edition?

I have been using a print copy of Tapestry for this school year. The unit that I received to review was the digital edition (DE). The download was easy. I find the DE easy to navigate and it has a very convenient search feature that allows you to use your computer to search instead of flipping through hundreds of pages trying to find something you know is in there. I like the fact that the DE saves space. Each unit of Tapestry of Grace fills up a 2″ binder. Storing 16 total binders for all the year plans might have been a problem. One important thing to note is that the digital license does NOT allow the DE version to be resold. I personally find the DE a very convenient format for Tapestry of Grace. I would not print out very many of the pages so I don’t think that increased printing costs will be an issue for us.

How much does Tapestry of Grace Cost?

There are several different ways to purchase Tapestry of Grace. All purchases are made directly from the Tapestry of Grace Store.

  • One year plan – printed = $225 + shipping
  • One year plan – digital =  $170
  • One year plan – digital + print = $270 + shipping
  • One year bonus bundle – digital = $250
  • One year bonus bundle – print only = $295 + shipping

* Bonus bundles include entire unit, the Loom, and Map Aids, plus your choice of a bonus option (Writing Aids, Complete year lapbook kits, complete year evaluations,  or complete year Pop Quiz) and a bonus item (one level of evaluations, one unit lapbook kit, or one unit Pop Quiz.)

The units are also available individually.

  • One unit digital = $45
  • One unit digital + printed = $76.40 + shipping
  • One unit printed = $60 + shipping

The stand-alone printed versions are not currently available for all the year plans. Be sure to check the store for the unit you are interested in to see what is available.

Bookshelf Central provides the resource books for Tapestry of Grace plus suggested grammar and spelling curricula. The books are also available from major book retailers. In addition, many of the books are available through the library or can purchased used.

Conclusion

I love Tapestry of Grace for my family and plan to use it for a very long time! I think it provides the framework to provide my children with an excellent understanding of history and God’s sovereign hand in history. If Tapestry of Grace sounds like something your family would like, be sure to go to their website to download their free samples. You can see the layout of the program and try out the digital version for yourself.

Written by Kristen

The Curriculum Choice

April 20, 2009

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Biology 2nd Edition

Apologia: Exploring Creation With Biology 2nd Edition  Am-biology2

This is a college-preparatory, high school level, biology course that would be recomended in a student’s freshmen year. It is designed to be an independent study. It includes tests, labs, and video clips to go along with the course. Dr Jay L. Wile is the author of this course.  

 
Overview of the program : 
 
The are 16 modules to be covered in one year.  The student will read the modules and answer review questions throughout each module. There is a study guide at the end of each module to be done before the student takes a test. There are tests for each module. There are 1-2 experiments for each module. Many of the experiments are examing prepared slides under the microscope. There are four animal dissections.  
 
Supplies: You need to purchase Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Biology textbook or CD-rom version. Both versions are the same. You need a student micropscope, prepared microscope slide set, dissections tools and animal specimens. All of these supplies can be easily purchased from Apologia or many other homeschool suppliers. I do suggest to shop around for the best prices.
 
The student will be introduce to the study of biology in the first module. The student will then start to study the five kingdoms of the animal world. The course starts at the microscopic level of Kingdom Monera. In the second module the student will collect samples of pond water, and will study the samples under a microscope.
 
Kingdom Protista is the third module. Microscopic life is studied under the micropscope. There are some great video clips of Amoebas.
 
Kingdom Fungi is the fourth module of the course. The student will have opportunties to do experiments with yeast, and different types of mold. The student will study  samples under the microscope.
 
The fifth module is a basic introduction of chemistry. The student will perform experiments that explore diffsion and osmosis. There is also an experiment with organic bases and acids.
 
The sixth module is the study of the cell. It is great chapter that explains the magnificent world of cells.
 
The seventh module is the study of cellualr reproduction.  Again ther are some great video clips to go with this chapter.
 
The eighth module is a short chapter on genetics. Experiments with punet squares are done in this chapter.
 
The ninth module is a great chapter on creation vs. evolution. Dr. Wile goes over microevolution and macroevolution. Charles Darwin is introduced along with his theories.  It is great chapter with wonderful tidbits of interesting information.
 
The tenth module is thestudy of ecology. Dr Wile did a great job making this chapter interesting with true stories.
 
The eleventh chapter is where all the fun begins. This chapter is the study oinvertebratesThe student will disect the earthworm. This is a great disection to start with. It’s interesting and easy to do.
 
The twelth module studies one phylum; Pylum Arthopoda. The student has the oppprotunity to disect a second time. This time it is the crayfish. This is another great disection. It is very interesting and fun. The student will also study insects and spiders.
 
The thirteenth module is the study of Phylum Chordata. There are two more dissections in this chapter. The student will study Class Osteichthyes and will dissect a perch fish. This was my least favorite dissection due to how bony the perch fish is. I would reccomend getting a fresh fish to dissect as oppose to a preserved fish. The student will then study Class Amphibia. You can guess what dissection comes next. Yes, its the infamous frog dissection. My kids loved the frog dissection. It is amazing to see all the organs in a small creature. My daughter took the heart out and sliced it in half. It was amazing to see the chambers of the frog’s heart! 
 
Modules fourteen and fifteen are the study of Kingdom Plantae. Again, their will be experiments using the microscope. There is an experiment to dissect a flower, not as fun as the frog but still interesting.
 
Module Sixteen is the last module. You study reptiles, birds and mammals in this chapter. The last experiment is examining a slide with chicken embryos.
 
What are the pros? This is an excellent college-preparatory course for high school. There has been claims that some students have been able to clep out of a college biology class after taking this course. The course is set up for independent study. There are some interesting video clips that can be seen on the CD-Rom version or the CD companion that goes along with the hardcover textbook. The microscopic slides are  wonderful quality, and are a great teaching tool with the course. The dissections are fun, easy, and interesting. The textbook reads easily. The author has a wonderful writing style that keeps the student interested. There are tests to go along with the course. The author has a pro-creation view point given through-out the book.
 
What are the cons? Can be costly especially if you don’t own a microscope.
 
If you would like more info here is a link:
Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology
Written by Korey
 

The Curriculum Choice

Math-U-See Review

Filed under: Curriculum choices, math, Written by Brenda — Brenda @ 1:38 am

Math-U-See

Math-U-See is a mastery based math program.  This means that it teaches math concepts to mastery.  This is very different from the spiral approach, which spirals through math concepts adding harder equations as the years progress.  (Saxon would be a good example of a spiral approach).  Understanding the difference between the two approaches can be key to picking the right math curriculum for your student.

The great thing about MUS is that each book teaches one math concept from beginning to end, meaning that in the addition book, Alpha, your student will be adding multiple rows and learning place value extensively.  Next, Beta teaches subtraction.  Gamma is multiplication.  Delta teaches division, then Epsilon covers fractions and Epsilon decimals.  As the years progress they do cover previously learned concepts.

Division requires a student to be able to multiply and subtract, so why teach division until the student masters the previous concepts?  That’s something I never understood about traditional textbooks.

Other things I like about MUS:

  • DVD lessons for you to watch or student
  • enough practice per lesson to master the concept yet not overwhelm the child
  • review pages for previously learned concepts
  • great price
  • time, money, measurement, geometry are woven into the lessons
  • word problems on every worksheet

I’ve used MUS from Primer – Zeta and have never thought twice about switching because of content.  I think MUS is a wonderful math curriculum and my children have liked it also. Please visit the site for more information on placement.

Written by Brenda

The Curriculum Choice

April 16, 2009

Phonics Curricula Reviews

Filed under: Curriculum choices, language arts, phonics, Written by Brenda — Brenda @ 8:56 pm

Explode the Code

I have used a myriad of Phonics programs, but have found myself drawn back to ETC which is what I used for my first born when he was in K.  ETC and Get Ready, Get Set, and Go for the Code are simple enough that you can add in extra activities based on what your child needs.  I love using the Pocket Wall Chart for games!  These consumable workbooks are an inexpensive way to teach phonics.  I would recommend getting a little set of readers, like the Bob books as you begin these workbooks.

For more information go to the EPS website.

The Phonics Museum, by Veritas Press

I was a big advocate for The Phonics Museum when it first came out.  What I didn’t know at the time, that I know now is that my first son was a natural reader, so The Phonics Museum was easy for him.  When my second son came along, I started singing a different tune about the Phonics Museum.  If you do not have a natural reader (a child that doesn’t pick up reading quickly and effortlessly) then Phonics Museum may not be the best choice for you unless you are willing to supplement like I was forced to do.

First, I had to supplement the readers, because although the readers are pretty, historical and intriguing they are difficult to understand and do not make for a good introduction to reading.  I supplemented with Bob books and Now I’m Reading mini books.  There are 4 volumes.  Secondly, the teachers manual is written for a class room so I was modifying that to fit a home school. One thing I want to point out is that this whopping $190 curriculum has all the bells and whistles if you are willing to give it a try.  Finally, I had to supplement with Phonics Pathways because he was still struggling. It took us 2 years to complete the first grade year. It could have very well taken us 2 years to finish any complete phonics curriculum, but I truly believe it moved too fast for the average child.  We did, however, enjoy the songs and the tiles that you use to build words. These extras also took extra time. I would say phonics took us an hour a day.

Winter Promise – Language Arts Programs

wpfreesamplesFor my third son, I ditched the Phonics Museum because of all the tweaking I was doing and found Winter Promise which incorporates Explode the Code workbooks and other file folder games and mini books. I liked this approach and we used their Fast Track Phonics and First Grade Language Arts in one year plus a little through the summer. I like how Winter Promise uses different resources for a complete phonics program. Their daily schedule is easy to follow and they have created some really cute phonics cards that go with their program. Winter Promise is currently what I use for two of my children.  For more information on all their themed and subject programs go to http://www.winterpromise.com.

Written by Brenda

The Curriculum Choice

April 12, 2009

Phonetic Zoo – spelling

Filed under: Curriculum choices, language arts, Written by Brenda — Brenda @ 10:30 pm

Phonetic Zoo, Excellence in Spelling

 This is another great program put forth by the Institute for Excellence in Writing. Phonetic Zoo has been wonderful tool for me as a mother to many to put my time in to the fun subjects, like history and science. Spelling can be mundane and boring for all people involved, but the Phonetic Zoo has made this an independent program for the student for grades 3rd and up. The animal theme concept is better for the younger children, but I hear no complaints from my oldest. When each lesson is mastered, you can choose to give them an animal card to collect or hang proudly on their wall.

The core of this program is the lesson cards. Each card has is a separate lesson with a rule, jingle or hint to help you remember the spelling rule. (I will say that some of these are confusing until you decipher them a little, but that can be a fun puzzle too). There are a list of 15 words, no matter what level you may be on (A, B or C). The levels get more difficult as they go up. The second component to this program are the CD’s. The CD has the voices of two alternate people giving the spelling quiz. This auditory component is priceless.

The first day you explain the rule, go over the words and make note of the part of the rule being explained. Older children do not need your help with this. The remainder of the lesson is completed by them. Then they listen to the CD and write the words down how they believe they are to be spelled. Then the next track on the CD helps them correct it. The next day they quiz themselves again, if they get 100% two days in a row then they move to the next lesson. They continue to take the quiz every day until they master the list 2 times in a row.

What I like about this program is that they give the rule, jingle or hint after every 3 words. This helps them memorize it. I also like that the CD’s are doing the quizzing and checking for me. This virtually makes this an independent program!

Here are the 2 things that I added to this program to make it work for me. For my student that doesn’t click really well with spelling, I have him choose an activity to help him remember his spelling words from a list like this:

  • Linking it together – wiring words on strips of construction paper and linking them
  • Colorful spelling – use different colored markers for each letter when spelling the words
  • Keeping in shape – write the words inside a simple shape, like a tree, over and over again
  • Ribbon spelling – use a ribbon to outline each spelling word in the air
  • Bend and shape – use pipe cleaners to make each letter of a word
  • By the color – write consonants in red and vowels in blue
  • Spell back – spell the words on a willing persons back
  • Poof its gone – write the words on a dry erase or chalk boards, then erase them with your fingers as you spell them again
  • Alphabet stamps – use rubber stamps to spell the words

I have also used the Spelling Power notebooks instead of a regular notebook. These are great in that on the backside of the quiz there is a part where they can write a sentence with the miss-spelled word and a little system to help them memorize the word, by covering it up and spelling it. Also the lines are on the page according to level, so you can get one with fatter lines for younger writers. For more information on the Phonetic Zoo click here.

Written by Brenda

 

The Curriculum Choice

April 4, 2009

My Father’s World

My Favorite Curriculum

by Korey

When I began homeschooling 3 years ago, I was looking for the perfect curriculum for every subject. In my first year I was so full of new ideas and excitement. I wanted to try everything and boy, did I. I had a separate program for Bible, geography, history, art, art history, music, science,  math, grammar, spelling and and and……….. 

world_view_b2You get the point. I had a lot to cover in one year. It was a perfect recipe for disaster. Did I get it all covered? No way! I had visions of nature studies, studying historical art pieces, reading classic novels and beautifully written pieces of writing but instead I was frustrated that I couldn’t meet up to the standards I had set for myself.

So when the first year of homeschooling was under my belt, I had to rethink my way of homeschooling. As a homeschooling mom, you know what that means. It means hours of looking at catalogs, searching the web, talking to other homeschool moms and even calling many curriculum companies. I was trying to figure a way to get perfect curriculum in all subjects! As I was searching I remembered someone mentioning “My Fathers World”. I had looked at it before but it was one of those pre-package curriculums and that was not what I wanted. I wanted to put together my perfect plan of curriculum on my own BUT I kept going back to “My Fathers World”.  After hours and even weeks of deciding, I purchased this pre-package curriculum. Why would I do what I said I wouldn’t.  I discovered that My Father’s World was the closest thing I could find to my perfect curriculum all in one package. So let me explain why I love it.

First, I love the philosophy of this program and how they put the heart of child first.  That is what drew me to the program first. So let me go through the program and explain how it works. It combines the methods of Charlotte Mason and classical education.

My Father’s World has many one year unit study type programs starting with kindergarten and all way up to the high school years. We started with the Exploring Countries and Cultures program. This program is designed for 2nd-8th graders.

It is a multi-age unit study: The program is designed to be used with more than one child at a time. This is a big time saver! I teach all the subjects together except language arts and math.

Strong international focus: In Exploring Cultures and Countries you visit a country every two weeks. You learn about the country’s geography, ecology, and cultures. You spend time learning about the common religions in each of the countries you study.

Integrated Bible content: In Exploring Countries and Cultures you spend the year reading the book of Matthew and memorizing many verses from Matthew. You read about missionaries from the past and present. You learn what God is doing in other countries and you are shown how you can pray for each country specifically.  It teaches a wonderful biblical worldview.

Geography: You do plenty of map work each week and with that you learn plenty of mapskills. Older students can do research projects as they study each of the continents. You play games to learn the names of all the countries, oceans, capitols, and continents.  You make a passport and you place a flag sticker in your passport as you “travel” to each country. There are hands on activities such as cooking and flag making. You learn new geography terms every week which the student keeps in a journal.

Science : You spend the year studying habitats from all over the world. You spend time taking nature walks and keeping a nature journal.

Reading: There is plenty of living books provided with this program! My Father’s World does something called a reading basket. Everyday the children read books you have selected from the library or have purchased. The books are all related to what you are currently studying such as rain forests. You may have many subjects to chose from some fiction and non-fiction. There is a read alouds included in the program. The read alouds coincide with the country you are studying.  In ECC the read alouds are true stories of missionaries.

Art and Music The program has plenty of art projects based on the countries you are studying. There is also a CD with ethnic music from around the world.

Language Arts, Math and Foreign language : They suggest certain LA and Math programs but you can add whatever you choose.

Now let me tell you the pros of this program: I love how it combines the methods of Charlotte Mason and classical education. It is a perfect mix of both of these philosophies. I love the journaling and the nature studies. The teacher manual is a huge plus. It so well laid out. Each week is laid out on a grid and then additional informational is given for the planned activities. The TM tells you what needs to be photocopied for the week and what extra supplies are needed. The supplies are easy to find items. The TM gives a list of books you can check out at the library or purchase for your reading basket. The TM is so easy to use, generally this program is an open and go. The bible is my favorite portion of the program. I love the memory verses. Easy to do but challenging. I love how it tells you to pray specifically for each country. You learn what challenges missionaries face in the field. I love how you can combine your kids for so many subjects. It turns learning into a family time together.  I love the biblical worldview that is taught throughout the program. The crafts are easy to do and fun. I love how you can chose you own math and LA. The program is designed to be done 5 days a week and Friday is a light day. It can easily be turned into a 4 day week by combining Friday’s plans into other days of the week.

Now let me tell you the cons of this program: I felt the science to be a bit light for my taste. We did add more science to the program. My Father’s World is coming out with an updated version for ECC and it looks like they have added more to the science. You have to be okay with having everything all laid out for you. For me this was a plus since it is done so well. The music was not my favorite, a bit too kiddy for us. In the other programs of MFW the music is done more to my taste with classical music. We felt the read alouds to be a bit dry. We did add some of our own read alouds. If you don’t live near a library with a decent selection of books it would be hard to incorporate the reading basket idea.

My Father’s World is coming out with a new edition of Exploring Countries and Cultures. The science looks improved.  There is less photocopying, and there is a nice supplement you can order for 7-8th graders. 

We are in our second year of My Father’s World. We are presently using the Rome To Reformation program. We are loving this program just as much!  We plan to stay with My Father’s World for the long road maybe even all the way through!

The Curriculum Choice

 

Korey, is our, no twaddle (great books), Charlotte Mason devotee and she homeschools two precious children. Her first-born has already flown the nest, and is away at college. She is also a part-time nurse.  She loves science, spending time with her family and the splendor of the Lord.

March 27, 2009

living books

Filed under: Curriculum choices, Literature, Living books, Written by Brenda — Brenda @ 8:12 pm

Living Books

We use living books for many subjects of our homeschool. I have found, over the years, that literature guides come in handy for me to be able to get the most out of a well-written book (especially if I haven’t read it yet). First of all, let me say that I do not use literature guides all year. Our history curriculum (Tapestry of Grace) keeps us reading a lot of great “living” books every week. I have been blessed to find literature guides for several of our recommended history books, so I save them for when it’s time. When I pick up these guides, I keep them on the shelf in hopes of using about 3 a year. Also, I have found that with having 5 children, and 3 that can read, it keeps them paying attention when we read round-robin style (taking turns). Of course the 7 yr. old doesn’t read as much as the 12 yr. old, but he pays attention waiting diligently for his turn. These books that I am recommending, we have at least 2 copies, sometimes 4, of the book. When we are studying a book together, I like to schedule in an hour of reading time several days a week for 3 weeks. We are often home on the weekends, so weekends are an option, if our school week is packed with other activities.

My favorite study guides are from the following places:

My favorite books, that we have used literature guides for, are here:

Click here to view books.

The Curriculum Choice

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March 16, 2009

New to Homeschooling?

Filed under: Curriculum choices, Homeschool philosophies, Written by Brenda — Brenda @ 6:30 pm

little_logo7The Homeschool Diner’s click-o-matic guide to choosing a homeschool approach may be just what you need if you are not sure as to which direction you need to head in.  You can click here to get there!

The Click-O-Matic approach to looking at curriculum may help you find
just what you’ve been looking for!  If you see descriptions that match your
student — take a look at the approaches recommended for that  characteristic, and then
“Click” on the ones you’d like to read more about.

The Curriculum Choice

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