Friday, February 24, 2012

Homeschool Curriculum, Part 2

You might see more from this list of our second-part-of-the-day curriculum that I’m loosely following a Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling: short lessons, good literature, narration, nature study…  Most of these things we do together versus the earlier-in-the-day items are one-on-one with each daughter.

For what we do first in the day, check my first post on our homeschool curriculum.

Literature: Ambleside Online

We’ve been following the reading schedule for Year 1 on Ambleside Online’s curriculum guide. We’re reading books like Our Island Story—learning the history of England in a story format from 1905. I would have never imagined we’d be reading literature that I now find so rich in comparison to other less classic books. I really wondered how the girls would do when we began! It’s been wonderful to see them really pick up what they’re hearing. We also practice oral narration after a story or poem is read. They never know who I’m going to call on, and I always let the other girl fill in anything the other may have forgotten.

There are some stories in our books that I do not feel are appropriate for the girls now {ie: gruesome death details}, but overall I’ve found we have all enjoyed the literature recommended. Many times they ask me to read ahead! One plus is that many of these classics are available for free online.

Portuguese: I make it up

It hurts a tad when I see all the great teaching helps out there for kids to learn Spanish. Then I have to remember my children are already speaking a second language, and I just need to reinforce what they’ve learned. I have found Portuguese/English sticker books to use and many dictionary-type kids books that we can review words with. Once a week the girls listen to a story on CD that goes with some books they have or watch a kids’ show in Portuguese. Of course our best learning goes on when our neighbors’ kids come play!  I don’t plan on teaching Portuguese grammar until 4th grade or so.

Bible: Positive Action Bible Curriculum

Because I have one daughter in kindergarten and one in 1st grade, I felt I should wait on starting SCM’s Bible Modules. Now I think I could have just followed a Bible reading schedule/highlighted stories as per Penny Gardner. However, I had already bought two levels of curriculum from Positive Action Bible Curriculum. When I got them I realized I’d be doing a lot of separate teaching for each level. My husband encourage me to go with the kindergarten level so both girls could do the workbook activities. That has worked out fine.

The lesson plans appeared like way too much to me at first, but I’ve found a groove that is simple to follow. Usually there are two days worth of Bible readings of a story with a introduction and discussion questions at the end. The 3rd day I follow the teaching strategy with the workbook pages. The 4th day we read the Bible verses and fictional story in the guide. Lastly we focus on that week’s character trait, fitting it in on Friday or whenever it seemed fitting.

The girls have enjoyed the workbooks and stories. I am thankful for the questions and comments that get at the heart. I haven’t decided if we’ll continue with this next year, but it has been a good experience for this first full year of homeschooling.

Science: Simply Charlotte Mason and others

We recently finished the Outdoor Secrets book and Outdoor Secrets Companion, a recommended “living book” and it’s teacher guide published by Simply Charlotte Mason. We would do a lesson two times per week. Many lessons gave direction in our nature study time and nicely followed up one of the readings.

My mom brought us sturdy sketch books from America that the girls take outside to draw in for our nature study time. I need to do a better job planning time for them to be outdoors for this in different settings besides our backyard {which is not that big} and street.

Now that we’ve finished Outdoor Secrets, we started reading Among The Forest People—a book from 1898 that personifies the animals and helps us learn about them through the story. The girls are enjoying it as well as science-oriented selections in our Ambleside readings.

A huge help has been owning a bird field guide for our region of the world. We like our RSBP Birds of Britain and Europe. It is a bummer when many of the birds in the stories we read are not the same as those found here {they were written in America}, but we find the closest species that we may have here.

Geography: Expedition Earth

I purchased Expedition Earth: A Journey Through God’s World last summer after seeing my girls’ interest to learn about a certain country. I thought we could continue to use it this year, and it has been a great base to learn about many nations. Beware that there are many books that you need to borrow/purchase since I did not understand that when I first bought it. One our our favorites we did buy has been Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World.

I do not do all the recommended ideas in the guide provided, or I feel like we’d be doing a geography project all the time. I’ve found the few things that we really learn well from without having to do all the extras. I’ve not made it something I test the girls over—I am more pleased with their increased awareness of other nations and cultures. It’s peaked their interests in all kinds of other things we go searching to learn more about.

Art: Artistic Pursuits

Once a week we do a lesson from Artistic Pursuits Grades K-3 Book 1 An Introduction to Visual Arts. It has been a jump for us to move from crayons and markers to learning how to use watercolor pencils and oil pastels! But a fun jump I must say! The program does complement the study of fine art by usually highlighting some fine art for each topic we will learn. It also shows other children’s work as examples for each lesson so that encourages the girls that they can do it as well.

Picture Study: Simply Charlotte Mason

Both Ambleside Online {AO} and Simply Charlotte Mason {SCM} have a recommended order of artists to be studied. We have studied the SCM Module 3’s Rembrandt, Velasquez, Van Eyck, and now Cezanne so far—one time a week for six weeks. SCM has created some picture study portfolios that come with nice copies of the art and a teacher guide. I’ve done my best to make sure we’ve got some other books to supplement our learning of the artist and their art. SCM has a link to available books on each artist.

Composer Study: Simply Charlotte Mason

We are following the SCM composer study modules so we’ve just begun Tchaikovsky—also one time per week for six weeks each. Funny enough, the girls are excited about him since they’ve learned a song of his on the CD: Beethoven's Wig: Sing Along Symphonies. They would highly recommend this CD because they really enjoy it!  I also found a list of all the composers highlighted in Little Einstein’s episodes. Doesn’t sound like a very classical approach, but the girls get excited when they recognize the music in one of their favorite shows! We also utilize the online show called Classics for Kids that talk about each composer and multiple You Tube videos of these famous pieces being played or danced to.

Hymn Study

Both AO and SCM have lists of hymns to be studied, but I decided that we’d learn hymns the girls are already singing in worship songs we have. For example, we love Laura Hackett’s version of Joyful, Joyful, so I thought this would be a great place to start learning verses from hymns! I’ve heard hymns sung by Chris Tomlin and other worship leaders these days that we will also learn. This brings some practicality to learning hymns for us, when we don’t attend a church that uses a hymnal per se—at least it’s a place to start.

Handicrafts and Life Skills

Once a week we do some sort of handicraft or life skill that could be baking muffins or learning to use the knitting fork the girls got for Christmas. SCM has a list of what this time could include. Often I see that we’ve already done some kind of life skill learning that day so we don’t need to do something extra. I want to be more intentional about the girls learning craft skills so they can become proficient. For example, my oldest enjoys a latch-hook rug set she was given, but does it so infrequently that she has to be retaught each time it’s pulled out. I know this is par the course for this age, but I know their abilities are increasing as well.

So, lots of info. I hope it is helpful to someone out there like many of the blogs I’ve visited in trying to figure out what we were going to be doing! Please contact me with any questions—I’d love to be more help!

6 comments:

  1. I've been memorizing and telling stories from "Among the Forest People" to my first grade native speaker's class. They all loved "The Little Bat who wouldn't go to Bed". Did you know that you can read all of her books on-line for free at The Baldwin Project: http://www.mainlesson.com/ ? . . . Your curriculum sounds great! Love the learning history through stories and the art!

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    1. Thanks Sheila! We are definitely going to use more of the online books next year and hopefully we'll get an e-reader. We currently do that for the Burgess Bird Book and Aesop's fables.

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  2. wow..you are so together and organized! good for you and your kids! keep up the great work with your girls!!

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    1. Thank you! Having just two makes organization easier I'm sure. It really is God's goodness leading me in all of this! I would never have thought I'd be doing this.

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  3. I too have a hard time finding resources for teaching portuguese. What do u use? I have even called dish network and requested the portuguese disney.channel but they need more people to request before they consider it.

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    1. Hi Allyson: Way to go on making the effort to get your kids to hear Portuguese more! We now have a girl come to our house twice a week to speak with the girls in Portuguese and read Portuguese books to them. Now that my girls are reading, they are starting to sound out words in Portuguese too which helps as well. We also can use Portuguese workbooks I buy from the grocery store here too.

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