Sunday, November 08, 2009

November - a time for tweaking?

It seems as though November and March are the two months I do a lot of tweaking to our homeschool for the year. Why should this year be any different? This year is going great and I see no major overhaul. In fact, I'm not going to change a thing that we are doing. I'm just going to add a bit more to it. I've also sat down this weekend and planned out our next six weeks, taking us right into the Christmas break.

Through the fall we have been looking at early settlements and early colonial period of US History. We've been reading literature, biographies and non-fiction, while also doing the History Pocket set from Evan-Moor. Mary's assigned reading has come from her history during this term. She has read a biography of Pocahantas, Carving in the Tree, Squanto: Friend of the Pilgrims, and is working through a biography of Ben Franklin currently. As read-alouds to Mary and Katie we have finished: Pocahantas and the Strangers, Life in Jamestown, Pilgrim Stories, Felicity books (1-5), and The Magic Tunnel. Plus many other non-fiction books we have looked through and discussed. The girls have also really enjyoed watching Liberty Kid's, even though they are set during the Revolutionary War.

Both have also worked through a "50 States" workbook and have enjoyed trying to learn the names of the Presidents.

We have spent this fall concentrating on Earth Science. Our units have covered rocks, layers of the Earth, erosion and weathering, earthquakes, volcanos, and floods. Mary is using a school textbook that was passed along to me as her "spine", but we spend a lot of time using worksheets from Enchanted Learning and non-fiction books to flesh out the very limited material for both her and Katie.

Katie is going to split off from Mary at this point, and for the rest of the school year she is going to be learning about different biomes and habitats. I have a lot of very interesting materials left over from when Mary studied it a few years ago that I want to share with Katie.

Mary will study soil and conservation until the end of the term. And in January we will begin a unit including weather and the solar system to take us through the end of the year.

I'm sure if it is like everything else, Mary will be involved in Katie's projects and Katie in Mary's. So, we will actually be covering two sciences this year.

Language Arts
The biggest changes to our curriculum going forward is going to be in language arts. So far our language arts has pretty much been limited to crossover with history projects, phonics, handwriting, a weekly lesson from Simply Grammar (for Mary) and Katie's Literature Pockets (focusing on folk & fairy tales). All of that will stay, but we are going to add in weekly poems to study, and Intermediate Language Lessons (for Mary), an emphasis on formal narration and more copywork for both. Katie and I are going to start reading through some of the book list for Ambleside Online year 1.

Both girls need help in expressing themselves, which I think that the new add-ons will be very useful.

I have combined Katie's reading into her work with the Literature Pockets from Evan Moor. For each of the short fairy tales we find other versions of the fairy tales and she reads the different versions as we work through the activities. Both the girls enjoyed her recent unit on the Gingerbread Man. So much so they worked together and wrote their own "Cookie Man" story. We have several more units in the current Evan Moor book I have, and then I will get the next Folk and Fairy Tale one that has the longer stories in it to finish out the school year.

I am making no changes to Math. Both girls are liking their Math Mammoth program and are doing well. Mary is finishing the chapter on working with large numbers and will be moving into multipling this week. Katie is working with subtraction and subtraction facts.

We are slowly working through Prima Latina. Latin seems to be the subject that is most quickly dropped during busy weeks. It is on Mary's list to do, but Katie does have her own book and follows along learning the vocabulary words. We are only on Lesson 5, but the girls do seem to be retaining the vocabulary due to random quizzes and the liberal use of the CD.

Art and Music

Art and Music are kind of hit or miss. They are picking up a lot through interest-led work and external activities. Around Christmas we will be attending the Nutcracker performed by the NC Ballet.

Emily is working with me through the Hooked on Phonics K book and loves to read short little phonetic readers. So much that I have trouble keeping up with her. I find myself printing off little books to make for her to read. She is a good little reader.

We keep working through her letters and phonics worksheets. Which she enjoys as long as she doesn't have to do much writing. She really enjoys the arts & craft activities.

In math she knows her shapes, sizes, numbers and so on. After Christmas we will start working with basic time skills, money and addition.

Handwriting is the bug-a-boo for Emily and I am tempted to purchase yet another curriculum for her and Robbie to share: Handwriting without Tears and the wooden letter set.

Robbie loves letters. He knows his letters and the sounds most of them make. One of his favorite activities is to be read to and to find letters in the words.

We are working with him on counting and colors. And, just learning to occupy himself without taking apart the house.

As you can see we have had a very good fall this year.



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A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.