Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to School - part 2

I didn't intend to break this up but I got so long winded about the new history program I ran out of time to keep going. So here is some more about our new curriculum.

Elemental Science - Introduction to Science
This program I also purchased digitally so I have the same benefits that I do with Adventures in America. I can print for Sierra and only print what I need. It can be scheduled two or five days a week. I do two so we can do it the days we don't do history. So far it is working out well. We will see how it goes once our schedule gets crazy again with gymnastics and other programs. I think I need another me and a few more days in the week. Anyways, the program covers six areas of science, spending six weeks with each area. The areas covered are chemistry, physics, geology, meteorology, botany, and zoology. The program consists of simple experiments, easy enough for Sierra to join in, coloring pages, book suggestions, and nature study.

Peeling the crayons took quite a while.
Last week we learned about liquids and solids. We melted ice in our hands as we began our discussion then we melted crayons in the oven. I now have a muffin tin that is dedicated to art. We played the solids, liquids, and gases game where we pretend to be molecules. Every time someone calls out solid, liquid or gas we have to either hold onto each other tightly (solids), loosely (liquids), or just bounce around the room (gas). This was fun and it really helped Zoey to remember the difference.  We are also keeping a notebook for science.  A suggested book to go along with this curriculum is Usborne Internet-linked Encyclopedia. We read selected pages from this about solids and liquids. It is short and just the right amount of information for young children. The science experiments are mostly from More Mudpies to Magnets. I was already familiar with this book so I knew it would work for us.


Coloring with our once again solid crayons.
For nature study we went on a nature walk to see if we could find pine trees. We found many pine trees. Some of them even had sap oozing from the bark. When we got back home the girls could draw what ever they wanted in their nature journals. Zoey drew me pushing Sierra in the jogging stroller and her pushing Bitty Baby in a stroller. It was so cute. Sierra drew something....???  If you would like to see more about this science program just go here.

Math Mammoth
We have a new math program too! We will still be using Mathematics Enhancement Program that we used last year but only once or twice a week. So far Zoey is flying through Math Mammoth. It is another digital download program so I can use it for Sierra too when she is ready in a few years. Zoey has been begging me to give her math problems for quite a while now. When we are in the car or just have a quiet moment she starts asking for the math game. I am surprised how well she does. The only thing that messes her up is 8 and 9. She calls them the wrong name sometimes.  More about Math Mammoth here.

First Language Lessons
I knew I wanted to use this program I just didn't know when I wanted to start it. I ended up ordering it because I needed a slightly bigger Amazon order to get free shipping. I am glad I did. I started it with Zoey the first week of school and figured I would see if she was ready for it or not. Part of the program includes memorization of grammar rules and poems. The program is a start in learning about English grammar. It is done only three days a week. The first day was very simple but kind of boring so Zoey was not that crazy about it. The second day we read a poem and I explained that she was going to memorize it.  After I read it she wanted to read it too. Great! I guess I failed to tell her that she had weeks to memorize it because when we got the book out again on Friday she read the poem once and then repeated it back to me from memory! She made one small mistake. Since then she says the poem a few times everyday and gets the biggest kick out of it. I will try to get it on video so that I can share it with you. I was so surprised that she learned it that quick. Children's ability to remember things can be almost scary. She can't remember to turn off her bedroom light though? Learn more about First Language Lessons here. Oh and now she asks to do this almost everyday.

Programs we are keeping:
Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading  - We are keeping this because Zoey is reading at age 5. If it is working this well we will keep on going. The book is supposed to take her through 4th grade so we have a while to finish it. Some days the lessons go fast and other days it is a struggle. I try to break up lessons that are long and we do the optional follow up as a separate lesson.
Download n Go - We will continue to do these unit studies when the interest is there. We did the Summer unit study this summer (duh). I will add pictures of us making ice cream for this study at the end of this novel that I am writing. We started Goofy Geckos this week. We usually do these in bits and pieces so they take us a while to go through them. They just came out with one called Football Frenzy. Sounds good to me!
Five in a Row - Better known to my loyal blog readers (aka my family) as the book of the week. At the end of the school year with did four books in a row that Zoey was only so-so about. I thought maybe we had come to the end of using this curriculum. Zoey and I had a heart to heart conversation about it. She wants to do the book of the week. She said she has fun doing the activities and I know she is learning AND remembering so much but she does not like it when I read the book over and over and over again. Part of the program is to read the book five days in a row to reinforce what was learned previously. However, something I have read many times from experienced home school parents is to make the curriculum work for don't work for it. So I decided we would continue with Five in a Row our own style. We will read the book at least once and more if Zoey wants to. Apparently she has an excellent memory so maybe I don't need to read it over and over again. The other very nice thing about this curriculum is Sierra can join in too. Also, I can decide which activities to do since multiple suggestions are given for each topic. My next hurdle with this program was getting volumes 2 and 3. To buy them new it would of cost around $90 with shipping. Volume 1 was easy to find used last year since it is more frequently purchased. Not so with vol 2 and 3. I decided to search one more time and found both of them used on Amazon! Yes! I am very happy. So when we finish Goofy Gecko's we will choose our next book of the week. I can't wait! I really enjoy this curriculum so much.

Last but not least Handwriting Without Tears  and Explode the Code round out our curriculum. Anybody still here? Don't know why I wanted to give so many details other than I am so excited and so far so are both of the girls.


Making ice cream this summer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to School - part 1


Hi everybody. Last week was our first week back to school. Everything went quite well. The only slight problem we had was there didn't seem to be quite enough school for Zoey. I learned from last year and knew that I should not over plan and keep the stress level to a minimum. I guess I went a little too light for Zoey. Not really a big surprise for the high-needs kid Zoey is.

This year we have some additions to our curriculum that are working quite well so far. We also have kept most of what we used last year. Here is a description of one of our new studies...

Adventures in America
This new program from Elemental History is a 36 week study of early America and the 50 states. It is set up to be done in three days with two days for history and one day for geography. What made me decide to purchase a separate history program was Zoey's growing interest in early America this summer. We started listening to The Little House on the Prairie series on CD in the car this summer. The whole family is hooked. Zoey pretends to be Laura or Ma and gets Sierra to play along also. With Zoey's quest for knowledge in this area I decided to go for it. It is a well laid out program. There is a hands on activity each week, two short stories to read, chapter book and picture book suggestions, coloring pages, dictation, and copy work. The copy work and dictation are optional. As an added bonus I was able to buy the program in digital version so I am able to print copies of coloring pages and other things for Sierra also. Since Sierra wants to do everything Zoey does this is a huge benefit. The only downside is I have the cost of paper and printer ink.

For our first week with Adventures in America we began by learning more about Native Americans. Before we even started this week Zoey was immersed in the books about Native Americans that I checked out at the library. The first Chapter book we are reading is Pocahontas and the Strangers by Clyde Bulla. We are supposed to read one chapter a day, five days a week. We read three chapters on Monday! The hands-on activity for the week was making Wampum beads. The girls really liked using the clay. We made beads and they quickly started making other objects. Zoey made Pocahontas and a coil pot. Sierra made a ????.

Zoey putting a hole in the Wampum bead.
Sierra's own creation and a pinch pot I helped her with.

Painting Pocahontas after a few days drying time.

Our state for the week is Delaware, the first state. The state study is simple which is just right for Zoey. We read a paragraph about the state written by a child from the book, Smart About Fifty States. Next is the coloring page. We put a star on the state where the capital is. Delaware's capital is Dover. Then we answer a few simple questions about the state, color it (Zoey added detail to hers, lol) and find the state on the US map. I also checked out a book from the library about Delaware. I think I was more interested in the book than Zoey but she did love everything else we did with Delaware. Oh, and we also added the state flag for Delaware in the corner of the page. I finally found state flag stickers online. Local school supply stores just didn't carry that sort of thing.

All of the papers that are completed with this program are kept in their notebooks, which each of them are very proud of. This also gives us a great chance to review. With the stories, coloring, and crafts this curriculum was a hit the first week of school. Hopefully it will continue this way. If you would like to see more of this program just click here.

Tomorrow...Introduction to Science.