OK, ok, so I am actually writing this post for my own good. I seem to forget nearly everything these days, and I can be sure it won't get better as time passes on. I wanted to document what we did this past year in our school studies so I have an easy way to recall it. I figure at some point someone will ask me, "so what did you do your first year of homeschooling?" and I would like to respond with more than just a blank stare. Something wise like, "well, I really can't remember, but I can send you the link to the blog post I wrote about it." Genius I tell you. Genius.
Last year was our first year in Classical Conversations (CC), a Classical Christian program in which our oldest two attend classes in a nearby city on one day a week, and then we study the information the remainder of the week. In the "Grammar Stage" (a term used by classical educators, which for the sake of clarification I will say ranges from about 4-9) CC is not a comprehensive program. What I mean is, it does not include a Language Arts (think phonics, reading, spelling, writing, grammar study etc) or a math study component. Instead, the program provides core subject material that the students study over the course of 24 weeks. Subjects studied include Math, History, Science, English Grammar, Latin, Geography, Fine Arts (music theory, composers, drawing and great artists), Scripture Memory, and my favorite – weekly presentations in front of the class.
Last year, we chose to use CC as our "spine" and built from there. We read a lot of great books to go along with our history sentences and science facts, and added in projects, readings, writing assignments, etc. that coordinated with our CC studies. There are also some great mommy-bloggers who coordinate resources to use week-by-week. My favorite was Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood, but you can see them all at the new CC Blog Weekly link-up HERE. And of course, we had a ton of fun using the My Memory Work Lapbooks I created to complement CC.
Outside of our CC studies, we also used the following resources:
|Phonics:||Discover Intensive Phonics – a computer-based phonics program that teaches detailed phonics rules and has the student mark the word accordingly using a mouse. Both my 5 year old and 7 year old used it and we all LOVED it! Very easy to use, engaged the kids, not too "gamey", and best of all, it gave me 15 minutes to work one-on-one with another student without the other student getting distracted…|
|Spanish:||Mango Spanish – We are lucky enough to be able to use a great FREE language program that is available right from our home computer through our library system! My 7 year old was able to progress through it on her own, but I usually listened in so that I knew what to try to get her to say and remember during the week.|
|Writing:||Copywork. I basically had the kids write our verse for the week, our history sentence, or even our character-based information. Just one sentence to get them writing. We also began cursive studies. I just printed off whatever I wanted using this super-nifty Free Handrwiting Worksheet Maker – bookmark it! It will be your NEW BEST FRIEND!|
|Piano:||Music for Little Mozarts – Mozart Mouse series. I am the piano teacher, so we didn't get that far. Hopefully we can improve on this subject this year….|
|Character Studies:||A Child's Book of Character Buidling – This is a good resource covering the basics with a corresponding coloring page. I liked that it was simple to use. This year we will be using something else to change things up.|
|Devotional:||Leading Little Ones to God. Love this devotional! We were using it in the mronings along with the rest of our school work, but towards the end of the year we moved it to the evenings with our family devotional time. I am sure we will use this one again anad again as the kids get older.|
|Bible Reading:||A Child's Story Bible – I really like how this Bible brings the language and format down to what can be understood by younger children while maintaining much of the content found in the original Scriptures. Too many kids Bibles become just a "story book" covering the "Big Guys". This is comprehensive. We will be reading it again and again…..|
|Math:||Math-U-See – Becca was in Alpha, and towards the end of the year Robby begged to do math too so he jumped in using Alpha as well.|
|Literature:||For a Christmas gift from his in-laws, my Hubby asked for the perfect gift – a subscription to Lamplighter's Book Club. We get two great books mailed to use every month. Our kids LOVE for us to read long picture-less chapter books to them, and these are fabulous! Plus, knowing we have two more coming the following month keeps us on track! Other read-alouds were The Trumpet of the Swan, Dangerous Journey, Little House on the Praire series, and Charlotte's Web. Above all, our favorite was Teddy's Button. Read it. It is just. that. good.|
To say that Becca is an avid reader would be the understatement of the year. This child is CONSTANTLY reading. And since she has an insatiable (and fast) appetite for books, I started just buying groups of books on Ebay when a great deal comes up. We stocked our library with numerouse award-winning books, and Becca digested nearly all of them. It will be impossible to keep up with her! Since we live in rural America, our closest library is pretty far away. A few of the books Becca read were: Little House on the Prairie Series, Many of the American Girl Series, The Magic Tree House, Hank the Cowdog, Teddy Roosevelt, D'aulaire's History Books – (Abraham Lincoln, Christopher Columbus, Washington, Pocohontas,etc.), Burgess "Adventures of" series (Reddy Fox, Chatterer the Squirrel, etc.), Mr. Poppers Penguins, A to Z Mysteries, Geronimo Mouse, The Sign of the Beaver, and many, many, many more….
|Habits and Schedules:||Since I went from working full-time, to staying home and homeschooling all at the same time, I was willing to sacrifice a bit of studies in order to focus more on character & habit training, and to get a good schedule together for our family. We really got a great system put in place, and when I follow it (there's the clincher!) it works out fantastic, and bring peace and joy. When I don't well…… A couple great resources I used for this (especially useful for large families) were the Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores – both systems from Titus2. If you need help getting something that works for multiple children in place, and are willing to put the time into developing the schedules and chores, I can't imagine something working much better than this….|
|Spelling:||All About Spelling – Becca started on level 1 and progressed quickly. I really loved how it was such an incremental system, with lost of built-in review via flashcards. Best of all, we never spent more than 15 minutes on it and it worked great. You will see level 2 on our school shelves this coming year!|
Some other fun things we did:
– I put together a homeschool group of a few families in my area and we met once a month and completed crafts and activities with a holdiay theme. It was a fun way to get together and celebrate! Each mom chose two months to organize. It worked out great.
– We took a trip to St. Augustine, Florida, and studied up on it before we went. What a blast! We visited some historic sites and discussed Geography. On the way home, we stopped at the Creation Museum. GREAT!
– We did a lot of nature hikes and outdoor discovery. We tried to focus on being awake to what is happening around us. We witnessed the Mama Bird and watched her tend her nest,
– We baked and made jam and had fun with friends.
– We spent extra time and focus on Christmas and Easter, pausing to remember and celebrate His Coming and outpouring of sweet grace on the Cross. Loved the Truth in the Tinsel Book we used!
-We visited the Shedd Aquarium, and The Madison Children's Museum.
– We put our creative skills together to make this awesome video for an even awesomer soldier (I know, "awesomer" is not a word, but you haven't met him!)
– We are currently finishing up a study of the Olympics – Go U.S.A.!
Some things I wish we did:
– I wasn't great at remembering presentations so the kids got a lot of "impromptu" experience. 🙂 I am determined to practice other forms of presentations next year! 🙂
– I haven't come up with a tangible way for our family to consitently demonstrate service to others. I would like to be more intentional about that next year. It is just hard to come up with something that is actually helping someone when you bring 4 kiddos under 7 along with you….. most people don't think that is helpful…. 🙂
– I would like to do more art projects this year. Let's face it – I just didn't want to deal with the mess. We will be getting messier this year…..I have scheduled it during nap time for the littles, so wish us luck!
So, you ask, what's your big plan for this coming school year?
A post on that is coming soon!
Enjoy our YEAR-IN-SCHOOL Pictures!
Hi Karen – You are a Rockstar!! Thank you so much for all the resources you posted today. I had never heard of Mango. I just found out that my local library DOES have it as well. Such a blessing!! I've been looking for a Spanish program we could do at home for a while. You totally encourage me… some days I feel very alone in my pursuit of setting my kids apart for His glory and educating them at the same time. Please know your posts are truly blessings to those reading them. Big hug to you, sister! (Christina – Wauconda, IL)
Thanks for your note Christina! So glad you found Mango! Many hugs back!
Take heart and be encouraged! He is faithful who called us to homeschool will also equip us for the task. Focus on Bible, character, language arts and math. The rest is frosting! we need to Know Him (Bible & experience), Demonstrate His love (character), and Speak the Truth (language of words and numbers)! I say this mostly for my own reminder!
How deep the Father's love is for us! So glad I get to pursue Him with encouraging moms like you!
So glad you submitted this post to the CC Blog Carnival! Several great resources that I've saved back when I'm ready to tackle more! 🙂