Monday, August 30, 2010

Curriculum, 2010-2011

Okay, so I'm not quite sure why it's taken me THIS long to post my curriculum for the year (as many have had theirs up for months!). Slackin' I guess! Anyway, here goes nothing...



Avonlea is technically supposed to be in a pre-K classroom should she be in traditional school. However, Rob and I have both noticed how advanced she is after searching at a few different preschools when she was 3 (we had thought about putting her in preschool years ago since it seemed like the 'thing to do' when kids turn 3). We noticed that most preschools were doing a letter of the week and she was already reading. So, we prayed, researched, talked with family and friends who homeschooled and KNEW that this was for us!

Avonlea is all over the charts in terms of 'placement'. She should be in a pre-K room, age-wise.

She is working in a Kindergarten math book.

She is reading at a 1st grade level in 1st grade readers.

It's confusing, but comforting knowing that we can work with her on HER own level. We know that she won't be bored like typical, advanced children are in a traditional classroom. We know that we can challenge her. After being a bit perplexed about what level to 'place her' and what books to buy (curriculum-wise), a intelligent A Beka counselor told me a year or so ago,

"Don't worry about 'placing' Avonlea anywhere! She's homeschooled and that's the beauty of it. She can be in one grade with one subject and another grade with anothe subject. If God should call you to place her in traditional school one day, worry about that when it comes."

~Some of the best advice I've heard and NEEDED to hear.

So, here is Avonlea's curriculum for Kindergarten:

Math - A Beka

I've heard fantastic things about Saxton and am still contimplating it for next year, but I want her to finish up her Kindergarten math book from last year. We're in the middle of it (my goals for finishing it last year didn't happen) and if we wind up finishing it in the middle of this year, I may stick with A Beka OR switch to Saxton. We shall see. It all depends on her mastery and if I think she's ready to move on to 1st grade work. In some aspects, I think "absolutely", but in terms of counting money and story problems, I think that she still needs to master those better.

Reading - A Beka

There's nothing like A Beka phonics and I will forever choose A Beka over any other curriculum due to its consistency and because I truly believe that children should learn phonetically and not through sight. There will always be sight words that are necessary to memorize (A Beka does have a section for sight words in their readers before each story), but I 100% stand behind phonics.

We use flashcards for practicing our phonics ("sh" in ship, "th" in this, "ch" in church, etc.)

We also use the 1st grade readers for reading time.

We also are BIG on reading books throughout the day. I read to them at breakfast (usually a devotional or Biblical story and then we talk about the story and how we can apply it to our lives.) I read to them at lunchtime at the table after we eat. Usually a fictional story that all three children love to read. I'm quite the actress when it comes to making a story interesting...using voices, sounds, etc. Who doesn't love listening to a story that way?!!! I read to them one-on-one before each of their naps (Even Norah can sit for 10 mins. as we read baby books. She loves turning the pages and pretending to read). We also read before bedtime. We do read books throughout the day, sometimes when we're doing school. Sometimes before we do a fun craft or bake/cook something. I think Sonlight is a great program, but we prefer to choose our own books according to what we're learning that week.

Handwriting - A Beka and Rainbow Bridge Publishing

I am not an advocate for teaching cursive until print is mastered first. Therefore, I have ordered an A Beka handwriting book for Avy for her to start when her print is mastered. Right now, she's just working in a basic skill builders, $3.99 handwriting book I got from Target (Rainbow Bridge Publishing).

She also does copywork from the board. We use Bible verses, phrases from books we've read, etc. for this.

Spelling - X

At this age, a spelling program is not necessary. We will be implementing one next year. I am currently looking at A Beka.

Geography - Galloping the Globe and Map Skills for Today

I love our Map Skills for Today book by Weekly Reader Publishing because it's a GREAT introduction to maps. What is a map? What is on a map? How many different versions of maps are there? It's a 1st grade level book, but can definately be used for 4-years-old and up.

As Avonlea wraps this book up in a few months, we'll implement the Galloping the Globe as we study different countries from around the world.

I do follow The Well-Trained Mind and as Avonlea hits 1st grade next year, we'll be using The History of the Word books and we'll be starting our timelines. A good friend (thanks Heather if you're reading this!) showed me Homeschooling in the Woods and their wonderful timelines (Biblically based as The Well-Trained Mind and many others are not) with which we've purchased and will be using for History, Bible and Geography all in one! I love killing 3 birds with one stone. Who doesn't?

Bible - Polished Cornerstones

I think I've advocated them enough, but I'll say it again how wonderful Polished Cornerstones is! Check it out for yourself HERE. It's a book you can use from ages 3-103. I've started using it myself for simple devotions and scripture references. It's amazing and LIFE APPLICABLE. It's visiting Proverbs 31 and breaking it down characteristic by characteristic, showing girls and women how Jesus wants us to conduct ourselves and live. LOVE IT!!!

Art - Random

I'm famous for picking things out of the air to do. Sometimes, we'll just roll out a big, long piece of butcher paper on the back porch, pour paint into paper plates, take our shoes off and paint with our feet. That's right...bring on the messes! ;) We love to shape things with homemade playdough and clay. We love stringing beads to make fun jewelry. We love playing in shaving cream. We love mixing colors to find out what colors they make. We love collages of tissue paper. We love creating random art pieces using recycled milk jug tops and leftover yarn clippings. You name it, we create it!

I plan on making art a little more 'sophisticated' as the kiddos get older, learning about artists, modern art compared to ancient art, etc. For now, we just like to have fun.

Spanish - Hooked On Spanish

A friend sold me this great program when she was cleaning out her classroom about a year ago or so. It's not as detailed as I'd like (nor as I learned as a child...I had an amazing Spanish teacher...Senora Metz), but it works for now. The program also has a lot of computer time which we really limit.

{ ENTER MY SOAP BOX...Our kids don't play video games, have Leap Pads, or other hand-held electronic games. We'll cross that bridge when we come to that, but I personally think it's rediculous that there's a whole aisle dedicated to preschool technology at Target. Get on the floor and PLAY with your children! Teach them how to sit still and use manners at a dinner table when you're out to eat. Okay, now I'm finished. ;) }

Once Avonlea has mastered her writing skills and has her phonics licked, we'll be creating a Spanish notebook using magazine cut outs and pictures from online to cut and paste into it, then labeling the pictures. We'll then move onto phrases and my goal is to someday take a family trip to Mexico allowing the children to use their language. Rob and I went a few years ago and it was so nice being able to communicate with others (I speak some Spanish, enough to get us around anyway). I want that for our kids. A second language is imperative. I would also like to implement some (possible) Latin and Hebrew in the future.

Science - Science is Simple and Investigate the Possibilities

Science is something that if we have time to get to, we'll do a fun science experiment, but I don't stress over it. Right now, my kids get tons of biology through learning in our garden, with our chickens, etc. Something that I feel is my responsibility is to teach my children how to make things grow (Prov. 31:16-17). It's responsible, money-smart and healthy. My kids know where food comes from and it's not Publix. :)

I purchased Science is Simple years ago, and use it from time to time to conduct experiments and do fun projects. My kids are 4, 3 and 1, so like I said. I don't stress over it. I have purchased Investigate the Possibilities, a Christian-based Science program for K-elementary grades. There are 9 books to the set. The focus is on three subjects for science: chemistry, physical science and elementary physics. Each subject comes with a teacher's guide, a student journal and the actual workbook, filled with experiments and tons of hands-on learning, which if you're not learning science hands-on, just go ahead and toss your text books PLEASE! The three books are titled 1. 'Matter: Its Properties and Its Chages", 2. "Forces and Motion: From High-speed Jets to Wind-up Toys", and 3. "Energy: Its Forms, Changes, and Functions".

One great thing that I love about having my children close in age is that as we start getting into these great science experiments and learning about other countries, I can do them with all of my children, adapting harder lessons for Avonlea and bringing down some lessons for my little guys.

A few books that I HIGLY reccommend if you're going to be home educating your children are (these are all re-reads for me each year):

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell

Teacing With Love and Logic by Jim Fay and David Funk

The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook by Tammy Duby and Cyndy Regeling

I think that about sums it up for Avonlea!
Stay tuned for Lincoln's curriculum soon to follow.

No comments: