Friday, May 18, 2012

School Resources: 2012-2013

Jamie invited us today to write about our plans for the upcoming school year so I thought I'd share what we have planned so far. I have to say- I am so excited to get started on these plans! I will have a Kindergartener and a second grader this fall- it's hard for me to believe that Ezra is old enough to join us for school already!

I've written in this space before about how I started planning really early this year in order to have those plans in place before Ellie was born, and I got about 90% of the way there. Our book list was selected, general plans were laid out for usage and I got about half way through setting up daily plans before the baby arrived.


Ezra turns 5 mid-summer and though he'll be a young Kindergarten student we're going to go ahead and start lightly, keeping his age and maturity in mind. In our home Kindergarten is all about learning to read, learning to form letters and developing a relationship with numbers. We definitely explore topics of interest in other subjects, but that is not the goal of our year.

The Three R's by Dr. Ruth Beechick: This is the basis of our Kindergarten. I take a lot of ideas from this book in how I teach and I have to say- this book is invaluable for those wanting something a little different than a daily boxed program. It does require more work from the parent, but if you're like me (I love the planning almost as much as the actual schooling) it doesn't seem like work at all.

Victory Drill Book: Aside from the name (which makes it sound like you are relentlessly working your little one on phnics) I really love this book and use it primarily as a resource for myself. This book has list after list of words broken into groups by phonics rules. As we learn new rules for reading we play games with the words on those lists, we practice writing them, spelling them with the moveable alphabet, and once it seems like he has the rule mastered we "speed read" through 1 column at a time.

Explode the Code: Because Ezra loves to write, we used Get Ready for the Code and Get Set for the Code this past year and we will continue this year with Go For the Code and then on to ETC book 1. I wouldn't use this as our sole phonics resource, but it is a nice reinforcement for the learning we do with the Victory Drill Book.

Handwriting Without Tears: I really love this curriculum for encouraging my older son to actually practice some handwriting without complaining. It was a huge success for him last year so I'm introducing Ezra to it this year as well. Of course Ezra really loves to write already, but this curriculum will help us focus on correct formation in a little more formal way. Ezra will be using the orange book this year.

Math: This is where we off-road a little. For Kindergarten I don't use a formal math curriculum. my boys love to draw so we keep a math journal to practice the concepts we learn about through the year, but otherwise we play lots of games, count real money, tell time on the big clock in the living room, learn to count to 100 and then to count by 2s, 5s and 10s. We learn basic addition and subtraction with transformer toys (or whatever seems handy at the moment) and we eat a lot of math-related snacks. :)

Other: Ezra will also start to study the piano this year as part of my music studio (We use Faber and Faber's My First Piano Adventures for this age), there will be plenty of free art time (and a little bit structured), and he will join in on Ender's literature, science, history and geography plans as much as he'd like. We will a bit of informal narration this year also so that he understands the concept before starting first grade.

Second Grade

Ender will be 7 this fall (which I can hardly believe!) and doing second grade work for the most part. Because of his late birthday he would be in first grade in our school district so there were some subjects we put off starting until January last school year in order to be sure he was ready. He will start the school year by finishing those texts and then moving on to the next level.

Ender's resources for the year are a little different. One of the things I so appreciate about homeschooling is that we can truly work in the way that is best for our family. I really enjoy planning our own curriculum in subject areas and would feel really limited by a boxed curriculum and I love that there are resources out there that help me to plan in a way that feels right for us. That being said, many of the resources I'm going to list here aren't directly for Ender, but for me in order to help us have the kind of school year we want to have.

All Through the Ages: I use this resource to fill out our history and science book lists after I decide our course of study. This year we are studying the pioneers and westward expansion plus a unit on elections for American History. For World History we'll be doing a unit on explorers and navigation before taking a tour through the ancients.

How to Teach Spelling: This is another "list" resource that breaks down words by spelling rules and also gives suggestions for appropriate grade levels for learning the rules. Again, it does require some work on the front end for me, but once I set up our lists and approach for the year all I have to do is open and go. :)

Explode the Code: Ender knows his phonics rules very well and reads fluently, but he really likes these books and he asked to keep working in them this year. We're picking up with book 3 and we'll go forward as much as he likes.

Writing With Ease: I find this to be such an easy way to work on writing. Narration is the natural precursor to putting your own thoughts on paper. We don't use the workbook, but we use the principles and apply it to our history, science and literature readings. We will also add dictation in the second semester.

First Language Lessons: We will begin the year by finishing level 1 and then move into level 2. These lessons are short and to the point, just like Ender. That has made it a success for both of us- no busy work.

Saxon Math: We started Saxon 1 this past January after using a different math curriculum and Ender *loves* the repetition of Saxon. I didn't personally enjoy the books when I was being homeschooled myself, but I don't think I would have enjoyed ANY math text as a student. The important thing is that it works for Ender and he never complains about getting out his math work. We'll finish up Saxon 1 and head into 2 as soon as he's ready.

Geography: We're using the geography concepts from The Core by Leigh Bortins to work on learning to map the world one continent at a time. We'll also do some map work around our history work.

Science: Again I create my own book list, but our intention is to cover plant and animal life this year with a bit of geology thrown in for my rock-obsessed boy. One of our primary texts for the year is One Small Square: Backyard, which will be used for a few weeks each season so that we can see the differences each season brings.

Literature: I'll be reading aloud longer works of fiction, but I've also planned a unit on poetry and a unit to introduce Shakespeare using books by Bruce Coville.

Handwriting: Ender is going to use the blue HWOT book for printing and then work on learning italics with Getty Dubay as he transfers over to learning cursive. While I love HWOT to teach printing, I don't like the look of their cursive quite as much.

Monday, May 14, 2012

More Cake

A thought I've had rattling around in my brain: Too Much Frosting, Not Enough Cake.

I have found this to be true with my knitting. I am trying to focus more on practical colors for a few cardigans that really do go with my daily wardrobe. My February Lady Sweater is a navy blue and I have a sweater's worth of yarn in both black and a chocolate brown. I know those colors aren't extremely exciting, but it does make for cardigans/sweaters I will wear very regularly because of how they'll fit into my wardrobe!

So where does that leave the fun colors? After all, there are sooo many great and colorful yarns out there to knit with!

Well, the truth is that my daily wardrobe is very simple. During the winter I frequently wear jeans and a black shirt. (Read frequently as five days out of seven. Yeah. I know...) I'm just not comfortable wearing anything that makes me stand out, but I know I need to bring more color into my life. I've been trying to find ways to liven up my style without having to go out and buy a new wardrobe and without pushing myself to a place where I'm not comfortable being. So I'm focusing my color knitting into some scarves, cowls, and shawls right now- accessories that will add a bit of color and excitement without screaming, "look at me!"

My accessory plans include:

Wingspan (currently in progress)

Any other favorites in the scarf/small shawl genre you can recommend to me?
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