Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Planning for Next Year

I've been thinking about next year's curriculum quite a bit over the past couple of weeks. I thought I'd write it all down so I can remember my thought processes. I also try to find as many things used as I can, so I give myself plenty of time to do that.

Note: Robert will be in 7th grade next year. Ruthie will be in 6th.

History - As much as I have loved using Tapestry of Grace for the end of our school year, I've decided that I just can't justify the cost. Our money is just not going as far as it used to. (I'm pretty sure this is a common problem everywhere.) I'm going to have to cut expenses somewhere and TOG just does not fit into the budget. So, I'm now looking at Sonlight Core 6. I love the book choices of Sonlight and we already own most of the books for this particular core. My only hesitation is the speed at which Sonlight moves. We'd be covering the Ancients all the way through the Reformation in one year. Wow! I would probably slow it down, spending at least 1.5 years covering this core.

Grammar - We started Rod and Staff English 5 a few months ago and we'll continue with that. We only do grammar a few days a week, so we probably won't finish it until February. We'll then start R&S English 6. I have tried other things for grammar, but I just love how R&S is set up. I also know it's very rigorous, so I'm comfortable using it below grade level.

Math - This is a tough one. I have really liked CLE, but my kids' grades on tests and quizzes this year have been very low. I feel that they really need more one-on-one instruction. And, while I am very good at math, I'm not so good at explaining it. So, I am probably going to switch to Bob Jones. I like their teacher manuals a lot and it's what I need. Since Robert is behind in math, I'll be able to put both of them in Grade 6 math and teach them together (which will also save money). The following year, Robert should be able to move into pre-algebra. Ruth can either do Grade 7 or pre-algebra, depending on how strong I feel she is in the concepts.

Science - Robert will be moving into more serious science. I have enjoyed using Bob Jones science this year, and he really likes the look of Life Science. However, it's very teacher-intensive. So, if we can afford to do the DVD (or their new online) classes, we will go that direction. Otherwise, he'll do Apologia General Science. I honestly think he would enjoy either one, so I'm comfortable with those choices. Ruth may do BJU Science 6. I'm not sure about that.

Literature - Well, Sonlight has plenty of reading, so that's covered. I'm going to try to involve the kids in some casual discussions of the books using Sparknotes, and possibly some Total Language Plus guides. I'm also looking at how logic-stage literature is covered in The Well-Trained Mind.

Writing - We're going to continue with IEW. I'm going to use the IEW Ancient History-Based writing lessons. We'll also do written narrations and notebooking.

Bible - We're going to do something wild and crazy here and just read the Bible for our curriculum next year. :) I might try to find a one year Bible for them to use, but I'm not sure. Since we're studying the ancients, it makes sense to start with the Old Testament, so that is what we'll do.

Composer and Artist study - We'll continue with the Ambleside Online rotation.

Art - A friend and I are going to do Meet the Masters together. We'll get together once a month or so and do art projects. (Actually, this may impact our artist study, too. I'll have to take a closer look at it before deciding about that.)

Music - The kids will continue with private lesson instruction and homeschool orchestra.

I think that's it. I'm happy with how it's shaping up. I think it's going to be a good year.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spring Break Plans

We are taking Spring Break next week and I am so excited. We're not doing anything spectacular, but we do have a few fun things in the works, and I have quite a few things I want to accomplish. I'm listing them here for my own record-keeping purposes

- spend the day with a friend
- take pictures of kids in bluebonnets
- go to the Houston Livestock Show (depends on $$)
- work on taxes
- plan out TOG Year 3 Unit 4
- go shopping for some new clothes for me and Ruthie (maybe Robert, too)
- watch lots of movies
- read lots of books
- scrapbook with my sisters
- go to the dollar movie (assuming there's something worth seeing)
- finish stripping the wallpaper in my bathroom
- do some decluttering
- get Robert's legos organized (again!)

A mixture of fun, friends, family, and work (sorry, couldn't think of another "f" word that would fit). Sounds like a perfect week to me!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Civil War Study

We just finished our 3-week Civil War study with Tapestry of Grace. I thought I'd share some of the things we used and some projects we did during this study.

Mapping of the Civil War battles. Rather than have individual maps of the battles, we did one large map. I enlarged a Knowledge Quest map at Kinko's and glued it to some foam core board. We have made small flags (glued to toothpicks) to mark battle locations. The back of the flages are noted with the name of the battle site and the date. The flag shows which side won the battle.

You probably notice that my Confederate flags don't look like what most consider the flag to be. While searching for images to use, I came across this article. (Yes, it's a wikipedia article, but I found it confirmed here.) I had never heard this before, so I found it very interesting. I chose to use the first flag (with 13 stars) of the Confederacy and not change it, just for the sake of ease in reading the map.

(The kids are pointing to the white flag I made that marks the location of Lee's surrender to Grant.)

Our read-aloud was Across Five Aprils. When I decided I wanted to add some discussion of this book, I went looking and found a free study guide. We did not do any of the assignments, but I did use the questions for discussion purposes. I had never read this book before and it is excellent.

Another project was creating a wanted poster for John Wilkes Booth. While looking for examples to show the kids, I came across an online wanted poster generator. We had so much fun with it that we used it for our project.

We then got silly.

We enjoyed our Civil War study and we all learned something. It's a brutal, ugly part of our country's history, but it's important that we know about it so we can better understand where we are now.

I still have a few things I would like to do, but I haven't posted in so long that I wanted to go head and share these. If we get around to them, I'll post them later.