Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What we're using this year (part 1)

It’s been a while since I did a post on the curriculum we’re using (besides FIAR of course). This year first grade was a bit more intimidating, although I know it shouldn’t be. We sent our first letter of intent to homeschool in July. That felt very liberating, but after that the need to plan for this year set in. We are not using a box curriculum and haven't yet, so planning each subject was a wee bit overwhelming at first. Now that we are a couple of weeks into our routines I am seeing what works and what can wait a while. I find that with W just leaving books that I want him to read around the house will work almost by osmosis, since he loves reading most anything. I will break this post into a few posts by subjects.

W is using Math-U-See Alpha this year, which he started last spring after finishing their Primer, but took a break on over the summer. As we started our first week he got a bit frustrated (mainly the writing part) so next summer we may keep doing some worksheets more often. He loves math but sometimes it is a chore to sit down to do workbook pages, but he loves the Math-U-See blocks and even little C can join him in building towers and bridges with them. W finished up Chapter 3 and is starting Chapter 4 this week. We didn’t watch the DVD lesson overview for 3 (How I’ve missed Steve!) We will catch up on that this week. As Math supplements W has Kumon workbooks on Geometry and Counting Money, as well as the board game Sum Swamp.

First grade is traditionally supposed to be when you learn about how your body works. You know, organs, muscles, skeleton, etc. Unfortunately, W is totally freaked out by anything like this right now, so we will ease into that gradually. He prefers to focus on Astronomy, so for now that is the plan. W loves the book A Child’s Introduction to The Night Sky by Michael Driscoll. He also likes doing experiments, and has a mini weather station that his Grandpa gave him set up on the deck to check the wind speed, temperature and rainfall totals. W is also keeping a nature journal and I encourage him to observe things outside to notice all the details of the local wildlife and changing seasons. I want to work in a few more trips to the Aquarium in this year as well, especially to see some feeding times and shows for the animals like the penguins and sea lions.

Initially I resisted buying a history curriculum, as W learns a lot by reading books, but something drew me to the Story of the World. I am drawn to history. Yes, even census records and some dry facts, but I know most people aren’t. W isn’t necessarily drawn to it unless he understands the context, the story that it tells. This curriculum is Classical in approach but it is very accessible. We went ahead and ordered The Story of the World with the workbook for Volume 1 (Ancient Civilizations) and the book on CD. We have so far made an archeology dig in the sandbox, learned about the Fertile Crescent and are working on the Egyptians this week. One of the projects is mummifying a chicken, but I don’t think I’m ready for that one yet! I love the workbook, and we are keeping a notebook with printouts of the pages along with a journal for narration and W’s illustrations along the way. Adults can brush up on their history knowledge with this book as well; I am excited about introducing timelines to W! :)

We are members in a local geography co-op which just started up last week. The co-op will travel the United States through literature so it is a great way of learning of the different regions of our country. We also have 2 GeoPuzzles for the US & Canada, and Europe. W likes them as puzzles so it is kind of a sneaky way to work in learning about other places while he’s at it! They are tactile maps and many of the European puzzle pieces are the same shapes as the countries. I am planning to get some of the other GeoPuzzles for Christmas this year. W also subscribes to Highlights’ “Which Way USA?” as a supplement.

Coming soon: books and curricula we like for literature, grammar, writing, spelling, spiritual development, art, languages, exercise, an overview of unit studies we're planning for this fall/winter, and a C update.

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