Friday, July 18, 2014

Homeschooling Grade 3: Our Curriculum Plan


LANGUAGE ARTS 

Reading:

Read Out Loud Books:
Will choose books from Sonlight.com, Timberdoodle.com. Will purchase our favourites, and borrow some from the library. Do poetry picnics. Have a picnic indoors or outdoors while reading poetry out loud.

Handwriting & Creative Writing:

Spelling 

Keyboarding

Critical Thinking


MATH 



SCIENCE 

SOCIAL STUDIES 

BIBLE - 


FINE ARTS


PHYS ED & HEALTH
  • Gymnastics
  • Swimming
  • Health videos from Discovery Education.

UNIT STUDIES:
  • Virtues
  • Manners & Practical Skills
  • Sharks
  • Botany
  • Spiders ... and whatever else we feel like learning about!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Homeschooling Grade 2:
Our Curriculum Plan




LANGUAGE ARTS - 60+ minutes per day PLUS 20 minutes read-out-loud time

Learning how to read:

Read Out Loud Books:
Will choose about 50 books from Sonlight.com, Timberdoodle.com, “Come Sit By Me” and “Five in a Row”. Will purchase our favourites, and borrow some from the library. Do poetry picnics. Have a picnic indoors or outdoors while reading poetry out loud.

Writing:

Spelling:


MATH - 30 to 60 minutes per day
  • Singapore Math 2A & 2B (Singapore Math is about one half grade level ahead the average math curriculum. I prefer Singapore Math for many reasons, but if a child is finding it too difficult give them extra time)
  • Learning Resources Manipulatives - things like:
    • Individual White board and dry erase markers
    • Multilink cubes
    • Counting discs
    • Hundred Board
    • Base-10 set
    • Place Value Discs
    • Place Value Chart
    • Fraction Circles
    • Fraction Bars
    • Clock with geared hands
    • Meter and yard stick
    • Ruler
    • Measuring Tape
    • Simple Balance
    • Kilogram and Gram Weights
    • Pound and Ounce Weights
    • Math card games
- Calendar of some kind


SCIENCE - about 2 hours per week

SOCIAL STUDIES - about 2 hours per week

BIBLE - 10-20 minutes per day

FINE ARTS (Music, Art, Drama) - 2 hours per week
  • Ballet
  • Art at home using resources like DeepSpaceSparkle.com
  • Music: listen to various types of music, start lessons (“Music for Little Mozarts”). Learn about rhythm. Learn about various instruments.

PHYS ED & HEALTH - 2 hours per week
  • Gymnastics
  • Swimming (Waterproof Kids DVD)
  • Videos about stranger safety, fire safety, community helpers, etc. from Discovery Education.

Homeschooling Grade 1:
Our Curriculum Plan


LANGUAGE ARTS - 20 to 40 minutes per day PLUS 20 minutes read-out-loud time

Learning how to read:

Read Out Loud Books:
Will choose about 50 books from Sonlight.com, Timberdoodle.com, “Come Sit By Me” and “Five in a Row”. Will purchase our favourites, and borrow some from the library. Do poetry picnics. Have a picnic indoors or outdoors while reading poetry out loud.

Writing:

Spelling - All About Spelling Level 1 (start about halfway through All About Reading Level 1)


MATH - 20 minutes per day
  • Singapore Math 1A & 1B (Singapore Math is about one half grade level ahead the average math curriculum. I prefer Singapore Math for many reasons, but if a child is finding it too difficult give them extra time)
  • Other math curriculum we have tried and loved is "Mathematical Reasoning" by The Critical Thinking Co. (also slightly advanced) and also the Canadian version of "Math Made Easy" by DK Publishing. They use a mastery approach and come without teachers guides. The Canadian version of "Math Made Easy" is great to use even just for the section on money since it uses Canadian currency.
  • Learning Resources Manipulatives - things like mini whiteboard and dry erase markers, multilink cubes, counting discs, laminated hundreds board, Base 10 set, geometric solids, simple balance
  • Calendar of some kind, that shows the date, season, weather, etc.
  • Thermometer and / or weather station (also for science).


SCIENCE - about 1 hour per week

When my son was in Grade 1 we started off with "A Reason for Science" which we did not like. It did not fit my sons learning style and it was overpriced for what you get. We found the science experiments pretty lame, and half the time things broke apart before we could even finish the experiment. So we switched to Apologia's "Exploring Creation with Astronomy" with the Junior Notebooking Journal which was perfect for him. I think it may be too advanced for a typical Grade 1'er though so I'm looking for other options to bridge the gap until my daughter is ready for Apologia (it's written at a Grade 4 reading level, intended for K to Grade 6). We have "Come Sit By Me" Volume 1 so I may use that for most of it. (Edited to add: I recently discovered NOEO Science and it looks perfect for the early elementary grades! Our new plan is to do one of the sets (biology, physics and chemistry) each year from Grade 1 through Grade 3.... or do all three at the same time and just stretch it out through 3 years)
  • Usborne: "How Flowers Grow"
  • Usborne: "Under the Sea"
  • Usborne: "Weather"
  • Plenty of opportunities to explore in nature
  • Videos from Discovery Education
  • Read out loud books about weather, animal habitats, seasons, force & motion.
  • Some simple science experiments. 
  • "Complete ScienceSmart Gr. 1-2" is a great workbook that covers the basic Canadian learning outcomes for Science.
  • Another option could be "Science Made Easy K-2" by DK Publishing or Evan-Moor Science Notebooks, though we haven't tried either of them so can't vouch for them. They are also very affordable options!

SOCIAL STUDIES - about 1 hour per week
  • Evan-Moor Beginning Geography Workbook
  • Apple Press Mapping Book
  • Interactive Globe
  • Geography Puzzles 
  • "Come Sit By Me" Volume 1 - while we didn't find all the activities in this curriculum very interesting, the read aloud book lists are fantastic - especially to cover outcomes about Canadian culture and geography. They are books we keep coming back to again and again. A lot of the titles on the list were difficult to find though. Many are out of print. Check your library first. The ones that are still available from Amazon or Chapters were our favourites.


BIBLE - 10-20 minutes per day 

FINE ARTS (Music, Art, Drama) - 2 hours per week

PHYS ED & HEALTH - 2 hours per week
  • Gymnastics
  • Swimming (link to Waterproof Kids)
  • Videos about stranger safety, fire safety, community helpers, etc. from Discovery Education.

Our Homeschool Philosophy

In a nutshell:

- We've been homeschooling from day 1.
- Our approach is eclectic, borrowing ideas from unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Project-Based homeschooling and Child-led learning.
- We do school year-round, on a daily basis.
- We do not follow a structured schedule, but instead have a task-based routine.
- We use both regular curriculum and "living books" (non-textbook type reading material).


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We started homeschooling simply because it was a natural extension of our parenting style. We are a close knit family and sending my tiny 5 yr old off on a school bus just didn't feel right to me. There are a lack of good school options where we live as well, so that made the decision even easier.

Both my husband and I didn't have very good experiences in school, so we were interested in providing different options for our kids besides the typical school environment.

My kids have never attended regular school, we started homeschooling right from the beginning.

In the Province where we live homeschoolers have two choices. They can either enroll and be part of the the school system (which means being accountable to a teacher, sending in regular reports, and getting some funding) or they can register, which means they have complete freedom to provide an educational program of their choice and are not accountable to anyone beyond that. Registered students don't get report cards or official credits, or funding, so if you want an official high school diploma you do need to be enrolled at least for the last few years of high school.

For Kindergarten we registered, for first grade I wanted to try a year enrolled to see what it was like. I thought it probably wouldn't be for us, and I was right. I pretty much hated it and my kid wasn't thriving like he had the year before either. It was too much like "real school". So we took 4 months off after that year was done (to "deschool") and then dove head first into our own style of schooling.

What does our schooling look like? We borrow a little bit from a variety of homeschool philosophies, so I guess that would make us eclectic homeschoolers.

We lean strongly towards child-led learning. I don't want to force stuff down my kids throats that they aren't interested in.

Our core curriculum (reading, writing, math, music) is pretty structured but we don't have a time based schedule. We have a task based schedule instead. This gives my kids some more control over their work. I choose what they do and how much they have to do, but they get a lot of say in when that actually get's done. I put sticky notes on the pages I want to see finished by the end of the day, I let them know when it's school time and then it's up to them to make sure the stuff gets done. If they need a break or want a snack they can do so. If they are in the middle of some adventure I let them postpone school time until they're ready. This is working out very well.

For our other subjects we take more of a project based or unschooling approach. A lot of topics in social studies, science, etc are learned just by regular life. We are constantly having discussions and the kids spend a lot of time outside exploring in nature. We have a garden and they help me out with that and they've learned so much about how plants grow and all about the different kinds of creatures we've found in our backyard. We do a lot of reading out loud and learning from books and also from videos. My kids are both very visual-spatial and my son is also strongly auditory.

I believe strongly in quality books, quality curriculum, and quality toys. I'm not the type to homeschool for free, though I think I could if I had to. We use the library a lot.

Both my kids show tendencies towards Giftedness, including the emotionality and sensitivities (Dabrowski's Overexcitabilities in Gifted Children). My son is heading into Third Grade in the fall and my daughter is starting Kindergarten. My son is passionate about science and math (STEM) and wants to be an Aeronautical Engineer probably (but he thinks there are hundreds of other jobs that sound very interesting as well... right now being a Botanist is looking rather enticing to him) and my daughter wants to be a Vet. I'm sure she'll be happy doing anything that has anything to do with dogs or ponies.

I find the Charlotte Mason approach interesting and while I haven't read in depth about her philosophy on homeschooling, a lot of what I have read resonates with me.

While I find Unit Studies interesting, they haven't worked for us so far since our interests tend to change quite quickly. I have some ideas for taking a different approach to them though, which I may post about in the future.

I believe early specialization is very important. Most of what kids learn in school these days can be figured out via the internet in a matter of weeks. Why waste time like that? My kids passions are already extremely apparent. I believe it makes more sense to focus on their interests and help them to increase their skill level and experience in their area's of interest instead of trying to be average at everything.

In our family 99% of the schooling is done by me, my husband works long hours running a couple businesses. I work as well, from home, usually after the kids are in bed. I create design digital products for the online marketplace like planner printables and wedding stationery. It gives me a creative outlet and helps support the costs of curriculum and extra curricular activities for my kids.




Sunday, May 25, 2014

Homeschooling Kindergarten:
Everything you need to know!

All About Homeschooling Kindergarten:

Homeschooling Kindergarten: Our Curriculum Plan

Homeschooling Kindergarten: Supplies List

Homeschooling Kindergarten: Read Aloud Books Organized By Subject, Audio Books & Reference Books

Homeschooling Kindergarten: Extra Resources (DVD's, YouTube, Netflix, Music CD's and more)

Homeschooling Kindergarten:
Read Alouds by Subject, Audio Books & Reference Books

READ OUT LOUD BOOKS ABOUT SCIENCE
  • “One Small Square: Backyard” by Donald Silver
  • “One Small Square: Pond” By Donald Silver
  • “One Small Square: Woods” By Donald Silver
  • “One Small Square: African Savanna” By Donald Silver
  • “One Small Square: Cactus Desert” By Donald Silver
  • “One Small Square: Seashore” By Donald Silver
  • “One Small Square: The Night Sky” by Donald Silver
  • “One Small Square: Coral Reef” by Donald Silver
  • “One Small Square: Woods” by Donald Silver
  • “One Small Square: Swamp” by Donald Silver
  • “One Small Square: Arctic Tundra” by Donald Silver
  • “One Small Square: Tropical Rain Forest” by Donald Silver
  • “Rain” by Peter Spier
  • “Four Seasons Make a Year” by Anne Rockwell
  • "How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World" By Faith McNulty
  • "In the Town All Year 'Round" by Rotraut Susanne Berner


READ OUT LOUD BOOKS ABOUT POETRY
  • “Talking Like The Rain: A Read-to-me Book of Poems” by X.J. Kennedy
  • “Rain” by Peter Spier
  • “Sheep in a Jeep” by Nancy Shaw Seussian
  • “Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose”
  • “The Llama Who Had No Pajama”

READ OUT LOUD BOOKS ABOUT SOCIAL STUDIES
  • Usborne: “Houses & Homes, Then and Now”
  • “A Mountain Alphabet by Andrew Kiss
  • “Follow That Map! A first book of mapping skills” by Scot Ritchie
  • “People” by Peter Spier
  • “Stories from Africa” Sonlight
  • “Whats Under the Sea? Sonlight
  • Usborne: “Wild Places”
  • Usborne: “Living Long Ago”


READ OUT LOUD BOOKS ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
  • “Big Thoughts for Little People: ABC’s to Help You Grow” By Kenneth Taylor
  • “God Made Seasons” by Amelia Shearer
  • “God Made Outter Space” by Heno Head Jr.
  • Egermeiers Bible Story Book

READ OUT LOUD BOOKS ABOUT HEALTH & CAREERS
  • “A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper” by Nate Le Boutillier
  • “The Post Office Book: Mail and how it moves” by Gail Gibbons
  • “The Usborne Book of Things People Do” by Anne Civardi
  • “Milk: From Cow to Carton” by Aliki
  • “Seven Little Postmen” (A Little Golden Book) by Margaret Wise
  • “Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day?”
  • Usborne: “Things People Do”


READ OUT LOUD BOOKS ABOUT ART





READ OUT LOUD BOOKS ABOUT MATH:

CLASSICS AND OTHER READ ALOUD BOOKS:
  • “Big Sarah’s Little Boots” by Paulette Bourgeois
  • “Dear Mr. Blueberry” by Simon James
  • “The Year at Maple Hill Farm” by Alice Provensen
  • “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson
  • “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”
  • “If You Give a Mouse A Cookie”
  • “The Runaway Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown
  • “The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister
  • “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats
  • “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch
  • “Kitten’s First Full Moon” by Kevin Henkes
  • “The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear” by Don Wood
  • “Swimmy” by Leo Lionni
  • “George Shrinks” By William Joyce
  • “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter
  • Usborne “Lion Storyteller Bedtime”
  • “Milly Molly Mandy”
  • “Animals Animals” by Eric Carle
  • “Children’s Book of Virtues”
  • “Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit”
  • “Uncle Wiggly’s Story Book”
  • “The God’s Must Be Angry”
  • “New Toes for Tia”
  • “Five True Dog Stories”
  • “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” Eric Carle
  • “The House at Pooh Corner”

AUDIO BOOKS
  • "James Herriot's Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Animal Tales" Audiobook
  • "The Adventures of Frog & Toad Collection" Audiobook Series


REFERENCE BOOKS
  • Usborne Illustrated Science Dictionary
  • Better Homes & Gardens Junior Cook Book
  • “Family Math” by Jean Kerr Stenmark