August 08, 2005

Curriculum Plans for the New School Year

Hurray! Our package arrived from Academic Distribution Services on Friday. I must be doing something right if the kids are excited about their new math and phonics books.

Our schedule for this year is again mainly determined by the fact that we're following The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. I take the title at face value and use it as just that, a guide full of suggestions rather than mandatory requirements, taking what works and leaving the rest. Some of the Wise and Bauer book and curriculum recommendations don't suit us or are out of print, and I've found a wealth of information -- substitute and additional books and curriculum, as well as the practicalities of implementing WTM -- at the WTM Discussion, WTM Secular, and SecularWTMHomeschoolers Yahoo groups; I've found home schooling parents to be, on the whole, an incredibly generous and thoughtful bunch when it comes to passing along tips, advice, and book and curriculum suggestions. I also like the article index at the WTM website for other ideas and a rather more realistic view, on some subjects, than what's found in the book. If it sounds as if I know what I'm doing, it's an accidental coincidence or a coincidental accident. This year will my first to homeschool more than one kid, and since the boys tend to function as a unit, I'll likely be jumping from one student to three.

When we start the next round in September (we are still schooling informally at the moment, but this doesn't seem to count), this is what we'll be using:

Third Grade/Laura (age 8):

Arithmetic: Singapore Math 2B, and some supplementing with Math-U-See

: Either Rod & Staff 3/Beginning Wisely, or a friend's almost-hatched secular program, which I am eagerly awaiting without trying to look too pushy ("Is it done yet? Is it done yet? Huh? Huh? Huh?"). Stay tuned to WTMS and the WTM boards, where I'm sure the announcement will be made with great fanfare. And a new find, Writing Trails in American History, which Laura is eagerly anticipating and which should dovetail nicely with our U.S. history studies (see below).

Spelling: our beloved Sequential Spelling (SS), which has given my perfectionist daughter the freedom to write, often and happily, with a dictionary by her side. What more can you ask? We tried Spelling Workout, but while Laura liked it, she didn't seem to retain anything. SS is indeed sequential and orderly, which makes the spelling patterns much, much easier to notice and recall.

Penmanship: finishing up Beginning Connected Cursive, and then moving on to Handwriting Skills Simplified, Level D/Improving Cursive Writing.

Literature/Poetry: Mostly co-ordinated with our history studies including works (variously from the original or decent abridgements) by Defoe, Swift, Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Jane Austen, Dickens, Mark Twain, Fenimore Cooper (I'll give it the old college try...), Jules Verne, Herman Melville; more fairy tales, especially French (Charles Perrault) and German (Brothers Grimm); and poetry, some to memorize, by Blake, Tennyson (Evangeline), Longfellow (The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere), Wordsworth, the Brownings, and so on.

Foreign Languages: Continuing with Minimus for Latin, and beginning Rosetta Stone for French; Laura's goal is to be able to understand the movie Peau d'Ane or to make her way around Paris, whichever comes first, without any of my help. There's nothing like a motivated student.

History & Geography: I'm beefing up the North American history this year for my little dual citizens (I wrote up the Canadian part in greater detail the other week, scroll down; American part still to come), so in addition to Story of the World 3: The Early Modern Times (1600-1850), we're also using Beautiful Feet's Early American History: A Literature Approach, primary level, substituting Joy Hakim's History of US as our spine; and Courage & Conquest: Discovering Canadian History and Canada's Natives Long Ago, both by Donna Ward, along with a very healthy literature selections from our own shelves and the library, which I'll have to detail in a separate post one of these days. Of course, there's no way we can possibly do all of this in one school year. Even SOTW on its own is hard to complete in 42 weeks, especially with kids who insist on delving further into Greek mythology, or how castles were built and destroyed. Also, I've found it easiest to study music and art history and appreciation chronologically by folding them into history. One of the nicest things I've come across for music is McGraw-Hill's Classical Music Stories by Cynthia G. Adams, which gives the kids some activities to do while listening to our extensive LP collection.

Science: Chemistry, with a concentration in kitchen chemistry, thanks to recommendations by Concierge. I'm excited, and a bit relieved, to have learned about Concierge's approach, since I'm the kind of person who a) managed to avoid chemistry in both high school and college, and b) already has such books as Kitchen Science by Howard Hillman on my cookbook shelf. And just the other day I stumbled across Loaves of Fun: A History of Bread with Activities and Recipes from Around the World which is now in my Chapters shopping cart. Living Learning Books, Level 3/Chemistry will be the main curriculum, supported by the aforementioned, along with Adventures with Atoms and Molecules, More Science Experiments You Can Eat, and Janice VanCleave's Chemistry for Every Kid (all of which I've stumbled across secondhand in the last year or so) and The Mystery of the Periodic Table, because I have a weakness for Jeanne Bendick, who drew the illustrations, and for the reprints and newer works (like Mystery) of Bethlehem Books' Living History Library series.

Independent Reading & Readalouds: I'll have to post a separate entry one day soon for literature, reading, and readalouds.

First Grade/Daniel (age 6):

Arithmetic: Singapore 1A, supplemented with Math-U-See as necessary
Phonics: Continue with The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading; Explode the Code, Book A for starters
Grammar: First Language Lessons (FLL), short and sweet, which worked very well for big sister. FLL poems for memorization, with liberal substitutions by Mommy based on Daniel's interests, the holidays, the seasons, and what we're learning in other subjects ("The wind bit hard at Valley Forge one Christmas./Soldiers tied rags on their feet./Red footprints wrote on the snow...").
Penmanship: Handwriting without Tears (HWT). Not because I'm expecting any tears, but because it's supposed to be good for lefties, which Davy is, and I can't see using two different programs for two otherwise similar kids. And being frugal, I decided to forego the entire program for one instructional manual, a couple of workbooks, and some of the HWT paper. We'll see how it goes.
Literature/Poetry, Reading/Readalouds, Foreign Languages, History & Geography, Science: same as above, with an extra emphasis on really big explosions in chemistry class

Kindergarten/Davey (age 4.5 and highly motivated to catch up to big brother):

Arithmetic: Singapore Earlybird 2A and 2B
Phonics: Ordinary Parent's Guide; Get Ready, Get Set, and Go for the Code workbooks (from the Explode the Code series)
Penmanship: HWT
Literature/Poetry, Reading/Readalouds, Foreign Languages, History & Geography, Science: same as Laura; really, really big explosions...

There. I feel much better having this all written down, and more or less engraved in stone, or as engraved in stone as a blog can get. That said, I reserve the right to make any changes I deem necessary for our collective sanity and happiness. Being willing to make changes, whether it's ditching whatever isn't working or throwing the entire lesson plan out the window when an unexpected trip comes up, is one of the reasons I think we've been fairly successful so far.

No comments: