Wednesday, June 10, 2015

'Tis the Season . . . for Curriculum Planning

We school year round, but it seems to work out that spring is the time of year that we plan curriculum for the next year or so. We tweak things as we go, and sometimes plan to "figure it out when we get there", but with homeschool convention and our state-required evaluations that makes it an easy time to file away last year's stuff and start fresh. . . this seems to be the "schedule" that we've fallen into.

Since I know many people are curriculum planning in the summer to start back in the fall, I thought I'd share what our current plans are for the next year or so:

We recently started year 3 of Bible Road Trip. I'm not expecting this one to take a full year (even a school year). It's designed so that (for the twins' grade level) with a larger book, we read 2 chapters per day, which is a good pace. However, when a book is less than 10 chapters, it's still given a full week. I can understand how, for some people, maintaining the rhythm of focusing on the same book in a given week would be valuable but with our eclectic schedule, we rarely stay on "track" to have our weeks line up with the curriculum's weeks anyway, so, when there are less chapters we stick with our 2 chapter per day pace and just have shorter "weeks", which means, considering how many short books there are in the last part of the New Testament, I'm guessing this "year" won't take us a full year, and obviously, even if it did, we're getting an early start . . . we are adding in a few more days because we'll also be using the Picture Smart Bible at the end of each book to recap/review that book. This is one of those subjects that we're planning to plan later. When we are approaching the end of BRT we'll figure out what we want to use for Bible for the rest of the year. Our current thought is to find something to fit the time left until July 2016, and then start back with year 1 of Bible Road Trip at that point.  For now we are using the 7th grade level for Lexie and Ashlyn. I ask Little Bit to listen in to the chapter(s) that are also included in the 1st grade level.

We just finished Volume 2 of Story of the World and are beginning Volume 3. As we've done for the last couple of years, we add in lots of living books, videos, some crafts, etc. I'm hopeful that Little Bit will be more involved for Volume 3, and am planning some crafts and things just for her (not that the older girls aren't allowed to join in, but I'm including them because I think Little Bit will enjoy them). I also pulled out the History Pockets books that we used with American History when the big girls were 5 and 8 to see if she enjoys them. I'm anticipating that we may take abit more than a year on this volume. It includes the early American history that we love so much, and have so many great field trip opportunities nearby for, I don't think I'll be able to "skim over" the American history in this volume, especially if our excitement is contagious and Little Bit catches the history bug :)

Lexie and Little Bit are using science from Answers in Genesis. It seems to be working as we'd hoped, with Lexie "teaching" the 1st grade level to Little Bit, and working independently on the 7th grade level.
Ashlyn is using a Botany curriculum we got from SchoolhouseTeachers she's combining this with using the Handbook of Nature Study, and the gardening and other plant studies as her interest inspire her. Little Bit will be joining with her some as well, at least for the gardening and other hands-on type things.
I need to ask Little Bit if she wants to listen through Herb Fairies again this year too. We listened to the first one in April, but I forgot to do the second one in May, if she wants to go through them again this year, I need to get us caught back up.

Lexie is continuing with Life of Fred. She is currently learning Pre-Algebra and Physics.

Ashlyn is switching to Teaching Textbooks. She's hoping to still read the stories in Life of Fred but she wants the more detailed explanations of Teaching Textbooks. As a bonus, it's all presented as audio which is perfect for her! I really wish it was available as an online thing or a download so we didn't have to set up one of the old laptops that has a DVD drive for her to do it on, but we'll manage, while keeping fingers crossed that they will realize that in today's world of chromebooks, netbooks, tablets, and half tablet/half laptop things, having to insert a CD to use the program is rather old fashioned.

We continue to use Spelling Wisdom. Ashlyn loves it, Lexie hates it, but she just generally hates the very idea of spelling, I'm pretty sure there's no other spelling curriculum that she'd like any better. She's holding out hope for technology to make spelling obsolete LOL. I definitely feel like it's a more "real life" way to learn spelling than the spelling lists I had in school.

Grammar/Language Arts:
Ashlyn is continuing with Fix It Grammar, at least for now. Once she finishes the book she's using, we'll decide if she wants to do the next book or feels comfortable with where she's at. She does still have the Grammar of Poetry that we reviewed, but didn't have time to finish (because she reviewed Fix It Grammar immediately after that review) so I would guess she'll finish that up before going on to another Fix It Grammar even if she decides to continue that series.

Lexie was still pretty adamant that she was NOT doing grammar at the time of the homeschool convention and then, as we were browsing at Rainbow Resources, she noticed an unfamiliar Life of Fred book . . . Life of Fred Australia. She had to check it out . . . and discovered that it was a language arts book. She read through part of the first lesson before we moved on. When I looked it up online we discovered that yes, it's a language art series (4 books) but is intended to be high school level. Lexie insisted that it was easy enough for her, so we have ordered that first book and we'll see how it goes. . .

The big girls continue to get their "reading" in the form of reading whatever they want as long as they are reading regularly.

Little Bit goes in spurts of wanting to read. At the Homeschool convention I picked up some early readers with a nature theme and some weeks she wants to read them, some weeks she doesn't. I'm not pushing it, but have asked, after some "false starts" that she wait until she's ready to commit to being consistent about it, so we shall see. . .

Both girls continue with the music lessons.

Ashlyn is continuing with Artistic Pursuits. We were able to get another book at a good price at the used curriculum sale at the homeschool convention so that should keep her busy for most of this year. If not, there's an art curriculum on SchoolhouseTeachers and there were also some interesting looking art options in the "bundles" we got at the recent Bundle sale, so she has lots of art options available.

Lexie has decided to take more of an "art appreciation" approach to art this year. She found a series of books on various artists at the homeschool convention and will be using those this year.

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