Tuesday, September 08, 2015

2015-2016 School Plans & Curriculum

I've been really looking forward to this school year, but dreading it at the same time.  That probably doesn't make sense. :)  I've been really excited about some of the things I'm planning to do this year, but I know from experience that I tend to make lofty plans and then we get bogged down in the daily grind, and some of those plans never happen.  So, I am still looking forward to the year, but hoping I can keep up with everything and that the things I've chosen will be a good fit for us!  Here's the breakdown of what we'll be using:

Sonlight Core D & E for history, geography and Bible.  Yes, we should have been finished with Core D at the end of last school year, and then I planned to finish it over the summer, and well...we didn't quite get to it!  So my new goal is to wrap up the last few books I want to read from that Core, through September.  Then I hope to begin Core E in October.  For those who are curious, these cores are part 1 and 2 of American history.  We have discovered some really great books along the way!
 Another thing I wanted to incorporate this year was more memory work.  I found these great printable memory cards over at A Farmhouse Full, so we will be using those through the year.  They cover things like address/phone number, continents and oceans, presidents, states and capitals, some grammar rules...lots of cool stuff!  We are also going to memorize one verse a month, and a poem or important document, speech, etc.  I realized this summer that my kids DID NOT EVEN KNOW THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE!!!!  Total homeschool mom fail.  So, we are starting with that. :)  We're starting with John 15:5 for our memory verse, because I want to make this my theme for the year.  Without Him, I can't do this homeschooling thing!!!  I also hope to add in one song per month, but we haven't started that yet.  I think it'll be "The Star Spangled Banner" for this month though, because I also realized (when we attended a baseball game) that I haven't taught them that, nor to stand at attention when it's being played or sung.  Fail, again!  I found some great printables on Pinterest to make our memory work more fun.  Check out my homeschooling and printables boards if you want some more info!

Brave Writer (Sam and possibly Julia).  I'm not a big fan of Sonlight's approach to language arts, and up to this point we've not really done a creative writing program.  We have used Writing with Ease, which is a lot of dictation and copywork, up till now.  I think it's given them a good foundation, but I want to move forward with more freewriting, etc., especially for Sam.  I discovered Brave Writer, which has a fresh approach to teaching writing, and I really hope it will be a good fit for us.  I was able to purchase the PDF files more inexpensively on Homeschool Buyer's Co-op, which was great because it's a rather pricey curric.  I will probably have Julia do some of this along with Sam, as I think it might be fun to teach both of them together.

Julia and Josiah will also continue using First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind and Writing with Ease (although I may end up not using WWE for Julia because I don't think she would need it AND Brave Writer).

Josiah will continue with A Reason for Handwriting, and Julia will polish up her cursive skills using Write Through the Bible, Psalms.  I feel like Sam doesn't need as much handwriting practice this year, so I'm just going to have him copy one verse per week.  He has beautiful handwriting and I want to make sure he doesn't forget how to do it, but I don't think he needs the constant daily practice at this point.

All three kids will continue to use All About Spelling, Levels 2, 4, and 5.  I really love this program!  We are also going to use All About Reading, Level 2 for Josiah this year.  I felt like he needed something a bit different from what we've been using, to take his reading to the next level, so we are going to give this a try.  I've heard nothing but rave reviews about it, so hopefully this will work well for us!

They are also each continuing on with Singapore Math, Levels 2, 4, and 6.  Side note: I have had a few people ask me if I've lost my mind because we use Singapore for math. :)  Apparently it is what is now being used in Common Core, and parents seem to hate it.  Well, I've seen some of those sample Common Core problems posted on FB, and I have to say I haven't found our Singapore books to be anything like that.  (Maybe the homeschool version is different than the CC version?) Yes, it is a different way of learning math, but overall I haven't found it nearly that confusing, although on occasion I run into things that don't make sense.  But mostly it's worked really well for our kids and I plan to keep using it for now, although I may switch to something different once they get to 7th or 9th grade.  We also throw in a little Life of Fred as a fun addition to our math.  Our kids LOVE Fred!

Something else I really want to incorporate this year is poetry.  The kids always hit a little bit of poetry in their language arts, and Sonlight also always includes some kind of poetry book, but this year I hope to step it up a notch and make poetry study a little more focused.  I was inspired by the Read Aloud Revival podcast interview with Ken Ludwig, author of How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, so I bought that, along with a few Shakepeare-ish books ;) and we will see how it goes!
Julie Bogart of Brave Writer recommends having a "poetry tea party" once a week, as well.  I'm not sure yet if we will try to do that every week (and my kids don't like tea, so we would probably go with smoothies in hot weather or hot chocolate in cold!), but I love the idea and I think it would be really fun.

For science, we are keeping things relaxed again this year.  We will be doing a Magic School Bus science kit once a month, and I'm planning to incorporate nature study here and there.  I'm hoping to make it a bit more structured as we go along, but right now I'm trying to just get everything else under control, and then we'll see what we can do about science. :)

There are other things I'd like to add in too, like composer/music study, artist study, and continuing on with our state notebooks.  These are things we'll probably hit less often than I'd like, but hopefully we WILL hit them at least a little bit. :)  One thing I've changed up this year is that I'm encouraging the kids to do creative things like drawing, painting, coloring, or building with Legos while I read aloud.  This way they get a little "art" in while their ears are busy listening!  So far it's been working well.

And this post has gotten rather long, but thanks for listening!  I hope you've enjoyed seeing our plans for the year, and I'd love to hear what the rest of you are using for this year, too.  Till next time...


Mrs.T said...

Your plans sound wonderful! You have thought things through very well. What a blessing there are so many great resources for homeschoolers these days - sometimes, it must almost feel like there are too many choices! Will be praying for your school year!

Kathleen :-) said...

Great Job being organized! :-) Sounds like you have a great plan going!!!! :-)