Sunday, January 31, 2016

2nd semester of 1st grade; thinking ahead

It only takes a slight mention from a fellow homeschooling friend on the matter of curriculum to get me in that thought process, too. It seems that January/February is a time of reflection and thinking ahead.

My state convention isn't until the end of April this year, so I have some time to 1. enjoy where we are right now and 2. consider options for the upcoming year.

I need to pump the brakes a little before I get too far ahead of myself.

My plan:

  1. Map out the rough remainder of my son's 1st grade year
  2. Put together my own reading list of books to at least skim before making any hard decisions for next year. (a future post, if I remember)

I just re-read my plan from September, and we are still keepin' on. Oh, and here's my post on goals and curriculum for 1st grade.

Rough plan for the remaining semester:

Continue with Long Story Short for Bible and discussion. We are all really enjoying this book, which has us read from our Bibles (you may use any translation) with discussion questions.

Math: I wasn't so sure about RightStart math level A. As an introductory level, it was just harder for me to see the big picture. But level B? I am loving RightStart and so is my son. We will continue at a reasonable pace, slowing down when concepts need a little bit of time to sink in (so, maybe doing a half lesson per day), breaking it up with some Math Mammoth (most recently when we were taking a full break from RightStart, I had J do some of the telling time units).

I am not concerned with completing this level by the end of our 180 day count. I intend to have math year-round (roughly) with short breaks as needed vs. taking a few months away from math over the summer.

Handwriting: I bought the first volume of A Child's Copybook Reader from Simply Charlotte Mason. J is copying a page or few of "All Things Bright and Beautiful" right now and I prefer this over the free copywork pages they have available. This option has a cleaner font. His handwriting has improved so much over the last few months. Will likely continue with vol. 2 when it comes time.

Reading: Well...we finished most of All About Reading level 3, and then my son was just tired of it. He wanted to read to me and to himself instead of having formal reading lessons. He completed all but 3 of the remaining straight phonics lessons, and left more than a few of the stories in the reader untouched.

As of now, I don't plan on purchasing level 4 for him. For the remainder of phonics instruction, I'm not sure if I will do informal lessons as they come up with real books, or if I will use the AAR level 4 table of contents as a guide for what to cover. Alternatively, we can cover phonics from an encoding approach. I haven't decided if we will do All About Spelling, Rod & Staff spelling, or some other approach.

History: We are using a modified version of SCM's Ancients guide. Despite my initial enthusiasm, I just didn't like the setup of the guide. I made my own table and that seemed to help, but it just felt clunky to me. I decided to stop doing Bible readings from the guide and switched to Long Story Short. I decided to skip the geography component (though I did borrow some of the suggested library books). We read and enjoyed Boy of the Pyramids.

We're now back to Ancient Egypt & Her Neighbors and the Stuff they Left Behind portfolio. Though we've only read 6 of 20 chapters, I think it is worth it for us to keep moving forward and finish it, more or less. Perhaps 1 chapter per week?

I need to look at the guide to see if there are other books I should consider scheduling. I know they recommend a commentary on Exodus coming up, and we might try that.

Back in September, I gave a brief start to American history. It was a bust. My son just wasn't taking interest, and I figured we could just keep our focus on the ancients and add it later

Nature study: We are enjoying Outdoor Secrets and have several chapters remaining. Perhaps one per week, and go-along activities as desired. As far as us going outside ... well ... ugh. I am not an outdoorsy person and I don't like being cold. While I know how to layer up, I seem to be cold until it hits 80 outside. My kids tend to stay in if it's cold and I know we really should go outside, even if only for a short walk or short time to observe something outdoors. The temps have been warm this weekend (upper 50s!) and we were at the playground for awhile, at least. But yah.

Music appreciation: I am happy with our Amazing Musical Instruments! resource, but also Beethoven's Wig and misc. songs. The kids are particularly obsessed with a 15 or so minute long Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Church bells (?) and cannon fire in a song? Yup. Do it. They also like "Hall of the mountain King" by Grieg and do an interpretive dance that involves them pretending to sneak in a pyramid searching for treasure, tripping a defensive mechanism and needing to escape on a Pegasus. I don't even know. But they have fun!

Drawing: FAIL. We haven't done much at all lately.

Picture study: Still doing our thing with the Memoria Press art cards and grabbing a library book on the artist.

Read alouds: We're almost finished with Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones. Both kids are enjoying this one. Whereto next? Haven't decided.

Audio books: Every once in awhile they get on an audio book kick. Most recently, they have enjoyed Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Nim's Island. Oh, and Big Hero 6 on audio. Not sure if it's the same thing as the movie, but I expect it's close :). My science-loving son enjoyed Great Scientists and their Discoveries. He also listened to Who Was Albert Einstein?, and an Encyclopedia Brown volume.

Read alones: J is nearly finisehd with The New Adventures of the Mad Scientist Club. He really enjoys reading various science non-fiction books, so I'm glad to see him enjoying some fiction as well.

Free play: I need to give a shout-out to our Keva planks. These things are used daily, and J especially enjoys to build while he listens to me reading to him.

Field trips: Ahem. Time to get intentional with it.

Circle time: Also gone by the wayside. In theory, I would want to include habits, catechism, maybe some poetry, maybe some songs. Not happening right now.

So ah...nothing really new. Overall, 1st grade is going well. I am seeing so much growth in my son, he is learning lots, and we are spending good time together. YAY! I want to enjoy this semester, and I think we will succeed.