The 2014-15 Curriculum Reveal

The 2014-15 Curriculum Reveal

Disclaimer: This post contains one affiliate link, which means that if you make a purchase through that link, I get a small compensation. You can read more in my disclosure.

2014-15 Curriculum

So, I’ve been busy. Plotting, planning, scheming, conniving, imagining, dreaming, wishing, purchasing, drooling, planning some more, etc. Many of you can probably relate. And I’m finally—FINALLY—ready to share next year’s vision.

Are you ready for this reveal?

Here it is: our 2014-2015 School Year, in all it’s glory!

Tot Time

For my toddler, I’m mostly keeping him occupied. But I did pick up this super easy and cute activity book that I happened to notice at the A Beka Materials Display in our area.

Nursery Arts and Crafts

I loved that the activities were pretty easy, AND they were organized by week. Glory! Which made them very easy to file into my weekly file folder system. He’ll do 2 to 3 of these activities a week. And I’ll probably recruit Middlest to help him with what he can’t manage on his own.

First Grade

Middlest is entering first grade. I can’t believe it! Her curriculum is pretty simple.

Foundations C (Logic of English)

A Beka Arithmetic 1

When she finishes her phonics book, which she will probably do pretty quickly based on her progress this last year, I’ll either have her begin Writing with Ease or English for the Thoughtful Child.* (See my notes on this below)

 

Third Grade

The bulk of my time has been spent on researching third grade books. Oh, my goodness, the hours I spent on this! But I am happy with the results.

CLE Math 300 series

I’m switching from A Beka to Christian Light this next year. We did a trial run with a couple of the 2nd grade math books from this company, and we both loved it. My primary reason for switching was that I needed a curriculum less teacher-dependent. Even though many use A Beka as a student-led curriculum, it isn’t designed to be used that way, and I could foresee problems with that. What I loved about CLE is that it is very much like A Beka in content (it’s still very challenging), and yet it is designed for independence. The teaching instruction is included right in the student’s book. Oldest loved this, too. He always found the A Beka explanations to be too brief and confusing. As an added bonus, CLE is strong in geometry and critical thinking, two areas I always felt we were a little behind in with A Beka.

Visual Latin I (lessons 1-12)

Winston Grammar

A Beka 3rd Grade Cursive Writing Skillbook

English for the Thoughtful Child*

This link is not actually to EFTC book, because I found an older ebook version of the same text. It’s dated and not in textbook format, but I love the style. Not to mention, I love FREE! The name of this is actually Lessons in the Use of English. We started using this at the end of this year, just so I could see if I was going to like it. And I totally do.

I also picked up the A Beka cursive book. This is a huge surprise for me because I have NEVER liked A Beka handwriting. But when I saw this book, it was everything I wanted to accomplish with our Charlotte Mason-style copywork, already done for me! This is a really amazing book. Short excerpts from historical documents; character traits, quotations, Bible verses; state information; short science sentences with an animal glossary to teach alphabetical order—it was a dream come true. And Oldest is stoked. He wanted to begin this summer, but I’m being mean and making him wait.

 

Combined Studies

We always have several subjects that we do all together. To help myself, I’ve divided all of our subjects into subjects of Discipline (math, grammar and usage, foreign language) and subjects of Inspiration. The Discipline subjects are grade-specific; but our Inspiration subjects are more relaxed and inclusive. They include history, science, art, music, poetry, reading, etc.

Tapestry of Grace, Year 3 (lower grammar and upper grammar)

Activity Supplements include Time Traveler pak Early 19th Century, Draw through History: Napoleon, and History Pockets Civil War.

Kinderbach Level 2

See the Light Art Class (affiliate link)

Artist Study: Frederick Remington and Winslow Homer

Ecology and Biomes (various library books and memory work from the Classical Conversations apps 1 & 2)

 

That’s our year in a nutshell. It’s always so exciting to start putting the pieces together and seeing the plan unfold. And I’m unfolding it a little differently this year, truly customizing Tapestry to the max. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains one affiliate link, which means that if you make a purchase through that link, I get a small compensation. You can read more in my disclosure.

The Next Step to Simplicity

The Next Step to Simplicity

The Lord is moving and shaking in my life right now. Praying to be satisfied in Him has been one of those life-altering prayers: buckle up before you pray it! A lot of those lessons have been very hard. The spiritual warfare in our lives over the last few weeks and months has been intense. But through it, we’ve been blessed to see God, in an amazing, personal way. Pray for us!

But in the midst of all of this, the Lord is moving my heart and priorities as well. My blog is one of those changes. I’m no longer reviewing products, and I’m no longer pressuring myself to post on a schedule, to maintain consistent daily views, to promote and increase readership, to slave over pinteresting pictures to accompany every post. Perhaps you’ve noticed some of those changes.

What I’ve discovered during my quiet moments before God is that my blog has become a burden over the last several months. It was another area of my life where I felt I was failing. Failing to post regularly, failing to include pictures, failing to maintain readers. And I lost the joy of writing. Then, too, the time I committed to blogging took away from what was most important, my God and my ministry to my husband and children. I really WANT to make these changes I’m blogging about to you, and it takes time to do that.

So you’ll see a few different things around here. Namely, I’m not blogging to fit into the blogging culture. I’ll blog what I’m learning and what’s on my heart. I’ll blog when I have time. And when I have cute pictures to share, I’ll try to include those, too. The “quality” of my blog might suffer some, but I prefer to look at it as simplicity. It’s just the next step in simplicity, in being satisfied with less—and yet being satisfied with more, through Christ, at the same time.

A Change in Atmosphere

A Change in Atmosphere

I’m learning so much right now. I have a head swimming with things to write about, things to tell you, things that are changing my life and my perspective—the very atmosphere of our home.

Atmosphere is one of those huge, life-altering lessons I’m learning, that it’s not about the contrived elements of our home necessarily. It’s not necessarily how I decorate or how I clean. It’s not simply the kind of music I play in the background. Atmosphere begins with the ideas that rule my life and the affections that rule my heart. Atmosphere is who I am during a day based on what I believe. It’s the difference between “do what I say” and “do what I do.” It’s the difference between saying “Be ye kind” when my children are in strife and actually being kind to them when they are in strife. It’s the difference between saying that my children are a blessing and actually having joy in their presence. Do these ideas rule MY life?

Atmosphere educates my children. It’s the first element of discipleship. Yes, I’m not merely parenting my children or controlling their behavior. I’m discipling, creating an atmosphere that shapes and informs their beliefs, their affections, what they value in life.

And how do I create that atmosphere? By living daily what I say I believe, by being. Because the ideas that rule my life will be the same ideas that shape theirs.

Homeschooling Simplicity: Simplifying Tapestry

Homeschooling Simplicity: Simplifying Tapestry

I’m trying to achieve simplicity for the rest of this year and the upcoming year, to give my kids a quality education while allowing us to live life, the life God’s given us. For me, it’s part of my goal this year: to be satisfied with Christ is simplicity, stripping away all of the extra and allowing our focus to be solely on Him and His purposes for us.

Simplifying Tapestry

I love that Tapestry will fit into the Charlotte Mason method well while still maintaining the tenants of classical education that I value. But I am changing the way we do a few things.

The first component of change is a shift to living books, books that touch our emotions, ignite our imaginations, create mental images, and convey ideas. Not all Tapestry’s book choices fit this parameter, so I intend to be much pickier about the books we choose, comparing with those on the Simply Charlotte Mason bookfinder. (Oh, and we don’t have to read every book listed in the curriculum. Yeah, that ought to simplify things.)

Also, I’ve begun to prep the unit as a whole and by topic rather than by week. That means, I request the books from the library for the whole unit, arrange the order we’ll read those books, print off the TOG pages we’ll need to go along with those books and topics, and then close the curriculum and don’t look at it again until the next unit.

This allows us the freedom to maintain short lessons (the Charlotte Mason way) and enjoy the journey. I no longer worry that “I HAVE to finish a book in a single week because we have three more books to start next week.” Instead, when we finish one set of books, we move to the next in my sequence. Sometimes it takes more time, and sometimes it takes less.

I’ve also started choosing our emphasis rather than emphasizing every event in history, as I’ve done in the past. We don’t HAVE to cover the Pilgrims, Catherine the Great, the wars in Europe, and the British conqest of India all in one week. I choose our emphasis and allow myself the freedom to pick another emphasis on the next rotation of history. {allow me to take a huge sigh of relief here}

Last but not least, I’m simplifying mapwork. Rather than a new map each week, I’m choosing one or two maps per unit, depending on what we are studying. Again, I’m allowing us the time to make a relationship and form connections with the places we are studying. Not to mention that it makes my life a whole lot easier.

Let me give you an example here. We’ve spent 3-4 weeks on the map of the 13 original colonies. The first week, I gave Oldest the teacher map and sheets of tracing paper. Each day, he traced the map on the paper. Week 2, he drew his own map while looking at the original. Week 3 and 4, he drew it without looking. The result? That boy knows his colonies! He has a relationship with them; he’s memorized them just from this activity; he perks up in each of our stories when a particular colony is mentioned; he’s never taken more than 5-10 minutes a day on mapwork. Because we stretched this out, he’s had a greater depth of understand and stayed within our “short lesson” rule.

The beauty of Tapestry of Grace, one of the reasons I loved it to begin with, is that it allows for customizing to fit your family. I’m so thankful I’m finally allowing myself to maximize that benefit! It’s been a breath of fresh grace in our homeschool.

Homeschooling Simplicity: Simplifying Language Arts

Homeschooling Simplicity: Simplifying Language Arts

Language Arts is a daunting list—spelling, grammar, phonics and reading skills, comprehension, composition, usage, mechanics. Does it ever end?

And I’m a writer. I love words! But covering that extensive range of language and communication leaves me in a cold sweat, fearing what I might overlook. This is an area that desparately needs simplicity.

It also needs beauty. One of my greatest complaints about language arts curriculums is that they beat the beauty out of language. You study writing until it’s a drudgery. You study a poem to its death, bloodying its majesty with gruesome dissections. Studying the dynamics of poetry and even grammar have their place, but it should be to highlight the purpose and charm of a work not to mutilate it.

With that said, narration, copy work, and dictation are going to be the main-stays of our language arts program next year. Narration will naturally be occurring in our reading throughout the day. Copy work will be a component of a few narrations on occasion, and it will also be a daily exercise. Logic of English has provided a very thorough foundation for grammar and spelling, and we will revisit those rules as we see them playing out in our copy work and prepared dictation.

So, in summary, Middlest will continue to use Foundations for her phonics, but Oldest will be moving on in this new direction after he finishes Logic of English Essentials. (I’ll share some free resources we’ll be using in a later post.) We are still covering that massive list, but it will be integrated into everything else we are doing, not isolated as a separate subject.

It will be scary. Bare bones “curriculum.” Nothing reminding me to teach synonyms and alphabetizing. But it will also be very freeing, liberating us to love language as a part of our life, rather than just a moment in our day.

If you are intrigued by this approach, I highly recommend listening to Sonya Shafer’s audio resource on teaching language arts. It’s totally worth the $5.

Homeschooling Simplicity: Simplifying Learning Activities

Homeschooling Simplicity: Simplifying Learning Activities

I’ve come to grips with something about myself; I’m not a craft-Mom. I love art, but I really do hate the inconvenience of crafts. I’ve given in a few times, and I’m often glad when I do. But overall, they take a ton more effort and mess than I have the time for.

I’ve made another discovery this year; Oldest hates lapbook-style activities as much as I hate crafts. He hates the tedious cutting and writing and pasting part. And I don’t have the time to cut for him—I’m not making excuses; I’m forcing myself to face reality. On the other hand, he loves notebooks, writing and drawing on fresh clean paper. I understand that, totally.

And Middlest, yes, I’m always making discoveries about her. I’ve learned that she doesn’t need a craft book or curriculum to get her fix. She is always bursting with ideas of crafts she could create that go along with her lessons. As a matter of fact, she prefers her ideas to my suggestions. So have at it, girl! More power to you—within reasonable limits, of course.

But all of these discoveries have allowed me to simplify our activities. I don’t buy or borrow the craft books; and I don’t feel guilty for not making milk jug helmets or not sewing the Robin Hood costume. It’s just not us, and it’s okay to be who we are.