Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Peek into our Homeschool: November 2017

The kids have been playing a lot of board games for the past month or so.  I think because the weather is starting to turn and we aren't outside as much; I'm still intentionally reducing screen time, so they're looking for things to keep them busy.

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They seem to rotate through a couple favorites at a time, but I seem to recall that Clue, Monopoly Ultimate Banking, Battleship, Uno, Slamwich and Monopoly Deal were all being played through November.  We do get preschool games out for Eleanor, but the boys are also good about letting her be on their "team" when they play, and they let her roll dice, move pieces or pay the money for rent.  For the last several years, we have made sure to include a game for birthdays and Christmas, and a card game in each stocking (or some type of game-like "activity" for the toddler years) so with four kids and three winter birthdays, we'll have plenty of new goodies coming in to keep us busy during the colder months.

Core Subjects with Ambleside Online
We finished up Week 7 with AO at the end of November.  It has taken some work to get into a rhythm, but we're starting to figure things out.  I think the hardest part for me is is trying to balance the schedule evenly over 4 days.  The biggest challenge for the boys is increased workload, especially the Y4 - taking on more of his own reading load.  When we were schooling almost every subject together, I did the bulk of the reading aloud; now much of that has shifted to him.  He has really risen to the challenge!

Emory's thriving in almost every subject.  He is loving the animal science and wishes there was more.  He's not a huge fan of geography - but of course Elliott says that is one of his favorite subjects now.  They all love to watch any videos I scrounge up to go with their science.

Eleanor (Y0) mostly plays with Eloise during school, though sometimes she will ask for math or an educational app.  She loves to paint, draw, and color, and will often sit with Emory during his science so she can color an animal picture with him.  She frequently blurts out "You haven't asked me for my narration!" and wants me to write it on her paper too.  Sometimes she will ask me for one of her school books (a picture book) so she can narrate it.  I'm letting her take the lead, but I imagine she's going to be my eager beaver when it comes to school.

We're listening to Beethoven for our composer, and studying Leonardo da Vinci for our artist.  We started the rest of our music with Amazing Grace (Hymn) and An Acre of Land (Folk Song) but the last week of the month we switched to the songs they're singing in junior church for the Christmas program.  We're also reading Shel Silverstein for our poet.  He's about as nonsensical as A.A. Milne, but a bit more appealing to my boys - probably because of their age.

Nature Study
Our nature study is not always consistent.  I'm not good about saying "We're studying XYZ this week/month..." and then following through or documenting it in nature journals.  However, we always manage to study the wing of a bee that we find in the house, animals on the farm, and tree stumps and the bugs around the tree.  We jump in leaves and we play with shadows while reciting My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson.  It might not be consistent, but it is fun!


This post has been shared at Homeschool Highlights and Homeschool Review Crew.

©2011-2017 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Ambleside Online Year 4, the transition

With the recent transition to Ambleside Online, the most time I spent in researching was in deciding where to place each of the children.  From there, I just kind of jumped in the deep end.

For my 10 year old, I felt like Year 4 was a good place for him.  The beginning of this school year was already a big change for us.  We started doing the enrichments - picture study, folk songs, hymn, composer and Shakespeare, in full CM style, before even making the switch.  Additionally, he has added dictation, typing and map drills.  We're also not consistent with doing Nature Study, and there are more Form II subjects - like Latin and Plutarch - that we have yet to add.  He's also just gotten to the point where he has stopped telling me he hates reading.  (He's never struggled with reading, he's just never enjoyed it.)  I felt like Year 4 would offer him the opportunity to build is reading stamina and he could start at the beginning of some of the books that are used across multiple years, which was a good choice because he balked a little at not starting at the beginning of the history book.

I've made a few tweaks to the AO schedule, but here's my disclaimer - these changes were not recommended or endorsed by the AO Advisory, and are not a reflection of the quality of the curriculum; I made these changes to suit my family's needs when we switched things up.  That it is all.

We will continue with our own readings and AWANA

I'm leaving the history streams alone, and following the schedule as written.

History Tales/Biographies
I have opted to remove Trial and Triumph for now, though I'm considering putting the boys on the same schedule eventually, or else I'll use AO's alternate recommendation to cover this material later.  He does enjoy modern missionary stories with The Brinkman Adventures, and we'll probably do more seasons.

For first term, I have substituted Poor Richard and we're using Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia, because I already owned it and the number of chapters fit the term readings.  This also allowed me to start Y4 immediately the week I made the sudden decision.

Instead of doing the Y4 selection, I have him currently doing Tree in the Trail with Emory.  (We already had the large maps and the guide from Beautiful Feet Books, so I'm blending the two programs together.)  However, we're running into the problem of why I split them up in the first place--this is one area that isn't going smoothly because of them goofing off and competing for narrations and such.  So I may split them back up and just have Elliott do Minn of the Mississippi in two terms instead of across all three as originally scheduled.

I haven't bought the extra "coffee table" style geography books, because I have other books that can be browsed at this point, but he has started map drills.

We're using the core books as scheduled.

I think since Physics Lab in the Home is optional, I'll just occasionally offer Lucky Science - Accidental Discoveries from Gravity to Velcro that I already own.  I'm not looking for a direct, week-to-week replacement, just something to fill in every now and then, and this fits the bill for me, for engaging text and relatively easy hands-on activities.

I also have the guide to A History of Science from Beautiful Feet Books already.  I'll look through it when we're doing a corresponding biography (Y4 is Isaac Newton) to see if any of the activities/experiments are appropriate.

Foreign Language
We're just getting started with Spanish again.  He's doing that with Emory (and Eleanor tags along).  I'm not ready to add Latin yet.

Language Arts
We haven't been doing copywork, but he's reviewing his cursive handwriting, and I'll transition that into copywork eventually.  He's doing dictation with Spelling Wisdom, and we're starting to do some written narrations.

Plutarch - I haven't added him to Term I.  Maybe next term.  Maybe next year.
Shakespeare - Kind of a Y2/Y4 combo going on here, as we were already doing our own thing and we're just going to keep plugging along.
Poetry - We were already doing a family reading at lunch, so I'm keeping that for now.
Age of Fable and Robinson Crusoe are still on the schedule.

Free Reads
For the most part, I will be pulling his independent reads from Years 3-5 for his independent reading.  I'll be more intentional about the ones marked by term, but otherwise, I'll let him choose.   For family read-alouds, I've been pulling mostly from Years 1-2 because they more suitable for the younger siblings.

In addition to AO and CM style enrichments, and his skill-level math and language arts, he also has church activities and co-op.  So far, everything is going reasonably well.  We're starting to ease into a routine finally, but when we finish up the first term, I'm sure I'll share some of our thoughts about the books and what we've learned!

©2011-2017 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Best Homeschool Review Crew Products 2017

One of my favorite things about the Homeschool Review Crew is taking time at the end of the year to look back over the amazing products we have reviewed and loved.  Every year, the crew members are asked to vote in a variety of categories, the votes are tallied, and the Blue Ribbons are awarded!  I didn't vote in a few categories because I didn't review something in that subject (foreign language) or I don't have children in that age range (high school) so you won't see those represented in my post, but you WILL find them among the winners and in the posts of my fellow crew members who are also sharing their "favorites" this week!

I reviewed 30-some products this year, and we enjoyed almost everything, but these are our overall favorites.  In no particular order . . .

ArtAchieve is a fun art program that teaches children to draw and explore artistic concepts using real art from around the world as the basis for the lessons.  It's self-paced and a great way to explore different mediums with guided instruction.  You can expand into unit studies for the country represented by the art, or you can use this program as a supplement to your geography program.  There's really so many ways to use it.

The Pencil Grip, Inc
This year I have reviewed Thin Stix 6 pack and their Creativity Pack - which has metalix and neon colors too!  These are fun, easy to use, dry quickly, and are relatively mess-free, making them great for last minute projects or preschool art.  They are a staple in our home, and a favorite of everyone, particularly my two and four year olds!
Winner - Kid's Choice

We also reviewed their safety scissors and pencil grips this year.

I was unsure about reviewing a math program (I usually only review supplements) but I was surprised with the results of CTCMath!  We tried it a few years ago, and it wasn't a huge hit at the time, so I was thrilled with my oldest son's response.  He does well in math, but "hates" it.  Both of my elementary age kids use it as their core math, and my 4 year old uses the K level on and off as well!
Winner - Favorite Math Curriculum 

Heirloom Audio
This company has been turning G.A. Henty's historical fiction books into audio dramas, and they are truly a great listening and learning experience.  This year we reviewed In the Reign of Terror (about the French Revolution) and Captain Bayley's Heir (American West) and they're fantastic as always!  They also include a study guide, which make them a great tool for in-depth studies.
Winner - Favorite Audio Book or Audio Drama (Captain Bayley's Heir)

Let's Go Geography
Let's Go Geography is a fun K-4 geography program that includes videos, mapping, craft ideas, coloring pages and note booking pages.  You can pick and choose activities based on your needs and the ages of your children, and it is suitable for a classroom or co-op environment as well.  It's very flexible, and enjoyable.  While it's a full geography program, we now use it as more of a supplement, but it's great for that use too because you can 'pick and choose' the order of studies.
Winner - Favorite Social Studies

Let's Go Geography

Super Teacher Worksheets
Super Teacher Worksheets is a resource for homeschool parents and teachers.  I'm not usually a worksheet person, but there are some wonderful treasures here.  I use it as a supplement for just about every subject, but I really love their labeled and blank maps for map drills.

Brinkman Adventures
We have reviewed these in the past - this year we reviewed Brinkman Adventures Season 4.  These are missionary stories told through radio dramas that are appropriate for the entire family.
Winner - Favorite Christian Education Supplement

Reading Eggs
We received a subscription to Reading Eggs and Math Seeds and Eleanor really enjoys playing on them!  It's a great supplemental tool for Pre-K and early elementary.  There are sections of the website for younger (pre-reading) and older students (comprehension) as well.  She still asks for this often.
Winner - Favorite Reading Curriculum, Favorite Preschool Product, Best Online Resource

So there you have it.  Our overall favorites!  Obviously we enjoyed many more products that we reviewed, and we voted for many of them in different categories, but I just couldn't list everything.  Then of course there are plenty of winners we didn't review this year.  So be sure to check out the FULL list of winners on the crew's website!

Homeschool Review Crew Favorite Products for 2017

©2011-2017 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com