Thursday, July 12, 2018

Our Family Free Reads 2017-2018

Every year, I try to read a few books aloud to the kids as a group.  I want the kids to experience living books and enjoy them for what they are - wonderful stories!

These are the main books we read together, or that we listened to as audiobooks.  I try to choose books that are targeted at different age ranges or that are widely appealing.  My kids range from 3-11, though the 3 year old rarely listens, and the 5 year old only enjoys certain books.

The Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
Set in Bangladesh, this book is about a young girl who does traditional paintings with her mother, but must later find a way to help her father, despite her role as a female.  Gender inequalities in other nations and cultural awareness make this an interesting book for boys and girls alike.

Captain Bayley’s Heir from Heirloom Audio Productions
Based off the G.A. Henty novels, these audio productions are stellar!  This book has a very "wild west" feel to it, and has some good history and adventure.  {This series can sometimes be intense for young/sensitive listeners, but my kids like them.}

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
This is one of those quirky, fun books that most children will enjoy.  It gave us an excuse to watch the movie, too!

Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
We borrowed this audio book through Overdrive or Hoopla.  It's further adventures of Charlie and his family.  The kids listened over lunch, because I couldn't handle another Dahl book.  While they're entertaining for the kids, they can be a little too much for me.

King of the Golden River by John Ruskin
This was the first free read I chose after we switched to AO.  I wanted to pull from the Y1 list for the boys, since they started at higher levels, so they wouldn't miss everything.  Elliott seemed to follow it better during the reading, but Emory remembered it really well at the end of the year.  It has the feel of fairy tales and fantasy, and is advanced writing compared to the other books on the Year 1 list, so it is good preparation or future years.

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
I've tried to read this book aloud at least two other times over the years.  I finally committed to finishing it, for the sake of AO.  It's another Y1 free read.  The kids loved it.  I barely got through it.  When our new puppy destroyed it, I was only upset for the sake of the book, not necessarily the title. It's just not my cup of tea.

St. George and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges
We read this as a complement to the picture study "St. George and the Dragon" by Peter Paul Rubens.  It is a gorgeous picture book and all of the kids enjoyed it.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
I snagged the audio book of this for free years ago, so we listened to it mostly in the car, and sometimes at home over lunch.  This is a Year 3.5 book (not an official year) so I didn't mind pulling it in.  All the kids liked this book, and we watched the movie afterwards, because the kids had never actually seen it.

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
This was free on Audible Channels with Prime, so we listened at home over lunch.  It's a Year 0 free read, but is great for all ages!  I read it to the boys when they were Year 0, but they definitely appreciated some of the humor more than my current Year 0 kiddos.  Such a fun book!  The illustrations are a must!

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
I started reading this aloud, but after awhile we switched to audio.  The kids enjoyed it at first, but then found they liked Wizard of Oz better, so it took us awhile to get through and then we lost momentum.  They didn't dislike it, but this wasn't a favorite.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell {currently in progress}
We are slowly listening to this one.  Since it's summer and we're not in the car as much for weekly activities, it'll be awhile yet.  My 5 year old is the one that requests "the horse story" the most!

If you're interested in what the kids did for school books, check out our return to Ambleside Online.

©2011-2018 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.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Year 0 in Review

Year 0 isn't really an official year.  It's all the years leading up to formal schooling, so for my 5 year old (and to some extent my 3 year old), it means working on habits, exposing them to good books, simple handicrafts, letting them tag along for the riches, and enjoying nature study.

Eleanor is a precocious child, and she enjoys doing.  Worksheets, crafts, nature journals, learning to read.  It doesn't matter - she will ask for something and puts forth a lot of effort and really enjoys what she does!

Eloise is our wild child.  She didn't really do anything formal this year, but she did tag along on nature study of course, some art/handicrafts, and she enjoys books.  She chose Panda, Panda Bear, What Do You See? as her favorite.  She also really likes The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.

I was going to do Before Five in a Row with the girls, but that just didn't happen.  We did a couple of rows, and they were fun enough - but when I switched the boys to Ambleside Online, it was so easy to switch the girls to Year 0.  AO Year 0 is more in line with my natural tendencies, and the 5 year old already liked listening to their readings.  Eleanor enjoyed Emory's Burgess Animal Book for awhile (and Birds, when we read that together) and even listened in to other readings.  I know she was making connections with Age of Fable from Year 4, because when our co-op's drama club did a skit based on a greek myth, she recognized it!

So here is a peek at our year, not necessarily in chronological order . . .

Nature Study
Eloise is a bit more in the thick of things.  She catches bugs in a bug catcher, and probably going to be a bit more adventurous like Emory.

Whereas Eleanor adored starting her own nature journal.  This was an American Toad, based off a picture I took of one splayed out in the water.

She doesn't mind getting dirty though, especially if it means helping pawpaw, because then she will do anything for her favorite person!

Puzzles & Patterns
We do lots of blocks, puzzle play, and pattern blocks, and other hands-on activities.  It's an easy way to engage the girls while the boys are working.

Sometimes it's for play, and sometimes it's for extracurricular activities.  Eloise was in a small class of girls and they were told they could dress up as princesses.  She picked Princess Leia!  Totally sums up her personality!  {She was also a mighty cute cow for the Christmas program.}

Eleanor was Mary for the Christmas program.

Arts and Crafts
This was Eleanor's red-winged blackbird from listening to The Burgess Bird Book with her brother.

In addition to drawing, Eleanor loves any kind of handicraft type activity.  She's very artsy crafty, so I'm always looking for easier activities to introduce to her.

Handicraft - Homemade Necklace - Stringing Beads 

Super Beads - an fun beginner handicraft that she adored!

Trying her hand at origami for the first time!

Decorating her first pinch pot! 

 A sticker-by-number unicorn craft that she bought at the AWANA store.

Queen Eleanor from ARTistic Pursuits Art of the Middle Ages 

Play-doh is a great beginner activity to build fine motor skills and prepare for other handicrafts.

These are a sampling of the type of quality picture books we read this year.

The Real Mother Goose
The Gingerbread Man
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Katy No Pocket
Angus Lost
The Snowy Day
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
The Big Green Pocketbook
Caps for Sale
I Am an Artist
Yellow Ball
My Blue Boat
The Story About Ping
The Poky Little Puppy
The Shy Little Kitten
The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
Peter Rabbit

Of course, she joined in on the family free reads, which I'll share later.

Final Thoughts
The girls had a good Year 0.  So many lovely stories, so much fun outdoors, and creativity and imagination running wild!  An AO Year 0 allows littles to be little.  I look forward to another rewarding year of this!  Eleanor will technically be K and transitioning to formal lessons since she turns six, but Eloise is only three, and we still have a few years left of this informal, but beautiful way of exploring and learning!

©2011-2018 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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 {review}

I typically start light grammar instruction around 3rd or 4th grade, so when I was offered the chance to review the new Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 from Hake Publishing, I was certainly interested.  I used this with Emory, who was wrapping up the 3rd grade when this arrived.  He has had little grammar instruction, so we were basically starting fresh.

The Grammar and Writing 3 program is designed after the popular Saxon Math, which is very familiar in the homeschool world, and is the newest addition to the lineup that already includes fourth-eighth grade grammar.  It includes three major components:  Student Textbook, Writing Workbook and the Teacher Guide.

Teacher Guide - The Teacher Guide includes an overview and instructions to the teacher for how to use the program.  Every lesson has a scripted meeting, which includes Speaking & Listening and  Vocabulary.  The student can read along in their book.  Then the lessons instruct you to begin the actual Grammar Lesson from the Student Textbook, followed by the Review.  Suggested time to complete each activity is included.  The Teacher Guide also includes the tests and more practice sheets, as well as an answer key for the textbook, tests and practice pages.  A suggested schedule is included as well.

The first 10 lessons are completed before the first test and writing lesson, and then they occur after every five lessons.  Some writing lessons are extended for two days.  The schedule includes 146 days of instruction and testing, so if the lessons are completed as scheduled, there is room in a typical 180 day schedule, or it allows some wiggle room for those on a 4-day week schedule.

The only minor issue I can foresee with this schedule and pacing is that they suggest 40-45 minutes for completing every lesson, and they insist that every single exercise in every lesson be completed to benefit from the incremental design of the program.  The idea for the longer lessons is to omit homework, but as a homeschool family, homework isn't an option anyway.  So it has to be done in one day, or broken over two days anyway.  We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, and find that her insistence on shorter lessons really is beneficial.  Short, varied lessons are far more efficient for us.  At this time, Emory completes the lessons in about 20 minutes, so it's not a real issue, but should it ever arise, I would just break the lesson into two shorter sessions during the day.  It would be easy to do the main lesson, and do ether Review Set later in the day.  Otherwise, frequently spreading a lesson over two days would extend the program and be difficult to finish in one year, if that's important to you.

Student Textbook - The student textbook contains the lessons and exercises.  Everything is laid out in clear print, black and white, with no pictures, though some pages are very full so it can sometimes still look busy.  The instructions are easy to understand and Emory does well with the workbook and exercises, without much input from me.  Concepts are introduced quickly, but he seems to catch on quickly with the frequent review.

Writing Workbook - This element contains direct writing assignments.  The writing lessons are scheduled to be completed on test days, or sometimes over two days.  The introduction encourages the student to create a notebook for collecting ideas, memories, questions, and drawings, to use as inspiration for future writing.  There are also instructions to keep a three-ring binder for their daily journals and the writing assignments.  These pages are perforated and hole punched already, making it easy to slide them into their personal binder.  Since the writing lessons are scheduled with the tests, the assignments often reinforce the corresponding grammar lessons.

So What is Taught?
When using the complete program, you'll find the grammar book includes instruction on the sentence, verbs, nouns, vowels and consonants, spelling rules, capitalization, prepositions, sentence diagramming, adjectives, dictionary information, punctuation, and much more.

The writing program starts simply, with the sentence, then works up to the paragraph.  Finally, it teaches different types of writing - persuasive, expository, narrative, descriptive and the chapter summary.  It also works through brainstorming, fact and opinion, and evaluating your writing.  This program doesn't cover reading/literature, spelling or penmanship, but when used as written, this is a complete grammar and writing course.

The website claims that this is a rigorous curriculum, and I can see why they make this claim.  The topics are introduced quickly, and it's a lot of material to cover for just third grade.  The other grade levels all cover the same content, just at different reading levels and depth of instruction, and they recommend a minimum of two years of grammar.  I am inclined to think that a mid or upper elementary level, and one middle school level should be sufficient.

What Do We Think?
I like that there is no teacher-prep.  Emory has done well with it.  He can work semi-independently in this book, because the instructions are written clearly in the student workbook.  He knows to ask for clarification, and I always check his work as he finishes.  I don't know that we'll do all of the writing exercises, as they conflict with our preference Charlotte Mason philosophy for this age range, but I like having it as a reference.  {Please note, this program does not claim to be Charlotte Mason, but I am happy to adapt any curriculum that works for us to meet our needs.}

Overall, I feel it's a thorough grammar curriculum laid out in a traditional format, but since it's a quick and easy lesson, he doesn't mind it.  We received it late in the school year, and we're very ready for summer break, so we'll just pick this back up next year to finish.

More crew members are reviewing this level, so be sure to check out the other reviews for more perspectives!

©2011-2018 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.