Saturday, May 26, 2018

Saturday Snapshots: Body Bumpers

I just have to say, it was as funny to watch them as I thought it would be.  The teens/adults played a round of soccer first while wearing these things!  Pawpaw was the last player to join, but when he decided to take a break, Daddy tagged in!  After their game, the kids had their turn.  Hilarious!  The older kids just liked bumping each other around, while my two little ones just liked running around and rolling in them!

Saturday Snapshots is when I share a favorite moment from the week.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Language Arts with Home School Navigator {review}

Home School Navigator

As a literature-based homeschool, I am always interested in programs that utilize real books over textbooks.  Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum from Home School Navigator is one of those programs, and I recently had the opportunity to review it.  Created by two teachers turned homeschoolers, this is a comprehensive language arts curriculum for elementary students.  A one year membership to Home School Navigator gives you 36 weeks of language arts, covering multiple strands of language arts--literature, writing, grammar, word study and more.  There are six elementary levels, which are color-coded following the rainbow, and each level corresponds to an approximate grade level.

Red - Kindergarten
Orange - 1st Grade
Yellow - 2nd Grade
Green - 3rd Grade
Blue - 4th Grade
Indigo - 5th Grade

Home School Navigator

The first thing I noticed is that there was no placement test.  Instead, we received access to every level, so I could explore and get a feel for the program and how it progresses, and find the best placement for my child's needs.  After several weeks, I was asked to "lock in" to a level, so there was plenty of time to determine which level would be most appropriate.

Eleanor is precocious, but barely five years old and not officially in Kindergarten yet.  She was kind of all over the place when I looked at both Red and Orange, but I placed her in Red/Kindergarten, because that is her upcoming grade level and because I am a firm believer in taking things slow and not doing too much in the way of formal lessons before six years old.  I felt like a lower level would be less intense and more easily fit with our style of homeschooling.

There was an introduction video to get started, and the instructional guides can be downloaded as PDF and printed.  My first thought when really diving in was that there is a lot of stuff to go through, but I think that is because they break it down by month, week and then day.  They do offer the printable guides and handouts, so if you have access to the physical books, you can actually do quite a bit of the work offline.  If you're a conservative printer, you can still access everything through the website, and just pick and choose which activities to print.  Some could certainly be done orally without issue.

Home School Navigator

I liked to look at the daily guide, because otherwise the breakdown on the website is cumbersome to navigate.  You must click 1.1.1 for Month 1 Week 1 Day 1, and then that is divided by individual activities.  I would prefer it just listed out more traditionally by week, but that could certainly be personal preference.  Unfortunately there was no easy back button for most of the review period, which may have contributed to my feelings, and though I've noticed some updates with navigation, I still do not find it the most user friendly.

Home School Navigator

I'm going to break down a typical day - Month 2, Week 1, Day 1, to give you a feel for how Red works.  This is what we find as we expand each of the categories above.

Read Aloud - The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
Literature/Comprehension - We are instructed to read the book (or watch it read aloud on video), and complete a few basic tasks such as finding the Title, Author and Illustrator, and making a prediction.  Then there is a video on finding the character in a story.
Writing/Grammar - At this level, children are encouraged to draw or "write" an entry in their notebook, and they can use any letters or words they know.
Word Study/Vocabulary - On this day we are asked to read our Alphabet Linking Chart from left to right, top to bottom.
How Books and Print Work - There is a handout for writing (or tracing) their name, and the words mom and dad are included as well!
Independent Reading - Read a "just right" book.
Nursery Rhyme Extension - There is a handout for Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

The Red level starts out relatively easy and age-appropriate.  Essentially we read a book each day, with a couple of books scheduled each week, and retell the story in different ways.  Sometimes we're sequencing (like below),  or there are activities for retelling the story with puppets, visualizing what was read and sketching scenes, or retelling a few facts recalled.  All of these are essentially a type of narration.  As a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, I don't put much emphasis on formal lessons before age six, but as most Kindergarteners are or turn six during the year, these are still excellent activities to include in a Kindergarten level program because they develop the habit of attention and early narration skills.

Home School Navigator

We found the activities low-key and easy to implement.  The phonics activities are things like scavenger hunts, matching and memory type activities.  These are simple and engaging, and don't require much effort on my part or hers.  I also love the inclusion of nursery rhymes, because I already use a favorite nursery rhyme book for Kindergarten due to the literary benefits of nursery rhymes and word play.

Children are not truly expected to be reading or writing - they can even "write" their letters in shaving cream or other sensory materials if needed!  The activities are short, though as you get further into the program, I noticed the comprehension activities become more formal and structured, with charts and graphs requesting more specific information.  I don't think this program is particularly strenuous at this level, and it's mostly fun for Eleanor, but it did look like it becomes less compatible with our Charlotte Mason style as you move into higher levels.  So far, though, I've liked the book choices.  The first couple of months have used books from the popular "If You Give a  . . . " series, and Eric Carle books, among others.  The book choices later in the program that I'm familiar with seem decent, though I can't speak for the literary quality of all of the books.

This program was developed by real moms who really homeschool, and you can tell they've put a lot of work into developing a program that works well for both parent and student.  The instructional videos sprinkled throughout are great for parents who don't know how to explain a concept, because children can just watch along.  They also acknowledge that they include a lot of activities.  They suggest that parents are free to skip things that are too easy or adapt the program in the way that makes it work best for their family.  I decided that we didn't need the Writer's Notebook at this stage.  Eleanor is always drawing pictures and labeling them or writing little books all the time in her free time, so we could skip it here and free up time for the other activities.  They also have built in review days, which work well for make-up or catch-up days.  This also builds in a little cushion for families who need to adapt the five day schedule to a four day school week.

I found the website a little awkward to navigate, and though the program isn't going to be a good fit for us long term, I do think it is very well put together and would still recommend it to others.  It looks like a great program for the parent who wants a checklist of items to complete and wants to cover as much as possible with one program.  I appreciate that it uses real literature, and includes a variety of activities to meet the learning styles of different students. You can even upload your work into a portfolio for record keeping purposes!  Homeschool Navigator offers a comprehensive, traditional language arts program in a modern format.

The Homeschool Review Crew has reviewed all levels, and many of the families with older students are reviewing the interactive notebooks, so hop on over and read their reviews!

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}

©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, May 19, 2018

Saturday Snapshots: Princess Leia

This was for a program, and her class is a small class of all girls.  Her teacher contacted me and said they could dress up like princesses.  I am pretty sure her teacher meant Disney Princesses.  Eloise chose Princess Leia and wouldn't budge from her choice.  The fact that she went non-traditional speaks volumes about the vivacious little girl in this costume!  It is 100% her personality to go non-traditional, and I love her for it!

Saturday Snapshots is when I share a special moment from the week, because sometimes Wordless Wednesday isn't enough!

©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, May 12, 2018

Saturday Snapshots: Impromptu Nature Study

There is something innocent about jumping in puddles.  When the puddles lead to impromptu nature study, it's all the better . . .

Emory is my zoologist in the making, and he was definitely in his element this week as he went about catching every critter he could find.

When I think of the memories I want my kids to have about their childhood, I definitely want them to remember lazy afternoons wading through puddles and squishing mud between their toes.  I want them to remember catching and releasing all the little wild animals that are passing through, and then returning to their wild and free explorations.

Saturday Snapshots are where I share a special memory or two from the week.

©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.

Friday, May 4, 2018

A Peek into our Homeschool: April 2018

April hasn't been a particularly busy month, but sometimes felt like it.  Here's a peek at the way things have been going lately!

This post contains affiliate links.

The kids had the AWANA Grand Prix.  Eloise won 2nd place in the Puggles/Cubbies group and she slept with her trophy!  We have just a couple of weeks left to the year. Our co-op has officially ended, which means the boys' basketball class is over too.  There was an end-of-year program with a skit from the drama club, Kindergarten graduation and a talent show.  None of my kids signed up for the talent show, but Eleanor's Pre-K class did sing a song.  She was adamant for two days that she wasn't going up there to sing, but as soon as she saw her teachers she got excited and went with them.  They did a great job and were so cute!  Her 3 year old sister cried the whole time she was gone, so that was not fun.

We also picked up the boys' artwork.  Here's a few samples of what they did . . .

Their art teacher does a great job with them, and I've been so thankful that I can outsource that class for most of the year.  Although, now that co-op is over, I'm also glad to have an art program to review to keep the kids creating this summer.  ARTistic Pursuits has a new series, and we're reviewing Art of the Middle Ages!

Another review item I've recently started is Homeschool Navigator, and I've been doing Level Red with Eleanor.  It is a language arts program - Red is equivalent to Kindergarten - and we're having fun with stories and phonics review.

All of our other subjects have gone well.  We made it through Week 26 of AO's schedule by the end of the month, and we're plodding along.  As the weather is finally pretty and we're acutely aware of the public school calendars, I worry we're going to get tired and want to call it quits.  On the other hand, I see the end in sight and that part of me wants to persevere and just finish it out.  I promised them the week of VBS off, then we'd only have a few weeks left after that.  I'm hoping we can make it to VBS and come back "fresh" after a week off.  Our VBS is earlier in the summer, so that's a good thing.  I'm definitely just playing it by ear though.

We're listening to a variety of the AO free reads as a family right now.  We have been listening to Peter Pan (Y1) for awhile, but they loved The Wizard of Oz more (Y3.5) more, and started losing interest, so I moved it to the car, and also interspersed some Black Beauty (Y4, though my Y0 requests it the most) with it.  We also started listening to Winnie-the-Pooh (Y0) in the house since it was on audible channels for free to stream with Prime, but I did snag it for free for World Book Day.  Winnie-the-Pooh is a delightful book to actually read with the physical book because of the lovely illustrations, but if you want something light and fun for the whole family on a car trip, Pooh bear is a great one!

Enrichment Subjects
Since we started our enrichments well before AO, we'll technically be finished with three terms of enrichments next week.  So as we wrap these up, we won't be adding anything else into these slots until the fall.

Poetry: Songs of Childhood by Walter De La Mare, though we're not making much progress.  Mostly because we're listening to the audiobooks over lunch lately, and since I'm not grabbing a book to read, I'm not grabbing poetry.  Plus, we tried the e-book version.  Next time I will probably purchase this version from Living Books Press for the girls. {This is published by an AO parent.} I'd like to read a few more, because I don't feel we have a connection with the poet yet, but we'll see.
Shakespeare: I'm still reading Romeo and Juliet aloud to both boys, and we're almost finished with it!  Emory still loves Shakespeare!
Folk Song:  Billy Barlow The boys liked this particular version the best, hacking the rat up and all.
Hymn: On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand
Composer:  Music Appreciation (review) and then we listened to some John Williams (free with Prime) for fun, to prepare for Stars Wars Day!
Picture Study: Peter Paul Rubens from Simply Charlotte Mason

Then one week we also looked at The Fall of Phaeton, since Elliott read that story in literature earlier this year.  I read a little bit of a summary to Emory after their narrations.

Peter Paul Rubens - The Fall of Phaeton (National Gallery of Art)

Random Connections From the 5 Year Old
The week the local schools were on spring break, our co-op did not meet, so I let the kids have a free day and the girls had Mother Goose Time on the background while they played.  It's on Netflix, and the graphics are twaddly, but the nursery rhymes and songs are timeless.  My 5 year old came running in, "Momma, it's Camptown Races!"  That was our Folk Song in February and she was excited to see them racing horses and singing the song.  I doubt she would have known it otherwise!   I was excited when I recognized Funicili Funicula on a television show, a song I didn't actually know prior to studying it this year, so I get where she's coming from!

At our co-op's end of the year program, I heard her casually ask me "Didn't you talk about this before?" while never taking her attention off of the drama theater's play.  Their performance was based off one of the stories I'd read her brother from Bullfinch's Mythology, and she'd recognized it all these weeks later!

It's so fun to see, despite not having "formal" lessons, she is absorbing and learning so much!

©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.