I love this time of year…
It’s a sugar rush from the moment the first homeschool conferences flyers come out, to the used curriculum sales circulating on my many favorite online homeschool forums, to the co-op emails packed with all the new or updated curricula.
Even though what looks good on display or what your friends suggest might not work out in real life for YOUR NEEDS, it’s still a good idea to have a “working” plan in place.
So, for now, here is our current 2014-2015 homeschool curriculum plans. I’ll also be updating the posts when changes (additions or rejections) occur because let’s be real – changes WILL occur.
Third Grader (Stringbean – 7 years old)
- Singapore Math 4a, 4b, IP, CWP (Our “spine” for basics)
- Primary Grade Challenge Math – Edward Zaccaro (Math competition prep)
- Competitive Mathematics Series – Cleo Borac (Math competition prep)
- Logic Countdown – Bonnie Risby (Exercises in logical thinking – supplement)
- Visual Discrimination – Jean Edwards (For reproducible activity sheets – supplement)
- Khan Academy (For additional help if struggling on a concept)
- Ten Marks (Assessments)
- Life of Fred Series (for “snuggle” reading time together)
- Right Start Math (Manipulatives)
This is our third year using Singapore Math and we will continue with it as a spine. String Bean likes it and I feel confident that all the “nooks and cracks” are filled in and thoroughly covered in basic mathematical concepts. It is definitely an “old faithful” around here. We have A LOT going on in math because String Bean is competing in several math competitions this year. We will incorporate math competition lessons and texts to shore up his mental math and word problem-solving skills. Not all books are used simultaneously! Some come in and out of rotation. After all, Stringbean might love one book, but hate another…
This year we are using All About Spelling for our spelling lessons. We used Sequential Spelling last year and Stringbean and I actually enjoyed this easy-to-use, no-fuss program. However, after a few months we just hit a wall and Stringbean felt it was too “textbooky” with nothing for his “fingers to play with”. We shelved it for a few weeks and came back to it but…
Oh well. Maybe Meatloaf, my 5-year-old, will like it when it’s his time.
So, I set out to find a spelling program that used manipulatives or something that appealed to my son’s visual and kinesthetic learning styles. Well, my lovely ladies at the Well-Trained Mind forum never disappoint! All About Spelling was a popular choice for many homeschoolers, especially those with “busy boys”. I visited the company’s booth at the 2014 Great Homeschool Convention (see my “Top 5 Picks of the GHC” 2014 post), talked extensively with a rep, played with the manipulatives, and bought the Level 2 program. Stringbean was so excited to see the tiles! The program seems pretty parent-intensive, but if Stringbean gels with this program then it’s a keeper in our house. I’ll update with a post on how we’re faring with this new curriculum. We also use www.spellingcity.com as a fun supplement that keeps Stringbean occupied while he’s waiting for his brother’s swim class to conclude.
Selected books from our library:
- Aesop’s Fables for Children
- African-American Read-Aloud Stories
- Classics (see “What’s in Our Library?” post)
- Language Lessons Through Literature Level 2
- Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs
- Whatever strikes our fancy at the library
I’m a believer that living books and reading aloud to my children will serve them well in learning and mastering the elements of great writing, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. With an African-centered perspective, our approach of reading living books and doing narration pulls from the classical and Charlotte Mason philosophies. I do follow Language Lessons Through Literature as a “weak spine” due to its lack of inclusion of classic books of African heritage (of which there are many). While we read whatever we get our hands on, I make it a point to incorporate the classics (unabridged and original text) into our reading rotation.
We use Dr. Samori Camara’s Kamali Academy curriculum. All of the subjects that we study root themselves within an African worldview perspective. Although my children have French and Mexican heritages (which we explore and learn), an African-centered approach is needed the most as it is neglected the most.
For us right now, science is really all about doing, rather than studying from a book. Stringbean will participate in another year of classes at Experium’s Science Academy. This time around, though, I’m going to try to integrate more science activities and experiments with all three of my kiddos. I was really inspired by the “Virtual Science Curriculum” that Lil Homechool Mama started on YouTube this year. She and the other moms did a great job of juggling multiple children and differentiating the science experiments to appeal to each age group. We’ll continue our nature studies at the local marsh and our trips to the Long Beach/Cabrillo aquariums, botanical gardens, California Science Center, and the zoo. This year we will make it to the apple and strawberry picking farms. We missed both last year.
We used the Handwriting Without Tears Cursive book last year. It worked. This year I will have String Bean do some of his copy work in cursive to maintain this dying art form.
I neglected this area last year. This year, String Bean will begin piano lessons. He’ll also participate in a monthly drum circle (wish it happened more often). I finally put together a music appreciation curriculum that we will use as well.
Mensa for Kids has a pretty good mini-curriculum on poetry (“A Year of Living Poetically: Poetry Memorization Guide“) that we used last year. We didn’t finish it so it will go back into rotation this year. By the way, it’s FREE. Just put new ink cartridges in your printer because there are A LOT of pages to print (about 50 or so).
That’s it for String Bean! I gotta re-work Meatloaf’s curriculum, but I’ll post that when I’m done.