Time to start geography!

So, first a confession. I’ve been totally slacking off on doing much “school reading” with my younger kids. I’ve been having Jenny tag along with Emily on Sonlight’s Core B, which is working fairly well. But I haven’t been getting to the morning reading much at all, which theoretically was supposed to be one P3/4 book for Charlotte and then P4/5 for Jenny (these are the Sonlight preschool cores, in case you aren’t familiar with Sonlight).

It’s really easy with homeschooling to focus on the oldest kid/kids, I find, because they’re doing the most “real” work, and they’re old enough that it’s more crucial for them to be getting enough school in. But that shouldn’t mean that the younger kids are getting an inferior education, of course.

I think part of the problem is that the preschool cores just don’t have an overarching theme to pull them together. I remember being somewhat bored with P3/4, P4/5, and even Core A when I was going through them with Emily, too. The books are great, and we enjoyed reading them, but I like being able to see the pattern as you travel through time or place, that sort of thing.

So, even though I’m not finished with P4/5 (which was what I was originally waiting for), I think I’m just going to go ahead and skip to our “around the world” unit with Jenny and Charlotte. I’m also flying by the seat of my pants, because… it’s not finished! While I do have a mostly complete list of books, I only have the schedule planned out for the first ten weeks or so, which gets me through North and South America and just starting on Europe. But as long as I keep working on it, I should have plenty of time to finish the rest before I get to it. I put the first few books on hold, and we’ll start once they all arrive, probably starting this Monday if they arrive in time.

We start in Canada, so that means we’ll be reading the entries for Canada that are in some of our spines:
My First Atlas
Children Just Like Me
Children Around the World
My Librarian is a Camel

along with some fictional stories from:
Around the World in 80 Tales
Tales of the Shimmering Sky.

We’ll read:
Very Last First Time
Shi-shi-etko
Goose’s Story
Wilderness Cat
Dawn Watch
Olden Days Coat
Perfect Snow
Up Home

We have some songs from the two World Playground CDs, and some science from “Science Around the World” and “The Science Chef Travels the World.”

Between all of them, we end up with a nice variety, covering native Canadians, the frozen north, surburban life, the Great Lakes, both snowy days and summer, and some of the cultural influences on Canada from French, to Scots-Irish, to “Eskimo.”

I was slightly disappointed to find that one book, “the Gift of the Inuksuk,” had disappeared from the library before I got to use it. I looked for something to replace it, but I think for now I’ll just leave that slot blank, and maybe we’ll have a light reading day, or we’ll double up and get two days done in one. More likely the former than the latter, as I still have the Core B readings to get done in the afternoon!

The new passports arrived for the girls today, too. I decided this time to take the easy way out, and ordered two passports from “My Father’s World” to use for our flag stickers. I’m also using a sticker book instead of making my own stickers, http://smile.amazon.com/Flags-World-Color-Stickers-Dover/dp/0486485269/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423105157&sr=1-1&keywords=flag+stickers. The stickers look to be just about the right size. The passports have about 23 usable pages, maybe 24 if you want to use the inside of the back cover. If you keep the stickers placed reasonably tightly, you can fit 4 stickers to a page. So that’s 92 stickers if you use 23 pages. The flag book comes with 96, but there are a few that we might not use because we don’t actually cover the country. If I really wanted to use every sticker, I’d just use the back cover and I’d have enough pages, anyway. So I think we’re good.

The girls are really excited about the flag/passport books, and also about the sticker books we’ll be using here and there. We have Usborne’s “Sticker Dolly Dressing Around the World” and “Sticker Dolly Dressing Costumes Around the World.” The first is one that we used last time we did this, but the second is new to us (not sure if it wasn’t around last time, or if I just didn’t know about it).

If you’ve been waiting for the geography program, know that I’m working on it and should have something to send you fairly soon. Starting on it should give me the impetus to get it done. ūüôā

A Quick Overview of 20th (and 21st) Century World History to end Core C

Sonlight’s Core C only covers world history through 1914 on the eve of World War I. They do this because they feel that the 20th century has a lot of dark times, and it’s best studied at a later date.

I don’t object to this, but I do think it’s possible to do a short overview of the 20th century, without going into too many details about the darker times. So I’ve decided to throw in a whirlwind tour of the 20th century to finish off Core C, when we get there. I’m trying to hit some of the major events of the 20th century.

My list isn’t perfect, because some major events just didn’t have the greatest picture book coverage (the Korean War, for example). I didn’t want to be bogged down in nonfiction books that would take us several days to complete, so my preference was for historical fiction picture books that could be read in 1-2 sittings, although I included some chapter books that looked suitable, due to age/grade recommendations and reviews on Amazon, for my older daughter to read on her own.

So, that said, here’s my rough draft of the 20th century:

Turn of the Century:

I Survived #5: I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906
American Girl books: Samantha
I Survived #1: I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic

World War I:

See Inside the First World War
Christmas in the Trenches
Knit Your Bit: a World War I story
American Girl books: Ruth

Flu Epidemic:

Christmas Oranges (Bethers) ? Not sure if right flu outbreak

Great Depression:

Born and Bred in the Great Depression
Rose’s Journal (Moss)
Potato: a Tale from the Great Depression
American Girl books: Kit

Amelia Earhart:

Mysterious Journey: Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight

World War II:

I Survived #4: I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor
See Inside the Second World War
American Girl books: Molly
I Survived #9: I Survived the Nazi Invasion

Post WWII Europe:

A New Coat for Anna

Berlin Airlift:

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot

Korean War:

My Freedom Trip: a Child’s Escape from North Korea

Civil Rights:

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
The Story of Ruby Bridges (Coles)

Race to the Moon:

Man on the Moon (Suen)
Handshake in Space

Vietnam War:

The Wall (Bunting)
American Girl books: Julie

End of the Cold War:

Border Breakdown: the Fall of the Berlin Wall
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Yugoslavian War:

Cat from Kosovo
Drita, My Homegirl

September 11th:

I Survived #6: I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001

Japanese Tsunami:

I Survived #8: I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011

20th Century as a whole:

Fantastic Flights: One Hundred Years of Flying on the Edge

This last book covers all of the 20th century, from the first heavier-than-air flight in 1903 to modern aircraft. I’ll do it last, as I think it will be a fun look back at a particular technological innovation of the 20th century. I’m hoping that doing this overview quickly, plus looking at the amazing speed at which flight developed, will help give a sense of how fast the day-to-day world changed during the 20th century, and how that compares to the pace of technological change in the ancient world.

I ran into the fact, recently, that Cleopatra (1st century BC) lived closer to the time when man first walked on the moon (1969 AD), to when the pyramids were built (2400 BC). That’s pretty amazing, and gives you a good idea of how slow change was back then (we tend to lump all of “ancient Egypt” together without much sense of the different periods of Egyptian history).

Elsewhere in the list, the American Girl books and the I Survived books are all chapter books that I’ll have Emily read on her own. She’s already read all the American Girl books, but she won’t mind a reread and I think reading them in historical context might be really interesting. I’ll probably have her reread *all* of the American Girl books during Cores D and E, since they cover American History. But the ones I included from the 20th century (Samantha, Ruth, Kit, Molly, and Julie) would all be in Core E (the second half of American history), so she wouldn’t be rereading them again for two years.

I hope this list might be helpful if anybody else wants to do the same!

Homeschool books for 2014!

It happens that we’re just about to start a new level in a number of subjects. ¬†We’ll be starting Sonlight’s Core B (history and literature) for first grade in about a week, and we’re just a week into Sonlight’s Core P4/5 for pre-kindergarten. ¬†Emily is finishing Singapore Math 1A and about to move on to 1B. ¬†On top of that, we’re just finishing Sonlight’s Science B and we’ll be doing Apologia Astronomy next. ¬†So, since we have all these fun new subjects that we’re about to start all at once, I thought it would be fun to take some pictures of our books and give you an idea of what we’ll be doing for about the next year.

First, these are the world history books (some are Sonlight Core B, others are supplements) that are general and cover multiple periods of history. ¬†For the next year, we’ll be covering creation through the fall of Rome.

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Most of these are Sonlight books, but I added in “Pages of History” and “the Story of the World.”

I have a few books about dinosaurs and the Ice Age, not pictured (they’re from the Creation point of view, but we’ll cover macro-evolution at some point in a later year and discuss the arguments for and against).

We’ll be spending quite some time on ancient Egypt, so we have a whole collection of books we’ll be reading on it.

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Of the Egypt books, only “Tut’s Mummy” is actually a Sonlight book. ¬†Some of the rest are from Veritas Press, others are just books that I thought interesting. ¬†I keep going back and forth about Tirzah. ¬†I think it’s a little complex/difficult for first grade, so I might end up holding off on it and doing it when we make our second pass-through of world history in 6th grade. ¬†But we’ll see. ¬†I might also consider just giving it to Emily as a reader. ¬†I didn’t put it in the schedule, though.

Next is Greece. ¬†The only Sonlight books specifically on Greece were the “Greek News” book and the Greek myths book. ¬†I thought adding in Aesop’s fables, and (not pictured, as I’ll get it from the library) Mary Pope Osborne’s children’s version of Homer’s “Odyssey” would round things out nicely. ¬†Between the three, they cover some of the major influences of Greek writing on our modern world.

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I’m really excited about the sticker book for ancient Greece. ¬†My girls really loved the sticker book we used during geography (Usborne “Sticker Dressing Around the World”) and so I thought they’d enjoy it again during world history. ¬†I bought “Usborne Sticker Dressing Long Ago” only to discover that all but one page were actually not ancient enough to be civilizations we cover during Core B. ¬† So we’ll do that one page (Egypt) and then set that book aside until next year. ¬†I did get separate sticker books for Egypt, Greece, and Rome. ¬†The Greek one is particularly interesting to me, because it’s specifically a sticker book of Greek myths. ¬†Not only that, but it uses famous works of arts as the illustrations for the myths! ¬†So you get an introduction to famous pieces of artwork (paintings, sculptures, etc.) along with the Greek myths themselves. ¬†I’m planning to line it up as much as possible with the Greek myths book, so that we’ll read one myth and do a sticker page that goes with it each day. ¬†They don’t line up perfectly, but they actually do line up very well.

On to Rome! ¬†Again, here, most of the books are ones that I added, with the exception of “Detectives in Togas” and “Roman Diary.” ¬†I added “Roman News” because Sonlight uses “Greek News.” ¬†

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So, that basically covers history. ¬†I have some additional books that I’m planning to add in that cover other periods of history, like ancient China and India, but most of them are library books and so I don’t have them available to take pictures.

Along with the history books, Sonlight includes a number of books that are just literature. ¬†A few are historical, but most are pure fun, just great children’s literature. ¬†In later cores starting with Core D, a much higher percentage of the literature books fit with the time period that you’re studying. ¬†But in the early cores like B, only a few are historical.

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Now that we’ve covered history and literature, let’s move on to science! ¬†We’re almost finished Science B, and we’re going to do something different for a little while and try Apologia Astronomy.

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It’s the first book in Apologia’s elementary series, so we’ve never tried any before. ¬†I’m not sure how the girls will do with studying one subject for a longer period of time. ¬†Also, Apologia generally schedules science to be 3 times a week, I believe. ¬†I’m inclined to try just doing it every day, and see if we can keep up with the amount of reading. ¬†Some people who do it every day just cut the readings into smaller portions. ¬†So, we’ll see. ¬†We’ve often gone through science faster than scheduled, doing two days’ worth at a time, but Sonlight Science and Apologia may be different in whether you can do that.

Next is math. ¬†Math is our main subject, so there’s plenty of math go to around. ¬†Singapore Math is our main math and Emily does it every day, but she also does a second math session that alternates between other math programs. ¬†She does Life of Fred two days a week–this is her favorite math–and other days she does a Kumon book or a critical thinking book (those are pictured with language arts).

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In Singapore Math, Emily is finishing up level 1A. ¬†She’s actually finished the textbook and workbook, but as you can see from this picture, we also do the Intensive Practice and Challenging Word Problems books. ¬†There are a number of review pages at the end of the Intensive Practice book, so it’s taking her a few weeks to finish those before we move on to 1B. ¬†But I would anticipate that she’ll do 1B and 2A this year. ¬†Since we add in those extra books, it does take us a little longer than the traditional semester to finish each book.

The Life of Fred series is really great. ¬†They’re stories that follow a character named Fred, who is 5 years old, a math genius, and a college professor. ¬†Yes, it’s meant to be funny. ¬†In each chapter, he first discovers a need for some kind of math, and then does the math. ¬†At the end, there are a few questions to make sure the child is following along. ¬†Emily loves these. ¬†So far she’s done Apples, Butterflies, and she’s almost done Cats. ¬†I figure that she’ll probably do Dogs, Edgewood, and Farming over the next year. ¬†Since we’re currently doing LoF 2 days a week, and there are 19 chapters in each book, that’s 57 chapters in 29 weeks. ¬†She might end up getting to Goldfish, but I’m not sure.

Next up is language arts. ¬†I was using Sonlight Language Arts for this, but I grew too frustrated over trying to match up Emily’s reading and writing levels. ¬†So at this point, the only thing we’re using from Sonlight Language Arts is the activity sheets, which Emily really enjoys. ¬†We’re almost finished with the activity sheets from LA 1, and we’ll be starting the LA 2 ones in a few weeks.

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Critical Thinking is a bit of math and a bit of language arts, so I’m a little irregular with how I schedule it. ¬†There are two thinking skills books here, and I’ll probably do one and then the other. ¬†The Mind Benders book is basically logic puzzles.

Emily is just starting cursive this year. ¬†The Transition book has half in manuscript, half in cursive. ¬†So she does cursive 4 days a week, then manuscript one day a week, just so that she’s still getting practice in it.

Language Smarts is a fun language arts book that has basic grammar and writing skill practice. ¬†We skipped over the first 67 pages because it was teaching basic reading skills that Emily already has and was bored by. ¬†I did have her start with compound words, though, as, while she can read them fine, I thought the activities were beneficial because of how it has you guess what word it means. ¬†It has good activities like finding synonyms and antonyms, determining whether something is fact or inference, and formatting a letter. ¬†I think it’ll be a good book.

Writing with Ease and First Language Lessons go together. ¬†WWE alternates between copywork (copying down a sentence from a good book) and narration (listening to a story, then writing down a summary of it). ¬†It draws the copywork and narration passages from a number of very classic works of children’s literature, so I’m planning to have Emily read those books as readers as we go along. ¬†Right now, for instance, she’s reading Mary Poppins. ¬†She’s also done Alice in Wonderland, some stories from the Blue Fairy book, and a bit of Adventures of Pinocchio (she hated that one, so I let her off). ¬†First Language Lessons is more of a grammar book. ¬†It teaches things like nouns and verbs, common versus proper nouns, and the like. ¬†It also includes some poetry memorization.

Emily is also doing All About Spelling and All About Reading, programs I really like. ¬†She’s really pretty far ahead of the levels that are currently available of All About Reading, but I’m having her go through it anyway to really learn the rules. ¬†She’s near the end of AAR 2, so I used AAR 3 in this picture.

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We do have some extracurricular books, but to my eternal shame, we don’t get to these as often as I’d like. ¬†We have a music program (the girls also take violin, this is more of a general music program), an art program, and we are learning Chinese. ¬†While we’re actually about halfway through book 2 in this art program, ARTistic Pursuits, the first book has some art from various ancient civilizations, so we’ll probably go back through and do some of the art projects again as we cover those periods of history, just for fun.

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I think I’m going to end this here, because it’s late and I’m getting tired. ¬†I have a few pictures of the pre-kindergarten and preschool books that my younger daughters are using, so I will try to post those next time. ¬†But these are the ones that my first grader is using, or that will be used by the whole family. ¬†I hope it might be helpful to some people!

Settling into a routine

So, it’s not exactly a new school year for us, since we school year-round. But I’ve been trying some new things now that Emily’s peers are also starting first grade. One thing is that I have a seatwork schedule for her each day. It lists a few of the things that she can do independently, and she can put a sticker on each item as she does it. When we’re ready to start in the morning, I grab her schedule, see what books/supplies she needs, and set them in a pile on the dining room table, then have her get started. I wish we had another option other than the dining room table, but we haven’t worked anything else out yet. Ideally I’d like to get some sort of small cheap dining room table and cut off the legs so that it’s a good height for little kids, then get the kids a set of those balance balls that are supposed to be great for kids to sit on while they work. There are a few practical issues with this, though. One is that there kids aren’t the same height. If they each have a balance ball sized for them, isn’t the table going to be much higher for Jenny than for Emily? Will this cause problem’s for Jenny’s writing? Also, since the table is low, will it fit them for long, or will they grow out of it quickly? I’m not sure how much variance is comfortable in terms of table height, so maybe it would fit them for long enough, I just don’t know. However, I do know that having kids sit at a table when they can’t reach the floor (they’re on booster seats) isn’t ideal, either, because having your feet on the floor is good for support. So eventually I’ll get this figured out.

Anyway, back to the seatwork schedule. I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, so I’ll make this brief. The things currently on the schedule are regular math (Singapore), handwriting, extra math (Life of Fred, Kumon workbooks, or Critical Thinking, depending on the day of the week), and language arts. I also added in one session of math practice (Dreambox on the computer, Math BINGO on the iPad, or FlashMaster practice). And then her daily reading.

We’ve made a recent change in our language arts program. We had been using Sonlight’s Language Arts, and I may consider using it again at some point. However, I’ve been getting a bit frustrated with it. Due to Emily’s high reading level, her Readers level and her Language Arts level don’t line up. She finished all of Readers 3 in a week and I probably should have gotten her level 4 instead. And yet we’ve been near the end of LA 1. The grammar and writing prompts in LA 1 were a decent level for her, but the sources it draws all the copywork from are Readers 1, which are babyish at this point. So she’d have really long copywork, and yet it would be on the level of Dr. Seuss, not offering particularly challenging wording or anything. We were both sick of the frequent creative writing prompts, too. About the only thing we really liked were the activity pages, which have some sort of grammar activity like matching words to their synonyms, or coming up with sentences for homophones, things like that. She loves those for whatever reason.

So, we’re switching to First Language Lessons and Writing with Ease, and we’ll see how those go. I wish there was a bit more variety in Writing with Ease, as it alternates days between copywork and narration and that’s it. But I think we can make it work. I might make up my own writing assignment here or there. I think when we do Aesop’s Fables, it would be fun to make up our own fable.

Her new readers are based on Writing with Ease. It draws the copywork from various classics of children’s literature. So, even though it isn’t necessary for the program, I’m going to have her read those as we go along. I think they’ll be a little more challenging than some of the books she reads, and I think she’ll get more out of the copywork/narration if she’s familiar with the works. She started the copywork before she had the book this first week (Little House in the Big Woods), so she started the book this evening. She was excited when she started reading it and said, “Mommy, it’s just like my copywork!” So I think that will be fun for her, as well as challenge her a bit in terms of reading material. Next up will be the “Adventures of Pinocchio,” and then “The Blue Fairy Book.” Good stuff.

In other news, Megan is learning to walk! She took her first steps, maybe 2-3 steps, this week. And then yesterday, for the first time, she seemed to really get her balance and went about 8-10 steps before falling. She’s repeated it several times since, and always seems somewhat astounded at herself when she does it. It’s adorable. Right on target, with her first birthday just a few days ago, too! She’s my latest walker so far! Emily was my earliest, at about 10 months and a week. She crawled far earlier, too. Which just proves that early gross motor skills mean nothing, because Charlotte is much more physical despite crawling/walking much later.

We’re still plugging away at geography. Finishing up Australia/Oceania, and about to move on to Africa. After Africa comes Antarctica, and then we’re done! I’m really looking forward to starting Core B.

Jenny’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and she loves giraffes, so we’re going to be having a giraffe party. I made a giraffe pinata, which I’m actually rather proud of. We’ll play Hot Giraffe (like Hot Potato) and Elephant, Elephant, Giraffe (like Duck, Duck, Goose), and find-the-animals (little plastic animals hid all over). I’m going to make giraffe cupcakes, which I’m hoping won’t be too difficult. I got cupcake liners that have little animals on them, including giraffes (although monkeys on the bottom). Oh, and we’ll have giraffe goody bags and little zoo sticker books. We’ve invited 7 kids, so we’ll have 10, including our own (well, 11 if you include Maggie, but since she won’t be consuming candy or playing games, I’m not). 3 cousins, 2 neighbors from next-door, and 2 kids from church. Plus our 3. Should be pretty lively if everybody can make it! We just sent out invitations, though, so hard to say who will be able to come.

My favorite quote today, from Emily: “Mommy, can we go to the library today? I’m STARVING for new books to read!” It’s so much fun raising a reader.

Renting out books

I’m trying something new this year: renting out schoolbooks. I own several Sonlight cores, and we’ve finished with Core A. We’ll be starting Core B in a few months (meanwhile we’re doing a geography program that I planned myself, which I’ve mentioned a few times previously. Jenny is 4 this year, so she’s pre-k, even though she turns 5 in October. Jenny isn’t really interested in following along with chapter books a whole lot yet. So my plan for this school year is to do P3/4, which is preschool picture books, with Jenny and Charlotte, and Core B with Emily. Jenny can listen in to any Core B books that hold her interest, but she won’t be required to listen the way that Emily is. I got enough supplies for Jenny to do the activities along with Emily, too. So she can do a bit of both cores. I’m planning to start keeping track of P3/4 for Jenny, though, and make sure that we’re getting through all of the books. Once we’ve gone through all the books, if I think she’s ready (and she probably will be), we’ll start P4/5. We probably (hopefully!) won’t get through it too fast, because I don’t want to start Core A with her until next fall.

Anyway, so, since we won’t be using Core A, my husband and I had the idea to rent it out. I found somebody who wants to do Core A, and she’s going to rent the core (plus language arts and science) for 11 months. She’ll return it at the end of July/early August next year, and I’ll have it ready for Jenny to use. She’s paying a certain amount as a rental fee, and then she paid a bit more as a security deposit, which she’ll get back when she returns the books in good shape (or minus a bit, if a book does get damaged).

I’m tentatively optimistic that this could be the new BEST IDEA EVER. It’s a great way to make a little money back on cores that I’m not using, without them taking up shelf space, etc. It was a little hilarious and yet sad when I was packing the books in a box. Emily was watching me, and would mournfully say, from time to time, “Oh! Living Long Ago! I LOVE that book!” It’s nice to know that Sonlight picked so many favorites for her, at least!

We’re still plugging along with our geography program. We worked on Turkey and Jordan today. We finish up the Middle East in the next couple of days, then head over to southeast Asia. We’re getting through it a bit faster than planned because our library system here kinda stinks, and it has very few of the books I intended to use from the library. So sometimes we do two days at once, or even skip a whole day or two. Anyway, we’re still getting a picture of what the world is like, which I’m enjoying.

I just ran into a new science program the other day. We’ve been doing Sonlight’s Science B, and I intended to do Apologia “Exploring Creation with Astronomy” next. After that I was going to continue to alternate between Sonlight Science and Apologia’s Elementary Science series. But then I ran into this new series by Jay Wile that seems really interesting. It’s called “Science in the Beginning.” It’s structured so that you study science in order of the days of creation. “Day one,” (really for a unit) you study light and energy, day/unit two you study water and air, day three you study the land, the sea, and plants, day four you study the sun, moon, and stars… you get the idea. It seems like a really cool way to study the world around us. The next books are going to start the study of how man discovered science, so they’ll teach the laws and discoveries of science by going in order of history and how they were first discovered and put into use by man. I looked at some previews of the experiments and the lessons, and… wow. I am impressed. So impressed that I sort of wish I could drop what I’m doing and switch to this science! However, I already bought the astronomy course. So my current plan is to finish Science B and then do Apologia Astronomy, as planned. Afterwards, though, I’m going to try Science in the Beginning. By then there should be lots of reviews out and I should be able to get a good idea of whether people are really liking it, etc. If I do get it and really like it, then I can decide whether I want to alternate it with Sonlight or Apologia, depending on which seemed a better fit. One of the advantages I found with alternating between those two is that Sonlight covers a lot of topics lightly, while Apologia covers a single topic in depth. So I figured we’d get the best of both worlds. The new science seems a little bit more like Apologia in that it covers a single topic in depth, so it may do better alternated with Sonlight. But we’ll see. I’ve heard that Apologia can be a bit dry and difficult, so if I find it too much so, it’s possible I might end up trying Science in the Beginning sooner.

There’s so much to work on right now, even though it’s not really the “beginning” of our school year. I’m trying to cover books with Reddi-Roll, coordinate Bible readings with history readings for Core B, plan out copywork passages for language arts, put contact paper on preschool papers for Charlotte (and print and cut out preschool papers, for that matter), etc. It’s a bit crazy right now. What are you up to? Just starting back at school for the year, or plugging along a year-round schedule?

Maybe “Little Box of Crayons: a stay-at-home mom with four little crayons” would have fit this theme better

But, then, it’s only because they didn’t have any penguin themes. Or arctic/antarctic. Or snow. Or… well, anything that would really fit with penguins. I don’t really like cold or snow, anyway. I’m a temperate penguin. ūüôā

Our move is happening slowly. We are finally out of our old house. Thankfully. I am so, so glad to be out of there. However, we still don’t have a settlement date on our new house. Mortgage company stinks. After this is settled, I need to go write reviews on every site I can find about how awful they are. Anyway, due to their constant ability to lose paperwork, overlook crucial details and suddenly require us to rush rush rush to fix things they forgot, settlement keeps getting pushed back. So we still don’t have a date to officially move in yet. However, the seller agreed to pre-occupancy, which means he allowed us to move our stuff in even though we hadn’t reached settlement yet. This was very kind of him, as Seth had to start work on Monday and really didn’t have any other days that would work to unload the truck, and it would cost us $90 or so a day for every day we kept the truck. Could have gotten very expensive for us (like $900) if he hadn’t let us unload. Now we just have to hope that the mortgage company gets all the paperwork together and hasn’t forgotten/lost some other crucial document so that we can actually go to settlement soon and start to unpack. The girls and I are staying temporarily with my parents, who live about 1.5 hours away, and Seth is staying with a friend who lives near work. It’s nice to visit with my parents, but I’d like to not feel like I’m *stuck* here because I don’t have a home of my own right now. Come on, mortgage company, get it together!

A new school year?

I haven’t updated for ages, I know. Part of it is that I reformatted my computer and then didn’t have the “blog” link on Firefox, and (this is embarrassing) couldn’t figure out how to login to WordPress without it! I finally decided that it’s high time I updated, and I spent some time digging around and figured out how to access the login page. So, we’ll see, but maybe now I will try to update a bit more!

So a lot of my homeschool friends and fellow bloggers have been posting about the new school year… what their room looks like this year, what their child is using, etc. We, however, are not starting a new school year, because we’re year-round schooling. We’re near the end of some school materials, the beginning in others, and the middle in yet more!

Nevertheless, here’s a rundown on what we’re doing right now:

Emily, 5.5, kindergarten
History/Geography: Sonlight Core A, which we’ll be finishing this fall and starting an around the world geography tour
Math: Singapore 1A (workbooks, textbooks, intensive practice, and word problems), RightStart A, Kumon Counting Coins
Language Arts: Sonlight LA K, All About Spelling 1, A Reason for Handwriting A, and we’ll probably go quickly through All About Reading 2 once it comes out in September
Science: Sonlight Science A, nearing the end, will be starting Science B in a month or two, also doing the occasional experiment from the KnowHow book just for fun
Reading: Mostly we’re just reading through the Sonlight Readers 2 at the moment. Emily’s reading has really taken off and she’s reading books on the level of “Ramona the Pest,” although I don’t think she understands every word. Still, we’re going through Readers 2, even though it’s generally below her level, to practice reading clearly, with expression, etc.
Chinese: BetterChinese, which we’re still working through book 3 of. It’s pretty slow going, but I’m trying to be more consistent about it at least.
We don’t get to them consistently, but we’re also doing:
Art: ARTistic Pursuits, K-3, book 2
Music: Pfeiffer House Music K
She also started violin lessons a few months ago.

Jenny, 3.5 years old, preschool
Jenny is mostly just tagging along, as I have very little that I require her to do. However, she wants to do everything her sister is! This means that she has and occasionally does the following:
Math: Singapore Earlybird A, Kumon Number Games 1-70 (she actually just finished this, so I’ll need to get her another copy, as I don’t think she’s ready for 1-150 but she really loves the book)
Language Arts: Kumon Lowercase Letters for handwriting, All About Reading pre-level 1, Explode the Code A
Jenny will also be starting some early reading activities this fall, mostly extra games so that she can start All About Reading 1 but take it slowly with extra reinforcement due to her age. She’s desperate to learn to read and she’s just getting the hang of blending.

Charlotte, turns 2 tomorrow, not in school yet
Mostly Charlotte plays with toys during schooltime, although she’s a *huge* fan of the math manipulatives and often drags them all out and makes a huge mess with them during schooltime. I tolerate this to some degree since it keeps her busy, although I’m working with making her clean them up afterwards! She’s particularly a fan of the counting bears and abacus, which she considers hers and does not like to share, even for math lessons. I think she’s going to get a set of her own counting bears for her birthday so we can have the school ones back. ūüôā We time the read-aloud (when I read to the kids) portion of our day for when she’s napping, because she’s not very good about staying quiet while I’m reading longer things aloud.

As for our school room, it’s basically the dining room table and living room couch at the moment. I keep several crates in the living room in front of the fireplace. Two are stacked on their sides to make a little shelf where I can keep some supplies and such. The other are stacked in the traditional way, and they have hanging folders inside. I have the folders ordered so that I start at the beginning of one crate and go from one side to the other, then at the beginning of the other crate to the end. I always do things in the same order every day, which works fairly well, although if we have a short day I leave some things off at the end and do a little less overall.

I start by having Emily do all her seatwork at the table. This is a Kumon book (we were doing a number games book for a while, but it’s currently “counting coins”), then handwriting, then Singapore math, then her copywork for language arts. That’s the end of her seatwork, so she comes into the living room and we do anything left of language arts (writing assignments that she dictates, etc.), then I pull out the whiteboard from behind the couch and do her spelling with her while she whines (spelling is not her favorite, so we keep it brief, about 5-10 minutes at most). We all do Chinese together, then RightStart math. Then Emily and I sit down together and she reads aloud to me for a little while (maybe about 10 minutes? I’ve never tried timing it).

The Readers 2 Bible takes up much of the year, so what we do instead of reading it all at once and then moving on to the other readers, is that she reads a little from another book and then one story from the Beginner’s Bible every day. She was really frustrated with Frog and Toad and Owl at Home, the really basic “learn to read” readers included, so I didn’t make her finish those. She’s been enjoying reading about Pompeii, the Titanic, Hill of Fire, the Fire Cat, Mouse Tales, Amelia Bedelia, and books like that. Our current book is “The Great Balloon Race.” We only have a few left when it’s done… I think there’s Greg’s Microscope, Daniel’s Duck, Nate the Great, and maybe one or two more.

I’m not entirely sure what we’ll do after that, because we won’t be ordering our next core curriculum (history, geography, literature, Bible, etc.) from Sonlight until next spring, and readers come with it, so we won’t be doing Readers 3 until then. I might just try to get some books from the library like the On My Own History books, maybe some of the Readers 3, to stave her off until April. Of course, once we do get Readers 3, I don’t know how long they’ll last before she’s ready for Readers 4/5! But another Sonlight mom posted a list of other books on the Readers 3 level, so I might just get a bunch of those and make an extra year of readers to go in-between.

After Emily practices her reading, I do all the rest of the reading. We read from a Bible I got (the Bible that came with Sonlight Core A was a little too much for us, so I found another that is a bit simpler but still covers most of the Bible and we’re using that for now), and a devotional that was mine when I was a kid, called “More Little Stories About God.” We read some nursery rhymes, some history/geography/missionary stories, science, and our current children’s novel. We’re just about finished “In Grandma’s Attic” right now and loving it! Next I think is the Wizard of Oz.

Jenny doesn’t really have a regular routine as much. I do activities with her when Emily is occupied with work of her own, gone for a few minutes, or sometimes I multitask and have each kid doing an activity at the same time. Today, Jenny was very jealous of Emily getting to use the whiteboard for spelling, so while Emily worked on spelling phrases with her magnets, I helped Jenny get started putting her little letters under pictures to make the CVC words, something I’ve just started with her to work on her blending. After Emily was done with the whiteboard, I worked with Jenny a bit on sounding words out, and she successfully read “hat” and “mat” and “tap” and some other simple CVC words. This is great progress!

I have about 6.5 weeks until my due date, although given my history, I’ll probably actually have a little more than that. We’ll be gone for two of those weeks doing some visiting with family, though, and while I plan to bring some school stuff along, we probably won’t get a lot done. My current plan is to bring the Kumon Counting Coins book, handwriting, Singapore 1A, the Beginner’s Bible, and some read-alouds. I’ll probably plan to do some of the read-alouds out of order so that we can bring fewer books, if possible. I’ll have to see how complicated that would be. I’ll probably set science aside for those two weeks, although since science uses the main history book, it might not require an extra book. We’ll see. I’d like to keep school short, doing maybe 30-45 minutes a day and not necessarily every day, just to keep consistent.

And that’s the basic summary of what we’re doing right now! Since we’re not starting fresh, we’re well into some of these programs (week 28 in science, week 22 of our core, etc.), so I’ll probably have an update in a few months as we move onto a new level or program in some of these. Also, I have a geography curriculum that I’ve been designing myself, which I expect to start sometime over the winter. I’ll post again later this week and tell you more about that, as well as some little printables I’ve been working on to go along with All About Reading level 1. So I will try to post again soon! I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to the new school year!