Friday, February 4, 2011

Weekly Schedules & School/Chore Charts for Mom & Kids

Week 11  in our homeschool... As usual, :) we didn't finish ALL that Mom had planned because as homeschoolers, life happens, we had two kiddos who picked up a nasty virus,  and I tend to overbook us. However, we did have a great time and enjoyed our studies on Ancient India.  I hope you find some of the information and ideas useful.  I also created new chore/school charts for my kids and I'm posting them for anyone who might like to use them.

We had basic lessons this week, nothing fancy.
Saxon 5/4 for C - my 9 yo 4th grader
Saxon 2 for A & B- my 7 yo twin 2nd graders

C- MCP Spelling Workout D Lesson 21- we are still working our way through it and doing well, I wanted to be in E by now but things happened (another post) that put us behind by almost a month this year.  :) We are moving forward and he'll do fine.  He's a solid speller as long as I review the rules well. 
A & B - MCP Spelling Workout B Lesson 18 which is a Review of Lessons 13-17. 

Memory Work -
 All three work through a set of flashcards I set up for them each week.  I handwrite most of our flashcards because I include several subjects.  I handwrite Latin, Grammar, Science, Poetry, and I use the Saxon flashcards for math and SOTW Review cards for review of history.  They each take a few moments daily to look through their flashcards.  They don't mind this, they are all in the Grammar Stage (my son in Upper Grammar and the girls in Lower) and seem to enjoy their time practicing their flashcards.  When they master something they've been working on, such as The Sanctus in Latin, they come running to show me.  I find it amazing that they are capable of the memory work they complete with little effort from me and truly an easy effort from them.  I do want to put more focus on their memory work and spend more of my time practicing with them but for what I've put into it we have had amazing results.  This is one of the reasons I became sold on TWTM.  SWB and JB couldn't have been more correct in their assessment of children at this stage of learning.
A practicing with her memory cards on the stairs.

C- First Language Lessons Level 4- We worked together through Lessons 15-17.  He seems to enjoy diagramming the sentences.  He's NOT a strong auditory learner so he tunes out sometimes during my oral part of the lesson but he enjoys his turn.  I'm considering Rod & Staff for him.

A & B- First Lanuage Lessons Level 2 - I wouldn't change this choice for the world.  My girls do amazing with this program and they enjoy our lessons together.  We worked through 113-115 and practiced several of the poems they memorized previously. 

C- Dictation x 3 days and IEW's Ancient History Writing Lessons x 2 days -we worked on Lesson 2 of the IEW AH.  He added strong verbs to the lines on page 13.  I gave him section one and two (1 section per day as recommended in the Teacher's Guide) but he enjoyed it so much that he chose to complete all three and I didn't stop him. 

I have been back and forth on which writing curriculum to use.  Writing is probably the subject I'm most nervous about teaching.  I have read book after book and blog after blog on the different curriculum choices and recommendations.  I was against using IEW based on comments from well educated friends on the overuse of dress ups.  My son also took a short course of an IEW theme book at our co-op and by the end of the course did not like it at all. 

I had decided to go with Writing with Ease because I liked FLL and felt so comfortable with TWTM.  I also liked that it was similar to the CM method of language arts with the dictation and copywork.  We did well with WWE.  My son took to it and completed the assignments with me.  He learned a lot about putting "pen to paper" and how to narrate written and orally.  However, after a year and a half of this, he seemed to become bored and not look forward to writing.  I began to wonder if he was "ready" to try something else.  Rather than purchase another expensive program, I remembered I had IEW's Ancient History Theme set on our bookshelf.  I brought it out to try it and he loved it. 

I believe this is going to be an area where I may need to tweak and change things as we go along to make the right "fit" for our family and my children.  It's going to leave "gaps" (please see Barb from Harmony Art Mom's blog post about this) and I do worry about that but I also worry about making writing drudgery.  Yes, it's something they have to do and yes they don't have to love it but if changing things up a bit with another solid course help him to love it AND teach him the foundational skills he needs - I'm on board. 

A & B - Writing with Ease Level 2- the girls are following in their brother's footsteps with WWE Level 2 and excelling.  I do love this program for the younger students.  I definitely recommend it as a starting program- and I plan to continue it through at least 3rd with them.  It's solid on narration and copywork and this week they started dictation for the first time.  It was just like when my son was their age.  It began a bit slow but they were giddy when we were finished and quite proud that they had completed it correctly.  We completed WWE Week 12, Days 1-4.

Cursive- A, B, & C- Worksheet with cursive practice each day that I printed from Donna Young's Big Cursive pageI LOVE this website.  I learned from her website that learning cursive writing does not take an expensive curriculum but rather a LOT of practice.  I print out two sets of pages per week.  This week I printed out the "bf" and the "AC".  I printed two sheets of each and placed them in my children's chore/school work folders.  They take the paper to the table when they are ready for cursive.  I show them how to form the letters on the first line and then they practice.  The kids bring me their page when they are finished.  I'll give them pointers and if I think they need to (usually on the first day they work on a new letter set at least) I send them back to the table to practice a few more with my advice.  

I created a sheet that helps me to keep track of their progress.  With this sheet I check off letter combinations once I feel they have mastered them.  The ones that need more work I'll put an X on and that lets me know to print more copies of that letter for next week's work.  Once they master a set I still print copies of that set for practice every couple of weeks.  Once we are finished with the letter sets and everyone has a good grasp of them, I'll move on to Donna Young's new Cursive Words Printables.   She has an extroidnary website with a lot of free printable resources for homeschoolers.  I can't imagine the work she's put into this website for the rest of us to benefit from.  For handwriting alone, she has other helpful resources such as cursive animations and how to create your own cursive worksheets

C, A, & B- Prima Latina Lesson 5 (C only- completes coordinating workbook pages) & (all)  memory flashcards.  We use the Prima Latina Latin for now and when we are complete we will continue on to the Christina Latina.  The children watched the DVD for Prima Latina Lesson 5 (on the way to a practice in the car - it's a fantastic use of travel time and they pay attention becuase there's nothing else to do :).  I practice along with them.  I usually make up the flashcards to go with the lesson while they are at whatever practice we are heading to with just some index cards and markers and put them into their memory card boxes. 

Currently, C is the only one using the workbook pages.  It's just too much writing IMHO for the girls.  I'd rather they focus thier writing on their copywork and dictation, narrations, and penmanship.  They have plenty of time for workbooks.  I may even go through Prima Latina with the girls again next year before starting them in the Latina Christina with their brother.  Anything they pick up (and so far it's been a lot of vocabulary and the Sanctus) is a wonderful bonus that will help them move through it next year faster. 

B, A, & C building their Indus Valley from Legos

History- all together
We use a combination of SOTW, VP, & TOG + living books.  I plan on sticking closely with SOTW & the SOTW Activity book.  We really enjoy SOTW and after purchasing the other curriculum, we're sticking with SOTW.   I'm not sure we'd enjoy it as much without the SOTW Activity Guide.  It's well worth the cost IMHO. 

This week's focus was Ancient India.  We had a lot of fun with it.  I had more planned than we were able to accomplish unfortunately, due to a flu virus that didn't want to go away but I feel strongly they learned some great history facts and a solid "peg" as they call them in TWTM to hang thier facts on later.

Day 1- We read aloud SOTW Ch. 9 together and the children colored the SOTW coloring pages from the Activity Guide while I read. 

Some of our friends choose not to do this, they don't think thier children are absorbing the information.  I find that the movement they get from the coloring pages keeps their hands busy (yes even my 9 yo- sometimes especially him) and since coloring doesn't require incredible thinking skills, they still pay attention to what I'm reading.  If they do not, I'll know because the next thing I do is narrate and review.

We use the Review Questions and Narration prompts from the SOTW Activity Guide to discuss what we just read. 

Next, we completed the mapwork from the Activity Guide and then my children used these free notebooking pages to write a brief narration from one of the sections we read. 

Day 2: Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History - pages 118-119

We reviewed the Test from SOTW Ch. 9. orally.  I like these tests for this.  Sometimes, like this past week, I'll use it for a Jeopardy type game.  My kids love this.  Our prize this past week was an extra 15 minutes of "screen" (tv or video game or computer game) time during the weekend.  We have a lot of fun with this.  I am not administering these tests as traditional tests yet although I may with my son later in the year.  Right now, they are just a wonderful help to me for review fun.

We completed the lapbook piece about the castes of Ancient India and had a long discussion about these.  You can download these free from this blog.  The lapbook is currently the third item down on the list, it's listed as Featured.  The blog I linked for the lapbook pieces is The Chronicle of the Earth and she has posted many helpful resources and links for using SOTW.  I have bookmarked her page for future use!

Day 3: Read aloud, Exploration into India by Anita Ganeri
The kids built their own Indus River Valleys out of Legos.  The photos are not that good, I wasn't paying attention to my camera.  It was a quick photo so we could move them off of the table and get dinner on it. :) I'm sure you've had those evenings.

Our goal was to also make a Pachisi Board for this week but with two sick kids some of the hands on things didn't get completed.  Not because I believe they are any less important, but because we have co-op on Thursdays so I schedule a lot of them for Thursday afternoons and for Fridays.  I leave that afternoon free for the hands on things because they are tired from being in co-op all morning.  I also feel much of the other things are covered for the day already during thier classes.   Should you want to make a Pachisi Board with your children for studying Ancient India (we may still do it) here's a great link at Crayola.  It looks fairly simple and we already had the materials here (I'm a craft fanatic).  Pachisi Board Instructions.

Structured/Scheduled Reading
The kids read books during their "Structured Reading" time about history.  I always try to include as many Independent Readers as I can.  I believe by listening to me read AND reading on thier own, they will absorb and remember more information.  I love when I'm reading and one of them mentions something they also read in a book on their own. 

Here is a list of the books they read this past week:
The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman
One Grain of Rice by Demi
Savitri by Aaron Shepard
The Tiger and the Brahmin
9 Animals & The Well by James Rumford
The Monkey & The Crocodile by Paul Galdone
The Sacred River by Ted Lewin
Buddhist Stories by Anita Ganeri
Once a Mouse by Marcia Brown 

The non-fiction reader I found for them was:

National Geographic Investigates: Ancient India: Archaeology Unlocks the secrets of India's past by Anita Dalal 
They only read selected chapters of this book that I chose for them.  We read some basic information on Hinduism and Buddhism but I did not want to delve into too many details.  I wanted my children to be aware of other religious practices and why they are not what we believe to equip them for future discussions but I did not want to press too much of it upon thier young minds.  This was purely a personal family choice and how much and what you read or have them read is entirely up to you.  Many of the books contain Buddhist and Hindu stories but I chose to present them as I would any fable or fairy tale. 

Science -
We admittedly had a weak week in the science arena.  All good intentions were not achieved.  The kids did read a bit about volcanoes in Usborne's Finding Out About Everyday Things.  They're also working through a Magic Tree House Research Guide, Tsunamis.   I also printed some pages from Enchanted Learning on tsunamis and volcanoes.  We had plans on using a small science kit to create our own underwater mountain and errupting volcano from a Super Science kit I purchased from Scholastic.  I could not find the item on their website to link it for you but here is a photo of the box and I will post photos when we complete this project in the upcoming week.   Many of us remember how to make volcanoes with baking soda and vinegar from when we were children but for those who don't, here's a link.

Music- Music & Art (my favorite subject) did not get the time they deserved this week either.  It's unfortunate but we will hop back on track next week.  As we are studying Mozart, we did have time to listen to Mozart this week.  The kids listened while they were doing thier chores and one night asked if they could play it in thier rooms quietly at bedtime.  I was secretly thrilled at this but let them believe it was a treat :) anyway.  It worked wonders!  Our goal is, at a minimum, to listen twice a week for 30 minutes.  With the time we spend in the car and the inexpensive tape players I purchased for the kids' rooms we can normally complete this goal and more for the listening piece.  I have decided this is the most important part and the rest we will strive for (reading the bios, coloring pages, and completing notebook pages) but I at least want them to develop an ear for good music.

That was our Week 11.  I'm rearranging and planning Week 12 to make up for the short days and the one day that we just decided we were all (including mom) too tired and cranky and ill to do any of it.  I look forward to posting our Week 12 update next week!

Enjoy your children and the blessings your homeschool brings you this week!


1 comment:

Orla's Ark said...

I love you collection of curriculum! We have been homeschooling our daughter about 4 years and she loves learning about animals, that's why we started sharing our homeschool science project, Orla's Ark, with others. Love the blog, Thank you!