Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Curriculum Choices…

The advantage of being late in publishing our Curriculum Choices for the school year is that we have a good clue of what works and what doesn’t work!

Since 5yo Esmé is in school four days a week, we don’t get to do as much stuff.  We do get to focus on the important stuff and skip out on the peripheral subjects, like handwriting and other busywork.  In fact, my motto in choosing curricula this year:  NO BUSYWORK!

Daily Listening Time:  Bible/History/Science/Values Resources
Bedtime is prime real estate time in Esmé’s brain, it seems, and she LOVES read alouds and audio books, we’ve got some good stuff planned for evenings each day of the week.
  • PhotobucketThe World’s Greatest Stories.  We reviewed one of these CDs last year, and we just invested in the rest.  Dramatized Bible stories, word-for-word from the Bible, Esmé could not get enough of the one CD we have.  An easy way to hide His word in one’s heart.  Great for all elementary ages.
  • Your Story Hour.  We’ve had a set of Bible stories through the life of Christ, and it is amazing how much Esmé has picked up on biblical knowledge from listening to these at bedtime for several years.  We just purchased the Acts of the Apostles set, along with two history sets.  Best prices I’ve seen are at www.libraryanded.com.  And if you want a free weekly sampling, you can listen in at www.oneplace.com – we regularly check there for the stories we don’t already have.  Great for all elementary ages.
  • The Bible Story Set.  We invested in these a couple of years ago, and we still love the illustrations and the inclusion of so many Bible stories in this series.  I try to read one chapter a night.  Great for all elementary ages.
  • Mystery of HistoryWe have Volumes I & II on CD; eagerly awaiting Volumes III & IV.  I love the chronological, world-wide approach to history from a Christian perspective; Esmé enjoys the stories.  For now, this age, we are just listening, not expanding or doing supplemental material.
  • Really Truly Stories #8/9Mary Martha’s Really-Truly Stories.  My parents recently found a reprint of this set of books by Gwendolen Lampshire Hayden; I think these were originally published in the 1940s, chock full of real old-timey stories that illustrate Christian values.  We’re reading a chapter a night.
  • Jonathan Park.  Just got turned on to these in my quest for a creation-based science audio series.  They have a weekly free show online, and we’ve subsequently bought two sets of CDs.
  • Paws & TalesAnother favorite audio collection of ours, with Bible and values and more, is Chuck Swindoll’s Paws & Tales.  We have two DVDs, which has heightened Esmé’s interest in the program (she had a hard time following all the animals at first).  I love the podcast format, which means I can sync up my iPod and play the weekly episodes in the car, etc.
Our homeschool days will be a bit more intense…
  • Math.  Since Esmé is working nicely above grade level and we’d like to keep her there, we’ll continue with math at home.  No worksheets… Life of Fred! A favorite that has been a great way to start the day – with some cuddle-reading time that Esmé enjoys, and Mom always feels like we’ve learned at least one thing, even if we accomplish nothing else!
  • IXL LogoMath II.  We’ll also continue doing IXL, since I’m kinda fond of checklists and standards and all that (duck…).  IXL shows exactly where she is at in terms of Oregon’s standards.  Since it’s on the computer, Esmé tolerates it ok, especially if she wins a prize after mastering a concept.
  • Science.  We’re working through Noeo Biology I.  This is the curriculum I always wanted but never knew existed!  Perfect for a book-loving kid and a busy mom, it is comprised of lots of read alouds and hands-on experiements – all materials included!
  • imageHistory.  Continuing the read-aloud trend, we’ve revived our TruthQuest History course (American History for Young Students III) – an introduction to a topic with an awesome booklist to choose from.  Some weeks we read (or watch) a lot, other weeks not much – just staying flexible.  Even with our small secular library, there are stacks of good material on Cowboys, so we’ve spent a lot of time there.
  • The All About Spelling ProgramSpelling.  This was a last-minute addition when I realized that Esmé’s spelling/writing skills are WAY behind her reading skills.  I wanted something that required minimum prep time by mom and would systematically teach her the rules with minimal writing – since writing makes her cranky...  All About Spelling does recommend some writing, but we are sticking with their magnet tiles for the most part.  We are still getting through the “too-easy” section of Level 1; I need to pick up the pace with it.
  • Music.  We are wrapping up KinderBach lessons.  When our membership expires in February, I think Esmé will have a good foundation for private piano lessons.
  • Bible.  Last but definitely not least on the list, we haven’t settled on any one resource for the year.  We’re hop-skip-jumping around (except for the Bible stories at night).  I picked up a new Hooked on Bible Stories set at a thrift store a while back that we’ve been working on, as well as some Fruit of the Spirit materials (some free ones towards the bottom of this page).  We have some neat devotional books with hands-on activities.  We also won a set of Esther Grapevine Bible Studies that we’ll use soon.  If the materials ever slow down and I find adequate planning time in my schedule, I hope to use the Judah Bible Curriculum, but right now we are just being blessed with Bible adventures all over the place.
So that is where we are at now, and it feels like peak saturation point!  I feel contentedly surrounded with good materials, and I love having a daughter who loves to learn…
Not Back to School Blog Hop


RockerMom a.k.a. Jennifer said...

We were gifted a set of those Bible Story books. When Robbie finishes reading his story bible to me, I plan to have him read through those. We love All About Spelling. I'm going to check out Noeo science stuff.

I think it's cool that she only goes to school 4 days per week.

Thanks for sharing!

Retiredandcrazy said...

Whew, being a mum was a lot simpler when my children were young!

Anonymous said...

I also do not like "Busy Work", I like to focus on what is important or what is in need of attention. We also only homeschool 3-4 days a week. I really enjoyed reading your curricula choices. I am always open to new ideas!

Keri- A Christian home-school mom, who LOVE'S her secular curriculum online program!