2015-2016 Curriculum & Schedule

Here it is. The full span of curriculum I’m using (so far) for Big Girl. To avoid a ‘summer slide’, I’ve chosen to implement an all-year-round school schedule. Our school year began July 6th (7th, really, because we had a medical emergency on July 6th – happy flexible homeschooling days!) and will run through June 30th next year. We’ll be working in 6 week blocks (terms) followed by a week ‘off’. We’ll run a lighter schedule in December and June, and include a two week break in December.

We’re officially halfway done with Term 1, which is great! Big Girl’s been filling out this adorable star chart to count down our six week terms. I printed out the black and white version available on the website (click the picture!) and she’s been coloring in one star every weekday.

 

Our state, Montana, requires very little of homeschoolers, except that we provide 1080 hours of schooling. That works out to approximately 6 hours a day over 180 days. We’re not doing 6 hours of school a day, exactly (some days, yes… but I have 3 kids and many distractions) and I expect the number of official hours to drop as things are streamlined with only one doing homeschooling in late August. But considering we do also do a bit of schooling on the weekends and through our breaks, and counting all the physical ed they get doing swimming and tee-ball and yoga and bike riding, and all the home ec they get learning to cook and clean and do yardwork… well. 1080 hours whizzes by quickly.

We complete most subjects daily, including geography, history, and science. I may try alternating history and science days later, but for now it’s been working well to do a little of each every day.

Anyway, here it is. The Plan. Big Girl is in 4th Grade this year, but she’s struggling in certain subjects, so some of these resources are not at grade level.

Language Arts

  • Reading:  Big Girl had a rough start with reading, so we’re working on vocabulary and building fluency here. No curriculum here, just lots and lots of stories and books. She also reads portions of the poetry assigned in some of the other curriculum. Right now, she’s being assigned a story or a chapter in a novel every day 5 days a week, and on top of that, she needs to complete 20 minutes a day of free reading as well.
  • Grammar:  English Lessons Through Language (Level 2) and First Language Lessons (Level 2). We’re alternating these every other day. I had purchased FLL initially, enjoying the gentle, verbal style, but ELTL was bundled in a sale a couple months ago, so I added it in. It’s fantastic. If I had to choose, I think I like it /just a bit/ more than FLL, though it’s a tough choice. ELTL has daily poetry, weekly picture study (Charlotte Mason Style), narrations, fables, copywork, and grammar exercises. FLL has most of that, but not quite all, but it’s more guided and scripted and somewhat less rigorous. They cover roughly the same content in much the same way, so they work together nicely.
  • Writing:  Writing With Ease, Level 1 — Right now, since my younger two are also working on this, I’m working this as prescribed, but in Term 2, I plan to speed this up so Big Girl can cover two lessons per day instead of one. WWE is a fabulous Charlotte Mason styled writing curriculum. Level 1 is really aimed at first graders, with intensely guided narrations and copywork from selected children’s novels. Level 2 is currently too difficult for Big Girl, but I think she will progress rapidly as she becomes used to the process of narration and copywork. I hope to cover all of Level 1 and half of Level 2 this year.
  • Poetry:  This is largely covered in ELTL and FLL, as well as some of our science curriculum. We’re memorizing certain poems and enjoying the process completely!
  • Penmanship:  Copywork as provided in the other language programs we’re using. Big Girl is working on bettering her cursive. She writes beautifully, but it takes her a while as she’s still developing the skill. I’m creating much of her copywork with the Learning Curve Pro font as a model and specific letter formation sheets with the dashed version as well.
  • Spelling:  Sequential Spelling 1 — Only three weeks in so far, but I’m liking the process! Verdit’s still out on how much it will actually help my atrocious little speller.

Math

  • CTC Math – Daily lessons 5x/week. This curriculum has been enjoyable for the kids so far. They love the short lessons and the ability to earn certificates.
  • Xtra Math – Daily practice.
  • Number of the Day – I downloaded a worksheet packet intended for first grade. All of my kids struggle with math some, so this has been working out fine for now, reinforcing place value (a huge struggle for Big Girl) and basic math facts. In Term 2, I’ll switch to a third grade one for Big Girl alone. We do these 4 days a week.

History

Geography

  • Expedition Earth – We’re doing world geography, because I personally believe it’s highly important to learn about the world early in life. My exposure to history and geography as a child were heavily skewed toward American History, and I want… something more worldly for her. This is a 5 day a week program, and it, too, has loads of activities. I find myself having to pick and choose a bit, because we just don’t have time for all of it.
  • Trail Guide to World Geography – In addition, we’re doing some of the mapwork and the “Trails” questions in this fantastic book.

Science

  • Elemental Science: Biology — We’re doing Biology this year, at Big Girl’s request. Elemental Science is one of the few non-biblical science programs I could find, and so far, I love it. It, too, has a classical/Charlotte Mason styled approach, with experiments and projects, but also reading and notebooking.
  • Astronomy:  Waiting to see if I can spring for Memoria Press’s Astronomy curriculum, but if not, we’ll just get by studying the constellations and such using the monthly star charts available for free at Skymaps.

Art

  • Picture Study, as in ELTL.
  • I’m also having the kids do 2-3 index card drawings/colorings a week, often while they’re listening to one of the audiobook stories from ELTL. Sometimes I give them a theme or ask them to draw something from the story they’re listening to, but other times, I let them free draw what they’d like.
  • Some drawing exercises.
  • Later, she will be doing a unit study on Horses, so we will implement some drawing of horses there.
  • Sewing and Embroidery will be a theme this year. Big Girl has her own sewing machine now. She’s just beginning and will learn about the machine, hand stitching, and making simple items like pillowcases.

Health

  • Big Girl is at that age. So we’re using the American Girl: The Care and Keeping of You For Younger Girls book to introduce girls’ health and puberty issues to her. We’ll supplement with a couple other body books in my stash. She’s also learning about healthy eating and exercise and has become an avid water drinker.

Music

  • Well, this is up in the air. We were going to do piano lessons… but someone broke my piano. Yeah. Not sure what we’re gonna do now, as I don’t have the money to fix it.

Physical Ed

  • Swimming in the summer! Almost daily.
  • Bike riding.
  • Yoga and stretching – flexibility.

Miscellaneous

  • Daily Notebook – The kids have a daily notebook where they record the days of school, chart weather info, and a couple other miscellaneous sheets of ‘fun’ to do daily.
  • Typing:  FreeTypingGame.net for typing. Big Girl loves it even more than Dance Mat Typing. The lessons are straightforward and motivate her without all the distracting colors and sounds of Dance Mat Typing.
  • Japanese:  Yes, we’re studying Japanese. Orally for now, possibly bringing in some hiragana later. We’re working off youtube and various internet resources, and my own personal knowledge of the language. I need a refresher myself!
  • Horses:  Big Girl wants a unit on Horses, so a Unit on Horses she shall get. I purchased a unit study and will skip over the parts pertaining to religion to do the rest for a month or so.
  • Birds:  We’ll also do a Bird Unit in November, which is when Project Feeder Watch begins. We’ll be utilizing some resources from Birdsleuth as well as another unit study and resources I’ve found on the internet.

 

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