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For some reason I have been overly ambitious about homeschooling this weekend. I’ve been putting our 2011/2012 year together. I’ve broken it into Summer 2011 and 2011/2012 year (September through May). I’d love to do a lighter load this summer (2 hour days). Usually I don’t have too much of a problem narrowing choices down into a reasonable day. But I keep running into curriculum choices I can’t resist, and I’ve been hit particularly hard with curriculum lust this week.

So far, here’s what our summer is looking like. Talk about Curriculum Overload! I need to narrow this down!

If I talk it all out on my blog, maybe that will help me drop some stuff. The numbers in front of the subjects are how I rate them according to priority groups. We’ve got 4 different priorities, with a few extras at the bottom that I just added and not sure what priority (if any) they are. Taking it from the top… I’ve crossed off the things with the most potential to drop, and added question marks to things we might drop next.

  • ETC 8: The first subject is ETC, which is a phonics/spelling/reading review for us. We’re on book 8, the last book, and following the above schedule, we should be done the first week of July. Then it’s over forever.
  • GWG/FLL 3: The next two are purely grammar programs. We’ve had no problem using both and I love how they complement each other. But if we end up having to drop one, we’ll drop FLL temporarily. We accelerated grammar because it does so much for my little writer.
  • Singapore Math: Our main math we love. In the fall we’ll go back to doing this 4-5 days a week. We’ll finish up 1B soon and dig into 2A this summer.
  • Math Mammoth?: The math that was supposed to be just our supplement, but I couldn’t resist the cute workbook format I made with the ProClick and we just got done doing a week of it on our Oregon vacation. I am not sure why I’ve scheduled it more than Singapore. But this is something I will definitely lessen and probably only do when we’re out of town.
  • Getty-Dubay Italics?: Satori wanted to try out a fancy new handwriting program. We started with their 2nd grade book B. The spaces to write are so huge though and it’s hard for Satori to get used to. She writes very neat and tiny. I’m not sure why we need handwriting anymore to tell the truth, so we possibly might drop this, or at least get to a more suitable book level.
  • All About Spelling: One of our core favorites, but we’ll only be doing 2 days a week over the summer, switching back to 3 days/week in the fall. We’re more than halfway through Level 4 and will start Level 5 this fall.
  • Writing With Ease: I feel so guilty flying without WWE on the WTM forums. Out of all our curriculum choices, this is one both Satori and I pretty much dislike. The concept behind it sounds great for young children, and I wanted to give it a third try. But we’ve got so much on our plate, this will be one of the first to drop, simply because we dread doing these lessons. I don’t know why, they’re set up as so easy to teach.
  • Write Source 2?: Since Satori actually does write, this is what we use to help her with her varying writing genre. This tends to get skipped a lot, so I’ve tried to break it down into manageable chunks twice a week. We only do the student text that focuses on writing and not the other parts. We may drop this if EPGY LAW (Language Arts and Writing) covers writing well.
  • Vocabulary (Wordly Wise and Evan Moore Word a Day): Satori loves to learn vocabulary and it doesn’t take long. We’ll skip the reading part of the WW workbook and learn the terms on the free online site, do the games, and do the exercises in the book.
  • MCT Island?: We’ve gotten our feet wet into the Grammar book and really enjoy reading it together, but we’ve already got so much grammar. We also have their Poetry, Sentence Island, Building Language, etc… We’ll see how it goes.
  • SOTW History: We’re a bit behind and wanted to take the summer to finish up SOTW 1 – Ancients in time for SOTW 2 this fall.
  • RSO Life: Wrapping up Plants this summer and easing into RSO Earth and Space this fall. Satori has taken an interest in biology, so we’re going on lots of in-depth rabbit trails in this area.
  • Geography: We use a variety of resources, including online geography games, puzzles, and workbooks. This summer Satori will memorize all the countries of the world. She does this easily, we are almost finished with Europe and will move to Asia next. For workbook, we’ll use the Evan-Moor Geography a Day 2nd grade. We whipped through tons of geography workbooks, this will be our first time trying this out.
  • Elementary Spanish: This is super easy to implement and adds lots of vocabulary. No problem there.
  • Getting Started with Spanish: Can drop this.
  • Song School Latin: Can drop. If not, we’ll finish up quickly and be done with forever. We’ll start Lively Latin in the fall.
  • Logic/Critical Thinking: We use various workbooks/resources, it only takes 5 minutes a few times a week, so we’ll keep this subject.
  • Meet the Masters: Love this program! The art projects that have us copy a concept from the artist slow us down though, so we’ll skip those and just focus on the art appreciation aspect. I’d love to go through the program faster so we can learn about more artists, yay!
  • Artistic Pursuits: We slack on this one, but it actually doesn’t take much time to do. I think Satori really enjoys it, so we’ll spend the summer and try to get through AP Book 1. No biggie if we don’t get to it every week, when we do get to it, we tend to do several lessons at once.
  • Read and Understand and Daily Paragraph Editing: The next two are both Evan Moor workbooks. Both these workbooks I’ll probably slash for this summer. The Read and Understand looked interesting, we could combine reading with another subject. The Daily Paragraph Editing is fun for Satori to take a red pen and slash and edit. Maybe we’ll revisit these this fall.
  • Singapore My Pals Are Here Science – This is one I just realized we could do this weekend. There is a HOTS component that might challenge Satori. This program looks interesting because there’s a text, workbook/activities, challenging book (HOTS), and other components. Kinda like Singapore Math, which we love!
  • EPGY Math and LAW (Language Arts and Writing): David really wanted Satori enrolled in this, so now we’re all registered and paid and ready to roll. I’m not sure what to expect.

If we actually do follow the above schedule, here’s what our days would look like in the next two months. Monday-Thursday averages 2.5-3 hours, with 2 hours on Friday, and 1 hour (of easy stuff) on the weekend days. I really want to get everything below 2.5 hours, with a 1 hour Friday.

The last few subjects were ones I only recently discovered and that’s what tipped the scale to be overwhelming curriculum overload for me. Give us a few weeks and we’ll pare our schedule down and let you all know how it’s all working out!

Screenshots were from the online scheduling program I use – Homeschool SkedTrack. Oh and one more thing that is overwhelming me – I wanted to program my own online scheduler to have all the features I wanted. I love web programming, but it would require too much out of me right now, it’s been several years since I was last active in programming.

September 7 we started our official first grade, including all our new curriculum choices. I’ll go through everything briefly, following our curriculum list on the right side of this blog. One update already, we are doing three hours a day approximately, with a very light load on Mondays, in which we’ll be trying out OPTIONS (one day a week).

Explode the Code workbooks: We had just finished up ETC 4 and towards the end, the workbooks turned out to not be so independent as all prior books have been. We still really love Explode the Code, but now the vocabulary is a bit more unfamiliar, and of course the work itself was more challenging as well. I think all the three-syllable work at the end intimidated Satori, even though she could read them. We have never used the 1/2 extra practice books, but for some reason I did purchase ETC 4 1/2 just to look at, but didn’t think I needed it, so I put it up for sale on Amazon. Last week I quickly took it off Amazon Marketplace, and Satori started to use this for the extra practice. We’re doing four pages a day as always, even a few weekend days here and there. Our of curiosity, I have MCP Plaid Phonics B and Level C arriving this Tuesday, so we might try this out for awhile. More on that in a week or two…

Beyond the Code – Since we finished our official reading program, I thought we’d try the Beyond the Code series for reading practice. It’s okay. The first book is way too simple, and I wish we had started half a year earlier on these, or at least when we were on the ETC 2 and 3 books. Satori loves following the story of Zack the Dog, and it has enough coloring and writing to have her asking to work on Beyond the Code everyday. I totally skip some of the workbook pages, as they’re insultingly simple for her at this time. We’ll probably zoom through the series 1-4, as Satori is getting a kick out of the stories. I see I forgot to put this up on the side bar, I’ll have to do that, as we will be using this program for sure now.

All About Spelling – We’ll be on Level 3 book, Lesson 9 this week, and as always, it’s going well! I recently blogged about the spelling rules she’s learning. She often asks to do spelling lessons, and this is one of the subjects I try to slow down a bit.

RightStart Math B – I’m trying my hardest to do this four days a week now, and Satori is now doing the worksheets easily. This program just blows my mind how effective it is. I intend to give it the priority it deserves this year!

Math Mammoth 1A – We just started this last week and although Satori is not thrilled about the worksheets, she does them without complaint. The first worksheets are super easy, they are addition problems like 2+3 or 5+0. I don’t have too much feedback on this yet, but we’ll be doing these worksheets 2-3 times a week, with about 2-3 worksheets per lesson.

Handwriting Without Tears Cursive – Another amazing program. Satori is kinda teaching herself cursive, so I’m going to try to keep up with her interest by doing this 3x a week and doing 2 pages per lesson. We’re using StartWrite Worksheet Wizard quite a bit now that we’re learning cursive, it has the HWT Print and Cursive fonts!

Story of the World 1 – just chugging along, we have a great time with this program, as you can see by all the blog posts.

Write Source Grade 1 – This is one of our brand new programs, we had finished up WS Kindergarten, but First Grade is more indepth of course. Satori begs to do her new “grammar” program everyday, even though it’s mostly a writing program. She’s finally learning how to write, which is probably her most favorite activity in the entire world. The program does cover some grammar, which is why she’s been calling it her “new grammar program”.

Aesop’s Fables: My Book about Reading, Writing, Thinking – I recently realized I had this program laying around and that now is the time that Satori can appreciate it. It looks like a lot of fun for her, so we’ll be starting this next week. Sorry that I have no feedback on it yet.

Growing With Grammar 1 – I was really looking forward to a more independent program where Satori can write in a workbook (she seems to dig that kind of thing), but she just does it like it’s a job she doesn’t particularly enjoy. I’ll give it a few more weeks and write up more about our experiences. We may drop this.

Writing With Ease 1 and First Language Lessons 2 – These programs go too slow, so we do these 2-3x a week doing several lessons at a time. Not too impressed with WWE yet, but I do think FLL has great value for us. People on the WTM forums that I frequent love these programs, so they do work for most children. We may drop Writing With Ease.

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey – Life – We’re actually doing science this year and having lots of fun! The program itself makes it all so easy. I’ve made an updated list of books that are easy to find, as this program really benefits from reading additional books.

Wordly Wise 3000 Grade 1 – Satori still loves this for vocabulary, and we’ll be starting the Second Grade series soon, which is totally different.

Elementary Spanish – We bought a subscription to Discovery Streaming and this great spanish program is offered there. We’ll watch the 20 minute video once or twice a week (they seem to have great review built-in) and do the corresponding worksheets. Here’s Satori watching the first video for the second time and coloring her sheets. I normally download the higher quality 700kbps video and play it full-screen, but here we just watched it on the smaller screen as it was on my laptop and the Internet connection was slow that night for some reas0n.

La Clase Divertida – I had this program already, so we’ll be watching the videos and doing some of the activities, but I think Elementary Spanish will be our main Spanish program. I thought Satori would love this DVD, but she seemed a bit bored.

We’re really trying to learn Spanish this year, as in two months we’re going on an eastern Caribbean cruise and we’ll be hitting Mexico and Honduras!

Song School Latin – this is a very gentle, easy Latin program for young children. We did one lesson this week and Satori loved it. I posted the video last week of her singing her SSL song. 🙂 We just learned four terms, and she’s been using them all the time throughout the week.

Meet the Masters – really enjoying this program!

Artistic Pursuits – starting Book 1

Drawing with Children – have yet to get into this…

This summer has been pretty relaxed, and I have to admit, I’ve been pretty relaxed since we started homeschooling back in February 2009. I’ve designated Tuesday, September 7, as the date we really get serious with Grade One! I’ve spent countless hours researching the perfect curriculum for us and have planned it all out for the entire school year.

I’ve updated (and still need to make a few tiny updates) our First Grade 2010/2011 Curriculum page. Some new curriculum we’ll be starting and blogging about this year are: Beyond the Code, Write Source Grade 1, Growing With Grammar, Meet the Masters, Drawing with Children and adding math supplements (MEP Math and perhaps Math Mammoth or Miquon).

I’ve cleared room on this shelf for all the binders we’ll be using this year, a whole size/color array of my favorite Staples Better Binders! I tried to print out all the worksheets/paper stuff we’ll need for the entire year for all our programs. I’ve also stocked up two Staples Desk Apprentices that twirl around with our textbooks and workbooks.

I’m starting to map out our Art Appreciation read-along books to coordinate with Meet the Masters. I’ve done the same for R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey – Life, with a page on additional resource suggestions for RSO Life. I’ve linked to all the Elementary Spanish videos on our Discovery Streaming subscription.

The only things left to do this weekend is to map out two more subjects – Drawing with Children and figure out our music. For music I would love to give a light intro to Music Appreciation as well as start piano lessons.

Not Back to School Blog Hop
It’s time for the Heart of the Matter Not Back to School Hop, and this week it’s Curriculum Week! (Oops, I missed this week by a a few days, but since I wrote this post, I’ll just leave it.) I remember participating in some of these last year. Perfect timing too, as we’ve had a few months of trying out our new First Grade curriculum choices already, so we know how things are going to work out.

This blog post will summarize what we’ll be using for all our First Grade subjects, you can always see them at a glance on the right side of the blog. I’ve also created a First Grade Curriculum page where I can into more detail about our choices and how we plan to implement them. We do lessons Monday through Friday about 2-3 hours a day, year-long with extended breaks a few times a year.

The below schedule is what we’ll be following starting September 2010, even though we started first grade June 2010.

First Grade Curriculum 2010/2011

Reading/Phonics (we wrapped our our main program, Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, August 2010)

  • Explode the Code Workbooks 4-8, great review on everything, humorous worksheets
  • Beyond the Code – to start in September as a trial, may ditch this if we don’t like
  • Various read-alouds – both mom and Satori reading aloud to each other

Math


Spelling


Handwriting


History


Writing

Grammar

Science


Vocabulary


  • Wordly Wise 3000 Grade 1 – after this colorful (but expensive) program finishes, not sure if we’ll continue with Wordly Wise 2+ (which is not as colorful but is inexpensive), but we’ll definitely be using something. Satori loves learning vocabulary and loves the Wordly Wise K-1 curriculum!

Art

  • Artistic Pursuits K-3 Book Onefor general art
  • Meet the Masters – for artist study, just started this and love it
  • Drawing With Children – for realistic drawing
  • various art project books/websites – we really want to enjoy art this year!

Critical Thinking

Geography

Just wanting to throw down my latest thoughts…

FIRST GRADE CURRICULUM

We started “first grade” this summer to ease  ourselves in a bit more into being a bit more rigorous. We still just do 1-1.5 hours a day at this point. This fall I’d love to increase our workload to 2-3 hours a day, but that is including some creative stuff like art and music. I’ve got our curriculum all finalized and almost finished working out our Fall 2010 daily lesson plans. I’ve been following this 50+ page thread on WTM forums on how to organize using files/crates, and gotten some good ideas from it. I don’t think I’m going to go that far, but it has given me some ideas and inspiration. I may get some use out of the Workbox system and Loop, although again, I probably won’t follow the method 100%. I think I’ve gotten ideas from all the major planning/organization methods that are making their rounds this time of year.

I’ve divided our subjects into three groups. Core, Support, and Enrichment. (I just came up with those names  out of the top of my head just now, hehe.)

Core is most important and first on our priority list. Right now they are only Reading and Math (although that may change). This fall, we’ll have finished our formal phonics reading program, but we’ll continue to practice reading and gain fluency. We’ll keep working on our ETC workbooks for as long as they work for us. For Math, our main math program is RightStart, and we’ll do 20 minutes 4 times a week. Because Satori now doesn’t like to finish the RS worksheets, we might try a bit of Math Mammoth worksheets everyone has been raving about.  I’d love to incorporate MEP too a few days. This supplemental math will take 10 minutes a day, 4 days a week. Total for our Core is one hour a day. We’ll be tackling these first and then take a short break. We’ll be doing these Core lessons everyday, in some way or another.

Support subjects are those lessons that support our core. Some of these might make it into our Core down the road, but right now I’m not too worried about them. These subjects may be ones that Satori excels at and I’d actually like to slow down to give priority to our core. Or they are ones that I don’t think are crucial at this time, but they are definitely important and nice to work on, so I give them secondary priority. Our second hour will be filled with Support subjects. These are Handwriting (we’re starting cursive), Spelling, Grammar, and Writing. Due to Satori really enjoying creative writing, some of this might seem to go at an accelerated pace for a first grader. Handwriting and Spelling will be our usual curriculum – Handwriting Without Tears and All-About-Spelling. Grammar and Writing we are trying out some new stuff, while still keeping First Language Lessons and Writing With Ease. These two programs seem too easy for Satori, but I like the memorization, narration, and copywork that these programs promote. We will be adding Growing With Grammar Grade 1 and Write Source Grade 1. Support lessons will be done 2-3 times a week.

Enrichment subjects are subjects like history, science, vocabulary, art, music, logic, geography, etc… Not totally necessary, but so much fun! I plan to really ramp up our Art now, and we are thinking of starting Notebooking for subjects like history, science, and nature study. I’ve made some changes to what we’ve done in the past so we shouldn’t get so far behind in history and science. Enrichment subjects will be tackled 1-2 times a week.

By thinking of our subjects in this way, we’ll get our priorities in order and make sure we get the most important things done for sure and done first.

When I get some time, I will flesh out our First Grade curriculum Fall semester, as I do every semester and talk about our choices in a little more detail.

ATELIER STUDIO

I’m adding a bit of creative inspiration to our great room, I’ve got some great ideas for an art table, writing table and birding watch to place in our main room, while still hopefully retaining a room that we can still hang out in and not be overwhelmed by messy homeschool stuff. We’ll see.

Here’s a photo of David putting together our new art table: