Phew, what a doozy of months these last few have been. As most of you know by now, we decided to homeschool. And it’s certainly been an adventure, to say the least. I’ve put in hours of researching curriculum and educational schools of thought. I would find that I thought Z and I aligned with one, only to discover the exact opposite. I also have to keep in mind that after we leave FL, she will likely go back to public/private/some sort of school (as I plan on completing my masters once E is done). So, while I don’t teach to standards, I do have an idea of what schools are doing, so I can make sure we get her there (albeit, probably not the same way).
I did buy some curriculum (I know, rookie mistake), but some of it has worked out. What we’ve done for the most part though is find our rhythm (which we still don’t have completely, but we’re getting there). Z isn’t a morning person, and I most certainly am, which has presented some issues, but like I said, we’ll get there. But what are we using, curriculum-wise?
Spelling – All About Spelling
I bought All About Spelling because I read so many excellent reviews of it. It really has a great and specific way of teaching…it’s just not our cup of tea. So, for now, I’m using materials purchased through TeachersPayTeachers.com (LOVE this site!!), as well as some spelling games (mostly found through Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool).
Grammar – First Language Lessons
I’m mixed about this curriculum. It’s really popular in the sphere of homeschool bloggers I follow, but it just hasn’t thrilled me. This could stem from the fact that I’ve found Z to be more of a kinesthetic learner, so while she loves sitting down and interacting with me, I think she gets bored easily. I think I may adapt my own curriculum with some ideas from this one, but won’t likely continue with it. (Side note: If you have an auditory learner, this would be a great curriculum for them!)
No curriculum for this one! I subscribed to Epic! which she has loved, and we frequent our new library (which she also loves). She has a huge love of reading (can I say love anymore in this paragraph?), so I’ve just let her go with it. She’s good about finding books from different genres. You’ll see her books from our most recent library trip above. I’d say that’s pretty diverse. Haha! I’m working on figuring out what read-alouds we can do together for the rest of the year (one of my favorite projects!!)
Journaling has been huge for us. Z is not a fan of writing, overall, so I’m still searching for ways to make it more appealing. While in brick-and-mortar school, she was taught through Handwriting Without Tears, which seemed to really resonate with her. I have her work book from 1st grade (which they finished about half of), so I’m contemplating buying the teaching manual and starting this curriculum up.
Life of Fred
She has LOVED this curriculum. I think, after growing increasingly frustrated with math via the common core route, this has been a great shake-up. I also love that he interjects more than just math. We’ve learned about boating, weather, days of the week, and plenty more. Plus, he lives in KS, and mentions it frequently, which she loves. I’m still trying to find more to supplement with, but haven’t found anything we’re entirely crazy about. This is the one area I stress the most about. I’ve never been a huge fan of math, but I can’t deny it’s necessity. It’s also something that she will likely be compared with her peers, and I want to make sure she’s as prepared as possible once she goes back to a brick and mortar school.
I’ve used this, so far, as mostly a review for Z. We do LoF majority of the week, and then I use Singapore to review basic concepts. I’m not thrilled with it. It’s very visual and great for kinesthetic learners, but I’m not clicking with it. We’ll see what happens.
I am ALL ABOUT UNIT STUDIES when it comes to Social Studies. Z seems to take a genuine interest in SS, so it’s so fun for me to prepare for. We’re about halfway through a unit study on Native Americans (I’ll break down what we did/are doing in a separate post).
We’re getting ready to start a Citizenship/Election unit, and have also started a “Halloween Around the World” unit (which is SO much fun!) TpT (TeachersPayTeachers.com) is seriously a lifesaver for unit studies. I’m addicted.
We’ve been focused mainly on geography and US history so far. I’m pretty intimidated by World History, but I’m doing my research!
SS has been the subject I’ve been most successful with apps. Z uses Stack the States, Presidents v Aliens, and Carmen Sandiego Returns (ahhh, my childhood heart leaps for joy!)
She also has the Leap Frog US & World Maps with her Leap Pen, and loves using it.
I’ll be honest. I’ve had the best of intentions with science. It’s been the most difficult for me to wrap my head around, and I’m not sure why. I think I’m overcomplicating it (as is common for me). We’ve gone on nature walks quite a bit, but I’d really like to make them more intentional. We learned about the life cycle of a pumpkin. But I want to do MORE. I’m just really trying to focus my thoughts. There’s so many cool things to do with science, but I guess I just don’t want it to be about doing cool things, I want it to be intentional.
I feel a lot of pressure with this one too. Mainly because I was always so disappointed with how little science she was able to do while in school. It was no fault of the teachers, they just simply didn’t have the time. But again, we’ll get there.
This has been a challenge. She’s always loved gymnastics, but now she’s in a class with girls that are older than her (2-4 years older), and they are, of course, more advanced. Z looks like she is their age (a constant struggle — yes, she is 7. Yes, I know she’s tall. Yes, I’m sure you did think she was around 10. Rinse. Repeat). So, it’s been frustrating. There are a few other homeschool classes at this particular place, so we might try a different day/time to see if it’s more her pace.
We just started this class this past week. And she really enjoyed it! She can be pretty shy, but luckily she already knew two of the kids in the class, and they helped make the transition easy. I’m excited to see how this develops.
I cannot say enough about our cooking curriculum. We LOVE Raddish! It’s a monthly subscription cooking curriculum. They send three recipes (and a bonus project), a gift for the month (this past month, it was measuring cups) and a patch to iron on to the apron they provide in your first shipment. They also give you lesson plans to align with cooking projects. We used two of the lesson plans, and they were great. Plus, she gets mail every month, and what kid doesn’t love mail? (Use my referral code: fmwhcn and you’ll get a $10 account credit!)
Teachers Pay Teachers
Cannot say enough about this site. Just because Z & I have left a brick and mortar for the time being doesn’t mean I don’t still value the experience of great teachers. Teachers that make items for TpT are insanely passionate about education, and that means a great deal to me. Part of my issue with our school system, in it’s current state, is that educators aren’t given enough opportunity to use their experience to facilitate change and growth in academia. Plus, I’m happy to support teachers with my purchases!
Like I said above, I found that SS has been my easiest subject to supplement with apps. I’ll make sure to write another blog post with some of our favorite apps. We’re so thankful to be able to have a hand-me-down iPad to supplement us at home.
I’ve found that I love supplementing or introducing new ideas/curriculum/units with YouTube. There is SO much on there. Some of our favs so far have been:
Cosmic Kids Yoga : I was so excited when I found this YouTube channel. However, when I went to introduce it to Z, she totally stole my thunder and said she already knew about it because her music teacher back in KC used to use it in class! Regardless, it’s a great focus tool with Z, and it’s just fun! (Plus, I love any chance to share mindfulness practice in obvious ways!)
Welcome to Fresberg : This is such a great channel that tackles everything from hurricane facts to more difficult subjects (ie. I used a video about the Trail of Tears to explain it to Z). Plus, the narrator has a fantastic voice to listen to. So many great videos to choose from.
Anything Kid President: I plan on using a lot of his videos for our Citizenship unit. He’s such a great, inspiring example of goodness. If we could all be like Kid President, the world would be a beautiful place!
So, if you’re just beginning homeschooling — what are you doing curriculum wise (if anything?)