Curricula - 2017-2018 - 6th Grade - Silas

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

It happens every year. We feel completely unprepared to go give up the work-free days of summer, but all of a sudden we all are ready to go back to school. We had a very quiet June which gave us plenty of time to recover from our school days, but July came in and all of a sudden our days were full of activity, trips, and time with friends with family. It has been a great summer, but it will be nice to return to the rhythm of our school days.

This year we will be walking through the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We briefly covered this period a few years ago, but I'm looking forward to doing it this time with HOD Resurrection to Reformation. This will be my second time through this guide, and I'm really looking forward to our school discussions this year! One of the things I absolutely love about Heart of Dakota is that there are always stories of brave Christian men and women sprinkled throughout the dark days of wars and other difficult events throughout history. HOD has done such a great time of showing how God was working through his people to bring light and hope into the broken world. He still is.

I really enjoyed the history spines that cover the history in this period. Silas will spend about 15 weeks on the Middle Ages and then will cover the Renaissance using Mystery of History. He really enjoyed listening to the What in the World? audio retelling of history last year. I love how there is a great variety of books in HOD. It is nice to hear more than one voice throughout the year.

One of our favorite parts of the day is story time. I subbed out a few books this year as we read them a few years before. I look forward to sharing these stories with Silas.

Both of my boys have always been on the high end of the age range for the guides. There are extension packages included to add to your history studies for most HOD guides up through middle school. Silas will read a handful of these as they are too good to miss.

After going through a guide once I always have ideas of what would be fun to do the next time. I asked Silas what he looks forward to the most in our school days. He said that his very favorite thing we have done was to have parties with food and friends. I plan to have a medieval feast with friends this fall to share in what we are studying. I'm also hoping to do another Narnia gathering with friends in the winter. This little book had lots of great ideas for food and activities for this period of history.

Art Appreciation is scheduled once a week in this guide. I absolutely love all the beautiful pictures included in the student notebook and the Looking at Pictures book. A wonderful HOD mom shared a file with all the images we will study this year. I printed and bound it in a book so we can take a closer look at each image. Both of my boys are such artists, so it's fun to share the works of the masters with them. I think God knew how much I would delight in boys who are always up to making things. Their creativity is such a gift to me each day.

I can't wait to study Shakespeare again! We will read through half of a Shakespeare play each week. Aedan still remembers many of the stories from when he read them 3 years ago. This book is truly such a gem. I am hoping we get a chance to see a Shakespeare play this year.

This year we will study the poetry of Emily Dickinson. I love that the HOD guides all have poetry built in. Each week we will study a poem a week as well as memorize a handful throughout the year. These Poetry for Young People books are great btw. If there is one for one of the poets we have study that year I try to add it to our library. It's neat seeing an artist's representation of a poem. We also try to do poetry tea time. This summer we did a few as a family and it was even more fun. My husband is a great poetry reader!

Heart of Dakota uses Map Trek and the World History Atlas for geography. The maps place the events of history and people on the map. Over the past few years we have also added in Simply Charlotte Mason's Visits series. We will cover the continent of Asia once a week this year. The last few years we have cooked food from the places we are learning about when we can. Silas especially loves this! He has become such a great help to me in the kitchen.

This year our Bible study will focus on the book of Philippians. Silas will also memorize Philippians 1 for scripture memory as well. This is such a wonderful book to soak your soul in. You can never read it too many times in my opinion.

Twice a week there is a devotional using these resources. I absolutely love the Boyhood and Beyond book. The other two books deal with how our bodies change as we grow. Silas is starting to look far more like a young man than a boy these days.

Can I tell you a secret about writing programs? I kind of love all of them. What I have learned about myself and the boys is that it's nice to have the freedom to switch it up. There are times we might do a more structured approach with IEW. Learning the IEW way has been invaluable for approaching written narrations. However, there are times you might want nothing but freedom. Brave Writer is fantastic for times when you just want to have fun. It makes writing not feel like work. My boys love doing BW free writes and projects. We have also enjoyed Writing Strands as well. Silas enjoyed the daily lessons written directly to him. So our (plan) is to play it all by ear. This approach worked wonderfully last year.

Good ol' Rod & Staff always makes the list for grammar. This year we will complete book 5. We tried Fix It! for a while last year, but as I looked at the following books I realized that wasn't the approach that made sense for us. We were happy to come back to the familiar and mostly oral lessons of R&S.

We used Rod & Staff spelling for a few years and liked it. I decided to return to All About Spelling for a while, and then we did Phonetic Zoo last year. When I was at our homeschool convention I picked these books back up. I like how it teaches rules but is mostly independent (and affordable.) Silas is already a great speller. After years of All About Spelling and HOD dictation he could probably drop formal spelling, but I think we will do one more year. The boys started moaning for the first time last year about dictation. I am a firm believer in it, but I had to admit that I would love a break from it too after 5 years. We may return to it next year, but we will enjoy a hiatus from it this year.

I can't wait to tell you more about Teaching the Classics and Reading Roadmaps! I'm currently working on the review. We will read the many books from the Reading Roadmaps list for literature and discuss the the books using Teaching the Classics Socratic discussion questions.

We will continue our study of math with Singapore Primary Mathematics. I had played with the idea of skipping the level 6 books and move on to Pre-Algebra, but I decided we will go ahead and complete these books first. We love the short but challenging lessons. This program has definitely served Silas well.

We will also continue through Life of Fred. Silas has always loved Fred! I hope we can find a way to still use it through the years. He says I can never sell our Fred books because he wants them for his kids someday.

Astronomy and earth science are scheduled in our HOD guide this year, but we used those resources last year per Silas's request. This year he wanted to learn anatomy. He has been asking to use this Apologia anatomy book for forever, so I'm glad we had a year to give him that opportunity. We didn't get the chance to read The History of Medicine last year in Creation to Christ, so I decided to re-buy it to use this year. Blood and Guts will add some more experiment ideas. I decided against purchasing the Apologia notebook this year and instead made and printed simple notebook pages to go with our study. This will be a really fun science year!

That's all she wrote! Well almost. I pray God's blessing over your year as I do ours. Please drop me a note if you ever need help or just to share how it's going with you. I adore hearing from you!

Curricula 2017-2018 - 9th Grade - Aedan

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It's time for a new school year! Things have been quiet around here because I really tried to put school to rest as much as I could during the summer. We have enjoyed lots of time with friends and family as well as a great family trip and lots of little road trips. I think we are almost ready to put aside rest and get back to work. There's something about getting back into a routine that is a welcome rest from summer activities.

It felt like high school was so far away when we first started our homeschool journey. It's hard to believe my firstborn is a high school freshman, but he is. It's such a bittersweet thing. As I considered what to do for his first high school year I knew that we would continue on with Heart of Dakota. I don't know for sure if we will use HOD for the rest of our high school year, but this was one guide I really didn't want to miss. I had almost decided to not share what we were doing this year, but I am putting it out there so I can remember someday.

This year will be using HOD World Geography which covers the Geography, Culture, and Religions of the world. I am thrilled for Aedan to get to know his world from a biblical worldview. These are the resources that will cover the geography aspect of the program. There are videos and books that describe the exploration of the globe from the beginning of time. He will also learn to draw maps to more familiarize himself with the places of the world. As always, there are beautiful HOD notebook pages that go with each program that Aedan will complete as he goes through the program this year.

These are the World Religion and Cultures resources. I can't wait to discuss these books with Aedan. I've read many of them through the summer, and they are fantastic! I love that we will learn about world religions through autobiographies and biographies. These stories are incredibly inspiring and really show what cost others pay in other parts of the world who bravely pursue and share Christ in hostile lands.

Heart of Dakota elementary and middle school guides include storytime books. In the high school guides there is instead a "Living Library." These books are intended to be read independently rather than aloud and are for extra credit. I don't think we will get through them all, but I got them just in case our day had time to include them. They are meant to flesh out where we are in the world during our geography studies.

For the last few years I have added Simply Charlotte Mason's Visits series to our year. We have always enjoyed HOD geography, but I was starting to see that Aedan needed a little more help in identifying countries and cities in the world. Silas will also continue to do this series as well. It's only done once a week, but by the end of the year they are able to identify all the countries in the continent you study. If you know me, you'll know we will also be enjoying much Asian food this year for fun!

I decided to stick with Rod & Staff Grammar. HOD schedules books 5-8 from around 5th-12th grade. If you follow HOD's schedule you can expect to finish half a book a year. Even though the book says English 7 it is very advanced. Last year we took a break from R&S, but we returned to it and decided that it really was the best choice for us at least for now. Aedan will also work through Essentials in Writing 10 this year. We have never used this program, but I'm hoping it will be easy enough to implement.

You may have seen my Lightning Lit reviews. This year we will pick and choose from these two American guides. We will also use Teaching the Classics  to discuss other books I want him to get the chance to read.

If you've been around here lately you'll know I'm a huge Brave Writer fan. If all else fails I always fall back on the Brave Writer lifestyle. Someday I need to write an Ode to Brave Writer to share why this company has changed my thinking about writing, homeschool, and even parenting.

This year we will use Apologia Biology for science. It took me a while to come to this decision, but I finally settled on a trusted old standby for us. I shared here why I chose this program.

We will also supplement Apologia with Biology 101. This program can be used as a full credit, but this year we will just watch the videos. I plan to possibly use Physics 101 in the future more fully.

We will continue with Math U See for Algebra. I am so thankful for a doable math that has not only helped Aedan but also myself with understanding how math works.

HOD World Geography also schedules a half credit of Logic. These are great books! I look forward to studying logic with the resident debater of the house. These are the resources we will use this year.

We will use Getting Started with Spanish for a half credit of Spanish. I played with the idea of doing a more challenging program, but decided to go ahead and do a quick intro and possibly have him take a Spanish course at a co-op next year.

I struggled with whether or not to include the Bible credit that was scheduled this year. Rooted & Grounded is a wonderful course, but I was starting to think if he had to do Bible study that he wouldn't want to do it. I decided to take it at our pace, not really counting it as credit, and see how it goes. We will be doing a family Bible time, but this will give him a chance to hear the word on his own this year. I am prayerfully playing it by ear, in other words.

Practical Happiness is scheduled once a week. Folks, the books by this author are absolutely wonderful if you have young men in your life. Don't miss these books!

 Art is a big part of this kid's life. We will work through Artistic Pursuits Book 1 and Book 2 over the next few years to give him everyday practice and to learn to see art in new ways.

We are starting to think about ACT and SAT prep. How did that happen!? I picked up these vocabulary cards. We will cycle through these throughout the year.

That about wraps it up! Of course if you've been a homeschooler for a while you know well-laid plans can look very different at the end of the year from how they appeared in the beginning. Humbly I ask the Lord to help us accomplish what He gives us the grace to complete. Mostly I pray that God will make me into the kind of mom and teacher that inspires not only a love of learning but mostly a love for Him. I pray He also grants you the same for your year too!

Artistic Pursuits - High School Book 1 {Review}

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My eldest son has been drawing for almost as long as I can remember. He was one of those wild and adorable toddlers that never.slowed.down. I vividly remember the first day I realized this kid might take on art as his second nature. I was visiting a friend, both of us worn tired and surviving on much coffee. We had made it our habit of meeting up regularly just to get the kids together in hopes of a few moments of peace for us and fun for the kids. In her collection of toys strewn around her living room floor was the magical thing that would finally catch the attention of my inquisitive and incredibly energetic two year old. He had found the Doodle Pro: You know the thing, the plastic magnetic and mess free drawing tablet for kids. He dropped what he was doing, and he quietly drew, erased, and drew again that whole afternoon, blissfully ignoring the other fun to be had and his pudgy-cheeked little friends. Eureka!

A lot of time has passed since that afternoon so long ago. Since then I have invested in reams and reams of printer paper, miles of butcher paper, a thousand crayons boxes and markers, and now we have graduated to Prismacolors, micron pens, and art shows. I don't remember the last day that Aedan didn't give me a picture he had drawn that day. He has been mostly self taught, but I am always trying to add to his bag of art tricks where I can. As we enter high school I want to be even more intentional about helping him develop his skills as an artist.

We used Artistic Pursuits in the early years of our homeschool and really enjoyed it. As I was considering high school art I stumbled upon this program again at our homeschool convention. I remembered what it was I enjoyed about it. I was thrilled to see that there were several high school courses. Book One of the high school series covers the elements of art and composition as well as art appreciation and history. The course is designed to develop your student's observation skills as well as their own unique and personal style. I really appreciate that it is a non-consumable curriculum that I can re-use when my youngest gets to this stage.

There are 16 units in this course which could be completed over the course of the year 2 days a week. Completing this program would earn one full credit in Studio Art. The following topics are covered in Book One:

Unit 1 -Space
Unit 2 - Line
Unit 3 - Texture
Unit 4 - Shape
Unit 5 - Form
Unit 6 - Value
Unit 7 - Contrast & Unity
Unit 8 - Balance
Unit 9 - Rhythm
Unit 10 - Depth by Overlapping
Unit 11 - Depth by Position & Size
Unit 12 - One & Two Point Perspective
Unit 13 - Atmospheric Perspective
Unit 14 - Proportion, the Face
Unit 15 - Proportion, the Figure
Unit 16 - Clothing the Figure

One of the reasons I was drawn to this course was that it involves the use of art supplies we haven't used often. Aedan gravitates towards colored pencils and markers, but this course uses sketching pencils and charcoal. I want to expose him to as many different media as I can, so that he is confident to use anything if he so chooses. The book has an art supply list divided by semester. You may conveniently purchase the Art Supply Pack with everything you need on the Artistic Pursuits website. I am so excited to add these new supplies to our art cabinet!

These are the supplies for the First Semester:

Drawing pencil set - 2H to 4 B
Vinyl eraser
Metal handheld sharpener
Drawing pad

High quality supplies are a must for any artist's toolbox. We recently got a set of colored pencils that aren't the same quality that we are accustomed to using. The boys both noticed how much harder it was to use them. Great supplies are worth the money y'all!

We tested these pencils to show how each was a shade darker than the next.

Aedan was really happy that he gets the opportunity to learn how to use charcoal this year. The Second Semester introduces these elements to the course. You will need the following supplies:

6-12 - Sticks of vine charcoal
1 - Jumbo tree stick vine charcoal
1 - Package of compressed charcoal
1 - Charcoal paper pad
1 - Paper bleeding stump
1 - kneaded eraser
1 - Natural chamois leather

We won't officially start school again until August, but I wanted to give you a better picture of how the program works. I don't usually have to twist Aedan's arm too much to get him to do any kind of art. He was happy to try it out! Each unit has 4 lessons that cover a different topic. The first unit in the book covers the use of space by utilizing active and non-active space on the paper or canvas. The lessons in each unit rotate in this way:

First Lesson - Building a Visual Vocabulary
Second Lesson - Art Appreciation and Art History
Third Lesson - Techniques
Fourth Lesson - Application

Our first assignment was to draw a scene outdoors. Aedan chose to sit on the front porch to draw his first sketch.

He used the pencils for this exercise. The frame of the house acted like a non-active space, and the forest was mostly active.

It's always such a delight for me to see what he will come up with. He said that it was different drawing with pencils as he often uses a pen to outline much of his work, but it was great practice.

In the second lesson we observed the use of space in Vittore Carpaccio's Young Knight in a Landscape; Francesco della Rovere; 1510. I really love the art appreciation aspect of this course. What better way to learn art than from the masters?

The assignment for this lesson was to draw a face from a photograph. Aedan forbade me to include his picture in this review. Artists! Aedan is an excellent draftsman. His strength in art has always been in creating fantastical creatures from his own imagination. He isn't as much of a fan of drawing realistic faces, so I'm happy this course will give us some practice in the area of realistic drawing. I gave him a pass on this one if he would do one more lesson for me at the end.

The third lesson gave instruction on how to arrange a picture using space.

Of course Aedan's still life would never include fruit in a bowl, but rather all of his nerdy collection of favorite things.

Aedan has always been great at incorporating new ideas into his art. Learning to draw from a model is something I know he will use often.

This was the final picture from his arrangement.

The fourth lesson used the story of of St. George and the Dragon as a starting point for how to draw from the imagination using active and non-active spaces.

Dragons have always been a source of inspiration for this kid. He had no problem conjuring up the scariest dragon he could imagine for this battle scene.

The next unit in the book introduced the concept of line. He was instructed to draw several images using only the edges of each subject.

I've always found so much joy in seeing how effortlessly Aedan can whip something up on paper.

He chose to draw a handful of subjects from nature. I can already see him improving in his use of this medium from just a few lessons. I really look forward to seeing how far he will come with this course. I plan on buying Book 2 in the future as well. Book 2 covers the elements of painting, which might give some variety in between drawing lessons. Either way I fully intend to utilize these fantastic books in our homeschool over the next few years. I also noticed that there are two Sculpture books; one on Construct and another on Model. I am really looking forward to taking a closer look at those! I know Aedan and Silas both would enjoy the sculpture courses, as would I. I have made it a habit to work alongside the kids in art the past few years in a way I didn't in years prior. It's never too late to learn, in my opinion.

Thank you for walking through our lessons in Artistic Pursuits with us! I hope you will find it a fantastic and useful program for your homeschool as we have! 

Disclaimer: In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of the Artistic Pursuits Book 1 course. All of the opinions, however, are my own and are shared honestly.
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