Sunday, August 16, 2015

Curricula 2015-2016 - 7th Grade - Aedan

Here is a peek into our plans for 7th grade - take 2! As you know I had planned to use HOD Rev to Rev, but ended up last minute choosing another route. I explained my reasoning here. We will still employ quite a few Rev to Rev elements because A. We already had them and B. Some of them were really great choices! I mostly wanted to have a little more time together, so part of our plans has the boys enjoying some activities with each other.

It took me a while to arrive at Beautiful Feet Early American & World. You can read about why we went this route here.

HOD Rev to Rev scheduled The Signers once a week as a research project. I wanted to still work on research skills, and this doesn't take too much time each week.

We have really enjoyed What in the World? that has been scheduled in HOD guides in the past. These 3 audio CDs were scheduled, so we will still use them.

I absolutely love BF's books for EA&W, but I want to be able to add some more living books. All Through the Ages is the hands down best book list ever for homeschoolers. I can't imagine how much time it took to put together. Last year Aedan read all of his little brother's MFW ECC book basket books, so I wanted to create something similar for him. Any books that come into the house this way will be unrequired, but any book that passes the threshold of this house gets read by Aedan whether I tell him to or not. I'll call that a win-win.

We will use Exploration Education Advanced Physical Science this year. You can read more about our first 3 weeks in this program here.

HOD's plans for science employed Exploration Education (EE) plus also had a great inventor study. Aedan will read these books alongside his science course and will get a better picture of the men behind some of the most famous inventions of all time.

He will keep a record of what he learned in his inventor notebook.

We will use Fifty States Under God for our geography study. I think my son will enjoy all the facts he will learn about each state. He loves that kind of stuff!

 We will study the book of Hebrews and memorize Hebrews 11 and part of 12 this year.

We will continue with R&S English and HOD dictation. Our new thing this year is Jump In writing. I absolutely love this program. It's the perfect mix of creative writing and writing instruction. We were IEW failures last year, so I didn't want just creative writing. Aedan still needs quite a bit of instruction. I almost chose to use WWS this year, but this will be a nice bridge for Aedan. I think he will love it!

We will use Omnibus I for a C.S. Lewis literature study. I shared all about that here.

We will go through all the Narnia books and possible the other two. I am reading them again to make sure they are ok for this age.

We will continue Math U See and Life of Fred. I've heard major praises and also criticism of MUS. Aedan was severly lacking in math confidence when I brought him home from PS. We never really gained it again until we started using MUS. We are making a quick sweep through Zeta and will get to Pre-Algebra at the end of the year and this summer. For us MUS has been a Godsend for this child. I'm so thankful for it.

Another thing we added this year was Latin. I've always wanted to take a stab at it. There are many great programs out there, but this one looked the most fun. I will say that printing all this was an absolute beast. Praises for a duplex printer with cheap ink!

Many of the following things are scheduled for both boys. I am cutting and pasting from Silas's plans as they share the same books. 

Instead of having two separate storytimes the boys will listen to these stories together. I'm really excited about including classics. Both boys are enamored with King Arthur. I hope to do some fun activities with these books as the inspiration.

642 Things to Write About is like the art book above. There are plenty of silly ideas to write about. I plan to use these when I'm still working with the other boy to give the one who is waiting on me something to do. My boys love writing stories, so this is a fun little option. Grammar-Land is a book I've always wanted to do with the boys. There are free printable worksheets here. I didn't schedule this, but we will do it this year.

This year we will play art by ear and will likely do projects that go along with our studies. I prefer to be inspired in art rather than scheduled. My boys loved Art Fraud last year, so we will go through Art Auction Mystery. These are really fun books to study great works of art. We had planned to do a composer study, but my boys are really into music these days. We will do a We Rock! History of Rock music lab each week. I will make a music appreciation sheet to go with this that I will share soon. I'm really excited about this :) 642 Things to Draw is a really fun book to get the creative juices flowing. It just has simple boxes with an idea of what to draw.

I heard Sonya from Simply Charlotte Mason speak at our homeschool conference. I already had owned these Laying Down the Rails books, but I hadn't yet implemented them. Hearing her speak gave me the motivation to really put these great tools into action. There are a LOT of character traits to work on. She told us not to read them all or it would make us cry. She said to focus on 6 per year. I did schedule the traits. We will go through 2-3 lessons a week that focus on the trait we want to work on. Not only is this great for the kids, but it's great for me. I realized looking at these traits how many I personally have to work on! I also had printed out all the Kids of Integrity lessons from Focus on the Family. These are fabulous too! We will use some of the ideas to go along with the 6 traits we have selected.

This year we will focus first on the big 3 that Charlotte Mason said were cornerstone traits - Obedience, Attentiveness and Truthfulness. In talking to my husband he added to the list he thinks our kids need to work on; Kindness, Generosity, Cleanliness and Manners. I had meant to add a scripture verse, but time got a way from me. I printed these 2 to a page or you can print them larger or smaller if you like. I have shared these printables here.

That wraps it up! I hope to share many of our adventures here as I have done in the past. If you  have any questions please do commend. I sure love hearing from you <3

Curricula 2015-2016 - 4th Grade - Silas

With one week to go before school starts I finally got around to taking pictures of what I have planned for both boys this year. I had plans all set to use HOD Preparing, but my little guy Silas threw a wrench in my plans by announcing that he really wanted to learn about the Middle Ages. He has never had anything specific in mind, so I decided to listen. There is something to be said for allowing child directed learning to happen. I never anticipated how much we would love MFW ECC and traveling the world last year, but as he began to have choice over the additional countries we chose to study I saw a budding learner grow. It was a very difficult decision to set aside our plans for this year, but after I finally let go of them I had peace.

There are many wonderful programs to study the Medieval, Renaissance and Reformation period. I had never thought we would veer away from HOD, but then the Veritas Press catalog happened to me. I honestly have never given VP a second glance, but then a friend I respect was using it with her son. The VP catalog arrived shortly after and I saw all those wonderful book choices for VP Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation (VP MARR.) I started out as a classical homeschooler, but fell in love with Charlotte Mason. I've learned since that you can enjoy both worlds. Veritas Press is a classical education company. It is very different than what we have been doing it in the past, but I intend to use it in our own way with a little CM flair. There is a very loved Self-Paced Online version of this program, but we chose the You Teach version. I've shared the covers for the TM, Student Notebook and Timeline Figures Binder here.

This whole thing started when my sweet friend Michelle sent me these cards. The main spine of VP is their History Timeline Cards. Each year you study 32 events and/or figures.

The front of the card tells you the event. The back of the card has a summary of the event plus optional resource books to use to study the period. One of the things I noticed in previous years was that we were failing to do any review. This year we will cover all these events and figures while also reviewing what we have learned.VP comes from a reformed perspective. We are not reformed, so there are figures we will not spend as much time on. I plan to camp longer on the Vikings, The Feudal System and the Renaissance than any of the other cards. You typically go through a card a week, but we will have a lot of fun learning about the ones I mentioned. They are too good to speed through!

These are the history resource books used. There are a handful of others sitting on my shelf. We won't read every resource listed every week on each card, but it is nice having them if time allows.

I made timeline figures of the events and people we will study to go on our Pandia Press Wall Timeline. You can find them here.

It took me quite a while to figure out how to use VP. There is a CD that includes a memory song of the material we will study. Each week the we sing the memory song to reinforce what we have learned. The CD also has the Teacher's Manual on it. VP doesn't have a schedule in their TM. I won't use the TM exactly as it is intended to be used, but more for ideas. We will employ the tests from time to time as that is a skill we haven't worked on. I ended up choosing readers and read-alouds from their book lists and from other sources. There is a schedule you can purchase that I felt was overpriced, so I ended up making my own schedule. I tend to make a yearly schedule anyway. It ended up being nice scheduling books at our pace rather than someone else's time frame. I basically used their book lists and built my own program. It was really fun choosing books and activities myself.

These are all the books Silas will read this year. Some of them are VP choices, and some are not. It looks like a lot, but many of them don't take long to read.

VP has comprehension guides to go with some of their book choices. I didn't want to do a full blown literature program this year, so I chose a few guides to do. I may add one or two more if these go well.


There are some activities scheduled in the TM, but not as many as we are used to doing. I am actually really happy about that. It gives us time to find some of our own ideas. There are a lot of great ideas in these books. I especially love Great Medieval Projects You Can Build Yourself.  This book has a lot of history in it to to explain the period. I also plan to buy a medieval cookbook soon. You know we love to cook!

We will continue with Rod & Staff English. There are no bells and whistles in this program, but I think it is truly one of the best things out there. You can do much of it orally. I had been following HOD's R&S schedule. I will instead use these books at grade level for Silas.

I had taken a break from All About Spelling last year, but I am going to go ahead and use it this year. My son really enjoys it. He always did really well in R&S Spelling. He absolutely loves spelling tests and is a great speller. He also enjoys the exercises in AAS. I was over it after a few years, but like R&S I feel AAS is also one of the best things out there. I know there are other great programs, but I saw a marked difference with this one. I will share how I made my student workbook in a separate post.

Last year we switched back to Singapore. I had veered into CLE math which I think is a really great program too, but he was beginning to be able to do it in his sleep. This kid is really mathy. I started him too early in Singapore 1, and we hit walls in 2nd. I didn't know then how to slow down a program, but now I have more confidence. He did really well in Singapore 3. There were definitely hard days, but it is challenging in a good way.

We will continue with Life of Fred. Last year we finished the elementary series and are into the next set of books. We will use these 2 days a week and finish all 3. I also added Challenging Word Problems as these will really develop his ability to apply math to the real world. Silas loved Logic Safari Book 1 last year, so we will continue with the next book this year.

This year we will use R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Chemistry Level 1. I own Apologia's Physics and Chemistry book and considered it as well. I normally love Apologia, but that particular book was a little overwhelming to me. I could see it being a fabulous book in a co-op setting however. I wanted to cover chemistry because it is the one area of science we haven't really touched yet. We have covered life science until I can't take it anymore - at least for now. Silas still loves to memorize things. I am working on a really big Periodic Table of Elements to put on our wall. I'll share that when I'm done.

Last year we focused on world geography, so I'm keeping it simple this year. We will review the countries we learned with our map puzzles and geography games from last year. Silas still needs work on his penmanship. I will require mostly cursive this year on his school work.


Silas will use the Bible Quiet Time plans from HOD Preparing. We will use this CD to memorize passages of the Bible.


Most of the rest of these plans we are doing together. Last year I felt Aedan was too isolated, so we share read-alouds this year. These are the books we have selected for this year. I feel like we have missed way too many classics. I scheduled some of them to go along with our SCM Character Study.

This year we will play art by ear and will likely do projects that go along with our studies. I prefer to be inspired in art rather than scheduled. My boys loved Art Fraud last year, so we will go through Art Auction Mystery. These are really fun books to study great works of art. We had planned to do a composer study, but my boys are really into music these days. We will do a We Rock! History of Rock music lab each week. I will make a music appreciation sheet to go with this that I will share soon. I'm really excited about this :) 642 Things to Draw is a really fun book to get the creative juices flowing. It just has simple boxes with an idea of what to draw.

This is a really great book for Medieval and Renaissance. There are modern artists too, but when we come across these famous artists in our studies we will do some of these projects.

642 Things to Write About is like the art book above. There are plenty of silly ideas to write about. I plan to use these when I'm still working with the other boy to give the one who is waiting on me something to do. My boys love writing stories, so this is a fun little option. Grammar-Land is a book I've always wanted to do with the boys. There are free printable worksheets here. I didn't schedule this, but we will do it this year.

I heard Sonya from Simply Charlotte Mason speak at our homeschool conference. I already had owned these Laying Down the Rails books, but I hadn't yet implemented them. Hearing her speak gave me the motivation to really put these great tools into action. There are a LOT of character traits to work on. She told us not to read them all or it would make us cry. She said to focus on 6 per year. I did schedule the traits. We will go through 2-3 lessons a week that focus on the trait we want to work on. Not only is this great for the kids, but it's great for me. I realized looking at these traits how many I personally have to work on! I also had printed out all the Kids of Integrity lessons from Focus on the Family. These are fabulous too! We will use some of the ideas to go along with the 6 traits we have selected.

This year we will focus first on the big 3 that Charlotte Mason said were cornerstone traits - Obedience, Attentiveness and Truthfulness. In talking to my husband he added to the list he thinks our kids need to work on; Kindness, Generosity, Cleanliness and Manners. I had meant to add a scripture verse, but time got a way from me. I printed these 2 to a page or you can print them larger or smaller if you like. I have shared these printables here.

If you read my Rest post you are probably thinking this doesn't look simple, yet somehow it is. There is a lot more wiggle room in our schedule this year that will leave room for more exploration should we be inspired. I'm so looking forward to our year and all the new things we will experience together! I hope to share many of our memories with you. Here's to a fabulous 4th grade year!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Exploration Education - Advanced Physical Science

This year we will be using Exploration Education's Advanced Physical Science Course. Some of you are like me and want to really see what a program looks like in action. Many websites don't give a big enough picture for many of us homeschool moms. If I'm paying a pretty penny for something I want to see how it works, so hopefully this satisfies you curious folks out there! This covers about 3 weeks of the beginning of this course. It has plans for 36 weeks, 5 days a week. I had planned to get 6 weeks done, so we could do our plans on a 4 day schedule. That didn't happen, but I'm glad we got through some of it to get a better picture of how it worked.

These are the main components. There is a Student Book, a Teacher's Manual and a box of supplies. I absolutely love that it comes with almost everything you need. There are a few things that don't come in the box, but they can easily be picked up at the store. The student book comes perfect bound, but I removed the spine and put it in a binder. I like being able to take the week's pages out and clip them to a clipboard. The TM has a place to log scores and the student tests and answers. I ended up copying the tests and answers and adding them to my Teacher Schedule, and I added the tests to his Student Binder. Please check out this post if you'd like to print vocabulary cards I made for this program.

These are the contents of the box. It comes with a CD that has the course contents that are to be read by the student. The CD also includes step by step instructions on each project. These are the projects we will build this year.

Each project has a separate baggie with the contents needed to build each one.

 Here is the Steamboat baggie.

The content of the program is on the CD. I was hesitant to use a computer based program. Maybe I'm old fashioned and just love a good ol' book, but after using this for a while I can see why this particular program works really well this way.

 There are sections for each topic. You click on the section that where you left off and begin the next lesson.

The student reads the content on the computer and answers questions that they then log in their student notebook. I didn't get pictures of the project instructions, but they are step by step and very detailed. It is recommended that students read through the instructions first and then begin building step by step.

This part of the program can be used independently. He has done really well in using this format.

The first project we built was the Electric Racer. 

Aedan used the computer program to follow the instructions on how to build it.

Aedan's little brother was close by. He is really excited about all the projects his big brother gets to build this year. Aedan isn't very confident with building yet, but I'm seeing how he is improving by using this program. I have to stick pretty close, but I don't offer help unless he needs it.

This was the base of the Electric Racer.

He sanded the axles to make them easier to glue.

Then he glued them on. A low temp glue gun is recommended, but you have to be pretty quick or it dries before you stick things where they go. He is learning to glue quickly or it dries.

There are templates in the student book that show where to cut things. The only problem with paper templates is that it also means you glue your project down and have to tear it off.

Here is the finished Electric Racer. He was very proud of himself!

 Here is our first test run!

This was one of the first Electric Racer experiments.

After each project is built you use it to conduct many different experiments. This was one of the experiments with the racer. 

Here is another one. Building the project can take some time, but the experiments don't take as long.

 There is actual math in this program. This time we figured out velocity and how fast the racer went per hour.

 Our brains were dead this day, but we figured it out. I'm learning SO much right alongside Aedan!

The next project was to build a glider. We first built the wing. This was supposed to take us 2 days, but it took us 3 weeks. Summer mush brain was in full effect, so we took our time with this one. I am SO glad we started early as this would have killed us to do the first few weeks of school. This project definitely needed some parental involvement, or at least it did for this kid. Some kids are fabulously gifted with building. Aedan is learning to love it still. This has been such a great program to build that confidence.

This is the completed glider. This thing is awesome! It took a while to build, but it was worth it. You can't see it from the picture, but the wing is wrapped with shrink wrap. Phew! So glad we made it though this one. Apparently this is one of the more difficult projects. The racer was pretty easy. I heard the house can take a while too.

This was our failed launch. Some folks were afraid to fly their glider, but the experiments require you to launch it. I can totally understand being afraid to fly it. It was a lot of work! I would recommend flying it over grass. I could see it breaking if it hit concrete. We took it out as a family to the park where we could get more room. We laughed and laughed at how it failed the first few times. I think it was too windy this day. We flew it at home and it went way farther. There is a technique to throwing it that is shown on the computer, and there is a way to adjust the wing if it goes too far up or down.

Here is a second launch.

 This time it flew better!

To show you not to be scared, there are other days where experiments are super simple.

 This was a simple gravity experiment.

I hope to share more of our days in EE. We start school in a few weeks, and hopefully will be able to share more of our projects! See you soon :)