Curricula 2013-2014 - 2nd Grade

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I can't believe my little guy is going to be in 2nd grade! He's been home for school with me since pre-k. We started out with more of a classical approach, but then we found Heart of Dakota last year, and fell in love. I have since read more about Charlotte Mason. We did Bigger Hearts last year because I thought that Silas was far too advanced for Beyond. In some ways, I suppose he was. I have come to believe, however, that these early grammar stage years shouldn't be overwhelming. I mostly want to foster a love of learning in these first few years of school. I think I could have moved Silas forward into Preparing, but I decided to do something a little unconventional. I am going to take a step back into Beyond Little Hearts instead of moving on to Preparing.  Why you ask? Well, first of all, Preparing has a ton more writing. I think he could handle it, but I don't think he needs to handle that just yet. He's only in second grade, and has plenty of time to develop those skills. I am sad to separate the boys, but I was finding more and more that Silas couldn't keep up with Aedan. Of course he gave it his all, but I didn't feel it would be good for his self esteem long term to compete with his brother who is a full 3 years older than he is. Beyond is the perfect guide for my little guy this year. I am adding to it to keep it at the level that we reached in Bigger, so I don't feel we will be stepping back in skill in any way.

Heart of Dakota Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (BLHFHG) focus on American history from 1565-1865. We will learn what it was like to live during that period through living books. This is the Beyond economy package.

I love HOD book selections. Often I have thought that a book didn't look that interesting, but have always been pleasantly surprised. I have learned to trust HOD book choices for that reason. These books will be our read alouds for storytime. We will read through books in these genres: biography, adventure, historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, nonfiction, humor, realistic fiction, and folk tales. It was interesting to see what book genre my boys were drawn to last year. I can already guess which ones will be their favorites. These books are a mixture of selections from the Beyond classic, boy and girl (Shhhh! don't tell tell the boys!) interest sets.

We will continue our literature study in Drawn Into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR.) We will read through the level 3 books this year. This is the level 3 book pack. DITHOR follows the same sequence of genres as the storytime book. Silas is a really strong reader. He will be using the DITHOR level 2/3 student workbook again this year.

We will learn various bible verses, and Hide 'em in Your Heart Vol. 2 will aid us in doing so. Morning Bells is a little devotional we will read once a week.

BLHFHG includes hands on science activities using God's Wonderful Works as the spine. I will be adding additional science, but my boys love as much science as they can get. The activities that are scheduled are quick and easy to do, and add a fun factor to our day.

This is where I start straying from Beyond's plans. I added to Bigger Heart's science last year as well. I felt that the boys needed additional science, and I feel the same about this year. I really love Elemental Science (ES.) Instead of moving into Chemistry I decided to wait on that until 3rd grade. We did life science in kindergarten, but it was one of the subjects I failed to complete. We did ES Earth/Space last year and loved it. It was easy to accomplish, and the experiments were so fun for my science loving kid. This year will will do ES Biology. We will cover animal life, the human body, and plant life.

Again, I will stray from Beyond's plans for language arts. Silas did First Language Lessons (FLL) 1 in K, and then R&S 2 last year. Instead of moving him forward into R&S 3 I chose to use FLL2. We already own it, and I really think it's a great one for 2nd grade. Institute for Excellence in Writing just came out with their new writing program for 1st and 2nd graders. I have sat in a few seminars that IEW did, so I think I can manage implementing this without the Teaching Style and Structure DVD's. I hope to buy them someday, but my budget is already shot (and who has 175 bucks laying around anyway?)  Bible Heroes includes vocabulary, and lots of fun little games to do with the lessons. I cut them all out already, so I make sure that they actually get done.

We worked through All About Spelling level 1 and 2 in K, and I think it really helped Silas to have the confidence to put his pen to the paper. I planned to go through these last year, but moving 3 times didn't help that didn't get done. It was one of the few things I dropped because I just couldn't make it happen with the tiles and whiteboard. It's not a portable kind of program. I do think it is the best, however, so I'm hoping to get through it. We worked through R&S 3 last year, and I definitely didn't want to move him to the 4th grade book just yet. I still love R&S spelling as well. We will probably return to R&S in the future.

Last year we worked through R&S Math 2. We started in Singapore 2, and there were lots of tears. I started him out too early in Singapore. He did the 1st grade book in K, and then I found that in 1st that he wasn't developmentally ready for the 2nd grade book. I still really love Singapore, but decided to sell my set. I was afraid if I didn't sell it that it wouldn't be worth anything because it was being aligned with Common Core. I decided to instead go with Christian Light Math. It's a nice combination of traditional and conceptual math. It has a ton of built in review which I always felt was lacking in Singapore. I had really sold myself on the idea of master math being the best, but it turns out my kids really do better with something more spiral. We worked through one of the CLE math light units, and I think it is going to be a great fit. We worked through some of Right Start Math B in K. We got about 3/4 of the way through. Silas always asks me if we could finish it, so this summer we went through almost the end. We will complete a lesson a day on Friday until we have completed the book. We will add in Life of Fred a few days a week for fun, as well as a few Miquon sheets.

Silas will join his brother for English From the Roots Up. I don't want to do a full blown Latin program, so this will be a nice place to start. We will study 3 roots per week. We dumped this after about 3 weeks. Just too much for my little guy.

These are extras that we will fit in if we have time. Beyond has an art project each week, but no drawing instruction. I Can Do All Things art is a nice beginner drawing book that doesn't require much time. Silas worked through part of this book last year, and really enjoyed it. I will have him continue penmanship, and cursive in the Pentime 2 Transition book. There is very little geography in Beyond, so I added in these fun geography workbooks. I found the Abeka health book for a buck at a used sale. I'll try to read through it once a week.

We love The Nature Connection. When we didn't do nature study, the kids were after me. I love that we have a light Friday this year, so it will be so much easier to have the time to do it. This book makes nature study accessible. I love the author's books for adults as well.

Phew! Well, I think I might disappear now for a few weeks to enjoy the last few weeks of summer. We start up in less than 3 weeks! I can't believe how fast this summer has flown by. I look forward to sharing our journey this year :)

Curricula 2013-2014 - 5th Grade

Monday, July 29, 2013

I am really looking forward to our new school year in Heart of Dakota. We had such a fun year together last year! It was Aedan's first year home from school last year. I was a little intimidated to do separate guides last year. I'm really glad we combined our school. The boys really had so much fun together. Part of me hates to separate them, but I know that their skill levels really are so different. I am a more confident teacher going into this year, and think running 2 guides at their individual levels is the best choice. I really agonized about where to place both of my boys for this coming year. That is kind of an understatement. I might have driven my husband crazy. I bought all of HOD Preparing thinking I would move Silas forward with Aedan. Aedan learned so much last year, but I really know he needs more of a challenge now going into 5th grade. I chose to skip Preparing and head into Creation to Christ. I'm starting to see a maturity developing in him that I want to nurture. Once I finally made it, I was excited and at peace with my decision. I really look forward to learning alongside him!

The bulk of our studies will be drawn from Heart of Dakota's Creation to Christ. This course covers ancient history from a biblical perspective. We will cover the history from the garden to the birth and resurrection of Christ. This is the CtC Basic package. It includes our history spines, bible study, and geography book. We will study the geography of the holy land, and listen to Diana Waring's audio about this period in history.

This is the CtC history interest set. I love that HOD uses living books to help us connect with the time period we are studying. I have always loved historical fiction. I wish I had been able to learn history this way.

This is the CtC Extensions set. Aedan is just barely within extension reader age. He is a very strong reader, and I think he will really benefit from reading these books. If it becomes too much, I can always drop them.

These are books I have picked up along the way that will enhance our study of the ancients. Each week there is a research topic. These books will be a help in finding information about various topics, or just be read for enjoyment.

CtC has a daily bibly study quiet time built in for students. This is the optional NIV Bible. Aedan is a very visual learner. He has always liked DK type books. He is really excited about being able to use this bible. The instructions during bible quiet time ask the student to highlight the bible passage we are studying. I told Aedan that that was part of the assignment. He was horrified that he would have to mark in his Bible, so I think he'll skip that part :) We will also be memorizing Philippians 2. The audio CD will help with that.

This is CtC's Science Adder set. Last year we added additional science. I don't think it will be necessary this year. Aedan really loves the Apologia science books. I have collected a few, and sometimes see him reading them on his own. I really love the hands on, and living book approach to science that HOD uses. Aedan is such an animal lover. I think he will really enjoy his studies this year.

These are our language arts selections for the year. We did R&S 3 last year. CtC schedules half of R&S 5, and the last half is covered in HOD RtR.  I asked around if it would be a bad idea to skip level 4, and pretty much everyone thought a 5th grader could handle level 5 without having covered the 4th grade book because there is plenty of review. I am giving Write With the Best a shot even though it has mixed reviews. I'm also a fan of the Brave Writer approach to writing, so we'll see how it goes. We will continue with R&S Spelling 5, and HOD dictation level 4. I look forward to our poetry study that will include a watercolor project each week.

We will continue to use HOD's Drawn into the Heart of Reading. This year Aedan will read level 5-6 books. This is most of the level 5/6 Boy Interest Pack with a few substitutions. He will use the level 4/5 DITHOR Student book, and the Grade 4 Book Projects to Send Home book.

Aedan was somewhat behind in math when I brought him home from school last year. We started out in a 4th grade book last year, but then kept hitting walls. I decided to take a break, and work on math facts the last part of the year. I really want to take the time to build his confidence in math. We are giving Christian Light Math a shot this year. We worked through some of the 4th grade light units over the summer, and Aedan admitted that he liked it. That is saying a lot! Working through some of the books through the summer each year should get us back up to speed. The beauty of homeschooling is that we have the opportunity to work at the right level. We will continue reading the Life of Fred math books together. My boys adore Fred, and so do I. They are so worth the money. This year I did score 4 books for 10 each at a used sale, so I was thrilled about that. I sell our homeschool books at the end of the year. The Life of Fred books are the few that I will keep around for grand kids.

I started homeschool thinking I was more of a classical homeschooler. I still hold to many of the classical ideas about education, but love Charlotte Mason even more. Having read a little too much about classical education, I have Latin guilt! I bought English from the Roots Up and Flash Cards used. I also found really great weekly schedule, notebooking pages, and tests that a homeschool mom made to go with the book. I know there are more intensive Latin books, but they would be too much to add to what we're already doing.

These things are just extras. We will be studying the holy land for geography, but these workbooks are easy and fun. I love Pentime cursive as well. We will be writing much of our student notebook pages in cursive, and Aedan still needs a little more practice. If any of this gets to be too much we will drop it as well. 
  Aedan is an amazing artist, and loves to do animation. He used to like to work on a free online site called Sketch Star, but they recently shut it down. Animation-ish is a great alternative. Aedan has been saying since he was a child that he wants to be a cartoonist. I want to nurture his love of art, and give him an opportunity to expand his skills. I look forward to sharing some of his animations with you!

I'm so excited to be following a mainly 4 day schedule this year. It will give us more time to get outdoors to do nature study on Fridays. We love The Nature Connection. Most people have no idea where to start with nature study. This is the best book to direct you to find great things to do every month. Our new home is nestled next to a beautiful wooded area. We used to have to drive to do any kind of nature study that was interesting. We often see deer, turkeys, every kind of bird you can imagine, and even a coyote! I'm so thankful that nature study is accessible where we now life. I know you can do it in your backyard, but it is fun being a little off the beaten path to be able to discover even more. We look forward to walks with our nature backpack and art supplies.

I will hopefully get around to sharing our 2nd grade plans for this year. Here's to a great year!

Organization for HOD Creation to Christ - CtC

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Welcome to yet another organization post! This year Aedan will move forward into HOD Creation to Christ. It was his first year home from school last year, and I really wanted to be able to combine the boys, so he joined his brother in Bigger Hearts with Extensions. It was an great year! I'm so thankful that we were able to study American History together. I am sad to have to skip Preparing, but I felt that as we move into 5th grade, that Aedan is really ready for more of a challenge. I will share his full program in another post.

I chose to remove the binding from the guide this year.

Creation to Christ is a pretty simple guide to organize. The only thing I have left to organize are our watercolor supplies. I have tons of watercolor paint from various kits. I need to look through them to see what we have left to purchase.

I bought a new Staples Better Binder for Aedan because he decided that he wanted everything to be yellow this year :) A friend asked me if I thought the cost of a Better Binder is worth it. I have to say I do think they are worth the price. They often go on sale at back to school time, so look out for deals. I have Better Binders that are 4 years old, and still look new.  At the beginning of each week I take out the pages that will be used and put them all on a clip board. These binders are too big to work out of, but they make a nice place to store everything in one place.

Our first section of the notebook includes our history notebooking pages. Creation to Christ is the first year that Heart of Dakota makes available their own beautiful, full color student notebook pages. These are gorgeous, and will be a wonderful record of what we learn.

Our next section includes science notebooking and experiment pages. These pages can be found at the HOD Yahoo group, or Facebook HOD CtC page. Again, I am so thankful for all the hard work people share. I know that each file that I download was a labor of love, and took a lot of time to create.

Our next section is for our studies in A Child's Geography.

I pre-printed all the maps that we are required to print throughout the year. I laminated the already labeled maps that we will use to reference for our studies. All of these are printed on card stock.

We are also required to print travel logs from the CD. There are 3 designs to choose from, but I knew my little artist would like the one on the left. It is optional to have a test at the end of each chapter. I went ahead and printed them. We will probably go over these orally.

Every so often the guide tells the students to copy something in their common place book. Instead of using a composition book, I added ruled paper to this section. I now have a separate Common Place Book that will be added to throughout the middle guides. It will mostly be bible copywork, and the memory work for Poetry.

I copied and laminated the written narration skills list from the appendix.

I removed the poetry section of the guide, and put it in my teacher binder. I chose to make Aedan his own poetry book. This is totally unnecessary, but apparently I love to use as much ink as possible!

I thought it might be nice for Aedan to have his own copy especially while he paints his poetry watercolor pictures. I like to keep my guides as nice as possible because they will be reused and sold.

 You will need painting supplies for the watercolor and poetry study. Click HERE to see the supplies we used.

Last year we juggled multiple composition books. This year I bought a 5 subject notebook, so that everything would be more contained. The 5 sections will be for R&S English, Write With the Best Writing, R&S Spelling (and HOD Dictation), Written Narrations, and Math (Life of Fred.) I'm sure this notebook cover will be covered with Aedan's pictures once he gets a hold of it :)

The front of our new binder has a great little pocket. I pre-cut the first months paper for the history projects, and added whatever helps he might need.

I think that covers it :) I will return to this post with whatever I figure out for how to store our art supplies and work. I'm still tinkering in my mind about that! I would love to hear any suggestions you have, or how you have organized your books!

Organization for HOD Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory - BLHFHG

Saturday, July 27, 2013

As we head into our second year with Heart of Dakota I thought I'd share again how I have chosen to organize our year. Last year I combined both boys in Bigger Hearts. This year I chose to put my youngest in Beyond Little Hearts. We could have moved forward into Preparing, but I chose instead to wait on it until 4th grade. I will share all of our 2nd grade curricula choices, and why I chose to go this direction in another post.

 I chose to remove the binding from my Beyond guide this year. This is totally unnecessary. The teacher guide is great as is. I am running two HOD guides this year, however, and think it's easier to manage both guides if they are all in one place. I shared how I do this by removing parts of the guide and placing it in my teacher binder. Last year I chose to spiral bind my book. I still like that option if you are only running one guide.

Beyond doesn't require much organization, but I have added a few things. On the right: I made scripture memory sheets that I printed 2 to a page, so that I could put them in a small Better Binder. Last year I used separate composition books for grammar, and spelling. This year I bought a 5 subject composition book, so that I could include all subjects. The sections in the composition book will be: grammar, writing, spelling, narration, and math (Life of Fred.) 

It worked well for us to have almost everything we needed for the year in one place. I've organized the student binder much the same as last year. At the beginning of each week I take out the pages that will be used and put them all on a clip board. These binders are too big to work out of, but they make a nice place to store everything in one place.

The first section has history notebooking pages that I found on the HOD Yahoo group. They can also be found on the HOD Beyond Facebook page.

Next I added the science explorations pages I also found in the same place as the sheets above.

Silas will continue poetry copywork as he did last year in Bigger. I love the illustrations both boys did or each poem :)

We worked on cursive last year in Bigger. I made these NIV Bible verse copywork pages, so he could continue in that skill.

 The next section is our timeline.
I included a printable helps section as well. I have made a lot of sweet HOD friends along the way. One of them shared some of her had work for Beyond with me. I am so thankful!

 I printed and laminated the How to Narrate student list from the appendix of Bigger last year. I can't remember if this is in the Beyond guide or not.

I made a book of poetry for Silas, so that he would have his own copy. I removed the poetry section from the guide to put in my teacher binder, so that I have a copy as well.

 I made Beyond timeline figures for our wall timeline. You can find these timeline figures HERE.

That about covers it! I will be working on a post for Creation to Christ as well. Please let me know if I can help in any way :)
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