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#1 of 9 Old 06-02-2013, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
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My annual survey style thread. . . I always want to know what you used this year that you loved (and any regrets too).  What are you changing up, if anything, for next year?  

 

I will start. 

 

I loved the math products from Art of Problem Solving.  They were challenging, but solid.  We used Pre-Algebra and their Beast Academy.  

I tried Sequential Spelling with DD2.  Didn't care for it.  I didn't like it with DD1 either (several years ago), but she learns differently than DD2.  While we had some initial success with it, in the long run it wasn't worth it for us. 

We had lots of fun with Ellen McHenry's Elements.  

I tried to do separate science lessons following elements, but I decided that just doesn't work for us.

Still love Easy Grammar. 

For DD1, I loved vocabtest.com

DD1 did several self directed inquiries--not intentionally for school, but when I noticed this, I backed off on much of school and helped her to dive in a bit deeper.  She learned a lot about photography and nutrition this way.  She dappled into the concept of animal rights, veganism, local food, etc as well.  It was a fun to watch her grow as she learned.  She established her own viewpoint on several issues, and it was fun to see her look at the world in this way.  

 

Next year I am really relaxed about at the moment.  I haven't finalized a plan yet, but we may be moving more towards the unschooling end of the homeschool spectrum.  I won't be a true unschooler, but we move closer and closer all the time.  I will still use Easy Grammar for dd2.  Dd1 finished the series this year.  If dd1 does math at home (she might do it at the local high school, we are deciding), I will use Art of Problem Solving again.  I think dd2 will actually explore math without a curriculum this year.  She is really good at math, but has always learned it more eclectically.  DD3 will officially come home to learn (although I thought she would last year, so I may be in for a surprise).  We will be doing world cultures DD3, US History DD2, and WA state history DD1 for social studies.  Technically, each child will have her own social studies, but I hope to integrate them. 

 

Amy


Mom to three very active girls Anna (14), Kayla (11), Maya (8). 
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#2 of 9 Old 06-03-2013, 06:21 AM
 
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I have a second grader and a kindergartener.  What worked well for us was Adventures in MFW.  I love it and so do my kids.  I also finally figured out a great way to get interlibrary loans and that is to print off a schedule of books with dates that I need and just let them handle about 4 weeks at a time. Random yes- but awesome.  We do Singapore math and I still love it but decided that we will start using the supplements both the extra practice and the intensive.  This little switch up has been helping the last couple of weeks.  Some days are easy and other days are more challenging.  This will continue next year.  I also will continue with a Reason for Handwriting.

 

The plan is to join a coop next year for more interaction and friends.  That will cover science.  I am also planning on putting DD1 in a IEW class for fun but also challenge.  We will continue primary language lessons but switch from a formal spelling to doing a notebook of words that are challenging us.  We both HATE our spelling workbooks.  I am also considering switching to Sonlight for next year.  We should be done with Adventures by about October and I really think she might be too young (she is only 7) for Exploring Countries and Cultures in MFW....  So I am not sure exactly what our main thing will be.  Maybe just use the Sonlight book list and no teacher guide?  I don't know.  I would also like to do more lap booking.  We did a couple and it was a lot of fun for us all.  But we run out of time.  I can't be the only one with this problem can I?  Seriously.  Just getting the minimum done is so hard sometimes!  

 

The other great thing about this year is I had some "amazon budget" for book spurges through out the year.  Getting a couple awesome books a month really cheers us.  The kids were probably most excited about "heroes of asgard"  :)  I also would like for us to take more field trips.  That just seems to never ever happen.  

 

My main goal for me is to get my house under control.  It isn't a disaster but it seems like we spend so much wasted time keeping it up that we don't have time for other things- like the lap booking!  So I don't really know how- but that is something that needs to happen.  A cleaning schedule or motivated kids to help or something!  Not exactly about homeschooling- but it is hard when there are 7 of us home all day making a mess and then constantly trying to keep that mess picked up :)

 

eta- MyDS1!  Oops!  Well we did a very relaxed kindergarten this year with Miquon math and A reason for handwriting and lots of play and a little bit of sounding things out.  We are using 100 easy lessons right now and I think we will just go about half way through it.  Then we will do 1st grade using MFW  this fall.  I also will continue to supplement reading with Pathway Readers.  DD loves these and I believe DS will also.  If you haven't seen these- they are worth checking out.  They are cheap, good quality content (Amish I think but not overly so- and have good lessons for children on kindness and being a part of a big family) and the stories carry on through the books.  They have workbooks that go with- but we don't like those- they seem like busy work.


Iowaorganic- mama to DD (1/5/06), DS1 (4/9/07), DS2 (1/22/09), DS3 (12/10/10), DD2 (7/6/12) and a new kid due in early 2014

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#3 of 9 Old 06-03-2013, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by iowaorganic View Post

The other great thing about this year is I had some "amazon budget" for book spurges through out the year.  Getting a couple awesome books a month really cheers us.  The kids were probably most excited about "heroes of asgard"  :)  I also would like for us to take more field trips.  That just seems to never ever happen.  

 

That is a great idea!  I may have to do that.

 

RE: cleaning house. . . Others will probably have better tips since my house is less tidy than I would like.  However, this past year I decided that there were certain things that had to happen.  A big one for me was our main living area.  Everyone would just drop shoes, bags, and jackets there.  This made the house look terrible.  I am not usually into the "reward" system or bribes either, but I put a strip of paper with notches cut out on it.  Each notch was labled 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. (created like flyers for lawn mowing or whatever).  On the top I listed the rules and the timeline.  Then, I called them all in.  I let them know that everytime I put away a pair of shoes, I would take a notch off the 'flyer'.  At the end of the game, we would go to Chuck E Cheese (big deal here because I very rarely will go there--and this is just for playing because I won't eat there!).  Each notch was worth 5 tokens.  This was a team event.  The team (my girls) would share the tokens.  I also stressed that since it was a team, they should help each other out.  If they noticed a pair of shoes out, they might fair better if they just put them away --even if they weren't their shoes.  This worked out really well!  No fighting, lots of helping/reminding, and they ended up at Chuck E Cheese with 20 tokens a piece.  (My list had the potential of 100 tokens total--they kept 60).  We did it again later to include shoes, bags, and jackets!  They did even better that time.  Best of all, they haven't really gone back to their old ways.  I told them that I will use this method to correct small habits occassionally, but if they just go back to their old ways, then I won't because that would show me that it doesn't work.  

 

Anyways, amazingly, having that particular area of my house maintain a level of tidiness has helped a LOT. 

 

Amy


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#4 of 9 Old 06-03-2013, 07:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iowaorganic View Post

 

My main goal for me is to get my house under control.  It isn't a disaster but it seems like we spend so much wasted time keeping it up that we don't have time for other things... Not exactly about homeschooling- but it is hard when there are 7 of us home all day making a mess and then constantly trying to keep that mess picked up :)

 

Unschooling-but-not-really-very-radical, and academically it is still working as well as it ever was.  I think it would work even better, but the girls get so caught up in whatever drama they have going on, and can't refocus on some other things that they've been saying they want to do but blah blah bah.  I can't let myself imagine how fabulously wonderful things could be if we focussed less on getting along and I could focus less on keeping the house functional (thus the quote.)   Anyway, a dyed-in-the-wool unschooler would say that is just part of what needs to be learned, so there it is.

 

Hmm..... we don't really do learning stuff, but Sharpie markers, endless quantities of paper have kept these girls supremely busy for months.  Let's group things by subject.  Girls are 6.5 and 8.

 

Math: random bits here and there, cooking, Vi Hart, the Story of One (video), stories like One Grain of Rice, origami, certain board games.  We love playing with the ideas from Vi Hart videos, like hexaflexagons.  Even the Pythagoras story inspired some fun block play and of course, lots of doodling.  We are still giving allowance and teaching financial literacy that way.  

 

Science: basic exploration in our yard and forest, raising a garden and chickens, lots and lots of videos (including Bill Nye, Imagineers, Popular Mechanics for Kids, and sooo many nature videos I can't even begin).  For Christmas they got a couple of science kits they are having fun with.

 

History: usually from stories we read, and questions they ask.  The Lone Ranger and Little House Cookbook are an odd couple that has dd1 motivated to "bring back the old days".  If she ever decides to stop arguing with her sister!

 

Social Studies:  TakeOff! game, being obsessed with the Olympics for 4 months, reading stories, questions about local area tribal history and Native American communities, lots and lots of questions!  Science videos often include fascinating information about communities around the globe.

 

Health Sciences: 4-H (chickens, food preservation), general conversation about healthy eating and hygiene, learning about horses and horse care.

 

Language Arts:  DD1 is mostly readin through her horse book over and over, plus a few other picture books.  She is interested in chapter books if I read them to her curled up on the couch.  She still has amazing listening skills.  Last fall we finished the Princess Bride and Hound of the Baskervilles, as well as Percy Jackson and the Olympians.  We also enjoy watching Sherlock Holmes videos (mostly w/ Jeremy Brett) and Hercules Poirot. DD2 is reading-- pretty much anything that holds her interest, from baby board books to slogging through a paragraph in a book far beyond her skill, but right up her alley.  Both had their reading skills boosted by watching Electric Company-- "righteous and out-of-sight-eous!!!" says Mel Mounds.  As groovy as ever.  I'm hesitating before I introduce the new series.  Haven't seen it, and I'm glad they love the one I grew up with.  It has also made them spelling-crazy.

 

Art and music:  just fun play, plus stories of famous artists and musicians.  Vi Hart doodles and musical explorations.  Singing in the car.  I would love to expand the music exploration.  DD1 has designed a dress and I am getting ready to help her construct it soon.

 

Well!  That wasn't so hard, and it's good practice, too.  I tried grouping it according the 11 essential areas of study required by WA state homeschool law, but for the life of me I can't remember what they all are.  I must have been unschooling too long and having too hard a time separating everything out to talk about.  (FWIW, if you are curious, WA law does not require them to be separate, even thought they are listed separately.)

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#5 of 9 Old 06-03-2013, 07:59 PM
 
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Forgot Bananagrams, and still loving our .75 thrift-store book "Oceanarium" that has almost single-handedly fueled their schooling.  Right now, dd2 is spelling the names of all the animals in that book with Bananagram letters.  And we just discovered Yahtzee, and we've been mulling over probability over each roll of the dice....


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#6 of 9 Old 06-04-2013, 12:41 AM
 
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This year has gone better than I expected pretty much in every way.  Both my kids (7 and 5) are doing really well.  They are happy and enjoy their time at home.  They play a lot and create tons of stuff.  They are well-rested and well-fed.  And I have found my own relaxed homeschooling groove that I have come to love.  It turns out, I also enjoy the process of their learning -- I enjoy thinking about it and puzzling over their quirkiness.  I enjoy watching them figure things out.  I love that I am able to share all this with them.  I really couldn't have asked for a better 1st year.  

 

We basically plan to continue doing the same things next year.  My 7 year old is really enjoying reading so I am hunting for good books for him to read on his own.  He is doing Singapore Math and we will keep using that.  We will be working on his spelling and writing for as long as he is interested (he seems to be interested right now).  But mostly, he will read a lot with me and on his own.  

 

For science, he has shown interest in getting an encyclopedia.  We will look over a few and decide which one to buy.  I have also not decided if I should buy children's encyclopedia like the DK series or something else for older kids.  We will see.  

 

The 5 year old is into building, crafting, drawing, painting, and sculpting.  This is a child that has clear, deep, passionate interest in making things.  She needs zero inspiration from me.  She gets going on her own just fine.  So far, she hasn't shown much "academic" interest but she recently has been asking about how to write her brother's, mine and her father's name.  I plan to leave her as is.  

 

They are both currently enjoying messing around the keyboard using a simple music book.  We also listen to music.  They take art classes twice a week.  The 7 year old takes taekowndo.  The 5 year old recently asked if she could try going to dance classes again (last time, we dropped out because I felt she was too young to do the stuff they were asking her to do).  So, we may add dance to our schedule next school year.  

 

For my part, among other things, this year has taught me to be a more patient, non-result driven person.  I think when I let go the idea of school like performance, I ended up letting go a few other things that are unnecessary in other parts of my life too.  The decision to go our way educationally strengthened and re-enforced our other life choices.  

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#7 of 9 Old 06-05-2013, 09:11 AM
 
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We don't use much curriculum. My 10-year-old has had a good year, though, and despite some late-winter wistfulness about attending school she has come to a place of really committing herself as a homeschooler for the next couple of years at least. As for the bits of curriculum we did use:

 

Bravewriter Arrow: We bought a couple of "a la carte" novel study units. While she enjoyed the novelty of written dictation and language arts "instruction," they were far too basic for her. If we were going to try any more I'd go up a level to the Boomerang stuff, though I'd pick and choose for interest, as I can't see something like "A Tale of Two Cities" really interesting my kid all that much at this age. But she reads and thinks and writes enough on her own. We haven't felt the need for anything more.

 

Math Makes Sense 8: This is a standard textbook-workbook system published by Pearson, used in the Canadian schools. We borrowed it from our school to brush-up on pre-algebra and do a bit more systematic algebra before launching into academic high school math next year. She started it in November and finished easily in April, enjoying it all the way along, so it was a success. We used only the workbook exercises, and that was about right for her. I believe there is one more level in this series, and if so we'll continue with it for next year.

 

That's pretty much all we did that was curriculum-based. As for the rest, the highlights included:

 

A theatrical series of workshops on law & government that ended with a moot court.

Introductory Spanish taken at the local high school.

A multi-day canoe camping trip with the local public school

Gymnastics - advanced recreational

Homeschool downhill ski days

Jackrabbits (XC ski instruction) program

Getting a very part-time job as a housekeeper

Learning a bit of graphic design and desktop publishing

Family trip to Hawaii

Music trip to Ontario and Quebec

Art workshops with fellow homeschoolers, focused on patterns and geometry

Exploring maps, especially 3-d topographical maps of our area

The Journey North "mystery" project on photoperiods around the world

 

Miranda


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#8 of 9 Old 07-10-2013, 08:28 PM
 
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The good:

We did some Waldorf-style blocks as a family early in the year. Those went over well. We'll be doing more of a block schedule this year because of that.
My 5 yo taught herself pretty much everything (riding a bike, reading, math) without lessons just from picking up what the kids were doing!
Apples & Pears spelling for my 2 dyslexics
AAS for my VSL oldest dd who needed spelling help
Suzuki violin was a hit, but...(see bad)
Strangely enough, R&S English helped my two oldest a lot. That was my last resort.
The iPad!!! Stack the States and a bunch of other apps taught my kids lots of fun stuff that they actually wanted to do.

The bad:

Too much running around.
The money and traveling for Suzuki have been really hard on the family.
Co-op was just a bother. Between racist rants, creation and YEC classes my kids were forced to take, and just losing a day to it, we will not be doing it again this year.

The ugly:

AoPS Pre-Algebra-hated it. My VSL and I both floundered. Even my math oriented chemist dh thought it was not a good fit.
I spent months studying Montessori, much money, and much hope on implementing any of it just to fail horribly. eyesroll.gif

AP Mom to 5 knit.gifhomeschool.giftoddler.gif
 
  

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#9 of 9 Old 07-10-2013, 09:29 PM
 
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We just got to borrow a set of alternative energy Snap Connectors from our girl scout council library.  Someone donated the sets, and they seem to have never been used.  We started playing with them and we are hooked.  What fun!

 

I think my oldest would really love some math stuff.  She can handle some formal-stye learning (in some ways she would do very well in school) so I think I'll be looking at Miquon math for the fall, though I wonder whether she's beyond that.  Her sister isn't, so it won't be a waste, but if dd1 does work through it quickly but likes it, I will have to look for the next thing.  One thing at a time.

 

Both have been watching more science videos, playing with science kits and eyeballing the challenges on diy.org, though we haven't started any yet.  I think this next year is going to be a busy one.


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