Thursday, October 18, 2012

Curriculum 2011-2012 A Year End Review

We have wrapped up another year and I would like to take a moment today to review how this past year's curriculum fared.  (Apparently I never published this post last spring, so I will just go ahead and do it today, as it provides a good record for me.)

Having all my copies already made for the 1st Term worked really well, but term 2 and 3 got left in the dust, so this year I will try to plan a planning time for those terms.
This year, we had a 4th grader, 3rd grader and Preschooler at home and used a history based classical cycle studying the Middle Ages and Renaissance.  Adding in Catholic Charlotte Mason resources from Mater Amabilis and Maria Rioux's curricula was a good move and Rose enjoyed all the extra reading.  Daisy did not read as much as I had hoped, but I believe she finally just met her "breakthrough" book when she read "Wonderstruck" by BrianSelznick last week.  Since then she has been much more interested in reading!  YAY!

I found my biggest challenges this year were:

  • dealing with a math breakdown midway through the year
  • finding time to do MCT Grammar, Poetry and Vocabulary
  • our Math facts were not known well enough
  • Rose reading all of the history books before they were assigned
  • getting into the school room at a reasonable time

Most of our subjects we did do together, at least for Rose (4th) and Daisy (3rd).
We started with PRAYER and a reading from the Saints for Young Reader for Every Day.  We also added the Angelus during Lent. Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 1: January-June Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 2: July-December
We started using Calculadder math quizzes, but then used the copywork math facts sheets I created to work on the facts from another angle.  We have gone back to using Calculadder a few times a week this summer.

We also started our cursive writing from Handwriting without Tears.  It took us until Christmas to finish the first book. Handwriting Without Tears - Grade 3 Cursive Handwriting  We continued with the 2nd 
cursive book from HWT the second half of the year.  At this point both Rose and Daisy are pretty proficient with cursive.

Next comes Math.  We started the year with Saxon  Math 3 (Daisy) Saxon Math 3: An Incremental Development, Home Study Meeting Book and  Saxon 5/4 (Rose).  Saxon Math 5/4: Home School   By October I knew things were not working and looked at as many options as I could.  We settled on using Teaching Textbooks 3 and 4.  Since we started at the beginning we were pretty behind most of the year, but it gave them a confidence boost in Math that I think they needed.  I am not sure what my verdict was though.  It was very easy for Daisy to forget what she had learned, but Rose seemed to do fine with it. ...
Magnolia used Math Lessons for a Living Education from Queen Homeschool and loved it!  We worked at her interest level, striking when the iron was hot and putting it aside when she was tired of it.  We made a good progress through some of the book and will continue with it this summer as interest peaks. 

So after our mid morning snack (that never really happens because we took so long to get into the school room)  we moved onto All About Spelling.  All About Spelling The Multisensory Program for Spelling Success Level One   This worked really well.  We started on level one, and moved fast.  Sometimes doing multiple lessons a day.  We finished by Christmas and moved onto Level 2 in the new year.  
I loved everything about it.  The girls love it enough as long as we can get through the tiles part.  Daisy really needs the tile practice, while Rose does not.  So we will be doing it more separately in the future.  We will be sticking with All About Spelling for next year!

Our pre-lunch routine varies everyday, but here are the run downs:
Daily Geography -  quick 30 second question every day on something geography related.  This really did not happen after the first month.  Our geography was limited to History, which I think was sufficient for now.
Latin - Prima Latina Prima Latina Full Set(disclaimer I am a classics major, so Latin is in my background, but I will be using the course DVD's just to give my kids a break from me :)  Another bust, my kids hated the accent of the instructor and it became another argument, so we will try again next year.
Religion - We again used Faith and Life 3/4 Our Life With Jesus: Book 3 Jesus Our Guide (Faith and Life Serie, Book 4) respectively for our "religion spine."  We started the Holy Rosary Project in CHC's 3rd grade curriculum.  We also used many fo the living books recommended for religion by Mater Amabilis.  These included:
Life of Our Lord for Children Life of Our Lord for Children, A, First Christians by Marigold Hunt The First Christians: The Acts of the Apostles for Children, The Way of the Cross A Story of Padre Pio The Way of the Cross: A Story of Padre Pio,  Way to BethlehemThe Way to Bethlehem, Life of Mary The Life of Mary , My Path to Heaven My Path to Heaven: A Young Person's Guide to the Faith,

English/Grammar- We started using Primary Language Lessons Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons  by Hillside for basic stand alone work but found it duplicated the work we were doing with MCT.  We gave Michael Clay Thompson a try worked in the Island series Grammar Island of books together this year at a slow pace!  It went well and gave us some quality time together but was easy to skip when people got tired.  I love how it focuses on basics but provides a complete picture of English grammar from the beginning.

Reading is an easy subject in our house because everyone loves to do it!  We will read something different every day.  On Mondays and Tuesdays we used our Catholic National Readers at the appropriate level.  These are chock full of short stories rich with Catholic tradition, morality, virtues and values.  On Wednesdays they have free reading time in a book of their choice.  On Thursdays we read from Catholic Stories for Boys and Girls (and More)Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls More Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls, Rare Catholic Stories Rare Catholic Stories: A Treasured Collection and Little Apostle on Crutches and Fr. Brown ReaderThe Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton.  On Fridays we are reading from an assigned book from the Mater Amabilis and Maria Rioux reading lists
Our favorites were:
Both Girls: St. FrancisSaint Francis, A Sword in the TreeThe Sword in the Tree (Trophy Chapter Book), Baby IslandBaby Island, Joan of ArcJoan of Arc.
Daisy: 100 DressesThe Hundred Dresses, Family Under the BridgeThe Family under the Bridge, Children of Noisy VillageThe Children of Noisy Village.
Rose: Beorn the ProudBeorn the Proud (Living History Library), Swallows and AmazonsSwallows and Amazons (Godine Storyteller), Son of CharlemagneSon of Charlemagne (Living History Library), Pagoo 
 and The Whipping BoyThe Whipping Boy.

Magnolia's reading program started with All About Reading at the Pre-Reading level.  We loved our low-key time with Ziggy the Zebra and she made great strides in learning to read!
History is cycle 2 Middle Ages and Renaissance.  Our spine is Story of the World vol. 2 The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance (Second Revised Edition) (Vol. 2) (Story of the World) with Old World and America The Old World and America tied in (a post will follow soon with how to match them up).  I am using Paige's history plans from  We initially planned on trying Connect with History, but it seemed a little dry for me and the kids, so we went back to Story of the World, which they really enjoy and adding in Catholic supplementary books and Old World and America.

Science:  This year we used Paige's plans for Astronomy and Earth Science from Elemental Science.  This is a first for us, but I love how Paige breaks everything down into a simple and easy plan.  We did not make it to the Cincinnati Observatory Kids astronomy group, but did see Hubble at the Museum Center.  OH well!  Science needs a rework for next year.

Art: We are using Option 3 of Harmony Art Plans Grade 2 Middle Ages and Renaissance  along with Artistic Pursuits Grades 1-3 Books 1 and 2.  I loved these plans, but unfortunately had a tough time working them in.  I will try again next year to simplify and get it done!

Family Read Alouds took place at night before bed.  This year we will enjoyed:
PollyannaPollyanna, Arabian NightsOne Thousand and One Arabian Nights (Oxford Story Collections), St. George and the DragonSaint George and the Dragon, Knights of the Round TableThe Story of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table - The Original Classic Edition, Adam of the RoadAdam of the Road, Castle DiaryCastle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess, The Door in the WallThe Door in the Wall (Books for Young Readers), Robin HoodThe Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.

Physical Education:  Rose loved volleyball this year and ended up not finishing Ultimate Frisbee in the Fall, mostly due to being over committed with  Girls on the Run, which was also very successful.
Daisy spent 9  hours in the gym training for gymnastics at level 4 every week.
Magnolia also enjoyed gymnastics and pre-ballet and participated in her first dance recital.

The girls also somehow find time for American Heritage Girls and our church youth group!

So there it is!  A year in a nutshell.

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