I cannot think of a more exciting way to jump back into blogging than to share our curriculum picks for the year. I love homeschool planning. I can’t resist reading about curriculum choices (if you have any to share, post in the comments!), and I thought I would add ours to the stack of back-to-school posts.
This will be our fourth year homeschooling and our third year of Classical Conversations. For previous years posts, see:
2017-2018, the year this blog went dark while we were roadschooling in a RV
We are using a loop schedule for most subjects this year. This means that instead of scheduling a task or subject on a specific day of the week, like Mondays, the task is part of a loop which you progress through in order regardless of the day of the week. So, if you miss a Monday because of a field trip, you are not faced with the dilemma of “catching up” on Monday’s work. You simply resume your work with the next task in the loop on Tuesday. (See Half A Hundred Acre Wood for an excellent post on loop scheduling and CC-Cycle 1-related printables.) This is perfect for us for several reasons:
- We have a soon-to-be 7-year-old, a soon-to-be 5-year-old, and a 3-year-old. The time it takes to progress through our tasks is totally unpredictable because the needs and moods of the kids in this age range varies so much moment to moment. With the loop schedule, I don’t feel completely derailed when the unexpected interrupts our plans.
- I can add tasks to a loop that are specific to each child, and this helps me to visualize collectively what everyone might work on during that block of time.
- We also moved to a new state, Ohio, which has more requirements for homeschoolers than Texas does, so I had to incorporate several new subjects that don’t need to be completed on a weekly basis. Throwing them into a loop helps me to keep them on the schedule without having a specific block of time reserved.
- I love books and curricula, and I often want to use several resources for one subject. A loop schedule is an easy way to do this!
So, this is what we’re working on this year:
This is our third year doing CC, but this year we will also be in a CC community! This means that we will meet with other families once a week for a half day to review the CC memory work for the week and complete the art, music and science lessons together. This curriculum establishes a broad base of knowledge, covering facts from history, geography, science, art, music, English, Latin and math each week. (See our 2016 post for more info on CC.) Aside from community day each week, we will review the CC memory work each day and the awesome timeline song with ASL signs a few times a week. We also try to pair some library book choices and field trips with our CC work, such as things related to ancient civilizations in this first part of Cycle 1.
English, Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) loop
We have lots of great things in this loop! (Remember we don’t see all of this every day, we cycle through the resources in the loop.)
- Explode the Code for both Rowan and June: June is so determined to catch up to her big brother that she opted to work through half of her Explode the Code book this summer! We are doing the books rather than online for now.
- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons: while this teacher-led format was *not* a fit for Rowan back in 2015 but June enjoys it. It’s a great fit because it focuses on verbalizing the letter sounds, providing me a helpful opportunity to work 1:1 with June on speech (incorporating the various ways that her tracheostomy affects her vocalization) and its connection to reading.
- Letter of the Week (LOTW) from Confessions of a Homeschooler for Miles. Rowan and June both completed this curriculum in past years, and last spring they requested that Miles start it this year, with the caveat that they would be allowed to do some of the crafts involved. We use the LOTW intro (day, date, temperature, weather charts, letter-related Bible verse) and binder system (dry erase day-of-the-week) for all the kids. And we love having a chicka-tree again to add to weekly!
- Bob books for everyone! Rowan, June and Miles each read (I read to Miles) one book per week from the level of Bob books they are on.
- Spelling- Dolch sight words plus oral spelling: Rowan and June will work through recognizing the written Pre-K, K and first grade Dolch sight words lists this year. We will also do oral spelling words, but lists are TBA/composed from what we read that week.
- Handwriting- tracing and sensory writing: I *LOVE* this site which will make tracer pages in block print or cursive. Rowan will have a tracer page for either our Bible memory verse or the history sentence. June does some tracing of individual letters in dry-erase resources we have; we’re working on exercises for her pencil grip. All three kids will do “sensory writing” activities which are thought to help reinforce directionality (address mixing up b and d, and/or writing letters backward), plus they are *really fun!* Examples of incorporating more senses into writing are writing letters with your finger on a surface sprinkled with flour, dry beans or shaving cream; creating letters with buttons, M&Ms or tangrams; writing with sidewalk chalk outside; making letter shapes with your body (like the YMCA song).
- Reading: Lots of reading…the kids get library books every week, and while we would love to grab the variety of books suggested by A Well Trained Mind (Science, History, Art or music, Craft/hobby/how to, Biography, Classic novel, Imaginative story, Poetry) we cannot tackle all of that when the kids are not yet reading independently. But we are sure to include the fiction the kids choose plus at least one juvenile non-fiction, poetry, and a kid-level biography each that Greg and I read with them. We also try to keep a chapter book in progress that Greg or I read aloud.
- Singapore Math for Rowan and June: Rowan loves this curriculum, and just moved on to the next book. June will start soon with the book Rowan just finished, but we realized we need to do some prep with on the concept of conservation of number first.
- Scholastic Kindergarten book: June will work through the math exercises here in preparation for starting Singapore Math.
- Life of Fred for all: I read one chapter from this fun series aloud each week.
- Handwriting, numbers: we’ll do sensory writing (above) for numbers, too, to address precision and backwards numbers.
- Letter of the Week (above): Miles’ math is incorporated into this curriculum which also teaches numbers and shapes.
- Manipulatives (tangrams, base ten set, math blocks): Everyone loves playing with these; we incorporate them into lessons and downtime when one kid (often, Miles) is done before others.
- Character traits: We choose a character trait of the week from this *awesome, free set* from Sarah’s Sweeties
- Right Now media: Churches and Christian schools often offer free Right Now Media accounts to their members (ours is from a school I teach at), through which you have access to hundreds of Bible study videos and resources! We do one video lesson per week; right now we’re on Phil Vischer’s fun children’s series on 1 John, “What is a Christian?”
- GrapeVine study, Old Testament: this is new this year and the kids really enjoy it! We received the first part of this study from GrapeVine as part of Hurricane Harvey relief for homeschoolers, a blessing compiled by Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus. (These resources provided a very welcome jump start on homeschool planning for last year, when Hurricane Harvey hit just as the academic year started, and we were traveling all around Texas searching for covered parking for the RV which had developed a roof leak during the evacuation!) In this curriculum, we review significant events of the Old Testament, and the kids make a stick figure drawing depicting the event. At the end, they have a self-illustrated timeline of the Bible! We will definitely be investing in the next parts of the study when the time comes.
- History Lives: Chronicles of the Church book series: I became interested in learning more church history in recent years, inspired partly by the timeline we study in CC. When looking for a good overview of Christian church history for myself, I came across these books aimed at school aged kids, so the kids and I will get this overview together! We read one chapter a week and so far, it’s good!
- Service project (monthlyish): We try to keep our eye out for service projects the kids could help with, or ways we could show appreciation, associated with our CC community, church, neighborhood, hospital or library.
The airflow to June’s vocal cord is rather restricted right now (update post to come), so her voice is quiet and has sometimes been non-existent. She has been using ASL a lot more, which was her sole expressive language until age 2 (more of our family’s journey with ASL here). Since June started vocalizing at 2 though, we slowed down on our ASL lessons and practice in homeschool. We’re going to pick up the pace again this year!
- Lifeprint: After completing the Signing Time materials, I continued my own ASL studies using LifePrint’s subscription curriculum at asl.tc. I plan to teach the kids the vocab lists from their ASL I course (also available on their free site, Life Print) this year.
- Signing Time: We focus on one episode a week. This helps Rowan and Miles to learn/review the most common signs that June uses in conversation. (You can purchase Signing Time materials including an all-access subscription in my digital Signing Time Instructor shop.Contact me for a 5% off coupon code!)
- CC Timeline motions: We use ASL motions to accompany our Classical Conversations timeline song. Note: While these are real ASL signs, this is not an ASL interpretation of the song; also there are multiple sets of timeline song hand motions that use ASL signs (For example, signs that might accompany “Slave Trade in Africa” may be SLAVE, SLAVE+TRADE, and/or AFRICA). We have been using this one provided by Dover CC but our new CC community may use a different set, in which case we’ll switch!
- ASL song interpretation (monthlyish): I hope to pick an ASL song interpretation that the kids and I can learn; they can choose any song type- pop music, kids songs, worship/hymns, Christmas music!
- Wordless Wednesdays: I haven’t successfully incorporated this yet, but I hope to designate at least part of Wednesdays for “ASL communication only” in our home. Signing is fun and this will sharpen our skills very quickly.
We don’t necessarily rotate doing these in order, but we hope to hit on each at least a few times during the year.
- Free play outside and/or at the park (our main activity!) We got a trampoline this month (!!) for our littlest guy’s bday, which will be great for PE/free time and also a good outlet for a kiddo of ours who is particularly sensory-seeking.
- Sports skills (learning rules of various sports and associated gross/fine motor skills)
- Nature walks, hiking
- SkyWarn, weather spotting skills
- Bike skills (June is working on riding without training wheels)
- Skating skills (in our new state we can add “ice skating” now too!)
- Swimming (planning on lessons for the boys, and safety training for June due to her trach)
- Agility- Rowan wants to register for kids Tough Mudder as a birthday present next month, so we look for opportunities for the kids to practice obstacles and work on balance and agility. There are some awesome public parks around Ohio with obstacle courses and CrossFit-type equipment. And our local rec center has a class in Speed and Agility for Rowan’s age!
Fine Arts loop
- Weekly art or music project at CC
- Cooking at home
- Piano at home
- Sewing (monthlyish): the kids will help plan and, as they are able, help to sew a project, like upcoming Halloween costumes
To Work In
- Current events- The kids are a little young to delve into this area much, but we have awesome resources available from C-SPAN Classroom and from Listenwise when we see an opportunity to explore a current event further. We are on the lookout for a weekly headline review show appropriate for elementary schoolers, if you know of one!
- First aid and fire safety- This is a required subject in Ohio, and we incorporate it during our medical-related routines with June, our visits to the hospital and doctors, and the many opportunities to discuss it while playing outside.
- Ohio history- This is another required subject in Ohio, and we work this in with field trips around the state as well as library books.
That’s what’s we have planned for this year. Yes, it is a very long list! But remember, we don’t do these things daily, and some of them aren’t even weekly. The loop schedule approach allows us to include all of this fun stuff, but with flexibility built in so we don’t aren’t trying to cram tasks into a predetermined time frame.
What do you have planned for this year?