Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • SPELLING WORKOUT LEVEL E PUPIL EDITION
    SPELLING WORKOUT LEVEL E PUPIL EDITION
    by MODERN CURRICULUM PRESS
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Entries in curriculum (9)

Thursday
Aug202015

Year 4 school plan (2015-2016, age 9)

Our homeschool is secular and classically designed. It is based somewhat off the the suggestions in the Well Trained Mind, but we don't pay a lot of attention to grade expecations; instead we follow Calvin's pace and interests to determine where we are and what we are doing each year.

I will come back through the year, or at least at the end, to update our progress. An X means the goal was accomplished (or the book read), a + indicates was an added goal. No marks mean we did not accomplish or dropped the goal.

June 2015-June 2016
Age 9 (public school grade 4)

Science
Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Volume II (this is our second year with the book and we will probably finish it) (completed)

Computer
Typing with Mavis Beacon (completed)
X Blog upkeep 
+X Gaming (mainly Minecraft)

The Arts
Music
Piano Adventures Level 4 Lesson, Performance, Theory, Technique, and Pop Rep (finished)
Piano Adventures Level 5 Lesson, Performance, Theory, and Pop Rep (started)
X Boychoir of Ann Arbor (twice weekly practice)

Visual
How to Teach Art to Children  (completed)
X Photography: Capture Your 365
X Classes through our homeschooling group (theater, sculpting)

Math
Math-U-See Algebra I (completed)
Perplexors Level D (completed)
+X More Perplexors Level D (completed)
Orbiting with Logic (completed)

Physical Education
X Running or biking twice weekly (only in good weather)
X Gym once weekly through our homeschooling group (first term only)
X Dance class once weekly: Musical Theater

Language Arts
Foreign Language 
Spanish for Children B (completed)

English
Spelling Workout Level H (completed)
Michael Clay Thompson's Level 3: the Voyage Series: (all books completed)
MCT Grammar Voyage and Practice Voyage
MCT Caesar's English II
MCT Essay Voyage
MCT A World of Poetry 

Reading: in addition to choice and history supplementary reading, we will have one to two assigned books per month, many of which we will read aloud together and discuss, some of which will also have accompanying study workbooks. 
Holes, Louis Sachar (with study guide)
X The Yearling, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (with Novel Ties study guide)
The Canterville Ghost, Oscar Wilde
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beacher Stowe (with study guide)
Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
Treasure Island and X Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson
The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare (with Novel Ties study guide)
Kim, Rudyard Kipling
The Last of the Mohicans, George Fenimore Cooper
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin
The Secret Garden, Francis Hodgson Burnett (with Novel Ties study guide)
The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy
The Invisible Man, H.G. Wells 

History and Geography
The Story of the World Volume 3 and Activity Book (we use this as a backbone only and supplement heavily with reading and video materials)

Supplementary history reading (about 1 book a week; we won't get to all of these, but will pick at least one title per topic area):
X indicates read, + indicates added/ to the list mid-year (and read)
I, Juan de Pareja, Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
The Wheel on the School, Meindert DeJong
Pocahontas, Joseph Bruchac
The Broken Blade, William Durbin
The Samurai's Tale, Erik C. Haugaard
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Kate Douglas Wiggin
Grimm's Fairy Tales, Grimm
The Cat Who Went to Heaven, Elizabeth Coatsworth
Rama and Sita, David Weitzman
A Journal of the Plague Year, Daniel Defoe
German Hero-Sagas, Barbara Leonie Picard
Egg & Spoon, Gregory Maguire
Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare
Mr. Revere and I, Robert Lawson
Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes
My Brother Sam is Dead, James Lincoln Collier
Ben and Me, Robert Lawson
In the Reign of Terror, G.A. Henty
Kashtanka, Anton Chekhov
Lyddie, Katherine Patterson
The Monkey King, Aaron Shepard
The Gate in the Wall, Ellen Howard
Midnight is a Place, Joan Aiken
The Courage of Sarah Noble, Alice Dalgiesh
Lewis and Clark and Me, Laurie Myers
Streams to the River, River to the Sea, Scott O'Dell
The Legend of Lord Eight Deer, John M.D. Pohl
Nightjohn, Gary Paulson
The Journal of Jesse Smoke, Joseph Bruchac
Only the Names Remain, Alex W. Bealer
The Whale Rider, Witi Ihimaera
The Call of the Wild, Jack London
+ White Fang, Jack London
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple, Karen Cushman
By the Great Horn Spoon!, Sid Fleischman

 

 

Monday
Sep082014

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol. II thread plan

After spending the early part of September reviewing BFSU vol. I, in October we'll be continuing our science journey with Elementary Science Education, or BFSU vol. II gor frades 3-5.

Here is my previous note about the BFSU books from my Vol. I thread plan post:

I love these books, but not everyone does, because these aren't the kind of books you can crack open for the first time on the morning you expect to run through a lesson together. These books do require planning ahead, and sometimes studying ahead, depending on your own science background. Since I studied Evolutionary Biology in college I already have a very strong science background, but these lessons are so well described that they lend themselves to learning together.

First, though, a bit about what these books aren't: they are not workbooks or text books; they are not intended to be handed to a student; they don't have tests, questions, pictures, or diagrams; they are not scripted.

What they ARE, is a series of well thought out lesson plans that guide teachers and students through the basic tenets of science by following the scientific model of "show don't tell".

Lessons plans in these books are intended to be taught in a few sessions over one to two weeks, depending on the depth of the lesson and the depth of your interest. Each lesson opens with an overview, a breakdown of the parts of the lesson with suggested time expenditure for each part, and lists of necessary background knowledge, expected knowledge outcomes, and necessary materials.

Every lesson has suggested demonstrations and hands on activities as well as suggestions for general conversation. Most lessons also suggest ways to go deeper into lessons when the interest is there.

At the end of each plan is a list of suggested reading materials.

The lessons are divided into four different topic threads (the nature of matter, life sciences, physical science, and earth and space science), and all lessons in the three books are connected via a flow chart that shows a suggested order of attack and demonstrates how certain lessons flow into others and which are necessary prerequisites to others.

It is easy, although a little time consuming, to sit down with the flow chart at the front of each book and make a plan of action for the school year, whatever that means to you. Where possible, we tend to focus on the Life Science and the Earth and Space Science threads in the spring and summer when the weather is nice, while in the fall and winter we focus more on the Physical Science and the Nature of Matter threads. This is what I think works best for us, but there are many ways to plan the order of delivery while still keeping to the suggested flow order, so you can do whatever works best for you.

Here, then is my plan of action for covering the lessons in Elementary Science Education: BFSU Vol 2

October 2014
(connecting concepts to our recent trip to California, and the season change to fall)
D-10: The Water Cycle and its Ramifications
D-11: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Movements of Tetonic Plates
D-12: Mapping the Earth; Latitude and Longitude
D-9: Cause of Seasonal Changes


November 2014
(connecting to the fall season)
B-16: Fungi and Bacteria I: Their Role as Decomposers in Nature
B-17: Fungi and Baceria II: Decomposers vs. Food Storage and Preservation
B-18: Fungi and Bacteria III: Decomposers vs. Disease and Health


January 2015
A-11: Atomic/Molecular Motion I: Evidence from Brownian Motion and Diffusion
A-12: Atomic/Molecular Motion II: Relationship to Temperature
A-13: Atomic/Molecular Motion III: Heat and Pressure

February 2015
A-15: Will It Sink or Foat? The Concept of Density
A-16: How Metal Ships Float/Making a Hydrometer
A-17: Heat, Volume, and Density

 

March 2015
(connecting to our trip to the tropics)
A-18: Convection Currents: Observation and Interpretation
D-13: Climate and Weather I: Wet Tropics and Dry Deserts

Break for side study of bird migration and species identification

 

April 2015
B-12: The Life of Plants I: Growing Plants for Fun, Food, and Learning
B-13: Cells I: Microscopes, Observations of Tissues, and the Cell Theory

 

May 2015
B-14: Cells II: Cell Growth, Division, and Differentiation
B-22: The Life of Plants II: How a Plant Grows Its Parts

 

June 2015
B-15: Cells III: Integrating Cells and Whole-Body Functions
B-19: Microscopic Organisms I: Their Multitude and Diversity
B-20: Microscopic Organisms II: Single-Celled Organisms; Kingdom Protista

 

Break for summer observation of species and habitats in the wild

 

2015-2016 school year (order planned, but not yet placed on calendar)
C-8: How Things Fly
C-9: Center of Gravity, Balance, and Wobbling Wheels
C-10: Movement Energy and Momentum
C-11: Mechanics I: Levers and Discovery of the Underlying Principle
C-12: Mechanics II: Inclined Planes, Pulleys, Gears, and Hydraulic Lifts
C-13: Electricity I: Electric Circuits, Switches, Conductors, and Non-Conductors
C-13a: Electricity Ia: Static Electricity, Sparks, and Lightning
C-14: Electricity II: Parallel and Series Circuits, Short Circuits, Fuses, and Ground Wires
C-15: Light I: Basics of Light and Seeing
A-14: Concepts of Chemistry I: Elements and Compounds

Monday
Sep012014

Year 3 school plan (2014-2015, age 8)

We continue homeschooling through the summer, just with a lighter load of table work and an emphasis on life learning, and I count our years from mid-June through mid-June, so when I say "the 2014-2015 school year", I mean June 2014-June 2015. I do this because Calvin's birthday is in mid June, plus this is about when we launch our different summer schedule.

June 2014-June 2015
Age 8 (public school grade 3)

Overview:

Grammar
We love the Michael Clay Thompson series from Royal Fireworks Press. We originally used Susan Wise Bauer's First Language Lessons, but Calvin flew through that entire series and we both wanted something more rich and holistic. The MCT series certainly provides that. Since Calvin already had a great background in grammar, having finished the entire FLL series, he flew through the MCT Level 1 books in just a few months last spring and he really couldn't get enough, especially of the poetry and Latin root lessons. We took a break over the summer, but will pick it back up full swing this fall. We also use a supplementary spelling workbook (for vocabulary building and handwriting practice as much as for the spelling), and journal writing.

Math
We started with the Math-U-See back in the pre-school or kindergarten age and it has served us well. The curriculum makes great use of visual aids and continually builds on and reviews previous topics. We use three supplementary workbooks that practice logic based math as well.

Spanish
We started with Spanish last spring using the Flip-Flop Spanish book. This was a pdf file that I purchased on CurrClick and printed at home, and while I would never consider it a well rounded language lesson book, it was a pretty light and fun way to get started with some vocabulary before settling down into the nitty gritty. The nitty gritty is more where we are starting this fall with Spanish for Children.

History
As with so many others in the homeschooling community we have been plugging along with The Story of the World, and I plan to continue in this way with a few changes. Prior to this year we have been spending lots of extra time on various civilizations and time periods. For each civilization we studied we went into details about their mythology, their origin stories, and usually sought out examples of early (very early) literature traditions. This year, with the exception of the Norse mythology that is coming up, I plan to speed up our journey through this curriculum.

Science
No changes here. We are still using Building Foundations and loving it. The only change I wish to effect this year is the addition of some supplementary living science reading.

 

June 2014-June 2015
Age 8 (public school grade 3)

Details:

Grammar
The Michael Clay Thompson series, Level 2:
Grammar Town, Paragraph Town, and Practice Town
Building Poems
Caesar's English
Supplementary:
Poetry for Young People series
Spelling Workout Level F (to be completed in January)
Spelling Workout Level G (begin in January)
Journaling
Reading, both alone and aloud, choice and assigned from a long list of classical books

Math
Math-U-See Zeta (complete in October)
Math-U-See Pre-Algebra (begin in October)
Logic Liftoff, grades 4-6 (complete in January)
Orbiting with Logic, grades 5-7 (begin in February)
Logic Safari Book 2, grades 3-4 (complete in January)
Logic Safari Book 3, grades 5-6 (begin in February)

Spanish
Spanish for Children Primer A

History
The Story of the World, Volume 2
The Story of the World, Volume 2 Activity Book

Science
Building Foundations in Scientific Understanding, Volume II, Grades 3-5

Art
Drawing with Children, by Mona Brooks
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series, by Mike Venezia

Music
Piano Adventures Level 3B series (complete in March)
Piano Adventures Level 4 series (begin in March)
Boychoir of Ann Arbor Preparatory Choir

Wednesday
Aug142013

Year 2 school plan (2013-2014, age 7)

June 2013-June 2014
Age 6 (public school grade 2)

Overview:

Grammar
Last year we were using Susan Wise Bauer's First Language Lessons books. I liked their slow pace, their focus on real literature, and the memorization and copy work strategies, but Calvin mastered the concepts quickly and soon found the repetition tedious. He has completed all the FLL books, so rather than go on with them, this year we will focus almost entirely on free and assigned reading. He will keep a vocabulary journal and write short reviews once or twice a month.
+ Added note July 2014: We started Michael Clay Thompson's Language Arts Series with level one in the spring of this year, and we're thrilled. The MCT books are rich and engaging. They vocabulary and language meant to challenge a quick mind, and for us they are the perfect mixture of repetition versus movement. The series includes grammar, vocabulary, writing, and poetry books for each leve. They begin with level 1, meant for late elementary.  

History
We are continuing our journey through Bauer's Story of the World, Volume I this year. Though most people spend only one school year on each book in this four volume series, in order to counter what I perceive as the over sacred focus of the series, we have been spending a lot of time on outside sources with a focus on early civilizations and each people's myths and origin stories. Call it a rudimentary comparitive myths and religions class!

Geography
Most of our study for this discipline comes with history at this point in time—as we learn about the different civilizations we locate them on the map, coming to know the continents and their general makeup over time. I am not ready yet to muddy the waters with current political maps, but we will focus a little more this year on map reading in general.

Details: 

Grammar
Daily free and assigned reading
MCT Island series (level 1)
: Grammar Island, Practice Island, Sentence Island, Building Language, Music Hemispheres
Spelling Workout E

Math
Math-U-See Epsilon
Logic Liftoff Level 4-6
Perplexors Level A
Logic Safari, Book 1 
Allowance/Budget recording

Science
Building foundations of Scientific Understanding Volume I
+ Personal Inquiry and research: "What was there before the big bang?"
+ Connect the Thoughts: Lower School Physics and Astronomy

History
The Story of the World Volume I: Ancient Times
Intellego Unit Studies, K-2 World History III: Ancient China and Greece
Intellego Unit Studies, 3-5 World History I: Ancient Rome

Geography
The Story of the World: Ancient Times Student Activity Book 
McGraw Hill Complete Book of World Maps & Geography, Grades 3-6
Exploring Maps: Ancient Civilizations
Spectrum World Geography

Art
Classes through our homeschooling group (drawing, mixed media, and metal working)

Music
Piano lessons

Fitness
Swim classes once weekly
Hiking twice weekly in good weather 

 

Tuesday
Jun112013

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol. I thread plan

We are nearing the end of our journey through the first BFSU book, and I think a review of sorts is long overdue. I love these books, but not everyone does. These aren't the kind of books you can crack open for the first time on the morning you expect to run through a lesson together. They require planning ahead, and sometimes studying ahead, depending on your own science background. Since I studied Evolutionary Biology in college I have a strong science background, but these lessons are so well described that they lend themselves to learning together for those who do not have that background, with maybe just a little extra planning time.

First, though, a bit more about what these books aren't: they are not workbooks or text books; they are not intended to be handed to a student; they don't have tests, questions, pictures, or diagrams; they are not scripted.

What they ARE, is a series of well thought out lesson plans that guide teachers and students through the basic tenets of science by following the scientific model of "show don't tell".

Lessons plans in these books are intended to be taught in a few sessions over one to two weeks, depending on the depth of the lesson and the depth of your interest. Each lesson opens with an overview, a breakdown of the parts of the lesson with suggested time expenditure for each part, and lists of necessary background knowledge, expected knowledge outcomes, and necessary materials.

Every lesson has suggested demonstrations and hands on activities as well as suggestions for general conversation. Most lessons also suggest ways to go deeper into subjects when the interest is there.

At the end of each plan is a list of suggested reading materials.

The lessons are divided into four different topic threads (the nature of matter, life sciences, physical science, and earth and space science), and all lessons in the three books are connected via a flow chart that shows a suggested order of attack and demonstrates how certain lessons flow into others and which are necessary prerequisites to others.

I first started with BFSU I a couple of years ago. At the time I picked it up and started with the first lesson in the book. It actually took me a couple of weeks to realize that the lessons were divided into the four different disciplines and were meant to be taught fluidly throughout. When I did figure that out, I sat down and spent some time with the book, creating a plan of action for us to follow.

It is easy, although a little time consuming, to sit down with the flow chart at the front of each book and make a plan of action for the school year, whatever that means to you. Where possible, we tend to focus on the Life Science and the Earth and Space Science threads in the spring and summer when the weather is nice, while in the fall and winter we focus more on the Physical Science and the Nature of Matter threads. This is what works best for us, but there are many ways to plan the order of delivery while still keeping to the suggested flow order, so you can do whatever works best for you.

We started with BFSU in Marc 2012 when Calvin was 5 (turning 6 in June 2012). Following is the plan I worked out and implemented for the lessons in book 1.

BFSU Vol. I, grades K-2

March 2012
A/B-1: Organizing Things into Categories
B-2: Distinguishing Living, Natural Non-living, and Human-made Things

April 2012
A-2: Solids, Liquids, Gases
A-3: Air Is a Substance
A-4: Matter I: Its Particulate Nature

May 2012
A-5: Distinguishing Materials
A-5a: Magnets and Magnetic Fields
C-1: Concepts of Energy I: Making Things Go
D-1: Gravity I: The Earth's Gravity/Horizontal and Vertical

June 2012
B-3: Distinguishing Between Plants and Animals
C-4: Concepts of Energy III: Distinguish Between Matter and Energy
C-3: Concepts of Energy II: Kinetic and Potential Energy
C-2: Sound, Vibrations, and Energy

July 2012 and all through the summer of 2012
B-4a: Identification of Living Things (ongoing study)
B-4b: What is a Species/Use of Field Guides in the Field (ongoing study)
B-4: Life Cycles

September-October 2012
C-1: Concepts of Energy I (REVIEW)
B-3: Distinguishing Between Plants and Animals (REVIEW)
B-5: Food Chains and Adaptations (ongoing study)
D-4: Land Forms and Major Biomes of the Earth

November-December 2012
B-6: How Animals Move I: The Skeleton and Muscle
B-7: How Animals Move II: Different Body Designs, Major Animal Phyla (ongoing study)

January 2013
B-3: Distinguishing Between Plants and Animals (REVIEW)
C-5: Inertia
C-6: Friction
C-7: Push Pushes Back

February 2013
D-5: Time and the Earth's Turning (ongoing study)
D-6: Seasonal Changes and the Earth's Orbit (ongoing study)
D-7: Gravity II: Weightlessness in space, Distintion Between Weight and Mass

March-June 2013
Supplemental: Connect the Thoughts Lower School Science IV: Physics & Astronomy

Summer 2013
B-4a: Identification of Living Things (ongoing study)
B-4b: What is a Species/Use of Field Guides in the Field (ongoing study)
B-4: Life Cycles (ongoing study)

October 2013
A-6: Matter II: Air Pressure, Vacuums, and the Earth's Atmosphere
A-7: Air: A Mixture of Gases
A-8: Evaporation and Condensation

November 2013
A-9: Matter IV: Dissolving, Solutions, and Crystallization
A-10: Rocks, Minerals, Crystals, Dirt, and Soil

January-February 2014
B-10: Plant Science I: Basic Plant Structure
B-11: Plant Scienc eII: Seed Germination and Seedling Growth
B-12 Plants, Soil, and Water
D-8: Rocks and Fossils

March-April 2014
B-8: How Animals Move III: The Nervous System
B-9: How Animals Move IV: Energy to Run the Body

May 2014
(connect to spring and planting of vegetable gardens)
B-11: Plant Sci II: Seed Germinatin and Seedling Growth (REVIEW)
B-12: Plants, Soil, and Water (REVIEW)

Summer 2014
B-4a: Identification of Living Things (ongoing study)
B-4b: What is a Species/Use of Field Guides in the Field (ongoing study)
B-4: Life Cycles (ongoing study)

For September 2014
Complete book review

For October 2014
Begin BFSU Vol. II