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End of Year: What Worked, What Didn’t

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

I love these posts every year! Part of it is the planner in me, finding what we will do for the coming year is exciting. But, when I look back at what we’ve done for the entire school year, I am ENCOURAGED. I see that we really did accomplish a lot! And that boosts me to keep on keeping on.

{one of our egg experiments from our chicken unit study}

What Worked Well 

  • I have loved our last 2 years with American History. I have learned SO much myself. And, getting together with other families and adding in hands-on and group activities really helps the kiddos to retain and learn in a more in depth way. The 3 moms in our group took turns doing a history activity/lesson with the kids each week and we all learned so much.
  • We reviewed Math-U-See for the TOS Crew and found an awesome math program that I wish we had found sooner. We have finished the Gamma level with all 3 kids and will be moving to the next level in the next 1-2 weeks.
  • In our little 3-family-co-op we also used Atelier Art and that went well also. We completed Level 4 and the kids enjoyed it. The dvds are a bit dated, as in the teacher outfits and classroom visuals, etc. But, the projects are great and I was thrilled to give my art-loving girls some regular art instruction!
  • Lots of memory work: scriptures, and poems using Linguistic Development from IEW.
  • Our new chicks and learning all about them, with our chicken unit study and egg experiments was a fabulous 2 months of learning!
  • Piano lessons & practice for all 3 kids – a fabulous teacher is what makes this possible!!
{field trip to the Titanic with friends}

What Didn’t Work Well

  • Spanish – with our little co-op we tried out Spanish for Children from Classical Academic Press. While the dvds and workbook were fine and well put together, it was simply WAY too much in my opinion. Too much, too fast. There was no way to have hundreds AND HUNDREDS of vocabulary memorized as quickly as they put it in the book.  This program is designed for grades 4 and up, and the majority of our kids in this little co-op were this age. But, even the older kids had trouble with the sheer amount of memorizing words. There was little review built into the curriculum, and we had trouble with that too. I like how the workbooks and dvd lessons are laid out, but it just was too much for us.
  • Reading Aloud – we did this everyday, LOTS of reading. But my kids drive crazy nearly every.single.day. They fight, they are disruptive, I just don’t know how to make it work. Tips? Would love to hear from you!! We did still get in a lot of reading!! But, the actual time each morning leaves me super frustrated nearly everyday.
  • While we LOVED our group time and read alouds for American History, I just did not use the Biblioplan Companion guide like I thought I would. I am finding that reading a lot of great books and doing some hands-on things is our favorite way to learn history. I just didn’t need that extra text.
  • We did not love the Apologia Swimming Creatures this year like we’ve loved our science in the past. We had a great time with the Astronomy last year, and we did do some fun things with the Swimming Creatures, but the last few chapters of this book seemed to be lacking. It seemed like they had to get in a certain number of chapters and were just grasping at the end to find info. The experiments were a little lacking as well. I ended up finding better things on pinterest. (I did start off blogging about this but ended up not posting all the chapters because the activities/experiments just weren’t always worth sharing! ha!)
  • We also didn’t find a writing program or routine for the girls like I had hoped. We did some journaling off and on and then used the picture writing prompts a lot – which the girls did love! But I don’t feel like we grew much in our writing skills this school year.
{field trips with our family}

In the next few weeks I will be sharing what our plans are for the coming year!! Stay tuned! We have some exciting things coming up!

Our little co-op this year!

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

You may remember that last year, our little co-op of 3 families, met weekly and did American History together, Apologia’s Astronomy and a little bit of Spanish!

Well, I am thrilled to have this opportunity again because honestly, this has probably been one of the best, if not the best thing about our homeschooling year the past few years! This will be the third year we have done this together. One of our families, sadly, moved to GA this school year (hi, Jenn!!) and so we “adopted” a new family into our co-op and have met 2x already for this school year.

I wanted to share what curriculum and programs we are doing this year, because it’s a little different…

For American History year 2, we are lightly following Biblioplan‘s guide, which is their YEAR 4 in the classical history cycle. Last year we didn’t really use a guide and I wanted something to help me out this year. So, Biblioplan has a great book list and other things to go along with it and I think it will be great!

Right now we are learning about the civil war! :)

LMU field trip
{our field trip to the Lincoln Museum at LMU campus}

For science this year, we are still using Apologia but are learning about Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day together!! I think the kids will love learning about ocean animals!

For Spanish, we had to find something different and are trying out Spanish for Children. This is quite a leap in ability and difficulty level, but I am excited and hoping we retain some spanish this year!

Finally, we are adding ART this year!! My kids were SO excited!! We are using Atelier Level 4 and so far so good. :)

color wheel art project
{our first week of art we mixed colors and made a color wheel!}

I hope to blog, as I did last year, with ideas we find for teaching history and science!! Stay tuned for all our co-op fun!!

A look back at the school year…

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

I think I say this every year…but wow. I cannot believe another school year is coming to an end for us!! Since we school year round, we finish up the 2011-2012 year in May and then in June we just start right into our next school year.  I can’t believe my kids will have completed 4th, 3rd and 1st grades!!

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The past few years I have taken a a few moments to write up a blog post reflecting on our school year and I want to encourage each of you to do the same! Even if you don’t blog, look back over your child’s work, look at pictures from field trips, look at all the memories and hard work you have accomplished!

I know for me, personally, it helps to look back and see that YES, we DID accomplish a lot!! It helps me not to feel like we haven’t made it very far and it helps me to focus on the positive!

Here is the post where I shared what we were going to be using this year.

A few highlights:

  • Teaching Textbooks continues to be going well for us! And, Caleb has just begun using the 3rd grade level for math and will continue that into next year! Some say that TT is about a year behind, and he started the 3rd grade level with no problems! So far, so good!
  • Halfway through our year we gave up Rod and Staff English and picked up Easy Grammar and Daily Grams. The girls are about halfway through levels 3 and 4 right now. This is going SO MUCH better for us…and we will continue this on into next year. The Daily Grams especially are GREAT. I was able to get both levels for used, so I didn’t have to pay much for it at all!
  • With our little co-op of 3 families we completed a year full of Astronomy fun and we LOVED our science this year!! Caleb, especially. I am looking for ways to continue to help him learn in this area of interest. And next year we will be continuing with a different Apologia text.
  • Also with our little co-op we finished year 1 (out of 2) with American History and again, we had a GREAT time with history!! I think I learned even more than my children did!! We will continue with American History year 2 next year and I will share more about what we are doing with that in the next post.
  • Our little co-op also continued on with a little bit of Spanish and La Clase Divertida level 2. We got most of the way through this level but ended up giving up on it after the new year pretty much. While this program is fun, our kids weren’t retaining much and the workbooks are not very good, in my opinion. We have almost picked out a Spanish program for next year and I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes…we are ready to bump it up a bit for our kids in this area.
  • The girls continue to do well with Spelling Wisdom and we will continue this into next year also.
  • Caleb has done well with his Explode the Code books and is finishing up book 3 this month. We will move on to book 4 and continue his reading instruction.
  • Writing programs: a bit of a challenge. My girls do copywork, spelling, and sometimes I will have them write a paragraph about a biography or subject we are learning about in history. But, I feel very inadequate to teach writing for some reason. I just need someone to hold my hand. We started IEW and have done fairly well with it. But, I also purchased The Writer’s Jungle (when the HSBC had a deal on the pdf version.) to read myself and get some more ideas. I am hoping to really make some good strides in this area next year.
  • I will include a quick word about piano lessons. We continue to be blessed with a wonderful teacher and all 3 children did wonderfully at their recital!! Caleb started taking after the new year and I’m so proud of them for their hard work and consistent practice!! They will all continue lessons starting at the end of July.
Memory Work:: We are *this close* to finishing up memorizing James CHAPTER 1!! A whole chapter with my kids!! I am so proud of them and in awe that God would bless me in this way. I just cannot tell you how it blesses my heart to hear my children reciting scripture.
We also memorize quite a few poems each year using Andrea Pudewa’s Linguistic Development which I continue to love! I just love the poem selection and that the choosing is already done for me. :)
Soon I will be back with a post sharing all the links to curriculum we will be using for the 2012-2013 school year! :)

Early American History – Vikings!

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

This year, along with our Astronomy for science, we are also doing American History with our mini co-op of 3 families!! We are using a combination of resources for our study, so I wanted to list what I’m finding here on the blog as a resource…as always, please let me know when you find any other cool resources to add to this list!! I have gotten some great ideas from so many of you!!

Curriculum
Beautiful Feet American History — I am mostly using this as a booklist to read good, living books through our year with American History
A Living History of Our World – I am using this “text” as our primary text for the school year. It has easy to understand chapters that are written to compare to a Charlotte Mason style living book. This text is easily used with the different age groups I have, so that my 4th grader AND my 1st grader can listen and understand. (I also really like the student journal that you can purchase in addition to the “text.” I am using the notebooks with each girl.)
Online links & resources & ideas
  • We watched this short video on youtube to get a better visual of the Vikings and their ships
  • Postcards from Leif Erikson: we used this site to print (free) postcards. We wrote postcards from Leif to his father Erik telling him all the things he was seeing in the new land!
  • We played “If I Were An Explorer, I would take…” and went around the circle of children. Each child had to think of a different item they would need to take with them if they were going to be an explorer. Then, additionally, as we went around the circle, each person had to remember what all the previous kids were taking as well!! I think the kids enjoyed this…we ended up taking a compass, suitcase, clothes, food, weapons, a blanket, a shovel…and maybe a few other things I’m forgetting. :)
  • We also discussed the Pros/Cons of being an explorer! The kids came up with really great lists for both sides of the story!
  • Viking Paper Dolls – this site is in another language, but if you scroll down you will see the vikings!
  • a fabulous Explorer’s Unit Study that I found online!! I got many of my group ideas/discussions from this unit study!
{our list of Pros/Cons to being an explorer!}
Homeschool Share has several great lapbooks and unit studies to go along with explorers and vikings, here are a few:
{the postcards our kids wrote – from Leif to Erik}

leif erikson lesson activity

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Books We Have Enjoyed (Explorers & Vikings)