Friday, August 7, 2015

Our Homeschool Plans 2015-2016

I had very few plans of any type when we started "homeschooling" last year (you can read about them here). How'd we do?

Well, John Paul (6) is certainly improved in the behavior department. Cecilia (4.5) is reading and writing fairly well. The twins (2.5) know all their letters & numbers (and all that basic stuff - my kids just really like that, so they learn it early on their own for some reason) and Elizabeth decided the other day that she was going to learn how to spell using this toy so I think I'll call it a success! 

We read a TON of books as "official" read-alouds - All of Little House, all of the Chronicles of Narnia (ahem, in published order), all the Moffat books, a couple E. Nesbit books, The Princess and the Goblin, (I know there are more that we read but I'm drawing a blank), and we just finished up Despereaux and are reading a really great book on St. Vincent de Paul (thanks Beth!).

All in all, I think it was a good year but we never really developed a "school day" rhythm, we mostly just tried to adjust to me staying home full-time and having a new baby. There will still be plenty of adjusting to do this year, with the new house and all the work that will come with that... So while I don't have a written plan of things that must be done, I do at least have a ton of books that we'll be using in some manner, in case you're looking for inspiration!

Much of this is pulled from the Mater Amabilis suggestions (which we'll be following loosely this year), quite a bit is stuff we already had, and we got REALLY lucky with some awesome used book sale finds, so while it seems like a lot it was all purchased over the course of several years, and in some cases cost VERY little!

Liturgical Year Resources:


Saints and Feast Days - Not every feast day is included, but there are short stories & activities that go along with it, as well as some reproducible activities.

Catholic Mosaic - incorporates storybooks throughout the year, with lesson plans and ideas to go along with it.

All Year Round - lots of traditions for the liturgical year, tutorials, stories, songs, recipes, and things that have gotten lost from the collective memory over the years.

Marian Devotions in the Domestic Church - activities, coloring pages, cross stitch templates, stories, and hymns for the major Marian feast days!

John Paul and Cecilia will also be doing Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, him in Level II and her in Level I again. 

Art/Music:


I Can Draw Animals & Little Hands Big Fun Craft Book - I really like the Usborne books because I am NOT a crafty person, and it's nice to be able to let the kids look through and pick something out that they think will be fun. For the most part, these are easy to do with things you already have on hand, and a lot of them can be done with very little adult supervision for the 6-and-up crowd! We picked these up used, but Molly sells Usborne books if you need a vendor!

We Sing and Listen & We Sing and Chant - I wrote about these in this post, but we'll be learning some new songs from these and I'll probably use them to practice sight singing with John Paul (not because that's a normal thing YOU should be doing with YOUR 6-year-old, but because he loves it and is good at it).

To God Through Music - This is an old series of Catholic school music curriculum books that we picked up used at a homeschooling conference, and I really like the pacing and basic literacy skills, as well as the songs they choose to include.

We also might do a little more formal piano lessons for John Paul (probably just taught by me or my mom), but we'll see...

Religion


All of this is generally geared towards John Paul, but I think Cecilia is going to be doing religion "lessons" with us as well because they're on a pretty similar level when it comes to their faith, and I think they complement each other well - Cecilia is bursting with love and John Paul is bursting with knowledge, and together they really have an awesome time with this all. 

Before I knew what we were doing for schooling this year, my sister spotted the entire Faith and Life series at a library used book sale for 50 cents a piece and told me to buy them.

Good call. I know tons of moms who recommend these books, so even if we end up not liking them (and really, when has John Paul EVER not liked a book? Never.), we only spent like, $4 total. I got the workbook, too, because John Paul's love language is workbooks. 

I love the Once Upon a Time Saints books, so we'll try to read through those on a regular basis (maybe even with the twins - the stories are short enough that they could probably sit through them as well). 

We have this children's bible, which isn't my favorite translation but I really love it otherwise because it isn't summaries or just a few stories, but the actual entire Bible. We'll be using it along with the Collins Bible Handbook and reading stories from Tomie DePaola's book as well.

Science, Geography, Nature Study


Rand McNally Historical Atlas of the World - Fun fact, Russia apparently reported that they have a 100% literacy rate. Believe what you will.

Maps, Globes, Graphs - Mostly just because it was cheap and John Paul loves workbooks and geography.

Chemistry For Every Kid - My cousin gave this to John Paul and he LOVES it! The experiments are simple and use actual household products (as opposed to "copper wires, adamantium, and diatomaceous earth" or whatever some of these books are calling for), and he keeps begging to do more.

Young Discoverers Rivers and Oceans - We've already done one experiment from this and it didn't work. But that may or may not have to do with the fact that the kids kept touching the string for our stalagmite, preventing the washing soda from actually forming anything but crystals on the side of the mason jars...

Paddle to the Sea - I don't know this book at all... But Cristina read it with her boys, so I trust her. Part of my homeschooling philosophy is "find out what worked for Cristina and then do it." So thanks, Cristina!

Rosy's Garden - This was mine when I was a kid, and I just love the pictures, quick stories, and information about gardens. Add to that the fact that it's a girl gardening with her grandma, and it's perfect for us!

Random Workbooks


First Start Reading - This is right on Cecilia's level right now, and I think she'll like having her own "work" to do alongside John Paul.

Writing Our Catholic Faith - I thought John Paul would really like this, but he just hates handwriting. I've heard it's a boy thing... So we'll see if we really worry about handwriting, but he tries so hard to write in faux-cursive, so I think it would be helpful for him to actually learn.

Prima Latina - Andrew started this with John Paul last year and he took right to it, but we never really made time for lessons. Starting up again this year!

Star Wars 2nd Grade Math - I honestly can't decide if I want to buy a "real" math curriculum or not... John Paul's already pretty much mastered the 2nd grade level stuff, and I know that any curriculum would work with him, so I kind of want to wait until I figure out how the girls learn best and just get what works for them.

Brain Quest Workbooks - Everybody loves these, since they're full-color and engaging, but the kids actually do work in them. I kind of just use them for fine motor skill practice, but it's nice for me to see what gaps might need to be filled in their education.

Wipe Clean Workbooks - Another one that everybody adores, and one that handwriting-averse John Paul has always loved! I was seriously worried a couple years ago that he would never want to write, since he refused to try... The marker glides so nicely over these workbooks and makes it easy to practice tracing over and over again, plus there are fun pictures as well. I'm going to stock up on a few more this year and let the twins try them out as well.

Read-Alouds



Heidi - How have I never read this? We'll remedy it this year!

Ballet Shoes & Theater Shoes - Have you read these books? I love Noel Streatfeild so, SO much. I'm hoping that this one and Theater Shoes appeal to John Paul and Cecilia, and I think they will. In Ballet Shoes the main characters are all girls, but one of the girls ends up being much more interested in airplanes and mechanical things. And Theater Shoes has a boy John Paul's age and really nice sibling relationships.

Now We Are Six & When We Were Very Young - I love A.A. Milne's poetry so much! We've been reading these for ages, but I think we might try some poetry tea times and memorization and recitation. 

Charlotte's Web - I haven't read this since 1st grade! I'd be nervous about the whole death part of it, but honestly? John Paul and Cecilia are not the most sensitive kids in the world... I think they'll be okay!

Reading for ME!


Many of these are books that have been on my stack for quite a while but I've started them and gotten distracted and never finished... This is the year, right? That's what I keep telling myself.

How to Negotiate with Kids... even when you think you shouldn't - This has been on my list for a couple years, recommended by a behavior expert. If I actually read it (this is me trying to encourage my own accountability) and it helps with a certain 6-year-old's constant conflict, I'll let you know!

The Saints and Our Children

Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler

Teaching in Your Tiara

Woman of Grace - recommended by a veteran mom and homeschooler at our old parish

The Temperament God Gave Your Kids - I started this ages ago and loved it and then misplaced it... But I found it!

A Mother's Rule of Life - I've started it twice, but both times have been during periods of change where I just can't hammer out a schedule! Maybe this will be the year I actually figure stuff out.

Catholic Education: Homeward Bound

The Little Oratory

For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School (HIGHLY recommended by Charlotte Mason enthusiasts)

So there you have it - tons of books. TONS. But mostly I see us spending as much time outdoors as possible and reading together a lot. The homeschooling community where we're moving is a lot bigger than where we are right now, so hopefully we can find some friends to hang out with as well so it's not just a bunch of kids stuck on a farm with their mom all day. And with my mom living with us, it's a lot easier to get out of the house so we can start considering outside activities for the older kids as well (the girls DESPERATELY want to do ballet, and John Paul says he does as well but considering how annoyed he gets with girly things right now I think we'll find something that appeals to him more).

Whew. That was a lot. If you managed to read it, you deserve a pat on the back! If you're interested in more homeschooling posts, Micaela is hosting a linkup!

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