Friday, June 16, 2006

What we do all day...

Classically Charlotte Mason with a pinch of Eclectic is what I like to term our homeschooling style. I like to be well-rounded you see. We use a variety of products; some of which I really love! Here are a few of my favorite things:



www.NothingNewPress.com: Christine Miller's re-edited Guerber Histories: The Story of Greece/Rome/Middle Ages/Renaissance & Reformation/13 Colonies/Great Republic. We are currently in The Story of the Great Republic. I LOVE her history. It is story style with lots of great detail for the upper grammar/lower logic ages. (Hey, really it is even for adults like me who only got the sincerely incomplete and terribly boring textbook history in high school!) We recently finished The Story of the 13 Colonies and I learned more by reading and teaching this to our children about the founding of our nation than I did in all my previous years of history study.


We read this out loud and supplement with good historical fiction and biographies. We have discovered some real read-aloud gems along the way. We started at the beginning in Genesis and have made our way slowly through the Revolutionary War. What His story!



Rod & Staff is our grammar of choice for 4th grade and up. It is thorough, easy to understand, systematic, and it works. I am not sure how high in the levels we will go because the further you go the more of their doctrine you see (and I am not crazy about Mennonite doctrine) but thus far we have been very pleased. We will be using the 6th and 4th grade programs starting in September.


We like the  pink Daily Grams for grades 2-3. I feel that just a little bit of grammar familiarity is all that is necessary for the early years. I know that other people will disagree with me here, but grammar is not difficult to learn and we don’t do much formal writing in the early years so a general familiarity is all I really want. We also sometimes use MadLibs (the children's ones) because they are a very creative way of introducing grammar terms (noun, verb, adjective, adverb) for even young ones--and they laugh like crazy when the silly story is told. Just be careful with the MadLibs sets you buy-some are better for children than others.



I have used with success, for my three oldest children, Phonics Pathways. This is one 
simple book  that is systematic and extremely thorough, teaches all the reading rules, and explains reading to even those like me who only learned by the look-say method. I love love love it and cannot recommend anything else!



Explode the Code is our favorite resource. The children like it and it works really well for reinforcement of the phonics rules we learn in Phonics Pathways. It is also inexpensive and this is a bonus since it is consumable. We have tried other more colorful or more in-depth programs like MCP and Veritas Press' Phonics Museum, and they are both good, but ETC is economical, only phonics, and lacks the busy quality of some of the others. I do like the others, and your child may like those others better, but I really just prefer the ETC.



Our discovery of Math U See has revolutionized our homeschool. WOW!! Is all I can say. I was really skeptical that any math program could really do the job in our home--could really help us understand the how-to and make it work. I was wrong. One of my children has struggled in this area for years and now she and her sister are excited because they are understanding the "why" of math--and so am I for the first time in some areas! (And math was not a weakness in school for me--I just did what I was told because "that is the way math is, Kate.") Not anymore! We can now actually understand what we are doing and it is really something. I cannot recommend anything else with this degree of certainty, and we have done our share of math programs! Thank you, Steve Demme!



This is our greatest weakness and the subject that we will be endeavoring to actually accomplish here this year. It has been hit or miss. This is partially because I think formal science is really a logic/rhetoric stage subject, (when they can ask questions and process ideas). It is also partially because science is not my favorite subject. (Just being honest here, folks!) I also feel that in the early years, it should be directed more by interest and experience rather than a textbook. We study what interests us for now--we dig into what is fascinating at the moment and enjoy the outdoors. We will be doing individual rubbermaid children's planter gardens this week so that ought to be fun! ("Mommy, I want to plant cherries, and apples, and watermelons, and tomatoes, and ..." - "Um, sweety, you will only have *so* much space...") We do have some tremendous sources here at home though so I am looking forward to reading them and doing some reports for our science group-that I hope is revived this year!



My oldest is the only one who used a formal writing program, Wordsmith Apprentice,  for fifth grade and she has finished it up.  My two oldest daughters enjoyed a Writer's Club all last year that was run by a very nice family using the Pudewa writing style. They would read a classic literature book and then write about it using his style elements. It was a great learning experience for them and I know they enjoyed it. We have started another Writer's Club with two other families using Karen Andreola's brand spankin' new book, Story Starters: Helping Children Write Like They've Never Written Before. I am reviewing this so that is why I have it. It is SO neat and I cannot wait to get the word out about it. For you CM moms, you will really like it! 


Rod & Staff also has a few writing assignments in them that I sometimes have my daughter do, but it depends on the assignment. If I think it is worth her time and she will enjoy it then I will. Both of my older children blog and enjoy writing stories so writing is not really a concern to me. We do not start formal writing until 4th grade, even though my 3rd grade daughter did the Writer's Club last year. She did it for fun (and while having fun, she learned a lot!)



StartWrite Software - I love it!! 
It is a print-your-own kind of resource that allows me to use any font I like, in any way I like, with our without graphics to go along with it. We have printed out literature portions, Bible, and catechism selections. It really is a tremendous resource that can be used over and over again.


Art and Music:

We will be starting the Elements of Art videos from the same people who bring you the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists/Composers/Presidents.  My art-aspiring daughters look forward to this! 
I really like this company and we use their books as well as their videos for art history. The books they have on the Presidents are filled with great information as well as lovely photos and paintings. (In the same style as their Artists and Composers books.) My two oldest are taking piano lessons (at home) and we enjoy a wide range of musical tastes here at home from Beethoven to DC Talk.


Physical Ed:

More of a challenge for me than for my active children. We do ride bikes and they love to swim. Now that it is in the 80's here we will be doing this. We are also doing, as we speak, formal swimming lessons. (A highly anticipated summer event!) It is mom who is the lazy one (and the one who does not look so "cute" in a bathing suit!) LOL!


We may use a Latin program this year (Latin's Not So Tough!) but I am not 100% sure yet. We are also going to use a computer typing program from www.Timberdoodle.com that is really great fun (but they will depend on Mom's ability to juggle all that she must!) I think I can... I think I can... I think I can...


Anyway, that is what we do here all day long (as well as fool around, read aloud, joke and play together.) Oh yes, and I work here too, and do the laundry, and cook, and clean, and...


Well, you homeschool moms get it! :+)


Robin from Choosing Home said...

Hello Kate, and good afternoon. :) I was reading through the threads under the homeschooling forum at Choosing Home when I came across your entry and link back to your blog. I have really enjoyed reading about the curricula you enjoy using the most. I have checked out several of the links and found some quite a pleasure to see. We have homeschooled since my 10½ year old daughter was born, in January 1996. We have enjoyed using ABeka the past twi years pretty much exclusively. Except, of course, for all the wonderful books we read. I teach both girls at the same level so we can work together on everything. They are 22 months apart in age, so it works well for us. I haven't ordered our curriculum yet, but hopefully will be doing so in July. I hope to add some of the history books you had linked to our books we'll buy.

I will come back to read again - it was a pleasure "meeting" you, both at CH and HB. Have a wonderful afternoon, warmly, Robin

P.S. Our birthdays are fairly close - mine is 9/17/66. :)

Moms4Psalms said...

Hi Kate!

I am very glad you posted this. I really appreciate your reviews of books/materials and will use this for future reference.



Have you ever tried Saxon Math? How does it compare to Math U See?

UndertheSky said...

Thank you both for stopping by. Nice to "meet" you too, Robin! :+)

Moms4Psalms, to answer your question regarding Saxon and MUS. They are completely different. Saxon is spiral and does not really teach for mastery whereas MUS does. Every year they focus on one particular subject (see their site for more detail) with review of previously mastered skills. They do not advocate moving on until your child has truly learned the skill where Saxon says to push through and they will encounter it again along the way. My thought though, is how do you push through with math if they don't get it?

We have done various levels of Saxon and at the end of 65 my daughter had not learned much at all. She is now really understanding it with MUS where she just plodded along before without mastery or a true grip of the subject. We will never go back to anything else for the early years. I am going to post in the future my friend's finished review of MUS when it is 100% done. It is the most thorough review of any program I have ever seen and will make MUCH more sense than I could ever attempt here in the comment box. :+)