Last week was our first week of the 2019-2020 school year!!!!!! I tried to wait until September so that maybe, just maybe, the crazy-intense nausea would relent, but it just. kept. on. Still! We had a wonderful week, I’m so excited about this year’s curriculum.
Last year was our first year doing this, so not being very confident, I picked a curriculum to use that had everything already planned and built into it for us. It was nice and well-planned, but this year I wanted to go deeper into the different studies. I’ll post the books I’ve put together from good recommendations from other homeschoolers at the end.
First… every morning we’ve been doing an outside exploration time from about 8am-9:15. It gets their energy out so that by 9:30am, they’re ready to sit down and do some school work.
The first day of school, my husband was able to go because it was his off day, and we saw an entire herd of deer and little elderly woman feeding them from her hand!!! It must have been a whole family, because there were several bucks altogether, and even the bucks were coming up to her. She let our kids feed them, too, and it was just SUCH a cool experience! Too bad I didn’t have my camera (LOL this is why I’m practically paranoid to leave the house without it)!
Here’s some where I did remember to take the camera –
My mom always wanted us to love and seek out beauty in nature or art, etc. it’s something I know I owe to her for giving me during my childhood, the gift of experiencing beauty – learning how to seek out beauty. I’m excited that one day every week, she’s able to come with us on these adventure-outings where we specifically go to someplace beautiful and kind of take the morning off from school activities (it’s just one morning where we spend that long outside, and it’s like a mini field trip)!
They end up doing so much active learning anyway, I expected it to all be play, but some of their, “play,” actually reminded me of science experiments! :O They floated giant leaves down a stream over and over again just to see which way they’d go. Then our oldest decided to alter the path by setting rocks in the way… seeing if it sped up the leaves or slowed them down in certain areas. Just so nice to be able to do things like this, whereas if they were in school, we’d have to wait until weekends where it’d be super crowded (and to be honest, we probably just wouldn’t then).
My oldest found this mockingbird watching us from the arch of butterfly vines and took this beautiful picture! I’m so proud of his photography interest and practice!
I loved seeing all the kids play on this hill! They rolled down it countless times and had so much wild fun!
The grass was soft, no rocks, and perfect for rolling. They call it, “Tumble Hill,” 😀
The sky was like a painting that morning! The clouds just looked so beautiful!
Then we all played in the water (me and the Grandma, too!!!)… it’s still hot here, so the cool water was refreshing to play in.
There’s nothing like morning light. It even helps trigger the hormone serotonin to be released in your brain – the hormone that keeps depression and anxiety away! Just so good for them to be out in the mornings soaking up that happiness sunlight ❤
It definitely makes me happier!
They found a little waterfall in the rocks.
After a few hours, we changed and relaxed before lunch.
The picture below is of one of my favorite places that is still the same as when I was little. It’s a man-made pond with dozens of waterlilies and a cute population of frogs in all their stages of development. I used to catch tad-poles there in a cup!
I was always mesmerized with it’s beauty. This picture reminded me of that, as all our children seemed captivated for a moment.
Now on to the coursework…. For our 4 year old, it’s pretty straight forward learning letters, numbers, the basics of writing and reading, and simple math addition and subtraction. I already had tons of books for that from when the oldest was his age, so I didn’t need to buy anything new!
But for our fourth grader, putting together a curriculum by myself was intense! I pulled from sources we know, and some from online, and was happy in the end with what he’s doing. We had the option to do a Christian co-op where I could have paid for other teachers to teach him the different subjects once a week a, “day academy,” and then do the rest on my own with him the rest of the week. We decided it was overall too expensive ($1,500 for the year :O ), but I was able to pull from their curriculum as well, as to what was being used book-wise. We may actually do the day academy next year, the teachers there, and families that go are that great.
For now though, I was able to find our entire curriculum for about $150 total! Such a better price and to be honest, I find it fun to teach the different subjects to them! Sure there are hard days when their attitudes are off, but 98% of the time, it’s really really fun and interesting.
For Language Arts
I found these books MUCH better than the standard curriculum language books I was looking at. They were recommended from this fascinating blogger, SaucysandPiper, from Days of Sunshine blog, here. Her blog (and photography) is definitely worth checking out, please!!!
The Building Language is just introducing the concepts of Latin stems, and the way much of our language (and different languages) are built from those. These books are just beautifully written, and incorporate the unique architecture, roads and aqueducts the Romans built! Caesar’s English 1 is a more advanced (all of these books are done by the Royal Fireworks Press for Gifted and Talented children – they really are very good!) form of learning writing, essays, and more on using Latin stems. The Music of the Hemispheres introduces children to poetry, both reading and composing their own works! It’s been so much fun, and nothing like last year’s language curriculum!
Not pictured is the All About Spelling packet we’re using. Recommended from several places, and just an all-around very helpful way to study the words broken down into steps.
For History –
I decided to use this series called, The Story of the World. It comes in four hefty volumes, each one designed for lessons for an entire year. The day academy we were looking into was using it, and several other people I found online. The author, Susan Wise Bauer, does a wonderful job of explaining history in such a fascinating, simple way – like the telling of a story, which for children, I think how it should be. Hence, “the story of the world.” He’s been loving the first chapter, learning about how historians believe life began in the fertile crescent, where the Bible plainly states between the Tigris and Euphrates. We found a documentary online that followed the chapter almost topic by topic, which was fun.
Also pictured is the activity book, complete with pictures, maps to color, reviews for studying, review cards, and then the Test/Answer booklet for administering tests for each lesson (week). I like that he’s going to be taking tests and will probably come up with some for his science curriculum, too. Developing test-taking skills are always helpful.
We do Bible classes usually right before Language, and only do it intensely one day a week. These books are both good, and have some overlap, but overall I can tell our son loves, “Cold-Case Christianity for Kids,” more than the study book. I found this recommendation from The Wintery Knight’s website, and it has not disappointed! Written by a former detective who discovered Jesus’ authenticity by treating him as a cold-case, he teaches kids how to do the same! Just So. Cool.
I’m using an online course and textbook for his science this year, but this is the paperback that goes with the text, full of worksheets, diagrams to fill-in, etc. We like paper so much here that I’m finding myself wanting to print his textbook off just so he can have it to go back to in order to study easier. So next year I’ll probably just find something already ready to go. My degree was in Biology, and I loved science, so it’s one of the classes I feel most comfortable teaching. Even last year we ventured off the curriculum a lot to do experiments, read books, and watch documentaries on the topics. Science can either be extremely dry and boring, or edge of your seat exciting!
I also having our son do a Computer Class (basic typing, then moving on to actually writing a book or short story), and Spanish, which he’s loving! Both of these courses are online and therefore I don’t have to do too much, as it pretty much teaches him for me.
For literature and books for writing essays, I came up with a collection that was more tailored to his likes than the other curriculum I saw out there. The one we went with last year, that I was planning on possibly doing again (total would have been $500) had a lot of girlish books for some reason for this year that just didn’t sound interesting for him.
Instead we got Oliver Twist, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Huckleberry Finn, The Three Musketeers (not pictured because he was literally reading it at the time lol!), The Trumpet of the Swan (a classic 4th grade book), Stuart Little, and the only girlish book, Rachel’s Journal which is the diary of a pioneer girl (we did a study on the American pioneers last year, and he really liked it).
And James Herriot’s Treasury of Stories for Children – just a beautiful book about his sweet and sometimes hilarious experiences as a vet in Yorkshire. I read his books growing up and so it’s wonderful to get to read them to our kids.
The illustrations in his book are inspiring, and perfectly capture the culture of Yorkshire when retelling his stories. Here are some examples –
Our son also wanted to do a Viking study this year, so to honor that I found these books, plus a book not pictured that is the fictional story to the Fact Tracker (Magic Tree House) book. The Norse Myths by D’Aulaire, suggested again by SaucysandPiper, has been his favorite overall so far, his dad is reading it with him, but from what I’ve seen, the illustrations are detailed and, “Awesome!” he says.
“I also like to read it on my own when Dad is asleep,” he says 😀 . The Eyewitness Book on the Vikings is a factual one to balance out the myths. And he loves the Magic Tree House books, so the fictional and fact tracker were perfect for this!
For Math –
I went with the Singapore Math this year, because the day academy co-op we thought about does all their math with this curriculum, and if we join them next year, I thought it’d be better to be on the same page already. It’s supposed to be good and is a method used in Southeast Asia for developing the nation’s children’s mathematical abilities. According to Wiki, the method became more popular when test scores were released and showed their method to be at the top pretty consistently. We may switch to Saxon if it doesn’t prove as great, though, have lots of friends who use that one.
Some pictures of the Norse Myths book (much better in person though) –
I’m super excited about this year! Just so many fun things to learn and do! Hope you readers have a good, “year,” too!
May you always be a learner, and discover adventure every day!