Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Third Grade Curriculum

Third Grade Curriculum - Or What will Keep Anna and Andrew Out of Trouble

Yesterday I shared my choices for what Aaron would be learning this year.  Today I am sharing what the other two will learn.  I have always home schooled them together, for my own sanity, since they are so close in age.

Bible Lessons:

This year our Bible text will be from the Bible.  To support this we are using Hands-On History Activity Paks from Homeschool In the Woods. We will work our way through the Bible using both the Old Testament and New Testament activities to support our lessons.  Each Pak is sent on CD and you can run as many copies of each activity as needed for your family.  They activities when completed are complied in a lapbook.  The CD also includes writing activities for both Testaments, which we will not be using this year.  Also in some cases I found that a significant jump was made over a section of the Bible I wanted to cover so I will in some cases be adding additional notebooking and lapbooking activities.  I hope to keep you posted as we go on how these turn out.  So far the kids are loving the hands on activities.

Language Arts:

We will be completing our last year of phonics.  So as much as I am ready to switch to a whole book method of learning, we will do one more year of BJU reading.  This will reinforce their phonics skills and make sure their skills are strong before we move into more comprehension based work.  We are also using BJU english and spelling, as they all correspond.  Finally we have A Reason for Handwriting book C.  This is a full year of cursive, folowing last year's work on book T, or transition.


For math we are continuing our use of the Saxon program.  This year we are using Saxon math 3.


A brief description of our study of the State of Michigan can be found here.


This year we are exploring the topics of earth Science.  We have chosen the you the God's Design series from Answers in Genesis.   The first book we are using is Our universe. Followed by Our Planet Earth, then Our Weather and Water.  This series can be used with multiple grade levels so some of the material may be a little above their heads so I keep reminding myself to adjust as we go.  However the thrill of learning about space had them excited for weeks, lol.  Again I added notebooking and lapbook activities to most of the lessons, as a way to help reinforce the lessons.  I am very excited with what is planned for this subject.

So far we have found that completing all our language arts and math work in the morning while I work with Aaron has worked well.  This allows me to focus on Bible, history and science in the afternoon, after Aaron is done for the day.  I can then lead discussions of the topics and help with all the projects, without having to stop and help Aaron with his work.

Hope you stop back to see how it goes,


Monday, August 29, 2011

The Preschool Curriculum

The Preschool Curriculum - Or What Aaron Will be Learning

Disclaimer: I am calling my 41/2 year old a preschooler.  However as you will see the books we are using and our goals for this year are more on a Kindergarten level.  So with that knowledge here are our choices for this year.

Bible Class

This year I am using the Explorer's Bible Study series book. Bible Beginnings: Precious In His Sight. This will be one of our shorter classes of the day, concentrating on  a daily Bible story, prayer and music.  Occasionally I may add a project to reinforce the lesson. Most of the time we will be focusing on listening and comprehension skills.

Language Arts

For Language Arts we will be continuing our study of phonics with the Sing, Spell, Read and Write program.  We started this last year and started book one of the kindergarten program, All Aboard. However due to low attention span of the then three year old we have ten letters left to complete this year.  We will start with the last ten letters doing them one per day, rather than the suggested two per week, because I have found that Aaron loves this faster pace.  Then rather than start book two of the K program we will do book one of the 1st grade level, Off we Go, for more letter review.  Then we will go back to book two, On Track, of the K level for beginning reading skills.   Then next year we will work through book two, Raceway, of the 1st grade level, which I think will be a much better approach as I found book two rather long and too fast with my other two kids.   We are also using A Reason for Handwriting book K, as we start learning to write.


Aaron did work through Saxon math K last year, so we made the decision to move to Saxon math 1 this year.  So far so good, except we need to work on neatness skills, like staying in the lines and handwriting.
Math is his favorite subject.  He especially loves the manipulatives we get to use.


This year we are using Christian Liberty Press's Our Father's World.  I am using this as a base of study and adding lots of notebook and lapbook projects.  My goal is to compile a science notebook of what we learn this year.  Having completed week one I am happy with our start.  Week one concentrated on the seven days of creation.  We have completed a notebook page on God Created Me and we made a seven days of creation matching game.  I found this at Christian Preschool Printables.  We spent several days playing this game.  In fact Aaron even played it after school was over.  We lay out the seven day cards in order, bonus we get to work on sequencing, then match the picture of what God made to the day is was made.  After this one week Aaron can tell me from memory without the cards what was made each day. I am very excited to see how our other projects work.


Our last subject is history.  For this class we will be using Christian Liberty Press's History for Little Pilgrim's. I used this for my other two and love how it introduces history as "His Story".  I will add projects to this book as well as I  find them.

So far he seems to love it all and I am praying that continues, lol.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Michigan History: Week 1

We have joyfully completed our first week of school for the year, and along with it our first week of Michigan History.  I will make it known here though that the first week was light on history, as we are working on Michigan geography and state symbols first.

So here is a recap of what we have done so far.

Our first activity was discussing Michigan and locating it in the United States.  You can see the activity in my post here.

On Tuesday we what states boarder Michigan. We used an activity found in My First Book about Michigan. The activity consisted of following  a map key to color each state a required color.  We then cut out the map and attached it to the lapbook page I made for our Michigan Notebooks.

Wednesday's lesson was also from the My First Book.  On Wednesday we compared the size of Michigan to the other 50 states.  We learned that Michigan was 11th in size, with 10 larger states and 39 smaller states.  We completed questions on this and the page was filed for inclusion in the notebook.

Thursday was a mapping lesson.  I used a general outline map of Michigan and we located major cities and marked them on our maps.  I liked this as it gave us some good practice with map skills.  We learned that city areas were marked in yellow and the larger the yellow area the bigger the city.

Finally Friday we started in on symbols.  We colored a copy of the state flag and talked about its design.  We also covered the state motto.  The flag page I found from kidzone and it included meaning behind symbols on the flag.  We pasted this paragraph down first and pasted the finished flag over it "lift-the-flap" style.

The next set of lessons will cover the state bird, flower tree, etc.  However we have decided that we are taking this week off even thogh we are only a week in.  It is VBS week at church and since this is the first VBS our church has done in a long time and since I hold the position of Nursery Coordinator I have decided that I have enough to do this week.  Hope to see you back in two weeks.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our Students and Staff

I had so Much Fun last week with my first link up on the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop.  That I decided to do it again.  I have to say I love the homeschool community and all the love that was shown through comments.  I also enjoyed seeing everyone else's rooms and got some great ideas for the future.

This week we are sharing about our students and staff.  So here we all are.

Student Number One: Anna Elizabeth

Anna is a classic first born.  She loves to mother her brothers hates to be wrong.  In fact one of the main problems we have in school is that she doesn't like to get things wrong and hates being the last one done.  She loves to read, draw and wants to learn piano.  She has told us she hates math.  How this is possible I still haven't figured out.  She is just starting the third grade.

Student Number Two:  Andrew

Born just 15 months after his sister, Andrew is my quiet, sensitive child.  In fact we have to make extra effort to not forget him as his siblings can be way more demanding than him.  He is definitely our little engineer.  He is happiest when playing with Legos, Lincoln logs, an erector set or building something in the garage.  Yes he has his own workbench and tool set.  while we call him a second grader he is completing third grade work just like Anna.  He may also be the reason Anna hates math as he flies through it and needs little instruction on new concepts.  He also has a photographic memory which aids in spelling where he can not only remember what words look like but where he has read them.  Wish my brain worked like that, lol.

Finally we have,

Student Three: Aaron

Yes he is still in PJ's.  This is the child that like to challenge me.  He likes to pretend he doesn't remember what he has been taught, he also requires lots of extra "help" and will not stay focused unless he has all my attention.  Unfortunately he knows he's my baby and I melt at the site of his big brown eyes. He is technically a pre-schooler and we are using curriculum at a variety of levels.  He is finishing learning his letters and sounds but working on first grade math as just an example.  He is one of the reasons I love homeschooling because he can learn at each level as needed.

Our Administrator: Engineering Dad

 He is responsible for all school repairs and is our main source of school funding.  He has in the past acted as substitute teacher, but by request of the students has been asked not to return.  apparently he writes EVERYTHING on the white board and the kids do not like this.  I think it made the day much longer and way more boring, lol. He is however welcome to join all field trips.

Finally the Teacher: Me- Engineering Mom

This picture is actually three years old, apparently I take all the pictures so there are no new ones of me, except when we are camping and those I am not sharing, lol. I of course do the teaching.

Hope you have enjoyed meeting us all.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Michigan History

This year for our history class the Engineering Dad and I decided we wanted to teach the two older kids Michigan history.  This will be a study of our home state, this was a history subject that I really loved as a kid and I am very excited about what we will be learning.  However as I began to look for something to teach with I was stumped.  When I was a kid learning MI history twenty some years ago we had a text book.  However I have learned that the state no longer uses a text book. 9or at least the parents I talked to have kids that don't use one)  They have some basic lessons on the MI DNR website (link attached) under the state history museum.

So began my adventure is compiling a MI history curriculum.  I started with the lessons I liked from the state website and a timeline of events from the same website.  I started researching  the people and events.  Some where I was blessed to stumble across a state school district which as a scope and sequence with lesson ideas and excerpts of The Mitten, the Michigan Kids History magazine.  So of course I printed them off and used them for the bulk of my teaching material.  They look like this:

I have to say most of the lesson ideas were not things I really want to teach my kids.  So I then went on to find activities for each lesson that would help them remember the main events and people of history.  I will be using a variety of lapbooking, notebooking, mapping and time line activities.  It is my hope to update you each week with what we have done so you can see our progress.

Day one was where is Michigan, we also talked about Michigan being a peninsula and  the Great lakes that boarder the state.  Our activity for the day is a where is Michigan lapbook from Homeschoolshare.

 I sorted my material into sixteen units of various lengths.  Material for each unit is stored in a file folder and the lesson outlines for each unit are in a binder.

Above you will notice we are also using Michigan from the Hello USA series.  Its an ok book if you want a general overview of the state.

Our sixteen units are as follows:

Unit 1: Michigan Symbols and Government - Where we will be looking at our state symbols and who are leaders are

Unit 2: Native Americans of Michigan

Unit 3: French Explorers, Mssionaries and the Fur Trade

Unit 4: The British Arrive and the Resulting Conflicts (this goes through the Revolutionary war)

Unit 5: The Road to Statehood

Unite 6: The Underground Railroad

Unit 7: The Civil War

Unit 8: The White Pine Era - Lumber

Unit 9: Mining History of the Iron and copper Mining Communities (Note we used this as an intro this summer to the topic of Michigan history while on vacation in the UP and we toured a copper mine and several mining museums)

Unit 10: Shipping - Life on the Lakes

Unit 11: Life in the 1880's - Growing up on a Farm

Unit 12: The Auto Industry

Unit 13: The Great Depression

Unit 14: WWII

Unit 15: The Mighty Mac

Unit 16: Paddle to the Sea - A look at the Great Lakes water ways using the book

I have to say that our kids are very excited about this topic and I am really looking forward to what we will learn this year.  Hope you come back and enjoy the journey with us.


Monday, August 8, 2011

The School Room - My Favorite Room in the House

So today I cleaned our school room in preparation of fully resuming classes.  The kids are currently at grandma's for the week so I took advantage of this time to clean and purge without my little helpers.  It also reminded me of why this is my favorite room of the whole house.

Here's what it looks like and why I LOVE it so much.

I love that it has this big window which lets in lots of sunlight in the Winter.   It's always cheerful in here with the yellow walls and the natural light.  In the Spring it can be a problem as we get to much sun and there is a half round window with no covering but we have learned to adjust.

Under the window you will see the basket I use for the kids to place completed work in before I sort it and store it in boxes in the basement for recorded keeping. I love this as any loose papers are placed here and we don't lose any important work.

I also love the large cabinet in the corner.  My husband built it before we married and I have always loved it, as it holds lots of stuff.   The top cabinet part stores beach towels and paper products, after all I still need storage for my home too.  The drawers keep all our school supplies and learning toys neat. Like this:

Side Note: No one needs that much glue.  We go to a birthday party every year where the mom is a extreme couponer. She hands out school supplies, including glue as party favors.  After this the third year we have more glue than we can use, lol.  I am sure we will use it all someday.

I also love my giant white board.

I also had Engineering Dad put up a bulletin board for me to use.  It holds our hundred's number chart, our Sing, Spell, Read and Write letter poster and several maps.  Wouldn't it be cool if this whole section of wall was cork board?  Wonder if I can talk Engineering Dad into that?

We also have a wall full of book cases.  In fact I filled up the first two we bought, so we got another one .  That one is also almost full.  There is one that was dropped off to our house by some great friends of ours. It needs new shelves which Engineering Dad has cut but not glued into the frame yet.  Once I have that one we will have four shelves on the back wall.  We also want to take out the lovely chest under the window and put in a built in book case there as well. If only there was more time and money, lol.

I like the height of these book cases because it gives me a shelf to store our CD player and other learning tools.  The yellow barrels to the left are our buddy barrels.  The two older kids use this to collect money for mission's each month. The basket next to the Cd player holds CD's (of course), while the basket on the right holds our Sing, spell, read and Write learning games.  That mess in the middle is some math and science stuff like clocks and prisms and coin cups.

The shelf on the right holds on the kids work books and text books for this year on the top shelf.  The bottom two shelves hold coloring books and drawing sets.  The shelf on the left in this picture holds our Bible library on the top shelf and then has two shelves of literature and reference books for topics such as, geography, science and history.

Then we have the larger shelf:

The top of the shelf has containers of math manipulative s. the top shelf holds classic literature and poetry, the second shelf teacher's guides, the third shelf  workbooks and texts I have pre-bought for years to come and the last two shelves are reading books we will be reading over the next couple of years.

Finally we have our storage closet. It looks like this:

It needs more shelves, but I have learned to be creative.  The garbage bag hanging on the left holds empty oatmeal containers, tp and paper towel rolls and other things I have saved for crafts.  The boxes on the floor on the left is my sewing stuff and the stuff on the right is vacuum attachments and extra paper. The top shelf which is hard to see holds extra containers and my wedding dress (it had to go somewhere). The shelf on the top right is all paint supplies, to the top left a stack of magazines, a box of stamps and ink and rolls of paper. Down the center we have paper and craft supply storage,  The bottom holds an erector set and a kit for making hydraulic machines, yes these both have been used by my six year old, it looks like engineering blood runs true.

Hope you enjoyed my tour.  Happy schooling everyone.