Saturday, July 13, 2013

2013-2014 Curriculum- Kindergarten- Jack

It may seem surprising, but I am more nervous about Jack's kindergarten curriculum than Alexander's third grade curriculum. Specifically, I am nervous about teaching him how to read. It's more than an important skill. It's the skill. The one we use every single day, and the one we use to learn other things. If he can't read well, he won't be able to read the instructions in his math books, or street signs, or the directions on his nose-hair trimmer (and wouldn't that be catastrophic), or a love note from an admirer, or a description of the Big Bang. It will impede not only his education, but his entire life. And that's a big deal. Someone else taught Alexander to read, so Jack and Kai are my first attempt. I've been teaching them to read, but they've got a long way to go from reading "Dot has a cat" to breezing through the Declaration of Independence.

So, all that being said, I feel a bit frozen in indecision about Jack's reading program. I know that I want to focus on phonics, with just a side of sight reading. I've decided to stay the course we're on, without purchasing too far ahead of ourselves, and with frequent gut checks to make sure it's still working out for us. So, we will continue to use Explode The Code workbooks, BOB easy readers, and plenty of games.

Like Alexander, Jack will be using Singapore Math. I perused the kindergarten workbooks and decided they were really too easy for Jack, who's been doing very well in math concepts this past year. So I purchased Levels 1A and 1B, normally used in first grade, with the expectation that we may need to slow the pace as the difficulty increases.

As far as the state of Pennsylvania goes, Jack would be entering kindergarten this year. Since he is being homeschooled, though, they actually don't have any requirements for what I teach him until the year that he turns eight. Because I believe that kindergarten should be a gentle introduction to "formal schooling" (whatever that might mean), reading and math are the two subjects that I am going to be the most organized with. However, that definitely does not mean that is all we will be doing!

I've been spending time going through Alexander's entire book list for his curriculum this year, for language arts, science, and social studies. For every book that Alexander reads, I've searched the library's website and found a similar book on Jack's level. So, while Alexander reads The Little House in the Big Woods, I will be reading to Jack from the My First Little House Books series. When Alexander is reading an advanced book about magnetism, I will read to Jack from a more basic book. Jack will be able to participate in many of the hands-on activities that Alexander is assigned through his Moving Beyond the Page curriculum. That will involve him in a wide variety of language arts, science, and social studies activities that I will keep very relaxed and age-appropriate for him. I believe it will be a nice way to have cohesiveness in our homeschool and not feel like we're jumping from theme to theme. I think doing things this way will allow us the flexibility to keep things really fun at the kindergarten level without sacrificing exposure to a great variety of rich topics. Art, Music, and Physical Education will be the most organic this year. Jack is an eager, focused little learner, and I know he will grow in leaps and bounds this year.

Friday, July 12, 2013

2013-2014 Curriculum- 3rd Grade- Alexander

Just in case y'all think we're just farting around, I thought I'd share our curriculum choices for this coming year. Alexander will be in third grade. Some of the text below is copied from the educational objectives that I've written to submit to the school district so that they don't think we're just farting around.

Moving Beyond the Page: For language arts, science, and social studies, we've chosen to use Moving Beyond the Page. It is a literature based, interdisciplinary, comprehensive curriculum. Alexander will read and analyze some great literature including The Little House in the Big Woods, The Sign of the Beaver, Native American Animal Stories, Ben and Me, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The BFG, Akimbo and Sadako, Holes, Charlotte in Giverny, Abel's Island, Pedro's Journal, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

For writing, Alexander will continue to strengthen his paragraph writing skills and will focus on pre and post writing skills such as planning and revision. He will write for different audiences and purposes, write to record ideas and reflections, to demonstrate understanding, and to express feelings and ideas. He will polish his writing for correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling at a level appropriate for his age. All of this work will be related to the literature he is reading.

Alexander will be studying the following science topics: Dirt and Plants, Ecosystems and Ecology, Magnetism and Electricity, Forces of Nature, Rocks and Minerals, Animal Adaptations, and Work, Tools, and Simple Machines. The Moving Beyond the Page curriculum uses many hands-on experiments and requires a final project at the end of each unit. 

He will be studying the following social studies concepts: Native Americans, The Power of People, Africa and Asia, Europe, and Early Explorers. These concepts will be intertwined with his literature units so that he can form meaningful connections. He will do a final project at the end of each social studies unit as well. 
Moving Beyond the Page booklets, *some* of the kits that go with it, and 2/3 of his math

Spelling: While the Moving Beyond the Page curriculum does include spelling in its language arts lessons, we are choosing to continue using Sequential Spelling instead, because I like the way it teaches how to build words instead of just memorizing lists of words (which is also sometimes helpful, of course).

Math: Alexander will be using Singapore Math levels 2B, 3A, and 3B. Because it's an advanced curriculum, they advise that an average third grader would use 2B and 3A. Since we've already covered many of the topics in 2B and some of the topics covered in 3A, we plan to pick our way through those, covering just the topics that we haven't mastered yet, leaving plenty of time to go through 3B at a normal pace. If we do need to slow down and don't get to 3B, he will still be on grade level.

Penmanship: Alexander will continue to learn cursive using Handwriting Without Tears .

We're also required to (and want to) have lessons in physical education, health and safety, fire safety, art, and music. We will absolutely be doing those things, but they are less structured, so I have less to say about them. Moving Beyond the Page actually includes many arts and crafts activities, and I enjoy planning our own as well. My kids are not art starved! We'll be doing sports at the YMCA, including swimming and probably some type of martial arts. When Alexander turns nine, he will be old enough to take a class about, and use, the kids' gym. For music, Alexander will continue with his recorder, and I will probably have him learn the 50 states song and some holiday songs. We'll visit a fire station and have a fire safety day at home.

Alexander helped choose his curriculum, to the extent that it was appropriate for him to do so. I know he is excited about much of it. I will write up a separate post about Jack's kindergarten curriculum, but I know he is excited, too. I'm the most excited of all of us!

Next year is going to be great! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fifteen Month Comparison

We are always mentioning how much Noah looks like Jack, and I've been meaning and meaning to find some good comparable pictures of them at the same ages. Finally, last night, I started browsing though the photos of Jack. Well, they really do look almost identical! I did forget that Jack actually had a bit of chub at that age that Noah definitely does not. Jack's hair is lighter, and his eyes are slightly more round. But they're sooooo close! Since I get the comment very frequently about how much all of my boys look alike, I thought I may as well post pictures of all of them at the same age: fifteen months. Just a silly little post of cuteness!