Curriculum 2016/2017 – Fifth Grade and Kindergarten

We have officially started our new school year around here – lots of new books on the shelves, and new binders are set up and ready to go! Kyri is now working on Fifth grade, and Ender is Kindergarten.

We have started using a few new programs, so look for some detailed reviews on those soon. But this is a good overview of our resources for the year.

Fifth Grade

Math

Singapore Math 3B/4A/4B – We decided to change direction in Math and work on Mastery of concepts rather than the Spiral approach used by Saxon. Kyri has responded well to the change in pace and approach and we will continue with Singapore through the remainder of summer and into the new school year.

Additional Resources:

Usborne Dictionary of Math (3 book series) – not a curriculum but a great resource. Colorful and engaging, these are fun to read and glean knowledge. Click here to check them out.

Family Math (series) – this is a wonderful resource, with games and activities that teach and reinforce math concepts. the series is being used over a range of ages, down to preschool.

Mathmania – this is a subscription magazine through Highlights. Two issues each month arrive, full of math-based puzzles and activities.

Language Arts

Vocabulary from Classical Roots – Grade 4 and Grade 5 This series presents new words that are grouped according to Greek or Latin roots. Covers root words, spelling, meaning and usage.

Writing and Rhetoric: Book 1 Fables and Writing and Rhetoric: Book 2: Narration 1 We are working on writing skills through reading good examples and modeling.

Well-Ordered Language 1A and  Well-ordered language 1B This is an depth study of grammar skills. Each chapter focuses on one part of speech and has extensive practice. Sentence analysis, a precursor to sentence diagramming, is introduced.

Junior Great Books Series 5 – We will be reading short stories and working through the Interactive Activity book for reading comprehension and in-depth analysis.

History

Beautiful Feet – Ancient History this is a literature based curriculum, with Streams of Civilization as the spine, and including a large selection of books, through the Ancient Roman Empire. Each lesson includes several reading selections and discussions.

Beautiful Feet History of the Horse – This study goes through the physical characteristics of horses, specifics of the various breeds, as well as cultural significance of the horse.

Science

Beautiful Feet History of Science – this is a lesson guide that goes through major scientific discoveries and inventions, starting from ancient times up through modern times. This is literature based, with in depth reading on the discoveries as well as the people involved. The two spines (along with various living books) are:

The Picture History of Great Inventors

DK’s The Way Science Works

Experiments are included in the lesson plans and will be extended as interests, time and resources allow.

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding  – This isn’t our spine this year, but Volume I  and Volume II are excellent resources for planning lessons as well as having a flow chart of topics in an intuitive order to be studied. I will be using this as a reference and support.

Additional Resources:

Carson-Dellosa Just the Facts: These provide excellent supplemental exercises to enhance and expand lessons.

Earth and Space Science (4-6 grades)

Life Science (4-6 grade)

Physical Science (4-6 grade)

This is a great series that provides in-depth activities and puzzles. I will be pulling from all three volumes to go along with our BFSU lessons.

Real Science 4 Kids – We are using the Elementary level books (Biology, Earth Science, and Chemistry) as supplemental reading this year. These are written for children to be able to read independently, so they serve as a gentle introduction for many of the topics we are covering this year.

Nature Study

Handbook of Nature Study – an extensive resource for implementing nature study time. Incorporates nature notebooking and various nature guides, including as a main resource:

Nature of Handbook Study by Anna Botsford Comstock . This is a must have for a personal library. It is packed full of information about the nuts and bolts of nature study, details on pretty much anything you could want to find during nature study, as well as lessons to carry out during nature study.

Geography

Beautiful Feet – Teaching Geography Through Literature This is a literature based lesson plan. Four spines are read, and detailed discussion and mapwork are used to develop key geography concepts throughout the year.

Bible

AWANA – Kyri is going into her second year of TnT (Truth in Training) this Fall, and is very excited!

Bible Road Trip – This has been a great study this past year. We typically do the daily reading and discussion in the morning during our Kidschool. This year I would like to put a little more emphasis on Notebooking for each week’s reading.

Additional Resources:

How to Study Your Bible – For Kids by Kay Arthur

What the Bible is All About: Bible Handbook for Kids

Reproducible Maps, Charts, Timelines and Illustrations

Health and Wellness

The Care and Keeping of You 2: For Older Girls (book and journal) an excellent resource for learning about body issues, changing bodies, peer pressure, emotions, etc. We have used The Care and Keeping of You 1 extensively and love the series.

Vintage Remedies for Tweens (continuing) – covers a variety of topics from food, natural health

Raising Vegetarian Children  more of a guide for me, but we will be pulling recipes and discussing healthy habits.

Hebrew

For writing practice and mastering the Alef Bet we are using a couple of different resources:

Sarah and David (Read Hebrew Now)

Hebrew for Christians

Torah Tots

For reading and speaking we are using:

Mango Biblical Hebrew

Latin

Song School Latin – this is a wonderful resource aimed at a younger audience. It teaches vocabular and simple sentences. It also teaches about the many words that are Latin derivatives. We are using the workbook, DVD, CD and flash cards.

Character Development

This may go along with Health and Wellness, but I will list separately for organization.

Beautiful Feet Teaching Character Through Literature – this includes a wonderful reading list appropriate for both Primary and Intermediate Readers, as well as Study Guide lessons geared toward Primary and Intermediate Reading Selections.

Laying Down The Rails – this is a compilation of Charlotte Mason’s writings, organized to cover wellness topics (such as Cleanliness) as well as Character topics such as courtesy. There is a book for parents/educators along with a student book that includes discussion topics.

4-H Kyri has participated in our county 4H program since the beginning of 2016. She is active in the Horsemasters Club as well as the Green Thumbs Gardening Club. This year she will continue. In addition, she is working independently on 4H projects, including Cooking 101 and Entomology.

Kindergarten

While more formal education is taking place, a lot of focus this year is still on free play, exploring, read alouds, interactive games.

Math

Singapore Early Bird Kindergarten. A gentle and colorful approach to early math concepts. Counting, sorting, weigh and capacity, etc. are covered.

Starfall – we are a Starfall family. we have subscribed for years. Starfall has continued to add activities to their online lineup, and their Teacher’s Lounge has also expanded. Starfall Math reinforces counting, place value, geometry, addition and subtraction, weight and capacity.

Language Arts

In general, lots and lots of reading together is our focus for the year. But we are tackling some specifics.

Starfall – For language arts we are using Starfall to reinforce letter recognition, phonics and CVC words. There are also rhymes and songs, and talking books to enjoy. From the Teacher’s lounge, I am printing handwriting pages that cover upper- and lower-case letters as well as simple words.

Science

We are not using a formal curriculum for Science. We are pulling activities from a variety of sources, including:

More Mudpies to Magnets – simple experiments for preschool and kindergarten ages to explore basic science concepts

Evan Moor Learning About Animals – reproducibles for teaching about animals.

Handbook of Nature Study – while Ender won’t be expected to keep formal notebooking pages, he will participate in nature outings and will be encouraged to record observations in his own binder.

Bible

AWANA – Ender is officially a Spark this year! He will be working on memoring key biblical concepts and verses throughout the year.

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Review: Teaching Character Through Literature

One way we cultivate character in our children is to expose them to beautiful, quality literature.

Well-written stories allows our children to experience things, good and bad, in a safe environment. We may find literary mentors that guide us in our personal development, and characters may embody personality traits or behaviors that we want to incorporate into our lives.

While there are wonderful reading lists available elsewhere, I wanted to share one particular resource that I am excited about.

teachingcharacter1This past year we have been exploring the study guides from Beautiful Feet.

Can I just say how impressed I am with these study guides?!

This particular one, Teaching Character Through Literature, is such an incredible resource.

The study guide would be worth the cost of purchasing just for the wonderful leveled book lists. These are quality works of literature with characters to relate to and lessons to learn.

There are two levels of reading lists – Primary and Intermediate. Within each level, there is a list of favorite authors (along with some of their more notable titles), as well as a list of favorite titles.

But the “meat” of the study guides are the lesson plans (entitled Study Notes in the guide) that are included. There are two sets of lesson plans – one for Primary (PreK through grade 3) and one for Intermediate (grades 4-6), each with age appropriate books selected.

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Each lesson includes a reading selection (either some number of pages, or chapters) followed by a couple of questions. These aren’t simple comprehension questions, they are designed to promote thinking and reflecting. Several lessons include a suggested scripture passage that can be included and ties directly into the reading.

You can view sample pages of the study guide here at the Beautiful Feet website to see how the lessons are laid out.

Even though the lessons are ordered and numbered, the lessons for one book do not necessarily build on a previous book. So in our case, we have actually jumped around in the study guide as we have obtained the books. And because I have a 4th grader along with three younger children, I am  selecting books from both the Primary and Intermediate book lists.

I typically use the questions from each lesson to guide discussion during and after our reading. The questions also work well as essay or journal prompts, and in fact I have asked for written responses on occasion from my 9-year-old.

This study guide is versatile – use it as merely a book list, use the lesson questions to direct discussion, or for more formal written assignments.

After using this guide, I have been so impressed that we are switching to the History Study Guide for Ancient History in the fall. I’ll put together more details as my fall planning comes together.

We are also starting our History of the Horse study this summer. Look for a full review of this study guide soon.

A Fresh Start – Our School Curriculum 2015/2016

KyriEnder2015schoolWe’ve had a hectic year with selling our house and living somewhat as transients in Georgia while we figure our where our next home is going to be. We haven’t always gotten all of what I had planned (for school) done, but I think we’ve had a productive year.

 
I shared this past fall our plans for the 2014/2015 school year, how I prepared for the entire school year to help keep us on track during the upheaval. I just posted how I’ve revised my 36-week folder system to instead use an Arc Notebook. But I’d like to share the specifics of our academic plan for the upcoming year.
 

Fourth Grade

Math

 
Saxon 5/4 – we started this curriculum in 2nd grade and have been slowly working through it. We are on “schedule” to finish the book this school year.
 
Usborne Dictionary of Math (3 book series)  not a curriculum but a great resource. Colorful and engaging, these are fun to read and glean knowledge. Click here to check them out.
 
Living Books – We have been investing in Greg Tang books this summer and will include them for use during Kidschool as a way to get our “Math” brains working. Kyri also loves reading these on her own.
 

Language Arts

 
First Language Lessons – Level 4 Teacher’s Guide and Student Workbook.
Evan-Moor Daily Reading Comprehension Grade 4 – daily reading selections that include several questions that reinforce understanding, finding the main idea and supporting facts. 
Evan-Moor Nonfiction Writing Grade 4 weely lessons that introduce nofiction writing and puttig together topic sentences, supporting facts, writing, and the various types of writing
Evan-Moor Building Spelling Skills Grade 4 (continuing) – weekly spelling lists and activities to reinforce spelling, phonics and                   other areas such as synonyms/antonyms and homophones.
 

History

 
Story of the World 4 – We stepped back from SOTW this past year to focus on American History, but we are picking up with SOTW 4, which also includes later events in US History.
Story of the World Activity Book – We will mostly be working on the outlines and mapwork for each chapter.
 
Beautiful Feet History of the Horse – Kyri is OBSESSED with horses and when I came across this literature-based study guide, I knew she would love it. The curriculum pulls from a large selection of both fiction and nonfiction books about horses, so I won’t list them all out here. I will be putting together a separate post as I get all the texts together and organized.
 

Science

 
Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding  – We started using this curriculum last year. Volume I is geared toward K-2, and we have been moving through these topics fairly quickly since we have seen much of the material in previous years (though not always in as much depth). Volume II is geared toward Grades 3-5 and we will be moving back and forth between the four “threads”, including topics from Volume I as prerequisites as needed. 
 
Carson-Dellosa Just the Facts:
     Earth and Space Science (4-6 grades)
     Life Science (4-6 grade)
     Physical Science (4-6 grade)
 
This is a great series that provides in-depth activities and puzzles. I will be pulling from all three volumes to go along with our BFSU lessons.
Evan-Moor Daily Science Grade 4 – This is a great resource for exploring concepts in earth science, life science and physical science. Each week has a Big Idea and daily readings and activities introduce and reinforce each concept. I am planning on using these as a supplemental science reading for Kyri’s independent study time. While our main focus will be on our topics in BFSU, these daily readings should be interesting without going into too much depth.
 
Geography
 
Evan-Moor Daily Geography Grade 4 – we started using Evan-Moor Daily Geography for 3rd grade and Kyri just loves it, so we will be continuing the series.
 
Bible
 
AWANA – Kyri finished her third year in Sparks this Spring, so she will be moving to TNT in the Fall, and is very excited!
Bible Road Trip – This has been a great study this past year. We typically do the daily reading and discussion in the morning during our Kidschool. This year I would like to put a little more emphasis on Notebooking for each week’s reading.
 
Additional Resources:
 
 
Health and Wellness
 
The Care and Keeping of You Book 1: Book and Journal (American Girl) – discusses body changes and emotional changes, and geared toward girls ages 8-10.
The Feelings Book – Book and Journal (American Girl) – deals with feelings, emotions and communicating about feelings through journaling and talking to others.
Vintage Remedies for Tweens (continuing) – covers a variety of topics from food, natural health
Raising Vegetarian Children   more of a guide for me, but we will be pulling recipes and discussing healthy habits.
Laying Down the Rails Book and Workbook.
 
Hebrew
For writing practice and mastering the Alef Bet we are using a couple of different resources:
 
 
For reading and speaking we are using:
 
Mango Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew
 
Character Development
 
This may go along with Health and Wellness, but I will list separately for organization.
 
Beautiful Feet Teaching Character Through Literature – this includes a wonderful reading list appropriate for both Primary and Intermediate Readers, as well as Study Guide lessons geared toward Primary and Intermediate Reading Selections.
 
Laying Down The Rails – this is a compilation of Charlotte Mason’s writings, organized to cover wellness topics (such as Cleanliness) as well as Character topics such as courtesy. There is a book for parents/educators along with a student book that includes discussion topics.
 
Art and Music Appreciation
 
While we pull projects from our DK Book of Art, I have been keeping Art and Music as an area of interest-led study. Kyri loves being creative and doing crafts and I try to provide outlets for this – with craft supplies and ample opportunity to check out art books at the library. As far as music, she was gifted an acoustic guitar which she loves, and she is slowly becoming more comfortable with holding it properly and using her hands correctly. Once we relocate she will have more time and space to spend working on learning chords.
 
Classics Reading
 
One of the shifts we have made in our homeschool approach is to spend a lot more time just reading together. I am always looking for excellent book suggestions to work into our reading schedule, and we usually have two or three titles we are working on at any one time. Over the summer we have been working on the Little House series, and I have a list I’m putting together for this school year. With the Beautiful Feel study guides, I have even more books to include. I will be putting together another post with our reading list later in the fall.
 

Preschool/ PreK 

 
We started off slow last fall, mainly just to get Ender interested in learning and working on “school” work together. This year, he is ready to go! He is always asking me to do school work or to read to him. I am looking forward to an exciting year with him! His younger brother Julian is only 2 1/2 but I am expecting him to tag along a bit and participate a little. Julian is already able to count to 15, so he may end up being fairly interested in some of our school work.
 

Math

 
Saxon Kindergarten  As with Kyri, I am starting out early with the Saxon curriculum to allow us work at a slower pace if needed. Saxon K covers a lot of basics like patterns, shapes, and counting, as well as Calendar basics.
 
Confessions of a Homeschooler – Letter of the Week. I use several of the resources from this curriculum for teaching number recognition and basic counting skills. I have laminated flash cards and put onto rings for easy review.
 

Language Arts

 
Confessions of a Homeschooler – Letter of the Week for letter recognition and basic writing skills
 
Starfall  this is a wonderful resource for teaching the ABCs and phonics. Ender, like his sister, really loves the interactive games that introduce phonics and simple words.
 

Science 

 
While I expect Ender (and possibly Julian) to tag along with Kyri’s science lessons, I want to have some simpler activies planned as well.
 
More Mudpies to Magnets – a great book with age-appropriate experiments for ages 2 through 6.
 
Evan-Moor Learning About Animals (Science Works for Kids Series) Grade K-1 – A great introduction to animal basics. Includes simple worksheets and coloring and gluing pages.
 
 
Miscellaneous Resources
 
For practice, we use a variety of flashcards – these are a fun way to practice letters, numbers, colors and shapes!
 
For handwriting practice (numbers and letters) I love to pick up little workbooks from Target – Busytown workbooks are our current favorite around here.
 
Notebooking Pages
 
This spring I took the plunge and purchased a lifetime membership to Notebookingpages.com. This is a wonderful resource for notebooking pages on a wide variety of subjects. I have been incorporating notebooking pages into our history and science reading, as well as character and nature study. The site membership also includes a web app that allows members to create their own notebooking pages, from start to finish, or simply including their own clip art or images in preexisting pages. While I enjoy making my own notebooking pages, it is great to have so many pages available ready to go.
 
Starfall
 
While Kyri is growing out of Starfall‘s content, she still loves to explore the site with her younger siblings. They continue to add new content, and they do have multiplication and division activities, as well as basic geometry and probability activities to explore.
 
Nature Study
 
We don’t follow any schedule or planned curriculum for Nature Study. Instead, I make sure we have a wealth of resources available that encourage exploration and discovery, along with sufficient identification guides. Local park and rec programs are a great way to round out our home nature study program. I will be putting together a separate post where I share the variety of resources I have put together over the past couple of years for the children.
 

 

Dissolving, Solutions, and Crystallization

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We just wrapped up  A9: Dissolving, Solutions, and Crystallization. We started our week with some reading, to get an idea of what happens when various substances are put into water. We recently added Chemistry Pre-level I from Real Science-4-Kids as a reference book, and Chapter 6 (Mixtures) was a great introduction to what we covered this week. 

 
Part 1: Some things dissolve: Solutions and Mixtures
 
We covered a few basic concepts first. 
 
What is a mixture? When we combine difference substances, we have a mixture. We talked about a mixture of diffferent types of fruit in a bowl, and various toys in a box. Then, we talked about making a mixture by putting a solid into a liquid, like when we combine sugar and water.
 
For a demonstration, we made up a sugar solution as a demo. After stirring our sugar, we watched the granules slowly get smaller and finally disappear. Our solid dissolves, which means the substance, in this case sugar, comes apart into its basic particles and interact with the particles of water. This makes a special kind of mixture called a solution
 
We compared our sugar water mixture to a mixture of flour in water. After stirring a small amount of flour into a glass of water, we observed our mixture remain cloudy – our flour doesn’t come apart to interact with the water molecules as a solution but instead remains just a mixture.
 
Part 2: Soluble and Insoluble
 

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After comparing sugar-in-water and flour-in-water, we then explored a variety of materials to see what was soluble and insoluble. While we did some basic kitchen items, like vinegar and baking soda, we also found some fun objects like a matchbox car, a small block of wood, and a plastic toy. The kids enjoyed stirring these to see whether they would dissolve.
 
Why don’t certain objects dissolve? This was a great opportunity to review our earlier lesson on solids, liquids and gases, where we learned how objects’ particles are either very close together (in solids), interacting but not closely packed (as in liquids) or not in contact with each other (in gases). Our solid objects, with particles closely packed together, were not able to break apart and interact with the water particles. We prepared a chart to record our observations. 
 

A9 Soluble/Insoluble Chart download

Part 3: Crystallization
 

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We dissolved salt in water to observe not only the process of salt dissolving and forming a solution, but also of salt particles forming crystals. We recently learned about about evaporation, when the water molecules leave the liquid state and go into the gas state. Any solids that are dissolved in the water are left behind and reformed crystals
 
To help with our observation, we placed a couple of teaspoons of our salt solution on a dark plate, and left out to evaporate. We later observed a crusty film where our salt solution was before evaporating.
 
We also made a straw by twisting up a piece of paper and securing with tape. This straw was then placed in a jar of salt solution. Our liquid wicked up the paper straw and after the liquid evaporated, a salt crust (crystals) was observed on the surface of the straw.
 
This lesson helped reinforce our earlier lessons on the particle nature of matter, and the states of matter. Understanding this particle nature is essential for upcoming lessons on atomic and molecular motion.
 
 
 
 
 
 

2014 – 2015 Curriculum

I have taken an extended break from posting, wrapping up an especially tiring pregnancy and adjusting to life as a mother of four (yes, four!) children. 

We have maintained a light school schedule through all of the new baby chaos, focusing on Math and Spelling, and a little Science for good measure. But I have been in full planning mode, getting ready for the Fall term, and I figured our curriculum plan for the new school year would be the perfect first post after my hiatus.

Though we do school year round, I typically “promote” at the end of Spring. We spend our summer keeping up with Math and Language Arts, and then move into our full schedule in the Fall. 

I’m excited for this new school year! Kyri is becoming more independent in her school work, which frees up time to work on early preschool material with Ender.  We’ve changed our Science and History curriculum for this year, and I’ll be posting more details on both as we get into them in the coming weeks. 

Ender_reading 

Kyriandra – 3rd grade (age 7)

Math

**we switched to Saxon 5/4 middle of this past year, and will continue.
 
 
 
Language Arts
 
 
 
Science
 ** we switched to a new curriculum late Spring. This year’s focus will be on Chemistry!
 
 
Supplemental Texts:
 
 
History – U.S History
 **we have opted to take a break from the Story of the World sequence, and this year we will be focusing on American History.
 
 
Geography
 
 
Hebrew
 **we will be continuing our study of Hebrew this year, with mastery of the alef bet (recognition and writing) as well as some basic vocabulary and phrases.
 
 
Health and Wellness
 ** we will continue focusing on maintaining our health and wellness through preparing wholesome foods as well natural products for health and home. We will incorporate running and hiking, as well as healthy cooking, into our weekly schedule.
 
 
Bible
 ** we are continuing to read and discuss Old and New Testament scripture and history with Bible Road Trip, as well as work on scripture memorization and building character through participation with AWANA. 
 
 
Art
 ** we are taking a more relaxed approach to Art Appreciation, exploring well-known works of art and having some fun with art projects inspired by these pieces.
 
 
 

Ender – Early Preschool (age 3)

 
**Ender enjoys practicing his ABCs and 123s, and so we will be using content from LotW to work on letters, numbers, shapes and colors. Excellent reading selections, including those listed in Before Five in a Row, will be a large part of our weekly schedule.
 
 
 

 

Children and Math

I’ve had two different stories about children and math come through my Facebook feed in the last two days. 

 

In Monday’s online edition of The Atlantic, there is a piece that discusses young children being capable of learning algebra and calculus concepts through play. You can read the article here.

 
One suggestion that is made in the article is that the normal progression of math instruction that we are accustomed to, is in fact developmentally inappropriate and does not allow for more playful exploration of mathematical manifestations in activities such as nature, art and music. 
 
“Mathematics is fundamentally about patterns and structures, rather than little manipulations of numbers,” says Math educator Maria Droujkova. 
 
In the article, Droujkova goes on to discuss this idea of “complex yet easy” versus “simple yet hard.” 
 
What a great way to think of things.
 
Complex yet simple – things like origami, building a house from LEGO blocks, snowflake cutouts. Complex concepts but simple (and fun) activities. Children can grasp the more complex concept through these playful activities.  
 
Simple yet hard – doing a worksheet of 100 repetitive math problems or memorizing multiplication tables without recognizing the inherent patterns present.
 
One of the take-home messages of this piece is that children can learn these complex mathematical concepts in an informal way. They get the concept and can think of it in a more abstract way. From there they can move into a more formal understanding of the subject matter, incorporating words, graphs and equations.
 

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The second article I read was an Op-Ed piece in the LA Times. You can read it here.
 
The writer, Edward Frenkel, discusses the benefits of incorporating mathematical concepts and ideas, rather than just straight arithmetic, into math instruction. While he stresses that the tried and true method of math instruction, teaching addition and multiplication tables for example, was still essential, demonstrating some of the abstract along with the concrete would go a long way in capturing the attention of children and motivating them to learn math.
 
Frenkel writes of more abstract mathematic concepts as being “portals into the magic world of modern math, starting points as surely as addition, subtraction and fractions are starting points. The added bonus is that they give us a perfect antidote to the common perception of the subject as stale and boring.”
 
I think, as with most things, it is important to find a balance that works for your family.

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I have written previously about how we have switched over to Saxon Math (starting with Saxon 5/4) this school year. While there is a bit of drill (each lesson starts with a Basic Skills “test” which essentially drills the student on basic mathematical facts), the Saxon lessons incorporate mental math and problem solving, which encourages students to solve a problem without a template, and then prompts the student to note which strategies he/she employed to solve it. The problem sets consist of new concept questions along with problems from previous lessons. While there is a steady build up in skills and difficulty, there is a constant review of previously learned materials. 

 

While we are spending time each week on formal arithmetic instruction, we also incorporate more concept-based learning experiences. 

Often these are puzzles and online games that focus on sequences, patterns, or solving. We have spent a lot of time exploring origami and LEGO building projects (if you are using Google Chrome, check out this cool app!) , even Minecraft. Video games, while perhaps not a traditional math experience, does provide ample opportunity to hone arithmetic skills – crafting recipes and working in multiples, tracking points in various skills, etc. 
 
We have also just started using  Dragon Box, an app I highly recommend! This app teaches algebraic principles in a simplified way. Starting with simple blocks with creatures, basic concepts are taught, reinforced and built upon. Kyri devoured the lower version (5+, for ages 6-8) in just a couple of days and was quite excited when I installed the higher version (12+, great for ages 8 and up). She is already quite comfortable with the concepts such as positive and negative numbers, reducing fractions, and balancing equations as a result. To her, algebra is a puzzle or game to be solved, not a math subject looming out in the future to stress over.
 
These activities promote an interest and drive to learn more without the pressure of formal learning. But we are also building a firm foundation in basic skills with the formal instruction. I think we are striking a good balance.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month.

I am using this month to focus on aspects of Native culture and history. I will be focusing on a different area each week this month and will share weekly posts on our activities and lessons.

This weekend we participated in an event at our local library branch, hosted by the Cherokee Township of San Antonio. The volunteers shared some history of the Cherokee Nation along with a traditional story about the corn goddess Selu and the mythology of the corn husk doll. Younger participants were then shown how to make their own corn husk doll.

This was a great event and an excellent start to our month-long study of Native American culture. This week we will be learning about the different tribes and where they were traditionally found. We will also be spending a fair amount of time on traditional stories and mythologies. Since my family heritage is Cherokee and Lenni Lenape, our focus will be primarily be on these two tribes. In upcoming weeks we will spend time cooking traditional foods, making crafts, and exploring the Cherokee and Lenape languages.

 

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Homemade Lemonade

As part of our Natural Health and Wellness course, Kyri and I have been reading and discussing healthy drinks. While we usually only have water and almond milk in our fridge, on occasion we have some juice or a sweetened drink like lemonade. Kyri prepared (with a little help from Mom) a pitcher of lemonade that we all enjoyed!

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