"God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us." (St. John Paul the Great)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

School Update - Part 2

I started posting yesterday about what we've been up to this year. Here's some more ...

Language Arts: This is another area where we started with one approach and ended up with something totally different. When we first started homeschooling, the kids had separate books for reading and grammar and handwriting and vocabulary and spelling. It seemed like a lot. And it was. Then I found out about Total Language Plus and Learning Language Arts Through Literature at a homeschool conference. We've tried them both, but I definitely prefer Total Language Plus. The integrated approach makes a lot of sense to me and works really well for our family. Each quarter, the kids have a primary work of literature which they read and about which they answer comprehension questions. They also write short answers or paragraphs which focus more on critical thinking skills than on comprehension. Their vocabulary and spelling words (which are extremely challenging, I think) are the same and taken from the work of literature. The study guides for the younger grades contain grammar lessons; for the older kids, there are dictations and proofreading exercises. The guides also contain many ideas for enrichment activities, ranging from art projects to field trips and everything in between, though we seldom do many of these. I have the girls do their dictations in handwriting to get practice there. And I am kind of a grammar nazi, so I also have them practice Daily Paragraph Editing. So far this year, the girls have read Rifles for Watie and Julie of the Wolves. They are currently reading The Light in the Forest and will finish up the year with Out of the Dust and Crispin: The Cross of Lead. The Boy, my slower reader, spent the first half of the year studying The Courage of Sarah Noble and has now moved on to The Whipping Boy. The kids choose their own novels from the list I provide.


Italian: For our modern language study, we have been using the Rosetta Stone Italian Homeschool Curriculum (in the hopes we will one day be spending a semester abroad). I brush up when I can (which is not very often!).

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Science: Here's a subject where I think I've done something different every single year. But I think I've finally found something I'm going to stick with for a while. It's called NOEO Science (from noeo, the Greek word for "understand," and referencing Romans 1:20). There are three levels each of biology, chemistry, and physics. The instructions are easy to follow. There is no textbook, but rather a selection of books from different publishers on different topics, and they are great. And, the best part is, get this, the experiment kits are included! We've done more experiments this year, just because I didn't have to make sure we had the supplies on hand! The teacher's guide, books, and experiment kits all came in one box! (Can you tell I'm enthusiastic about this program!)

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Not done yet ... stay tuned for more.

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