Plans for 2010/2011 School Year

I decided that it would be helpful to do an entry on what we are going to be doing for next year.  I'll break it down by subject.

We will continue with Math-U-See.  Princess L will finish lessons 19-30 of Primer and continue on to Alpha.  Princess S will finish lessons 21-30 of Gamma and continue on to Delta.  Princess E will finish lessons 21-30 of Delta and continue on to Epsilon.

We  were given three books in the God's Design For Heaven and Earth series by Answers in Genesis.  (This series has been reworked and we have the old version without a CD-ROM.)  We started working through the first book during our spring break this year, and will work through the summer to finish it up by the time we begin in the fall.  We will then do the second book during our regular school break times.

Humanities (History, Literature, Church/Bible History, Fine Arts)
We will continue to use Tapestry of Grace.  Princess E will be D level (dialectic level for you non-TOGers), Princess S will be UG (upper grammar) and I will read a select few LG (lower grammar) books with Princess L, based on what is available at our library.  We will be skipping year three in order to line up with a co-op near us that will be doing year four.  Both of the older princesses will do a brief unit study this summer on the civil war and reconstruction, as these ideas will be central to much of year four.  I am excited to meet with some awesome women who love TOG as much as I do.  It will be a bit time consuming to pack everyone up, eat lunch in the van, and travel to co-op every other week.  But is is an experience I think we desperately need.  The co-op is small, but there is room to grow.  If you are interested in TOG, please click the link on the right to check it out.

Both princesses will continue with their piano lessons.  Princess E is hoping to qualify for a scholarship to take vocal training lessons at a local music school.  Princess L really wants to start piano this year but she has to wait one more year like her sisters.

I am planning to have the oldest two princesses begin IEW this year.  I purchased TWSS and SWI-A for them.  I haven't figured out yet how we will work these into the schedule, as we really need a block of time without interruptions from the little two.  Perhaps we'll just have to set aside nap time for Princess M and find something for Princess L to do.

We didn't do spelling this year. (Blush!)  This is mostly because Princess E and Princess S seem to have DH's and my natural spelling ability.  But I was very intrigued by the Pioneer Woman's description of how she does spelling with her kids, and am planning to adapt it to fit our schedule.  I will dig out my copy of Spelling Power and use those lists to do a spelling bee three times a week (with the option to par down to twice a week if it becomes necessary) and let them earn small things like M&Ms, Skittles or Pretzels.

Princess S will be doing Grade 4 of Growing With Grammar.  I love the simplicity of this series.  Princess S has attention issues and tends to get distracted by colors and pictures.  This lovely book has no color and no pictures.  And it is so simple, most of the time she can read the handbook and do the workbook without any help from me at all. 

Princess E will continue with Latin, but she will be switching over to Latin For Children.  We had some issues with our computer speakers not working and I was not able to get the files downloaded to a CD.  So while she can read the first year Latin words, she can not pronounce nor understand spoken Latin.  So this series will be a blessing.  There is both a CD and a DVD.  

For Princesses L and S, I used my StartWrite software to make copybooks out of their Awana verses for next year.  This way they are getting double practice every day.  I haven't decided if I will do one for Princess E, but I am leaning towards having her work on keyboarding skills, as she will be using the computer a bit more this year.  I also made a Presidents book for the older two princesses.  For each president and first lady there is a facts page for them to fill in and two pages of practice with a famous quote from each president and some of the first ladies.

For Princess L, I will be using Winter Promise Advanced K.  I'm a little concerned because she has only really worked with the short sounds of the letters.  She does know, thanks to the Leap Frog videos and toys, that many of the letters have other sounds and what those sounds are.  She just hasn't learned any of the rules for their usage.  I may need to take a little longer than the three scheduled weeks of sounds review before we  dive into this.  But it is a lot of hands on and really great simple readers, so I know she'll have fun with it.

Language Arts
Though I've already listed curriculum considered LA, I was dismayed at some bad habits, bad attitudes and "uncreative thinking" that was rearing its ugly head by the end of the year.  To that end, I researched some things to add to address some of these specifics.  Therefore, both of the older princesses will be doing one of the exercises from McCall-Crabbs Standard Test Lessons in Reading each day.  The goal is to practice reading for meaning rather than to simply finish the assignment as fast as possible.  I will also be having Princess E begin with Dynamic Literacy's Foundations 1 book.  She will do one exercise per day.  Finally, I purchased the teacher's books for the first level of Michael Clay Thomas's Language Arts program.  This program has a unique way of presenting grammar, writing, and vocabulary using challenging passages from classical works.  I believe that the first level will pretty much be review for both of them.  But I think it will help to pull together the various areas of LA which they are pretty good at individually, but struggle when they must put them together in, say, a writing assignment.  The methodology is similar to TOG in that you read the beautifully and creatively done stories together, then lead them in a dialectic discussion about the various elements taught in the story.

Princess M
To be honest, I do not know where I will find the energy, with all of the above, to do very much with this little one.  I'm leaning towards the "better late than early" idea with her.  I purchased the Letter of the Week activities from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  I plan to print out a few activities for each letter and put them in either a ziplock or a file folder, depending on the activity, and pulling out one or two a day when I need her occupied.  I also plan to schedule each of the older princesses to do "school" with her for twenty minutes a day each.

Scheduling my crew is always a challenge.  Whenever we have tried to implement a schedule a-la-Managers of Their Homes, we all end up frustrated and in tears.  We tend to do better by listing the order of our activities, but not expecting to do anything at a particular time, with the exception of a few things like piano, lunch and co-op.  Princess S cannot work when given a time frame to work in.  She does better if I challenge her to try to finish something in x amount of time and give her a food reward if she accomplishes it.  Princess E can finish most everything in a time frame, but her accuracy and creativity suffer greatly as a trade off.  Princess L still needs me with her at all times.  Princess M will tear a room apart in seconds if not adequately monitored.  So I struggle with how to get everything in from day to day.  Last year, I printed out a daily task schedule from HST+ for Princess E.  She had no say in what assignments she had each day, but she was allowed to complete them in whatever order she pleased.  Princess S was using the workbox method.  I changed how I did them halfway through the year.  She really disliked this method and wants to go back to a paper schedule.  Therefore, I will attempt to do with her what I did with Princess E last year.  For Princess E, I purchased this planner.  One of the things that TOG stresses is teaching your children to take responsibility for their own learning by having them schedule their work themselves.  We started this in the last unit to some extent this past year.  My plan is to give her a laminated card with the target days for certain subjects.  This is necessary because I have to be able to plan out times for correcting their work.   For her reading assignments, I will print a list on Thurdays for the following week.  She needs to plan on doing some reading on the weekends.  (I know she will be devastated by this, but she's beginning middle school and this would be expected in a public school setting.)  She can decide how to complete the reading assignments and put them in her planner, and will be expected to have everything read by Tuesday evening.  She will have to work on her AQ/TQ questions on Wednesday and Thursday for our discussion on Friday.  I will be having a daily meeting with the older two princesess to go through their assignment goals, give them their checked assignments needing corrections, and the McCalls reading test.  My goal is to have these meetings last 10 to 15 minutes tops. While I am meeting with the one, the other will have their time with Princess M. 

So that is how I've spent all my thinking energy and time for the last two months. I'll post another time on how we have been doing our Bible time, as I plan to continue with that method for now.  When I finish going through our school room and get some badly needed bookshelves, I'll also post some pictures.


Random Photos

Since I've been told that I should post more photos, I thought I'd put these out there. Most of these were taken in late April. The one with the Princess E throwing the whipped cream pie was a hoot. She won the right to throw it at the Awana leader of her choice. She choose a neighbor of ours - father to her good friend. He took it quite well. But, he has her scared to death of the payback, which of course will never come - but she doesn't know that.

Princess L: Finishing up the PreK/K5 year

Well, this princess finished up the year in a whirlwind. We sped through the last two lessons. I decided to take some photos of all the books that she read with MFW K. The first photo shows all the books, then it follows one book. The last two photos show the last few pages of words she needed to sound out. They suggest going through all the sounds and sounding each word out with them. But I chucked that out the window by about week 20 when she started just reading the words pretty much without sounding them out. When she does sound a word out, despite my instructions, she works backwards. She still has an issue saying certain sounds - r's and ing's always give her a problem. But she has amazed me at how fast she started to take off.

Since we finished the school year, Princess L has lost her first tooth! She didn't say anything about it being loose, but when we went to the dentist, she pointed out that the two bottom teeth were loose. So loose in fact, that when she pushed one of them forward, it didn't go back into place. By the end of that day it was out!

Princess E: Finishing TOG Year 2

Princess E needed much motivation to finish the year. Usually, she finds the motivation to finish her work. This year it found her. A friend invited her to her school's annual "Wax Museum" project. Each student researches a person, then they dress up as that person and stand on a stool. Parents, siblings, friends, and other classmates tour the school and press a button to hear each "wax figure" give a short one minute autobiography. Upon this invitation I saw my chance to finish out the year. So I told Princess E she may go if she finished her work for the year. It would have been a last minute crunch if I hadn't let her stay up until 10:30 to finish the night before. (I know - I'm a softie!) Here's what she did:

Latin: Exercise 16.1 to 16.12, Word Power J1-3
Math-U-See: Finish Lesson 21
Literature: Justin Morgan Had a Horse
TOG: vocab, important people copywork, geography study
Reading: Our Living Constitution (excerpts), George Washington's World (excerpts), The Struggle for Sea Power (excerpts)
Read Aloud: With Pipe, Paddle and Song

She finished her CAT testing the next day in two settings - half in the morning and half at night. I will post more another time on the decision for next year's curriculum.


If I have anyone left as a reader, I apologize that it's been such a mess around here. I tried to change a template over a month ago and something happened. I thought I had the old one saved, but when I went to change it back, it wouldn't go in as it was before. For quite a while none of the links were working. Finishing the school year, doing our CAT testing, and doing the final plans for next year became my focus. Not fixing this blog. I even considered switching over to Homeschool Blogger now that they've moved to WordPress. I may yet do that. But for now, I'll settle for this and keep on. Thanks for your patience.