Thursday, April 07, 2011

Unicorns on Saturn

I could easily drop a grand or two on curriculum. Easily.

Since we don't have an easy grand or two lying around, I'm trying to really think through our curriculum options and choose wisely. The kids and I went to the vendor section of the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention last Friday. I thought that would help me discover my options and then whittle them down.

Foolish mortal.

We were completely overwhelmed. That place was HUGE. And crowded. And noisy. All three of us were going into sensory shutdown well before we had strolled the length of the rows upon rows upon aisles of booths.

Still, I did find several things that I'm considering. And I'm posting links up here, both for my own reference AND in hopes of some feedback.

First, our "spine" is going to be a study of the History of the 20th Century. I have several reference books on hand that might be our main "textbooks", heavily supplemented by library books.

After that, here's what I'm looking at for each child--


Either continuing in  Vocabulary from Classical Roots or switching over to Word Within the Word, which is another classical root based vocabulary workbook. I'm letting Sweetling pick.

I'm also considering Poetry and Humanity and Free at Last

Likely will be pulling from recommended reading lists and doing searches on historical fiction that ties in with the different events of the 20th century. Also, although I had intended on using two Progeny Press study guides this year, we did not. But I will follow through with picking them out and using two of them this year.

There is a book called Advanced Academic Writing. However, nothing about that says "joy" to either me or Sweetling. So???  There is also Learn to Write the Novel Way which sounds more fun. Or there is a series of books which are Write Your Own .... which we might pick up. Sweetling just wants to write. She is telling me she will pledge to spend a certain amount of time so many days a week just writing. Sweetling is an outstanding writer for her age, so I might just try Sweetling's approach to writing this year.

This year's math was a success. Our main goal was to simply enjoy math once again. Having achieved that goal, I really am not eager to pick up another dry, lifeless, soul-sucking math textbook. If I were a better mathematician myself, we'd just wing it. But I'm not. We need something we can learn from. At the convention, we saw a booth who's big display sign said something along the lines of "Hate Algebra? You need a FRESH approach." We thought that applied to us, so we headed over. We found three textbooks written by an Algebra tutor. We've downloaded the first chapter of the Geometry textbook and did a few pages in it today.

This is how it went. I posted this up on Facebook today:

The math lesson is on logic and reasoning, specifically inductive and deductive reasoning, the Law of Detachment and the Law of Syllogism. We were to analyze some statements and determine if they were true or false. #9 is "There is a unicorn on Saturn that loves pepperoni pizza." The answer key listed #9 as false. I was trying to figure out why #9 was false. Says a Sweetling, "Why do you THINK???"
Thus the title of this post.

I'm not quite sold on these books yet. They have absolutely no color. Sweetling probably is pleased by the lack of visual distractions on the page. I personally think all math should have the decency to cover up its stark black and white nakedness with a little bit of color and some tastefully selected graphics.

Another awesome, in my opinion, find at the convention. Education Exploration Science looked like a fun, hands-on curriculum. I did specifically ask the guy at the booth a question. I said, "Let's pretend that I am cursed and any science experiment or project that I attempt is doomed to failure." Sweetling said, "Pretend??"

The booth guy tried to reassure me about the step by step nature of the projects and that everything I needed for every project was included. I don't think he grasped the nature or the extensiveness of my curse, but that's ok. I was really impressed with the text being on an interactive CD and the cool projects. Even if they don't work for us, will take an Edisonian attitude of learning from our failures. So, I'd like to get the advanced curriculum for Sweetling.

Modern art baby. We'll compliment our history study with a study of the art and artists of the various decades of the past century. I've seen several nice projects at Deep Space Sparkle and at Painted Paper that I'd like to try.

Sweetling would like to continue guitar classes at co-op.

Foreign Language:
I'm hoping co-op offers a Spanish class at her level. If not, we might be purchasing Rosetta Stone.

Don't know. She is very good at doing a short daily devotional, but I'd like to see her have a Bible study with a bit more meat than her cute little Keys for Kids devotional. Mango is recommending Switched-On Schoolhouse. I'm not sold on the $80 pricetag.

Toa of Boy

I am really leaning towards getting the basic language arts Island Level package from Royal Fireworks Press. Toa of Boy loved the Sentence Island book at the convention, and I really like everything I've read on their internet site about the philosophy and the lay out. My only reservation is that this might be a bit of a language arts overload for Toa of Boy. 

Formal reading curriculums are for the birds. We're going with picking quality library books and having a daily reading time together on the waterbed.

I think I've seen a big improvement in Toa's spelling AND his reading from using the Sequential Spelling program. We're going to stay with it. Plus, its short and sweet. We like short and sweet.

We liked Singapore Math this year. We're sticking with Singapore Math next year. Short and sweet and effective.

That cool hands-on curriculum? They have an elementary level course for Toa of Boy.

Modern Art, same as Sweetling. We do art together. Including Mommy. Mommy likes to paint too!

Toa of Boy wants to learn to play the recorder. Last year, just before Christmas, we found some cool instructional videos on youtube on playing "Jingle Bells" on the recorder. Toa of Boy had the song down pat in two days time. We'll find some more videos and learn some songs by ear. If Toa of Boy wants to learn to read music, fine. If not, that's fine too.

Foreign Language:
Toa of Boy want to learn Spanish. Or re-learn Spanish as the case may be. He tried out the Rosetta Stone software at the convention, but quickly got frustrated with the voice recognition feature. We might try Power Glide instead.

Every day, Toa of Boy is reading his Awana devotional and working on Scripture memorization. I don't think I need to add anything to that.

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