Saturday, September 10, 2011

Retooling the Curricula

We're a month into our school year, and so far, I couldn't be happier with the bulk of our curriculum. 

I'm especially pleased with Toa's language arts curriculum from Royal Fireworks Press. Anytime a very active 8 year old boy says, "can we just read one more part please, Mommy?" That's a winner. And, when I quickly agreed to the request, the response was, "Hooray! I get to learn what a conjunction is!" 

No lie.

I am also super pleased with Sweetling's science curriculum from Education Exploration. I can't tell you how cool it is to see her assembling a wooden glider with a wingspan slightly greater than two feet. Her projects are so cool, and she can work through her science curriculum completely independently, which has a huge appeal for her.

Likewise, the Writing the Breakout Novel text is really a great resource. I'm stealing it from her on weekends and reading it, and taking notes, myself. I've spied on Sweetling, and she keeps her writing notebook close at hand while she's reading.

And, while her Geometry text has had a couple of unfortunate errors, on the whole it's been a win. (And Sweetling has zipped off an email to the author about the most blatant misprints.) I was also please to note, that when she was picking out folders and notebooks and color co-ordinating them to match each of her school subjects, she picked green, her favorite color, for geometry.

Our Bible curriculum isn't the most exciting thing in the world, but it works for both kids. That's a pretty nice trick in itself. And its rather thoroughly covering the basics of all the books in the Old Testament.

Last, skipping third grade math was absolutely the best choice for Toa. He's picked up the fourth grade math book and run with it. We're in the third chapter, which has had a 'theme' of sharks. Bonus for lots of cool shark facts.


There are two key areas which aren't working for us.

First, Toa's super cool science curriculum that I was so super excited about? It's too easy and way too elementary for him. We're going to finish it up, because we spent $60 on it, and I think that some of the projects and lessons will still be really cool. But, overall, we are going to fly through this science curriculum. I wish I had purchased the Intermediate Level for him instead of the Elementary Level.

I think when we finish this science curriculum, we'll try something new. I'd love to try Apologia Science, but since I've already blown my budget on curriculum, I'm not sure how feasible that will be. I might have to settle for  a cheap used copy of Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space.

Second, putting together my own History of the 20th Century course is a wash. It's way too much work for me and for the kids. I feel like we're reinventing the wheel, and coming up with a bumpy, lumpy one at that. I'm officially throwing in the towel on this idea.

I took a second look, (ok, really its a third, fourth, or fifth look if you want to get technical), at some pre-assembled curricula kits. There are several that I really like, but remember, I've already burned through my homeschool book budget and then some. So, money was definitely a factor.

I'm going to order the Time Travelers: The Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression curruculum CD from Homeschool in the Woods. I'll have to add in my own library books, but we'd be doing that with any curriculum. I think it has everything I'm looking for. And, here's the real sell, check out the project pics in the left hand column.

We'll use this through the fall. (So, what's left of September and the whole month of October. We're taking a break from most curriculum in November for NaNoWriMo. In December, we'll focus on making our own Christmas presents, which we will tie in to our study of the 1930s.)

In January, we'll order the next in the Time Travelers series, World War II. I'm sure that will take us through at least the beginning of March.

And then we'll be back to winging it for the second half of the 20th Century in the spring.

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