Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Curriculum I Love: Year 1

              Hey--it's been a while!
Okay, we are into our second year of homeschooling.
It is hard but also really fun.
We are all learning alot.

I thought it would be fun to share what curriculum we used last year, and then I will do a separate post on what I am using this year.
I LOVE looking up homeschool curriculum.
There is amazing stuff out there, and I have $1000 to spend each semester on pretty much whatever I want (unless it mentions creation, Jesus or God--you can't talk about those crazy things on public charter's dime, silly!).

So here's what I did our first year of homeschooling:

 Oak Meadow Grade 1:

Oak Meadow is a full, Waldorf curriculum.  I thought this would be perfect for my very right-brained child.  It was nice, but it was also quite simple.  There were lots of fairy tales to read, and they all had kind of similar endings, which she got bored with. Also, she was not interested in the recorder or learning to knit, which is a big part of the curriculum.  The curriculum is very relaxed, and I was looking for a bit more rigorous math. There are a lot of nature walks and nature crafts, which didn't work for us desert-dwellers.
On the plus side, this is beautiful, slow-moving curriculum that you can really expand if you want.  We loved the science aspects and really loved the art! I chose not to use it again, because it was a bit too slow--but I would love to try it as a summer enrichment program!

Moving Beyond the Page, Ages 8-10

I can not say enough good things about this curriculum-in-a-box.  It is such a good set-up for a first-time homeschooler.  It is a literature-based curriculum, which I love! We didn't get through the whole year, since there is so much reading.  Each book is paired with either science or social studies.  For example, we read the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe and talked about good/evil and heroes/villains in history.  I just love this stuff!  The science is amazing, too--they send you everything you need for your experiments, down to paper clips and tweezers!
My only complaint is that the language arts was a little weak. It does include vocabulary but not too much sentence or writing instruction, which is why I chose not to use it this year.
Bonus--I read all the books out loud to all my kids, so it worked out well.  My 1st grader did the science along with us.  We read so many good books and did so many neat projects! 
My favorite was the homemade teepee we made after reading Sign of the Beaver.
Or maybe it was the borax crystal snowflakes while reading Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe?
Love love love!

 Singapore Math, Standards Edition, Grade 3

I love Singapore Math--it is rigorous, but also such a fun format.  There are lots of word puzzles along with math.  Cash learned alot from it, and I am starting Coco on it this year! Singapore has the best math scores in the world, so this is the American adaptation of the curriculum.  I do not use the Common Core edition, since I don't understand most of it! 

For health, we used this book, which my kids loved. At the beginning of the year, we traced outlines of their bodies, and then each week, we would add one or two body parts and talk about them. KidsHealth.org has corresponding short videos on Youtube that we supplemented with. My kids loved this!

For geography, we learned about the fifty states.  We used this coloring book to talk about the states.  Each page has information on its population, state flag, bird, etc. We also learned this song, which was fun.

For spelling, grammar, and reading, we used www.k12reader.com  It's a free website that has weekly spelling words for each grade, along with coordinating reading comprehension pages and grammar sheets.  I also use a lot of www.education.com and www.teacherspayteachers.com 
for free worksheets.
We also memorized about five poems.
I didn't really latch on to a history curriculum last year.  Instead, I made a "Hero Wall" on our living room wall, and each week, we would add a few heroes' pictures and write why they are important.  I liked that approach and want to do something similar this year.  I am all about visual learning!
We also did lots of animal explorations, where we chose an animal and learned all we could about them.  My kids love to do this and will make posters or books about animals.

My kids also took piano lessons.  Coco started horseback riding mid-year, and Cash participated in a kung-fu class.  Both kids also did book club and homeschool sports days. Hands down, I think the most important and successful thing we did last year was read aloud and do activities to go along with the books.  My kids love this!
I look forward to reading a lot with them this year, and I got a ton of new curriculum that I'm super excited about and will share soon!


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