This morning I woke up, fed the kids, and immediately jumped into lesson planning for the week. Josh sent my Saxon reading, our printer and the 100 Easy Lessons for Wyatt when he got to Alaska, but since he shipped it Media rate (a huge money saver!) it took a while to get here. Well it has arrived, so now we get to start school for reals.
I spent the morning sorting through the twins' reading curriculum and after my coffee/blogging break, I will resume working on their math curriculum and refreshing myself on 100 Lessons, since it's been a few years.
Currently the boys have been working through their Scholastic First Grade Workbook (as opposed to doing their Saxon Math & Saxon Reading). It's a good book, and I enjoy using it on occasion, but doing it for four weeks straight proved quite boring and I think we're all ready for some more challenging material. We are SO happy to have everything we need to move forward to SECOND GRADE! (Still can't believe that they're in second grade.)
Yesterday my dad worked for hours helping me build these new Ikea shelves (and a shoe shelf for downstairs), and the twins helped me organize everything. I am so excited to have all our homeschool stuff out of boxes and easily accessible to all of us.
I thought since I am all fired up about homeschool (again) I'd do a post about our homeschool days and what they look like.
One thing we do every evening, regardless of it being a school day or not, is bedtime stories. The kids each get to pick a book and I read them once they're jammies are on and their teeth are brushed. I have to tell you, story time is much more exciting now that we are near a library!
Now that our Saxon curriculum arrived, I'll be using the library for more than bedtime stories, though-- I'll be using them to accompany our daily reading lessons. I am super excited about this!
When we start our school days, right after breakfast, we start with journals. The boys each have a half lined/half blank journal so they can write about the topic of the day as well as draw a picture to go along with it. This is one of my favorite things I have done as a homeschooler. Most days I let the boys write whatever is on their mind, but sometimes I offer up a topic. This year I've decided the twins have to write increasing sentences with each month that passes. We started with three in August, now four in September and in October it will go up to five. I think the challenge pleases me as a teacher, and the picture/creativity pleases them as students. It's win-win! It's also a nice way to ease into our school day.
As I mentioned above, we'll be using Saxon 2 for reading this year. After using Saxon 1 for first grade, I am so excited to have gotten my hands on Saxon 2. It's a fantastic curriculum that is really user friendly, covering handwriting, spelling, phonics & everything kids need to know for reading. I can't say enough good things about it.
We'll also be using First Language Lessons again this year. We finished Level 1 last year and will be moving on to Level 2. What I love about this book is the repetition and simplicity of each lesson. It's easy to fit in each day and the boys don't groan when I pull it out. (Can I get an amen?)
The twins' handwriting has taken a turn for the lazy (yikes!) so I got some really simple handwriting workbooks that I love. It has them score their own work, circle the letters they think they did best, and has them practice the letters in a number of ways on each page.
We've added Sign Language to our list of goals for this year, and I am starting with this simple set of flash cards I got from Amazon. It helps that I already know sign language (I took it for two years in high school) as does Josh (his sister is Deaf). My plan is to teach them boys the basics with these flash cards (the alphabet, numbers, and some common signs) as well as teach them the signs to their spelling words as they learn them. It's a start at least!
Honestly, what's homeschooling without a little Crayola? I might have gone a little nuts on the markers, but with three sets of busy hands, I wanted all.the.colors at their disposal. Plus they make me super happy when I pull them out!
For the read aloud portion of our homeschool day (my favorite part), we're currently working through these three books. Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado I'm liking now that I've started at the beginning (which is technically for January), but when I was reading September lessons, they were a bit "sinner-focused" and I really don't want to go there with the boys. So I am picking and choosing as we go along whether I'm going to share the lesson for the day or not. It's not my favorite. And if you have another book that would be better for sharing God/Jesus/The bible with the boys, I'd love to hear it.
We're also reading through this book of Aesop's fables. The boys are really enjoying the stories and I love to hear them try to guess the moral of the story before I read it. Some of their ideas are really insightful.
And lastly, we've started The Story of the World Volume 2: The Middle Ages. We loved (absolutely loved) reading aloud Volume 1 last year, and thus far, Volume 2 doesn't disappoint. It breaks history down into 1-3 page segments, written in a very readable way that leads to many internet searches (look up Ajanta caves and be held in wonder!) and discussions.
For Wyatt so far, we've been doing his journal together along with a few pages from his Scholastic Kindergarten workbook and really focusing on letter recognition. He's got most letters down (both names and sounds) so I'm really excited to start teaching him to read. He's going to do great!
I am also going to be starting the twins' math curriculum soon. I thought I had everything I needed (I was just waiting to get my printer, which is also a copier so I could make prints from the masters) but when I sorted through it today I figured out I'm missing the first volume of assignments. Grrr! So now I am searching for it online, praying someone somewhere has it. Meanwhile, we'll keep reviewing and work out of some math books I have on hand.
So that's how homeschooling is shaping up for us this year.
Lots of great new curriculum as well as some old favorites.
I feel so lucky to be able to educate our boys at home.
I wouldn't want it any other way.