August 01, 2011

Our 2011-2012 Curriculum

The school year is nearly upon us.  A bit of camping, beach going, fair attending and other warm day activities yet to go, but September is coming! 

I am one of those people who seems to use a different publisher for each subject.  I am trying to tame that inclination, a bit, this coming year. We will stick to the same math, phonics, and handwriting programs we have used the past few years (even though they are each from a different company...oh dear).  They work simply, get the job done, and the kids seem to enjoy them, for the most part.  However, history, science, and Bible are switching.  To read a review of last year's curriculum go here.

Sometime last winter I came across some writing about Heart of Dakota and am really hoping for a good fit.  It is very literature based, Bible focused, and conservative in its book choices.  In addition, I don't see much busy work and there is a lot of flexibility in their curriculum.  These are all criteria for our family.  And as a bonus the manuals don't cost an arm and a leg!

Z is the primary student I am currently choosing curriculum for so I chose books appropriately.  He enjoys a lot of reading, both myself reading to him, and independent silent reading.  Particularly, history based literature and non-fiction, are his favorites (those with battles receive extra attention). 

We are going to be using HOD's Bigger Hearts Program.  This year, our studies will focus on important people in American history.  This course of study allowed us the perfect opportunity to add in some additional history books for us to read.  Thus, I did a bit of tweaking to the curriculum, but not much.  I will list the additional books at the end of this post.

Here is what the line-up of curriculum in our family looks like:

Math: Horizons by Alpha Omega
Z: Second Grade
T: First Grade
J: Might start her Kindergarten book in the late fall

Handwriting: A Reason For
Z: Finishing Book B, starting Book T
T: Book A
J: Book K

Reading, Writing, & Phonics (Beginning): Abeka
T: Letters and Sounds 1, Language 1, 1st grade Readers
J: Letters and Sounds K, K Readers

English (2nd Grade & up): Rod & Staff
Z: Preparing to Build, English 2

History, Bible, Science, Poetry, Literature, Spelling, Geography: Heart of Dakota
Z: Bigger Hearts for His Glory
T & J: Joining in on Most Components

Our Literature Choices for the storytime element of the curriculum in which I read aloud from various genres of books:  (this time is used to practice narration and to learn about Biblical character traits, story elements, the mood, etc. I tried to schedule the books to correspond as best as possible with the history study)

Quaker Cavalier, the Story of William Penn-Biography
George Rogers Clark: Boy of the Northwest Frontier-Biography
Chester Cricket in Times Square-Fantasy
Indian in the Cupboard-Fantasy
Matchlock Gun-Historical Fiction
Buffalo Knife-Historical Fiction
Baby Island (chosen to keep the girls involved in this area of study)- Adventure
Tolliver's Secrets- Adventure
Footprints in the Barn-Mystery
Concord Cunningham: Scripture Sleuth-Mystery
Rascal- Realistic Fiction
Mountain Born- Realistic Fiction
If you lived 100 years ago-Non-Fiction
Bud & Me-Non-Fiction
By the Great Horn Spoon-Humor
Homer Price-Humor
More Stories from Grandma's Attic-Folk Tale

Reading (2nd Grade & up): Drawn into the Heart of Reading (this is where Z practices applying a lot of the same elements we learn in Storytime to his own reading and where I keep tabs on how his reading skills are progressing)
Z: Level 2/3

Reading this year: Stone Fox, Dolphin Adventure, The Littles, The Storm, McBroom's Wonderful One Acre Farm, Jeremy, The Tale of an Honest Bunny, Cappyboppy, Who's that Stepping on Plymouth Rock, The Secret School, Freedom Train, Amelia Earhart: Young Air Pioneer

As a detour note: We use a lot of books in our homeschooling, as many do.  It can get expensive.  I have written before on how we save money on homeschool materials.  We are a very typical one-income homeschool family.  I have purchased at least half of our books at thrift stores (sometimes for a quarter) or used online. 

And I spread it out!  I have a list of books I will need in the spring that I can buy in January or February, if I don't find them used before then (thus, not all the books are pictured).  There is no need to have all the books in September for an entire school year! Also, not buying everything up front allows me more freedom to adjust things that aren't working well (such as if I decide there is too much reading going on then I can cut back without feeling guilty about already having purchased the books...).

Because we have an avid reader and a big history emphasis in our are the books I am adding in for some good additional history reading:

If you lived in Colonial Times
Childhood of Famous Americans: Ben Franklin (Z will independently read)
Ben & Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by his good mouse Amos
Where was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May
If you Grew up with George Washington
The Life of George Washington by Pollard
If you lived at the time of the Revolution
Why don't you get a horse, Sam Adams
A More Perfect Union: the story of our constitution
Robert Fulton: Boy Craftsman (Z will independently read)
The Story of Thomas Jefferson (Signature books)
The Year of the Horseless Carriage
The Story of Kit Carson (Signature books)
If you lived at the Time of the Civil War
We were there at the Battle of Gettysburg (Signature Books)
Helen Keller by Davidson

Whew! That was a lot!  However, when I remind myself that it all spreads out over 35-40 weeks I don't feel so bad.  See, I learned something big last year: Don't fret over doing the curriculum's one week schedule all in one week! 

For example, we have a new coop starting this year and will be gone for half of every Wednesday.  So, I have decided that we will only do math, reading, and handwriting on those days.  However, on the rest of the days we will simply work our way through the Heart of Dakota manual.  I won't pay attention to Day 1 falling on a Monday or Day 5 being on a Friday, or so forth.  This also makes sicknesses and unexpected events feel a bit less inconvenient.  We will simply do it one day at a time, when we can (isn't this part of the beauty and blessing of homeschooling).  That may extend our school year about six weeks, but I prefer that than feeling pressured and boxed in for 30 weeks! 

For now we will enjoy the rest of our summer and look forward to the excitement of fall!

This post is linked up with Heart of the Matter's "Not" Back to School Blog Hop.  "Hop" on over there to check out more homeschool curriuculum plans.  And watch next week for the school room post....

It is also linked up with Training Children Up for Christ's Let's Talk Curriculum.


Dawn said...

I love your literature choices. There are so many great books in your piles.

Mary said...

I love the literature choices. Cricket in Times Square is a favorite of mine! Have a great school year.

Diana said...

Good job! You have done some great planning. Yes, it is true that you can be flexible, even to the point that if you don't cover it this year you can do it during the summer or next year.

The point is - learning is fun and the basic skills are learned, then they almost teach themselves.

Let us know if there is any way we can help.

Amy said...

You have such a great list of books. I can't wait to look into it more.

Kelly @ In Everything said...

I love all your books... so many are familiar ones that I read as a child or read to child as I substitute taught through my college/seminary years!

I would love to purchase a bunch of books for our schooling too. I"ve tended to rely on our public library and working tightly with our librarian to find classical & living literature for the kids. So far it's been tough b/c we're in a very rural- low income area and we've been working through time periods that don't have a lot of children's materials. SO I'm looking forward to our post-Renaissance/Early Modern time periods to get more literature choices.

I"m also going to read your link how you save $ and purchase the books you need!!

Curbstone Homestead said...

Love your blog, just started following! I am here from the Not back to school hop!

Tiffany said...

We used HOD our first year - it is a fabulous curriculum!!

Sally said...

Girl, I have got me a cuppa coffee right here, 'cause I am about to drink this blog in! I loved this post and want to visit some more! I know you will have a great year! God bless ya!

Ryan & Heather said...

Welcome, Sally! I hope you enjoy your coffee time!-Heather

Very Blessed Mamma said...

Thank you for linking up with me. It has been so fun to see what others are doing. We also have a LOT of books!

I am now following you. You can find me at: