Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Homeschool Curriculum 2020-21

We are gearing up to kick off another year of homeschool. This will be our 8th year of homeschooling. With all that is going on right now, I am so thankful we were already on the homeschool path. I know so many families are struggling to figure out how to handle all of the changes with public schools because of Covid19. I've met with several friends recently that will be homeschooling for the first time this fall. 

Anyway, every year I share what our curriculum looks like for the upcoming school year. Caleb will be going into 9th grade (shut up! how is that possible?!) and Benjamin will be in 6th (equally as shocking to me!) 

Caleb: 9th Grade

I decided to switch Caleb to Notgrass: Exploring World History  for the bulk of his curriculum. This will cover history, English, literature, and Bible. This will be our first time using Notgrass and I'm very excited. I love when I can tie multiple subjects together so that everything makes sense. I plan to read all of the literature books myself, I don't think I've read most of these. I'll probably have Caleb listen to audio books while he reads along (that usually works better for him). 

From the Notgrass website: Exploring World History by Ray Notgrass is a one-year homeschool curriculum for high school that teaches students to understand history from a Christian perspective of faith in God and respect for the Bible. It provides one full-year of credit in world history, English (literature and composition), and Bible.

Your high school student will gain a rich understanding of world history by reading the history narrative and primary source documents, reading classic literature, completing writing assignments and hands-on projects, and studying what the Bible says about issues and ideas in history.

Notgrass has several very helpful videos on their site that explain the curriculum thoroughly.

Notgrass offers a PDF of all of the lesson assignments. I had them printed out and bound at Staples. All Caleb will have to do each day is work his way through the listed assignments. The planning has already been done, which makes my job that much easier and fosters independence in Caleb.

I think this is going to be great and I can't wait to dive in. 

For math, Caleb uses Teaching Textbooks. We used Math-U-See for years but last school year I made the switch to TT. It is an online math curriculum. Caleb watches a thorough lecture, does a few practice problems that cover new information, and then completes problems from previous lessons. I like that the program is visual so he can see how to work the problem. It will give you hints if you get stuck and it will show you how to solve a problem if you get it wrong. TT gives immediate feedback, does all of the grading, and keeps track of everything. I love it. It has been a good fit for Caleb. You can even try TT for free to see if it is a good fit for your kiddo. 

Caleb will also continue to work on his typing. Typing Club is the program we use. It is super simple and I love it.

I gave Caleb a choice for his foreign language credit. I offered him Spanish or Sign Language. He went back and forth, consulted his friends through text to get their opinion, and then decided to go with Spanish. I've researched a lot of options for learning Spanish at home and we have decided to try ULAT

ULAT is an on-line Spanish program. It uses videos for instruction and follows a more immersive approach to learning another language. I looked at several online programs and I'm not sure if ULAT is the right choice BUT they allow you do the first 15 lessons completely free so I figure it can't hurt to try. If it isn't a good fit for Caleb then we will switch to something else....or if he decides to switch to Sign Language, we can do that. Flexibility is the point of homeschooling. 

Benjamin: 6th grade

Benjamin will also switch to Notgrass for the bulk of his curriculum. He will be working through From Adam to Us. I bought the MP3 audio of the textbooks so that Benjamin can read along with the audio book. I will probably either read-aloud the literature books to him or have him listen on Audible...or maybe a mix of both. I think asking him to read all of this on his own would be a bit too much for him. Thank goodness for audio books! This appears to be a very thorough curriculum with a variety of supplemental materials. I'm excited about the Map Book and the Timeline Book. 

I has Benjamin's Notgrass assignments printed and bound as well. This is going to make my life so much easier ya'll!

Benjamin will continue with All about Spelling. I love, love, love this curriculum. It has been a game-changer for us. 

Benjamin is on the last level for All about Reading (again, a huge game-changer). I highly recommend All about Learning for spelling and reading, especially if you have a child that struggles in this area. This curriculum has been a HUGE blessing. 

Benjamin will stick with Math-U-See for now. He likes the worksheets so I don't see any reason to change. I might switch him to Teaching Textbooks at some point but for now he is happy with Math-U-See.

Our "together" stuff:

This will be the first year that the boys are doing completely separate curriculum. I've always tried to choose curriculum that allowed me to teach multiple grade levels at once so that we could all learn together. That gets harder to do when you've got one in 9th and one in 6th. We will still do some "together" stuff each day. 

I chose MasterBooks for science. We will work through Applied Engineering together. It's for 7-9th grade so I think it will work for both boys. I've used MasterBooks in the past and was impressed with their approach and their products. Their books are very colorful, designed nicely, and interesting to read.

I heard Monica (Etiquette Factory) speak at a homeschool convention last spring. I loved her. We started working through her Life Skills program last spring, and will continue this next school year. The boys actually enjoy this because the lessons show short videos of "what to do" and "what NOT to do". Caleb and Benjamin especially like the "what NOT do do" videos. 

One of my favorite things about our school year last year was the geography we learned through My Father's World: Exploring Countries and Cultures. We learned so much and I don't want to lose that, so we will continue to review geography together using the maps from ECC.

We will probably spend about 45 minutes or so on our "together stuff" before the boys move on to their other subjects. This is going to be different than what we are used to so I'm allowing all of us a few weeks to adjust and find our new routine. I get asked if we have a homeschool schedule and the answer is no, but we do have a routine. I like routine more than schedule. A set schedule stresses me but I find comfort in a typical flow to our day. Hopefully we will find a flow that works for everyone. 

The boys typically do their "electives/fun-stuff" at our wonderful homeschool co-op. Unfortunately, the church we meet at for co-op is following our local ISD guidelines which don't allow for in-class instruction yet. So, fall semester of co-op has been cancelled. We will be getting together with families throughout the semester for fun and friendship. Hopefully our co-op will be back in full swing for the spring semester. 

I think that about sums up my curriculum choices for the upcoming school year. I'll touch base in a few weeks to let you know how it is going. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Port Aransas 2020

We just got home from a much needed vacation to the beach. With all that is going on right now, we really needed the change of scenery. It's been five years since our last trip to Port Aransas. We had planned to go in 2017 but Hurricane Harvey hit two weeks before our trip. 

We rented a cute condo. Normally we stay somewhere on the beach but we decided to stay in-town this time. 

We hit the beach first. Our condo rental included a golf cart, which was a new experience for us. The boys absolutely loved the golf cart. You can drive the golf carts on the streets through town and right on the beach, which made it super easy to get Caleb to the water.

My happy place.

I love these little critters. The waves expose hundreds of tiny shells and then you can watch as the critters inside scurry back into the sand. I could watch these for hours.

One of the locals.

Caleb almost got assaulted by some laughing gulls.

Benjamin buried.

On our second day in Port A, we went to a little coffee shop for gelato and blended coffee. It was super yummy!

Our condo had a pool.
Steps up to the slide.

Caleb is part fish. He loves the water.

We headed back to the beach on day 3.
With my boys.

Benjamin wanted to be buried from the waist down.

He's so stinkin' cute.

We went to the beach again on our last day. 

Attack of the gulls! 

I love the beach. 

We had to leave Port A a day early because Hurricane Hanna was on the door step. We didn't feel like sticking around for that! All-in-all it was a great trip. We relaxed a lot, spent a ton of time at the beach, and came home happy and sun-kissed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

My Father's World, Exploring Countries and Cultures: Australia and Antartica

Almost done! I am going to wrap up my series on Exploring Countries and Cultures with trips to Australia and Antarctica.

We drew a Kookaburra, a bird native to Australia. 

We used an Atlas Crate to build a coral reef and a hopping kangaroo.

We made Anzac Biscuits. Simple, yet super tasty. 

Australia was our easiest map yet!

Our journey through Antarctica was brief so I don't have too much to share. 
We read a fascinating true story about an expedition to Antarctica. We also read through different survival scenarios to see if we could survive an expedition through Antarctica....I don't think we could.

You can't study Antarctica and not draw a penguin.

I think that about wraps up our curriculum for this past school year. If you want to read more about our journey with Exploring Countries and Cultures you can click the links below. This was one of my favorite years of homeschool. I just really enjoyed the curriculum. It was such a switch from what we typically do in a school year. It was like a nice reset for all of us. I loved the geography component of the curriculum. The boys and I can now label most countries on every single continent! I am embarrassed by how little geography I knew a year ago. I loved all of the missionary books we read as well. All-in-all, it was a really fun year.

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