Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The What and Why

***links have been fixed. let me know if any other links don't work and i will get on it!!***

Many have asked what I am using this year for homeschooling, and I thought best to go ahead and just post all my "what and why".

Preschool (Cohen, my 3 yr old):
What: Rod and Staff ABC series and Toddler Activity Books, and a bazillion manipulatives (anticipate my ultimate Preschool post in a few days/weeks--it may even be a week long event!)

Why: Rod and Staff still ranks high on my list of fav publishers. Pros: a simple biblical approach, uncluttered and easy to follow teacher manuals, and are uber inexpensive. I have used their preschool books with my older two and loved them as did my children. Also try their Math, which is very simple to follow, and their Grammar which is, in my opinion, VERY thorough (will have to supplement with a writing curriculum). Cons: (for grades above Preschool) colorless, redundant at times, my children HATED the phonics, but were both reading by age 6, so...it worked, but your children may hate it.

What: RightStart (level E) and BJU (grade 2, 3rd edition)

RightStart--I was sold on Rightstart from the moment I researched it. Pros: different and ingenious approach to teaching math concepts, uses hands on manipulatives and games, easy and short lessons. I only wish I had known about this sooner so I could have started it early on with my daughter, who really struggles with math. Cons: some of the lessons lack a little in organization, colorless and a teeny bit bland, price (most kits cost well above $150-- BUT once you buy the manipulatives and games, using it with your younger children will only cost between $9-$20), some days there is a lot of teacher prep.
BJU (3rd editions)-- BJU is my fallback in a lot subjects if I do not find what I am looking for after many tedious hours researching. Pros: flashy, lots of color, teacher manuals are organized VERY well with color and are spiral bound --which I prefer, thorough and slightly challenging without being overwhelming, my children loved the stories and workbooks. Cons: you need all the components sold online if you plan on teaching from the workbook as scripted, quite a few lessons are not homeschool convenient (lessons use a lot of "put 12 students in one line, and 4 students in another line" examples when teaching a concept).

Ashton-- The Chronicles of Narnia and Guide, Black Ships Before Troy and Guide, The Twenty-One Balloons and Guide, Prudence and the Millers and Guide, and Beorn the Proud.
Keaton-- Rod and Staff Reading grade 2,

Why: no real rhyme or reason for my choices for Ashton, except I thought she would like them and I liked them...and she needed some lessons in Prudence and the Millers. Keaton's is going to be Rod and Staff because their Reading is straight from the bible and he needed to build some biblical knowledge. And the R&S workbooks include vocabulary and phonetic skills that he needed to work on (and I can combine his Reading and Bible conveniently this way).

What: Ashton-- Christian Studies by Memoria Press.
Why: I love the use of the Golden Children's Bible and the studies seem to be very thorough so far.

What: Prima Latina by Memoria Press
Why: Latin is huge for me. I have a 6 year plan for studying Latin and we decided to start off with Prima Latina because I had heard many good things about it. It has been easy to teach so far (I have no background in Latin AT ALL).

What: A Reason for Spelling (level B and D)
Why: Pros--my children like the tie-in story, different activities to tie in the spelling words, teacher manual is easy to follow, once you get the groove it is easy to teach with minimal to no prep work, no complaints from the children. Cons-- lacking color, some exercises are not easily implemented in a homeschool environment.

What: A History Odyssey, Level 1

Why: This is our second year using this curriculum. It is a 3 year course (for us, since we study it twice a week) and uses Story of the World and The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History. Pros: has done most of the organizing of lessons for you, maps and map work included, the use of Story of the World and The Usborne book (which are WONDERFUL!). Cons: some lessons are out of order with the Story of the World and may lead to some confusion, would not purchase anything else that they say are recommended (not worth the $$ spent). I would not recommend this curriculum, instead I would get the Story of the World and the Study Guide that goes with it. We are using A History Odyssey because I spent the money on it and am too stubborn to purchase anything else.

What: Apologia Zoology III- Land Animals
Why: because I had to...this is what our Co-Op is using. I am not sold on it yet (at least for younger grades) but it may grow on me.

What: Draw to Learn: The Book of Proverbs
Why: Pros-- my children love to draw, the reading is simple and short, my children whine when we DON'T DO IT. We completed Draw to Learn: The Life of Jesus last year and LOVED it. Cons: not flashy, sometimes the drawing assignments seem redundant and too simplistic.

What: Montessori R&D: Language Arts and BJU Grammar 4 (2nd edition)

Why: I love the Montessori approach. It is hands on and uses manipulatives and cards to teach basic concepts. I really had to search high and low to find this curriculum and am still working my way through it to decide if it works for our home. Pros: uses cards, games, and manipulatives to teach the basic parts of speech and sentence structure, affordable teacher manual. Cons: website does not list materials needed to complete each lesson, materials can be VERY pricey or you have to make them yourself, lesson layouts were not organized the way that I thought they should be (but that is just nit-picky-ness). BJU was my fallback for Ashton. I couldn't find what I wanted for her, and she finished her 3rd grade Grammar early so I had to purchase something early. The Montessori Language Arts is actually compatible with 6-9 year olds, so I may end up shelving the BJU for Grammar and only use its writing assignments.

What: A Child's Treasury of Poems and Poetry for Young People: Seasonal Poetry
Why: My children have memorized 4 poems per year for every year that I have homeschooled. I try to make them seasonal and they have 3-4 months to learn and constantly recite them. Keaton started out with simple haiku, but will this year graduate to a few more lines. I will list the poems they are learning:

To Autumn by John Keats
Velvet Shoes by Elinore Wylie
What is Pink by Christina Georgina Rossetti
The Wind by Christina Georgina Rossetti

Bed In Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dust of Snow by Robert Frost
Depression Before Spring by Wallace Stevens
The Owl by unknown (old folk poem)

Well, that's it! Enjoy your school year as much as I hope we will.

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