Well, our first week is in the books, and I must say it went very well! We’re a little more structured than I see others being, but I had very few complaints from either kid about workloads or something being not interesting enough. Here’s a quick rundown on what we covered:
Bible: We read our story Bible at breakfast and learned about God, angels, and creation. We looked at some pictures and artwork showing angels and creation.
Math: We worked with our Horizons books, and I heard Jacob say “yes, I get to do math!” on a couple of occasions. He has a very difficult time holding the pencil though, and that’s hard to teach! He has such poor hand strength, I’m not sure what to do about it. For now, I’m going to pick up some Ticonderoga My First Tri-Write pencils, which have a triangular shape to them and are thicker than regular pencils…easier to hold on to. I’ll also have him do some general writing readiness exercises too.
Evie is doing fine at her math even though she says it is her least favorite subject. She’s a bit disheartened that she’s in a grade lower in the Horizons book. I’ve tried telling her it’s more of a level than a grade, but of course, that doesn’t completely take the sting away.
Language Arts: Language Lessons (Queen Homeschool Supplies) is VERY simple. So simple it makes you wonder if it’s enough! Looking at artwork, listening to poetry and summing up how they feel about it, drawing, and doing some copywork is about all they did this week. I’ve read example after example on their Facebook page, however, stating that it DOES get through everything without any of the busywork.
Our Pathway readers have been hit-or-miss in terms of effectiveness. Jacob likes his book, “Before we Read” and drawing lines to match pictures, etc. Evie enjoys the stories but the workbook exercises seem to really complicate things! For instance, matching the “er” sound in “turtle” to the correct pronunciation guide found in the dictionary. I’m wondering, “for what?” She knows how to pronounce “turtle” and she’s never going to need to write an upside down “e” with an “r” and a dot over it in her lifetime. So, we’re making some modifications. What I LIKE about the program is the stories – full of morals and values. I also like the vocabulary sections, so we’ll probably take out the exercises that just have her doing busywork, and I’ll have her narrate the story to me instead of do a full page of fill-in-the-blanks in the workbook.
Five in a Row: This has been a big hit! We “rowed” Storm in the Night. While the kids enjoyed the story once, they didn’t want to hear it again. Instead we read Thunder Cake a few times. We MADE Thunder Cake (along with its secret ingredient!), and while the cake was good, it stuck to the dang pan…so no pretty pictures. We made cloud pictures with paint based on It Looked Like Spilt Milk, and that was a lot of fun! My son LOVED this book since it was one he could read using context and repetition. We also looked at the different types of clouds and what they mean. We used cotton balls glued on a paper showing the different types, and then we’ve been looking up at the sky a lot lately to see what’s what up above. We also read Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll – a book about bad weather. Evie had been wondering how lightning was formed, so this was a great go-along for us to find at a thrift store for $0.25. Lastly, we studied onomatopoeia, which is a literary device used so that we can read sounds instead of hearing them. We read Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, which is full of onomatopoeia. The kids also fell in love with this kid-friendly Youtube video showcasing the style. We only did one activity per day along with discussing the manual topics, and we were able to get all of the books from the library (except for that one thrift purchase).
History: Evie and I started reading our Truthquest History book. This is the one area that I completely misjudged. For anyone starting out with this wonderful program, please note that not only do you not have to try to read every book but you ALSO don’t have to cover every topic. There were probably a good 12 or 13 explorers listed in the first section, and while I knew not to get each and every book, I did NOT read the part about skipping over things that don’t interest you. I had checked out a book (or two or three) on each explorer, expecting to read through 3 to 5 books/day. Welllll. Let me just say that did not go over well at all. There is no way that would have held Evie’s attention and NO physical way I could read that much. Nor do you need to read 3 books on Leif Erickson, know what I mean?
So, my new goal is to hit the important stuff and briefly skim the other things and only select 1 book to read per day. There are a couple of subjects where I will read a book plus one of our spines that correspond to the topic, but that will be done over 2 days’ time. We DID enjoy doing this subject – it was just a surprise that it did not go as planned. She also enjoys doing the Binder Builder program along with it that allows her to color, write, cut, and paste things into her nice folder. I’m beginning to think about starting a Book of Centuries that will tie things together in ALL of our subjects as well.
Science: Considering God’s Creation has gone smoothly. We haven’t dug in too deep quite yet, but she was able to do some cutting and pasting with her workbook that she enjoyed very much. My husband remarked that he heard her telling her younger brother (while watching a documentary) “That’s not true, Jacob. Evolution is just a myth. God made everything.” YES!
Geography: Again, we haven’t really sunk into anything yet in Geography. We studied the different regions along with our capital city, our flag, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, etc. She enjoyed cutting and pasting little items into her geography notebook. We are looking forward to getting into the states this next week!
Prairie Primer: This subject is my “baby.” I love the Little House books/TV shows/era/etc. So I really want this to go over big, and it did to some extent. This is our last subject of the day, so we’re both ready to be done at this point in the day. This book is also meant to be used as pretty much your SOLE curriculum – language arts, science, history, etc…and we’re just using it as a literature study, so I’m noticing that we’re having to cut a lot out just because we’ve already done those other subjects. However, I asked Evie what her top 3 subjects were in school so far, and this (along with Five in a Row and science) was it! So that makes me happy. We read chapters 1 and 2 this week, and we did some lapbooking things, colored some pictures, and made a corncob doll just like Laura had when she was little. We also made our own butter! I thought it was a miracle that we could make something like that so easily! LOL. We used the instructions found here to make the butter. We’re going to keep with the Prairie Primer for awhile and see if it ends up just being too much (which I would really hate).
Fine Arts: This is another “fail” area for me. Singing was fine. We’re working on “Jesus Loves Me” – very basic and easy to remember. Picture study was extraneous because they ended up doing one in Language Lessons. Ditto poetry study (although poetry is always fun to read). We tried to do some nature study while we were on a field trip, but we were pretty preoccupied learning what the staff at the Blandford Nature Center were teaching us, so that didn’t really get done either. Music study…didn’t even attempt it. Maybe that will come, but then again, I don’t want to appear fake to the kids, and if it’s something I’m just not interested in…it’s hard for me to get them interested in it (as far as classical music goes).
Other Fun Things: We had a picnic with our co-op where we got to say hi to the people we’ll be meeting up with for Thursday School every week. The kids had fun at the park, and we got to taste some yummy desserts! We also, as mentioned above, joined a field trip group and headed to the Blandford Nature Center where we learned about the Anishinabek Tribe local to Grand Rapids, Michigan. VERY interesting. By the end of the class, my kids were all hunting bear and deer with sticks. I loved seeing them meet other kids, and it’s my hope and prayer that lasting friendships will be made through these groups.
We’re moving on in our 2nd week, and I’ll have another update for you soon!