Fifth Grade Homeschool Plans

It’s my favorite time of year ~ homeschool planning time! I’ll be posting here over the next few weeks to share our curriculum picks for the 2018-2019 school year. As always, I’m starting with my youngest, heading into fifth grade!

Fifth Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

Logic

Adventures in Reason ~ a 3 book e-book series, recommended by The Well-Trained Mind. It includes Logic to the Rescue, The Prince of Physics, and The Bard of Biology

Logic Countdown and others in the series, if there is time/interest

Math

Teaching Textbooks 5

Math supplements and picture books

The Life of Fred series ~ beginning with Ice Cream this year

Simply Charlotte Mason’s Your Business Math – she picked Pet Store

Further Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat

Sir Cumference series 

Science

BookShark Science 4

Literature and History

Bookshark American History 2

Language Arts

Spelling Workout E

Junior Analytical Grammar and JAG Mechanics

Writing Strands 4 (finishing from this year) and Bravewriter’s Partnership Writing 

Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Grade 5

Latin

Latina Christiana with Famous Men of Rome, for fun

Spanish

La Clase Divertida Level 2

Electives

Art That Changed the World

Picture Study

Calligraphy for Kids

Art Lab for Kids and Chalk Pastels

Those Amazing Musical Instruments

Story of the Orchestra

Typing Instructor

 

I think that’s it! I’ll have plans up for my upcoming eighth grader next.

Maestro Classics: A Little Review

My fourth grader and I have been using Maestro Classics to round out our music study this year. She began the year by listening through all of the Classics for Kids CD’s, which she very much loved. In my search for something similar, I came across Maestro Classics. We ordered two to start with…Peter and the Wolf and Swan Lake.

These CD’s were in instant hit with both of us! We have since listened to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and we’re currently working through The Nutcracker. We have developed a routine for listening to these, which I’m going to share along with a few thoughts on this resource.

Each Maestro Classics CD is like a self-contained little unit study.

There are two parts of this program…a little activity booklet and the CD itself. Each title is also available as an MP3 with a downloadable activity book, but I’m old-fashioned, so I chose the CD:).

Each of the four CD’s we have listened to has been around an hour long. The content of the CDs varies a bit. The Story of Swan Lake begins with 30 minutes of music interspersed with a narrative story. This is followed by a short talk about Tchaikovsky’s life, then we get to listen to the band Speed Metal Swan play some music from Swan Lake ~ with an electric guitar! There is another track with interesting information about the music, then a short track that sets some fun lyrics to music from Swan Lake ~ which really helps you remember the tune!

The little booklets are beautifully illustrated.  Again, these vary by title, so I’ll just share a bit of what’s in this one. There is a page about Tchaikovsky…

A double page spread devoted to the orchestra….

A little rebus story to read, plus a dot-to-dot, and several more pages.

We take about four sessions to finish each Maestro Classics title, probably about two hours total. In the first session, we listen to half of the CD and do a page or two of the booklet.  In the second, we listen to the other half of the CD and do a couple more pages of the booklet. For our third and fourth sessions, we complete whatever parts of the booklet we haven’t gotten to, and listen to the main track containing the music/narration once or twice more.

I would recommend Maestro Classics for about K-5 grade, or up until 10. Younger kids could certainly enjoy the titles and there are a couple of titles I imagine would be great for preschoolers- like Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Tortoise and the Hare. We haven’t tried any of those, but they sound wonderful for a younger child. I have gotten a lot out of this program myself, so older kids would definitely learn from the program, but I do think the narration style and booklet activities are best suited for the under-10 crowd (or a multi-age group). There are two CD’s recommended by Maestro Classics for “older kids” ~ The Soldier’s Tale and The Merry Pranks of Master Till. We have not listened to these yet, but they are on my wishlist for next year.

Maestro Classics also has free curriculum guides on their website with extension ideas for each title. We have done a few of the extra activity ideas and enjoyed them. After finishing Peter and the Wolf for example, we watched Disney’s Anastasia, mapped Prokofiev’s travels, and read about the history of Matryoshka dolls.

Maestro Classics has been a great addition to our elementary homeschool music study!

La Clase Divertida Level One: A Little Review

My fourth-grader, Rose, and I have been learning Spanish this year using La Clase Divertida Level One. We have just a few weeks left of the program, so I wanted to share a bit about our experience with using it this year. This is my second time through La Clase Divertida ~ I used Levels One and Two with my older kids. I really love this program and think it’s an ideal introduction to Spanish!

I purchased the La Clase Divertida Level 1 Kit, which includes everything we needed for the year. Please note that I purchased my base kit many years ago, and this year I only purchased a $15 student pack so that we would have a new workbook and craft materials. I do not believe that the program has changed much (if at all) since I made my initial purchase, but just keep in mind that I did buy the program a few years ago.

The kit includes:

  • Two DVD’s of lessons
  • One audio CD, for additional practice
  • A craft kit containing most of the items needed to make the crafts in the program
  • A teacher’s manual
  • A student workbook

How we use La Clase Divertida:

The teacher’s manual has a suggested schedule in it, and we pretty much follow that. At first I was dubious about the included schedule, because it involves a ton of repetition, but I decided to trust the process and I now think it’s perfect. This is not a “watch one lesson a week” type program. We watch each lesson several times over the course of two weeks, plus we use the audio CD for practice. She also does some workbook work over the two weeks, then we wrap up each lesson with a fun activity.

We stick pretty closely to this routine:

Day 1: Watch the lesson on DVD

Day 2: Listen to the audio CD to review past lessons

Day 3: Watch the DVD lesson again

Day 4: Listen to the audio CD

Day 5: Watch the DVD lesson and do the first page of activities in the student workbook

Day 6: Watch the DVD lesson again

Day 7: Listen to the CD

Day 8: Watch the DVD lesson one final time and finish the second page of student activities

Day 9: Listen to the CD

Day 10: Do the fun activity included in each lesson

Each new lesson begins with watching the DVD. The DVD lessons are super fun; you get to follow along with a real Spanish class. Each lesson begins with the class reviewing previous material and “spaces” are left for you to answer questions before the class does. We have learned many Spanish songs, lots of vocabulary, conversation starters, and more.

These are actual kids in an actual class, so things don’t always go as planned, people fidget and sometimes forget the answer, but I like the informal nature of it. The teacher even brings his dog to some lessons! The kids in the class are often asked to “interact” with the audience. For example, they will ask us a question and then wait for us to answer, then we are told to ask them the same question and they answer.  Each DVD lesson takes around 20 minutes to watch.

The next major component of the program is the audio CD. You are meant to use it in between watching the DVD to reinforce what you are learning.  The whole CD is about an hour long. We only listen to the parts we have already covered in our DVD lessons.  How we handle it is – when we start a new lesson, we start at the beginning of the CD, but we only listen for 15 minutes total on our “CD day”.  I keep a note of where we stopped and we start from that point on our next CD day. In the beginning, when we hadn’t covered as much of the CD, we just listened to the same tracks each time until we got to unfamiliar material. Now it is too long to listen to the whole thing each time, so this has been our solution to get in that review without spending too much time.

The next component is the teacher’s manual…this is actually the item I use least of this program. It has a list of objectives each week and some vocabulary words. It also has the answers to all of the workbook exercises, which comes in handy. But it doesn’t contain the actual lesson: that’s on the DVD.

Next we have the student workbook. There is very little writing in this program, which makes it great for younger kids. Rose completes just two workbook pages every two weeks. You could even skip the workbook pages if it felt like too much ~ my older daughter did this program in kindergarten before she was comfortably writing and we just focused on the DVD, CD, and projects.

At the beginning of the program, we were instructed to choose Spanish names for ourselves. Rose chose Adriana (and wrote it on the front of her workbook). I chose Elvira.

Here’s a peek inside the workbook. For this lesson, she practiced writing the days of the week and parts of the body in Spanish. I love how they give separate little lines for writing the letters on ~ makes it easier to learn the spelling!

Another workbook page:

Learning the Spanish names for animals!

So basically, we just carry on watching (and rewatching) our Spanish lesson and listening to the CD in between. By the time the two weeks are up, we really know our stuff and we are excited to see what’s next. We don’t always get to Spanish every day, so sometimes the lessons take more like three weeks to complete. When all of the watching and listening is done, we do the fun activity! This might be a craft, a cooking project, or watching a puppet show about some aspect of Mexican history on the DVD.

Just a few of the projects we have done:

A Xochimilco Float

Ojo de Dios

Mexican wedding (and flag) cookies

And tissue paper flowers!

We will definitely be moving on to La Clase Divertida Level 2 next year. I cannot really think of anything negative to say about this program. The only caution I would give is that the age range suggested on the website is K-8. I have a seventh grader and he doesn’t participate in this program with us, mainly because he wanted to learn French this year, but also because it seems a bit young for him. There is a lot of singing, some dancing, and some overall goofiness that I think is better received at a younger age. This would depend greatly on the child in question though – my 7th grader has no patience for singing! La Clase is definitely introductory Spanish ~ we have learned lots of vocabulary and conversation starters but we will in no way be proficient in the language after finishing this program. But our goal is to get a fun introduction to the language, and this program has definitely done that for us! We give La Clase Divertida Level 1 two thumbs up!

Our Homeschool Foreign Language This Year

This is an ongoing series where I share how we have been doing different subjects in our homeschool this year. This is how we are doing foreign language this year with kiddos in 4th, 7th, 9th, and 11th grade….

11th grade: Our eldest is taking Spanish at a local community college this year. It has been a really fantastic experience for her and I will definitely take this route with my other kids if they have an interest. In my opinion, unless you have a convenient friend or relative who speaks Spanish fluently, a real live class is the way to go at this age. She has learned so much more than she ever did from anything we tried at home. She is currently on her second semester of Spanish, with plans to continue her study next year. She has class two mornings a week.

9th grade: For my ninth grade son this year, we chose Fluenz Spanish. We had tried Rosetta Stone in the past (with our oldest) and she got through two levels of it without really feeling like she retained or understood much. The reviews of Fluenz seemed more positive, so we decided to give it a whirl. There is no speech recognition software with Fluenz like there is with Rosetta Stone. So when he does Spanish, he is just listening and typing answers.  I have encouraged him to repeat after the speaker, but that rarely happens.  I do try to ask him most days to tell me something he learned in Spanish to try to get him speaking at least a little bit. This said, he enjoys the program and it is one of the first things he chooses to do each day (and he does do it most days), so in that regard it is definitely working! I only wish there was an easy way for us to each have our unique account with the program so I could try to do it along with him. 

Also with my 9th grader, and my 7th grader, we are doing Latin this year with First Form Latin. We typically do Latin 4-5 days a week. I love this program, and I reviewed it earlier this year.

 

 

7th grade: My seventh grader is puttering around with Duolingo French this year, in addition to his Latin study. He does French for for about 15 minutes, 3 days a week. Next year, we will probably choose something a bit more intensive, but I wanted him to have a light year this year since we are also studying Latin.

4th grade: My fourth grader is studying Spanish and Latin this year. We do Latin about 4 days a week, for 15 minutes each day, using Prima Latina ~ review here.

We do Spanish 3-4 days a week, for 20-30 minutes each time using La Clase Divertida, which we love. I am hoping to get a review of this program up soon to share how we are using it. But basically, we take two weeks to cover each lesson. We watch the lesson on DVD multiple times and use the practice CD a couple times during those two weeks. She also completes two workbook pages per lesson, then we wrap the lesson up with a fun project.  Each lesson has a craft, recipe, or puppet show to watch. We are having a ton of fun with this program and we will definitely be using Level 2 next year.

And that’s how we’re doing foreign language in our homeschool this year! I’m happy to answer any questions; just leave me a comment ~ and thanks for stopping by!

 

Our Homeschool History and Literature this Year

This is an ongoing series where I share how we have been doing different subjects in our homeschool this year. This is how we are doing history and literature this year!

The short answer: We use BookShark (or Sonlight).

The slightly longer answer: I love both programs because I am a dedicated box checker and I love having everything neatly laid out for me each day. In my instructor guide I have book summaries, questions to ask the kids (plus the answers!), vocabulary words, and suggestions for timeline and mapping work. There are also lots and lots of notes. I love the notes in the early years because they add a little extra layer of understanding or clarification. Starting at about Core 100, the notes get very long and are often overly opinionated for us. So we tend to mostly ignore the notes starting at that level. We don’t use the language arts portion of either program, but we do use pretty much all of the history/literature as it is written. We started using Sonlight about 9 years ago and have used it pretty much ever since, with a short break when we tried Oak Meadow. When BookShark started selling secular versions of the Sonlight cores, we switched to primarily ordering from that company, except when Sonlight has a product we need and BookShark doesn’t (case in point, Core 300).

Here’s what we’re doing:

11th grade: My 11th grader is using Sonlight Core 300, which is 20th Century World History. The history spine for this Core is the The History of the Modern World. I would rather have seen a more engaging spine, like my younger kids have this year, but it serves it’s purpose. It is a very comprehensive encyclopedia and I do like how it is divided up by year. Basically, she just has assigned pages to read each day and we discuss them once or twice a week. I started out the year trying to read ahead of her so that I could more properly discuss, but have found it difficult to keep up with. To go along with the spine, there are several biographies and historical fiction novels. This level also has included mapwork and timeline work, but we mostly keep it simple and just focus on reading and discussing. Here’s a little peek at some of the books used:

She also uses the Core 300 literature. I try to read some of these before she does in order to better discuss them, but I don’t always succeed! There are some great titles here, though there were a couple she didn’t enjoy overmuch ( like Kon-tiki) and one she ended up skipping because she just couldn’t get through it (Cry, the Beloved Country). She’s going through this program a bit more slowly than previously planned because she’s also juggling a couple of dual enrollment classes right now, but she should still finish by year’s end. This will be her last Sonlight core, which I cannot believe! She plans to take history and English at the college next year.

Here is a sample of the literature books for this level:

 

9th grade: My 9th grader is using BookShark 100, American History, along with the literature. In general, I am a fan of this level. I love the spine, Joy Hakim’s History of Us. I love many of the literature selections. I love that this is the first year when he has his own guide so he can see what’s on the schedule and what we will be discussing. We don’t stick strictly to the schedule though; he just has “work on your BookShark reading” on his daily list and he gets to what he can. This is the first level that has no scheduled read-alouds, but his dad and I have read several of the titles aloud with him anyway. He isn’t a big fan of fiction and he seems to process it much better when read-aloud. It’s fun doing it this way too! We tend to read with him in the evenings, and we each have a book from this level we are reading with him. I also read-aloud from his assigned poem book with him, because I just think poetry is better read aloud.

I haven’t had to skip much from this level, though I did skip the book World War II because it is very opinionated and I just didn’t feel it was appropriate as a “history” book.   Like I mentioned above, we also skip most of the notes in the instructor/student guide. The instructor guide has daily suggestions for dates to add to the timeline book. We pick and choose from among these and add them in. His timeline book is getting quite full! You can see my review of the Timeline Book here.  I still love it! This level also has separate mapwork, where the kids are supposed to plot various locations on black and white maps.  We found this too time-consuming, so we gave it up pretty quickly. Instead, I have him look up the locations on a globe or map. Here’s a selection of history books used in this level:

And a peek at the literature titles:

 

 

7th grade: My 7th grader is using BookShark 6, World History 1.  This is my second time through this level, so I am getting to read books again, which I always enjoy. The main history spine is The Story of the World, which I at first thought was a bit too easy, but I find it actually works really well when read at this age. The simplified information is easy to digest and he tends to retain it pretty well. Volumes 1 & 2 are used at this level; volumes 3 & 4 are read at the next level. The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia is also used at this level, along with plenty of historical fiction. The poetry book for this level is Favorite Poems Old and New, my favorite poem book of all time ~ it’s huge! I love all of the read-alouds for this level; the readers have been a bit more hit and miss with my guy.   He could not get into Mara, Daughter of the Nile or Black Horses for the King, so I ended up letting him skip those. He is not usually a fan of fiction however, so this isn’t necessarily a reflection on the books themselves. The instructor guide for this level includes locations to find on the included map (it’s hole-punched and fits right in the instructor guide, which is great). This level also includes timeline figures to add to his Timeline Book. Here’s a peek at some of the history and read-aloud titles for this level:

 

And a preview of some of the readers:

 

4th grade: My fourth grader is using BookShark 3: American History 1. This is one of my favorite levels, and it’s my third time through it since my older two did the Sonlight equivalent, Core D. I love re-reading these books with her and she is my bookworm child so she is really soaking it all up. We have a few different history spines with this level, which is nice. We read from The Landmark History of the American People, Beginner’s American History, and The Children’s Encyclopedia of American History. We are usually assigned one to read from each day. Like the other kids, she has a lot of historical fiction, a good poetry book, and a set of readers. There are two choices of readers for this level: regular and advanced. We went with the advanced because she loves to read and goes through books quickly. She also does map work most days with the map included in my instructor guide and keeps a timeline book. Because she loves reading more than anything else, she often asks me to read more than what is scheduled and reads ahead in her readers. She makes me feel accomplished because we are usually right “on schedule” or ahead!

Here’s a peek at the history and read-aloud titles:

And a few of the reader titles:

 

And that’s how we’re doing history and literature in our homeschool this year!

Homeschool Photo Journal Part 2

A few photos and memories captured from our last week of homeschool life…

We are slowly wrapping up TOPS Radishes (a science selection from BookShark 3). It has been so much fun! I highly recommend this resource if you are looking for a hands-on way to learn about plants and don’t mind committing to around 30-45 minutes of work each day for three weeks. Here are the results of our “toxic stress” experiment. Rose put some seeds in vinegar, some in salt water, and some in freshwater. She correctly predicted that the freshwater ones would grow best, but was a bit surprised that the others didn’t grow at all. This experiment really brought home the hazards of acid rain and too much salt in soil!

 

She also did a neat experiment on phototropism by creating a foil “radish” and bending its leaves the way she thought a radish seedling would react to light. Sure enough, both seedlings were tipped towards the sunlight coming in through the windows within just a few hours.

Here’s another neat experiment where she placed a little seedling on the inside of a damp cup and traced over it with marker. Within a day, we could see how the seedling had moved, the roots slowly tipping down and the unfolding cotyledons, or seed leaves, slowly starting to unfold.

And now our radish experiments are done! I just need to figure out some way for her to store all of her lab papers and little notes ~ we may hole punch them and create a little booklet. She didn’t want to get rid of any of her fledgling seedlings, so we spent the morning planting them in various containers because it isn’t quite warm enough for them to be outdoors. Here is our laundry room radish garden in all its glory….

Hopefully we will get at least radish or two for salad! We are scheduled to do TOPS Corn and Beans next, but we’ve decided to hold off for a few weeks so that we can hopefully plant those seedlings outdoors afterwards.

In other news, my boys build this awesome squirrel lounger. I think we may need to get some proper yellow corn for it and move it a bit lower because we haven’t had any squirrel visitors yet. But isn’t it cute? This is a project from The All-New Woodworking for Kids, which they are using for their art curriculum this year (little review here).

Nothing to do with homeschooling, just a cute dog picture….

Three of my four took the National Mythology Exam. They report that it went well. This is something we have been doing for years and that I hope we will do for many more.

My boys and I started Unit 3 of First Form Latin, which I was super excited about, because I get excited about things like that. We are focusing on nouns, which is nice for a change. I reviewed this program here. I still love it.

We’ve been making maple syrup, too! This is our first batch and we’ve been adding to it all week. We usually get about 2 gallons of syrup from 10-12 maple trees. Sadly, two jars from our first batch got broken in the freezer and I am not sure we will be able to make up for it. The weather has been unseasonably warm so I’m expecting a short season.

Finally, some pretty hyacinths and a read-aloud James and I are finishing up, one of my favorites from BookShark 6!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you had a wonderful homeschool week!

Our Homeschool Science this Year

This is an ongoing series where I share how we’re doing different subjects in our homeschool this year. You can see my previous post “Our Homeschool Language Arts this Year” here.

And here’s how we’re doing science this year!

11th grade: My 11th grader started out the year with Oak Meadow Environmental Science but to be honest, she hasn’t gotten far with it. I am hoping one of my other kids will pick it up at a future date because it was a bit spendy! She is currently “outsourcing” her science by taking an Intro to Psychology course at the local community college and will probably continue on that path next year.

9th grade: My 9th grader is using Apologia Biology this year and we have been pretty happy with it. It is definitely a Christian-based program and we are a secular homeschool, but it has not felt like an issue at all. There is an occasional religious sentence or two here and there, but the science is solid and I am really pleased with the friendly tone it’s presented in. Much more interesting than I remember science textbooks being!  We got the CD-ROM version with the schedule from Sonlight and this has made completing the work much more do-able for both of us. The schedule breaks everything down into manageable pieces to complete each day and lets him know what he needs to have on hand for upcoming experiments. The CD-ROM has been great and I am glad we chose it over the traditional text. I think reading the material on the computer feels less intimidating than having a giant science book to get through. Throughout the text there are links to short videos. You can also click on many unfamiliar words to hear them pronounced, which I think is an awesome feature since I am terrible at pronouncing unfamiliar terms.

Apologia Biology Student Text ~ I chose to order the CD-ROM version from Sonlight

I also purchased the student notebook from Apologia for him and it has really made organizing all the notes and studying for the quizzes much easier. This is the first time  he has experienced a course where he was expected to take notes and study for tests, and I am glad he’s getting this experience. The only downside I have found is that if you don’t get to it every day (we have trouble with this) it’s easy to get behind. I would prefer to move on to chemistry (or something else) next year, so we may end up finishing this one up over the summer. The experiments so far have been successful and easy to do, but we’re not up to the dissections yet, so ask me again in a few weeks! He does this program independently, but I do check in to see what he has done each day and remind him when he needs to get ready for a quiz or a lab. He probably spends 45 minutes a day, on average, on this course.

7th grade: My 7th grader is using BookShark Science 7 this year, which comes with a daily schedule ~ my favorite way to do science, otherwise I find it tends to get put off! We have been mostly happy with this program. He has enjoyed the book selection so far, especially Cool Stuff 2.0 which he was very happy to see in his book pile. We started out having him do the questions provided with my Instructor Guide but he tends to get bogged down answering those, so we have switched to mostly discussing them. This has really saved him a lot of time and I find I get better, more detailed answers than when I have him write the answers out. I love the diversity of topics and titles in this level – there are books about robotics, canals and dams, garbage, weather, the Industrial Revolution, and more. The only downside we have found is that some of the experiments have been disappointing. Some of them were a bit “fussy”, some of them just plain didn’t work, and at least one didn’t seem doable. A few weeks ago, for example, we were instructed to create a robot, bring it to a crowded setting, and operate it secretly to observe people’s reactions. We quickly realized that with today’s security concerns it was probably not a smart idea to set something like that loose in a crowd of people! I have been letting him pick and choose from among the experiments and he probably does about every other one or so.

A few of the books scheduled in this level:


4th grade: Last, but not least, my 4th grader is using Sonlight Science D this year. She is really enjoying it so far. Like BookShark and Apologia, we have a daily schedule for this one and she has no problem keeping up with it. So far, she has read a book about Rachel Carson, learned about seas and oceans, read a Magic School Bus book about the human body, and spent a lot of time reading her favorite book, Mysteries and Marvels of Nature. She loves checking out the internet-links for that title after she reads. We are currently working through TOPS Radishes, as mentioned in my last post. We have a “divide and conquer’ approach to this curriculum that is working well. She reads some of it to herself, answers most of the questions on the activity sheets provided, and checks out the internet links on her own if she’s reading an internet-linked book. I read some of the more complex books with her, watch the science DVD with her when we’re scheduled to, and assist with experiments.

A few of the books scheduled in this level:

 

And that’s how we’re doing science in our homeschool this year…thanks for reading!

Homeschool Photo Journal

Just a few photos from our last week of homeschool life…

An easy jelly roll, a.ka. “Lincoln log”, for Lincoln’s birthday! We also attended a wonderful virtual field trip about Lincoln with Field Trip Zoom. I highly recommend this resource! This month we have also done virtual field trips focusing on the American Revolution and Mars, and I am looking forward to sitting down sometime this week and picking a few to do for March.

One of our read-alouds right now is The Hidden Treasure of Glaston ,one of my favorite read-alouds from BookShark World History 1.

For fourth grade memory work…Rose memorized (most of!) the Gettysburg Address and is quite proud. I got her an illustrated picture book version and she just read it to herself once a day until she had it down. She loves memorizing things and I have been using The Well-Trained Mind suggestions for history memory work for her this year. Now she is working on memorizing the American presidents with a set of flashcards (these are available from Rainbow Resource, but Christian Book has the most up-to-date set).

Also with my fourth-grader, we just started using Maestro Classics. She had listened to all of the Classical Kids CD’s several times so we needed something new. I have been listening with her and these are great! We chose to start with Swan Lake. I will hopefully do a little review of these soon, maybe after we finish our next one, Peter and the Wolf.

She and I are also working our way through TOPS Radishes. This is my second (or maybe third?) time through this curriculum and it is a family favorite. You do need to commit to doing it every day for nearly a month (they give you a schedule to follow) but it is so engaging for the kids and well worth the time. We have radishes growing everywhere and we’re both learning so much! She started by sprouting 20 radish seeds in a juice carton. She used those to track growth rates and learn about the different stages of the sprouts.

She’s also been doing experiments such as finding out what happens when some plants get more light than others….the yellow plants sprouted under foil while the green had exposure to sunlight – quite a difference!

This week, we also made some easy paper lanterns. We made these for Chinese New Year, but they’d make a fun decoration any time.

 

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Games We Play: Snail’s Pace Race

 

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I came up with the (perhaps preposterous) idea the other day to challenge the whole family to play every game in the game closet at least once before the end of winter (okay, maybe spring).  As soon as I came up with this idea, I realized it was probably virtually impossible, so I amended the challenge to at least two people play each game. Of course, all six of us playing every game would be awesome, but everyone has different schedules and many folks around here have very definite opinions about what games they will and will not play. So the object is just for someone to play the game.

We have quite the game closet, so this will be quite the challenge.  I am thinking this will also be a great opportunity to clean out the game closet ~ if everyone flat out refuses to play a game, I’ll know that game isn’t popular (I’m looking at you Monopoly!). We have quite a few games in there I think the kids have probably outgrown and some that some of them have never really tried, so I think this will be a good opportunity to review the collection.  I plan to post about most games here on the blog ~ not a long post, just a quick little review and some thoughts on each game. For the record, my kids are ages 17, 15, 12, and 9.

 

Okay, on to our first game…Snail’s Pace Race!

 


We have had this game in our closet for as long as I can remember. It was one of the first games that any of the kids learned to play. The recommended ages are 3-7, so obviously all of mine are above that age! This isn’t a game that comes out much anymore, but it was on the top shelf of the closet which was where we had decided to start our challenge, so we gave it a whirl. Snail’s Pace Race is great for beginning gamers, because it isn’t very competitive. First, everyone guesses which snail they think will come in first and which snail they think will come in last. Hint: write down everyone’s guesses so you don’t forget! As a variation,  we have also had everyone guess the order that all the snails will come in (1-red, 2-pink, 3-orange, etc).

To play, everyone takes turns rolling the colored dice and moving the snails accordingly. A pink and red roll means the pink snail and the red snail both get to advance one space. The snail who gets to its matching leaf first is the winner! If anyone predicted that snail would win, they also win. Play continues until the last snail is home and whoever guessed the correct last snail is also a winner.  What is nice here is that multiple people can win. Plus, it’s really the snails playing, not the people, so if you have some kiddos that tend to get a bit upset if they lose (we of course know nothing about that here, ahem) this is a great game.

How long it takes: Snail’s Pace Race takes around ten minutes to play.  To extend it, we created a house rule that once all the snails get to their leaf they have to return to their home space, having another race on the way.

Who can play: Ages 3+ and up to 6 players. Kids can even play by themselves. There is no reading required. Like I said earlier, my bunch is definitely on the older side for this game but they still had fun with it when I broke it out. I will say there was more of a “horse-race” atmosphere going on than I remember from when they were preschoolers, though!  I turned down several suggestions that we bet money on the snails.

What it teaches: This is a great game to introduce the concept of playing a game and taking turns in a low-key way. For the really littles, it also teaches color matching and basic counting, because they’ll want to know how many more spaces “their” snail needs to go.

What I love about it: The wooden snail pieces are so cute, colorful, and sturdy! This is a game I will be holding onto for future generations; it has held up remarkably well after years of use.

Our Homeschool Language Arts this Year

Hello! I hope you are having a wonderful homeschool week! I am planning to do a series on the blog about how we are doing different subjects in our homeschool this year with all the different ages we have. I’m happy to answer any questions about the resources we are using; just leave me a comment on this post.

First up is language arts. For us, this subject includes grammar, writing, spelling or vocabulary work, and handwriting practice. Here’s how we are handling language arts in our homeschool this year:

11th grade

Grammar: I have decided to let my 11th grader be done with grammar.  She has completed all three seasons of Analytical Grammar and had started on one of that company’s high school review books but was finding it a bit tedious. She has done grammar every year since she was six and feels like she has gotten everything from it she can. So we have dropped this as a formal subject.

Writing: We decided to give Bravewriter’s online classes a try this year and I am so glad we did. She enrolled in Expository Essay: Exploratory and Persuasive to start off the fall, then finished the fall semester by doing Nanowrimo. She is beginning Bravewriter’s Expository Essay: Rhetorical Critique and Analysis this week, which is kind of a “part two” of the first class she took. She has really enjoyed the Bravewriter class format and feels it has been a really good experience for her as she transitions to college classes (she is dual-enrolled at a local community college). I plan to have my other kids also take Bravewriter classes in high school so they get to experience someone besides me giving them feedback on their writing. Besides this, her writing is primarily taking place through her other subjects and dual enrollment classes.

Vocabulary – She is completing the Vocabulary from Classical Roots series by finishing up Book E, which will complete her formal study of this subject.

9th grade and 7th grade

My two boys overlap a bit, so I’m going to combine them here…

Grammar: My 9th grader (and my 7th grader) are working through Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind. We have kind of a mixed bag reaction to this resource. My kids, to be honest, protest when I bring it out. But, being one of those people who really sees the importance of grammar, I have asked them to go through a year of it. The program is designed to be repeated every year, but we’ll most likely find something different for next year.  I personally think it’s a very thorough, rigorous program, but in my house it causes a lot of whining so I don’t think it will have staying power.  We have compromised by doing whatever we can orally and only completing half of the diagrams for each lesson. We try to cover 2-3 lessons per week.

 

 

Writing: Both my 9th and 7th graders are working through the fifth book of Writing Strands. We use this book in a bit of a loose manner, in that I don’t require the boys to do all of the assignments. They look at each assigned writing project as they get to it and decide if they want to tackle it or not. If not, I ask them to write up a nonfiction paper on something that interests them instead. Writing Strands is quite creative-writing oriented, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, so this has been our solution.  They just work a bit on either their Writing Strands assignment or other writing project a bit each day; we don’t try to stick to the exact daily assignments in the book. I am currently trying to decide if I want to introduce more Bravewriter-style writing projects as another alternative to the Writing Strands assignments.

Spelling and Vocabulary: My 9th grader is finished with spelling (he did the Spelling Workout series) and is working on vocabulary now with Wordly Wise 9. He does a few pages each week and at the end of each lesson we do an oral quiz on the words before he moves on to the next lesson. Easy and pretty painless.  My 7th grader is working through Spelling Workout G, at the rate of about one lesson per week.

 

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4th grade

Grammar: My fourth grader is working through First Language Lessons 4. I really, really love First Language Lessons for elementary (review here). It has just the right amount of rigor, and there’s even a bit of fun sprinkled throughout the lessons. Last week, for example, we made a sandwich and used the process to review prepositions.  We usually do 2-3 lessons a week.

Writing: She is using Writing Strands 4. I modify the assignments for her as needed. For example, she just had an assignment to draw a floor plan of the whole house and then write a description for each room. I had a feeling that assignment  might cause a meltdown, so we have been working together on a description of just one room (we skipped the floor plan idea entirely). I also give her the option of other writing assignments if one of the Writing Strands assignments doesn’t catch her fancy.

Spelling: She is working through Spelling Workout D, usually completing one lesson each week.

Handwriting: My fourth grader is also doing handwriting practice, just a bit each day. She is using Zaner-Bloser for this (book 4).

In addition to the above, I am also using Five in a Row Volume 4 with her, which includes a language arts component for each book. This is just a fun extra for her right now and we are taking a few weeks to “row” each book. Our current book is Snowflake Bentley.

And that’s how we’re doing language arts this year in our homeschool!