Social Studies

My Curriculum Choices 2013: 5 year old 2nd grader

Part 1 of My Curriculum Choices discussed the choices for my eight year old. This time I'll tell you about the choices for my five year old.

Reading/Literature

NIrV Read with Me Bible Illustrated by Dennis Jones: I want to instill in my son the daily habit of reading his own Bible. I feel this Bible is written at the right reading level for my son’s current reading ability.

A Beka Book Second Grade Readers: These readers progress with difficulty at the same pace as the A Beka Book Language 2 that we are using. I like how they compliment each other and the Biblical characteristics and morals that are woven into the stories.

Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt: This is a resource guide for me that helps me select extra reading material for my son.

Writing

A Beka Book Language 2 workbook: I have used A Beka Book’s Language books in the past with my two oldest sons and have been pleased with them. I like the convenience of having a workbook that my son can write in. I like how it explains the language rules and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

I will also be introducing my son to cursive handwriting this year.

Music

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library All-in-One Course for Children: I will continue this book with my children from last year. I like how this books combines lesson and theory into one simple book.

Math

A Beka Book Arithmetic 2: I have used A Beka Book’s Arithmetic books in the past and have been pleased with them. I like the convenience of having a workbook that my son can write in. I like how it explains things simply and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

Science

Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Fulbright: We used Apologia’s “Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures” by Fulbright last year and it was a good fit for us. This series is written from a creation perspective and I can use it with multi-level teaching. It is more in-depth than many other science books I have looked at, which works well for my analytical son and it has lots of simple hands on experiments and activities for my more hands on son.

History & Geography

All Through the Ages by Christine Miller: This is a resource guide for me from which I plan to select books on the Dark and Middle Ages and obtain them from our library system. This guide makes it easier for me to select quality books from these historical time periods for my sons that are safe from non-Christian biases. This is a multi-level teaching approach. I used this guide book in the past and it works well for us. History is one of my sons’ favorite subjects.

Geography From A to Z A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton: This cute book will complement our multi-level study of geography through history. It introduces new geography terms in an easy and fun way.

In my last post, part 1, of this series, I explained why I haven’t listed all of the subjects that I am teaching my children. If you the last post and are interested in why I did this, please check it out.

Also, If you did read the last post, you may have noticed that many of my choices for my second grader are the same as my choices for my fourth grader. Though they each have their own Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic books, for many of the other subjects their books are the same. I use a multi level teaching approach in these other areas. This saves me time, and I feel they learn more when they can share and discuss what they have just learned with each other.

What are your kids’ favorite subjects and what do you use in those subject areas?

My Curriculum Choices 2013: 8 year old 4th grader

In this first part of a two part series I'm sharing my curriculum choices for our eight year old who is doing 4th grade work.

Reading/Literature

NIV Boys Bible by Zondervan: I want my son to continue his daily habit of reading his own Bible. This bible has a few study notes presented in an interesting way to boys, that help my son understand what he is reading better. 

A Beka Book 4th grade readers: These readers progress throughout the year together with the Language Book we use. I like the Biblical characteristics and morals that are woven into the stories.

A Beka Book Read & Think 4: My son requested this book. He used Read & Think 3 last year and loved the stories in them so much that he requested that I get the 4th grade book this year. His reading improved greatly last year!

Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt: This is a resource guide for me that helps me select extra reading material for my son.

Writing

A Beka Book Language A workbook: The A Beka Book Language series works well for my son. I like the convenience of having a workbook. I like how it explains the language rules and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

I will also be introducing my son to cursive handwriting this year. 

Music

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library All-in-One Course for Children: I will continue this book with my children from last year. I like how this book combines lesson and theory into one simple book.

Math

A Beka Book Arithmetic 4: We used the A Beka Book Arithmetic series in the past and they work well for my son. I like how it explains things simply and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book. Though this is a workbook, I plan to have my son use it like a textbook and write his answers on a separate piece of paper so we can reuse this book in the future with my other children. He usually needs more space than is provided to show his work anyway.

Science

Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Fulbright: We used Apologia’s Exploring Creation series in past years. This series is written from a creation perspective and I can use it with multi-level teaching. It is more in-depth than many other science books I have looked at which works well for my analytical son and it has lots of simple hands on experiments and activities for my more hands on son.

History & Geography

All Through the Ages by Christine Miller: This is a resource guide for me from which I plan to select books on the Dark and Middle Ages and obtain them from our library system. This guide makes it easier for me to select quality books from these historical time periods for my sons that are safe from anti-Christian biases. This is a multi-level teaching approach. I used this guide book in the past and it works well for us. History is one of my sons’ favorite subjects.

Geography From A to Z A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton: This cute book will complement our multi-level study of geography through history. It introduces new geography terms in an easy and fun way.

You may have noticed that I skipped a few subjects like Health & Art. It’s not that I’m not teaching my children those subjects, it’s that I don’t have specific text books for those subjects. Instead, I’m choosing to design my own plan for those subjects and other subjects I may be adding to the books that I’ve listed. Those areas not listed certainly aren’t forgotten.

Next week I'll tell you about my educational plan for my 5 year old who's doing second grade work.

Are you ready for this school year?

Happy Birthday America!

Independence Day like any other birthday in this house will be celebrated with food. We will be having Red, White, & Blue Pancakes for breakfast. Lunch will be a simple PB&J sandwiches with a side of Bananas. For supper we will grill out and serve Red, White, & Blue Fruit Salad.

Normally we spend the day with friends and watch the fireworks late at night. This year my children have chickenpox. Since socializing in public places is rather frowned on, we will be staying home this year.

I also want my children to never forget the importance of this day, so we will be reading the Declaration of Independence. I know that my children are young and probably won’t understand most of it, but I want them to become familiar with it as they grow. If I read it every year, it will become familiar to them by the time we study it in-depth in highschool. I also plan to discuss some of our founding fathers who sacrificed greatly to make this day happen. Rick Boyer has a great list of some of these heroic men in his article Part I - Boyer Family Independence Day Celebration if you are looking for some brief summaries.

We love to finish our day by watching the City fireworks at a local park. However, since getting bitten by a bunch of mosquitoes while already having chickenpox probably wouldn’t feel so good, we are planning to watch the fireworks from inside our minivan. It will be a challenge to arrange the kids so they can all see out the window, but hey, our country’s birthday only comes once a year, so let’s remember what our birthday is all about and celebrate!

What are your plans for Independence Day?

Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities III

Last article “Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities II” I shared about the educational opportunities I create as I prepare for grocery shopping. This article is about how I use our time for educational opportunities on the way to and from the grocery store.

The grocery store I frequent most is only about ten minutes from our house. Yes, I am thankful that I don’t have to travel far to get groceries. Even though our drive is very short, I still like to make use of the time with my children as I usually go grocery shopping with them on a school morning. I have incorporated this time into my school schedule and actually planned to use it accordingly. Currently there are two activities that I have scheduled for this time in our van.

Memory Work - I have my children take turns reciting the Books of the Bible (One of our memory goals for this year). Often one child recites the Old Testament and another child recites the New Testament. Then I have them recite things that they are working on, such as my preschooler will count to 20 or my 1st grader will name the days of the week or my 3rd grader will recite The Lord’s Prayer. At other times I will have them recite Bible verses.

The memory work I choose is one of the goals that I set for them at the beginning of the year. In the future I plan to have them learn things like the 50 states or all of the US presidents. A helpful tip for driving is that I have them work on things that I already have memorized. Since I don’t have all of the US presidents memorized in chronological order, I will have to either personally work on that for the future, or come up with some other method by that time.

Reading - Sometimes my children each read from their own reader/book and other times I have one of my children read aloud.

In the past I have also done other activities with my children in the van.

Music - I have borrowed CDs from our library with different types of music in order to teach and expose my children to different styles of music. I’ve also used our time to sing and teach them new songs.

Audio Books - I have borrowed audio books from our library on different topics. Obviously we can’t finish an entire book in one ten minute trip, but we can listen to part of it during each of multiple trips until we do finish the entire book.

There are websites and books out there dedicated to travel entertainment. I have only listed a few of the ideas that I have personally used on our short weekly drive to the grocery store. I’m sure many of you have many more ideas than I do. Please leave a comment and share one or two with the rest of us.

I hope you have enjoyed my series on Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities.

Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities

The grocery store seems to be an endless opportunity for learning. It’s amazing that so many of my children’s learning opportunities are tied into the grocery store in some way. I realized that I spend almost an hour there every week with my children. It’s hard to be with my children for an hour and not teach them something. It’s just not natural for me. My oldest child is only seven years old, so I’m sure that the teaching opportunities have barely even begun to be tapped at the grocery store.

Here are some of the lessons we have done while grocery shopping and a few extra that I plan to do in the future. Most of them only take an extra minute or two while shopping. They are mostly  preschool or early elementary related. It seems that whatever stage my children are at, I can tie it into something while at the grocery store. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

Counting

I can have him count the items as I put them into the cart. He can count how many eggs are in a dozen. He can count how many yogurt cups we buy today. He can count how many bananas are in the bunch. He can count how many different types of grapes the store sells. He can count how many people he sees in the store.

Colors

I can have him look for a certain color of food. The produce department is my favorite area for this game.

Shapes

I can have him look for items that are a particular shape such as a cube or cylinder.

Letters

I can have him look for a particular letter on signs or labels. He can find items that beginning with a particular letter (again, the produce department is great for this). To take this a step further, during my Letter a Week kindergarten curriculum, I even let the child pick out an item that started with the letter of the week. I would then incorporate it into our meal plan for that week. My boys really loved this! I have to admit, I did too.

Reading

I can have him read signs, labels, or anything in the store. Sometimes I make a grocery list in advance for my son and have him check off the items as we put them into the cart or read the items to me that are left on the list. I’ll ask one of my sons to get me a specific item such as sharp cheddar cheese. He can’t just look at the picture then. He has to read to figure out which cheese is the sharp cheddar.

Writing

I can have him write the items that I buy on a list.

Money

I can have him write the cost of items I buy on a list. He can calculate the total bill. He can round each item to the nearest dollar. He can then estimate the total bill (this is my method of estimating my total bill each trip to make sure that I don’t go over budget). This is a great still for him to learn! I can pay with cash and have him figure out how much of each denomination is needed to pay the total or how much change I will get back.

Other Math

I can talk about and show him different units of measure such as 1 dozen eggs, 2 pounds of bananas, 1 gallon of water, 1 quart of milk, or 2 liters of pop.

He can compare and contrast items by type or size.

We can discuss metric versus English measurements such as liters versus quarts. He can find items that are sold by English or metric measurements.

He can find items that are sold by volume or weight or quantity.

He can estimate the weight of bananas or other produce that we buy.

Social Studies

Where we live, we often see people from different ethnicities and speaking different languages. I like to teach my children a little about where they come from, or what language they are speaking. If I know, I’ll maybe even teach them a few words from that language (I can at least say “Hello” in a few different languages).

History

This one pops up occasionally and unexpectedly for me. Sometimes I’ll see something that was common in the past, but not common now, such as glass bottles of pop. I’ll take that opportunity to discuss with my kids how things are different now than they used to be when I or our ancestors were children. I can discuss with them how glass bottles of pop were common for Grandma and Grandpa and how they used a bottle opener to open them.

Sometimes my kids will ask questions like why an item comes in a certain type of container such as baking soda in a can. I can discuss the history of how that came to be (though I often have to look things like this up).

I can teach him the history of certain foods. We once read a book about bananas. We learned how they came to the US and how many different varieties of bananas there are. It was fascinating! Did you know there are bananas that taste like ice cream?

Geography

I can have him look on food labels to see where different foods come from. He can look up that county on a map when he gets home or even learn about that country from an encyclopedia. He can look for foods from a particular country that he has learned about at home or heard about in the news lately.

Science

I can point out different produce that the store sells. If I don’t know what something is, I can learn by asking a produce department employee. We can maybe even try the new food.

I can discuss how different plants grow such as carrots are roots, apples are fruit of a tree, or celery is the stalk of the plant.

I can discuss what is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes. When my children are older, I can even have them research these things on their own and write reports on them.

What learning opportunities have you discovered at the grocery store?

Next time I will write about the educational opportunities I create as I prepare for grocery shopping.

To Tell or Not to Tell of Santa

When the first Christmas came around after my husband and I had children, we had to decide what our stance was going to be about teaching our children about Santa.

Santa is everywhere in our culture and it can be cute and fun to join in and pretend. It's tempting to just go along with it all and not do anything about it. We could have just not told our children about Santa and allowed them to make their own conclusions about the subject. Though this may be the easiest solution, I believe that in order to raise our children into Godly adults, we need to be more intentional in our parenting.

We were not going to “tell” our children that “Santa is real”, as we believe that this is a lie. We want our children to grow up to be Godly adults. We don’t want to sin nor do we want our children to sin. As their parents, we need to set the right example for them in this area. We also believe that lying to our children can cause confusion and a lack of trust. We want our children to be able to trust us whole-heartedly. In raising children up to be Godly adults, it's important that they don't have to question everything we've taught them. If we teach them that Santa, the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny are real, why wouldn't they question whether Jesus is real when they learn about the fairy-tale status of the others? This approach sets them up for doubting Christianity. This is a dangerous road to head down and not one we were going to choose.

We decided that our stance would be to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We talk to them and read to them regularly about the birth of Jesus. We also knew that our children would inevitably be exposed to Santa, so we chose to teach them about the real “Santa”, St Nicholas. In addition, we choose to teach them about the fictional story of Santa, making it very clear that even though others may believe in Santa, he is not real. That being said, they also should not go around telling other kids that Santa is not real unless asked. It is not the job of a child to tell others how to think. Some people believe differently and we need to be respectful and polite of their choices even if they are foolish.

How are you choosing to handle the 'Santa' issue with your children?

Staying Sane with Homeschooling During the Holidays

Around the holidays I can get stressed with homeschooling. I want to keep doing all of our regular school, but I also want to do special things for the holidays. Originally I tried to do both. That was a little too crazy and stressful for me (and the kids). More recently I’ve adopted a different two-fold method to manage during the holidays.

First, I plan ahead and lighten the load. At the beginning of the school year when I’m planning my schedule, I plan a reduced schedule (or extra time off) around the holidays. This way, I don’t have to stress about getting behind if we take the whole day off to bake a pumpkin pie instead of doing math that day.

Second,I incorporate holiday activities into our regular school schedule. During the time we would normally be studying history this week, we stop our normal history study (Greece this semester), and spend the week on Thanksgiving related history topics such as the Pilgrims, or how Thanksgiving became a national holiday, or we learn about our heritage. During our normal art time, we do Thanksgiving related crafts. During our normal time for science, we might learn about live turkeys, or how turkeys are processed to get to the grocery store (my 3 year old is really fascinated with this concept this year) or bake a pie. My holiday approach is similar to a unit study on the particular holiday. 

I find this method makes the holidays a lot more fun for the kids and myself and a lot less stressful. In fact, it’s even an enjoyable time of year to be homeschooling!

How do you stay sane with homeschooling during the holidays?

Ethnic Nights

Last night in our home was Iranian Night. About once a month I choose an ethnicity for us to learn about. Sometimes I tie it into another subject, like when we were studying Ancient Egypt, we had Egyptian Night. Other times, I just choose what I think is best for my children to learn about. Lately, we have been studying about ancient cultures in the middle east, so this month I choose Iran for our Ethnic Night. 

Throughout the day we read books to learn about the culture of choice. Sometimes we do activities that relate to that culture. For instance when we did Native American Night my children slept in a teepee that night. Sometimes we try to dress like the culture (past or present). For Iranian Night I covered my head. I always cook at least one meal from that culture (some are more authentic than others). I typically get a recipe book from the culture of choice ahead of time so I can prepare. Our library is a great resource for this.

Not only do I choose foods to cook from the specific ethnicity of our night, but I try to model our eating environment after that culture. One of our favorite Ethnic Nights, was Chinese Night. When I served the meal, I served it at kiddy tables with cushions spread around them on the floor for us to sit on. We used chopsticks when we ate and drank tea from fancy cups. All while listening to chinese music in the background. Even though this particular ethnic night was over a year ago, my children still talk about it fondly!

Not only do my children love these nights and learn a lot from them, but my husband and I also learn right along with our children.

What things do you do to celebrate and learn about other cultures?

The Value of Observing Random Processes

Steam roller on fresh asphaltMy children probably know more about road resurfacing than the average adult. I’m not trying to brag, I’ve simply noticed lately that they have learned a lot about road construction through simple observation. Since my oldest three children are boys, they naturally love construction vehicles and flock to the window whenever they see one drive by. We live in a house on a corner lot. In the last two years the city has resurfaced both roads by our house. Both times this has happened, I’ve had other plans for the day and decided to alter our plans so that my boys could observe the process of road resurfacing. Instead of eating lunch at the table like we normally do, one day this summer, I allowed my boys to take their lunch out to the front steps to eat it so they could watch the road construction as it was happening. I don’t think learning how a road is resurfaced will necessarily make my children into better adults, but I do think learning about the world around them and how things work and how much time and effort and resources go into common everyday things that they don’t normally think about will make them into better adults. My point is not about learning how a road is resurfaced, but taking the (sometimes inconvenient) opportunity to learn about one’s world around oneself.

I’d love to hear about the last process you took the time to observe with your children. Please leave a comment to tell me about it.

My Curriculum Choices 2012: 4 year old doing first grade work

Part 1 of My Curriculum Choices discussed the choices for my 7-year-old. This time I'll tell you about my first grader.

Reading/Literature

”NIrV Read with Me Bible” Illustrated by Dennis Jones: I want to instill in my son the daily habit of reading his own Bible. I feel this Bible is written at the right reading level for my son’s current reading ability.

A Beka Book “First Grade Readers”: These readers progress with difficulty at the same pace as the A Beka Book “Language 1” that we are using. I like the Biblical characteristics and morals that are woven into the stories.

“Alpha-Phonics” by Samuel L Blumenfeld: We started this book last year and are going to continue it this year. It is very simple. The lessons are short which is important since my son is still young. It is reusable which is important because I have younger children that I plan to homeschool in the future also.

Writing

A Beka Book “Language 1” workbook: I have used A Beka Book’s Language books with my older son and have been pleased with them. I like the convenience of having a workbook that my son can write in. I like how it explains the language rules and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

Music

Alfred’s Basic Piano Library All-in-One Course for Children: I introduced the keyboard to my children last year with this book. I plan to make it a weekly experience this year. I like how this books combines lesson and theory into one simple book.

Math

A Beka Book “Arithmetic 1”: I have used A Beka Book’s Arithmetic books with my older son and have been pleased with them. I like the convenience of having a workbook that my son can write in. I like how it explains things simply and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.

Science

Apologia “Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day by Fulbright: We used Apologia’s “Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures” by Fulbright last year and it was a good fit for us. This series is written from a creation perspective and I can use it with multi-level teaching. It is more in-depth than many other science books I have looked at, which works well for my analytical son and it has lots of simple hands on experiments and activities for my more hands on son.

History & Geography

”All Through the Ages” by Christine Miller: This is a resource guide for me from which I plan to select books on Greece and Rome, and obtain them from our library system. This guide makes it easier for me to select quality books from these historical time periods for my sons that are safe from non-Christian biases. I used this guide book last year and it worked well. History become one of my sons’ favorite subjects!

Health

A Beka Book “Health Safety and Manners 1”: I like the Christian perspective and short, simple approach to this topic.

“Before I was Born” by Carolyn Nystrom (God’s Design for Sex series): I like to review this book yearly with my sons to encourage a healthy Christian perspective of sex education.

In my post last week, part 1, of this series, I explained why I haven’t listed all of the subjects that I am teaching my children. If you missed last weeks post and are interested in why I did this, please check it out.

Also, If you did read last weeks post, you may have noticed that many of my choices for my first grader are the same as my choices for my third grader. Though they each have their own Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic books, for many of the other subjects their books are the same. I use a multi level teaching approach in these other areas. This saves me time, and I feel they learn more when they can share and discuss what they have just learned with each other.

If you have multiple children, do you use a multi level teaching approach? I’d love to hear why or why not?

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