It is really hard to believe that Jacob and I are starting our fourth year of homeschooling together! Well, we started our year in early August, but you all know I'm a bit behind on blogging! I have a lot of fun things I was going to put up, but felt like our school year needed its own introduction so I've waited. Just a little OCD coming out, I suppose. We started heading in a different direction this year, as I felt like we needed to spend some time learning about the world beyond the United States. We have done some of this already, but just small snippets, and I really wanted to do some more in depth study of each continent. Not just the land of each continent, but learning with a goal of understanding how much we really have here in America and how much people really don't have in other areas of the world, including Jesus. It just so happened as I was going down all sorts of planning rabbit trails (trying to figure out what to do) that Candace wanted to do some around the world stuff too, and she told me about Serendipity. It's a blog that has some book lists/plans to get me started. So it has enabled us to do some literature based travels around the world without starting totally from scratch! Here's what we're doing for this year...
Geography and Culture Studies: A Child's Geography is our spine book for the geography and culture studies. It's a good book, but a little bit too wordy for Jacob's attention span. Even so, we've enjoyed learning a LOT of new information together! It's written in the style of Hillyer's A Child's History of the World, so I hear. While it is creatively written, it is still a textbook, and that really isn't the way Jacob learns best. So I use it as our spine and add in library books with more pictures on his level to explain and bring to life the concept we're learning. Some books we use for reference for each continent: ~Material World ~Children Just Like Me ~Kingfisher My First Picture Atlas (I got this at TJMaxx and LOVE it!) ~Dover Traditional Houses Around the World coloring book (Jacob really enjoys coloring these Dover books.) ~Passport and flag stickers (We add the flag sticker for each country we encounter in our reading just for fun! Each of the kids has their own.) Missionary study: We're learning about a missionary or two for each continent. My goal is to find a chapter book for each missionary as it gives us good things to read together. Plus, I enjoy learning these things too! Notebooking: We're doing our own form of notebooking, I guess, as well. As a review at the end of an area, I write up some questions asking about the details I most want Jacob to remember. If it's an answer he'll have to look for, I provide the page number of the Geography book where he'll find the answer. Then he completes it and reviews what we learned. This has been his first experience with this kind of learning and he's doing a really great job! We're dividing our notebook into continents and put all of the questions, animals, maps and other things in that one section.
Animal Study: I've learned that school is just boring without some form of animal study! Sometimes we're learning which animals live on the continent, and sometimes we're learning more in depth about some specific animals. We're using ZooBooks as much as we can for this. (Thanks, Mom!)
Math: Jacob started Teaching Textbooks 4 in July, and it has been a very welcome addition to our homeschooling routine! He is generally quite happy about doing his Math lesson and learning quite well with the program. It does a better job of teaching new concepts than I was doing. It also provides the perfect amount of review for Jacob. (In our old program, I was crossing out half the assignment because it was way too much busywork for him.) It actually seems a bit easy for what would be considered a 4th grade curriculum, but I guess it doesn't matter what it's called as long as he learns what he needs to before he graduates. And maybe I just thought it should have been harder.
Language Arts: We're still very slowly working through Queen's Language Lessons for the Very Young for a general introduction to grammar. It's not slow because it's hard. It's slow because I often forget about it! At this point, it's way too easy for him! I've kind of taken the better late than early road with grammar/language arts and it's worked just fine for us. Jacob will not ever need a spelling program (thankfully!) and has quite a varied vocabulary without any curriculum thus far. And I'm not very excited about a boring grammar book as I see him developing writing skills just fine on his own. I'll add something eventually, but we're doing okay for now. I did finally get a handwriting book for him, just because I thought if he wants to learn cursive soon, he probably needs to be making his letters in the right direction before we move on. We're doing Handwriting Without Tears. Co-op: There were 3 other things I wanted to do with Jacob, but I was afraid I wouldn't stick with them if I did them on my own. And Candace had the same struggle so we started our own little coop - the perfect answer for my fear-of-coop-commitment self! We're getting together once a week to do three things: Latin, Science and Music/Piano.
Latin: I've known for awhile I wanted to do Latin with Jacob as he and I both enjoy knowing the why behind something. But I knew I probably wouldn't stick with it on my own. We're into week 9 of Prima Latina and doing great! We (yes, we) have learned about 50 words/phrases and almost 2 prayers. He is really enjoying this and applies it to words and conversations every day! It's also giving us a great introduction to grammar that's complimenting our other language arts stuff. Mattie is enjoying learning some too! :) Science Experiments: I do the science portion of our coop. We're doing experiments and learning general science concepts. The kids seem to really enjoy this, and we've done some cool experiments so far! Because this is an area that requires more planning from me, it's really good that I have the accountability to get it done. It would be very easy to push it off "just one more day" it if it was just Jacob.
Music: This is Candace's portion. She does some piano and composer study with the older three kids and some fun stuff with all of them together. Jacob seems to be enjoying learning to play the piano, and it gives me the accountability to stick with it. So that's pretty much what we're doing for now!! It seemed to me like we needed to step it up a bit for third grade, and we've done just that. Jacob was a little shell-shocked at first, but he's adjusted well. He seems to be more challenged than he's been in the past, and while he doesn't always love that, it's good for him. So now I can write some posts that show some of our fun school things individually. Being anal really screws things up some times!