Friday, August 17, 2012

Attack of the Lesson Plans!

Not Back to School Blog HopThe girls have been begging to start school, so we've decided we will officially start on Monday.  That means I've been busy getting everything in order. I'm excited to blog about our new school room set-up this year, but I'm still working on that over the weekend, so I don't have pictures yet. Look for that post early next week at the latest!

My organization is a bit different this year compared to past years.  To start with, I'm actually getting organized.  In the past, I really only had one school aged kid.  Sedona would do activities here and there, but Sierra was the only one following a specific curriculum.  Every Sunday, I would sit down with all our books and just write down the plan for the week.  I didn't put any thought into it, just a quick printing out of worksheets.  That worked out okay for one kid.  When I realized I needed to run to the store for supplies to do a science experiment, we just ran to the store.  It worked out just fine except for the time I realized we needed earthworms in the middle of winter.  That didn't go so well.

This year is going to have to be different.  Now I have two school aged kids plus a toddler that is into everything and only naps for about an hour a half a day.  We have to be able utilize nap time and "little sister is occupied" time effectively without unnecessary delays.  It's going to be tricky and I'm sure we will have some false starts and missteps figuring out how to balance everyone's subjects. 

This is not the year for me to be scrambling for supplies at the last minute.  In an effort to be much more organized than I usually am, I have been creating lesson plans for every subject for the whole year.  There is still room to skip days when needed or push a subject to another day if someone has decided they just can't do any more school right now, but the plan is there.  For subjects that require extra supplies, I have a supply list for each lesson so I can easily see what I need.  Each subject still has it's own separate plan instead of all being combined so that we can keep our flexibility, but each weekend I will be able to sit down with my plans and write out the specific lessons for the week on my calendar and gather the materials needed without having to get out 10 books.

Here is the final list of what we will be using this year (most links are affiliate links, clicking them will not raise prices for you, but will give me a small commission if you choose to make a purchase):

Sierra: 7/8 years old (birthday is soon), 3rd grade, strong reader.  We don't do every subject every day.  I expect this to translate into about 3-4 hours of work each day.
  • Spelling: All About Spelling.  We decided to switch to this from the regular "list on Monday, test on Friday" approach.  We've already started it and we're loving it.  I decided to start her on Level 1, which is going really fast because she already knows most of it, but there are some key things she's learning, so I'm glad we didn't skip it.  She will get through at least Level 2 and possibly Level 3 this year.
  • Reading: There are a lot of books we'll be reading this year.  Many tie in with her history lessons.  In addition to those, we'll be reading The Candymakers, more Little House on the Prairie, and The Toothpaste Millionaire.
  • Math: Right Start, Level D.  This is our 3rd year with Right Start.  The first year was a little rough on her as she worked on undoing some bad math habits she'd been taught, but now we love it.  Math is not her favorite subject, but most of the time she is eager to work on these lessons.
  • Spanish: Rosetta Stone.  We purchased the full set of Rosetta Stone Homeschool Spanish while it was on sale a while back and I think it's going well.  She can do the program independently, but I feel like I didn't require her to do enough last year.  She is only through half of Level 1 right now.  This year, I am requiring about 20 minutes a day (there is a time estimate for each lesson, so I went through and made a lesson plan requiring certain lessons each day based on those estimates) and she should finish Level 1 and get most of the way through Level 2.  
  • Music: John W. Schaum piano books.  She will continue working through these books on a keyboard (piano would be better, but keyboard is what we've got) and she will continue taking the theory tests from the Texas Music Teachers Association to be sure she's learning the concepts.  
  • Writing: we will be working a lot on writing this year.  Our base will be Evan Moor 6 Trait Writing and Evan Moor Grammar.  She will also be writing some sort of story once a week, which I will edit and have her copy into a final draft.  By the end of the year I hope to have her progressed to doing at least some of the editing on her own. 
  • Art: she will follow along with Sedona's art lessons
  • History: we will be working through early modern history.  I created lesson plans on my own and they are available for free here
  • Handwriting: she is dying to learn to write in cursive, so we will work on that as long as she's interested, but I'm not pushing it.  She'll get plenty of handwriting practice with the regular writing assignments. 
  • Geography: This is another subject she begs to do just for fun.  We'll go through the Evan Moor Geography book.  She already knows all of the continents, oceans and states and is picking up countries from our history lessons.  Next year we will do a more formal geography/social studies plan to go along with modern history. 
  • Science: Science Odyssey Earth Science and Astronomy Level 1 from Pandia Press.
Sedona: 5 years old (just had a birthday), Kindergarten, eager to learn but can't sit still for more than about 30 minutes
  • Math: Right Start math Level A.  She completed about one quarter of the level last year, we will finish it up and possibly start Level B depending on how she's doing. 
  • Reading: All About Reading, Level 1.  She already had a good phonics base from speech therapy and doing BOB books.  I think All About Reading will quickly get her to "real" reading and she is very eager to do it.  My only complaint so far is they use regular type face "a" instead of the "a" kids are taught to print, which confuses her at times, but she's figuring it out. 
  • Spelling: We will probably start All About Spelling Level 1 sometime around Christmas.  I don't think she's quite ready for it yet.
  • Handwriting: She writes fairly well, but doesn't write her letters in the correct left to right format.  This is partly from watching Sierra (who is a lefty, so I've allowed her to write right to left and bottom to top) and partly because we just haven't taught her to write, she's figured it out on her own.  I wanted to do Handwriting Without Tears with her, but it's not in the budget right now, so I'm doing a modified version on my own utilizing many of their concepts. 
  • Science: She will do basic, fun science experiments to gain a basic understanding of science concepts.  I've been working on creating some worksheets to go along with these units and provided them for free here.  I still need to work on more worksheets and putting together more detailed lesson plans for her.  I will probably tie her lessons to Sierra's science lessons as much as possible. 
  • Art: I've created a two days a week art plan that I made available for free here

Whew!  It's going to be a great year, but it will take some getting used to.  I don't think Sedona is ready to work independently very much yet, so she will need a lot of one-on-one help.  Sierra is more independent, but she still has plenty of time in the day where she needs direct instruction from me.  I'm just kind of hoping Secora continues to love drawing and sitting her at the table with us will help keep her quiet and out of trouble for part of the day.  I have a feeling we will need to utilize evenings and weekends sometimes though. 

I'm a little late again this year, but I'm linking up to the 2012 Not Back to School Blog Hop.  I hope to catch up on the other weeks soon!

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