Here is a review of the homeschool curriculm we ended up using for our K-3rd-5th graders this year.
It's the end of March, and our curriculum has changed a little from the beginning of the year, so I thought I'd list what we are using right now. Writing it out also helps me evaluate whether I need to make any changes in what we are currently doing.
The first part of the list applies to Jaden (5th grade) and Jerah (3rd grade). Joely's curriculum (Kindergarten) is listed at the end. For a lot of the subjects, Jaden and Jerah complete the same work, although they have different levels of books for Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension, Building Thinking Skills, Penmanship, and Math. If you look closely, you'll notice I schedule a very light day on Wednesdays because we spend the afternoon with our local homeschool club.
- Vocabulary (M, Tu, Th, F): The kids complete one section in their Wordly Wise 3000 book each day. I just discovered that Wordly Wise 3000 has online games and review for many of the books in second edition series. It doesn't look like the site is entirely complete yet, but it looks like my kids might be doing some WW review online now!
- Spelling (M, Tu, Th, F): Study the spelling of the vocabulary words from Wordly Wise, and occasionally a list that I’ve made up from their own writing. We generally pre-test the list I give them on Thursdays, and final test on Fridays (if they need a final test).
- Proofreading (Tu, Th, F): I write a sentence on the white board that needs corrections, and the kids have to correct it using proofreaders' marks, often referring to the Write Source 2000 Handbook. I use (an old edition of) 7th grade Daily Language Workouts from Write Source for the sentences. Often on Fridays (if my printer is working so I can photocopy it), the kids will proofread an entire paragraph.
- Reading (M, Tu, W, Th, F): The kids read about 40 pages from a book of their choice (although guided by me).
- Latin (M, Tu, W, Th, F): We use Latina Christian I for this. We go over the main lesson together on Monday, the kids review flashcards and do the written drills on Tueday, Wednesday, and Thursday, complete the lesson exercise on Thursday, and end with the lesson quiz on Friday.
- Reading Comprehension (F): We just started using Reading Detective a few weeks ago, and so far I really like it. Jaden has always struggled with comprehension and Reading Detective’s approach seems to address his problems specifically.
- Writing (M, F): The kids use a timer and write for 10 minutes on a topic of my choice (usually it’s either free writing or a summary of something we learned that week). Their writing has really blossomed with this approach. I try not to “grade” it too much so their creativity is not stifled, and it has worked really well. They are being much more creative than they have in the past (and they don’t complain about writing!) We may not follow this plan forever, but for now it’s working for us very well. This is the main source from which I draw the majority of their spelling words!
- Penmanship (M, Tu, Th, F): Both kids use A Reason for Handwriting (cursive) and their handwriting is improving dramatically. I'm tempted to pick up an earlier level that uses manuscript so they can work on their printing skills as well!
- Jaden has been finishing up Key to Fractions and Key to Percents. Once he’s done with those in a couple weeks, he’ll begin Key to Algebra (the first few workbooks are basically Pre-Algebra). He completed Saxon 6/5 earlier this year, but we determined that Saxon did not fit his learning style very well, so we’ve been utilizing the Key to… curriculum to cover any holes in his understanding, and it has been fantastic!
- Jerah is working in Math U See Delta. She’s not math-savvy like Jaden (yet), but she’s coming along fine.
- Math Drills: They both do math drills online at FactMonster. I'll probably be adding Number Nut to the online rotation soon, too.
We read one chapter from Story of the World each day. Then we follow up with a section from our Kingfisher History Encyclopedia if appropriate. We’re reading through one chapter a day because we plan to finish all four books by mid-summer (we’re on volume 3 right now) so we can begin TruthQuest History together come the fall.
We finished up a lot of the formal geography work we were doing before, so we're laying off for a little while. Of course, I'm still sending the kids to the map whenever a new country or region is mentioned in our studies. I might also be sending them to Sheppard on occasion to brush up.
We do "science" three days a week, and although the following topics may not necessarily fall perfectly under “science,” we’ve just finished what I had planned for science this year, so we’re branching off into other areas. During those three days a week we’re beginning to study (1) Firearms (not necessarily hands-on, but basic gun history, gun structure and function, terminology, safety, etc), and (2) First Aid.
- Reading Everyday Survival Skills (M): We go over one page a week in this. It’s basic life skills (like reading advertisments, maps, etc.)
- Building Thinking Skills (Tu, Th): They do one section each day.
- The Fallacy Detecitve (F): We read through and discuss one lesson per week. The kids (and I) have learned TONS from this book.
We use Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing for this.
We use Drawing for the Absolute Beginner and various Usborne books for drawing. I don't follow a curriculum per se, but we do try to get the kids drawing as much as we can. Jaden is more advanced in drawing than Jerah, so Jerah generally uses the Usborne books while Jaden draws things more lifelike using Drawing for the Absolute Beginner.
- Composers (M, W, F): We've started using Meet the Great Composers every other Wednesday. The kids have really been enjoying the study. On Mondays and Fridays I have them listen to 15-30 minutes of music from the composer we've been studying (I use either cd's we own or check them out at the library). It's been neat to see the kids form opinions about what they like and don't like (Jaden, for instance, likes Dominico Scarlatti's music much more than Bach or Handel's).
- Musical Instruments (W): On Wednesdays we don't do a composer study; instead, I read about a family of instruments from The Encyclopedia of Music.
- Piano: I informally teach Jerah, but she learns on her own by practicing daily.
- Guitar: Jaden hasn't been receiving a lot of formal instruction from Jeff lately, but he's still improving through daily practice.
Jaden participates in Bible Drill at our church. Jerah with be old enough for Bible Drill next year.
- Jaden just this week started learning HTML using a curriculum Jeff wrote when he was a computer teacher in South Carolina. So far, Jaden is pretty excited about learning how to build web pages, so we hope he'll stick it out to the end!
- Jerah and I just started reading through The Non-Designer's Design Book and discussing basic design principles. She's been begging me to teach her how to use Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator, but I told her she needs some basic design knowledge first, hence the book.
- Reading: Explode the Code, Bob Books, books from our personal library, and Starfall are what she works on the most. I still struggle with making sure she works on this everyday, but her reading is coming along fine just the same.
- Math: We use Math U See Primer (although not very faithfully) and simple math learning activities throughout the day. Again, I haven't made sure she "does math" every day, but she doing well in this area. She also enjoys doing addition activities online at the Math U See site.
- Penmanship: Joely practices printing with A Reason for Handwriting.
- Everything else: She listens in on practically everything Jaden and Jerah do, so she's picked up a lot that way. She can even count to ten in Latin!