I still cannot believe we have officially finished our first year of homeschooling! This post is mostly for me, but if you are interested in all the things we’ve accomplished this year, you can enjoy this post too. Basically, it’s just a recap of our subjects, books, etc.
We spent the year using Mystery of History Vol 1. We covered Adam and Eve through Jesus’ death. It was a great combination of religious history as well as world history. Bible stories were weaved into the world history timeline which gave a great idea of what was going on at the same time. Some of our favorite topics were:
- King Tut
- Mummies and Pyramids in general
- Trojan Horse
- Julius Ceasar
- Herod the Great
We will begin Mystery of History Vol 2 for our next year. From this past year, I learned the kids get a lot more out of the lessons if there are supplemental activities and books available to make it all click. It was difficult to find extra activities for this volume, but I already have a ton of extra activities for this coming year. We will also be doing notebook timelines to accompany our history, the kids will color and create their own history timelines. Hopefully this hands-on aspect will help make it all click as well. The great thing about this curriculum is that we will use it again 2 more times and we will go more in depth each time we use it. The main thing for these first few years is to make the history memorable later. Basically, let them have a basic understanding of what happened and the stories so that in a few years when we discuss them again, the stories are familiar and we are able to build on what they already know.
This year we used Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy. This was a favorite of the kiddos. They loved space before we started and it seemed their love continued to grow! We learned about the planets, comets, stars and constellations, space travel, galaxies and more. We did quite a few hands on activities to accompany the lessons and took our time. We always had space books around for them to look through, many times found from the library by the kids themselves as their book choices not necessarily my choices for the week.
This coming year we will be using Apologia Exploring Creation Zoology. The first of the three in this series are flying creatures so we will talk about birds, bats, insects and more. I think it should be a fun study and hopefully as engaging as the astronomy studies were. Considering both kiddos love birds and bugs I wouldn’t be surprised if this was as good if not better than the astronomy study.
We started this year with a basic geography class. Touching on map skills, directions, landforms, etc. Then we went deeper to study the countries of the world. This was one subject I wasn’t sure would “stick” as well as it did. The kids loved learning about a new country and their sponge brains ate up the memorization of capitals and countries. The went into the year knowing their continents and oceans and we built their knowledge from there. They now know these countries and capitals (sometimes needing the first letter for the capital):
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
This next year we will review these countries and capitals, but we will be focusing on the United States. We will be moving state by state through the year a few states each week. I plan to take the same approach as this past year. Study the state, memorize the capital, find it on the map, use books to reinforce and learn more about each state, and try to eat a local food for each state as well. I think this year will be a lot of fun.
For religion we used Faith and Life. While I think the kids got quite a bit out of the books, it was quite boring and there was a lot of writing (not their favorite thing). They really grasped a lot and I feel like they were a great start to their religion studies, however, we will be switching books this year to what our parish uses, Loyola Press Finding God. I had a chance to look through the text and workbooks and it looks like a much brighter, intriguing text for the kids. The information is still there, I just think it will be less writing and more doing which will make it all stick for the kids.
Both kiddos used Horizons math, Mister Man finished Kindergarten math and Sunshine finished First grade math. Mister Man definitely has the math love, it seems like he flew through the work and wanted to work through multiple lessons each time which was great. Sunshine on the other hand got the concepts and knew the information but hated sitting and doing the work. We had to do a lot of “making it fun” to get her through the one lesson each day. So I am sure I will be adding even more extra fun for math this year. We will be continuing with the Horizons texts this coming year and starting First and Second grade math.
Mister Man worked on letter sound combinations and picked up a lot of information just from being in the same room while Sunshine was doing grammar. Sunshine learned about nouns, pronouns, verbs. She can describe what each is, list some examples, sort them all, and find them in sentences. She also learned sentence types; statements, exclamations, and questions. She can identify what type of sentence it is, explain the type, and put the correct punctuation marks.
Next year, Mister Man will be doing the same work Sunshine just completed, and Sunshine will move on to more complex grammar using the next book in the grammar series, First Language Lessons.
When we started this past year Mister Man knew all of his letter sounds and was working on putting them together. By the end of this year he is reading as well as Sunshine and loves to read anything you put in front of him. Sunshine was reading but wasn’t loving it. Once we found books she was really interested in and she was less intimidated by the size of the books, she began to like reading much more. She still loves books, reads to herself but it’s sometimes hard to get her to sit and read for 30 minutes. She is reading Pippi Longstocking right now and this is really the first book she seems to love! Which makes reading much easier.
Some of our favorite books this year (both for individual reading and read-aloud) were:
- The Magic Tree House series (both)
- Pippi Longstocking (individual reading)
- Little House on the Prairie (read-aloud)
- Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (read-aloud)
- Chronicles of Narnia (read-aloud)
- Peter Pan (read-aloud)
- Treasure Island (read-aloud)
- Wizard of Oz (audio book)
- Amelia Bedelia (individual reading)
- Dr. Seuss Books (individual reading)
This was another subject the kids really picked up on. We used the first grade Spelling Workout book for both kiddos and while I worried Mister Man would struggle, he picked it up as well as Sunshine. We started with CVC words and ended with words ending in “ed” and “ing”. We will be using the second volume of Spelling Workout this coming year and it will build on what they have already learned.
For handwriting we did mostly copywork, which worked out well for both kiddos to get extra practice with their print. I started by writing the sentence on the handwriting paper. They would then copy the writing below mine so that they had something to mimic. By the end of the year, Sunshine was writing her own sentences and writing well. Mister Man continued to copy but his letter formation grew tremendously. This coming year, we will be using Handwriting without Tears. Sunshine will be learning cursive and Mister Man will continue perfecting his print. We will still do copywork but it will be on a lesser scale this year and will be in addition to a writing program.
We started out talking about instruments and the orchestra. We listened to the different instruments and then we had fun listening to different famous composers while we worked. We did a unit study on each composer, read a few books and learned about each artist. The kids really enjoyed it. This coming year will be laid back as well, a bit of music each week, this time focusing more on the instruments than the composers.
This year we studied multiple artists and got to work in their style. It was a lot of fun to study each and hear the kids opinion of them all. They got a lot out of the studies and every once in a while we will come across a piece of artwork and the kids will say “that’s a Jackson Pollack” or “that’s a Van Gogh”. It’s awesome! This coming year we will focus more on experimenting with our own art. Talking about the elements of art and creating our own works. The start of the year is focused on color, lines, shade, etc. Then we will continue to build on those elements with sketchbook activities and larger art pieces. We will experiment with different mediums, art types, and ideas. I’m excited to see this come to life in their eyes!
Subjects being added this coming year: Latin, Typing and Writing.
So that was our year recap and a bit on what we will be doing next year. When I say next year I mean in a few weeks. We are starting back up for many reasons. First, the kiddos do much better with a schedule and organized day. Second, Sugar Plum will be here in a few months and I’d like to have a bit of school under our belts before she arrives so we can take a bit of a break and not fall behind. Third, I believe year-round schooling is actually the best option for us, it avoids the need for “catching up” at the beginning of the year, because of lack of school work for a few months and we can take breaks/vacations whenever we need to have a break, making it much more flexible. Plus take into account school only takes us 2-3 hours each morning then we have the afternoon open to do what we please.
After our first year, I am so glad we decided to take this route. It was hard and stressful, but very fulfilling on so many levels. For me, it was great being a part of their learning experience and I think I learned just as much as they did. I cannot imagine having put them in school and not been a part of their experiences. It also pushed me in ways I’d never realized I could be pushed. I grew in many ways, especially because both kids learn differently which kept me on my toes, and because they both learn differently than I do, which made me have to think about things in a completely different way so that I could pass on the information and make it stick. There was always something school related on my mind and I was always trying to find a better way to make it click. I loved that!
As for the kids they loved being able to stay in their pjs all morning and having the afternoon free to do as we pleased! They learned so much and I think it will only continue to get better as we all get more used to it all. Each day I am so proud of what they were doing and learning.
Cheers to being done with year 1 and cheers to another year!