Why we Homeschool During the Summer…
We need structure.
Our family works so much better with a set daily structure. In order to make this easier on us all, we continue to do school throughout the summer.
We need structure.
Our family works so much better with a set daily structure. In order to make this easier on us all, we continue to do school throughout the summer.
I can’t believe it, we finished our second year of homeschooling last Friday!
The kids and I are ready for a little break and I feel like we accomplished a lot over the last year.
We started the year with lessons of mostly workbook activities. The kids were not loving school time and were getting extremely frustrated with the amount of workbooks we were using. I felt something wasn’t working and so I started rethinking our plan. I had been feeling a call to use Charlotte Mason’s ideas especially the living books more. And after researching, reading and praying, we made the switch to Ambleside Online after Christmas. I used our Christmas break to rework the schedule for Year One so we could fit it into the last 4 months of our year and be able to start Year Two over the summer (slowly) so that we would get to Year Three sometime next year and be caught up at Year four the following year. Fitting Year One into a few months was a lot of work, but the living books were amazing and the kids were always asking for more which was in complete contrast to the previous few months.
Here is a look at what we used in our second year (first/second grade).
Horizons (First Grade – Mister Man, Second Grade – Little Miss) – beginning of the year
Math-U-See – (Beta) – Second half of the year – this change proved to be one of the best decisions I had made. Mister Man was excelling at math and Sunshine was struggling, so I pulled Sunshine back to help her grasp the concepts better and Mister Man kept excelling. A few weeks after the switch, Sunshine started loving math and was excelling as well! I am so very glad I decided to make this switch!
Mystery of History – Volume 2 – This just wasn’t working for us.
Story of the World – Volume 2 – Better but still not what I was looking for.
Burgess Bird Book – Loved this book!!!!
Apologia Exploring Creation – Flying Creatures of the Third Day– This was a great reference for the Burgess Bird Book.
Northeast Study – We went through the states in the Northeast one by one, reading books about each, eating their famous food and locating them on a map.
Paddle to the Sea – We read this and loved it! As we read we mapped Paddle’s journey from Canada, through the Great Lakes and down the St. Lawrence River eventually to France.
First Language Lessons – (Level 1 – Mister Man, Level 2 – Sunshine)
Copywork (Bible Verse and from readings)
Redwall (AudioBook – from the library)
A Child’s Garden of Verses – Robert Louis Stevenson
When We Were Very Young – A. A. Milne
Now We Are Six – A. A. Milne
Artistic Pursuits – Book One – Review Coming Soon
Our reading continues and we are loving every minute of it! Here’s what was on our booklist in March.
White Fang – We finished this…. Finally! It seemed like it continued on forever, but Mister Man loved every bit of it so it was well worth it! Sunshine was ready for it to be over about half way through. I loved it as well. I kinda wish we would have waited a few years, but they followed pretty well and understood, so I think it was a good read overall.
The Borrowers – This we started mid-way through the month, we should be finished with this next week. We are loving this book, it’s an easy, quick, fun read that was great to start after reading White Fang. This is my favorite part about reading, we can be tranported into so many different worlds in a matter of days!
Parables of Nature – We are still loving this book. Hearing the kids narrate the story and tell me the lesson of the story is sometimes funny… I need to start writing them down. I would love to read them again years from now!
Blue Fairy Book – Still loving these. There’s nothing like a good fairy tale to start the morning!
Just So Stories – These are both kids favorites. They are the perfect length to keep them interested and they have so much fun trying to figure out what the story will be about.
Tales from Shakespeare – Mister Man is still asking daily for “More Shakespeare” – I love that he is loving Shakespeare!
James Herroit’s Children’s Treasury – We’ve almost finished this and I am actually kinda sad. Sunshine has LOVED this book, it has given her even more interest in being a veterinarian. I haven’t told her yet, but I downloaded a collection of his stories on her kindle…. it’ll be a great surprise when she finds it!
Aesop – I had been reading this from my Kindle but I just bought the hardback version and I am loving it! I definitely recommend this as an actual book! The illustrations are beautiful and there is something about being able to hold and read the book that the kids are loving as well.
When We Were Very Young – We just finished this and the kids actually read the poetry for the last few weeks. They did so great, even keeping a good rhythm and reading slowly so everyone could understand.
Now We Are Six – We also finished this one in March. Another one that we all loved. A.A. Milne has a way with words and we loved the fun poems and illustrations.
AmblesideOnline Poetry: Year One – We are just starting this. So far we are loving it as well. I think we are all just enjoying poetry!
Tickle Time– Yes another Sandra Boynton, this one is fun because Sugar Plum is starting to anticipate the tickling. She gets a big smile on her face right before I go in for the tickle. Adorable!
Sassy – Baby Sees – Sugar Plum loves seeing the waving illustrations of family members. But she especially loves the mirror in the back of the book. This has been a great book to make her smile and practice waving.
Make Van Gogh’s Bed – This was a purchase I made because I wanted to expose her to famous art early on. This has been a hit from the beginning. She loves the interactive touch, feel, move, etc..
John Billington: Friend of Squanto – Mister Man started this and read it in a day. He absolutely loved it. As soon as he finished he was asking for another one from the inside cover. Luckily I had one more Robert Clyde Bulla and he started that one.
The Sword in the Tree – This is the other Robert Clyde Bulla I happened to have. He is about halfway through this one, but I am guessing he will have it finished in a day or so. He seems to be enjoying this one as much as the previous so I may be purchasing some more soon (the library does not have any of his books).
The Hundred Dresses – Sunshine really enjoyed this book and has been referencing it randomly since she read it. Always a good sign with my less eager reader.
Redwall – I decided to get an audio book from the library for car rides. This has been a wonderful addition to our day. The kids are quiet, it keeps them from bickering and they are enjoying the story all at once! Score on so many levels!
Billy and Blaze -We had a great time working through Billy and Blaze for a literature study with More StoryTime Treasures. It was a fun book and the study guide helped us look closer at the book, grammar, and more.
We just finished Paddle to the Sea for our Geography the kids loved this book!!!! In fact, Sunshine wants to make a boat and send it on the river to see what happens. So we may be making a boat this week. I love when books make an impression like this one did. Next week we plan to watch the videos of the book as a fun easy Geography lesson!
We are still loving Fifty Famous Stories and Our Island Story. I did buy the softcover versions of these, I am not sure I needed them, but it does make it easier to find the next reading, especially in Fifty Famous Stories, since we are skipping around the book a bit.
Buffalo Bill – This is our newest bio and we are loving this one as well. I’m learning all kinds of information as well!
Our Island Saints – We are on the last saint right now, and will be finished next week. We’ve learned a lot about the saints and will continue our saint studies next month, but until then it will be the Bible for our religion readings.
That’s what we have on our bookshelf this month. This will be the final month for our AmblesideOnline Year One studies but we will move right into our Year Two studies following so it should be an easy transition. We plan to take Year Two slowly over the summer. The beauty of homeschooling year round is we have a nice schedule and structure throughout the year (something my kids thrive on), we don’t lose anything over the summer and we can take vacations and breaks whenever seems fitting. Yet, a few more reasons we love homeschooling!
What’s on your reading list this month?
If you’ve been reading any of my homeschool blogs, you know we love books. Especially living books! It’s no surprise that the Memoria Press More StoryTime Treasures Literature Curriculum was something I was excited to review.
For our review, we received More StoryTime Treasures and used the curriculum to dig deeper into Billy and Blaze.
This was a book we have read a few times but only casually so I was looking forward to spending more time with the classic book.
We received the study guide and answer key (which included both the StoryTime Treasures and More StoryTime Treasures). The workbooks were well made, sturdy, easy to follow and my 5 year old was not overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done on each page.
Each study contains multiple lessons which are broken into chunks. The pages of the book that the lesson will be referencing are indicated which makes planning simple.
For Billy and Blaze, there were two lessons (Lesson 1 – p.1-22; Lesson 2 – p.24-48). We broke each of the lessons up over a week to keep them at about 20 min each over two weeks.
The first day, we went over the vocab we would see. This was a great way to introduce new words, use the dictionary a bit more and be prepared to understand the reading more clearly. I will say most of the words were easily recognized, but it was a good review and an easy way to be sure he had the right meanings.
After we had gone through the vocab, he read the indicated pages out loud to me. Then we narrated a bit for memory before doing the next section of the workbook.
The next day we recalled what we read and did the comprehension questions. If he could not recall the answer, he used the book to find the correct answer and we talked a bit more about the story.
After completing the comprehension questions over the next few days, we completed, my sons favorite part, the art project. Anything creative helps to make the story stick and this was a great lesson on illustrating.
The following week we completed the second lesson. We really could have worked through both lessons in a week or even a couple of days, but because he was reading the book out loud and we are trying to keep our lessons to 20 min max. I didn’t want to push him too long on one lesson. I also felt that having to recall the story the following days helped with comprehension.
I loved that the lessons were specific page ranges. These provided nice breaks and kept the information from being overwhelming. The amount of grammar, vocab and comprehension, not to mention the extra items that were included were great for variety and helped to hit those other subjects areas as well.
The greatest thing about this curriculum is that there are many other editions of the literature guides that can take you from 1st grade all the way up to 9th grade. So if these fit well with your family you have a great curriculum set for many years!
Overall, I was impressed with the study guide and answer key. I personally did not need the answer key, but it would have been handy if I had not been working with my son on the readings and workbook. I feel like the study guide was a great fit for 1st graders and covered a lot of information without being overwhelming. We are looking forward to working on a few more stories using the study guide – I believe Miss Rumphius is next on our list!
Find Memoria Press on social media to learn more about their curriculum!
As the year began I re-evaluated our homeschool. After much thinking, praying and researching, I decided to take a more Charlotte Mason approach. While I have always leaned towards a mix of Classical and Charlotte Mason; adding in as much living books as possible, while still using textbooks as our main spines. However, this was the first time I had really looked hard at Ambleside Online‘s offerings. We are Catholic, so I did take a good look at Mater Amabilis as well, but found the Ambleside books and overall program to be more of my liking. With a little tweaking, I knew I could make it work for our beliefs as well.
Previously, I had found living books to supplement our textbooks, but now we are using living books and supplementing with library books and online information instead. What I loved about the Ambleside curriculum is that it uses older books as well as newer options. I’ve always believed politics made their way into our textbooks and you only learn what they want you to know (even more apparent with the new addition of common core)*. The beauty of the older books is that they are, first of all, living books so the story is beautiful, the words are enticing and pull you into the story, but they also tell it like it is, without all the extra political opinions getting into the mix.
On top of that majority of the books are online as free downloads so my kindle is getting a lot of use for school, which makes doing school anywhere quite easy! I believe in the next year or so, the kids will be using their kindles more and more for school reading as well. Right now, they listen and narrate back, but I know we will be transitioning to them reading and then narrating some of the readings soon and it will be nice for them to be able to take that with them wherever we may be at the time.
As for using it in our day-to-day, I cannot believe how much smoother our 2016 is going. We were doing great before Christmas, but this has been an eye opener! Not only are the kids listening, learning, and narrating really well, but I have fallen in love with the books as well. The language. The stories. Everything! It makes me want to spend the whole day reading aloud to the kids. The words just flow off my tongue and the kids continually ask to read more and more, which makes them very excited to hear the readings the next day.
I feel like our homeschool is the way it should be, a fun learning environment where they are taking everything in, but hardly realize it’s school. I don’t want them to dread learning, I want them to want to learn more, pick up a book to find out more and take off. In my opinion, that’s what education should be about, opening their eyes to all there is to know and learn in a beautiful way. Staring at a textbook and memorizing dates/facts will not stick with them, a great book can stay in their hearts and minds forever.
Our days are filled with books, great books.. living books.
Our morning starts with reading during breakfast and ends with reading during lunch. Not to mention the reading we do in the evenings before bed and the quiet reading the kids do throughout the day. Our life revolves around great books right now and it makes me so happy.
I’m pretty sure it has also rubbed off on the kids with their independent reading. They cannot wait to sit and read for their 30min quiet reading time many times sitting for much longer than the required 30 minutes. Sunshine is so excited to finish her book, Because of Winn Dixie, and Mister Man just finished his, Winnie the Pooh. They are suddenly reading whenever they have a few extra minutes, at home, in the car…anywhere. I think the great books they are listening to me read has put excitement into their lives. I know it has mine.
I have always been a reader and almost always have at least 3 books going at one time each for a different aspect of my life (pleasure, spirituality, education, etc.). Each book is read at different points in my day (spirituality – morning, education – throughout the day, pleasure – evening before I fall asleep). The living books we started last week have opened my eyes to the major differences between a living book and twaddle. I knew certain books were better than others, but the difference never stood out as vividly. I can see and hear the differences and now am even more of a book snob than before.
Yes, it’s true, I became a book snob when we had kids. I quickly became annoyed with poorly written children’s books that talk down to kids (twaddle). I’ve always believed that you should talk to kids like adults so that they will learn the correct way of speaking. There is absolutely no reason to dumb down your language. If we speak in words they do not understand they will learn those words instead of baby talk and their vocabulary will soar. My kids amaze me with their vocabulary and usage, daily. I firmly believe it is because we made, and still make, it a point to talk to them like we would an adult. Baby talk is like fingernails on a chalkboard, in my opinion. But that’s another blog all it’s own!
And I regress. I love being able to homeschool my kids, but this revelation and new beginning has brought so much joy and happiness into our lives. I look forward to every morning and am sad when we do not read our schoolwork on the weekends. Thank you Charlotte Mason for opening my eyes to a new world of books.