09 10

2016-2017 Curriculum

This year, we're blending curriculum already purchased following The Well-Trained Mind recommendations with recommendations from Ambleside Online. Hero(10) is doing 5th grade/AO Year 4, Dragon(6) is doing 1st grade/AO Year 1, and Peanut is learning letters, numbers, and other preschooly things like that.

This is what we're using, as of September 2016:

We read daily as a family from the Book of Mormon. Hero and I are reading, at his request, the Old Testament, chronologically. Dragon is working his way through the Book of Mormon again. Tigress is still working on her first trip through the Book of Mormon, which is roughly on track with where the boys were at the same age. Likely when we finish the Book of Mormon, I'll help her read the Four Gospels. All three of them love our time that we spend reading the scriptures at bedtime, and frequently ask for more.

In school time, we are currently working primarily with the Old Testament stories. Hero reads and then narrates the stories. For Dragon, I am telling him the stories, and drawing them in his Bible, so he can find them and know where in his books these things are happening. I also have him narrate after I've told the story. Tigress is very interested in the process, and likes to have her book out while the boys are working with theirs, but is too little for narration still.

We also do a scripture box for verse memorization: all three kids have their own that they are working on. My goal with all this is to instill a love of the scriptures early, and to help my kids be first-language fluent in what I fondly refer to as "scripture speak." It's just not the same as every day language!

Posts about Scripture.
Posts on Narration.

Dragon is nearly finished with phonics, reading easy readers, and I expect that he'll make the leap into chapter books in the next few months. Now that I know the phonics rules, much of the instruction has happened in the course of reading, as he's just not that excited about the games I used to teach Hero. Either way; it's working, and that's what counts. Tigress is at the very beginning of the journey, and learning her letter sounds. She likes it when I let her play on Starfall or Teach Your Monster to Read

For a more complete review of the programs we use, look here.
Posts on Phonics.

Hero has just a few lose ends to finish up with Miquan, and then he'll be switching fully into MEP Year 4. We've been doing both programs for a couple of months, and it's working very nicely. We use Miquan for our elementary math program, so Dragon is working in that. They're both playing with math cards and Wrap-ups, as well as other fun game-based practice.

Posts on Math.

Nature Study and Science:
For the past two years, we've been going to a local nature preserve with some friends of ours, and learning about what we find there. Much of what we do is very informal, but we're learning a lot, and it's consistently one of the most delightful parts of our week.We're experimenting with doing nature journals, which we both add to in the park, and also do studies of various things from our field guides at home. This year, I am hoping to also be more pro-active with The Handbook of Nature Study particularly in the winter, when it's too cold to go outside. Nature Study remains our primary science course, especially for the younger kids, and includes hands-on experiences in botany, animal and plant life cycles, astronomy, geology. The kids also consistently want to know how this that and the other work, so we get consistent additional topics in finding answers to the various questions. This year Hero will also be reading Madam How and Lady Why (there's resources and helps) and The Storybook of Science. Because the AO Picture Study recommendations work out to one about every other week, we will be drawing local frogs in the off weeks. Dragon is working on the Burgess Bird Book.

Posts on Nature.
Posts about Science.

Hymns, Classical Music, and Folk Songs:
Ambleside Online suggests learning hymns and folk songs as part of the curriculum, as well as listening to classical music by a single composer. We will be doing a mix of hymns they suggest and some of my favorites -all from our Church's hymnal. We do this primarily informally: I created playlists for our hymns and folksongs, and works from Brahms, and we listen to them a couple times a week. I encourage the kids to sing along for the ones with words. The hymns we also do around the piano once or twice a week. This year, I am hoping that Hero and I can learn to do some of the folksongs on our string instruments. I love these additions to our day.

Our schedule for hymns and folk songs.
Posts about hymns and folk songs.

Language Arts:

Hero is continuing Rod and Staff grammar. It's thorough, if not exciting, and I love that Rod and Staff has a biblical element to it, and also serves to reinforce the stories in scripture and the values of Christian living, as well as break down the artificial division between education and religion that is the legacy of my own public schooling. Thus far, there have not been any doctrinal conflicts: the work that focuses on the Bible tends to focus on the text itself, rather than any denominational interpretation of the text.

For explicit spelling instruction, Hero will continue with All About Spelling. Dragon won't start until he's a bit better at reading, either halfway through this year, or (more likely) next year.

Copywork is gives both boys beautiful writing as models to learn from. We copy scripture verses, passages from books, verses from poems, hymns, and folk songs. Hero will also begin doing Studied Dications starting with this list of passages. We also are doing small amounts of Japanese copywork to start learning their alphabet, though this is still a much lower priority than the English writing at this point.

Posts on Spelling.
Posts on Dictation.


I decided to split the boys for history. Hero is moving into Story of the World volume 4, following this schedule, and Dragon is working in volume 1. We no longer do tons of the various activities, just read the spine and a few of the other books, and narrate.

Posts on History.

We have a consistent family read-aloud that all the kids enjoy. Titles the kids have enjoyed recently include:

The Two Towers
Return of the King
Adam of the Road

In addition to our family read-alouds, we have a number of literature picks from Ambleside Online. Hero will be reading Robinson Crusoe and Plutarch with me; Kidnapped, Age of Fable, and a few short works independently. Dragon's literature will be read to him still, and he'll listen to Aesop, Fairy Tales, Just So Stories, and Parables from Nature. We do a poem a day for each of the kids: Peanut gets Nursery Rhymes, Dragon is doing A Child's Book of Poems, and Hero is reading selections from Emily Dickinson. All the kids will participate in some Shakespeare readings.

Posts about Read-Alouds.
Posts about Poetry

We use the drills from Introduction to Modern Japanese as practice dialogs for the kids: it's my old college text, but we get out the stuffed animals, and take turns acting out the simple drills. We, of course, take is substantially slower than my classes did! We take several weeks to cover what they did in a few days. But it seems to be working very well, and, even better, Hero really likes it when we get out stuffed animals to practice dialogs. Even though the little kids are not required to participate, they often will join us, and it gets very silly - but it's working. We also use Reading Japanese to help Hero (and sometimes Dragon wants in) to learn to read and write. This is a favorite activity because I usually get out my fancy Japanese brush pens. We also do our "calendar time" in Japanese - right now we're practicing the date, a song, and we have a counting/adding activity, and a clock. Hero and I both use Memrise for vocabulary flashcards, and have been doing so long enough that I am convinced that it is a big key to the success I've been having in improving my skills in this language - and the better I get, the better I am able to help my kids with their learning. For listening, I have some podcasts that I will sometimes play as background noise in the afternoons. We also have a couple of playlists of Japanese cartoons and toddler music that the kids enjoy. It is remarkable what you can learn from endless repetitions of simple songs!

Posts about Japanese.

We use Song School Latin, and Hero is nearly done with level 1, and we plan to do level 2 when that's finished. Dragon also often chooses to participate, and I may grab him a level 1 workbook.

We're following the Ambleside Schedule for picture study this year, which will include both looking at pictures, and also making some recreations of famous works by the masters. Our artists will be Mary Cassatt, Giotto di Bondone, and James McNeill Whistler. I've gathered a number of resources from various Ambleside sources and some blogs. Additionally, we will do some drawing with optional painting from our field guides as part of Nature Study. I will also be encouraging the kids to draw and paint in their free time.

Posts about Arts N Crafts.

Peanut is officially doing preschool this year -- but that's not very intense. Here's an overview of what we do with Preschool and Kindergarten. In our home, to try to find a division between them would be artificial. It's just a gradual building of expectations as the munchkins grow and their capacity increases.

Posts on Classical Education.
Posts labeled Charlotte Mason
Posts on planning school.
Posts on LDS lesson plans.
Posts labeled Preschool
Posts labeled Kindergarten
Posts labeled Grammar Stage (aka elementary school)
Posts labeled Logic Stage (aka middle school)

And that's what we're learning!


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