Thursday, August 23, 2012

My students and our curriculum

We’re taking a break from school for a few weeks while I help Steph get prepared for college and do a massive reorganizing of the house.   Since we’re also getting ready to start a new school year, I figured this is also a good time to tell a little bit about my lovely students and what we are using.


Georgie just turned 7 this week.  He is the main reason we started homeschooling.  He is gifted and quirky, with some sensory issues and possible ADHD.   He would definitely not thrive in a typical school classroom but he does great here at home.  Other than a year of Early Intervention for speech delays, from 3 to 4 years old, he has never been to school.  His favorite things are playing Wii, Minecraft and other computer games, and Pokemon.

Georgie would be entering 1st grade if he went to public school.  Due to his late August birthday, he would not have started kindergarten until he turned 6.  In practice, he is working between a 1st and 4th grade level.

For Language Arts, he is currently using:

All About Spelling – we will be starting level 2 when we start up school again next week.  Georgie is very visual so AAS with its cards and tiles works very well for him.  This is also serving as his only phonics program since we finished Explode the Code 5 and I decided ETC was just busywork at this point, at least for him.   We usually do one Step a week.

Spectrum Reading Grade 2 – Georgie tested with a reading comprehension equivalency of 4.9 but other things come up in this workbook so I don’t want to jump him ahead and leave gaps.  He does one lesson a day and they often incorporate rhyming, alphabetical order, homonyms, contractions, etc.

Spectrum Grammar Grade 2 – This is going slow probably because we never completed a Grade 1 grammar curriculum.   We started with capitalization and he’s getting hung up on the difference between a proper noun and a common noun, so we are taking things very slowly and supplementing with extra worksheets from Evan Moor’s Teachers File Box as needed.

For handwriting, he is using Handwriting without Tears – Grade 1.  He actually just finished the Grade 1 book but is definitely not ready for the Grade 2 book yet.  He still tends to use mostly capital letters so I’m going to start back at the beginning of the Grade 1 book and review all the lowercase letter formation.

I’m hoping to add some free writing this year since Georgie always loved to write stories and I feel he doesn’t do it enough anymore.   I will probably just go with a general journaling plan using writing prompts from Pinterest occasionally.

I’m also hoping to add some vocabulary work using Vocabulary Word-A-Day Cards from Scholastic.

Last, but not least, I want to encourage Georgie to spend more time reading this year.

For Math, he is using:

Math Mammoth 3A/3B – he does pages from all different chapters each day.   This helps keep his interest since he gets bored easily.  Math often seems to come almost intuitively to him, yet he’ll still complain that it’s too hard if he doesn’t understand something new the very first time it’s presented.

Since Georgie is also not a kid that likes flash cards or drill, we use a lot of fun games and resources to cover facts.   His current favorites are Solve the Riddle Math Practice: Addition and Subtraction from Scholastic, and Algebra Readiness Made Easy – Grade 2 also from Scholastic.  I have a ton of other resources for when he finishes these thanks to the regularly scheduled Scholastic Dollar Deals.

Beast Academy – we are using this as a fun supplement.   We didn’t get to it too often the past few months so I’m hoping to start using it at least once a week, maybe instead of Math Mammoth.


Vicki just turned 5 in July.  She has never been to any school and has been doing kindergarten for a few months already.   Her favorite things are playing outside, painting and other crafts, and playing Wii.

For Language Arts we are pretty much just doing phonics and very occasional handwriting.

For Vicki’s phonics, I am using Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading but not directly out of the book.  I usually set up the lessons on the white board using extra AAS tiles, on large foam puzzle pieces on the floor, or on index cards.  She pretty much has short /a/ words down and we will be reviewing and starting short /e/ words when we start back up.

I have the Handwriting without Tears Pre-K book for her.  She strongly resists doing handwriting, never colors beyond scribbles.  I don’t think it’s a lack of ability or coordination.  It seems to be more impatience with having to take the time to do it.  We use the wooden letter pieces from HWT and I’m trying to encourage more using the white board or a chalkboard.

For Math we are using Mathematics Enhancement Programme (MEP) Year 1.   I usually demonstrate using a magnetic white board rather than just using the workbook pages.

Since Math isn’t nearly as intuitive for her as it is for Georgie, I’ve started gathering more manipulatives.  So far we have Judy Clocks, Base 10 blocks, Cuisenaire rods, magnetic foam shapes (tangrams).

Things we do together:

We play lots of games to work on math and reading concepts.  Some of our favorites are:

printables from Kelly’s Kindergarten
Money Bags
Very Silly Sentences
Scrabble Jr.

For Science, we are using REAL Science Odyssey with lots of supplementation from Magic School Bus, encyclopedias/books and field guides.  We are currently working on rocks & minerals in RSO, but we also do nature studies, and various topics together with our 4-H Cloverbud group.

For History and Geography, we are getting ready to start a US History and Geography study.  We will be using the Complete Book of US History, History Pockets, Road Trip USA (from Confessions of a Homeschooler) and lots of books and encyclopedias.

We are also participating in a Flat Stanley exchange and a State Cultural Exchange.

My Goals for this year:

Do formal school at least 4 days a week consistently.

Take less than 4 months to complete a science or history unit.

Start Spanish utilizing The Complete Book of Spanish and free videos and lesson plans from Instant Replay.

Do more art study using Come Look with Me books and various What Your x Grader Needs to Know books (that I already have).  Encourage more use of our Draw Write Now books.

Do more art and craft projects in addition to the ones we do at 4-H.

Start music instruction on electric keyboards using Kid’s Keyboard Course Book #1.

Start typing instruction for Georgie using Dance Mat Typing.

General Social Studies, Health and Character education using Studies Weekly.

Less computer, less television and more PE for everyone.


  1. Looks like a great line up. I love OPGTR! Have a great year.

  2. I love reading about what others use for curriculum. I don't think I'm familiar with any of these. Good info!