Saturday, September 6, 2008

First Week Of School, part two: Lesson Plans

We survived our first week of school! (one down, 35 to go) Had a bit of a slow start since our school weeks are usually only four days and Monday was a holiday. But I am thankful to be easing into it, since it's really the first sort of formal schooling for both Reese and Reuben, and since Cole is coming off of a summer of literally living out of doors. We've all needed an extra dose of grace this week.

Here's what we're studying! (I love hearing about what materials people are using--what's working, what isn't working, what brilliant ideas you have that I can steal! So feel free to post your lesson plans too and maybe I will come take something of yours *grin*)

Reading: Tons and tons of reading aloud. We're intermixing "kids' choice" library books with Sonlight Core 1 Read-Alouds, Daddy's choice "Wizard of Oz", folktales from a variety of countries and cultures, Bible stories, and other "ancients" literature. Cole and I just started "Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad" in our afternoon reading. It's very difficult material for him--I'm literally stopping every half-sentence to explain vocabulary, backstory and plot lines--but we're both loving it! Our mandatory "no TV or computers for the entire school week" rule is lending itself to much more reading around our house. Cole is working through his "I Can Read It" Sonlight Core 1 readers (see Language Arts), Reuben is learning letter recognition and sounds, and Reese is doing basic phonics and early reading exercises. We do all three of these simulateously in the mornings, so that the younger kids get the benefit of whatever info they might glean from Cole's lessons, and so that Cole gets the benefit of review through what his younger brothers are learning.

Writing: We've used Reason For Handwriting for the last couple of years and I'm loving it thus far. We chose it simply because the "style" of letters was the most similar to the lettering that both Justin and I learned as children. Beginning with the Grade 1 books, the writing exercises are all scripture verses, too, which I love.

Math: Horizons math books aren't very "hands-on", but Cole and Reese have done well with them, so we'll continue in this vein unless we hit a snag. I like that the workbooks introduce a concept, stay with it for a bit, move on to something else, and then circle back, over and over again. This method seems to be greatly effective in reinforcing abstract concepts in my boys' minds. Additionally, I'm trying to add a lot of my own manipulatives and real-life applications these days. We'll play a lot of games, cook, make our own colorful charts, count, sort, add, divide the buttons in Mama's button box, etc.

Spelling & Other Language Arts: For now, we're working with the Sonlight K and Core 1 LA materials we already had on hand. The programs are pretty all-inclusive, so spelling, dictation, grammar, vocabulary, narration and readers are all pre-planned and pre-organized. I did order a copy of First Language Lessons and we might supplement with that...or use at a later time.

History: This year we'll use Story of the World for the first time! I'm uber excited about it; history was always the one subject in school I just couldn't wrap my head around. I loved the stories and was able to memorize dates just fine--but I never could seem to comprehend which historical events were happening simultaneously. Learning American History separate from European History and so on created the illusion in my head that there were way more historical periods than actually existed. So for my own kids, I purchased several of the Usborne history materials, but I felt like I was falling into the same rut. I'm so excited to begin Story of the World and am hoping it will fulfill my expectations of presenting history in a linear way that will make it wonderful and appealing to all of us! Our books have been delayed in the mail, though, so next week, we will be working on an alternative social studies project....more on that to come (in part three of this post)!

Science: This week we will beginning Sonlight Core 1 Science...the last of our materials just arrived a few days ago and I haven't had a chance to peek at them will have to update you later!

Bible: Our Bible reading falls into the "ancients" read-aloud category. For memorization, though, I have chosen Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
which I'm sure will take us at least eight weeks, if not sixteen. But I'm feeling deep emotion about this passage, as I've recognized that every other word out of my mouth the last year or so seems to be "it's not time for that, it's time to (fill in the blank)." I don't want to be a mother that is continually telling my boys that they can't wrestle, or be loud, or dig up the flowerplants...I want to be a mother that teaches her sons to recognize when those things are appropriate, and conversely, when it is appropriate to be silent, to embrace, to plant, to build. So I'm thrilled that God (and Solomon), in their wisdom, included this passage in the Holy Book and thankful for the opportunity to teach it to my children and watch its seeds begin to come alive in them.
Art: Ooh, this is a hard one for me. I am pretty much of the mindset that children should do art all day long! ....but I am hopeless when it comes to artistic creativity. Thankfully I married a man who is artistic to the core. I'm not planning a separate "art" segment yet, because I'm anticipating that the SOTW workbook will be full of crafts and art projects. If it turns out that isn't true, then Justin will take the reigns, and Fridays will become "Art with Daddy" days. And they just might anyway.
Montessori: On top of everything else....we'll focus each week on a different Life Skill to be taught in detail and practiced intentionally. Wonderful, majestic things like Saying Thank You (without prompting), Washing Dishes, Sewing, correctly Setting A Table, Sweeping, and (Daddy's favorite!) Being Silent. Hooray! I love how this instruction will further enforce the Ecclesiastes passage we'll be studying.
Whew! Is that it? What a whirlwind this homeschool thing is. As with every other area of parenting, it's dawning on me that homeschool, too, is more about my education than my childrens'. Thank you, Lord, for using these boys to refine me!
"But women will be restored through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety" I Timothy 2:15

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