Our 2014-2015 Curriculum Choices

schoolbooksThough I’m a big believer in enjoying the summer these days. And feel one of the advantages of homeschooling is that I can start school after Labor Day like when I was a kid – a good indicator that its fall and time for school, I am in the throws of preparing for our school year.

With our recent move things are in a crazy mess but its coming together. We have fixed the scanner and printer, got the computers up and running and I’m in the process of unpacking and organizing the homeschool room.

However, I am aware that many people are starting their school years (or already have) so I thought I would move forward with sharing our 2014-2015 school year curriculum choices. This year I have a 4th grader, a Kindergartener, and a baby in tow. So, here’s the plan for another great Classical year.

4th Grader

Classical Conversations – Classical Conversations is our primary curriculum. (Check out this post about why we love Classical Conversations and find it an essential component to our homeschool.) It involves Math, History, Geography, Science, Latin, English Grammar, and Timeline. We have one community day and the rest is working on memorizing the facts and expanding on some of the concepts.

Language Art- This will be our first year with Essentials program through Classical Conversations and we will be doing the very basics of the EEL and IEW programs to work on grammar and writing this year.

Math - Math U See Gamma. We took the summer off of Math. Saying that, we did work on math games and math facts online regularly. We will supplement with math fact games includes UberSmart Math and CTC Math Speed Skills.

History -We are reading from This Country of Ours and Story of the World vol 4 this year. Additionally, we are working through Diana Waring’s America: A Heart of a New Nation to learn folk songs that go along with various historical times we studying.

Latin - We are using Visual Latin 1 this year to step up our Latin studies. This will be our first year with this.

Chinese - We have been using Rosetta Stone Mandarin Chinese for the past 2 years. This year we are going to be joining an online class through CurrClick – Mandarin Chinese 1 by Mandarin Chinese Now. We are excited to do this as we have done a few short term classes with Mrs. Hong and found them to be excellent. We have decided that we want to add the conversational element to our Chinese studies this year.

French - We will continue using French Essentials this year. We started with it last year and then decided to take a break from French. My daughter has requested we start back with French this year.

Science - We will be using Supercharged Science to work through Anatomy and Chemistry components to correspond with Science sentence in Classical Conversations.

Keyboarding - We are still determining our plans for keyboarding this year. We are considering Keyboarding without Tears as we have used the free BBC Dance Mat Typing in the past.

Handwriting - We use copywork from our Classical Conversations sentences to work on handwriting. Cursive has been our focus last year and this year, though we will continue to work on printing as well.

Bible Study - This year we will be working through Bible Study Guide for All Ages. We are excited to start back up with this and include both children in the same study.

Music - In Classical Conversation we study orchestra, various classical periods and pieces, as well as famous composers. We have a subscription to Classical Composers Monthly that we will use to focus our studies. (Review coming soon.) We look forward to using this to expand our music studies. Additionally, our daughter will be taking piano lessons again as well as continue her studies on the tin whistle with classical conversations.

Art - In Classical Conversations we study art, art periods, famous arts, and work on different basic art styles. We will continue this practice at home after being introduced on community day. My daughter has a love for art and we are considering other avenues to develop art but haven’t made a final determination yet.

Free Reading - We will have several books we plan to get through this year. She will have time to read some that she picks from the library as well as go through a list that we have made for her to read this year. She is a great reader and this is her favorite part. From time to time she is asked to do a presentation, report, or paper on a book she has read.  Look for a post soon about our reading list for this year.

Home Economics – My daughter is joining American Heritage Girls this year so we will be working on badges in our spare time. She will continue working through her 4-H cook book as well.  She has taken up crocheting and she is hoping to keep working on it and expanding her sewing and crocheting skills.

Kindergarten

Our son is starting Kindergarten – this is very exciting and I’m looking forward to the new challenge of integrating him into our day more.

Classical Conversations – Classical Conversations is our primary curriculum. It involves Math, History, Geography, Science, Latin, English Grammar, and Timeline. We have one community day and the rest is working on memorizing the facts and expanding on some of the concepts. Including geography drawing and science videos and experiments at home.

Math - Our son started working on Math U See Primer at the end of last year and will continue working through the book. We will likely wrap up Primer and begin Alpha before the end of the year.

Bible -  This year we will be working through Bible Study Guide for All Ages. We are excited to start back up with this and include both children in the same study.

Chinese - We are using Muzzy Mandarin Chinese videos for Chinese. We also you You Tube for additional Mandarin videos (see how here.)

Handwriting - We are using handwriting sheets from Confessions of a Homeschooler to work on handwriting.

Science - We are using Magic School Bus videos that correspond with the science topics. We did this with my daughter her 1st grade year when we did Cycle 3 with Classical Conversations last time and it worked out great. We are looking forward to doing it again. (Look for my science pair up posts to follow through the year.)

Reading - We are using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for reading. We are about 1/4 through the lessons at this time and plan to finish up before the end of the year.

Extras - We use ABC Mouse for extra fun practice as well as Ubersmart Math and Reading Eggs from time to time. My son enjoys computer time and earns computer time by doing his other chores and school.

Whew – It seems like a lot when you write it all out but actually its pretty low key. About an hour a day for the Kindergarteners and about 3 hours to 4 hours a day for the 4th grader. They will do Classical Conversations memory work and games together. Magic School Bus videos are usually what we watch at lunch time together.  They will do Bible Study together in the morning. We will have reading lessons during the baby’s naptime because that takes the most dedicated time for me. During that time my daughter will be doing her independent work. She will have my dedication attention after reading lessons while my son is playing and, God willing, the baby is still sleeping.

I’m looking forward to a great year. I’m excited to watch my son grow and my daughter develop into a strong student. This is going to be a great year for sure.

Overall we didn’t make any drastic changes this year (other than drastically adding to the day with a Kindergartener :) ) but otherwise this is pretty much what we have been doing. We have found a pretty good rhythm. I’m looking forward to seeing how it works when we begin our year.

Did you make any big changes this year to your curriculum choices? I would love to hear how you teach children together with a wide age span.

Word of the Week – A is for Ambivalent

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We have been trying to have a word of the week for quite some time and don’t do such a great job. It drops off as soon as things get busy. So when I decided to participate in Blogging Through The Alphabet with some of my blogging friends I decided this is what we would do – we would blog through the alphabet with a “Word of the Week” beginning with the Letter of the Week for the blog post.

Now my children are elementary age so these words are aimed at developing my elementary school aged kids vocabulary but are generally words that I think are interesting, unique or something kids should know.

So, I hope you enjoy our vocabulary development with Blogging Through the Alphabet – Word of the Week as we begin with A.

A is for ambivalent

Definition: mixture of opposite feelings

Used in a sentence:

Emma felt ambivalent about going to camp because she knew it would be fun but she she would miss her family.

(replace the words “mixed feeling” with the word “ambivalent” in the sentence above to understand the meaning in the sentence)

How we worked with the word:

  • Write the word and its definition in our vocabulary notebook.
  • Read the definition out loud.
  • Write two sentences using the word properly.

Do you use vocabulary words in your school? What do you like to do with developing vocabulary for your children?

 

Read more Blogging Through the Alphabet posts by clicking the below button.

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Fun with Math Online – CTC Math Review

CTC Math Review

One of the things I love about reviewing materials for the TOS Crew is that I have the opportunity to try new products that I might not have tried if not for the review. This is the case with CTC Math. Reviewing CTC Math and their 12 Month Family Plan was a fun and enjoyable review and I’m certainly glad that we able to do it.

Having decided that we were happy with our math programs, we weren’t sure we even wanted to review anything math related but CTC Math looked unique and something with which we could supplement. However, what we found is that it is a full curriculum in itself or a great supplement to many other math programs.

What is CTC Math?
CTC Math’s 12 Month Family Plan is a complete, online math program providing 1,366 animated and narrated math lessons. Appropriate for all ages and grade level, CTC Math offers almost 60,000 interactive questions from Kindergarten through high school math. There is little repetition and something new to learn at all levels. There are diagnostic tests available on most subjects helping the child (and parent) assess the child’s current understanding of a math skill.

The 24/7 online math tutor is great to have available. Each student has his or her own sign in so they are able to see their progress immediately. The student can work the lessons in order or search through the topics and work on a topic that he or she needs to work on.

Each topic has a 4-9 minute interactive lesson with questions that test their knowledge at the end or there is a printable worksheet. The animated and interactive lessons are colorful and fun. The easy-to-follow instructions make it easy for the kids to use the program independently. CTC Math also includes math games for drilling purposes that the kids will love.

ctcmath lessonsHow We Used CTC Math
My Kindergarten son enjoyed the math section (he’s a math kid) and particularly enjoyed the animation such as counting the bounces of a ball or the digs of a shovel in his counting lesson. We do not have a formal math program for our son and he enjoys using online programs so CTC Math was fun for him.

Mom – I have a new high score                 – Leyton, Kindergarten

My 3rd grade daughter used the lessons as an additional math program. She went through the sections that corresponded with what she was already studying, completing the CTC Math lessons teaching the skill as well as playing the Speed Skills games to drill math facts. For instance, we were studying rounding in math so she was able to find a lesson on rounding to further practice, and, therefore, cement her knowledge of rounding. Having the lesson presented differently than her main math program, to me, showed that she was able to grasp the topic wholly. The program tells the student their progress and the percentage they got right. She had to do it three times before getting 100 percent correct in rounding so I found this to be good practice for her and I was able to watch her progress improve.

ctc speedskills

CTC Math Speed Skills Game

My 3rd grader also used the Speed Skills portion of the CTC Math 12 Month Family Plan. We did Speed Skills most everyday as it is quick and simple to use to drill math facts. In this part of the program, the student is able to work on drilling the math facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. There are 4 levels to choose from with Level 1 being only Addition and Subtraction. Level 2 drilling Addition, Subtraction and Multiplication, Level 3 including Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division. And Level 4 including Addition, Subtraction, Mixed Multiplication and Division, Division with Remainder, and Order of Operations. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed her Speed Skills. The Speed Skills portion tests the child to see how many questions they can answer correctly in 60 seconds. Then they play repeatedly to try and beat their high score. She also played Times Table Shoot Em’ and really enjoyed that game as well.

Speed Skills – I Love Speed Skills              – Avarie, 3rd Grade

The CTC Math 12 Month Family Plan provides parents with a separate login in order to manage the accounts and view the progress. I found this very helpful and easy to navigate. It was nice to be able to receive an email with progress reports as well. This was an available option in my online profile. Seeing what each child was doing and how they were progressing was great.

What We Thought
Overall, we all liked CTC Math. My Kindergarten son liked the animation available in the math. My daughter LOVED Speed Skills and I liked the number of comprehensive tests and diagnostic tests available as well as the reports and ease in seeing how the kids were doing and what areas they needed additional assistance. It was easy to find a particular skill that needed to be worked on with the search feature. I liked the one-page summary of the lesson as well, which was nice if we wanted to go back over the lesson together.

We liked that we could skip grade levels easily so we could review concepts if necessary without having to worry that it was in a previous year that we could not access. It was nice to be able to simply go back to where we needed.

You can access a free trial of CTC Math and the 12 Month Family Plan on their website. You can purchase a 12 Month Family Plan to CTC Math for you and your family for $118.80 for a year for the whole family.

Check out CTC Math and their 12 Month Family Plan on their website or on social media:
CTC Math Website: http://ctcmath.com
Facebook CTC Math - https://www.facebook.com/ctcmath?ref=hl
Facebook Aus (Maths Online) – https://www.facebook.com/mathsonline.com.au?ref=hl

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