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Oct 27, 2012

First Quarter Reviews!

Science: Science Math Technology
My last post finished up our 8 week unit on Applied Science. It covered many early learner science topics. Some require a quick trip to the library for suggested reading. Others required getting creative with our house and finding ways to make a lab work. And still others required borrowing a few things like a microscope (from my in-laws :). After 8 weeks I'm pleased to say that integrating science into our full curriculum this year has been generally easy and pretty stress free. Also its a subject my boys love. Feel free to follow along with us and use this free curriculum SciMaTe. The biggest pros are that it's all pre-planned and not too complicated to teach-meaning you don't need a degree in biology, chemisty, physics,etc. The cons are that it does require a few expensive tools such as a microscope. However, many schools will allow you to borrow one of theirs or you can buy one on Amazon; just look at it as buying an investment in to your kids education.

Math: Saxon Math Level 1
Initially using Saxon wasn't easy. The main reason is because is requires a good 45 minutes to do each lesson and we were trying to do it all at once-bad idea! The lessons are split into two parts for a reason. The first part, The Meeting, covers learning the calendar then the further your student progresses the more topics are integrated into it. The first few lessons are about the calendar, and writing the date every day on a piece of paper, then counting to 100 is added, then money counting is added, then the recognition of new shapes (ie parallelogram), then writing about seasons, and on. The second part is called the Lesson. The lesson changes everyday and covers the standard first grade level math topics with a practice worksheet at the end to encourage mastery of skills and a number fact worksheet to mark progress then later in the evening the back of the practice worksheet is completed to give students more practice. Overall I'd say that Saxon is a good Math Curriculum for homeschooling. It's really thorough and includes regular testing to ensure mastery of skills which for math is extremely important because as you know math builds on itself. The only thing I'd say about Saxon is that it does require a commitment to time and focus-for the early levels the teacher is sitting with the student 95% of the time and there is continual dialogue for EVERY lesson. If that is not you're style of teaching or you prefer your students work more independently then Saxon is not for you. In addition, the greatest pro of using Saxon is that it is all scripted so the math teacher doesn't have to figure out (no pun intended) how to teach a new topic! 

Language Arts: LIFEPAC Language Arts level 1, All About Spelling level 1 and up
LifePAC makes 5 subject sets (Bible, LA, Math, Science, and History/Geography). For the LA LifePAC it comes with 10 workbooks and a teacher guide. Basically your student goes through the workbooks while the teacher discusses the title, the objective, and activity with the student. The nice thing about these workbooks is that they're worded simply so Junior can read the verses and directions easily and work somewhat independently. The biggest con is not a bad problem:the work might be too easy. As we move through however, I've noticed the topics getting more complex. The biggest PRO of the curriculum is that its all Biblical based and while you're kids are learning Language Arts they're also learning about the Bible-that's GREAT!

All About Spelling: This is a great spelling program. For starters is very reasonably priced which, for some homeschoolers, is a big concern. Its simple and tackles spelling in a logical and step by step method. It's multisensory and gives helpful hints for the teacher in every step. And even though it's a spelling program it has helped my boys advance in reading tremendously. I love that my boys think its fun to spell and get excited when we "do spelling" because it means they get to use the spelling tiles. For a student like Junior where he sometimes has a hard time focusing and integrating what he's learning, All About Spelling makes learning fun and interesting. For example, the majority of our "ah-ha" moments throughout ALL our schooling come during our work with AAS.

History and Geography: LIFEPAC History Geography, A+ 50 States Workbook and The 50 States
For LifePAC Geography and History see my above review, it basically is the same.  The A+ United States workbook is a great start for a first grader looking to learn the basics of the 50 states. There are a variety of activities per state and handwriting practice. The 50 States education book gives more formal information about each state, ie. State Stats and Fun Facts. It also has two maps that show more information and help give the student a better sense of the states location. We do the LifePAC Geo/Hist. 3 times per week and the geography workbooks twice per week for 5 days of Geography and History.  

Bible: LIFEPAC Bible
Words cannot express how much I appreciate this curriculum. The foremost reason we homeschool is this: Ephesians 6:4 And fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. This curriculum falls exactly in line with that. It lays out principles of the Bible in a simple and understandable way. Along with that your children are learning about God, His character. Your children learn about love, the Fruits of the Spirit, and about people, relationships, and the world around us. Its fun to learn alongside your students as you teach and they learn and really opens wide a door to the most important conversations you can have with your kids, the gospel. 

Along with many supplemental educational tools, games, activities, and unit studies kour art, music, and P.E. these 5 curriculums are the basis of our homeschool education and as of yet will continue work. I've made little tweaks here and there but overall not one part of it is too much or too little. Now if I could only figure out the right balance with my toddler ;) 


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