Monthly Archives: April 2012

Almost Done

I certainly haven’t been updating the blog frequently and it’s been nice to let myself off the hook when it comes to blogging, but I thought I’d post a small update on where we are in our year. We recently made it to the end of Caroline’s Letter of the Week reading plan. She knew all the letters and sounds long before we made it to ‘Z’, but she enjoyed her special book, learning poems, sign language and doing fun activities each week that went along with her letter. She would proudly tell friends and family what letter we were on after they had asked Elliot what Five in a Row book he was reading and what he was studying. It was really great to be able to give her something special of her own and make homeschooling real for her after she had witnessed all that Elliot got to do the previous year. The timing of our arrival at ‘Z’ worked out perfectly, as we ended up going to the Dallas Zoo for Homeschool Day last week. We enjoyed beautiful weather and had a perfect day!

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My little map-lover led the way the entire time. I was thankful for his help!
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We got tickets to ride the monorail.
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For the last five weeks of school, Caroline and I will be reading all her favorite books and she’ll be continuing to work on her writing (She can write her name, her brother’s name, and several of her sight words.) and her reading (She’s doing great in this area also and is able to read almost any three letter word!) while also reviewing numbers up to 30 and skip counting.

Elliot and I have enjoyed the all the Five in a Row books we’ve completed thus far and have had a great time with some of the topics we’ve studied. He was particularly interested in World War II, which we studied for an entire month while reading All Those Secrets of the World and A New Coat for Anna. We also studied the Appalachian Mountains again when we read When I was Young in the Mountains and Down, Down the Mountain. Today we started our second to last book of the year, Follow the Drinking Gourd. We’ll be studying the underground railroad and constellations. We’re going camping next weekend and are looking forward to doing some star gazing if the conditions are right for it.

We’ll be wrapping up all our other curriculum in the next 3-4 weeks and thus wrapping up first grade! Elliot has amazed me this year with his progress in reading. He’s reading at close to a fifth grade level and devouring 3-4 books each week. Our trips to the library now include me counting and making sure we’ve got enough books to satisfy him for a week before we leave. I never expected this to be happening in the first grade. Elliot is also turning into a great speller (probably due to the number of words he is coming across as he reads all these books) which has really impressed me. He loves copying pages from his favorite books and spends much of his free time doing this. Pushing him to practice reading and writing is not something I’ve ever had to do because he enjoys doing it so much completely on his own. He’s a great student and he’s excited to be a second grader soon!

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My New School Year Planning Plan!

You know you’ve reached a new level of obsessiveness when you start planning how you’re going to plan your school year, but this is who I am, as crazy as it sounds! I’ve spent the last two summers working my tail off trying to plan the following year so I decided I wanted to make an official planning schedule that allows me to relax and enjoy the summers, especially now that I’ve shortened our summers to eight weeks and added some extra shorter breaks in throughout the year (twelve consecutive weeks of no real routine has been just too much). My planning for the next year now starts in February. I start buying curriculum with the intention of having everything purchased by the end of March. April and May are my planning months, where I go through all my curriculum and figure when and how often it needs to be done to be completed by the end of the year. I absolutely have to know that we are going to finish everything in time or else I go nuts with worry, and a worried homeschool mom is not a good thing to be! At the end of May I plan on buying all new supplies (lots and lots of paper, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, etc.) and then I get to have eight restful weeks until we start back at the beginning again!

Here are a few of the things that get done during my planning phase:

I’d be lost without Evernote on my iPad/ iPhone. I keep so many notes for homeschooling on it that I can always have with me as long as I have my phone. Since our school revolves around our literature units, the first thing I do is schedule those and and try to match them up with the best time of year.

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I also keep a running list to things I need to buy and do that I delete as I do them. This list was SUPER long about a month ago and I’ve finally made some progress on it and am excited to keep taking things off.

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One thing I’m doing differently this year is instead of teaching right out of my FIAR manual, I made my own plan book with only the lessons I plan on doing each day. I found my self getting overwhelmed with all that was in the manual or having trouble finding something specific I knew I had read before, so this allows me to customize our FIAR days and add my own ideas as well.

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Then I start working on notebooks. This year I am simplifying quite a bit, but we still have a couple notebook pages I’ve made myself to go with each story. Here we have new vocabulary terms, which most books have.

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There are also some pages that are specific to each book. For instance, we’ll be doing some additional pages on animal classification, food groups, homophones, etc.)

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This is an oldie but goodie that we do for each and every book.

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This is a copywork page (from homeschoolshare.com).

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And then there are a few other things I’ve found to put in that go along with some of our stories.

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Caroline’s notebook is still a work in progress, but she will have lots of handwriting practice, narration and drawing prompts, and other activities that go along with our family theme and her various books.

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With all our other curriculum, I go through and see how many lessons per week/day we have to do. If one lesson is broken up into several days, I mark where we will stop after each day so that I don’t have to sit there and count how many pages they do. Elliot knows very well by now that the dot at the top of the page means “Go no further!”.
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Then are also things I add in for certain subjects. With phonics, for instance, I plan out sentences with words and sounds that go with the current lesson that I will dictate and Elliot will practice writing. This really helps reemphasize what he’s learned and has greatly improved his spelling and grammar as well.
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And then there’s math. It’s pretty simple since it’s all there for me in our curriculum and is very easily divided into weekly lessons. The hardest part about it is taking all the pages out of the books (Seriously….it’s a beating. I’ve had to reinforce so many hole punches because they ripped when I was trying to get them out.) and putting them in a notebook, which I like to do ahead of time so they are easy to grab when I need them. I add some extras here and there, such as reproducible worksheets on things such as graphs, money, time, measurement, etc. that I keep in a separate file folder for when I think he needs extra practice on something.

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So that’s what I’ve been doing these days! It keeps me busy and helps me get excited to start fresh next year!

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