Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Tricks and Feeding the Masses

Trying something new here... I've uploaded the attendance chart that I use to, but am having trouble locating a specific link to it at the moment. But here's a link to the feed, though I currently have only one file available. :)

Planning the School Year

As I sit here, organizing the coming year for my 2nd grader and the Kindergartener to be, I thought I'd kind of write down the thought process that helps me pull everything together, and maybe attach a document here and there over the next few weeks.

So because we did 2 years of Kindergarten, having started Ian a bit early, we are now entering our fourth year of homeschooling. We initially started out using My Father's World (MFW) Kindergarten, which I very much enjoyed. Then we went on to Sonlight Kindergarten, which I thought was more advanced than MFW, but also more expensive.

Some things worked better than others, so I began to look for other things to supplement or replace what didn't work for us. That led me to begin using some materials from Susan Wise Bauer such as The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, First Language Lessons, The Complete Writer: Writing With Ease and The Story of the World. Most of these things we borrowed from the library or from friends, and we liked them so much we bought them for ourselves just to have in our hot little hands. :)

So now as we approach the second grade year, I find myself once again tweaking the system, which kind of puts me into strange territory. For the first year ever I am starting out on my own, without someone having done the lesson planning for me. It's tempting to go out and purchase a Sonlight Instructor's Guide, but I already know what I want to do. I just need to organize the HOW of it.

So here's the process I've been going through for the last few weeks, in case you're interested.
  1. Since I really love Sonlight's selection of books. I go to their website, and see what books they are using for their 2nd graders (Level C). Once you are on the core curriculum page, you can click on the "Included Items" tab and see all the books you get if you purchase the core package. I copy the list and create a Word document listing of the books for my reference. I can get most of these books from the local library or request an inter-library loan if I decide to use them. The exception to this is usually the "Christian" books like "Missionary Stories with the Millers". These are books that I am willing to order either from Sonlight, Amazon or if the library doesn't have them.
  2. I also like My Father's World's selection of books, so I add some of their book recommendations to my book list. This year, I discovered the art program "I Can Do All Things" by Barry Stebbing. I want it so bad, and I want the DVD that I found out about too, but I'm trying to find it on eBay, because it's a bit pricey at this point.
  3. Finally, I check out the core curriculum at Timberdoodle, which I just discovered this year. I like their website, but I LOVVVVE their catalog!! They have some great resources, from toys to manipulatives to books. I pretty much want everything they have. :)
Now, of course, this is just the jumping off point for me, as I begin to weed through what I think we can reasonably accomplish in a year.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: The Action Bible

Around about Christmastime, we bought Ian-7yo yet another Bible. Knowing how many people groups still wait for a Bible, and knowing how many Bibles MY KIDS have, well I have such mixed feelings about that.... but I digress...

At any rate, the new Bible is called The Action Bible, and it is written entirely in graphical novel format. When I was initially researching this Bible I came across this little tidbit, which really delighted me:
"Sergio has worked for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. He attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art as well as the Word of Life Bible Institute in upstate New York."
Yay! A WOLBI alumni! Now, I have to confess that I had had some qualms about a Bible that was basically written as a comic book. I mean, we don't want to confuse the two, do we? If the kids have a Bible in a comic format, will it take away from The Truth? Some "experts" even say that having any pictures in a kids' Bible is inadvisable, and will confuse the children about the real events portrayed in their Bibles.

I can see their point. I really can. And of course that should be a concern. But I bought it anyway, and I'll tell you why. My son has recently discovered "reading", and cannot get enough of the graphical novels he finds in the library. Some of them are okay, some are a bit iffy, and I monitor what he takes out closely. It was my hope that if he had The Action Bible, that he would choose to spend more time looking at the Bible and maybe a little less on Star Wars. (As if!)

Having had The Action Bible in our possession for almost seven months now, I wanted to give a little review from the standpoint of a parent whose sons are totally enthralled with it. Although it was not my intention, my husband began using The Action Bible during our evening devotions with the boys. They love it! It's like the stories are coming alive to them, and I confess that I have also gotten some insights into the stories as well! And they are focused the whole time on the story and the pictures. They remember the stories long after we've read them too.

And the most recent development? Ian has been struggling to fall asleep at night, so I recently began allowing him to spend 15 minutes reading his Bible in bed. So on nightly basis he is spending at least 15 minutes reading his Bible, and I do mean READING, because afterwards he will come and read to ME!! And somewhere along the line I realized that he is actually teaching himself to read with his Bible, because he is sounding out words that I never taught him. It's pretty cool.


Kinda stumbled on this fun game, and since the 7yo saw me playing it, looks like we will be solving some puzzles in the near future.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Art, Not Just For Art's Sake, Follow Up

I've been meaning to follow up on my previous post about teaching through Art. I was delighted when shortly after my post, I received an email from Sharon Jeffus of Visual Manna asking me what it was I was interested in. She was so nice to give me more information, so I thought I'd pass it on in case you have been looking into her books as well. Here was our exchange:

Hi Sharon, Thank you for emailing me! All of your Teaching Through Art books look interesting to me, but I was specifically drawn to your site by the book Teaching History Through Art. My son is 7 and he LOVES Art. I think he'd enjoy this curriculum, but I was unsure about what the level and skills were that would be required. Thanks for any input you can provide!
Sharon's response:
If he is a mature 7, he would be able to use most of the lessons. In
the math and art, he would learn how to tell digital and analog time
and counting money, face proportions...might have trouble with
fractals....each book would have some things it might take till next
year for him to get....or longer....