Monday, April 23, 2012

All About Spelling - Level 1 review

We chose All About Spelling - Level 1 for our spelling/phonics curriculum for first grade.  I am so glad we found this curriculum right off the bat!  Jujubee and I both loved it, and she thrived!  For this set, you need the Teacher's Manual, the Student packet, and you can buy the letter tiles, a box to keep everything in, and some other items.  (I do suggest the phonogram CD, sometimes it is hard to say the phonograms without an accent).  I got lucky and they offered a free CD with purchase! (Adding, they now offer a free phonogram app on iTunes!)

One thing I suggest is either making your own letter tiles (super easy!) or - if you have an iPad - getting a letter tile spelling app.  I made my own tiles, THEN found the app, of course.  The "I speak word wizard" app was $2.99 and the AAS letter tiles were $11.95 on their site.  To make my own with magnetic paper it probably would have cost me $5-8.00 if I hadn't gotten the magnetic sheets free from a friend.  The nice thing about the app is that you can input the spelling words in there and it will read them to your child, letting them practice whenever, wherever!  Sometimes the accent is a bit hard to understand, but I am always nearby so I was able to tell her what the word was (since I put it in).  We also just used a regular index card holder for our review cards.  The box they offer is nice, and $9.95, which really isn't bad considering you'd pay about the same or more at an office supply store for that size box, but we already had an index card holder.

There are 24 steps in the first level.  It is designed to do each step over the course of a week (approximately), but Juju went through each step in just one lesson, occasionally two.  The phonogram cards were fantastic to practice with, and the rules were easy for her to understand.  The child is able to check off each step on a little chart as they finish them, and they also check off their "mastered" phonograms.  Jujubee, being very much like her mommy, loved this.  Oh, how we love checklists in this family...

We will definitely be getting level 2 for second grade.  I am placing my order through and getting free shipping!  I haven't been able to find it cheaper anywhere else.

Outdoor Secrets Review

For first grade science, we decided to go with a Charlotte Mason style curriculum - Outdoor Secrets, along with the Outdoor Secrets companion.  The plan was to finish this, then move on to the body on our own.

At first, we did okay.  We'd get the recommended library books, read them as scheduled along with the stories from Outdoor Secrets, and do the experiments.  But after a while, we got really, really bored.  It seemed like we really weren't learning anything that was new, or important.  A lesson on the century plant - a plant which will grow in the desert, blooms once per century, and dies.  Yes, it is important to know there are different plants in different parts of the world.  However, I feel this book was poorly laid out, and the stories were a little hard to follow the way they were written.

The stories are written from the plants (or animals) point of view, but it takes a minute to catch on to what they are saying.  It also personifies pretty much everything in the story.  The sun, the wind, the leaves, etc.  This all would sound lovely, except it just doesn't make much sense, and like I said, is hard to follow what exactly they are talking about.  You don't really get the point until the end, and even then it is not really clear.

Overall, I was very disappointed with this for our Science Curriculum.  I could have (and will next year) done a better job just by looking at my "what your first grader needs to know" guide and getting living books that went along with it.  I don't feel like we learned even half of what we should have been covering this year, which is frustrating.  For second grade, we will either do as I suggested above with the "what your second grader needs to know", or find another guide to go by since it seems to be a bit different than what we were planning.

Things will *always* come up...

Just when you think you have everything under control...

Things were going fantastic with our homeschooling venture.  The girls were doing great, I was having a ball and really had things going well.

Then, I realized I have been really tired lately.  And gosh, it has been a while since I had my last... Mmmhmmm... three dollar store tests later (I have a problem) my suspicions were confirmed!  We would be expecting our third little one in approximately 7-8 months.

That sent my entire world into a flurry!  All of a sudden, I could barely get off the couch or move without being extremely nauseous or sick, and I was beyond tired.  Needless to say, not much got done for the next couple weeks.  (okay, okay, more like a month... possibly two...)

It took several months before I felt like "me" again, which really made homeschooling difficult.  I second guessed myself, felt guilty, thought about sending Juju bee to regular school.  Then, I realized that just isn't an option for us.  Not with everything she went through in kindergarten.  So, I made sure we got the basics done every day.  Math, reading, writing.  If nothing else, those got done.  Thankfully we had finished our handwriting early, but we still did copy work.  Juju excels at spelling, so we flew through that.  However, science and history along with the arts got thrown to the backseat.  I was in survival mode.

Now, it is the end of April and I am feeling good.  I'm 34 weeks along, so hopefully we will be able to complete everything before baby arrives (girl #3!).  We have completed our science curriculum (Outdoor secrets, review on that later), our spelling curriculum (All about spelling, level 1 - loved it) and are nearing the end of our math curriculum (Saxon 1).  History still has gotten pushed to the back burner, we are about halfway through and I plan on just letting her go through the ancient time periods leisurely through the summer by reading living books.

So, even with our little "setback", we have been doing pretty good!  It really made me realize just how much easier it is to get through the work at home versus at a regular school.  They are there for 6-8 hours a day, and do less than we do in our 2-3 hours a day.  I am still a little nervous about next year, being as our little one will only be 2-3 months old when we start back, but I think I have realized we will be okay. I am definitely going to be looking for more independent curriculums for Juju, just to keep my sanity for the next few months.

We will see where life takes us from here!