Monday, February 26, 2018

Mid-Year Homeschool Curriculum Update {Kindergarten}

I thought I would pop in quickly to do a little recap on how our Kindergarten year has been going so far! Which curriculum we are loving, and which ones are not at the top of our list. I get so many ideas from other homeschoolers, and I always enjoy sharing what is and isn't working for us, as well. 
We are more than mid-year right now. We actually only have a couple months left! We have been cruising right along, and even with a long Christmas/vacation/moving break in December and part of January, we are still making pretty good progress so right now I think we should be finished up end of April or early May sometime. 

Language Arts
For English this year, I really wanted to avoid having tons of different books/curriculum for spelling, reading, writing, grammar, etc. It seemed overwhelming to choose different curriculum for each of those things, so I was on the hunt for one inclusive curriculum that covered it all, and I found it! We have been using Logic of English Foundations A&B this year and loving it! Logic of English Foundations is so thorough and complete. My girls aren't just learning to read, they are learning WHY words are formed the way they are and learning all of the rules, so that when they are done with this curriculum, they won't have to guess at words, they will be able to read and spell accurately because they know why it is the way it is. I have a reading endorsement so a good start for reading was really important to me and I really feel like they are getting that with this curriculum. I love that this program teaches them ALL of the sounds that letters make, not just the initial or most common sound. This has really helped to eliminate confusion when they are sounding out words, and learning new spelling rules. Overall, I would highly recommend this curriculum. I think you can really go at your own pace, as well. If I use this with my boys in a few years, we will probably take it a lot slower, but since the girls knew a lot of the information from book A, we sped through it a little faster. You could do one book per year and divide each lesson up into 2 or even 3 lessons, or you could do 2 lessons a day and get through it even quicker. We do 1 lesson per day and we finished up book A right before our Christmas break, which was perfect for us. We will be done with book B in about 5-6 weeks, I believe. My plan for right now is to casually go through book C over the summer a few times per week (this would take us about 20-30 minutes per day, so it won't take away from our fun summer activities) so that we can start with book D in the fall. I also don't want them to stop right when they are getting the hang of reading and I would like to continue on with that momentum. I have read that D is really just tying everything together and solidifying it, so I am hoping we can speed through that within the first few months next year and then we will start on with a different curriculum. They should be at least at a 2nd grade reading level by the time they finish D which I think is awesome! But, I am getting carried away here. Back to the here and now. My girls enjoy this curriculum for the most part. Some parts can be repetitive, but it is the things that need to be. There are gobs of different games and activities and different types of lessons within the curriculum that really keeps it fresh and keeps us from getting bored with it. I'm so glad we found this curriculum! 

My math review isn't as positive as my LA review ;) We are using Math U See Primer. We don't love it. I really wanted to. So many of the homeschool blogs and YouTube channels I follow use and love it and it sounded like a great program, but I guess it just isn't a good fit for us. I've only just admitted this to myself in the last couple of weeks. I was trying hard to make it work and we were all frustrated. My poor oldest was just about in tears for a week straight with a particular math skill and that's when I finally thought 'hey, maybe it's the curriculum that's not working.' I can't pinpoint exactly what isn't working, I just know that it isn't. My girls haven't really used the blocks, which is a huge part of Math U See. It slows them down and seems pointless for them because they can figure most of the things out without them, so they just don't end up using them. Which has been fine with me, but they also haven't gotten a lot of practice using them which I think would be helpful if we were to continue on with the program in future years (which as of now I don't think we will be). The lessons are taught on a DVD and we do them once per week. I feel like they're not super thorough and they kind of drive me nuts because the kids in the background are all yelling out the answers and are just generally kind of annoying and distracting. I like that there is a lesson taught to them, but maybe I've relied on that too much and should have just ignored those and taught it myself. The teacher's manual has been completely pointless. I think I've opened it twice. Each day my girls will do 2 worksheets from the book, so for example on monday they do lesson 22 A and 22 B. Tuesday they would do 22 C and 22 D, etc. Each lesson has A-G. It is SUPER repetitive which I know is necessary for mastery, but the way they teach things doesn't always make sense and at this point I would rather the girls have some math facts memorized than rely on the blocks or counting to figure out simple addition problems like Math U See has them doing. Overall I give it a 'meh'. It's not terrible, it's not great and we probably won't use it again. I am kind of thinking about scrapping it for the rest of this year and getting some general math workbooks and working on learning to tell time and doing some money skills for our last few months. 

For Bible this year, we have been using Bible Study Guide For All Ages and we have really enjoyed it! I feel that it is theologically very sound, which I appreciate. It does not sugar coat certain Bible stories (i.e. Noah) but still teaches in a very age appropriate way. My girls have learned A TON from this program this year and I love that. I only ordered the first book (lessons 1-26) to start, because I wanted to make sure that it aligned with our doctrinal beliefs, etc. before investing in it, so after I was sure of that, we ordered 2 more sets. I think I will need one more to get through the rest of this year, which would put us around lesson 104 at the end of our year. We used the Beginner level this year and it has worked out very well. I will read the lesson on the backside of the page and for example, I'll say "box 1" then read it and it has things for the girls to do in it. For example, they look at box 1 and it is a picture of Pharaoh sitting on his throne and Moses asking him to let his people go. There might be a bubble with the word NO coming from Pharaoh, or something similar. So when I read it, it'll say 'trace the word NO with red.' It helps them to really take in the story because they are doing something with it.

 I like that a lot. The girls LOVE doing Bible every day. After we are finished with the lesson, we do a read aloud and they color the picture from that lesson on the front of the page, which they absolutely love. Overall, I would recommend this program. I am interested to see what the next levels are like. I like that every level teaches the same lesson, so that in a few years when I have kids at different levels, we can all do it together, but their activities are a little different. I am looking forward to that. I think next year, we may use a different curriculum, just to mix things up a bit, and then come back to this in a few years when they boys are starting school :) My only complaint is that the books are very flimsy. They are just glue bound and fall apart right away (I think they're meant to tear apart easily for Sunday School classes and such), so I have been getting them bound, which isn't a huge deal, just something to note. It's a very affordable option at $5.95 for 26 lessons and no teacher's manual. 

Unit Study
This year we've been doing a unit study on Oceans and ocean animals. We have kind of ebbed and flowed with it a lot. We are going through kind of a dry spell with it right now and haven't done much of it since the holidays. We need to get back into it. It has been fun to just go at our leisure, and learn about whatever sea creatures the girls want to. We've done a few fun experiments and activities with it, which I should do more of. It has been a breath of fresh air, and something that feels more like fun than school. We will keep at it for the next few months and then we are ending it with a big fun surprise for the girls when we go on vacation ;) 

Read Alouds
Read Aloud is the favorite part of our homeschool day for both girls. We have been trucking right through our read aloud list, and even done a few good ones off the list so far. 
We have read: 
Freckle Juice
Pippi Longstocking
James & The Giant Peach
A Bear Called Paddington
McBroom's Wonderful One Acre Farm
My Father's Dragon
Dr. Doolittle
Secret Mermaid: Seaside Adventure
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Left from our list are: 
Charlotte's Web (which we just started today!) 
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles (not sure if we'll do this one this year) 
Mary Poppins
Peter Pan
We are probably going to do Alice in Wonderland at some point, as well as a few others. 

Enrichment Classes
My oldest goes to enrichment classes one day a week through the local school district. On that day every week she gets art, music, P.E., science, history, lunch & recess. She has absolutely loved it and I really like how the program is run and all of the teachers. She has done tons of fun projects and learned so much. She has gotten to do pottery from beginning to end-molding the clay, painting and firing it in the kiln, grow grass, grow wheat, learn about the parts of a plant, she's rehearsing for a music performance, and so much more! Next year both girls will go together, which will be a lot of fun. I was hesitant about sending her, but I am so glad we decided to go ahead with it. We are really fortunate to have a lot of awesome homeschooling options in our area.

That's about it for this year! I am already starting to look into curriculum for next year and come up with a plan for our 1st grade year! This year has flown by. I am getting really excited to nail down our programs for next year and share those in a few months! 

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