And for the other subjects...
Lia and I started the All About Reading Program this week and it is a wonderful fit for her. We spent quite a bit of time going through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons last year but only made it to lesson 20 or so... Lia had a hard time with that book because there was so much print on each page. I found that she was very distracted and couldn't focus on the items I was pointing to in the book. To improvise, I made flash cards for the individual letter sounds and more flash cards for the words we were sounding out. This was definitely the correct method for her but we were still not making progress very fast and she began to dread our lessons. So this summer, I ordered the BOB books so we could keep practicing but not have to do formal lessons. Lia loved the BOB books and we were able to progress through them slowly... eventually making it to book 7 in the first set. I did notice however, that she seemed to memorize the story so I still wasn't confident about her sound blending skills. So... I am thrilled with the formal lessons in All About Reading, level 1. Each day we are spending time blending sounds with magnetic letter tiles on a gigantic magnetic board... so she is not getting distracted by pictures or words she doesn't need to be seeing at the moment. We are cutting and coloring fun worksheets and playing a new board game for each lesson. The program also comes with letter phonogram flash cards and word practice flash cards which I already had found work well for Lia and this time, I don't have to make them from scratch so win-win! I was very happy with how our first week went and Lia looks forward to her lessons and putting a star on her progress chart as we finish each lesson. It is taking us a few days to get through each lesson but she is having fun and we are practicing each day so now I just have to patient and hope everything clicks into place.
David continues to be a very strong reader. I have him read aloud to me several times a week. I am still loving Seton's Faith and Freedom reader series. David is currently in the middle of the 2nd grade book, volume 2. Last year, he would read 3 pages to me each day and complain if I had him read more. (stamina issues?) This year he has to complete the story which is often 6-7 pages long. He didn't complain too much and he seems to read more comfortably the more he reads so I'm just going to go with that tactic. The stories in these readers are so sweet and currently we are on a section about preparing for first communion so they are very appropriate for him!
We are still using Spelling Workout by Modern Curriculum Press. David will finish up level B and start C this year. Emily will finish up level D and start E this year. The kids work through the exercises in each lesson and then I give them a spelling test. If they miss any words, I just keep putting them on their next test until they spell them correctly.
David and I are picking up on First Language Lessons level 2 right where we left off last year. I continue to like this curriculum. It is a gentle but thorough approach to teaching grammar and David enjoys it so it works for us! We should finish this semester and start level 3 in the spring. Emily continues to practice her English grammar in her Latin studies so I may not implement a formal English grammar program for her this year. She is also signed up for an online writing and grammar class starting next month which will cover some grammar... (more below)
David and I began Writing With Ease, Level 2 this week. I love this program as well. This year he continues to listen to quality literature passages like in level 1, but must summarize the passage in 2-3 sentences. This will obviously take some practice because when he summarizes things, he likes to tell me everything! I like the way this book gently guides the students to pick out the most important aspects of a story and it is kind of like a game to do it in 2-3 sentences. He also continues to do copywork but must also take dictation on what he copied and try to remember how to spell and punctuate the passage without having it in front of him. Good stuff.
Emily will take her first live online class through Homeschool Connections and I am excited to see how this will work out. The class she is taking is called Middle School Writing Essentials: Excellent Sentence and Paragraph Writing and it is 6 weeks in length. She will see and hear her teacher through the online classroom and she will have a microphone to ask questions or can type her questions through chat. There will be weekly assignments and she will receive a grade so I think it will be a good experience for her as she progresses in her writing ability. We shall see!
We sit at the kitchen table as a family to read from our history text, Story of the World, Volume 2 (The Middle Ages). The activity book has coloring pages so Lia doesn't mind listening in and it also provides map work for each chapter, which all the kids complete. Emily takes her lessons a bit further by keeping her own time line. We have some oversized construction paper which she has marked off 2 inches for each century. Every time we encounter a date in our reading, she marks it on her timeline and 'googles' an appropriate image to paste on for fun. We will also mark books we read that are set in the middle ages or saints we study so we can know what other things were going on in the time period. She is also researching topics in our history encyclopedia, listing interesting facts, practicing outlining and preparing short written summaries about the topics she finds most interesting each week.
Emily has a formal literature list this year to tie in our studies of the Middle Ages time period. I spent some time this summer reading all of them and am excited for Emily as they are a good fit for her. We are supposed to discuss these books and do some writing assignments. I'm not sure exactly how I will tackle this but I'll figure it out as I go. I think the main point in to read and enjoy (appreciate) the books. The first book, Beowulf, A New Telling was very exciting! She'll also read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Canterbury Tales, The Inferno of Dante, Saint George and The Dragon, and The Sword in the Stone. And if all that goes well, we will tackle Shakespeare at the end... maybe A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The kids select poems from The Harp and Laurel Wreath and try to memorize a stanza each week till they finish the poem. This week David memorized The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay and Emily is working on The Destruction of Sennacherib by George Gordon Byron. I really enjoy hearing the kids practice their poems. Good stuff.
Emily continues choir at church on Thursdays for music and art classes on Fridays. We will all attend classes at the nature center once a month with our catholic homeschool group. We have done this in the past and always enjoy the lectures and nature walks but especially the hands on activities where the kids can get messy digging in the dirt or finding things in the pond.
And I think that is it for now. :-) Wish us luck on another year of homeschooling. I think we'll need it!