Sunday, May 27, 2012

Choices, Choices

I'm just back from the FPEA, Florida Homeschool Convention in Orlando, FL!  This was my second year venturing out to the Gaylord Palms Resort for another relaxing, overwhelming, encouraging and moving weekend. 

This time I vowed to spend more time in the speakers' sessions and less time in the Exhibit Hall shopping.  But you know how that goes......All in all, we made it to three seminars all weekend.  But how many hours did we spend perusing curricula in the Exhibit Hall?  I lost count.

Here are the things I was looking for and the things I'm still contemplating for 2012-2013:

Core/History:  Tapestry of Grace, Year 3 (the 1800's).  I've used this curriculum for two years in a row--hoping to use it for a third if I can find it used at the right price (or borrow it--hint, hint).  I love the classical model for education and Tapestry is the ultimate in my opinion.  It's overwhelming to look at, but I use it as a foundation for history, literature and activities. 

I like to use Story of the World alongside Tapestry and this year we will be vaccilating between Volume 3 and 4.  The booklist for this year is exhaustive, consisting mostly of books on the Louisiana Purchase, Westward Expansion, the Civil War, the Underground Railroad and the Industrial Revolution.  Lots of good titles for history and literature in this mix!  I also purchased two of Greathall Productions storytelling CDs for history (Lewis & Clark and Abe Lincoln).

Math:  Continuing with Teaching Textbooks.  This year, Math5 and Math6. 

Science:  For the first time, I'm farming this subject out with a local Young Anatomist Class in a nearby town.  Looking forward to letting an expert who is passionate about science take the reigns from me for at least one subject!  We will continue to stay engaged with quality science documentaries as we have time.

Grammar:  First Language Lessons has come to the end of its available levels, so we are moving to Winston Grammar.  Also keeping with Daily Grams for daily grammar warm-ups.

Spelling:  This one has been the bane of my existence since the beginning.....the first program we tried was called Spelling Power, but it wasn't the "genuine" Spelling Power that everyone loves.  It was some knock-off brand of workbooks with (you'll never guess)....spelling errors!!  I was appalled.  We switched to Sequential Spelling, but it wasn't sticking with them.  We have used a Harcourt workbook from Barnes and Noble for the rest of this year and it's worked okay.  My 10 year old flew through the 6th grade book with hardly any errors.  My 12 year old, who struggles with spelling, was having a lot of difficulty, though. So I have two problems.  To find a better hands-on method of teaching basic phonics to my 12 year old so that he can fill those mental gaps and become a better speller.  And also, to properly challenge my 10 year old, who seems to have a photographic memory! 

This year, I'm trying All About Spelling Level 5 for my struggling speller.  I'm still learning the program, but it appears to use letter tiles to incorporate a kinesthetic element.  It is promoted by IEW as a forerunner for Phonetic Zoo.  I'm hopeful.

For my spelling whiz, I'm hoping to take a closer look at MegaWords, or just have him study the Abeka Spelling Challenges book, which is designed for Spelling Bees and Competitions.  Still accepting suggestions in this area!

Handwriting:  Cursive Connections

Bible/Worldview:  I thought we'd read through Ken Ham's Answers, Books 1-3, as well as go through God's Great Covenant (New Testament), which was a product I reviewed this year.

Critical Thinking:  My kids go cuckoo for analogies and logic puzzles, so I didn't want to deprive them.  Thought we try Inference Jones, and continue with the next level of Perplexors by MindWare.

Writing:  I have to admit, we fell off the IEW wagon around Christmastime, due to my taking a second job.  It just felt like too much.  By doing so, I've noticed a significant drop in the quality of the kids' writing.  We are getting back on the straight and narrow and going back to basics with Student Writing Intensive A.  As we move through the year, I thought "All Things Fun and Fascinating" or "Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales" would be a good themed unit to use with the program.

Reading Comprehension/Test Prep:  McCall-Crabbs Reading Comprehension booklets are so cheap $3.95, and the lessons are short and sweet, I couldn't resist.

Vocabulary:  Worldly Wise 3000, Grades 5 and 6

Foreign Language:  So excited for the whole family to try Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish, Level 1!  I absolutely loved the look of it at the convention.  It's tried and true--I hope it works for us!

Typing:  Typing Instructor Platinum, Version 21 for PC.  The Typing Instructor for Kids, from the same company, looked a little cutesy for my boys, so I thought I'd bump them up to this level which still looks fun.

Art:  A friend and I are toying with the idea of an art/art history co-op.  Looking at God and the History of Art or Simply Draw with Bob Parsons.  There really isn't that great of a selection when it comes to drawing programs.  Still dilligently looking!  This year, I want to study Chagall, Matisse, Hopper, Rockwell, Warhol and O'Keefe.  I know I'm going to use Mike Venezia's "Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists".  Just need something of quality to help them with art instruction.

Memory Work:  Continuing with my Poor Man's Classical Conversations program that I created, memorizing any of the History Sentences that correspond with what we're studying or the Science Sentences that pertain to our topics.  I'm so proud that we've learned so many pertinent dates in history, scripture and poetry this year (and they actually UNDERSTAND what they've memorized!)

4H:  Archery and Riflery, possibly Etiquette (LOL)

Music:  continuing with piano for Solomon, guitar for Denver

We are headed toward our last half-week of school right around the corner.  I can't believe how it all flew by.  Looking forward to a summer full of relaxation, reading and beach trips!  I know the kids are ready :)


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