Sunday, December 30, 2012

Welcome 2013

We have really enjoyed the Christmas holiday.  The Christmas movies, Christmas food, and holiday gift giving.  I made the best turkey I've ever had if I may say so myself.

 It is really hard to start thinking about the long Winter/Spring school year 2013.  I've planned several outside activities for the upcoming semester just to keep us all motivated.  I'm signing Princess up for art saturdays at the Museum of National Art and NuNu will be doing Science Saturdays at the local community college.  We also won 3 Landry Academy 2 day intensive workshops of our choice (more on that later).  I'll be scheduling those for March/April.  We really need to get out more.  I contemplated allowing Princess to go to public school for 2nd semester (gasp!) just so she could make some much needed social connections.  However, I've gotten advice from moms who've been there done that.  They advise to wait and start in the beginning of the school year especially if you want honors and/or AP classes.  I most definitely would want that so I'll have to wait until Princess can dual enroll at the community college to make these social connections.

2012 will all be over in about 30 hours or so and we will be welcoming 2013.  I'll be ready thanking God for seeing a new year and looking forward to all the new year will bring.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bonjour...visiting France

In our studies this week we visited France...Monday morning we had a french breakfast of croissants, yogurt, and other pastries compliments of Panera.  We also had hot chocolate with whipped cream, peppermint mocha for me ;)  Of course school got off to an enthusiastic start.  NuNu asked if we will have a french breakfast every morning while in France.  :0  Ahh

I'm taking this opportunity to study the Impressionist artists while studying France - Monet, Renoir, Degas.  I've been trying to figure out how to include artists studies with all the many things we must do each week and this just seems to work perfectly.  I'm using the following resources and notebooking to accomplish the study:

The usual mapwork was included this week- identifying the physical features of the country, famous landmarks and other interesting facts.  I purchased french bread and brie for tasting this week as well.  We made sandwiches out of the bread but didn't get to the Brie, maybe next week.

We received the second essay graded by the community college professor this week.  Princess received a similar grade as the first paper with helpful comments included on improving.

I've decided to take a different route with Literature & Composition with Pumpkin starting next week.  We've been working diligently through Excellence in Literature (Intro to Composition) but it takes her longer to read the works assigned.  She just finished Jane Eyre with the help of an audio book.  I've been helping her with outlining for the essay assigned when I realized she could use additional help with writing instruction.  My normal routine has been read (which takes about 4 weeks) then write which takes 1-2 weeks.  Too much time goes by before we get to another writing assignment so she doesn't get as much practice as I think she needs.  I purchased 3 public school texts about a year ago at a library sale and as I read through the 9th grade text I knew it was the perfect solution. 
Holt Elements of Literature: Student Edition, Third Course, Grade 9, 2000

I have already scheduled out 2-3 months of assigned reading and writing.  I am excited about this new direction and I am so glad I go to the library sales religiously.  I purchased 9-11th grades for $1 each!

The book gives her directions to jot down ideas after reading short stories that become notes for writing a paper a few weeks down the road.  Her first writing assignment will be writing a narrative.

15 weeks of working through this text will give her good experience in knowing what it takes to write a good paper.  It teaches her to annotate and keep notes in her writing journal as she reads the assigned stories. 

I've told her to do this as she reads as it will help her locate the information she needs for writing but she never does it.  Now she has a text that specifically tells her what to look for while reading and to ask herself specific questions and jot down the answers in her reading journal.  Excellent!

I'm hoping this text will start some good habits that she will then take into her lit/comp studies for next year.

Head over to weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers and Daisyhead to see what other moms were up to this week.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Father's World...ECC

homeschool curriculum program developed by My Fathers World

I've been thinking alot about curriculum lately - thinking about my choices for next year.  I like MFW but I find it lacking in some areas.  In my research I find that people say this about every curriculum.  I know curriculum is a tool that you have to tweak to meet your needs and MFW is no different.

Exploring Countries and Cultures Deluxe Package MFW's packages are geared toward 2-8th graders.  They have extension packages for the middle school grades.  They ideally want you to start with the ECC package and work you way through a 5 year history cycle with their other packages.  Well I do nothing according to the way its suppose to be done so last year I started with MFW Explorers to 1850 as it took off where we left off in the Middle Ages using SOTW two years ago.   To keep my 6th & 8th grader together I decided to take this year to do a geography study with ECC before my 8th grader begins high school using MFW AHL for 9th grade then MFW WHL for 10th grade.

Here is what I've learned using ECC with older students:

1.  I don't use many of the student sheets.  My kids don't want to color so these are out.
2.  I use blank maps from Ultimate Guide to Geography.  I already owned this so I just printed out two of each map I needed for the girls.
3.  The mapwork pages from World Geography are more than enough for my olders.  We don't even get to all the pages so I usually pick the physical geography pages, the country summary sheet, and the rivers/mountains sheet for them to complete.
4.  If classic literature is important to you, you have to schedule it in.
5.  I use the Progeny Press guides loosely - picking and choosing a writing topic for essays but skipping the comprehension questions. 
6.  Reading the MFW forum or other online forums are priceless!  This book came highly recommended on the forum.  I would have missed out if I hadn't found it on the forums.  It should be a part of the book basket with an asterisk beside it.
7.  We don't play the geography game as written.  I just put the numbered color coded maps up on the wall and have my kids race each other in guessing which countries are which.  I also grade this work as a quiz when we officially "leave" that country.
8.  Stamping the passports are not for my olders.  I do it anyway and they say "mom this is so elementary."  But they laugh so that's good.
9. We don't use Global Art or Wee Sing. 

My 8th grader is using the Apologia science recommended by MFW but my 6th grader uses the texts for MFW science which includes AIG Properties of Ecosystems and Living WorldIt isn't enough.  We primarily read the assigned texts and discuss the concepts.  On occasion I have her write a paragraph about the concept we read or have her do an illustration (i.e. Acid Rain, the Water Cycle) and once we cut and pasted pictures to represent each layer of the forest.  There is little hands-on and what is included (i.e. growing a potato, observing a section of the lawn, creating an ecosystem for an earthworm)  just isn't very exciting.  I've supplemented with outside courses at Engineering For Kids, and Science Saturdays at the the local community college.  This student loves Science so I depend on these outside courses to nurture her love of science.  Perhaps science at coop is in order for next year. 

We love, love, the Bible portionWe They memorize the weekly verse, I read the scripture passage, and the adventure from Kingdom Tales is not to be missed.  Even the high schooler gets in on this before setting off to do her work.  I love that MFW makes bible an important part of their plans.  Even the reading which is scheduled in the extension package is steered in the direction of biblical themes.  I eliminate some of these readings in favor of classical literature.  Personally, I enjoy them but my kids are weary of the repetitive missionary themes...sigh....

The strong bible focus is especially important in the high school years.  However,  the last two years of the high school curriculum seems to be heavy on Apologetics across all the subjects of Bible, Composition and Literature. 

Extras.  This is the part that makes any curriculum come alive.  The Wild family videos which I reviewed here was a winner and flowed so nicely with ECC.  It should be a part of the curriculum package or at the very least in the suggested movies list.  We watched Anne of Green Gables when we studied Canada and the animated movie, Rio while studying Brazil.  My kids will never forget the phenomenon of Carneval and its origins in Brazil.  I really should take advantage of preparing meals from each country we "visit" but I don't seem to get around to that.  Does Taco Bell count when vising Mexico?

I included a literary analysis program for my 8th grader so I have to balance the reading assigned in that program with what MFW ECC has scheduled.  She can choose to read the MFW selections as extra reading but it isn't required.  MFW recommends Writing Strands for writing but the literary program I use has writing included with it.

My goal with the program is to learn where places are in the world especially those places that are often referred to in the news and have significant relevance in world history and to constantly be aware of God's heart in evangelizing people around the world.  I think this program helps me to accomplish these goals nicely.

A lot of folks waffle between MFW, History Odyssey, SonLight, Tapestry of Grace, Beautiful Feet, Heart of Dakota, and many others.  I know I do a lot of research looking into how people use various programs.  Perhaps my review of MFW ECC will help another homeschooler trying to decide which curriculum to use.  


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