Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 to 2012 Curriculum Post

Every year I tend to do a curriculum post, talking about what I plan to use in the following year with the kids. Recently I posted about what curriculum I was thinking about using with them. This week I made one big purchase, covering most of what we will use next year. Here's the run down (I did make some changes from my original post):

Miss O, Age 5, Kindergarten material

Reading: Academic Success for All Learners, I See Sam Sets 2 to 8. She is halfway through Set 2 now, so we will see how far we get. I haven't purchased Sets 5 through 8 yet, but if we get to that point this year and she still needs reading instruction, I plan to for sure. I really like this reading curriculum for her.

Handwriting: Ages ago I posted about the Startwrite Worksheet Wizard software that I purchased for the kids. Instead of buying more Handwriting Without Tears workbooks, I plan to use the Startwrite software with her. I already have the teacher's guides and used workbooks from HWT, so I plan to use those as a guide to making HWT-like handwriting work for her. She tends to know most of her letters, but needs practice on some of them. We will be working more intensively on that this year.

Spelling: All About Spelling Level 1. She is over halfway through already. So we may end up moving on to Level 2 in Kindergarten.

Math: Right Start Math Level A. We started this recently, and she is doing alright with it, so we will continue being Right Start followers for a while longer!

Typing: A while back I reviewed Read, Write, Type, which I had used with Little Bean. Miss O is using it now, and has passed two levels already. She should be typing by the end of Kindergarten.

Writing: I will not be doing formal writing or grammar with her in K. However, opportunities may arise in which she will get to do some writing, poetry or other exercises. At that time, she would follow along with whatever I use with Little Bean.

Science: I have a science curriculum that is especially for Kindergarten, which is what I used on Little Bean (McRuffy Science K). However, I'd like to combine Science and History with both kids so that it makes for a more fluid school day. She doesn't seem to be ready to grasp much of what we are learning in science right now though, so I am not sure how realistic that is.

History: Miss O will not be doing history in K, but she does listen in on occasion to our lessons from Story of the World. I do not expect her to retain much of it though.

Bible: I am undecided on Bible. I am looking at Kids Quest Catechism Club for them both, which teaches children all about the reformed faith, focusing on doctrine, but it is expensive. So I haven't purchased anything yet and am considering our options.

Little Bean, Age 6, 2nd grade material

Reading: Little Bean no longer needs reading instruction, therefore I am not purchasing or using any of our phonic materials on him this coming year. Rather, we will focus on reading comprehension, and for that, we will use Reading Detective Beginning, which is a computer software in which the student solves reading "cases" by answering comprehension questions about what they have read. As far as I know, Little Bean's comprehension skills are fairly good. However, I think he could definitely benefit from this program, both to present him with more challenging reading material, and also giving him practice proving his answers by finding evidence in the text.

Spelling: All About Spelling Level 3. He just recently finished Level 2, so we will start the next level as soon as my package arrives.

Vocabulary: I wanted a more formal way to go over vocabulary words, so I chose a very fun and light approach with Vocabulary Cartoons. Little Bean will learn 210 new words this year (in addition to all the ones he will learn just by reading and listening to people talk).

Handwriting: I went ahead and purchased Handwriting Without Tears Cursive for him. Little Bean still does have some reversals on some of his printed letters, but I believe they will work out in time. We will have a good time this year with an introduction to cursive. I do not expect him to master it this year.

Grammar: I chose Easy Grammar. I am still having him work through our Scott Foresman text that I got online, but I find the Easy Grammar approach to be much better for understanding actual concepts about grammar. We may use the two programs together in some way.

Writing: Writing Strands 2. Little Bean is what I would term a minimalist when it comes to writing. He CAN write paragraphs, but since he hates the actual act of pen to paper, he doesn't like writing stories. We'll see how this curriculum goes. I am thinking about allowing him to type his stories rather than writing them.

Math: Right Start Level C.

Science: I am undecided because we do have a ton of resources already. But I am looking at RSO, Real Science Odyssey: Life or Earth and Space for him. Lately he has shown some interest in planets, so we may go that route. I would purchase this in PDF format.

History: Story of the World, Volume 1. I purchased the test booklet and the activity guides this time, I am hoping that will liven things up a bit for us, and help in gauging how much he is retaining. I purchased both in pdf format.

Latin: Both kids will be using Song School Latin, but Little Bean seems to be the only one retaining most of it so far. Miss O may be a bit young. If we end up liking it, we may continue on up the levels with him and repeat Song School with Miss O in 1st.

US States Study: We are slowly working our way through the 50 states, learning names, locations on the map, capital cities, state trees, insects, birds, flowers, flags, and abbreviations. We do one state a week. So this will take a full year. I'm ashamed to say I don't even know all the locations myself, so we are learning together!

Art: Artistic Pursuits Book 1. This was up for review with TOS this year, and I was so bummed that I didn't get a chance to review it. I went ahead and purchased it myself though, and am excited to do some projects with both children.

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Debbie said...

I don't know if you've looked into Grapevine Studies Stick Figuring Through the Bible program (, but my kids have really enjoyed it. We did Beginner's Level for both OT and NT. My son (grade 4) also hates putting pen to the paper, though he knows how to write. I'm still trying to find a writing program that will work well for him.

emily said...

Hi there! My mom just forwarded your curriculum post to me, knowing I love to check out a good curriculum overview. :) And I noticed you were thinking about Kids' Quest Catechism Club. I run our KQ club at church, and I wanted to tell you how much we love it. It is very well written and truly weaves together the Bible truths with the catechism questions and answers. My two children are following the "beginners" curriculum in their classes, and they are hearing more about sin and their need for Jesus than most churches would present to "beginners". It is 100% reformed! :) We also have 1 class going through the elementary curriculum, and it is also solid theology. I have nothing bad to say about Kids' Quest. It is worth the investment, especially if you cycle back through the 3 volumes.

I wanted to tell you that I think you could just order the teacher's guides ($13-ish a piece, I think??). The student packs are cute, but they are not essential. Our teachers send them home at the end of the class, sometimes taking a few minutes to work on them if there's time. In our program, it is not used as a part of the lesson. (The elementary student packs do actually have activities like word searches and fill in the blanks that have to do with the lesson, but the beginner student papers are color by numbers and cutesy little activities for non-readers. My 4 & 5 year olds have fun with them, but I wouldn't pay for them to use at home!) I'd be happy to snap some pictures of anything you're wondering about.

If I were you, I would order the teachers' guides and that's it. The cds are, in my opinion, cheesy. They are cute little sunday school-cd type songs that sort of have to do with the lesson, but they don't outright teach the catechism. If you are looking for the First Catechism set to music, I would highly recommend "Ask Me Whooo". The music is very well done and is word for word to the First Catechism. My kids love these cds. I downloaded the first two albums on itunes.

I also wanted to tell you about the book "Training Hearts Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade. It is daily devotions based on the Shorter Catechism. (I just found your blog tonite when my mom shared it with me, so forgive me if you already know about this book and have talked about it on your blog!) :) Each question is given one week's worth of devotions, and each day's devotion is made up of a short paragraph. Various scriptures are used in each devotion... from the gospels, Psalms, various NT and OT passages. It may appear to be too old for younger children, but my kids were 3 & 4 when we started using this for family worship, and they were attentive. Kids' Quest may be more what you're looking for as far as Bible Curriculum, but I had to mention this book as well. :)

Wow, this is a crazy long comment! Sorry for the length! I just got a little excited. :) Let me know if you have any questions.

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