Friday, August 10, 2012

Planning 2012-13: Curriculum, etc.

I guess I should be thinking more about what we are using next year, since my IHIP is theoretically due next week (though not really, since I get 4 weeks from the School District's response to my Letter of Intent, or till August 15th, whichever is later, and I still don't have a response to the LOI that I sent in by Certified Mail on June 30th...) Thanks to the Not Back to School Blog Hop, because it is getting me to stop thinking about the dwindling number of beach days, and focus on next quarter. (I should add that we homeschool year round; although our pace gets more leisurely over the summer months, we are still at it. There are books in the beach bag...)

Not Back to School Blog Hop

My son Mikro is nine years old. We are eclectic, and not bound to any particular curriculum or homeschooling philosophy. We're a little bit Charlotte Mason, a little bit Classical Education, a little bit Waldorf, a little bit unschooly, but mostly, we're just us: a happy, geeky science and nature loving family blessed with insatiable curiosity, living a short train ride away from New York City's wealth of educational and cultural treasures. We use some curricula, but in a when and as it suits us sort of way. The library system is our favorite resource, and we watch a lot of educational videos, too. Mikro has a laptop for learning, and he is free to surf to any of the sites I have added to a special Mikro's Links page on this blog. Some, like BrainPOP, are by paid subscription, but the vast majority are free access, so feel free to see if there's anything there that suits your family.

Here's some of what we'll be doing this year:

Reading/Language Arts: I am really thrilled that my kid loves to read. For general reading, he pretty much gets to pick, with some suggestions made by mom. Right now he's reading Catherine Cooper's Golden Acorn series, and some of the things on the horizon include: Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series; Rick Riordan's The Kane Chronicles; Scott Mebus' Gods of Manhattan series; and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. In addition to fiction, Mikro loves poetry and he'll gladly read anything Jack Prelutzky, Doug Florian, Shel Silverstein, etc. or anything with a nature theme. He also loves myths, fairy tales and folktales, and I always tie them into our history studies. But I think he likes nonfiction most of all, and there will be plenty of middle grade or higher level books about critters, nature and science on his plate. For spelling, vocabulary, and language arts, we'll use some online resources, Madlibs, workbooks, and participate again in the Nanowrimo Young Writers Program in November. I also have a private blog set up for kiddo to record whatever he chooses of his adventures and studies. So far he isn't much of a typist, so he doesn't enjoy it, but I think as his keyboarding improves, he'll be using it a lot more.

Science: We are going to be doing some of the Teaching Company/Great Courses video courses together. First up is Our Night Sky, followed by Biology: The Science of Life. And lots of interest led exploration, reading and projects, kits, and experiments. We'll probably do some more dissections, and I am hoping to get a space set up where I can leave out our microscope, so it gets used more often than it sits idle. We'll continue to watch the sky with binoculars and a telescope, and to participate in citizen science projects like The Great Backyard Bird Count, Project Feeder Watch, etc. Mikro takes a series of weekly science classes at the Long Island Museum of Science that are content rich as well as fun. We'll be signing up for those again. We take a lot of nature walks (e.g., last night after dark we did a bug safari around the neighborhood, with flashlights and camera. I'm sure the neighbors think we are crazy!)

Math: Math will be a combo of Life of Fred, Beast Academy, living books, games, and online resources like Dreambox, BigIQKids, Adapted Mind, etc. We have a Carmen San Diego math game and The Number Devil game for the computer. And we have some grade level workbooks. Mikro sometimes enjoys them. He's got about half his multiplication facts memorized (mostly from listening to Hap Palmer's Multiplication Mountain in the car), and he understands division and has been introduced to long division. He needs to work on getting some more math facts down cold, and on being less sloppy about addition and subtraction, which he calls boring, but his comprehension is so far above his memorization level that we'll continue to look at more complex math as well. I have The Great Courses' Secrets of Mental Math on hand and am hoping it will interest him. I'm also considering signing him up for Ko's Journey, since I think the story format would be really appealing to him.

History: We've been doing a leisurely tour of world history, and have covered Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, China, Japan and Africa . It's mostly been ancient history, but we also look at what life is like now in the places we've studied, and we reallly enjoy the Families of the World video series, which gives us a day in the life look through the eyes of children from around the world. Our next couple of stops on our virtual world tour are the Middle East, Mesoamerica, and Australia. And after that we'll be moving on to the Dark Ages and Early Medieval Times. We use Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World as a jumping off point, and read tons of fiction, nonfiction, folklore, fairy tales, and poetry about each civilization, and take a look at their art (through both books and visits to museums) and music as well. I put this together using the awesome resources of the New York Public Library, Queens Library and Westchester Library systems, of which we are members, as well as by grossly enriching with crazy book orders. I'm happy to say that this approach works really well for my son, and he loves history, but mythology even moreso.

Art: We'll be looking at the art of the various cultures we study in history, and doing some related art projects and we'll continue doing Danny Gregory's Everyday Matters Challenges. Mikro has a bunch of books by Ralph Masiello, like How to Draw Dragons, ... Robots, ...Bugs, etc. and is teaching himself to draw very detailed sketches.

Music: We'll get back to learning the recorder and studying music using the Classical Composers Monthly website. And hopefully we'll use the music theory and ear training software I picked up. We listen to music and sing all the time around here, and go to hear live music performed as often as we can.

And we'll do the Health, P.E., and Safety topics that New York requires, mostly through discussion, videos and the occasional book on topic.

1 comment:

Sparklee said...

Oh, to be a short train ride away from New York City's museums! NYC is our "dream field trip!"

Sounds like you have quite a reader there! My 10-year-old son likes reading, but at the moment he is totally into non-fiction. I'm hoping to convince him that literature is equally wonderful. We generally start our day with a poem or two, and he likes them as long as they are funny--so Prelutsky and Silverstein are pretty popular around here.

I'm grateful I don't have to turn in curriculum plans in our state, or I would stress about it even more than I already do. By the way, if your neighbors think you're're doing it right.

Have a great year learning with your son!