Saturday, May 14, 2011

I found something wonderful on my book shelf!

When we moved from a 3,000 sq ft house to a 1,800 sq ft home two years ago, we had to give up our homeschool room. (I think I blogged about that a couple of years ago.) I love love love our cozy little "cottage". However, loosing the school room meant that I had to get creative. I had to separate book cases into 3 different rooms,  use lots of pretty wicker baskets and I like to display our current reads on the buffet with relating objects. What I have found however, is that I was having trouble finding a living history book. I thought that I had organized the shelves pretty good: Piano room: Living books, Educational reads,Science, Social Studies, Daily Books and Binders. Living Room: Chapter books, Christian devotionals, magazines. Dining Room: Reference Books, Maps, Globe and current living history books. When I went in search for a book that should of been easy to find, I found a hot mess instead. So, out came the label maker! I labeled every shelf in chronological order and order of subjects. This took me half the day and made a big mess along the way moving books from one room to the other, but now I feel so much better! I know if I am looking for a particular time in history to go with our studies, I will find it! 

 Oh, what was the wonderful find? I found three amazing books that I must have purchased some time ago at a convention or something. They are The Light and Glory for Children (1492-1789), From Sea to Shining Sea for Children (1787-1837) and Sounding Forth the Temple (1837-1860) .         Now, I think I everyone knows how much I love Story of the World and Heart of Dakota, however, I am in love with these books. I sat down to read just a chapter to see if it was a keeper or a giver awayer. lol. I ended up reading half the book. I should mention that Breanna is on a Civil Air Patrol Bivouac, so I did not feel guilty one bit. Anyway, what I feel that Story of the World series misses is right here in these books. The Gospel. I wouldn't say that SOTW is secular by any means, but certainly is not filled with God's relationships in History. We are going to continue or Ancient Histoy and Medieval History with SOTW because this series is only for American History. This series is written to capture your attention and brings history alive.!  Anyway, I wanted to share my find and encourage all of you to reorganize your shelves if you haven't done so in a while, you never know what gem you may find!!  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

So many choices...

After years of homeschooling, one would think we would stick to just one curriculum. The truth is, that there are so many wonderful products out there, and every year new ones are added. I am going to list my favorites, ones I want to try and ones that just didn't work for us.

  • Heart of Dakota Heart of Dakota is so wonderfully put together that even the most scatterbrained, or should I say, too busy to plan, mom can do this. I used it flawlessly for two years. Last year a friend of mine let me borrow her Sonlight curriculum. (more on that later) What I like most about Heart of Dakota, is you literally can start teaching as soon as you get the box. Very little planning is needed and most of the project materials are found around the house. I also love that it is truly a Christ centered program. All the subjects flows nicely together. I do not feel that I need to pre screen the independent readers and read-alouds. If there is anything questionable, the publisher makes a note of it right in the guide. Let me talk about the guide. It is WONDERFUL. No loose leaf papers to copy and lose. You will have to go to the link to see what I mean. It is a book with a daily two page spread. You can teach multiple ages/grades with the guide also. There are add-on books for older children. I have not used it this way, but others have been blessed by the savings. I am trying to think of something that I do not like, but I truly cannot think of anything. The first year I bought the entire package with all the add-ons. The package price is comparable to Sonlight, maybe a little cheaper. I have since learned that you can find most of the books at the library, Christianbook, friends, and eBay. If you order your guide early you can have everything before the new school year begins. If you do not want to spend the time searching, and you can afford it, it is nice to just get everything shipped in one box. The time I spend looking for the books required, is still much less than all the lesson planning I would have to do  my own. There is a nice chart on the website to find out which course your child should be doing. I know I have probably left out some important info, but you can always go to the site. There is a ton of information and even a forum.

  • Teaching Textbooks: One of my fears when we started homeschooling years ago was how was I going to teach math? Lets just say math has never been a strong subject of mine. I went straight to Saxon Math because that seemed to be the most popular. Our oldest did very well with Saxon, however, she also taught herself calculus using her fathers college text books. For Ty, who is a right brainer Saxon just caused alot of pain. for both of us. We  had heard about Teaching Textbooks from a friend that also had traumatic experiences with Saxon. I am not a Saxon hater, just to be clear, but I am sure those of you that have math phobia know exactly what I am talking about. =) I found a great deal on eBay and am very happy that I did. My favorite part of this program is that there is little input if any needed from me. Ty and Bre both have done very well with this program. I will continue to use this. I have heard that if your child desires to become an engineerr, stick with Saxon. I think it is safe to say that none of my children has those desires. ;) 

  • Apologia Science: Absolutely wonderful. I should note that I do not use the science offered in Heart of Dakota because of my love of Apologia. Not only are the text books and labs wonderful, you can get the text on audio and listen if you have an auditory learner. I ordered the DVD for Ty because the Biology labs are a bit more extensive. Year after year I am pleased with Apologia. It is a very thorough curriculum and I can relax knowing they are getting what they need out of it. 

  • Story of the World: Remember when I said a friend let me borrow her 6th grade Sonlight curriculum? This was included. I love it. I also used the audio cd's to listen to the chapters on the road. After each chapter we would do a unit study. I also used the activity and test books. I like how it is written and you can take each subject matter and stretch it out however long you want. Bre really loved learning about ancient times, and we spent weeks studying Egypt. I love the flexibility of this. We really did not follow the Sonlight schedule because we would not have been able to do that. I also used Mystery of History along side of it. Anyhow, a very good program to use as a spine. I am struggling with wanting to continue with SOTW or go back to my beloved Heart of Dakota. If you and your child love history SOTW and Heart of Dakota fit the need.

  •    Excellence in Writing Love this program. I have only used it with Breanna, and I am very impressed. She loves watching the lessons on DVD and her writing has improved greatly. I know families that do the program together and love doing it that way for the accountability factor.