Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Our 2016-2017 Curriculum Choices (and a few fun extras!)

This week marks the official start of our 2016-2017 school year, and I am so excited to share all of the curriculum choices we made for this year!  This will be my first year doing actual curriculum sets with two children instead of one, and I think I made some good choices to gently ease us into that transition, as well as to incorporate as much group teaching/learning as possible!  

First up, we have jumped on the Math-U-See wagon, and I am really excited!  As you can see, we have purchased both the Primer Universal Set, which comes with the manipulative blocks, as well as the  Alpha Level Up set.  The wooden storage box was an amazing find from a homeschool materials page, and I really do wish that it was still available for purchasing new-it is amazing!

I absolutely love that this program has DVDs included with the instructional materials.  For someone like me who is not 100% confident in my math skills, it is so nice to be able to sit and watch the instructional lessons with my littles and learn right alongside them!  If you are using the program with multiple chilren, they do have the workbooks available separately so that you are not required to constantly repurchase materials you already own.

Primer (as you may have guessed from the name) is the very first level of MUS.  It includes the concepts of number recognition, counting objects, writing numerals, skip counting, addition and subtraction using manipulatives and pictures, telling time, and so much more!  We will be using this for our K4 student, as he is definitely ready to step up his game from the simple workbooks we had been using before purchasing MUS.  

We chose the Alpha level for our big girl, who is going into first grade this year, and it covers most concepts from Primer, but really focuses on fluency, or developing the ability to complete the task without much hesitation, when solving addition and subtraction problems.  It also introduces solving for an unknown...I was not introduced to solving for an unknown until middle school!!!  So awesome!  

I cannot get over just how amazing these manipulatives are!  If I am being honest-seeing the demo video of these little guys in use is what totally sold me on this curriculum!  I struggled for YEARS in math as a visual learner in a system catered towards auditory learning, and I knew that this program would be great for my little visual learners...and even for helping me reclaim all those bits and pieces that never did get a firm foundation :).  

Next up, one of the curriculum choices that is nearest and dearest to my heart-All About Reading!  We used Level 1 last year with our oldest, and absolutely fell in LOVE with the ease of use (which is really important to me as a mama of three littles aged six and under, and another coming along in a few short weeks!), as well as the engaging activities and stories!  

As you can see, this year we purchased both the Pre-reading set four our K4 kiddo, as well as the Level 2 set for our first grader.  

As soon as we received the pre-reading set, I immediately regretted not purchasing it for our oldest when she was a beginning reader!  The activities, the readers, the stickers, the letter posters, and ZIGGY THE ZEBRA?!  What is not to love?!  My kids have all been so excited about Ziggy coming to live with us, and I am going to incorporate him into all of our reading lessons instead of keeping him confined to our pre-reading time!  

I can't say enough about how engaged my littles have been with each level of this program, and how much I appreciate the fact that this is truly and open-and-go curriculum.  That has been so nice, especially with this current pregnancy being very challenging.  I have been able to complete our reading lessons for the day from the couch without doing any prep work aside from reviewing the lesson quickly before starting, and the materials are all so engaging that our daughter actually asked me daily if it was time for reading! 

To go along with our All About Reading, we are using All About Spelling Level 1 this year to begin formal spelling lessons.  I love that you share the same letter tiles (pictured) as are used in All About Reading, and how the program is also completely open and go-no prep work required!  I also appreciate the fact that the program explains the "whys" of the spelling rules.  I was always the students that needed to know why, but my teachers nearly always responded with, "That's just how it is!"  Now that I have my own little need-to-knowers, I can actually articulate they "whys" and "whens" of spelling rules!  

We are also continuing our journey with Classical Conversations this year, but are taking a year off of community to do our memory work from home since we will be welcoming a new little one in October.  I am super sad to miss out on community day because that is part of what makes CC so amazing, but I am also thankful to still be able to use these amazing materials to learn about everything from Latin and the Magna Carta to all of the United States Presidents and world geography, right from home!  We really love the audio CDs and the memory work flashcards for use on the go or during games at home (see a few of our favorite games HERE), and the Timeline Cards are phenomenal (see how I organize mine HERE).  

Speaking of United States Presidents, I am SO excited to be adding this amazing book, written by the author the summer after her sophomore year in high school, about each of our 44 presidents!  The book is titled, "Our Presidents ROCK!", and has been on that I have had a hard time putting down since we received it!  It has so much great information about each president, ranging from discussing their viewpoints and an overview of their lives, to how their accomplishments have shaped our lives today and why it is important to learn about the policies of each president.  My plan is to cover two presidents per week, so that by the time we reach week 24 in our CC memory work, my kids will have a solid foundation of information about each president as we sing about them in the presidents' song :).  This author has also published a book called, "Our Constitution ROCKS!", and while I won't be using it with my littles this year, I am still picking up a copy for myself and my hubby, who are history enthusiasts, to enjoy during our free reading time!  Lol!  

We have been using the Draw Write Now series for a little over a year now, and it is a big hit with my art-loving oldest babe!  I showed, in detail, how we used this program to go along with our CC memory work in my Homeschool Organizational Video Using Workboxes.  There are a total of eight books in the boxed set that we purchased, and each themed book has factual sentences about specific topics, and then detailed step-by-step pictures on how to draw a picture that corresponds with the facts.  I started using this program before our oldest was able to write independently, and I would write the facts using highlighter on lined paper for her to trace over.  As the year progressed and her fine-motor skills developed, I began to leave words throughout each sentence for her to copy on her own, and finally stopped using the highlighter altogether.  This is the only formal writing curriculum we have used, and I could not be more happy with it!

Finally, we were very blessed to have Mamaw (that's how we say "Grandmother" here in the south :D ) purchase some fun science supplements since we will not be doing our weekly experiments on community day at CC this year.  We are super excited about each of them!  The 201 Awesome, Magical, Bizarre, & Incredible Experiments book by Janice VanCleave is where most of the weekly experiments done at CC come from, and we have enjoyed them very much!  This year in CC (Cycle 2), we are learning about our solar system, and so we also picked up a Solar System Kit to create our own model, as well as Sun Art Paper to make our own solar prints!

There you have it!  Those are all the curriculum and supplement choices we made this year for school, and we could not be more excited to dive right in!  I am curious to know-what curriculum choices do you find work best for your family, and what supplements have been your favorite to use?  Leave me a comment below and share your must-haves with me!

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