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I’m so excited to share with you our favorite curriculums. Before I get into it too much, let me tell you a bit about who we’re schooling here: I have 4 daughters, ages 2, 6, 7 and 7. Yep. Twins! All three of my older girls are in the same grade level. They will be starting 2nd grade this September.
I really love teaching math. One day everything comes so easy and the next day they seem to have forgotten everything they learned over the last year and a half. But it all soon comes back to them when they realize that numbers aren’t scary. They behave in pretty predictable ways, once you get to know them. And that’s what I love about Math Mammoth.
We purchased our full set, which includes everything she’s put together for grades K through 6 (though it actually goes a bit further than that!) through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. If you haven’t heard of the co-op, this is the time to head over there. Lots of great discounts happen there because they get great big group buys together. In fact, they are having a group buy for Math Mammoth this month! You can get the everything bundle for as little as $136! Not bad for 6-7 years of math curriculum!
What I love about it:
I love how it’s set up in worktexts. That’s what Marie Miller calls them. It fits them well, because topics are introduced and then followed with practice problems all in the same book. It’s very easy for reading children to work their way through it. And it’s easy for mom or dad or anyone else who can read to help out if they get stuck.
What I’d change:
I wouldn’t change anything about these texts. But I do add my own games and extra activities to it if I think the kids need a little more review. I feel that they do get plenty of practice with the worktexts, but I like to add in different activities.
We love Story of the World. We’ve enjoyed the stories that took us through the first book, ending with the fall of the Roman Empire and we’re looking forward to starting the second book. We use both the book and the Activity book that goes with it. The kids get the worksheets that include coloring pages and map work which really familiarize them with the area of the world we’re discussing. I know it works, because they’ve recognized names and places on the map in other contexts, much to the surprise of the other adults in the room who had no idea what they were looking at.
Here are links for the first set of books. Just click on the pictures to see them on Amazon. (and if you do purchase through this link, thank you for supporting our family. We earn a very small percentage of the sale through Amazons affiliate program)
What I love about it:
In the beginning of the year, I copy all the student pages and use a comb binding to bind it into a work book. After that, everything is ready to go. The activity book lets me know what books I should look for at the library, the text gives us the story and then we do the coloring and map work to go with the chapter. It’s easy for us and full of imagery that really makes history mean something to us. No dry facts here!
What I would change:
The only thing I would suggest adding would be the Map Trek products. These are really high quality map sets that follow right along with any chronological history program (so you can use them even if you don’t use Story of the World). Beautiful maps and blanks for students to label and work on themselves.
Map Trek is available for the Ancient World, Medieval Times, New World and Modern World. Each is $14.95 and worth every penny. There is also a US version and you can purchase the whole set all at once as an e-download for $47 or $55 for the hard copy version. Very cool!
We read a LOT. The kids have reading time during the day and if they are really good, which is almost always, they get to have reading time in bed at night. Amazon boxes cause huge excitement because more than half the time they bring new books into the house. The other half the time they bring things like garbage bags and toilet paper, which are always met with disappointed groans.
While reading is important for all kinds of reasons, it doesn’t teach the parts of speech. But First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind surely does! (Note: You can purchase them through the linked site, which is direct from the publisher, but they are cheaper if you go through Amazon. The images below, when clicked, will take you to their Amazon pages)
What I Love About It:
I love how everything is done for me! We open the book, read our lesson, do the exercises and move on to the next subject. As we move through these lessons, the children learn their parts of speech, proper usage, and they also memorize poems, do picture studies and learn to tell back a story. And it’s fun! They look forward to this subject every day.
What I would change:
I love making games to help review topics. So I add lots of these to help drive home whatever topic has recently been covered in the book. A good one to go along with FFL is my first Noun Town game.
Kids sort nouns and verbs which can be tricky at first. Then they get to practice their skills some more on some enticing worksheets.
We absolutely LOVE All About Spelling.
I won’t go into too much detail here, but you can click here to see my honest review about it. Even my 2 year old can segment words just from watching her big sisters. It’s an amazing program and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We are working on level 2 (we began it at the end of 1st grade) and we’ll probably be starting level 3 sometime between January and March of 2013.
I haven’t been very good on this topic. We’ve done a lot of nature study, but I always feel like we need something a little more formalized. Enter Mr. Q.
He has created some really amazing science books that explore different topics, cover 36 weeks and encourage the scientific method of questioning and experimenting. We have not used his curriculum yet, but I did download his free Life Science book and we’ll be trying that out this year. I’m very excited about it and I’m hopeful that it will work as well as it looks like it will I’ll keep you posted on that. You can click on any of the links here to go grab your own free copy. There is a student text, a teacher/parent text, materials list, everything you need to make this a great science year!
If you do decide to purchase any of his books, would you be so kind as to visit this link and let him know that Sandra Modersohn with email firstname.lastname@example.org sent you? I appreciate your support!
We began learning the recorder during the last half of first grade and we will be continuing that in second grade. About half way through the year, we’ll decide if we are ready to add in another instrument for each child. Perhaps they might get interested in the piano? (I can only hope! )
Here’s the book we use (Currently $3.95):
And here’s the recorder we purchased (Currently $3.73):
It was a very small investment for us to make (I even bought an extra set so I can play with them for a total of $30.72!) and we’ve been getting so much out of it. It’s a great way to start children learning to read music, learning to hold an instrument properly and learning breath control.
We also listen to music that fits with whatever era in history we are studying or whatever mood strikes (for example, I got into an Aaron Copeland kick last year and we had a blast enjoying his music!). I’m rather excited that we’ll be doing medieval studies this year because there is so much fun stuff to enjoy. We listen to the same two selections for a week or two, to make sure we really get familiar with it. We learn about the composer as much as we can and make sure we practice the name of the piece if it’s a tough one. (who can keep sonata numbers straight without practice, huh?) I would link to something here for you, but everything I use is from my college days or from a vast record collection I inherited… However, if you are interested in this line of study, I’ll be glad to start a bi-weekly series to help you get your music studies going.
We add craft projects in all over the place. We paint, we do mosaics, we rip up teeny tiny bits of paper and throw them all over the floor glue them neatly to other pieces of paper to try to make something that looks artistic, but the only thing we do formally is the Draw. Write. Now. series. You can see some sample lessons at this website, created by the authors. The books cost the same at Amazon, but you’ll save the $5.50 shipping fee if you go through Amazon.(see the links below)
Here are links to some of our favorites from the series. The do get progressively harder as you work your way up the series.
How We Use It:
We use a simple page I made that allows for drawing space above and writing space below. Each picture has step by step drawing instructions to help student visualize the process that must be gone through to get to the final drawing. Each picture also has four sentences that go with it, for handwriting practice. On Monday, we take our first sheet and I work through the drawing with them as our first attempt. Then they write the first sentence underneath on the neat lines I provided for them. They must do their very best handwriting and a lot of erasing happens. On Tuesday, they get to try the drawing on their own, and I stand by to help and guide where needed. They write the second sentence underneath. Wednesday is try number three with sentence number three. And Thursday is try number four with sentence number four. Friday we make a cover by drawing for the fifth time (we’re pretty good at it by now), including all the fun background stuff suggested in the book, and we put a title and our name on it. Then we staple them all together and we end the week with a lovely book about whatever animal or item we just learned to draw. This we proudly show off to grandparents, aunts and uncles, and slow neighbors who linger in their yard for more than 3 seconds on Fridays. Sometimes we mail them out to our far away grandmas and aunts. They love it and it provides the motivation the kids need to do an excellent job. The fine motor skills they are developing in their hands to accomplish this is really amazing and it makes their hands so much stronger.
You can download the page I use for this here and you can get some sample lessons here to try it all out before you purchase the books. If you do one lesson a week (we take occasional weeks off to keep it from getting boring) you probably only need one or two of these books to get through a whole year. They are just over $10 each and worth every penny.
We use old readers in our daily lessons to practice reading out loud to each other. When I mean old, I’m not kidding…. Here’s a link to one on Google Books that you can download for free and print off for your own use, if you like.
There are lots of them on Google Books. Just search for readers or Elson Readers published before 1920. They are full of sweet stories about country life and my kids adore them. And you can use the Booklet printing option to drastically reduce the amount of paper it takes to print it (you’ll get four pages to a sheet) and make it look and feel more like a real book.
Did I miss anything?
I just want to add quickly that we include a lot of games, field trips and activities to our educational endeavors here, so we are not sitting at the dining table all day (though some days we do… But only if it’s fun!). It’s shaping up to be a pretty cool 2nd grade year, here at our house. I’m looking forward to seeing what others have chosen for their curriculum on the blog hop.
Please note: This post has several affiliate links in it. I do not recommend any of these titles or products simply because I am an affiliate. I recommend only things that I have either tried or, in the case of the science curriculum, I feel would be a real benefit to other families. If you choose to purchase any item through one of my affiliate links, I deeply appreciate your support. Thank you!
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Thanks for visiting! Don’t forget to come back Tuesday for a great extra freebie, and Wednesday will be, of course, free workbox tag day.
We’ll be continuing to join in the Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop all month long. Are you ready to link up?