I suppose my two middle kids would be in 3rd grade and 5th grade respectively, but as homeschoolers we know that such labels mean little when it comes to individual students; and it’s individual students we’re planning for and teaching.
These two make a good pair to teach together, like my older two did, during the elementary years. So I’m combining them here in this planning post as well.
When I was working through Plan Your Year Autopilot, I made separate goals pages for each of them, but then created one combined Course of Study page. Let’s work through that here.
Math-U-See all the way! If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Especially after my husband took over math correcting and helps at lunch break or in the afternoons with math tutoring (always for the older two, who are outstripping me, but sometimes for these two also because he’s good at it), everyone’s math progress has been steady.
They’re both in Delta right now and I have two copies of Epsilon on hand just in case. They’ll also pick back up with xtramath.org for fact drill and my goal is to have them pass both the multiplication and division levels this school year.
I’ll break out what we do during our mini co-op time in another section, but for their own work, we’ll be working on Latin, spelling, and handwriting.
Last year they worked through, mostly independently with the videos, the first half of Latin for Children Primer A. They did great with the vocabulary and enjoyed doing it (usually – one hated the derivative work pages), but needed more teacher-time for the grammar. This year I reserved the time to be more involved with their Latin, because I think they’re both ready for the grammar part now (they weren’t last year).
We’ll do the second half of Latin for Children Primer A, plus some additional conjugating and parsing exercises on pages I created, and twice a week we’ll use Lingua Latina. I had tried Lingua Latina a few years ago with my older boys, and we all enjoyed it but I couldn’t seem to make it work, both in giving it the time and in understanding what I was supposed to do with it. I found an audiobook version for it, though, so now instead of struggling through a butchered attempt at reading it aloud myself, the three of us can sit together on the couch and listen and follow along (I have the Kindle version of the book).
Here is my handy-dandy procedure chart for Latin, alá Pam Barnhill:
For spelling we’ll continue with Spelling Wisdom from Simply Charlotte Mason. I used this last year with Ilse and this year Knox will join as well. Our routine is one sentence per week, given and studied together on Monday, practiced independently Tuesday through Thursday (by copying, at least once with cursive, and writing out any words chosen as tricky 3 times), and then dictated Friday. If it’s done correctly, they’re done. If it isn’t, they have to do more practice and I choose what words they practice. If it was really bad, we don’t move on and simply use the same sentence again. That seems to be motivation to actually study during the week (most weeks, not all).
During our table time we’ll also do a line or two of cursive practice using either Beautiful Handwriting for Children pages or pages I create with Start Write. Knox has tried to teach himself cursive and he needs some attention – at least he’s motivated and wants to learn!
Back when my older boys were this age, they did a lot of independent map work, mostly because it seemed productive and valuable, was independent, and I was pregnant and tired. Turns out that it was productive and valuable: they have a good knowledge of the layout of the world (better than mine).
So I’m adding that to the middle set’s independent work. Each week they’ll receive a blank black-line map of a continent and be assigned to color and label it over the course of the week – one continent per week, skipping Australia & Antarctica – will take them through the continents each term (and we have 6 terms). They can look at our world map on the wall, the globe, or an atlas to fill in the maps. Then they will also have the assignment twice per week to draw that continent using the Draw Write Now book 8 directions.
Pretty much all the rest of their schoolwork happens during our twice a week mini co-op we call “Elementary Lessons.” Three other friends from 2 families join our table – the older kids work on their independent work and the youngest play and are read to at my neighbor’s. It’s a perfect situation for kid-swapping, and it means we can work through our lessons without interruption and with the accountability of having it as an appointment.
Here’s what we’ll study in Elementary Lessons this year:
Grammar – We’ll do 10ish minutes on beginning diagramming, all together on the board.
Bible – We’ll go through an Old Testament survey this year using Covenantal Catechism books 2 & 3.
History – We’re back to ancient history this year on our three-year rotation and will be reading M.B. Synge’s On the Shores of the Great Sea. They’ll narrate aloud after listening, plus we’ll do some illustrations and some adapted Book of Centuries (more like a 2-page-spread of Centuries) and map work.
Science – I collected some more “All About” books and selected 5 for our year: Fishes, Animals and Their Young, The Weather, The Human Body, and The Insect World. These are well-written, interesting and engaging, and geared more for interest than for factual minutia. My goal is that they see and love how interesting all of creation is, and I believe books like these do that better than most science curriculums. We’ll also do nature notebooks and drawn narrations from the reading and from a selection of field guides on the topic we’re reading.
Artist Study – All the students made it clear I needed to keep doing artist study, so we will, although sourcing the prints is always a headache and one I’m procrastinating on. For this year’s artists I chose Bosch, Titian, Raphael, Steen, and Tiepolo. I just paged through an art history book and selected significant artists across the timeline that we hadn’t yet studied. In July I’ll pull up the Wikipedia article on each of them, select 3 pieces from each, save the graphics from art commons, and have 3-4 copies of each printed at Office Depot.
Shakespeare – We’re still following my 5-Step Shakespeare plan and this year our plays are Much Ado about Nothing, Richard III, and King Lear.
We’ll also work on beginning written narration, with variations based on the various levels. For the 3 8-year-olds in the class, I will help them write a complete, clear, descriptive sentence in their notebooks each week that they can copy as homework. For the two 10-year-olds who had some writing instruction this last year, I will assign them to write one paragraph from their choice of that week’s readings. They’ll receive the assignment Thursday, I’ll read and give feedback on Tuesday and if needed they’ll make a revision between Tuesday and Thursday’s classes.
(PS – Yes, I read Karen Glass’ Know & Tell; yes, I know she says you shouldn’t correct writing at this stage; yes, I know she says not to have them revise and fix written narrations. I disagree. We’re doing these assignments not for narration (which we will also be doing orally), but for writing practice, which I believe is best done with direction, feedback, and revision. In this regard I am choosing classical methods & principles over CM because I believe it’s a point at which they differ.)
Of course they’ll participate in Morning Time, which is a significant piece of their school day. They’re also both in piano lessons and will practice at least 20 minutes per day.
Twice a month or so we’ll meet on a Friday with friends for nature study and nature journalling. If I keep up my motivation and resolve, we’ll also go to the master gardeners’ demonstration garden half a mile from our house on the alternate weeks to observe and draw (maybe even paint).
Both these students need a little more direction in their reading habits. They’re good readers, but don’t have the natural, broad, voracious appetite for books that their older brothers do. So I need to help them broaden their taste, expand their selection, and protect some reading time for them (they’d rather go play). So I’ve blocked off reading time for them and for myself, along with commonplacing/journalling time, 3 times a week. Also, during our Monday Meetings, I’ll help them choose 2-3 books, rotating between history, biography, nature lore, and story. They won’t have to finish in a week, but those will be the books they can choose from during the reserved reading time.
The story selection will mostly come from my friend and neighbor Kirsti, who will be leading a book club for the middle and younger set while I teach the older kids’ lit class on Wednesdays.
It’s a good year, and I love the balanced, full picture that the plans and the book stacks paint.
I also anticipate requiring a power nap every day while trying to work the plan.
Endurance and stamina requires discipline and practice, and that’s what I’ll need to help keep us on track.
If you want some step-by-step help to build your own complete school plan in the summer so everything is open and go the rest of the year (without being locked into a dated, regimented plan), I highly recommend Pam Barnhill’s new course, Plan Your Year: Put Your Homeschool on Autopilot. I followed the video directions as I pieced our plan together and it kept me on track and helped me to make good decisions for our homeschool this year by forcing me to answer important-but-easy-to-skip questions.
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