Homeschooling Update: All About Spelling is Amazing

all-about-spellingI wrote about how impressed I was with All About Spelling after completing Level 1 , but I never gave any other updates about it.

My son has now finished Level 2 and Level 3, and I still have nothing but positive things to say about it!

The spelling rules are all presented in such an easy-to-understand manner, and each lesson focuses on one rule. It makes it very easy for him to progress as it’s such a nicely incremental program. I continue to learn the reasons behind why certain words are spelled that way (I had zero phonics instruction in school, and the only reason I could ever spell at all was because of reading so much that I often could just “look” at a word and know if it looked ok or not).

Easy to Use

I’m a member of several homeschooling online groups, and one concern I hear regularly in regards to All About Spelling is that it takes too long, and is too involved. I absolutely do NOT find that to be the case at all. We usually spend 10 to 15 minutes a day on spelling, using nothing more than the book and a piece of paper. Most “steps” (think lesson levels) take 3 or 4 days to complete at that rate.

Yes, if you pull out the letter tiles to build every word it’ll take longer, but that hasn’t been necessary for us since Level 1. For Level 3 the only time he used the letter tiles was during the lesson on contractions. For that lesson it was helpful to use the tiles and show how the contraction was formed.

The majority of the time he spells the words and sentences out loud to me. I only have him write for the last part of the lesson, when he’s given a word and has to create a sentence for it.

Looking to Economize?

You could easily get by without purchasing the student packet, and simply use the teachers manual. While that means you won’t get the review cards, the program can be done without them, especially since the words on the cards are all listed in the manual. If you wanted review cards it’d be easy enough to make your own on index cards. I make do by noting in my planner when my son needs to review a word.

Doing without the student packet will also mean you won’t get the progress chart, or some other handouts. None of them are essential, but you could create your own (or download them from the All About Spelling website). All in all, the student packet makes things easier, but it can be done without it.

The manual is also completely reusable for younger children. All I’ll have to do is erase the penciled check marks I added to keep track of where he was, and it’s ready to use for his sisters. I’ll download and print a new progress chart for each of them, and get stickers for them to mark their progress (assuming they’re motivated by stickering progress charts; my son definitely is).

One of His Favorites

My son is not always a completely enthusiastic student (I hear rumors that those do exist in the homeschool world), but he is almost always enthusiastic about doing spelling. It’s such a quick lesson, and he likes making steady progress through the program. He’s already talking about when he finishes Level 4, and we only started it this week..

I can’t recommend this program enough. It’s an excellent method of teaching spelling, and the way the program is laid out it’s incredibly easy to teach. I love it.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, and I didn’t receive this program for free – I paid for it myself – I just LOVE this program. So much so that I am an affiliate for it, which means that if you buy the program using my link I may receive a percentage of the cost at no additional cost to you. And then I use any money I make to buy more books and homeschooling supplies which I talk about here. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschool Update: Finished Sonlight’s Level B, moving on to C

Well, more or less moving on to C. We’re trying out the mostly equivalent Bookshark Level 2. There are a handful of differences between them, mostly that Bookshark is secular so it skips the Bible component and missionary stories, and it’s also a 4-day a week schedule.

bookshark-level-2In Sonlight’s level B, G covered the first half of world history – emphasizing Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome. It was a really fun year, which makes me that much more excited to move onto the second half of world history. Vikings! Knights and Castles! I love Medieval history and I can’t wait to try and get G to love it too. ๐Ÿ™‚

We’ll be doing Sonlight’s LA 3 (I already had it on hand), and I have the Bookshark Level 2 Advanced/Sonlight 4/5 Readers on hand if we need additional readers. So far I’ve used library books or a few I’ve bought for him as extra readers.

I do plan to continue adding on Story of the World Volume 2 (it worked very well adding Volume 1 to level B), and I’m also adding back in three books that were in C in previous years – Explorer’s News, Maps and Globes, and The Awesome Book of Bible Facts.

I was not planning on using Window on the World (that’s part of why I went with Bookshark – it doesn’t include it), but my son saw it online, and specifically asked for it. It’s hard to say no to a request for a book, so ok kid, I’ll add it back in.

This isn’t a full planning-for-third-grade post, just a quick look at the big changes going on with us for school. He’s now finished his first week with the new level, so at some point I’ll share my thoughts on the full comparison between Sonlight and Bookshark.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschooling Update: Finished with Ancient Greece

ancient-greece-books-for-kids

We’ve more or less finished with Ancient Greece and will be getting into Ancient Rome. And then that is pretty much the end of B for us and we’ll move onto C. Crazy! Although that makes it sound like we’re closer than we are – there’s still 9 weeks of the schedule ahead of us.

It’s been a really nice stretch, as he’s liked Greece, and I like Ancient Greece much more than Ancient Egypt.

What Would I Recommend?

blast-back-ancient-greeceIf you’re looking to do ancient Greece on your own, I’d recommend Blast Back! Ancient Greece – it was really well done, and covered a good amount for lower elementary, without being overkill. The Greek Myths book is also quite nice if you want to cover them, and it was never too detailed to make it something I didn’t want to share with my young kids.

If you have a child who likes to color, I’d get one of the inexpensive Dover coloring books. I skipped this because G has never liked coloring very much, but I’m almost certainly going to get one when H studies this. Dover options include Life in Ancient Greece, Greek Gods and Goddesses, Sparta!, and Greek and Roman Fashion.

sticker-dressing-greek-mythsIf you’ve got a sticker fan in your house, Sticker Dressing Greek Myths is fun. My son loves using these books, so that’s what he gets in lieu of a coloring book.

For more general history not limited to Ancient Greece, I’m using and enjoying A Child’s History of the World, The Usborne Book of World History (great for visuals), and Story of the World Volume 1 & the accompanying activity book. It’s more than is needed, but I’m trying to stretch things out for us.

Have Older Students?

usborne-illustrated-stories-from-the-greek-mythsIf you’re looking to cover Ancient Greece with an older child (say, 10 and up), Usborne has an excellent title that would work well. The Greeks was overkill for my son right now, but if we need more I’ll use it for his next pass through this era. They also have several options for Greek Myths books more appropriate for older readers, and a general history encyclopedia that I love.

Still Want More?

adventures-in-ancient-greeceIf you’re also looking to stretch things out, I also used Greek News, Adventures in Ancient Greece and Top 10 Worst Things about Ancient Greece. I’d go for the first two if you want more books, but none of them are essential if you’ve read Blast Back! Adventures in Ancient Greece does add a fictional component to the topic, if you’re looking for that. Another fiction option is Hour of the Olympics, from the Magic Tree House series. My son read that to himself – love that easy reading level! He also read the nonfiction companion book, Ancient Greece and the Olympics.


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Book Review: Ghost Ship by Brian Hicks
Three years ago: How to Find More Time to Read: Part 1

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschooling Update: One Month In to the 2016 – 2017 Year

We’re roughly one month into the new school year, and that’s been enough time to give some evaluation to how things are going.

So far, overall I’m fairly pleased with things. I still need to finish adding in a few subjects (like spelling for G), and I want to give H some more focused time on reading instruction. We’ve started that for her, but she wants more than she’s gotten so far. She seems ready to begin All About Reading 1 so it’s time to pull that out!

Last week was almost entirely half days – there was a dentist’s visit and two other days with doctor’s appointments. Tuesday was the only day that we did a full school day. I guess that happens at “real” school too.

Kindergarten Book StackAlthough I have a schedule for H to follow, we haven’t been following it that much. Instead I’m just pulling together a stack of books each day and doing the next thing in each one.

G sticks with the Sonlight schedule more, but I still find that I’m completely off track as far as where we are with various components. Week 8 in Science, week 19 in History, and I don’t even know in Language Arts.

This week G also finished up his Mathematical Reasoning book. I haven’t gotten the next one in the series – as much as I (we) loved those books in the younger levels, I don’t think they’re as good at older grades. I’m going to try to use Beast Academy (which we already have the first book) as his secondary math now. He does really well having two to flip between, so I want to keep that option, at least for now. That’s also likely to change as he keeps moving along.

Beast Academy 3AH is also almost done with her Mathematical Reasoning book – she should finish it next week. That’ll be about 5 weeks to complete the Pre-K book, and then I have the Kindergarten book ready to go. I like starting the kids at the lower level first, because it ends up being really easy for them, and they have fun with it and feel super confident. Not a bad way to start their math journey!

Awana starts up this weekend, so both kids will be back in the habit of scripture memory. Neither of them have done it at all since it ended last May. I’m ok with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

7 Quick Takes: All About The Kids

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

School started earlier in August, and I wasn’t entirely sure how things would go, since this is my first year having two official students, plus the baby is much more … troublesome … than she was when she was an actual baby. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So far, I’d have to say that things are going fairly well. My biggest issue currently is that I wish I had a bigger bookcase on the porch where we do most of our schooling. Two students in literature-based curriculum = twice as many books. Turns out we’re overflowing with books and other materials.

Kindergarten Book StackPartial Kindergarten Book Stack

— 2 —

G had a Cub Scout introductory meeting last night. Since I’m writing the post Thursday afternoon he hasn’t had the meeting yet and I have no idea how it’s going to go, what they would do, if if he’ll end up joining. But by the time you read this we should know all of that. Ok, maybe we won’t have decided about joining yet, but we’ll at least have the info to make that decision! He’s really excited about finding out about it at least.

— 3 —

H wants to join scouts too, so I need to get moving on finding out about something for her. Cub Scouts made it easy with signs by the local elementary school. Girl Scouts hasn’t done that, but I have a couple of emails out asking for info. ๐Ÿ˜‰

— 4 —

As I figure out how best to do school with two students and three kids, I’m tweaking things from last year. This week I’ve been splitting up their work into two groups, and doing mini sessions with each. That way they both get a break in the middle, and can do their own thing for a bit while I work with the other one. M also gets her school time – she knows to ask for it (her school time consists of sitting on my lap and listening to me read her books).

Things aren’t as polished as I’d like; I’m hoping we can to get a little bit faster with everything. My preference would be to finish all of school and have lunch eaten and cleaned up before M goes down for a nap at 1:30. We’re making it now, but we also haven’t added in everything I want to do for the year.

It’ll also be a change once the weather isn’t as nice to allow outside playtime. That’s been helpful right now, and I know we’ll miss it this winter. All the more reason to take advantage of it while we can!

School OutsideTaking Advantage of a Beautiful Day to Do Math Outside

— 5 —

The two big kids had dentist appointments this week, and luckily for me R ended up taking the day off of work, so I was able to leave M with him and just take the patients with me. So much easier than keeping her contained and out of trouble during their appointments!

G is going back next week for sealant on his molars and I’ve got my fingers crossed that R can take a longer lunch and come home and watch both girls while I run G over to that appointment. Assuming no crisis pops up that morning he should be able to do that, but I’m trying not to totally be counting on it.

— 6 —

We’ve had a super rainy start to soccer – they actually played their first game without having had a practice because of all the rain-outs. This week they had practice and once again I find myself amazed at my good fortune. Both practices are at the exact same time and location, and they even practice on back-to-back fields. I was able to set my chair in between the fields and swivel my head to watch both of them. I’m going to enjoy that this season, because I don’t imagine I’ll ever get so lucky again with concurrent practices. Or if I do they’ll be at different locations and I’ll be scrambling to get them both where they need to be!

Post Rainy Soccer GameAfter Her First (Very Rainy) Soccer Game

— 7 —

We had roughly a month-long break with chapter book readalouds, and now we’re back into the routine of reading them daily. We’ve recently finished up The Year of the Dog (we all loved it), Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew #1 (H loved it), and Gone Fishing (G & I loved it, and I’ve already gushed about it on Instagram I thought so much of it.).

I am having to pay more attention to library holds lists and pickup times, because adding an extra person I’m trying to intentionally select readalouds for, timed to school topics, is still something I’m getting used to. It’s one thing when I’m getting books for her but it doesn’t matter when they arrive, and another when I want them at particular times, or to be sure I’m getting a balance of topics.

Gone Fishing

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster
Three years ago: Cooking the Book: Trader Joeโ€™s Vegetarian Cookbook

Cooking with Kids: What We’re Doing Now

Teaching My Kids to Cook Deliberate ReaderYesterday I shared about the books I tried in my attempt to teach my kids to cook, and admitted that I’m not using any of them currently, having found something else instead. And let me reiterate – it’s not that any of those books were bad; they’re not. They just weren’t what I was looking for.

I wanted something that laid out an entire cooking program to use with my early elementary aged kids. I wanted straightforward progression of skills, building on what had been learned previously, without asking for future skills before they were taught. I wanted it to be easy for me to use (have a prep list for each lesson, telling me what I’m going to have to do, and what ingredients and equipment we’ll need). I wanted it to include ideas on how to explain things well to young children (like how to use a knife safely). And if it wasn’t asking for too much, I wanted it to include ways to teach multiple ages/abilities.

I’d hoped I’d find this in a book, but after checking out all I could find from my library, and giving a real try to the best one they offered, I was still not completely thrilled with what I was using.

Trying Something New

Finally, on a day when I was frustrated with trying to force what I was using into something it wasn’t designed to be, I went searching online for other options, expecting to find a different book that my library hadn’t had. Instead I found an online course designed to teach kids cooking skills. I had NOT been looking for an online course – I wanted a book! – but I was not having the success I wanted with the books I tried. So looked into it more closely and found that it claimed to offer everything I wanted.

On first glance, I was really impressed with how the course was designed. There are three levels, for beginner, intermediate, and advanced. My older kids are right on the bubble between beginner and intermediate, and I started them with beginner (mostly so I could teach them together; the 7 year old could probably go straight into intermediate).

Here’s a chart showing the skills taught at the three levels:

3-levels-explanation

It all sounded like just what I wanted, so I decided to give it a try.

Why It’s Working

I love how the skills truly do build on each other, and nothing is expected from a recipe that hasn’t been taught.

I’m pleased with how it all ties in together – it’s easy to see a lot of thought has gone into it all, and if you’re working on more than one level at the same time, the lessons often are integrated so you end up with a complete meal. How awesome is that? (We’re not getting that benefit because of my kids ages, but I can still appreciate it and daydream about how it could work someday.) They’ve got a curriculum map that lays all of this out.

It’s easy because my kids enjoy watching the videos. No surprise, but getting to watch on the tablet gets their attention more than me reading from that other book did.

Looking Ahead

We’re in the middle of using the beginner level, but I am so pleased with it that I’ve purchased the All Access plan, and we’ll move onto the intermediate lessons as soon as we finish the beginners. The plan is then to continue on to advanced lessons once they’re ready for those!

I’m also excited to see about including my youngest in on the lessons as well. She can almost participate the the very first ones, and I know she’ll be thrilled to join in as well. She’s always asking to cook too, and loves to put on an apron like the big kids have.

If You’re Interested

The course is only open for new sign ups occasionally. I’ve heard that it will open again soon, so if it sounds good to you, sign up to be notified. You can also read their FAQ page for more details on what it offers.

I’ve been really happy with it, and I’m surprised with how much I like it, considering it’s not at all what I thought I wanted for my kids. Turns out what I thought I wanted and what I ended up liking were two different things.

(I still think I’m getting my kids those fun cook books for Christmas, and by then they should have the skills to really use them).

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored review, and I paid for the course myself. I did sign up to be an affiliate for it once I realized how awesome of a course it was though, and the post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: New on My Bookcase (vol. 7)

Homeschooling Kindergarten, Round Two: The Plans

This August will mark something new: my first time officially homeschooling TWO students.

The Familiar

Sonlight Core P 4 5While I already have the same Sonlight material I used so successfully with my oldest for his Kindergarten year, I was not completely enthusiastic about doing it again exactly the same. Apparently I get bored easily. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, in the interests of keeping my interest level high, I’m making some adaptations for my daughter’s year. Here’s the plan:

I will still be doing Sonlight’s P 4/5 level, more or less. I will almost certainly skip the Uncle Wiggly book again – while I’d like to say that I’ll try it and see if H likes it more than G did, I probably won’t because *I* hated reading the book so much. Sorry kiddo! I have the sequel to Milly Molly Mandy and will add it in instead.

I will skip some of the Children’s Book of Virtues – I really liked some of the stories and poems in the book, and really disliked others, so I’ll stick to the ones I enjoyed and skip the ones I didn’t.

The New

BYL K Around the WorldThe plan (this could change if things do not go well, or if life gets overwhelming) is to add in the Build Your Library Kindergarten schedule, more or less. It’s a round-the-world plan, which looks fun, and I already owned several of the books. I like the idea of spending some time in each continent, and we can add extra picture books from the library. It has a few simple crafts projects, and they may even be simple enough for me to manage them. It also schedules in cooking projects, and the kids are SUPER excited about that.

It’s unlikely I would have added this in if it wasn’t such an inexpensive option – I spotted it during a sale and so got it for under $20. I did spend a bit more adding some of the books for it (the spines for the year; the others I’ll get from the library) but they’re all really nice books I don’t mind adding to my collection.

Language Arts

AAR 1 Activity BookFor reading instruction, I’ll follow H’s lead. She says she wants to learn how to, but I’ve tried All About Reading Level 1 with her and she wasn’t quite ready back in February when she first asked. I would rather not push her at all and wait until she really is ready. I expect once that happens she’ll fly through it like her brother did.

Just to try something new, I got her the Reason for Handwriting book. I suspect not having her do everything exactly like her brother did will be a good thing for her, and handwriting is an easy one to vary. Her handwriting is already far ahead of where his was at that age, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if she passes him this year.

Mathematics

I’ve got the same Mathematical Reasoning books I used with G waiting for her as well, and she’s been happily using some of the Preschool ones from them. Since I already have Miquon books, I may give them another try and let her play with them a bit.

Science

Berenstain Bear's Big Book of Science and NatureIt’s already included in both the Sonlight P 4/5 guide and BYL K guide, and I’ll likely do both, since it’s almost entirely reading science books. The Sonlight books were some of our favorites for that entire year, and I know she’s going to love hearing them – my son saw the Berenstain Bears and How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World books in the pile I was showing her and got so excited for her that she was going to get to hear them. Plus I’m a big fan of the Robert Wells books included (and I bought a couple extras from that series I like them so much). I’m halfway considering adding another science curriculum to the mix, again, just to keep from doing the exact same things as I did with her brother. That’s a big “maybe.”

Bible

Sonlight schedules the 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible, and I’ll probably read those and then move into another story Bible when we finish that one. I think with her brother the next one we read was the Jesus Storybook Bible (love that one!) and I may do the same with her. Or I’m considering a curriculum I can do with both of them together, but that’s still up in the air a bit as I haven’t found anything that looks like what I want and is appropriate for their ages.

Extras

The Deliberate Reader US and Canada GeoPuzzleShe’s continuing with taekwondo, and is currently a senior orange belt. Awana will start up again in September, and it’ll be her first year in Sparks – she is *so* excited about that!

She’s asked to do soccer in the fall, so I’m looking into that possibility. She also desperately wants to take dance lessons, so it’s another option I’ve got to investigate.

And of course I’ve got all the fun Timberdoodle games and materials that I used with her brother at this age. I know I’ll pull out the GeoPuzzles (these are SO AWESOME) and Lift the Flap Picture Atlas as we go to each new continent. She’s also wanting to use the Look Inside Your Body they include in their Kindergarten kits, and I may get her some of the art items for her birthday – she LOVES art. I did get her a world coloring book to add in with her geography studies – it was so inexpensive I couldn’t resist.

That’s the plan for the year, but I’m sure there will be some modifications as we go. I have no idea how it will really be doing school with two, but I anticipate the real challenge coming from the youngest, who will turn two right after we start back to school.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Planning Ahead for Second Grade

Sonlight Core B Readers 2As of yesterday (!) we’ve finished Sonlight Core A (what I’d planned for G’s first grade year), so it’s time to look ahead at what the plans are for second grade. Which yes, technically begins in August, but acknowledging that these are the plans for that year helps me keep things organized, both around the blog and in my brain. ๐Ÿ™‚

Using Core A for first grade worked really well – it would not have been as successful for his Kindergarten year, so I’m glad we held off on it. The last 9 weeks of the core went very fast, so we’ll be getting an earlier start on Core A than I originally expected. The same thing happened last year – I think we both see the new material waiting for us and can’t wait to dive into it!

The plan (as it stands now) is to move right into Core B, then breaking for summer in mid-June. We’ll pick back up with school work in mid-August, when the local schools go back. I’ll just stop the Core wherever we are, and begin again when we restart. If we’re in the middle of a chapter book I’ll probably finish it though!

This fall will mark the first year school is officially required for my son, but because of the laws in Indiana that won’t make much difference to what we do. I’ve already been tracking his attendance and keeping records for myself – more than what the state requires.

Core B will cover history and Bible. It’s the first half of World History, and I am *so* excited to really start diving into history with him – so far we’ve mostly just touched lightly on historical topics and the history nerd in me is anxious to go a little deeper into the past.

Sticker Dressing Greek MythsWhile there are many possibilities for extra books that will touch on the topics covered in this Core, I have two already on the shelf that will add a hands-on element which is usually a struggle for me. Ancient Egypt Sticker Book, and Sticker Dressing Greek Myths look like they’ll be hugely popular with G. And Look Inside Mummies & Pyramids is a lift-the-flap book so not really hands-on, but still interactive.

What I’m still considering adding is The Story of the World (and it’s Activity Book), as well as History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations and Famous Figures of Ancient Times. It all depends on just how much I want to try and stretch the Core, and how far my budget will stretch. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Language Arts

LA 2The main framework will once again be Sonlight, in this case LA 2, which will be really easy on the reading, but a better fit for everything else. G’s already finished all of the levels in All About Reading, so he doesn’t need any more reading instruction, just practice. Besides the readers from LA 2 I’ll add in extra books from the library and Usborne.

My First Story Writing BookLast year we did the Daily 6 Trait Writing I found thanks to Timberdoodle. He loved it, but it was so easy. I haven’t decided if I want to get it again. It’s very much written for a school setting, and I think it’s already covered through Sonlight’s LA so I’ll probably skip it. If he really misses it I can probably be persuaded to get it again though, but I may look at jumping him up a level. Or, what I’m *really* thinking about doing is using My First Story Writing Book, which we have and looks super fun.

Last year we also did Language Smarts B that was another discovery from Timberdoodle. I didn’t like the way it was organized (I’d have preferred it to spiral more, like Mathematical Reasoning books also published by the same company) but G loved it, and pleaded to get it again. So yeah, we’ll be doing Language Smarts C this year. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s mostly grammar, and it isn’t really necessary, but when he begs to do it, how can I resist?

I’m also adding in the Sonlight-recommended (and scheduled) resources Wordly Wise A and Explode the Code 4. Depending on how useful I think ETC 4 is, I may or may not add 5 & 6 which are also recommended and scheduled by Sonlight to go along with LA 2.

Not Your Everyday Illustrated ThesaurusAs a possible read-aloud or reference to go along with other LA materials, I’ve got Not-Your-Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus. It may not work as a read-aloud, but we’ll see. I like it a lot, but we’ll see what my son thinks of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

A final possibility is another readaloud: Word FunWord Fun by Michael Dahl and Nancy Loewen, illustrated by Sara Gray is a picture book about the eight parts of speech. It’s got fun illustrations and should be entertaining.

Handwriting continues with Getty-Dubay’s Italic Writing (he’ll be in book C) and copywork practice.

Spelling has also been going well, so it’ll just continue on – most of second grade will use All About Spelling, Level 3 (he’s currently on his final step in Level 2). Whenever he finishes that he’ll move on to Level 4.

Math

Homeschooling Math Early Second GradeI just posted a math update, so I’ll summarize that here. He’s currently in Math Mammoth (MM) 2B and Mathematical Reasoning C. I like how they complement each other well, but don’t know that I’ll continue using both after he finishes them. Probable plans are to go into MM 3A and then try out Beast Academy (BA) 3A once he finishes MM 2B. I am also considering having him finish MM 3A and 3B before starting BA 3A because it’s such a challenging program.

That’s a couple of months away though, so we’ll see what happens.

Times Tables Activity BookUntil then, because G loves activity books so much, I’m considering getting him Usborne’s Times Tables Activity Book. I think he’s already got their Lift-the-Flap Times Tables coming to him from Grandma, or else I’d probably be getting that as well.

I’m also just starting to look for an app or game for him to practice his multiplication facts. He will start learning that next month or so, and I want him to learn them really well, because I never did and know how helpful it would have been in later grades if I had.

Science

Science BWe’re about a month away from finishing up Sonlight’s Science A (we didn’t worry much about keeping it on the same schedule as the Core). Once that’s finished I’ll get their Science B, because I really liked their style of science for this level – it’s mostly good books. I also like how they’ve got videos for the experiments so even if I don’t get them done he can at least watch it.

I’m still considering finishing Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy, which we got halfway through during his Kindergarten year. I have the book, so it seems like of course we should, but I’m unmotivated to get back to it – I don’t love how it’s written or organized.

Other science-related readalouds we’ll get to this year will likely include the Wile E. Coyote Physical Science graphic novels, which were a Christmas gift for G this year. They remind me a lot of the Max Axiom graphic novels, which he loved.

100 Things to Know About ScienceLast year I ended up reading him the First Illustrated Science Dictionary, and it was a nice companion to the rest of Science A. This year I’ve already got 100 Things to Know About Science waiting – we’ll start it next week. I may not do well at getting experiments done, but I can read books to them!

Under consideration if I decide we need still more science: Science in the Beginning. Seems like it could be a fun one to go along with our history, but I’m not sure if I’ll like it more than the Apologia text; it’s still a textbook, even if I’m reading good things about it.

Extras

G is finishing up his 2nd year in AWANA’s Sparks program. We’re at a new location and overall I think it’s a better fit for us from a scheduling standpoint (Sunday night vs. Wednesday night). I do plan to have him continue with it next year. My big decision right now with it is whether or not to have H move into Sparks next year, or to hold her back for another year of Cubbies. She’s not ready for Sparks yet, but by August it may be obvious that she is. I’m reminding myself that in February of G’s final Cubbies year I was also doubting that he’d be ready for Sparks in the fall and he absolutely was.

G continues to advance in taekwondo. He’ll be testing for his blue belt tomorrow and H will be testing for her orange belt.

Step-by-Step DrawingWe’re very inconsistent about getting art or music appreciation done. I’m hoping to do better at that this year. My goal is to intentionally plan Fridays to be a light day, and then do some of that with the time. I still have Harmony Fine Arts to finish, and I also received a Step by Step Drawing book which looks like it will be really easy to add to our days.

Follow Along on Pinterest

I’ve set up a Pinterest board with all of these things, and am planning on adding the books I use to supplement. Sonlight does have a lot of books, but it’s still not enough for me. Especially since I want to stretch Core B!

I also set up a board with other ideas and possibilities. These are things I’m considering, and if I end up using them I’ll move them to the other board. Don’t worry that I’m going to overload my son by trying all of the things that may be on this board – these are my *possibilities* and I’m using the board as a way to remember those possibilities.


Recent Sequel Readalouds

I’m getting backlogged on writing about our readalouds (we’re moving through them faster now) so here’s a post catching me up to date on some of the sequels and pseudo-sequels I’ve read to my son, with my daughter listening in as she wants.

More Milly Molly MandyMore Milly-Molly-MandyMore Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley by Joyce Lankester Brisley

We’re all fans of Milly-Molly-Mandy, and this book is a not-essential sequel to the Sonlight book we read last year, The Milly-Molly-Mandy StorybookThe Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley. If you liked the first set of stories, you’ll likely enjoy this as well. It’s more of the same, with no surprises. However, it’s not really necessary to have read the first book, as you’ll quickly catch up on the setting and characters. These are excellent first-chapter books, as each chapter stands on its own, and helps develop those listening skills.


Penny and PeterPenny and PeterPenny and Peter by Carolyn Haywood by Carolyn Haywood

This sequel picks up right where Here’s a Penny left off. This book has a lot less of his next door friend, and the focus is instead on Peter as well as Penny (no surprise with the title). Another one where if you liked the first, you’ll probably like this one too. I would recommend not reading this one before Here’s a Penny – you’ll spoil yourself as far as some particulars go.


Dolphin TreasureDolphin TreasureDolphin Treasure by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler by Wayne Grover, illustrated by Jim Fowler

My son was not into this one as much as the first book, Dolphin Adventure. I’m not sure why, as I felt they were pretty similar stories, although this one did take a bit longer to get to the point of any significant action. That’s probably enough of a reason for him to have been less interested in it. ๐Ÿ™‚


Five True Dog StoriesFive True Dog StoriesFive True Dog Stories by Margaret Davidson by Margaret Davidson

A sentimental favorite for me, as I’d read this as a child, and recognized the stories and the illustrations. My son really liked 4 of the stories, but one of them did not keep his interest at all. I prefer this book to the Five True Horse Stories, so if you’re debating between them, go for this one. And yes, this isn’t a true sequel, but more of another book in a similar style.

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Two years ago: Book Review: Buried in the Sky by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan
Three years ago: Reading Less / Reading More

Homeschooling Update: First Grade Math

Homeschooling First Grade MathBack in December 2014 I wrote about the issues I’d had with homeschooling math in kindergarten. I didn’t realize it’d been that long since I wrote specifically about math, beyond the small updates I give occasionally. Clearly it’s past time I gave some details about what we’re doing for math in first grade.

What We’ve Been Doing

Math Mammoth 2AIn that long-ago post I mentioned that I was interested in trying Math Mammoth (MM), with the hope of eventually moving on to Beast Academy. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing. MM has worked very well for us – I like how it’s structured, it’s *much* easier to actually teach than Right Start was for me (I *loved* the idea of Right Start, the research behind it, their goals, etc, but *detested* teaching it. So not a good fit for us.)

I like how MM is laid out, and the number of problems on a page. He does two pages a day, and that has him moving through the books at a nice pace. I often pull pages from different sections, so for example, he’ll be working through a chapter on addition and one on the clock at the same time. In the introduction the author tells you which chapters you can do “out of order” that way, so it doesn’t always work to do it like that, but much of the time it does, and G prefers it.

The “Second” Math Curriculum

Mathematical Reasoning BNot necessary at all – Math Mammoth is a full curriculum – but we had been using Mathematical Reasoning (MR) from Preschool on up, and G LOVES it, so we’ve continued. It’s much easier than MM is, but provides good practice for him at doing math quickly. He also does 2 pages of it each day, and I like how that has him doing more math each day, but he thinks it’s super fun.

They blend together quite well – MM is black and white (they pdfs are in color, but I didn’t want to pay for color printing), and MR is *very* colorful. It makes for a fun mix each day.

Where They Shine

Math Mammoth is extremely affordable – keep an eye out for sales, and you can download a complete math curriculum from 1st through 7th grade for a lower fee than some curriculum charge for one year. There’s currently one right now through the end of January for 25% off the downloadable version. That’s a great deal!

MM is also completely reusable – get the downloadable version and you can print off copies for each child – that’s fantastic when you have additional students coming along in later years.

MM emphasizes mental math and the why of things, not just memorizing methods – this is incredibly important to me, as it is not how I learned math.

MM excels in giving multiple ways of tackling problems. I’d never heard of some of the methods, but I *loved* how the author does that – giving the student different approaches to take. It’s a great way to get him thinking mathematically, and I love it.

Mathematical Reasoning is lots of fun for him, and includes more puzzles, especially as he gets later in the book. It’ll have a page of math problems, and he has to solve them in order to figure out the puzzle – either a mystery phrase, the answer to a riddle, or a dot to dot, etc. He loves those pages! He also absolutely adores the “Mind Benders” that are scattered throughout the book – so much so that I bought him a book just of those for Christmas. They’re like the Logic puzzles, scaled down for that age. Super fun, and I love how they get his brain turning. The book rarely feels like work to him.

Some Things to Be Aware Of

Math Mammoth is available as a download, on CD, or a printed version. While the pages are in color, if (like me) you get the download version and print it in black & white, there are things that don’t show correctly. It’s never been impossible to figure out, but be aware of the potential issue and be ready to help your child. Using alternatives to colors would have solved this issue – varying patterns or something similar – and it’s possible at some point that the author may address this small irritation. It’s not at all something that would keep me from using the curriculum in the future or recommending it.

Mathematical Reasoning claims to be a full math curriculum, but it doesn’t seem like it would be – that it isn’t complete enough as far as practice goes. As far as I can tell (and to be clear I am *not* an expert in math education), it covers all the topics that MM and other curriculum cover for each grade, just in less detail. It definitely doesn’t provide all of the alternative ways of doing the problems that MM provides. It doesn’t really seem to do much at all in the way of teaching anything – just gives practice.

What’s Next?

Beast Academy 3AG is within about a week of finishing Mathematical Reasoning B, and I need to hurry up and order C for him – he’s specifically requested it, so of course I want to get it for him. Math Mammoth 2B is already printed for him so he’ll move into that whenever he finishes 2A – at his current pace that should be early February. For now, we’ll just continue with the 2 pages of each every day routine we’ve got going, as it’s working so well.

Looking further ahead, shortly before Christmas I bought the first book from Beast Academy (BA), and skimmed through it, trying to get an idea of when he’ll be ready for it – it’s a *very* different curriculum, and I think he’ll enjoy it. It’ll be more obvious once he finished Math Mammoth’s 2B, so I didn’t worry about making a firm decision right now.

I may decide to do MM’s 3A & 3B, and then move to BA’s 3A. Because of the way we’re pacing things, he is working “ahead” technically based on his age, so having the extra curriculum won’t matter. Plus that may have him doing the harder BA work when he’s already covered it in a way through MM. Might make it a bit easier for him?

I don’t think I’ll continue with Mathematical Reasoning with him at that point, but if he still loves it and asks for it I can probably be persuaded. It’s hard to turn down a boy asking for a math book, even if they are kind of expensive for a supplemental math program. I’m *hoping* BA gives him that fun math approach he’s enjoying from MR, but we’ll see what happens. I may end up continuing on with MM as the “main” curriculum (it is working really well) and using BA as an occasional add on – letting him work through slowly, “behind” where he’d be grade-wise.


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: What the Kids are Reading (in January 2015)
Two years ago: Book Review: The Spirit Rebellion (The Legend of Eli Monpress #2) by Rachel Aaron
Three years ago: Book Review: Momumental by Jennifer Grant