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.


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

Homeschooling Math: It Shouldn’t Be This Hard in Kindergarten

Homeschooling Math Current Programs and Ideas for LaterIn last month’s update I avoided discussing math, instead promising that it would get its own post.

I’m not completely happy/content/certain/what have you when it comes to math for G. On one hand, he’s 5, and I know there are studies that show some benefits to delaying formal math instruction. On the other hand, we don’t live in an area where that is commonly done, and if he were to need to go into public school, I don’t want him to be too far off track of what is being done there. So I’m not completely comfortable delaying, despite those studies.

However, making math a BIG DEAL with lots of drill and repetition seems to be going too far in the other direction and risks making him hate math and school. And possibly me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mathematical Reasoning Level AI don’t want to bounce around between programs; I’d prefer to find something and stick with it, on the assumption that that will minimize gaps. My early math education ran into that when we moved to different states a couple of times during my elementary school years. I’d be ahead on some things, behind on others, and wound up never covering certain topics at all.

Despite this desire to pick something and stay with it, I’ve somehow managed to accumulate and (partially) use a variety of programs and items. And yet I’m still not sure what I want to use next year and in the more distant future!

What We’ve Tried

Singapore Earlybird AWe started with Critical Thinking Mathematical Reasoning books. These are super colorful and fun, and the early ones especially aren’t workbook-like at all. Even though they are workbooks – they were fun enough for G, and easy enough, that he’d quickly blast through 10 to 20 pages at a time, and ask for more.

Interspersed with those books were Singapore Early Bird. We both preferred the Critical Thinking books, which seemed to cover just as much, without being as repetitive or boring.

RightStart Math Level BAfter much online reading and forum-stalking I became very intersted in the approach of RightStart. Turns out a friend had level B and wasn’t using it, so she’s loaned it to me to try it. I want to love it – I love the background behind it’s creation, I love the idea of it, and I love the strong math foundation I think it’d give G. We had a glorious honeymoon with it for about 2 weeks, and then he hit one concept that didn’t come instantaneously, and has avoided it ever since. Teaching it is also much more of a hassle than pulling out the CT books, so I haven’t really encouraged another try at it.

I also don’t like how the books are structured, and find it hard to teach from them. The way the math is done is different enough that I do need to use the books; it’s not like I can just wing it even though it’s elementary-level math. I’ve done some reading online and apparently the second edition is better for that, so maybe I’d be better off getting the newer version? Or maybe I should accept that this isn’t going to be the best solution for us?

Miquon OrangeIn the “I keep forgetting I even have this corner” I’ve also got the Miquon books and Cuisenaire Rods.Learning Resources Cuisenaire Rods Introductory Set: Connecting Why did I get them? They’re so cheap! But they’re so confusing for me to teach – the books seem so random, and what exactly am I supposed to be doing with the rods? We’ve done almost nothing with these, so I guess I’m extra glad that they were inexpensive. I probably should just sell them, but I hold on to them thinking maybe I’ll figure them out to use with one of the younger kids. The rods at least are a hit with my 5 and 3 year olds, although they don’t really use them for anything math-like beyond lining them up in rows.

Looking Ahead

Teaching Textbooks 3Long term, I don’t know what we’ll do. The CT books claim to be a complete curriculum. Do they give enough practice though? Does it matter at this age? At what point does practice become an issue? I read great reviews about Teaching Textbooks, but I also read that they’re way behind grade level, and don’t go into enough depth to provide for a strong math background looking ahead to college and some careers. I’ve also read the same about Math-U-See, and the way it’s structured feels like I’d really be locking us into continuing with it so it’s not one I considered for long.

What I want is a program that teaches what he needs to know, in order to not close off any options that he may want later. I want him to be able to go into any career he wants, and not be limited based on what I did or didn’t do for him educationally. I want to set him up for success. His dad is really good at math, and uses it every day in his work. He definitely wants all the kids to have a great math education. (I’ve been saying “him” only because I’m not yet doing anything for my girls, not because I think math only matters for boys. Not at all!)

Math Mammoth 1ATwo other ones I’ve been eyeing are Math Mammoth, which he could begin immediately, and Beast Academy, which starts with third grade. Math Mammoth is inexpensive, so I might end up giving it a try if I need something beyond RightStart. Beast Academy might be what I work toward for him; it’s colorful and looks like it’d be fun, and yet it’s put out by the Art of Problem Solving people, so I’ve got no worries about its rigor. That would also set him up to move into AoPS books when he’s in middle school and high school. Assuming his talents point in that direction. ๐Ÿ™‚

Beast AcademyOne thing I have decided, after writing all this out, is to get back to RightStart and give it another try. As I write this we’ve got 11 weeks of Sonlight left, and if I stick with RS during all of that, it should be a good enough trial run to determine if it’s a program that will work for us at least short term, or if I should return it to my friend and move on to something else (like Math Mammoth) for 1st and 2nd grade. And maybe I’ll try and find some tips on using Miquon as well, before completely writing that off as a possibility.

I never expected math to be such an issue, especially at this young age!

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