Okay, so I'm mostly writing this post just to sort through my own thoughts and get everything down in one place but if you've an interest and the time to read through it all, enjoy. :)
I schedule our school year to begin the first full week in August and end at the end of June. It is always lighter as the year gets closer to Summer but I like to start in August. I'm not a fan of the heat and working in August gives us more time off we can space around the Liturgical year.
So, this year will be my first year with more kids "in" school than not. Cecilia will be in 5th grade, Felicity in 3rd, Elizabeth in 2nd and Teresa in pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten.
Cecilia will be working through Saxon 6/5. She did really well with Saxon 5/4 this past year so I am hopeful for another good year for her. Felicity and Elizabeth will be working through A Beka's Arithmetic 3 and 2 respectively. Teresa I am going to start on Golden Books I Know Numbers and Count from 10 to 100. If she gets through both of those I have A Beka's Number Skills K we can begin on but we will see how she does.
I do Phonics through 2nd grade and then pick up Vocabulary instead at 3rd. So Elizabeth will be doing A Beka's Phonics 2. Felicity will be doing Wordly Wise A, B, and C. And Cecilia will be doing Seton's Vocabulary 5. I expect, after taking off from these subjects in the Spring, Elizabeth might struggle getting back into Phonics but I think with it will be worth the effort to push back into it.
I'm looking forward to getting the girls back into poetry. I've picked a selection that includes the Anima Christi prayer, Psalm 23 for the younger two (Cecilia memorized it a couple of years ago), some wonderful short poems, including my favorite Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Frost, and the National Anthem for the younger two as well and Casey at the Bat for Cecilia.
Cecilia's handwriting has come a long way and I really don't think she needs the drill work so much as to use her writing in her work. So while I want her to keep writing letters, which she loves to do anyway, I'm not assigning her any copy work. She will however practice typing for 30 minutes every week. Felicity and Elizabeth will both be using Memoria Press Copy Books to work on their manuscript and Felicity will also use Seton's Handwriting for Young Catholics to begin working on her script. I don't care how many schools don't teach it anymore, I think you are at a distinct disadvantage both when taking dictation as well as when trying to read it if you don't know script. In addition, Felicity will also begin learning how to type. It might be a bit much at first but she has a tendency to do her manuscript work quickly and I don't think it will be overwhelming. Teresa will be beginning to learn how to write her letters properly using a Memoria Press Copy Book.
Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth will be using the Maps, Graphs and Charts books F, C and B, respectively. We will also be going over geography as it pertains to our history studies.
Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth will be using Seton's English 5, 3 and 2 and Seton's Spelling 5, 3 and 2.
I think of our school work in two groups. All of the above I consider book work or table work and, for the most part, they are able to do independently or semi-independently. They also do it best in the morning. I have even set up schedules for each of the older three so they can work on their own and mark off the assignments as they do them. It gives them structure, independence and goals and makes things easier for me. The remaining subjects I think of more as group subjects because we do them together and generally not at a table, or if at the table, not with workbooks.
For Spanish we will be using the Rosetta Stone Spanish computer program and while Elizabeth and Felicity are more than welcome to give it a try, I am only going to ask Cecilia to do Spanish every week for 30 minutes. That way she can go over a lesson she might need more work on or need to review or she can go on to a new one. Either way she can take her time with it but still make a habit of doing some each week.
For Latin I'm changing things up this year. We've used Prima Latina and Latina Christiana and I think the programs are okay but they just aren't working well for us. Cecilia can recite almost the entire Our Father in Latin but she only remembers a handful of words from the entire 3? 4? years she has been doing the programs. So this year we are going to try using the Little Latin Readers, which I am excited about. I'm very hopeful this program will work better for us. I am also going to do the lessons with all three girls together. In addition we are going to supplement by reading Maximus, a graphic book about a mouse in Rome. For us, the other programs became monotonous droll and I'm really hoping these will be more fun.
I will be using Ignatius' Faith and Life Series again. I always use the oldest grade book, so we will be using their 5th grade book. I use my Ignatius copy of the Bible to read from various Scripture passages as they relate to each lesson. I am also going to try 2 new things this year. First, we are going to read from the Liturgical Yearbook I created 7 or so years ago each morning for the Saint of that day. Second, we are going to supplement with the Dominican's Virtues in Practice program. I'm not completely sure how that is going to work out yet since there is one program for grades 1-2 and a different program for grades 3-5. Do I do Cecilia and Felicity together and Elizabeth separately? Just do the older program and have Elizabeth tag along? I'm not sure yet but we will see how it goes. I just like the idea of incorporating Saints and virtues into a regular discussion and reflection. I am also going to try to help my oldest three earn their Bible Basics and 7 C's of History (which focuses on creation, the flood, etc.) AHG badges.
We are starting back at the beginning of civilization and I've divided up the year. In August we are going to focus on the Mesopotamian Cultures - the Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittites and Phoenicians. I have gathered several books on the subject including DK Eyewitness books on Ancient Civilizations and Mesopotamia and The Epic of Gilgamesh. September, October and November will be spent focusing on Ancient Egypt. We will use many books including Macauley's Pyramid, The 5000 Year Old Puzzle: Solving A Mystery of Ancient Egypt, DK Eyewitness Ancient Egypt, Usborne Time Traveler, Founders of Freedom, Tutankhamun, Exodus, etc. We will also watch the DVD Ancient Egypt Unearthed, visit the Chicago Field Museum, and, just for fun, dance to "Walk Like An Egyptian" and watch Steve Martin's "King Tut" SNL skit. In December we will spend 2 weeks focusing on the Ancient Hebrews. While the Hebrews will have come up both in Religion and History prior to December, I wanted to take a couple of weeks to focus only on them and right before Christmas and after Egypt made sense to me. We are going to focus on The Story of Queen Esther, God King: A Story in the Days of King Hezekiah, The Ancient World of the Bible, and Ancient Israelites and Their Neighbors. We will also watch the DVD The 10 Commandments. (They have seen The Prince of Egypt a few times but never The 10 Commandments.)
After Christmas, we will devote January, February, March and the first half of April to Ancient Greece. We are going to use books including DK Eyewitness Ancient Greece, Classical Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in Ancient Greece and Rome, D'Aulaire's Greek Myths, Cupid and Psyche, Aesop's Fables, Archimedes and the Door of Science, Lysis Goes to the Play, What's Your Angle, Pythagoras?, Herodotus and the Road to History, The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War, Alexander the Great, etc. We will be taking trips to the Milwaukee Public Museum for its exhibit Crossroads of Civilization and the Field Museum in Chicago for its exhibit The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great. We are also going to watch Jason and the Argonauts. I'd love to find a way to include The Odyssey, The Aenead, and/or Antigone in some way but I haven't sorted that out yet. I'm open to suggestions though! If anyone has a good way to incorporate Socrates as well I'm all ears! The end of April through June will revolve around Ancient Rome. We will be using DK Eyewitness Ancient Rome, Roman Numerals I to MM, ROME in Spectacular Cross-section, Pompeii: Lost and Found, Julius Caesar and the Story of Rome, Detectives in Togas, et al. We are going to watch Ben Hur and possibly Quo Vadis. I admit I haven't thought out all of our Rome unit yet, but I have time. I am open to suggestions though! I am only really looking to cover up until around the year zero though. Frankly, it is an incredible amount to try to cover in one year, so maybe we will need to take some of the following year to finish, but I really want to spend the time being immersed in the ancient civilization and culture.
Science is going to somewhat interact with History. August through December we are going to focus on Archeology. We will use books like The Magic School Bus Shows and Tells: A Book about Archeology, One Small Blue Bead, Archaeologists Dig for Clues, Old Testament Days, DK Eyewitness Dinosaur, and DK Eyewitness Archeology. We are going to go to the Milwaukee Public Museum for their exhibits: the Crossroads of Civilization, The Hebior Mammoth, the Wisconsin Woodlands and the Pre-Columbian America. We are also going to go to the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago. We are going to watch The Viking Sword documentary on Netflix and, because we can, we are going to watch Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and possibly The Last Crusade. We are also going to do our own little archeological dig with a Geoworld Dino Excavation Kit.
From January through June we are going to focus on Astronomy. Last Fall my parents gifted Felicity with a telescope and we are going to put it to use. In January and February will focus on our Solar System. We will use There's No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System, Memoria Press' Book of Astronomy Teacher's Guide, and Exploring Creation with Astronomy to learn about the order, size, distance and colors of the planets. We are also going to listen to Holst's The Planets and make our own model of the solar system. March and part of April will focus on the moon: it's cycles, seas, the landing on it, etc. This will also include how we get into space and what it is like living in space. The rest of April and all of May will focus on stars: the sun, kinds/stages of stars and the constellations. In June we will go over comets, meteors, asteroids, galaxies, black holes and anything else that comes up. We will also take a trip to the Milwaukee Astronomy Observatory and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. And, throughout our Astronomy unit I intend to help my oldest three earn their Space Exploration and Living and Working in Space AHG badges.
I am hoping to at least partially incorporate art and music with our science and history. So in August we are going to study a bit about cave paintings and make our own on brown paper. We will make our own primitive instruments from bottles, string, sticks, tubes, etc. and listen to music as it might have sounded in ancient Mesopotamia. We are going to look at basketmaking and make our own as well as make our own mosaics. We will look at how the Ancient Egyptians made papyrus and how paper is made now and make our own. I am also hoping to make it to at least one if not two local folk craft shows, one in September and one in November. So, by Christmas, we should be able to get Cecilia and Elizabeth (Felicity already has it) their Creative Crafts AHG badge.
We are also going to take advantage of some local productions. I'm hoping to get tickets to take the kids to the Milwaukee Symphony performance of Beethoven: The Hero's Composer, as well as a local production of James and the Giant Peach and the Milwaukee Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker in December. After Christmas, I hope to attend a Milwaukee Symphony performance in January and a local performance of Antigone in April.
In the winter, when we wouldn't be outside much anyway and when we will be studying Ancient Greece, I plan to sign the older three girls up for a local pottery class. Of course, in March and April our trips to the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Field Museum for History will double as Art field trips. Ideally we will also get to the Art Institute of Chicago next Spring as well. In addition, James will begin giving our older girls piano lessons at home.
I went hunting online for sewing ideas and bookmarked some websites with some fun sewing projects for kids. From sewing a tissue holder to making a button tree and a needle case, I have about a dozen projects lined up over the course of the year for the oldest three (and myself) to learn and practice how to sew on a button and how to sew various stitches by hand. For Christmas I am planning on giving each of them their own sewing basket complete with needles, pins, a handmade cupcake pin cushion made by a friend of mine, threads and thimble. Hopefully, by the end of the year, they will have amassed a lovely assortment of handmade sewn items to keep and treasure and, just maybe see their own improvement. I have introduced all three of them to the basics of threading a needle and doing a basic whipstitch but they all need practice (from which I would benefit as well) and I'd like them also to learn a running stitch, basting stitch, backstitch, blanket stitch and slip stitch as well as how to sew on a button. I plan to help the oldest 3 earn their Sewing AHG badges (although Cecilia will have to try her hand at the sewing machine to complete hers). If the sewing goes well and takes off and the girls are feeling up to it we might try to start learning how to crochet and trying to earn the AHG Needle Arts badge, but that will depend on how things go.)
While the girls have always loved helping and "helping" in the kitchen, I really wanted to try to do some more formal teaching of cooking this year. So I bought the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book and it has a wonderful reference section in the beginning with full color photographs. Now, it does have many recipes that are not from scratch and use things like condensed soups, seasoning packets, etc. but I think it will help as a beginning. I've put together a general schedule with items for us to cook together over the course of the school year. It includes the basics like pasta, eggs, bacon, pancakes and french toast but also adds some more complex items like chocolate soufflé, quiche lorraine, candy apples, cinnamon rolls, homemade tortillas, a casserole or two and some staples like hamburgers and some basic breads and rices. We might not get to everything, but better to have the goals and not quite do it all than not have any goals at all and just hope something happens. I also hope to help all three girls earn their AHG Cooking badge.
I will be using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons again for Teresa. It worked well for her sisters and so we will use it again. However, I have a hard time "scheduling" it since some lessons a child can work through quickly and easily while others might need to be done more than once. So my schedule is for 4 lessons per week for the first few weeks and then 3 per week and I will readjust around Christmas as needed depending on how she is doing. They have tended to run through the first dozen or so lessons, do one per day until the 40s and then slow down until the 70s and then take off again.
My kids enjoy reading so on the one hand I don't feel like I need to dictate that they have to read this book and this book and then this book. On the other hand, they can start one book and read a few dozen pages and then set it down and forget where they put it and then pick up another book and... well, I do want a simple record to remind them to progress through their books and so they can see what they read over the course of the year, so I'm including a column in my plan which I will record what they read.
If we have any extra time, I have a few other projects we could do as well. There are a few other AHG badges we could work on, such as Kid Care (I have the kids to do that! :) ), Social Skills & Etiquette (Tea Party!), Outdoor Skills and Ancestor Detector. And Cecilia has a Crystal Growing Kit we still haven't gotten to though I have the distilled water for it. We will have no shortage of things to do, learn or explore in the coming year. I expect I will do my mid-year reassessment somewhere between October and December but at least I have my plan laid out. Frankly, with 6 young kids, if I didn't have a plan, I wouldn't remember what I was doing much less what I intended to do. :)