Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our 2011–12 Learning Plan

Phew! Well, I think I've worked out most of what we're doing, at least for August through January. It's been a lot of planning during the last month!

For the last couple of weeks we've been polishing our Hebrew reading skills using the nicely plain workbooks from AlephChamp. I purchased the reading books, the medallions (for fun - turned out to be a BIG hit!), and the color word flashcards (not completely necessary, but I got them anyway). I bought a sample workbook, and did not care for those at all. Since we're basically using it for review, they weren't necessary for us anyway. They're reading 1-4 pages per day (1 for Avi, 2 for Raizel, 3 for Eli, and 4 for Amirah). It only takes 10-15 minutes per kid per day and the review has really upped our speed. Hooray!

We've also gotten a head start on history. I tend to do a lot of history in the "between" times so we don't have to do so much when we have our full learning schedule happening. So history has been an interesting study of Mary Queen of Scots, the Protestant/Catholic squabbles (and worse) in Europe, King James, Jamestown, and Pocahontas.

We read Blood on the River as our historical fiction book to go with the times. Made us all glad not to be among the first colonists! The book was historically accurate and incorporated many primary resources. All four of them enjoyed it and couldn't wait to read another chapter.

Next we're on to Henry Hudson and the search for the Northwest Passage!

Next week 5/6ths of us will be joining friends for a not-back-to-school vacation for four days. We're looking forward to that very much. After that, we're back at it, and this is what we'll be doing...

• davening
• parsha stories (The Little Midrash Says, Simcha's Kinderlach, and Tales of Tzaddikim (new for us this year)
• Hebrew vocabulary of the week (4 words to memorize/use in addition to what they learn
• gadol of the week (every two weeks we'll learn about a different gadol; his picture is posted on the wall, and we'll learn biographical information and stories about him; first one is Rashi!)
• middah of the week (often connected with the parsha)
• family lessons from Chofetz Chaim: Lessons in Truth based on his books, Sefer Sefas Tamim and Sefer Shem Olam (we recently finished the wonderful book Chofetz Chaim: The Family Lesson a Day on the laws of speech)

Story of the World 3: Early Modern Times (From Elizabeth I to the Forty-Niners)
• completing Apologia Astronomy (up to Saturn now!), and hoping to cover Botany and Human Physiology in the coming year
• fancy word of the week (I just used to come up with both useful and amusing words to learn for fun that we'll try to use here and there throughout the week. (Our first word is "velocity.")

• reading from the chumash and siddur! (using lots of flashcards I created)
Aleph Champ (for speed-reading practice; should be done by mid-fall)
• Rashi script (with the P'tach workbook available here; the same one I used!)
Lashon Hatorah Bet/Gimmel for biblical grammar

Math Mammoth 2 (last little bit) + Math Mammoth 3 (so far so good!)
Rod and Staff Spelling 3 (a Mennonite curriculum that we're going to try out; seems like it could be a good fit; Zaner-Bloser is a bit b-o-r-i-n-g...)
Rod and Staff Penmanship 3 (ditto, but it's Spelling Workout that is boring and full of more busywork than Amirah needs... I thought about just making my own penmanship book, but this was cheap and my time is limited!)
• Piano lessons! (Faber Piano books - still my favorite after all these many years of teaching)
First Language Lessons 3 (we continue to be very happy with this great grammar program)
Writing With Ease 3 (ditto here; teaches writing skills very pithily!)
McGuffey Reader 3 (read aloud 2x/week to work on oral expression and fluid reading)
• assigned reading (about 30 minutes per day) related primarily to our history studies
• choir!
• recorder class!
• free reading (she does plenty without any encouragement!)

Aleph Champ
• beginning chumash and siddur reading
• learning Hebrew script (using Migdalor workbook)
Lashon Hatorah Alef

Math Mammoth 1 (half-way done) + Math Mammoth 2
Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading
Explode the Code 3 + however far we get! (I have decided to forego a formal spelling program for first grade; I honestly don't think there's any need; also, Eli loves Explode the Code and that provides plenty of writing/spelling opportunities!)
Rod and Staff Penmanship 1
First Language Lessons 1 (grammar)
Writing With Ease (composition)
• Piano lessons!
• Orff-Schulwerk music class!

Aleph Champ

Handwriting Without Tears 1
First Language Lessons 1 (with Eli; she already memorized it all anyway!)
• piano lessons!
Ordinary Parents Guide for Teaching Reading
Explode the Code 1 + however much we do!

And Little Avi will be learning his alphabet and his alefbeis, and rolling around gathering in things by osmosis, and just generally being really cute and funny and sweet!

As for how it's all going to work out... I'm basically organizing our day into blocks. They'll all be working on the same subject areas at roughly the same time and I'll be bouncing back and forth. B"H Amirah is at an age where there are many things she can do independently, checking in with me before and/or after she does the work. I'll give each kid a daily ticket and they check things off as they go. Their daily ticket will include several chores that need to be done at different parts of the day. The ticket will go on their clipboard that is hanging in the learning room.

The learning room is nicely fixed up and organized! Some pretty things are on the walls, all the drawers are organized, and we're pretty much ready to go.

If you made it this far - MAZAL TOV! :)

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