Thursday, August 9, 2012

Our Goals for 2012-13

This is going to be an unusual school year for us.  Or, should I say, even more unusual?


We will be adding a toddler to our family sometime after the first of the year.  We'll definitely take a month or more off to bond with him and give the entire family some time to adjust--only, we don't know when he'll arrive, how he will react to us, or what his medical needs will be.  Try planning around that!

The next two care packages, ready to go!

And this is a testing year for both of my kids.  We don't normally do much test prep, but I do want to give the kids a fighting chance to do well. 

So...I decided to "frontload" our academic year a bit.  We are starting earlier (August 14) and taking on a bit more daily work than we did last year.  Once Little Guy arrives and we are feeling up to it, the big kids can go back to their more relaxed schedule, and they'll have a little more freedom to follow the rabbit-trails that they invariably find!

Knowing me, I have over-thought and over-prepared, but here is the plan for our academic year:


As usual, math is our most eclectic subject.  I hate to think of how much money I have spent over the years on various curricula that just didn't work for us...I finally got wise and invented my own, using ideas from The Mailbox, Teacher Filebox, abcteach, BrainPop, Teachers pay Teachers, Family Math, and Challenge Math.

Card games and other math games, many from TpT.

We play a lot of math games.  In fact, many games reinforce math skills, even if they aren't officially "educational."  In addition to S'Math, Mythmatical Battles, math facts bingo, and other games, my kids like Monopoly, Minotaurus, Domination, Uno, and Othello.  We used to avoid worksheets like the plague but as the kids are getting older, the concepts are getting more complex, and those practice sheets seem to be the only way to really make them stick.

We still do lots of hands-on math, though.  For skills reinforcement, I really like The Mailbox and teacher-created games from TpT.  For practical, real-life activities, I get lots of ideas from Math Wise, Hands-On Math, and a fun book called Math in the Garden.

After Little Guy arrives, the kids will switch to Teaching Textbooks, one of my favorite ready-made curricula.  If only it had been around when I was a kid (along with personal computers, CD Roms, and legal homeschooling!) ANYWAY...we used it a couple of years ago and my kids were able to do the lessons almost independently, so I'm hoping that will be true for 7th and 5th as well.

Never underestimate the power of Angry Birds stickers to transform ordinary flash cards!


We are beginning the year with a (homemade) unit study on cells and DNA.  Then we're going to use Ellen McHenry's The Elements: Ingredients of the Universe.  Chemistry is not my strongest subject, so I am very grateful for Ellen McHenry, as well as Gonick & Criddle's Cartoon Guide to Chemistry.

Better learning through chemistry...

If we still have time before the end of the year, we'll jump into Discover the Oceans: The World's Largest Ecosystem.  Honestly, my kids are such science sponges, I almost don't have to plan anything "official" but I do enjoy doing science with them!

Letters, Language, and Literacy

We're using Grammar Voyage this year, with some supplemental games and practice sheets from Teachers pay Teachers and The Mailbox.  I like A Sentence A Day for punctuation and spelling practice.  We also discuss punctuation and parts of speech as we read together.

The LL&L shelf: grammar activities from The Mailbox, grammar books by Ruth Heller, Mad Libs, articles I saved for text studies, and books for reader response activities.

  I prepared our literature units about a month ago (so proud that I was organized enough to get it done early!)  Our spelling and vocabulary words come from our literature units.  The kiddos will continue studying German this year (their choice) but we're hoping to learn some basic Korean as well, since their little brother is coming from South Korea.

Lots of great reading ahead!


We use Joy Hakim's A History of US, along with great living books on whatever topic we're studying.  We read together, discuss the events, add dates and illustrations to our timelines, and do as many hands-on projects as possible.

Some of our resources from last year...we'll do quick review before moving on. 

I found a decent used textbook to use for our state history, but I'm only using it as a basic outline (and to educate myself, since I didn't grow up here.)  The best way to do state history, in my opinion, is to get out and visit as many museums and historical sites as possible! 

We've already started our history studies for this year, at the kids' request!

All the Other Stuff

We do Atelier art and occasionally I sign the kids up for an art class at our rec center.  This year I'm hoping to add some informal artist studies to the mix.  Something easy, like just reading a library book and then making something in the artist's style.

Super continues to enjoy guitar lessons.  Dude tried piano and wasn't crazy about it, and we are between drum teachers at the moment but I'm hoping to get him back into music soon.  Their P.E. consists of hiking, swimming, karate, going to the climbing wall, and walking our rambunctious dogs!   Neither of them enjoys team sports, which is OK with me, but Dude has mentioned wanting to try track and field at some point. 

Two more resources that I really love!

I used the word "goals" instead of "curriculum" in the title of this post because in most cases we cobble together many different resources to invent our own curriculum.  We use a bit of every homeschooling style, too.  That's the beauty of the learning lifestyle: you can customize every day to fit the child, the season, and the circumstances.

We're looking forward to a great school year!  Good luck to all of you, and have lots of fun learning with your kids!


H-Mama said...

wow. you are one organized mama. ;) and adding a toddler to the mix? impressive... really. i bow. looks like a wonderfully adventurous year ahead! :)

Karen said...

I love this. First of all..HOW EXCITING you are adding a lovely little one. I am just sitting here grinning from ear to ear. Hope that all goes so smoothly.

Second of all..what great goals you have. We are using Apologia General Science but I found this amazing link that may help you. It is here.. Tons of resources! We are using The Story of US too! Well we are starting with Reconstruction. I would love to see any links or resources you have found. :) Can't wait to read along with all your learning adventures.

Shannon said...

Oh we loved Ellen McHenry's The Elements: Ingredients of the Universe. I hope you have a good time with it.

I'm really impressed at how organized you are and how you have everything all packaged up and ready to go!

Sparklee said...

Hi, H-Mama, thanks so much for stopping by! Trust me, this is the first year I've had my act together this early...and I fully expect it to fall apart when Little Guy arrives!

Thanks for the link, Karen! I will definitely check it out! Maybe it will help me with my chemistry phobia. :-)

Shannon, I'm glad to hear you liked Ingredients of the Universe. It looks like a lot of fun!

Thanks for visiting, everyone!

Jenny said...

I am also impressed with your preparation. I hope that everything goes smoothly when little man arrives! Have a super year!

Sparklee said...

Thanks, Jenny! I'm excited and anxious at the same time! Fortunately we still have some time to prepare!

Thanks to everyone for stopping by. I love this blog hop--it's my favorite of the year!

The Adventurer said...

I like the use of the word for goals for your curriculum plans causebthatbsort of how we do things...I have a rough outline of the year planned

Looks like you have a great system and all set for when the little one arrives