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How to Plan a Year-Round Homeschool Year

How to Plan a Year-Round Homeschool Year

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How to Plan a Year-round Homeschool Year

Written by Amber Marie | June 29, 2018

Now that summer has hit, I couldn’t help but get excited for the upcoming school year. This past year I did a combination of Pre-K/Kindergarten curriculum for my five-year-old son. This upcoming school year will be his “official” kindergarten year. But where to start? How do you plan a school year, especially if you want to do a year-round schedule? This is where I went back to my experiences with planning as an elementary school teacher. The methods I share below are not exact steps I took as a teacher, but they are pretty darn close. And considering that I am a homeschooler now and no longer a public school teacher, I do have a bit more flexibility with my planning. So scroll down and take a look at how I plan a year-round homeschool year.

Step 1: Timing and Curriculums

The first thing I did was gathered my curriculums and a notebook. The notebook is to help with brainstorming what you’d like your year to look like. This includes how many days a week you want to teach, what subjects will you be teaching and how often, how many weeks or days of school will you have this school year, what breaks you want to schedule in, and so much more. Take a look at the image below for an example of the notebook page with all my school year brainstorming.

As far as curriculums go, I gather what I have and then I try to find the table of contents of any curriculums I may be using later in the year, but haven’t purchased yet. For example, I will be using the Good and Beautiful Level K Language Arts program, but don’t need it until September or October, so I will wait until then to make the purchase. Since I didn’t have this curriculum on hand, I needed to find the table of contents to help me determine how long it would take to teach the curriculum. You can find the table of contents for most of the Good and the Beautiful curriculums on Jenny Phillips website. Download the coursebook preview and it should be within the first few pages. As for other curriculums, christianbook.com has wonderful sample pages you can access and many of them include the table of contents for the different curriculums available. You can see this in more detail on my Youtube channel, Forging Foundations Homeschool Channel, in my planning video.

Step 2: Map out the year on a calendar

After you figure out the main details from step one, it is time to map everything out on your calendar. The calendar I used went from June 2018 to June 2019. You can download a year at a glance calendar for free online at timeanddate.com. You can customize it to start with any month. I plan on starting each new school year at the end of July, but if you would rather start in August or January or whenever, you can adjust the calendar to your liking.

Once you have the calendar in your hand, start by figuring out what week you want to start. For me, as mentioned above, we are starting the last week of July as many of our vacations will be complete by then. I started by labeling this as week one. From there I continued numbering the weeks until I reached a natural break from either a holiday or when I felt we would need one. Our family is expecting our third child mid-September, so I put a week there to break, however, I left flexibility for another week to be taken before jumping back into school if need be.

Continue this process of numbering weeks and break weeks until you reach the end of the year. It helps to know where you would like to end your year so that you can see how far from that point you are. This will allow you to spread your breaks out nicely so that as you approach the end of the year, you are not stressing about filling the time. Once I planned out the calendar on the ones I printed from timeanddate.com, I took it one step further.

I’ll be honest, I love technology, and I am a VERY VISUAL person. So color-coding and having everything in one place really helps me stay on task. So I used an excel template from Vertex42.com to help create a year calendar that allowed me to color code break weeks along with my four quarters (terms), and number the weeks. My example, along with a blank copy of a year calendar, can be downloaded below.

Step 3: Map out your Curriculums using a Scope and Sequence

This takes me back to my teaching days as we always had to pull together a scope and sequence for each subject we were teaching that year. Essentially, a scope and sequence is a plan that shows what lessons or units you plan on teaching during the weeks of your school year. In my example below, I broke my scope and sequence table into three groups: Language Arts, Mathematics, and Handwriting. I am not planning on using a History or Science curriculum this year as I am part of Classical Conversations and I feel my son gets plenty through this homeschool coop.

Under each subject, I split them into the different curriculums, or levels I was using. For example, for Math this upcoming year, I plan on finishing the Abeka K5 workbook that we started this past year. When we hit week thirteen, I switch curriculums and start using the Good and Beautiful Level K math. Having these two curriculums split up in the math column allowed me to visualize the timing better.

As you move further down my scope and sequence you’ll notice that as we get closer to week fourty, I have weeks called “overflow”.  Overflow weeks allow for lessons to be spread out over remaining weeks in case of sickness, or other interruptions to the schedule of our school year. For example, let’s imagine that we have a week where everyone is sick in our house. Well we can take that week off in school and continue where we left off the following week. Best part is we don’t have to stress about missing a week because each subject has at least four or five weeks of overflow allotted.

Now, you may be looking at my scope and sequence and wondering, “where are you getting all those lesson numbers?” This is where my curriculum table of contents come in. I take a look at the number of lessons listed in each curriculums and plan them out based on the number of days I allotted for each subject. Not only does this help me visualize how long a curriculum will last, but it also gives me a good idea of how much wiggle room I have to make adjustments throughout the school year.

For example, if a lesson or concept takes a bit longer than one or two days to explain to my son, I can adjust my scope and sequence accordingly (especially since I have those overflow weeks built in).  I won’t go and print a new one, but instead just make adjustments on the actual copy using sticky notes or pencil to cross out and adjust. However, if you have the time, feel free to change it on the computer to accommodate. Only thing I would suggest is make sure to keep the original handy so you can reflect at the end of the year. This helps with adjusting your next school year. The template for this scope and sequence can be downloaded below. Feel free to adjust to your needs and add more if needed.

Step 4: Get the Lessons Written in your Planner of Choice

So the school year is approaching and you want to make sure you start it off strong. This is the time to get your handy dandy planner out, whether it be a paper planner or an app on your phone. Take a look at your school year calendar along with your scope and sequence and fill out the first month of school. Now I wouldn’t go any further than one month at a time because LIFE HAPPENS! I would hate to see you fill out your whole planner just to have to erase a whole month later because you may have fell behind.

There are so many different planners out there from online ones to phone apps to paper ones that are very popular. I find myself enjoying the satisfaction of crossing something off with a pencil on paper. I did a lot of research trying to find a planner that would fit all my needs and although I liked a lot of them, there wasn’t something that had everything I wanted. So what is a mom to do but make her own. In the pictures below, you’ll see my planner, however, if you’d like a more in depth look, I’ll be doing a live session today at 3 pm on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for a quick look into my planner along with a Q&A for those who have questions about my planning method.

Once my planner is in hand, I will use my scope and sequence along with my year calendar to plan out the month. I’ll write down which lessons I plan to do each day and schedule in breaks. Having a month written in at a time helps me to stay on track with my school year. Now, obviously, there is a chance that life will still happen and a school day or week may need to be pushed back, but I don’t stress because all I need to do is change the lesson numbers listed next to each curriculum for the remainder of the month (rather than a whole year!!!).

So there you have it…how to plan a year-round school year. This may be too overwhelming for some and I totally understand. For me, this helps me stay accountable and stay on track so I am not wasting time during the school year.

One thing I do suggest is to keep all your planning resources in one place. As the year progresses, make notes of things that worked and didn’t. Take time at the end of the year to reflect on how everything went with the planning (this is where those little notes will come in handy to help jog your memory).  This time next year, I’ll have a video of my own reflection on how the school year went in regards to my planning along with the curriculums I used.

I truly hope this helped any of you struggling with trying to make a game plan for your upcoming school year. Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments below if you need anything clarified. Be sure to join me live today (June 29th) at 3 pm for a Q&A about my planning process. And don’t worry if you miss it, I’ll upload the video to the Forging Foundations Homeschool Channel after the live session closes.

Download the School Year Planning Bundle Now!

Did you like the planning resources I used above? If so, don’t spend time recreating the wheel! Download those planning freebies by completing the form below. If you are already a Club Member, this freebie will be listed in the Member’s Library under “Featured Freebies”

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

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How do you plan your school year? Do you use a year-round or traditional schedule? Share in the comments below. 

COMMENTS

The Benefits of Gardening Tomatoes with your Children

The Benefits of Gardening Tomatoes with your Children

Don't Miss Out!

Sign-up to recieve updates on new posts along with special perks for Members. You will recieve exclusive access to the Member's Library where you will find a variety of freebies for every subject. Also, Members get a special monthly discount code for products in my store. Don't wait! Sign up today!

The Benefits of Gardening Tomatoes with your Children

Written by Amber Marie | June 20, 2018

I love being outdoors, especially during the beautiful season of summer. Summer is a time to make so many great memories from family trips to the beach, hot days at the pool, and eating ice cream and popsicles. One memory I’m excited to share with my oldest son is gardening. Our family enjoys growing our own vegetables and have picked a few different veggies to grow this year in our garden. My son was ecstatic when he got to pick a plant for him and his brother. We did some looking but it didn’t take long for him to spot the pictures of cherry tomatoes attached to the pots of some nearby plants.

“Mom, I want to get this tomato plant because we can eat these small tomatoes off the branches after they get red.” he said with the most joyful expression on his face. How could I say “no” to such an innocent request. So we loaded the seedling into our cart along with the other vegetable plants and made our way to the checkout line. He could hardly wait to get home and plant the seedling into one of our large planters. For me, I saw this as a perfect teaching opportunity for some valuable lessons in hard work, responsibility, and nature science.

Hard Work

Hard work is a quality that is learned through guidance and practice. As homeschoolers, we have to work hard to educate our children. It’s also our duty to instill this character trait within our little ones as well. What better way then to teach them through gardening. When we arrived home from the garden center, my son ran to the backyard and was raring to get planting. Before we could get started we had to gather all the materials, so I took the opportunity to teach my son about what was necessary to plant the seedling. After collecting our supplies (garden pot, trowel, soil, pebbles, and plant food), we began to assemble our pot in preparation for the tomato seedling.

For the rest of this post, join me over at Minnesota Country Girl where I have the privilege of guest posting for Summer in the Outdoors: A Homeschool Series of Gardening, Foraging & Nature Studies.

Read the rest of my post HERE

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

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Math Lesson in the Life: Abeka Numbers Skills K5 Workbook

Math Lesson in the Life: Abeka Numbers Skills K5 Workbook

Don't Miss Out!

Sign-up to recieve updates on new posts along with special perks for Members. You will recieve exclusive access to the Member's Library where you will find a variety of freebies for every subject. Also, Members get a special monthly discount code for products in my store. Don't wait! Sign up today!

Math Lesson in the Life: Abeka Numbers Skills K5 Workbook

Written by Amber Marie | June 12, 2018

Math can be a tricky subject to teach a child and can be even harder if you don’t know where to start. As a former teacher, I had a wealth of knowledge with teaching math, but most of it was geared toward upper elementary. However, one thing I learned about early math skills was that BASIC NUMBER SENSE IS IMPORTANT. I cannot tell you how many third, fourth, or even sixth grade students I worked with in my years of teaching that had a weak understanding of basic number sense. Number sense, as defined by National Council of Teachers, is the understanding of five important components: number meaning, number relationships, number magnitude, operations involving numbers and referents for numbers and quantities. Through the experiences I had with different students, I learned the importance of a solid foundation in number sense concepts.

With my son technically being “kindergarten” age this year, I wanted to make sure I was building that strong foundation right from the start. In the beginning, I was piecing together my own curriculum here and there and it worked for a while, but I felt I needed more guidance. After talking with my mother-in-law (see her interview here), I learned more about Abeka, specifically the Numbers Skills K5 workbook. After flipping through her copy, I knew that I could make it work with my son and get more direction with my math focus for the year. So let’s take a look at a Math Lesson in the Life using the Abeka Number Skills K5 workbook.

What I Use

1. Workbook

As I mentioned, I am using the Abeka Number Skills K5 workbook. One thing to note is that this is just a student workbook and not a teacher’s manual. Abeka suggests purchasing the teacher manual with the workbook, however, I have opted to create my own lessons to pair with the pages found in the book. I’ll go into more detail on this later in the post.

According to Abeka, the Number Skills K5 workbook “provide practice and evaluation of many concepts, including numbers concepts from 1 through 100, numbers formation, number words, simple combinations, money, and telling time”. These concepts are reviewed in multi-faceted ways and expose the child to different approaches of learning the same concept. For example, with the skill of counting, a child may encounter a section where they must circle the correct number of objects based on a given number. The student will also see counting activities where they will be given a group of objects to count and must select the correct number. These methods, along with others, offer more experience with a specific math skill and prepares the child for real-world situations.

Another aspect I like about the workbook is how colorful and simple it is. There are only a few concepts being reviewed per page and the lessons are not overwhelming. There are no lesson numbers in the workbook (except for the ones found in the bottom corner, which correspond with the teacher manual) so I have numbered each page with a number. A lesson for my son consists of the front and back of a page. I have found the concepts reviewed on these pages are similar, which makes planning my mini-lessons easier. Which leads me to the next thing I use when teaching my son a math lesson: manipulatives.

2. Manipulatives

Manipulatives are physical objects that engage students in hands-on learning, specifically in math. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I am a huge advocate for hands-on learning. I find it much easier to teach my son a math  concept when he is able to physically move or “manipulate” objects to make his learning more concrete. I was lucky enough to acquire a lot of my manipulatives from fellow homeschool moms whose children have outgrown the tools, however, I have listed my favorites below and provided links to the products if you wish to purchase them.

Counting Bears – I use these so often I really should buy more. These are great for teaching about patterns, counting, sorting, and more. Companies have come out with other animals, but for some reason I love the counting bears the best.

Number Tiles – These are actually part of a set that comes with a 3D hundreds chart and transparent color tiles. Check out my video for more on how I use these in a lesson.

Ten Frame Cards – I just made these using index cards and a ruler to draw 10 boxes. Ten frames are a great way to build your child’s understanding of place value and numbers that add up to ten in addition to numbers larger than ten.

The tools above are a few of my favorites, however I am always collected manipulatives as I come across new concepts I’m introducing to my son. Be sure to check out the other manipulatives I like to use below.

So how do I go about using these manipulatives in conjunction with the workbook? Let’s take a look at this very topic next.

How I Plan

When I plan a mini-lesson to pair with a lesson within the workbook, I first take a look at the concepts being taught on the page. Is it counting? Patterns? Money? Shapes? Whatever it is, I think about the best manipulatives and techniques I can use to teach the skill to my son. I take a look at my manipulatives I have available and brainstorm a few ways to introduce the concept to my son. I will write down what I feel will be the best method and collect the materials ahead of time so I’m prepared for the lesson when we get to it.

I realize that it can be hard to come up with these teaching techniques without some guidance. I have a bit of an advantage with my former teaching experience, so it is a bit easier for me to think this way. However, I don’t want you to feel lost or left in the dark, so check out my freebie at the bottom of this post. It includes the steps I take to plan a lesson, along with different techniques I use to teach a certain math concept and what I like to use to help create a hands-on experience for my son. But before downloading the freebie, check out how a typical lesson pans out by reading below.

A Typical Lesson

Our math lessons always begin with reviewing the numbers we are working on learning through repetition. Right now my son is practicing counting up to fifteen. He has mastered numbers one through ten, but still needs practice with numbers eleven to fifteen. Once I feel he has mastered those, we will add the next five numbers, and repeat this until we reach one hundred.

After reviewing our numbers, we move into the mini-lesson that gives my son a hands-on approach to the concepts we’ll be reviewing in the workbook.

One thing to note, I don’t normally include number formation in my mini-lesson and instead I address it when we come to it in the workbook. The mini-lesson lasts about five to eight minutes depending on the difficulty of the concept(s) being reviewed. I use a number of manipulatives and methods when teaching my son a new skill. I make sure to present the concept in more than one way to give him exposure to the different modes he may see the topic in the real-world.

After the mini-lesson we move into the workbook. One advantage of beginning with the mini-lesson is that my son already has a good grasp of what is concept is being reviewed in the workbook. This allows for him to complete the majority of it on his own with little instruction from me. With the exception of number formation practice, I’ll read the instructions for the section he is working on and he will complete the rest without my help. If a number formation section is present, we’ll take a minute to talk about how to form the number and practice on a whiteboard before hitting the practice in the book. Overall a lesson from start to finish takes about ten to fifteen minutes.

Math can be a tricky concept to teach, especially in those early elementary years. However, with a little guidance from a workbook, such as the Abeka Numbers Skills K5 workbook, along with simple, short mini-lessons, anyone can teach their child the important foundations of number sense.

Need more guidance with how to plan a mini-lesson? Download my planning guide by filling in the form below. If you are already a member, this freebie can be found in the Member’s Library. Make sure to use the most recent password from this week’s newsletter to login.

Download the Math Mini-lesson Planning Guide Now!

I share tips on how to teach certain math concepts and list a number of math manipulatives I use in my homeschool.

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

Recent and Related Posts

How to Plan a Year-Round Homeschool Year

How to Plan a Year-Round Homeschool Year

Now that summer has hit, I couldn’t help but get excited for the upcoming school year. This past year I did a combination of Pre-K/Kindergarten curriculum for my five-year-old son. This upcoming school year will be his “official” kindergarten year. But where to start? How do you plan a school year, especially if you want to do a year-round schedule? This is where I went back to my experiences with planning as an elementary school teacher. The methods I share below are not exact steps I took as a teacher, but they are pretty darn close. And considering that I am a homeschooler now and no longer a public school teacher, I do have a bit more flexibility with my planning.
Read More
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Read More
Math Lesson in the Life: Abeka Numbers Skills K5 Workbook

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Math can be a tricky subject to teach a child and can be even harder if you don’t know where to start. Take a look at what I have learned about teaching math to my kindergartner.
Read More
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Read More
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Read More
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Read More

Follow on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

Follow on Instagram

What curriculum do you use with your children? If you use Abeka, how do you use it to teach your children math? Share in the comments below. 

COMMENTS

Reading Lesson in the Life: The Good and the Beautiful

Reading Lesson in the Life: The Good and the Beautiful

Don't Miss Out!

Sign-up to recieve updates on new posts along with special perks for Members. You will recieve exclusive access to the Member's Library where you will find a variety of freebies for every subject. Also, Members get a special monthly discount code for products in my store. Don't wait! Sign up today!

Reading Lesson in the Life: The Good and the Beautiful

Written by Amber Marie | May 29, 2018

If you have chosen to homeschool your children, and they are under the age of six, I’m sure you may have experienced the same anxiety I have on a particular issue. How do I teach my child to read? This question popped into my brain multiple times as I wrestled with the decision to start homeschooling. Even though I am a former elementary school teacher, this concept was foreign to me. I taught upper elementary students and never really had to teach a child to read from the beginning. Needless to say it was making me a bit fearful.

However, that fear subsided when I searched the web and found all the wonderful curriculums out there for homeschoolers. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I did a lot of research and even tried a curriculum out before using the curriculum I’m using now. Enter the Good and the Beautiful by Jenny Phillips. I found this curriculum while browsing my Facebook feed one day. So many homeschoolers where talking about it, which peaked my interest. I checked out the website and was impressed. The sample page downloads were loaded with amazing lessons and I was loving the price.

Before I jumped in, I ventured on to YouTube. I love watching videos of curriculum walk-throughs and hearing how homeschoolers use a specific curriculum. I found two homeschoolers on YouTube that sealed the deal for me. Monica over at Monson Schoolhouse was the first mom I watched and I loved her lesson walk-through videos she did with each of her children. It gave me a glimpse into what I could expect to do with my son. Then I found Ashlee over at Grace and Grit and enjoyed watching her curriculum flip-throughs along with her day in the life videos. Both of these women played an important role in my decision to purchase and use this curriculum for teaching reading to my son. Be sure to check out their channels on YouTube by clicking their names above.

After testing my son using the placement tests on the Good and the Beautiful website, I found that my son would do best with the Level K Primer. One thing to note about the curriculum is the levels do not coincide with grade levels. The Level K is a little more difficult than kindergarten and, in my professional opinion, is closer to a first grade level if comparing with a public school reading program. I knew my son would struggle with the Level K so I went for the Level K Primer. This level is appropriate for children who know their letter names and some of their letter sounds (which my son did). After receiving it in the mail and looking through the curriculum further, I knew I had made the right decision. I couldn’t wait to start, but before I did, I accumulated a few other things to help along the way. Read on to find out more about how I use the good and the beautiful, along with magnet letters and homemade phonics cards, to teach my son to read.

The Good and the Beautiful:

Level K Primer Curriculum

The Good and the Beautiful curriculum was created by Jenny Phillips, a former Christian songwriter and music producer. When her children began attending school, she changed her focus from music toward education. She started homeschooling her children and couldn’t find a language arts curriculum that had everything she wanted. So she, along with many other experts in different educational topics, created the curriculum known as “The Good and the Beautiful”. Learn more about why the curriculum was created on Jenny’s website.

The Language Arts curriculum is split into levels ranging from Pre-K to Level 7, Level 8, and High School editions. As I mentioned above, it is important to note the curriculum levels do not correspond with grade levels. Each child should be tested using the placement tests to see which level would best fit his or her abilities. Each level comes with a course book and a reader. The higher you go in levels the more that comes with the curriculum, such as phonics cards, course companions, and more. The Level K Primer (the one I chose for my son) comes with a coursebook and reader. The coursebook lessons cover mastering letters and their sounds along with other important reading skills such as phonemic awareness, sight words, rhyming, and more. It also has math, handwriting, and fine motor skills sprinkled throughout. The reader isn’t used until lesson 21 and begins with stories that have two to three words on a page.

In a typical homeschool day with my son, we will complete one lesson in the coursebook each day. Each lesson is about two to three pages long. There have been times when I have split a lesson and have completed it over the course of two days instead of one. I normally spend about eight to ten minutes per lesson. If the first page is taking my son a while to complete, I will take that as a cue to split the lesson up into two days. The wonderful thing about the Good and the Beautiful curriculum is it allows for this type of flexibility with the lessons.

I love that each lesson has the parent instructions built right into the coursebook so there is no need to go back and forth between a student book and teacher manual. Each lesson lists the items needed to complete the tasks given. You can find a full list of the items required throughout the coursebook listed in the front. I’ve taken time to collect these items and have them nearby in a container. It has been helpful having everything within arms reach. Although, the curriculum comes with everything needed to teach the reading lessons, I have added a few items to help with teaching my son.

Pixel Premium’s Mega Magnet Letter Bundle

If you have read any of my earlier posts, you know I am a HUGE advocate for hands-on learning. My son thrives off of manipulating objects to enhance his learning experience. One way I incorporate this with the Good and the Beautiful curriculum is by using magnet letters. I love how magnet letters allow my son to manipulate letters to create words and sentences. I did a lot of research when trying to find the right magnet letter bundle and found it in Pixel Premium’s Mega Magnet Letter Bundle.


I love the amount of letters that come in this kit. There are five sets of letters, two of which are capital and three that are lowercase. This is important to me because when my son gets further along in his reading, the large number of letters will allow for him to make longer words and sentences without running out of letters. The letters are soft foam and easy to handle. The kit comes with a magnet board, but you can use any magnetic whiteboard with these magnets.

I use these magnet letters with every lesson. Anytime a new letter or letter sound is introduced, we will pull out the letters and use them. I also use them when we learn new blends and make new words. These letters have come in handy with making my sons reading more hands-on. However, when there are a lot of words to review, I use another add-on that I created to help teach my son reading. 

Homemade Phonics Cards

I noticed that starting at Level K, the Good and the Beautiful includes phonics flash cards. According to Jenny, “Our flashcards are unique in that they include not only phonograms, but also words that incorporate the phonograms being learned, helping children connect phonograms to actual words.” (Approach to Phonics). I loved the idea of reviewing phonics cards with my son, however the Level K Primer did not include a set. So I made my own.

Each time a new letter is introduced in the coursebook, I use index cards and sharpies to make a phonics card. I use three different colored sharpies to help with color coding. Each consonant is blue and each vowel is red. I use a black sharpie to label the cards with “letter”, “vowel”, or “word”. I keep the cards in ziploc bags. I began with just one bag for letters then added another bag when words were introduced. By lesson seven in the coursebook, words with short vowel sounds are introduced so I made a new bag for just those words. I don’t review those words everyday as the Level K Primer mentions the fact that short vowel sounds do not need to be mastered.

These phonics cards have been a great review for my son. We will review some at the beginning of a lesson, or throughout the day at dinner or in the car. I don’t review all of them each time but instead select a few out of the bag and review those. As we collect more letters and words, I will most likely follow the phonics card instructions for the higher levels of the curriculum. They suggest having a bag for mastered, learning, and not learned. For more information, check out the image below borrowed from page seven of the Level K Coursebook Sample, which can be found here.

So far I am loving the Good and the Beautiful curriculum. It has everything I am looking for when it comes to teaching my son not only reading, but grammar, rhyming, and much more. As mentioned before, you do not need the magnet letters or the phonics cards with the curriculum. However, I have found they enhance the curriculum in a positive way and have helped my son pick up reading so much quicker than I ever expected him to. Whether you use just the curriculum, or add the magnet letters and phonics cards to your lessons, I would highly recommend the Good and the Beautiful for teaching reading to your children. Learn more about the curriculum by visiting Jenny Phillips website and be sure to check out Ashlee and Monica’s videos on YouTube.

I am also excited to share my first video on my YouTube channel. This video is a curriculum walkthrough of the Good and the Beautiful Level K Primer. Check it out by clicking the image below. Also, subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss out on other curriculum walkthroughs, school-days in the life, planning tips and more.

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

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Why I Switched Curriculums Mid Year

Why I Switched Curriculums Mid Year

Why I Switched Curriculums Mid Year

Written by Amber Marie | May 22, 2018

There comes a time in almost every homeschooler’s life when they question the curriculum they are using with their children. That time arrived for me this year around February. If you read one of my earlier posts about the curriculum I chose to use this school year, you would know that I was loving All About Reading for my Language Arts program along with Living Education for Math. I also had mentioned that I would be trying RightStart Math when I saved up and purchased the curriculum. Needless to say, as the title already indicates, I completely changed everything. Check out my reasons why below and what curriculum I’m now using with my five-year old son.

Why I Stopped Using All About Reading

Disclaimer Alert #1! I only used the Pre-Level of All About Reading (AAR). I didn’t move forward with Level 1 or beyond so therefore take my opinion for what it’s worth. My reasons pertain only to our experience with the Pre-Level of AAR.

In the beginning, I loved how AAR had many different facets of reading instruction (i.e. letter and sound recognition, rhyming, syllables, etc). My son and I would go through the lessons without much of a struggle and he loved when he got to work with Ziggy, the zebra puppet. However, after making it through about three quarters of the curriculum, I started to feel a pull toward a new direction for a curriculum that would fit our need. Why? I felt that AAR was lacking in the review. It did a great job reviewing reading skills like rhyming, syllables, and sentence structure. But it lacked review in the letters and their sounds. I found that reviewing the alphabet charts and singing the songs were not enough to help my son retain everything being introduced (especially if we took it a lesson a day). This forced me to be creative with my delivery of the lessons.

For each AAR lesson (essentially a new letter or letter sound), I would spend the first day using the lesson in the AAR teacher book along with the course work from the student book. However, I didn’t feel this was enough practice when introducing a new concept and therefore ventured out looking for extra practice on the web. I felt I needed to spend more than one day on a letter/letter sound, so I’d only introduce one each week. We follow a four-day school week which meant I was looking for three more practice opportunities that were not included with AAR. This was very time consuming and could be frustrating. In the end, along with the extra time needed for planning, I felt my son was not getting what he needed from the curriculum. Therefore, I decided to drop it, but that wasn’t the only curriculum we dropped.

Why I Stopped Using Math Lessons for a Living Education

Disclaimer Alert #2! I realize that Math Lessons for a Living Education (MLLE) Level 1 is recommended for grade 1. Even though my son is 5 years old, I felt after reading reviews and looking at samples of the concepts, my son would be able to handle the lessons. My reasons for changing are not due to grade appropriateness, but rather the delivery of the content.

I had high hopes for this curriculum because of all the reviews I read along with my sons excitement when we received it in the mail. I loved the story setup where each lesson followed a twin brother and sister on their grandparents farm. My son loves stories, so this really helped engage him in the content. However, I felt MLLE was lacking in the delivery of its lessons. Many of the pages were broad in their focus and didn’t give a lot of direction for a child doing the work. I was also frustrated by the introduction of writing numbers without much guidance. My son has only learned how to write a few numbers well and when one of the early lessons required him to write numbers one to ten multiple times all in one lesson, he and I both got frustrated. Needless to say, my son and I were not enjoying the curriculum as much as we had hoped and looked elsewhere for a curriculum that fit our needs.

What I’m Using Now (and next school year)

Let me start with a little back story. Around February when we decided to drop these curriculums, we also took a break from school. Yes we still had learning occurring throughout the day in different ways but it wasn’t until end of March that we started things back up. This was mostly due to the nausea and fatigue I was feeling during my first trimester of pregnancy (yes, we are expecting our third child this September). However, this break also allowed me to do some more research on what type of curriculum I wanted to use for Reading and Math. And so without further ado….drum roll please…I chose to use “The Good and the Beautiful” for Reading (and will for math when it becomes available) and Abeka for Math.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about each curriculum in this post as I will be sharing my thoughts and use in posts coming later this month. However, I will explain what drew me to these two curriculums. First, the Good and the Beautiful kept popping up on my Facebook feed and I felt the need to look at it further. I fell in love with Jenny Phillips approach to teaching reading and the flow of the course really appealed to me (see more in my upcoming post).

Second, with Abeka, I had a chance to see it in action. My mother-in-law (read her interview here) uses it with her younger children and I loved how simple each lesson was laid out and how I could easily see myself teaching my son the concepts. Disclaimer: I am only using the K5 Math student workbook and did not buy the teachers guide as I felt I could use some of my prior experience in this area. I’ll be walking you through a week of lessons with Abeka in a post coming later this month.

Changing curriculums can be scary, especially if you’ve invested in them. Take it from me, you can do it! Normally I wouldn’t condone switching midyear, but when you witness a curriculum not working for your child, I say it’s better late than never. These two new curriculums are what I will be using the remainder of this relaxed school year and will continue to use them next school year. Stay tuned for a post the beginning of next month regarding my son’s “official” kindergarten year, our new year round schedule, and how I planned out the year.

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

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Have you ever switched your curriculum? What feelings did you have that made you switch? Share in the comments below.

COMMENTS

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