Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Let's try this again... a question?

OK, I deleted my earlier post. No room for negativity. We are committed to make this work for the first term and we will do our best and learn from our experience.

Riley did crack me up this afternoon after stumbling onto Ivanhoe and declaring that she "isn't going to read that". She told me that she doesn't NEED to read classic literature that is too hard and she doesn't understand. She told me that I NEED to find books that are interesting to her and that she enjoys.

What do you think? Does a 12 year old (7th grade) child get input about what books are too hard before she even tries them?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Some peace...

This weekend I have been working on breaking down our term weeks into daily assignments. Because the big kids' books will be a step up in difficulty, I think it will be even more crucial to break up the daily reading into small chunks, as Charlotte recommended. This will give the kids more time to focus on the complex language and to get familiar with the characters (both fictional and real) and with what is going on.

So I've just started this process, and I'm finding that I'm not nearly as overwhelmed as I have been. Yes, it's going to be a lot. Yes, our days are going to be longer. And yes, I'm prepared to drop some things or take it even more slowly if necessary. But overall, I think we have a good place to start.

I'm also really excited for Reece's schedule because I think she's going to be able to read one or two of her own school books for the first time! We'll have to see how it goes with her comprehension, but I'm going to have her give it a try!! Yes, some things I will have to read to her still, but I think she'll be able to handle Child's History of the World and American Tall Tales and Marco Polo! :)

I'm hoping to wrap up the planning early this week and get onto the reading! I need to get a head start so I am able to keep up!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Family Lessons, First Term 2011-2012

I think I listed all of our books in the other posts. I will check tonight to see if I left anything out. (As I type this, I am thinking I left out Language Arts, but I will look later)

The rest of our lessons are done together and involve Fine Arts, Bible, Plutarch, and Shakespeare.

Art History will continue the Child's History of Art series with the Sculpture book. Last year I had only used the textbook, but this year I ordered the curriculum from Calvert School. I am anxious to have the art prints!

Our Artist/Picture Study artist of the term will be Henri Matisse. He's french, and I thought Reece would like him! Plus I already had the prints printed out! :)

Our Hymn Study will find us finishing WOW, Hymns that we began two years ago. The hymns we will study include Great is Thy Faithfulness, Rock of Ages, and Be Thou My Vision.

Our Composer of the term is Tchaikovsky. We have hit on him before a few years ago, but I wanted to study him again now that Reece is older.

Our Shakespeare play for the first term is Henry V. I have to be open and tell you that I selected this one because the DVD is a Kenneth Branaugh production, and I like him. LOL

We will study the REAL Plutarch's Lives beginning with Poplicola. We are using the study guide from Ambleside Online.

This year we will be reading the REAL Pilgrim's Progress (we may take 2 years, depending on how it goes with everyone). We first did the picture book version, Dangerous Journey. Last year I read aloud Little Pilgrim's Progress, and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm excited to attempt the original!

We are also going to be doing some Bible Study this year with John, Luke, and Acts. I think we will read together, taking turns, and discuss using the Life Application Study Bible to guide us. I haven't yet determined our Memory Verses.

And there you have our family lessons - we begin each day together in the kitchen or living room with these lessons! :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

History and Literature 2011-2012, first term

With all of the stressing out I've been doing recently, I decided to try something new with our coming school year and my planning. I'm not sure if it's a sound idea or if I should be ashamed of myself, but I am trying to strike a balance between stepping out in faith and trust, and controlling my fear (which a dear friend reminded me is NOT from God). I'm only going to be planning the first term. I will only buy the books that are required for the first term, and plan out our first term, and do the very best to make that work. And if I get to the end of the first term and it seems like it has been a complete disaster, then I can regroup and make adjustments. But I won't know if the books are too hard, or if the schedule is too overwhelming, until we give it a try. And since I have felt for a long time that God has lead us to find CM (and Ambleside) then I will put my trust that He will also help us through it, or show me once and for all that it's not working (even with the modifications) so I can try to work out a new plan.

One of the reasons (and I hope I'm not repeating myself here but I don't have time to go back and re-read my recent posts so if this is a repeat, please ignore it) that we didn't go with ancients is that I was looking at the different books for ancient history and they all seemed completely overwhelming. I had planned to use Susan Wise Bauer's History of the Ancient World (first book in her new series for adults) but was discouraged from using it with a less than advanced 9th grader by folks who have used it with their high schoolers. And works written in ancient times are very, very complex and hard to understand. I had looked at the suggested ancient history texts for AO Year 6, but those looked too easy to count for high school credit. So I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. I considered using My Father's World Ancient History for high school but it was simply too expensive considering we are paying for a science class for Austin this year.

That left me looking at HEO (upper years for Ambleside) again, but I was determined that we should get through modern history by 12th grade, which means something had to go. And that something would have to be ancient history. But then I looked at the texts for Year 8 (which would be our starting place if I wanted to finish through modern history - Year 11 - by 12th grade) and that is Winston Churchill's history series, which may just be more difficult than anything written by Susan Wise Bauer. The only difference is 400 fewer pages in Churchill. So there we go.

Basically, I have been feeling like either way, it's going to be overwhelming. But Austin is determined to finish high school in the next 4 years and to try to go to the local tech college (basically the equivalent of community college here). So he's going to have to be willing to step up to the plate and take a big swing at some fast pitches, if you'll excuse the baseball metaphor.

In light of all of that rambling, here is Austin's history and literature book list for Term 1 of his 9th grade year:

The New World by Sir Winston Churchill (History)
Martin Luther's Defense before the Diet of Worms (History)
A Man for All Seasons (Biography)
A History of English Literature for Boys and Girls (Literature)
Everyman: a Morality play (Lit- play)
Westward Ho! (Literature)
Johannes Kepler (Biography)
Fierce Wars & Faithful Loves (Lit- Poetry)

Riley's decision-making was a little easier because I know she is capable of a challenging, college-prep, curriculum. She just doesn't really WANT to do the work, and she battles me when I attempt to make her do it. I decided that I did want her to get a high school level look at ancient history, since she has done a cursory look twice before. So I bumped her up to Year 7 (Year 6 would have been next, but I was planning to stretch it out because she had finished moderns last year, and I was going to add a term in ancient Egypt). I decided that it was more important for her to get another go at Ancients in 12th grade, assuming that she does well with this year. I am most concerned with the Churchill history book as I heard that the first one is the hardest to get through. I purchased both books from so they can each follow along and listen to their history if that will be helpful.

Here is Riley's history and literature for the 1st term of 7th grade:

The Birth of Britain by Sir Winston Churchill (History)
Joan of Arc (Biography)
King Arthur (Literature)
Ivanhoe (Literature)
History of English Literature for Boys and Girls (Literature)
Life of King Alfred (Biography)
Idylls of the King (Lit- Poetry)

Reece's was a little easier, though I still have doubts about whether or not I should take her through all of the Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer. But I know she will enjoy the stories in Our Island Story and Child's History of the World. Again, I'm just going to step out in faith and see how it goes. For trivia purposes, this is the AO Year that I used when I started AO way back with Austin and Riley! :) I think she will be able to read a couple of these books on her own this term, but I will have to figure out a way to ease her into that! LOL

Reece's history and literature list for the 1st term of 4th grade:
Our Island Story (History)
Child's History of the World (History)
This Country of Ours (History)
The Heroes (Literature)
The Princess and the Goblin (Literature)
Starry Messenger (Biography)
American Tall Tales (Literature)

So, at last, there are the history and literature lists. It seems very overwhelming to type it all out, but I'm hoping that the slow CM style readings will make it all much easier to manage. Regardless, the Black Pearl Academy will be taking a step up for all of its students this coming year!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Let the ordering begin...

I went ahead and began to order books today. The last couple of weeks of planning and list-making has been a challenge. And I had some battling to do within myself. Which is normal for me, but I have a new perspective on it. I so often waiver between what I want to do, what I feel like we've been led to do, but then I get scared and think I can't do it and then I try to change things up and it makes everything so much more complicated. And then I try to make my book lists "perfect" so we don't "miss anything" and it ends up being so stressful and unpleasant.

So I took a deep breath, and I was honest with myself. I can't make anything perfect. What I can do is to stick with what has worked, adjust it as necessary, and make that fit into the "high school transcript" paradigm.

So, in short, we are not all doing ancients next year. In fact, none of us are. With all of our starting and stopping with history over the years, as well as with our love of mythology, we have spent a lot of time in ancient times. Looking at the big picture, there were other things I wanted to cover. Therefore, Ambleside will be our framework, as usual. Austin's framework will begin with Year 8 Lite, Riley's framework will be Year 7 lite, and Reece's framework will be Year 3. I chose the lite versions for both of the big kids (there is no 'lite' version in the younger years, so I'll just pick and choose books as I see fit) because the books are very meaty and challenging. I don't want us to feel unnecessarily rushed trying to fit it all in.

Riley's history time period will be the middle ages, and Reece and Austin will be in the Renaissance and Reformation. I don't have time today to list out the books, but I will work on posting the rest of the book lists this coming week, I promise!

With the coming election season, I decided this would be a good time to study our government in more detail. Ambleside has a selection of books listed, but I didn't really care for them. Instead, I went with a recommendation from the Well-Trained Mind called The Complete Idiot's Guide to the American Government. We will read through it slowly over this year and the early part of next year, and it will tie into our current events study (which is going to be new for the big kids this year). Then the kids will read through the foundational documents of our government as they come to them in their history studies. When this is done, I will award 1/2 Government credit to Austin.

For Geography, Reece will read a book about Marco Polo (she should be able to read this to herself!!), Riley will read a book called The Brendan Voyage, and Austin will read The Life of Christopher Columbus. The Brendan Voyage looks exceptionally interesting. Here is a description from amazon:
Could an Irish monk in the sixth century really have sailed all the way across the Atlantic in a small open boat, thus beating Columbus to the New World by almost a thousand years? Relying on the medieval text of St. Brendan, award-winning adventure writer Tim Severin painstakingly researched and built a boat identical to the leather curragh that carried Brendan on his epic voyage. He found a centuries-old, family-run tannery to prepare the ox hides in the medieval way; he undertook an exhaustive search for skilled harness makers (the only people who would know how to stitch the three-quarter-inch-thick hides together); he located one of the last pieces of Irish-grown timber tall enough to make the mainmast. But his courage and resourcefulness were truly tested on the open seas, including one heart-pounding episode when he and his crew repaired a dangerous tear in the leather hull by hanging over the side--their heads sometimes submerged under the freezing waves--to restitch the leather. A modern classic in the tradition of Kon-Tiki, The Brendan Voyage seamlessly blends high adventure and historical relevance. It has been translated into twenty-seven languages since its original publication in 1978.

The book on Columbus comes from his own journals, so that should be fascinating, as well! We will coordinate mapwork to go with each journey. Additionally, the kids will be locating the places they read about in their other subjects on maps, globes, and atlases.

We are going to attempt timelines and a Book of Centuries again this year. We have had horrible luck making these work in the past, but I'm going to try again with Austin and Riley. I am afraid this is one area where I'll have to practice "good enough" thinking.

As I mentioned earlier, the big kids will be studying Current Events. I am going to subscribe to World magazine for a Christian perspective, but I would like a more traditional media perspective for them to compare. I am considering Newsweek, but I'm very open to suggestions.

We will do an introduction to Economics with the book Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? I have heard good things about this book, so I thought it would be a gentle introduction. I don't know where we'll go from there with Econ, but I do know that I want to use Dave Ramsey's books for the personal finance portion.

I guess that will be all for today. I need to list our family lessons still, as well as the books for history and literature. That will come this week! Thanks for your patience!

Friday, July 01, 2011

You want the book lists? You can't handle the book lists!!

You know, I could probably start a theme with my blog post titles. They could all be movie quotes, just modified to fit my topic that day. I know I could do it... I usually quote movies all day long in my every day life! LOL Something to think about, I guess!

But, first, the topic at hand. You'd like to know what we're doing for our school year next year, wouldn't you? OK, I know you wouldn't. But since my blog is basically my little diary, then I'm going to go ahead and type for my own sake. And because I'm trying to avoid the housework. Shhhh, don't tell anyone! ;)

I thought I would start by including the areas where I am the most confident in our plans and save other areas for different posts. That's my theory anyway, so let's see where that takes us.

Reece will continue with RightStart. She will continue working in Level C, and I suspect she will finish it and move into Level D, but it's all at her pace.

Riley will do pre-Algebra, either with Horizons or with the Lial's Basic College Mathematics book. I may have her finish the Singapore Primary Math series in addition to the pre-Algebra book, but I'm not sure.

Austin will attempt Algebra 1 with Key to Algebra and Lial's Introductory Algebra. I'm not sure yet how to combine them, but the plan is to start with Key to... and go from there.

Austin and Riley will each do The Fallacy Detective and The Art of Argument, but not together. I'll start one child in one book, and the other child in the other. I guess for a topic like Logic/Debate, it might be better to do it together for discussion purposes. We'll have to see.

TYPING (Reece)
Typing Instructor Deluxe, on the computer - Riley used this and did very well.

Austin will take an outside class for science this year for the first time. The instructor uses BJUP's Physical Science textbook. The class meets once a week for 90 minutes, and he will have additional assignments to complete at home. Riley will begin Apologia's General Science book. In addition, she will read It Couldn't Just Happen, and biographies of Archimedes, Galileo, and Galen. Reece will learn about flowers from The Burgess Flower Book (a beautiful out of print book I won on ebay!!!!) and insects from Jack's Insects (reprinted by Simply Charlotte Mason). We will get kits from Insect Lore and grow butterflies and others, and we will grow some flowers.

I'm going to go ahead and stop there... I guess it's an OK start, but considering we're in July already, that's a little unnerving! LOL