Monday, December 31, 2007

Revising our schedule for the new year

While the basic flow of our schedule worked fairly well this fall overall, I decided that a few things needed to be changed for the second half of the school year.
  1. Violet really needs me to sit down with her while she works on her Singapore math to help her stay on task and to encourage her through the problems. That required me to carve out another 45 minutes of 1 on 1 time with her each day (hopefully just for this semester).
  2. I decided we were going to add in science in January instead of waiting until summer after the new baby is here because I was afraid science just wouldn't get done this year if we waited.
  3. Piano lessons and practice have been fairly inconsistent this fall. For this semester at least, I scheduled time daily to work with Jessie and Violet on piano. This should make sure it gets done and help correct Jessie's bad hand position.
  4. I wanted to add in typing for Jessie so that it would get done consistently.
This presented 2 basic problems: finding time to move the laundry either into the dryer or out to the clothesline before lunch and keeping school within the before lunch time frame. To solve the laundry dilemma, I decided that Violet and I could cover her memory work while I work on the laundry. (Maybe I'll set one of the kid-sized chairs over there for her to use). After looking at the second problem, I decided that poetry, literature, and art would have to be moved into the afternoon. This will mean that I have to stick to my scheduled afternoon computer time without running over. On the plus side Benny always wants to sit on my lap and snuggle after nap anyway so at least I'll be making better use of the time than flipping tv channels.

Here's our portion of our new schedule that covers school:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Curriculum changes for a new year


Apologia Exploring Creation w/ Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day
This will be our third attempt at an Apologia science text. (We started Botany twice but have yet to finish it.) Instead of notebooking and narration for science, I'm working on a lapbook where the girls can fill the information into booklets. So far I have the first 2 lessons scheduled to cover 4 weeks and the corresponding booklets ready to go. To make it more interesting, I'm trying to incorporate a wider variety of booklet types and vary the activities within the booklets (fill in the blank, matching, crosswords, riddles, diagrams, etc.). We'll see how it goes.


Bible time from Grapevine Old Testament to reading through the Vos Children's Bible. The girls enjoyed watching me draw the stick figures so we may add in a few stick figure illustrations with our reading, but the worksheet portion of the Grapevine studies took to much time for the girls to fill out cutting down on our time to sing and pray.


FLL for Violet.
We had problems with the pace of the program, lack of application (what's the point of learning the definition of a noun if you can't identify it), and just sheer boredom. I'll take out what we like, add in some application, and hopefully have it ready by fall for 2nd grade as a one year introduction to grammar.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thinking about next year, status check

After spending a couple of weeks researching and reviewing various programs, I thought I would take a moment to revisit my progress so far determining what curriculum to purchase for Jessie next year. I'll mark with an asterisk those that I hope to purchase used.

  1. Singapore Primary Math 4A Textbook ($7.95)*
  2. Singapore Primary Math 4A Workbook ($7.95)*
  3. Singapore Primary Math 4A Intensive Practice ($7.95)
  4. Singapore Primary Math 4B Textbook ($7.95)*
  5. Singapore Primary Math 4B Workbook ($7.95)*
  6. Singapore Primary Math 4B Intensive Practice ($7.95)
  7. Singapore Primary Math 4 Challenging Word Problems ($7.50)
Total cost for math: $55.20

Language Arts:
  1. Spelling Workout F ($15.50)
  2. Spelling Workout G ($15.50)
  1. Rod and Staff, Building with Diligence ($14.90)*
  1. Finish Aesop with Core manual only ($0.00)
  2. Begin Homer with Core manual only ($34.95)*
Switching to dictation with current stock of writing paper ($0.00)

Literature / Reading:
  1. Library books ($0.00)
  2. Literature guides, Teaching the Classics, DITHOR ??? (to be determined)

Total cost for Language Arts for now: $80.85

  1. Latin for Children Primer A ($21.95)
  2. LfC A DVDs ($54.00)
  3. LfC A Activity Book ($16.95)
  4. LfC A History Reader ($9.75) optional

Total cost for Latin: ($92.90 w/o history, $102.65 w/ history)

  1. TruthQuest American History for Young Students 2 ($28.95)*
  2. TruthQuest American History for Young Students 3 ($28.95)*
Total cost for history: $57.90

Science (still to be determined)

Art (still to be determined)

Music (still to be planned)

To be made using library resources ($0.00)

Total cost so far: $341.35 not including the Critical Thinking books I haven't even thought about yet.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cleaning Up from Christmas

As much as I love Christmas, the first thought that usually comes to mind the day after Christmas is: "Now where as I supposed to put all of this stuff?" So in an effort to get my house reorganized before we start school again next week, I thought that I would start with a to do list.
  1. Purchase wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, and cards for next year
  2. Pack away wrapping supplies, empty shirt boxes, and tissue paper
  3. Clean and reorganize Jessie and Violet's room to find a place for new presents
  4. Clean and reorganize Benny's room to find a place for new presents
  5. Put away my own gifts and remind DH to put his away
  6. Take any toys / clothes removed from the kids' rooms to Salvation Army
  7. Take down and pack away Christmas tree, outside lights, and nativity set
  8. Pack away kids' nativity set, Christmas books, stockings, tree skirt, advent calendars, and Christmas cards
  9. Pull greenery off advent wreath and return plastic holder to church
  10. Remove Christmas tablecloth and replace with winter one
  11. Put up Christmas village on entertainment center for winter decoration
  12. Return DH's recliner and coffee table to their normal places
Goal: Finish by Sunday evening

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thoughts on Grammar

Based on our grammar lessons the last couple of weeks, it appears that Jessie is actually retaining more information from Rod and Staff than I thought. Since, however, my main reason for choosing the Rod and Staff grammar program was simply because the WTM recommended it, I though it was only fair to do my own research to see if their might be a better program for us. Here are my thoughts on a few of the programs that I have looked at online.

Easy Grammar
On the plus side, it looks very easy to use and understand. There are only 5 levels so we would be finished with it before high school. It contains no unnecessary writing assignments since we're already using CW. On the minus side, it's another workbook that I would either have to buy for each student or use sheet protectors to cover the page. I didn't see any examples of diagramming in the samples that I perused online. I think the actually diagramming out the sentences is visually helpful for Jessie. It also costs much more than the Rod and Staff series while covering grammar in basically the same way from what I can tell.

Junior Analytical Grammar and Analytical Grammar
This looks like a very straight forward, no fluff way to learn grammar; however, there are several reasons that I am disinclined to switch to it at this point. JAG is basically just the first year of AG simplified a bit. It does contain diagramming, but skips fundamentals like what is a sentence and punctuation. Truthfully, I could do this for the grammar in CW Aesop just using the models that are already typed out. It wouldn't be that hard to pick a few sentences from each model to label the parts of speech and then diagram introducing one part of speech at a time. Sharing student workbooks also wouldn't work well with this program because the workbooks are designed to use as a reference after the child has completed the course. That would make the program fairly cost prohibitive with JAG at $39.95 initially plus $19.95 per additional workbook and AG at $99.95 initially plus $59.95 per additional workbook.

Winston grammar has no diagramming so I eliminated that immediately.

Simply Grammar is just a one year program that is mostly done orally and Jessie doesn't retain as much if we do things orally.

So I took another look at Rod and Staff. The most helpful information that I found came from the online scope and sequence chart. The majority of the grammar in Rod and Staff is covered by the end of grade 8. Grades 9 and 10 focus mainly on writing. (Not having to continue grammar in high school is a plus). While they do repeat the basic parts of speech over several years, the actual focus of what is covered changes. For example when studying nouns, 3rd grade discuss the concepts of possessive and compound nouns; 4th grade covers nouns used in the predicate and in phrases; 5th grade moves on to appositives and concrete v. abstract nouns; 6th grade touches on gender, collective, and irregular; and 7th grade ends up with noun clauses. The topics in capitalization and punctuation change from year to year as due the lessons on sentences. The writing assignments are there if I choose to use them along with lessons on oral communication and using helps (dictionaries, concordances, thesauruses, etc). With the highest price student book listed at $18.05 and plenty of used copies available, it definitely seems to give the best bang for the buck. So I guess in this case, my research has simply confirmed that for now this still seems to be the best choice for our family. My one lesson from this year is that I need to schedule time to go over the material in the book with Jessie to make sure she understands it.

One more decision down. Now I have to look back and see how many more there are to go.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Week 17: It's Friday!!!!

We had a great week! Almost all of our work got done. I've taken some time to reevaluate what we are doing and will plan a few changes next week for the second half our the school year. Sorry for the long post but it was helpful to put down some of my thoughts in writing as I start thinking about making a few changes.


Math for Jessie has been a breeze this week. She started working on the section of weights. So far everything has been in grams, kilograms, or some combination of the two. We did have to spend a few minutes one day talking about how to read the scales in the book and how to figure out the value of the increments between the numbers. Afterwards, Jessie has done a great job of working through the problems on her own.
Violet on the other hand has been struggling with the word problems book this week. We seem to have three basic problems. Problem one is that she is not completely comfortable adding and subtracting within 100. As a result, I think after Christmas we going to do some back tracking. My plan is to work through the section of 1B again that deals with adding and subtracting with 100. I don't mind her using manipulatives to work through this section for now, but even with the abacus she's not consistently getting the correct answer. In conjunction with that we are also going to use this time to nail down the memorization of all of her addition facts because this will be extremely helpful to her by section 2 of the 2A book where it teaches adding and subtracting in vertical columns. To compensate for this, I'm changing the goal for the year from getting through all of 2A to getting up to section 5 of 2A completed. Sections 5 and 6 deal with multiplication, which I believe will be an easy place to pick up when we restart math. The second problem is with the way she writes her number sentences. For example, instead of subtracting to find an answer, she will say 24 + what = 50. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, the problem is she just writes 24+26=50, so that when I check her work it looks like the answer for the problem is 50 when it should be 26. The only solution that I can think of is to sit down and work through some work problems with her. The third problem is her lack of confidence. Violet simply doesn't believe that she is good at math (in part because she compares herself to Jessie). The only solution that I can think of for this is for me to sit down and work through her math with her. I fully expect to spend most of the time as a spectator whose main job is to confirm that she is working the problem correctly and that she has come up with the correct answer. That means I'll have to rework our MOTH schedule next week while the kids are off. Hopefully, the time spent this spring will give here the confidence to work more independently when we officially start 2nd grade.


Language arts are going well. Both girls are continuing to do well in spelling. Violet was a little bit worried because her spelling lists have been in both print and cursive for awhile. I assured her that I would be more than happy to print the word lists for her in a few weeks when we move on to the next book because I had to do the same thing for Jessie. Our poetry memorization is going fine. The girls have been ready to start a new poem for a couple of weeks now, but I thought it would be easier to just wait until after Christmas. The one problem we are having in the memory area has to do with our Bible verse memorization. I can give either Jessie or Violet the first word or two of the verse, and they recite it beautifully. If I just give them the reference, then I often get either a blank stare, and "I don't know", or whatever verse pops into their heads first (usually not what I'm looking for). Violet and I sorted through her memory box this morning and pulled out all of the cards that she couldn't match the verse to the reference. We'll spend the rest of this month working on matching these. I'll do the same thing with Jessie later this afternoon. Then based on how we do this month, I'll decide whether or not we'll continue memorizing the Bible verses from Sunday school or if we will do our own memory program probably memorizing a block of verses instead of individual ones.


Geography is working well. The girls completely booklets on Kentucky and Louisiana this week. I still keep
forgetting to go over their state song. Since the girls can complete the booklets independently, I think I will try to make a tape next week with the geography song on it for them to listen to each day while they work on the
booklets. Once the song is memorized, I can add something with the states and capitals. This should free up a little bit of my time probably for housework (like the laundry that keeps piling up every time I turn around). We did get to history this week. We covered the several new colonies: the Puritans at Massachusetts Bay, New Amsterdam and New Sweden, New Hampshire, the catholics in Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Roger Williams and Rhode Island, and Maine. In about half of these, we simply read the Truthquest commentary and marked them on the map. We also finally got back to our lapbooks (and even caught up). The booklets we made are on the right. Below we finished our explorer map book and caught up with our colony map on the bottom.

No art this week. Hopefully we'll start that back up in January. We haven't listened to Mr. Bach Comes to Call yet either. I'll let the kids listen to it at the end of next week while they are playing with their Christmas presents.


Despite the fact that my DH is still off from work this week (and for the next couple while he burns up some extra comp time), Benny and I did do some preschool this week. We read books every day although not always during the set preschool time. Twice this week we tried out some new games for Benny's letter and number practice. On the left we made a simple matching game for his letters. Benny really enjoyed doing this. Thank goodness I sat there and watched him draw the lines. Otherwise I not sure I could have figured out where some of them started and ended. I must say that this first board is much neater than the second one we did this morning. (Benny wanted to do it on his own and he kept drawing lines before he knew where they were going. For numbers we labeled some Styrofoam cups with the numbers one through seven. Then Benny pulled out a bag of chips from our Sequence Junior game and had to put the correct number of chips in the cup. The first day we cleaned up by having Benny find the cup with the number I called on it and dump the contents back into the bag. I've decided we're going to drop the weekly theme for preschool and just let Benny pick out library books or books from our shelves to read instead. The themes were nice, but we didn't always like the books that were listed and some weeks had very few books that were available from our library.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Almost Wordless Wednesday

3yo + shopvvac + mess of wood and ashes from the woodstove = hours of fun no sisters required

Monday, December 17, 2007

Reconsidering Classical Writing

,My first reason to revisit my decision to use Classical Writing was to see if all 14 levels of the progymnasmata will be covered in the CW series of books. Amazingly this information doesn't seem to be readily available on the website; however, being the persistent person that I always am when I want to know the answer to something, I decided to go googling. The best answer that I found came from a post on the classical message board. Based on this post it looks like the breakdown is:
1. Fable - Aesop
2. Narrative - Homer
3. Chreia - Diogenes
4. Proverb - Diogenes
5. Refutation - Herodotus
6. Confirmation - Herodotus
7. Commonplace - Plutarch
8. Praise - Plutarch
9. Blame - Plutarch
10. Comparison - does not seem to be covered
11. Personification - Shakespeare
12. Description - Shakespeare
13. Argument - Demosthenes
14. Law - Demosthenes

So it looks like basically all the levels but comparison are covered, which I could do with some history writing at some point on my own probably. (If you have used the other books and have covered that step in one of them please let me know.)

My second reason for revisiting my decision was to plan out a plausible plan for the next couple of years. The Aesop book has been easy for Jessie so far, which is always a good thing when starting something new. Since we will be dropping back to only 1 math program next year, I feel like we have covered reading and math well and now is the time to emphasize writing. In order to do this, I think the best course of action will be to speed up our progression through CW for the next 2 years. My preliminary plan is to finish Aesop next fall and move on to the first half of Homer in January. Then for 5th grade we could work through both the Poetry for Beginners and the second half of Homer. By the end of Homer I think we should have a much better idea of whether CW will work well for us as a program or if we need to make a change.

My final reason for looking back at CW was to decide whether or not I would need to continue using the Instructor and Student books or if I could get along with just the core book. Since the only way to really know was to give it a try, I decided to set the instructor book aside this week and use the core book only. I actually believe we did a better job in our analysis of the Diogenes model this week without the instructor's guide. On day 1 we actually discussed the model (using the questions in the core) instead of just reading it. I also remembered to review the definition of a legend thanks to the core. We don't do the spelling analysis. On Day 3, we worked our way through the grammar using the core guide. Overall I think it worked very well although I think for the next story that I will try copying the model for Jessie to mark up rather than working through everything orally.

That means we already have the Aesop core book so no further cost for that level next year. The Homer core book costs $34.95 new, but hopefully I can find a used copy for less.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Week 16: Getting Back into the Swing

eWe didn't finish everything on my list this week, but we are making progress in getting back up to speed.

Jessie finally finished working though the section on length, and has started the section on weight (on the left). So far so good with the metric units. We'll see what happens next week when we get to pounds and ounces. She's getting a good multiplication review in Miquon. Violet is steadily working her way through CWP1. She didn't make more than two calculation errors any day last week. We have had to go back and rewrite some number sentences to make the answer come after the equals sign even though the actual calculations were correct. She seems to like placing the answer in the middle of the problem. (16 / what = 8) On the right is a page from her Time and Money workbook that she does on Fridays.

Spelling is going fine for both girls. We played grammar catchup with Jessie this week. We did several lessons of Rod and Staff together so I could see if she was actually learning anything or not. Most of the work we did orally, but I did have her do the work Friday (on the left) on her own. I'm not quite sure why it was written on the back of a sudoku puzzle, but at least it was correct. We also spent some extra time with the story of Alexander and Bucephalus making sure we were caught up with the grammar concepts in CW as well. I'm happy to see that some of the grammar is starting to sink in. We also made a few changes in Jessie's handwriting this week. I had her do dictation two of the days. On Friday, I showed her a sentence to copy from CW and told her that she had to write it in cursive. Violet ended up copying the first verse of Away in a Manger (on the right) part of the week because I had forgotten to write anything in her copybook and that was the first thing that popped into my head. The hardest part was getting her to stop singing long enough to do the actually copying.

We finished most of the Kansas booklet this week. I need to buy another color ink cartridge to print out the flag sticker and actually finish the book. We aren't too far behind in geography. We'll just have to do 2 booklets a week for the next couple of weeks to catch up. We are definitely behind in history and only fit in two days of work this week. We read about the colonies of New Amsterdam and Maryland. I'm planning to do Friday's booklets and lapbooks on Monday. (I was going to do them this morning, but I had to go buy a new ladder truck to give Benny for Christmas when my husband noticed my old one from college that we were going to give him had somehow gotten broken up in the attic.)

No art this week beyond the girls just drawing and coloring on their own. For music they each read the book about Bach from the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composer's Series. We'll listen to the Classical Kids tape about Bach next week hopefully.

At long last Benny finally did another week of preschool. We reviewed the letters that we had previously worked on and added the letters Hh with the egg puzzles. We had a little more trouble with the frog number game. He had forgotten what some of the numbers looked like and then wasn't always putting them on the correct pad. I think part of the problem is that he really just didn't want to play the game so we'll do a new one next week and see if that helps. Benny's favorite moment of the week was when I let him make toast to go with our scrambled egg dinner. He also spent a lot of time making pretend campfires in the play area of the basement with the kindling wood that DH chopped up for me before leaving for the beach. He even cleaned up after himself when he finished playing without a complaint.

Friday, December 14, 2007

This year's Christmas tree

The kids had a blast putting up all of the ornaments this year. I spent most of the time opening ornaments boxes and repacking the empty ones. They did a great job.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Considering Latin Programs, part 4

Latin for Children by Classical Academic Press

Key Facts:
3 levels currently with another in the works
Cost: Text $21.95, Key $9.75, DVD $54, Activity book $16.50, and History Reader $9.75
Vocabulary: 240 words per year
Pronunciation: Classical (DVD) or Ecclesiastical

Thoughts based on online samples:
The text is nicely laid out. I like having all of the explanation in the student book instead of relying on a separate workbook. The only concern I have about the explanation is that it covers several things in a relatively small space. This tends to make me think that the DVDs would be a good investment to make sure that the material is covered twice to increase comprehension. The online DVD sample is great even though it took a couple of hours to download on my slow internet connection. After watching the lessons on the DVD, I actually think that I could teach the lessons myself; however, since the memory cds are only sold bundled with the DVDs, I'm stuck buying both to make sure my pronunciation is correct. I think Jessie might find some of the chants a bit fast, but we can always slow the pace down and do them together. Jessie also looked over my shoulder at the activity book online samples and thought it looked like fun as well. I'm glad to see that she's interested. I thought the variety of activities in the sample looked not only fun but also useful in reinforcing the material. The idea of the history reader interests me. It looks like a good way to practice some translation. Looking at the answer key, it's not the most interesting reader I've ever seen, but it is for beginning Latin students so it's probably all they can handle.

Thoughts based on reviews and posts:
Most of the feedback on Latin for Children seems to favorable from both parents and kids. The most common complaints are about errors in the book and the book not matching up with the DVD. These problems should all be fixed in the newest versions of the books and DVDs. The general consensus seems to be that both moms and kids like the DVDs although the reviews would have been for the earlier version. The format has changed somewhat as the teacher is no longer sitting at the table teaching a couple of students but is now teaching directly to the camera. A group of kids goes through the chants to start the lesson. The reviews for the history readers are a bit more mixed, probably because the sentences are a bit dry.

Final thoughts:
While I'm still trying to get my mind around paying close to $100 dollars for a Latin program, I think that of all the programs that I have looked at so far this one will do the best at meeting our family's needs in a Latin program. I think the format is fun and interesting enough to engage Faith's interest and keep her from groaning when it's time for Latin. (Who knows, it may even make Latin a favorite subject here like the Rainbow Resource review claims.) I like the way the material is presented both in the DVD and the student text. The pace of memorization seems reasonable to me, and the built in review weeks are definitely a plus for us. That's one decision made for next year. Hopefully, the others choices will become obvious to me as well as I prayerfully work my way through them trying to figure out the plan that God has for our family.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Considering Latin Programs, Part 3

Latin's Not so Tough by greeknstuff

Key Facts:
6 levels available
Cost: workbooks from $12.95 to $22.95, CD for first 3 levels $8
Vocabulary: unknown
Pronunciation: classical

Thoughts based on online samples:
Level 1 and 2 would be great for someone trying to start a child into Latin early on. I think Jessie would need to start at level 3. The program does look easy and fun. It would probably be great for a child who is intimidated by Latin. I did like the looks of the translation exercises. That said, I think the pace is a bit too slow for us. There seems to be more fun but less meat to the program than others. Four years seems like a long to cover the material they have presented.

Thoughts based on reviews:
I didn't find much information about this program on the wtmboards. There is a review by Susan Wise Bauer located here that isn't very favorable.

Final thoughts:
I think I would prefer a more traditional approach to teaching Latin that would facilitate the transition to a higher level text at a later point.

Lively Latin

Key Facts:
1 level to last one year
Cost $55.00 nonrefundable to download the beta version plus color printing cost

Thoughts based on online samples:
The samples look colorful and fun. The explanation are clear and understandable. The progression seems a little bit slow to me.

Thoughts based on reviews:
There are plenty of questions regarding this program on the wtmboards. All the reviews and feedback that I have seen has been positive. Here are a couple of the more extensive reviews that I have found from the wtmboard
and Paula's archive.

Final thoughts:
My first concern about this program is that I can't really tell how much vocabulary is being learned. While the program sounds like a lot of fun, I also find the nonrefundable price to be a negative. Not only do I have to spend $55 just for a book, but then I also have printing costs on top of that. I also dislike having to use the internet during school time because of our slow connection so I'm not to thrilled with the idea of having to go online each lesson to listen to pronunciations. I think we'll have to pass on this for now, although I'll keep it in mind if we have trouble getting another program to work.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Considering Latin Programs, part 2

Latin Primer by Canon Press

Key Facts:
5 levels available: 3 primer levels followed by 2 grammar levels
Cost: Student & Teacher text $13.75 each, DVD $55, Cassette or CD $8, could probably find used since the program has been around for awhile
Vocabulary: 350 words in year 1
Pronunciation: classical

Thoughts based on online sample:
My first thought based on the table of contents for the teacher's manual and the student manual which I found at are that the layout is a bit disorganized. All of the vocabulary and chants are in one section, worksheets in another, and lesson plans or a few miscellaneous things like crosswords in the case of the student text are in a third. This would require a lot of flipping back and forth each week just to cover one lesson. The excerpts of the text I found only showed the vocabulary lists so I don't have any idea how the worksheet pages are set up. It is a shame that the publisher doesn't have better samples available on their website.

Thoughts based on reviews, posts, and/or comments:
Latin primer received mixed reviews on Amazon with some families who love it and some families who hate it. The latter thought it was expensive for a program of just memorization or considered it drudgery. Since the program is mainly memorization, I don't really see the need for the DVDs. I did find one post on the wtmboards where the mom simply used the texts and CD which would be a cost saver. I am a bit concerned that there is little to no translation work.

Final thoughts:
It was much more difficult to find information on this program than some of the others. My impressions are 350 vocabulary words seems like an awful lot to cover in one year especially since the text is set up with 27 lessons and no review that I can see. With mainly just lists and worksheets, I don't really see a lot of room for variety and fun to help peek Jessie's interest. While I do think memorization will probably be the bulk of any curriculum at this level, I would prefer to see a bit more explanation to put the memory work in context even if it must be a bit simplistic. I think there is enough of a variety in programs out there that I can safely mark this one off my list.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Considering Latin Programs, part 1

Latina Christiana by Memoria Press

Key facts:
2 levels available with Henle recommended to follow
Cost: Text set $32.95, DVD $48, supplemental game/activity $17.75 (based on Rainbow Resource 07-08), could probably find some materials used
Vocabulary: 10 words/lesson or 250 per year
Pronunciation: ecclesiastical

Thoughts based on website sample:
Student text contains no explanations, just vocabulary, declension or conjugation, and fill in the blank type exercises. This would mean require Jessie to question me for anything that she forgot or didn't understand instead of being able to try to look it up on her own and figure it out first. Teacher text does contain lesson plans, but based on the sample I'm not sure there is enough information for me to pick up the manual and go. It would most likely require some teacher prep time on my part in addition to working ahead through the book to be more comfortable with the material. The sample chapter didn't include a lot of information on the grammar being taught, and outside the lessons there are only 2 pages of grammar overview in the book. This tends to make me think I might need to purchase the DVDs. It would be nice if they had an online sample so I could get an idea of the production quality and the teaching style of the instructor. The Ludere Latine book sounds interesting and might make Latin a bit more fun, but again unfortunately I couldn't find any online samples.

Thoughts based on reading posts from WTM boards:
As far as the program goes, some posters seem to be very happy with the program calling it a solid foundation and a good no frills program. Other posters who dislike the program tend to have older students (10+), complain about memorization with lack of explanation, consider it dry and boring, or would like to see more components like readers along with the program. The DVDs also received mixes reviews. Moms who love them think they get the job done, do a better job at explaining the material than the book, or have kids who enjoy them. Moms who hate them take issue with the instructor's accent, stuttering (new version has better editing for this), and mispronunciation of terms and either can't stand the DVDs personally or have kids who loathe them. I can't find any specific information on the Ludere Latine book.

Final thoughts:
While this program would probably work fine for Jessie as a solid Latin foundation based on what I could find online and our experience this year using Prima Latina, I don't believe it will get her or me for that matter excited about learning Latin. Not having explanations in the student book for Jessie to refer back to previous material (which she does sometimes in Prima Latina) is a major drawback to me. Purchasing the book set, DVD, and activity book would bring the cost up to $98.70 from Rainbow Resource putting the cost on par with most of the other programs out there. This probably won't be my first choice in a Latin program, but I feel confident that if I can't find another program that I like better that this one would be fine to fall back on.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Week 15: It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

OK, I confess. We didn't do so well in the schooling department this week, but to be honest I'm just glad that we managed to get the basics done. Monday morning was the third day in a row Benny woke up with a 103+ degree temperature. We crammed in some school work and then headed to an 11am doctor's appointment. I intended to finish up school when we got home, but by the time we waited for a chest xray (no pneumonia), an albuterol treatment (to help his breathing), and got his prescriptions filled (eating McDonald's in the van while we waited), I was too tired to even consider more schoolwork. Wednesday I had a doctor's appointment, and Thursday we ended school early to decorate the Christmas tree because I promised DH that I would have the empty decoration boxes ready for him to put away that evening. Friday, I gave the kids some extra free time to spend with DH before he left very early on Saturday for the beach to go fishing with some of his friends. Falling by the wayside this week were geography, history, art, music, and preschool. Here's what we did accomplish.

Jessie now officially likes metric units better than the standard US units of measurement. She breezed through the metric part only to get bogged down in the US units converting yards, feet, and inches. Getting math done for her this week was more a measure of perseverance (at Mom's insistence) than of actual math ability. I do want to make sure that she memorizes the basic conversions between units this year. I'm not quite sure if I just want to make it part of memory work or buy a simple workbook with some more practice to cement the facts that way. Violet, on the other hand, has been setting new records this week in the category of quickest math lessons ever while working through her word problems book. We did a chapter a day of 20 word problems in under 20 minutes with almost no mistakes. The one thing I love about review is that it shows me how much she has learned so far. I can remember her struggling with similar problems last year when she was working through the 1A series.


Spelling did get done for both girls this week. For memory work, we reviewed what was already in their boxes without adding anything new. For copywork both girls copied the poem My Gift this week. Jessie did manage to get in her Latin lessons. On Friday, we realized that we had forgotten to do CW Aesop all week so we did the entire writing project in one day including a key word outline, a rough draft, revisions, and a final draft (located on the left). This time in revisions we not only looked at spelling and punctuation, but I also suggested that a few of the sentences could be rewritten a bit differently. (She has become the queen of prepositional phrases lately.) We rewrote together one sentence that contained the word that three times, made another sentence a bit more concise by taking out unnecessary phrases, and revised a sentence with the work there appearing in it twice. Jessie seemed to be very open to the suggestions and did not take them as criticisms. My goal would be that by the end of the year, I could simply ask, "Is there another way that you could write this sentence that would make it more clear or concise?" and have her be able to suggest an alternative without my prompting.

So that's about it for the week. I was going to end with before and after pictures of our Christmas tree, but DH packed the camera away Friday before I remembered to get the after picture so I'll come back next week and add those in when the camera's back.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thinking about next year, part 1

This is probably the first year that I have begun planning for the next school year in December; however, I've decided to start for 3 reasons. First I want to put an overall budget in place for next year so that means I need to estimate how much I spend on school. Second, I'm also hoping an early jump start will give me time to either find what I need used or come up with my own curriculum instead. Third, I feel like we need to make a few changes in our curriculum choices so I need some research time.

4th Grade for Faith
Math: Singapore is working well for us so we'll just continue on with year 4. Jessie is looking forward to only having one math program next year.
  1. Singapore Primary Math 4A Textbook ($7.95)
  2. Singapore Primary Math 4A Workbook ($7.95)
  3. Singapore Primary Math 4A Intensive Practice ($7.95)
  4. Singapore Primary Math 4B Textbook ($7.95)
  5. Singapore Primary Math 4B Workbook ($7.95)
  6. Singapore Primary Math 4B Intensive Practice ($7.95)
  7. Singapore Primary Math 4 Challenging Word Problems ($7.50)
Total cost for math: $55.20

Language Arts:
Spelling: Spelling Workout is also working fine.
  1. Spelling Workout F ($15.50)
  2. Spelling Workout G ($15.50)
Grammar: Jessie is doing fine with the Rod and Staff grammar; but even though she's getting the exercises, it's not translating into the rest of her work. I also don't see the need to continue grammar through high school, so we'll research some alternative ideas here. (cost to be determined)
Writing: I definitely want to stick with the progymnasmata for writing. We could just continue with CW Aesop. Although I found the student manual and instructor manual helpful this year in understanding how to implement the program, I believe I could make my own lesson plans and avoid the cost of the Aesop B student and instructor books. The one drawback to CW is that it doesn't seem to have a plan to get through all of the stages of the progymnasmata. I think I'll revisit my research here before making a final decision. (cost to be determined)
Handwriting: I already have the paper for next year. We need to transition to dictation. I'd like to actually schedule out the dictation in advance so I'm not scrambling for something the weekend or night before the assignment. ($0.00)
Literature / Reading: We'll stick with library books here. I'll need to do a better job of prereading and scheduling the books in advance this time. I'd like to add in some enrichment activities or book reports here. Need to research the best way to do this. (cost to be determined)

Total cost for Language Arts for now: $31.00

Latin / Foreign Language: I don't really have anything against Prima Latina, but I can't say I'm thrilled with it either. I'm definitely going to do some research on Latin programs before deciding for next year. I'd really like to get back into Spanish as well. I have an old copy of the Learnables Spanish, and the demo cd of Rosetta Stone. I think I'll try those with Jessie again before starting to look at other program options. (cost to be determined)

History: I'm happy with the way TruthQuest is working for us this year despite a bit of disorganization in my planning. I think we'll continue with it next year. I'll try to get AHYS 2 in early spring so I get a head start in planning this time.
  1. TruthQuest American History for Young Students 2 ($28.95)
  2. TruthQuest American History for Young Students 3 ($28.95)
Total cost for history: $57.90

Science: I'm really leaning towards starting science up in January rather than waiting until summer because I know once the baby is here I'll be able to come up with dozens of reasons why we can't do science today. I already have Apologia Botany which we have yet to get through, and Apologia Zoology 1 which we haven't tried yet. We'll give zoology a try and see if the girls enjoy it before I consider buying any more science books. I do need to get in some planning very soon though to start in January. (I guess that gives me my project for next week while DH is at the beach). (cost to be determined)

Art / Music: We're still struggling with art here. I just don't think I have enough art experience to use Drawing with Children. We'll need to explore some options for art. We have yet to do any art appreciation in our homeschool. Next year would be a good year to start working on this. Then in 5th grade we could link our art appreciation with our history cycle again. More research. What music we've done this year has gone well. Both of the girls enjoy the Classical Kids tapes and the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists. I guess next year we'll try to finish all of the resources our library has in this area. I also want to find something to teach the girls some of the different musical instruments with music so they can hear the different sounds. A bit more research needed here as well. (cost to be determined)

Hmm... I may need to estimate next year's budget based on what I spent last year for my budget. I have a lot more things to research and think about than I expected when I started this post. Well, at least now I know what areas where I need to spend time researching, and I can start looking for used math, spelling, and history books.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Week 14 in Review: Settling Back In

We spent last week slowly working back up to our regular workload. We only took two days off the week off the week of Thanksgiving, but apparently a four day weekend is enough to completely erase the notion of morning routines and school schedules from the girls' minds again. Every time they finished an assignment I gave them, they were both convinced that it had to be their play with Benny time. (Although Benny didn't mind being so popular in the least). I need to tweak the schedule a bit anyhow to give Violet a full hour to work on her math. Hopefully I'll find some time next weekend after the Christmas decorations are up.


For the most part Jessie has worked fairly quickly through the section on length. We covered converting between both meters and centimeters and meters and kilometers. The only hitch came Friday when I left DH in charge while I went to my OB appointment. He apparently taught Jessie to add and subtract the kilometer and meter combinations by writing two columns, one for km and one for m. Unfortunately Jessie had a breakdown when she needed to subtract the meters but the second number was larger than the first. Serves me right for not explaining it myself before I left (although those McDonald's Cinnamelts I stopped for were definitely delicious). Jessie has one assignment left on Monday before finish her Intensive Practice book. She's still a little iffy on subtracting larger numbers, but her confidence is definitely going up with the review work.


Spelling is moving along fine for both girls. Violet decided that she was going to learn our newest poem, My Gift by Christina Rossetti, before Jessie. At the end of her afternoon quiet time on Tuesday, she emerged proudly to tell me that she had finished memorizing the poem and recited it for me. Needless to say Jessie was a bit taken aback to be beaten by her younger sister and had the poem memorized the next morning when we pulled out her memory box. I'm not thrilled with all the competition between the girls right now. I suppose I could assign them different poems to memorize, but part of how they memorize is to tell the poems to each other outside of school time anyway so I'm not sure it would help. At any rate, I don't think we'll move on to any new poems immediately. Both girls have some catch up to do in their Bible verse memorization for church. We only managed to read Little Pilgrims Progress one day last week, but I do hereby pledge to finish the book up next week even if it means reading it for the bedtime story. In CW Aesop, Jessie read the legend "A Laconic Answer". It's the first unfamiliar story we've done in CW so far. It will be interesting to see how the writing goes next week.


For geography the girls completed Indiana and Iowa booklets. They have been singing the Fifty Nifty United States Song with each other. We'll try to get back to adding on to that next week. In history, we read in the Truthquest manual about the beginning of New Hampshire and New Netherlands (New York). I didn't have all of the books checked out from the library that I wanted to do for the week, but we did read the book Sarah Whitcher's Story on Wednesday and Thursday. It was my intention to do some booklets for their history lapbooks on Friday until Benny plopped himself in my lap and declared that he wanted to snuggle. He was interested in playing, reading, or even following DH around the house so I took his temperature and sure enough he was running a fever again. So lapbooks and map work will have to wait until next week.

ART / MUSIC Still on break.


I had enough difficultly motivating the girls and keeping them on task this week that Benny's preschool fell through the cracks again. I did manage to pull down the box of letter magnets and add G, g, H, and h to the refrigerator. Benny was quite happy to match them up for me. Since the H and h were new, I pointed to the big H and had Benny say, "Big H," after me. As I pointed to the little h, he went running for the living room to find DH and called, "Little h," back over his shoulder. Oh well, we'll try again next week when DH is back at work and hopefully Benny is feeling better.