A Look Inside The Good and the Beautiful Level 4 Language Arts and Literature

I have been doing level 3 with Karis because it teaches sentence diagramming and she doesn’t have a background in it.  It has honestly been kind of hard because she is 11 and needs to be more independent (she was pretty much completely independent before G&B).  So I asked in the G&B group what they thought about moving to level 4 even though she doesn’t know how to diagram.  Everyone said that there isn’t much diagramming in level 4, there is a video on their website, and there is a reference section in level 4 to show how to diagram.  Also, I am torn about how much I really even care about diagramming.  We’ll see.  Karis is a really good reader (about an 8th grade level) so I feel that she can handle a higher level.  I know she’s going into 6th grade so level 4 may not make much sense, but the curriculum is very advanced.  I have the boys doing level 1.  I have looked at level 5 (level 6 isn’t out yet), and I think she could probably do it just fine, but I already have level 4 so I’m going with it!

I downloaded the free pdf of the course book and printed that because it’s black and white.  It includes grammar, reading/comprehension (it has whole chapter books with-in it), spelling, and writing.  She will do one lesson out of the course book per day.  Sometimes two.

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She will also read for 20 minutes out of a novel of her choice AND 20 minutes out of a history novel.  When she is finished with the history novel she will do a narration/book project of her choice (she has a list of 30 to choose from).

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In addition to the course book, she will do one lesson out of the Creative Companion each day.  This is my favorite part of this level.  It includes geography complete with gorgeous maps, beautiful paintings for art appreciation, art instruction using pastels, and writing instruction.  I wish I could show you every single page out of this because I love it so much.  And it was only $14!

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Then she will also practice the grammar and geography cards for about 5 minutes per day, alternating between the two.  These cards only cost $10 and they cover the grammar basics for levels 4-7.  For geography they will learn all of the US states and their capitals and all of the countries in Europe.    Like the Creative Companion, I wish I could share all of the cards with you :-).

Now that she is doing independent work, I have created a checklist for her to go through each day/week.

We will start this after Family Camp!!  Can’t wait!

 

Scaling Back, Learning through Anxiety, Healthy Habits, and Becoming More Relaxed

Yesterday morning I was having an “I hate mental illness” day.  I went to bed with a lot of anxiety and that stupid breathing issue again.

After some time and talking things out, I figured out WHY I was having anxiety, but it didn’t make me hate mental illness any less.

I have still been putting too much on my plate.

I will feel really good so I’ll pile stuff on my plate.  Then I will have anxiety, and throw it off.  Good, more.  Anxiety, less.  Rinse and repeat.  I was talking to ladies in my Home of the Croslands group and one of my friends said that it sounds like a bipolar thing.  Then another friend said that it sounds like an anxiety thing.  But whatever it is, it has been something I have struggled with for years and years.  I guess, ultimately, it doesn’t need a label.  I just need to learn how to cope.

Also, Tuesday, I was obsessing about curriculum again ALL day.  I wrote a blog post that took me HOURS (I have since deleted it).  All I was thinking about was homeschooling curriculum and mostly about ALL of the resources that I have (SO many)!

And then there is the whole *hiking as my new habit* for the Balance 365 program that I have been feeling guilty about not doing even though I said I would!  I had a goal of getting to hiking every day and that was over my head.

I have just been feeling overwhelmed.

Yesterday afternoon Ethan went to town with Robert so I let Karis and Levi just be on electronics so that I could lie down.  I was in bed for quite a while and couldn’t ever fall asleep, but it was still really good.  I listened to my Serenity Spa Music and just focused on my breathing.  It was very beneficial for me.

Then I got up and wrote in my Balance 365 group that I am struggling with my first habit, still.  One of the founders and a coach both reminded me that it needs to be so easy that I am 90-100% sure that I can stick with it.  I’m realizing that the 4-5 days a week of hiking is just way too much for me right now!  So I told them that a few weeks ago the kids and I started hiking once a week for their nature studies and they told me that would be enough for now!  If I’m 90-100% sure I can stick with that, then do that for a while.  Once I’m consistent with that for about a month, then I can add more to my plate.  This is going to be a VERY slow process and that is so hard for me to get used to!  I’m so used to dieting and exercising hard for a little while and not being able to continue because that’s not sustainable!  I can do 1 day a week!  I’m hoping to add in another day after Family Camp :-).

I actually have a lot of good habits in place: daily self care, one load of laundry a day, getting the kids to do their daily chores, making my bed each day (most days at least), tidying the house most days, once a week “big clean,” mostly healthy meals (balanced), meal planning and prepping (every 2 weeks),  and most importantly, I’m almost 9 months sober (on Sunday!).

Then there’s the whole curriculum and book/resource thing…

I was sooooooo overwhelmed after looking at all that I have.  Thinking about coming up with my own units for science (in addition to Apologia and nature studies) using living books in addition to our history curriculum, and just having ALL of the books and resources was too much.  And trying to do The Good and the Beautiful AND Brave Writer was too much.  So I’ve decided to reduce and scale back.  I keep having this fear that if I scale back it won’t be enough, but I’m learning that the kids need me healthy and it actually benefits them in many ways to reduce what we do.

I decided that for the next few weeks (until Family Camp… we leave on the 19th), the kids will just do math and read for 20 minutes.  We will also do nature studies once a week.

After Family Camp (we come back on the 29th) I will add in The Good and the Beautiful, then after labor day (after Robert and I get back from our backpacking trip), I will add in science and history.

This is my plan for the fall:

  • The kids will read independently for 20 minutes per day.  Karis will read extra to do her history novels (1 per month).  She’s 11 and can handle that.  And she loves to read.
  • The Good and the Beautiful language arts covers all of this, a little bit each day: Phonics, reading/literature, poetry, spelling (with additional activities that I came up with), grammar, writing, art appreciation, and geography.
  • I’m scaling back on the Brave Writer Lifestyle.  We will do Poetry Teatime because the kids love it (but even if we miss a week it won’t be the end of the world).  The kids like Friday Free-writes, so we will continue that most Fridays (I told them that they didn’t have to, but they want to). Copywork is through G&B handwriting.  No consistent dictation (only once in a while).  No writing projects for now (Brave Writer Partnership Writing).  I have this for good (it is a pdf so I can’t sell), and we can always add them later if we need/want to.  We will continue movie nights and playing games because we’ve always done that before Brave Writer.  And like I mentioned, we will do nature studies.
  • Instead of reading aloud (for morning time), we will listen to audio books: Shakespeare, The Action Bible (I also bought the book for them to take turns following along), and novels (some classics, some newish books).  If we don’t get to it in the morning we will do it before bed (or even in the car).  I won’t be strict about this… just several days a week.
  • Math will be the same: Math U See with some Kumon books thrown in for extra practice.  Karis is JUST doing the Kumon division book right now to practice.  Like I’ve said before, she’s a few years “behind” in levels because she really struggles with math.  That’s okay.  She’ll get there.
  • We will do Apologia Astronomy for science and Exploring Nature with Children (with the Handbook of Nature Study) for nature studies.  We will not add in extra fun units for now even though I have a TON of living books.  This may be something I add in eventually, but I need to keep it SIMPLE for now.  I have the Apologia text, note booking journals, and the lab kit with the materials in bags labeled with the lesson on the outside.  Karis will do every part of the notebooking journals (including taking notes, answering questions, doing vocabulary crosswords, project recording, mini books, and more), but the boys will do less.
  • Story of the World for history:  The boys will answer the questions and do narration orally.  Karis will do written questions and written narration over what we read together.  She will also read the novels on her own to go with it (one a month) and do a book project over it.  We will do the internet links through the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History together because they are fun videos.  I probably won’t do any extra projects through history.  Maybe every once in a while.

That’s still a lot but I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.  I won’t use many “living books” after all because I just can’t right now.  And that’s okay.

This is all of the stuff that I WON’T be using (at least not intentionally, for now):

Everything that I’m using is in the kitchen/dining room where we do our school (well, except novels that the kids will choose from).

I’m in the process of making a list for the kids’ independent work to put in their binder, but mostly for Karis.  She will be involved in the read alouds of science and history and will branch off for the rest.  I’m going to make her level of the Good and the Beautiful more independent even though it’s supposed to be together (we started on level 3 even though she’s 11 because this curriculum is advanced and she doesn’t have a solid foundation in grammar).  I will find a way to make it work because she is ready for independence (she WAS independent before the boys came home).  Also, making her more independent will actually help me out a ton.

I’m also going to make things more relaxed.  As long as we get things done in the day, we’re good.  Ethan is doing better these days without a strict schedule so I’m trying to have more of a routine and not a schedule.  I want the kids to be able to stay up for fun camp activities, to have people over, and to just have movie nights and game nights.  So I want them to be able to sleep in if they can/want.  Of course Ethan CAN’T sleep in no matter how late he stays up, so we’ll have some limits :-).

 

One of the biggest things that I am learning is that I can use the breathing issue to my advantage.  I have noticed that when I am doing too much and I get overwhelmed, I struggle with my breathing.  When I take stuff off my plate, I feel better.  So if I struggle with breathing, I will evaluate what I need to take off my plate!

I also just keep telling myself “grace” over and over anytime I get a thought in my head that I “should” or “need to.”

Now to print this off and hang it on my bulletin board!  Haha!

 

Simplifying for the Summer

Because of all my excitement about the “Brave Writer Lifestyle” among other things homeschooling related, I didn’t realize that I was getting more anxious by the day.  I tend to get obsessed about things that I am excited about and give 200%, then it leads to anxiety (the obsessive/compulsive side of my severe anxiety).

I came home Friday from my parents’ and the kids came home from camp on Saturday.  We spent that day just resting.  Sunday I started to notice something.  My breathing was going back to the way it was last year (and in 2013) when I had hyperventilation syndrome.  It got worse through the day.

Robert came home from work in the middle of the day and I told him about it and he pointed to the table that was COVERED with curriculum and books and said “this is why!”  I was also staring at my homeschool routine on my google doc (it was very congested).

In that moment I decided something needed to change because I can’t live that way again.  I want homeschooling to be something that we all enjoy and that works for our family!  Not something that makes my kids stressed out and causes me anxiety.

So.

I was so thankful that a good friend of mine could chat that day.  I sent her the link to the document and she helped me make necessary changes to my homeschooling routine, and I have simplified it dramatically for the summer.  I don’t plan to pick up much else in August.

So I picked the non-negotiables and made my routine with that (and definitely not scheduled times… just an order that we follow)!  I thought about just putting school off until the fall but decided to go ahead and start for three reasons: 1) Ethan needs the routine!  2) I need the routine!  3) Karis desperately wants to start (like last week!).  It’ll be good to go ahead and start so that we can take breaks as we need to!

This is the new routine:

Nature walk/journal (a few days a week)

Friday Poetry Tea Time

READ!

  • Mom and kids will read independently for 30 minutes!  
    • Read sitting on the couch, floor, chair, bean bag, at the table, or on the back porch!

Table Time
Writing

  • Copywork, dictation, narration, writing project (Brave Writer Partnership Writing), or free write (one of these per day)

One-on-One Time: The Good and the Beautiful (along with Brave Writer, I am in LOVE with this curriculum!)

  • 1-3 lessons per day (mostly one, but some of the lessons are SUPER short!)

Independent activities while I work with each kids one-on-one:

  • Handwriting Without Tears (1 page)
  • Spelling practice
  • Math U See (one video per lesson and one page per day)

Electronic time

PLAY

Dinner

Read aloud @bedtime- the book Wonder and a chapter out of the Bible.

This is IT!

In the fall I will add “group time” in the afternoon consisting of science OR history (not both) each day.  It will probably take about 30-45 minutes for that.

I also filled the basket in our kitchen/dining area with our essentials and plan to just put things in that basket that we will use each day.  Right now it has:

  • The Good and Beautiful books
  • Handwriting books
  • A binder for each kid (with math pages, G&B printouts, spelling lists, and history questions)
  • 3 composition notebooks for each kid: writing, spelling, and nature journal
  • The book that they chose to read
  • And the readers to go with The Good and the Beautiful

In the fall I will add the Story of the World book and science (starting with a unit from G&B).

I have also been watching videos from Julie Bogart from Brave Writer about simplifying and being okay with what we can handle.  She has a video titled 55 Things that We Did NOT Do As a Homeschooler.  It made me feel okay with what we’re doing!

Now.  Am I better today?  Not 100%!  But it is much better today than it was several weeks in last year, so I’ll take it.

Also, a lady in a group that I’m in told me about a technique that she does when she is struggling with this and it helped me yesterday!  I also meditate and listen to spa music to relax.

Anxiety is a beast.  There are soooooo many different physical symptoms and even when I feel better mentally, it takes a while for the physical symptoms to go away.  It’s maddening.

I see my doctor in two weeks and if it’s still going on, we will address it then.  BUT!  I’m hoping it’s better by then!

I am in a parenting with anxiety group and many of the mamas in there reminded me that it won’t last forever!  It might feel like it in the moment, but it will eventually get better.

Today we are starting school, then I will catch up on housework!  After that I might spend some time meditating while the kids have their “electronic time”.

Despite this physical symptom of anxiety, I’m so happy about life and where we are.  I’m so thankful that I no longer use alcohol to cope and that I don’t go to bed drunk every night anymore.  Sometimes I dream about it and I wake up SO THANKFUL for sobriety!  It’s a good reminder about why sobriety is so important!

Breath of Fresh Air and The Brave Writer Lifestyle

Writing has been one of the things that I have struggled with from the beginning.  I was considered an excellent writing teacher when I taught, but it hasn’t gone as well at home. Karis HATES writing and dreads it every day.  There have been many tears over writing.  I have tried teaching it the way I taught in public school (Writer’s Workshop), Writing with Ease, Writing and Rhetoric, WriteShop, Essentials in Writing, and most recently IEW.  Some of those I liked and she hated.  Some of those she didn’t hate (still didn’t like) but I hated.    She didn’t get good instruction in school either.  It has just been a terrible struggle for years.  She even hated it when she was in school back in Frisco (Writer’s Worshop).  She would spend weeks on one paper and she wouldn’t end up turning them in, which resulted in poor grades.

I thought that she needed IEW because it tells you what to write.  You use a passage and a keyword outline.  This worked okay, but I honestly hated it… and I know she didn’t love it.  The more we got into it, the harder it was for both of us.  I chose this program because that’s “the program” to create good writers.  I thought it was my only choice.

I was going to continue IEW for my kids… then I was going to just use it for Karis and use Writing with Ease for the boys (because I felt that they wouldn’t do well with the strictness of IEW).

A few days ago I was chatting in The Good and Beautiful Facebook group and learned about “The Brave Writer Lifestyle.”  I had never heard of this (though I had heard of the curriculum, I had never heard of the “lifestyle.”).  Many of the ladies that use The Good and the Beautiful also use Brave Writer for writing (G&B doesn’t have the greatest writing… at least in the lower levels).

I decided to check out “Brave Writer Lifestyle” on YouTube because I was curious what that meant.

I wasn’t prepared to have my whole view of homeschooling changed by a new philosophy of education.

Check out the video below:

It’s an hour long so I’ll summarize it with these bullet points:

  • Poetry Teatimes
    • Have a time set aside each week to set the table with a tablecloth, have tea or hot chocolate or whatever your kids want to drink, a breakfast treat like scones or muffins, then let your kids read their favorite poetry.
  • Read alouds
    • Read aloud from many and varied books each day
  • Copywork/dictation
    • The kids should copy sentences and paragraphs and write from dictation.
  • Art appreciation
    • Appreciate art… look at it and discuss
  • Shakespeare
    • Read Shakespeare, watch Shakespeare movies and plays, etc.
  • Movies/television
    • Watch documentaries, watch movies of good books, etc.
    • Movies and tv teach characterization, plot, etc.
  • Friday Free Writes
    • Set a timer and write.  You can use a prompt if necessary.  The kids write about anything that is on their mind.  Pay no attention to grammar and mechanics.  Do not correct, just admire.  Write while the kids write if possible.
    • The kid can write “I don’t know what to write” over and over if necessary, as long as their pencil is moving!
  • Nature journaling
    • Go on nature walks and draw/color/paint pictures of what you see.
  • Literary elements
    • Learn about things such as metaphors, analogies, similes, alliteration, etc.
  • One on one time
    • Give each child one-on-one time each day, even if it’s just a few minutes.
  • Language games
    • Play games such as scrabble, Scattergories, Cranium, Apples to Apples, etc
    • Also do crosswords and word searches
  • Writing projects
    • Make writing fun!  Turn it into a project (use her ideas if you need them!).
    • This will only be one a month or even less if necessary.

 

Then I decided to keep watching Julie Bogart YouTube videos.

Can I just say that she’s a breath of fresh air?  I have had so much anxiety about homeschooling (even though I was so excited about it) because I carried so much weight thinking that I had to do everything a certain way, that the kids needed to be on or above “level,” that I needed to have a schedule so that Ethan could thrive (because I thought he needs extreme structure), that I needed to have “school at home,” that I had to have the perfect curriculum in order to have everyone on or above level, and so much more.  I have spent so much money over the years on curriculum because I didn’t trust myself to teach them and because I wanted “rigor.”

Here are some great ones!

Through all of this I’ve decided to:

  • Do The Good and the Beautiful for all of language arts but writing (I got my books the other day and I LOVE them!  They are beautiful!).
  • Go ahead and do copywork, dictation, and narration with all of my kids, not just the boys (using Brave Writer products to reinforce mechanics, learn literary elements, etc through novels).
  • Do writing projects with all of the kids.
  • Do Friday free-writes.
  • Continue with my plans to do nature journaling, read Shakespeare, do art appreciation, and do read-alouds.  A lot of this will happen during morning time.
  • Do poetry tea time every Friday (get out the tablecloth, make a breakfast treat, have hot chocolate and/or tea, and allow the kids to choose their own poetry to read).  I showed Levi the video about this and he is so excited!  I have so many poetry books that we haven’t been reading.

If I can’t implement all of these all the time, that’s okay.  It’s just a guide.  She even says that sometimes she goes months without implementing some of these things.

I’m learning to be okay when they aren’t “perfect” at things because NO ONE IS PERFECT.  And small kids shouldn’t be expected to do things that aren’t developmentally appropriate for them.  Also, writing comes easy for some people and not for others.  That’s normal.

Rigor doesn’t equal right.  Rigor isn’t my personality and it’s not the personality of my kids.  Sarah McKenzie talks about this in her book Teaching From Rest.  I have learned a TON through that book as well (read twice and listened to 3 times)!  There are tons of videos on YouTube about it, and I suggest watching the 3 part Teaching From Rest book club!  This is the gist of the book and a great conversation about it.

I feel like I can take a deep breath and just enjoy being home with my kids educating them!

Most of what I’m adopting for our family is the Charlotte Mason method of education (along with a little bit of classical).  I am at such peace and “in love” with where I have landed!

Here are some pictures of The Good and the Beautiful:

Here are some pictures of Brave Writer:

I can’t wait to get started!

Now, For Curriculum We Will Use…

…MOST things I already have!  I ordered a few things (some used).  And I’m borrowing several things from my neighbor!  I am set for the year!

Morning Time

I haven’t been super consistent with this in the past, but I’m going to try again :-).  I have so many great resources that I want to use!  I will do this on a loop schedule.  Literature and poetry, fine arts, geography, and Bible.

Geography

Bible

Math (Math U See)

For the boys

For Karis

Language Arts

They will be doing The Good and the Beautiful for phonics, reading, grammar, spelling, art appreciation, and geography (levels 2 and up).  The boys are starting with level 1, and Karis will be starting with level 3 because it’s very advanced.  They need the spelling and grammar from the lower levels.

 

 

Karis will be doing IEW Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons.

Ethan and Levi will be doing Writing With Ease Level 2 (this is narration, dictation, and copywork).

All 3 kids will also read novels and library books and do a reading response journal using these:

Reading Response Menus

Informational Text Question Cards

Reading Response Question Cards

I will also use this list of “book reports” to have them report on the books that they read in a creative way.

Here are a few pictures of the reading response questions that we will use:

This is a rubric to go with the menus.

 

Science (Apologia Astronomy)

I had this for this past year but I wasn’t consistent with it.  We’re going to use it this coming year.  We will add field trips to it!  The McDonald Observatory, the Scobee Education Center Planetarium, and NASA.  It’s going to be so much fun!

History

We’re borrowing Story of the World Volume One: Ancient Times from my neighbor.

I bought these to go with it.  The encyclopedia has internet links to go with it.

These will be our read alouds… one per month.

Handwriting (Handwriting Without Tears)

For Levi

For Ethan

For Karis

Nature Studies and Poetry Memorization

Journaling a Year in Nature by Simply Charlotte Mason

I think this is everything :-).  It seems like a lot, but many things we will not do everyday.

This Week in the Crosland Homeschool + IEW Writing

This week has been a productive one.  Karis now starts school at 9:00, takes a break at noon for lunch, gets back to work at 12:30, and finishes at about 1:30/2:00.  So that’s about 4- 4 1/2 hours of school work per day.  She’s being challenged in new ways, and I’m thankful that she hasn’t complained too much.

Reading

We started this week reading Esperanza Rising and she hated it.  She dreaded reading time (not at all like her).  So, I decided to let her finish the week reading what she wanted and using the reading menu to respond to it.  She has to write 3-5 sentences.  She’s usually pretty good at responding to novels.

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I started reading while she reads.  We sit on the porch and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Science

For science we studied Venus.  We read and took notes; she answered questions, did copywork (cursive), and did a crossword with vocabulary.  We were going to do the project but we needed newspaper and didn’t have any, so we will wait till we go to the store Sunday.

Spelling

She is working through 5th grade spelling menus through the end of this year (we will start Spelling Workout in the fall).  She seems to enjoy this.  It gives her some choice.

Math

We’re moving through this math pretty quickly so far, but it will slow down in a few lessons when long division is introduced.  Like I’ve said before, I started her behind so that she could learn things well that she never really understood. So we’re moving quickly through it and will continue through the summer.  The goal is to get to the next level in the fall (which may or may not happen), and it’s still a “grade level behind.”  But I really want her to understand!  I feel like with working through the summers she will eventually get caught up!

Grammar

She’s working on prepositions still, and will be doing review next week.  We have worked on prepositions for several weeks.  I love Easy Grammar!  LOTS of review and it digs deep!

We also use Khan Academy to teach some concepts. She loves that.  It also really helps her understand on a deeper level.

History

We haven’t done history the past few weeks because I wanted to save it for if we brought the boys home.  But since we decided not to, we will pick it back up next week.

I ordered this Usborne Encyclopedia of World History to go with it!


Writing

Now on to writing… I am so happy with what we are doing.  It has been a game changer for her.  She has always hated writing… she dreaded it.  She struggled with coming up with anything to write.  It brought on tears every time.  Then I found out that she didn’t really do writing at school, which made her further behind.

We started this year trying out some units that I bought on Teachers Pay Teachers but she had tears about it immediately.  Then we tried the writing that my neighbor uses (Writing with Ease), and tears again.  Now, I don’t think she’s going to like everything that we do, but it’s different if she is super anxious and in tears.  And since I can change things, I feel like it’s my job to help her be her best.

A few weeks ago I bought the online streaming course of Teaching with Structure and Style.  It worked the first day I bought it, but it wouldn’t work anytime after.  I’m not sure why.  I chatted with them online and they told me that they could send me the DVD’s for the price of the online streaming course.  That’s a $60 difference!  And the online streaming only lasts a year; the DVD’s are forever.

I received them yesterday!  It was like Christmas!

I have watched a few of the videos and so far it was just review for me (I actually watched all of the DVDs a few years ago when I taught at a private classical school, but I only used it for the first 3 out of 9 units and I forgot most of it).  We are working very closely within the second unit for a while to get a good grasp of the concept.

The way it works (for unit 1-2) is you take a passage (could be fiction or non-fiction) and make a keyword outline using 3 words or less for each sentence.  Numbers and symbols are free.  So far she hasn’t used any numbers or symbols… just words.

She then writes the paragraph(s) from the keyword outline (unit 2 starts the writing).  Next, she revises and edits.  Then she publishes by typing it out.  For now, we do everything together (well, she does the keyword outline by herself and she tells me what to write).  Eventually the goal is to get her to do everything on her own, but the founder of the program says you can’t help too much.  So I’m helping her a ton.  Through this, I’m building her confidence to be able to be successful at it on her own.

For the first time ever, she says that she likes writing.  We have tried almost everything out there!  Writeshop, Writing with Ease, units on Teachers Pay Teachers, Classical Academic Press, and Essentials in Writing.

Pretty much everything else was too open-ended for her.  She needed something to tell her what to write (to start out).

Now through the summer we will be doing units 2-4.

Then starting in September we will be using Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons.  There are some units that don’t have much practice in this book so I will add various source texts to expand.

Over time, the goal is to get her to be able to write original works.  Next fall she will write from a story, a one source research paragraph, writing from pictures, multi-source research paper, creative (inventive) writing, essay, and finally literary analysis.  It’s a long process.

Another part of this program is that the students use “stylistic techniques.”  The first ones that we are using are called “dress-ups.”  Right now the dress ups that we’re using are an -ly adverb and a because clause.  They are starting to get easy for her, so we will move on to another one soon.

Other techniques include using figurative language, sensory words, creative sentence openers, etc.

He teaches that everything is about process and not product.  The dress-ups are to learn and practice a technical skill to become a better writer.  For a long time, she will have to include all dress ups in every paragraph.  Once I feel that she has them down, she can start using them as she wishes.

He also says that the writing will be awkward at first, and that’s normal until they get the skills down.

I feel like I’ve finally figured out all of the curriculum that I want to do and feel confident in my decisions.  She’s thriving for the first time ever, really (it’s at least been several years).  The last time I homeschooled her I was still trying to figure out curriculum.  Now I’m just investing in what we’re using!

Reading Comprehension and Digging Deeper

I’ve mentioned before that Karis is on an 8th grade reading level (at least she was when she left school in March).

She loves reading and that’s fantastic, but I want her to think critically and dig deep into the books.  I also want to expand her vocabulary.

I have so many ways for her to do that!

Teachers Pay Teachers has so many fantastic novel studies.  I love The Book Umbrella the most!

Starting next week she will be doing a novel study on Ella Enchanted (we have this book from the library).


In addition to novel studies, I will have her use different forms of reading response questions to answer in her reading response journal.  These will be on books of her choice.  She has to answer them in a paragraph with text evidence (4-6 sentences).

I will also have her read some non-fiction/informational books and respond to those.

We will learn about figurative language.

We will use reading menus with prompts and a rubric to grade.

And lastly I will teach skills and strategies and have her respond to them using a sentence starter (also in a paragraph).  These are a few examples:

I will use this rubric to grade all reading response:

The books that I will be having her study are on my homeschooling page above.     In addition to the books that I will have her study, I will give her plenty of time to read for enjoyment.  We will study one novel a month along with one novel to go with our history, and the rest will be books of her own choosing.

Comprehension Skill: Making Inferences

Earlier, I wrote a post about comprehension strategies and skills… the differences and similarities and a list of each.

Next week I will be focusing on the comprehension skill of making inferences (also known as inferring or inferencing).

In simple terms, this is the text evidence plus background knowledge.

TE + BK = I

When an inference is made, it may or may not be answered.  This is different from a prediction because this is a guess that will eventually be answered. A prediction is also a continuation of sequence… what will happen next.  An inference focuses on characters’ feelings, why things happened, and what is happening.  This is what the author did not tell you: “reading between the lines.”  Inferences are constantly made while reading and in life but people don’t put a word to it usually.

Yesterday, I created an anchor chart with sentence starters for her to us to respond to her reading in a paragraph in her reading response journal.

The first book that I will use is actually a book with no words.  I love this book.  It is a “story” from the underground railroad.  There is a background of this in the back of the book that I will read to her first (we haven’t really studied this yet).  Through a series of pictures, we figure out that this girl helps a black person in the underground railroad.  It takes a while to come to this understanding.  Lots of inferences are made throughout.

How Many Days to America is the story of a group of families that escapes the Caribbean to find safety in America.  This book would also be great for making connections because of what is going on in the world.  I love this book so much.  Inferences can be made throughout for understanding of the text.

Cheyenne Again is about a Native American boy that is taken from his family and made to become like the white people.  This book is also great for teaching theme, which I will do eventually.

Smoky Night is about a family (single mom and her son) in the midst of riots in California.

Notice that 3 out of 4 of these picture books are Eve Bunting books.  She is my favorite children’s author.  She writes about the “hard stuff.”

After the lesson is taught using the picture book, Karis will spend about 30-45 minutes reading Esperanza Rising and she will use sticky notes to mark the inferences that she made.  She will then use the sentence starters to write a paragraph about the inferences that she made.  Esperanza Rising is about a family that is taken from luxury in Mexico to working on a farm in the United States.  It relates well to the picture books that I read throughout the week.

We will also use Esperanza Rising for dictation and copywork as well as to teach some grammar and vocabulary through it using Bravewriter’s The Arrow lessons.

Teaching Comprehension Skills and Strategies Using Mentor Texts

When I taught, we dug deep into books using different comprehension skills and strategies.  While Karis is almost in 6th grade and she reads on an 8th grade level, I would like for her to dig deeper into the novels that she reads.  Using mentor texts (picture books) really helps bring understanding to the text.  I have about 60 mentor texts labeled with each strategy or skill that I plan to teach.

Along with mentor texts, I will be using a resource that I bought on Teachers Pay Teachers which has sentence starters for every skill and strategy.  I was so happy to find this because it’s less work for me!

A Comprehension Strategy is what readers do to solve a problem while reading.

These are:

  • Making connections: text to text, text to self, text to world, and text to media
  • Predictions: what you think will happen next; a continuation of sequence
  • Visualizing: making a picture in your mind of the text
  • Summarizing: most important facts; usually includes setting, characters, problem, and solution
  • Asking questions: who, what, when, where, why, how
  • Monitor and clarify: checking your understanding throughout

A Comprehension Skill is what readers do to understand the text.

These are:

  • Compare and contrast: what is the same and different
  • Sequencing: First, Then, Next, Finally
  • Cause and Effect: What happens and why it happens
  • Fact and Opinion
  • Making inferences: background knowledge plus text evidence (clues); may or may not be answered; feelings of characters, why things happened, what happened
  • Author’s Purpose: To entertain, to inform, to persuade

Over time, I will be writing posts on each strategy and skill and what specific books I will use to teach it.

Coming Up: Week of 3/27-3/31

This coming week we won’t be doing school Monday because we will be in town most of the day, and Tuesday we will be in town in the morning so we will do just the basics.

Morning time will consist of:

Bible 

Bible study Genesis chapters 5-6 and mom/daughter devotional.

Shakespeare

Learning about William Shakespeare

Fine arts 

Artist study: Getting to Know the World’s Greatest ArtistsPablo Picasso

Geography

For geography we will be studying the continent of Africa.

We will spend 5-20 minutes on each.

 

For spelling we will do All About Spelling Level 2, Step 1: Review.  This reviews what was taught in Level 1, which we did not do.  This step is very necessary to move forward.  We will not use letter tiles like the lessons state because that would just drive her crazy!  We’ll do everything in a composition notebook.

For reading she will read The Devil’s Arithmetic chapters 1-3, do vocabulary, and answer questions.  I love these units!  I have so many more coming up!

I will also have her read something of her choosing for independent reading time (3 chapters will take her like 15 minutes… she loves to read so she’ll need more).

For writing we will do Week 2 of Writing with Ease Level 4.  The excerpts to narrate and dictations are from A Little History of the World by EH Gombrich.

Math will be Math U See Delta, lesson 1 A-F and Test (we are moving through this fast because I went backwards to fill in some gaps). Tuesday she will do A & B, Wednesday C & D, Thursday E & F, and Friday will be the test.

Grammar will be Easy Grammar 6 and Daily Grams 6.  I haven’t received these yet so I don’t know what it covers.  We’ll just go in order.

Art will be creating art like Picasso.

Science will be Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy Lesson 3: Mercury.  We will receive her notebooking journal from Rainbow Resource on Monday.  We will study lesson 3 for 2 weeks since we only have 3 days this coming week.

History will be Story of the World chapter 2: “Egyptians Lived on the Nile River.”