Our 2014-2015 Eclectic Curriculum

PLH-Eclectic-Curriculum-Pic

It’s that time again, y’all! Packages have been arriving daily and school supply shopping is underway (woo-hoo!). Our 2014-2015 homeschool year begins next week! I am so looking forward to getting back into the rhythm of our school days – we never did seem to find a good routine for the summer this year – and although he won’t admit it, I know The Boy is looking forward to it, too.

This year is kind of different in that The Boy will be working within multiple grade levels. While he is technically supposed to be in 8th Grade, because of the way he was allowed to fall through the cracks in public school, he was left lacking in certain areas. Thus, we’ve had to step back and start over with entire units and subjects – so we’re more in the 7th and even 6th Grade areas these days. Additionally, because of the drama he experienced at public school, he’s very sensitive about anything to do with learning so I try to take a relaxed approach to things.

Our first week is going to be comprised of half-days, and we’re going to be working on some basic math review as well as study skills and time management with the Victus Study Skills System. This is definitely an area that The Boy needs help with. We are also going to talk about stress-management and work on some relaxation exercises and other self-soothing exercises he can employ throughout the day when he feels himself becoming overexcited.

For Math, we are working with Life of Fred. The Boy enjoyed this curriculum last year, and we will continue with it again this year. Math, in particular, is very stressful for him and Life of Fred is a fun and relaxed way for him to learn the skills he needs. He also has some visual/spatial issues which we are going to address by working with Pentagrid Puzzles, at the same time improving upon his logic skills.

We tried to work with Easy Grammar Plus last year, but it just wasn’t a good fit at the time. This year, we’re going to try something new: Giggles in the Middle: Caught ‘Ya! Grammar with a Giggle for Middle School. I’ve heard great things about the program and while it’s initially designed for the classroom, the author provides instructions for conforming it to a homeschool setting. As with Life of Fred, the living book approach is perfect for the kind of gentle learning The Boy needs right now.

Spelling Power was a huge success for us last year and we are continuing with it this year. The tag line that “this is not a test” really clicked for The Boy and his confidence in spelling (as well as his skill) quickly escalated.

There’s no way to get around writing, which is a very, very weak area for The Boy. We began with Writeshop I last year, but things didn’t go so well there. I’d like to try it again next year, but this year we’re going to work with Beyond the Book Report, Season One. I like that it will add a bit of literature study in there, as an added bonus.

History and Geography is covered with America the Beautiful by Notgrass. It is so not a challenging curriculum, but I’m OK with that for now, because The Boy is a huge history buff and reads a ton of non-fiction historical books throughout the year, in addition to watching numerous documentaries of the same ilk.

Science will be via Elemental Science: Earth Science and Astronomy for the Logic Stage. I was drawn to the fact that this curriculum was also created by a homeschooling mother (as was Spelling Power), and to the emphasis on notebooking, which we have a strong interest in. There are many hands-on experiments, as well, which The Boy is looking forward to.

Reading/Literature Analysis will be covered on many fronts. America the Beautiful by Notgrass has a literature aspect to it, with a group of ten fiction books to be read as accompanying subject matter to the text. Beyond the Book Report, obviously, is geared toward reading and writing. After a lot of thought and research, I have compiled a list of books for The Boy to read throughout the year; this will be accompanied by some of his own selections, as well.

The Boy will be using Typing Instructor Platinum 21 for Keyboarding. He tried TypeKids last year, but despite all the rave reviews I’d read, it was not a good fit for him. I don’t believe it was the program that was the problem; I honestly believe that The Boy was simply having some issues of his own.

I’m not sure how I’m going to work our elective subjects in yet, but we will be working with Home Economics, Art (mostly chalk pastels), Music (mostly SQUILT), Spanish (Rosetta Stone Homeschool), and Crash Course Psychology videos. Anything else of interest that comes up this year, we’ll try to find time to work in – somehow, someway…

Whew! Looking back at all of that, it seems like we’re going to need 10-hour days just to get through it all! And yet I feel like I’m forgetting something essential on my list here… Let me know if so! I know I’m new to this homeschooling gig and all, but I really think that the heart of the matter is just doing what is right for your particular child(ren), no matter what this or that Mom down the street might be doing. If your child is healthy, happy, and learning – well, does anything else really matter?

I hope you’ll take some time in the comments below to share your curriculum choices with me!

 

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Is Math Instruction Unnecessary?

John Bennett is a Math teacher and a homeschooling father of four, as well as an outspoken advocate of educational reform. He supports an unusual proposal: that we cease to require Math instruction in middle and high school. He explains why in the video below.

John is the creator of Pentagrid Puzzles, a new puzzle form he designed to challenge deductive logic and visual-spatial reasoning (you can purchase Volume I here). He has also created several other BrainGames, for which he provides instructions on his blog.

While I am certainly not going to go so far as to cut out math instruction from our homeschool curriculum, I do plan to incorporate Pentagrid Puzzles into The Boy’s math instruction. He struggles with visual-spatial issues, and this will be a great way for him to work on them. Not to mention, it shouldn’t be hard to convince him to work on Math when it involves fun games!

What do you think about John Bennett’s supposition that Math instruction is unnecessary?

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Library Love, Junior Edition: April 7, 2014

library-love-crayon

Library Love is a recurring post in which we share our bounty from the public library.

 

 

It’s been a while since The Boy and I spent some quality time at the library; last week we made up for lost time. We spent a few hours there reading and working on schoolwork, and searching for some good reads for him to get into during Reading Time. Confession Time: I’ve been letting him get off easy for Reading Time lately. He’s mostly been reading copies of Guinness World Records for 2011, 2013, and 2014 over and over (don’t know what happened to 2012; got lost somewhere in the Nether, maybe). The Boy is a true lover of trivia, fo sho! Late Winter is an easy time to get lazy in homeschooling and reading is one of the areas that I let slip. No more, friends! We’re back on track and raring to go! Here’s a look at what we found:

Most of these have been on my TBR list for The Boy for a while now, and then he found a cute little book about Shelties (our Ruby is a Sheltie) – I don’t think Smarty-Pants Sheltie is going to be great literature, but at least he’s reading, right? I chose The Lions of Little Rock for him because he is quite a champion for the people and I know he will be caught up in the passion and fervor of this story of the children who attended the first desegregated schools in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1958. Likewise, for our Read-Aloud Time, together we will read To Kill a Mockingbird – I’ve never read it, either, so I’m looking forward to that one, as well. April is National Poetry Month, and in honor of that we’ll be reading two books written in the form of poetry – Love that Dog and Hate That Cat. They’re both short and sweet, and I think a great way to keep The Boy’s attention while studying poetry. It’s going to be a great couple of weeks of reading for the two of us and we can’t wait to share with you how it goes!

What have your kids been reading these days?

 

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Weekly Review – November 17, 2013

Hamster

Meet The Boy’s new dwarf hamster. The Boy found it for free on Craigslist, because his Pathologically Literate Momma forgot to use the parental controls to block that particular site. Thus, we are now a family of five: Moi, The Boy, Poppie, Ruby, and… Hammy. His original owner called him It. The Boy promptly named him Bob but shortly thereafter changed it to Hairy Larry. Despite these lovely monikers, all we call the little fella is Hammy, so we finally made it official. Hammy it is. That was pretty much the highlight of our week, other than a couple of trips to the public library. The Boy got to meet with his former mentor through the public schools, which was exciting for him – he had really missed Mr. Johnson, an 84-year-old grandfather who volunteers with the schools. He has agreed to continue his mentoring relationship with The Boy while we homeschool – that was great news. We, of course, had a double sleepover on Friday and Saturday – I try to let The Boy see his school friends as much as possible now that he doesn’t see them during the weekdays anymore. The funny thing is that they are all super envious of him – they want in on the homeschool action, too! All right, y’all, enough blabbing, let’s get down to business. Here’s what I got up to last week:

Books I read this week:

Posts from the week of November 10th:

Upcoming posts for the week of November 18th:

I have to say that Bullying Under Attack truly affected me. The teens who courageously told their stories did such a fantastic job, and it really hit home for me. Keep an eye out for my review on this one. A Grown-up Kind of Pretty was absolutely fabulous! It was the Joshilyn Jackson novel I’ve been looking for – I knew she had it in her! Songs of Willow Frost and Ramadan Sky were good stories, but fell just a little short for me. Disappointing, I’ll have to say. I was engrossed in Devil in the Grove for two days without accomplishing much else – it was absolutely fascinating. The plight of African-Americans during the Jim Crow era and the Civil Rights era has always broken my heart, and the story of the Groveland Boys, one that somehow has escaped most history books, is one that needed to be told – while it was difficult to read (as in upsetting at times), I’m so glad I was able to learn more about them.

We’ve got an exciting week ahead of us. We’re starting our new science curriculum, Earth Science & Astronomy for the Logic Stage by Elemental Science. We’re joining a local homeschool co-op, so we can meet other local homeschooling families and join in on some group activities with them. We’re also going to try to fit in another trip to the library! The Boy will also be working on a special project, in which he will be researching… dwarf hamsters! Yes, folks, leave it to me to turn a free Craigslist rodent into a homeschool lesson. I’ll work with anything as long as it interests him, to be honest with you. As for myself, I’ve got some more great books lined up and some of my own Craigslist shopping to do – I’m on the hunt for some bookshelves. Of course, they have to be just right – my OCD commands that it be so… I hope you have a great week – Happy Reading!

What did you read last week? Tell us all about it!

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Library Love, Family Edition – November 15, 2013

librarylovelogo1Library Love is a recurring post in which I share each week’s bounty from the public library.

Well, y’all, we finally made it to the library! Woo-hoo! Not so much of a huge deal for myself, since I already had borrowed several books online (although I did find a couple of good ones while we were there). I had been feeling some major guilt, however, because we hadn’t made a major book-hunting trip for a few weeks, and what kind of a homeschooling mom does that make me? Ay-yi-yi! So, we spent some extra time there. We had a great time hanging out with the bookish folk and reading some of our new books. Here’s what I found:

I’ll say right away that the odds of my actually reading Hush Little Baby are very low. It’s an ebook, but not in Kindle form, which means I can only read it on my iPhone or on The Boy’s tablet. Ha, ha, ha, ha! The Boy’s tablet! Whoo! That was a funny one. Like he’d actually allow me to touch it. OK, so we’re down to my iPhone. Which is tres annoying. So. There you go. I’ve been wanting to read Gods in Alabama for ages, and am excited to finally get down to it. Hopefully it will live up to my expectations, which have been raised quite high since reading A Grown-up Kind of Pretty – Joshilyn Jackson better step up on this one, I’ll tell you what. I’m also so, so, so excited to read Josh Hanagarne’s memoir, The World’s Strongest Librarian. I’ve only had the chance to read Hanagarne’s blog a couple of times in the past, but I’m very interested in learning about his experience with Tourette’s Syndrome – something that The Boy struggles with, himself.

Now, as I mentioned, we hadn’t been to the library for a couple of weeks, so The Boy was veeerrry excited to be there. I had reserved three books ahead of time for our read-aloud time together, but he went to work hunting down some books of his own. He’s very interested in all things military these days, so he found a few books in that flavor. Apparently, he also has a hankering to learn how to draw, and found some how-to books to help him on that end. The Boy gets his artistic talents from his Pathologically Literate Momma – which basically means that neither one of us can draw much more than stick figures and smiley faces. So, hopefully his book selections on that front will be of assistance. I wish him luck… And without further ado, here’s a look at The Boy’s haul:

I personally reserved the Mountain trilogy by Jean Craighead George for The Boy and I to read during our read-aloud time together each day. I thought it was sweet that he searched out The Outsiders – apparently they had just started reading it while he was still in public school, but he never had a chance to finish it before he came home to be homeschooled, and it has been on his mind ever since. Oh, that’s such a great book! I also borrowed Everybody Sees the Ants online – we’re currently using that for our read-aloud selection. Of course, there’s a Guinness World Records book in there – The Boy loooves his trivia. I’ll have to buy him his own copy for Christmas – he will read that thing over, and over, and over again. He has become his own walking book of trivia by this point, I swear.

We had such a great time lounging amongst the books earlier in the week, that we’re going back again today! The Boy is meeting his mentor there, after which we will spend some time relaxing and reading, and just soaking up the general bookiness of the place. It’s going to be a great time! Before I sign off, folks, I wanted to give you a heads up to keep an eye out for the Sunday Review in two days – we’ll be introducing the newest member of our little family!

When was the last time you visited the library? We’d love to hear what you found there!

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Review: King and Maxwell by David Baldacci

King & MaxwellDavid Baldacci brings back Sean King and Michelle Maxwell-former Secret Service agents turned private investigators, featured in the hit TNT TV series King & Maxwell-in their most surprising, personal, and dangerous case ever . . .
KING AND MAXWELL
It seems at first like a simple, tragic story. Tyler Wingo, a teenage boy, learns the awful news that his father, a soldier, was killed in action in Afghanistan. Then the extraordinary happens: Tyler receives a communication from his father . . . after his supposed death.
Tyler hires Sean and Michelle to solve the mystery surrounding his father. But their investigation quickly leads to deeper, more troubling questions. Could Tyler’s father really still be alive? What was his true mission? Could Tyler be the next target?
Sean and Michelle soon realize that they’ve stumbled on to something bigger and more treacherous than anyone could have imagined. And as their hunt for the truth leads them relentlessly to the highest levels of power and to uncovering the most clandestine of secrets, Sean and Michelle are determined to help and protect Tyler–though they may pay for it with their lives.” – Goodreads

OK, y’all, let’s get this party started. I’m just going to come right out and say that I think it is just a tad bit cheesy that the sixth installment of the Sean King and Michelle Maxwell series by David Baldacci, titled King and Maxwell, has the same name as the “hit TNT series King & Maxwell” – which is, of course, based on said literary series. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m hooked on this series – the book series, that is. It is one of my “guilty pleasure” series, as in, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit I read them, and they’re so formulaic and easy to predict but oh-so-good that I just can’t pass them up! But let’s talk a little bit more about this book vs. TV show dilemma we’ve got going on here.

Now, I happened to notice that the “witty repartee” between dear Sean and Michelle happened to be somewhat wittier than ever before. So witty, in fact, some of the scenes would make, shall we say, a great scene for… a TV show, perhaps? Now, maybe Baldacci perked things up to go along with his spiffy new TV series or not (I suspect YES), but the final determinant for me will be finding out whether or not an episode of the show is based on this particular novel. I shall have a teensy bit to say if that is to happen. Although, perhaps it already has… oh, now I have to go search the interwebz for past episodes of King and Maxwell, the TV show, to find out if this is a conspiracy after all, or not. Oh, the suspense… the drama… I can hardly take it!

Now. With the exception of the spiffed-up-for-TV dialogue, King and Maxwell is a pretty good read. It is not necessarily a realistic or even completely logical plot, but it is still a good read. Basically, Sam disappears while on a mission in Afghanistan. His teen son, Tyler, hires Sean and Michelle to find out what happened, because those Army bigwigs, well, they just don’t sound to him like they’re on the up and up. Partially because their stories keep changing, but mainly because Tyler received an email from his dad over a day after he supposedly bit the big one. Well. The government does not like King and Maxwell on this case. Nor does another vested party who stands in the shadows, waiting to hatch his evil plan (which, y’all, really just didn’t seem all that excitingly evil once it happened, if you ask me). Much chaos, car chasing, and gunfire ensues, along with the reappearance of a past friend to join in on the fray. Oh, yes, and don’t forget that witty repartee I mentioned earlier. That’s there in the mix, as well.

So, is King and Maxwell the best novel in the King and Maxwell series? Ummmm…. no. Probably not the second best, either. The plot is very loosely cobbled together (kind of like in, say, a TV show). But it works. It makes for a pleasant, yet still exciting read. And, most importantly, it gives us King and Maxwell fans our fix. Now we just have to wait for the next one. Oh, wait – will the TV series ruin that whole plan, now? Stupid TV. I’ll tell you what, friends, you should just go in your family room right now, pick up your TV and throw it out the window. Seriously. Read a book or play with your kids or call a friend instead. Since we started homeschooling the only TV we’ve watched was one documentary for a school assignment. That’s in 2 1/2 months, folks. Don’t miss it at all (although I do understand that Long Island Medium has been recording on my DVR… I might be just a leeetle tempted).

King and Maxwell by David Baldacci is available for purchase on November 19, 2013. Buy it. Read it. Love it.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Grand Central Publishing {via NetGalley}

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Weekly Review – Sunday, November 10, 2013

I don’t know, y’all, it was really kind of a “blah” week… We didn’t get a lot done in homeschool, we didn’t get a lot done around the house, I never made it to the grocery store as planned, and we didn’t make it to the library, either. Bad, bad mommy in the Pathologically Literate Household this week! Oh! I did order new science books and an experiment kit for The Boy – the curricula we had originally purchased just wasn’t working out for us, so we found a great new one by Elemental Science (Earth Science & Astronomy for the Logic Stage) that we’re really excited about! The experiment kit came on Friday and the books will come on Monday… woo-hoo! Oh, and on Tuesday, we have another package coming with another component of our schoolroom design plan… someday it will be complete and I will show you before and after pics – aren’t you just quivering with anticipation?! Yeah, I thought so. I love getting packages in the mail – this time of year is so fun because we tend to get more due to purchasing gifts online. The anticipation of opening those little brown packages is so exciting – even if I know what’s already in there. As you can see, I’m very easy to please. It’s the simple things. Speaking of simple, I read some simply great books this week:

Books I read this week:

Posts from the week of November 3rd:

Upcoming posts for the week of November 11th:

  • Library Love, Family Edition
  • Review: King and Maxwell by David Baldacci
  • …and more!

Yes, I know. I only read three books. For having such a slow week with everything else, I sure was off my reading game, wasn’t I? Blech. Anyway, Burial Rites was sooooo good! And A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty is my absolute favorite Joshilyn Jackson novel to date! It was so wonderful. King and Maxwell was good – they always are – but, well… I guess you’ll have to wait for my review to find out what my thoughts are on that one. I have a few. Thoughts, that is. About the book. And other things, of course. I know you can’t wait to hear them, so be on the lookout for that review very soon!

What did you read this week?

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