Yes, I am still in the mode of reflecting over the past school year. Reflecting on the past, in order to move into the future. In doing so, I asked myself the question…
What most helped learning happen this year?
There were some curriculum choices that were just fine and worked well, but I feel that we could have made a different choice without consequence. The more I thought, the more I found specific choices that were a critical part of our school year.
The short of it…here are the 5 things (in no certain order) for which I am thankful that we found. I am thankful both for the sake of my sanity and for the sake of my kids learning and success.
#1 – Easy Peasy Curriculum
This is a free online curriculum found at www.allinonehomeschool.com. And I must say, that it is a very full curriculum with a lot to offer. To be honest, I was very leery at first because it is free! Not the best mindset, but there you have it. Having a small budget, and finally getting so tired of searching and searching for curriculum that I fell in love with but couldn’t afford, I turned to Easy Peasy.
There are so many subjects available, I didn’t want to get overwhelmed. So I simply started Builder on the math course and to my surprise, he loved it. It was a nice blend of computer game practice, video learning, and worksheet practice. It had a great amount of review with a good balance of moving forward. Builder is so natural with numbers that he found himself skipping days here-and-there, but the layout of this curriculum made it no big deal to do so.
Builder also used the Easy Peasy History curriculum to study World War II. And though we didn’t cover the entire Modern History unit, using just the lessons for WWII worked perfectly for us. This also allowed us to pull in some fun lessons from other places without feeling like we were out of line with the flow of learning.
I was also surprised when Princess saw the math that Builder was doing and requested to start using Easy Peasy as well. She started in the Math – 1 level and has not looked back. She has made more progress than I expected and loves to see that she is moving through each day. It has given her a sense of accomplishment to see how many days she has completed. We will definitely be continuing with this next year.
#2 – Art for Kids Hub
In an attempt to bring in art to our school day, we started drawing an animal each day that went along with the abc’s…a-alligator, b-bat, c-cat, etc. During this process, I would search each day to find a “How-to” step-by-step drawing guide for that day’s animal. In doing this, we ran across the website www.artforkidshub.com. We fell in love.
Rob, is a really fun guy who leads you step-by-step through how to draw your chosen picture. His directions were so easy to follow that we could all join in. He is very encouraging and the way he teaches clicked with us immediately. In fact, because of his videos, art went from being a one day a week subject to every day, per my kids request!
A side note – the more Builder participated in the art videos, the better his handwriting became! He had always struggled with handwriting; I believe the art videos gave him the confidence and physical practice of the necessary motor skills to help his writing improve. Great benefit to art!
#3 – Ready2Read
This curriculum was imperative for my daughter. She does not like to make mistakes, and therefore very often won’t try something new. Reading has been one of the places I have seen this happen. Because she just wants to know it, she will not take the time to sound out the words, even though she is very capable of doing so. When starting down the path of teaching her to read, the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons was my natural place to start. This worked so well for Builder, but not so much for Princess.
Then one day, I happened upon Ready2Read by The Moffatt Girls. It was perfect. There were so many hands-on reading activities that Princess was very drawn to it simply because she got to “color or play”. A year later, she is well on her way to reading small sight word books.
In Level 1 of the Ready2Read curriculum, one of the main activities is to build a word garden scene using the word families that she was learning. This was such a highlight for her because she was able to create a beautiful garden scene, and I think the fact that she had control over where to place the pieces in her garden satisfied her creative side.
#4 – Mystery Science
This one is a family favorite. The lessons are very well done, very thorough, and always interest my kids. I tend to be frugal when it comes to curriculum, activities, and lessons. Mystery Science is one of those choices that I will pay for each year. It makes my life so easy when it comes to science.
Doug, leads you through a story/lesson portion and then has an experiment to go along with what is being taught. The activity prep leads you through everything you need to do beforehand, during, and after the lesson. It just made my life easier!
Toward the end of the year, Builder actually began to start the lesson videos on his own. He knew that Doug would lead him through the lesson, tell him the materials he needed to gather, and then lead him through the experiments. I would peek a day/couple days before to make sure we had on hand what was needed, and then Builder was able to work it himself. I love the movement toward autonimous learning!
#5 – Chloe and the Nurb
Princess wants to be a doctor. She is so interested in how the body works from the inside to the outside, top to bottom (pun intended!). One of the science lessons on the Easy Peasy curriculum, led us to a Chloe and the Nurb video. She watched one and was hooked. And can I tell you, we have all learned so much! These videos are so fun and informative. They can be found on YouTube and they are a part of KidsHealth.org. I found the easiest way to find the videos was to go to YouTube and simply search for Chloe and the Nurb, (though they can be found on the KidsHealth.org link).
Princess will watch these videos over and over and over. And then, over again. You know what? I am so good with that, because randomly throughout the day she will explain to me something that she has learned. One of us will do something, and she will let us know how that worked, what our body did to make that happen. So cool.
We will continue to watch these, over and over and over…and over. You get the the point.
So there you have it. My top 5, from this year, that I am so thankful we found. I am excited to see what next year’s top 5 will be!
And You? ~ What are some of your top picks from this past school year?