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Our Curriculum This Year

The students at Terrace Hill Academy are crazy!

The students at Terrace Hill Academy are crazy!

School has been in session in our household for almost 3 months now.  We are tending to start a little later in the morning than I would generally like due to my early morning fatigue (thank you, pregnancy).  However, we are learning a lot and having lots of great discussions, and I am really enjoying seeing the academic growth of my children.  The difference between this year at this time and last year at this time is vast.

This year, Terrace Hill Academy has 2 students enrolled:  one in 2nd, one in 3rd.  There are also 2 preschoolers present in the household, making things fun and a bit crazy. One is 3 and is full of life and passion and energy.  The other recently turned 5 and the day he did so, he developped a sudden and avid interest in school.  This child is a fascinating combination of easy-going and totally persistent.  He’ll say, “I’m hungry mommy, can I have a treat?”  I will reply, “No, it is not time for a treat.”  He’ll say, “Ok, mommy.”  A few minutes pass.  He’ll say, “I’m hungry, mommy.  Can I have crackers?”  I’ll answer, “No, honey, it is not time for crackers.”  He’ll reply, “Ok, mommy.”  A few minutes pass.  He’ll say, “I’m hungry mommy.  Can I have a cheese stick?”  Then, unless dinner is minutes away, I finally offer him an apple or a carrot.

So he has been doing this with school.  “I want to do school, mommy.  Is it time for my school yet?” (Repeat this according to his pattern, as described above.)  I can’t resist him for two reasons:  1.  He’s interested!  Let’s not let all that great enthusiasm go to waste!  2.  He will drive me completely mad if I don’t do something to get him to STOP ASKING.

So, these are curriculum choices and academic plans for a 3rd grader, 2nd grader, and a “Transitional Kindergartner” (whose occasional school buddy is the 3 year old preschooler).

Elementary School (2nd & 3rd grades):

Bible– We are reading through the New Testament and will learn 10-12 new hymns  (Transitional Kindergartners and Preschoolers are required to be present at this time)

Phonics and MathLanguage Arts includes phonics, copywork, reading, and literature

      Phonics– We complete one lesson per week in Logic of English D, spending 5-10 minutes to complete one section of the lesson each day  (We finished Logic of English C a few weeks ago).

      Copywork– My 2nd grader and my 3rd grader each select a sentence or passage from our literature, history, or science book, a verse from a poem or hymn, or a passage from the Bible. They may not repeat the genre in the same week, so they are exposed to a variety of different types of works and sentences.  I plan to find some proverbs, quotes, and wise sayings to include in their options.

       Reading– My 2nd and 3rd graders each have an Independent Reading Notebook where they keep a log of the books they read.  We also chart the types of genres they are reading, keep  track of their reading goals and have a place for recording their responses to their reading.  I assign only a very few books for them to read themselves (at this time), and for the most part let them choose what they will read.  We visit our local library weekly and I try to assist or guide their choices a little bit, hoping to whet their appetite for good, living books that are at their reading level.

Reading Notebook

       Literature– I read aloud living chapter books that either correspond to the history we are studying currently or that I think my children would love.

History– We are finishing The Story of the Romans and then will move on after Christmas to The Story of the Middle Ages.  Both of these books are from Nothing New Press and are very interesting and enjoyable to read.  We also supplement with a number of living history biographies and books about specific topics in history.

Science– We finished Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy and have just begun Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Botany.  We will take many (hopefully weekly) nature walks to observe and explore creation firsthand and take special note of the plants that are all around us.  We will also read Seed Babies and Little Wanderers as they correspond with my Boatany lessons.

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Math– My 2nd grader is working her way through Singapore Math 2A and will begin 2B this year.  My 3rd grader completed 2B a couple of weeks ago and is now working his way through 3A.  Playing AnimaLogic is a fun math class reward or enrichment and both my 2nd and 3rd graders enjoy the logic puzzles this game provides.  We are also participating in a monthly Math Group with other homeschoolers in our area who use Singapore Math.  It is a great opportunity for my kids to work with other kids to solve problems and gives them plenty of concrete, hands-on practice with mathematical concepts appropriate for their level since the mom who leads it has SO MANY awesome math manipulatives.

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Extras– The plan is to do Art Study, Composer Study, Poetry, Geography, and Nature Study each weekly.  We are also working our way through Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and François and watching our Whistlefritz Spanish videos.  We also try to spend some time drawing and doing handicrafts.  I’m sporadic at best at arts and craftiness, but I am trying to get better.

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Transitional Kindergarten & Preschool

Letter of the Week– We are focusing on a letter each week, reading quality picture books that highlight that letter and completing a page for a personal alphabet book.  Both Z-urchin (5 year old) and Shortstop (3 year old) participate in this and LOVE it!

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Number Sense– We will be working on understanding number bonds in the numbers to 10 by focusing on a different number each week or two and spending a good amount of time on number bonds of 10.

They are also creating number cards

They are also creating number cards

Extras– Our kids have a blast during our weekly visit to the local children’s museum where we have a membership.  I purchased three games/resources to use with my Transitional Kindergartner: Penguins on Ice, Logik Streetand Miniluk.  Z-urchin absolutely loves these activities- in fact, we all find them fun and intriguing.  I highly recommend these resources!  I am hoping to do some fun sensory and science experiments and activities with my preschool boys this year.  They also watch Leap Frog and Reading Rainbow with our Netflix Streaming subscription.  I love these programs for they are engaging and educational and give me a solid- peaceful- half hour to focus on schooling my older two.

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First Day of School 2015

Today (on the first day of my fifth second trimester!) we started school.  Normally, I like to start earlier in August, but this year (due to being in my fifth first trimester) I just was not ready any earlier.  Thankfully, flexibility is the name of the game in homeschooling.  We roll with life’s seasons.

First Day of School

This year, we have a third grader, a second grader, and two preschoolers… with the new addition arriving in February to give us a little something to look forward to mid-year.

First Day of School Kids

The day started with Bible and singing (our modern hymn, Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery) where I had the two older kids help read the Bible passage.  It is exciting to have them in this reading stage!  There has been so much growth in that area over the last year; it has been exhilerating to witness it.

After the “First Day of School Photos” we all sat down on the couch and I read the first chapter of Winnie the Pooh as our preschool readaloud.  The older kids were not required to be a part of this, but they were drawn by the tale and so we enjoyed some time together.  Princess K was seriously anxious to start school, but the pregnant mommy needed 10 minutes to doze on the couch while all the kids played with blocks and legos on the floor.

Funny First Day of School

When I woke up, Princess K eagerly ran to the schoolroom and I followed her in, letting X-man continue his fun with his little brothers.  K took inventory of her new school supplies and found a letter in her little mailbox.  This letter was written by mommy last night because the Princess could not stop talking about how excited she was to get a letter in her mailbox again, after such a long time of not getting one.  She got the idea that she would get a letter on the first day of school because she got one last year and she is just like her mommy: one single occurence of an activity that is liked is enough to make a tradition.

Anyway, then she and I worked on her math and when X-man wandered in to figure out what we were doing, I sat him down and started him on math as well.  The preschool boys were happily building large constructions out of blocks.

Preschooler's Block Construction

After math, it was snack time.  While their mouths were happily occupied, I read their history lesson (out of Story of the Romans) and we had a truly excellent conversation about plebians and patricians.  They completed a notebooking page and gave wonderful narrations and then it was time for phonics.

X-man's notebook page

 

We had a great time with phonics- we discovered a pattern with the sounds of the letter C.  It is always a delightful part of my day when the kids discover a pattern or idea on their own.  They cried all the way through 7 minutes of cursive handwriting practice since it has been 2  months since their last practice.

K's notebook page

During lunch, I read Mystery of the Roman Ransom, our current literature selection and they loved it.  They begged and begged me to read another chapter.  I resisted and so they will be very motivated for handwriting tomorrow!

Lunchtime at the counter

After quiet time (and another nap for the pregnant woman), we pulled out our chalk pastels and Hodgepodge’s A Simple Start in Chalk Pastels and had a wonderful time exploring the chalk pastel medium.  Princess K had specifically requested “more crafts” when asked what she wanted out of her second grade year (X-man specifically requested “no school”) and I’m so glad I went to effort to make sure we did something craft/artsy on our first day of school.  It was relaxing and fun, a time to be together while working independently.  It was a perfect homeschool moment.

Chalk Pastel Fun

Our Masterpieces

Our Masterpieces

And this was a few weeks ago, when we told the kids the gender of the new baby (blood test to determine gender- among other things- at 11 weeks? Wow!)- X-man was so incredibly happy for his sister getting herself her first and very longed for sister.  And I love the love.

True Sibling Love- shared joy over K finding out she will finally get the sister she's been wanting

True Sibling Love- shared joy over K finding out she will finally get the sister she’s been wanting