Thursday, June 23, 2011

Language Arts Decisions and Reviews.

It seems that if you are a homeschooler, this time of year is mainly focused on curriculum decisions, planning, organizing, and hunting for reviews for new products. It's my favorite time of the school year!!Of course, we are using mainly Angelicum Academy for our homeschool. But after having tried out their language arts curriculum for the past 3 years...I just don't like it!!

(Photo from Habits of a Happy Home blog)

Shurley English was not only torture for me to teach, but Marco totally hated it. So we ditched it and switched to Rod and Staff English. It's rigorous and boring, but I actually like that it's straightforward to teach. Marco doesn't like it, but he doesn't hate it either. I like that there's tons of review, which is important for him. Isabella used it this past year and she flew through their 2nd grade book. She loved it! But she's just that kind of student. I plan on using First Language Lessons for Anthony's 1st grade and then jumping into Rod and Staff for him too.

Well, that's grammar. But how did our year go with using Angelicum's recommendation of Hooked on Phonics for phonics instruction? I totally dislike the program, but the kids loved it. In the end, we're ditching this too. The program might get your kids reading, but it completely lacks phonics instructions. There is no explanation of phonics rules and I felt it was more like teaching word families. So in the future, when your child comes across a more difficult word, he won't be able to apply any phonics rules to learn to read it because none were ever taught!! Come on!! Even I remember learning things like "When 2 vowels go a walkin', the first one does the talkin'." HOP consists of watching a video, repeating the words they say, and then reading the same words in the workbook. Not my idea of a solid phonics foundation.


Anyways...we're switching to Saxon Phonics this year (click for a Cathy Duffy review). After reading review after review, I made up my mind and have received Saxon Phonics 1 for Anthony. It looks fabulous!!! It's completely scripted like their Saxon math program, and I love that! It has lots of review, explains all the rules, teaches coding, and comes with manipulatives. We are starting this next week!! I'm even tempted to do Saxon Phonics 2 with Isabella. She completed HOP 2, but I feel that she needs a better grasp of phonics rules.

And although Saxon Phonics covers spelling, we are still continuing with All About Spelling. It really is a great program and Anthony is doing well with it. Marco and Isabella are also moving along and enjoy the program. By the time the kids are done with Saxon and AAS, they are going to have such a great grasp of phonics and spelling!

Did I cover writing?? Well, after much consideration and back-and-forth, I took the plunge and bought the Institute for Excellence in Writing program. The IEW program always looked pretty awesome, but the price always seemed a little steep. But after hearing Andrew Pudewa speak at the homeschool conference, I was completely convinced! I bought the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style set, as well as two of their themed-based writing books: All Things Fun and Fascinating and Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales. To top it off, I'm also starting poetry memorization using IEW's Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization.


Is that all for language arts? I think so. The wonderful thing about homeschooling is finding what works for you and your children. I am completely thankful, however, that there are programs out there that lay out a plan. Most of the thinking is done for you and you know that you won't be missing on any core subjects.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Get Ready For Some Books! Angelicum Sale.


If you are planning on enrolling with Angelicum Academy or just purchasing their lesson plans books...now is the time to do it! They have their summer sale going on until July 5th.

We decided not to enroll this year and will just be purchasing all the lesson plans that we need for the kids. Perhaps when Marco is older and we feel it more necessary to have grading services and support, we'll enroll him again.

For now, I'm getting all our lesson plans in order, our books ordered, and new school materials organized. It's something that I'm sure will take a while to accomplish.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

On Vacation.

It's been a great time bonding with the new baby lately! She is 4 weeks old now and it seems like she's been with us forever! Recently, I've been on vacation (as is obvious by my lack of posts). I first spent some time by myself (but with Evangeline) travelling with friends to the annual IHM Conference in Virginia. It was a great time, although I wasn't too thrilled with the vendor accommodations. It was hard getting around to see all the wonderful Catholic curricula. But I did come away with some gems and have been busy ordering and organizing our books every chance I get, since I've been back.

Soon after I arrived home after a long conference weekend, our best friends came to town for a week. We had a blast! Day trips to museums, parks, and playgrounds were all the kids needed to get away from our usual day to day routines. We also spent some of the week at the Great Wolfe Lodge (highly recommended!!) and camping in our backyard by the fire. We were sad to see our friends go, but are looking forward to our next vacation with them!!

All the kids together for a picture!


Hanging at the Great Wolfe Lodge.


The wave pool was awesome!


Our backyard campsite.