Monday, August 3, 2009

Homeschool Plan* - Part I

*Management reserves the right to change plan at any time. Without notice.

For the past several years, my Spring and Summer has had an element of the unknown. But usually right before our school year all just falls into place. And this year has been no exception.

For the most part...I thought I knew what I wanted. Except for Science. We have been using the Noeo science program for the past three years. I have been rather pleased. But for this year. Because it's 6th grade. And Middle school. I really think we need to step things up. And the demands on her with Noeo were just not enough. Also, I really wanted a seperate program for Earth Science/Astronomy which Noeo does not offer.

After some research...and recommendations. I went on a grand adventure to find the Prentice Hall Science Explorers series. The Prentice hall website is obviously not geared towards homeschoolers. Who want to see example pages. Table of contents. Access to teacher information. friend Karen and I went to the textbook warehouse. (We may or may not have left the party hats at home) A one and a half hour drive. Where we were so close to Alabama that our cell phones couldn't decide what time it was.

The warehouse is a wow. It's old. Early 1900's I believe. With original hardwood floors. It's huge. Dusty. And overwhelming.One cannot browse the warehouse. Because there is no rhyme or reason to the stacks. Well, except for the owner. He knows where everything is. And he knows the content. Including the differences - or lack thereof - between editions.

So, when I asked to see the Prentice Hall book...he brought one to me. And a Holt. And a Glencoe. Because content wise, they are all the same. (and after checking it out...they are all the same!) So, what I really needed to judge was the presentation. And after much flipping. Comparing. Contrasting. I settled on the Holt. It has a great lab section in the back. The teacher's guide has lots of interdisciplinary notes. And I got all the teacher's resource materials (tests, critical thinking exercises, lab notes, games, and lots of other things I'll never use). For a FABULOUS price.

So...while I was sitting there. Flipping. Comparing. Contrasting. I asked Kemper (owner extraordinaire) if he had a CULTURAL Geography curriculum. Trust me. This is an ellusive item. Most geography books are physically or politically bent. But. Wonder of wonders. Kemper had just the solution. A book that actually combines all three elements.

This past year, Geography was new to our plan. And we didn't use a text book at all. We went to the library. Katie picked a country. And she read about that country all week. Some countries we spent a lot of time on. I think we spent over a month on India. We read about the culture. We might have read traditional stories. Researched the religions. We might have cooked. Or gone to festivals. It was Katie's favorite subject last year. So...why was I messing with what works? I have no idea.

But. I like the idea of having a spine as a launching point. And now we can cover a few more aspects. My plan is to make this book last for the next three years of Middle school. And hopefully we will conquer the globe.

The main reason that Karen wanted to go was to find a good grammar text. Last year, we did not really do grammar. I had her work out of a workbook called Daily Grams twice a week, just to keep her fresh. But, with her taking Latin. For four years. And the amazing foundation she had in first and second grade with First Language Lessons. She really didn't need a seperate program.

So, I got the student and teacher book. It is an 8th grade text. And I really like the way that it covers a grammar lesson. And then it switches to a writing exercise to focus on that concept. I am not sure how much we will use this. But it will be a great resource. And I imagine that I may use it in the Latin class that I teach. Because I constantly have to reinforce English grammar rules.

So...what about you? Do you have a favorite science subject? Country that fascinates you? Do you know another language?

(Coming soon: the rest of our plan for the school year; supplemental books; very cool games; posts that send all my regular readers into a 20 year sleep...)

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Elena said...

Man, that warehouse would have been my little-girl-who-wants-to-grow-up-and-be-a-teacher DREAM! (Even with the no rhyme or reason.) I can totally imagine the smell. I love the way text books smell. And I'm with Katie, I think the geography lessons would have been my favorite too. Good luck getting all ready! I can't believe it's that time of year again already.

Tiffany said...

OOOOOO, I so WISH I could have gone to the warehouse with you. It looks and sounds amazing! I cannot wait to see your next post about your upcoming year! The geography book looks incredible although we are currently only 4th and 1st grade. Where are you teaching Latin at? I didn't re-up with LEAD this year since we never made it to one function last year and didn't manage to make it to classes either. We are much closer to Decatur since our move but didn't get around to registering in time.

Jen said...

It sounds like its going to be an awesome school year. I really can't wait for Hayden to start, I know its only kindergarten but its a start of all things school.

Tracy said...

Looks a great year ahead!

Kori said...


Yet, I still love you.

Shannon said...

Favorite science class I've ever had was a geology class in college. It was interesting subject matter... and my prof was very easy on the eyes (if you know what I'm sayin')

But biology? Ick.

And chemistry? Blech.

Russia fascinates me... the history, the culture, the language...

Ruthanne said...

Oh my goodness! That warehouse looks like hours of fun. Did you stop by Starbucks on the way? :D

I can't wait to see your Part II.

Rebecca said...

I have never seen so many books!!!

John Deere Mom said...

I do love the party hats!

angie said...

This almost makes me want to homeschool my kids!

Cultural Geography was one of my favorite classes in college. I'm super interested in how a place influences a culture defines people. If I could go back and redo college, I'd be an anthropology major.

Looks like you picked up some great resources.

Samvach said...

Hello! Do you have any idea what you might be using for high school science classes? I am having trouble finding a homeschool-friendly secular high-school level science text for the big 3 - biology, chemistry, and physics. Do you have any suggestions?

Brandy said...

That warehouse is AHmazing...and even better was the owner. To keep up with all that borders on insane.

Glad he could help you though!

April said...

Wow, that warehouse is amazing! I could spend hours in there!

Gina said...

We are lucky enough to have a "Homeschooling Division" to our school district. That translates to: I don't have to think about it. I meet with our advisor once a month and anytime I need anything, I just call or drop in. I swear, I love it. Jesse goes to class one day a week. He takes math, science, and electives there. They take field trips and do other fun stuff.

And I was fluent in Spanish in high school. My third and fourth years, I had a little friend who was PuertoRican. When I was with her or her family, we spoke Spanish. Shew found me at the pool, studying my Spanish.
Now, I am married to a Romanian guy. I have learned a functional amount of Romanian from him- I have even been in the country without him- but at the cost of losing my ability to remember any Spanish. I guess there's only so much room in my old brain. I joke that I know how to mangle three languages!

Darcy @ m3b said...

That warehouse is insanity! Gracious!

Looks like it was totally worth the drive. My "mad warehouse" is Yours looks like much more fun. Party hats and all.


Angie's Spot said...

I love these posts! And that warehouse looked amazing. It kind of makes me wish I had decided to go the homeschool route. Almost. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of the plan!

I don't speak any other languages. I think you know what my favorite country is. LOL!

Robin E. said...

Oh, my. What a field trip for you and Karen!!! I wanna go. Wait, that's the other side of the country from me and I hate driving... Well, maybe not. The photos were cool, however. Thanks for sharing on the Blog Hop. This post was one of the most interesting I've read (so far, I'm on 47 of 114).

argsmommy said...

Wow, and I get overwhelmed (but in a good way) at curriculum fairs -- I can't imagine that warehouse! Thank you for sharing how FLL and Latin gave her such a great background in grammar. Very encouraging!


Anonymous said...

What a warehouse! Good thing the owner knew what he was doing!

Karen said...

I think we should always wear the party hats when we go somewhere together -- and especially if the girls are with us! I can see it now: a series of pics of Kat and Karen in their party hats, with Katie and Claire rolling their eyes!