Review – Story of The World – Volume 1

story of the world

This is our second year of using Story of the World Series: by Susan Wise Bauer, at the beginning of this year for my eight and five year old. Here is our review of this Social Studies Series:

Pros

The stories that are in the book are easy to read and are in simple fiction format. Susan takes the time to include important vocabulary, but not at the expense of the understanding of your child. I also like the pictures that are in the textbook. They are kid friendly and point out the important parts of the text.

I love the activity book. Each chapter includes encyclopedia cross references, review questions, narration exercise, additional history reading, corresponding literature, map work, coloring page(s), and project(s). We do the map activity before the beginning of each chapter. This allows my children to understand what region of the world we are learning about. I also use the coloring pages for them to color while I am reading. Sometimes I want to read a little more from the story book and their attention span is just not there yet. They tend to sit a lot longer for me if they are coloring. I love the list of books that correspond with each chapter. We like to go to the library the weekend before a new chapter and get some books that relate to the topic, that we will be reading about in our Story of The World book. Finally, my favorite thing about the activity book is the list of projects. You might be creating a crown when you read about Egypt, a paper coat to resemble Joseph’s colorful coat, or a Mohenjo-Dara dwelling out of clay. My kids love all of the projects that we have made and look forward to them.

I like how the author also talks about creating a time line with your kids. We decided to use all of their coloring pages and maps to create a timeline around our school room. We tape them up along the top of the wall to create a timeline. Some other people use a big cork board and smaller pictures to create their timeline. Whatever method you use, creating a timeline helps your child to visualize what they have learned in Social Studies for the year. I refer to the timeline quite often before we read a new chapter to review what we have learned so far.

I like how the program is created for four years and then you cover the same material, but at a different level. For example, in first grade you start learning about 1,500 B.C. to 400 A.D. Then in second grade you learn about 400 A.D. to 1600 A.D. You continue learning about world history all the way till present day in fourth grade. Then in fifth grade you start to learn about 1,500 B.C. to 400 A.D. but at a higher level. Then in ninth grade, they learn about the same time period but at a much higher level. So by the time that they are in ninth grade, they will have learned about the same time period twice before and will be able to discuss, defend and apply their knowledge in a whole new way.

Cons

The only complaint that I have against this social studies curriculum is that there is a lot of material to cover in one year.

Overall

I highly recommend the Story of The World curriculum for your 1-8 grader. This series is meant to be used with 1-4 graders but, can be used with older kids depending on their level of understanding of ancient history.

 

 

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Choosing Curriculum

curriculum

One of the hardest thing about being a homeschooling parent is choosing from all the curriculum out there. It can be very scary and overwhelming. I am hoping that this blog will help you.

You can start with figuring out how your child learns. They may be a visual or audio learner. Once you have figured out what type of learner they are, then you will be able to choose curriculum with more ease. To figure out what kind of learner your child is check out http://kids.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Learning_Style_Test_for_Children. They have a lot of resources you can use to figure out your child’s learning style.

These are the learning styles that your child may have:

Visual – learn by seeing and reading. They learn best when they can see things, pictures, text, charts and so on.

Auditory – learn by listening and speaking. They learn well with lecture, music, having stories read to them and so on.

Kinesthetic – learn well when they touch or do things. These students excel in hands-on activities.

Some children are a mix of learning styles. They may be a visual learner in math and an auditory learner for reading. Finding out what kind of learner they are can help you to choose which curriculum would be best for them.

I know for myself I also took into account what type of attention ability that they have. My three year old almost four is very active. He loves to learn by doing hands-on activities. When we learn hand writing this coming year I will use hands-on activities such as; drawing in shaving cream, pudding in a baggie or drawing on a big piece of paper. My soon to be 7 year old can only sit for about 20 minutes. So I have learned to give her more breaks. Just take the time to get to know your children and how they learn.

For my first year of homeschooling I did a whole curriculum from one company. Even though this didn’t meet all of my children’s learning styles right away, I learned which subjects worked for each kid. Then I took the subjects that did not work for them and changed it to fit their needs. Buying a whole curriculum from one company the first year saved me the head ache of trying to choose my curriculum from a lot of different resources. It was to overwhelming and I didn’t know enough about homeschooling to make a proper decisions for my kids. Even though I was a public school teacher before; homeschooling was a whole new ball game.

Now that we are going into our second year of school I know what type of curriculum I needed for each child. I did a lot of research and found curriculum that matched each of my children’s needs. I am much more excited about our second year because I feel like I know what I am doing now.

Some of my favorite curriculum so far is:

Story of the World – History

Picture Smart Bible – Bible curriculum

Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool, allinonehomeschool.com – for any subject

Common Core NY State Modules at engageny.org – first grade math

The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise – a book about classical education. It also answers a lot of homeschooling questions that many parents have.

As I use different curriculum this year I will be posting my reviews on each.

I hope that this helps you to choose the right homeschooling curriculum to fit your family’s needs. Remind yourself that you know your kids better than anyone else and that you need to follow your gut feeling as to what is right for your family.

If you have any other questions please feel free to e-mail me at mandy@homeschoolingwomenofgod.com

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Review – Phonics Pathways

phonics pathway

I started using the Phonics Pathways book, this year with my 4 year old son. Here is my review.

Pros

This book is a different way to teach your child how to read. I was taught to teach one short vowel sound a week, to the children and have them learn them at a slow pace. This  book has you teach the kids one new vowel sound a day and then review a lot. I thought that it was a crazy way to teach kids the short vowel sounds, but it worked. My son is 4 years old. He just started learning to recognize the letters in the alphabet 5 months ago. He is now reading CVC words (ex. cat, dog, big).

I like how this book has them learning how to read using hands-on materials. My son does not like to sit still for very long. This book does an excellent job at teaching him how to read in about 10-15 min. a day with hands-on activities. The book is easy to use and there is no set time line. It tells you how to help your child if they are struggling or are farther ahead. It also has fun ways to test your child to see if they are truly learning each new concept that you are teaching them.

I like this book for it’s flexibility. I can play a game or start a new concept when my child is ready. It is not broken up into 180 days or so of learning. It gives me the tools to teach to my child, instead of my child molding himself to the textbook.

phonics pathway contents                                                                             phonics pathways digraphs

Cons

I do not have any.

Overall

Great phonics book to teach your child how to read and beyond. It gives you a lot of flexibility and hands-on activities for your child. I would highly recommend this book.

 

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Review – Math Centers Book for K-6

Take It To Your Seat – Math Centers for K-1

math centers

I bought this book when I was a public school teacher and used it for with my kindergartners and first graders. I now use it with my 4 year old son. Here is my review.

Pros

Each center is very colorful. The directions are included for the centers. Also, each center is self-evaluated, which means that your child can check their answers as soon as they complete the center. This allows you to be free to help other kids who need more help. The centers are fun and easy to assemble. All you need is gallon baggies, bigger paper baggies or another container to put them in. I personally like the gallon Ziploc baggies because, you can close them so that you do not lose any of the pieces. Also, you can store them easier, because they do not take up as much room.

The centers in this book go over such standards as: addition, subtraction, counting, counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s, time, money and more.

Cons

The only con that I have about this book is that the standards are a little to low for the grade levels printed on the front. These standards use to be correct for kindergarten and first grade, now with the new common core standards this book is more for Prek and kindergarten. This company has new math center books, (that I haven’t tried), that has standards that are more up to date with the new common core standards.

Overall

I highly recommend these books as a supplement to any math program. They are a fun hands-on way to learn math. It will also help fill in the gaps when your child has nothing to do, or you need to be helping someone else. These are easy centers that your child will be able to use on their own, pretty quickly.

http://www.evan-moor.com/search?q=take+it+to+your+seat+math – this website allows you to look inside each math center book and see if it is something that your child might like.

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Review – The Picture Smart Bible – For All Ages

Bible7

This is our first year using the Picture smart Bible. This is our review of what the whole family thinks.

Pros

For each book in the Bible, there is a coloring sheet that goes with that book. There is also a set of teacher instructions for when the children are to complete a different section of the coloring worksheet.

Bible8        Here is the instruction sheet for the teacher . We read over each section. If we get to a part that says READ, then my oldest daughter reads that section from the Bible. I like how they have the pictures next to the instructions, it helps me to explain to the kids what to color in next.

Bible5 This is the coloring worksheet that my 4 year old has been working on. He does a good job of staying with us. Sometimes he like to color on the side of the paper or even on the back. His paper has solid lines. He does not have to trace the picture and then color it in or write any of the words. He just colors in the worksheet and listens to the story.

Bible3 Here is the coloring worksheet that my 7 year old daughter has been working on. If you notice the lines on the paper are dotted. Also all of the words are missing. She is required to trace the pictures and then color them in. Then she has to write all of the words in, on the paper. She struggled a little bit at first, but now she is a pro and loves writing all of the words.

Bible4 Here is my 14 year old daughters coloring worksheet. She really takes her time, but she loves to color while we learn about the Bible. Her worksheet is the same as my 7 year old’s worksheet.

Bible     Bible1 After we have completed one of the coloring worksheets, the children then answer some questions. After that, they have a memory verse that they have to work on. The younger one gets the worksheet that is pictured on the left. My two older kids get the worksheet that is pictured on the right. I have my 4 year old say the verse over and over with me. My two older children are responsible for memorizing the verse. Once they are memorized, we then hang the verses up in our school room so that we can review old verses.

Bible2 The last feature about this Bible program that is wonderful, for a high school student, is that this course has tests for each of the different books in the Bible. This allows your child to claim one credit hour, once they have completed the program and all the tests that go with it. I think that it is amazing for my daughter to earn high school credit for learning more about the Bible.

Cons

One of the biggest mistakes I made at first was not asking enough questions. I would just read the teacher instructions while the kids were coloring. Then at the end of that section I would ask the questions that were written. Most of the time my kids didn’t know the answers. I felt frustrated. So we slowed it down. I ask a lot more questions now. We also go over the vocabulary that is in each section as we read. My two older kids help the younger one, understand what the vocabulary words mean. The vocabulary words are a little high for younger kids and some of the subject matter can be harsh. I just skip over a section if the subject matter is too harsh or too grown-up for my younger ones. My older daughter just reads the section silently on her own.

Overall

I love this Bible curriculum. It is something that we can do as a family and all of the kids enjoy it.

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