August 02, 2009

Homeschool Planning for Dummies: Curriculum and School Boxes

A friend of mine is having a homeschool blog hop, and since I was already smack in the middle of planning my school year and starting school (which I don't actually recommend starting at the same time), I thought I would play along. Her week 1 meme post is about Curriculum you use. I'll get to that at the bottom of this post... but first let's recap a little of my planning series - since curriculum is part of my Stage 3 Planning anyway. I'll have to come back later with a few more details since it's way too late to dig through my bookshelf for exact names on all my eclectic mix of educational 'candy'...

'Homeschool Planning for Dummies' recap:

Stage 1 - Loose Ends, Lists and Preparations

We started in early July with this year since we took a break after baby was born. I can only go so long without doing school (same with the kids) before my brain starts getting mushy... like the rice cereal baby is now snacking on at dinner time.

Had a list of things I needed to get done before I could truly get the year moving ahead smoothly and I'm making headway (although it has been harder than I previously thought to push forward with a baby on board). Not giving up yet. "I think I can! I think I can!" The first few items we tackled included organizing, stocking supplies, making goals, and decluttering (we had portfolios to sort and 'binderize' from past school years and papers to purge).

We pretty much finalized last year (and if you know me really well, you'll find this a shock:) even though I had to leave some loose ends untied. I actually threw some COMPLETED paperwork away and averaged out some grades based upon how I FELT the kids performed in certain subjects. Having a baby threw me for a loop last year; I can admit it. It felt SO wrong. But I had to do it - because I was making myself sick trying to cross every 't' and dot every 'i'. A friend of mine (THANK YOU) said, "Heather, why are you doing that when you aren't even required to grade or keep records in Texas? You are stressing yourself out for no reason! Simplify!" I jumped off the cliff of UNperfectionism and followed her awesome advice. Now the weight of the world is off my back, the kids have report cards, I archived last year's school records, and I'm READY TO GO, BABY!

Stage 2 - Planner Binders and Forms

With my school forms made and printed, we started our co-op planning. [You CAN purchase my school/calendar forms if you didn't win them the other day, by the way - every penny I make goes towards my kids' school year!] We're blessed to have two families that live in our area to co-op with this year on certain subjects (not our local group co-op - we have one of those, too!). My homeschool-homegirls and I now have our year generally mapped - the basics of what we will cover on every co-op meet is sketched out in pencil. Now I can enter it in my lesson planner on Homeschool Tracker (shameless plug: referral code HHGK9).

Stage 3 - School Boxes

I blabbered about our box system last week (and if you follow the link above, you can go read it... or just stay here and get the skinny). We are using something like the 'Workbox' system, but for older and less 'visual' learners. Actually, my husband is the workbox deterrent. He's freaky about clutter (OTHER PEOPLE's clutter)... and clear boxes with "visible junk" in them would not fly in the Bee household, unfortunately. Maybe he'll be more laid back about school when the wee baby bee is bigger? [HOLY. COW. I can't believe I have to start homeschool all. over. again. in a few years!]

Here's the breakdown of what's in the boxes (and the long awaited answer to WHAT CURRICULUM WE USE):

NOTE: Supplies listed below are in folders and a small pencil box if they won't fit in the folder. Thin books are in file folder, thick ones are placed AFTER the file folder inside the school box. The purpose of the school box is to keep your school in ONE LOCATION to minimize searching for lost and scattered materials!

File 1: BIBLE
Curriculum Sources: Bible, Devotional Book (changes as we finish them)
Supplies: Prayer Journals (spiral notebooks and a prayer list worksheet we keep in our binders), Index Cards, Digital Timer, Pencil
Daily: Discussion about who we need to pray for - change our prayer lists if needed, Pray, Write in our prayer journals, Read our Bible, Read our Devotional book
Weekly: Drill (time kids finding a verse and score them) and a Memory Verse (write on index card and practice until we can repeat without looking)

File 2: Math
Curriculum Sources: A Beka Math Books (Grades 6 and 7), A Beka Tests and Drills (Grades 6 and 7)
Supplies: Pencil, Eraser, Digital Timer, Red Grading Pen, Teacher Answer Key
Daily: 1 Worksheet, discuss if needed, swap books and grade each other at the table - if grade is less than 70%, all missed problems are re-done

File 3: Grammar
Curriculum Sources: Daily Grams, Grade 7
Supplies: Blank Notebook Paper, Pencil
Daily: 1 Page of Daily Grams book

File 4: Spelling, Vocabulary, Writing
Curriculum Sources: Integrated Spelling & Vocabulary (misspelled words copied as needed, work on vocabulary words with history/science units as needed), A Beka Penmanship and copywork assigned by mom "Charlotte Mason Style", topical/integrated Writing Assignments, Journaling, Letter Writing (Considering, but have not purchased curriculum sources for Writing/Letter Writing)
Supplies: Blank Notebook Paper, Pencils, Journals, Correspondence Folder (pen pal letters, address list, cards and stationary, stamps, stickers, Flat Stanley supplies)
Daily: Each day of the week is different - Monday: Spell/Vocab, Tues: Penmanship/Copywork, Wed: Write/Copywork, Thurs: Journaling, Fri: Correspondance

File 5: Typing, Creativity Express
Curriculum Sources: Mavis Beacon Software, Creativity Express Software
Supplies: discs (are to be returned to the file folder upon penalty of groundation!), keyboard covers (orange plastic covers to keep you from cheating when typing), worksheets for typing scores
Every other Day: we alternate these software programs and take Friday off

File 6: History
Curriculum Sources: "If I told ya, I'd have to kill ya" (too many to say just yet - me and my homeschool home-girl are creating our own curriculum from a TON 'O SOURCES. There will be much postage about this at a later date...)
Supplies: 3 Ring Binder, sheet protectors, glue sticks, scissors, colored pencils, pencils, pens, notebook paper (to make a history notebook)
Mondays: co-op all day and work on history notebooks
Daily: Read

File 7: Science
Curriculum Sources: A Beka Science and Health Readers & (will fill in the other resources as I get them - they belong to my co-op buddy!)
Supplies: 3 Ring Binder, sheet protectors, glue sticks, scissors, colored pencils, pencils, pens, notebook paper (to make a science notebook), experiment supplies as needed
Fridays: co-op part of the day 2 or 3 Fridays a month
Daily: Read

File 8: Journaling

Curriculum Sources: Internet, Books, Resources for Journaling (depends on topic, but we use Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study for our Nature Journals all the time), Draw, Write Now!
Supplies: 3 Ring Binder, sheet protectors, glue sticks, scissors, colored pencils, pencils, pens, notebook paper (to make a nature notebook), photographs and drawings or clippings
Daily: Each day of the week is different - Monday and Tues: History Notebook, Wednesday: Draw, Write Now!, Thurs: Nature Journal, Fri: Science Notebook

File 9: Art & Photography
Curriculum Sources: The Adobe Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby, Canon camera manual, internet, books on photography and art, art textbooks, artist list in my TOS Old Schoolhouse Planner, Library books
Supplies: art supplies when needed, pencils, colored pencils, camera, Photoshop CS4, Lightroom, computers
Every other Day: we alternate these subjects and take Friday off (unless we take our camera with us when we go out and about Friday)

File 10: Geography
Curriculum Sources: Visualize World Geography, our Atlas, Library Books, etc.
Supplies: maps, worksheets, pencils, colored pencils, scissors, glue sticks (for current events), articles/pictures from magazines and missionary newsletters
3 Days a Week: the plan is to study about the country, color a map and flag, find and read about them in an atlas, read about their culture/people, see if we can find a current event/photo and possibly cook something from that culture during those 3 days. It may take 2 weeks on one culture if there is a lot to learn. We are taking our time - not rushing if we find an interesting spot on the globe we want to linger for a while.

File 11: Italian/Blogging
Curriculum Sources: Italian Software, Blogger (free blogging platform online), also considering a book by a blogger-friend that teaches blogging skills
Supplies: computers, scanner, headset, software discs
Tuesday: Blogging on individual blogs (each kid has their own)
Daily: Italian practice on the computer (except Tuesday)

File 12: I-Learning, Narration
Curriculum Sources: Cindy Rushton's Charlotte Mason Primer, Poetry workbooks I got at a teacher supply store, whatever floats your boat!
Supplies: list of creative projects (mom-approved individual learning ideas: "delight-based learning"), whatever fits for that day (kid must get it approved by mom)
Daily: 4 days a week there is one hour of time for child-led learning projects and part or all of this time may be spent outdoors
Fridays: Tea time and narration (we may incorporate this in to our co-op, too)

File 13: Reading
Curriculum: Good books (YUM!)
Supplies: bookmarks, sticky tabs, dictionary
Daily: READ READ READ!!! We have "family readers" (books read together - picked by dad), "free readers" (books read alone - picked by kids, approved by mom) and "assigned reading" (books read aloud - picked by mom or suggested by co-op or curriculum). Our favorite books can be found at the bookstore link up top. When we finish a great one, we'll add it to the bookstore.

File 14: Home Ec/Chores

Curriculum: Life (Looking in to homemaking, life-skills and manners curriculum)
Supplies: Chore List, Recipe of child's choice
Daily: chores done and checked off
Monthly: child expected to plan and cook a meal without help for entire family

What do you think?! I'm just thrilled about the system. Here's praying this year is as good as I think it will be!

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Janet said...

I came across your blog a few weeks back and I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your homeschooling journey. I am a mom to 4, ages 6 and under, and we are starting our own homeschool adventure this year. It was good to read that most hoemschool moms are afraid in some makes me feel like I really can do this. We have free tuition at a Christian International School where we live so most people think we are crazy to give that up and bring the kids home. It's good to know I am not crazy :)

Ruthanne said...

Ok. This is the second post I've read with reference to the Workbox System ~ which I had not even heard of before last night. Why do I feel out of the loop?!

Your plan looks great - I hope your school year goes well!

Unknown said...

Wow, looks like a great plan. Glad you were able to let go a's hard, but I learned after my last two littles were born that it just has to be done! Hope you have a successful year. :)

Kela said...

You have SOOOO inspired me!!! With HSing 6, I need the organization. I'm such a free-spirit and often lazy momma (hate to admit, but hey, I keep it real) when it comes to organizing our stuff. This looks very do-able.

Anonymous said...

Explain to me... what goes IN the hanging folders and where do you keep the stuff not in them?

I would like to do the workbox thing but I need to make it fit in a small budget... ya know?

Robin E. said...

I love your take on the workbox system. Very tidy, and oh, so organized. Thanks for sharing and joining up on the Not Back to School Blog Hop.

Tracy said...

Great job! Like your version of the Workbox system! I sent it it a friend who wanted to do the system so bad, but has 3 girls and live in a small house. This will be perfect for her!

Keys to the Magic Travel said...

I love that you are including photoshop in your curriculum! I ought to do that. Since my daughter is sooo savvy...and I am not. Maybe she could figure it out and teach me :-)

My daughter has a blog too...she's 11. She has kinda ignored it over the summer...but it becomes part of her language arts program during the school year. Maybe your daughter would like to check it out: (Darcy even did her design!)

Kela said...

I have heard a lot about Photoshop, but never really had a need for it, but that doesn't mean that my 14 year old wouldn't absolutely enjoy it. She has a passion for photography. This is one great way to invest in her future!

Rana said...

You sound and look very well prepared. Hope you all have a great year.

Robyn | Add a Pinch said...

Love the idea of the School boxes. Thank you for sharing so much about each item in your curriculum and how often you do each subject.

I hope you guys have a great year!

Sprittibee said...

Wish I could respond to every single comment... but I wanted you to know that I am treasuring them. I'm on my way out the door with baby to a homeschool co-op meeting but wanted to answer some questions...

Janet - YOU CAN do this! If I can, anyone can.

Knit1kids4 - Some folders are empty. Some have just paper. Some have worksheets that I printed the day before. Some have thin workbooks. Some have software cds. Just depends on what is due for that subject for that day. The BOOKS go BEHIND each folder in order of the way your subjects are laid out on your schedule. So they are RIGHT THERE. READY TO GO. Supplies that won't fit in the folder go inside the plastic supply box (Wal-Mart). That box has pencils, erasers, glue sticks, pens, etc. Our BINDERS are on a shelf near the boxes... because they won't fit in the boxes at all. That is the only item we have to go and GET when it is time to work. But we only work on one binder per day (Science, History, Nature, or their Regular Binder that has everything else in it - including their daily assignment list and Journal). Sorry if I'm making myself as clear as mud! ;) I just have a folder for each subject - just like the workbox system has a box for each one. Sometimes they are empty. I have thought about adding a chart to the top of the box with velcro - and a small velcro covered and laminated square for each subject on the folders themselves... that way they could pull off the square tag from the folder and put it on the chart to show they completed that subject. I have seen other workbox system users do that. I may do it later on if the kids like the idea. ;)

By the way, the budget for this was ZERO for me. I already had the boxes, the folders, the tabs, the paper, the supplies (aside from some new mechanical pencils). I paid for NOTHING. I'll be needing to buy Math books in a few months, but that's IT. ;) You can't beat that for a cheap homeschool year.

Funny you should mention it, Tracy - but we started this system a long time ago at our apartment precisely because we were short on space and Daddy was upset about the clutter! It fizzled out because mom didn't stay ahead of the kids on putting the assignments in it each day. Now that they are older, though, I'm enlisting them to help me fill the boxes every night before we go to bed. Dad has even agreed to do family reading every night at 9ish if we get ready for bed and in a good routine with the boxes and chores are done in the evening... which is a nice incentive for the kids.

I'm including Photoshop in the line up this year because I WANT to learn it, too! ;) I'll pass your daughter's blog on to Morgan, Kat!

On my way out to get even more organized by attending our homeschool co-op meeting! Thanks everyone for your sweet comments.

Love in Him,

Christin said...

What a great idea! My problem is I get really organized, but sometimes I have hard time with follow through! I am hoping to get better at this.
I look forward to checking in and seeing how your year goes! :)

I am still getting my year prepped, but hopefully we'll be starting by mid-August!

Stefanie said...

You are fabulously organized. Your spin on the workbox system is wonderful.

I would like to join your photoshop class. =o)

If I were ever to implement the system like that I would be doing it your way. My hubby would die with all those boxes around. LOL

rural momma said...

I am definatly using that system for my 13 year old son. He is the youngest and many times he gets the short end of the stick, so to speak. I end up giving my time to high school kids, because I have to have credits and all that stuff. In the mean time, he ends up twiddling his thumbs. I honestly think this system will help us both tremendously!!! :o)
Thank you!!! :o)

Nicki said...

Loved your blog! I'm a planner, too, and love to see others' plans. I'm getting some great ideas. Thank you!

Diane said...

Thanks so much for sharing what you're doing this year! You have done a fabulous job with your preparations! I love to see how others are organizing their homeschool year! Love the box idea. I'm doing something similar, but after reading your post I think I'll expand a bit!

Susan said...

I was just looking at some of the file containers and wondering how to make it work. My question is that 3-ring binders don't fit really well and we need a few for some of what we do. Do you use three ring binders?

Unknown said...

HI! I'm Tracy's friend :) and today I'm setting up my work "envelope" system!! just one question....what do I do with the materials that are shared between 2 kids? Do they go in one file, and the other child gets a note about the assignment?
maybe this seems too nit-picky...and I should probably just be able to figure this one out on my own...but I guess my 'wanting-to-do-it-right' issues are getting in the way :)

april said...

Ok I have to say I LOVE how organized you are. I hate to admit it I'm often the lazy mom type but secretly always wanting to be that mom that is so organized and on top of things! Thanks for sharring all these wonderful tips and letting us in on your world :)

Karin Katherine said...

Sounds like an amazingly organized and wonderful system. I bet you do have a terrific school year!

Christy @ One Fun Mom said...

I love this system (the school boxes) and think it would work in my home with limited space. The link to the school box post won't go through though. :( Help?

Christy @ OneFunMom said...

I love your school box system, and I think it would work in my smaller home. The link to your school box post won't go through to the post!? :( help!



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