Our 2018-2019 Family Time Plans

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m going to do a “family time” where we combine everyone for a variety of subjects. I wanted to write out what tools we will be using for FT and a basic schedule outline.

First, the subjects and resources:

  • German – Deutsch Mit Felix Und Franzi, found free at the Goethe Institut.  My father-in-law also has a massive German library, including a plethora of easy readers and kid-books, movies, tapes, and more. Both he and my German mother were excited that the kids are going to learn German and thought the lesson plans were quite good.
  • PE – I don’t really feel the need to have an actual PE “curriculum” as the kids are already outside running around, riding bikes, climbing things, going to the park, etc.
  • Artist study – AmblesideOnline has a very phenomenal artist study rotation, with artists and pieces already selected. I wanted to weave in as much Montana history as possible; so we will be studying Montana artists this year. I’ll list them when I post about Montana history resources. 🙂
  • Composer study – same as Artist Study
  • Real Science 4 Kids: Geology – I wanted to add some more science onto AmblesideOnline, specifically experiments and a deeper focus on some topics. Due to my involvement with the local mineral club; the older kids have been on geology field trips and therefore have wanted to learn about geology in-depth. I found that RS4K has the most of what we’re looking for – focus on a specific topic, experiments, and isn’t overwhelmingly expensive. There are five ‘focus on’ subjects of RS4K, I plan on doing one per term until we’ve done all five.
  • Nature Study – honestly, this is my weakest thing to do because sometimes it feels like I have 500 kids versus 5, and I am at a loss of where to go that is interesting but also safe for littles. A friend of mine who does nature study with me suggested we focus on learning about local flora and fauna, which is fine with me.
  • Typing and Programming – We have used typing.com in the past for typing with Peanut and have been successful, so we will use that site again. I may put Moose on it but his frustration tolerance is rather low so we may just focus more on programming. Speaking of Programming, we plan on using Scratch Jr to play with, as well as other resources like the Hour of Code and some great coding games I found at Target to supplement. We don’t want the kids to program for the sake of programming but want them to learn how think like a programmer. If you know how programming works in general, then learning programming languages should be considerably easier.
  • Shakespeare – nothing fancy here – read from Tales from Shakespeare, then watch the play. I’m skipping the “read the actual play” because it’s just too confusing for the kids since I’m the only one who can read the plays. I could have Peanut read with me but I still think it will be too confusing.
  • Montana History – post coming soon!
  • Folk songs – We plan on using AO’s folk songs that are already selected as well as some Montana-centric songs. And a couple of cowboy songs for good measure.
  • Hymns – We will be using Erin McFarland’s Sacred Music Studies (starting with Year 1).
  • Read-aloud – I selected a book from the free-reads list from AO for each year I’m teaching to read-aloud. I selected Pinocchio, Men of Iron, and Anne of Green Gables. We should be able to read one book a term.

The plan for getting all of this accomplished is as follows:

  • German is done 4-5 days a week, including review days
  • Real Science 4 Kids is done five days a week
  • We will loop read through our Montana History books – the spine on Thursday, and biographies and other books on Monday and Tuesday
  • Artist study done on Wednesdays
  • Composer study throughout the week
  • Nature study TBD but probably on Thursday, this worked well for my friend and I; hopefully we can get some other homeschooling families involved as well
  • Shakespeare on Friday
  • Folk songs and hymns each day
  • Read-aloud daily
  • Typing and programming at least 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)

And there you have it! Subjects that often were neglected in years past or just wishful thinking can now be done without me having to replicate it three times.

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 11

We’re winding down Peanut’s term one now, next week will be the last week of the term; then break week and exams! It was a lot of fun working with just Peanut this week and seeing where she is at. She is now highly motivated to get her stuff done – “when can I move on to term 2?” When you have 12 weeks of work done, even if that takes 12 or more weeks. “When can I move on to 5th grade?” When you have 36 weeks of work done, however many weeks that may take. She can’t accelerate, in that there’s no speed-reading these books; but she can definitely drag it out.

By disengaging myself that way and letting her determine how well she will work within her lessons; she has been able to maintain focus and stay on task. “Elastic time” is disappearing, we are making good way through the schedule (but not too fast), she’s engaged with the readings and there’s no slop-rush to finish just to play with her friends or visit the Grandparents.

She’s decided that while Benjamin Franklin had his faults, he was overall a pretty great guy. HIGHLY unimpressed about his leaving his wife in America and her eventual death without him (as she keeps mentioning it over and over, haha), but can understand why he’s still revered in American history.

Bullfinch’s mythology is finally starting to become a little familiar to us, and she feels like a lot of the stories are really repetitive. Same plot, different characters. It’s opened up some great discussions about gods vs. God, and how pre-Christian cultures comprehended the Divine.

Plutarch – oh, Plutarch. Honestly, we’re just plugging v e r y slowly through Publicola, but I think it too is starting to become familiar to us. I’ve never read Plutarch so it’s a situation where we’re both learning. If we get through Publicola  in 36 weeks it will be a miracle. 😉

Shakespeare – still wading through A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Hopefully we can finish it up this coming week but if it flows in to term 2, that’s okay.

Math, spelling, and copywork are all coming along great; she’s decided to copy the book of Proverbs for her copywork, as well the prayers she’s memorizing. Spelling is making great leaps thanks to Phonetic Zoo.

I haven’t had a chance yet to look at which books change for her and which books carry on. I know that we’ll have an astronomy focus for term 2’s science, which I’m really excited for. We’ll be using Sabbath Mood Homeschool’s astronomy guide.

Next week I go back to having two kids in the rotation, and the new adjustment period for the new books for Moose. It should be fun, especially with the time change (fall back, YAY!) right around the corner.

How We Learn Shakespeare

After lots of trial and lots of error, we finally have landed on the “what works for us” with regards to teaching Shakespeare.

1. Preparation
We start to learn about Shakespeare – who he was, where he lived, what time period he lived, how it’s different from now, how it’s similar, his background, the Globe, and why we like to learn about Shakespeare. I try to be enthusiastic about Shakespeare – like most American students, I wasn’t considered “ready” for Shakespeare until high school, where we read the plays and discussed them into boredom. If we were lucky we watched a video of a play.

We do Shakespeare as a family subject, and we do it during tea-time. The prospect of tea/hot cocoa/hot cider and popcorn or some other fun snack really helps everyone be excited to do Shakespeare as well, plus it’s good fun for everyone. Ages 3, 5, 7, and 9 are represented at Shakespeare {tea-time is when Nugget is having a nap}.

2. First, the retelling
I select a play – my kids are young so we’re working on the comedies. I thought we could follow Ambleside’s Shakespeare rotation, but I don’t think they’re quite there yet. We started with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, because it was short, it was a comedy, and it seemed like it was something everyone could grasp.

I read everyone Lamb’s retelling {wouldn’t you know, after studying this play in high school I had no clue what was going on, except Puck; but after reading the retelling everything made tons more sense}.  We stop – a lot – and narrate and discuss, defining terms and explaining things. We use paper dolls, a character map drawn on a whiteboard, or Playmobil to keep everyone straight and make sure we know who’s in love with whom.

3. Then, the play
At first, I started reading the play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream but it got old VERY quickly to be constantly defining the characters. We decided to let other people read it for me, and listen to this Librivox recording {which hits what I want in a Shakespeare audio – multiple people for the different parts and some English accents because well, I think it sounds better that way!}. We follow along a text from MIT. Just like the retelling, we stop – even more than the retelling – and break apart confusing language, help the littles figure out what’s going on, and so on. We keep out the Playmobils and work on arranging the characters as they enter and exit the scenes.

Peanut running the characters for Act 3 of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”

We listen to an act per week – sometimes all in one sitting if it’s short and everyone is feeling it, or breaking it up if it’s longer and there would be a mutiny to listen to it all at once.

And that’s it! I’m going to start reading the plays with the kids once they’re older and can handle reading the language (right now Peanut is the only one who would be even remotely capable). But right now, it works well what we’re doing.

I am interested to see which play our local Shakespeare company will be performing next year. I would love to read the retelling, read the actual play with the kids, and then go watch it live; since that’s the best way to experience Shakespeare, in my opinion. Hopefully they put their 2018 schedule up soon!