Wednesday

Pearson Homeschool Interactive Science Curriculum Review

I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. I am being compensated for my time to use and review the product. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. See full legal disclosure here.

Every homeschool parent has their kryptonite. That one subject you either don’t feel qualified to teach or you don’t enjoy teaching. Science fits under both categories for me. Needless to say I jumped on this opportunity to review Pearson Homeschool Interactive Science curriculum like a duck on a June bug!

Pearson Homeschool Science

The Facts

Grade: First (up to fifth grade is available)

Format: Consumable workbook/textbook hybrid with an online Teacher’s Manual

Length: 326 pages containing 9 chapters and an average of 5 lessons per chapter.

Topics Covered: Science, Engineering, and Technology, Life Science, Earth Science, and Physical Science

Religious Perspective: Secular

 

My Favorite Things

The Colorful Pages: I’ve seen my fair share of workbooks, but this one is visually stunning. Sophia loved the pictures and just looking through it for fun. It really makes the science come alive.

The Writing Spaces: I loved the three line writing spaces. It was perfect for Sophia who is still working on getting her letter formation correct.

Pearson Interactive Science

The Variety of Topics: I know that most homeschoolers tend to stick in one branch of science for the entire year, but I really enjoyed the variety of topics covered in the book. It helped keep science fresh and interesting instead of feeling bogged down.

The Vocabulary Cards: I really liked that these were in the workbook ready to be cut out. It really helped with Sophia’s retention of the science topics being discussed. They even have suggested games in the book that you can play with the vocabulary cards.

Pearson Interactive Science Vocabulary Cards

What I Tweaked

By nature I’m never content with programs the way they are written, so of course I had to add in some things to make Pearson Interactive Science the way I wanted it to be. Basically that meant adding in books and videos on the topics we were learning about. I really tried to do one lesson a week and spend the rest of the week using books and videos to dive deeper in to the subject. This worked really well for us and added some depth to the program.

 

What Didn’t Work Well

The Online Teacher’s Manual: This was not the fault of Pearson Homeschool, but more my lack of modern technology. I only have a desktop computer which is located in the kitchen so it was a hassle to look up the proper instructions in the kitchen and go back to the dining room to teach. I finally just had Sophia sit next to me at my computer desk as we went through the lesson together. If I’d had a tablet or laptop, this would not have been an issue since the teacher’s manual was very easy to navigate.

Some of the Experiments: Most of the time the experiments were simple and easy to complete, but some of them assumed that you had a classroom of science equipment that I simply don’t have or some odd things I needed to collect. It was no problem to either substitute something or skip the experiment/demonstration. I will say that there are quite a few experiments in each chapter so it is definitely a plus for kids who enjoy hand-on science.

 

Final Assessment and a Discount

Overall I was quite impressed with Pearson Homeschool Interactive First Grade Science Curriculum. The material is presented on the correct level for the grade intended, bright colorful workbook, lots of hands-on activities, and good discussion prompts for the teacher to use with the student. I feel that this product is great for homeschool parents like me who have a difficult time knowing what to teach about science and actually getting it done! This program makes it super easy without leaving you overwhelmed. Check out the other grades in the Interactive Science curriculum: Kindergarten, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, and Fifth Grade.

Through September, Pearson Homeschool is offering a special discount of 25% off using the code BLG25 on all of their homeschool products including: enVision Math, myWorld Social Studies, MCP Plaid Phonics, and Interactive Science.

Finding simple solutions to science stress in the tree house,

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Our Homeschool Curriculum, Plans, and Schedules for 2015

{This post contains affiliate links of items that I have personally used and enjoyed. Thank you for supporting this blog by purchasing through my links. See full disclosure policy here.}

We “officially” start a new school year in January since we school by the calendar year, but with everyone sharing what they are using for the upcoming school year, I wanted to unveil my plans for, hopefully, what will be a year of restful teaching and leisurely learning.

Our Homeschool Curriculum 2015

I am organizing our school time into four blocks this year, Morning Meeting, The 4 R’s, Lit for Lunch, and Table Time. {Why, yes, I do like alliteration. Why do you ask?}

MORNING MEETING (90 minutes)

I recently wrote two posts about our Morning Meeting time of the day. In the first one I explained what it is and why I do it with my kids. In the second one, I shared the resources I’m using for Morning Meeting this year. I won’t go into any more detail in this post, but be sure to check out the other posts to read about this revolutionary time of day for our family.

THE FOUR R’S (2 hours)

The Four R’s for our family are religion, reading, writing, and arithmetic. Since my youngest is now four years old, he doesn’t need a constant baby sitter anymore which is how I had previously scheduled our school day. I’ve got things planned where I am working with both the girls at the same time and rotating between them. I tried to have the schedule set up so that the more one-on-one instruction with one girl is happening while the other one is doing something independent. We’ve followed this schedule a few times already this summer and it’s worked pretty well so far. I’m really looking forward to being able to teach this way since it will make this time much more efficient.

The main inspiration for this schedule was my desire for restful teaching that I’ve been blogging so much about. The time amounts next to each subject will be enforced. I set the timer, we work on that subject until the timer goes off, and move on to the next subject even if you didn’t “finish” the lesson. The results so far have been more teaching from rest for me and better learning for the kids. I would rather have intense, focused attention on math for 30 minutes, then trying to finish the lesson, but it takes an hour because their brain checked out 20 minutes before. Remember: this is a journey not a sprint! I would rather my children really learn well than rush them through to reach the end that the book said we should.

Monday

Monday Schedule

Tuesday and Thursday

Tuesday-Thursday Schedule

Wednesday and Friday

Wednesday-Friday Schedule

Update: I totally scrapped everything that is marked out. New and updated plans are here. That’s what I get for trying to plan our new school year 6 months early!

Curriculum Choices for The Four R’s:

Grace (5th Grade)

Bible: Bible Study Guide for All Ages ~ Advanced (Read my review of this awesome Bible program here.)

Math: Math in Focus (3B and 4A) or Christian Light Education Math (parts of Grade 4 and Grade 5). We hit a snag with Math in Focus this year. I still adore Math in Focus, but it’s becoming a poor fit for Grace. It seems that since we have reached upper elementary math, she is having more difficulty with the mastery aspect of Math in Focus so I’m toying with using something more spiral. I have the first Light Unit of CLE math and the teacher’s guide in hand. Quite a bit of the grade 4 material would be review for her so I’m pretty sure we could accelerate quite quickly through it. I still haven’t decided what to do, but when we finish Math in Focus 3B, we’ll try out CLE, and I’ll let Grace make the decision. We also use Life of Fred on Monday for fun. (Read my review of Math in Focus here.)

Math Fact Practice: Reflex Math!!! It is still working great. (Read my review of Reflex Math here.)

Literature: K12 5th Grade Literature and a Narnia book club that I’m leading for homeschool kids in our area. I’m super excited about the Narnia Book Club! We’ll be reading and discussing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia , and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader this year. If everyone likes it, then next year we will do The Magician's Nephew , The Silver Chair , and The Last Battle . On weeks we do the book club, she will not do K12 Literature that day.

Grammar: Grammar Town, Paragraph Town, and Practice Town by Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts. This grammar program totally resonates with my creative, artsy girl! Plus the grammar is rock solid.

Writing: You all know of my love for Classical Academic Press’ Writing and Rhetoric series, but some of the folks who are farther ahead in the series have said that the outlining and paragraph construction parts of the program are weak, so for next year we are using a new writing program written by a homeschool mom whose writing posts on The Well-Trained Mind forums have been an inspiration for many. It’s called Treasured Conversations and looks to be the perfect program for teaching outlining and paragraph writing. It should fill the gap nicely before we move on to Narrative II and Chreia and Proverb of Writing and Rhetoric. (Read my review of Writing and Rhetoric here.)

Spelling: Apples and Pears Spelling Book C. This program is perfect for Grace. Her spelling is improving every day and transfers nicely into her writing. (Read my review of Apples and Pears here.)

Spanish: Getting Started with Spanish and Practice Makes Perfect Basic Spanish . We haven't been as dedicated to learning a foreign language as I would have liked, but I am determined this year to at least achieve a basic conversational level with Grace.

Sophia (2nd Grade)

Bible: Bible Study Guide for All Ages ~ Intermediate

Math: Math in Focus 2A and 2B, MEP Year 2, Miquon, and Life of Fred. Sophia LOVES math and it comes very naturally to her. Although it looks like we use a TON of programs, we only do Miquon and Life of Fred on Monday and have no problem fitting in one Math in Focus lesson and one MEP lesson into her math time Tuesday-Friday.

Math Fact Practice: Reflex Math. She’s been begging me forever to get her a subscription too!

Phonics: Logic of English Foundations C and Explode the Code. This combination has been wonderful for Sophia! She is a great reader and will finish up phonics this year!We’ll begin spelling with Apples and Pears when she finishes Logic of English this year.

Handwriting: New American Cursive 1 from Memoria Press and Draw Write Now Books 1-8. We’ll be rotating these out during the week doing cursive twice a week and Draw Write Now copywork and drawing twice a week.

Grammar: English Lessons Through Literature Level 2. I love this gentle grammar introduction for the younger grades. It’s Charlotte Mason at its best!

Spanish: Salsa Spanish with free lesson plans (go to the bottom of the webpage and click on the + sign underneath Salsa Materials) and homemade worksheets. Repeat to myself, “I will be better about foreign language this year. I will be better about foreign language this year.”

LIT FOR LUNCH (30 minutes)

This is one of our favorite times of the day. While the kids are eating I read books from my read aloud lists that I compiled from The Read-Aloud Handbook {a MUST read for all parents!}. I choose a picture book and once chapter of a chapter book from Sophia’s list to read and one chapter from a chapter book on Grace’s list. These books aren’t tied to history or anything we are studying. They are just great books that we enjoy reading together! My 2nd Grade Read Aloud List and my 4th Grade Read Aloud List (finishing this one this year) to be read during Lit for Lunch.

TABLE TIME (2 hours)

This block in our day was born out of my desire to make the content subjects less stressful for me to teach. It provided a way for me to not stress about covering history, science, and geography, while letting my kids really LEARN about a subject. {You can read more about this idea here.} Not only have I changed my approach to scheduling these subjects, but I’m going to experiment this year and change the entire way that I teach these subjects. I also fully reserve the right to decide at any point that this idea is crazy and go back to the normal way of doing things!

During the course of our school year I am planning on focusing on history for three weeks at a time, science for three weeks, geography for three weeks, and then doing interest led learning for two weeks at a time. The rotation for the year would look like this: geography, science, history, interest led, history. I would repeat this sequence three times over the course of the school year, which gives me a grand total of 6 units of history, 3 units of geography, 3 of science, and 3 interest led. Here is what I’m planning doing for each of the units (and where things become experimental, at least in the history area). I’ll be expounding on exactly what we are using for each unit as we get to it over the coming year. I have a tentative plan, but I’m not definite.

History:

Instead of progressing chronologically through history I decided to divide history into 5 time periods and one miscellaneous category. During the year we will study one topic out of each time period for a grand total of 6 units of history. I decided to do history this way for two reasons: 1) We read a history overview book and memorize a history timeline every year so my kids have a pretty good grasp of the flow of history and 2) I wanted to study American history and current events before a couple of years had passed. My hesitation to doing this {and why I might scrap this idea a few units in and go back to chronological history} is that history builds on itself. Events in the past effect decisions and events in the future. Anyway, I’m giving it a go the way I have it planned.

Unit 1 (Ancient World): Ancient People of Mesopotamia ~ Hebrews, Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians. I’m planning to build my study around the Hebrew people and their interaction with the people of Mesopotamia.

Unit 2 (Overlooked History): Ancient China ~ Study Chinese history up to Genghis Khan. I wanted to include this category because my knowledge {and I believe most Americans knowledge} of the Eastern Hemisphere is weak.

Unit 3 (Middle Ages-Age of Exploration): Middle Ages Part 1 ~ Culture and Society of the Middle Ages. I’m planning to use lots of great literature during this study and explore how people lived.

Unit 4 (Colonial Times in the United States-1850’s): Colonial Times (1607-1733) ~ Study of the colonization of North America, specifically the 13 Colonies of the United States. Also bring in world events that happened during this time period as well.

Unit 5 (Civil War in the United States-End of 19th Century): Civil War ~ Prelude, slavery, major battles, and events of the Civil War.

Unit 6 (1900-Today): Pre-World War I ~ Study events around the world during the last decade of the 1800’s and first decade of the 1900’s. I’m still trying to figure out how to work Downton Abbey into this era!

Science:

I am also choosing a science from each of the three branches of science to study over our three science units for the year.

Unit 1(Physical Science): Chemistry ~ Matter, Atoms, and Elements

Unit 2 (Earth Science): Oceanography ~ Areas of the ocean, currents, the ocean floor, and tide pools.

Unit 3 (Life Science): Human Anatomy ~ Basic systems of the human body and what they do.

Geography:

I had to do a little research about the subtopics in this subject. I decided to touch on all three of the aspects of geography in each unit.

Unit 1 (Cultural, Physical, and Spatial): Cultural study of Turkey, Israel, and Jordan, physical geography of Middle East/Asia, and map workbook for spatial skills.

Unit 2 (Cultural, Physical, and Spatial): Cultural study of Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, physical geography of Middle East/Asia, and map workbook for spatial skills.

Unit 3 (Cultural, Physical, and Spatial): Cultural study of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, physical geography of Middle East/Asia, and map workbook for spatial skills.

And that’s our plans for the upcoming year (2015)!!!!

So stay tuned for resources I’ll be using for each of the above units and how things are progressing with my crazy history idea!

Update: I totally scrapped everything that is marked out. New and updated plans are here. That’s what I get for trying to plan our new school year 6 months early!

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Wishing my fellow educators, from all types of schooling, a wonderful school year from the tree house,

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From Type A to Scholé: Creating Table Time

After starting our new and improved Morning Meeting time, I now needed to address one of the main sources of stress for me in our homeschool. During my introspective time of the scholé journey, I quickly realized that the content subjects {history, science, geography, etc.} and the way that they are typically scheduled were causing me a lot of tension. I had followed a typical pattern of studying history three days a week and science two days a week, and I had even attempted to study both history and science every day of the week. The problem for me with these schedules is that if life intervened or something happened where we couldn’t get to science on one of our two days that it was scheduled, then I immediately felt behind and trying to play catch up. And I’ll be honest, “getting behind” usually happened in our first week of school! So now I kept trying to find a spot where I could stick that missed science lesson. As I considered how I could change this cycle into something more restful and less anxiety ridden, I pinpointed my major problem: certain days of the week for certain subjects. Obviously I didn’t want to give up on teaching content subjects {I majored in history in college for Pete’s sake!}, but the current system was broken. And then I remembered about block scheduling. Basically block scheduling is where you focus on one subject for a specific amount of time. If you were in public school you probably had some block scheduling at some point in your school career. I remember one year where I took economics the first semester and government the second semester.

Alarm clock and books on wooden table.

My first step was to decide exactly which subjects I wanted to focus on as our content subjects. Obviously I would include history and science, but since this was kind of a trial run I decided I’d pick a couple of more things that I’d always wanted to fit in, but never felt I could.

My final list of content subjects was:

history

science

geography

interest led learning

For my mini-experiment with block scheduling I decided to try focusing on each of these areas for one week after lunch every school day during what I called Table Time. For our history week we studied Ancient Egypt, for science week we studied the Amazon rainforest and the animals that live there, for geography week we learned about Brazil, and for interest led week, Grace studied mermaid legends from around the world and Sophia compared original fairy tales with Disney movie versions.

Basically Table Time turned into exactly what I wanted. We were able to really dig into a topic without me stressing if we missed a content subject because we were busy or unable to finish the day. It also turned into a shared learning experience that I never thought my girls would be able to do together. For about 20-30 minutes I would read from a spine or overview book on the topic. Then I would pull out a bin of books I had collected from the library, project supplies and ideas from the internet, and documentaries or movies about our topic. I have four of these bins, one for each week, and collect items to put in them for that subject. 

Science Table Time  Resources  Over the course of the week, we go through what I have collected in the bin. After I read to the girls together, we split up. Grace chooses a book to go off and read while I read a book of Sophia’s choice to her. We do this independent reading for about 30 minutes, then each girl has to report to me something they read about. After this we would generally begin to do more hands-on type of things, play a game, watch a movie, work on our notebook pages, experiments, crafts, etc. I only had this hands-on time planned for an hour, but often the girls would go over. We followed this basic rhythm for each subject for one month.

What I LOVE about Table Time:

The single subject focus every day {No more anxiety about missing a day and the ability to really dig deeply into the subject.}

Learning together {I NEVER thought this would happen!}

Finally being able to dabble in interest-led learning {It was such a great experience}

One part of Table Time that I’m reworking for our upcoming school year is the length of time spent on each subject. One week just wasn’t enough so I’m going to try doing three week blocks of time on history, science, and geography and a two week block for interest led learning. So basically our content subjects will look like this, geography (3 weeks), science (3 weeks), history (3 weeks), interest led learning (2 weeks), history (3 weeks), and then start back over with geography again and repeat this cycle three times in a school year. {The reason I’m repeating history twice in this cycle will be explained in a later post since it really has nothing to do with scholé  learning, but more how I wanted to set up our history studies this year.}

So what was the point of all this? Well, I’m trying to show you what scholé learning and teaching from rest looks like in my home. I recognized that the traditional scheduling of content subjects was stressful for me. It made me tense and cranky. It caused these words, “Hurry up so we have time to finish ___________,” come out of my mouth way too often. When you begin to look within yourself for sources of stress in your homeschool, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box for a solution.

Play around with ideas.

Experiment.

Blaze new trails.

You can do this.

You can have an abundant homeschool that encourages leisure and contemplation for the teacher and the students.

From Type A To Schole Series

I’ll be wrapping up my From Type A to Scholé series next week by talking about what the results of pursing leisure and rest in our homeschool by focusing on truth, goodness, and beauty. In the meantime be sure and catch up on any of the series that you might have missed: Exorcising School, Seek and You Will NOT FindStarting with the Woman in the Mirror, and Morning Meeting Makeover.

One less stressful thing off my plate in the tree house,

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Friday

Back to Home School Fun

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy here.
Most homeschoolers are getting ready to begin a new school year in the coming weeks.  I’m so excited about this that I had to share it with all of you. 

Our family doesn’t “technically” start a new school year until January and school year round, but I love to do something special on the first day that all of our public school friends go back. We sleep late, eat a special breakfast, take pictures for our new grades {I promote the kids when the schools go back so they know how to answer, “What grade are you in?”}, buy new school supplies, and go somewhere fun for the day. This year I wanted to do something a little different. I’ve secretly been purchasing school supplies for the kids over the past few weeks, and I’m letting the kids do a Homeschool Supplies Scavenger Hunt to find all of their new stuff!!! I know they are going to love it and I’m having  hard time containing myself for the next three weeks. I wanted to share it so that any of you who were looking for something a little different and fun to start the homeschool year could jump right in and let me know how your family liked it. Yes, I’m asking you to be my guinea pigs!
Homeschool Supplies Scavenger Hunt



Here are the answers to the clues and where the items should be hidden:
Clue #1: Glue in the laundry room (I’m putting mine in the dryer.)
Clue #2: Pencils on a window sill
Clue #3: Stapler in a closet
Clue #4: Crayons on the stove
Clue #5: Ruler at the front door
Clue #6: Binder on the table
Clue #7: Colored pencils on the bed
Clue #8: Notebooks in the bathtub
Clue #9: Personal size marker boards under a chair
Clue #10: Unashamed attempt for me to get hugs and kisses from the kids, but I’ll also have their homeschool books in some new backpacks for them.

I’m already thinking of fun locations that we could take our scavenger hunt next year: the library, the zoo, a park, etc.

Wishing all of a you a blessed and magical school year from the tree house,

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