What we’re using
Finally getting this written! My goodness, it’s taken me forever!
All our supplies are in and we’ve jumped right in! Our schedule has changed a few times and will probably change a few more! It’s an ongoing process. I got most of our items from Thriftbooks and Amazon. Saxon Math came from Rainbow Resource because the price was best for a new full set. When ordering from Thriftbooks you are ordering consigned books so be sure to read the details and information so you know the condition of the books. I had really great luck with their items. The Handwriting book had more writing in it that I expected but it was easy to just erase what was there and move on.
For math, we have decided on Saxon Math 1. Ruby is in second grade but Saxon 1 teaches some skills that she hasn’t learned yet. Saxon is systematic and builds off previous lessons. It mixes old concepts with new concepts giving students lots of practice and reinforcement of skills. It’s short lessons and “back to the basics” approach is just what I’ve been looking for. K-3 lessons follow the format, The Meeting, Lessons, and Practice/Assessments. It’s very easy to follow and the lessons are scripted for the parent. Saxon offers a manipulatives kit to help lock in the math skills with hands on learning, ensuring students gain and retain math skills. While you don’t have to buy the manipulatives, we bought several from Amazon. You can easily use things you already have in your home. You can also buy a full set from Rainbow Resource. These are used for K-3 so while the kit is an extra cost, you will get several years of use out of it. So far, she is doing great and is enjoying the lessons. These first lessons are pretty much review for her, but I wanted to start at the beginning since the lessons build and review past lessons.
There are several parts to language arts, grammar, spelling, literature, reading, and writing. Seems like a lot right?! Well, it is but it’s totally manageable. At least so far.
I love phonics. It is in my opinion, teaching phonics is key to making great readers. We have chosen The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sarah Buffington. It’s very thorough and heavy on phonics, while also teaching grammar and vocabulary. It’s inexpensive as well and a fantastic edition to use for extra help after school, beginning readers or even school-age for kids who didn’t learn phonics. The only extras you need are flashcards that you can buy or make yourself, and a magnetic board with alphabet letters. All the lessons are scripted and very easy to follow. Any reading material is also included in lessons. There will also be a revised version released in June of 2022.
We have chosen Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer. Once again, this is easy to follow and lessons are short so it’s not too overwhelming for after schooling. This is a great option for the elementary student or the older child who continues to struggle with writing. It’s a two part book with parent instruction in the first half and student workbook in the last. It is heavily scripted making it easy for parents to troubleshoot and find answers to their questions when teaching their children writing. You can follow it exactly or simply use the book as a guide and choose your own copywork and dictation.
The program follows a four day sequence every week, Copywork, Narration Exercise, Copywork, Narration Exercise. The Narration Exercises help to reinforce memory and recall. This program reinforces grammar taught in First Language Lessons. They are intentionally separated because the authors believe by lumping them together, as most do, it puts too much writing on the young student.
We are also using Zaner-Bloser Handwriting for manuscript. This is a fantastic program teaching kids the correct way to form letters to move easily into cursive writing. Using this program gets kids writing in cursive in the 2nd grade. It begins the 2nd grade reinforcing manuscript then introducing cursive. I’m really excited to move forward with this program
We are using First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise for our grammar part of language arts. It the book, The Well Trained Mind, they recommend separating grammar from writing in the early years. I like this idea as I do most in recommended by the authors. We are starting with level 1 even though my daughter is in 2nd grade so I can make sure she grasps the parts of speech it the sequential order the programs lays out.
Like most of the resource by Jessie and Susan, this program has short, quick lessons, it’s scripted, logical and very easy to use. It’s not flashy or colorful, but you don’t really need all that in a grammar program. There is lots of repetition and memory work involved in First Language Lessons. If you use this from level 1-4, your child will learn all parts of speech, sentence formation, contractions, punctuation and even diagramming!
We are starting with the Spelling Workout program for spelling. This has essentially not lesson prep. You just follow along page by page and there is a review every 5 lessons. The other programs don’t really have spelling included. It’s taught from a phonics perspective so it goes hand in hand with the other language arts programs we have selected. We are again starting with book A simply to just follow the sequence. I expect she will move quickly through the first couple of books.
Finally, history. I have never been a history buff. I remember a lot of basketball talk in my high school history class and have really poor knowledge of the subject. Oddly though I am so excited to learn along side Ruby with this one. So far in our readings it turns out I know more than I thought, but I’m also learning so much! So is Miss Ruby! She is actually interested. We just read an age appropriate version the Odyssey and she rechecked it from the library to read again! Along side it we have read several books about the Trojan horse and stories in our encyclopedias.
The Well Trained Mind Recommends following history in chronological order, Ancients (1st, 5th, 9th grades), Medieval to Early Renaissance (2nd, 6th, 10th grades), Late Renaissance to Early Modern (3rd, 7th, 11th grades), and Modern times (4th, 8th, 12th grades). The book gives all kinds of suggestions for reading materials on each level and what to use for your teaching text.
We have decided to go with The Story of the World Vol 1-4 by Susan Wise Bauer for our first four years of history. It’s once again easy to follow and all the extra activities and suggested reading makes it more interesting. The book is divided into sections for your lessons making it very easy to plan and teach lessons. We are following the recommendation of 3 days a week.
Science for us right now is extra and we do it when we can get to it. In The Well Trained Mind, it is recommend to follow science as you do with history. What you are studying in history coincides with science in a way that the areas you study are the things you would see in the those times. When studying ancients, you study biology, Medieval to Early Renaissance, you will study earth science and astronomy, Late Renaissance to Early Modern is chemistry, and in Modern years you’ll study physics. Makes sense right? Are you figuring out why I love a classical education?
We are mostly just reading through our DK Animal Encyclopedia and some other resources as our extra reading for now. We’ll add in some projects later but while we are after schooling I don’t want to overwhelm her.
Other resources we are using are Usborne Encyclopedias. I love love love Usborne. Their books are great and their encyclopedias are amazing and colorful for kids to enjoy. We are also using Kingfisher Encyclopedia, McGuffey’s Third Eclectic reader, Blackline Maps of World History, Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions, DK First Animal Encyclopedia, Kingfishers Animal Encyclopedia, and Mudpies to Magnets. All are listed below.
Find a full list on amazon here!