Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Lesson Planning 2011 Part 3: The Extras

I know that from the previous posts about our 2011 school year, it looks like there isn’t much room left in the day for anything else. Let me rest your mind a bit by saying that I often over-prepare to some degree because I know that some of the things planned will end up getting scrapped in favor of something that works better. I blog as much for my own reference as to share; in several instances, I’ve planned on using two full courses of study but of course we’ll only need one. We may use bits from each or focus mainly on one or the other, but we will not complete both as full courses (unless we need to go back and remediate). Our daily schedule, while full, is flexible as is my general attitude. As we get more settled into homeschooling, I think it’s natural to step it up more.

Our extracurriculars for this year will be: Foreign Language, Physical Education, Health, Music/Arts/Drama, Triangle Homeschoolers Adventure Club, Community Service, Robotics, CurrClick’s Lego Club, Home Economics,  TX Nature Challenge, Houston Wilderness Program, 4H, Science Fair, Summer Reading Club and whatever other interest the kids have that they’re motivated to look more deeply into. Some of this will be continuous and other things will be seasonal.

Many of these ECs will be in conjunction with a core lesson; TX Nature Challenge, JASET and the Lego clubs, for example, are science lessons. The TXNC may also count under ‘geography’ and ‘physical education’, depending on the activity and location as well.

Foreign Language

We started Latin a few months ago and we’ll continue with it this year. I found a great literature-based YouTube Series called Learning Latin with Virgil. It’s based on Virgil’s ‘The Aeneid’ and it’s been really fun and easy to learn. I don’t speak Latin, I was wondering how to work the pronunciation; this video series eliminates that worry. Since we’re doing this video series, I wanted flashcards for the boys to review in other places (so we’re not continually tied to the computer for Latin review) so I made flashcards for Lessons 1 – 4, and for Lessons 3 – 4. I’ll have more later on. I’m cutting them, pasting onto index cards and laminating them.  I also found The Declension Song (lyrics), which we’re learning. I’m hoping that will give us a leg up when we start with more in-depth Latin lessons. I also found vocabulary flash cards at Flashcard Exchange. Eventually, we’ll move in to Ecce Romani (exercises and Teacher’s Lounge are good resources). The video series is quite long though, so it will be a while before we’re ready for ER.

Physical Education & Health

Getting exercise isn’t a problem for my kids. Having a PE curriculum is. Do we ‘need’ one? maybe not, but we’re going to put a little more structure into our PE plans this year. Our homeschool group will have a planned ‘PE class’ starting in January, but that’s only once per month. We’re going to use PE‘s website some, and PE Central for more game-oriented ideas. My friends and I are back on the weight-loss wagon starting now, so having to ‘teach’ PE to the kids is as much for myself as it is for them.

We’re also starting a comprehensive sex ed course this year. I found the FLASH Curriculum that is put out by the Seattle and King County Health Department. From what I’ve looked at, it seems to be exactly what I was looking for. It’s geared to 4-6th grade, and doesn’t skimp on sexual health topics. Naturally, I’ll supplement with other materials or discussions on topics that I find appropriate, but as a spine with good pacing, FLASH looks like it will work well for us. I’ve also added the Kids link to the kid’s computers so that they can look around and have questions answered. The Young Men’s Health and Young Girl’s Health are a bit ‘older’, but I like those, too. The videos, As Boys Grow and That’s a Family were also recommended.

Music, Art & Drama

The Core Knowledge books have a section on Music, presumably for all of their books. We’ll cover what is there as well as music study with Share the Music (grade 4). I also found a really fun set of mini-books on impressionist artists that we may take a week at a time and do a lapbook over the course of a few months.

The boys began formal piano lessons a few months ago with my grandmother who lives next door. She used to play in church when I was little and has really enjoyed teaching the boys. They spend about half an hour, 3 times a week with her in lessons and practice for 15-20 minutes the other 2 days. When we get a decent keyboard, then they’ll practice everyday.

I am also getting the Artistic Pursuits ( book 3) curriculum. It seems to be very highly recommended, and since I like art but know basically nothing about it, I think this will help me out a lot. We’ll also use bits from Masterpiece Art Instruction; their article, Art & ADHD was of particular interest to me, and countless crafts and art projects that tie into an academic lesson will be used, plus holiday and just for fun stuff from That Artist Woman’s Blog. I’d also like to add more theater into our lives; I found some Drama Links from A-Z Home’s Cool Homeschooling that we might be able to incorporate. Our homeschool group is talking about hosting a play in the spring, so we’ll see about that.

One of the things I am most excited about for this coming year is getting the kids more involved in community volunteering projects. We’ve found several organizations that are  (, 4H’s ‘Community Service Projects You Can Do!’, LU’s Cardinals C.A.R.E. Resource List) targeted towards children and homeschooling families; one of our homeschool group’s moms has volunteered to take the lead in planning on organizing events for this year.

TX Nature Challenge is a program coordinated by the TX AgriLife Extension office and the TX Forest Service. They’ve started posting ‘missions’ each year that encourage families to ‘view native wildlife, dip your feet in creeks, rivers, and draw and write about your observations while learning more about nature and science in your neighborhood!’ We participated last year and the missions for 2010 in our area are still up. Though the competition portion is over, we’ll continue working on them in our own time. The Houston Wilderness Program ties in, but is not connected with the TXNC; we’ve been able to do many of the HWP’s activities on the same day/trip as TXNC’s missions.

4-H offers plenty of learning opportunities; everything from lessons in government and parliamentary procedure to agricultural engineering, animal husbandry, archery and photography. I’m quite sure that we’ll find plenty to do with 4H this year, as well as our usual barrage of homeschool group field trips (we have a trip to Austin planned for the summer, camping) & Co-op. We also have other clubs through our group, like the Adventure Club, which is similar to scouting, and we’ll also be involved with the FIRST Jr. Lego League (ages 6-9) & Lego League (ages 9-14) and CurrClick’s Lego Club.

Texas Regional Science Fair – the boys won’t be competing this year, but LBB will be next year. I found several really neat idea books, so between them and the boy’s natural curiosity, I’m sure they’ll find something that appeals. Our homeschool group is planning a group-wide, informal science fair for June. I think the boys will be excited about it.

Changes to the Curriculum for 2011: I know, we haven’t even started and are already tweaking… such is my life! I have omitted Spectrum Science as a possible resource for us this year. I had the chance to really look at it, and basically, it’s a reading/worksheet assignment that will simply not work for my boys. They need more hands-on, and less lecture. I am going to use the E=MC2 Life Science book (it’s a free downloadable version) and if that goes well, I’ll purchase the next set.

For history, I am going to end up using Story of the World. I found the first 3 volumes at Barnes & Noble and got to look over them. I think that the ‘story’ format will work well for us. We’re using Mosaic to start; if that works well then we won’t use the SotW Activity Guide books. If it doesn’t, then I’ll look into them.

And so, with that, our curriculum for next year is complete. I hope that you’ve found something here that you can use; if you find something that you think I might like, please feel free to link in comments below!





2 responses

  1. Rhonda

    As usual I will be checking out your links and probably use a lot of them.
    You have a great blog Heather!

    December 29, 2010 at 5:10 pm

  2. Thanks 🙂 You’ve been doing this longer than I have; I’d love to see what you guys are using!

    December 29, 2010 at 9:21 pm

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