Courage of Sarah Noble
Eight-year-old Sarah must learn to be brave when she accompanies her father to the wilderness of Connecticut to build a house for their family.
In 1707, young Sarah Noble and her father traveled through the wilderness to build a new home for their family. "Keep up your courage, Sarah Noble," her mother had said, but Sarah found that it was not always easy to feel brave inside. The dark woods were full of animals and Indians, too, and Sarah was only eight!The true story of Sarah's journey is inspiring. And as she cares for her father and befriends her Indian neighbors, she learns that to be afraid and to be brave is the greatest courage of all.
Language arts programs listed in this section cover most areas of language arts (reading/literature, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting) in one curriculum, although some skill areas may be covered with less intensity than a focused, stand-alone course.
Please note that a brief synopsis of many of the books included here are provided in our Library Builders section. Study guides for the same book are often available from several publishers, so we found it more efficient to give a description of the book only once.
Just the right stuff! Thats what youll be thinking as you use this warm and inviting reading program from Memoria Press. The guides are well-organized, user-friendly, academically challenging, and graphically pleasing. Memoria believes that reading is not a passive activity, but that it requires an active, discriminating mind, one that has been challenged to think, compare, and contrast. That philosophy is evident in these guides.
Student Guides are consumable at the lower levels, providing space for the student to write. Each book/story/ poem is approached in much the same way, although with increasing depth vocabulary, comprehension and discussion questions, quotations, composition, and miscellaneous literary analysis activities (sequencing, literary terms, dictation, poetry connections, etc.). Upper level books (Gr. 2 and up) are organized around the Trivium, and activities are grouped into Pre- Grammar (preparation prior knowledge or experience), Grammar (presentation essential facts, elements, and features), Logic (dialectic reasons with the facts, elements, and features), and Rhetoric (expression explains in own words with supporting details). Although there is consistency from lesson to lesson, there is also an extra activity provided with each lesson, and these are quite varied. Background information on the author and book is included. Several high school level guides have transitioned to Second Editions, which are smaller-format (6"x 9") with a focus on student activities without lined spaces. Students would record their work in a separate notebook.
Teacher Guides provide valuable teaching information and full-text answer keys at all grade levels. Beyond this there are variances within the guides. Discussion talking points, reproducible quizzes and final tests (with answers) are included in numerous guides especially at the upper levels. The first grade program (StoryTime Treasures and More StoryTime Treasures) differs a little bit in content due to the lower grade level. The second-grade level includes pre- and post-reading exercises that focus on continued phonics development, syllabication and vocabulary for the emerging independent reader. For grades 2-9, we are now offering literature guide only packages that include all the student and teacher guides for each grade, no books. ~ Janice
Teaching language arts often seems messy and disorganized. The appeal of an integrated program is almost irresistible. Instead of a book for reading, one for grammar, one for spelling, one for vocabulary, one for handwriting, one for composition, and one for thinking skills, why not wrap all of these studies around quality literature? This is exactly the approach suggested by the veteran educator Ruth Beechick. Starting with her sample lessons, the authors of the Learning Language Arts Through Literature series, Diane Welch and Susan Simpson, developed more lessons of their own and eventually collaborated with Dr. Beechick in the preparation of this series. Now after some twenty-five years of publication and a second significant revision, the 3rd edition series continues to be an easy-to-use favorite among homeschoolers. Countless students have proven that written language is best learned by reading fine literature and by working with good writing models.
In addition to the new 3rd edition covers and clearer day-by-day instruction, there are updates throughout the series to reflect changes in how research is conducted. Also, there is clearer direction for making personalized spelling lists. Some lessons have been "switched-out" to give students exposure to more classic literature. Since the original series was written over several years by two different authors, this 3rd edition has been tweaked to make it more consistent. A few out-of-print books have been replaced as well. Some specific changes include: Yellow - ten lessons replaced. Orange - thesaurus and editing activities have been added to most lessons and the book has been reorganized. Purple - reorganized with added vocabulary and spelling activities. Tan - reorganized with three lessons replaced. Green - The Mysterious Benedict Society has replaced Adam and His Kin book study; several lessons replaced and reading comprehension and writing activities have been added to many lessons. Gray - Daddy Long Legs has replaced Across Five Aprils as a book study. In-depth analogy studies have been added.
At the heart of this approach are lessons based on excerpts from great literary works. Each week a passage is introduced to the student. At the younger levels, the student copies the passage after hearing it read. At higher levels, the student writes the passage as it is dictated sentence by sentence. The rest of the week is spent on instruction based on the passage. As an example, Lesson 10 from the Tan (6th grade) book starts with a paragraph from The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong. On the first day, the student is expected to write the passage from dictation after taking note of the usage of quotation marks. Words missed in writing the dictation are incorporated into a spelling lesson which also includes coverage of words spelling the long /i/ sound with igh as in light. Next is a study on homonyms centered around the usage of "hole" in the passage and how the meaning would be changed if "whole" were used. Other homonyms are also studied and then the student is asked to write a sentence using a homonym pair. The second days lesson starts with an examination of point of view from which a story is told. The student examines this passage as well as other stories to look for various points of view and then is asked to rewrite the passage from a different point of view. Lesson work on the third day is on an example of independent clauses linked by semicolons included in the passage; it then progresses to a general discussion of independent clauses versus phrases. Again the student is asked to rewrite the passage making changes in the sentence structure. Also included in this days lesson is a study on the emotions in a story and how good writers use descriptions to draw the reader into the action and to create a mood. The lesson concludes with a short writing assignment (paragraph) and a review of spelling words. Day four is a study of plot utilizing a helpful plot line graphic organizer and including another short writing assignment. The weeks lesson is concluded on day five by choosing one of several activities including writing a short story containing the five plot elements. Each weeks lesson is followed by a page of Review Activities. The teacher can choose any or all of the review activities.
There are full-length book studies (usually four) included with each course. For example, The Bronze Bow is studied in the Tan Book. Starting with an introduction and summary (found only in the Teacher Book), the study continues with a vocabulary worksheet and discussion questions. A list of eight activities concludes the study with the student being instructed to choose one or two. Some of these studies incorporate activities from other disciplines such as the mapping exercise from the Carry On, Mr. Bowditch study found earlier in the Tan Book. Occasionally, there are special instruction segments like the How to Research section in the Tan Book.
There are 36 week-long lessons in each course each of which is an in-depth book study or a passage-based lessons. The passage-based lessons are drawn from a wide variety of literature. To give you some idea of the breadth of these literature selections, here is the list from the Tan Book: Bambi, The Eagle, Little House in the Big Woods, The Story of a Bad Boy, Prince Caspian, The Bronze Bow, King of the Wind, The Wheel on the School, Jest Fore Christmas, Swiss Family Robinson, Swallows and Amazons, Big Red, Kidnapped, Robinson Crusoe, Wind in the Willows, Caddie Woodlawn, The Gettysburg Address, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Railway Children, Psalm 136:1-5, The Horse and His Boy, The House at Pooh Corner, Anne of Green Gables, The Crow and the Pitcher, Little Women, Invincible Louisa, and Matthew 5:13-16. Assessments are included periodically.
These courses are very user-friendly. Obviously, a portion of every lesson includes teacher-student interaction but teacher preparation is minimal and students are often given assignments to work on independently. The Teacher Book provides all necessary background and instructional information; laid out step-by-step for the teacher. These contain all the content from the Student Books in 2/3 page width columns placed side-by-side in the center of the book (two-page spread). These inside columns sometimes contain information not found in the Student Book such as the introduction and background information for the book studies. The outside 1/3 page contain teachers notes as well as all the answers.
The Student Book is consumable and contains some instruction and background information directed to the student as well as generous space to write assignments. These books also contain Enrichment Activities that are found only in the student book although the answers are in the back of the non-consumable Teachers Book.
Although there is a great deal of overlap between the teacher and student book, there are enough differences that both are necessary. You will need to have access to several reference books - dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedias - but you easily use the library or internet for those. In addition to the book study selections (often available from the library but which we sell for your convenience), you will need only general school supplies - pencils, paper, colored pencils, drawing paper, notebook, file folders, and construction paper.
The books are designated by colors but correlate with skills taught at specific grade levels. Since some parents are unsure of where to begin their child in the series, we have placement tests for each course from Common Sense Press available on our website. A biblical and Christian worldview is evident in all courses. ~ Janice
Topics included: Grammar, Reading Skills, Spelling Skills, Higher Order Thinking Skills, Creative Writing, Journal Entry, and Cursive Handwriting. Debbie Strayer and Susan Simpson, authors. Passages from: Tale of Benjamin Bunny, Other Kitten, "Whistles," "Rain in the Night," Jungle Book, Alices Adventures in Wonderland, "The Creation," Tale of Jeremy Vole, "Encyclopedia Brown and the Forgetful Sheriff," Pledge of Allegiance, "Saint George and the Dragon," and Mother Goose.
Ten lessons have been replaced in the 3rd edition.
Unit Study Curriculums are "complete" curriculums based on the unit study approach that are intended to be used over a longer span of time (typically a year or more). They generally have an organized structure or flow and incorporate as many subject areas as possible. Typically, organizational materials and methods are provided along with some instruction for use. Broken into logical segments or "units" of study, they are intended to comprise the core of your curriculum.
What is a "unit study"? Briefly, it's a thematic or topical approach to teaching as opposed to the traditional by-subject approach. Rather than teach each subject separately, a unit study attempts to integrate many or all subject areas into a unified study - usually centered around a particular subject or event. Obviously History (the study of events) and Science (the study of "things") are well-suited to unit studies, and usually form the "core" around which other subjects are integrated. Subjects like Bible, Geography, Government, English (writing), and Reading/Literature, Music, Home Economics, Life Skills, and Art, are usually easy to integrate around a core topics. Remaining subjects (Math, Phonics, Grammar, Spelling) can be integrated to some extent via related activities. Each, however, has its own "system" (progression of skills, mastery of "rules") which must be followed to some degree. Since one of the additional advantages of a unit study curriculum is the ability to use it with students of varying ages and skill levels, these subjects are generally taught apart from the core curriculum. This may be as simple as assigning pages in a grammar or spelling book, or using a separate "program" for Phonics and Math. Unit studies also tend to be more activity-oriented than the traditional approach, a real boon to kinesthetic learners. Advocates of the unit study approach site studies showing that children learn best when learning is unified rather than fragmented and when learning is more participatory than passive.
"Its just common sense!" Yes, everything about this program is common sense. A very complete program organized around quality children's literature and covering phonics, reading, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, handwriting, and higher-order reasoning. Phonics instruction is systematic, introducing a few sounds at a time and providing opportunities to read a "real" (small story book) book which uses those sounds. The literature component (carefully selected children's favorites) reminds students that the reason for all the hard work in phonics is the joy of reading wonderful books. And woven through both of these elements is comprehensive instruction in all aspects of language arts. Relying heavily on Ruth Beechick's principles for teaching reading (including her letter dice activities), the program includes a wide variety of activities appealing to all learning styles.
The current 3rd edition features updated covers and clearer day-by-day instruction; there are also updates throughout the series to reflect changes in how research is conducted. Also, there is clearer direction for making personalized spelling lists. Some lessons have been "switched-out" to give students exposure to more classic literature. Since the original series was written over several years by two different authors, this 3rd edition has been tweaked to make it more consistent. A few out-of-print books have been replaced as well.
The Teacher Book is a homeschooler's dream; all the work has been done for you, taking you step-by-step through the 36-week/36 Lesson program. The Lessons are grouped into "Parts" and each is divided into five days of detailed instructions. New skills are listed for each lesson and necessary supplies are included at the beginning. There is virtually no teacher preparation needed; you teach as you read. All answers are provided within the lesson. Examples and diagrams are user-friendly including the easy-to-follow references to the Student Book. Periodic assessments are provided to help you determine your childs readiness for the next "Part." The Student Book contains the materials (except for household and school supplies) needed for cut-and-paste, word wheels, flip books, picture sequencing, story-telling puppets, and handwriting pages. The comfortable, natural handwriting method that isnt exactly traditional, modern, or italic was developed by the authors. This handwriting instruction is coordinated with the phonics and includes pages for children to carefully complete and display or give as gifts. The Student Book is consumable with perforated pages. Even the back cover is put to good use providing the miniature book covers to be added to the personal reading chart that marks the childs progress. Phonics concepts are reinforced in separate beginning Readers. They are small-sized for little hands and include black-and-white illustrations. Stories are engaging which is a good thing since the weeks learning activities are built around them. The student uses puppets to retell the stories, completes sequencing activities with a series of reader-related events, and answers comprehension questions. One interesting aspect of the teacher-student interaction concerning these readers is that the weeks lesson starts off with the teacher reading either the small book (Blue) or a part of a reader (Red) to the child. After several lessons thoroughly covering the new phonics concepts and practice reading parts of the story, the student concludes the week with the successful reading of the same reading selection. This is an effective variation of the typical approach because the goal of reading the book is always before the student. The Materials Packet (Blue Program only) is a useful collection of color-coded letter and word cards for learning and review along with cards used for reinforcement games and, of course, the letter dice (to be assembled from cardstock patterns). While this part of the program is not exactly consumable - you could use the various components again - the components do get a workout. If you are expecting to use the program with another child, you'll want to save these items, possibly laminating them. However, we sell additional Material Packets as well as Student Books and Reader Sets so you can easily use the program with a second student. Well-known children's literature (Read-Aloud Library) is suggested each week, so at the same time your child is learning phonics, he is also learning other important reading skills such as literal recall, comprehension, predicting outcome, and drawing conclusions. These books are an integral part of the program and the Student Activity Book relies on them. Although usually available at the local library, for your convenience we also sell them. ~ Janice
Very comprehensive and versatile study guides from a Christian perspective for selected novels. According to the publisher, the focus is on "teaching thinking and communication skills using literature as a base." A myriad of skills are covered here: reading comprehension, analytical and critical thinking, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, writing, and listening (I guess that's the "Plus"!). Total Language Plus is really both literature and language arts combined in one program. Novels have been carefully selected to either display a high moral tone, or to provide a basis from which to teach Biblical discernment. Most are Newbery Medal or Honor books; all are generally thought of as quality literature, have depth, and are high-interest.
One small teacher's manual presents the how's and why's of the program. It provides an overview and philosophy of the program, sample lesson plans for a typical week, and instructions for teaching each component of the program. The appendix contains a writing helps section and a summary of basic spelling rules. Also included here are answers to common questions about the Total Language Plus program. The program requires minimal teacher involvement as students work through most of the material on their own. While some work is done on separate paper, most exercises are worked directly in the student worktext, which is not reproducible. The only condition under which copying is allowed is when teaching multiple students simultaneously out of the same study guide.
The beginning of each book contains a variety of critical thinking activities, correlated to chapters in the novels, which include projects, drawing, writing assignments, and a puzzle. Some of the writing assignments require research or lengthier essays, while "Personally Thinking" questions require shorter written answers to questions that apply concepts in the story to the student's life or require the student to think and make judgments about story events and characters. These activities can be used at any time during the unit at your discretion, but you will probably want to use several of the shorter writing assignments per week if you want to include composition skills in the program.
The rest of the guide is broken down into weekly units. Each week, the student reads a section of the novel and answers comprehension questions pertaining to those chapters. Daily oral language exercises contain short paragraphs to be dictated to the student, practicing listening and memorization skills and reinforcing spelling and grammar. Passages are chosen to emphasize Bible truths that relate to the story or are actual excerpts from the literature. Other exercises practice an assortment of English skills, with Friday's exercise a summary of "problem words" for the week. Each day, students complete a section of their vocabulary worksheets, including the compilation of a glossary of vocabulary words for which students supply definition and part of speech. Vocabulary review sheets are included at the back of the book, and you can assign these to review and reinforce learning. As a culmination of vocabulary work, a final review test and answer key is provided. Daily spelling exercises also revolve around words from the novel. At the end of each week, a spelling test is administered on the words studied that week. As you can see, far more than reading and comprehension is covered here! Using this program you should not need separate spelling or vocabulary programs. Depending on the activities you choose, and the emphasis you place on composition skills, this may suffice as your total English program. Each book contains 5 to 8 units and will take about 8 to 10 weeks to complete. Plan on using about 3 to 5 guides per year.
Guides are available at five grade levels. Advanced high school guides contain more extensive writing activities that teach composition techniques, showing the student how to organize and plan their writing, as well as suggesting what points to include. They also contain oral readings for the selections to incorporate speech and drama into the program.
Lower-priced guides (see Out of the Dust and From the Mixed-Up Files...) are Focus Guides, which "focus" on specific writing skills and omit many of the varied language arts activities found in the other guides. While containing comprehension and analysis questions like other guides, they also feature comprehensive writing assignments relevant to the novel. Focus guides have less content overall than other guides and will take about 3 weeks to complete.
Imagine a classically-based history course where your child reads great history books and period-related literature, keeps a running timeline of the period studied, writes outlines and summaries of important people and events, completes history-related map work, and does all of this without extensive planning on mom's part. Although it may sound too good to be true, luckily for you it's not! Author Kathleen Desmarais has done an awesome job of combining an excellent variety of resources and activities and presenting it all in a very straight-forward, professional way that takes the stress of lesson planning off of you and puts the accountability and expectations squarely on your history student.
History Odyssey is basically a series of study guides, with one guide covering one era of history (Ancients, Middle Ages, Early Modern, or Modern) in one year. There are three levels to the program, so if you completed the whole series, you would cycle through world history three times - once in elementary, once in middle school, and once in high school education. The first level is intended for grades 1-4, the second level for grades 5-8, and the third level for grades 9-12. There will be twelve guides when the series is complete; currently, there are still several guides in production. The guides are loose-leaf and 3-hole punched, designed to be placed in a binder. You'll probably want a thick one; students will be adding a lot of material!
Although the same eras in history are covered in each level, the expectations on the student become more sophisticated, following the classical education progression. In Level 1 (the grammar stage), students are encouraged to approach history as a great story as they read (or are read to) and complete map work, History Pockets activities, copywork, and coloring pages. This level will require more attention from the parent than the two upper levels. Depending on the reading ability of the child, some reading selections may need to be read aloud or read together. There will also be copies to make and supplies to gather for each lesson. Level 2 (the logic stage) introduces the timeline, outlining as a writing skill, research, and independent writing assignments. Students are expected to read all assignments on their own, and critical thinking and analysis are emphasized through the assignments. Parental involvement should be reduced at this level, as parents should be only checking the quality of each day's work and making sure that it has all been done. By Level 3 (the rhetoric stage), students will be reading much more demanding history selections (including classic literature) and will be writing plenty of expository, descriptive, narrative and persuasive essays. Research, timeline work, and map work are continued from Level 2 but are more in-depth at this level. For each level, history, geography, and writing are strongly represented. Although the writing practice is extensive, you will probably want to be using a separate course in English and writing.
Now that you're familiar with the basics of the course, let's look at the lessons. Lessons are presented to the student in a checklist-type format. All assignments, including reading, timeline, writing, and others are listed for each lesson with a box to check when the task is complete. In Level 1, lessons are structured a bit differently, in that there is some parent preparation (highlighted in gray), a "main lesson" of assignments, and then several "additional activities" listed. Lessons typically include a mix of readings from resource books, map work, timeline work (in the upper two levels), and writing assignments/copywork to be added to the student's master binder. Exceptions may be lessons which ask the student to begin reading a required book. In this case, a recommended time frame is given in which the book should be read, and follow-up writing assignments may be listed. Occasionally websites may be listed to check out more information, but these are not absolutely necessary to the course if you are not able to visit them. Following the lessons, you'll find worksheets referred to in the lessons, outline maps used in map activities, and several appendices. Although the guide is not reproducible, the author does give permission to copy the maps and worksheets for your family's use only.
There are several important aspects of this course. First of all, with the exception of Level 1, there is little parent preparation. A "Letter to Parents" at the beginning of the guide explains the course, while the "How to Use This Guide" lists required resources and other necessary supplies, describes the organization of the student's binder, and briefly discusses several aspects of the program. For the upper two levels, parents will be primarily making sure the necessary books and resources are on hand and ensuring that each lesson's work has been done and is complete. This leads to my next point, which is that at the end of this course, the student will not have "completed a workbook," but will have compiled their own meaty notebook with all their work from the course. Instruction is given at the very beginning of the course on how to organize the student's notebook, and from that point on, the student will be putting all of their work into the binder. The binder will be not only a tremendous keepsake but a collection of all work done in the course. Finally, the timeline is a very important tool used in Levels 2 and 3 of History Odyssey. This can be made by you, or you may choose to purchase Pandia Press's very attractive Classical History Timeline, which is described below. Events and people studied are added to the timeline throughout the course, and when they're finished with the guide, the timeline can be folded up and included in the student's binder.
One bonus to the course is that they use well-known resources and literature that you may already own! Level 1 heavily uses Story of the World books, A Child's History of the World and History Pockets. My sample of Middle Ages Level 2 lists the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Story of Mankind, Usborne Internet-Linked Viking World, The Door in the Wall, Tales from Shakespeare, Beowulf: A New Telling, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Castle (by David Macaulay), The Canterbury Tales, and many more. Check out the lists of resources beneath each History Odyssey Guide below - I'm sure you'll see many familiar
The best way to describe these wonderful books is "literature and Bible study rolled into one." Truly from a Christian perspective, these classic and award-winning books are examined in the light of God's Word and a Biblical worldview. The author sent us several review copies and they are wonderful!
Each guide includes:
- a concise synopsis of the book
- information about the book's author
- background information pertinent to the story
- suggestions for activities relating to the subject matter
- introduction of literary terms
- vocabulary exercises for each section of reading
- comprehension, analysis, and application questions for each section of reading with discussion of related Biblical themes
- a complete answer key and suggestions for further reading
Their brochure states "Our goal is to teach students of all ages to examine what they read, Christian or secular, classic or contemporary, and value the truth it contains as measured against the Bible." A worthy goal indeed! If you want to study great literature from a Christian perspective, here's your answer! If in doubt, try just one - we're sure you'll be back for more!
Progeny Press guides are available in two formats: softcover staplebound booklets and CD-ROMs. The CD-ROMs originally featured printable .pdf files, but Progeny Press is now transitioning these to interactive .pdf files. Inspired by a tax software, these files are able to be used by the student on the computer, or printed out. Questions in the files have text boxes to type in or buttons to select, so you won't have to print worksheet pages if you don't want to. Plus, users can grade their answers and leave notes as well! Upper Elementary through High School CD guides are now interactive, while Lower elementary
When several very talented authors create a curriculum that combines the educational philosophies of Ruth Beechick and Charlotte Mason, you know its worth taking a look. Designed to incorporate Dr. Beechicks educational principles in their entirety, this curriculum attempts to guide students in building their thinking skills through the knowledge they gain, not as a separate process. The Trail Guide to Learning program is a very comprehensive unit study curriculum that incorporates reading, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, science, art and more into a study of history and geography. Math is the only core subject not covered. Currently, three complete levels are available: Paths of Exploration (for grades 3-5), Paths of Settlement (for grades 4-6) and Paths of Progress (for grades 5-7). These first three levels focus on American history and are designed for the elementary grades (although they are adaptable for students at the top or bottom of each intended grade range so you could use Paths of Exploration with a 2nd grader or 6th grader). These make up the first segment of a planned complete curriculum series that will cover U.S. History (elementary), World History (jr. high), and Modern U.S./World History/Government/Economics (high school). While this review will undoubtedly be modified as this ambitious curriculum continues to be published, most of this review will focus on Paths of Exploration (POE), Paths of Settlement (POS) and Paths of Progress (POP).
Each level is organized into six topical six-week units. In POE, the units are: Columbus, Jamestown, Pilgrims, Daniel Boone, Lewis & Clark, and Trails West. The units are fairly discrete, and do not blend into each other. Each topic is covered exhaustively, however, with relevant cross-curricular content. Units are divided into six lessons, which are further split into five parts, so each level features 180 daily lessons in all. The authors make a point that although the lessons are broken down into daily chunks, there is enough review built in (particularly on Fridays) so you can be somewhat flexible with scheduling. Specific teaching instructions are provided for students in Grades 3-5, with a different animal track symbol designating each grade level suggestion. These assignments can be easily found in each lesson, or you can view the Lessons At A Glance in one of the Appendices to see a whole lesson broken down by skill area and assignments, with handy checklists for completion. As students progress through the course, they will add their student pages, artwork, and other projects into their Student Notebook (Notebooking Pages for Paths of Exploration are no longer available in pdf format. You can purchase the actual printed pages - 3-hole punched, blackline format, with activity pages included for all six units), a permanent record of the year. Reading material and additional activities are found in the required resources. that you will need for each unit. Please note that student pages are now a separate purchase for POE but are included in digital format for POS and POP until those are revised.
Lessons are written for ease of use for both teacher and student. Although the directions are written to the student, notes in the margins are intended for the teacher. No answers are given in the lesson content, which makes it easier to share the book. Each lesson begins not with specific knowledge-based objectives, but with several "Steps for Thinking" which are the larger ideas behind the topics students will learn in the lesson. In Lesson 1 in the Columbus unit, these include: "1. Journeys are made for a reason. 2. Knowing the reason for a journey helps you understand the decisions people make along the way. 3. Planning ahead and making preparations are essential for a successful journey." These are the ideas that should come up in discussing lesson content later on.
As you might expect from a curriculum co-authored by Debbie Strayer (author of Learning Language Arts Through Literature), language arts is heavily emphasized in every lesson. Each daily lesson segment begins with copywork and dictation, with assignments given at the three grade levels. Reading follows, with the student reading selected sections or pages aloud to the teacher. Then the teacher reads several pages from a more advanced book used in that lesson and reads the discussion questions, or the student narrates a provided assignment. Word Study, which encompasses vocabulary and spelling, is next, and typically is tied into the reading or the copywork. Again, several different grade-level specific assignments are provided. For example, in Unit 2 (Jamestown), Lesson 1, students look at words with apostrophes that they find in their reading book, A Lion to Guard Us. Theyll examine words with apostrophes, and learn the difference between an apostrophe that signals a contraction and an apostrophe that shows belonging. They also make a word list of names of people and places in their notebook and look at words that make the j sound with the dge combination. Throughout their reading, students will also make vocabulary cards for words that they might not have come across before. The guide stresses that these are not flash cards for memorization, but making the cards will help children remember the word and its meaning. That may sound like a lot, but remember that lessons are weekly, not daily.
Geography, history and science are well-integrated integrated into each lesson. History is naturally absorbed from the books the students read (and listen to). A related geography lesson is provided just about every day, which ties in beautifully with the units topic. For example, in the Columbus unit, students learn about compasses, directional terms, globes, maps, culture and worldview, the oceans, the continents, navigation, ships, map skills, using a map key, and more. Students will also locate the places they are reading about on maps, and become aware of where they are and why this is important to the events studied. In POS, students will also study the states as they work through the curriculum. POP emphasizes scientists and inventors, so students will soak up biographical details as well as science concepts.
Because history and geography often go hand-in-hand, and because the curriculum is published by Geography Matters, I had expected the geography lessons to be top-notch. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the science topics are related to the unit topics. Science can occasionally seem like an afterthought in unit studies, with vague assignments for the student to simply "research a topic." Here the topics are relevant and the content is good. Looking again at the Columbus unit in POE, students will learn about science topics that directly affected Columbus expedition, including oceans, air and ocean currents, the sun, stars, constellations, the solar system, weather and how it relates to climate, the moon, the early history of astronomy, spices, and the senses. There are several outside resources that you will use again and again for science material, including The Handbook of Nature Study and the North American Wildlife Guide. Although much of the science work is researching and reading, hands-on experiments from The Handbook of Nature Study are also used. It is worth noting that science is not covered every day like geography, but makes an appearance about 2-3 times per week.
The later sections of each daily lesson may be devoted to writing, art, drawing or another project. Writing activities are the most frequent of the three, and include a lot of variety in the assignments. Students may write fiction based on a place or event they have learned about, use a graphic organizer to identify the parts of a story, make lists, write about something learned that day in their own words, create poetry, make a book review card, write a friendly letter, and much more. Many of the art activities combine drawing with one of the topics covered in the lesson. Art or drawing is included about twice a week, with some activities contributed by homeschool art pros Sharon Jeffus and Barry Stebbing. The Lewis & Clark unit in particular uses Sharons book Lewis & Clark Hands On heavily and often combines art and writing activities. Although art is covered consistently, dont worry too much about investing in a pile of art materials from what I can tell, youll primarily be using the basics (drawing paper, construction paper, colored pencils or crayons, glue, modeling clay and possibly some paint).
The final portion of each days lesson is devoted to independent reading. Student and teacher will work together to find a book that interests them, and the student will read for 20-30 minutes (depending on their age) and record their reading time in their Reading Log. The reading material is completely left up to you and your student(s), which offers them the chance to read other books outside of the historically-based ones theyll primarily be exposed to.
Part 5 of each lesson is less structured, and is designed for completing any work that has not been finished, or for exploring some additional activities. Instead of assignments in each subject area, a bulleted list of activities is included, followed by several enrichment activities. In the unit on Daniel Boone, Part 5 of Lesson 4 suggests that you: review the Steps for Thinking, trace the Appalachian trail on an outline map, review the spelling words from the lesson, complete a week-long observation of your neighborhood, walk a hiking trail in a nearby park, and do a Daniel Boone crossword puzzle. Enrichment activities include researching General George Rogers Clark and making a list of facts about him, and finding a story or video about Daniel Boone and comparing it with the facts learned during the Daniel Boone unit.
There are a few things to note about this curriculum. First of all, it is written from a religiously neutral viewpoint, so it is an option for those of you ordering through charter schools. There is however a strong emphasis on good character, and many units spend some time studying the best qualities of historical figures. If you want to incorporate Bible study into the curriculum, you can either supplement your own program, or purchase the optional Bible study supplement, Light for the Trail directly from Geography Matters. Also, as noted previously, math is not included, so you will need a separate math program. Testing is not built into the program (the student notebook takes the place of assessments), but Geography Matters does offer an optional Assessment CD if this is important to you. Lastly, there are a number of resources that are required for use with the curriculum. These are listed below. Many titles have been chosen to accompany specific units of the program, while others are used all year long. - Jess
over 4 years ago