Tuesday, 8 March 2011

What works for us...

This is the last part in my "what works" series where I share and review which curriculum works for us. This time I am reviewing our "together" subjects. These are History, Geography, Science, Art and Music Appreciation, and Poetry Memorization. These subjects we do together and this is the part that I really enjoy in our homeschool. It's mostly Adrienne, Andre and myself, but Celeste tags along too sometimes.

First Canadian History:

We are learning about our country's history this year and really loving the curriculum we are using. The Modern History Through Canadian Eyes is a guide to study Canadian History using several resources. I chose to use the Story of Canada, the Spirit of Canada, and Footprints in the Snow. The guide also lists other core resouces. Every unit has a list of world events and people to match that time period, along with Canadian events and people, and additional reading suggestions. I use all this information to get more books from the library as needed. Some units also have suggestions for extra projects (writing, research, field trips or other). These types of guide/curriculum is what I really enjoy working with. It gives me a guideline but allows me to add my own selections as well if I want to. The kids have also said they have enjoyed learning more about their country's history this year.

In World Geography, we are using the Trail Guide to World Geography. This is the second time we are using this guide. The first time was a couple of years ago. Adrienne and I had followed the literature study included in the guide, reading Around the World in 80 Days and making our way through the world with it. This year, we are using the main portion of the guide and studying the geography by mapping, trail blazing, and using the geography trails. The trail blazing is a list of ideas for extra activities to do for each week, each part of the world. The geography trails are like trivia questions. My kids really enjoy doing these (to my surprise!). They search through their own atlases to find the answers. The guide has three levels for the trails. Adrienne and Andre also  have made their own illustrated geography dictionary. They both really like this curriculum and I have enjoyed using it. We use library books, folk tales or even travel videos to supplement. The guide includes so much that I know I will be using it again for several years. I do have the CD that includes all the notebook pages for each level and Uncle Josh's Outline Map book. I had printed and photocopied everything I needed at the beginning of the year which really helped!

Another subject that my kids have really enjoyed this year is Poetry Memorization. This was something I have always wanted to include in our homeschool, but never really got around to it until I found this curriculum. The Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization by the Institute of Excellence in Writing (IEW) is a very easy program to implement. We read the poem, memorize it, and recite it every day. Every week, we add a new one. All three of my children participate in this one. The poems are appealing to all of them. This is another program that will last a few years, as there are four levels of poems in it. We are only working on level one this year.

The Art and Music Appreciation we are doing this year is basic but we enjoy our Friday afternoons discovering painters and musicians. We are using the guide from Harmony Fine Arts, the Logic Stage level 7.  I am using her program as a guideline and searching for the music online (free) or at the library. We then write a short biography and record the names of the music selections we listened to on our notebook pages. For the painters, I also search online or use the links already mentioned in the guide, or the library. We view and talk about the works and record their names and our thoughts, along with a biography of the artist. It's simple but we enjoy it. I am not using all the suggestions in the guide at this point but what we are using, works.

This last subject, Science, also works but partly.

I pulled my own curriculum together this year for science. We chose to study physics, following somewhat the Well Trained Mind rotation. I decided to try the Physics Workshop kit from Thames & Kosmos to add a hands-on part to our study. This kit has over 70 experiments, all related to physics. We are using the Usborne Science Encyclopedia (Internet Linked) as our spine. We have used the suggested internet links a lot and learned from them. We also use notebook pages to record definitions, narrations, drawings and lab notes.

The Thames & Kosmos kit came with an experiment manual which I used as my guideline and is filled with information. I have used it also as a spine for certain topics. The part that my children and I have been disapointed with are the experiments and the workshops. Each experiment is preceded by a workshop where you build the item that you will need for the experiment. I am including a photo below of one of the workshops. You can see there is a little bit of text explaining what you are doing, but no other explanations. We have had to guess a lot of the time by looking closely at the picture. Our science lessons are sometimes frustrating because of this lack of explanations. That is why I said it works partly. Science isn't a subject my son looks forward to because so often we haven't been able to build the experiment properly!

This is the conclusion of my series on what works for our family. I hope you have enjoyed reading my posts, and maybe you will share what works for your family, curriculum wise too. Let me know if you do by leaving a comment.  This series was very helpful for me as well, taking the time to review our choices will help me decide for next year.

If you missed the other posts in this series, here are the links:

What works for Celeste

What works for Andre

What works for Adrienne.

Celeste is six years old, Andre is 12, and Adrienne is 13 years old.


  1. i've enjoyed this series!

  2. Thanks for this. I had be curious about your Canadian History and World History. Currently we're piecing Canadian History together with books from the library. While it's be very informative, it would be nice to have something to follow for chronological order.

  3. Austyn would love the Physics workshop. Thanks for sharing.


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