Homeschool Plans and Curriculum Choices for the 2020-2021 School Year – 1st and 3rd Grade

CCBB500E-EC3E-4B71-8744-0FA40541BB8D 2

I recently shared our 2019-2020 wrap-up and curriculum review.  I am excited to share what we will be doing this year!  First, we have actually already started.  Since we are home so much because of Corona, I decided to get a jump start on the new year.  Hopefully this will give us a chance to take off a big chunk of time during the holidays where we can bake and make crafts, all with zero guilt.

This year Ethan (7.5) will be in 3rd grade and Lillian (6) will be in 1st grade.  Here are our plans by subject:

Arithmetic

1st Grade

IMG_8732

We will be using Master Books Math:  Lessons for a Living Education Volume 1.  I loved Volume 2 for Ethan last year.  I think Lillian will love the story portion of the lesson, the color pictures and the gentle pace.

Along with the gentle pace comes plenty of time for her to use our Montessori Math Materials.  We will be using the Addition Strip Board, Teens Board, Tens Board, Hundred Chain, Thousand Chain, 45 Layout Mat and the Stamp Game.

3rd Grade

This will be our first year using Beast Academy Math.

IMG_1599

I purchased both the online version and the workbooks.  At first we started with just the online version.  But I think since we are very low-tech, Ethan was struggling a bit with solving his problems on the computer.  So I ordered the workbook so he has an area to practice with paper and pencil too.  Although in a little over a week, he has really already improved with using the computer.

I love the challenging aspect of Beast Academy and I think using Montessori materials prior to this helped him develop a super strong number sense.  He is doing great with the challenging problems on Beast Academy because his fundamental math skills are so strong – particularly place value work.

I probably never would have chosen a curriculum called Beast Academy if I did not have a 7 year old boy.  The name probably would have turned me off.  But I get it now and the monster appeal is huge!

BOTH GRADES

We are using the book Addition Facts that Stick by Kate Snow as part of our Morning Basket.  So far this is just review for Ethan but I don’t mind the extra practice and it’s been great for Lillian.

English Language Arts

1st Grade

I am going to useThe Good and The Beautiful with Lillian this year.  This will be our first time trying out one of their products.  Since we are a secular homeschool I know I might have to change or omit some things but I’m really not worried about that.  We will also continue to work with Montessori Language Work, read BOB books and continue using Spelling You See Level B Book 1.

IMG_1499

3rd Grade

This is a real hodgepodge but I feel will be best for Ethan and the learning goals I have in mind for him this year.  We are using:

Comprehension Skills:  Short Passages for Close Reading by Scholastic

Grammar Tales by Scholastic

Daily Word Ladders Grades 2-3: Word Study Lessons that Boost Reading, Vocabulary, Spelling & Phonics by Scholastic

Spelling You See – Level B Book 2

We may also use the The Brave Writer Dart Program single issue in May.

IMG_1286

BOTH GRADES

I read aloud daily 2 picture books, 2 poems and a few chapters of whatever chapter book we are reading.  Both kids also love listening to audiobooks and read independently every day.  We have Poetry Tea Time once a week and the kids enjoy using Reading Eggs/ Reading Eggspress from time to time.

Handwriting

Both kids are going to continue with Handwriting Without Tears.  If Ethan moves quickly through his book, we will add in Keyboarding Without Tears when he is finished.

History & Geography

We are moving on to Story of the World Volume 2.  We loved Volume 1 and are excited to continue with this program.

IMG_1009

Science

Our science plans in the past have usually all been outsourced:  forest school, Brooklyn Robot Foundry and Boat Building Class. But this year I am going to try an official Science curriculum for the first time.  We will be using Pandia Press Real Science Odyssey – Astronomy.  It is Level One for Grades 1-4.  I’m a little nervous about finding the time to add this in but also excited to have found a secular science program that looks awesome! It includes lessons, lab experiments and worksheets.

Art

We are trying something new this year!  I purchased 2 Picture Study Portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason.  We are going to study Vermeer and Michaelangelo.

Music

We are using another product from Simply Charlotte Mason called Music Study with the Masters to study the composers, Schubert and Lizst.

Outside Activities

Oh, are the choices slim this year thanks to Corona.  We are going to continue meeting with our Wild + Free Group for free play in nature with friends and Zoom Tae Kwon Do lessons.

Misc

I always leave time to add in special studies of what each child is interested in and will accommodate that through the books I choose to read aloud, copy work, art projects, field trips or Outschool classes.  We also always incorporate special seasonal studies for fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas.  I will make a post about this seasonal schooling soon!  And of course, just like everyone else, I have no idea how Corona will impact or change any or all of these plans!  Will museums be open?  Will we want to ride the subway?  And the list goes on and on.

But, this is our plan as of right now!  One of the best parts of homeschooling is the ability to adapt, change and evolve whenever you need to do so.

 

What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Sharks

My son, Ethan, who is now 7, went through a serious shark-loving phase.  We have SO many books about sharks in our home!  Do you have a shark lover in your house?

Here are our favorites:

Smart Kids: Sharks: And Other Dangers of the Deep by Priddy Books

National Geographic Readers: Sharks! (Science Reader Level 2) by Anne Schreiber

Sharks (Discovery Kids) (Discovery 3D Readers) by Discovery Kids (This book comes with 3D glasses!  I had to tape ours together because they were falling apart from so much use!)

I Survived: The Shark Attacks of 1916 by Scholastic

Hammerhead vs. Bull Shark (Who Would Win?) by Scholastic (This Who Would Win? series was so appealing to Ethan as a 5 and 6 year old!  He loved these books so much.)

Amazing Sharks! (I Can Read Level 2) by Sarah L. Thompson

Fly Guy Presents: Sharks (Scholastic Reader, Level 2) by Tedd Arnold

Uncover a Shark: An Uncover It Book (Uncover Books) by David George Gordon

These are actually just a few of our favorites!  You can download my full list of recommendations here:

Children’s Books about Sharks

Early Reading Work: A Free Download

Today I wanted to share with you a fun way to practice reading with your young children who are just beginning to read short words.  Once my kids had learned their letter sounds, they loved reading Montessori-inspired Command Cards.  After they read the card, they enjoyed doing the action they had just read.  This is a fun way to bring movement into reading!  Below are some free printable command cards that you can simply print and cut.  Store the cards in a basket where your child can access to enjoy some silly, action packed reading practice!

You can also easily create your own command cards and adjust them to your child’s reading level.  On the printable, I have tried to include some simple commands that only contain CVC words like “hop” as well as longer commands with phrases like “get a book.”

Free Printable Command Cards

 

What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Evolution and Early Humans

When Ethan turned 6 years old he began asking a lot of BIG questions…

  1. How was the Earth formed?
  2. Who was the first person?
  3. How did the first person get here?

I found some great books that helped answer these questions with science in a kid-friendly way.

Here is what we read, and what I’m sure we will be re-visiting soon as Lillian nears her 6th birthday.

One Day a Dot by Ian Lendler

The Story of Life:  A First Book about Evolution by Catherine Barr

Big History Timeline Wallbook by Christopher Lloyd

Have you read any good books about evolution to your children?  I have my eye on Grandmother’s Fish by Jonathan Tweet.

Here is a link to download a list of even more books about the Big Bang Theory and evolution:

Children’s Books about Evolution

Do you have any books that you would recommend?

Creating your IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Plan) for the NYCDOE

It’s almost time for NYC homeschoolers to send in their Individualized Home Instruction Plan or IHIP.  The IHIP is due on August 15, or 2 weeks after you send in your Letter Of Intent if you decide to homeschool mid-year.

This year will be my 3rd year submitting an IHIP for Ethan and my first year for Lillian.  It will be my first year for submitting 2 IHIPs!

Here is how I have approached the writing process:

Since all forms are to be submitted electronically either as a Word or PDF attachment or typed in the body of the email, I open a blank email for each child.  I title the email:

2020-2021 IHIP of (insert child’s name here)  NYCID XXXXXXXXX

Since Lillian does not yet have a NYCID, I only titled hers 2020-2021 IHIP of (name).

In the body of the email I include the necessary personal information that can be found on this form:

https://www.schools.nyc.gov/docs/default-source/default-document-library/individualized-home-instruction-plan-ihip-grades-1-6

So:

First Name

Last Name

Date of Birth

School Year/ Grade Level

9 Digit Student ID

Next, I add in each subject are that is required to be taught/ reported:

Arithmetic

Reading

Writing

English Language

Geography

History

Science

Health Education

Music

Visual Arts

Physical Education

And beside each subject I included the name of the curriculum we will using or the books we will be reading.

I then detail when I will be submitting my Quarterly Reports – I simply stick to the schedule outlined by the NYCDOE.

I hope to have a post up soon with my curriculum/ book choices for 1st grade and 3rd grade!

I know lots of families in NYC who unschool who probably approach the IHIP differently but this is what I have always done.

I plan to submit my IHIPs on August 15th.  I always print out a copy and put it in my planning binder.  I like to have a paper copy because it makes it much easier for me to complete the Quarterly Reports where you document the progress that you have planned for in your IHIP.

Do you have questions about the IHIP?  Need help?  Send me an email or post in the comments.

3 Friday Finds for Anyone Who Will Be a Homeschooling Newbie this Fall!

Here are some links to great articles and information that might be helpful as you begin your journey:

Veteran homeschool mom and creator of Read Aloud Revival, Sarah Mackenzie, shares six things she things she will focus on for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade this year and what she has learned about this age range from having older kids.  It’s a quick read and very insightful.

https://readaloudrevival.com/early-years

 

Are you looking for a way to incorporate seasonal crafts, recipes and poems and songs into your homeschool?  We love Rooted Childhood’s monthly collections!

https://rootedchildhood.com/product-category/monthly-collections/

 

Looking to make meaningful connections with your kids outside this year (especially since indoor activities like museums and shows might not be happening)?  Check out Wild+Free mama, Greta Eskridge’s new book, Adventuring Together.  I am planning to start reading it this weekend.

Happy Friday!

2019-2020 Kindergarten and 2nd Grade Wrap-Up + Curriculum Review

Today’s post is a wrap-up of our 2019-2020 school year including our curriculum.  These types of posts are always my favorites to read on other homeschool blogs and I hope this is helpful to someone!

NYC has different age/ grade cut-off dates than most other places.  The year you turn 6 is your 1st grade year.  This year Ethan turned 7 in the late fall and Lillian turned 5 at the end of the summer.

I’ve broken down our Kindergarten and 2nd grade curriculum choices into the subjects required in NYC.  Kindergarten is not mandated in NYC so my daughter was not an officially registered homeschool student.  She will be next year for her 1st grade year.

I hope that this post illustrates that everything counts!  Homeschooling is a lifestyle which encompasses more than your curriculum choices.  I love choosing curriculum but it is just one part of a life full of learning and fun.

Arithmetic

Kindergarten:  Lillian did not use a formal math curriculum.  She worked with our Montessori Materials, some printables and self-chose work during her school time.  She enjoyed the teen hanging bead frame, the hundreds board, the beads paired with count and clip cards, the game Roll and Record and some holiday themed worksheets from the Moffat Girls at Teachers Pay Teachers.  Math was not her favorite subject and I definitely did not push it (I firmly believe all academic work can wait until after a child turns 6).  One morning recently when she woke up, she asked me, “Do you want to see what I wrote in my notebook last night?”  She proceeded to show me how she wrote out all of her doubles facts (1+1 =2, 2+2=4, etc).  I had NO idea she even knew about doubles facts or how to write an equation.  She said she had been watching Ethan and she learned these things herself!  It was really amazing.  She let me know she is ready for more math work, all in her own time.

2nd Grade:  Master Books Math:  Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 2.  This is a religious curriculum and we are a secular homeschool.  But, it is very easy to simply overlook the small portions of the Math stories that did not apply to us.  We both loved this program.  The format was a story to read aloud and then problems to solve – always a good mix of review and practice with new concepts.  The pace felt gentle but never boring.  It was very “open and go” with absolutely no prep for the parent.  I felt it was very thorough and this level covered addition and subtraction (single digit, double digit and regrouping), word problems, measurement, simple fractions, money, time and bar and line graphs.  I am thinking about using Level 1 for Lillian next year.

Ethan also completed a Kumon math book on counting money and another on telling time for extra practice.  I will definitely use those books again with Lillian.

Ethan also enjoyed working with our Montessori materials – the stamp game for static and dynamic addition, the multiplication bead board and the bead chains.

IMG_1259

Both kids loved the Skip Counting Songs on Spotify from Heidi Butkus and the math gamesSum Swamp and Dino Math Tracks.

Reading

Kindergarten:  We used a textbook that I had previously used with Ethan called, Phonics Pathways:  Clear Steps to Easy Reading and Perfect Spelling by Dolores C. Hiskes and Montessori’s Pink Series Language Program.  We will continue working with both of these in 1st grade. We also used BOB books.

2nd Grade:  We used the next level of the same program, Reading Pathways:  Simple Exercises to Improve Reading Fluency by Dolores C. Hiskes.  This book focused on reading accuracy and fluency.  I loved the format of a daily pyramid starting with one word and then phrases and lastly sentences.  As the amount of text increases on each line it builds eye span, strength and tracking, fluency and confidence.  Each pyramid has a different phonics focus and the book culminates in reading multisyllable words.  This is another very open and go curriculum.

Both:  Reading Eggs is an online phonics program that is a monthly subscription.  It is full of lessons and games and is a great supplement to your at-home phonics program.

IMG_4169

Both kids also read independently each day and read aloud to me each day.

IMG_6174

For Read Alouds, we typically read 2 picture books every day and 1-2 poems (not including bedtime books).  We loved reading poetry together over Poetry Tea Time!

Here are the chapter books I read aloud to both kids this year as part of our homeschool:

  • All of a Kind Family, All of a Kind Family Uptown and Ella All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
  • Bunnicula by Deborah Howe
  • Catwings by Ursula K Le Guin
  • The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds
  • The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

IMG_2782

Writing

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  We used Handwriting Without Tears – both for Kindergarten and 2nd Grade.  This is the same program I used when I was a NYCDOE teacher.  I am very familiar with it and both kids really, really like it.  We have the full kit – teachers guide, wooden pieces, foam mats and chalk boards.  It is amazing to look at the progress they both made in Handwriting this year.

IMG_1462

Each child also wrote their own original stories often!  Lillian would either dictate hers for me to write or enjoy writing pages on her own.

Spelling

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  We used Spelling You See – Level B.  This program develops visual memory to learn common spelling patterns. I felt this program was effective, age appropriate and both Ethan and Lillian loved the nursery rhyme format.  It was very age appropriate for Ethan and a little bit of a reach for Lillian.  We will also continue with this program next year!  Something that I did not realize is that you can use this program as a handwriting program as well.  At times I felt it was too much writing for young children between the two programs.

IMG_1286

History

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  We used Story of the World:  Volume 1.  We love this program!  I also purchased the Activity Guide and we enjoy doing the activities that go along with each story.  I love that history is presented in chronological order and also that if we stick with it, we will re-visit this time period in the next 3 year cycle.  We always do History together.

IMG_6492

Geography

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  We used Beautiful Feet Books:  Around the World with Picture Books.  To be honest, this was the hardest to keep up with. The program is lovely and the books are beautiful but if we skipped something, it was usually this.  We will try to finish it this summer.  Story of the World, our history program, contains geography work (maps, bodies of water, continents, cardinal directions) so I do feel like we still covered quite a bit of Geography.

IMG_9103

Science

Kindergarten and 2nd grade:  Science is another subject we always do together.  I did not purchase a formal science curriculum this year.  We completed a Timeline of Science Sticker Book which was a great way to look at the progress of scientific advancements.  Also:

  • Weekly Forest School – Homeschool Program with Brooklyn Nature Days
  • We planted a garden
  • We used an InsectLore kit to watch caterpillars transform into butterflies
  • We kept nature journals
  • We watched videos on YouTube – Science Max
  • Ethan took weekly classes at Brooklyn Robot Foundry 
  • Ethan got a microscope for his birthday and loved learning how to prepare slides and study specimens.

Health Education

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  Both kids learned to prepare healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We do not use a formal health curriculum.  We talk often about making healthy choices and what we can do to keep our bodies healthy.

Music

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  For the first half of the year we read through the Usborne Book of Famous Composers and listened to the corresponding classical music.  We studied the Nutcracker and The Magic Flute and saw a kid’s version of each performed live!  During our quarantine, both kids loved taking piano lessons online from Hoffman Academy.

Visual Arts

I did not purchase a formal art curriculum.  We had a subscription to Artventure which was great for drawing lessons.  We used Usborne cards for studying famous paintings as well as several Usborne art history books.  We visited the Met Museum and completed many seasonal arts and crafts projects.  Both kids loved selling their artwork at our annual Wild + Free Homeschool Handcraft Fair in December.

Physical Education

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  Our PE consisted of hikes with forest school and weekend family hikes, weekly bike rides, outdoor play with Wild + Free, swim lessons, Tae Kwon Do lessons and ice skating lessons.

Bilingual Education

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  This year one of the moms in our Wild + Free group provided weekly French lessons to any children who were interested.  They were fantastic and we are so grateful!  My kids learned the days of the week, colors, names of food, how to count and vocabulary for weather.

Field Trips

This year we visited:

  • The Met
  • The NY Hall of Science
  • Intrepid Museum (they run a wonderful homeschool day program!)
  • Puppetworks
  • The Little Orchestra Society
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Prospect Park Zoo
  • Sweet Briar Nature Center
  • Tea Town Nature Preserve
  • The Nature Place (we learned how to tap trees and make maple syrup!)
  • Theodore Roosevelt Bird Sanctuary
  • Blydenburgh Park (we built our own small boats and set them sailing!)
  • Sunken Meadow State Park
  • Planting Fields Arboretum
  • Lewins Farm

Extras

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  Both kids kept a gratitude journal and took 1 class each with Outschool.

As part of our Wild + Free group we enjoyed weekly free play with friends in nature, weekly time for nature journaling, monthly book clubs and a winter handcraft fair.

Both kids enjoyed ice skating lessons at Lakeside, playdates with homeschool friends, using apps with Osmo and Cosmic Kids Yoga.   Ethan loved his boat building class with Koko NYC and Lillian loved her ballet, jazz and tap classes with a local dance studio.

And that’s a wrap on our homeschool year!  It was a crazy year for everyone but writing out this post helped me focus on the good and all the academic progress the kids made!

I will write a post soon with our curriculum choices for this upcoming year.

What We are Reading Wednesday – Scholastic Branches Books

Last Wednesday I shared about some books that Ethan loves from Scholastic’s Acorn series and this week I wanted to share about the next level of Scholastic books, the Branches series.  Ethan loves these too!  These are a great next step after the Acorn books and are aimed at readers ages 5-8.

According to Scholastic, the Acorn books are “high concept stories with decodable text for newly independent readers.”  Each book is 80-96 pages with a “50:50 text to illustration ratio.”

Below are some affiliate links for Ethan’s favorite Branches books.

The Notebook of Doom

The Notebook of Doom is by far his favorite!  Each book is a new adventure for a group of kids who track down monsters (that only kids can see) and in turn, save their town from impending doom.  The books are equal parts silly and exciting!

The Binder of Doom

The Binder of Doom is a continuation of the Notebook series.  Ethan is eagerly awaiting the release of the next book in the series!

Time Jumpers

The Time Jumpers is very similar to Magic Treehouse.  While the reading level is higher than Magic Treehouse, the storytelling is not as good in our opinion.

Dragon Masters

The Dragon Masters reminds me of Harry Potter.  8 year olds are chosen from across the globe to train with dragons.  The main characters live together in a castle with a wizard.  Together they travel the globe to protect various kingdoms from harm.

The Last Firehawk

The Last Firehawk is a story of three animal friends who battle an evil enemy who threatens the forest where they live.

Haggis and Tank

Haggis and Tank are dogs who love puns and adventures!  I am honestly surprised by how much Ethan loves these as I think a lot of the humor goes right over his head.  But he really likes them.

Kung Pow Chicken

These books are very comic book-esque with a chicken superhero and an egg for a sidekick.  They are very silly and another favorite of Ethan’s.

What We are Reading Wednesday: Scholastic Acorn Books

I was so happy to find chapter books for early readers, something that could come after simple readers and before books like Magic Treehouse.

Enter, Scholastic’s Acorn Books, specifically designed for readers ages 4-7.  Scholastic lists their special features as,

  • easy to read texts
  • color illustrations
  • color coded speech bubbles

I really love that each book is part of a series so your child can become familiar with the set-up, characters and patterns of the book which helps build confidence in your young, budding reader.

Ethan has really enjoyed these series below (affiliate links) but there are many more in the Scholastic library:

A Crabby Book

Dragon

Hello Hedgehog

Scholastic says, “grow confident readers with Acorn!” and it’s so true!

Has your child enjoyed any Scholastic Acorn books?

June Paperwork for the NYCDOE

architecture-1850129_1920

Quite a lot of paperwork is due in June for current NYC homeschool students.  First up is the…

Quarterly Report #4

This is the final of the quarterly reports.  Quarterly reports document the hours you have logged in your homeschool.  In NYC homeschoolers in elementary school must clock 225 hours.  You must also document the materials you have covered this quarter in each subject area.  This can be as simple as stating you covered “25% of the material listed in the child’s IHIP.” Or you can list what you covered in each area.  I always opt for the latter.  I do not love filling out NYCDOE paperwork so I also make sure to think of it as record keeping and accountability for myself as well.  I like to have a log of what we have completed each quarter.

All paperwork is to be filed electronically now because of coronavirus.  You can email your report to:  homeschool@schools.nyc.gov

Per the NYCDOE website, you can submit a picture of a handwritten document or a file in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF.

You can use this link to download a Quarterly Report Form:

https://www.schools.nyc.gov/docs/default-source/default-document-library/home-schooling-quarterly-report-2019-2020

Or, you can create your own form.  You do not have to use the NYCDOE form, but I always choose to go with their format.

Next Up is the…

Annual Assessment

For students in Grades 1-3 – you can simply write your own Annual Assessment and email a picture of your handwritten document or a copy in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF to homeschool@schools.nyc.gov.

Your Annual Assessment can be as simple as a letter with your child’s name, birthdate, NYCID, grade level and sentence stating that the child has met or surpassed all of the goals set forth in his/her IHIP for the current school year, 20XX-20XX. And then simply sign the letter.

For students in Grades 4 -8  – The Annual Assessment can be a standardized test administered by you every other year alternating with a written narrative.  This year,  because of coronavirus, no standardized testing is required and you can instead submit a written narrative (even if you submitted one last year).

And don’t forget about your Letter of Intent for next year due July 1!

Please always go straight to the source for up-to-date homeschool information provided by the NYCDOE at https://www.schools.nyc.gov/enrollment/enrollment-help/home-schooling.  This post is just meant to summarize their requirements as well as offer my own personal experience.

How has your experience been submitting paperwork?  Before I started, I was nervous but find now that it’s not so bad!