We've now completed 10 full weeks of our fall semester, and it's time for some reflection on the curricular materials we've been using. On the whole, I've been relatively pleased with our choices but of course, some have worked out better than others. Over the next few days, I'm going to discuss the hits, the "mixed bags", and the misses.
First up, are the hits:
Right Start Math Level B from Activities for Learning. Given the expense of this program, I'm very thankful that it seems a good "fit" for my DD. She really appears to be making good progress in math and actually understanding the concepts rather than just relying on her memory. Using the manipulatives and the games definitely works well for her learning style. I appreciate the scripted lessons as they make it easy to teach a subject that is not my strong suit. The one issue we've had with RS has been with the amount of writing required. Although it's less than many other programs, it still seems to be a bit much for her. It's been a challenge figuring out how to compensate for the fact that her cognitive ability is ahead of her fine motor skills.
Mind Benders Beginning Books 1 & 2 from Critical Thinking Press. DD loves these logic games workbooks! She'd probably have finished them in days if I'd let her. Too bad they're a bit on the pricey side :-(
Disney Princess Addition & Subtraction Workbook and Disney Time & Money Workbook from Bendon Publishing. I'm not a big fan of workbook exercises, but DD absolutely loves these! It's amazing what slapping a picture of her favorite Disney characters on a page will do to motivate her to practice math. These are also very handy for taking with us on field trips to turn time spent on public transit into learning time.
Webster's American Family Dictionary from Merriam-Webster. My DD is an advanced reader and has pretty much outgrown our children's dictionary. Because of her young age, I'd obviously been very concerned about letting her use our regular dictionary. There was one word we looked up that was on the same page as a term for an intimate act that I can't mention on a family-friendly blog, yikes! The Webster's American Family Dictionary is perfect for us since it's a basically a sanitized version of the Webster's College Dictionary. It is comprehensive enough for our needs (135,000 definitions) while still being appropriate for all ages. Highly recommended!
Titles from the Horrible Histories series by Terry Dreary and Horrible Science series by Nick Arnold and Tony De Saulles. A bit on the gruesome side so parents should preview them but they're really engaging. We're definitely going to be ordering some more of these!
History Dudes: Ancient Egyptians by Rich Cando. These are similar to the Horrible Histories but more graphics-heavy and not quite as gorey. Right now there are only 2 volumes in the series (Ancient Egyptians and Vikings) but more are in the works.
Graphic Mythology: Ancient Egypt by Gary Jeffrey. A comic-book style retelling of some famous ancient Egyptian myths. Other titles in the series cover myths from Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, China, Africa, and Mesoamerica.
Moo Cow Fan Club magazine. A big "Thank you!" to Melissa Wiley for letting me know about this wonderfully entertaining & educational resource.
Faith & Life: Our Heavenly Father from Ignatius Press. I've been very pleased with our catechism program. No wishy-washy, "feel-good" Catholicism Lite such as the parish CCD program I had growing up! It's a rigorous and orthodox introduction to the teachings of the Church. There are concepts this 1st grade text has covered that I did not learn until I was an adult. I definitely recommend spending the money on the teacher's manual because it's really the "meat" of the program.
Just Like Mary and Living the Ten Commandments for Children by Rosemarie Gortler & Donna Piscitelli. These little books are wonderful complements to Our Heavenly Father. They explain Marian doctrine and the 10 Commandments in an easy-to-understand yet orthodox way.
Loyola Kids Book of Saints and Loyola Kids Book of Heroes by Amy Welborn. The stories are very engaging, and there is a good mix of familiar and unfamiliar saints, blesseds, and other Catholic heroes from throughout the ages. I really like the organization by theme. In the heroes book, it is by the 7 Cardinal Virtues of Faith, Hope, Charity, Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, and Justice. In the saints book, they are by what the saints are known for (loving children, teaching us new ways to pray, helping the poor and sick, changing their lives for God, etc.) Ms. Welborn does a good job presenting the stories in an age-appropriate manner, which is always a concern given the violence many of the saints had to endure. The one quibble I would make is that she does not use proper capitalization for pronouns referring to God (i.e. she uses "his" when it should be "His" and so on). I hope the next edition corrects this grammatical error!
Click here for Part 2 of my 10 Week Curriculum Round-Up. These are the "mixed bag" category, things about which I had high hopes but didn't quite work out as well in actual use.