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This spring in our homeschool could be called “2nd Grade, Interrupted.” It felt like we were spinning our wheels this winter, so I took my kids in for a cognitive assessment, which confirmed what I’d suspected for a while. Both of my kids are dyslexic. For the last six weeks we’ve put regular school on hold to do an intense brain training program, and we’ve still got six weeks of it ahead of us. (I’ll miss you, summer break! Waaaaaah!) So, even though we still have a couple of weeks of “official” school left, I’m ready to share our curriculum report card with you since we won’t be picking up most of our regular curriculum until we start our next school year.
I think it’s also worth saying that in many subjects, where we ended up is pretty different from what the plan was. And that’s okay! I thought it might be interesting to share with you what we added that wasn’t part of the original plan. Those Plan B and Plan C choices will be highlighted.
All About Reading – B
Don’t get me wrong. Out of all the homeschool reading curriculums out there, I’d still go with All About Reading. BUT. It just doesn’t have as much review or reinforcement as my kids need. Next year we’ll stick with All About Reading, but I’ll be adding some other resources to supplement.
Reading Team – A+
You can read my post about our experience with Reading Team at the Humane Society here. It’s been such a good experience for us, and my kids even won 3rd place for having the most volunteer hours in the program. We’re going to keep this one up for sure.
Handwriting Without Tears – A
We finished the remainder of the 1st grade print book early in the year. I love their print curriculum, and I recommend it to everybody who asks for a print curriculum, especially to those with kids who struggle with handwriting.
Zaner-Bloser Cursive (2C) – A
My kids now have beautiful cursive handwriting, so this book got the job done. I love that it was colorful and encourages students to assess their own work.
Much like we did in 1st grade, we took it easy with writing this year. Both of my kids dictated a chapter book about animals to me over the course of the year. Sometimes I have them write and illustrate a sentence about something we’ve learned. They’ve written plenty of thank you cards. They fill in speech and thought bubbles in the artwork they create. They label parts of their drawings. They’ve filled in soooo many blank books.
And that’s enough for now. Later, when reading isn’t the struggle it is today, there will be time.
Spelling You See – A
Last summer, when I was pretty sure about my kids’ dyslexia, I talked to a Spelling You See rep at a curriculum fair and more or less said, “Spelling You See Isn’t for Dyslexia. Change my mind.” The thing is that in the dyslexia community you hear over and over that all reading and spelling instruction needs to be Orton-Gillingham method for it to work with dyslexic learners. And that’s true for the most part. In this case, though, as that rep explained and as I’ve experienced, the highly visual nature of Spelling You See does work with dyslexia. Spelling You See was usually the easiest part of our school day, even on the trickier dictation days.
Shiller Math – B
I mostly love Shiller, but this spring we got into what I started thinking of as Shiller doldrums with the introduction of multiplication and division, and it’s still fresh on my mind. Their number tiles method makes so much sense, but it was taking a loooong time to get through even a couple of problems using the tiles. One day we’ll be glad we did it since it made a pretty advanced concept so concrete, but, oy, I was dreading math time on those days.
But, out of all of the math curriculums out there, I’d still pick Shiller and I still love the Montessori approach for this age. I know I’m not making Shiller sound the best here, but trust me, it’s good stuff. It’s just that I have 4-digit multiplication scars.
Mathseeds – B
We use Mathseeds to take a break from each other on Fridays, and I like that my kids get to learn strategies and methods that aren’t used in Shiller. We’ve actually been using it every day in place of Shiller to help manage our time while we’re doing this brain training program. I work on brain training exercises with one child while the other child completes his or her math work independently with Mathseeds. The only trouble, though, is that sometimes the kid working on Mathseeds can’t work independently because sometimes there’s reading that required, so I find myself distracted from brain training to read through an exercise on Mathseeds.
Math Games – A+
Sleeping Queens got my kids adding larger numbers to tally their scores and adding three addends with ease. 4-Way Countdown has them fluent with all four operations (even division!) within 10. Games are totally the way to go for tricking your kids into doing math and gaining fluency.
Classes at Our Local Science Museum – IDK, but I bet they were great
I never even signed up. Hahahaha! Best laid plans, right?
Usborne Book of Science Activities – D
Are you a hoarder? If so, then you might have some of the materials required to do these experiments, and you should buy my copy of this book. Ha! I decided that I had better things to do with my time than going to five different stores to find things like clear plastic tubing and plasticine.
Subscription Boxes – A
I decided that it would be worth it to have everything we need to do cool hands-on experiments delivered in a box every month. So far we’ve tried Steve Spangler’s subscription and Groovy Lab in a Box. I’m still trying to decide which one we like best, but both boxes have been a slam dunk in our house. Each box has a theme, and I just supplement with books from the library. I’m so loving this Plan B.
Daily Geography – B
My kids had gained a solid understanding of directions, grids, and map keys with Daily Geography, but by Thanksgiving, they were just over it. And that’s okay. We’ll pick it up again in 3rd grade, but I think that this time we’ll answer all of the questions on one day of the week rather than answering two questions every day.
Scrambled States Game – B
After we ditched Daily Geography, we started playing Scrambled States on Geography day. It was a bit of a stretch for my not-there-yet readers, but we adapted it to make it work.
M&M’s U.S. Map Game – A
After playing Stack the States, I’d take out a bag of mini M&M’s from an undisclosed location and place a candy on each state the child could accurately identify on a map. After we finished, it was down the gullet with those M&M’s.
History Pockets (Native Americans and Life in Plymouth Colony) – A
History Pockets made it possible for me to cobble together my own U.S. History curriculum. My kids are super artsy-craftsy, so they loved all of the coloring, cutting, and pasting for History Pockets activities.
Interactive 3-D Maps: American History – A
This was another resource that helped make the history we were reading about more concrete. It’s labeled for use in grades 4-8, but at least so far, my kids haven’t had any trouble completing the projects. The ones with little ships that sail across the ocean are so cute, y’all.
History of US – B
Joy Hakim’s series solved the problem of a text about pre-history and the diverse Native American cultures that existed prior to European exploration. Sometimes, though, the amount of text was a little too much for my 2nd graders, but I’ll definitely be hanging onto these volumes and revisiting them when we make our way through American history again in the future.
Artistic Pursuits – B+
I love the art history and art appreciation elements that Artistic Pursuits incorporates into each lesson. Their projects are age appropriate and open-ended enough to incorporate the child’s creative input. But… I’m going to be a little obnoxious here… my kids are pretty great artists for their age (hello, dyslexia superpower!) and are ready for instruction that’s a little more technical. I’m really excited about the new line Artistic Pursuits has coming out that incorporates more technique instruction with a dvd component. I think that’s going to be the perfect fit for where my kids are.