It's a wrap. 4th grade is done and our summer vacation is officially allowed to commence. Yeah! We were all ready to throw in the towel several weeks ago, take a mini vacation, then continue on. But we powered through the last six weeks and finished. We are done until September...sort of. Learning never stops of course, we just go into an unschooling mode. We'll give it a couple weeks before we all start going loopy, then start doing Math 2 or 3 times a week so James doesn't forget it all. I've already ordered and received the books we will be using for 5th grade. Over the break, I will be working on outlining each subject and figuring out the schedule for the year. We typically home school all year long - usually three to six weeks on, then take a week off along with other breaks here, there and everywhere. Which is why we end up not finishing until mid July.
This year, we had some curriculum hits, some misses and some things that just fell totally to the wayside.
For language arts we were using Voyages in English writing and grammar program from Loyola Press. We've been using their program for the past couple years. It turned into a hit and miss. The grammar portion is excellent, but the writing section leaves something to be desired. We tried combining the two as suggested by the teachers manual instead of completing the grammar section like we did for 3rd grade. Bogged us down quite a bit. After reviewing the new and improved 2011 5th grade books, decided to go with a less expensive and informal program for next year and use Learning Language Arts through Literature.
Spelling Workout by Modern Curriculum press. The program has been a hit since the beginning so going to continue with the next book.
Writing with Ease - It's a good program but not a good fit for James. The variety of excerpts from stories for narration and dictation just didn't capture James attention, plus it just seemed too simple.
Handwriting: We took a less formal approach and utilized George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent behavior In Company and Conversation and had James copy the rules in both print and cursive. They were all quite interesting and fun to discuss.
Creative Writing: James has filled 10 notebooks with fan fiction stories combining different characters from his games and movies: Super Mario, Bionicles, Toy story, etc. I've been reading and reviewing them periodically and giving him feedback on grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I was so proud when I saw that he's been using "Their" and "There" correctly among other things.
Reading wise, he enjoyed reading a variety of books and recently discovered Graphic Novels and he's been spending more time reading. Yeah!
Saxon Homeschool Math. Math finally kicked in for James this year and he's behind, but going at his pace. I tried speeding it up a bit which didn't work with him. So taking it slow and steady and he's getting it.
History. We've been reading This Country of Ours and have had an interesting walk through the formation of the colonies. Plus the fight between England and France over the land and the colonies and the Indians working with, for and against the colonists and the various skirmishes. It was written back in the early 1900's so isn't exactly politically correct in some of its terminology.
Science: Father was in his element this year teaching James about Physics. They read through "Exploring the World of Physics" and learned all about motion and the laws of motion, gravity, heat, states of matter,etc. They had fun doing experiments from Thames and Kosmos Physics Workshop. There are still quite a few experiments left over to do so we'll being "playing" with them over the summer.
Faith, Character and Religion: Phil Vischer of Veggie Tales created a new program for kids about the bible called "What's in the Bible" Watching them has been very educational and caused a great deal of curiosity about bible stories which lead to James and I reading Revelations together. That was interesting to say the least. For catechism, we used St. Joseph's Baltimore Catechism 2 which was written back in the early 60's prior to the Vatican 2 council. It was beneficial, but pretty much a complete miss. There were some parts in which the thinking was just so outdated or struck me the wrong way. We had some interesting discussions about it. Father and James read Boyhood and Beyond: Practical Wisdom for Becoming a Man together and it was a pretty amazing book. I read it as well and think much of the information sunk it.
Completely missed - The Big Book of Lively Latin and Artistic Pursuits: The Elements of Art and Composition. But by the time we finished everything else for the day, plus Webelos stuff, we were too tired to do them. They both have been shelved and we'll try again for next year.
It has been an interesting year teaching my inquisitive, ever questioning, ever curious kid. I've learned sometimes you just have to say I don't know, let's go look it up.
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."----- Albert Einstein