2nd Grade Homeschool Curriculum Review

My little birder at work.

This is a follow up to my post Our 2nd Grade Homeschool Schedule and Curriculum that I wrote at the beginning of the year. In that post, I wrote about my plans for this year. In this post, I’ll tell you how it all went. You’ll see some of this is a repeat of Nearing the End of 5th Grade because my second grader tags along with his older brother in many subjects.

Reading At the beginning of the year, I said we were going to pick up 100 Easy Lessons again, and we did for awhile, but then my son and I got bored with it. (I still recommend it, but having done it with my elder son, I was ready for something new.) We were reading out of easy readers for awhile, but then a friend of mine loaned me her set of Usborne Very First Reading books. I love these books!  It’s a set of 15 books, and they start off easy, but each one builds on the material from the previous books. I have taken my time with them, letting him read each book several times (once per day), do one puzzle at the back of the book, and I also printed out the available worksheet that they have on their website for each book. We begin each book by going over the sounds it introduces. He’s almost finished with this set, and I’m really pleased with how much he likes them.

We have also been working in the 2nd grade Reading Star Wars workbook. In general I don’t use a lot of workbooks, but both my boys enjoyed these since they are Star Wars fans.

Literature My second grader has listened to many books this year, including Blood on the River: James Town, 1607, The Porcupine YearThe Odyssey, and D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek MythsAll of those he listened to with his brother. He and I have also read several Magic Tree House books together, Stuart Little, and The High-Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate

Math – We switched to Life of Fred books this year, and no joke, we’ve sped through the first six books already! He loves them and always wants to do math first. Also, they were easy for him because I started him in these books at a later age than his brother, and he had already done a lot of math with his previous curriculum, Singapore. But we like Life of Fred much better. He also raced through the 2nd grade Star Wars Math workbook too. He seems to like math even though he won’t admit that!

History – My youngest son has joined his older brother in learning about history, though I don’t worry as much about what he retains because I know we’ll go over all this stuff again at some point. We’ve covered these topics over the past year and a half: prehistory, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, the Hebrews, Ancient India, Ancient China, and Ancient Greece. Our huge history timeline is filling up with interesting points of history!

Science – This is one subject that I didn’t do anything too formal with this year, but we’ve done a lot of science in the past, so maybe that’s okay. We did watch plenty of science and nature documentaries, raised monarch butterflies, expanded our garden, and continued to learn about birds. My 2nd grader is all about birds. We started making bird journals together too!

Foreign Language – At the beginning of the year, we began Spanish lessons, and mid-year I also started Chinese lessons. It’s been much harder for the 2nd grader and I retain to our foreign language lessons than the 5th grader, so I’ve been trying to think of ideas to help us remember our vocabulary. I will write more detailed posts when I feel like I have more to say about it.

You can read about my search to find the perfect Spanish curriculum in the Winter 2018 issue of home/school/life magazine. We have been using Risas y Sonrisas, and I love it. We’re trying out Better Chinese for Chinese.

Art – We’ve had some fun with art this year, especially before we visited the Art Institute of Chicago in November. Leading up to this trip, I spent a few weeks teaching the boys about the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists as well as a few other artists whose works were featured in that museum. During our Biloxi trip, we visited the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art and the Mobile Museum of Art.

For our art history lessons, I have found the artist bios on ducksters.com to be a great starting off point as well as Art With Mati and Dada, other YouTube videos, and, of course, library books. I ordered several Chicago Institute of Art books from our state-wide inter-library loan system.

Music – At the beginning of the year, I told you that my 2nd grader decided to try cello lessons, and I’m happy to report that he’s still taking them and enjoys them! I wrote about his cello practice here. It’s been a great experience, and I’m very proud of how far he’s come with it!

So that’s our 2nd grade curriculum. We’ll continue through the summer and start 3rd grade in September! I can’t believe how fast time is going by.

How is homeschooling going for you?

Nearing the End of 5th Grade Homeschool

Spent a few days on the gulf coast this spring.

Officially, our “homeschool year” isn’t over until August, and I will continue to give my boys lessons through the summer. However, when the weather turns warm, we start making time to get outdoors, and I begin to prioritize our lessons in this way:

  1. What can we finish before June?
  2. What do I want to stop and carry over until September?
  3. What will we do for summer lessons?

I have been concentrating on those things I want to finish and putting other things aside so that we can enjoy the good weather, and I’m making flexible plans for the summer, which I’ll write about later.

There are a few subjects I plan to write more detailed posts about, but I wanted to briefly go over what we accomplished and didn’t accomplish as I look back on the plans I made for 5th grade at the beginning of this year. This is for my eleven-year-old.

Language Arts

writing

I’ve already written a detailed curriculum review — and our experience of — IEW’s Student Writing Intensive on the home/school/life blog. Be sure to check that out, if you’re looking for a writing curriculum. We haven’t finished it yet, and to be honest, I may try something else over the summer, and if we like it better, we may not go back to it. However, I think IEW’s curriculum has worked well as far as getting my son started with formal writing.

literature

We finished reading Blood on the River: James Town, 1607, and we’ve been reading The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich, which I hope to finish soon. I continue to read the Redwall series to my eleven-year-old in the evenings. We’re reading them in publication order, and now we’re on book five, Salamandastron.

Yes, we read slow! I wrote all about that on the home/school/life blog too. But we’ve also been reading some long books for our history curriculum this year, including Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Odyssey. (We used the version from our library that was illustrated by Victor G. Ambrus.) We also read D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek MythsI consider these books part of our “literature” and “history” exploration.

My son also likes reading silently to himself, and my husband will pick up a tall stack of graphic novels for him from the library every month.

grammar

I still love Fix it! Grammarand we’ll be finishing The Nose Tree very soon.

cursive

This year he completed Beginning Traditional Cursive. Not sure how I’ll continue with cursive practice yet.

Math

The Life of Fred series continues to be a winner in our house, and we’ve finished up to the book titled Liver. I will probably save Mineshaft for next year. We’ve started using Kahn Academy, which my son likes. (I tried it a year or two ago, and it wasn’t a good fit then.) We also used a Spectrum Workbook, but less so, since we began Kahn Academy. We have found the videos on Mathantics to be extremely helpful.

History

I keep detailed records of what we do for history on this blog, although I have not yet published what we’ve done for Ancient Greece (coming soon).

I’m very proud of how much world history we’ve done this past year and a half. We’ve covered these topics: prehistory, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, the Hebrews, Ancient India, Ancient China, and Ancient Greece. Our huge history timeline is filling up with interesting points of history!

Science

When you spend a lot of time doing one thing, something else has to give. This year I feel like we haven’t done enough science, but then again, we did so much science in the past, we were kind of ahead, so maybe that’s okay. We did watch plenty of science and nature documentaries, raised monarch butterflies, expanded our garden, and continued to learn about birds.

Foreign Language

My heading at the beginning of the year was “Spanish,” but now I’ve changed it to “Foreign Language.” This is because….yes, I may be crazy!…we’ve begun learning two foreign languages: Spanish and Chinese.

Learning languages has been fun, but we’ve taken it slow (like we do with everything), and I feel like this year has been more about figuring out how to teach the languages than actually learning much of it. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m going to keep trying. I will write more detailed posts when I feel like I have more to say about it.

You can read about my search to find the perfect Spanish curriculum in the Winter 2018 issue of home/school/life magazine. We have been using Risas y Sonrisas, and I love it. We’re trying out Better Chinese for Chinese.

Art

Like I said at the beginning of the year, our art explorations ebb and flow. I thought this wouldn’t be the year for art like it was in the past, but we’ve actually had some great art lessons.

In November, we went to Chicago to visit relatives, and we took the boys to the Art Institute of Chicago. Leading up to this trip, I spent a few weeks teaching the boys about the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists as well as a few other artists whose works were featured in that museum. We did some related art projects too. It was so much fun, and my eleven-year-old especially enjoyed it. He likes art history, especially when he learns about an artist who lived at the same time as one of the famous music composers. In fact, I gave him an assignment to find two artists who lived during the time of two composers, and then we searched for their artwork at the museum.

Besides this, we had a couple of other art history/art project days that we did when we needed a break from our regular routine, and during our Biloxi trip, we visited the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art and the Mobile Museum of Art, which I’m going to write about soon on this blog.

For our art history lessons, I have found the artist bios on ducksters.com to be a great starting off point as well as Art With Mati and Dada, other YouTube videos, and, of course, library books. I ordered several Chicago Institute of Art books from our state-wide inter-library loan system.

Music

If you read my blog regularly, you know that music is what our days are all about, so I won’t repeat that information here. I’ve already written about my 5th grader’s third year of piano lessons, and you can view his YouTube channel here. It shouldn’t be too long before we post more videos there. 🙂

That’s our 5th grade curriculum in a nutshell. It’s been a full, good year, and I’m very pleased with what my son has achieved. I’ll eventually follow up with a review of my 2nd grader’s year too.

Our Homeschool End of Year Review and Celebration

Our 2014-2015 “school” year ended in July.

Though I haven’t quite caught up my blog with this past year’s activities (I will be doing that soon), we did finish our 2014-2015 year in July, and since the new school year is starting for so many homeschoolers, traditionally schooled kids, and us, I thought I’d mark the occasion here on my blog.

My end-of-year review and celebration is very simple and informal, and it takes much longer for me to get it all together than for us to celebrate it.

  • First, I write up the boys’ progress reports, which are required by law. I use this blog to help me do that! It’s my main record-keeper.
  • I print out the progress report, a list of books the boys have read this year, and I also print out simple “certificates of completion.” They don’t get report cards, but they can at least see they have accomplished another full year of their education.
  • I put together a slideshow on a dvd of the year’s photos, including vacations and homeschool work, field trips and activities, and we all watch it together. I’ve done this for two years now, and we’ve really enjoyed reviewing our year together. (This year, due to using different software than I have used in the past, it was a hard job. I appreciate my husband stepping in to help me get it done!)
  • I lay out the boy’s portfolios, some of their significant work, any certificates or badges they earned during the year, and we snap a photo, which you can see above.

And there you have it. The end of 2nd grade and pre-K.
Where does the time go?!

We have taken a few weeks in August off so that we can concentrate on birthday celebrations, cleaning up the old projects to make room for the new, organizing the calendar for our new school year, getting the new curriculum ready, and, of course, having fun and relaxing.

I’ll be starting our new year very soon, and we are adding quite a lot of work this year since my oldest is turning nine and going into the third grade, and my (gulp!) six-year-old is starting his FIRST OFFICIAL YEAR OF HOMESCHOOLING! In Georgia, we don’t have to report we are homeschooling until our child turns six-year-old. Now I have two official homeschoolers, and I’m very excited to see what this year brings us!

Note: To see the forms I use for record-keeping, the progress report, or to use the same certificate, see my free printables page.

Homeschooling: Our 1st Grade End of Year Review and Progress Report

A quick note about a resource you may like:

The Everyday Homeschooler’s Guide to Teaching the Early Years is for all parents of young students who are beginning to homeschool or who are in their early elementary years. Homeschooling young children doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, and this no-fuss resource will show you how. It will guide you on how to create an ideal environment that will honor your child’s natural desire to learn as well as how to foster creativity and tips on setting priorities.

This resource also answers many questions that new homeschoolers have, such as What are my kids supposed to learn? What resources should I use? How do I meet other homeschoolers? And much more.

Thanks so much to my readers for inspiring me to write this. I hope it helps.

Click here to view the Table of Contents and Introduction.

Click here to purchase.

Now back to the original post….

***

{Homeschool Progress Report} {Free Printables}

homeschool review-1

Like everything in our homeschool, our end-of-year reviews are evolving. I know that eventually I’ll settle into a way of doing this that sticks. I think this year was a winner.

When my son was preschool age, I decided to go ahead and use grade levels despite the fact that I know they are arbitrary — yet not so arbitrary if I can pick a grade that I feel best suits my son’s level and then not be rigid about keeping him in that level for all subjects. I simply use it as a frame of reference for myself as I plan our few formal lessons, and I think there’s nothing wrong with letting him feel a sense of accomplishment as we close out one year and start another.

When he was little I did a Pre-K “graduation,” but afterwards, I felt that was overkill. I wanted to mark the end of our years, but I didn’t want to attach a heavy meaning to it like a graduation each year. That would detract from the real graduation when he’s 18 years old.

Last year I decided we would simply call it our end-of-the-year review. As project-based homeschoolers, I find this review to be another way of reminding my son about those things he has shown interest in. If he sees it and says, “Oh yeah! I want to do that again!” we can work on that project some more. If not, it’s a nice closure to the project.

Before the review, I prepared the legal stuff I’m supposed to do for the state of Georgia even though we are only required to keep it for our files. That’s an end-of-the-year progress report. I know that many people wonder how to write these progress reports, and really, you can do it any way that you want! But if it helps, I’ll let you view my son’s first grade report. (I’ve removed his name from it, and I’ve created links back to each topic that I’ve written about on this blog, if you want more detail about something.) There’s also a blank progress report on my free printables page for you to adapt to your needs, if you want to.

(For more details about the Georgia law on homeschooling, see this document I created: Georgia’s Kindergarten and Homeschooling Laws.)

For my own pleasure I also keep a book list, and I used a three-ring binder to keep my daily charts and any paperwork my son did for the year, including the progress report. In the binder I also put any receipts for classes or pamphlets of the places we’ve visited. The binder or portfolio does not document our whole year, however. I would say my blog is the best-detailed documentation of what we did, and the progress report is a nice summary.

Our end-of-the-year review is for fun, and the main thing we do for that is view a slideshow of the past year.

So far each year I have created a slideshow of everything my seven-year-old did over the year. It was so fun to review his projects and creativity as well as the hard work of formal lessons. I included our field trips, his classes, camps and everything that had to do with his “homeschool.”

This year I had a hard time getting started with the slideshow. I couldn’t figure out what format I wanted to use, and I kept thinking, “Why is this so hard?” Then it occurred to me that making a slideshow of the 7yo’s work wasn’t relevant anymore. My 4yo has been accomplishing quite a bit lately, and even though he’s not “officially” homeschooling, I needed to include him.

And then there were all the family snapshots and vacations pictures. When am I ever going to get around to putting those in something the family can view and enjoy?! To be honest, I’m the only one who has even seen all the pictures I’ve taken! …for many years! I am just too busy to do anything with the photos other than the few I use online.

It’s so silly I didn’t think of this sooner, but I decided to make a slideshow of our whole year. Badly exposed family snapshots, trips, projects, hiking, home life, the wildlife we found in our yard and elsewhere and the books my son has used for his homeschool. Because all of life is learning, right? It was a massive slideshow over 45 minutes long. I was worried it was too long, but my husband and the boys loved it, and they even reminded me of things I needed to add. So, I think this will continue to be my “summer project” each year.

I also give my son a certificate of completion for the year, and this year I felt the four-year-old might feel left out if I didn’t do something for him, so I made him up a little certificate too. I also like to give my boys a small present, but I want it to be something to encourage their interests and learning:

  • For the seven-year-old, who is still slowly learning to read, I bought him the books he seems the most interested in reading, which are some comic-style Lego books about various super heroes as well as some Ninjago books. (I’m happy to see he really loves them, and he’s even looking at them when we’re not doing our lessons!)
  • For my four-year-old, who loves to cook with me, I bought him some wooden spoons that would be just for him to use, and I promised him we would cook together more this year. (That’s something I still need help getting motivated to do!)

So, here’s a summary of how we mark the end of our years. I put in bold what the family sees. Everything else is what I do behind the scenes!

  • I have no particular date we do this. “Sometime in the summer” is the best I can do.
  • I prepare the end of year progress report required by the state of Georgia. To see a blank example of how I do our report, which you are free to download and adapt to your needs, and all these other print-outs I use, see my free printables page. To see this year’s report, click here.
  • I print out the progress report and book lists, and I put them into a 3-ring binder that I’ve kept for the year along with the daily charts I keep, loose paperwork my son has done, pamphlets for field trips, receipts for classes, etc. (None of that is required by Georgia law. I do it because I’m an organization freak because I want to.)
  • I prepare a slideshow of our past year for the family to view and enjoy one afternoon. 
  • I prepare a certificate of completion for my son’s year and give him a small gift to encourage his interests.
  • I put the past year’s portfolio in storage, and I prepare a new binder for the new school year. (I’ll probably keep binders for about three years since Georgia requires we keep our records for the past three years.)

I’m not doing anything special to mark the beginning of my son’s 2nd grade year. We simply continued with the light summer routine consisting mostly of reading lessons. I will add a few other lessons in early September, but other than that, I consider our end-of-year review a nice occasion to review and remember all the fun we had this year, clear off my desk, put away the binder, and continue on with the next year.

What do you do to mark the end of your school years?

Homeschooling: End of the Year Review and Progress Report

{Free Printables} {Georgia homeschooling progress report}

This summer I’ve been mulling over how to handle the end-of-year. Some homeschoolers do nothing because they consider homeschooling an on-going, everyday lifestyle. While I agree with that, I also want my son to see what he’s accomplishing and in the process, help him understand goal-setting. However, doing a “graduation” every year would be overkill, and it would take away from the real graduation at the end of high school.

I’ve decided to do an end-of-the-year review and brief celebration. For that, I have put together a slideshow of my son’s homeschooling year, and I’ve pulled together some of the work he’s done, including the portfolio I keep for him, so he and his family can see it. We’ll also give him a certificate of completion and a small congratulatory gift – though probably something to help continue with his studies. (This year we got him a poster of carnivorous plants, which is his latest interest and project, and he yelped with joy when he saw it, so I think he likes it!)

Here you can see him after we did a brief review with the slideshow. My son loved it and was full of commentary about what he did this year! He also earned some badges, so I gave those to him as well. (Note: I’m sharing the slideshow with close family and friends in my next post. If you’re family or friend, just e-mail me for the password.)

In Georgia, we’re required by law to write a progress report for our students every year, and we’re supposed to retain them for our own records. Since you probably won’t ever have to show them to anyone, there’s no reason to stress over how you write it, but I know there are people who would like guidance on how to do this, so I’m sharing the format I use in a Word document that you can download and tailor for your needs. I plan to write it in this format every year unless for some reason the law changes and gives me specific guidelines on how to do it. Basically it’s very simple. I list each subject and then use bullet points to fill in the resources and comments about his work.

Download this Word document here: YEARLY PROGRESS REPORT Word doc

NEWS! I have created a Printables Page where you can download these and other print-outs for free that might help you on your homeschooling journey. If they are helpful to you, I hope you’ll send me an e-mail and let me know!

Do you mark the end of your homeschooling year? If so, how?