And here’s a wrap-up to the series of posts on school curriculum for this year, touching on the miscellany not previously covered. 🙂
I debated on many different things for art lessons this year. There are so many neat programs out there! Unfortunately many of them are also quite pricey. So this year I stuck to something more modest and within budget: Drawing With Children by Mona Brookes. Essentially what a homeschooling philosophy is to homeschooling, this book is to one’s approach to art, laying a foundation for all art study and practice. It is, first and foremost, a philosophy of art. In fact, the first 45 pages of the book simply explain the reasoning behind the methodology presented.
Brookes emphasizes the parts to the whole. In other words, she helps the student learn to “see” that all art is made up of just a few basic sorts of lines and shapes—five, to be exact: the dot family, the circle family, the straight line family, the curved line family, and the angle line family. The student is trained to look for and identify these as they draw their images, first from paper graphics, and eventually still life.
This is not something you go through and “complete” in a year (there are actually only a handful of actual lessons). It’s a philosophy of art methodology, and so something you can practice and incorporate through many years of art study. I found it very interesting, and while we worked on some introductory exercises this year, I’m looking forward to using this in the years to come.
We also used step-by-step drawing exercises from books we borrowed at the library, and from videos on YouTube (lots of great channels for kids!).
Bible and Bible/Character Curriculum
Bible reading, Scripture memory, prayer, and singing are all part of Bible time each morning. Then we delve into our Bible and/or character curriculum. I’ve used different things: one year we went through The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande. Another year we we studied through the first 10 chapters of Proverbs verse by verse. Last school year we read The Ology Book by Marty Machowski. This year we used Adventures in Obedience from the Cat and Dog Theology series by Bob Sjogren.
The course includes two coloring books, a book of missionary stories, a CD with more missionary stories, and a parent’s guide. Each morning the kids color (and we discuss) a picture of a dog and a cat reacting to a real-life situation that children often encounter; the “cat” reacts to please himself, while the “dog” seeks to glorify God—to “make Him famous.” A missionary story (from the book or CD) is read (or listened to) each day as well. This character curriculum emphasizes growth in character and obedience from a place of pursuing the glory of God rather than from a mere moralistic, self-improvement standpoint, which I appreciate. I have few complaints, though I might share a minor caveat or two.
There were a couple of coloring pages, the message of which I disagreed with somewhat, as far as how it was presented. Most of the missionary stories are pretty neat, although a little heavy on the tales of Mennonites (this book was not written by Sjogren but is a book formerly published by the Mennonites, which Sjogren added into the curriculum). There were a small handful of stories where I thought the story choice a little strange, too. Nevertheless, there was lots of good stuff here, and the kids enjoyed coloring the pictures, discussing the attitudes and actions presented, and listening to tales of men and women who shared the gospel of Jesus.
Brianna: This year we used Building Thinking Skills Level 1 from The Critical Thinking Co. (Click link, check under “special offers,” and follow the instructions to get a free printable puzzle delivered to your inbox each week!) It’s marked for grades 2-3 so we completed half of it this year and we’ll complete the other half next year (Level 2 spans grades 4-6). The first half of the book focuses on spatial reasoning: figural similarities and differences, sequences, classifications, analogies, etc., and the second half deals with verbal reasoning (describing things, similarities and differences, sequences, classifications, and analogies). It’s a good supplement to math and language studies and only takes a few minutes a day to complete.
Marcus: He worked through the entire Developing the Early Learner series of 4 books. This tracks and develops fine motor, visual, auditory, and comprehension skills through fun daily exercises.
Law and Government (afflink below)
Another homeschooling family introduced us to the Tuttle Twins—and we love them! With six titles in the series (when I purchased them; I believe there are more now), this is a pretty unique set of books, as it introduces young children to the principles of freedom, Austrian economics, and classical liberalism. Connor Boyack breaks down the ideas and vocabulary of political and economic concepts, making them accessible for even the youngest kids.
The Golden Rule introduces kids to the non-aggression principle, based on Ron Paul’s book, A Foreign Policy of Freedom. In Food Truck Fiasco, the dangers of protectionism are presented, while kids learn about business and economics (this book is based on Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson). The Miraculous Pencil explores the way the free market works and is based on Leonard Reed’s essay, I, Pencil. In The Creature from Jekyll Island, kids learn about the Federal Reserve and the meaning of terms like “fiat currency,” “inflation,” and “medium of exchange.” Road to Surfdom is a play on words, being based on F. A. Hayek’s book, Road to Serfdom. This tale underscores the unintended consequences of central planning. The Law explores the role of government, and challenges the idea that plundering personal property can be justified in the name of a “good cause.” Based on Frederic Bastiat’s book, The Law.
Bonus: each book includes a free download of worksheets to go along with it!
Ron Paul approved! 😉