Sunday, April 29, 2007

Revised Curriculum For Grade 1

I posted my list of curriculum choices a couple of weeks ago in the hopes it wouldn't change but, alas, I've changed my mind again! Here are my new choices and this time I'm hoping "that is that!"

The first major change is that I've stopped using Alpha-Phonics. I wasn't too crazy with the way they don't actually teach the rules of phonics. Guess I've been spoilt with the way Abeka teaches rules. But that was easy enough to supplement by adding in Abeka's rules as the phonetic sounds came along. It is the sight words that drove me crazy in the end. Nothing against sight words, there are words that just have to be learned by sight. But Alpha-Phonics' sight words are weird!

First problem I always run into is the word "a", every curriculum I've seen teaches that this is pronounced "uh". Uh, not here! We pronounce it /a/, like short "a". I can live with this. Next thing is AP introduces sight words by boxing them when they are first encountered. We reached a lesson on the short /o/ sound and the words "dog" and "off" were boxed as irregular words. Excuse me? I can't for the life of me pronounce those words without a short /o/ sound! How on earth is the author pronouncing them? So I skip ahead in the teacher manual reading the lessons and come across this sentence, to paraphrase: "Inform the student that "been" rhymes with "sin". Huh? Reading that, it might as well have said "apples rhymes with oranges"! Both are phonetic and follow normal 2 vowel and 1 vowel rules. I realize that some, maybe all?, Americans say "bin" for "been" but again, we certainly do not. It's pretty hard to tell my son that when he sees a boxed word in AP it is a sight word and then keep telling him that this boxed word is not a sight word just sound it out. Ugggh!

So to make a long story even longer, one day I followed a link to a website and from there followed another link to another website and discovered an awesome phonics program. It is very complete, Free!, and Canadian! Hallelujah!!! It is called Stairway to Reading and we've been using it for a week now and I am thrilled to bits with it. I'm skipping the writing portions (copywork and dictation) as my son isn't ready for all that writing yet.

Next change is that I've added in the Now I'm Reading readers. I also decided not to add Considering God's Creation to our Astronomy study. I was looking through my older son's Grade 5 notebook and looking over his work and decided it would be too advanced for ds#2 just yet. I'd have to do most of the fiddly notebook work for him and that would be missing the point.

Then the last change I've made is to add Spelling Workout A. I wasn't going to do spelling this early but after reading through WTM for the umpteenth time and noting that SWB recommends not skipping this book and then looking at sample pages online and seeing that it is very simple, I've decided to go ahead with it. If it ends up being too much, we'll just put it aside for later.

Now for the revised, list of curriculum:

Reading/Phonics - Stairway to Reading and easy readers ( Bob books, Dr. Maggie's, Now I'm Reading books)
Read-Alouds - Living Books from our home library, a few to tie in with history, but mostly others that do not
Language Arts - First Language Lessons 1
Handwriting - Handwriting Without Tears and copywork
Spelling - Spelling Workout A, possibly move onto B
History/Geography - History Odyssey Ancients Level 1
Science - Apologia Elementary Science Astronomy
Math - Right Start Level B
Thinking Skills - Easy Sudoku Puzzles
Art & Music - no curriculum, implement into real life fostering appreciation and enjoyment

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