Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sonlight vs HOD day 4!

It's official...we are HOD flunkies.

That's right...we lasted 4 days.  Any curriculum that makes your kid say "please don't read that"  points to something wrong for your family.  At least that's what I figured out.

I pulled out the books to start and my oldest said "please don't read that anymore"  "I don't like that book."  Okay let's go to the other one.  "I don't like that one either"  "what do you like"  He pulled out our Sonlight stuff and FIAR stuff.  'nuff said.

Now to be honest I don't think 4 days is enough to tell much about anything but I also don't think it should be torture to use either.  I'm pretty fast on the uptake so I was able to give you a list of "pros" and "cons" that was evident to me very quickly but happy sad that I will not be able to post my thoughts after using it for several weeks.  

*BTW...the songs were torture to listen to..

Monday, April 23, 2012


Oh this is ridiculous!  I have a sore throat AGAIN today!  My Farmer BT had gotten a cold again a couple of days ago and looks like he's shared the wealth.

Sonlight vs. Heart of Dakota (HOD) Day 2

Okay so today didn't go really any better than day 1.  Kids still not really interested in the Pioneers book or the God's Wonderful World.  They did the same thing they did on Day 1 which was to pull out the nature books from our Sonlight A(1) and Bernstein Bears (P 4/5) and look at those extensively and talk about them.  For biography I've been using Eggleston Book "Stories of Great American for Little Americans" that I had on my Ipad Ibook app for biography reading which is more their speed.  I realize this  is in Bigger but they're not interested in the others suggested for Beyond.  I'm starting to think they are just too advanced for this guide....even though they are "suppose" to be in this one based on the placement.  And just as an fyi you're suppose to place based on the youngest child not the oldest so that you add extensions for older but there are no extensions for Beyond.  mmm....another "con".   You're also suppose to place heaviest "weight" with where you're kid is at in LA which is what I did.   At this point I"m not sure we'll go more than a week or two on this test.  Again I realize I "should" be running two guides but there is no way I'm going to do that plus the other guide was Little Hands and it was WAY too babyish for my youngest who is 4 1/2.  This guide also is turning out to be quite babyish for the grade it's suppose to be if you ask me.

So what do I see as the "pros" you may be asking?

  1.  I think if you just want someone to tell you what to do and when this would be great.  "open and go"
  2.  If you would like a combo of Charlotte Mason/Unit studies this would be a great idea.  *However      Charlotte Mason herself was against Unit Studies where all the connections are being made for the child and I see this quite a bit with this curriculum*
  3. If you want God to be commented about in everything than this would be for you.
  4. Uses CM method of copywork for LA
  5. It's more like a Hybrid Unit Study that's planned for you.  This is nice because you won't be overwhelmed with planning like what happens when you first start doing Unit Studies  
  6. If you want more hands on activites planned out for you but don't want to be building canoes this would be for you
  7. You don't have to use what they have scheduled for skills (3R's) content  See #10 below

Cons so far:

  1. Can't combine easily in content areas (science, bible, history etc) 
  2. There is no scheduled bible reading
  3. Uses Rod and Staff for language arts which is not a true CM method.  Yes they add copywork etc but I'm curious as to why Emma Serl's Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons wasn't used.
  4. Uses textbooks as "spines" for history not "living Books".  Living books appear to only be used for read alouds and readers.  You could just use a child's encyclopedia as a spine and get the same results if that were the direction you were going for Unit Studies.
  5. Doesn't have a missions focus
  6. Would be very difficult to use secularly - this isn't an issue for us but could be for someone else
  7. Some of the connections between books is really a stretch.  It would be better to just read the textbook as is rather than jump around to make connections with the "spine"textbook
  8. There are better Unit Study type curriculum out there like Christian Cottage Units that are planned which you truly could combine all your kids with.
  9. If child's skills (3R's) is above what your guide uses you are forced to run 2 guides for one child!
  10. You don't have to use their suggestions that are planned out for skills BUT that is almost half the guide so now you're paying for stuff you are not using and that would make this an expensive 1 year history unit study.
So I'm finding this curriculum to be slightly "schoolish" meaning each child has  a "grade" just like in school which for me isn't what homeschool is about.  Like I've said before, yes you have time in the afternoon for other pursuits (if you have 1 or 2 kids)  but I can't imagine what it would be like for moms with 6 kids trying to do this.

That's all for today :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sonlight vs. Heart of Dakota (HOD) Day 1

Well it's homeschool catalog season and all those lovely catalogs just make you want to curl up and read, read, read...okay maybe that's just me...

 I've used Sonlight, FIAR, KONOS and Robinson Curriculum and anything that's Charlotte Mason extensively so I'm really familiar with them.  The one "hot" curriculum I haven't tried but have looked at was HOD.  Now I have to say I really have not been impressed with HOD in the lower grades because they use text books as their spines but I do like their order of history.  I'm not a big fan of a 1st grader doing ancient history.  Sure you can explain away the myths and gods but...why?  Why go there?  There's other stuff to do with kids like...Social Studies.  Remember that?  That's what history use to be called before we all got programed that your child had to do "cycles" of history.   But I digress..

So I decided to do a challenge and find out what all the hoopla was all about and got what I "thought" my kids would fit into.  Let me just say right off the bat that I find it a "con" to not be able to combine kids in the content area (history & science).  Granted kids won't be the same in skills (aka..3R's).  But to HAVE to run different guides would mean that if you have say 5 kids you have the potential of having to run 4 or more guides.  I find this ridiculous and a recipe for mom burnout.  Even if your kids are somewhat independent with most programs you still have to deal with correcting except with the Robinson Curriculum which truly is independent.

Now I have the guide in my hot little hands and I'll tell you we are combining using Beyond and I'm NOT using the math or language arts so I see that as also a "con".   My little one is just listening and doing what he can which is a lot frankly given this is suppose to be 1st grade. And yes, I did look at the placement chart and I have the Bigger just in case.  However given all the writing that's needed in Bigger my oldest isn't capable of that yet so it didn't seem like a good fit.  The problem.

We have currently been using Sonlight Core A (use to be called 1) and my first impression today was that I hardly read ANYTHING from HOD.  Seriously I read like 2 pages.  We then did hands-on stuff which my kids enjoyed.  It "kinda" reminded me of KONOS only organized for you, BUT with KONOS you can keep all your kids together and like I said earlier that isn't quite the case here.  Also with KONOS you've got books from the library (or your personal library) and this was like...nothing.  NADA.  If your kid was interested in sailing after reading the first day you'd have to youtube it or go to the library as an example.    I have to say that of the 2 pages I read the kids were pretty bored with it.  They went over to our Sonlight shelf and started pulling out books from there.  Also I had nothing to show where the continents went  for the activity so again I had to pull out a Sonlight title (Usborne Children's Encyclopedia) to show where the continents went since I don't have a globe sitting around.  Guess I could have looked it up on the internet but I'm not big on computer use at this age.

more tomomorrow

Monday, April 16, 2012

Booklet Printing on a Mac!

So if you do RC curriculum at all you'll be printing some books and you need to do that in booklet mode...have you ever tried to booklet print on a mac?  Not simple.  Unfortunately this is the one thing that Windows does better but fear not!  There is a way to make it super simple on a Mac.  It essentially comes down to using a program that is accessed through pdf and having a duplex printer (a printer that can print on both sides.)

1. Download Create BookletThis is a PDF service which can be accessed from the Print menu. Click the PDF button and choose Create Booklet from menu.

2.  Next you'll need to split up your document like I talked about in this post.  
The result booklet will be opened with Preview. You have to choose Print one more time to really print the booklet onto paper.

3.  When you tell it to print you need to choose double sided (duplex)  and then change the layout to short side.

Now go print out all those FREE books you've always wanted!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Planner ...not mine..but

So I have stopped using a planner for homeschool a LONG, LONG time ago and now I simply use a 5x8 notebook that has a a really cool cover that I got for a buck at Wallyworld.  It's been working out great but....if I was being sucked into planning mode mean choosing a new system I think I would go with this one!

Simply Planned Homeschool Planner

it even has a user video...I'm such a sucker for videos!  She has even better ones of the planner on her blog!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Still Sick and Curriculum!

Homeschool has been puttering along and I'm glad I took a more RC (Robinson Curriculum) approach a couple of months ago to the 3R's because I'M STILL SICK!  WTH!  I went back to the Dr.'s only to find out that they didn't dose me correctly on my med's so I had to start a new round of antibiotics.  I can finally hear but still am struggling with congestion, sore throat and ear problems.  So concentrating on the 3R's has been a real blessing. 

The new Sonlight Catalog came and it made me think a lot about where I was with school. I love that RC uses just a booklist and you let your kids free to read as much as they want.  I love the old books but I also knew that it didn't have a lot to offer the younger years until about 2nd or 3rd grade when your child is reading well enough by himself.   I also knew I wanted to add more modern books.   Plus we love read aloud time around here.  I've always used FIAR with the kids and they learn so much from it.  We love the books, I love that it takes very little time and kids really remember what they've learned.  But I also love Sonlight.  I have Core 4/5 and Core A and we had to shelve Core A last year as it was just over my oldest head.  We haven't really followed the 4/5 schedule because it jumps around soooo much that I found it annoying.  I left out the science books so the kids have had free reign to just "read" and look at all those pics over the last year.  The Bernstein Bears has seen ALOT of wear...but I was feeling like it was time.  Time to pull out Core A and dip our toe in to see if my oldest was ready.  He was!  He really loves the Boxcar Children and has even been able to follow Hero Tales which was a complete bust last year.  I attribute all of this to the fact that I've been using the RC list as a read aloud list and been reading those older books to the kids over the last six months (and he's older of course!).  In case your wondering how I used the RC list I picked everything that was about 3rd grade and below and read them to the kids at whatever time of day I had available.

So now I just have to figure out how to incorporate all my favorite curriculum's into my "perfect" curriculum.  So far what that looks like is morning: 3R's, Sonlight stuff and then afternoon FIAR time and read alouds from RC all day.  It's working pretty well and it SEEMS like a lot when I'm saying it but the reality is it takes maybe 1 1/2 hours a day to do all the 3R, Sonlight & FIAR stuff.

Whew! off to go blow my nose...
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