So here we are in November, and I am making some startling discoveries about our homeschool curriculum. We are using My Father's World (MFW) for Bible/History/Science/Art history/Composer studies. The other stuff I pieced together. Well, I am not really in love with My Father's World. It is okay for us, but not a perfect fit.
I love the books they use for science. We have REALLY enjoyed our Answers in Genesis science book. It is called God's Design for Life: The World of Animals. I love that it begins the chapter with a shorter, slightly easier version of the text for "beginners". My 2nd grader can understand and retain the amount of information in that summary very well. Then it proceeds with a more complex version for older kids. Perfect for my very verbal, brainy 4rth grader. I love that each chapter includes experiments, review topics/questions, and a "taking it further" section. We like to take it further! And we very much like hands-on learning. We have done some cool experiments with animals!
The part of MFW that is not the best fit for us is the history, composer, and art sections. The history is something I am not willing to change simply because I spent a small fortune on all the books it requires and we are right in the middle. We enjoy the content. But it mainly calls for reading text, some of which seems to be written for an older age group. My boys can learn auditorally, but they learn better with more discussion and less reading. I loved Mystery of History for this reason. The author wrote like she was in a personal discussion and not so much in textbook prose. My second grader is finding it boring, I'm afraid. (He hasn't said so, but it's pretty obvious.) And I do not think history is my older son's favorite subject any more. I hate that. I am hoping that when we get past the European wars, which is mainly what we are studying this month (mid 1600s), and focus more on American history it will be more interesting for them and I can be more creative as a teacher. (How do you spruce up a lesson on Charles II? Another war against Protestants and Catholics?)
Regarding the artist and composer studies, I have pitched them. For us, the composer studies moved too slowly. We have been on the same composer for 2 months. But, I do love the cds that narrate their lives. (The Story of ______ in Words and Music) The artist studies from God and the History of Art move too fast. We were covering several artists a week! Their information was becoming a mile wide and an inch deep (in other words, they were retaining nothing). So, I have decided with composers and artists to go back to my tried and true method. We choose an artist and a composer to study each month. We focus on our artist and composer on Fridays. So much for a pre-packaged curriculum!
That brings me to our last change. We are sticking to the basics (Memory work, Math, Language, Phonics, Spelling, Latin, Science and History) Monday through Thursday. On Fridays we have "Fine Art Fridays". We will do a math lesson, language lesson, and take our spelling tests. Those things should take a total of around an hour. Then, it's all about the arts (with a little logic and geography thrown in)! We seem to frequently cram them in, and I do not want the kids to look at their artwork as something that can be rushed. Also with this schedule, we should be done with school by 1:00 every day again. Here's my new Fine Arts Friday schedule:
Read library book about our artist and fill book basket with other books
Read a story explaining our hymn for the month (Hymns for a Kid's Heart)
Map skills book and add to states and capitals memory map
Pit stop: I bought a packet of flashcards of American landmarks. The front has a picture (Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam, Old Faithful, etc.), the back an explanation. We read it together and then mark the landmark on our USA map. It's fun and I am learning so much! If we go through them all we will begin with US Presidents next.
Do a "fill in the blank" about our artist's life (I make these on the computer)/put our artist on our timeline
Read a book about our composer and color a picture of him
Read the second story about our hymn
Seasonal art project
Do a project with our artist study (Discovering Great Artists)
Listen to our composer's music and draw what we feel
Do the first half of our drawing project
Map work/Add to states and capitals
Do a picture study of one of our artist's works of art
Add our composer to our timeline
Complete our drawing project
Seasonal art project