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Oh summer, how I love thee. It’s beautiful outside today; the sun is shining its morning light over the trees, the air is crisp, and the birds are chirping a happy little song. This is the kind of morning I love waking up to…especially when it’s officially summer vacation for us homeschoolers and I know I have a long day of laziness ahead of me LOL.
While some moms take advantage of the year around schooling approach (and I totally get why they do), I on the other hand like to have a break in between grades.
It’s a time for transitioning, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I can work on projects that have been put off during the school year, catch up on some reading, enjoy some down time with my kids and hubby, and do some personal spiritual work. In a way I’m re-charging my “mommy battery,” so I can feel refreshed and ready to take on the world when our next school year begins!
So before we get too deep into our awesome summer vacation, and the memories are still fresh in my mind, I want to pass along what worked for our 2nd grade year. I know it can come in handy when we are trying to find that “perfect” homeschool curriculum or materials, and it definitely helps to read reviews from real life moms.
2nd Grade Home School Materials
Here is our real life experience with the following:
1.Earthschooling. We began our 2nd grade year with the curriculum from earthschooling.com. What seemed like a perfect fit at the beginning began to show holes, and I abandoned the majority of this “curriculum” halfway through the year and moved on to other materials.
- Pros: I love Waldorf style, and if you are already familiar with the way Waldorf works, then this may be the right choice for your family. I loved the morning verses (which was the only piece of material that we used the whole school year), and we enjoyed some of the stories and projects provided. It gave me some ideas on how to teach writing skills, math, and science. From what was provided, I was able to use what I could to add to our homeschool year. It helped me form my own schedule through block format and learn our temperaments. The best part about using this style of curriculum was that it allowed me to see what our family really needs and where we want to go.
- Cons: As I said before, if you are already familiar with Waldorf than this could be a good fit. For me, starting a Waldorf approach at the 2nd grade mark was a challenge. When I bought this online curriculum, I was new to the Waldorf process and I feel that this was lacking the information I needed to start applying Waldorf to our homeschool experience at this point. Also, while I was able to pull some really awesome Waldorf style teaching tools from the material, I felt it was severely lacking in content. Many times the lessons for the month were vague, with not enough material to teach my kids for one day, let alone a month! Literally for the math section it would say “work on number 1.” Work on number one? My kids are 7, they are waaaaaayy past the number one! HA! I totally understand that it’s up to me to come up with lesson plans for the kids, and that’s not a problem. However, when the curriculum claims to provide you with everything you need for the year, with the “open and go” style, there are some expectations! On top of the vague lesson plans, some of the stories didn’t make sense or seemed incomplete. I know a couple other moms who purchased an earthschooling curriculum, and we all agreed that there just wasn’t enough to this package to carry a full year.
2. Evan Moor Workbooks. So, needless to say, I purchased other materials to make up for the missing pieces, and was pretty pleased with Evan Moor. I purchased workbooks on amazon.com, allowing the girls to give me their opinion of what they would enjoy. We ended up with workbooks for science, math, grammar, poetry, and art. For each lesson block, I photocopied what I needed (since I have twins, I have to have double of everything!).
- Pros: Straight to the point, I was able to use worksheets from each book and incorporate them into our main lesson. Easy to follow, great layouts, great information. One of the math books I purchased was “Shoe box math.” Even though it took some prep, I liked shoe box math because it gave the girls hands on activities and made the subject more entertaining. As for the other workbooks, we were able to apply them to our lessons, and they really got some use. My kids actually enjoy doing worksheets (as long as it’s not an all day event lol) so I didn’t really have a problem motivating them to follow through. All the material was easy for them to understand, but challenging as well.
- Cons: It was great to have some material to work with, but in the end they are still just workbooks. I wouldn’t base the entire school year on just these books. If I gave my kids back to back worksheets all day, of course they would get bored and lose interest! While they are great worksheets, no worksheet is going to be as engaging as real life experience and hands on activities. As for the books themselves, while they worked out really well, I felt that a couple of them could have provided a little more. The “Daily Math Word Problems” was one problem a day, I wish it was a series of math problems. The “Read and Understand Science grades 2-3” was great when I could work it into a lesson plan, but the book didn’t flow as well as it could have. The subjects in that book were sort of all over the place.
3. Lapbooks. For some lesson blocks, we would create lap books, found on homeschoolshare.com. I love lap booking because you can work math, science, language arts, history, and more into the lesson. The kids always have fun and it’s a week long event learning the material and constructing our lap books.
- Pros: As I said, kids love it, I love it. Fun and entertaining, hands on, really versatile, FREE lesson plans. After completion it gives the kids a boost because they get that feeling of accomplishment. Plus, they enjoy showing their lap books to grandparents, so they are reviewing the material. We keep the finished books on the shelf, and often I will find the girls on the couch flipping through one of them (more reviewing!), which is awesome!
- Cons: Homeschoolshare.com is the only place I have found free lap book blank templates and lesson plans. If they don’t have what you are looking for listed then you have to make up your own, which can be very time consuming. Also, I have found some lap books revolve around a book that I cannot get at the library, which can be a setback (not that you can’t use it, but you have to find other books). When we take on a new lap book, since we have to have double of everything, I have to print out A LOT of templates! This can be a process to say the least. Overall though, it is a free site, and I’m grateful for that!
4. The Library. Have to mention the library, because we are library junkies!
- Pros: Well, DUH, you can get books for FREE! This especially comes in handy when creating lap books.
- Cons: My biggest complaint about the library, is that there is too much of a gap between early and late elementary. The children’s area is typically divided into sections, one being picture/fiction books, the other being educational/non-fiction books. Sometimes I spend too much time flipping through educational books, because I find that it is either extremely vague (one line per page, yeah, that’s pointless) or extremely above their grade level (a chapter book of info on each page). I would like to see the library separate these into age/grade level to make it easier for homeschool moms lol, because we work so hard putting together lesson plans, and this could save us SO much time!
Last but not least:
5. The Nature Connection, by Clare Walker Leslie. Even though this is one book, I really felt the need to mention it because we love it so much!
- Pros: An outdoor workbook for kids, families, and classrooms, this truly has proven to be an “open and go” book! My favorite feature of this book is that it provides you with a “month-by-month guide,” complete with signs of the season, a place for nature notes, and a nature quest checklist. My kids love grabbing their nature journals and using this book. It’s a great Science tool and we will continue to use it again and again.
- Cons: I don’t really have any cons about this book, it’s pretty awesome:) Perhaps the only complaint is that I have to make photocopies of the checklists because I have twins, lol, but that’s not a big deal!
So there you have it folks. These are the MAIN sources I have used over our 2nd grade year. Even though there were some issues, I want to say that I was very pleased with how our year went, and the pros definitely outweigh any cons. Each resource helped me take our education one step further, and I am grateful for what we got!
Of course along the way I was able to find online materials to use, depending on the lesson (projects, science experiments, crafts or games). If you know what you need for a lesson, you can usually find some good stuff available online, for free or low cost. On top of the daily schedule, my girls took up ballet class where they were able to learn some valuable lessons, and we have continued to play an active part in our local homeschool group.
These outlets have enriched our homeschool experience, and I feel that it is important to mention the value of participating in group events. Getting our kids out and about, conversing with others, young and old, will build skills BEYOND what curriculum and workbooks can do!
I hope this has helped you along your homeschooling journey. What it really boils down to, is know what your family needs. What works for one family will not work for another. That is the beauty of homeschooling, because it is a tailored education. Some kids prefer more workbooks while others may need more of a hands on approach. Personally, I really enjoy Waldorf style, while still incorporating some traditional materials. I also like focusing on literature based materials, because our family really enjoys reading stories and then working in other subjects.
As for the summer, while we will be enjoying our much needed time off, having fun and oh- welcoming our new baby- we will not abandon learning altogether. Literature will still have it’s place in our home through our personal summer reading program, and I’m making sure that the kids don’t forget all of their 2nd grade knowledge by providing them with a summer activity book. My opinion is that children are learning ALL the time, so as long as you provide fun experiences, they will continue to grow and pick up valuable information.
So cheers to the summer! Woo Hoo! Another successful homeschool year has been completed, and a whole new exciting adventure awaits us in the coming school year!
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