phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


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How to Organize a Homeschool Year

For me, organizing our homeschooling year is one of the most interesting parts of the progress. My background includes a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction, so you could say this sort of thing is my jam. I teach English at the collegiate level, and I always enjoy making the syllabi for my courses and thinking about how to break down the big-picture goals of the course into the weekly and daily practices. Charting a homeschool curriculum is a similar process.

I begin with the New York state regulations and break them down into the requirements for my children’s ages and grade levels.

Then, I look at the year month-by-month. Here is our rough topical schedule for 2017-2018:

First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter
July 2017

Geography

  • Hello Kitty, Hello USA!
  • 50 States Puzzle
  • Wee Sing America

U.S. History

  • (See Above)

Science

August 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 1-6

U.S. History

  • American Revolution

Science

  • Ocean Preview

September 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 7-12

U.S. History

  • American Revolution

Science

  • Ocean
October 2017

Geography

  • Judaism/Israel

U.S. History

Science

  • Farms/Farm Animals

November 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 13-18

U.S. History

Science

  • Inventions

December 2017

Geography

  • Story of the World, 19-24

U.S. History

  • Civil Rights

Science

  • Space Preview

 

January 2018

Geography

  • Story of the World, 25-30

U.S. History

Science

February 2018

Geography

  • Puerto Rico

U.S. History

Science

March 2018

Geography

  • Story of the World, 31-36

U.S. History

  • Pioneer Preview

Science

  • Trees

 

April 2018

Geography

  • Story of the World, 37-42

U.S. History

Science

May 2018

Geography

  • Explorers

U.S. History

Science

June 2018

Geography

  • Finish Story of the World

U.S. History

  • Field Trips T.B.D.

Science

  • Field Trips T.B.D.

 

 

 I do not include arithmetic, English language arts, health education, music, visual arts, or physical education on here because those are daily topics for us. This chart represents the big unit studies that I do and record on my website: phdmama—though I am woefully behind in posting what we’ve covered already!

I use the following chart to track their monthly progress, inserting brief notes and dates for my family’s usage. Since we school year-round, I review three months of these in order to write my quarterly reports. So, for instance, for our first month, I would write “September 30” and the appropriate year for the Quarterly Report due date. For the month, I would write “July,” and then in submitting the first quarterly at the end of September, I would look at the months July, August, and September. I store all of these files in a binder, one for each child. A typical entry in the chart below might look like this: “7/12—Tour of Kingston Senate House” for “United States History,” or “7/2, 7/9, 7/16, 7/23/7/30—Swimming” for “Physical Education.”

Quarterly Report Due:

Grades 1-6: 225 hours per quarter

Month:

Arithmetic  

 

 

 

 

English Language Instruction

(Reading/Spelling/Writing)

 

 

 

 

Geography  

 

 

 

United States History  

 

 

 

Science  

 

 

 

Health Education  

 

 

Music  

 

 

Visual Arts  

 

 

Physical Education  

 

 

Finally, I use a whiteboard on the refrigerator to cover the daily work expected of my children. That way, I can easily update their workload when they complete a book or we need to shake things up. Since we work year-round, I do build in breaks around holidays, visits from grandparents, and vacations, as well as the occasional day off when my kids just need it. Sometimes, though, the curriculum gets stale and the whiteboard flexibility allows me to accommodate my children’s choices and needs.

The whiteboard currently looks like this:

Kid 1 Kid 2
Monday Piano Practice, Science Experiment and Journal, 3 pages Math Workbook, Times Tables Flashcards, French Piano Practice, Science Experiment, Sight Words, 2 pages Math Workbook
Tuesday Piano Practice, Dance Class, 3 pages Math Workbook, Times Tables Flashcards, French, Handwriting Piano Practice, Dance Class, 4 pages Big Workbook, Sight Words, Handwriting
Wednesday Reading, Puzzles, Games, Crafts Reading, Puzzles, Games, Crafts
Thursday Piano Practice, Times Tables Flashcards, Magazine, 50 States Workbook or Flashcards, French Piano Practice, Sight Words, Magazine, 2 pages of Mazes, 2 pages of Number Dot-to-Dot
Friday Piano Practice, 3 pages Math Workbook, Times Tables Flashcards, French, Handwriting Piano Practice, 4 pages Big Workbook, Sight Words, Handwriting

The unit studies listed above are in addition to the daily activities and field trips. Both of my kids are bookworms who love to read and write, so at this stage, I don’t list it on most days because they do it without thinking of it as “school.” For workbooks, I like the Kumon Math Workbooks and buy the whole series for each child’s grade level. For Big Workbooks, I like the variety and coverage of the Brain Quest series. Each child uses the Bastien piano book appropriate for her abilities. The magazines are either Highlights or Ranger Rick.

All of these charts are posted in my kitchen, so the entire family knows what’s scheduled for when. We’re currently working on the final quarter of our third year of homeschooling, and, so far, this is a system that supports the structure and flexibility my family needs.

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Living History in Plimoth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For one of American history units, I framed our travel to Plymouth, Massachusetts and our visit to Plimoth Plantation’s museum with literature about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. This list includes stories about the Mayflower and the First Thanksgiving, but I’ve also strived to move beyond the ubiquitous narratives; in particular, I wanted to emphasize the rich cultural tradition of the Wampanoag people before colonialism and the continuation of that tradition through the present day. This list includes descriptions of the Mayflower voyage; details about the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving; and history, legends, biographies, and contemporary accounts of the Wampanoag. These selections highlight the complexity of living history.

  1. Across the Wide dark Sea: The Mayflower Journey by Jean Van Leeuwen and Thomas B. Allen
  2. The Children of the Morning Light: Wampanoag Tales by Manitonquat and Mary F. Arquette
  3. Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition by Russell Peters and John Madama
  4. Flying with the Eagle, Racing the Great Bear: Stories from Native North America by Joseph Bruchac
  5. If You Lived at the Time of Squanto by Anne Kamma and Pamela Johnson
  6. If You Were at the First Thanksgiving by Anne Kamma and Bert Dodson
  7. The Mayflower by Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac
  8. Native Peoples of the Northeast by Barbara Linde
  9. North American Indian by David Murdoch
  10. On the Mayflower by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  11. People of the Breaking Day by Marcia Sewall
  12. The People Shall Continue by Simon Ortiz and Sharol Graves
  13. Pilgrims: Fact Tracker by Mary Pope Osborne Natalie Pope Boyce and Sal Murdocca
  14. The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Susan E. Goodman
  15. The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern and Elroy Freem
  16. The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving from A to Z by Laura Crawford and Judith Hierstein
  17. Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  18. Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  19. Spotlight on Native Americans: Wampanoag by Joseph Stanley
  20. Squanto: 1585?-1622 by Arlene Hirschfelder
  21. Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac and Greg Shed
  22. The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross and Carolyn Croll
  23. Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  24. Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  25. The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh and Helen Sewell
  26. Thank you, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson and Matt Faulkner
  27. This is the Feast by Diane Shore and Megan Lloyd
  28. Thunder from the Clear Sky by Marcia Sewall
  29. The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene and Susan Gaber
  30. Wampanoag by Barbara Gray-Kanatiiosh
  31. The Wampanoag: The People of the First Light by Janet Riehecky
  32. The Wampanoag and Their History by Natalie M. Rosinsky


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Wabi Sabi: A Japanese List

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My younger daughter says her favorite thing about our unit study of Japan was the rice, providing further confirmation that we’re in it for the food. We did go out for Japanese food during this study, practicing with chopsticks and sampling sushi. My older daughter says she loved learning about all the different festivals and holidays in Japan, and these books certainly cover those topics as well. They also fell in love with Totoro in their introduction to anime. As you can see, this list does what I strive to do with all of our place-based unit studies: get a sense of the culture through history, folklore, fairy tales, contemporary accounts, food, music, crafts, and geography. This list showed us loyal animals, origami, wise rulers, everyday families, and, yes, rice. It’s the next best thing to travel!

  1. All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More by Willamarie Moore and Kazumi Wilds
  2. Chibi: A True Story from Japan by Barbara Brenner, Julia Takaya, and June Otani
  3. Cooking the Japanese Way by Reiko Weston
  4. Color Crayola’s Japanese Flag and Map
  5. The Culture and Crafts of Japan by Miriam Coleman
  6. Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan
  7. Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  8. The Emperor’s Plum Tree by Michelle Nikly and Elizabeth Shub
  9. Erika-San by Allen Say
  10. Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog by Pamela Turner and Yan Nascimbene
  11. I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi
  12. Watch Families of Japan
  13. The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent
  14. Japan by C.I.A.’s World Factbook
  15. Japan: Tradition, Culture, and Daily Life by Michael Centore
  16. Japanse Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns and Stars! by Betty Reynolds
  17. Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade and Yoshisuke Kurosaki
  18. Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida
  19. My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Michelle Haney Brown and Aya Padrón
  20. My Japan by Etsuko Watanabe
  21. Watch My Neighbor Totoro
  22. Night of the Ninjas by Mary Pope Osborne
  23. Ninjas and Samurai by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Bryce
  24. Make an Origami Crane
  25. Watch Ponyo
  26. The Real Princess Diaries by Grace Norwich
  27. Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan by Eric Kimmel and Mordicai Gerstein
  28. Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young
  29. The Way We Do It in Japan by Geneva Cobb IIjima and Paige Billin-Frye
  30. Tokyo Friends by Betty Reynolds


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Aloha, Hawaii!

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I started this list because of all the buzz about Moana; while I realize that film is not totally rooted in Hawaiian culture, I wanted my children to have a deeper understanding of the rich history of one of the Polynesian islands than a single film (however dominant in the marketplace) could provide. What follows is a list that delves into the historical, geological, and mythological stories of Hawaii. There are stories that focus on native peoples, colonialism, Pearl Harbor, and President Obama, as well as tales that tell of contemporary, everyday life on the islands. There are stories of the volcanoes and wildlife that make the islands unique. And there are, of course, stories from the mythological tradition (many about Maui that, my elder daughter noted, did not make it into the Disney movie). As always, I appreciate the interdisciplinary approach of this list and the way it illustrates a place with a rich history that is by no means confined to the past.

  1. A is for Aloha: A Hawai’i Alphabet by U’ilani Goldsberry and Tammy Yee
  2. The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit Maui! by Lisa Manzione and Kristine Lucco
  3. Aloha Is… by Tammy Paikai and Rosalie Prussing
  4. Children of Hawaii by Frank Staub
  5. Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan and Lillian Hsu-Flanders
  6. Goodnight Hawaiian Moon by Dr. Carolan and Joanna F. Carolan
  7. Grandma Calls Me Beautiful by Barbara Joosse and Barbara Lavallee
  8. Listen to Hawaiian Playground by Putumayo Kids Presents
  9. Hawai’i: The Aloha State by Jill Foran
  10. Hawaii: The Aloha State by Emily Oachs
  11. The Hawai’i Snowman by Christine Lê and Michel Lê
  12. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by M.C. Hall
  13. How Māui Slowed the Sun by Suelyn Ching Tune and Robert Yoko Burningham
  14. Hula Lullaby by Erin Eitter Kono
  15. The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka’iulani of Hawai’i by Fay Stanley and Diane Stanley
  16. The Legend of the Kukui Nut by Robert Brandon Henderson and Mark McKenna
  17. Legends of Landforms: Native American Lore and the Geology of the Land by Carole G. Vogel
  18. Little Princess Ka’iulani in Her Garden in the Sea by Ellie Crowe and Mary Koski
  19. Māui and the Secret of Fire by Suelyn Ching Tune and Robert Yoko Burningham
  20. The Menehune of Naupaka Village: A Hawaiian Fairy Tale by Christopher Sur and Gary Kato
  21. The Musubi Man: Hawai’i’s Gingerbread Man by Sandi Takayama and Pat Hall
  22. Pearl Harbor by Stephen Krensky and Larry Day
  23. Pele and Poli’ahu: A Tale of Fire and Ice by Malia Collins and Kathleen Peterson
  24. Pele and the Rivers of Fire by Michael Nordenstrom
  25. Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale from Hawai’i by Gerald McDermott
  26. A President from Hawai’i by Dr. Terry Carolan, Joanna Carolan, and Elizabeth Zunon
  27. Punia and the King of Sharks: A Hawaiian Folktale by Lee Wardlaw and Felipe Davalos
  28. South Pacific Mythology by Jim Ollhoff
  29. The Story of Hula by Carla Golembe
  30. The Surprising Things Maui Did by Jay Williams and Charles Mikolaycak
  31. Tales of Tutu Nene and Nele by Gale Bates and Carole Hinds McCarty
  32. Tsunami: The True Story of an April Fools’ Day Disaster by Gail Langer Karwoski and John MacDonald
  33. The Woman in the Moon: A Story from Hawai’i by Jama Kim Rattigan and Carla Golembe
  34. Young Princesses around the World: A Story Based on the Real Life of Princess Liliuokalani of Hawaii by Joan Holub and Nonna Aleshina
  35. Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O’Brien


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The Shape of Things

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This list is geared toward my preschooler, to give her a foundation in some of the basic early learning concepts like shapes. See Ellen Booth Church’s “Why Colors and Shapes Matter” for the rationale behind emphasizing shapes in preschool education. I combined picture books about shapes with hands-on activities. While it’s a preschool list, my whole family enjoyed the tactile activities, though my younger daughter most enjoyed sorting the random bag of buttons I found in my sewing box. Though these are all fundamentals, I selected these books for the list because of their creative interpretations and presentations, often combining beautiful art and cultural awareness with learning about shapes. Shape recognition primes us to look at the world around us in a different way, and this list helped us do just that.

  1. City Shapes by Diana Murray and Bryan Collier
  2. Play with cookie cutters and play-dough
  3. Color Crayola’s Basic Shapes 1 and Basic Shapes 2
  4. I Spy Shapes in Art by Lucy Micklethwait
  5. My Very Frist Book of Shapes by Eric Carle
  6. Paris: A Book of Shapes by Ashley Evanson
  7. Make shapes with Learning Resource’s Pattern Block Activity Pack
  8. Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong and Grace Lin
  9. Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and John Parra
  10. Shape by Shape by Suse MacDonald
  11. The Shape Song Swingalong by Stevesongs and David Sim
  12. Sort colorful shaped buttons
  13. When a Line Bends…A Shape Begins by Rhonda Gowler Greene and James Kaczman


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Colonial Times

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It was easy to get carried away with our unit study of colonial times because the resources listed below helped us to explore nearly every aspect of that historical era. We made colonial crafts, recreated recipes of the times, and visited historical sites to capture the feeling of the American colonies. This list emphasizes the daily life as well as the big issues of the day so we can see the ways that the micro- and macro-levels of history converge. And while we didn’t talk about it with quite that language, it came up conceptually—until we got distracted again by conversations about colonial bathrooms.

  1. Watch “Ben and Me” on Walt Disney’s Timeless Tales, Volume 3
  2. Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos, Discovered, Edited, and Illustrated by Robert Lawson
  3. The Blacksmith by Bobbie Kalman
  4. The Cold, Hard facts about Science and Medicine in Colonial America by Elizabeth Raum
  5. Colonial Times from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman
  6. Watch clips from “Colonial Williamsburg”
  7. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Doctor by Laurie Krebs
  8. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Glassblower by J. L. Branse
  9. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Indigo Planter by Laurie Krebs
  10. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Innkeeper by Kathy Wilmore
  11. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Lighthouse Keeper by Laurie Krebs
  12. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Miller by Laurie Krebs
  13. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Printer by Kathy Wilmore
  14. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Sailmaker by Laurie Krebs
  15. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Schoolteacher by Kathy Wilmore
  16. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Shipwright by Laurie Krebs
  17. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Wigmaker by Kathy Wilmore
  18. The Dish on Food and Farming in Colonial America by Anika Fajardo
  19. The Dreadful, Smelly Colonies: The Disgusting Details about Life in Colonial America by Elizabeth Raum
  20. Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd
  21. A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall
  22. Hasty Pudding, Johnnycakes, and Other Good Stuff: Cooking in Colonial America by Loretta Frances Ichord and Jan Davy Elis
  23. If You Lived in Colonial Times by Ann McGovern and Brinton Turkle
  24. If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days by Barbara Brenner and Jenny Williams
  25. Inventors and Inventions in Colonial America by Charlie
  26. Journey to Monticello: Traveling in Colonial Times by James E. Knight
  27. The Milliner by Niki Walker, Bobbie Kalman, and Barbara Bedell
  28. Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen and Michael J. Deraney
  29. The New Americans: Colonial Times (1620-1689) by Betsy Maestro and Giulio Maestro
  30. Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall and Barbara Cooney
  31. The Real Story about Government and Politics in Colonial America by Kristine Carlson Asselin
  32. The Real Story on the Weapons and Battles of Colonial America by Kristine Carlson Asselin
  33. The Scoop on Clothes, Homes, and Daily Life in Colonial America by Elizabeth Raum
  34. The Scoop on School and Work in Colonial America by Bonnie Hinman
  35. When I Was Built by Jennifer Thermes


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Daydreams and Downpours: A Cloud List

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Our clouds list is a spin-off from our “Whatever the Weather” study. There’s a bit of science here mixed with a bit of silliness as the literary and poetic interpretations of clouds come into play. While some of the weather descriptions get a bit whacky in the resources here, we appreciated the way that science and art intersect. Clouds help us read the weather, but they’re also the province of daydreamers, and the items below pay homage to both of those roles.

  1. The Cloud Book by Tomie de Paola
  2. Cloud Dance by Thomas Locker
  3. The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool and Alison Jay
  4. Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet, Elspeth Graham, and Juan Winjgaard
  5. Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld
  6. Clouds: Compare and Contrast by Katharine Hall
  7. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett
  8. Watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  9. It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw
  10. Little Cloud by Eric Carle
  11. Once Upon a Cloud by Claire Keane
  12. Weather Clues in the Sky: Clouds by Belinda Jensen and Renée Kurilla