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Domestic Church Homeschool Ink Slingers Raising Saints

The One Room Schoolhouse Approach: Catholic Schoolhouse

Catholic Schoolhouse ReviewIt is that time of year where everyone is figuring out what to use next school year.  Social Media is swamped with questions and suggestions from other home educating mothers with the “what worked,” “what did not work,” and the simple, “what do you think of this?” conversations.  Curriculum selection among home educators can be confusing and difficult since we cannot walk into a room and flip through the texts or programs ourselves.  We rely on what experiences other mothers have had with their children in their home schools, which is fine but be sure you ask TONS of questions and keep your individual children in mind.

Recently, we switched out of Our Lady of Victory School (OLVS) with our four smaller children then ages 9, 8, 6, and 4 but our eldest who was a junior will continue using it until he graduates.  We were not disappointed with OLVS at all but I did have a situation where my then nine year old son was bored.  He is a gifted child (high IQ), he is artistic, had trouble learning to read, is a bit lazy, and needs help with Spelling and Writing.  He was bored with the workbooks and the long check lists of things to do.  At the end of the day I was not happy that he did not enjoy school.  Now, please do not think I am telling you to go with every whim your child(ren) have against doing school work.  It took me a long time to come to the conclusion that OLVS was not working for my son. I did recall that when we did lapbooks or projects, he was super engaged.  So that was my starting point.  After much research I realized I needed a program that gave me the flexibility to be as hands on or not as we needed to be.  I decided that the Classical Education approach was something that we have always appreciated, so I began researching all of the Catholic Curriculum that use this approach.

In addition to hands-on, our son has a love for music and also for historical facts, so I started searching for a program that had a strong history curriculum.  The other thing I was looking for was to be able to teach most of the four small children most of the subjects together.  This came in the heels of a field trip we made last Fall to a One room schoolhouse.  The idea of teaching all of the children from kindergarten to high schoolers never really crossed my mind but a group of us from my parish went and voila! it was possible.  I was able to see most of the afternoon lessons and to speak to the lady who ran the day as the school teacher and realized that it was really an ideal way of homeschoolers to teach their children instead of having four different topics to discuss we all would be discussing and digging further into one topic!  Here are pictures of our field trip and our little group, we did fill the schoolhouse that day:

So, with the one room schoolhouse idea in mind is where I began my search and ended with Catholic Schoolhouse.  Now many of my friends were concerned that it was a program designed for Homeschool Co-Ops, which in its original form it was but I could see how it was possible to be used at home exclusively. I have been using it as my core curriculum since last February, 2015 (why yes! I did switch curriculum with four months of school left).  My husband thought I was crazy (I might be) but it was either the children in brick and mortar schools or me in a straight jacket!  So switching curriculum in February was not so crazy after all, it turns out.  What sold me on this program?  This video by Delena of It’s on My To Do List:

So what makes this program so awesome?

First, the children working together for most subjects.  Can you imagine?  When went to a one room schoolhouse, I could not imagine what it was like for the student or the teacher (aside from what I have seen on Little House on the Prairie), so this trip really helped me to see the benefits of the older children learning alongside the smaller children. Also, seeing the smaller children learning from the great answers and discussions they have with the teacher.

Second, the Music.  All of the memory work (Religion, Science, Math, Grammar, History, and Latin) is set to catchy tunes.  Tunes your children will love and your toddlers will learn.  Hey, better they sing these than “Let it go!” no?  You can preview the music on their website.  I also love learning about the different composers and that my small children are able to identify the great composers and their pieces by name! Here is my daughter singing the first part of Psalm 23, and after learning the story of the Good Shepherd:

 

Third, the Science.  I love that they have placed all of the materials needed and the objectives of the lessons organized by specific science subtopics.  I love that they have a memory verse to learn pertinent facts about our lesson.  Learn more about their hands on Science. Here is an example of what we learned in Science this year:

Catholic Schoolhouse Science Lessons
Science Lessons on Insects with Memory verse (song) and diagramming in our notebooks!

Fourth, the Art.  Along with the history, the program also teaches art from the time period.  I love that the Art guide has beautiful color pictures to help explain the lessons and also the detailed plans for the art lesson which teachers so many things.  I love the art vocabulary the children are learning as well as art etiquette (did you know there was such a thing?) Learn more about their integrated Art program.

Fifth, last but definitely not least, the History and Geography.  My children and I are such visual learners that this part of the program really sold it for me.  There are five timeline cards per week which you go through history in the different years (Years 1, 2, and 3).  Marking different times, events, and people important to the time in history, not excluding Catholic events and people, of course.  Here is a lesson we were doing on George Washington.  I was reading to the four children in our living room and they had their notebooks out.  They drew what they wanted from what I was reading to them.  This is my then four year old’s work:

Catholic Schoolhouse history
Learning about George Washington, we do notebooking in composition books and the children write, draw and diagram what we are learning.
Catholic Schoolhouse History
This is the book I was reading from, while my daughter was notebooking.
Catholic Schoolhouse History
Here is my four year old’s interpretation of President George Washington and his horse.

In summary, I highly recommend this curriculum as an option for an at home program.  Mainly because you can teach all of our children together while supplementing in specific areas such as Reading, Spelling, Mathematics, Religion, and Writing (as in you can continue using the texts you already use in these subjects).  I like the flexibility to be as creative as you’d like with the ability to add to the program when needed.  The timeline cards help the visual learner while the wonderful CDs with catchy tunes help the auditory learner master Religion, Science, Math, Grammar, History, and Latin facts with ease.  Lastly, I love the idea of a one room schoolhouse in our Catholic homeschools and the fact that the program is incredibly economical.

Includes Year 2 Tour Guide, Year 2 Art Book, Year 2 Science Book, Year 2 History Cards and Year 2 Memory Work CD set. Price: $169
Includes Year 2 Tour Guide, Year 2 Art Book, Year 2 Science Book, Year 2 History Cards and Year 2 Memory Work CD set. Price: $169

 

Helpful links:

I have decided to use Catholic Schoolhouse, now what do I do?

Ready to buy?  Next year is Year 2.

Want to know more?  Join the Catholic Schoolhouse @ Home – Facebook Group

Check out the Catholic Schoolhouse Pinterest board

What else should I use?

What is their Scope and Sequence?

Want to join one of their Co-ops?

Who created this program?  (psst….Kathy is Lacy from CatholicIcing’s MIL)

Have more questions?  Leave me a comment OR contact Catholic Schoolhouse directly!

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Domestic Church Erika D Homeschool Ink Slingers Raising Saints

Teaching Reading in your {Catholic} Homeschool

If you are teaching reading to your little one or have a child who is having trouble reading, then it is vital that they become proficient in sight words. Sight words are about 87% of all the words that children read in their trade books. Words like “the” “in”, “a”, “it”, and “is” are all part of this very important list.  These words are phonetically irregular words, meaning you cannot use phonics to decode them so they must be learned by sight.  Knowing sight words is one of the basic building blocks when learning how to read and one that should not be ignored.

What happens if the Reading or Phonics program you selected does not include the teaching of sight words?  I suggest that you do it on your own and it is quite simple.  Am I saying that you shouldn’t teach Phonics? NO!  Never!  Phonics is important or just as important as teaching sight words.  Many programs fail to integrate both of these in their reading programs, which is unfortunate but important for homeschooling moms to know.  For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on sight words.

There are two lists but most of the words overlap;  Dolch Sight Words and Fry Sight Words are the two lists you can work from.  In the 1940s, Dr. Edward William Dolch used 220 phonetically irregular words and 95 common nouns to create his Dolch Sight Word List.  He chose words that were most often used in children’s reading books during the 1920s and 30s.  In the 1990s, Dr. Edward Fry took the Dolch researched list and created 1,000 most frequently used words and put them in order of frequency.  Children should be repeatedly exposed to these words so that they learn them quickly.  This bolsters their reading self-esteem, which in turn makes them want to read more.  You would be so surprised how your little Joseph or little Mary is going to want to start reading and selecting books at the library!

The Fry list is arranged by levels of difficulty advancing in it and the levels of infrequency.  Dr. Dolch created his lists to be mastered by the third grade while Dr. Fry’s list is separated by grade levels and goes up to the fifth or sixth grade.  Each list is separated by 100 words so the first 100 words are called pre-primer words and should be learned by kindergarten; the next words are learned in increments of 100 (I suggest they should only be taught 5-10 at a time until mastered).  Once those 10 are mastered, you teach another 5-10 but always exposing them to the previous ones either by games or flash cards as well as easy reader texts.

Here are the list of the Fry Sight Words for your use in PDF format:

First Hundred

Second Hundred

Third Hundred

Fourth Hundred

Fifth Hundred

Sixth Hundred

Seventh Hundred

Eighth Hundred

Ninth Hundred

Tenth Hundred

When you should start depends on your child’s ability.  For example, when my son was six years old he struggled in reading.  We studied the first two hundred words in kindergarten but he still was not very sure or solid reading them by sight and kept trying to phonetically sound them out.  So in the first grade we focused on mastering the following sight words:

Trimester 1:  Words 1-150
Trimester 2: Words 151-300
Trimester 3: Words 301-500

There are several ways to teach sight words.  Repetition is important in learning these words by sight, but it can be boring; it is vital that you make this as fun of an experience as possible! Here are some examples of things we have done:

1.   Make flash cards
2.   Play memory games
3.   Practice tracing the words
4.   Use tactile things like play dough mats or any multi-sensory way to create the words
5.   Create a power point of the words
6.   Use the words to create sentences
7.   Teach the shape of the word
8.   Play sight word games
9.   Make word pyramids of the words
10. Write the words in pen then have them trace using different colored highlighters

This next game I call: “Shake it, Roll it, and Write it!”  I’ve created a printable to share with you of this word game, and here are some pictures with my children when they were in kinder and first graders using this game to learn new words or practice old one.

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With this printable you will be able to create seven blocks each unique to the other to create this game.

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This is the recording sheet I created to accompany the game. I inserted ours in sheet protectors and the kids used dry erase markers.

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Here are pictures of my children playing the game, they roll the die and use the letters to create words.  The longer the word the more points they get.  It is a great game to play on Mondays to get them going or even as a center when one or two children have finished work and you still need to finish working with other students.

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Do you have other games or ways you work with words to help your children learn?  We would love to hear about them!