ART: The first half of the year is calligraphy. My kids can’t be left alone to do calligraphy. It’s one of those things that has to be taught. We usually keep on using Draw Squad instead. The second half of the year is book-based religious art appreciation. It’s all reading and close observation. The focus artist is Tissot. If you read the introductory material with your child, you’ll have a much better appreciation for the value of the book.
EDITING: I chose Editor in Chief. I can’t describe the other resource. The Editor in Chief assignments are basically one a week, broken up over four days. It’s very manageable. You identify punctuation, grammar, and content mistakes. The most important rule is “the caption is always right.” Have your child read it FIRST. I was told to keep the copy work day to 5 minutes. That’s another round of “close observation.” I found that my kid really needed practice on this. He would “correct” the paragraph above and then re-copy it with new and different mistakes. The one struggle we had with scheduling was that the “correct with your teacher” and the “copy the selection” days needed to be reversed for us. I want to correct it BEFORE he copies the mistakes again. (EDIT: We don’t do editing anymore. We edit our own work instead.)
ENGLISH: Apart from the grammar in past years’ Latin, this is the first year grammar is overtly taught. We first used the Voyages in English 6 option with the Daly diagramming text. This is a heavy duty grammar year. If you’re rusty, you might want to brush up the day before you present it. This year will be a lot of work! Thankfully, almost all of the work is oral. It’s tedious, but it doesn’t take a lot of time to get through the exercises. There are some pretty involved outlines this year. They took me by surprise! Also, I heard in a MoDG parent class that the reason the kids to the tests in two sessions (pen then open-book pencil) is that they test on unpracticed skills. It’s not a fair closed-book test, but it’s excellent to see what the child can do first. (EDIT: I now use Easy Grammar 6. I don’t have time for all that oral work.)
HISTORY: This year is Ancient Egypt! My kids love this time period. There is a timeline to build at the beginning of the year. Periodically, throughout the year, the child is to guesstimate where his current book would appear. Apart from lots of reading, there’s half a year in mapping Ancient Egypt and half the year in mapping the Ancient Near East. There is very little textbook work. Just a few assignments at the beginning of the year. There is a term paper, but is not what you normally think of as a “paper.” The goal is to have the child experience the “file folders” that have been passively accumulating in his brain as he reads. Our minds not only organize data according to “where” it’s located, but as to what it’s about. The child tells you “everything” he knows about pyramids, then pharaohs, then daily life, etc. No footnoting or encyclopedia reading.
LATIN: One year we did the half-pace Latina Christiana II option. I misunderstood the LCII first time around. I though we’d do the whole book, but only the vocabulary, then come around the next year and do the translations. It ALL of Lesson 1-14. Also, the first 5 lessons are an exact repeat of the Latina Christiana I vocabulary, sayings, and forms. (Not the memorized prayers, that’s just in our plans.) You don’t have to make your own note cards if you have the ones from last year. But each child will need his own full set. The prevalence of “separate your cards into hard and easy” makes sharing impossible. Another tip, if you didn’t make it though every lesson in LC I, the review lessons are quite the surprise! (EDIT: We switched to the Beginning Latin series. We like it MUCH better.)
MATH: Saxon 7/6 is like the rest. Our curriculum only does every other test for a good part of the year, then switches to weekly. Also, it doesn’t say in our instructions to do the math facts sheets, read the explanations, do the lesson exercises, and the mixed exercises, but it is assumed. If your kid already has his multiplication/division under control, there’s not much to do in the Math Facts department until they start drilling fractions and English-Metric conversions and other stuff. The lessons themselves were easy, easy, easy, and then we hit percent/fraction/decimal conversions. SMACK into the wall! I had to do math right with them for a while. Modelling the speed and orally noting how repetitive it all was, was the only cure. Saxon problems take only about two minutes each. More than that and you’re in a rabbit hole. Another help was Saxon Math Adaptations worksheets but there’s really not enough space to work out problems on the page.
MUSIC: This year is a continuation of music worksheets. If you can’t read music already, this year can be a challenge. The whole family enjoyed the music appreciation this year. This year really lends itself to group enjoyment. We watched the Mikado and Pirates of Penzance and the Magic Flute more often than was assigned. But apart from the pieces they already recognized from Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker, they found the works way too long and deadly dull, even when I added the ballet visual element. To get any real enthusiasm, I had to do “selections” from those ballets.
POETRY: The poetry this year included the family favorite, Jabberwocky. However, it also includes the family-not-so-favorite, The Fool’s Prayer. Wow, my kids hate that poem. They think it’s depressing and doesn’t make sense how a seemingly mean-spirited performance (“They could not see the bitter smile, Behind the painted grin he wore”) leads to conversion of heart. Anyone? We don’t get it. (EDIT: The bitter smile was because of the mocking, not his humble prayer, apparently. Still didnt like it.) Also, the Destruction of Sennerachib has two beautiful stanzas, a bunch of poetic gore and then a great ending. We memorize the top two and last. We often skip the middle. I’m not yet persuaded that dead horse’s nostrils, however poetic, deserve to be lodged in my kids’ memory.
READING: Assuming your child isn’t struggling with reading, the history selections are separate from this. However, some of the history selections are so advanced that he might need both periods to get through the history assignments. For the free-ish reading time, we often used selections from the 3GRD booklists. Redwall was the favorite.
RELIGION: Get ready for Catechism No. 2! About half are repeats from previous years. Some are minor adjustments. But many are brand-spanking-new. See THIS POST for more details. Also this year is scripture. The first half of the year is comprehension and discussion on Mark. The second half is writing summaries on every chapter of Luke. (If the child can type, this is a good choice for typing practice.) If you, like me, need clarification on the difference between a summary and retelling, I again highly recommend the Writing Manual and Language Arts Overview (and the accompanying class.) It tells you all about it and where they’re going to pop up again in the K-12 curriculum if you don’t nail it the first time around. My dyslexic child reads it and orally reports her summaries. I only write down the ones for assessment assignments.
SCIENCE: TOPS is really fun for about 10 lessons. Then, expect that it’s going to turn back into work. More balances and paper clips, Mom? I’m so sick of paperclips! Last year, we did Magnetism and Electricity. Magnetism is more difficult to get the projects to work. Only choose this one if you are going to be very involved and try out the projects yourself first. Electricity was really repetitive in the beginning and super-fun at the end. Every child, regardless of grade level, spent time bursting up balloons with electricity, burning out fuses on index cards, making mystery matching games, and setting fine grade steel wool briefly fire. But, making the aluminum foil “wire” each week got old fast. After ten weeks of it, we substituted with real insulated wire.
SPELLING: Last year for WRTR! Next year assumes that you know it. All of the Wordly Wise assignments as you to use Spalding marking system, “if you know it.”