Thursday, October 31, 2013

Free Charlotte Mason/Living Books/Hands-on History Curriculum: Early American History Term two of three

Below you'll find my rewrite of term two of Early American History. This term uses History of US book 3 alongside George Washington's World.  You can click the link below to get the full term:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Free Charlotte Mason/Living Books/Hands-on History Curriculum: Year One, Term Three

I'm finally done with Ancient Rome! Keep in mind that I've not actually gone through this with my kidlets yet, so there may be some things that will get changed in the future.  There are also not as many activities in this term as I'd like.  I'll add more as I have time and as I find them.

The link:

Let me know if you have any trouble or comments, or even any suggestions! Thanks!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Math-U-See Curriculum Review!

Up until a few years ago, my older boys were in public school.  I always thought I'd homeschool when my oldest was under five years old but when I tried to teach him his letters and numbers, we struggled.  It scared me and so I put him in school figuring I could bring him home later if I still felt like I should homeschool. For many reasons I think public school was a mistake for him but either way it's what happened.

When he came home, he was confused and behind in math.  We tried other curricula after one failed for him in public school, including Life of Fred (which is still fun to him but doesn't make enough sense for him to use it exclusively) and some others.  He was still not getting fractions.  By seventh grade, he was really behind in math and I got him evaluated.  Dyscalculia was his diagnosis (which is a math learning disability). So now what?

I decided to try Math-U-See because I'd heard so many great things about it. It started out easy and slow which was perfect for him.  He slowly picked up the fractions concepts and continued to progress as the school year went on.  In fact, after starting Epsilon in December of last year, he was finished with it and UNDERSTOOD IT by May of this year! It was amazing! After trying and failing with at least three other programs, he was really "getting" fractions.

I've heard complaints about the MUS videos but I have to say, Mr. Demme makes sense to all of my kids! We typically watch together and I'll clear up or review anything they didn't understand.

This year I have a fifth grader who is amazing at math in Epsilon, a second grader who's hesitant with math in Beta, and an eighth grader who had always struggled with math who's already halfway through Zeta in the middle of October. At this point I've used each level (except Gamma) with at least one of my kids from Primer through Zeta.

Here's a summary of my thoughts on it:

The negatives:

- Math-U-See doesn't progress in the typical public school way.  They usually focus on one major concept and introduce some other things slowly.  If you stick with it from Primer through Zeta though, you'll have covered the same things as others using a different program by the time you reach Pre-Algebra.
- MUS introduces some algebraic concepts throughout each level which was sometimes confusing to my more math-challenged children.  However it was also helpful to start it very slowly with a problem here and there.
- Sometimes using the manipulatives makes the concept harder to teach, such as in long division in the Delta level. However, to get the most out of the program, you really need to have their manipulatives.
- MUS has updated to include some Common Core pages since I bought these items last year.  But I understand that the new student books still work with the older teacher's guides and DVDs (I haven't tried it to know for sure).

The positives:

- Each lesson in each level is worked on until the student masters the concept.  If you use the "systematic review" pages, these concepts get reviewed repeatedly even across levels (there were fraction problems in an early Zeta level lesson a few weeks ago for example).
- The manipulatives are awesome for hands-on, kinesthetic learners.
- The same concept can be explained in multiple ways so that your student can understand.  Mr. Demme often gives several methods to do the same thing (such as the three different methods he uses for adding fractions in lesson eight of Epsilon).
- You can adjust the speed at which new concepts are introduced according to your own individual student's needs.
- A DVD is available for each level that includes each lesson. You can decide to use it or not. The same lesson is also explained in the teacher's guide if you prefer teaching the new concepts yourself.
- All lesson pages and test pages have the answers given in the back of the teacher's guide.
- The MUS website has activity pages and drill pages available for free.  Plus you can make extra practice pages for many levels and many lessons on their site for free as well.

Hopefully some of you find this helpful! I plan to continue using Math-U-See for all of my children for the foreseeable future.  We're very happy with it overall and have found it very effective.  If you use MUS, tell me what you think in the comments below! :)