Although I toil for months each summer to put together the "perfect" curriculum plan for my school year, rarely does my plan remain un-edited once fall arrives. I think it is always a good idea to evaluate the success and use-ability of my chosen curriculum a few weeks into the school year. By the end of September, I use a few key questions to assess the materials I've purchased/borrowed and make adjustments accordingly. (This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)
This year, after sensing a definite deficiency in my PLAN, I added in two new elements to our 2013-2014 curriculum.
This year, our church is trying something new in the Children's Ministry Department. And I LOVE it! Using materials from Children Desiring God, they have put together a curriculum that ensures that each of my children, no matter the age, will be learning the same thing...at their level. Take home packs are sent home each week so that families are able to prepare for the upcoming week's lesson and memorize a verse ALL TOGETHER. (No more frazzled momma trying to help four kids memorize 4 different Sunday School verses and 4 different Wednesday night verses EVERY WEEK...phew!)
The take-home materials can usually be completed in three short at-home sessions. While we absolutely love God's Promises, our chosen Bible curriculum for the year, we also find much value in what our Children's Ministry Department at church is attempting. We have decided to do the Sunday School lessons three nights a week and God's Promises the remaining four nights.
Middle Boys' Science
Although my original plan was for Blonde Warrior (1st Grade) to join the older kids for Noeo Science Chemistry I and for Greased Lightning to enjoy a few science-themed read-alouds throughout the year, it quickly became apparent that Noeo Science was sometimes too lengthy for a 1st grader's attention span and the science read-alouds just didn't offer the "hands-on" that a fun science lesson should provide. So, PLAN B became the solution to both problems.
Blonde Warrior still enjoys doing Chemistry with the older kids, but in addition, he now joins Greased Lightning twice a week for a "Littles"-friendly science time.
Over the years, I have been collecting a handful of Let's Read and Find Out Science books. They are a series of books each featuring a separate science topic and occasionally include simple project suggestions. Up until this year, I don't think we have EVER read them. They have been packed away in the basement for SOMEDAY. Well, "someday" has arrived.
|New Editions of Let's Read and Find Out Science|
I was able to find several more titles in the series at the library and have created a "science" basket for the two middle boys. Once a week, I let one of them pick a book from the basket. We read half the book THAT day and save the other half for some other day later that week. I have no real plan, schedule, or order to how and when each book will be read. The boys choose whichever book looks interesting to them at that moment. If there is a simple science project listed in the book and we have the required materials, we do it. Sometimes, we explore the topic further with interesting videos on youtube, and sometimes we don't.
I've purposed to keep this science-time very simple. In true preschool-style, I am focusing more on providing a fun introduction to many different topics instead of diving head-long into lengthy unit-studies.
A Quick Peek
In case you're curious, so far our special "science time" has been such a treat for both me and my little boys. So often, the busyness of teaching elementary kids demands that the little guys just "tag along" and try to keep up at their level. While I don't doubt the validity of THAT kind of learning, I also think it's nice when my little boys can experience learning RIGHT AT THEIR LEVEL.
Here's one quick example. Last week, we read Ducks Don't Get Wet, and learned that every duck has a special oil gland that prevents them from getting wet while in the water. Afterward, we conducted a simple science project to demonstrate what happens to water when it is on a duck's back.
We gathered two paper bags, cooking oil, a basting brush, and water. We painted one of the bags with oil and then poured water on both bags. My boys were able to visually see how the oil on a duck's feathers helps to resist water. We then discussed WHY we thought God may have designed ducks this way. Learning AT THEIR LEVEL.
Have you done any curriculum tweaking this year? How and Why?