The time of day I enjoy most is our Morning Time studies. I have drawn the inspiration to spend this extended time together from Cindy at Morning Time Moms. It's the first thing we do every morning.
The kids come upstairs with sleepy faces and grab their favorite blanket while they snuggle down in their spot. I begin with Bible reading. Right now we are reading through the life of David with occasional diversions into topical studies such as this past week's lesson on love and "walking in the manner worthy of our calling". After Bible we read a poem a day from Poetry For a Lifetime. At this point everyone jumps up to grab a quick breakfast and then they bring their food back into the living room and settle in for the next reading. Usually we read some historical fiction or something from the time period we are studying, which happens to be World War I right now. Our current read aloud is Falcons of France. Other weekly and bi-weekly additions are History readings (20th Century) and Picture Study (Winslow Homer's prints have been gracing our refrigerator lately).
After Morning Time everyone dives into their own work in math, writing and various readings.
I'm going to list the things that I feel have been worth while pursuits this year.
Write Shop. I had my doubts about this since I've never been a fan of formal writing programs but I really felt the boys needed some direction. It's been just the thing they needed. They often embark on the assignments with gusto and have been very proud of their work. I see their confidence in writing improving. The other day Abel drew some imaginary creature and decided to write his own "field guide" entry to go along with it, all on his own free time. He said, "Mom, since I've been doing Write Shop I'm not afraid of writing! I know just how I want to do this!" I think it's helped that we've been co-oping with my sister and her boys. Even though it may try our patience to get through the week's initial lesson due to unnecessary silliness, it's worth the results. Hope has decided to join in too so I just ordered her own student notebook.
Hands On Equations. I'm calling this pre-algebra. Annalise and Abel have been doing this along with other math work. Doing algebra with 'things' is awesome. I hope it will help them when they get to a regular algebra course.
Key to...series. This is a great set of workbooks that save us tons of time by not having to copy the problems down. We've used the fraction, decimals and percents books and I actually think I finally have a handle on these topics.
TruthQuest History. I have been a long-time fan of TruthQuest, even raising money and buying guides for our local library. This year we have been using the guide for 1865-Present. I am resisting the pressure to hurry through and instead we will most likely take two years to go through it all. This is one time period I really want the kids to have a good grasp on since it merges right into current events. I always make notes in mine of other resources I find, especially films.
Introduction to philosophy through Sophie's World. Hope read this this year. It has sparked a lot of thinking and led to an interest in philosophy. She even wrote a monologue based on this book, which she performed at the AMTC competition this year.
Focus on biographies. Each of the kids has read quite a few biographies this year. I tried to give them each books on their level and that has contributed greatly to our history discussions. They have read biographies on Stonewall Jackson, Lee, Lincoln, Booker T. Washington (autobiography), George Washington Carver, Geronimo, Teddy Roosevelt, Louisa May Alcott, Helen Keller and Joseph Stalin so far. Authors/series we like are Albert Marrin, the Sower series, Landmark series and Childhood of Famous Americans (for Annalise).
Graphic Forensic Science. To complement our human body study, I bought these comic-style books. They looked gross enough to tempt my boys into reading and I was right. They also had fun with the Human Body model. We used Apologia's General Science book and read through the sections on the body and they drew illustrations of the different organs and systems. I don't feel like they really absorbed the technical information in that textbook but I definitely think they will benefit from the drawings they did. Our next book we will be reading is Exploring The History of Medicine and I already know that is a keeper because all of my older girls read it and still remember stories from it.
I'll try to add to this as we progress through the year.