Week 2 or, The Template of all Future Weeks

25 Sep

(Dictation exercise from last week; forgot to post this)

Wow, what a week! We did everything I’d planned for the week…everything. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. All the extra work hasn’t phased Esa one bit. He’s enjoying it and asking for more…I’m very happy to oblige. Here’s a snapshot of some of what we did and a few tweaks I’ve made.

  • Reading

On Fridays Esa has IRT (independent reading time). During IRT, he’s to choose a book that he’s not yet read, go away and read, then tell me what the book (or chapter, or whatever) is about. This was fabulous. Esa chose a Hot Wheels annual (not exactly Newberry material, but it does have lots of big words). He was happy to be finished, but later in the day I saw him reading from it again.

  • Spelling

Last year I purchased Sequential Spelling. It was great, but it was just too much handwriting for Esa and since he wasn’t doing a lot of writing I felt it was pointless to worry about spelling. I also knew there was a real risk of him forgetting everything he learned, so I shelved it. We’ve picked this back up and it’s working beautifully. Esa is loving it and he’s learning a lot.

However…I’ve been really tempted to try All About Spelling. This programme looks great and I like that it teaches the spelling rules. Sequential Spelling teaches patterns, but you aren’t told the rule behind it. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time or if you know me at all, you’ll know that I need to know the rules behind spelling (and everything else).

The problem is, AAS is only available from the AAS website. It can be shipped here, but it’s very expensive to do so. They do have a very generous guarantee, but I wouldn’t get that shipping charge back. I was also a little put off by all the cards- word cards, phonogram cards, and whatever else. It’s just too fiddly for us.

Since Sequential Spelling is working for us and it’s really the rules that I’m after (and it’s now available as a Kindle download, so I can view it on my computer or a Kindle if I buy one), I thought it made more sense to buy a book with the spelling rules in it. I’ve ordered theΒ  Handy English Encoder Decoder: All the Spelling and Phonics Rules You Could Ever Want to Know which I’m hoping will live up to its title. We can do Sequential Spelling and learn the rules alongside it. Problem solved. Hopefully.

  • Latin

Sometimes when we begin a new curriculum I’m not always sure what I’m doing. I read through it and try to plan, but inevitably the best thing to do is just get it out and make a start. Within a few days things fall into place and we develop a routine. This happened with Story of the World and Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. When I got Minimus I saw quite quickly that this was one of those I-can’t-figure-out-what-to-do-with-this-so-I-won’t-try-we’ll-just-wing-it programmes. But after a week I was still just as mystified as when we began. We listened to the CD, followed along with the book, translated the passage (well, I translated it for him)…and then I just didn’t know where to go from there. So we did it again. And again. And again. And on Monday, Esa and I looked at each other with mirrored expressions that said, ‘what the blazes are we supposed to do with this?’ Even the teacher’s manual wasn’t shedding any light on things.

I needed something more scripted, something that would hold my hand. Something parts-to-whole.

Enter Lively Latin.

I’d planned on using this for third grade, but after having another look at it, I thought Esa might be ready for it. Esa and I spent a good hour on the Lively Latin website having a look and decided to take the plunge. We were both giggling and giddy when I clicked ‘pay now.’ We purchased the PDF version, so we were excited to be getting it right away.

But that didn’t happen. I never received the password to get the materials. I sent an email to the Magistra, Catherine Drown, who replied within a few hours, and then we were on our way! I printed out the introductory material, the notebook cover and dividers and the first lesson.

After spending a few hours printing, organising, and planning, the little cheeky rascal picked up Minimus and proceeded to read the first passage, in Latin, with near-perfect pronunciation. You can watch him here:

Oh, for the love of all things holy!

Never mind; I was going to get Lively Latin anyway, so if we do go back to Minimus, it’s not wasted, it’s just one less thing I have to buy for next year.

Lively Latin is fantastic. I think Esa is a little bored because it’s parts-to-whole so the beginning is a bit slow and tedious, but I know things will take off once he’s got a little vocabulary under his belt.

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel by telling you all about Lively Latin; the website has all the info you need, but I just want to mention what I love about this programme.

  • Holds my hand. I know exactly what I’m doing and how to teach with this. It’s not scripted and you can adapt it, but there is a sense of direction and I know what I need to do.
  • Parts-to-whole. This is how I learned French, German, and Spanish so I’m very comfortable with this.
  • The added bits. This programme has some art appreciation, Roman history with templates for making a My History of Rome book, activities, online games, flash cards, chant sheets, teacher’s notes, and more.
  • The introductory material. There’s some interesting stuff here, with a language family tree, an article on why we should study Latin, the origins of English, and why English is so messed up. There’s also a choose a Latin name section and tips on staying organised and how to teach. I love it.
  • It’s secular. That’s a big one for us. So many of the Latin curricula are religious and I don’t want to have to work around all that.

So, which are we using, Minimus or Lively Latin?

Well, I don’t know. We’re going to keep going with Lively Latin and see how it goes and use Minimus as a supplement. If it’s too much for him, we’ll switch back to Minimus and make the most of it.

  • British History

This is back on. I’ve nicked a great idea from Neo: instead of reading from Our Island Story, listen to the audio book. I bought this book last year, but we didn’t have time for it. To fit it in and make it easier, we’ll listen to the audio book, which I got free when I joined Audible. (You can also listen for free here.) We’re doing British history on Fridays. We’re also using :

  • Poetry

Happily, we’re back to reading poetry each day. Hat tip to Suji and her fantastic poetry recommendations. We’ve added

to our poetry library. These are fantastic additions and have spiced up our poetry reading.


We’re continuing with BFSU, which is just the greatest science curriculum ever, in my opinion. It really can stand alone, but my little guy loves science and could do science all day, every day, and sadly we’re only doing science once a week at the moment. I’m going to try to add a little nature study and some fun activities to our week. More on that later.


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11 responses to “Week 2 or, The Template of all Future Weeks

  1. Neo

    September 25, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Very impressive Latin reading from Esa! I’ve been wondering about Minimus, and am so glad you gave your experience with it. Lively Latin looks like a really good secular programme.

    • whimsyway

      September 25, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks, Neo. πŸ™‚

      I’ll have to check that one out, Kerry, thanks. πŸ™‚

  2. Kerry

    September 25, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I did so love poetry as a child, and still do. I still have my favourite book from way back then: Louis Untermeyer’s Golden Treasury of Poetry – wonderful selection for children with great illustrations.

    Thanks for the link to Our Island Story – I listen to audio books and will download that one.

  3. Elsie Hickey Wilson

    September 25, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Hi, Michelle,
    I’d stay with the Sequential Spelling. Rules sound good as a way of learning to spell, but in the end, there are SO many exceptions to the rules and besides if you forget rule you’re
    stuck. But, English, both British and American, is highly pattern based. Our brains are wired to look for patterns, to use pattern and make sense of things with pattern.
    You can make lovely “word collections” for each pattern and the kids really remember it better. In teaching kindergarten, first and second grade, I could see that those children who seemed to be “natural spellers”, were coming up with the patterns on their own!
    Great start to your school year! Have fun!

    • whimsyway

      September 26, 2010 at 5:09 pm

      You’re right, Elsie, and I think we will stick with Sequential Spelling. I’ve heard other teachers say that learning the rules is best done after the child has had lots of practice spelling lots and lots of words- it makes more sense to them when they’ve got more points of reference. I find this has been so true with phonics. I could teach him the rule, but until he’d read many, many words using the rule he couldn’t remember to apply it with a new word.

  4. Sara

    September 25, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I have been wanting to buy AAS as well, but the shipping cost to Canada is about half the price of what the program will cost and quite a deterrent. We are using Spelling Workout, and it is easy and no fuss but doesn’t give the why we spell those words that way. So it doesn’t really seem to stick. I may get AAS next year if I can figure out a way to manipulate my budget to buy it.

    • whimsyway

      September 26, 2010 at 5:05 pm

      I was tempted to use Spelling Workout, but I’d heard a lot of people say that even though their children enjoyed it, there was little retention. I think it’s probably ok for the first year or two- spelling’s not such a big deal early on, but after that something more effective is definitely needed. Hmmm…maybe you can purchase it second hand from someone living in Canada? Might want to try the WTM forums.

  5. Suji

    September 27, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Thanks for the hat tip Michelle πŸ™‚ So glad Isa’s liking those…my poetry splurge of the year is IEW’s Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization (books and cds). We haven’t received it yet but the kiddo loves listening to poetry and I thought it might be helpful to have a guide…we might unschool it…haven’t actually scheduled it into our days so well, I’ll see how it goes!

    Here’s the link if you’re curious πŸ™‚

    • whimsyway

      September 27, 2010 at 7:14 am

      Thanks for the link, Suji. “If” I’m curious?! Lol! πŸ™‚

      • Suji

        September 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm

        He he he…I know…exactly…what you mean, he he he. Sigh…’my’ curiosity is going to lead to a very very sad retirement fund πŸ˜›

      • whimsyway

        September 28, 2010 at 6:51 am

        LOL! πŸ™‚


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