Friday, May 4, 2012

TUAR Tea Room -- the Curriculum Version

Woman Reading, Henri Matisse, 1894

I have been planning for next year!    I had a hard time getting started..  I was feeling very low on inspiration after a year filled with life events both sad and happy.   So I prayed and thought.

Since I have graduated four kids, I already have enough curriculum to get me through from K to 12.   And with the internet, there are so many free resources out there (and QUALITY ones too!) that I could easily start with nothing but a Kindle and a printer and a library card and give my kids a quality education for next to nothing.   So I didn't really NEED anything much.  

But I wanted to feel somewhat enthusiastic.

 I wanted to use living books.

I wanted the books to fit together to some degree, so I wanted to have literature, history, saints' lives and art following the same time period. 

I wanted to continue my tradition of having Morning Time, a time we all gather together and read and discuss -- me and the 16 year old, 12 year old and 9 year old.     Those together times are really precious and it will only be two more years until my 16 year old graduates!

So I wanted resources that could let us do some things together.  

I wanted to do something that reminded me of the earlier days of our homeschooling, that connected me to those former days, something like the picture in our header : )

And lastly I wanted something that had the potential to ebb and flow for different times of the year.  I have been increasingly aware that my energy is highest in the summer and fall, and very low during the winter months.

Not TOO much to ask of in a curriculum, is it?

Here are some other things I looked for in deciding what to use this year.

I wanted to use resources that were:  

  1. Free or at least affordable.   This may be partly penny-pinching  but there is more to it than that.  When I first got on the internet I was so blessed by the proliferation of open source resources, from Gutenberg to Yahoo groups where people shared their experience and knowledge, to opensource word processors.   Even my blogger site here is free.  
  2. Connected to people I know.  So this year I bought resources mostly from online acquantainces or sites that they recommended.     And when a free resource had a paid component and I really like the freebies, I would choose that.
  3. Downloadable.   Part of this is that they are then reusable.  Another advantage is that they are in one place.   Whereas I am often misplacing books and supplies and lesson plans, anything based on my computer tends to stay where I can find it.
  4. Compatible.   If a resource is outside my way of operating, I probably won't use it.  

So what were the results?

Guides to Great Catholic Books from Catholic Heritage Curriculum.    I downloaded the one for The Betrothed because I just read that book last year and I thought it would be fun to revisit it.   I liked that study guide so much that I got a couple more.    They are carefully prepared, illustrated, and very thorough.  I do not know Julie Collarati but she has done a good job on these.


Literature and Discussion Guides from Hillside Education.   Since we are studying the Middle Ages this year I focused mostly on the books connected with that time period.   I bought the 8th grade discussion guide, which covers several books we already have around the house, and a couple more book guides.    Margot Davidson is a cyber-acquaintance from way back and I love Hillside Education's philosophy distilled into their motto:  Read -Reflect-Discuss-Write.  


Heritage History Study Guides.  I found  Heritage History several years ago and am using it more and more.   There are all kinds of free online books and many study resources right on there for free.  Their motto is "putting the story back into history"  (and their introductory page quotes Chesterton) You can also buy Study Guides for different periods of history.   So I downloaded the British Middle Ages one and the Young Readers one.  


Connecting with History from RCHistory.    Sonya Romens and Andrea Chen are internet friends from way back and I really like their  approach to Catholic history study, summed up as " Catholic-Chronological--Classical--Family-Centered --Integrated Subjects --Encourages Active Learning"
I got Volume 3 on the Middle Ages


Harmony Fine Arts from Harmony Art Mom.     Her two blogs, Harmony Art Mom and Handbook of Nature Study, are spectacular resources, and so when I started thinking I would like some help in an area that usually falls by the board with me (Picture Study and Music Study) I decided to buy from her (the Middle School Medieval unit -- I figured we could adapt up for Kieron and down for Paddy and Aidan).

That's it for now!  I hope to share more in future posts.   I am living and breathing literature-based curriculum right now so I will probably keep posting on this topic until I get it out of my system.

Back to planning now!

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