Thursday, September 22, 2016

Math History & Science Curriculum 2016-17

I've mentioned in past posts that we are turning to the Classical side of things a bit more this year. But we are also keeping the corners of our curriculum Montessori. Since we are beginning to use more texts I thought I'd share a few of our choices, how we've adapted them a bit, and how this is working out for us.

For PR purposes we are calling T fourth grade, S  third grade, and D kinder. You'll see though, their actual book work is often times a different grade level.

Math, Geometry, and Math Word Problems:

We are sticking with the primary and elementary Montessori math and geometry sequences. With a firm base of knowledge in Montessori math I thought that I'd continue this path through upper elementary for everyone.

So far this year, our pace is very slow. I am a little reluctant to do as much math as perhaps we should because lessons always involve a lot of large cumbersome materials. The two things that push us along are that T usually picks math because he loves this subject and that S is behind on math and I'd prefer not letting her slip further.

We use the Keys of the Universe and the Keys of the World albums.

At this point, D still needs to complete memorization of facts and then will move into elementary math. S needs to revisit the elementary math she has done so far before moving forward, so we are really starting from the beginning of the sequence. And T just needs to top off in a bunch of different areas to finish up the entire elementary math album.
For math word problems we've been using Daily Word Problems in Math.

Each child does a few problems in their book in a single sitting and they can check their answers in the back of the book. For D, the math in his 1st grade book is super easy but at times he still needs a bit of help with the reading. S is in the 3rd grade book and this level seems about right for her.

T has finished 3rd grade book and is transitioning to Challenge Math by Zaccaro, since he has had more experience with money, time, and percentages and fractions since we last looked at this text.

Year end Goal:
T will finish the year 6 elementary math sequence and be ready for pre-algebra topics.
S will make progress through the year 1 elementary math sequence and start year 2 topics.
D will complete memorization of facts and primary Montessori math.
T S and D will see all first geometry presentations and T will finish with area and volume formulas.
S and D will finish their Daily Math word Problem books.


We are using the Story of the World curriculum by Susan Wise Bauer. In January of this year we started with the first volume: Ancients. This curriculum follows the four year cycle of the classical trivium but I chose to have all my children start in the same time period regardless of age.

We use the Activity Guide questions and discussion topics and the Student Pages to study the geography for each chapter. Although the Activity Guide includes a copy of the Student Pages, I purchased them separately and copied them for each kid. Next time I'll just save time and order three copies from Peace Hill Press.

After reading the chapter we use the Activity Guide questions to talk about what we just read. Each child writes down their own narration summary on a piece of blank paper and then they illustrate what they wrote. D dictates to me his narration and I write this down. We color the Student Page geography maps and the coloring pages that go with each chapter. And occasionally we do the crafts. My kids like crafts, but I like three of the same thing, like African masks, only so much.

I follow the Activity Guide suggested reading list and we get these books from the library.  They read these books during their assigned reading time each day and I read some of the volumes to D if he can't read them himself.

We have the Kingfisher and Useborne encyclopedias and we occasionally use these for extra reading and outlining. I like that these encyclopedias are chronological and have beautiful illustrations but they don't always provide a lot of information. I suppose there is only so much you can cram into a two page spread about a whole civilization that lasted 500 years.

We use the memory cards as memory cards and the kids spend about 5 minutes a day reading the cards to their stuffed animals until they can recite them from memory.

I plan to finish the first volume around Christmas time and then begin working through the second volume: Medieval Times.

Year end Goal:
T will be following along with the regular chapters but will also add encyclopedia reading, written outlines and timeline work.
S will be following along with the regular chapters but will also begin to add encyclopedia reading and written notes.
D will follow along with the regular chapters and continue to complete the student pages and do memory work.


This year I am following the 4 year history cycle Susan Wise Bauer speaks about in her book The Well-Trained Mind. Since we are starting with the Ancients, the first half of the year we will be exploring plant biology and human anatomy.

I cobbled together our exploration sequence by culling together activities from resources like Jan Cleave's books, (biology and plants) and internet blog posts.

For plants I loosely used the Keys of the Universe Botany scope and sequence and I plan to cover topics like:  (topics can be found in Jan Van Cleave's books)
  • Parts of a flower
  • Seeds -function and dispersal and germination
  • Plant cells and osmosis
  • Stems - turgor pressure and water flow
  • Leaves and sunlight, stomata, water loss, and gas transfer
  • Roots and mosses and lichens
For Human Anatomy, I divided up our study among the different systems of the body and found fun activities on the internet. Some of our activities include:
  • Mapping the major bones in the body, naming different types of joints and learning about the composition of bones
  • Mapping major arteries and veins in the body and learning what blood is made of
  • Exploring how the heart and lungs work together to deliver oxigenated blood to the body and how the lungs inflate
  • Mapping the different digestive organs and identifying their function, and learning how stuff moves through the gut and what our teeth do
  • Exploring the functions of our liver and kidneys
  • Learning how our nervous system helps us make sense of the world and how our brain is at the center of everything
  • Mapping the major muscle groups of the body and exploring the three types of muscle tissue
  • and exploring the lymphatic system, reproductive system, integumentary system, and our immune system
*                                         *                                         *

And that is about half of what I have planned for this year. Stay tuned for the next post about how we plan to do our Language, Latin and Logic studies

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