April 8, 2013

My Midwest Homeschool Convention Adventures...

Wow. If you have NEVER gone to a big homeschool convention--oh wow. You so have got to try it out! It was AMAZING! 

I learned about the convention coming to Cincinnati back in about November and my husband and I decided I NEEDED to attend. So I've been anticipating it for months! Little did I know what I was getting into! LOL! 

I prepared for it by writing out a list of what I needed for each subject...what companies I was considering...the online prices for each of these (plus shipping) and then places I just wanted to check out. I printed off the list of vendors and the floor plan and then highlighted all the booths I wanted to hit up.

And armed with my questions about 2nd grade curriculum...

I was locked and loaded! LOL!

I got there and picked up my packet and then waited for a friend to join me as we killed time before the exhibit floor doors opened at 9:30am. (I had to get up at 6:15am to hit the road by 7am. I'm about 2 hrs away and it was downtown Cincinnati traffic). She told me about some of the seminars she had attended and then we joined the mass entrance into the exhibit hall.

It was amazing! Booths everywhere! Companies I recognized, so I didn't. People smiling and happy. Big and small families everywhere. Nearly everyone had a rolling tote, crate or suitcase like me. Everyone was polite, friendly and so nice! 

I know I shouldn't really be surprised---but in this day and age, it IS surprising isn't it?? 

I can't even begin to describe the immediate overwhelming stimulation of my senses! LOL! But I pulled out my clipboard, took a deep breath and was off!!!!

Like I said in my last post, I had questions I needed answered...

I was also able to speak with the My Father's World representatives about my concerns and they were so incredibly helpful! I'm sure you are wondering WHAT those questions were, right?

So this year, many of you know that though history wasn't part of our main curriculum, we've added it in using Story of the World Vol. 1 learning about Ancient History. We have LOVED our studies. Seriously loved them. Little Britches never whines or complains when I tell him it's history time. He enjoys the map work and has retained so much of what we've learned!

So I was a tad bit concerned when I saw that My Father's World 2nd grade curriculum is a history/geography/science core...focused on US History. My biggest question was in essence, would this throw him off to go from studying Ancient History to a year focused on US History...before RETURNING to it in 3rd or 4th grade? I don't want him to forget what we've been learning, and that is exactly what I felt like could happen by ceasing our Ancient History study and replacing it with US History.

My next question--what is the Language Arts program REALLY like for My Father's World 2nd grade?

How much writing is in the 2nd grade curriculums for the core and LA and if there was any special writing curriculum out there to help my anti-writing student?

I was connected with two fabulous MFW reps who both had experience with the 2nd grade program. I asked them my question (the history one) and they both gave me honest answers...basically encouraging me to NOT stop his Ancient History since he enjoys it so much. In essence to just do it once or twice a week so it doesn't go away...and they said that it won't be TOO MUCH history even with the core being focused on US History.

Secondly, they assured me that since Little Britches in an audio learner, the 2nd grade program would be ideal for him with all the read-aloud portions.

Third, they encouraged me to look in the Teacher's Manual and sample Student workbook for the 2nd grade to determine the writing load...

Let me stop right here to say this...


I think one of the best things about attending the convention was that every single company had FULL CURRICULUM EXAMPLES. As in--everything you would get when you order. 

So you could PUT YOUR HANDS ALL OVER IT!

I (like most all the other parents there) eagerly dove into teachers guides and lesson materials. Finally eliminating the computer screen and a basic description. I could see it for myself. And what a help that was!


I was so thankful for the opportunity to get my hands on their Language Arts curriculum. The 2nd grade has you adding it in separately...so I wanted to see what their book was like. Oh wow. SOOOOOO glad I did. I picked it up (Primary Language Lessons) and flipped to the first lesson.

BAM!

Immediately I saw that this was NOT going to work for us.
I know my son and what this book has is not something he will respond well with.  Why? Well as I hinted at above, he does NOT like to write. He can do the mechanics of it very well. Extremely well actually. But if it is longer than one line, he complains. Loudly. And as for creative writing? Ha. Yeah right.
And that's exactly what was here in this first lesson--and the subsequent ones too!

I needed something that focuses more on the reading and less on the writing...and that was NOT it.

I also wasn't hot on their spelling program Spelling by Sound and Structure. No real reason...just didn't feel right to me.

(Is that lame? LOL!)

So that gave me a new focus for the convention...I went to all the various companies (many I hadn't even heard of!) and started asking to view their 2nd grad Language Arts programs. That was sooo helpful!
I looked at so many different styles from Classical Conversations to Charlotte Mason!

The main thing I discovered was that I have a horrible memory! LOL!
I had forgotten that I already OWNED two Language Arts texts that can be used for 2nd grade!
I had put them away for later--and forgot about them! So when I saw them again at the convention I went--"Duh!!"
So that alone was worth it! Now I can explore them here at home before making up my mind---perhaps even trying them both.

If you are wondering it would be First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind and the McGuffey's Eclectic Readers set.
I own them both...and either would work. So I just need to check them out in more detail.

I DID decide on (and bought) a spelling curriculum.
As much as I would ADORE All About Spelling--it's just not in the budget. So I went with the highly recommended Sequential Spelling program. I flipped through the book and really liked how it was set up. I think Little Britches will respond well with it and it was very reasonable. I showed it to my husband when I got home and he thought it was perfect and wished he'd learned how to spell using that method! LOL!

AND...I went ahead and snagged a Singapore Math 1B workbook.
I already own the textbook and we had already decided that this was the math curriculum we were going to use.
Little Britches scored a 99% on their 1st grade placement test which just rocked my socks
I gave him the 2nd grade test for kicks and was pleasantly suprised that he scored a 70% on it--he needed an 80% or better to test out. So I know he'll do well considering that the program is considered to be rather hard. But he responds well to their style of learning so I am eager to go that route.

Finally I just wandered to the various used book stores (JACKPOT FOR A READER LIKE ME!) and snagged several vintage out of print children's books--as well as some Little Britches will need for the MFW curriculum. I adored hitting up the Miller's Discounted Art supplies booth for discounted paper pads and learning materials (I could seriously lay down a pretty penny in that kind of stuff, but restrained myself!).
One of the things I picked up was a spiral bound large blank timeline notebook with the lines and marks. I don't think our timeline on the wall is big enough! LOL!

I also snagged a workbook/CD combo for learning US states and Capitals to music. MFW 2nd grade focuses on US History/Geography so I knew this would be invaluable!

I was grabbing up catalogs here and there...and those free pens and pencils they have. I always ask for those.

(Hello. My name is Lisa. I am a pen/pencil junkie)

I was tickled to meet the teacher of Little Britches LIVE science class he took a few months ago. He really loved that class, so I made sure I told her so. She even remembered him which I made sure and told him. LOL!

After a long day (9:30am until 4:00pm) I was wiped out and ready to go home and process all the information. I had a 2 hr drive home, so I had time to think about what I learned. When I got home I realized that I had grabbed more catalogs then I thought! LOL! No WONDER my rolling duffle bag was so heavy by the end! LOL!

I even snagged catalogs from companies that I think I will use in the higher grade levels just to familiarize myself with their products.
(I ADORE the Apologia Science books!!!)

I am absolutely tickled pink with my experience and am DYING for next year's show. I am planning on doing maybe a few of the seminars next year---we'll see how it goes.

Now I can finish up our 1st grade year and start plotting out what we have for next year...I will be making a post in the future listing what our 2nd grade curriculum is going to be in detail.
I've purchased some parts of it but am still deciding on others.

All I want to say--if you have a chance to attend a homeschool convention--DO IT!!! It is so great for collecting information because you don't have to surf the internet to find the companies!

I wish I had pictures to share, but I was so busy I didn't even stop to take them! LOL!
But I will take photos of my stacks of catalogs and new goodies to share this week...
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