Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Queen of Last-minute Overhauls Strikes Again!

I know I said I would update you before now about our last minute change-of-plans for the school year, but I have been sooo busy planning and doing our first week of:


Yes!! We are doing TOG again. We tried it a couple of years ago, when redesigned was still pretty new. Soon after starting it, I got pregnant and lazy. And after they raised the year-plan prices, I decided there was no way we were going to be able to continue using it in the future. At that time, I was buying all of my books.

Fast forward 2 years to now. We have been doing the textbook thing for a while now. We changed back out of necessity. We weren't getting much done doing unit studies because I was taking care of a baby and that didn't leave me a lot of time to put studies together and organize materials. So I figured a pre-planned, step by step boxed curriculum was our best bet. That way I had a scope and sequence and wouldn't have to worry about any "gaps" I might overlook.

We have been bored stiff. There are subjects I don't want to even teach because the books are so boring. So I started looking at some different unit study, multi-age curriculums on the net. I checked out My Father's World, Time Travelers History studies (Homeschool in the Woods), KONOS, and a few others before I decided to check out the TOG site. When I did I made an amazing discovery!

TOG has gone digital!! Which in itself is great, but what makes it even better is that the individual units are $15 LESS than the pre-printed plans!! Ok, I thought, maybe this will make it more affordable. I decided to download the Year 1 Three-week sample to get a better look at it. I found all but 3 of the recommended books at my local library.WOW! I began to seriously think about using this curriculum again. IF I could use the library for the great majority of our materials, that made TOG affordable for us! I got out my old booklists that I had printed from using TOG before and looked up the entire contents at my library. For the second unit of year one, I found every book (or it's recommended alternative) except one! That was it, I was hooked on the idea of giving this awesome classical, Christian, multi-level, multi-subject, chronological curriculum another go. So I talked to the hubs. He was skeptical. "What ,makes you think you will have better luck using this time?", he asked me. OK, fair enough question. I went through my list of Pros and Cons. He said, "Sounds good, but how much is this going to cost me?" I informed him of the fact that the plans were now cheaper thanks to the DE versions becoming available and that I could get all the books except a few at our local library. I told him I would sell as much of our other curriculum (that DE would replace) as I could to make sure to make the change-over as painless as possible. He said, "OK, but this is it. Once you change to it, you are stuck with it. I am tired of you changing your mind. You had better find a way to make it work." I also told him that I was planning on doing the plans half-pace, doing only two units per year, at least until we get through the first year plan.
Now I just had to figure out what to do about the subjects TOG doesn't cover:
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Math
  • Phonics and Reading
  • Science
  • Handwriting
So I decided we would stick with BJU for Math, Phonics, Reading (for Isaiah) and 1st grade spelling (Isaiah). We will also continue using our Handwriting without Tears workbooks (they are working out wonderfully). The BJU English wasn't going to cut it because TOG already includes a writing/composition component. I didn't see the point of paying $80 per child, per year for a program that was only half grammar and skipping all of the included writing lessons. So for Isaiah, we are doing a mild introduction to grammar, copywork, narration, and dictation (following a classical model) using First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. I already had this book on hand, but had decided not to use it once we went back to textbooks. For Drew, I purchased Easy Grammar 3. I am copying the student work pages in order to use it later with Isaiah, and eventually with Joey! I was thrilled to find it on CBD for only $24.95. For Spelling, I decided to go ahead and use the BJU Spelling 1 for Isaiah I had, since it is tied in with his Phonics and Reading programs. For Drew, I have been thinking of changing his Spelling lately, as the All About Spelling has only 20 lessons per level, and the levels are about $30 to purchase. Which would add up to at least $90 a school year. So through many recommendations, I purchased a used copy of the 3rd Edition of Spelling Power for only $10. I also purchased the additional Quick Start DVD to go with it from CBD. It was also under $10. We are both loving it so far, btw, and Drew is doing great with it!

Science was another issue altogether. SO I decided to follow the 4 year cycle recommendations from the Well-Trained Mind. And since they are in different grades, I decided to allow them to choose a topic to study and we would just continue afterwards with that area of science and move through the cycle as we wish. They chose to study Electricity. This worked out great for us financially, because I already have a project kit for an Electricity study I picked up at Target on clearance a while back. All I had to do was get some kind of guide to help me make sure to study the correct areas, so I bought a lapbook from Hands of a Child. We are renting books and materials from the library to learn more.

So now, I have sold quite a bit of curriculum through online classifieds and have made enough money to purchase:
  • TOG Year 1 Unit 1 DE
  • Year 1 Unit 1 Lapbook DE
  • Spelling Power
  • Easy Grammar 3
  • Walk with Y'shua Through the Jewish Year (a book my library did not have)
  • A lapbooking kit for our Unit Study on Electricity
Well, this has turned into quite a looong post, hasn't it? I think I will delve more into our new plans in my next post. In the meantime, we are having a ball doing our first week of TOG. I will post pictures soon of all the projects we are doing together.


Cassie :)

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