Homeschool Year in Review (Grades 2 and 4)

This is such a fun post to write! This is where I get to reminisce and think about the amazing year we’ve had.  It has been a blast… tiring at times (particularly in February when LD had a lot of out-of-town gymnastics meets, I had lots of meetings and was training for a half-marathon). But looking back, we had a fulfilling, successful year.

We do a lot of our activities together, so you’ll see a lot of crossover between the preschool year in review and this one.

I’ll start with what we call collection… the hands-on activities we do in science and history (and other subjects like music, art, etc.) This year I made lots and lots of packets and worksheets to go along with the units we covered. You could probably spend an hour scrolling through the posts that have free materials I made for the kids! The kids LOVE pouring through their history and science notebooks to check out the activities we’ve done (we often do lapbook type foldables, but we now glue them onto construction paper and add them to our 3-ringed binders).

Science:

Some of the science units she did this year included:

  • InvertebratesMealworms While I talked about living and non-living with my youngest daughter, I had the older kids do some observation and writing and we went over the various systems of the worm.  You can download our observation sheets by visiting the mealworm post.

  • From there we went on to talk about vertebrates (particularly with my youngest). The older kids did a lot of independent work on animals using materials from Erica over at Confessions of a homeschooler.

chemistry review worksheet on the states of matter, atoms and molecules:

For more on our chemistry unit see these pages: Chemistry Unit and 2nd page of the Chemistry Unit

  • Rocks and Minerals: I mentioned this unit yesterday.  We did lots of hands-on activities everything from panning for gems to growing crystals to exploring the properties of rocks…

History/Geography: This year we had an amazing year studying about Africa.

  • We started with the basic facts about Africa, studied Ancient Egypt. The kids loved learning about all the gods and goddesses.
  • North Africa — We talked a lot about the spread of Islam across North Africa (and later into West Africa).
  • Islam After we spent a week or two reading children’s books about Islam and the different holidays and learning a few facts about their religion we visited a local mosque. Despite the negative comments a couple people left on the blog, I felt it was really important that the kids get to know a bit about a religion different from our own.  (On that same note, we also learned a bit about Catholicism and the Pope when the new Pope was elected.)
  • West Africa — history, art, music, games, culture, modern life.  The kids were fascinated by the history of Mali (Sundiata and Mansa Musa).
  • East Africa  – history of the region, modern East Africa
  • We never had a chance to study South Africa, though Hubby’s family lived there years ago.
German: We wound up using Pimsleur German in the car on the way to LD’s allergy shots twice a week this semester. The kids made a LOT of progress. Next year we’ll move German back into our homeschool day a bit. We plan to use Rosetta Stone and some other resources. I’d like to read some of the Bobo books with the kids (by Markus Osterwalder).
Community Service:
One of the wonderful things about homeschooling is that we can volunteer out in the community. Last fall, the kids worked at a food pantry twice a month from September to November helping to bag apples (donated by a local farmer). They helped pass them out to the people who came by.
 
In February, we made lots of Valentine’s Day cards, sang songs, and passed them out at a local nursing home.
I wasn’t sure whether to talk about the Heifer Project under Africa, since we tied our project into that or in a separate area. But, since the kids both mentioned our trip through the Global Village at Heifer International as one of their favorite, most memorable parts of our unit on Africa, I just had to mention it. Over the course of a couple weeks, the kids made African-themed art. They sold their pieces to family members and friends… and raised more than $150 to buy animals (see this post) for villagers through Heifer International
Then we made a trip to visit to the Heifer International Global Village. It was absolutely wonderful!! We saw houses not only from Africa (a house from Mozambique is pictured below), but from all around the world. The one we visited was in Maryland, but there are several different sites.
The Basics:
Math: The kids made steady progress this year.
We started allowance back up this year (see this post which talks about the curriculum we used to really delve into money, savings, etc.) — and this has been extremely valuable. The kids have been responsible, saving their money and really making some wise choices with their allowance.  They still fill out their allowance and spending on the sheets I made for them.
We did a fun unit on measurement that the kids all enjoyed a lot! 
Reading: The kids read a lot on their own. We also read a number of novels together. We’ve been reading the Chronicles of Narnia and also read Number the Stars, Snow Treasure, Bridge to Terabithia, The Rats of NIMH, Shiloh… and a couple others that slip my mind at the moment. Hubby is reading the Harry Potter series with the kids.
Language Arts: We’ve done a lot of work on comma rules, the use of apostrophes and things like that. There are tons of grammar worksheet freebies here.
Spelling: We continued to use All About Spelling. We LOVE that program!!
 
Independent Writing: The kids did regular writing in their journals. They didn’t write everyday, but they made a lot of progress this year with their writing and the joy they bring to writing.
It’s really hard to put absolutely everything we did into one post. I can think of tons of things I haven’t added to the list.  In all, it was a successful year. The kids learned a lot. I learned a lot. We made a lot of good memories. I tried to ask the kids what their favorite topic or activity was. LD said, “I don’t know. I liked everything we did. It’s too hard to think of just one thing.”   I’m very, very proud of the kids and feel like the luckiest parent in the world to share this learning journey with them.
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Related Posts that Might Be of Interest:
Last year about this time, I wrote a series of posts that I wrote to answer someone’s question, “How do you plan for your school year?”  Here are the five posts I wrote:
  1. Here are the questions I consider when planning out the new year (assessing where the kids are at, thinking about our homeschool philosophy, etc.).
  2. This post looks a back at our school year. I talk about what went well and what could use some improvement.
  3. I talked about how I  assess our homeschooling philosophy: Am I happy with *how* we are homeschooling? I talked a lot about the books I’ve read that helped us find the homeschool style that works for us.
  4. I went into quite some detail about our long-term goals for homeschooling yesterday.
  5. Short Term Goals and Planning

Similar to #3 above, you might also be interested in a more recent post that talks about some of the homeschool methods that people use and how we incorporate these philosophies and methods into our homeschool:

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