Working Through a White Chapter

One of the key aspects of Weaver is the fact that the pages are color-coded for the differing grades (K-6) and white pages are either for your own information or for all the students in all grades (such as the Bible lessons). This is a handy ‘visual’ for those new to using Weaver. Once you create your Teacher’s Binder it’s easy to know who-is-learning-what based on the colored pages. But then it happens: you come upon a “white chapter” and your first thought is “Whaaa?!?” Continue reading

Same Volume — New Grades

(This is a Throwback Thursday post, written in August of 2006.)

I’ve spent the past two weeks gearing myself up for school to start next week. Where did the summer go?! We’re continuing with Volume 5 since we didn’t finish it last year. Since this is a new school year, I’ll be moving my children up one grade level: my K will now be in 1st, my 2nd will now be in 3rd, etc. We’ll just continue on with what we were doing, using the new grade levels in the same volume.

Simple!

If we finish Volume 5 before the school year ends, I’ll rotate back to Volume 1. Since it will still be the same school year, I’ll keep them in the same grades we’re starting with next week.

If we finish Volume 5 at the end of this school year, I’ll start Volume 1 next year and move everyone up a grade at that time. This is a perfect example of the flexibility of Weaver that I love so much. I’m moving at my pace, and my children are learning at their level.

Where are you in your Weaver studies? Which Volume are you working through? Leave a comment and let me know!

Interlock or Volume 1?

Here’s the scenario: Your children are ages 6, 4 & 2, and you will be bringing the oldest home to begin homeschooling next year. That means you’ll have children in 2nd, K and pre-K. Should you start with Interlock or Volume 1? I suggest you start with Interlock, and start during the summer.

Or maybe your scenario is slightly different. Perhaps your children are the same ages as above, but you’ve been homeschooling with workbooks because you’ve only had to teach your oldest so far. Now that you’ll be teaching two, you’d like to try the unit study approach so you’re switching to Weaver. Should you start with Interlock or Volume 1? Again, I suggest you start with Interlock, and start during the summer. It doesn’t matter what your situation is; if your oldest child is going into the 2nd grade (or younger), start with Interlock!

I had thought of going straight to Volume 1 when I started, but I’m glad I didn’t. I had been told that if my children had a firm foundation in creation I could skip Interlock. We attended church, and my children knew all the Sunday school stories, so I thought they had a firm foundation when it came to creation … Ha! That was the problem. They knew them as “stories” and not as fact. Interlock helped to flesh out the information and make it real for my children and for me, too. Interlock laid a true foundation, which made all the Sunday school lessons make sense for my children.

If you’re still not convinced to start with Interlock, let me just say that it’s a great program to “begin” Weaving with. If you’ve never used a unit study before, or never homeschooled before, Interlock will take you through the experience effortlessly and enjoyably. Start with Interlock!

School Year-Round

(This is a Throwback Thursday post. It was originally written in February of 2007.)

My husband and I have decided to school year-round this year. This will mean less busy-time at the end of the year, and less review-time at the beginning of the year for the children. Our oldest will be a senior next year, and we have a few classes we want to squeak in before he graduates. Schooling year-round will help us achieve that goal.

I’m currently finishing up Chapter 8 in Volume 5 . Chapter 9 will be a 30-day unit, and chapters 10-12 are each 15 to 20 days. That’s 81 days… not going to get that done by the end of May! We’ll just keep working through the summer.

Once we finish Volume 5, I’ll move onto Volume 1 and keep going with school. In September I’ll move everyone up a grade as we begin the “new” year. With that in mind (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise) we should finish Volume 5 around the middle of July (taking into consideration spring break and various days off between now and then).

If I continue to school year-round, I could take off one week each month, and even a few miscellaneous days here and there (up to 10 days) and still get 180+ days of school done each year. Since this would be our schedule, I could choose which week of each month we take off. If I need two weeks for a trip, I can schedule the last week of one month and the beginning of the next month. I may even decide to have half-days on a week off… the latter half of the day, so we can sleep in 😉 … and then we’re not really missing much school because two half-day weeks would equal one full week. This would come in handy for emergencies like sick days, or unexpected company, or spur-of-the-moment trips.

Isn’t homeschooling wonderful?!

(Author’s note: Year-round schooling didn’t work for us after this year was completed, and we have reverted back to the school calendar followed by the public schools–for the most part. But, it sure did look good on paper!)

Sample Supplement Day

After our Bible lesson (we always do Bible first, if we have a lesson), I usually move right into our History or Science lesson. We’re currently in Vol 5, Chapter 9 — almost finished with this chapter! (In 11 weeks we will complete Vol 5 for the second time — wow… where has the time gone?!)

For this day, we worked on the last activity for objective 3 in Science. My two remaining students are in grades 9 & 11 (again, where has the time gone?!), and the activities are often the same. When I plan out a chapter, I look to see if there are any activities listed specifically for the grades I’m teaching. In this objective there wasn’t, so both students were given the same assignment.

This activity covered thunderstorms and hurricanes. We’ve covered this often over the years, so I decided to just read the info from the Supplement and then assign the questions as homework. But not all the questions! Here’s what I assigned them:

  • Sketch and describe the three stages of a thunderstorm and include the following:
  1. Tell why hailstones only fall during thunderstorms.
  2. Is there really a “calm before the storm”? Why or why not?
  • Illustrate the six types of lightning:
  1. Streak
  2. Sheet
  3. Rocket
  4. Ribbon
  5. Pearl Necklace
  6. Forked
  • Report on hurricanes; include the following:
  1. Are hurricanes low- or high-pressure areas? Sketch to explain.
  2. Why do hurricanes need warm ocean water for food?
  3. What parts of the USA are most affected by hurricanes, and why?
  4. On average, how many occur each year?
  5. Why do scientists name hurricanes?

I assigned these three papers on Tuesday, and requested they be turned in by Friday. When we talked about earthquakes later in the week, we did our research together and discussed the info during class. Those were the only two days we had science that week, yet the papers I assigned kept them busy each day as they researched the info, made notes, and wrote their papers. For this assignment, they both chose to write their final papers by hand. I always leave that option up to them–one child prefers to write by hand, the other prefers to use the computer.

If you have a copy of the Supplement, you will notice that I left a few things out. I didn’t require them to outline the development of a thunderstorm. I didn’t assign any of the tornado questions/projects, and I left out some of the hurricane questions as well. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve covered these weather subjects often through the years. My goal was to give them multiple papers to do, to teach them about prioritizing their time and breaking up an assignment so it doesn’t overwhelm them.

The beauty of homeschooling is being able to tailor the assignments (in ANY grade) so that your students learn what you feel they need to learn at this point in their lives.

Making It Work

Recently, a conversation arose on social media about how I make Weaver more interesting for students in the 7-12 Supplements. My answer was simple: I don’t. I just make sure it’s educational. I encourage my children to follow any “Rabbit Trails” they find interesting so they can learn more, but it’s not my job to entertain them every minute. They are in high school, after all. I expect them to find ways to stay interested on their own. When they move out and begin their lives on their own, I won’t be there to entertain them. They may not always find a sermon (or their job, for that matter) exciting. THEY need to be responsible for finding interest in the world around them–they need to stay interested without someone else making it interesting for them.

So, how do I teach my high school students? We talk about our topics, we laugh and joke, and sometimes we get serious and teary-eyed. I use visuals as much as possible for science by hooking my computer to the TV. We share the reading when there are long chapters. Often, I give an assignment and they do the work on their own, after I’m done talking–much like a college course (Talk, talk, talk; here’s your assignment; blah, blah, blah; turn it in Friday.)

We told our children early on that public school is NOT an option. My husband and I try to model an attitude of acceptance: we do things we don’t like because we have to, and we don’t complain– we just deal with it and move on with life. Once the children are in 11th grade they can attend the local tech college daily to get a start on their college credits and life skills. But, if they can’t do the work I ask them to do, I will assume they won’t work at Tech–and then they don’t get to attend.

I also add in electives, like LIFEPACs, to allow them to work independently (e.g., 
Accounting, Art, Astronomy). My job is to educate my children. I cannot force them to feel happy or to be interested in something. If they don’t learn this now–to find joy in life–they’ll be miserable adults.

The A to Z of Using Weaver (part 4)

Over the past few days we’ve covered letters A-S. Today, we’ll complete the series.

Teacher’s Binder — Unless you purchase Teacher’s Friend (or talk to another Weaving mom), you won’t know about this little gem. Designed as a “quick start guide” for those new to using Weaver, the Teacher’s Friend will walk you through how to set up your own teacher’s binder. This will become your lifeline for using Weaver. Instead of working from those huge binders each day, you’ll have everything you need in one smaller binder — it will, literally, become the most valuable school supply you own; and it will go with you, year after year after year, through this adventure called homeschooling.

Units — This is what Weaver is all about: separate units that are all focused on one thing — the Bible. The Weaver Curriculum is a unit study approach to learning. That means each section starts with the topic being studied (found in the Bible chapter you are studying at the time) and weaves in history, science, art, etc. Everything you’ll study in all the subjects will point back to what’s being studied in the Bible lessons. And that’s really how it should be! Everything we do in life should be a direct result of what we are studying in our Bible. Remember: if you start with the Word of God, everything else falls into place!

Volumes — There are five official volumes that make up The Weaver Curriculum. Each one is color-coded the same way (white for everyone, or teacher papers; goldenrod for Kindergarten; dark pink for first grade; light pink for second grade; blue for third grade; yellow for fourth grade; green for fifth grade; and salmon for sixth grade) and broken up into nine units covering anywhere from 180 to 220+ days for teaching. If you follow the Day by Day, and take breaks for the usual holidays, you will finish the first three volumes in one year each. Volumes four and five will each take a year and a half on the same schedule. That means you will get through all five volumes in a six year period. After that, you start over using the 7-12th Grade Supplement that corresponds with each volume. As you can see, this is a very cost-efficient curriculum!

Wisdom Words — This is the grammar program written by the author of The Weaver Curriculum. It is designed with the idea that you have already taught your children how to speak properly, so now you want to show them what proper speech looks like on paper. You are encouraged to have your student write for 5-10 minutes each day. From that writing, you will pull examples of nouns, sentence fragments, predicates and more. Wisdom Words is color-coded the same way the volumes are, plus it contains all the manipulatives you’ll need to teach the concepts. The suggested course of study for Wisdom Words is included in the Day by Day for each volume.

X-tra Help — Homeschooling is not always easy. Support from other homeschooling moms is important! That’s why there is a huge network of extra help out there for those using the Weaver curriculum. If you desire to purchase new materials, you can shop at The Unofficial Weaver. If you’d rather buy used, you can find items listed at the Buy/Sell Board — or, you can see if anyone has posted anything for sale in the Facebook group or …

Yahoo Lists — Before there was Facebook, before there was a Buy/Sell Board, before there was a store, there was a single Yahoo list. Over the years, that list has grown into multiple lists, and this blog was developed. The goal of these various helps has always been to glorify God by helping other homeschool families. If you have a question about Weaver, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Zulu Time / Zoo — Weaver can be done anytime, anywhere! Whether you live in the USA or in Australia (or anywhere in between) you can use Weaver. You may have to find a different history program to suit the needs of your country, but it can be done! Weaver can also be done at the kitchen table, on the couch, on a blanket in the back yard, in the car or at the zoo! Weaver will open your eyes to the world around you, and every opportunity will become a teaching opportunity.

I hope this list has given you a better understanding of The Weaver Curriculum. I cannot stress enough that this curriculum is a tool, not your master. You are the teacher. You decide how, where and what will be taught. You want what’s best for your children, and nothing compares to the goodness of God’s Word. With Weaver, that’s exactly what you’ll be giving them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you start with the Word of God, everything else falls into place!

The A to Z of Using Weaver (part 3)

We’ve covered the first half of the alphabet — now onto the next section!

New Year/Volume —  One of the best features of the Weaver Curriculum is how versatile it is. If you don’t finish a volume in one year, you just mark where you are and pick up in that same spot the next year, moving each child up a grade. If you finish a volume mid-year, you start the next one, keeping your children in the same grades. The first three volumes are designed to be completed in one year each (they’re all around 180 days). Volumes 4 & 5 are designed to take a little longer, and between the two of them you have three years’ worth of work.

Overviews — Each chapter starts with an overview, or outline, of what will be studied. Some of the volumes contain complete overviews at the beginning, and you can find overviews for each volume at The Unofficial Weaver. An alphabetical listing of the topics covered can be found in The Master’s Loom. With Weaver, you will never be surprised unless you want to be!

Penmanship to Praise — Each chapter contains verses for penmanship or memorizing. Many moms use them for both. If you have the Penmanship to Praise program, you will never be without a penmanship assignment — a complete set of assigned verses for each volume can be found within all of the levels. Your child will practice the verse for four days, and on the fifth day they will choose a ‘border page’ and write it in their best handwriting. They can then color it for display on your frig, or on a relative’s frig.

Questions — So often, family and friends will ask how your child is doing in your homeschool. While it’s perfectly fine to teach your children to politely answer any oral quiz someone gives them, it’s also easy to pick up a copy of the Review Questions for the corresponding volume in which you are working. These mini-quizzes make it easy to “show” what your child is learning in each unit.

Reading Lists — Each chapter contains a list of recommended books. These books can be used as resources (visual aids while you teach), as read-a-louds, or as reading assignments for your students. There are recommended grades next to many of the books, but you can choose the books that are appropriate for your child’s reading level. Unfortunately, some of the recommended books are no longer in print and are hard to find at most public libraries. If you don’t have the space or the funds to buy used books, you can still use your local library. Even if they don’t have the exact book, they will have similar books. Just pick up a few of those and use them as alternatives. The idea is to teach the concept–the topic–not the exact book.

Success in Spelling — The author of The Weaver Curriculum desired to have a complete curriculum for her own children. Besides creating Penmanship to Praise and 1-2-3 Read!, she also created Success in Spelling. Designed to be started after the student is reading fluently (about 3rd grade), the six levels of Success in Spelling will take your child from simple two- and three-letter words (cap) to college vocabulary (capitulate). Each level comes complete with spelling, diacritical markings and syllabication rules used, as well as instructions for using the program.

Tomorrow, we’ll finish up with the last few letters of the alphabet!

The A to Z of Using Weaver (part 2)

Yesterday we discussed A-F when it comes to Weaver. Today, we’ll tackle G-M.

Grade Levels — The main volumes each contain grades K-6, while the Supplements contain grades 7-12 (more on those in a bit). This allows you to teach all of your children at the same time, from the same curriculum. No more sending each child to a different room to study on their own (unless you–or they–want to). Coloring pages pertaining to most of the topics can be found online. Your younger elementary students can be coloring while you read and discuss info with your upper elementary and high school students. Older children can even help teach younger children! This is “one-room school house” in your home.

Highway to English Grammar — This two-year course is designed to be used for 9th & 10th grade English. The first year is an in-depth diagramming course, and the second year is spent diagramming the book of Romans. Your student will come away with a better understanding of why we speak the way we do, and better writing skills.

Investigation — Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Your child will love learning little facts and tidbits of info as they study weather patterns, migration routes, and more. If you find something that really intrigues your student, you can take an extra hour (or day, or week) to study it further. Affectionately called “rabbit trails,” these are some of the best learning experiences of the year. Need an example of a rabbit trail? Say you’re in V2/Ch4 and you’re studying inventions. As you discuss how various inventions, such as cars, have affected our lifestyles, your child asks, “What kind of car did your parents have when you were little?” This could lead to a trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa to talk about the vehicles they remember their parents having, too. By the time you’re finished, your child could have a great timeline of your family car history, including pictures printed from the Internet!

Jr & Sr High School — While the main volumes cover grades K-6, Weaver isn’t just for the younger children. The 7-12th Grade Supplements allow you to expand on the topics for older students. The Supps include history and science. You will still need the main volume for Bible lessons, vocabulary, field trip ideas, health/safety, and memory verses (which can still be used for penmanship–you’re never too old to practice your penmanship). You won’t need the Day by Day once your students are in the Supps, unless you just want to see how the topics are laid out in connection to the Bible lessons or  for creative writing ideas.

Kid-friendly — This curriculum will take you from hands-on activities to research papers and your students will never notice the change. The author understood the importance of young children to move and do things. She also incorporates writing assignments in more and more detail as the children get older, allowing for a gradual change in the way they learn. Doing is still a big part of the older grades as well! And, since the curriculum is your tool, you are free to change the way you teach the concept. Instead of a research paper, have them create a diorama. Instead of an essay, have them write a fictional story. As you move through the chapters, you’ll get ideas for what works best for your child(ren).

Learning to Love Literature — This is a high school level introduction to literature. Using Veith’s book, Reading Between the Lines, your child will gain a better understanding of how literature has changed over the years, and how our Christian worldview should affect what we read. A written report is suggest to complete this program.

Master’s Loom — Ever wonder when a certain subject will be taught in The Weaver Curriculum? Do you need to know when you’ll be learning about something again? Curious about how much of the Bible you’ll be covering during this journey? Then you will love The Master’s Loom! The first half is a complete index of Volumes 1-5 (Interlock to be added soon), telling in which volume/chapter you’ll study each concept/topic. The second half shows where each Bible lesson is covered in the curriculum. Created by a Weaver mom, for Weaver moms, just like the curriculum!

Check back tomorrow for part 3 of this list!