The A to Z of Using Weaver (part 1)

This had to be the easiest list I’ve ever created. After working with this program for 20 years, the list was automatic–it’s all I talk about when people ask for curriculum suggestions! Due to the length, I’ll be splitting it up over four parts. I hope you find this list encouraging and informative!

Activities — The activities and objectives are the meat of this curriculum. You can do them all or you can do only the ones needed to teach the concept being covered. You can do them exactly as written, skim over them as a review, or dig into them deeply. You are the teacher, so you decide. Activities are age-appropriate with the younger grades being introduced to them and the older grades digging deeper into the topic.

Bible-based — If you start with the Word of God, everything else falls into place. The majority of families who choose Weaver do so because it starts with the Bible. Each history, science and language arts lesson stems from whatever is being studied in the Bible lessons for that chapter. What better way to learn about God’s creation than by looking at it through His Word?

Creative Writing — When you choose to use the Day by Day you are given a bonus: daily writing prompts. If you don’t use the Day by Day, you still have a creative source: the Volume itself! For example, let’s say you’re in Volume 2, chapter 8. The first social studies objective for 2nd grade talks about the foods Adam would have eaten in the Garden of Eden. Your creative writing for the day could be a menu for Adam’s new restaurant. Or maybe you’re in Volume 5, chapter 3, and you’re discussing families. The language arts section suggests students write letters to family members–that can be very creative! One of the perks of using Weaver is teaching your child to think creatively and communicate those thoughts effectively on paper and verbally.

Day by Day — These are your lesson plans for each day. If you follow them daily, for all the volumes, you’ll get through the 5 volumes in 6 years. At the beginning of each chapter, and each day, you’ll be given a “Thought for Today.” Each day has a list of resources and supplies you’ll need for teaching; a place to write-in math, reading, spelling and penmanship assignments; and creative writing prompts. Social studies, science, and language arts objectives are organized to correspond to the Bible lessons for each day. Field trips, art and health topics are suggested. Even Wisdom Words is laid out in the Day by Day for you!

Educational — From agriculture to zoology; constellations to cell structure; world capitals to world religions — you’ll find it all in The Weaver. And Mom will learn right along with her children! So much of what I learned in school didn’t stick with me, but going over it a second time with my children, in a much more hands-on way, has helped to cement the knowledge in my brain. And I know Weaver children around the world are learning from this program — I’ve heard countless stories of high ACT scores and good colleges accepting Weaver graduates. Weaver will teach your children how to think, not just fill in a blank.

Flexible — Need to take a day off for some doctor appointments? Taking an unplanned vacation? Or maybe you prefer to school four days a week and also year-round. With Weaver, you can! Weaver is designed to be a tool, not your master. Whether you prefer lots of books or lots of hands-on, you can adapt Weaver to match your teaching style.

That’s just a taste of this program. Tomorrow we’ll tackle more of the list. (Feel free to share this post with a friend who is curious about Weaver!)

Teaching the Hard Stuff

Death is a fact of life. As Christians, we know it is not the end, but the beginning of our time with Jesus. As much as we look forward to being in heaven, it’s hard to think about those left behind. Children don’t always understand about death–it scares them, and rightly so–it is the “unknown.”

Volume 1, Chapter 12, tackles the subject of death. Using plenty of Bible to reinforce God’s plan for life, you’ll spend a couple days talking about death, burial, and heaven. For very young children, you may wish to get the book, Someone I Love Died, by Christine Tangvald. Older children will need time to talk and grieve. Often, sorting through photos and remembering the fun times will help them as they process their feelings.

The Bible doesn’t gloss over death. From patriarchs dying of old age, to young children being murdered, to liars falling dead at the feet of the Apostles–it’s all in there! If you’re in a different volume and the subject of death comes up and your child starts asking questions, pull your Volume 1 off the shelf and turn to Chapter 12. You’ll find everything you need to teach the subject from a biblical point of view.

Planning Lessons: Keeping Your Focus

We’re currently in the middle of Volume 2, Chapter 8. It’s a loonnng chapter: 15 Bible Lessons. Normally, that would take 6 weeks to do (Bible every other day–30 days for the chapter) but I teach Bible 3 days a week, so this will take just 5 weeks. I’ve arranged our weeks like this because my oldest student takes science and math outside of the home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We have Bible and History on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, when my son is home; on Tuesday and Thursday I teach science to the younger 2 (besides our other “classes,” like math, spelling, reading, etc).

As I was planning this chapter, and trying to arrange the science and history lessons, it became a challenge. I like to follow the flow of the Day by Day as much as possible, but rearranging the science objectives was not easy. Some of them were off track as I gave priority to the history lessons in our daily lineup.  I spent much time in prayer trying to make the chapter as cohesive as possible.

The first day we came across a science lesson that I knew should have been taught a few days earlier, I simply told the children, “Remember last week, when we talked about …” I even pulled out the Bible and re-read the info we covered previously. This was a great review for the children! About a week later I found myself teaching a science lesson the day before the Bible lesson with which it corresponded. As I began the science lesson, I mentioned that we’d be talking about it more the next day during our Bible lesson.

Whether your science and history line up perfectly with your Bible lessons or not, you can always point your children back to the Bible. That’s the whole basis of Weaver: the Bible. Proverbs 16:3 tells us, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” If you are committed to teaching Weaver, God knows and will give you the words and the insight for the lesson at hand. Keep your focus on Him and you will be blessed!

Am I doing Enough?

Often the question has been asked, “Is there more that I should be teaching in Weaver? The lessons sometimes seem so short.”

I used to wonder about this also some 12 years ago, when I first started using Weaver with my young children. The lessons seemed very short. Was I missing something? Thankfully I ran across some Charlotte Mason philosophy at the same time. That philosophy reinforced for me a great benefit of Weaver. CM philosophy encourages short interesting lessons, which Weaver provides. I had to get out of my head the idea of the 50 minute classroom, teacher-controlled lesson. We all need to unlearn some things when we start home-schooling like unlearning all that we thought was true education, modeled by the public or private school. If you begin to fret and think you have to add extra information and go beyond what the Weaver unit covers it can lead to overload and burnout. Follow some rabbit trails if you want, but remember that you don’t have to do so in order to make the curriculum complete. You will repeat many of the subjects year after year, although the objectives will not always cover the same information, so you don’’t have to worry and ask, ““Are my kids getting enough?””.

Now, if you go beyond what Weaver presents for a particular unit you may run the risk of burning out on a topic and when you hit it again your children may become bored. Volume one is a volume for setting the hooks in place for further building. Why does Weaver do that? Weaver prefers hitting many topics yearly in increments and building on them rather than teaching a subject every four or five years.

Also once you introduce a topic your children will become more aware of that subject and you will find them adding their own information to it as well. Don’’t think that you must supply all the learning situations! Life is not segmented and compartmentalized, like most curricula are set up. Weaver plans on the fact that as you introduce subjects your children will begin to take responsibility for their own learning. Their interests will be piqued and they will begin to make their own connections.

Some lessons are short and some are not, as you will see. I would encourage you to trust the curriculum. Yes, you can follow tangents but know that you don’’t need to. Your kids will fall in love with a curriculum that does not require fill-in-the-blanks, long sitting, teacher directed and text-driven lessons. With Weaver you are invited to learn with your children, in short interesting lessons, so you can spend the rest of your day living and enjoying life, not tied to a school desk! Do I hear a hallelujah?

Even though the lessons are short and there are hands-on activities I still always ask the Lord to help me find ways to make the new lessons applicable and memorable for our family. When you come to a new unit, or are in the middle of one, there is a wonderful group of home educators on the Weaver loop (and the Facebook group) who have many ideas also. There is always a game or nifty introduction which will create an element of delight, surprise and spice things up a bit.

Wrapping-up Chapter 12

We’re almost finished with our unit on Family (also the Human Body–these go together quite well if you focus on how each member of the body is unique, just like each member of the family is unique) and the best part has been the read alouds! You may recall, from my earlier post on Chap. 12, that we started with Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams. My children thoroughly enjoyed that story. We then moved on to Billy Graham, which they also enjoyed, but don’t seem to speak of as much. After that we read the Swiss Family Robinson, which was another hit. It was great fun discussing all the things the family had to “make” to live comfortably. Now we’re almost through with Susannah Wesley. There is so much history in that book! The chapters are a little long, but it’s giving us great opportunity to discuss marriages, death, and family living.

One more week until spring break… at which time I’ll be planning out the last couple months of our schooling.

Lessons from Nature

Two days ago a Savannah sparrow hit my office window and scared the wits out of me (my computer chair is right next to the window). I looked out and saw feathers floating to the ground and a bird on the ground, obviously dead. He hit hard–didn’t have a chance.

This morning I heard another bird hit a window, this time my husband’s office window (directly upstairs from mine). The sound wasn’t as loud, so I hoped for the best. I looked out and saw a little Harris’ sparrow on its back, legs kicking as it struggled to figure out what happened. Thinking it would have a better chance right-side-up, I went out to see if I could assist it in flipping over. As I rounded the corner, he flipped by himself. Not wanting to cause more stress, I went back into the house and began praying.

Birds are such a fantastic example of God’s care for us. My heart was heavy for the Harris’ sparrow as he struggled to survive in the 31 degree weather. Being on the stone porch probably didn’t help him, and having a dead sparrow two feet away didn’t help me! My heart was breaking.

After an hour, the bird was sitting up, puffed out to stay warm, and his eyes were open most of the time. His head turned in reaction to shadows and loud noises, so I thought he had a good chance of survival. After another prayer for the bird’s safety, I gathered my two youngest and we went grocery shopping. An hour later we arrived home to find the bird still there. As we watched, he turned around. Thinking he would probably fly any time, we had our lunch, checking on him every 10 minutes or so.

Suddenly my daughter was yelling, “He’s on his side!” We rushed to the window to see the little bird about a foot away from his original spot, on his side, motionless. He must have tried to fly and it was just too much.

God had a plan for that bird’s life. He was always watching, always caring for it. He does the same for us: watching over us, guiding our paths, working out His plan. That little sparrow reminded me of that fact at a time when I needed reminding. Sometimes things happen in life that give us an out-of-control feeling. We can’t see the whole picture, so we grasp at what we know and try not to let things change. We can’t see that things are not really changing, or that if they are changing it is for the best.

We often get so caught up in what “might” happen that we forget to live in the here-and-now. We get ahead of God. My children and I enjoyed the nearness of that little Harris’ sparrow while we could. Later, they’ll go out and bury him and the Savannah sparrow (so I don’t have to keep looking at them when I look out my window). We’ll move on with our lives, and give our parakeets a little extra attention. And we’ll keep looking to God for direction and guidance.

Human Body Unit

We’re two weeks into our human body unit, but didn’t start making our organs until last week. No, I haven’t made the outlines of my children yet. After reading through the instructions, I was a bit flustered as to what needed to be done first. There are instructions for making everything… but not instructions for the order of making the models.

So, I’ve decided that we’ll just make all the organs and then worry about creating the body to “stick” them onto. And then I’m going to jot down lots of notes about how the project should proceed next time, and place it into my Weaver 3-D Body Book!

My children are really enjoying the sewing–actually, I think they enjoyed picking out the material for each organ the best. Rather than go out and buy plain material, we’re using whatever I have on-hand. These will certainly be colorful bodies!

Vol. 1, Ch. 12: Families

Chapter 12 of Volume 1 is the Human Body unit. But, while we’re studying the human body, we’re also studying “family.” I’ve chosen to do some read-alouds with this unit. We’ll be taking five weeks to go through this chapter, so I have four “families” to read about.

The first week we’re covering the family institution and preparation for family living. I chose to read Abigail Adams. I chose this book because I simply love the way families were structured in this time period. It’s very different than what we now see, and this book gives me a chance to discuss those differences with my children. (Having just finished John Adams the time period is still fresh in my mind, as are John and Abigail Adams.)

During the first half of week two, we’ll be studying guidelines for dating. I’ve chosen to read about Billy Graham from the book, Backpack Books: Modern Heroes. All of these families exemplify godly people, which is what I’m focusing on for this unit. I don’t know if this book will touch on his relationship with his wife or not–the Abigail Adams book talked a bit about her courtship with John–but I’m sure I’ll find many character traits to point out to my children during this read-aloud.

During the second half of week two and most of week three we’ll be studying marriage. I chose The Swiss Family Robinson from Christian Adventures. I realize this is a fictional family, but it’s also a family that works together to survive. Teamwork is another trait I’m trying to instill in my children.

During week four and the first half of week five we’ll be studying death, so I’ve chosen Susanna Wesley. I’ve read this book before and I seem to recall that Susanna loses a few babies along the way.

None of these books are suggested in the Volume, but they are what I have on my shelves. You will need to choose your own families to study if you chose to do read-alouds. As a way to wrap-up this unit, during the last week we’ll be studying “famous families.” I’ll be asking my children to write a letter to any of the famous families we’ve read about, even the Swiss Family Robinson, to ask them questions. It should be interesting to see what they come up with!

Covenants and Treaties

Chapter 11 of Volume 1 is one of the dreaded “White Pages” chapters. Why do these chapters strike fear into the hearts of Weaving moms? Two reasons:

1) It takes thought on the part of the mom/teacher to decide what to teach since there are usually so many options.

2) It takes discernment on the part of the mom/teacher to decide what to teach because not all of these chapters are broken down by age.

I believe Chapter 11 is the first White Pages chapter in Volume 1, and it’s followed by 5 more chapters, with only one of them NOT a White Pages chapter. That’s right, of the last 6 chapters, 5 are White Pages. But, take heart! As is noted in the intro to Chapter 11, the idea is not to make more work for you, but to lighten your load. Here’s what the author had to say:

As you review the materials that have been studied in the first ten chapters of The Weaver, you will realize that we have covered some very complex subjects. Chances are it has taken a toll on you. If it has, and your desk has a few file folders of left-overs, now is the time to catch up. Review any materials you do not feel your child has adequately grasped or finish items you planned to complete but have not had the time to do so.

This chapter contains six Bible lessons, as it is important that a continual study be made of the Bible to obtain the goal of hiding the Word of God in our children’s hearts. Character Sketches are continued in this chapter. There are no lesson plans for the academic level with it in mind that you will welcome a break and rest your mind as well as the minds of your students.

If, however, you are rested and wish to continue a detailed study with your children, the following are suggested areas of study. You may use the encyclopedia or juvenile section of the Library to help you with this.

She then lists 11 areas of study, mostly historical events that involved treaties or pacts. Since I could only find 4 of the 11 items in our encyclopedia set, I chose a slightly different route for this two week period: I pulled volume 4 of The Story of the World off the shelf and found the section that covers 5 or more of the suggested areas of study. We’re reading a chapter a day, starting at chapter 20 and continuing until chapter 29.

I know it’s awkward to start a book in the middle, but I have been curious about these books ever since I bought them and wanted to know how engaging they were for a read-aloud. They’re quite well written, and my children sit quietly while I read, with minimal–if any–fidgeting. I give these books a hearty endorsement as resources/supplements for Weaver history. I’m learning a great deal myself, and finally starting to understand a bit more about our history, and the history of the world!

So, the next time you find yourself in a “White Pages” chapter, take heart! It’s a chance for you to relax a bit, and get creative with your teaching. You will not ruin your child if you take a couple weeks off from research papers. I promise.

Flora and Fauna Volume 1 units 7 and 8

I enjoy the luxury of not rushing through a book. I decided to try to find a book that would last through several units and would reinforce the subjects. I have not read all of Jules Verne’s novels but the few that I have read aloud always teach us so much in such a fun way. I chose for this unit The Mysterious Island. It is the sequel to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and my children have been wanting to read it after they finished Captain Nemo’s first underwater adventure.

From the early chapters, I immediately saw that it would encompass so much of our future studies while reaching back and touching on others. Stealing away in an air balloon and barely surviving a hurricane brought back to our minds units already studied. One of the real surprises was the day we were studying in our math about how to figure the height of something very large by comparing it to a much smaller item, that has a known length, we saw it illustrated by the brilliant Cyrus Smith in the book. That was very cool.

My 9-year-old enjoyed reading through a lovely illustrated version of Aesop’s Fables during this unit as well.