Planning for the 2017-2018 School Year {Part Two}

A few days ago I shared Part One of our plans for the upcoming school year. This outlined our intended direction for math, language arts, Spanish, and mythology {all the subjects we do daily in the mornings}. This post will address some of the other academic subjects we typically include each week, although we don’t hit each of these topics every day. 

For geography, we will be using the same spine text for the third year in a row: Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia. We’ve been working through it in order, albeit following lots of rabbit holes along the way. The first year {4th for Agent E and 2nd for Agent J} we completed the first three sections: planet earth, rocks and minerals, and water. The second year {5th for Agent E, 3rd for Agent J, and 1st for Agent A} we covered climate and weather and life on earth {ecosystems}. Our focus next year will be on the final three sections of the text: human geography, mapping the world, and individual country studies. 

Our world history spine—History Year-by-Year—will also be seeing its third year of use. So far we have progressed from the very beginning of the human story through ancient history and the middle ages up to and including the age of exploration. We will be picking up this year around 1525, and are hoping to get at least up to the time of American westward expansion. If we manage that, we will still be looking at using this book for a fourth year to carry us up to present times. Then we’ll probably start the whole cycle over again, focusing on different key points and reading more complex texts than previously. I did not really include Agent A {1st} in our world history studies too much this year, but going forward {2nd} I probably will.

While we did cover American history this year, we did not have a set plan or use a particular spine book. For next year, we intend to make use of the United States Encyclopedia. This gives a brief overview of US history, then offers state-by-state summaries, and finally presents a brief discussion of important documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. I’m anticipating this being a two-year endeavor. We will also likely re-watch both America: The Story of Us and Liberty’s Kids while supplementing with additional texts along the way.

Next we have science, which is consistently the area in which we overplan because we want to Do All The Things. Although we did make it through a substantial amount of our spine text, Science: A Visual Encyclopedia, we still have two sections to cover: living organisms and great discoveries. While we used a spine for our evolution studies this year—Evolution: The Human Story—it turned out to be a little more dense than we were anticipating, and we will likely “shelf” that one for a few years. Instead, we are going to go through our Goodreads list and re-read all of our evolution favorites {and include Agent A in any ones he missed last year}. We also plan to read The Magic of Reality {one of my absolute favorites} together as well. We are almost through all the mammals covered in The Animal Book, so we should easily wrap up that section this year and move on to another animal group, probably birds or amphibians.

We will likely continue doing a separate study of world religions and their mythologies as well. {Although I still can’t decide if we will leave this as an afternoon subject as part of history, or move it to our morning routine and cover it along with our study of Egyptian mythology.} The girls have already read What Do You Believe? {twice}, although we have not gone through it with Agent A. {We tried earlier this year and it was a bit much for him at the time.} We have read Really Really Big Questions About God, Faith, and ReligionThe Belief Book, and The Book of Gods with all three Agents, however. I think this is such a fascinating topic and one that everyone should have a working knowledge of, regardless of their personal beliefs or lack thereof. I don’t have a new spine book in mind for this topic, although I’m open to suggestions {ahem}. 

For Health we will be re-reading a book we used as a spine during Agent E’s 4th and Agent J’s 2nd grade year. The Human Body: A Visual Encyclopedia offers a detailed look at each of the body’s systems, as well as including information on the life cycle and personality traits. We will be making ample use of the KidsHealth website articles and videos as well. This year we also discovered the wonderful collection of books by Robie H. Harris about the body and puberty, and we will likely be re-reading all of them next year. They are all highly recommended and Agent-approved. {We will likely skip reading It’s Perfectly Normal with Agent A, as it’s really aimed at middle-school-ish ages, but all the others we will read together.} I think it is so important to have an accurate, scientific understanding of your own body and how it works. {Just think about how many people you know personally who fall for all sort of health-related pseudoscience nonsense because they lack a basic understanding of the human body.}

Right now our routine is to cover geography and science on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then turn to history, world religions, and health on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, I think we will likely be revising our days somewhat for next year, possibly to include more of a “block” schedule of sorts. Of course we also still need to throw art, music, and extras into the mix as well. That will be the subject of part three of this post.

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