Abeka Lesson Organization

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A few posts back, I shared my thoughts on Abeka: First Grade.  While I'm starting to get the hang of it and our days are going much smoother, that wasn't always the case.  I went in with one idea and was quickly wondering what I had gotten myself into.  Long story short, after accumulating all the "optional" materials things improved greatly, but organization was still a huge issue.

I began browsing online to see how other homeschooling families organized their Abeka lessons.  I simply wanted to have some understanding and starting point. I wasn't having much luck until I came across this post which was helpful.  I took the idea of a file system and decided to give it a try by creating a smaller version.

Filing System

My idea and main objective was to, at least, get a six week grading period organized.  This meant heading to Target to look for inspiration.  I happened upon a wooden file holder and some cute hanging file folders.  I then used simple manila file folders and created labels for each.  For my trial run, I decided to label by weekday.  I made 6 sets of Monday-Friday folders and put each week in a hanging folder.

Files

You could also do this by lesson number, if you prefer.  I then tore out all worksheets needed for that particular day/lesson.  For example, if this specific Wednesday is Lesson 56 then all Lesson 56 paperwork would be included.  Pretty simple.  To simplify further, I stapled all seatwork papers together, including a tablet sheet.  Daily sheets (like math or the occasional spelling paper) are paper clipped to the seatwork packet.  The stapled packet takes care of two days of seatwork (one lesson on front, another on the back) and Abby can hold on to the seatwork packet until it is completed on the second day.  All finished paperwork is then filed away in a plastic container.

Seatwork

I also use this same system for Summer's Tot School Printables.  Each letter has a folder, which is filed by the specific week.  It helps keep them easily accessible and helps me know which letters are coming up.

As we continue to progress through the curriculum, I'm open to modifying this system.  But for now, it's helping so much.

I'm curious, how do you organize your lessons?


Interested in how we store our Abeka materials?  Click here for a detailed post.

IMG_0762


Link & Learn

Tot School: F is for Foot and Doc McStuffins Theme

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Summer is 30.5 months old.

This week we continued using Tot School Printables from 1+1+1=1 and focused on the Letter F.  I love how excited she gets when I ask if she wants "to do school." 

Since Summer loves coloring so much, I started her off with the coloring sheet.  She prefers to color all at once, so one day we colored and the next few days we played a game to locate colors.

Coloring

Colors

She matched her foam shapes to the pictures.

Shape Match

Shape Match 2

She also has a slight obsession with dry erase markers...no idea where she gets that from and enjoyed the prewriting practice sheet.

Lines
dry erase board

One day, I pulled a few Valentine's Day inspired activities for her.  She practiced gluing the foam hearts and lacing. 

Glue Heart

Gluing Heart

Heart Placing

Lacing Heart

Lacing

The vocabulary focus this week was parts of the body. My girls are fans of Doc McStuffins so I thought it might be fun to incorporate that into our week.  I had some happy girls!

Setup

I used an old workbench for the checkup center and set up all the Doc McStuffins toys we had and a few books.  I filled the basket with animals and baby dolls and Summer (and Abby) loved it!

Setup 4
Doc McStuffins Doll | Doctor's Bag

Setup 3
Doctor Coat | Book of Boo Boo's

Setup 2
Dora the Doctor | Corduroy Goes to the Doctor

Doctor Play

Playing Doc

Playing Doctor

Looking For Previous Weeks?

Letter A
Letter B
Letter C
Letter D
Letter E


Hip Homeschool Hop | Weekly Kids Co-op | Link & Learn | Tot School Gathering Place | Montessori Monday


My Thoughts on Abeka First Grade

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

We began using Abeka in September 2014 for Abby's first grade year.  I've always been somewhat curious to try a boxed curriculum and had looked into several options before ultimately deciding on Abeka. Abeka is a well-known and highly respected program that is also used in local private Christian schools.  And, I liked the idea of a complete curriculum delivered right to my door step.

Up until Kindergarten, we had used free or low cost resources online which were fabulous and did exactly what I needed them to do.  For her Kindergarten year, we purchased a few things from various companies and they worked well, too.  This go around, I wanted something that was "done" if you will.  I knew schooling a 6 year old with two younger children would be tricky and my husband's schedule leaves us girls on our own about 90% of the time.  In other words, I needed something low maintenance which would allow me to get everything else done in a given day.

I read a lot about Abeka, talked with some people that used it, visited an Abeka booth and I felt good about selecting it.  When our kits arrived, I was pretty excited as was Abby.

However, when I opened the lesson plan manuals my head began spinning.  I was not sure where to start or how we were going to make sense of all the information.  Our Kindergarten day took about 2 hours, which worked perfect during nap time, but first grade was definitely going to take more than 2 hours.  Plus, I was attempting to throw in a few extras that looking back on now...I just laugh.  For a first timer to Abeka, my excitement turned to worry.  Eventually, I was able to wrap my head around what I thought was a great schedule and began planning and organizing. 

But then we started...

At the time, we were doing school in our kitchen like most people.  I had books, homemade flashcards and manipulatives scattered all over the place.  I'm not entirely obsessive about everything being totally neat and organized, but it was just a chaotic mess.  And, on top of all the STUFF required for each lesson, there were "optional" items I decided not to purchase that in all actuality were totally necessary.  I was irritated, unprepared/unorganized (when I worked for weeks to make sure I was) and trying to hand make the "optional" items was just not working.  Our school day was turning into a 6 hour day and I was literally driving myself CRAZY!  I'm lucky that Abby is pretty understanding and just rolls with whatever. 

Finally, I was over it after about five weeks of chaos and decided to visit a local homeschool consignment bookstore.  If you're in the Southern Indiana/Western Kentucky area I highly recommend talking with Pam Dailey of Dailey Bread Book Store.  I called her and told her exactly what I needed.  She pulled the items I was looking for and I was able to get most of what I needed within a day or so of speaking with her at a discounted price.  The items she didn't have on hand, I was able to order directly through Abeka. 

Once we received all the items, things began to get better.  I wasn't as irritated and we were able to start getting into somewhat of a routine.  I ditched the lesson manual idea of a suggested daily schedule because let's face it...it was NOT working and I also stopped looking at the suggested times for each subject.  The more familiar I became with each subject and how long it took for us I was able to gauge when to do certain subjects.  I like variety so every day we switch it up.  I know what subjects we can do with a toddler and baby around and I know which ones I need to save for nap time.  I also re-evaluated the seatwork portion of Abby's day.  We do maybe half of the recommended tasks.

My point is...it's hard as a new homeschooling parent to get wrapped up in "going by the book" or trying to do what another homeschooling family does.  I'm guilty of it.  Blogs and Pinterest have a deceiving way of making a homeschool day look perfect and fun. While some days are fun and go rather smooth, some days don't.  There are days we get everything done and other days we split one day up into two days.  I'm ok with that now. 

Abby is doing well with Abeka and enjoys it. I really like the colorful readers and worksheets provided which help keep her attention.  Obviously, there are some things I don't like.  Will we use Abeka in the future?  I don't know.  Right now, we will continue to work our way through and re-evaluate closer to summertime as she moves into second grade.