After we made the decision to homeschool our 7 year old daughter, I began looking into various curricula. I knew I didn’t want to do strict pre-packaged curricula, but I was very unsure as to how to pull together a completely unique, homemade program. There’s so much available, I quickly became overwhelmed and panicky.
When I stumbled across Catholic Heritage Curricula (www.chcweb.com) I was very excited! CHC promised to be affordable, Catholic, and flexible, just what I was looking for. For $32.95, you get a whole year of daily lesson plans, structured around the various curricula that CHC offers.
Each week starts with two pages of “overview” for the week, with a short checklist of weekly goals on side, and a more detailed explanation of what you will be teaching for the week in each subject. Suggestions and ideas are offered for various activities and discussion points. A blank check list for daily practice work is available, which gives an easy opportunity to work on things not specifically covered, such as practicing the family address and phone number, counting to 100 by 2s, or whatever else your child needs to work on. Also included on these pages is a “Memory Gem” for the week, a short poem or phrase for the child to memorize and recite at the end of the week.
The next two pages for that week give the more detailed plans for the individual days, Monday and Tuesday on one page, and Thursday and Friday on the next, with blank boxes in the corner for keeping track of attendance (I like to mark the cumulative number of days). Wednesdays are “free” days, which count as school, but are not planned out. This day can be used for more informal learning, library visits, field trips, all day projects, or just a day to relax. “Core” subjects are shaded in grey and non-core subjects are left in white, adding to ease of usage and planning what really needs to get done that day, what can wait, and what can easily be added in. To the sides and below the daily plans are blank lines for mom to jot down whatever she needs. I jot down what we do on Wednesdays, any fun facts we learn, questions that pop up.
Each week is also designated a specific read-aloud topic, such as mammals, and the “extras” for that week tend to tie into that. For example, this week was “fish” with the suggested titles of Plenty of Fish and The Rainbow Fish. The suggested art projects were to draw and color a “Christian” fish symbol and to create a paper fish mosaic. The P.E. suggestions were the games “Sharks and Minnows” and “Sardines.” In this way, every week is almost like a unit study!
In addition to the actual daily lesson plans, a course of study list and goals are provided so you can see what skills and knowledge your child should reasonably have by the end of the year. Each subject and its required and suggested texts are also discussed in the introduction, with tips on teaching the material. There is also an extensive appendix that includes supplements for math, phonics, and social studies (character building cards to be used weekly), feasts and seasons coloring pages, a few certificates of achievement, and even a month to month calendar planner that includes Holy Days. Whew! There’s a lot packed into 270 pages, and the price tag seems more than fair for what you get.
I’ve now been using the lesson plans for 3 weeks. I find the layout is easy to use and simple, but appealing. It’s very easy to sit down and see what we’re going to be doing for the next week, without feeling a lot of pressure and anxiety.
There is a wealth of suggestions for projects, discussions, etc for each week. I find that adding outside curriculum and tailoring the days to my daughter to be very easy.
At this point, I’ve only found one true negative with the lesson plans. I have found a couple of the books and texts listed as enrichment or supplemental are really quite necessary to fully teach the core subjects.
An example of this is the Catholic Treasure Box series. Although it’s on the website as “enrichment,” it’s relied on heavily. I’ve found at least one week where the Treasure Box books compromise the entire religious education slot for the day! Because the entire Treasure Box set costs upwards of $80 and it was listed as supplemental/enrichment (which to me means nice to have, but optional), I passed them up to save on our already tight budget. Now that I have the full lesson plans in my hands and see how often they’re used, I wish I would have bought them when I had the money.
Still, it’s a relatively minor irritation. I wanted an affordable, Catholic, flexible curricula, and CHC certainly delivers. The First Grade Daily Lesson Plans are user friendly and well rounded, and very reasonably priced.
Katie can be found blogging at Just Another Catholic Mom
Image from chcweb.com
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