Godbold Academy Spelling Program

I have never found a spelling program that I liked and my kids liked. So spelling has always been a struggle. Then this year, I sat down and figured out my own spelling program for the kids. It has been going really well, so I figured I would share it with you.

The best part of this program is that is is completely customizable for your child. So, if they have trouble with specific words, you can add those in. It is completely customizable to their level.

At the beginning of the year, I picked up these myndology cards on a ring at Walmart. I also grabbed an extra set of rings. I used a set plus a third of a second set of the cards per kid. And each child needs three rings.

I wrote a spelling word on each card. 100 words for the year. (The card come in packs of 75. So you could just do one set or double it. I just decided to not let the set determine the number and went for 100 words.) These are all the spelling words they have to learn this year. Just 100 words. Once the 100 words are learned, they are done with spelling for the year. This has been a big push to learn the words right the first time so they can be done with them.

You have three rings. One ring is all the words to be learned this year. The second ring is for the words of the week. The third ring is for mastered words.

Each week, the student chooses 10 words from the “to be learned” ring. Their choice.(I think ten is a great number for younger kids or struggling spellers. If your kids are fifth grade and above, they may be ready for more words at a time. I wouldn’t do more than 20 words in a week, though.) They place these ten cards on their “words of the week” ring. Those are the words they will focus on this week. Each day, I have them do a spelling activity. They have several activities to do each week. This varies with age level. You can mix and match whatever activities work best for your child or have them choose which ones they want to do each week.

Grade 3+ Activities:

– Write each word 3 times in cursive.

– Write each word 3 times in print.

– Look each word up in the dictionary and write the definition.

– Write a sentence using each word.

– Look each word up in the thesaurus and write three synonyms.

– Look each word up in the thesaurus and write an antonym.

Grade 1 and 2 Activities:

– Write each word on paper.

– Write each word on the chalkboard. (You can also have them write them on the driveway with sidewalk chalk, write them on the shower walls with soap crayons, write them in sand with their finger- anything to get a different “feel” when writing the words.)

– Spell each word out loud. (At this age, some of them like to tell a toy how to spell the word.)

– Write each word with a crayon.

– Draw a picture that reminds you of each word.

– Color each word. (Requires you to print each word in block letters to make a coloring page.)

After they have worked with their words all week, we have a spelling test or spelling bee on Friday. I let my kids choose if they want to write the words or spell them out loud. They hand me the “words of the week” ring and I quiz them. Every word they get correct, they get to move to the “mastered words” ring. Those are done. Words they get wrong go back on the “to be learned” ring and they will have to do all the work for them again next time they choose that word. So, even if they only spell 2 words correct, they are rewarded for those two words. And words they get wrong aren’t just gone and forgotten, they’ll come back to them again when they are ready.

Letting the kids choose the words of the week has been wildly successful. They feel more ownership with it and don’t resist spelling. They are more in control. My kids tend to do enjoy school more when they feel like they have some control over what they are learning. They also really like being able to see their progress on the rings. The “to be learned” ring shrinking and the “mastered words” ring growing.

I’m including some possible spelling word lists because that might help you. If your kids are doing a vocabulary program, you can grab the words from their vocabulary program. These lists are only to help you. You may find you have a sixth grader who is needing some refresher words from the first grade list- that is okay. You may have a third grader who loves to spell and wants challenging words from the middle school list. Some words may appear on multiple lists. I try to pay attention as my kids are writing to get an idea of what words are bringing them trouble. There are clearly an infinite number of words you can have them learn to spell.

first grade spellingsecond grade spellingthird grade spellingfourth grade spellingfifth grade spellingsixth grade spellingmiddle school spelling

Godbold Academy Geography

We are homeschoolers, as I am sure you are aware. This is the little geography program I put together this year for my kids. I do this for pre-k through upper elementary. I think it would work well for any age, though. I plan to continue this program forever.

My goal in geography was for the kids to know generally where countries are and for them to have a broader worldview. It is hard to fathom the world that isn’t right outside your front door. I want my kids to have the knowledge of geography along with a heart for the people of the world.

map trek

I start the school year going over the 7 continents and 5 oceans. We review this every single year. The older kids know it, but it gives the younger kids a chance to learn it every year. I use the Map Trek CDs to print out maps for the kids to color and label. This book and CD set is a little on the pricey side, but I use this so much year after year. Buy it. Use it. It is great. You can print out as many maps as you need. Historical maps. World maps. It is awesome. We’ll have some contests and such to learn all the continents and oceans with the older ones helping the younger ones. We usually only spend a week or two on this review. It is just an annual refresher.

operation world

Operation World is the next piece of our geography curriculum. Each week, we choose a country and commit to praying for that country for the week. I use my Map Trek CD to print out maps. Each child keeps a master world map in their notebook where they label each country we study that year. The Operation World book lists the basic stats for each country. Things like land size, population, climate, etc. We talk about those things and compare them to what we have here. Would we have more neighbors? Less? Would it be warmer? Colder? Operation World also gives a brief summary of the economy and politics of each country. Then you have a break down of the religions of each country. You’ll also find a prayer list for each country, including things to thank God for that are answers to prayer there.

We might make some food from that country this week. Or we might try some art that is known for being associated with that country. Or we might only do the map and pray for the country. Sometimes I’ll find and print out the country’s flag for the kids to color. The details change week to week, but the bones of the program remain the same.

(1) Locate the country on a world map.

(2) Label your master world map.

(3) Write the country name on the prayer wall and commit to praying for that country this week.

(4) Read about the country. What language do they speak? How many people live there? What kind of work do these people do?  What challenges does this country face? How can we be praying for these people? Do we know any missionaries in this country?

The kids have really enjoyed this program and we’ve learned a lot about many countries. I chose countries where we knew missionaries first or we were learning about in history. I don’t think the order of countries is so important. Operation World is set up by continent, so you could go in that order and learn all the countries of one continent before moving to the next. I just choose randomly, though might go back and do the continent route at some point. As the kids get older, there is more discussion about things. What is the difference in a monarchy and a republic? What about a democracy? Why does it matter how many people are in poverty? How does history effect the current economic and political issues in a country? The little ones seem to focus on the climate and number of people. You can really delve deeper or keep it to 15 minutes reading the info in Operation World and locating the country on the World Map. It is really up to you and your child(ren).

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Let’s Homeschool!

Some people are like me, and you pretty much know when your child is born that homeschooling is where you’re heading. Some people come to it over time. So, whether you woke up the morning before Kindergarten and said, “Wait! Let’s homeschool.” or said long before you’re children were born, “Let’s homeschool!” here are some places to begin finding what works for you.

1. Not all people homeschool the same way. What works for your friend’s sister’s best friend, may not work for you. The new hottest homeschool curriculum may drive you insane. That reading book with horrible ratings may be your favorite. That is one of the advantages of homeschooling. You can pick what you like. You can choose what works best for your child. You can choose differently for each child based on their personalities and needs. It is amazing. But that can also be really overwhelming. Some people prefer that someone just tell them what to use. Others want to craft everything to fit their tastes.Then there are those that fall in between. Some people live for those huge homeschool catalogues. Others would rather buy a classroom in a box.

This is a great book for helping you sort through all those questions. You’ll need to look at what you ideal of homeschooling looks like? Do you want a traditional American classroom in your home? Does cuddling up on the couch reading books together all day sound more like it? How about climbing trees, catching bugs, playing board games, cooking desserts, and having a in home art studio? Take the time to dream of your ideal. Are you the teacher with all the answers or the guide to point them where to look? Do you kids hate workbooks & being given tasks? Or are they task driven and love being given an assignments? Only you know what is going to work for your kids within your comfort level. (State to state mandates may also determine this to some extent. Some states are much more strict than other when it comes to homeschoolers. Some require umbrella schools and a whole slew of requirements. Others simply want an attendance record. You’ll have to check for yourself.)

Don’t feel the slightest bit bad about choosing differently from your friends. And be a little flexible. Your ideal might be letting them frollic and play and learn things naturally in their own time and then you realize your child is a workbook-aholic. Be willing to adjust as needed. The happy homeschool is the one that works for the people involved. You’ve got lofty expectations of teaching your 5 year old Latin but your 5 year old prefers art- be flexible. You picked a great phonics program for your oldest child and now your youngest cannot stand the sight of it? Be flexible.

2. Not all homeschoolers have the same priorities. One family may be very, very history intensive. Another may be all about self-expression. You may feel the need for your children to learn all the parts of a cell and their function at the age of 4. You may just be happy with exposure to scientific information. Some homeschool with a strong religious theme. Others have no religion. Some have religion as a part, but not the entire basis for everything. Only you know what works for you.

Some homeschoolers spend a lot of money on curriculum for whatever reason (ease of use, content, don’t have to look for anything). Others homeschool for free using the public library. And then everything in between. Some have a set budget, others do whatever it takes to get what they want for their curriculum. All in one curriculums tend to be more expensive, but easier on you because you don’t have to search for your content. You can buy books, borrow, share- whatever works for your family. Neither way is better or worse.

3. Understand not only your child’s personality, but also a little about childhood development. You may think your 3 year old should be able to write his alphabet, sit for hours at a time, and count to 100. But the fact is, most 3 year old just are not there developmentally. You may want your 4 year old to read, but you wanting it does not make your 4 year old developmentally ready to read. You may like the idea of teaching reading and writing together, but then you get an Aidan (my son) who has mental capacities far beyond motor skills, and you would have to delay him in reading by years to make it coincide with writing. Just because you could read at 3 doesn’t mean your child will. And them not being able to read at 3 does not make them any less extraordinary. You will frustrate yourself trying to teach a child who is not developmentally ready for what you are showing them. And likewise, if you wait to show them anything until they can handle everything, you’ll have missed some great opportunities.

4. Time. You’ll sit and do your first lesson with your Kindergartener and be done 20 minutes later. You’ll think, “What the heck did I do wrong? Kids go to school for 8 hours a day- this certainly isn’t enough!” But it is. You quality packed 20 minutes that you so thoughtfully chose with your child in mind will do much more than hours of busywork intended for the masses. Young children don’t need hours and hours of work for them to learn. They learned to talk without such instruction. If you want to pack the hours, and your child enjoys it, go right ahead. But it isn’t necessary. I was shocked when I found out that Aidan at the age of 2 could identify most of the alphabet by sight. Where did he learn that? Refrigerator magnets that he played with while I cooked. If you are reading to them and offering them quality play time, they’re learning. They’ve been homeschooling since the day they were born, you just didn’t realize it.

On the same note, don’t be discouraged that your 8 year old spends all day long working on their work. Some kids need lots of breaks. Some kids get off chasing rabbits in their work. That is okay, too. You don’t have to limit what they can do based on time. If the science lesson got them overly interested in modern agricultural practices, it is fine to let them chase that rabbit where it might lead.

Just because the school down the street says school hours are 7:30am to 2:30pm, that doesn’t mean those are your hours. You may like to have the mornings free for play, sleeping in, and chores. You can do that! Your kids may be night owls and be the most alert and interested from 5pm to 9pm. That is fine, too. You all hate Mondays and would rather do school on Saturdays, that is great! Whatever your needs are, homeschooling can fit them.

5. Take your time. You don’t have to decide today what curriculum you’ll use 5 years from now. Take your time looking through your options. See what your library and community has to offer that you might like to incorporate. You have time.

Now, for some links. I don’t use all of these, but they may be perfect for you.

Rainbow Resources

Alpha Omega Homeschooling 

 

 

The Well Trained Mind

 

 

Christian Book Distributers

 

Veritas Press

 

Simply Charlotte Mason

 

Singapore Math

 

 

Sonlight

 

My Father’s World

Timberdoodle