Sunday, June 21, 2009

SEMINARY at home for primary-age children

A friend emailed, asking about how we do our version of "seminary" for grade-school students in our homeschool. She also asked a few other questions, which I'm happy to answer, but my reply started getting really long, so I decided to break it up into sections and post it on my blog instead of boring her to tears with a rambling novel-length email! Here's the first installment:

I started doing "seminary" a couple of years ago, 3rd grade I think, but only because I didn't think of it sooner! The way I do it could be adapted for any age, though. Kendall likes to think she's doing things like the teenagers, so I used that to my/her advantage - when she found out that the teens go to seminary she really wanted to do it. I went to the church's seminary website and looked up their curriculum (I decided to do the book of scriptures that we're studying for the year at church instead of the book of scripture they would be studying in seminary for that year. Like, this year I think seminary did New Testament, but we did Doctrine & Covenants at home instead. I thought it would help her to retain the info if we went along with the same scriptures/stories they would be using in Sunday School/Primary).

They have the materials for all 4 years on the website, so you can pick whichever one you want to do. The website has the whole student manual/workbook and other things (pictures, timeline, audio files for scripture mastery verses and related seminary songs). You can print out the pages from the manual as is, or copy the text to a word document and modify them if you want. This year, I was able to give Kendall the worksheets pretty much as-is because they aren't too complicated (I do leave out some of the bonus questions if the assignment was getting too long!). I have her do a section (or part of a section) of the manual every day, and I also give her a list of vocabulary for the week (included in the manual) and we do a quiz on Fridays.

When she was younger I modified the assignments to be more age appropriate (I'd type up a similar assignment with shorter, simpler wording). Also, when she was younger, I also focused more on the scripture mastery, too. I found some mp3's with the verses for the year set to fun music or hymns and she liked listening to those. There are also websites where you can print the flashcards, etc. I think I remember you saying that your daughter likes memorizing, so she'd probably love doing that for "seminary". We haven't done great at working on the scripture mastery this year, but I want to do better at that over the summer. When I was looking for more materials to use for our seminary, I just typed in something like "seminary Doctrine and Covenants helps" or "LDS seminary printables" in the search engine and found a lot of helpful websites.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sorry, Dewey Decimal!

The CAT 5 (4th grade) standardized test that I ordered from FLO finally came on Friday, so we've been working on that since Monday. They don't send an answer key because parents are allowed to grade the test (the test administrator, FLO takes care of that), but I'm confident that she's doing great so far.

The test itself does seem pretty outdated. There are several questions about library card catalogs (how to use them, read the index cards, etc). When I saw that, I was very surprised because as far as I know most libraries don't even have card catalogs anymore. I called my brother (who worked as an assistant librarian until a few years ago) and he backed me up on this one.

I remember that in grade school we had to "learn" about how to use the library every year. I loved to read, but I was always annoyed by these annual (or sometimes semi-annual if we had moved during the school year) seminars. The uber-boring librarian would go on and on about dewey decimal and blah blah blah. I would just sit there thinking, didn't we go over this last year (and the year before, and the year before?). Nothing ever, ever changed...but I guess they thought we'd forgotten the difference between fiction and nonfiction since the previous year. I never imagined that in a few decades everything would be computerized and that I would never have to look at those silly index cards again.

Now my arch-nemesis, the card catalog has returned from beyond the grave, rearing its outdated head to bore the next generation.

Can we update the CAT please? Its got to be at least 10 years old. Everyone is so worried about standardized tests being culturally biased (have to include ethnic-sounding names in the story problems in order to be relatable to all students) but no one cares that students are being tested on material about card catalogs that can't have possibly been taught in school in the past 10 years!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

School supply sales coming soon!

Next month the back to school sales start. Its almost unbelievable that its nearly time for that again already, since most public school kids in our area aren't even out of school yet!

Even the most frugal homeschoolers need school supplies, and the beginning of the back to school season seems to be the best time to purchase certain items. If you wait until closer to the actual start of the new school year, stores are either out of the loss-leader (ridiculously low priced) items, or they've jacked-up the prices again because everyone who has waited that long will be desperate for whatever they can get their hands on.

I've found the best deals, in general, are at Target and Walmart. I generally buy only a few basics- lined notebook paper, pencils/pens, glue sticks, and possibly some folders or notebooks (if we really need them). Happily, these basics are usually the loss-leaders (wire-bound paper notebooks are usually 10 for $1.00 at Walmart!). We don't really have a need for crayons right now in our family, since we have an infant and a 5th grader (who is too cool to use them anymore), but boxes of 12 crayons are normally 5 for $1.00 at Walmart, so I usually stock up on those anyhow. I've kept a stash of them for babysitting, entertaining rowdy children on a neighboring row at church, giving along with gifts as for younger children, donating to school supply drives, replenishing Primary supply closets, etc...

I also like to grab one of the school-supply lists that the stores provide, which show the required supplies that each student needs for the year at the public school in their area. I would never in a million years purchase most of the silly & expensive things on the list, but I do like to keep the list on hand as a reminder of yet another reason why I'm glad to be a homeschooler!