We Love Evan-Moor Pockets

Last year we started using History Pockets by Evan-Moor as a way to add more interactive layers to our studies. We use Story of the World as a beginning history curriculum and we found History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations for grades 1-3 touched on all of the main areas of Story of the World. While Story of the World contains map work and activities to do in the activity book, we wanted to take our learning a step further and this was the perfect addition. As we went through the different ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and China, the kids made Words to Know vocabulary booklets, postcards from ancient civilizations, puppets, and more.

My learners don’t like assignments that are heavy on writingimagehandler-1 so this was a great way to learn while using their hands to cut, glue, color, and write small amounts about what they were learning. Best of all, they looked forward to the assignments.

This year, I added more pockets to our studies. My third grader took on a new history and geography curriculum and as a complement to his studies we added History Pockets: Native Americans and History Pockets: Life in Plymouth Colony. We are emphasizing Life In Plymouth Colony now and will be finished by mid-December.

The Native American Pockets we are staggering as we cover different regions of the United States. Our history and geography curriculum is broken up into regions – New England states, Southern states, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, etc. The Native American pockets cover tribes by region so as we learn a new region, we add the tribe for that area.

Evan-Moor pockets don’t just focus on history, though. They also have theme pockets and literature pockets. Theme pockets are fun because each book covers a selection of topics. For example, the December Theme Pocket resource book covers December Celebrations, things to do during winter break, and animals that are associated with winter and the arctic.

imagehandlerWe used the Literature Pockets: Folktales & Fairy Tales last year as part of our preschool/kinder curriculum and my daughter loved it. This year, even though she isn’t doing the history and geography curriculum that my third grader is using, she makes the Plymouth Colony and Native American Pockets with us. They are easily adaptable for all ages, easy to make and require only a few supplies.While my kids are working on coloring, cutting or assembling their pockets, I generally find material to read to them about the topic they are working on.

If you’re looking for a fun way to learn, I highly recommend the Evan-Moor products. I didn’t get anything for free and there are no affiliate links here. This is just my honest opinion and I hope other families can benefit from these resources like we have. Also, any parent – not just a homeschool parent – can use these resources as a fun and educational activity to do with the kids. Great for weekend craft time or holiday breaks to keep the minds working.

What is your favorite educational resource?

The Quest for Curriculum

quest for curriculum

So the search is on. I am on a mission for the next two months to pin down the products I want to use to kick off our school year in September. I say kick off because we used a significant amount of our first grade curriculum by winter break last year. Now I have a better idea of the types of things I want to include, the things I can leave out, and what we will be able to add and vary throughout the year. For anyone considering homeschool or also searching for educational material for the upcoming school year, here are some of the choices I’ve got on my list, though I haven’t narrowed it down  to the finalists yet!

Language Arts:

All About Spelling – Last year we used level 2 so we’ll be moving on to level 3. This was one of our most enjoyable curriculum purchases. There are lots of little magnetic letters and word cards, but they make learning so tangible and interactive and easy to digest. Kids need to do more than listen to rules and read sight words and this set gave us lots of tools to work with. The pre-scripted teacher’s guide is also one of the easiest tools I had for first grade. All I had to do was pull it out, open it up, and we were ready for our lesson. We usually only needed about 20 minutes for a spelling lesson which is so doable any time of the day.

All About Reading – I’ve heard a lot of great things about the All About Reading program, and since I love the spelling side, I may try this out for my 4-year old.

Write Source – I like the way these are laid out to teach different writing traits and styles. I was going to purchase this last year but never got around to it. I hope to include it for our second grade studies.

 

Math:

Saxon Math by Houghton Mifflin – We used Saxon Math 1 for first grade and we purchased the manipulatives kit which we love and use often (read more about our math manipulatives here). I think we will end up using this program again but I’ve got a few others on my list that I may try in addition to this program.

Life of Fred – I’ve heard a lot of good things about this program and it takes a different approach to teaching math. Might be a fun twist to our traditional routine. Last year I tried to break our math studies up – using curriculum a few days while focusing on telling time, counting money, learning measurements, etc. – on other days. Life of Fred could be a fun alternative.

Math-U-See – Another program I have heard good things about. I haven’t done a lot of research into this one yet but I’ve got it on my short list.

 

Science:

Science Fusion –  This is the program we used last year and my son loved it. It comes with a work text that the student can write in plus online access to interactive online lessons, experiments, and additional printable worksheets and learning material. I liked the program but the only drawback was that I found it a bit difficult to navigate some of the online content and it took me a lot of time to get our lessons together because of this. Someone more savvy may find this program easier to use. We may go ahead an choose this program again for the simple fact that it was one of my sons favorite parts of school.

Houghton Mifflin Science – This is the other science program by Houghton Mifflin (also publishes Science Fusion) and we got the first grade set by mistake last year so I was able to see the difference between the two. This is more expensive but it has its benefits. For example, the printable materials and teacher resources come on a cd-rom that is much easier to navigate and you can quickly select and print the resources you want to use for the lessons. This is the same text that many schools use for their science curriculum and there is a homeschool version as well as a teacher’s version.

Apologia – This creation-based curriculum is on my short list. I like the areas of emphasis like botany, astronomy, and zoology.

 

Social Studies:

Harcourt Horizons – For first grade we did a little bit of everything for social studies. We didn’t have a specific curriculum to follow. I like the idea of having it all in one place when I want it, but being able to branch out when we are feeling adventurous. I’ve heard good things about this one so I may consider it for our 2nd grade studies.

 

What are your favorite curriculum programs to use? Do you buy specific and structured programs or do you use other resources? Please share your favorites (and your least favorites)!

Social Studies Project Activites

As we near the end of the school year, our original curriculum has been mostly used up. We’ve been making due with the books I have here at home and using some online resources here and there but I wanted to find something that helps us put what we’re learning on paper, that isn’t just filling out a worksheet or answering reading comprehension questions. My son is a hands-on kid and likes to focus on a project rather than write everything down in paragraph form. I do make him do writing prompts and reading comprehension now and then, but I want to help him learn in a way that is fun for him, because I can see the thoughtfulness in his eyes and in his work when he is doing something that he enjoys.

While I am pretty good at developing writing prompts and putting together general lessons, my creativity lacks when it comes to projects that display what he’s learned. There’s really only so much you can do with a paper plate. And while I love looking at pinterest, I get lost in the images sometimes and find that some of the projects require so many special materials that I don’t have on hand. And I’d really like to cut back on the time I spend browsing the internet. So I went and browsed the local teacher supply store and found these two books packed full of creative project ideas. Perfect!

40 social studies activities   25 social studies avtivities

Friday is our adventure day so I didn’t have anything planned for the afternoon, but I found an easy activity in 40 Fabulous Social Studies Activities that my son thought would be fun. He’s reading about Japan right now, so he started his own Band Book about Japan. Here is some of his work:

Book of japan

 

The band book is a few pieces of paper cut into strips, folded over, and you cut triangles off at the corners leaving the pages connected by the middle section  at the fold. Wrap a long rubberband twice around at the fold and fold the pages over so you get a book with a rubberband binding at the top. Easy, cute idea that he thought looked fun and he is choosing to add things about Japan like Mt. Fuji and the raccoon dog. Tomorrow he plans on adding the Japanese words that he knows.

There are tons of other great ideas in these books. If you are like me and need some help with project development, I definitely recommend these!

What are your go-to resources for project ideas?