Last week I wrote about four components of our school curriculum, namely math, Latin, geography, and art. If you didn’t get to see that article, you can view it here. Now I’m back to expound on our other subjects: history, writing, and botany. Let’s get started.
Our history curriculum is one that Mom has pieced together herself. We started by reading a couple pages of Herodotus together each day, with one person reading a section aloud. Now, however, Gordon and I read assigned passages ourselves, underlining anything we find interesting or important (I use a multitude of colored pencils to keep my notes organized), and filling out the answers to questions Mom writes out for us. We read related sections of the Bible, as well; for example, we accompanied our reading about Cyrus in Herodotus with the prophecies concerning him in Isaiah.
For writing we work through the Susan Wise Bower’s Writing With Skill book. Each lesson has a reading assignment and then either review or something new. Say you’re doing some review on outlining: you would write a simple outline of whatever it was that you read. It’s a good program which, though it starts very easily, gets gradually more challenging over time.
Finally, botany. Our method of study in this branch of science has changed throughout time, so I’ll start with how we started.
Twice a week we would draw a new plant family and list its characteristics, practicing until we knew the traits of the eight most common families by heart. We would go out somewhere and draw what we saw, learning how to tell what it was and listing its properties. We read passages on the subject and submitted to quizzes.
Eventually, though, we arrived in Orlando, Florida; the number one spot for full-time RVers over the winter. In fact, we currently have nine or ten families of our friends staying in the area. So naturally, Mom organized a class to teach botany to any interested teenagers while we’re here. It occurs once a week, on Thursdays specifically, and on the most crowded day there were over twenty kids attending.
We draw a plant in botany – perhaps corn or a carrot – and while we work on our art we learn more about the plant that we’re drawing. We write down scientific phrases and their meanings, and answer questions.
Everybody has fun. In one lesson we made a dichotomous key – a tool used by botanists to identify plants. Except for ours helped us to identify some friends of ours with a very large family; it was great, because everybody in the class was familiar with these friends, and helped to come up with criteria to decipher one from the others. Afterwards, we settled down to create our own dichotomous keys. Mom had intended to have us make a chart for roses, but upon our begging she proved lenient and allowed us to come up with our own themes. I focused my key around the Weasley family from Harry Potter, as I’m a total nerd.
It turned out to be quite entertaining, and when I got home I began work on a giant dichotomous key concerning all fifty states. I finished the next day, after some confusion and deliberation, and lots of learning.
I do hope you enjoyed discovering our curriculum, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. It has been my ambition to be helpful in your search for just the right course of study, and hopefully I have achieved my goal.