Sunday, March 18, 2007

Questions on combining

I don't have much time tonight, but I wanted to start answering a few of the questions that have been posted about combining SL and WP. I'll get to more as time permits.

Posted by mompotter

Next year I have 7 and 5 yr old tagging along behind the 9 yr old. I had planned to combine wp and sl but following the wp schedule. Mainly having the sl books as filler for my big reader (9 yr old). If I was to follow the wp schedule do you think it would be a little lighter year than following the sl schedule? The thought of doing sl core 3 seems overwhelming to me. We have struggled a bit to get things done this year with core 2(have a new baby too). You also mentioned that most of the crafts were just paper crafts. That discouraged me because the whole reason I planned to combine wp is for the activities and lower level of reading for my younger two. Do you think it is worth it?

If you are interested in keeping the reading at a slightly lower level, I think WP is the way to go. The books in American Story I cover the same topics and time period as SL Core 3, but at a lower intensity. The themes are not as mature as those in the SL books, and the ease of comprehension is definitely geared toward a younger audience.

If you have more kids toward the younger end, I would go with ASI and add in SL books as you choose. The schedule is going to be lighter, too. Keep in mind that WP schedules read-alouds in much smaller increments than SL does. If you are used to a SL schedule, WP is going to seem very light.

As for the crafts ... I really can't say what your opinion of them will be. I think it depends on what your expectations are. I assumed we would be sewing and cooking and building earth lodges every week or so. The truth is that WP relies heavily on mini-books to color and cut and on books like "Little Hands Celebrate America!" --a really cute book that has a hand full of neat hands-on activities sandwiched in with your typical "here's how you draw an American flag" stuff. I have heard that buying the Native American Focus set opens the doors to better crafts ... but it is not part of the core set, and comes with an additional price tag. For us, coloring activities aren't really that big of a draw--my kids do that on their own. We have been much happier with Hands and Hearts kits.

Posted by MotherJoy

Sounds like you weren't too impressed with the WP activities. I don't have to combine two students, but I liked WP for its hands-on activities. My biggest complaint with SL was that the IGs were harder to use that I expected and I didn't like the LA. Thank goodness they are changing the LA.

Anyway....I really don't want to buy a WP guidebook if it isn't necessary. Would it be better to just add in activities? Which of the WP resources did you find invaluable?


The SL IG and WP Guidebook are almost identical. Clearly they used the exact same program for layout, because they have the same format. The major difference is that WP does not include any of the notes on the books that you're using that SL does. If you're used to a SL IG, that means that the entire back section--the Read-Aloud Guide, History Study Guide, etc.--are all missing. I have heard quite a few people say that they never really use those notes or the questions anyhow, so it's no great loss to them. I personally do use them, so it's something worth us paying for.

I haven't used WP LA beyond the readers ... but I don't use SL LA, either. I find SL LA confusing, to be honest. I'm interested to see the revamped product, but am probably not going to change my current homemade curriculum.

As to whether or not you absolutely need to buy both the SL IG and the WP Guidebook --to be honest, probably not. Whichever road you choose to take (basing mostly on SL or mostly on WP), I think you could get by with just one set of plans and the book list of the other. Having said that, I do personally think it's very important to support the companies that put so much effort into developing the curriculum we use and enjoy. I won't get on a soapbox, but I will say that I believe the vote we cast with our dollars is more powerful than the one we drop in the box on Election Day.

Could you just add activities to SL? Yes. I know that a lot of people add notebooking resources or History Pockets to SL. Many people use the Hands and Hearts kits like we did. That option is definitely out there--but it doesn't address the maturity level or complexity of some of the SL books. Depending on what Core you were looking at, you may find that some of the work is just beyond your kids. For example, I have completely dropped Landmark History of the American People because it needed so much modification that it was more trouble than it was worth for me, personally. With all the great (lower level) books out there, why slog through something that is constantly flying just over your kids' heads?

For our family, the resources from WP (so far) that have made this year so successful have been:
Liberty! Story of the American Revolution
Ben and Me
George Washington (a picture book)
Who Was Thomas Jefferson? (biography for younger readers)
The Birchbark House
Pedro's Journal
(also in SL)
The Sign of the Beaver (also in SL)
Make-Your-Own History Book

Each one of these, in particular, took an area of study that we were looking at through SL and filtered it in a way that Atticus and Logan were able to grasp the concepts and get excited about what they were hearing.

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