The curriculum integrates the following subjects into one program:
- Vocabulary Word Study
- Technology (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Computer Keyboarding Skills
|Click to Enlarge|
I used Home School Navigator as our core Language Arts curriculum with my 10-year-old daughter who is currently in 4th grade. I needed a more challenging literature program that fostered independence, critical thinking, and analytical skills. I was also looking for one that exposed the child to a variety of genres, writing styles, and comprehension strategies. We spent 1-2 hours on a daily basis completing MOST of the activities from the lesson guide. We hardly ever practiced the typing skills.
I accessed the curricula components on my MAC OS High Sierra Version 10.13.4. Chrome was my preferred browser. Adobe Reader was needed to open and read the PDF files. You may need Microsoft Office applications including MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint or similar programs IF you choose to work on computer skills. You can easily eliminate these activities if you desire.
Logging in with our password was an easy process. My dashboard opened once I logged in. Then, I clicked "Go To Levels" where I double clicked the Indigo level. I clicked on Month 1 Week 1 (1.1) to find the weekly guide. I clicked on 1.1.1 which stands for Month 1 Week 1 Day 1 to see all the subjects listed. When you click on the arrow pointing down, you'll see one subject's assignment open up. You can only view one subject at a time making it easy for children to follow the plan without extra distractions. The first thing we did was watch the Parent and Student Introductory videos which gave an overview of how the program worked. It also built up our excitement level. The video is not specific to one color level.
Materials were three-hole punched and placed behind one of the divider tabs in sequential order based on the lessons. The tabs were labeled Read Aloud Comprehension Strategies, Writing & Grammar, Vocabulary, Independent Reading and Book Studies, and Poetry. We also pulled out two composition notebooks from our school supplies closet. The blue one was used for the Interactive Notebooks and the green one was her Writing notebook.
Language Arts SubjectsThe lesson begins with a Read Aloud Book and Comprehension Strategy Mini-Lesson. Alyssa and I wanted to spend more time reading together so we took advantage of this feature. Independent reading was also encouraged. A new genre and reading strategy were introduced each month. During the first two months we focused on fairy tales and completed an author study centered around Eve Bunting. Alyssa was able to focus on comprehending the text's meaning while I read aloud. Several book titles are read multiple times during the week. She independently read the book or listened to the read aloud video when a book was re-read a second or third time. The lesson plans included 5-8 read aloud picture books each month. A monthly booklist was provided. The authors are currently updating the program to include video read alouds in case your library doesn't carry the books. The curriculum designers chose high-quality literature selections.
|Independently Reading Nobody Asked the Pea (Second Time)|
|Video Read Aloud: The Rumpelstiltskin Problem|
|Instructional Video: Questioning the Text|
|Adding Fairy Tale Titles to Point of View Chart|
|Types of Conflict|
|Writing Process Handouts|
|Fractured Fairy Tale (10 Pages)|
|Fairy Tale Writing Rubric|
|Video: Note-taking and Paraphrasing|
for History Research Paper
The Vocabulary Word Study section emphasized Latin and Greek roots. One new root was learned each week. She understood the meaning of more advanced words by learning the word parts. The same activities were completed each week. On the first day, Alyssa studied the word list. Then, she cut out the words and definitions, placed them in alphabetical order, and glued them down on paper. On the second day, she wrote the words in complete sentences. On the third and fourth day, she played review games such as Vocab-O, Roll 'Em Vocabulary, and a Dog Themed Board Game. She enjoyed playing all of the games! On the fifth day she aced a Vocabulary Quiz. She corrected the quiz with the answer keys.
|Day 1: Alphabetical Cut-n-Paste Word Sort|
|Day 2: Write Complete Sentences|
|Day 3 and 4: Vocabulary Review Games|
|Day 5: Vocabulary Quiz|
|Cumulative 3-Week Vocabulary Review|
|Pumpkin Picking Poem and Answer Key|
|Alyssa's Fractured Fairy Tale Typed in MS Word|
This is one feature I absolutely LOVE. I am extremely behind in uploading Alyssa's work which is why my dashboard currently states that we haven't made much progress through her level even though we are currently working through Month 2 Week 2 of the Indigo level. For now everything is stored in her binder. They recently updated this feature making it easier to upload work without waiting. I love that this company is constantly making changes that benefit their users. If you don't want to use the portfolio system, then you have the option of just checking off the lesson as completed.
|Upload Assignment Feature (Bottom)|
|Portfolio Submitted Assignments|
Interactive Notebook Studies
I would like to discuss the Interactive Notebooks offered through Home School Navigator. The Interactive Notebooks can be found in the Green, Blue, and Indigo levels. These levels are recommended for students in 3rd-5th grade. You WILL need to purchase the chapter books or borrow them from the library. Interactive Notebooks are a hands-on activity similar to the lapbook method. However, the cut out shapes are folded and glued into a composition notebook rather than a file folder. Then, the child writes their response underneath the flaps. We glued the instructions at the back of her notebook for future reference. Alyssa also cut out the book title and glued it on the first page of her notebook.
You can also purchase these and other Interactive Notebooks separately in their store for $8 each. This would be a great activity to do over the summer to keep readings skills sharp or you could gather friends together and create a children's book club using the Interactive Notebooks. They could discuss the elements as a group and the home educator can be the facilitator.
|More Interactive Notebooks|
|Reader Response Topics and Holes Entry|
Then, she completed the corresponding Interactive Notebook elements which were glued in her blue composition notebook. The Interactive Notebooks defined literary devices and those definitions were also added to the journal. Many times we would discuss her responses immediately after completing them instead of waiting until the next day to discuss them as scheduled. The lesson plan allows for schedule flexibility and things can easily be moved around. I wanted Alyssa's ideas to be fresh during our discussions. She would independently read books on discussion days. We also kept a Reading Book List to jot down each picture or chapter book title she read during that time. She read for 30 minutes during Independent Reading Time. The time was adjusted for days when more reading time was needed for the Interactive Notebook reading assignments.
The Interactive Notebook study approach definitely sparked interesting, more meaningful, in-depth conversations. My daughter seemed to really question and analyze the text more often.
Interactive Notebook Elements Addressed in Holes:
- Learning About Palindromes
- Translating Pig Latin
- Defining Vocabulary Terms and Utilizing a Dictionary
- Solving Math Problems
- Formulating Opinions and Beliefs with Supportive Reasons
- Listing Descriptive Language
- Identifying Flashback and Supporting Opinions with Examples
- Recognizing Character Traits and Showing Examples
- Making Inferences Using Contextual Clues
- Figuring Out the Purpose of Foreshadowing and Finding Examples
- Making Predictions
- Comparing Character Changes Using a T-Chart
- Listing and Describing Examples of Character Traits
- Responding to Analytical Comprehension Questions
- Indicating Examples of Personification
|Finding Volume of Holes|
|Before and After Character Changes|
The Holes Interactive Notebook study also concluded with a final Jackdaw Project and Rubric. Students are given instructions and the rubric clearly states the expectations making grading easier if you choose to give a grade. She created two Playdoh trees, a shovel, and black holes in the dirt on the lid to represent the setting. Inside the box, she added several items from around the house and construction paper made items to represent characters, climax, theme, problem, and solution. This project develops higher-order thinking skills especially when the she had to explain her reasoning for adding each item.
We also glanced at a Blue level Interactive Notebook study. I wanted to work on two Interactive Notebooks during the review period. However, I wanted to view the differences between the interactive notebook studies for the two highest levels. I chose a book we already owned. I jumped ahead to Month 8 so that we could read Shiloh which was written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. The Interactive Notebook consists of 17 pages. It was a book that was on Alyssa's summer reading list so we moved it up a couple months. This was a much shorter chapter book than Holes. Shiloh consists of only 15 chapters and is found in the BLUE level not the Indigo level.
First, my daughter cut out all the assigned pieces and placed them in order. The notebook elements spanned across 2-3 pages. She glued them all in her composition notebook. She pre-read the "lapbook" pieces before reading the chapters. Then, she looked up and defined all vocabulary words prior to reading. She said it helped her understand the story better when she knew the vocabulary word meanings ahead of time. Finally, read the chapters and wrote her responses under the flaps or in the designated area.
Interactive Notebook Elements Addressed in Shiloh:
- Comparing and Contrasting Using Venn Diagrams and T-Charts
- Analyzing the Four Types of Conflict
- Writing and Discussing Predictions
- Making Inferences Based on Contextual Clues
- Finding Evidence of Foreshadowing
- Formulating Opinions and Beliefs While Supporting Your Reasons
- Distinguishing Between Types of Characters: Protagonist and Antagonist
- Describing and Providing Evidence of Character Traits
- Visualizing and Sketching Settings
- Indicating Voice or Point of View
- Making Connections
- Defining Vocabulary Words and Utilizing a Dictionary
- Identifying Similes
- Noting the Climax or Turning Point
Alyssa's Thoughts About Interactive Notebooks
I love the Interactive Notebooks from Home School Navigator way more than regular comprehension questions and vocabulary activities! Learning Pig Latin was my favorite activity in the Holes Interactive Notebook. I can give my own opinions or interpretations. It's better than a question being completely right or wrong. I have the chance to explain why I feel the way I do. The cut-n-paste lapbook responses are more fun than writing answers to boring questions. The activities weren't too easy or difficult. They challenged me at the right level. It wasn't too much work for me. It was only 2-3 pages in my notebook. I also didn't have to look up a LONG list of vocabulary words. There were only a few. I looked forward to working on my Interactive Notebook each day it was assigned. The only thing I didn't like was when my interactive notebook pieces bent in the notebook when closing it. I wish it was longer too.
|Translating Pig Latin &|
I HIGHLY recommend this curriculum to ALL homeschool families and private schools. Families who enjoy a literature-rich program will appreciate this curriculum. If you have a child who loves to read and write this curriculum will help them flourish. If you want your child to become a stronger reader and writer, then I suggest trying Home School Navigator. Secular homeschool families may also find this program appealing. We will definitely utilize this program in the summer and next year. Visit their FAQ page to view the Scope and Sequence for all levels and to learn more about the curriculum.
|Indigo Scope and Sequence|
My daughter's confidence has soared with this curriculum. She feels like she's accomplished more in one day and that her voice is being heard. I've noticed her openly sharing her opinions and thoughts about books more frequently since we started using Home School Navigator. Alyssa has been more encouraged and passionate about independently reading books in her free time. After watching a few read aloud videos from the other colored levels, she made a list of books she wants to borrow from the library. We are quickly checking them off the list as she devours them. She is definitely retaining and comprehending the information from the books better.
- Hands-On, Fun Interactive Notebook Studies
- Familiar Routine
- User-Friendly Website
- High-Quality Literature Selections
- Conglomeration of Comprehension Strategies Addressed
- All Language Arts Components Included Except Spelling
- Simplifies Our Homeschool Day in One Program
- Detailed, Well-Organized Lesson Plans
- Downloadable End-of-the-Year Portfolio Feature
- Easily Accessible You Tube Video Read Alouds
- Flex and Review Days Built Into Schedule
- Teaches Using Multiple Learning Styles
- Answer Keys are Provided
- Color-Coded Levels
- Design longer Interactive Notebook study guides
- Add more Interactive Notebook studies to each level (one per month)*
- Create Levels for 6th-8th Grade*
- Offer discounted subscription options for multiple levels or subscription includes ALL levels to help lower income and larger families*
- Answer keys separate from child's dashboard*
- Separate dashboards for parents and students including single users*
- Add blank boxes to the vocabulary word list and sort for student-found words
- Comprehension strategies and concept posters
- Provide educational age-appropriate links to the poems, poetry book recommendations, or audio links for poems introduced in the program to save the parent time
- Include lesson videos to introduce poetry skills
- Add in more poetry activities (one per day)
- Add word study videos that introduce vocabulary words with their definitions and images
- Handouts added for every month for ALL levels (currently working on this)
- Edit for missing materials (currently working on this)
- Add read aloud videos of complete books (currently working on this project)
- Video sound quality is low (currently working on this issue)
- Videos Teaching Technology Skills (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint)
Home School Navigator costs $97 for a one-year membership which includes 36 weeks of lessons to be utilized over a full 9-month school year. This includes 60 instructional videos, review games, content handouts, lesson plans, monthly skills checklists, monthly goal sheet and portfolio check-in, AND the portfolio maintenance system. They also sell additional Interactive Notebook studies not included in any of the levels for the individual purchase of $8.
Visit the Homeschool Review Crew Blog to read other reviews written by crew members who reviewed the different levels of the Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum and their Interactive Notebooks from Home School Navigator.