As far as my youngest son and I are concerned, Alpha Omega Publications has a winner with their Horizons curriculum. We used it for his preschool, kindergarten and first grade. Then I started to doing reviews and looking around to see what everyone else is doing. I thought that since my son loved playing games and being on the computer, that he would do better with a computer-based program. And since I was changing, why not change up everything, right? Big mistake. But it’s nice that you can live and learn from mistakes. I finally sat my son down early spring and asked what he liked best of what we’ve ever done. And guess what? He really, really missed Horizons Math!! I did too. And just as God always provides what we need in His perfect timing, I was offered a chance to review Horizons 2nd Grade Math Set. Technically, we were finishing up second grade anyway but looking at the scope and sequence, I knew that there were portions of this level that I wanted to re-do with my son.
About the Product
For the 2nd grade level, there is a teacher’s guide and two student workbooks, Part 1 and Part 2. You can purchase the set through the publisher’s website for $81.95. Although they are softbound, they are very well made. I have the teacher’s manual from previous levels that I’ve used and have held up very well and they were very well used!!
Let’s start off with the Student Workbook.
For each lesson, the student will complete two pages in the workbook. This is one page, front and back. If you use a workbox system or something similar, you could easily tear the page out (the pages are perforated) and place one page in their folder/box. We just kept ours together in the book and they stay in tight. The pages are colorful and I love the way the concepts are presented.
Horizons teaches via the spiral learning format. If you are not familiar with spiral learning it simply means that a concept is introduced, taught, and then brought back for practice throughout the year until mastery is achieved. Horizons is very specific in their presentation – a new concept is reviewed for three to five lessons. Then for the next two months, it will be included every two weeks for a couple of consecutive days. Then there’s another break of four weeks and it will be reviewed again. This practice continues until mastery is achieved and in my opinion, helps to prevent burnout. This also means that it is very important to do the lessons in order and do every problem.
There are 160 lessons. This allows life to happen for a few days and you not feel like you are getting behind. After lesson #142, no more new concepts are taught but all of the concepts that have already been learned throughout the year are practiced for mastery. There are also tests once you get to lesson 10. You may include them as part of the regular school day or as we did, simply do more activities and games and then present the test just as a regular worksheet. I find that this helps to eliminate any test anxiety. If you do a test on a separate day like this, then you will have a total of 176 school days so you still have some flexibility for sickness/vacations/life, etc. The tests do not cover any new concepts until they have been completely presented. Basically, the test covers everything except what new concept is being taught in the immediately preceding five lessons. This also helps the student to feel more at ease and confident.
Now, let’s look at the Teacher’s Guide.
I know sometimes it is easy to skip over teacher’s guides when you are comfortable teaching younger grades or subjects that you know well. However, you do not want to miss this one! The guide is broken down into the following parts:
- Teacher’s Lessons
- Answer Key for student’s workbook
- Worksheets Answer Key
The introduction simply introduces you to the program and the spiral learning method. There is also a Readiness Evaluation to help you determine your child’s readiness to do this level. (You can also register and take the placement test from the publisher’s website.) Next, is everything you need to know to prepare for a lesson. This covers what I shared earlier about the number of lessons, tests, etc. It also gives details on how the teacher’s lessons are presented and how and when to use the worksheets. A scope and sequence is provided and a list of all manipulatives that you can use. NOTE: You do not have to do every activity suggested so if there is something you don’t have handy, feel free to skip that activity unless you think you child would really benefit from it. Most of the items are things you probably already have or could easily obtain. (They do suggest flashcards so if you don’t have any, make your own or buy them ahead of time.) A very helpful section of the guide is “Appearance of Concepts”. Since I was jumping in mid-way, this was great. For the most part I found where our previous curriculum left off and picked right up. There was a few things that I noticed he needed a little more practice with so all I did was refer to this section, see where it was introduced and then each time it was covered again, and had him do those pages. *This would not be a problem normally, it’s just because I started off already almost complete with second grade.
Teacher’s Lessons –
This is the “meat” of the guide. Little icons (as shown in the pic) quickly let you identify the following sections included in each lesson:
- Concepts – This covers, in the following order, concepts taught by doing the activities, new concepts, and practice of concepts already introduced. (This second grade level teaches twenty-one new major concepts.)
- Objectives – Clearly states what the student should be able to do when they complete the lesson. This is a significant way to measure the student’s performance and will alert you if there’s a problem.
- Teaching Tips – These are optional activities to enhance your child’s learning. I found that in most areas where my son was competent, I could skip many of the activities. Unless, of course, I needed to introduce a little more hands-on fun to reign him back in. When I saw there were gaps, I could do the activities that helped with that particular concept more often.
- Materials, Supplies and Equipment – Just as it states, this will let you know what you need to gather ahead of time. The list of manipulatives that I mentioned before indicates in which lesson each item is needed.
- Activities – These detailed activities that you will do with your child.
- Worksheets – There are additional worksheets (one for every two lessons) that can be used for remedial purposes. If the worksheet is recommended, it will benoted in the lesson plan. Some of the worksheets should be used as masters and completed more than once (drill practices) and those are noted.
- Answer Keys – There are answers for both the student workbook and the worksheets.
My son and I both love Horizons and are thrilled to have it back in our schedule. I anticipate completing this level within a month or so and will be ordering the 3rd grade level. When you find what works, stick with it. Lesson learned.
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