Friday, December 26, 2008

December 2008 Review

I'm always amazed when the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over and I am looking back over what we did that could be considered educational. In my mind, all I am doing is making lists, cleaning, shoppings, wrapping, and cooking. Of course, we have church and reading the Christmas story and such, but I really don't realize how much we are actually learning.

In the area of Math, in addition to helping me measure and cook in the kitchen, he is beginning to understand large numbers, counting by 5's and 10's to 100, but also took it upon himself to figure out counting by 100's to 1000 and 1000's to 10,000. He got a Scooby-Doo pinball game as one of his Christmas gifts and so he is also now learning how to read numbers with a 100 place value. It is cute how he started by asking, "Mom, what is 8-2-3?" which would be his score, moving on to "Mom, is 8-2-3 the same as eight hundred twenty-three?". It wasn't something I tried to teach, but when he needed the information, and wanted to learn it, I helped him.

We read a lot of Christmas picture books: "The Crippled Lamb" by Max Lucado; "The Little Drummer Boy" illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats; "Allie the Christmas Spider" by Shirley Menendez among others. We also read a chapter book by Ruth Graham Bell titled "One Wintry Night". It is the story of a young mountain boy who gets caught in a storm and seeks refuge at a nearby cabin. While waiting for the storm to end, the woman in the cabin tells him the Christmas story, except she begins with the beginning of the world (Genesis) and ends when Jesus arose from the tomb. Our other Literature picks were "A Bear Named Paddington" by Michael Bond (listened to on CD on a car trip) and "The Apple and the Arrow" by Mary and Conrad Buff. This last book is part of Sonlight's list for this age and I actually thought it might be too advanced, but Samuel liked it because we had recently had the William Tell Overture as our musical selection. We also looked on the map for Austria and Switzerland.

We made a fleece blanket for my mother. Samuel picked out the fabric and then I cut strips around the edges to tie into fringe. I used this to show Samuel how to tie a knot and he did one whole side with my help. I count this as Life Skills.

While we learned some History and Geography from reading "The Apple and the Arrow", our main lessons in this area was Colonial America. I found a great series in our library published by The Library of the Thirteen Colonies and the Lost Colony. We had already covered Virginia from our Pocahontas books, and Massachusetts from our Mayflower books, so I started with Roanoke and moved on to Mew Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, and Delaware. I have the others on order now. I also found a black line map of the thirteen colonies and he is coloring in the colony after we read each book. This was not on my original "Curriculum", but I'm all about being flexible when you find something that works (or changing it when something does not work).

Our Science and Nature study has probably been the most lacking. However, we did take a short trip the the Great Smoky Mountains and saw several deer, some wild turkeys (we think) and some wild horses (again, we think they were wild since they were actually in the National Park area and not on some farm). For one of his Christmas gifts, I purchased a set of Animal Stories from Thornton Burgess. They are more story than fact as in his Animal Book, recommended by Ambleside Online, which we own, but sometimes get a little lost in. So I plan to read through those to get him more interested in the characters again and then try the bigger book again.

I continue to have him Read aloud to me almost every night before bed, teaching Phonics rules as needed. Since he is advanced in this area as in Math, I do not have a curriculum here except to offer opportunities to practice both.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Book Review - Level 1 Appropriate

We have checked out two Christmas books recently that Samuel could read. He is currently reading Level 1 readers with minimal help. Both are secular.

"Christmas Mice" by Bethany Roberts is a cute story of how some mice prepare for Christmas, decorating, baking, wrapping presents, singing, etc. There is also a sweet surprise.

"Claude the Dog: A Christmas Story" by Dick Gackenbach tells of a dog who receives some presents from his family and then meets a homeless dog and ends up giving all his presents away because his family is the best gift of all.

Monday, December 1, 2008

November 2008 Review

The following is what we accomplished in November. Based on availability of library books, some changes were made to the Kindergarten Curriculum. The edits to that post are that books I added in are in green and books we didn't get to are in red.

· Memoria Press Copybook I - Stories from Genesis

· Counting by 2’s to 20
· Addition – 4’s, 5’s (all combinations where the sum is 4 or 5)
· Counting change in groups of ten; learning to identify different coins; and being introduced to the concept that I don’t know the name for, but an example is that 5 pennies equals 1 nickel.

· William Tell Overture by Rossini – defined what an overture is
· Listened to selections from Handel’s Messiah
· Read some of Mike Venezia’s book on Handel

· Grammar – “a” vs. “an”
· Fred and Ted Like to Fly by Peter Eastman
· Big Dog…Little Dog by P.D Eastman (read aloud to two preschool classes for former preschool teacher)
· Diving Dolphin by Karen Wallace (a DK reader)
· Fred and Ted Go Camping by Peter Eastman
· Honey Bunny Funnybunny by Marilyn Sadler
· Turtle and Snake at Work by Kate Spohn
· Monkey See, Monkey Do by Marc Grave

· Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
· The Elves and the Shoemaker retold from the Brothers Grimm by Jim LaMarche
· The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Diane Arnold
· The Market Square Dog by James Herriot (we had already read this once in the James Herriot Treasury, but this was a picture book we found in the library)
· The Cow-tail Switch and Other West Africa Stories by Harold Courlander and George Herzog

· Pocahontas: Peacemaker and Friend to the Colonist by Pamela Hill Nettleton
· Pocahontas by D’Aulaire
· If You Were at the First Thanksgiving by Anne Kamma
· Geography for A to Z by Jack Knowles
· In conjunction with the Cow-tail Switch book, we are also doing some map work of Africa

· We took a nature walk to look at leaves, berries and pinecones. We collected some items and together with a partially eaten (by birds?) corn on the cob we found in a harvested field and some fresh water mussel shells from an October trip to a farm, Samuel made a “cornucopia”. It wasn’t fastened together by anything, so we took some pictures before it fell apart.
· Zoo trip to check out the armadillo (because we read the Just So story about how the armadillo came to be), which led to reading several books on and about armadillos from the library.
· I Love Whales and Dolphins by Steve Parker.
· I Love Crocodiles by Steve Parker
· I Love Dinosaurs by Steve Parker
· Pages in his zoo/animal notebook on manatees and meerkats.

· Mary Cassatt – The Boating Party
· Read through Mike Venezia’s book; then paged through a second time to pick out his favorite – Girl in a Blue Armchair. He imagined she was reclining watching TV just out of sight until I told him TV hadn’t been invented yet!

Life Skills
· Cooking - Corn Pudding
· Learning empathy and funeral conduct (we miss you Nana)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Benefits of "Review"

This morning, Samuel wanted to look at all his preschool work, which I had in a stack and hadn't gotten around to doing anything more concrete (I was leaning toward throwing it out because I am the total opposite of a packrat - just a procrastinating one - but now I'm thinking to three hole punch and keep in a binder).

One of the pages contained some drawings of food he would like to have in a sack lunch - juice box, cookie, banana, apple, and rice krispie treat. The drawings were not very recognizable except that I had labeled them so that's how we knew what they were supposed to be. I talked about how much better he can draw now and he decided to draw the same things on another piece of paper to compare. I would show the two pages here, but he chose to draw the items with a yellow marker and the photo just doesn't come out.

However, I will tell you that his drawings were all recognizable. The benefit to Samuel is that he is able to look and see just how far he has come in a year. He sometimes gets very frustrated when his drawings don't come out perfect. So this is good to show him that he is getting better if he practices.

He has also decided that he wants to do this exercise every year, so I'm going to have to make sure I keep these two drawings in a place I will remember and make a note so I will remember to do it again next year. Now that we came upon this exercise by accident, I can see it having benefits in other areas of learning, especially in writing and drawing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Christmas has begun...

Saturday was our first official Christmas activity. We went to a local nature conservatory to make 1844-style decorations to be used to decorate the homestead for their Christmas celebration which will be December 6. We made paper chains, homemade Christmas cards, an owl ornament out of walnut shells, a person ornament out of dried plants and sticks, a reindeer ornament out of walnut shells, and of course, we strung some popcorn on the popcorn garland.

It was a lot of fun. That was our first "official" activity. However, last week, Samuel and I got out the Christmas CDs and began singing Christmas carols. He has been practicing Christmas songs at school as well for his Christmas program and I hear him singing Christmas songs all the time. The music is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season.

Friday or Saturday, we will be attending a Festival of the Trees held locally. Corporations and individuals sponsor a tree to decorate and they are judged. Some of them have very clever themes and some are just beautiful.

Next weekend will be for decorating and then we have some other traditions that begin December 1. Everything we do education-wise in December will most likely be centered around Christmas. I'm working on a written plan that I will share on this blog.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Our Nature Study and Science

I know I listed my "curriculum" in a previous entry. However I wanted to take some time to describe this subject a little more fully.

Charlotte Mason via the Ambleside Online curriculum is probably my biggest influence in the area of science education, at least for now, the Primary Years. Add that to the face that my son LOVES all things animal and I had my direction. This is full of rabbit trails. For instance
  1. One day while driving to the library we saw two vultures on the side of the road feeding on a skunk. At the library, we found a book by Sandra Markle to learn more about vultures. This happened to be one of a series of books on predators which were pictured on the back of the vulture book and Samuel wanted to read all of them in the series.
  2. Samuel wanted to go see the armadillo at the zoo recently, which is a new exhibit, which led to 15 minutes of observation followed by checking out various books from the library to learn more. We're still doing this one, so I'm not sure where it will lead.
Still, for all that, I do have a semi-plan for Nature/Science:
  1. We have a wonderful zoo in our city and a zoo membership which allows us to go see one specific animal or just visit one area of the zoo without having to spend all day there just because we paid the enormous entrance fee. We visit 2 or 3 times a month, maybe less in winter or more in summer. Along with this is visits to other zoos while we are on vacation. We have been to Atlanta, Palm Beach, Cincinnati, a private zoo in the Myrtle Beach area, as well as 3 aquariums (Gatlinburg, Myrtle Beach and Newport). If he doesn't decide on a new animal to learn more about from these visits, I use them to choose.
  2. A few years ago, Samuel started what he calls a Zoo Book, but which I kind of designed based on Stanley's Great Big Book of Everything (for those who remember that Disney show). I started with a 3 ring binder and page protectors. I print out pictures of animals we take at the zoos we visit. Samuel picks the animal and we do a scrapbook style page with Samuel dictating the facts we journal. The first ones were very simple, but now he wants me to read aloud the wikipedia entry and then he picks the facts he thinks are most interesting. He still dictates the journalling, so he is learning a little bit of narration there.
  3. Nature Walks - We live in condo coummunity, but we share a border (tree line) with a horse farm. We visit this regularly and try to notice new things and things that have changed. There is also a park a little farther away that we visit a few times a year with a scavenger hunt (like this one from Hearts and Trees) in hand. I may start a nature journal with Samuel soon as he is just now beginning to like to draw.
  4. We own a bird field guide by Stan Tekiela. He has several field guides by state (The titles are "Birds of state name") and the best thing about this bird book is that it is organized by color. I only know a few birds by sight, so when I see a brown bird I don't know, I just go to the section of brown birds and look for a picture to match. It's awesome. I just typed his name in at and he also has some other field guides and nature books that are probably worth checking out. If I had seen one for Wildflowers of Kentucky, I would have snapped it up in a minute. Anyway, Samuel is still having some issues with being still and quiet enough for bird-watching, but we try it sometimes.

Of course, if any other science topic arises that he is curious about, we would take a side trip to experiment or learn more about it. I can see adding in some astronomy and earth science in coming years, but for now, this is what we do.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Readers we are enjoying

I don't have a plan for the books Samuel reads for his reading practice time (most days). I look at lists (Sonlight, Rainbow Resource, other blogs) and try to find them at the library, as well as just trying to find readers while visiting the library. We also have some books in our home library that he is free to pick from and read multiple times. Since I am always on the look-out for book ideas I thought I would share a list of some of the readers we have enjoyed this year (most are pre-level 1 or level 1 if they are a graded type reader):

"Go Away Dog" by Joan L. Nodset
"Berenstain Bears and the Baby Chipmunk"
"DK Wild Baby Animals" by Karen Wallace
"DK A Trip to the Zoo" by Karen Wallace
"DK Diving Dolphin" by karen Wallace
"Mr. Brown Can Moo" by Dr. Seuss
"Dr. Seuss' The Shape of Me and Other Stuff"
"First the Egg" by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
"Big Dog...Little Dog" by P. D. Eastman
"Here Comes Silent 'e'" by Anna Jane Hayes
"Tricky Monkey Up On Top" by Jane Belk Moncure
"Fox in Socks" by Dr. Seuss
"Big Pig and Little Pig" by David McPhail
"Fred and Ted Like to Fly" by Peter Eastman

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Kindergarten Curriculum

So, now on to Kindergarten. Since we are in the middle of this year, some of this may change (as indeed it already has just in the first two months). Most of the books were chosen using Sonlight, Tanglewood, and Home Learning Year by Year (Rebecca Rupp), and what is available in my town's library system. Other influences include Charlotte Mason, specifically the Ambleside Online curriculum.

** 12/1/08, 2/12/09, 7/15/09 - Edits reflect differences in plans and reality, sometimes due to library availability and sometimes because I just found some new books we liked. Green font are books added and red font are books we didn't read.

Bible Study
Memoria Press Copybook I
The Beginner’s Bible
Gotta Have God - A Fun Devotional for Boys
NIV Bible Readings

Volunteer - This includes reading for a preschool class, bringing meals to his grandfather while he was taking care of a sick grandmother, and working a food drive at church.

(U.S. History through Revolution, patriotism, continents, oceans, major countries and geographical terms)
Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, Tomie de Paola
Iktomi and the Boulder, Paul Goble
Iktomi and the Berries, Paul Goble
First Strawberries, Joseph Bruchac
Native American Legends series (Little Firefly) by Terri Cohlene
More than Moccasins, Laurie Carlson (pick a few activities)
Picture Book of Columbus, David Adler
In 1492, Jean Marzollo
Pocahontas, Peacemaker and Friend to the Colonists, Pamela Hill Nettleton
Pocahontas, D'Aulaire
If You Were At the First Thanksgiving, Anne Kamma
If You Sailed on The Mayflower in 1620, Ann McGovern
If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days, Barbara Brenner

Picture books on the colonies from The Library of the Thirteen Colonies and the Lost Colony, Brooke Coleman, Susan Whitehearst
Sam the Minuteman by Nathanial Benchley
If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution, Kay Moore
If I Were President, Catherine Stier

Story of the White House, Kate Waters
Meet Our Flag, Old Glory, April Jones Prince
The Star Spangled Banner, illustrated by Peter Spier
The Liberty Bell, Mary Firestone
Children Just Like Us, Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley
As the Crow Flies: A First Book of Maps, Gail Hartman
Picture Book Biography series by David Adler - George Washington, Paul Revere
Hero Tales, Jackson
Paddle to the Sea, Holling
Geography A to Z, Jack Knowles

Child’s Garden of Verses, Stevenson
When We Were Very Young/Now We are Six by A. A. Milne
The Boxcar Children, Gertrude Chandler Warner (and others in the series as desired)
Adventures of Brer Rabbit, Joel Chandler Harris
When I Was Young in the Mountains, Cynthia Rylant
James Herriot’s Treasury for Children
The Elves and the Shoemaker, retold by Jim LaMarche
Just So Stories, Kipling
The Cow-tail Switch and Other West Africa Stories, Harold Courlander and George Herzog
A Bear Called Paddington (audio CD)
The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Lofting
The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Sidney
American Tall Tales, Mary Pope Osborne
Betsy-Tacy, Maud Hart Lovelace

The Apple and the Arrow, Buff
Charlotte's Web, EB White
The Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry
The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein
In Grandma’s Attic, Richardson - not available so we read More Stories From Grandma's Attic instead.
A Grain of Rice
Pagoo, Holling C. Holling
Li Lun, Lad of Courage, Carolyn Treffinger
Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum
Twenty and Ten

Phonics rules as they come up in readers
Leveled Readers from personal and public library, too many to count, but if you look at my monthly reports you'll find some of the favorites.

Rod and Staff Counting with Numbers
Addition through 7; subtraction through 5
Identifying and adding sums of like coins
Living math books and activities (from Living Math and others)


Little Hands Nature Book by Nancy Castaldo
Nature Walks/Nature Journal
Keep a Caterpillar
Weather lapbook from Hearts and Trees 2007 Winter Kit
Nutrition lapbook (I bought this from Hands of a Child a couple years ago, but they no longer carry it) Basically we just decided lapbooks were not for us.
Living Books on animals as desired, including stories by Thorton Burgess
"Zoo Scrapbook"
By following opportunities and interests, studied birds and the solar system

Artist Study
Ten great artists and 10 great works of art (paintings only)
Van Gogh – The Starry Night
Cassatt – The Boating Party
DaVinci – The Last Supper
Degas – Race Horses
Botticelli – The Annunciation
Titian – Madonna and Child with St. Catherine and a Rabbit
Michelangelo – Creation of Man
Jan Van Eyck – The Arnolfini Marriage

Renoir – Girl with a Watering Can
Pieter Breugel the Elder – Tower of Babel

Music Study
Six great composers and 6 great compositions
Tchaikovsky – Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Rossini – William Tell Overture
Mozart – Eine Kleine Nacht Musik
Handel – Hallelujah Chorus
Beethoven - Fifth Symphony
Bach - Essential Bach CD
Prokofiev - Peter and the Wolf
Hymns – Amazing Grace, In the Garden, Eye is on the Sparrow

Life Skills/Handiwork
Plastic Canvas bookmarks
Making simple items for gifts
Building (Lowe’s & Home Depot)
Cooking, making the bed, setting the table, clearing the table

Physical Fitness
Choose a physical activity each term (e.g. team sport, swimming lessons, gymnastics, tae kwon do, etc.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Preschool Curriculum - Learning Opportunities

The following items do not fall in a subject category, but are other ideas for important learning opportunities for the preschool-age child. I think exposure is the key for this age. You will find some things will be of real interest and understanding. Others, not so much...yet. But having seen or done something once, when the time comes that the child is ready to see or do again, it will be much more meaningful.

Visit the State Fair.
Take a gymnastics class (10 weeks).
Go to the library (once every week or so).
Practice Cutting Skills.
Build a bird feeder at a Lowe’s Clinic (I ended up doing most of this, so unless your preschool child already has experience with a hammer and nails, I’d wait on this).
Computer games – there are several free games on sites such as Noggin, Playhouse Disney, and PBS Sprout. We also bought 3 Reader Rabbit Preschool games and he got a Zoboomafoo game as a gift.
Learn to make scrambled eggs.
Collect shells on vacation.
Visit an art museum, a science museum, zoos, and a turtle rescue center.
Decorate Christmas cookies.
Attend various story times at local bookstores, including a cooking class storytime.
In March, I signed him up fro swim lessons and told him if he finished the session, I would take him to the pool at least once a week in the summer. He finished two sessions of 10 weeks each and became quite a little fish by the end of the summer, the second session was his idea alone.

Preschool Curriculum - Art and Music

We read the Katie books by James Mayhew (one example is Katie and the Impressionists)
Quiet Time with Cassat (a board book we found at the library)
Museum ABC (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Little blue and little yellow, Leo Lionni
Lots of coloring and painting with watercolors
Book-making – we made an ABC book, a color book, and a nutrition book (one page for each food group with magazine foods cut out and glued on the appropriate page)
From Hearts and Trees Fall Kit 2007 – worksheet on warm colors, study of Van Gogh’s The Mulberry Tree, made a leaf print necklace from clay, and did a watercolor trees painting
Project #1 in the Usborne First Skills Starting Needlework book (running stitch)
From Hearts and Trees Winter Kit 2007, we did the worksheet on cool colors

For the following artists and works of art, I had checked out a book of art (any would do) and asked Samuel to pick out his favorite each week and then I tried to find that picture or one by the same artist to use as our computer wallpaper.
William Glackens, Summer House, Bayshore

Albert Beirstadt, Oregon Trail

Stuart Davis, New York Waterfront

Frederick Edwin Church, Horseshoe and American Falls, Niagara

Henri Rousseau, Sleeping Gypsy and Exotic Landscape

We listened to various styles of music, including disco, folk music, jazz, and classical.
Sang Christmas Carols at a Retirement Community
Listened to Vivaldi’s Winter and made up a winter story that the music told.
Carnival of Animals by Camille Saint-Saens (our library had a video of this performed at a zoo and narrated by the man who played Radar on M*A*S*H with poems by Ogden Nash…this is when we checked out that book of poems to read)

Preschool Curriculum - History and Geography

History as a formal subject is not typically recommended until first grade, and we were definitely not formal.

I checked out Story of the World, Volume 1 for my own research purposes. Samuel wanted to read it so we ended up reading the first 13 chapters. Then we went on to study Holidays and ended with The House on Maple Street which gives a fun perspective of the passing of time on one piece of land. Our main history this year was through reading the Beginner’s Bible.

This Is Thanksgiving, by Jack Prelutsky, plus various other Thanksgiving books
I did not write down all the Christmas books we read, but we own and checked out a total of 24 Christmas books. I gift-wrapped each book and let Samuel open one each night to read.
My First Passover Board Book
Easter by Gail Gibbons
The House on Maple Street by Bonnie Pryor

We have US and world wall maps and US and World placemats. We use these to find places we read about in books from the Literature and Science section.

We also looked for the smallest and largest countries on the world map. Geography is not formal, but I use the “map words” consistently (continents, countries, rivers, states, oceans, etc).

We read a book called Christmas Around the World, but I didn’t make a note of the author. However, I am sure there are several books like this out there.

Preschool Curriculum - Science

Mostly we study science by noticing something and then trying to find out about it. We take Nature walks along the horse farm fence line near our house; we make note of changes and when we find something new, we usually try to find it on Wikipedia.

Amanda at Hearts and Trees sells seasonal nature study/art study kits. We purchased the Fall and Winter kits and did some of the activities. She also has free seasonal scavenger hunt nature walk forms. These are a lot of fun for a smaller child.

Her mother, Barb (aka Harmony Art Mom) of Handbook of Nature Study began an Outdoor Hour weekly challenge and we did 5 of them.

Samuel is very interested in animals and we check out a lot of books on them, as well as visit the local zoo quite often. Some of the books we read are:
Backyard Birds, Jonathan Pike
All About Owls, Jim Arnosky
Our Animal Friends, Provenson
What’s Under the Sea (Usborne)
D’Aulaire’s Book of Animals
Buffalo Sunrise: The Story of a North American Giant, Diane Swanson
Old Mother West Wind by Thornton Burgess (we also used Wikipedia to look up our favorite animal friends in these stories)
Crinkleroot’s Animal Habitats by Jim Arnoski
“The Great Kapok Tree”
Crinkleroot’s Guide to Walking in Wild Places (Arnosky)
I Love Our Earth, by Martin and Sampson
My Spring Robin by Anne Rockwell
Starting Life Ladybug by Claire Llewellyn

One day on the way to the library, we saw two vultures scavenging on a skunk. When we got to the library, Samuel wanted to find a book on vultures. I found one by Sandra Markle that was part of a series on scavengers. We started with Vultures, and moved on to Jackals, Wolverines, Hyenas, and Tasmanian Devils. They are good living books because she writes these books about one animal of the species following it through a season or two or life.

We started a subscription to Your Big Backyard magazine, which I highly recommend.

We got a set of free posters from International Paper and studied the Leaf, Bark, and Seeds/Nuts posters. I just checked the link and didn't see these posters anymore, but they did have something called Coins for Kids with some lesson plan links.

We performed the following experiments –
Duplicate what the crow did in the fable The Crow and the Pitcher (after we read that fable)
I made color ice cubes and then we observed what happened when they melted.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Preschool Curriculum - Math

I actually purchased a curriculum from Making Math Meaningful, but we only did 7 lessons. I just felt like a more informal living book approach to learning math at this stage worked best for us.

I was a math major in college and I just think in "math", so I am always counting aloud (even when he was a baby I would count the steps as I carried him up and down them) and doing word problems (for example, "We have 4 cookies. How many would you have if I gave you one more?" or "There are 6 pieces of pizza and three of us. How many pieces does each person get?"). We cook together and I show him measuring. I talk about what time it is and show him the clock. We count down the days on the calendar to an anticipated event and I teach him the months and days of the week. I fold laundry and let him sort the socks and teach him sets and counting by twos. We also have a wonderful CD put out by Discovery Toys called Sounds Like Fun, which has many learning songs on it, including an addition song and a counting by tens song.

Living Books (no order to this – the whole idea was exposure to math concepts, and most of these we read multiple times)

Stuart J. Murphy books -
§ Sundae Scoop (combinations)
§ Polly’s Penpal (metric measurements)
§ All Aboard Animals
§ A House for Birdie
§ A Pair of Socks
§ One…Two…Three…Sassafras! (serial order)
§ Rabbit’s Pajama Party (serial order)
§ Every Buddy Counts (Counting)
§ Animals on Board (Addition)
§ Seaweed Soup (sets)
§ Earth-Day Hooray! (place value) – we really only checked this out for Earth Day, but Samuel loves it
§ Best Vacation Ever (collecting data)
Math Fables by Greg Tang
How Hungry Are You? Donna Jo Napoli
Me First by Helen Lester (serial order)
Mary Clare Likes to Share by Hulme (Fractions)
One Monkey Too Many by Lynn Munsinger (Addition)
One More Bunny by Paige Miglio (Addition)
Hetty’s One Hundred Hats
One Hundred Hungry Ants
Hello Math Readers (Monster Math, Monster Math Picnic, Monster Math School Time) Eggs And Legs by Michael Dahl (counting by 2’s)

Preschool Curriculum - Literature and Poetry

I think books are one of the most important tools for early education and developing a love of learning. If you can foster a love of books, your children can learn almost anything they want to learn later in life when you are not there to teach and guide them. Very few days have gone by since Samuel was born that we did not read at least one book to him. Most days we read somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour.

We did begin chapter books during this year, quite by accident. I was surprised that he could hold his attention from day to day (and sometimes even skipping a day or two) on the same story. I would now recommend trying out chapter books, but not pushing it if your child isn't ready. There were several books I checked out and ended up not reading after a few chapters due to lack of response.

Here are the books we read during Samuel's preschool year that I would consider the "good" books (or non-twaddle in Charlotte Mason-speak...we probably read double or triple the number of books on this list, including "twaddle", or as I like to call it "just for fun"). There is no order to this list, other than this is the order we read them in, mostly because of which books I became aware of during the year and when the library had them. Whenever I would see a list like this on someone else's blog, I would request as many as I could from our library. The *'s are Samuel's favorites.

*The Littles by John Peterson (we also went on to read other books in this series)
Steig books (Pete’s a Pizza, Toy Brother)
*Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter
Five Chinese Brothers, Bishop
Musicians of Bremen (Grimm)
*Always Room for One More, Sorche Nic Leodhas
The Ant and the Grasshopper (Aesop)
Goose that Laid the Golden Egg
Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary
*A Color of His Own, Lionni
The Elves and the Shoemaker (Grimm)
Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant by Jack Prelutsky
Frogs Wear Red Suspenders CD, Prelutsky
*Animal Tales CD, read by Jim Weiss
Iron John (Grimm – Kimmel version)
*Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams
*Officer Buckle & Gloria, Peggy Rathman
Nanny Goat & Seven Kids, Kimmel
*Fables by Arnold Lobel
Little Lions by Jim Arnosky
Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Rosenthal
*Strega Nona, DePaola
The Art lesson, DePaola
Horton Hatches the Egg, Seuss
Four Friends in Autumn, dePaola
*Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons, dePaola
*Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Richard Atwater Strega Nona Takes a Vacation, dePaola
*Big Anthony, dePaola
A Twist in the Tail (Animal Stories From Around the World), Mary Hoffman
*Sam and the Firefly, PD Eastman
The Bee Tree, Patricia Polacco
Rumpelstiltskin, Paul Galdone
The Secret Staircase, Jill Barklem
Three Aesop Fox Fables, Paul Galdone
The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper
The Owl and the Pussycat, Edward Lear
Once a Mouse, Marcia Brown
*A Three Hat Day, Laura Geringer
*A Necklace of Raindrops, Joan Aiken
*Capyboppy, Bill Peet
The Amazing Pig, Paul Galdone
Stone Soup, Marcia Brown
Inch by Inch, Leo Lionni
The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf
*The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, Beatrix Potter
*The Tale of Two Bad Mice, Beatrix Potter
Tale of Peter Rabbit, Potter
Classic Illustrated Aesop’s Fables
*Winnie the Pooh, A.A Milne
The Tailor of Gloucester, Potter
Holly and Ivy, by Rumer Godden
Mystery in the Stable, by Flinn and Younger
*Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Mary Englebreit
One Splendid Tree by Marilyn Helmer
Here’s a Little Poem Collected by Jane Yolen
*It’s Snowing! It’s Snowing! Winter Poems by Jack Prelutsky
*Maurice Sendak – “Where the Wild Things Are”, “Chicken Soup with Rice”, “Alligator Alphabet”
Ezra Jack Keats – “Snowy Day”, “Pet Show”, “Louie”
*Pocket Poems (published by Dutton Children's Books, c2004)
*Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Stuart Little by E. B. White
The New Oxford Treasury of Children’s Poems – Catch a Little Rhyme by Eve Merriam; The Piper and the Echoing Green by William Blake;
*Billy and Blaze by G.W. Anderson (we also went on to read 3 more from this series)
*Lighthouse Family: The Storm by Cynthia Rylant (read the rest of the books in this series)
*Ogden Nash’s Zoo (this in conjunction with listening to Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens)
Something BIG has Been Here, poems by Jack Prelutsky
*Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald (also read other books in this series)
Eric Carle Treasury of Classic Stories for Children

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Preschool Curriculum - Bible and Phonics

Samuel's birthday in at the end of July, and this curriculum started just after he turned 4. He said he wanted to learn to read. We had been playing around with a magnetic letter tile set I bought at a Learning Store, although I wasn't really trying to teach him to read. I told him most boys don't learn to read until they are 5 or 6, but he said he wanted to so I added phonics to this year, although I still believe most kids would be better off waiting until at least 5 for anything other than letter recognition and letter sounds.

Bible – We read through the entire Beginner’s Bible (Zonderkidz). I plan to use this again as a reader when he is at that level (as of now, I'm thinking age 6). In December and January, we took a break from this bible to read the Christmas stories and the book of Matthew from my NIV bible. For memory, he joined a local Awana club. It turns out he has a gift for memorizing verses.

Phonics – After checking out both Phonics Pathways and Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading from the library and trying a few lessons in each, I found Progressive Phonics. By Christmas, he had made it through all five short vowel readers and when we started the first intermediate reader (with beginning blends, like “fr” in frog), he was getting bored. So, from January on, we read through Sonlight’s Fun Tales books and I checked out different Level 1 readers from the library and asked him to read me a few pages every couple of nights at bedtime.

The Preschool Years

The first formal type of curriculum I tried was when Samuel was 2 ½. I really like the idea of using living books since that’s kind of what I had already been doing, and I discovered Sonlight. I bought most of the books for the Sonlight Preschool curriculum (even though it wasn’t recommended till age 4 or 5), later called Core B, book list. I joined the yahoo group for SL PreK and downloaded “Amy’s Schedule”. Using some of the SL books and some from the library, we did a unit on nutrition from Amy over a few weeks, and then a unit on India of my own design. I found that a structured daily schedule didn’t really work for us, and then we went a few months with nothing official, but I would read some of the books and stories on the SL list for our bedtime reading. I kept doing this pretty much through to his 4th birthday, adding in books I found from other preschool lists and from various preschool yahoo groups.

Cutting and pasting from various lists and curriculums, I made up my own curriculum for what I called K4 and scheduled it by weeks. I felt that learning should just happen naturally, but I wanted ideas for activities and books to read. By the end of the K4, I gave up the idea of even trying to schedule things by weeks. Instead for K5 (“official” Kindergarten), I instead made a master list by subject that I will share on the next post, along with how we are doing.

I’m going to share my preschool curriculum with you, but as I started typing it from my weekly record, it was too long for one post. I’ll post it by subject in future posts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


There's me, Hubby of 7 years, and our beautiful Samuel who was born the day before our 2 year wedding anniversary (for the math-impaired, that makes him 5 as of this post).

When I was in college I took some education courses, thinking I would teach high school math, and while researching for a paper on math anxiety in girls, I found one lonely book on homeschooling in the stacks. Being the procrastinator I am, I read it instead of the books for my paper, and became an instant homeschooling advocate.

When I was in college, before I found out life doesn't always happen as planned, I had these plans -

  1. Graduate and teach high school

  2. Marry my high school sweetheart

  3. Have my first child by 25, preferable twins

  4. Homeschool my 2 children

  5. Live happily ever after

Ahh, the dreams of youth...notice I didn't even make it past 30 in this plan! Well, I graduated from college, married Hubby at 32, had Samuel at 34, and here I am at 40 (again, for the math-impaired, plus I tricked you because I just had a birthday) still working on the happily ever-after.

Since one of my basic philosophies as a parent is that parents are the most important teachers, I believe I have been homeschooling Samuel since infancy. But please know that this isn't the flashcard/teach-your-baby-to-read kind of education. Mostly it has come from reading extensively, singing songs, and playing games. I did send him to a preschool - first, two-day two's, then 3-day three's, then 4-day fours (the "days" being mornings only). He learned some things I hadn't thought to teach him yet, like his last name when he was 2 and the pledge of allegiance when he was 4, but for the most part, I felt like his primary teacher. He learned to read and knew some basic math. I had a curriculum, kind of, but mostly it was lists of books which I checked out of the library. When I learn more about blogger, I may post my "preschool" curriculum.

And that pretty much brings us up to date, with Samuel starting Kindergarten in September and us beginning our first year of "after-schooling".