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.)