Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Kindergarten Year in a Nutshell 2009-2010

We are in the last few days of our Kindergarten homeschool year and haven't really stopped doing "school" for the summer.  Don't tell Davin that most kids get summers off!  No...he wouldn't really care, because education is just a way of life in our home and he doesn't know any different!  What he calls "homeschool" is his sit-down time at the dining room table doing Math, Handwriting, and Spelling (which, by the way, I added as a subject because he thinks spelling is fun!)  Here's what we did this year for Kindergarten (age 5).  I am posting this mostly for my sake, since I don't have a very good "remembery" and don't want to forget what resources we used for Kindergarten:

  • Bible: Davin started his first year of Sparks at AWANA this year and completed his first book!  I was so proud of him for all of his hard work memorizing Bible verses.  We read a Bible story every day, usually in the morning, from the Egermeier Bible Story Book.

We have many Bible story books, but I like this one a lot because it does not use watered down language and covers the entire Bible in chronological order.  It's also one that Davin likes to read on his own as well.  At night we do a devotion or read from another Bible story book, like The Jesus Storybook Bible, which we really enjoy!!  I found some really neat Bible activity books from the Dollar Tree this year that Davin enjoyed, titles like "Moses", "Daniel", "The Ten Commandments", and "Jonah."  The other Bible books he enjoyed a lot this year were: The Comic Book Bible, a Bible handbook: Who's Who & Where's Where in the Bible for Kids, WWJD for Kidz, and what I'm most proud of: He started reading a real Bible this year, and LOVES it.  He asked me why I had been giving him all these Bibles that were missing so many pages, meaning children's Bible storybooks.  His goal is to read through the Bible, and he is learning SO much!  At five years old, I don't think I was even reading yet, let alone reading the Bible!  He is so blessed to be able to hide God's Word in his heart at such a young age.  Here he is reading Bible stories to Valentine Puppy:

  • Math:  Math-U-See Primer.  At the beginning of the year, Davin was very adamant that he did not like math.  I don't know where he got that idea, but he was just sure that math was terrible.  After a few weeks in the Math-U-See book, he came around and actually began enjoying math!  I was thrilled  :)  A lot of the material in the Primer was stuff he already knew, so once he felt like he was really learning, he was excited!  The Math-U-See curriculum uses the manipulative blocks a lot, which my son found to be a little bothersome.  He preferred to do the math in his head, rather than use the blocks.  I was kind of surprised, because I thought the blocks would be helpful and fun to use!  Instead, he sometimes used the manipulatives to build things with while I would read aloud :)

So Davin liked that math book, but he was done with it in a few months and I felt like he needed more practice, so I got the Saxon 1 book as well.  He's currently almost done with book one.  He enjoys Saxon as well, but I think it's a little too much practice.  I am pleased with what he's learned, though:  writing numerals, basic addition, skip counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s, solving for an unknown, telling time, basic subtraction, identifying and counting money, measuring, etc.

  • Handwriting:  This is one area that I am SO proud of the progress Davin has made over the course of the year.  At the beginning of the year, I could not get him to write a single letter or draw anything.  He wanted nothing to do with writing, due to an unfortunate preschool experience the previous year (that's all I'm gonna say!).  He only attended preschool for a few weeks before we decided it was better to keep him at home.  Anyways, I decided I was not going to push him at all, but let him start in his own time.  Before long he began taking an interest in drawing and making up stories, of which "Super Davin" was his favorite topic!  So, his handwriting grew out of a necessity to write down his stories.  I did not care that he was writing in all capital letters, as long as he was enjoying the process and becoming more comfortable with handwriting.  I didn't want to frustrate him with rules about how to hold his pencil and the correct way to form the letters, or else he may have gone on a writing strike again!  He made cute little circles on top of his "i's", which I thought was adorable :)  Here's a letter he wrote to Auntie Cara:

After a few months I thought it would be good to start a handwriting book (before his bad habits became too hard to break).  I decided on the "Italic Handwriting" series, because it was appealing to look at and the steps to forming the letters made the most sense to me (as compared to some other leading handwriting books).  His handwriting improved dramatically and it wasn't long at all until he stopped writing in all caps :)

  • Spelling:  When Davin started reading, we would play "Spelling Bee" where I would give him simple words to spell that came from his easy readers.  He found this quite fun!  I would start with 3 letter words, then after several I would ask if he'd like to move on to "level 2" with 4 letter words.  If he misspelled 2 in a row I would go back to 3 letter words.  We continued in this way and I found him to have a natural spelling talent because of his love for reading, I think!  I then used spelling lists from AAAspell.com and I loved those lists because it was great for learning vocabulary as well!

    • One of the words on the list was "spume" and we haven't used those lists in months, but I decided to see if any of the vocab had stuck.  I just asked my son, Can you spell "spume"?  He spelled it correctly, no problem, so I asked if you remembered what it meant.  I gave him a hint, saying it had to do with water, and he said, "Foamy?"  The definition is "Foam or froth of water, particularly that of sea water", so he did remember!  I remember when we went over that word I asked him to recall what it was like when we were at the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Portland the previous summer, and how the water would get foamy as it washed on the shore.  Ahh...isn't learning amazing?!

Okay, back to Spelling.  I decided to order a few Spelling workbooks, since he enjoyed spelling so much.  I ordered Modern Curriculum Press's Spelling Workout A and B, at the recommendation from "The Well-Trained Mind".

I really wasn't very impressed with the books, and we ended up using them as more handwriting practice than for spelling, since the words weren't challenging.  Luckily, Davin found them to be fun and did learn some proofreading skills, as one part of the lesson was to correct mistakes in the sentences.  He completed both of those books, but I feel like he learned more from the lists on AAAspell.com.  The thing that helps MOST with spelling, though?  READING, of course!  Let me stress that spelling is fun for Davin and something he enjoys.  I don't make him study any "list words" or drill him with words.  What I do is follow his lead and encourage his interest in spelling!

  • Reading: This is the subject that I believe the bulk of learning comes from and we are fortunate to have a very nice collection of books.  All of the books listed below we own and love, but we read many more that we have or checked out from the library!  Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt and For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay are great resources that helped me choose great literature, along with Ambleside Online's year 0 booklist.

  • We read some fun Read-Alouds this year.  Our favorites were:

    • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

    • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

    • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

    • James Herriott's Treasury for Children

    • Winnie the Pooh tales by A.A. Milne

    • The Children's Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett

    • The Aesop for Children (ill. by Milo Winter)

    • Tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

    • Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin

I just love reading aloud to the kids and think it's the most enjoyable part of our homeschooling adventure.  It's amazing and precious that their little minds will hold fast to these stories and may remember them the rest of their lives!

  • Some of our favorite Picture Books:

    • Stories by Virginia Lee Burton: Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, The Little House, Katy and the Big Snow

    • The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack

    • Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola

    • Miss Rumphius and Ox-Cart Man by Barbara Cooney

    • Stories by Robert McCloskey, such as Bluberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings

    • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

    • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

    • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

    • Tootle by Gertrude Crampton

    • Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel

    • Corduroy and Corduroy Lost and Found by Don Freeman.  Also Dandelion and Norman the Doorman.

    • Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky

    • Sleepytime Tales: a Little Golden Book Collection

    • Curious George books by Margret & H.A. Rey

    • The Quilt Story by Tony Johnston and Tomie dePaola

  • I have to admit something.  I think my Kindergartener can read faster than I can.  I'm serious!  It's a little embarassing.  Some of Davin's favorite independent reading books this year:

    • The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne.  He read dozens of these books this year and really enjoys them.

    • Superfudge by Judy Blume.

    • Little Lulu comic books.  He checked out as many of these as he could at the library each time.  The librarians knew he liked Little Lulu so much that they even ordered a dozen more!!  These books are classics!

    • Calvin and Hobbes comic books.  He has 4 big collection books and thinks these books are hilarious!  I know that Calvin can be quite naughty, but he does have an amazing imagination and a wonderful vocabulary!  Any time I hear Davin use a big word for the first time I ask: "Where'd you learn that? Calvin and Hobbes?"

    • The Magic School Bus books by Joanna Cole.  I remember loving these books when I was younger, but I don't remember reading them until I was in 4th grade!  These books are jam-packed with science.

    • Video game guide books, such as Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Scribblenauts.  This is a strange thing to include, I know, but he LOVES studying these guide books and I swear he's memorized the whole books.  He doesn't play Super Mario Galaxy 2, but watches his Dad and instructs him on how to beat the levels.  It's pretty funny listening to him explain to his Dad what to do.

    • Peanuts comic books by Charles M. Schulz.

    • The LEGO Book by Daniel Lipkowitz: a two book volume including the history of LEGO and every fascinating fact you could imagine.  This volume was worth every penny!

    • His Bible and other Bible storybooks

  • Poetry: I just love reading poetry aloud, with the rhythm and rhyme and beauty of the language.  I want to instill this love and appreciation of poetry in my children as well.  I think I inherited this love of poetry from my dad, who used to read poetry to my siblings and I when we were young.  Here are some of our favorite poetry books we have:

    • A Child's Book of Poems ill. by Gyo Fujikawa

    • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

    • The New Kid on the Block by Jack Prelutsky

    • When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne

    • F E G Stupid (Ridiculous) Poems for Intelligent Children by Robin Hirsch, art by Ha

When I went to the homeschool conference last year, there was a book that caught my attention: "Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization" by Andrew Pudewa.  Most people would read that title and think: "Ewww....that sounds really dry and boring."  I thought: "Wow, that sounds so cool!"  I have a bachelor's degree in Linguistics, so of course that caught my eye!  Anyways, Davin memorized 9 poems this year from level one of the book!  Here's what he memorized:

    • "Ooey Gooey" (Author Unknown)

    • "Celery" by Ogden Nash

    • "The Little Man Who Wasn't There" by Hughes Mearns

    • "Singing Time" by Rose Fyleman

    • "There Was an Old Person Whose Habits" by Edward Lear

    • "Whole Duty of Children" by Robert Louis Stevenson

    • "My Gift" by Christina Rossetti

    • "Persevere" (Author Unknown)

    • "Who Has seen the Wind?" by Christina Rossetti

This year for 1st grade I will continue with level one until he has all 20 poems memorized.  There are four levels altogether with 20 poems in each level.  What is so neat about this program is the variety of poems included and the mastery of material that can be gained by just reading the poem once a day for several days and then reviewing the memorized poems as you go so that they are stuck in your long term memory!  I love having these poems memorized myself as well!  Here's Davin reciting "My Gift" by Christina Rossetti:  Davin Reciting a Poem

  • Science: We did not have a set curriculum for Science, rather we enjoyed exploring nature and read books about things Davin was interested in.  For instance, he loves building LEGOs, and we have a LEGO Dacta set that includes simple machines: lever, pulley, incline plane, wheel & axle.  We checked out books form the library about these simple machines as well.  Also, back to the LEGOs, he has been building LEGOs with "structions" ever since he called them "structions" - age 3 1/2.  Building really helped with his fine motor skills, which I think helped with his handwriting as well!  I was constantly amazed that he could build all of the sets by himself, because he refused to let me help him (unless two ornery pieces were stuck together!)  He enjoys learning about how things are made and how things work,  and likes to look things up in a book we have called The Way Things Work, by David Macaulay and when we used to have cable, How It's Made was his favorite show.  At one point he was obsessed with inventing things and had a notebook with invention ideas and started a lot of sentences with "Mama, I thought of this new invention......"  We checked out lots of books from the library about the childhood lives of famous inventors (Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, etc.).  We also spent time learning about weather, seasons, the human body, and animals.  Some favorite books:

    • The Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth by Joanna Cole

    • The Magic School Bus: At the Waterworks by Joanna Cole

    • The Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body by Joanna Cole

    • Why? by Lila Prap

    • My First Book of Knowledge by Kate Petty

    • Usborne's The Great Wildlife Search

    • The Usborne Internet-Linked Complete Book of the Human Body

So that was our Kindergarten year in a nutshell.  We had a blast and learned a lot, too!

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