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Archive for September 3rd, 2009

This week I added a new page to the blog, our official Kindergarten Curriculum. Once the schedule is tweaked to everyone’s liking, I will post that too (how much time a week we spend on a subject).

Kindergarten Curriculum

Kindergarten Curriculum

As this is our first year homeschooling, I expect a few hits and misses. I am an avid researcher and a bit of a curriculum junkie, but I try my best to pick what might work best for Satori’s learning style and my teaching style. Satori’s curriculum is an eclectic mix of several styles. We started “preschool at home” in February 2009 with unit studies with Five in a Row, then added the 3 R’s, but went very slowly in the spring. Over the summertime I fell in love with classical education, and we will follow a classical education fairly closely. This fall I will be researching Charlotte Mason methods and mix that in as well. I will talk about the various homeschooling “styles” in another post.

I mentioned a few days ago that we are going to start drawing lessons and practice every week. The main book I chose for this was Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes (founder of Monart art schools). I’ve read about 3/4 of the book and am excited to start. It is only 5 lessons total, not really a set curriculum, so it will be a bit confusing for us to get through, but I will do my best!

dwt
Mona Brookes specifically created this program for 4-5 year olds in a preschool setting, but people of any age can use it. We started out with a drawing “test” to see if Satori could copy a set of shapes. There are 3 levels of shapes and carefully detailed are the approximate ages that should be able to master each level. Satori rocked at the first level, she surprised me! Then she attempted Level 2 and got frustrated. Needless to say, Level 2 was not in the 4-5 age range.

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Surprisingly, Mona Brookes starts you out with black markers! No pencils, and most definitely no erasers. The book explains why. So I gathered up all our black markers of varying widths, and got a set of 5 Prismacolor black drawing markers of varying widths. We both set about the initial activity of simply scribbling to get used to the different markers.

Getting used to our black markers

Getting used to our black markers

Then on to the Five Elements of Shapes.

  1. Dots (roundish shapes filled in)
  2. Circles (roundish shapes not filled in)
  3. Straight Lines
  4. Curves
  5. Angles

I took a sheet of paper and drew examples of these 5 elements. Then Satori tried on her own on the left side of the sheet.

5 Elements of Shapes

5 Elements of Shapes

We then looked around for examples of these 5 elements everywhere and attempted to draw objects around us keeping these 5 elements in mind. We were on our deck, so Satori drew a bird feeder, our umbrella shade, and I drew a stool.

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We will work a bit on this every week. DWT is highly recommended by Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, the style of which I will be incorporating in our own homeschooling style this fall.

We started our first official Science Day using Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding (BSU), which I browsed through yesterday and think it will be perfect for Kindergarten! It’s a K-2 curriculum, with four lines of scientific concepts:

  1. Nature of Matter
  2. Life Science
  3. Physical Science
  4. Earth and Space Science

It’s a very flexible curriculum and you don’t work through it sequentially from beginning to end. Rather, out of the 41 lessons, you start with the beginning lessons in each of the 4 topics mentioned above. There is a handy flowchart to visualize the lesson possibilities. The first lesson was about Organizing, Categorizing, and Classifying. While Satori sat eating a snack, I pointed out the various cupboards in the kitchen and asked her what was in each (plates, drinking cups, utensils, pots, pans, bowls, food, etc…). We talked about other methods of organization in places like libraries, grocery stores, and even our craft kitchen. Once she understood that things are organized into categories, we started our hands-on activities.

Craft Button Assortment

Craft Button Assortment

I got this amazingly varied assortment of buttons of all colors, shapes, sizes and patterns from DickBlick, called their Craft Button Assortment. For under $4, I got a whole pound of wonderful buttons, ready to use for crafts, math, and today, science! They arrived quickly and just in time for our Organizing Activity.

I dumped them all in a tray, and set out 8 smaller trays (we use these all the time) and asked Satori to organize any way she wanted.

Organizing buttons

Organizing buttons

She chose to organize by color, and of course, the first color she tackled was… PINK.

Pink buttons

Pink buttons

While she was busy, I rambled on about how handy it is to organize things. I pulled out one of our Colorado Bird books and showed how they organized the birds by color on every page of the book – water birds, shore birds, fly-catching birds, etc…

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Soon, she had organized several buttons by color. This activity may seem too simple for K-2, but its importance should not be underestimated! Make sure you go over why organization/classifying is important.

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To really drive in the benefits of organizing and categorizing, we then did a second activity. I gathered up 20 various items from our kitchen drawers, trying to be sure they fit into about 6 themes of 2-4 items each. Yes, we had prehistoric mammal beasts hiding in a kitchen drawer! She grabbed them and automatically organized them separate from the rest right away.

20 various items

20 various items

After we named everything together I told her to spend a moment to try to memorize it all. Then, I gathered them all up and hid them in a basket. I asked her to name all the items. She remembered only 3.

So I put them out again and we ORGANIZED them into categories.

Various items organized into categories

Various items organized into categories

Swooped them all up again and asked what she remembered. This time she remembered 13 items! People who are good at memorizing lists use this technique of grouping things in categories to make them easier to remember.

The lesson drove  home that organizing makes life easier in many ways. This initial lesson was the perfect “Foundation” to kick off our science lessons.