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And We're Off…

Today is the first day of the 2011-2012 school year for us. There is something so exciting about starting fresh, having a plan, and being intentional about fun & learning. This year my daughter Minnie wanted to “do school” too. So here is the plan:
7:30am  –  Bible Time (we are using Abeka Flashacards (www.abeka.com)
8am –  Nap – Tinker Bell (9 months)
        –  Calendar Time –  Minnie (3) & Goofy (K)
        –  Preschool – Minnie & Goofy (more challenging resources)
9am –  Play time (puzzles, play dough, bubbles, games, pretend play)
10am –  Errands, Library, or Park District Classes
11:30am –  Lunch
12 noon –  Play outside & Read books
1pm –  Nap (Tinker Bell & Minnie)
         –  Kindergarten (Goofy)
3:30pm –  More Playtime
5:30pm –  Dinner
6pm  –  Family walk, park, or game/Lego time [see lego games]]
7pm  –  Read books, baths, ready for bed
Bible Story: Here are EXCELLENT resources we are using or have used. I highly recommend them!
     
Preschool
As a Preschool “theme” this year we are doing Chicka Chicka Boom Boom based on the wonderful, fun, catchy book by Bill Martin.  I got the idea from Confessions of a Homeschooler (http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2010/09/chicka-chicka-boom-boom.html). I’m not sure how Erica used it, but we will be adding our letters on the tree as we work with a weekly letter. (Next week, for example, we are working with the letter S. So we will put the S on our tree.) Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler (see above link) also has information about making a lapbook to go along with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book.
Here are some Preschool resources I love!
         
Leap Frog DVDs are wonderful for teaching to make the letter sounds & how to sound out words in a fun way! We love Pooh, so this one that tteaches shapes was a huge hit! PBS’ Curious George teaches Math & Science principals in a fun way!
        
Learning through play is crucial! These are favorites at our house. We of course also have a big bin of dress-up clothes, cash register with pretend money, play kitchen, and play food for store & kitchen. We also love Duplos, Puppets, animals to sort, craft supplies, and lots of fresh air to play!
Kindergarten
I am very eclectic with my curriculum & I love, love, love planning out what we will use. I know, I’m a little nuts! Our Social Studies & Science changed a little at the last moment as we planned our vacation for next year – a 3 week road trip covering Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make it fit with what we study & enhance the learning & vacation experience! As a result, we will be doing a ruck/canyon study & taking a field trip to the Creation Museum (http://creationmuseum.org/) to better understand the Grand Canyon. As well as studying US History focusing on Westward Expansion to fit in with the states & places we will be visiting (more on that later).
  • Math: Bob Jones K – I know a lot of folks don’t think you need a lot of Kindergarten math. But our country is WAY behind in Math & Science to I want to give him a strong foundation PLUS I think Goofy has a natural talent there. We will be switching to Singapore Math next year.
  • Language Arts – we have already started & are loving the Sing Spell Read & Write program. It has everything you could ask for: workbooks, early readers, many games, prizes, songs, colorful visual aids and more. For my kinesthetic learner this is ideal. It progresses at a perfect pase and I feel like it gives him a sound foundation for a lifetime of reading. He especially enjoys making the word wheels! (Note: you can inexpensively replace the workbook only portion of this for subsequent children!)
  • We are of course supplementing by reading a lot of good books & classic literature out loud.  Honey for a Child’s Heart is a great resource to find some of those great books you make not be familiar.
  • A Reason for Handwriting- K – I think it is crucial kids learn to make their letters well from an early age. After all, they will be writing their entire life. I love the concept behind this program – copying scripture. Please note though that the Kindergarten book does not write scripture, it teaches the fundamentals of writing each upper & lowercase letters.
  • Social Studies: We are starting the way ‘traditional’ school does. We are talking about Goofy (likes, dislikes, what he looks like), his family, our neighborhood, city, community, and community helpers. We are spending about a month & will be using the following resources plus lots of fieldtrips! These are all GREAT books I highly recommend!
  • More Social Studies: We are spending the rest of the year studying US History to get ready for our 3 week road trip! We will use real books to learn about the time period and interesting people in history. We will be doing lots of creative activities to relive history: making a viking ship, making gallows, and more. (There will be more coming on this too!) We will be primarily using Konos’ Explorers Activities Book, Revolutionary War Activities Book, and Settlers Activities Book. These book are only $9.95 each and have about 125 creative ideas for teaching history. Ideas use various disciplines including geography, science, language arts,  music, and more. We also plan to use http://www.squidoo.com/fun-hands-on-unit-studies with FREE unit studies on Native Americans & Westward Expansion
  • Primarily MagnetsK-2 Life Science: The Animal KingdomScience: We are going to do several Intellego Units: The Animal Kingdom, Habitats, Rocks, and Plant Cycle.  I downloaded these robust units for $10. These beefy units are in PDF format so you can read, look at pictures, print pages, and click on many activity links from the comfort of your computer. There will of course be lots of real books & fieldtrips to round out our animal studies! We will be spending a month on every little boy’s favorite topic – Dinosaurs (more on that later). Taking a break, we are going to do AIMS: Magnets & Weather.
  • ART: Children need art! Art is a great way to express themselves & practice fine motor skills. We will be learning about famous artists & creating works of art ourselves. Here are our resources that we’ve used. Wonderful resources great for K-3 at least:
                
 
               
And one of the best resource I’ve found to tie various artists together is at Confessions of a Homeschooler. Erica has created a FREE lapbook that is just amazing! She has put a lot of time & effort into making a resource that will knock your socks off! It will be a great lapbook to make as you study each of the famous artists. At the end your children will be able to look at it & see all the artists & styles they have studied. An amazing resource you don’t  want to miss at: http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2011/06/worlds-greatest-artists-unit-study.html
  • MUSIC: Music was always my favorite subject growing up! Besides that it is beautiful and studies have shown a positive link between music and increased intellegence (google it – there is LOTS of information out there), we will be singing praises to our heavenly Father for all eternity! So besides lots of singing at church & home, piano lessons, and homemade bands here are our other resources:
Color the classics (http://www.colortheclassics.com/)  is an AMAZING RESOURCE! I VERY highly recommend it! It is not just a coloring book. The very detailed pictures depict the life of famous composers. The book comes with a CD of the composers music – just beautiful. The idea is you have the kids listen to the music while they color the picture. You then read several paragraphs of  information about the picture (simple, but chalked full of information). What a wonderful kiesthetic learning experience. I’ve learned so much from it myself. Whether you home school or not take a look at this!  Vol 1 has 4 composers with about 6 pictures each. There are 4 volumes plus a Patriotic Songs & Christmas Songs edition.
  •  Spanish – Having grown up in Spain I know the value of knowing another language – especially in our ever shrinking world. Besides speaking to my kids in Spanish, we read lots of books, and listen to music or movies in Spanish. I will not begin formal writing curriculum with them until they are able to write well. But here is a DVD my kids really like from a woman who speaks Spain Spanish =-) 
  • PE – Besides running around our backyard, taking family walks, and throwing a ball in the backyard with Dad – we do have some organized activities too. Our church offers a Homeschooler Gym time where they all play organized PE activities together. Plus we have an outstanding park district that offers sports, gymnastic, and dance classes (among other things).
That rounds out our curriculum for 2011-2012. Hopefully this has been helpful to you. I know I always like seeing what resources are out there & what other people choose to use. Feel free to click on any image above & buy it right from Amazon for low prices & to support our homeschooling efforts. Plus, let me know you stopped by – no one likes to write if they don’t know who’s listening =-)
No matter where you school, have a GREAT year!
Beth

About the author

Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! Beth is also the creator of www.kindergartenworksheetsandgames.com where she shares Kindergarten spedicif worksheets,& educational ideas.

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