Sunday, August 17, 2014

Home School Year 1

I've had several people send me emails and/or Facebook messages asking me what kinds of things we're doing in our home school.  We've been officially schooling for 3 weeks now, (our 4th week will start on Monday) and we are cruising!  I feel like I'm ready to blog about and give you a little sneak into our days.

Let me just explain our home school name first.  We're not trying to be arrogant or haughty in the least.  I needed to come up with a home school name so I could get my teacher card and this is the first thing that came to mind.  We don't actually refer to ourselves like this and I've never even said it in front of the kids. ;)

Rylea is now 5 and is in Kindergarten and 1st grade (she excels in some areas and is on grade level at others).   To be clear, Indiana does NOT require official kindergarten instruction, and their home school laws are very lax to say the least.  Dieter is 3 (turning 4 in November), and is officially in preschool, but he completes a lot of kindergarten work with ease.  They both amaze me.  The phenomenal thing about home schooling (among a million others) is that I can pick and choose different things from different grades to challenge my kids.  They're both very intelligent and are little learning sponges (like most kids are!).  I won't detail here why  we chose to home school because that's a whole blog post in and of itself, but it is important to point out that Devin and I based our decision on prayer, scripture, and where we felt like the Lord has been leading our family.  We also do NOT have a lot of support from friends and family members, but we know this decision is the right one for us, and it is scripturally sound.

It took about 3 weeks of daily practice but this guy can now write his name on his own.  We're working on the "DeWitt" part next. 

I did a lot of research and chose NOT to buy an entire set of curriculum for either child.  Instead, we spent our home school budget on basic supplies (pencils, crayons, scissors, paper, a laminator, printer paper, glue, etc.), and I do school things with them based entirely off the equipped brain God gave me, and Christian based home schooling blogs online.  The vast majority of the Christian homeschooling community that I sought out and spoke to advised us that kindergarten and preschool are years of continuous learning, all year round, and do not require a regimented curriculum.  (I do suspect that partway through the year I'll be buying a first and second grade language curriculum for Rylea, and I plan to use BJU).

We start our day with calendar time.  We figure out what the date and the day is together, the kiddos take turn putting up the dates and then we sign songs about the days of the week and the months of the year.  It took about a week of those songs and Dieter knew then very well.  (Rylea already knew them because she did them when she went to preschool last year).

The calendar itself was a blank one that I got on Amazon here:  Trend Large Wipe-Off Blank Calendar Chart (TEPT1170)  It's a wipe-off calendar but I used some sticky velcro dots on it so we could put our days up there.  Each set of dates for each month has a pattern that we also talk about (either AB or ABBA or ABC).  I also put our letter of the week which corresponds with our ABC Verse of the week at the top so we can talk about those often, and at the bottom we've got a "today, tomorrow, yesterday" activity.  We move those cards everyday too.   We go over our spanish words, sign the letters we're learning, count the days on the calendar, skip count, do shapes (2D and 3D shapes), and write down the number of the school day we are on (we'll have a 100 days party).  Keep in mind, Dieter is a 3 year old boy with a short attention span so if he chooses not to sing during calendar time and play with cards instead, or if he's less than enthused, I just let it go.  I don't force him to engage, but I know he knows all the songs because he'll sing them at random times throughout the day on his own.  I found the FREE calendar pieces here, the today, tomorrow, yesterday pieces here, and the ABC verses are my own.

Once, calendar time is over we usually move onto writing practice.  Both kiddos practice writing together.  Currently, we're working on a letter per week.  For Rylea, this is just a review and sometimes I let her teach Dieter the letter sounds and how to write them.  It gives her good practice and Dieter learns at the same time.  Dieter recognizes most letters (he has trouble with some lowercase), and he really benefits from spending the entire week on a single letter. While Dieter practices writing individual letters, Rylea practices her sight words (writing, reading, spelling).  I'm using the You Can Read printables for Rylea.  We do one set a week and build on the previous week.  Sometimes, if she already knows the words for that week, we'll do two sets in one week. I use a bunch of other writing sheets that I can share too is anyone is interested.

Dieter practices writing the letter I for inchworm.  (We did a whole day of learning about inchworms during I week too.)

This is Dieter's letter workbook.  I got it in the dollar section of Target.

Some sight work Rylea did a couple weeks ago.  She got a little crazy with her circles, and now I'm making her write her name like Rylea instead of RYLEA. ;)
Rylea needed a little extra lowercase "e" practice and Dieter is hunting out and circling all the e's in this story.  We do a lot of things with page protectors and dry erase markers so they can use them over again.

At the end of a week of the letter, we put the letter on our coconut tree just like in the book, Chicka Chicka ABC (Chicka Chicka Book, A) You can see we've already done A, E, and I.  (We're starting with the vowel sounds to go with The Letter Factory DVD).  I got the tree here:Palm Tree Bulletin Board Set

Then onto math.  Dieter is more number minded than Rylea.  (While Rylea excels more in reading and writing).  Dieter very quickly understands numbers and adds them in his head.  He can add up to 20 very quickly so I have him and Rylea both working on addition and subtraction right now.  We're also skip counting (2s, 5s, 10s, etc).  

Candy math!  The kids LOVED this day (as I'm sure you could guess).  We did it after lunch and if they got an entire page of problems right, they got to eat one piece of candy.  I use these pages often.  We're up to adding number to 20 and Dieter will soon graduate to adding higher than that.  Rylea still needs more practice from 11-20.

Color by number
His most favorite activity of all is graphing.  This will keep him busy for 15-20 minutes and he'll focus and do it right the entire time.  After he's done we talk about the relationship between the different bars and do some adding and subtracting.

Rylea on the left is doing our "clip cards."  These are simple for both of them but they love squeezing those clips and clipping it on the right answer.  We're now doing those for time and seeing if we can beat our previous times with accuracy. (I printed, laminated, and cut these out so they can reuse them).  Dieter on the right is practicing number recognition with these puzzles.  He does them up to 100.  (Just something I printed, laminated, and cut out)

For science, social studies, and other extra subjects, I follow the kids leads!  One day, Dieter brought a cicada exoskeleton INSIDE the house without knowing what it was.  (Scared the poop out of me).  So, we did a couple days of learning about them and other animals that shed their skin.  We did a unit on inchworms during I week too.  

We also paint, color, cut, and glue a lot.  The kids both know how to use scissors and a bottle of glue well so I just give them directions and they go to town.  Usually, I have to work at keep Dieter on task (unless it's number related), but we get it done.  

Coloring her elephant for E week

Coloring his elephant for E week

she added the eyelashes on her own after she figured out they started with e and she wanted a girly elephant. :)
Dot painting (we do this every week)

I print these on cardstock and they paint them up with q tips.
All week long, I hang all their papers on the fridge for daddy to see and for us to review whenever and then at the end of the week (usually on Saturday or Sunday) I take all their papers down, file them in their folders for the year and we start new.  Whatever doesn't fit in the folder gets tossed (gasp?!).  I take pictures of everything though and I plan on making them a "yearbook" at the end of each year so they can remember all the things they did.  I hang up the new letter of the week on Monday with our new bible verse and they get excited for what's next.

We also read A LOT of books.  As much as we can, we read.  Usually we get through 2 chapter books per week.  We just finished Charlotte's Web, and right now we're reading Fantastic Mr. Fox and the kids love it.  (If I had thought ahead, I would have waiting until we got to F haha)  Sometimes I change the words in the story like "stupid" and "dumb" to "silly" or something more appropriate because there are certain words in there that we don't encourage. ;)  Just an FYI for anyone considering this book.  I also like to stop randomly throughout the book and ask Rylea what the next word is to practice her reading, or I'll have her read simple sentences throughout as well.  We'll be done with the book today (Sunday) and we'll have a little fox party with some crafts and a movie and whatever else I can think up.  

So, there's a little look into what we're doing now and how it's working for us.  I hope I left you with enough links to maybe supplement your own home education as well.

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