Did you know that this week is National Young Reader’s Week? It sure is- and it’s a great time to focus your homeschooling on your young readers. In honor of that – the Pizza Hut Book It program has been posting free books for your kiddos to read. Here is today’s Book IT story.
This year I decided I was tired of using the same old boxed curriculum. I know it works, but I had grown up with it, and I had taught it for 17 years. I needed a break. So, as my youngest became ready to start kindergarten I wanted to find something that was challenging yet different. Yet, I wasn’t able to find ONE curriculum that met my standards. So, I put together a collection of my own.
Here are a few of my ideas… some of them are a work in progress!
Math – I used a text I found on Complete Curriculum. I purchased this membership when it first went viral for $4.95! I believe it is $20 now, but you get 10 text downloads for that price. She also does a few days of Time4Learning.
Language Arts – I found two HUGE workbooks from Brain Quest. I also used several smaller workbooks( I found those for $1 each) that simply have work pages on each letter of the alphabet. We review and do pages on the same letter of the alphabet for several days to make sure that she completely understands each letter and its sound. She does several lessons each week in Time4Learning as well.
Science – She is with the other children (ages 8,11, and 11). We use Apologia and are studying Botany this year. We use the notebooking technique, and she is LOVING making a collection of what we study!
History – She also is with my older children, and we are using the Time Travelers History series. We have lots of projects, which she enjoys doing with us.
Handwriting – I am using some great handwriting worksheets from Spelling City.
We also bought several new puzzles and educational games (she had done ours till she had them memorized). With all of these options- each day can be different and exciting. I also try to break up the various study times with activities or outdoor field trips for science. Keeping her moving helps keep her excited and ready to learn!
I must admit… my children are not calm. It is just a fact. From the time they are born they are ready to move, curious, inquisitive, and play rough. My girls enjoy playing baseball with their brother, and all six love to wrestle with daddy. What can I say? They have mountains of energy, and just sitting still for hours on end just doesn’t suit them. So, it truly has been a challenge over the years to keep the little ones busy while the older children study. I typically use a few simple resources/tools to help me accomplish this. Though my youngest will be going into kindergarten this year… I will still have a lot of time left over to keep her engaged with something other than getting the older children distracted! Here’s a few of my basic resources…
1) Have a stack of really interesting (their favorite things) worksheets and color sheets. At the preschool age my little guys loved dot-to-dot. They were just learning how to count and this made them feel so big!
2) Have puzzles and other cool quiet games on hand that are ONLY allowed to be used during this time. (Limiting their use keeps the interest level high!) Tangrams are great for this as well!
4)I have loads of folder games left from when I taught first grade at school. We use these educational games in the early years to help fill in the gaps while momma is helping brother or sister with school work.
5) Pull the puzzle portion out of the Sunday paper and laminate it (if it’s a good one). They can reuse the puzzle over and over. I did this while the paper was printing those really neat depth perception pictures, and where’s waldo… I have them laminated, and my kids love to play with these. If all else fails, the backside has basic comics on it… that’s always fun!
I love finding ways to teach my children without being “teachy.” Sounds crazy, but it sure does make learning a bit more fun and a lot less “stuffy.”
Here are a few ideas that use trees to teach math at the preschool/kindergarten level.
1. Go for a walk and gather pinecones, acorns, leaves, or nuts. Use them to count and sort when you get home.
2. Get out the scale and weigh the various objects that you gathered on your walk. Ask questions that really make them think… why do the nuts weigh more than the leaves?
3. On your next walk count all of the evergreen and broadleaf trees. Sorting and classifying are great aspects of math learning.
4. Take time to “brainstorm” all of the things that are made from trees… write them out on construction paper trees!
5. Make a recipe that uses something from a tree… such as nuts. Allow the children to measure etc.
Yesterday, my youngest daughter (4) was going poking around my dresser… I was getting ready to take two of my other daughters to the doctor… when she found the intestines piece of our human anatomy game. (Just don’t ask me why the intestines were on my dresser…)
Anyway, she excitedly grabbed it up and held it in her hand and exclaimed… “Momma… I didn’t know you had… a… BRAIN!”
on several levels…
…but one thing I did learn… to 4 year olds… intestines look like brains. (and… maybe she knows my thoughts… there are days I wonder if I do have a brain…)
Teaching a preschooler is so much fun… well if you love wiggles, silly faces, and lots of questions! But it’s those questions that make it all worthwhile. The preschooler is a natural learner. They enjoy finding out what they can about their environment. Just think, in the few short years that they have been alive, they have quadrupled in size, learned a whole language, learned how to eat, how to dress, and how to walk. WOW! That’s more than what we’ve learned in the past few years… They are incredible little learning machines, and introducing them to high interest subjects like science can be a great opportunity.
Of course, as most of you know I am not one of those who advocates pushing preschool learning. I think there are more natural ways to impart knowledge to these early learners. Science is a great way to do this. You can read them science stories, look at amazing science books (library has some pretty cool ones!), and even do some experiments. Natural learning by going on a walk and collecting things and then looking them up and finding out what they are when you get home – is also an awesome way to get your preschool hooked on science. Make it fun, make it interesting, remember their learning potential is huge!
Are you thinking… ??What?? I know it sounds off the wall, but what I really mean is that we must teach our children the meaning, and the usefulness of math, language, science, and history… while we are teaching them. Research has shown that education today is very disjointed. High school students can add, subtract, divide, and multiply but when asked a word problem evoking a practical situation…only 70% can apply the math to a real life situation. Then when asked a question that would result in 1/2 or a 1/4 of a person… only 33% of students realized that the answer would need to be a whole number.
…There is obviously a disconnect somewhere…
I believe it is the fact that so much learning today is solely text book oriented. What happened to learning while working and doing? Remember the days when young girls practiced fractional math while baking a double batch of something? Or young men helped dad build a shed and measured and cut and planned the dimensions. In pushing for test scores, and specific subject performance… we have left out the common sense equation in education.
Good news… homeschoolers have a wide open opportunity to make their child’s education apply to real life. For example, when you begin teaching your preschooler math it shouldn’t start with a text book or flashcards. It should start with games. “Can you get momma 5 apples for this pie?” or “Can you divide your candy in half and give half of it to your sister?” They must see the numbers and their meaning in a concrete form before they begin formal instruction. Yet, this doesn’t negate using flashcards and drilling the facts after they have the understanding. Before children can move into higher math they must be able to rattle off their elementary math facts without hesitation.
This is the foundation of education that lends to common sense. Children can see “why” they are learning math, science, and history when they see how it helps them and affects their daily life.