ivey league kindergarten: week in review

We started kindergarten this week!

Caleb has been more than ready for awhile now; we just had to wait for Mommy to get brave and start!  :)

For kindergarten, I wanted to make things a little more structured, but also keep some flexibility if changes in material or routine were needed.  I decided to use actual curriculum for reading and math, and then use less formal methods for handwriting and Bible lessons:

Reading: Hooked on Phonics (materials for grades K-2 found at Goodwill for under $5!!)

Math:  Horizons (found a good deal for both workbooks plus teacher's guide on Ebay; any manipulatives we didn't already own were purchased online or in Target's dollar aisle).  Also might supplement with free worksheets and printables off Pinterest to reinforce certain skills or to allow for extra practice.

Handwriting:  Various kindergarten-level workbooks found at Target and Goodwill.  We're mainly concentrating on good pencil grasp and being able to correctly write all letters and numbers, even if he's a little messy at first.

Bible:  I went back and forth on this one.  I liked the idea of finding a free schedule online or in a book, but so many I saw omitted stories (one didn't even talk about the fall in the Garden of Eden!), or else just really dumbed them down.  So I decided to be really radical and just teach out of my own Bible.  Crazy, right?  I paraphrase as I'm reading if the Scripture is long, and then we find some kind of craft or worksheet online to reinforce the lesson.

Science:  Caleb still has a great interest in science projects (he could spend hours dousing piles of baking soda with a pipette full of vinegar) but I knew at this age an actual curriculum might kill that love real fast.  So in the meantime we'll intermittently do fun, simple experiments that follow his current interests, and also watch episodes of Sid the Science Kid, The Magic Schoolbus, etc. (Thank you, Netflix!)

Social Studies/Geography:  Again, no real curriculum here.  He's just starting out.  But Caleb loves maps and can already identify a number of states just based on where they are on the map or their shapes.  I think maps are a great activity for him for now.

Read-Alouds:  We'll read out of a chapter book for around 30 minutes a day (at least).  We have a nice collection of paperbacks from Goodwill already, and there's always the local library.

This week was a learning experience for both of us.  I'm more of a learning-by-doing kind of person, so it bugged me to no end that there was really no way to plan our week without actually going through it first.  I even purchased a brand-new planner for myself, naively put in activities from each subject on each weekday, and then found myself flying by the seat of my pants.  That's the nice thing about kindergarten, though.  As long as you do some reading and math that day, you're good.  Caleb and I had fun doing different activities together, but I didn't stress if we didn't get to everything that day.  I quickly saw that quality, not quantity, was more important for both of us. So here's a rundown of our first week:

We made very good strides in math.  The lessons are pretty short (just a couple of pages each), so it's nice to have the option to either stop with one or to keep going if the student wants to (and most days, Caleb wanted to do more than one).  I like how the curriculum includes number-writing practice since Caleb doesn't know how to write most of the numbers right now.  We also worked on his pencil grasp and it improved dramatically this week:

Monday:  "Fat" pencil, fist grasp

Wednesday: Regular pencil, better grasp!!!

We also started Hooked on Phonics the very first day.  The curriculum's instruction is all on CDs, but you also pause the audio often for the child to read on their own.  We did a quick test at the beginning to make sure Caleb still remembered his letter sounds; since he did, we were able to start with reading -at words, -an words, and so on.  Each lesson builds on the last one so there's always opportunities to review, and after a few lessons, the child can read a little book that came with the kit.  Caleb has a love-hate relationship with reading.  He is anxious to learn, but he's also just....anxious.  He got discouraged quickly once the workbook mixed up -at and -an words.  We did some extra practice on the side with some free printables I got online, plus we just kept going at our own pace (I didn't want to set him up for failure by going too quickly, but I also knew we were in danger of him simply memorizing the words and what order in which they were presented, rather than sounding them out).  He is still nervous whenever we start the CD, but he works through it and his confidence is slowly growing.  Here are the free printables I found online...Caleb really enjoyed the ones that involved cutting and gluing, and he did way better than I expected with matching the picture with the word.  The word sliders have also helped him.

For our Bible lessons, we began at the beginning and dove a little deeper into Creation and the Fall.  Caleb knows these stories already, but I wanted him to better understand the implications they have on our faith and lives today.  He colored a "Days of Creation" book that tells you what God created on what day, and he also colored and cut out a coiled snake for the Adam and Eve story.

Since Caleb really likes making things in the kitchen, I also incorporated baking into our lessons....we made Earth Cookies!  These are really for Earth Day, but I figured they would work just as well with the Creation story.  Just a sugar cookie recipe where you divide the dough in half and use food coloring to make one half green and the other half blue.  To form the cookies, you just take a little dough from both colors and squish them together as you form the ball of dough.  Ours weren't quite as vibrant as some I've seen online, but then again, we only used a few drops of food coloring!  They were still yummy and a lot of fun to make.

We also worked on memorizing a verse (I want to try to do a least one verse per week).  Caleb said he wanted to try the alphabet verses again; we started this in preschool but didn't make it past B, plus he doesn't really remember the ones he used to have memorized, so we started with A again.

For reading aloud, Caleb selected Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary.  We read a chapter a day and since the book only has six chapters, we're almost done!  Caleb really likes the book, although since it was written in the fifties I had to explain things like what a typewriter is, and why Henry's ice cream cone only cost him a nickel.  One thing I like about that place and time....at one point in the book, Henry accidentally loses his friend's brand-new football and needs to replace it.  He never even considers running to his parents to ask for the money.  Instead, he earns the money on his own and is able to pay for a new football.  I want Caleb to have that same sense of responsibility!

We did a couple of pages in his handwriting workbook this week, but not as much as I thought we would.  I wanted to get his pencil grasp under control before we really got into it since it seemed counterproductive to teach him how to better write his letters if he was still fisting his pencil.  I still have books I "wrote" in kindergarten where my letters were all over the place and backwards, so I know Caleb is right where he needs to be on this.

I also let Caleb watch an episode of The Magic School Bus about space since he's been asking me questions about the planets and stars lately.  We actually have the whole series on DVD (good deal on Amazon awhile back), but since it's also currently on Netflix I just let him watch it on my tablet.

Both boys and I also enjoyed some "recess" most days this week; we played out in the backyard until the heat drove us back inside.  We also went by the library to check out books, a trip I want to keep up every week if we can.  Storytime is starting back in September, so we might try to go to the afternoon slot since that way there's a better chance of Caleb being around kids his own age.

So all in all, everyone is extremely happy with how our first week went.  Once I was able to forgive myself for not getting to everything that day, I was able to see that Caleb was still learning and enjoying it too.  And in five days' time, he can read a number of small words (as long as he doesn't answer too quickly without looking at the word first!), he can hold his pencil better, he can write numbers 1 through 4, and he can recite a Bible verse.  Each morning I was asked if we were going to do kindergarten that day, and since I was asked in an excited tone rather than a wary tone, I knew Caleb was still into it.  And maybe I am too.  :)

Links: (links with an asterisk are FREE!)
*Short Vowel Word Sort: -an and -at Printable (iHeart Literacy)
*Word Families: -an or -ag AND Picture Match Printables (Miss Giraffe via Teachers Pay Teachers)
*Word Family Sliders (Make Take Teach via Teachers Pay Teachers)
*God Created Everything Booklet Printable (Look to Him and Be Radiant)
*Snake Color and Cut Printable (First Palette)
*Earth Cookie Inspiration (Tammilee Tips)
*ABC Verses List (Homeschool Creations)


ivey league preschool: w is for weather!

Hopefully once we start kindergarten I will be more faithful with posting about it...for now, here's what we did a few weeks ago!

Again, we nixed the play-doh mats, pattern block mats, and do-a-dot pages from now on since Caleb was getting bored with them.  However, I went ahead and printed out the rest of the letters for the play-doh mats and pattern blocks and put them in their respective binders so we could have them for later.  About once a week, Caleb will get out his pattern block puzzle binder and do those for fun, so I'm glad I finished out the alphabet for him.

We worked on tracing with a couple of snow-themed worksheets:

We also worked on scissor skills by cutting out a row of icicles.

We put together a raindrop counting book:

He also worked on counting skills by completing a couple of mazes:

We also took turns coloring in a rainbow!

We played a "Winter Wear" memory game from one of Caleb's High Five magazines.

And finally, we did our magazine scavenger hunt and collage for the letter W:

Our weather-themed books:
Snow by P.D. Eastman
Sally's Snow Adventure by Stephen Huneck
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

Trace the Snowflake/Shape Tracing Worksheets (3 Dinosaurs)
Icicle Scissor Skills Inspiration (Sugar Aunts)
Raindrop Counting Book (A Teaching Mommy)
Rainy Day Mazes/Rainbow Coloring Page (This Reading Mama)


ivey league preschool: v is for valentine!

How cool is it that our V Week happened right around Valentine's Day?  Though you wouldn't know it by the date of this post.  Trust me, it did.  :)

I could tell Caleb was getting bored with some of the activities we've been doing for all the previous letters, like the do-a-dot and play-doh mat pages, so we skipped those.  I still printed out the play-doh mat and pattern block puzzle mats for V and put them in his binder so he could do them later on if he wants.

Instead, we did a few Valentine-themed activities.  First, we worked on filling in the missing letters on hearts:

Then, we counted hearts and wrote in the corresponding number.  He needed more help with writing numbers, which makes sense because it turns out he's had more practice with letters.  Just something to focus on once we hit kindergarten!  His counting skills are great, however.

We also did a cut-and-glue activity where we matched up pictures of objects according to their beginning sounds.  Caleb did a great job cutting out the items, and pretty much did this one on his own.  He just needed a little help with "kettle" (we don't use a kettle in our kitchen so no wonder he didn't know what it was!).

Finally, we did our magazine scavenger hunt and collage for the letter V:

We looked for Valentine-themed books at the library, but they were pretty much cleaned out by other people.  So we found some other ones having to do with hearts and love!

Our V Books:
My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

Heart Missing Letters and Beginning Sounds Worksheets (Teachers Pay Teachers)
I Heart Counting Worksheet (Mess for Less)

ivey league preschool: groundhogs and the letter u!

U Week was...shall we say...a little slow.  I think Caleb is started to get bored with some of the preschool stuff.  Luckily Groundhog Day fell right at the beginning of the week, so we did a few activities for that!

We connected the dots to make a groundhog, and then colored in another groundhog.  Caleb said his was blue because it was cold!

We read a few books about groundhogs from the library, and watched an episode of Wild Kratts where they explain why groundhogs really venture out of their burrows (the male groundhogs come out after hibernating to check out if there are any females nearby!  They couldn't care less about seeing their shadows!).  We also had fun with shadows using a flashlight on the wall.  Just wish we had picked a darker place!

As for our U-themed activities, like I said, it was a slow week.  Caleb did his pattern block mat but said he didn't feel like doing the other ones.  I figured he was getting too advanced for the do-a-dot pages, and since he's tracing and/or writing a lot of the uppercase letters now, he doesn't always want to go back and roll them out of play-doh.  Just another sign that he might be ready for kindergarten soon!

To keep things fun, we also designed our own pairs of underwear.  Give a five-year-old something that has to do with underwear, and he just might be into it!

Again, we did our magazine scavenger hunt and collage for the letter U, but again, I didn't take a picture of it. :(

U Books:
Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman
Arthur's Underwear by Marc Brown

Groundhog Books:
Gretchen Groundhog, It's Your Day! by Abby Levine
Gregory's Shadow by Don Freeman
Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather by Bruce Koscielniak



ivey league preschool: t is for trucks!

Here's what we did for T Week a few weeks ago!

We did our play-doh mat, do-a-dot, and pattern block mat for the letter T:

Then we did a couple of truck-themed activities, including a connect-the-dots truck, and a coloring page based on the book Little Blue Truck.

We also played a transportation-themed matching game from one of Caleb's High Five magazines.  He really enjoys hands-on games like this one!

We also did several pages in a pre-K math workbook that was also transportation themed!  We had given this to Caleb when he turned four, but hadn't really busted it out yet.  He likes the Richard Scarry books we have so he enjoyed working with this.

As usual, we did a magazine scavenger hunt and collage for the letter T, but I forgot to take a picture of it!  One way I organize and keep on top of all our paper clutter is to use our collages as kind of a book cover at the end of the week.  Any worksheets or coloring pages from that week get stacked together, and then I fold the collage in half and staple it all together (I save the play-doh and pattern block mats though...we have separate binders for each of those so I put them in plastic protector sheets and that way Caleb can work on them again if he wants).  So the T collage is now serving as the cover for a little book of all we did that week!  Caleb has a nice stack of them on one of his shelves...we don't have one for A since it didn't occur to me at the time that there was a way to consolidate everything, but I started doing this for B and we've done it that way since.

Thanks to the library and our own collection at home, we had lots of truck books to choose from!

T Books:
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
Curious George and the Dump Truck (inspired by Margret and H.A. Rey)
Job Site by Nathan Clement
Digger Man by Andrea Zimmerman
Road Builders by B.G. Hennessey
Busy, Busy Town by Richard Scarry
Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry
When Daddy's Truck Picks Me Up by Jana Novotny Hunter
The Grumpy Dump Truck by Brie Spangler
Chuck's Truck by Peggy Perry Anderson



ivey league preschool: S is for superheroes!

We've been going strong with preschool for the past month, though you wouldn't know it by looking at this blog.  Currently catching up on posts!

For S week, Caleb had his heart on doing Spiderman-themed activities.  Those were harder to find due to copyright issues.  I found what I could and then supplemented with generic superhero activities as well.

First we did our do-a-dot, play-doh mat, and pattern blocks activity for the letter S:

I also found a fun "I Spy an S" worksheet online.  Caleb stamped everything that began with the letter S!

We counted superheroes and practiced writing our numbers:

And we also did a magazine scavenger hunt and collage for the letter S.

We worked in the story of Samson as well, since while he wasn't a superhero, God gave him great strength and that made him do some pretty extraordinary things.  I read Caleb the story out of his Bible, then we did a fun worksheet where we decoded a message by figuring out beginning sounds:

Though according to Scripture, Delilah didn't cut Samson's hair herself; she called in a man to do her dirty work.  Oh well.  :o)  Caleb also glued yarn onto a face to signify Samson's hair.

Finally, we tried crayon-resist painting.  I drew a spiderweb on a piece of white paper using a white crayon, then Caleb would paint over it.  We also tried a couple more with shape designs.  We didn't have watercolor paints at the time, so we tried it with a water and food coloring combo with mixed results.

We didn't make it to the library this week due to water heater issues (can't beat waking up to a flooded garage!), but overall it was fun!

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