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)
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