Our approach to Kindergarten has changed a lot over the course of this year. We had to add in curriculum and change things up as ED grew and matured this year. ED turned six in February and she was demanding more work… and work that looked more like what her brother and sister were doing. She is such a different student than my oldest! So here are some of the things that are working well for us this semester:
Independent Reading: ED finished her phonics program and from there I’ve had the kids jump into “independent reading.” They select any book they’re interested and go read for a while. We have a huge selection of Hello Readers and other short books that we got off ebay years ago. I constantly rotate new books into the book display area. I also put books out for her on the dining room table that might capture her attention. These days, ED has been reading a chapter from the Magic Tree House series. This was also one of the first set of longer books that LD read. DD never really got into them. She always reached for children’s books instead.
Read Aloud Time: I still read aloud with ED. We just finished reading The BFG and the Penderwicks. ED also enjoys lots of children’s books and fairy tales.
First Language Lessons (vol. 1): I thought ED might enjoy First Language Lessons this semester. I don’t think this would have worked quite as well at the beginning of the year, but this semester it has been wonderful! I like this curriculum because it brings in things that I wouldn’t have thought to cover myself. She enjoys memorizing the poems, has memorized the days of the weeks, months of the year, our telephone numbers. In the section with the U.S. states map, she’s worked on the location of about 12 states… not only where we live, but where family and friends live as well. She definitely understands what nouns and pronouns are and while she doesn’t yet use this regularly in her writing, she knows the basic rules about capitalizing proper nouns.
All About Spelling: Even though ED has been writing with us for the past year in our homeschool writing workshop, I held off from starting a formal spelling program until this semester. Once we started, though, she’s been flying through the lessons. I like that this program has different components… working with tiles on the board like you see below and writing words, phrases and (later in the program) sentences to practice the rule being covered. The pace of this program is slow and gentle which has worked well for all of my kids. I have had wonderful experiences with the company as well; they definitely stand behind their products.
Writing Workshop: Writing continues to be one of ED’s (and everybody’s) favorite subjects! She has come a long way since her first simple stories, though most of her stories still have to do with cats or dogs. I’ve written quite a bit about how and why we started using a writing workshop approach. This worked so well, I’m now busy creating an entire semester’s worth of lessons for next fall. DD asked plaintively… to we *have* to wait that long?
Handwriting: ED still needs regular handwriting practice. She’s random about whether she uses capital or lower case letters. I never fuss about that during writing time, but want to be sure she’s forming the letters carefully. She’s using Handwriting without Tears: My Printing Book. Next year, I’ll probably have her continue on with Printing Power
Math: Just a day or so ago I shared the Montessori style math sheets that ED has been using. I like using the color scheme (green for ones, blue for tens, red for hundreds). ED declared that she LOVES math and seems to like these pages. (I was surprised she had quite that much enthusiasm for these!) Earlier this year, ED was adamant that I get her a math workbook that was similar to the one DD and LD are using, so she now has a Spectrum Math Workbook (Grade 2).
We also pulled out our well-used board game, Fast Track. This is an idea I got from Peggy Kaye’s wonderful resource, Games for Math. I made two wooden dice with the numbers 4-9 on one and 9,9,8,8,7,7 on the other.
Each player can begin on any start space and continues to roll the dice and go again until they can’t move any more. For example, if you roll the dice and land on a “triple move” space, then you roll the dice, add them together (say 8+9) and then move 17 spaces three times. The kids get pretty excited when they move that much around the board!
I love this game board because you can use this board for any kind of math problems… from the tot just learning her numbers on up!
I also made a printable version of this board which I called the “Ultimate Game Board.” You can download it free over at that post.
German: My older two kids started using a German workbook for the first time this semester. That’s going really well for them and ED asked what German she should work on. I’m using various free worksheets I’ve found on the internet. At this point she’s working on the colors and numbers. I also made a few pages for her to practice the numbers. You can see some of the free German worksheets I’ve used visiting this post or this: Free German Worksheets for Kids.
I’ve been a little frustrated finding a German curriculum that works for my kids when they were this young, but once again ED requested “more” work. I’ve set out to make something that will work since she really isn’t ready for the German workbook my older two are using. For next year, I am creating some small worksheet sets on various themes — animals, objects around the house, people, etc. I’ll have her start working a bit on building her vocabulary and building sentences. If anyone is working on this right now, I can probably share the files with you (just send me an email), otherwise you can look for those units sometime next fall.
Oh and in case you’re wondering… why we’re studying German? It’s the language that I learned in school and the one I feel most equipped to teach the kids. I don’t know any Spanish or French, so this was our option! 🙂
History and Science: ED has been joining in with our studies of Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan and Marco Polo and I found a number of resources great for her level for our Water Unit. ED has also been reading the Biology book from Real Science 4 Kids aloud to me:
Play: I just wanted to add in that ED spends a lot of time playing… and at this age I see this as valuable as working on learning math or German numbers or whatever. She loves to draw and sew things like little pillows. She loves her doll (McKenna) and has made an entire houseful of things (practically taking over parts of OUR house!!). She loves practicing her gymnastics moves. She is doing rhythmic gymnastics and spends time with the ball or hulla-hoop practicing things she learned in her class. ED also spends lots of time outside playing with sticks, flowers and other natural objects… especially thist time of year! There are all kinds of books and studies about the value of play. I won’t go into that here in this post, but I wanted to mention how much free time she has just to play. (I want to add that she does not watch TV or do any electronics during our “school day.” We’re pretty strict about no electronics until after 3pm… and we’re often out the door by 4:15pm for other activities.)