K5 Elective Curriculum Choices

img_5264After yesterday’s rundown of our core curriculum choices, I wanted to share with you what electives we worked through over the past year!

Science and Health

  • In the Beginning by Berean Builders
  • The World God Made by Christian Liberty Press
  • Various Health and Safety Topics

The Berean Builders science series is written by Jay Wile, who wrote a lot of the Apologia books. In the Beginning organizes science topics by the first six days of creation and each “day” contains 15 lessons (example. The first day of creation contains 15 lessons on light, the second day of creation contains 15 lessons on water and air, etc). The last three lessons of each “day” are challenge lessons, that are appropriate for older or more advanced students. Each lesson contains 2-3 pages of reading, a simple experiment, and a few review questions separated by the age range of your student. The reading is a little more complex that what I would expect most kindergarteners to understand, so I modify the program by pre-reading the lesson and explaining it in simple terms. We then do the experiment, talk about the scientific principle we observed, and draw a picture in our science notebook.

The World God Made follows the days of creation as well, but is written for a much younger audience. It is a shorter program and the activities tend to be more arts and crafts based. However, it is a great supplement to our other program.

To teach health and safety, my husband and I are coming up with various topics that need to be addressed with our kids. These topics include bike safety, nutrition, handwashing, emergency preparedness, and various other skills. For each one, we mostly talk about the subject and try to find books at the library to reinforce the skills.

Science has been our “flounder” area. We tend to skip it more often than any other subject and I believe it is because of the academic writing of the Berean Builders book. I loved the curriculum; however, I feel like it is too advanced for this age range. This year we will be switching programs and I cannot wait to share how the change works out for us. I actually plan on keeping “In the Beginning” to use in a few years.

Social Studies

  • DK Learning: Geography Workbook Kindergarten
  • DK First Atlas
  • Tennessee History For Kids: Kindergarten Lessons with Boxy

Ethan loves maps! Every time we visit a bookstore, we go straight to the atlas section! We have enjoyed working through the DK Learning Geography workbook. These are pretty basic black and white map skills books that start at the Preschool level. I also keep a few atlases to look up places when we talk about different countries and states in our reading.

In Tennessee, we have a website called Tennessee History for Kids. It is a good resource for our Tennessee History studies. They have a website full of ideas for field trips and they produce booklets for each grade level. Grades K-3 touch on all of the state social studies standards for those grades, while books for 4th grade and up cover all of the Tennessee history portion of the state social studies standards.

Logic

  • Building Thinking Skills: Beginning
  • Mind Benders Level 1
  • Can You Find Me?

These workbooks from the Critical Thinking Company have been so much fun! Ethan refers to them as the “Play Books” and I use them a lot as a reward for finishing other work. We just finished up the Beginning book, and it has focused a lot on classifying colors, shapes, and types of lines. By far, our favorite activity is “Can You Find Me?,” which consists of a short poem with clues that allow your child to pick out which picture is being described from a list of 4 choices.  We have used “Can You Find Me?” and “Beginning” without having to write in them, so you could use each book with multiple children. However, “Primary” looks like it will have more writing in it, so you may want to consider multiple copies for multiple kids.

Art

  • Artisitic Pursuits K-3 Book 1

When I first started considering art programs, I knew I wanted something that was more “real art” than just cut and paste crafts. I also wanted something that covered a little bit of art appreciation/history. Artistic Pursuits fit the bill exactly. The supplies can be a little bit pricey because they recommend using higher quality materials. You can get around this slightly by getting cheaper materials or using coupons at craft stores. I asked for family members to give art supplies as birthday gifts and many did, so we ended up being gifted almost everything on the supply list. Each lesson in the book has a master piece of art to observe, discuss, and ask questions about. Then your child uses their imagination to create a unique work based off that master work. They work on sketching, painting, clay, and paper art in Book 1.

Misc.

  • Let’s Learn to Cut by Spectrum Workbook
  • Scissor Skills by Melissa and Doug
  • Morning Adapted Work Binder by Mrs. D’s Corner (Teacherspayteachers.com)

I started to notice that I have not focused on fine motor skills much with Ethan! So we have added in a lot of toys that have smaller pieces, such as Legos, Lite Brite, and Beginner Snap Circuits. In addition, I started to give him paper to cut up into pieces. The “Let’s Learn to Cut” book and “Scissors Skills” sheets have been fun additions because they include lots of cutting activities and games while he works on those fine motor skills.

A cousin gave us a binder full of Velcro activities from teacherspayteachers.com that has been great for morning work! While I believe this was designed for a special needs classroom, I think it is appropriate for 3 year-olds through first or second grade.

What curriculum has worked in your homeschool this year?

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K5 Core Curriculum Choices

img_5263As we are finishing up a lot of our K5 Curriculum,  I wanted to give a quick update of what we have ended up with for each core subject (Bible, Phonics, Math, Handwriting).

Bible

  • Foundations for Kids by Robby and Kandi Gallaty
  • Beginner’s Bible

I love the Foundations series! It is the heart of our Bible curriculum right now. There are five readings each week for 52 weeks. Each day you will read a short passage of scripture (less than ten verses) and read 3-4 bullet points explaining the verses. There is a small application activity and a short response prayer that follows each reading. An adult and teen version are also available, making this a wonderful family reading plan!

We also use the Beginner’s Bible and several resources that go with it. The simple text makes for great bedtime reading. The DVD is simply someone reading the text and very minimal animation of the same artwork from the book. We pull the DVD out to watch to reinforce what we have read in Foundations (and for me to get things done around the house on occasion). We have also purchased both the Beginner’s Bible Jumbo Activity Book and Coloring Book. I have not been overly impressed with the Activity Book because it is not as organized as I would prefer, and some of the instructions are a little vague. However, it was very inexpensive for such a large book and we have had fun doing some of the activities.

Phonics

  • Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann
  • Leap Frog: Talking Words Factory
  • All About Reading Level 1
  • Bob Books

I am cringing to include Teach Your Child to Read because I personally would never have chosen this as a phonics program. However, I came across it in a free bin at a local used book store and decided to give it a whirl this fall. My son took to it wonderfully! While I thought it was too repetitive and dry, he seemed to finally be grasping how to blend letters together for the first time. I am not sure if it was the timing or the program, but something seemed to click! We only worked through the first 15-20 lessons, which did wonders in boosting his confidence.

Another confidence booster that we stumbled across was the “Talking Words Factory” DVD. We loved the “Letter Factory” movie for learning letter sounds in preschool, and this is simply a continuation of that film. The movie teaches how to read CVC words, vowels, and some special sounds. After watching it twice, my son was begging me to learn how to read, after showing very little interest beforehand.

After boosting his confidence, we worked through All About Reading Level 1. I love the program because it is a multisensory approach to phonics without being too overstimulating. The lesson plans in the teacher’s manual are completely open-and-go. They give step-by-step instructions that are clearly laid out. Each lesson includes simple games printed in black and white, phonogram and word cards to review, and fluency sheets to practice. There are also three readers used throughout the program that have engaging stories with simple black and white illustrations that do not steal focus from the words.

With the excitement of learning to read, comes the dilemma of finding something to read! That’s where Bob Books come in handy. We have especially loved “First Stories” and “Collection 1.” These simple readers have a few short-vowel words on each page and have coordinated well with what we are learning in our phonics program.

Math

  • Math-U-See Primer

Math is by far our favorite subject and I have fallen in love with Math-U-See. It is a multisensory program that uses modified base ten blocks to teach math skills. While the other levels are mastery based, Primer is a simple introduction to mathematical concepts that are all retaught in future levels. It focuses heavily on teaching how to count to 20, the basics of addition, and understanding place value. Each lesson contains a short (approx. 5 minute) video for the teach to watch (although my son watches with me), a short explanation in the teacher’s manual, and 7 practice worksheets. The first three practice sheets of each lesson are new material, the following three are mixed review, and the final sheet is an extension activity. You could probably get by without the teacher’s manual; however, there are some additional tips and game ideas included in it.

Handwriting

  • Various Dollar Tree Workbooks
  • Abeka K4 Worksheets
  • A Reason for Handwriting K

For most of the year, I have been giving my son 2-3 pages from various workbooks that I had on hand. Most were from the Dollar Tree, while some were leftovers from when we tried the Abeka K4 curriculum. I did not focus on the proper formation of letters with him until we started A Reason for Handwriting in April.

What curriculum has worked in your homeschool this year?

Stay tuned for my curriculum choices for electives!

Free Printable: Number Concept Matching Cards

Number Concept Match

Count EVERYTHING! That is one of my favorite pieces of advice to give to moms of young children.

Print these number concept cards on card stock. Cut out each individual square. Then they can be used in multiple ways:

Number Recognition: Have your child identify the numbers 1-20.

Number Counting: Have your child count the number of objects on the card.

Number Concepts: Have your child match the number to the card with the matching number of objects.

Number Order: Have your child arrange the numbers (or objects) in order from 1-20.

Download my Free Number Concept Match cards.

Free Printable: Word Cards

Word Card Game

Clothes pins are a great tool for Preschool and Kindergarten!

This activity works great for developing letter recognition, word recognition, and fine motor skills.

Simply print off these word cards on card stock (you can even print them double sided to save paper). Cut out the cards and laminate. Write letters on clothes pins.

Then have your child match the clothes pins to the letters by pinning them onto the card.

To save on clothes pins, you may only want to have enough for your child to pin on one card at a time. To do this, write out the entire alphabet except Q and U. Duplicate O, G, Y, and L because they appear twice on the same card. This method calls for 28 clothes pins.

If you would like for your child to put clothes pins on every card at the same time, write the following letters: A (10), B (1), C(2), D (1), E (7), F (1), G (5), H (1), I (4) J (1), K (1), L (4), M (1), N (8), O (13), P (2), R (6), S (2), T (6), V (1), W (3), X (1), Y (4), and Z (1). This method calls for 86 clothes pins.

Download my Free Word Card Game!

Free Printable: Number Concept Cards

Number Concept Cards.pub

Number skills can be learned by children as young as two! Start by teaching the numbers 1-3 and build up to twenty by the time your child completes 4 year old Kindergarten.

Print these number concept cards double sided on card stock. Cut out each individual card. Then they can be used in multiple ways:

Number Recognition: Have your child identify the numbers.

Number Counting: Have your child count the number of objects on the card.

Number Order: Have your child arrange the numbers (or objects) in order.

Download my Free Number Concept Cards.

Free Printable: Number Wheel Game

Number Wheel.png

This game practices number concepts and number order.

Print the wheel and dice on cardstock and cut out each die and the wheel. Laminate if desired. Glue each die to a clothespin.

Have your child pin the die to the appropriate number on the wheel. To add a bit of a challenge, call out a number and have your child find that die to match.

This game is a great “5 Minute Break” game for when you need to get started on supper or fold a load of laundry!

Download the Free Number Wheel.