Thursday, July 2, 2009

Looking Back on Kindergarten, Part II

Dale's year of kindergarten can very clearly be divided into two halves. That wasn't the way I planned it, but after Christmas we did a re-vamping and finished up the second half of the year a little differently than the first half.

When we started kindergarten way back in August 2008, one of our priorities was studying and acquiring positive character traits.
(I blogged about our plans and resources in
this post. )

We more or less followed our plans throughout the fall, although they were slightly interrupted. Early in our third week of school Alan was admitted to the hospital for one of his famous fevers. After a stay of over a week, we got back home and back in the saddle of school.

We were home for two weeks, and then Alan went back into the hospital for a scheduled surgery. And then went home a week later. At which point we resumed school. Again. So we started the school year with a two weeks on, 1 week off pattern. (and were very thankful throughout all of this that we are homeschoolers - Dale wasn't being counted absent, and no one had to stick around home just to take him to school every day!)

Despite our inconsistent beginning, we carried on through the fall, each week covering:

- a character trait, along with a Bible memory verse and storybooks to go with it
- a math topic (telling time, simple addition, money, patterns, etc)
- a letter sound of the week (ck, ch, ee, etc)

As I said, during the fall we pretty much went according to plans, which are posted in more detail in this post.

Making our own hailstones in the freezer

Then, for whatever reason, we (ahem, I) stalled out in December and knew we weren't going to be able to pick right up where we had left off when we started back in January. So in December I wrote out a little schedule that would take us through the spring and finish our character trait book and our Five in a Row book.

We did a LOT of reading in the spring.

I had a theme for each week, went to the library and checked out everything we could find that would go with our theme.

In January we covered
- faith
- diligence
- Mirrette on the High Wire
- Wee Gillis

- being creative
- wisdom
- Owl Moon
- being tenderhearted

- joyfulness
- Mrs. Katz & Tush
- The Little Red Light House

- They Were Strong and Good
- Ferdinand
- Tale of Peter Rabbit
- Mr. Grumpys Motor Car

- Miss Rumphius
- Harold & the Purple Crayon

Some of those weeks were heavier than others, thick with extra topics and things to do and learn. Others were loaded with more outside play time, or extra read-alouds or art projects. I have to say, I loved using Five in a Row and seeing where the rabbit trails led us. Who knew you could take the topics in a story book and go so far with them, learning all sorts of new things?

Clothespin raft

For example, with Mirette on the Highwire we located major cities all over the world on a map and identified the countries where they are located. We also talked about and identified compound words.

When we read Mrs. Katz and Tush we read about the plagues on the Egyptians in Exodus, made unleavened and leavened bread, and read books about Ellis Island and kittens.

I won't list what we covered with every book, but I am very happy with the variety of things Dale was exposed to with our reading!

The "what cleans copper best" experiment

In addition to all our books, we also continued with Phonics work, math, Scripture memory and read alouds.

Among other things, we read:
Little House in the Big Woods
Meet Kirsten, An American Girl
The Boxcar Children, Book 1
Paddle to the Sea

Diffusion in a baggie

Another learning opportunity for Dale has been the weekly storytime at our library. Two ladies from Texas Master Naturalist present a new topic every month. The first month spent 4 weeks covering owls. Dale spent an hour each week listening to stories and facts about owls, then came home with owl coloring sheets and crafts and the ability to name several owl species and the different sounds they make. From there storytime has gone on to cover beavers, frogs, ducks, and other creatures from a pond. He loves it, and so do I!!

And yet another thing our local library has had to offer were the rotating art exhibits in January. We went to the library each week to see giant prints of art by Degas, Michelangelo, Remington, and others.

One thing I added on in the fall and continued randomly throughout the school year was journal prompts. Dale had a spiral notebook in his school supply stash that we weren't using and I was needing creative ways to get him to work on his handwriting. So I began giving him fill in the blank 'questions', such as "One thing I like about fall is..." and "I like to read about....", "One thing I saw on our walk in the woods was....".

Dale fills in the blank and usually draws (or cuts and pastes) a picture to go with his answer. Lucky for me Dale hasn't thought about taking short cuts. ;) When I asked about a toy he likes to play with he could have said, "my cars", but instead chose to write out "Hot Wheels transportation big rig." Mercy.

Patterns, beads and lacing for Valentine's Day

I also don't want to leave out our real life, and often seasonal, experiences like kite flying, gardening, observing the bird feeders in our back yard, puddle-stomping, laundry-folding, and lego-building. All of these things involve learning and skill-building and count as 'school' in my book!

And finally, somewhere in the midst of all the above, plus random crafts (remember the snowglobe?) and science experiments
(mist in a jar, anyone?), we also managed to fit in a unit study and lapbook on our solar system.


We are now spending the month of July studying all about Texas.

Can't wait to see what all 1st grade brings. We'll be starting on August 3. :)

"Looking Back" Part I is here.


Kristin said...

Dale is so smart! Can't wait to see you guys soon!

momtofivekids said...

sounds like a fun year and lots great books, too. I'm thinking of reading Little House in the big woods to sophie and Christian this summer. You are a great mom and teacher!