Thursday, October 19, 2017

Adventures in US History and Pre-K: Our school this fall!

This is my first year teaching out of two teacher's manuals.  I am taking it pretty slow with Jaren still, and we are spending more time enjoying Joelle's curriculum together.  US History has a lot to offer that works well for both ages.  I know that I love the way My Father's World does their curriculum, so we are likely to keep sticking with it for several years. 
This year, we are excited to be learning a lot about US History.  There are a lot of events and people that I feel like I am learning about for the first time, so it is fun for me too!  We started off our year by learning about the flag, and had a fun patriotic snack.

One thing I LOVE about My Father's World curriculum is that it includes so many hands on learning ideas.  I love doing little, easy projects with my kids.  We have learned about the first explorers and the Native Americans- all while doing fun hands-on stuff.

We learned about some of the early voyages of the first explorers.  We made the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.  We floated them in the bathtub and tried to move them from one end of the tub to the other end by only blowing on them with straws (like the wind)

We learned about Native Americans, and how they lived.  We made a model of a Wigwam, and made some paper Teepees

I found this cute set of Native American figures at Michael's.  The kids have really enjoyed them.

For Jaren's curriculum, he is learning about a topic related to a letter of the alphabet in each new unit.  For the Sun unit, we did several fun projects.  All of the projects in his curriculum work well for both kids too, so we all enjoy them together.

We melted some crayons in the sun.  That was a fun, easy project.

Another project they really enjoyed was making shadow pictures.  We put some of their favorite objects on a piece of black paper in the sun and left it there for a couple days.  When we took them off, the sun had faded the paper enough to show the impressions of the objects. 

Some worksheets and sit down work does happen in our house.  I just don't usually take pictures of these times.  I love hands on experiences, so we document those.  Here's a little of our sit down work:

Joelle's art curriculum (I Can Do All Things) is teaching her how to draw so much.  So far, this is a great book that she feels very motivated to work through.

Jaren LOVES cutting paper.  One of his weekly sheets does require him to cut out pictures while following a dotted line.  This has been great practice for him.  He always concentrates really hard, and actually does pretty well.
We are doing Bob Jones Press English this year, which we love!  It is very comprehensive.  Joelle has been learning about sentence structure, parts of speech, and writing methods.  She actually loves doing these worksheets. 
I really like how Jaren's curriculum has him practicing some great fine motor skills too.  On this page he is gluing the correct letter that goes with each picture.  He is working on learning the sounds for each letter. 


We find fun ways to do our work quite often.  This year we have started a Spelling curriculum for the first time.  We are using Spelling by Sound and Structure, which we really like because it is very simple.  Lately I've started trying to brainstorm more exciting ways for Joelle to practice her spelling words.  Her favorite ways to practice are with letter tiles, Unifix cubes, and paint. She is doing very well with Spelling

Jaren's work is still almost always very hands-on.  Lately, we've been working on counting higher.  He loves all our math manipulative toys such as the bears and the pattern blocks.  I use these to my advantage for teaching math in a fun way.  He loves counting the bears on his 100 chart.  

Jaren spends a lot of time playing, and I wanted this year to be that way for him.  He is a young five this year, since his birthday is late August.  I am purposely waiting until next year when he is six to call it his official Kindergarten year.  His attention span is not very long yet, and I anticipate that he will be in a better position for more sit down learning next year.  For now, he is even pretty good at directing his own hands on learning.  He regularly makes patterns and makes up his own games with toys.  I love to listen to him talking to himself.  He makes up elaborate stories using manipulatives!

Our Fall sensory play stuff is out, and being enjoyed constantly.  Our style continues to be very hands on.  I also pull many ideas from A Year of Playing Skillfully.  I enjoy setting up these invitations to play, and making them visually appealing.

Our Fall Sensory Bin

Fall stuff for creative and pretend play

A great activity for fine motor practice

We made vanilla chai play dough (from the recipe in A Year of Playing Skillfully).  It smelled so wonderful. The kids enjoyed playing with it with different kinds of manipulatives

This was our first experience with water beads.  They are so fun.

 I like to find a good balance between sit down work time and play time throughout the day.  If we get started at the time that I plan to in the mornings, we are done with school by 12:00 or 1:00 most days.  It does not take that long to get through the basics with two kids.  I've started a loop schedule where Joelle does English/Math/Reading or Spelling/Math/Reading every day.  In addition, I have History, Science, our current chapter book, and library topical reading aloud that I rotate based on the day.

The kids were enjoying an unusually sunny, warm day out on their play structure.  They set up a cozy area and Joelle was reading to Jaren.  So cute!

I've also started a  morning basket routine that includes most of the reading aloud that I rotate.  We start off most mornings (except for the days we have to rush out the door to Community Bible Study or Bridge Charter in the morning) with hymns followed by reading aloud time and some Bible study time.  The morning basket has been working so well for us.  It has given me a more relaxed way to get through books I have been meaning to get around to.  With the loop schedule, if we miss a day then we just pick up in the loop where we left off.  That way, I don't feel behind when we miss a day.  We are just continuing along as it works for us.  I'm so happy with how the hymns are working out too.  I have created a play list on Youtube of my favorites, and we just listen to 2-5 hymns per morning.  My kids are memorizing the words to hymns like Blessed Assurance, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and I Surrender All.  It just warms my heart to hear them singing these words anytime of the day.  I have so wanted to get these in them because I feel they are so powerful. I grew up with hymns, but my children will not unless I am the one to teach them.  They just won't encounter them in church like I did.  So, I'm so happy this plan has been working out.  They are loving the hymns too.

That is an overview of how we are doing school this year.  I'm thoroughly enjoying this time with my children, especially as we get to do fun things most days as a part of their curriculum.  I really appreciate how My Father's World has so many suggestions for projects that are easy.  We recently enjoyed making butter together.  It didn't take many ingredients, but it was fun and memorable!  We are looking forward to seeing what else this year has for us.

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