Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kindergarten Curriculum

Check out my post on PreK Curriculum HERE.
Check out my post on Choosing Curriculum HERE.

So technically for PreK and even K you can get away without buying a single piece of curriculum. And technically you could do that throughout your entire homeschool journey. But for those that wish to use a curriculum for some or all of their school you may find that Kindergarten is the year you really focus on what curriculum is available.

A lot of what you did in preschool carries over into Kindergarten. Children learn by repetition (and in other various ways) so making patterns with colored blocks and sorting, etc. are things you'll continue to do in Kindergarten.

If your child didn't learn how to write their name in preschool they'll most likely learn how to write their name in Kindergarten. This is like a rite of passage! The pride in your child's eyes as they messily scribble their name, some letters backward, onto a sheet of paper is, without a doubt, amazing. And it's only the beginning! The more they write it the better it will look so don't worry.

So what does one need for Kindergarten?!

Ask yourself what your child will be learning in Kindergarten:
-How to spell and write their name
-How to recognize and sound out letters
-How to recognize numbers
-Rote counting
-Simple addition
-Reading some words (phonics)
-Recognizing vowels versus consonants
-Sight Words

I think that for this age it is important to have at least Phonics and Math if nothing else. Phonics sets the stage for reading and then later writing and spelling. And of course number recognition sets the stage for addition and later in the year subtraction. They actually do quite a lot in Kindergarten when you break it down but it progresses through the year and much of it is interwoven together.

READING
Okay so Abigail was in Kindergarten last year. It was our first year homeschooling and my biggest stress was teaching her how to read

For phonics... I bought Explode the Code, McGuffey Readers, a single little box of Bob books I found at the thrift store, Modern Curriculum Press, Rod + Staff Readers... I'm not kidding. I bought everything. I was seriously freaking out! This is where my tips for choosing curriculum would have come in handy! I felt so ill prepared and inadequate. I'll break down the different things we got because one of them may be a great fit for you!

Explode the Code - this is a Phonics workbook. Phonics is breaking down the letter sounds and putting them together to form words (which becomes reading). I know a lot of people like Explode the Code BUT half of the time I didn't know what the poorly scribbled graphic was to resemble. It looks like a child made most of the graphics. For me this didn't work because I want my child to have a clear visual. Other than that it isn't really bad. Some customers have uploaded photos of the inside of their books HERE. You can see it does have great feedback but was personally not my favorite.

McGuffey Readers - These readers are an old classic! You can find a set HERE (or find them used as I did because they aren't cheap). I like these but they required much more planning and set up than I could keep up with. I needed something that was done for me due to the limited amount of planning time I have between work and home. Now that Abigail is really clicking with reading I may break them out again and work from them, or perhaps use them with Zoe as she is picking up phonics easily. Basically the series begins with a few easy words (like CAT). Then they build upon those words until your child is piecing them together in the stories (a.k.a. readers) and reading!

Bob Books - This is a well loved series as well. But they are expensive. I happened upon a little box that contained ten readers at the thrift store for $.99. It was missing the flashcards but I abhor flashcards so I didn't care. We still have the readers and use them! I started off reading the first book to Abigail a few times. Then I started having her sound out words with me. Now she reads them herself. This was something we did together, snuggled on the couch, while Judah took his naps. You can also find Bob Books on your smart phone app store. These reader sets contain a ton of repetition which may not work for a child who doesn't like obvious repetition or get bored easily.

Rod and Staff Readers - This is a Bible-based set of readers, workbooks, textbooks... it's a lot. And that was my problem with Rod and Staff. I loved that my child was learning Christian values and Scripture but I didn't like that we had to get out four or five books to do one lesson. It was just very overwhelming to me. I couldn't keep up with the lesson planning. I'm not a natural teacher, I will admit it! If you want a set of inexpensive Christian books and have the time to create each lesson from the different books you get in the set I would highly recommend this set for you. You get phonics, reading, writing, cutting/gluing/art, math, science, Bible, etc. so you hit several subjects. It just requires a lot of piecing together and planning. You can find the sets gently used or buy a new set directly from the publisher HERE (links directly to the Kindergarten set).

Modern Curriculum Press - This publisher has a wonderful collection of language arts books. We bought Level A found HERE and this was probably my favorite of the workbooks overall for what I tried. It was very similar to Explode the Code but colorful and I felt the graphics were more easily decipherable. Out of all the different phonics books I've outlined this one seems to have slightly worse feedback but it seems it is mostly from people who've tried the older editions AND the new editions with preference for the older material. Abigail and I were both pleased with this workbook.

THE WINNER?!

Hands-down the most helpful resource for helping Abigail read was Reading Eggs. It is an online, virtual teaching program. It does have a yearly fee but you can try them for the first month free to see if it is a good fit. We did the trial, she kept begging to do the program after our trial was over and so I purchased it. It is honestly what got us over this plateau in learning to read and got her on the right track for reading independently. It made learning to read fun! And it doesn't require me to do anything except follow along with her and they send me progress reports via email. We tried their new Math Seeds program for mathematics and loved that as well but I didn't purchase it as I felt they should offer a bundle since many families are on tight budgets.

SCIENCE
For science we used Apologia's Young Explorers text. We started with Sea Creatures. I'd read the text to both Abigail (grade K) and Elaina (grade 2) and we'd discuss what we read, find videos online of the different sea creatures to see them in action, watch our BBC Planet Earth videos, we built a diorama of the ocean and added clay creatures we'd make after we learned about them. Listening to someone read text can be boring and hard to follow so I made sure to stop every few sentences and ask comprehension questions. My excitement for science definitely helps pull them in (it's my favorite subject!).

We also had "field journals" and would just go outside and explore. They were free to ask "WHY?!" and we'd find the answers. Observation and exploration were a huge part of our science. We also did a great unit study on Insects that they thoroughly enjoyed (with some disgust, ha!). We find individual lesson plans for free or at a low cost at Teachers Pay Teachers (a website of lesson plans that directly benefits teachers!) and spend time just learning and absorbing a topic!

SOCIAL STUDIES
Social Studies/History was our most neglected subject in Kindergarten I think. I didn't really have a set book or workbook for it. We just did what we felt like. We did start off with Mapping the first half of the year which the kids liked a lot. I also got THIS amazing wooden puzzle of the United States.

1 comment:

Keri L said...

I agree, that Kindergarten is that year, that you really start focusing on a full curriculum.
At least for family it is ;)

For our lil Kinder., we chose a little of this and that.
I think my favorite choice so far has been our New Science curriculum,
S4U, ( http://www.science4us.com/index.php)
My son has really been enjoying it so far.

Anyways, Thanks for sharing! Always love to read what others are using, to get new ides ;)