27 July 2009

Shapes Theme Unit


The Dot
The Shape Game
The Silly Story of Goldie Locks and the Three Squares
Shapes at Home: Learning to Recognize Basic Geometric Shapes


Make Tangram pictures
Create patterns with different shapes
Introduce symmetry
Make shapes on geoboards
Sort shapes by characteristics

We went on a geometry walk and took pictures of the shapes we had learned (Square, triangle, rectangle, circle, oval, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, cube, cone, and sphere).

Here's triangle:
We happened to have a fairly good hexagon shape in a stepping stone:

I drew these shapes onto construction paper to be pages in a mini-book. Gracie cut out the shapes, glued the pictures onto the pages, and traced the shape within the picture.

The other really cool thing we did was create a geometric hut out of rolled newspapers. It lasted about a week. Not too shabby!

Bible: Stumped me! Anyone else have some inspiration?

Check out the other theme units we covered in kindergarten here.

26 July 2009

Summer Colds

Aren't they just the worst? I've been battling one all week. So my theme unit will be posted later when my coughing subsides.

Is anyone else freaking out about how little summer is left? We have only four weeks until school starts and we'll be gone for two of those. Yikes!

21 July 2009

Teacher Prep

I just picked up The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home at the library this morning and am amazed at the wealth of resources it contains. The version I checked out is from 1999, so it's a bit dated, but there is an updated version printed earlier this year. This might be one to add permanently to my bookshelf!

I started reading during nap time and found some inspiring little gems:

On teaching K-4 children:

Fill their minds and imagination with images and concepts, pictures and
stories. Spread knowledge out in front of them, and let them feast.
On first grade life science (but could easily be substituted with any subject):

The purpose of the first-grade notebook is not to "complete" the study of
life on earth somehow.
It's to develop the child's curiosity,
research skills, reading and writing skills, and concentration span. Your
goal is simple: when biology comes around again in fifth grade, you want to
hear your child say, "Oh, good. I love biology!"

On socialization:
Positive socialization is all about living in your world responsibly, fulfilling
your potential, taking advantage of opportunity, making the lives of others
around you better. You don't need the institutional school to teach these values
to your child.

20 July 2009

Autumn Theme Unit

Books to read:

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
Hello, Harvest Moon
Why Do Leaves Change Color?
Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic
How Do You Know It's Fall?
In November

Sort leaves by their characteristics (color, shape, pointy vs. smooth edges, etc.).

Write an autumn sensory poem following the model: I see_______. I smell______. I hear______. I taste______. I feel________.

Make celery leaves change colors by putting them in a glass of water with food coloring.

Take a nature walk and observe changes going on.

Adopt a tree and visit it regularly. Observe the changes throughout the year. Take pictures of the tree or sketch it.

Make leaf rubbings.

Make a collage of leaves between 2 layers of wax paper. Iron the layers together.

Make a leaf silhouette by holding a leaf in place and painting around the edges of the leaf onto the paper. You will have created a negative space leaf.

Acorn math. Find some acorns on a nature walk to use as counters for counting, adding, or solving word problems.

Make a life-sized scarecrow using old clothes stuffed with newspaper.

Observe a fresh-fallen leaf over a few days as it dries out. Hypothesize what is happening.

Read Psalm 104 and reflect on God as Creator. Make a list of all of God's creations mentioned in the Psalm.

Discuss some of the figurative language (or word pictures) in this Psalm such as heavens like a tent, or wings of the wind. Draw a picture of your favorite image.

Memorize Psalm 104:19.

13 July 2009

Weekly Schedule

After a day at CHEA, and getting to view my chosen curriculum up close I got inspired to do a little more planning and set up a rough weekly schedule. I first found and printed the table of contents for my science (R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey - Life) and history (Story of the World - Ancient Times) curricula.

On a side note, it makes me laugh that science has 28 units and history has 42. Don't they know a typical school year has 36 weeks? But then who ever said homeschoolers were typical?

Here's the plan by subject, allowing hopefully no more than 30 minutes for each subject:
Math: 4x week
Reading: 4x week
Phonics: 2x week
Grammar: 2x week
History: 2x week
Science: 2x week
Journaling: 2x week
Bible: 2x week
Nature study, field trip, music, art, poetry: 1-2x month

And by day:
Monday: math, phonics, reading, history, journal
Tuesday: math, grammar, reading, science, Bible
Wednesday: math, phonics, reading, history, journal
Thursday: A rotating schedule of field trips, nature study, art, music, poetry, games, handicrafts, and general free learning time
Friday: math, grammar, reading, science, Bible, plus possible mini co-op in the morning

You will notice that there is no spelling, vocabulary, foreign languages, current events, or P.E.
I've added several subjects this year (journaling, poetry, music, and grammar) and I'm trying not to bite off more than I can chew! I would like to add some of these things eventually, but need to pace myself.

We will do P.E. this year in the form of ballet classes, park days, playdates, and some activities and games with little bro and sis, but it's not during school "time" (which is in the afternoon during nap time for the little ones) so it's not on the schedule.

Now since I have 6 more weeks before actual implementation this may change multiple times. And I'm sure it will be tweaked as we get into the school year. I'll have to review this post in January to see how and what we've done with our schedule!

Community Helpers Theme Unit

This unit is a perfect example of stretching yourself and diving into a topic that wouldn't be your first choice. I must admit I wasn't very excited about this unit, but it turned out to be a lot of fun!

A Day in the Life of a Librarian

A Day in the Life of a Garbage Collector

A Day in the Life of a Doctor

A Day in the Life of a Nurse

A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper

Firefighters to the Rescue!

There are lots of interconnections in the activities we did in this theme so I won't attempt to group them up into subjects.

  • Interview a community helper.

  • Sort the tools of community helpers into categories.

  • Make model or map of a community.

    (The buildings were made using a large square punch and then glued together and decorated.

  • Make a list of community helpers.

  • Draw a web of the interconnections between community helpers (how they help each other).

  • Lots of field trip opportunities! We talked to the librarian and attended a fire station open house. We also visited our nurse friend at the hospital where she works. She gave the girls some real doctor gear!
Match the Bible character to his job. (Adam-animal caretaker, Cain-farmer, Aaron-priest, David-king, shepherd and musician, Jesus-carpenter, Simon Peter-fisherman, Zaccheus-tax collector, Luke-doctor) That's a good start. There are plenty more to add!
Memorize Colossians 3:23.

See the other theme units we covered this year for kindergarten here.

10 July 2009

My first convention!

Christian Home Educators Association of California is holding their annual convention this weekend. It already started, but I'll be spending Saturday there and I can't wait! I'm still debating over what sessions I should go to and I've got my list of things to look for in the used curriculum sale. Best of all, CHEA offered a free day to new homeschoolers with children 5 and under (just made it under the wire on that one!). My frugal self rejoices!

It's only 6 weeks until we start school and I've already been having fun planning, poring over curriculum catalogs, and filling in my lesson plan book. (I bought it exactly 5 days after our last day of school. That shows the extent of my geekiness and my willpower!) I'm not so cool as to tweet or post live from the convention, but I will report back next week. Will I see you there?

08 July 2009

Free Art

One of my goals for homeschooling is to introduce my children to art of all varieties shapes and sizes. As a result, I was planning a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art this summer. Being ever frugal, I rejoiced at the free admission for children under 17, but winced at the $12 adult admission. I looked into the free days (second Tuesday of the month) but they didn't fit very well with our scheduled and they're usually pretty crowded. I dug a little deeper and found Nexgen LACMA, a free membership for kids. What's so great about that, when kid's admission is free anyway? Well, Nexgen membership includes a free adult admission with each Nexgen member. Do you get that? We can go to the museum for free any time we want! It seemed a little to good to be true, but the kids received their membership cards in the mail today. I think we'll head there soon!

07 July 2009

Reasons to be Thankful

A few weeks ago I put this blog on hold in order to focus on selling our house and moving. Well, that was not to be. It was a crazy emotional roller coaster, but I am continuing to learn to be content. So in an effort to focus on the positive, here is a list of just some of the blessings I've been reminded that I have:
  1. God has provided a roof over my head that is solid and secure and will soon be replaced.
  2. We have great neighbors that are so glad we're staying.
  3. My house is as clutter-free and clean as it has ever been!
  4. We cleared up a lot of minor repair items from our to-do list.
  5. I don't have to leave my garden full of lovely tomatoes, onions, and zucchini.
  6. We have been able to hone our financial goals.
  7. We have greatly increased motivation to meet those goals.
  8. We are not upside down in our mortgage.
  9. God has more than amply provided for all my needs.

"For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But
if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to
get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful
desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction."

1 Timothy 6: 7-9

God, keep my heart content and protect me from the temptation of wealth!

06 July 2009

Christopher Columbus Theme Unit

Books to read:
Christopher Columbus
Columbus Day
Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus

Measure out the dimensions of Columbus's ships (smaller than you think!)

  • Nina (crew of 20) = 67 ft. x 21 ft.
  • Pinta (crew of 26)= 70 ft. x 22 ft.
  • Santa Maria (crew of 41) = 77 ft. 26 ft.

Count backwards on a calendar the days of Columbus' first journey (28 days) to get a feel of how long the journey was.

Language Arts:

Read the poem 1492 and use some or all as copywork or recitation.

Some of the Carib and Taino (Caribbean Native American) words have been adopted into the English language like potato, hammock, maize, guava, canoe, and barbecue. Introduce these vocabulary words.

Social Studies:

Trace Columbus journey on a map. Label important places like Italy (Columbus' home country), Spain (where the voyage began), and Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic), San Salvador, and Cuba.


Sailors used the stars to navigate. Look at the night sky and learn some constellations like the Big Dipper. Draw the constellation(s) you learned on black construction paper and decorate with glitter stars.

Columbus' boat had to float to make it across the ocean. Gather a bunch of household objects. Predict which will float and which will sink. Test your predictions. For an extra challenge, try creating a boat that floats with household objects (egg cartons, paper, toothpicks, straws, foil, etc.)

Fine Arts:

Have a dramatic reenactment of Columbus' journey. Include the long voyage, meeting the Native Americans, the trip back to Spain, and the report to the Spanish king and queen with new discoveries.

Draw the Spanish flag that Columbus most likely sailed under. The F and Y represent King Ferdinand and Queen Ysabel (Isabel).


Jonah had an ocean adventure, too. Read Jonah 1-3.

Memorize Psalm 93:4.

Extra Credit:

Lots of worksheets and minibooks are available through Enchanted Learning.