Monday, July 5, 2010

Planning 2: The Curriculum - Pre K and 1st grade

The picture above is not an "Everyone!  Come look at my beautiful display of books!" picture.  It is an honest look at how I'm getting all our curriculum for next year organized.  The table is a camping table that we dragged up from the basement and all the books were piled on top of it.  At this point, everything is gathered (purchased or found on the bookshelves in the schoolroom) and divided by grade.  In this post I will be talking about the pictured curriculum.  It will be long, and a bit dry, but this is how I get all my thoughts organized on "paper".  I'll take it by grade since the older the kids get, the more subjects they will have.  (Editing to add that due to the length of this post I will be covering Beany and Builder here - preschool and 1st grade, and Jetter and Social Butterfly - 4th and 6th grades - in the following post.)

Beany ~ Beany will be three years old when our school year starts. At this age, truthfully, I don't believe a child needs "academics".  They learn so much through their play and interaction with others.  I do have a plan for him though because that insures some special one on one time for he and I.  The basic idea for him is to follow something like the Read to Me and ABC program I've been reading about.  Beany loves books so the "Read to Me" part will be a joy.  We'll also use some of the ideas for ABC's learning, but I plan to simplify.  I did purchase some folders as the author suggests and we will glue the decorated large letter to the outside of it.  I will only be using a couple of the other activities though, because I don't think he's ready for too much of that.

Beany will also have his very own set of workboxes this year.  The goal with these will be to teach him to work quietly while I work with the other kids.  Four to five boxes will be enough and I'll be teaching him how to do them in order, from left to right.  They will be filled with fun activities that he can do on his own.  I'm hoping to get a sidebar list of all the workbox activities we use posted sometime in the near future.

He'll also have his own notebook.  This will be for him to draw in while the rest of us do copywork at the dining room table. 

The main goal for Beany is to simply teach him how to behave while we are doing school work.  He'll need to learn how to sit at the table with the others and draw while they work, how to use the workboxes during some independent time, how to sit and listen to a story (this will not be difficult - he's always climbing onto my lap with a book!) and how to use things like crayons to color or decorate his letter folders. 
One other goal for Beany will be developing his speech.  He is slow to talk which has been a concern of mine.  We are blessed to have a speech therapist living right next door who has worked with Beany in a casual way.  She gives me lots of ideas and after a short time Beany has gone from barely any "real" words to talking in 2 and 3 word sentences.  It's not perfect and we still need to work on it, but I'm relieved that he is progressing.  Learning the letters and practicing their sounds will also help him in his ability to enunciate the proper sounds of words.

Builder ~ Builder will be in 1st grade this year.  His focus subjects will be the "4 R's" - reading, (w)riting, religion and (A)rithmetic.  We'll also be doing some of the other subjects, but they wont be part of his daily schedule.  Many of them will be workbox activities since they lend themselves well to observation and exploration.

Reading will be a priority this year for Builder.  Last year he learned the sounds of the letters and started blending them to read words.  He is motivated to learn to read all the great books he finds so that will help.
I plan to use the Little Angel Readers as our main curriculum.  I used these with Jetter and I think Builder will do well with them.  I will also be doing some work with sight words.  This is something I haven't done too much of with my children but I am seeing that reading fluency is developed more easily with sight word recognition.  For this purpose, I had planned to simply make some cards and use this pocket chart.  The new words will be placed in the red section, and as he learns them we will move them up to the yellow, and finally the green section.  This will be very motivational for Builder (and Jetter as well) because of the levels.  As I said, I had planned to make the cards, but then I saw these Sight Words in a Flash sets and bought them.  I'm glad I did.  They are very sturdy and will last through Jetter, Builder, and the littles that follow behind.  They also come with holes punched in the top left corner and sturdy rings to put them on.  I'm thinking that as they are learned they will "graduate" to the rings.
As an "add on" in the reading department I will also be working with Builder on narration.  He seems to need some work in the "listening skills" area, and narration is a great method for this!  As I have mentioned in the past we are enrolled with Mother of Divine Grace School .  Using Aesop's Fables is recommended as an art activity.  The child will listen to the fable and then retell it and illustrate it into a special notebook.  We will do that, but I plan to do it on a weekly basis, which is more that Mother of Divine Grace recommends.  We will cover one fable a week.  I also plan to have Builder do copy work from the fables as handwriting practice.  That Resource Site has some great printables for this purpose.  This actually covers that second "R" I mentioned above - writing.

For Math, I will be using the Arithmetic 1 book from Abeka, as recommended by Mother of Divine Grace.  This is a strong, thorough program and I think Builder will do well with it.  Since Builder is a very "hands on learner" I will be supplementing with the many manipulatives we have on our school room shelves.  The workboxes are a great place to add this manipulative work.  Here is a picture of just a few of the manipulatives Builder will be learning to use this year.  The abacus is not an official "Montessori Abacus" but I've used it with the other kids and it works just fine.  The addition board is new this year and I think it will really help Builder with addition.  The "Wrap Ups" will help him memorize his addition facts which I think is important.

Religion, is probably the most important "subject" we cover.  This is because our Faith is very much a part of who we are.  We try to live the Catholic Faith and through that living, teach our children. Attending Mass, going to Confession, reading the Bible, celebrating the feast days of the saints and our regular daily prayer times are all ways we try to live our faith.  There is also a need to study Religion as an academic subject. This year, Religion for Builder will involve 3 different areas of study: the Bible, lives of the saints, and catechism.
For the Bible, we will read one story a week.  These stories will be re-told (narrated) and illustrated into his notebook.  Our study of the lives of the saints will be similar.  We will be using the books Once Upon a Time Saints  and More Once Upon a Time Saints by the same author.  I've used these books with all of the children so far and they are enjoyable.  For Catechism, Builder will be using the New Saint Joseph's First Communion Catechism .  This is a simple and sweet explanation of our Catholic Faith.  Jetter just loved the pictures and using them as a prompt, he was able to explain the concept taught in the lesson.  This was a great review activity.  I'm sure Builder will do well with this book too.

Beyond these basics, Builder will also be doing poetry memorization, some science and nature study,  music, art and history.

For Poetry Memorization we started using Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization by Andrew Pudewa.  This is a program I purchased last year and the boys did well with it.  I think they found that they could more easily memorize the poems when they heard them read by Mr. Pudewa.  They also enjoyed the selection of poems!

For Science and Nature Study I have a very simple plan of continuing our nature hikes.  Inspired by these plans at Lapaz Home Learning I will be changing our approach a bit.  In the past, we have taken nature hikes and allowed what we observed to inspire us to read further.  This was fine but sometimes, I didn't have a good book with information about the animal or plant we saw, or the information we could find on line was too technical to arouse interest in my younger students.  This year, as in the blog post above, I am going to plan some great books about nature that we will read first.  Then, during the hikes (or just by looking out our window) we can hopefully observe that plant of animal in it's natural habitat.  If not, that is okay as the book will still be a great source of information.  Look for a list of these nature study books in the side bar soon (hopefully!).  I also purchased a butterfly garden that Builder will enjoy this year.  We will do a nature study focus on butterflies when it is time to open it.

For Music, Builder will eventually learn to play the piano but I don't feel that he is ready for that yet.  Instead of learning an instrument this year we will concentrate on listening to, and learning about some of the great composers.  Mother of Divine Grace recommends these picture books that come with CD's  (there are more in this series) that I think Builder will enjoy, and the other kids as well.

I don't have any formal studies in history planned for Builder.  Instead, I have the Exploring Ancient Egypt Fun Kit that Builder will enjoy working on during the history reading portion of our day.  Social Butterfly will be studying Ancient Egypt this year and there are many books that I will be reading aloud to them in the morning.  The coloring books, stickers, etc. in this kit will help Builder while I read some of these books that might have language that is above his comprehension.  I actually purchased activities for all the kids that they can work on and still listen to the books being read.  More about those later.

For Builder's Art lessons we will be using Art 1 For Young Catholics available from Seton.  This book will not only provide art lessons but will also help us as we celebrate the Liturgical Year.  I also have various art projects and supplies that will be used in Builder's workboxes.  Simple cut and paste activities as well as projects using paint, pastels and clay will be included.  I will write more about these later as they will involve all the kids.

                                                                   (Builder, rock wall climbing)
Finally, there is Phys. Ed.  I truly feel like I don't need to schedule any physical activity into our day for any of the kids because they are constantly running, jumping, climbing, etc.  Sometimes I wish they weren't so active, but truthfully, I believe their good health is a result of the active play and time outdoors. 
Having said that, I also believe it is important to enroll each of the kids in at least one sport a year.  This isn't so much for their need for physical activity but for the other lessons involved: learning to play as a team member, listening to the coach, discipline, skills that come with each individual sport, etc.  I usually give the kids a choice as to what they would like to do.  This year, Builder is deciding between Tai Kwon Do (I'm not sure I've spelled that correctly!) and Flag Football.  We're going to have to visit a few of the Tai Kwon Do classes to see what we think.

So there it is for Beany and Builder!  Phew!  I'll be posting about Jetter and Social Butterfly in an up and coming post.


jerry b said...


Janelle said...

I'm tired just thinking about all that you coordinate! Love you and your family!