Henry started Kindergarten this week without any fanfare, fuss, or hype. We just sat down at the kitchen table and started doing it. And it was awesome.
I had originally wanted to wait until my math curriculum arrived to â€˜officiallyâ€™ start school, wanted to take a First Day of School photo, wanted to make it more of a big deal overall. But the moment was right, and I had promised Henry while we were on vacation that I would teach him how to read when we got home. So we dove in.
Thinking about it, it just felt right. Iâ€™ve been anticipating this phase of life since before Henry was even born. Since I knew I wanted to be an integral part of my childrenâ€™s education, weâ€™ve just kind of alwaysÂ been homeschooling. So it turned out that fanfare wasnâ€™t really needed.
Weâ€™re usingÂ Hooked on Phonics as our Phonics and Reading curriculum; will be usingRightStart Math once I get around to ordering it;Â Mudpies to Magnets (Williams, Rockwell, Sherwood) for Science;Storybook Art (Kohl, Potter) for Art;Â Children Just Like Me (Kindersley) for Social Studies; andÂ Hooked on Spanishfor Spanish. Phonics will be 4x/week; Math, 2x (more if the boys request it); and science, art, social studies, and Spanish 1x each/week. Iâ€™m also shooting for 30 minutes of reading with the kids each day as a minimum. We generally hover around 50. I also want to start some daily memorization work but havenâ€™t added that yet. Iâ€™m thinking theÂ Articles of Faith will be a good place to start.
We use the girlsâ€™ nap time for school time. That gives us between an hour and a half and two hours to work on things that need a little quiet and concentration. So far itâ€™s working out well. Neither Henry nor Samuel has complained about the cut in their play timeâ€¦so far.
Since Samuel is around and interested, heâ€™s participating in the once a week subjects. Both he and Henry will work on math together in tandem this year. And of course the daily story time applies to all. But Henry is the only one working through the phonics and reading course.
Phew. Thereâ€™s the background.
Our first week of school had a golden glow around it. We had so much fun!
Henry began his foray into reading by working through a stack of phonics flashcards so he could master the sounds each letter makes. He worked on flashcards for four days. I wasnâ€™t sure about the whole flashcard thing in general, but in my heart knew it would be the fastest way to get him reading. I guess he liked it okay, because the one day I tried to work with him on vowel sounds, he said, â€œMom, I just want to do my cards with the ladyâ€ (on the HOP CD). We spent one day doing an upper-lowercase matching game in addition to the flashcards.
Hooked on Spanish is one of the boysâ€™ favorites and I think itâ€™s because itâ€™s a CD-ROM program, requiring use of the computer. Yes, my boys are 5 and nearly 4 and neither have had any hands-on experience with using a computer until now. They have enjoyed learning to use the touch pad mouse and learning to navigate around their program. They had so much fun they requested two days of Spanish this week.
For science, we did an experiment I had read about on a blog somewhere. We created four different sizes of ice cubes using a medicine dropper (4Â mL, 3Â mL, 2Â mL, and 1Â mL) and then color coded the ice cubes before freezing them (4 = green, 3 = blue, 2 = red, 1 = yellow). We wanted to see how long it would take the ice cubes to melt on the sidewalk. Henry hypothesized that the yellow ones would melt before the green ones because they were smaller. He was right. 🙂
I had the boys draw in their science journals about the experiment. I loved how they both chose to use the colors we had picked for the ice cubes, and how they used different sizes to depict the ice cubes melting. They havenâ€™t shown any real interest in drawing and I havenâ€™t really guided them at all in that area, so to see them expressing their thoughts and observations with markers was exciting to me.
For social studies, we read about Esta from Tanzania (Children Just Like Me, pages 42-43). I donâ€™t think it had any real impact on them, although they were able to pick out Africa on a global map.
Art was my favorite this week. May I recommendâ€”HIGHLYâ€”Storybook Art? It is a must have for any household with small children. This book highlights 100 different childrenâ€™s picture books and then creates a corresponding art project for each book. The idea is that you read a book from the list with your child (whatâ€™s not to love about that?) and then you do an art project either based on the idea of the book or based on the technique the illustrator used to create it. We picked up a few titles this summer at Half Price Books knowing we would be doing these projects; the rest I think weâ€™ll check out from the library.
This weekâ€™s book wasÂ Elmer, by David McKee. Itâ€™s a darling little story about an elephant whoâ€™s just a little bit different. Heâ€™s patchwork in a field of grays. Literally. One day he decides to be different so he finds a way to cover his patchwork and turn himself gray like the other elephants. He plays a trick on them and they think itâ€™s so funny that they declare that day to be Elmerâ€™s Day and celebrate it once a year by turning themselves patchwork while Elmer turns himself gray and then they have a parade.
I cut out a bunch of elephants and divided them into patches with a Sharpie. To make our patchwork elephants, we experimented with the different outcomes household objects produce when dipped or rolled in paint. Legos were a clear hit while pinecones were not. The potato masher yielded some cool results while string did not. Samuel decided to finger paint his third elephant and finger painted the entire elephant the same color. I like to think he was making his own Elmer. Once the elephants dried, I cut them out and pasted them on a long sheet of paper so we had our own patchwork elephant parade.
That sums up our first week. I donâ€™t know that Iâ€™ll go into this much detail with subsequent weeks but I had a lot to process as I got going.