Friday, July 24, 2009

What To Do With a Child in Kindergarten?

My cutie second child, Maia,will be beginning Kindergarten this year and I am sifting through all my resources that I used, notes I had taken and lesson plans from when our sweet Halle was a Kindergartener three years ago. For those of you just beginning homeschooling, I just want to encourage you that I am amazed and stunned at how bold I feel as I am about to teach this grade for the second time. I know I will have those hard days throughout this year, but the peace of teaching what I have already taught to another child, tweaking it to fit the personality of this one and just being more comfortable with the information myself is kind of unreal. I'm hitting my groove...(knock on wood?)

For those of you who know me well or read this blog very often, you know I am a big fan of Charlotte Mason. We use her methodolgy and principles in all the subjects we teach. We have used a little of this and a little of that curriculum, but our methods and philosophy stay the same.

Charlotte had what she called "A List of Attainments for a Child of Six" which essentially is what we want to accomplish with a Kindergartener. This list is helpful in how I organize what we do, and I add in great literature, artist and composer study, seasonal art projects, Bible and history studies. More to come on those later! I thought it would be worthwhile to post these attainments here, even accomplishing one of them can be enriching for your student and for you as a mama. I got a little giddy writing this post...bring on fall!

A List of Attainments for a Child of Six

1. To recite, beautifully, 6 easy poems and hymns

2. To recite, perfectly and beautifully, a parable and a psalm

3. To add and subtract numbers up to 10, with dominoes or counters

4. To read---what and how much, will depend on what we are told of the child

We play lots of sight word games, use phonics flashcards each day and my favorite find this year is this lovely book, where Maia will actually be reading quality literature and classic stories. I think the object of teaching a young child how to read might require its own post and lots of input in the comments section!

5. To copy in print-hand from a book

We are going to be using Handwriting Without Tears and I also buy each of the children a lovely leather book to copy Scripture,poetry and pieces of literature in. There is something about the delicacy of the copybook that makes them strive to do their very best.

6. To know the points of the compass with relation to their own home, where the sun rises and sets, and the way the wind blows

7. To describe the boundaries of their own home

8. To describe any lake, river, pond, island etc. within easy reach

For these last three attainments, we have incorporated the geography outline available at Tanglewood Education Geography has certainly become one of my favorite subjects and Josh has often commented on how much he loves our children first understanding tangibly the area they inhabit, before, or in the case of our home, in conjunction with, far off lands. They can see and smell and touch to truly experience the knowing of these geographical elements and it adds such a richness to what they imagine and learn later on.

9. To tell quite accurately (however shortly) 3 stories from Bible history, 3 from early American (originally, for Charlotte's students this was English history), and 3 from early Roman history.

10. To be able to describe 3 walks and 3 views.

We place drawings and descriptions dictated to mom into our nature notebooks...they have really become a treasure for us!

11. To mount in a scrapbook a dozen common wildflowers, with leaves (one every week); to name these, describe them in their own words, and say where they found them.

We also look up the latin name of our findings. It is a simple way to begin teaching research skills and there is such reward just in the 'knowing' after searching through our field guides. We place the latin name next to the english name in our nature notebooks. This also motivates great handwriting as these books mean so much to them.
For nature notebooks, I usually purchase a simple sketchbook for each of the children, preferably with a sturdy cover. I also like for the paper to not be chinzy...and for it to be able to withstand watercolors well.

12. To do the same with leaves and flowers of 6 forest trees.

13. To know 6 birds by song, colour and shape.

14. To complete Handiwork

Ambleside Online has a wonderful section on handiwork and I have really benefitted from their reccomendations. Around here, the rule is that our crafts should be useful and benefit others. Some of the creative pursuits we have enjoyed are: knitting, baking, making stationary, a wreath at the holidays, making our advent centerpiece, candlemaking, cooking homemade playdough, baking bread and of course the list goes on and on... but we rarely keep these things in the house...its so much more fun to give them away!

15. To tell three stories about their own "pets"--rabbit, dog or cat.
For a time, we didn't have any pets, so we were graciously invited to spend time with friends and family who did. On one occastion, the children were able to feed hens and roosters, hold baby chicks, collect eggs and even enjoy an omlet! We also made some serious stops at our local petting zoo to interact with and draw some of our favorite farmyard friends.

16. To name 20 common objects in Spanish (originally Charlotte wanted her students to study French,because of the close proximity of that nation to England,we study Spanish for much the same reason) and say a dozen little sentences.

We have used Lyric Language in the early years, it is very inexpensive and easy! Just a fun DVD of songs and a CD for the car or kitchen counter. Their is also a workbook included to help with Spanish copywork and labeling around the house.

17. To sing one hymn, one Spanish song, and one English song.

18. To keep a caterpillar and tell the life-story of a butterfly from his own observations.
We are going to order a caterpillar habitat this year and watch the process in our home, in the past Halle has done this at her co-op and we have really enjoyed the butterfly conservatories at The Seattle Science Center and at Woodland Park Zoo.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


We are in Spokane this weekend enjoying all the snow and most of all some sweet friendships. My kids were just sharing with their friends the whip cream fight mom and dad had late last week...the one that ended with me being pinned down and having whip cream squirted up my nose! They were laughing so hard as they told of the joy they had witnessed between their mommy and daddy. Josh shot me a wink and I saw how pleased he was that they had remembered all the fun we had. Isn't this what its about? We are creating such special memories as a couple and for our kids. I love laughing with them.
So this challenge is to find a way to laugh. Do something suprising or silly (like squirting whip cream down your man's shirt) and just laugh...its good for the soul and your man's heart.