Our First Weeks of School

Posted by  | Tuesday, September 27, 2011  at 7:00 AM  
This is Will's desk that used to belong to Jacob and his brothers. He loves it! Our table was getting too small for both him and Adeline to do work on. 

I can't believe that we have completed 6 weeks of Kindergarten already! I'm relieved that our days have routine now and planning isn't taking me as long as it did in the beginning. I'm ECSTATIC that Will is actually learning and loves to do his work (most days). We have only had a few stand-offs where he did not want to do something.  But he has learned pretty quickly that I'm not messing around and his school work is not optional. :) 

Our days generally look like this: 

7:15am - up and dressed, playtime (or tv if I'm being honest) 
8:00am - breakfast
8:30am - chores and clean up breakfast
9:00am - start school! 
10:00am - snack break (this has revolutionized our morning. many rough moments can be avoided if he gets a snack!)
12:00pm - lunch and read aloud time
12:45pm - finish read aloud time 
1:00pm - nap for Adeline, quiet time for Will (or nap some days still!)
3:30pm - play/errands/etc until Daddy is home!

Obviously I have to stop often to feed Anna or put her down for nap. In addition, sometimes we have late mornings and don't start until closer to 9:30 or 10. Those days sometimes mean that Will and I finish up some school work during the first part of naptime. Tuesday mornings Adeline has dance, so Will and I bring some work with us to do there. 

We use a drawer system (modified workboxes if you can even call it that...) with each of our tasks for the day in an individual drawer. We work through the drawers in order, so its easy to stop and start as needed. Will also knows the things he can do by himself while waiting for me to take care of Anna (color, puzzles, math games, etc.)

Sonlight is our core curriculum that covers history, read alouds, some science and bible. We add our own Language Arts (Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, Explode the Code, Handwriting Without Tears) and Math (RightStart Math). We are also getting ready to add a few science units in and Will is very excited about that. 

Here they are painting with feathers as the first people might have done inside caves long ago.

Will LOVES math. He begs for math every day. Here he is making shapes on a geoboard. This was not part of our official math curriculum, but my effort to include more math for him.

Some crafts we made! The fish was part of an art kit Will got for his birthday, but worked great when we learned about mosaics in Ancient Greece. The "coats" are from when we read about Joseph's coat of many colors.

 We've also learned about the Vikings. Here is the awesome picture Will drew of a Viking Longship! The ONLY thing I drew was the very basic shape of the boat and shape of the sail. He added everything else. Do you see the anchor, the waves, the shields lining the boat, the dragon head at the front, the patterned stripes on the sail, the vikings (Will and Dad) with swords and shields...

His very first math worksheet! Our curriculum actually does very little written work at this age. He had to draw tally marks for each set of shapes. Will did a very good job but was greatly disappointed to learn about how do corrections in math. :) The sticker he earned for corrections helped his motivation somewhat.

This picture made me laugh so much! In reading, he is now reading paragraphs and short stories! But he is still learning to read with the fluency necessary to really comprehend what he read. So our reading book suggested he draw a picture of the sentence/paragraph he read. The sentence was something about a person "in the sun." Will literally drew a person IN the sun.

Here is our map where we mark all of the countries we learn about in history. So far we've learned about the Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and the vikings of Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Will is also very into maps so we've had to mark a lot of other things on our map. Including where we live, where all of our family lives and many of our friends overseas. He also understands directions and the different climates (colder closer to the poles and hotter at the equator). 

This is Will's handwriting book. I am so impressed with how much this has improved his letter formation. Look at that last B he wrote! We used the pre-k book last year so I'm sure that helped too, but I've seen improvement even in these few short weeks of the K book.

This is an example of what Will can read. Of course, this takes us a while and this particular story was the entirety of our reading lesson for that day. He is enjoying reading and making words!

I cannot leave out Adeline. She won't let me. :) Her "work" mostly consists of activities centered around our letter of the week. We've only made it through D so far. She has her own set of drawers that she does most days Will does school (but not all). She will often do dot markers, puzzles, sorting activities, prewriting practice, letter sound activities, etc. Some goals I have for her are to recognize the letters and know their sounds, write her name, improve her puzzle skills and increase her attention span. (I don't know which child had the normal attention span, but she can sit still for a far shorter time than Will did at age 3!)

One of the things we are doing is making her own alphabet book! She enjoys this and looking at the pages even though we have only done four.

This last picture is something Adeline did at our homeschool co-op. We've only been doing it for two weeks, but so far we love it! It's Friday mornings from 9-12. Adeline's preschool class is learning about fall - including apples. She did apple prints, tasted different apples and lots more. Will's two classes are Continents and Music. He especially love the Continents. This past week, they were in Asia and ate rice with chopsticks.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to be home with and teaching my kids. Even though there are enough difficult moments for an entire separate blog post...seeing these pictures and writing about our successes helps me see the bigger picture of how great it really is going.

I wrote this for our family blog. Not to brag about all we've accomplished because it is only by God's grace that we've accomplished anything! I wanted to remember how far we've come and document our days during this new season. Our focus in September was Back to School, so I thought I'd share here too. Whether preschool, public school, homeschool or even college or seminary...How have your first days back to school gone? 


Meg said...

I loved reading your ideas! I'm thinking about starting HWOT PreK with Karis in January and I wondered if you bought the kit (with the wooden pieces) or if just the workbooks have been enough. Thanks!

Leah said...

We have HWOT here at our house. We have the first book, the preschool book called Get Set for School. I bought the workbook and the teacher's guide. I had a friend loan me the chalkboards and letter cards. She also just cut the shape of the wood pieces out of sturdy cardboard.

I am a little confused by the teacher's guide so far. It just gives a lot of classroom ideas. It doesn't even start referring to the workbook until halfway through. The only thing I've found helpful so far is using the wood pieces to build "Mat Man", which teaches your children how to draw a person (this is good for Sam b/c he does not draw on his own).

In my opinion, the wood pieces are not that helpful and I'm glad I just have some cardboard ones to do the few lessons that involve them. I don't know that I would even recommend the preschool workbook. Not sure what Christina's thoughts are on that...

Christina said...

I would highly recommend the wood pieces and chalk board along with the teacher and student book. Will loved using the wood pieces to build letters last year and they are a good review this year. You also use them to build "mat man" and he LOVES that. We added the chalk board this year. The teacher book really gives ideas and a sample year of lessons. It's not just going through the workbook in order...so you really need the teacher book too to get the most out of it. I bought our teacher books, our prek student book and wood pieces all used at different times and places. I've only bought the K workbook new.

You can also make your own "wood pieces" with thick foam or laminated card stock. I think there is a template for that in the teacher book.

Christina said...

Leah P - I agree that I've been confused by the teacher book too. It took me a while to get used to it. There is a years worth of lessons in a chart form at the back. That has helped. (At least I think that was in the prek book....I know its in the K book.

Before I found that list of weekly lesson plans (which are made for a classroom, but I just adapt for us) I just alternated workbook page days with other activities like grip practice, posture, wood pieces, mat man, etc.

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