Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pre-history Year

Kindergarten is a great time for learning about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals! I wanted to start with the Big Bang and go through early man - basically everything before Ancients.

Resource List: Books 
(I bought the first four on this list, the others were obtained through the library)

- Usborne Encyclopedia of World History
- Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
- Life Story by Virginia Lee Burton
- Evolution by Joanna Cole
- Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peter

 Resource List: Videos
(all available through Netflix)
Walking With Monsters series
Walking With Dinosaurs series
Walking With Beasts series
Walking With Cavemen series

The Planned Sequence for 36 Weekly Lessons 

  1. The Story of Everything: From the Big Bang Until Now in 11 Pop-up Spreads by Neal Layton
  2. Usborne 14-17; Dissect owl pellets and discuss how it relates to how scientists deduce information about the past
  3. Life Story by Virginia Lee Burton
  4. Usborne 18-19; Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peters
  5. Usborne 20-23; Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution by Steve Jenkins
  6. Usborne 24-29; Walking With Monsters: Water Dwellers
  7. When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Long Before Dinosaurs by Hannah Bonner
  8. Usborne 30-33; Compare megalodon and great white shark, including comparing their sizes using a sidewalk and chalk. (Activity from Intellego K-2 unit on Evolution)
  9. When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Before Dinosaurs by Hannah Bonner
  10. Usborne 34-37; Walking With Monsters: Reptile's Beginnings
  11. Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
  12. Usborne 38-41; Walking With Monsters: Clash of Titans
  13. When Dinos Dawned, Mammals Got Munched, and Pterosaurs Took Flight: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life in the Triassic by Hannah Bonner
  14. Usborne 42-43; Walking With Dinosaurs: New Blood
  15. Usborne 44-47; Walking With Dinosaurs: Time of the Titans
  16. Usborne 48-51; Walking With Dinosaurs: Cruel Sea
  17. Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
  18. Field trip to zoo, focus on reptiles, discuss evolution
  19. Usborne 52-55; Walking With Dinosaurs: Giants of the Skies
  20. Usborne 56-57; Walking With Dinosaurs: Spirits of the Ice Forest
  21. Usborne 58-59; Walking With Dinosaurs: Death of a Dynasty
  22. Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons by Sara Levine
  23. Field trip to museum to see fossils, including dinosaur bones
  24. Usborne 60-65; Walking With Beasts: New Dawn
  25. Usborne 66-69; Walking With Beasts: Whale Killer
  26. Usborne 70-73; Walking With Beasts: Land of Giants
  27. Usborne 74-77; Walking With Beasts: Next of Kin
  28. Field trip to Wild Cat Sanctuary, discussion of evolution
  29. Usborne 78-81; Walking With Cavemen: First Ancestors
  30. The Human Body: How We Evolved by Joanna Cole
  31. Usborne 82-85; Walking With Cavemen: Blood Brothers
  32. Field trip to the zoo, focus on primates, discuss evolution
  33. Usborne 86-89; Walking With Beasts: Sabre Tooth
  34. Usborne 90-93; Walking With Cavemen: Savage Family
  35. Usborne 94-97; Walking With Cavemen: The Survivors
  36. Usborne 98-101; Walking With Beasts: Mammoth Journey

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kindergarten Curriculum and Resources

My Butterfly has decided that she wants to start kindergarten. Next week.

*shrug* Okay. Whatever you want, kid.

She says the difference between kindergarten and what we have been doing is that some stuff will be required instead of optional and she will get to do "trickier math".

Reading (3x weekly)
Read alouds from a mom-made reading list at her ability level

Math (3x weekly)
RightStart B
Time-Life I Love Math series
MathStart level 2 books by Stuart J. Murphy
Considering a subscription to Dreambox

Spelling (1x weekly)
All About Spelling 2 and 3, with adaptations for handwriting

Science (1x weekly, but she'll request more and do these much more than "planned")
Lego Education Early Simple Machines
The Private Eye
The Happy Scientist videos
Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding
Caterpillar-to-Butterfly kit
Child-friendly Microscope
Various Thames and Kosmos sets 
Memberships to local children's museum and the zoo

Spanish (1x weekly)
Salsa Spanish
DuoLingo This moved too fast for my daughter and she became frustrated. She asked for something that we did together and not something online. So we added:

Risas y Sonrisas

Handwriting (1x weekly)
StartWrite software

History (1x weekly)
Mom-made Prehistory year (Big Bang to early man)

Art (every other week)
Usborne Big Drawing Book
Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas
Artistic Pursuits preschool level

Music (every other week)
The Story of the Orchestra

While we are taking the summer off from lessons, in the fall she will likely continue swim, gymnastics, and violin.



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Preschool Literature List

Do you get lost in the library trying to find good books? I certainly do. I can't remember if we've read it before, I have no recollection of the books I read in early childhood and therefore don't remember which ones I liked, and I always want a good mix. I referred to a lot of other lists to compile a list of my own, including the reading lists from Moving Beyond the Page, Sonlight, Five in a Row, and Read Aloud America. I took recommendations from posters on discussion boards that I frequent. These were nowhere near all the books we've been reading for our preschool year, but they were the ones I considered worthwhile to put on a list and make sure I checked out throughout the year. I kept this to 52 books - one for each week of the year, though we didn't necessarily do one per week.



1.       Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (Tomie DePaola)
2.       A Pair of Red Clogs (Masako Matsuno)
3.       What Do You Do With a Tail Like This (Steve Jenkins)
4.       Angus Lost (Marjorie Flack)
5.       Caps for Sale (Esphyr Slobodkina)
6.       Rosie’s Magic Horse (Russell Hoban)
7.       A Splendid Friend Indeed (Suzanne Bloom)
8.       The Glorious Flight (Alice Provensen)
9.       Owl Babies (Martin Waddell)
10.   Dandelion (Don Freeman)
11.   Nurse Clementine (Simon James)
12.   Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree (Gail Gibbons)
13.   Little Bear’s Little Boat (Eve Bunting)
14.   Grandfather’s Journey (Allen Say)
15.   Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse (Kevin Henkes)
16.   Ella Sarah Gets Dressed (Margaret Chodos-Irvine)
17.   Petunia (Roger Duvoisin)
18.   Dinosaurs Big and Small (Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld)
19.   Papa Piccolo (Carol Talley)
20.   Swimmy (Leo Lionni)
21.   A Rainbow of My Own (Don Freeman)
22.   The Cat in the Hat (Dr. Seuss)
23.   Dogger (Shirley Hughes)
24.   Zin! Zin !Zin! A Violin (Lloyd Moss)
25.   My Lucky Day (Keiko Kasza)
26.   Little Blue and Little Yellow (Leo Lionni)
27.   An Extraordinary Egg (Leo Lionni)
28.   Not a Box (Antoninette Portis)
29.   Little Red Riding Hood (retold by Trina Schart Hyman)
30.   A Bus Called Heaven (Bob Graham)
31.   There’s a Wocket in My Pocket (Dr. Seuss)
32.   Toot and Puddle (Holly Hobbie)
33.   Tiger Can’t Sleep (JJ Fore)
34.   Umbrella (Taro Yashima)
35.   Curious George (H.A. Rey)
36.   Amber on the Mountain (Tony Johnston)
37.   When I’m Sleepy (Jane R Howard)
38.   Night of the Moonjellies (Mark Shasha)
39.   Wheel on the Chimney (Margaret Wise Brown)
40.   Ride a Purple Pelican (Jack Prelutsky)
41.   Farfallina and Marcel (Holly Keller)
42.   The House on East 88th Street (Bernard Waber)
43.   The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge (Hildegarde Swift)
44.   It’s Mine! (Leo Lionni)
45.   Cranberry Thanksgiving (Wende Devlin)
46.   Bear Shadow (Frank Asch)
47.   And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (Dr. Seuss)
48.   Mouse Soup (Arnold Lobel)
49.   Mole and the Baby Bird (Marjorie Newman)
50.   Beatrice Doesn’t Want To (Laura Numeroff)
51.   Frog and Toad Are Friends (Arnold Lobel)
52.   Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Advanced Reading for Preschoolers

Since my critter started reading, she's really taken off. I was having trouble keeping up with her and finally found two tips that saved my sanity (for now).

Tip #1: Stop looking at lists of "books for _____ graders" as those quickly got into books that my daughter was not interested in/ready for. Just because she can read at a third grade level does not mean she has any interest in books with few pictures. She is still a preschooler! Better is to look at lists of "read-alouds for preschoolers/kindergarteners" and just acknowledge that she can be the one reading aloud instead of a parent.

Tip #2: Organize! I'll find a great book, know that there is a series, and then forget all about it. So, in the spirit of organizing, I started a few GoodReads lists. You can use these as reference or add to them yourself!

Preschoolers Reading at First Grade Level
Preschoolers Reading at Second Grade Level
Preschoolers Reading at Third Grade Level

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Scheduling Without Actually Scheduling Part 2 - Daily To Do List

Last post was about how we schedule the outings in a week. Today is about how we do a daily to-do list. Here is a picture of a day's list (with the Critter's name removed):



This list is typically the more "academic" stuff I want to get done in a day - reading, math, spelling, science, fine motor skills. It does not include lots of other playing, but rest assured that plenty of off-list stuff happens every day! Some of the things are in a code of sorts - "number games" means RightStart Math and "Activity sheets" is a selection of Kumon fine motor skill sheets, Mad Libs, and Can You Find Me? sheets.

The list is in no particular order. If something needs to happen at a particular time, such as gymnastics, that is written on the board. Otherwise, Critter can pick things in any order and we erase them as we finish. There is no requirement that everything be done and often the list is altered during the day. Sometimes she wakes up and declares she wants something added to or deleted from the board, which is fine. Sometimes we just get to the end of the day and didn't get to things, which is also fine. But the list manages to put a lot of control into the Critter's hands regarding what she does when and keeps me on track for remembering to do something.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Scheduling Without Actually Scheduling Part 1 - Weekly Schedule

I like schedules and lists, but they don't really fit in with preschooling very well. I've had to adapt and meet somewhere in the middle. I use two large magnetic white boards, 2' x 3' each, to keep our schedules and lists in a child-friendly format.

Here's our weekly schedule:



I made this before my child could read, so it is done with picture magnets. I made the magnets by finding pictures online for all the places we normally go together - I preferred pictures rather than logos but used recognizable logos when needed. I then printed out the pictures and fed it all through my Xyron 900 to make them into laminated magnets. If you don't have a Xyron 900, I believe there is magnet paper that can be fed through a printer, you could take your pictures to an office store to have magnets made, or you could print the pictures out on stock paper and add self-stick magnets to the back.

This calendar is for outings and non-negotiable stuff like doctor's appointments. We also include bathtime on here because we were a little too prone to forget about it! When she was younger, it also included naptime so she could see whether events were planned for before or after nap. While I keep this simple and most of our day is free-flowing, you could include as much of your day as you wanted to.

We started this calendar around the time she turned two. At that time, everything was put on with no input from her. Now that she is older and there are more places to go than there is time, we talk every Sunday about what things she and I want to do for the coming week and choose what goes on the schedule together.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Final Bob Books Reading Loop

I posted earlier about using Bob Books to learn reading with a kid that doesn't like to re-read anything. (I don't get that. I mean, she will ask me to read a new story 3-4 times in a row to her!) Here is the progression we ultimately ended up using:

Bob Books Set 1
Bob Books Set 2
Bob Books Sight Words Kindergarten
Bob Books Rhyming Words
Bob Books Set 1
Bob Books Sight Words Kindergarten
Bob Books Set 2
Bob Books Sight Words First Grade
Bob Books Set 3
Bob Books Sight Words First Grade
Bob Books Set 3
Bob Books Set 4
Started Progressive Phonics Intermediate level
Started easy readers - mostly Clifford, Little Critter, and Elephant and Piggie
Bob Books Set 5

Once I introduced her to Progressive Phonics and easy readers, she would choose which she wanted to do each time she wanted to read to me. We'll still go back and forth between easy readers and Progressive Phonics (which she calls the "read it together stories"). She can now handle easy readers at a beginning-of-first-grade level with just a bit of help with some of the words that are not phonetic.

If I were redesigning the sequence, I would put the Rhyming Words set and the Sight Words Kindergarten set before Set 2. They fit better there, but I wasn't sure where the non-numbered sets should go when I started. We may loop through Sets 4 and 5 again sometime in the future depending on whether she is interested and how she is doing with the easy readers.

At her request to learn spelling, I also introduced All About Spelling while we were going through Set 5. Since All About Spelling is a phonics-based spelling program, I'm expecting that it will also help bolster her reading skills. Right now, it is giving her further confidence because she is realizing she can already spell all the words in the first several lessons!