Tuesday, May 26, 2015

First Grade Curriculum and Resources

Last week, I posted our kindergarten wrap-up. We school year round (or at least take our breaks differently than the norm), so this is the first week of first grade! As seems to happen, I have more resources than I know how to fit in. It looks like a crazy amount, in part because we set our "school days" to be under 2 hours per day and then fill our lives with much educational enrichment.

Language Arts (5 days per week for 30-45 minutes)
Michael Clay Thompson Island Level - our planned path through this
BraveWriter Jot It Down
BraveWriter-style Poetry Teas
Participate in NaNoWriMo
Suppose the Wolf Were An Octopus
Literature List
New American Cursive handwriting (continue book 1, then move to copywork in cursive)
StartWrite software for additional handwriting practice, copywork
Rummy Roots

Math (3 days per week are RightStart, 2 days are other items from this list, 20-30 minutes per day)
RightStart Math (Level C and part of D)
Time-Life I Love Math series
Penrose the Mathematical Cat
Singapore Challenging Word Problems 1 (and maybe 2)
Highlights MathMania magazines
Sir Cumference books
Zaccaro Primary Grade Challenge Math
Variety of living math books from the library

Science (1 day per week of BFSU, the rest gets pulled out fairly regularly)
Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding - details on our path
Lego Education Basic Structures
Lego Education Early Simple Machines
Snap Circuits
The Private Eye
Happy Scientist videos
Carson Zorb Microscope
Caterpillar-to-Butterfly Kit
Thames and Kosmos Crystal Kit
Rock On! Geology Game
ASK Rocks and Minerals Kit
ASK Seeds Kit (might save this for 2nd grade)
Kids Discover magazines
Click magazine  (might switch to Ask partway through year. Or not.)
Magic School Bus episodes
Blood and Guts by Linda Allison
Memberships to local children's science museum and zoo

History (1 day per week scheduled, the rest as desired)
Mom-constructed Ancient History

Spanish (5 days per week for 20 minutes)
Salsa Spanish
Scholastic Spanish books

Spanish-language shows on YouTube
Spanish music by Jose-Luis Orozco
I have Spanish for Children and may or may not decide to use it
Tentative plans for an immersion trip to Honduras in February/March 2016

Art (1 day per week for 15 minutes)
Art Tango Kindergarten level
Usborne Big Drawing Book
The Private Eye (also listed under science)

Music (1 day per week for 20 minutes, daily instrument practice once she chooses an instrument)

Music Theory Made Easy (finish book 1, move onto 2)
Finish Story of the Orchestra
"Meet the Instruments" lessons followed by instrument lessons in her choice of instrument
We might choose to add SQUILT

Typing (1 day per week for 10 minutes required, more as desired)
Keyboarding Without Tears

We are taking the summer off from most lessons. Starting in the fall, she will have instrument lessons, seasonal sports, and up to two other lessons of her choice (I'd guess dance/gymnastics).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

First Grade Literature List

Poetry to add to our shelves and use during poetry tea times:

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
Child's Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa
Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
My Parents Think I'm Sleeping by Jack Prelutsky
New Kid on the Block by Jack Prelutsky
Pizza the Size of the Sun by Jack Prelutsky
Something Big Has Been Here by Jack Prelutsky
Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Books to read aloud, enjoy together, and discuss during school reading time:

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema
How the Leopard Got His Claws by Chinua Achebe
Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson
Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson
Leonardo and the Flying Boy by Laurence Anholt
Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt
Degas and the Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt
Picasso and the Girl With a Ponytail by Laurence Anholt
Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone
The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Mary Jane Begin
Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley
Snow White by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Charles Santore
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff
Poppy Seeds by Clyde Robert Bulla
Shoeshine Girl by Clyde Robert Bulla
Day's Work by Eve Bunting
Pop's Bridge by Eve Bunting
Andrew Henry's Meadow by Doris Burn
SOS File by Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey, and Laurie Myers
Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
Sleeping Beauty by Mahlon F. Craft
Great Fuzz Frenzy by Susan Stevens Crummel
Fairy Tales by e.e. cummings and Meilo So
Strega Nona's Magic Lessons by Tomie de Paola
Big Anthony and the Magic Ring by Tomie de Paola
Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie de Paola
Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka by Tomie de Paola
Legend of Old Befana by Tomie de Paola
Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie de Paola
Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie de Paola
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
Stone Fox by John R. Gardiner
Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
The Wolf Who Cried Boy by Bob Hartman
Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Schart Hyman
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
Regards to the Man in the Moon by Ezra Jack Keats
Jack and the Beanstalk by Steven Kellogg
Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg
Paul Bunyan by Steven Kellogg
Pecos Bill by Steven Kellogg
Mike Fink by Steven Kellogg
Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett by Steven Kellogg
The Stray by Dick King-Smith
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Hansel and Gretel by Rika Lesser, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
Micawber by John Lithgow
Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
King and the Seed by Eric Maddern
Erandi's Braids by Antonio Hernandez Madrigal
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
The Princess and Curdie by George McDonald
Six Men by David McKee
The Rag Coat by Lauren A. Mills
Pied Piper of Hamelin by Michael Morpurgo
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
Three Questions by Jon J. Muth
Complete Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit
Raising Dragons by Jerdine Nolen
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
Cinderella by Charles Perrault
Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault
The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco
Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
Aunt Minnie McGranahan by Mary Skillings Prigger
Apple-Pip Princess by Jane Ray
The Carpenter's Gift by David Rubel
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Brave Irene by William Steig
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Many Moons by James Thurber
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
Silver Pony by Lynd Ward
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life With Chimps by Jeanette Winter
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky
Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky

Books for family read aloud time:

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Tumtum and Nutmeg: The Rose Cottage Tales by Emily Bearn
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary (we read the first two in the series last year)
Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary
Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary
Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary
Robin Hood retold by Paul Cresswick
The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl
The Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me by Roald Dahl
The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
The Twits by Roald Dahl
The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Littles by John Peterson
Aesop's Fables by Jerry Pinkney
Encyclopedia Mythologica: Fairies and Magical Creatures by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda
Dragons and Knights by Robert Sabuda
The Little Mermaid by Robert Sabuda
Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Chocolate Fever by Robert K. Smith
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kindergarten Wrap Up

We are finishing up kindergarten this week and it's time for some reflections on what has worked well for us and what hasn't.

The Good:
  1. Grammar: I finally decided to ignore the age recommendations and we used Grammar Island from Michael Clay Thompson. The Kid loved this! She learned quickly and has so much more fun with Mad Libs now that we don't have to review each part of speech for each and every blank! She liked it so much I went ahead and bought the rest of Island Level and we'll be using that as our main Language Arts program for first grade.
  2. Spanish Immersion: We spent four weeks in Guatemala. Three of those weeks were in a host home while I attended Spanish language classes and The Kid attended a local Spanish-only preschool. I'm pretty sure we each learned more Spanish during that time than we had in all our previous studies put together. We're already planning our next immersion trip!
  3. Unit studies for science: It was hard for me to wrap my head around the flowcharts in BFSU until I finally realized that I could break it all up into units. The Kid would especially list all the science kits and hands-on we've done as the "good part" of science.
  4. Our prehistory year: The Kid has never been really into dinosaurs, which were covered extensively this year. After this, though, she chose a dino-themed week of summer camp to attend - she is that excited about the topic! I learned that The Kid can tell me all sorts of things she has learned from the books and documentaries, while barely even remembering that we did any activities. Go figure. I've started some book-and-documentary-focused Ancient history with her since.
The Bad:
  1. All the rest of Spanish: This year alone, we've tried and discarded Risas y Sonrisas (a total disaster), DuoLingo (moved too fast), Song School Spanish (too basic - we finished it but she didn't learn much), and The Fun Spanish (no real practice and not very fun). Is a progressive foreign language course that starts at kindy and goes up through mastery really too much to ask?
  2. Spelling: Too tedious for her age and/or level of patience. We'll revisit in the future if we need it.
  3. Handwriting: sigh. I know The Kid is a young student. Her handwriting is probably now on par for her age, whereas her fine motor skills were delayed to start the year. But we're still nowhere near being able to do copywork and dictation to start first grade.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Access to Art

I just looked and found I have only one post regarding art on my blog. How can this be? Art is so constant around here it is like breathing! Oh, wait, that's why I don't have any posts on it - my posts tend to be about things I plan, not things that just happen. So this is the first post in what I plan to be two or three posts on integrating art into your child's experience.

I'll start with access to art and the setup of The Kid's art space. Any desk will do, though I certainly prefer child-height desks. Ours is from the Elfa line at Ikea. Because it is height-adjustable, it can grow with her.

The majority of her art materials are easily within reach. Below the desk is a paper organizer that holds construction paper, copy paper, writing paper, and some coloring books. On top of the paper organizer is play dough and play dough cutters/rollers, a small potholder weaving loom, stapler, tape dispenser, hole puncher, crayons, glitter glue, and pens. Over to the side are larger painting papers and a pitcher of chenille sticks. On top of the desk is a pencil sharpener, large crayon caddy, and the "parts cabinet". On top of the parts cabinet are stencils and a drawing book.

The parts cabinet is a wonderful idea that I snagged from somewhere. (I've seen it several places, no idea where first!) You can pick these up in any hardware store. In our small drawers are a wide variety of stickers, special crayons, pom poms, googly eyes, sequins, and other bits. The larger drawers contain glue, markers, big foam stickers, chalks, fabric scraps. The variety is what is so wonderful about these. There is no need to fill the drawers up to the brim, just put enough out to catch attention.

Which brings me to conservation of materials. The Kid has completely free access to this desk and the things on it. If I want to limit something, I simply don't put it all out. Yes, she asks for more when she runs out and I tell her I'll get around to it later and she has plenty of other options for now. I refill when I get around to it, rarely immediately, rarely even on the same day. I believe it encourages exploration of other materials to wait just a bit to refill a drawer.

As for what is NOT on the desk: paints, glitter, ink pads for stamps, and charcoals. I withhold these items to save my sanity. I will get out the stamps, paints, or charcoals by request; I simply want to know when they are being used so I can supervise/run interference regarding the cleanup. And a very special note on glitter - if she wants to add sparkle, she has glitter glue, glitter markers, and sequins. While I know parents who allow free use of glitter, loose glitter is for outdoor projects only in my household. I used it once inside in the last house I lived in and I was still finding it during our move-out cleaning!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spanish Plan: Advancing Beginners to Intermediate

The Kid now has a pretty good Spanish vocabulary including many nouns, quite a few adjectives, and a solid handful of verbs. She understands that verbs are conjugated differently in Spanish and has started learning how to change the verb to match the noun. She has mastered the content of introductory curriculum and because there isn't an intermediate curriculum written for young children, we are leaving curriculum behind this year. We are essentially about to start the second year of a three-year plan to become conversational in Spanish.

Resources for this year:

Salsa Spanish. I had almost dismissed this as being "too easy", but upon rewatching I realized how much vocabulary and sentence structure is in the conversation. The focus words are certainly simple (basic numbers, colors, and nouns) but using the scripts I can come up with quite a bit of new material for us.

Spanish books. I bought a box of 50 Spanish books written at a kindy-1st grade level from Scholastic. We've started reading through these. The plan is to add one new book from the box to our bookshelves each week, carefully looking up the words we don't know. Then we take one of the older (and simpler) books each week to practice reading fluency. The reading fluency book is read a few times throughout the week - first to remember the story and vocabulary, then to listen carefully to the sounds, then for The Kid to read aloud to me once or twice.

Spanish music. This will include children's music like the stuff from Jose-Luis Orozco as well as just having a Pandora station full of Spanish-language pop music.

YouTube. There's quite a lot here. Plaza Sesamo is as good a place to start as any!

DuoLingo. I use this for myself. The Kid tried it last year and it moved too fast for her, but it is a little more manageable now. We'll still be going through at a snail's pace, but it includes a variety of exercises.

We've switched a number of iPad apps into Spanish language mode just to continue surrounding ourselves with the language. She also has the BrainPop Espanol app to have another source of hearing Spanish regularly.

And I'm still considering Spanish for Children. If I find we need more structure to our studies, I may add this. If we are making good progress with what we are doing, then I won't.

Immersion. Just as immersion is what moved us from "beginner" to "advanced beginner", I believe that it will take a period of immersion to move us from "advanced beginner" to "intermediate". We are starting to plan a trip to Honduras for February/March 2016.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

BFSU: Matter and Magnets Unit

Prerequisites: Foundational Units

Resources: None other than BFSU needed. We already had the Learning Resources Primary Science Magnet Kit, which provided more than enough magnets. We also had the Usborne Science With Magnets book on hand, which provided further exploration.

Lesson 1: BFSU A-4: Matter I: Its Particulate Nature, part 1
Lesson 2: BFSU A-4: Matter I: Its Particulate Nature, part 2
Lesson 3: BFSU A-5: Distinguishing Materials, part 1
Lesson 4: BFSU A-5: Distinguishing Materials, part 2
Lesson 5: BFSU A-5A: Magnets and Magnetic Fields, part 1
Lesson 6: BFSU A-5A: Magnets and Magnetic Fields, part 2
Lesson 7: BFSU A-5A: Magnets and Magnetic Fields, part 3

This post is part of my series on using BFSU as a science unit study.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spanish: Beginners to Advanced Beginners

Last week I wrote my complaint about the lack of good foreign language programs for younger children. We tried several resources not listed below which ranged from ineffective to miserable, but that's not for this post. This week, I'm going to write about what has worked for us.

Little Pim. This is great for preschool aged children. It is vocabulary only, but there is quite a lot of vocabulary in each episode.

Vocabulary-focused books. We started with the My First Bilingual Book series and then moved on to the English-Spanish Foundations Series. The My First Bilingual Book series is one work per page, translated with a clear picture. Great for just starting on vocabulary. The English-Spanish Foundations Series is a bit variable on how much vocabulary and sentence structure is in each book, but they have quite a bit more than the other series.

Salsa Spanish. This program is deceptively simple and merits many viewings. We used it initially for solidifying basic vocabulary - colors and numbers are often emphasized within the episodes. However, once you have those down, go back and rewatch paying more attention to the words that aren't emphasized. They speak in full conversational sentences, with common verbs and verb tenses, and a lot more vocabulary than what they emphasize. We are still using this as more advanced beginners.

While I was doing the above with The Kid, I was also working in DuoLingo for myself. DuoLingo is not appropriate for young children due to the fast pace and requirement for strong reading and spelling skills. But it gave me the skills to use the vocabulary we were learning in the children's programs and work on using Spanish in our speech.

Immersion. This would be what moved us from "beginner" to "advanced beginner". There is simply no substitute. For us, immersion was three weeks in a Guatemalan homestay while I took Spanish language classes and The Kid went to a local Spanish-language preschool.

Next week, I will write about our plan to move from "advanced beginner" to "intermediate" level.