Wednesday, January 22, 2014

100's day Adventure!

How we celebrated our first 100 days of Homeschooling Kindergarten!

 I wanted to give Chickadee a fun day for making it through her first 100 days of Kindergarten!! She knew when our 100th day would be as we have been keeping track of the number of days during our morning calendar time, however, she had NO idea what I had planned for her! The night before our 100th day (after she was well asleep!) I made the 100 poster (with 3 sets of 100 "things"-hearts, swirls, and stars- one hundred around each number) and hung it up in our living room entrance! (I had decided we would be doing school in the living room on this day since A-it was more of a fun day and we could be more relaxed in there and B-the temperature outside was near the single digits (before wind chill) which meant our school room would be REALLY REALLY cold!) I also piled up all the books we would be reading (see list at end of post) and put in the different activities between the books.  When she came out of her room that morning, she was SO excited! 

  The first thing we did was head out to our cold school room to do our calendar time- I wanted her to SEE how to move our place value straws to make 100 and fill in her "100 days of school chart. Once we were sure it was our 100th day, we headed back to the living room. We read a few poems from the book "Counting our way to the 100th Day!" Then she opened her special letter from her Grandma! (My mom is a principal at a Christian School in Michigan and wanted to send along something fun since she understands how fun the 100th day is for Kindergartners!)

Inside she found some pretty neat glasses (see picture above), a certificate, a pencil that said "Kindergartners are #1, a bookmark and a fun 100 day coloring activity! She LOVED it (but what kid doesn't thoroughly enjoy getting mail!!??!) 

  Then, we read "Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten" by Joseph Slate. She LOVED this book and even chose to write about for her first "assignment" of the day- "My favorite thing about the first 100 days of school...." Chickadee's answer was "Reading Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th day of Kindergarten with mommy." (I tried to explain that it meant she could pick something from ALL our days of school this year, life field trips, unit studies, art, etc. but she insisted that it be this! After that we played a 100 tallies dice game and read another book. Our day continued in this fashion for the most part, read a book, do a few activities, read another book, etc. (Listed below are all my resources for the activities we used as well as the books we read!) 
Dad even got in and read one of our books on his lunch break!

  One of my favorite activities was the "What can I do in 100 seconds" game. Chickadee had to estimate how many times she thought she could do a certain activity and then actually do it for 100 seconds to see what it acutally was. She had a lot of fun completing the activities which included: clap your hands, blink your eyes, sing the  alphabet, write your name, etc. 

  Another one of my favorite things she did during our celebration day was the "What I think I will look like when I am 100 years old..." Her picture cracked me up so I wanted to share it with you... 
Apparently, she is not going to have much hair on the TOP of her head, but it's going to grow all over her face. That is what she told me all the lines on her face were... :)

One of our final activities (and I think Chickadee's favorite) was making a fruit loop necklace. She had to count out all the fruit loops then string them on and then she could eat them as we did the rest of our work. Here are a few pictures of that process: 

Overall, we had a wonderfully fun day!! I wanted to leave you with just a few more "fun pictures" from our 100th day celebration!! 

Happy 100th day!

Books we read for our 100th day celebration:
  • Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th day of Kindergarten by: Joseph Slate**
  • Kindergarten Count to 100 by: Jacqueline Rogers
  • Fluffy's 100th Day at School by: Kate McMullan
  • Jake's 100th Day at School by: Lester Laminack**
  • Emily's First 100 Days of School by: Rosemary Wells
  • Henry's 100 Days of Kindergarten by: Nancy Carlson
  • Counting Our Way To The 100th Day! 100 poems by: Betsy Franco**
**These were our favorite books to read!**

List of resources where we found our activities and printables (all free at time of printing): 
  • 100's day mini unit  includes: booklet, "If I had $100.00..., My favorite thing...., What I will look like when I am 100...., trail mix recipe, Tallies dice game, Estimation page and directions.
  • 100's day activity bookmarks Includes 2 different 100 day bookmarks to make and 1 premade
  • What I can do in 100 seconds worksheet (Scroll down about 3/4 way, also has a lot of other fun ideas on this page!)
  • flip a coin 100 times (also includes a color by code- even/odd #'s and 100th day news)
These are most of the resources we used. You can find so many more ideas and free printables on pintrest or through a google search! I hope I have inspired you to have a 100's day adventure of your own! 

As always, comments, questions, or just random thoughts are always welcome!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Adventures in teaching Science!

How we teach Science in Pre-K and Kindergarten

   We had no set science curriculum for our PreK year. During this time we taught science in different hands-on experiences and everyday situations. One big aspect was talking about the weather and the different seasons each morning during our calendar time. We checked the weather each day and then found a matching picture card to hang. By doing this, we used a lot of science vocabulary words that Chickadee was hearing and learning. There were basic words like sunny, cloudy, rainy, hot, cold, but she was also introduced to other words not common of a 4 year old like foggy, cool, warm, partly cloudy, humid, sleet, hail, etc. We also discussed the differences between the four seasons and different weather we may find in each season. 
   We also did many hands-on activities like cooking, making homemade play-dough, making homemade moon sand, experiments, and observations. We took nature walks and discussed different things we saw or observed outside. One of my favorite things we did last year were observation sheets like this one from 2 teaching mommies' Ice Cream pack. Several of their printable packs have observation sheets in them which walks the young student through using each of their five senses to observe something. Chickadee enjoyed doing these as much as I enjoyed their educational content! We also did a variety of science activities included in printable packs found on the internet to go along with our weekly theme. 

  Again, we discuss the same science concepts during morning calendar time and I am hoping to get a large thermometer to place outside so we can start charting the daily temperatures. We also added Elemental Science's "Exploring Science" preschool series. I opted for the printed combo as I wanted to have it all bound and not worry about printing off weekly plans and student pages. It was worked out wonderfully! This program comes with a 2 or 5 day lesson plan which we have morphed into a 3 day/week plan. Chickadee's favorite thing about this science curriculum is that her Dad usually does it with her! The program is simple enough that most daily activities only take 20 minutes or so which allows us to wait to do this until my husband comes home in the afternoons to complete. I love the time they get to spend together learning and watching them interact together during the experiments. I usually pick up a few extra books from the library that pertain to the particular subject being taught each week and we read these throughout the week. Using this curriculum, we have also made a nature journal that we record in from our nature walks. 
Water Wonder Necklace from "Exploring Science"

   We also incorporate different science activities through our unit studies that we do. For example, this week we have begun our Fairy Tale unit. One of our activities will be to find 3 materials to build houses with (3 little pigs activity) and see which material will hold up best to "wind." Another way we learn science is through fun kits. For instance, this year, Chickadee received a "Bubble Experiment Kit" for Christmas from a family member. We can't wait until it warms up enough to get outside and try it out!

   We also use field trips to learn about science! Places we have gone where we are able to learn about science include: Local Science Museums (Children oriented), the Zoo, Nature Parks, State Parks, Camping Trips, 
Feeding the Birds

Petting Zoo

Pumpkin Patch... she discovered a caterpillar

Carefully Choosing a pumpkin

Something caught their eye in the tree...

Nature Walk

Nature Walk

Science is best learned through hands-on, fun activities and we make sure we do a lot of these! Thanks for reading! As always, questions/comments are welcome!

Until our next adventure,


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Math Adventures!

How I teach MATH in Kindergarten:

   To begin, I will redirect you to the beginning of yesterday's post about Chickadee's Early Childhood background here

  So now, I will pick up where that left off! Last year we used Confessions of a Homeschooler's K4  Curriculum. In this curriculum, Chickadee practiced number writing 1-20, beginning math skills, reviewed colors and shapes, counting to 50, skip counting, and a variety of other math related things! My favorite math component from this pack were the Add It! and Subtract It! games. These hands on games helped Chickadee to visualize what happens when we add to basic numbers or subtract numbers. She enjoyed playing them last year and we still pull them out from time to time for review and fun!
  Along with our purchased curriculum for PreK, we also watched Leapfrog DVD's (Math Circus, Math Adventure to the moon, etc) and used a variety of preschool leveled games to reinforce and teach math skills. 

  This year we are using Alpha Omega's Horizons K math curriculum. (Learn more about the complete Horizon's Curriculum here.) I love this curriculum as the teacher book is easy to follow and the student book is all in color! Chickadee LOVES math (and that's an understatement!) and loves to get to her math draw each day. We have our math curriculum in our 2nd work-box (after Calendar) because she looks forward to it and it helps us start our morning off right! We usually start our lesson with some oral counting (currently- up to 100!) and a few flash cards covering either basic addition to 10 or skip counting. Then, we sit together using whichever manipulative needed and cover the "new" concept of the lesson. For this time, we use a variety of manipulatives and other resources. We may use the chalkboard, play money, clocks, dry erase boards, dry erase books, pattern blocks, base 10 blocks, games, etc. Whatever we need to do for Chickadee to grasp the new concept. Then, she moves back to her desk and we go through her work-page together. The first part of her page is usually covering the new concept, so we talk this through together. The rest of the work page is review of previous concepts taught. We are at the point in our school year now that most days, I go over all the directions with her and then she completes them on her own. She usually tells me "I want to surprise you, let me do it by myself!" I will move back to my desk and find something to work on while she finishes her math! Then we check it together and go on with our day! 

  We also cover a lot of math concepts during our calendar time. 

This is the very first part of day getting us into "school-mode." During this time, we practice the months of they year, the days of the week, and the date (including the year). Chickadee then writes in the day's number in her monthly calendar we get from here. Then we graph the weather. (Find the graph we use here; "click on weather graphing"). Next, we do a tally mark count of the days of school for each month. (Find our tally sheet here.) After that, we do our place value number of days and keep track of how many days of school we have had. We do this two ways- the first is that we have a 100 grid that we are filling in to get to 100! The second way to keep track of how many days of school is writing down our number and placing them around the room. At the beginning of the year, I traced Chickadee's hand onto construction paper. Each day, we add a number to one of her fingers. When all 5 fingers are filled, we right the last number largely on the palm, and then hang it in the room. The next hand goes right next to the first hand and so on. This is a great way of keeping track of days of school as well as visualizing how to count by 5's! We have also done a different colored hand print for each month and we are getting a rainbow effect around the top of our school room! Chickadee gets practice writing numbers and we have a quick visual of how many days of school! Finally, chickadee does a number a week page to give her extra writing practice with her numbers. We use Confessions of a Homeschooler's Kindergarten Number Writing sheets. 
(Disclaimer: We use a lot of Confessions of a Homeschooler's math pages during calendar because we used this curriculum during her PreK year and it is what she is familiar with. Confessions of a Homeschooler offers most of these printables for free! Check them out, they are definitely worth it!)

Putting in the date card

Writing in the date

Counting in the Weather graph

Tally Marks

Place Value- 10's

Place Value- Ones!

Number Writing Practice sheets

 Other Ways to teach MATH:
  We also incorporate other math concepts and math practice through unit studies, like our Charlotte's Web study and our current Fairy Tale study. 
Measuring fire tools - Fire Safety Unit

Writing down those measurements!

Playing a game for Fire Safey- note the dice with number words instead of dots or written numbers!

We also use manipulatives during free play. I have quite a collection of math manipulatives and Chickadee gets time each day to choose different items for free play. I have listed some of these activities below:

Some of our Manipulatives
  • Geoboards
  • Pattern Blocks
  • Tangrams
  • Number Puzzles
  • Shape Puzzles
  • Alphie-Numbers
  • Flashcards
  • Dice
  • Games
  • Unifix Cubes
  • Base 10 Blocks
  • Math DVD's
  • Sequencing Cards
  • Fun workbooks
  • Themed units
These are the ways we incorporate and teach math throughout our school day in Kindergarten! I hope that maybe you saw a new idea and are encouraged to try something new with your students! Let me know if you have any questions! 


Monday, January 13, 2014

Adventures in teaching Language Arts...

How we teach Language Arts..... in Kindergarten!

 Well, since preK and Kindergarten are all I have expereience in (so far) this is where I will be explaining from! We use a mostly "traditional" style of schooling (since I am a former public school teacher) and use workboxes so that Chickadee can see what she has to accomplish as well as what she has completed for the day! We love working together and including Dad in on some of our projects too! 

 I will start with a brief explanation as to what Chickadee already knew before staring Kindergarten this year:

  To begin, we were very fortunate to have our daughter in a "home day care" when she was young while I was working full time and my husband was finishing school and working part time jobs. The day care she was in from 9 months old to 3.5 years was such a wonderful place and so educationally focused! The owner/leader did "preschool" time with all the kids (only 4) every morning teaching letters, sounds, numbers, etc. while having fun with weekly themes!
  Add this to my Early Childhood Education background and we had a very literate household, reading LOTS of books (my husband swears I have a book addiction... its okay, I really do!) ;) and my daughter was lucky to have such a strong language arts background before any "official" schooling began!
  When I was first able to stay home with Chickadee, we dabbled in the homeschooling waters and I found Confessions of a Homeschoolers "Letter of the Week K4" curriculum to start using. This was what we did for her "preK" year and I supplemented with "printable packs" that I found around the internet to supplement and make learning fun!

 Now, this year, we jumped in with both feet as we tackled Kindergarten! Here is how we are currently teaching/learning Language Arts:

Sight Words:
   To begin, during her "calendar time" we are using Reading the Easy Way. During the first semester we used the "preschool" edition to help Chickadee really memorize and learn those basic sight words. Chickadee loves the games that Reading the Easy Way incorporates as well as the word searches, mini readers, and other fun activities that teach the basic sight words. I love that it does teach in such a hands on and fun way giving us fun activities first thing in our school day! Once we finished the 12 week program, I had her complete these sight word sentences to reinforce the words we had already learned. (COAH also has these sight word sentences available for older grades as well!) Chickadee also loves doing one of these each day and most enjoys the silly sentences that go with each word! This semester we are staring with Reading the Easy Way Kindergarten and are looking forward to the new games, new activities, and mini-readers! 

 Playing "Roll and Read" from Reading the Easy Way

 Reading from one of the "mini-readers" from Reading the Easy Way

Learning to Read:
  We are using All About Reading Level 1 as our main language arts program now. I fell in love with this curriculum online and read so many great reviews of their products and couldn't wait to try it with Chickadee! I love the hands-on approach to learning and the student activity pages that make it fun to learn! We did, however, run into a bit of difficulty at first. At the beginning of the school year, Chickadee and I tried to jump in and start learning with AAR level 1. However, after 2 or 3 lessons, I decided to put it up and try again later. Chickadee was really struggling with the blending of the sounds. She knew the sounds, could sound out the words, could hear the word if I sounded them out elongated together, but could not sound it out and "hear" the word on her own. After a few days of frustration and tears, I knew it was not worth it! (I also knew we had a year to review and send it back if we couldn't make it work for us! Check out their return policy, it is AWESOME!) I found Starfall's Learn to Read and used their curriculum for a while. Chickadee loved this curriculum, I enjoyed that it was free! (You can even find free printables to go along with the stories on their website) and it seemed to be working! After going through the first 5 lessons (a total of about 10 weeks- repetition is key!) I pulled out our AAR level 1 again, and this time, it has been going GREAT! There has been no tears, no frustration, just enjoyment and excitement as Chickadee learns to read! We are currently working on beginning blends after finishing digraphs and final blends! She still asks to do Starfall and I let her use this site once awhile during "free time" but it mostly reinforces what we are learning through All About Reading! I think Chickadee's favorite thing with this program are the readers! She has fully completed the first (of three) of the hardback readers and even took it to my parents house for Christmas to read the stories for them! She LOVES that she can read (somewhat) on her own and I often find her reading anything she can get her hands on!

Writing/Grammar & Handwriting:
   I love our writing time! We are using Writeshop Primary Book A. This program includes several "weekly calendar" options on how you want to fit it into your schedule. We have chosen the 3 days a week option and it seems to work out great. Each lesson begins with a guided writing time and then continues on small steps to complete a unit. Currently, we are working on unit 6 and learning all about punctuation and capitol letters at the beginning of a sentence. Each unit also has a specific "theme or topic" to use for the "writing project." Through the writing project, Chickadee is learning to brainstorm, pick a topic, "rough draft," edit, and make a final piece of work. Each of the final projects is something different and keeps it fun and interesting. We have made an "All About Me" book, "Cookies" about friends, animal themed wind sock, written a train story and made into a train accordion fold book, and other fun projects! This curriculum teaches creative writing along with the entire writing process and helps to build grammar skills as well! 
   We also have a writing journal that we do at least once a week. Usually I give Chickadee several "sentence starters" (usually seasonal) to pick from and then let her choose one and finish with whatever she wants. She also draws a picture to go along with what she has written. I use this journal to also have her write down things we have done. For example, after a trip to our local museum, she wrote "My favorite thing at the museum this time was..." She enjoys writing in this journal and I think it will be fun to look back and read at the end of the year and many years down the road!
   For basic handwriting practice, we use A Reason for Handwriting Kindergarten book. I really like that starting with the next book (level A) the handwriting practice is all focused on scripture. However, the Kindergarten book is a very basic, letter by letter approach. Chickadee has done very well with this and only has a few review pages left to complete before finishing this book completely! Each page has the student practice writing one letter on the front (such as d) then on the back there is a picture of an object (usually an animal) that begins with that letter. Chickadee has enjoyed learning about the different animals and coloring in the pictures after practicing the letters!
  I also use everyday writing experiences when I can. This fall we had a trip to the fire station to learn about fire safety and see what a firefighter does. The next day, I had her write a letter to the firemen thanking them for letting us visit and other things. Her letter was 3 pages long by the time she had written all she wanted to! 

Writing a letter to our local fireman

   I don't think any Language Arts curriculum is complete without good quality Literature books and/or Read-Aloud time (no matter the age of the student!) As I said previously, I have a book addiction! Finding a book to read in this house is NEVER a problem! This year, we have taken time to read some books together each day. Sometimes, we also have "quiet reading time" where Chickadee and I will each read our own books of choice for 20 minutes. Our read-aloud time usually consists of kids' story books that somehow pertain to something we are learning about. (ex: fire safety, thanksgiving, seasonal books, etc). However, we also read "just for fun" books too!  
   One of my favorite things Chickadee and I have done this year, however, was a study on Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. I made a whole post about it here. We loved reading the book together and putting together our lapbook and all the projects we got to do as well. This unit study also introduced Chickadee to key language arts words like Plot, Characters, Setting, Problem, and Solution. Our next study is going to be over various fairy tales like "The Three Bears," "The Three Little Pigs," and "Little Red Riding-hood." I am excited to start this unit study with Chickadee! 

 I think that about covers all we are currently doing to teach Language Arts in Kindergarten for Chickadee this year! As I said before, this is my first real year of homeschooling so I don't claim to have all the answers, just what is working for us! I hope that maybe you found something useful! Questions and/or Comments are always welcome!

Thanks for reading,

This post was written to go along with ihomeschool network's How I teach series! Click to find more wonderful posts about teaching Language Arts!