Sunday, June 21, 2015

Work Plan, Cooking, and American History

Week 3 of Kindergarten


This week was the start of the "Little Chefs" camp for our co-op. We also got in an order of new materials from IFIT, including two sets of bells, and we planned a field trip with friends to the Upcountry History Museum.

In addition to those planned activities, I printed our first attempt at a work plan based on the post by What DID we do all day? I decided to go with daily and weekly options so we could reset it at the end of each week. I will probably play around with the subjects listed until we find something that we're comfortable with, but this was a good start. M really likes moving the paper clips from one side to the other as she completes her work, and she likes having the chart to look at to see what her options are for the day.

Day 11 - Monday

On Monday we spent the day finishing prepping cards for the week and exploring the new materials. M wanted to help me cut the cards using the paper cutter. I gave her the scrap paper that I cut off the cards I was making, showed her how she could use the ruler on the paper cutter to measure, and carefully cut the paper strips to different lengths. She worked on this for a LONG time. She even labeled the paper strips with the lengths. 

I attempted to show her how she could use the strips to work on addition (2+3=5), but she just rolled her eyes and said, "Just put them down, Mom. I'm working here!" And off she went, creating more sets of graded papers.

We brought home some materials from my parents' house, including this fasteners book. M is able to do most of the fasteners (large buttons, snaps, zipper), but we worked on a few that she is still learning (buckle and ties).

We had some errands to run in the afternoon and a meeting to look at rock for our new house. We were out for the rest of the day, and I hadn't intended to get much work done when we returned. I showed her the new work plan in preparation for the next day, and she liked it so much that she wanted to start working immediately. She tried the set of fruit cards I prepared for camp. These cards from The Helpful Garden have pictures of the inside and outside of various fruits to match. M enjoyed matching the cards and naming the fruits.

I did the first presentation for matching the bells. Unfortunately, my very observant daughter quickly noticed that the bells have numbers engraved on the top, and she started matching the numbers rather than listening to the sound. She still enjoyed playing the bells and listening to the scale.

M noticed a basket I added next to her geometric solids with some of her toys and food from her play kitchen. She matched the toys/food to the solids, and we reviewed the names as she worked.

Day 12 - Tuesday

On the first day of Young Chefs camp, the kids decorated aprons and chefs hats and worked on lots of different food prep activities. M's favorites were juicing lemons and oranges (and making homemade lemonade!), flipping pancakes, and making fruit kabobs. I also gave a presentation on fractions using the new fraction skittles we purchased from IFIT. 

I talked with M about using the materials at co-op, so she took the opportunity to work with the continent map. She decided that she is going to learn all of the continents, then trace and punch each continent to make a poster just like one her friend made. She started with Antarctica, which is the one continent she can always identify correctly. (Maybe because she had so much fun with our Antartica unit last year??)

At the end of co-op, we gathered outside to release the butterflies. M had enjoyed observing the butterflies over the past few days, and had colored pictures and read stories to learn more about them. The kids all watched as they slowly found the opening in the top of the enclosure and flew away.

That afternoon we reviewed her work plan, and she chose to use her sand tray and "magic board" to practice handwriting with her sandpaper letters. I wanted to check her progress since we have been working on writing lately, so I took out the whole box of sandpaper letters and had her trace each letter and then write it in the sand. I did say anything, but made two piles of letters - those that she traced and wrote correctly, and those that she traced or wrote incorrectly. I added a couple of letters that I know she usually writes wrong (like backwards s), even though she actually traced and wrote them correctly with the sandpaper letter in front of her.

She chose two letters from the "needs work" pile and practiced writing those on her "magic board."

Next, she chose to work on her phonogram folders. She completed the next lesson in Ordinary Parent's Guide (affiliate link), which was on the long "i" sound, then reviewed the other long vowel sounds she had learned previously. She read the word booklets from each envelope (long "a", long "e" and long "i"), then sorted the sound cards. (I used this collection of posts on the Dwyer Method to create the phonogram folders.)

Day 13 - Thursday

We took the day off on Wednesday to play at a friend's house and go swimming, and jumped right back in on Thursday with the second day of Young Chefs camp. This day was all about baking, and M spent the morning helping to measure ingredients, grease muffin tins, mix batter, and scoop the batter into the muffin tins to make banana bread muffins.

Later that morning I gave a presentation on states of matter (solid, liquid, gas), and we observed the solid ice melting into liquid water. After the presentation, we mixed the ingredients for homemade ice cream to turn a liquid into a solid.

At home that afternoon, M asked to work with the bells again. This time I had her close her eyes while I played one note, then she listened as I played the second set until she heard the matching note. After she matched the whole set, we pulled out three bells (middle C, A, high C) and I gave her a lesson on the names of those notes. I had her close her eyes while I played one of the notes, and she would point to the bell that I had played. By the end, she could say the name of the note when I played it.

Next, we pulled out the Ordinary Parent's Guide (affiliate link) for another lesson on long "i" words. It had a review lesson with an I Spy game. You were supposed to use index cards for the game, but I modified it to use the movable alphabet. I gave a clue like "I spy something that can fly," and she had to think of a word and spell it on the rug. She had a lot of fun with this game, and I was shocked by how well she was spelling the words.

"I spy something that can fly" - jet
"I spy something that cries" - baby
"I spy something black" - marker

She chose to do another geometry lesson (to complete the section on her work plan), so we pulled out the geometric solids again. We reviewed the names of the solids, then we played the "What's missing?" game. She turned around so she couldn't see me while I hid one of the solids. She was struggling to figure out which solid was missing, so she used her geometric solid picture cards to match to the solids. She turned it into a police game (I was the robber stealing the solids, and she was the police chief who had to come survey the scene and determine what had been stolen). This game went on for quite a while, and by the end she was very confident with the names of the solids.

We brought home the DIY teen and tens boards that had been at co-op so M could practice making numbers. I reviewed the teen board with her during co-op that morning, and she worked with it independently that afternoon.

We ended the day with a trip to our property where we're building our new house. We returned the frogs that we had caught for Nature Explorers camp to their home in the pond. We walked around the perimeter of the pond and M found animal tracks, a butterfly, plantain (that she identified herself!), and wild blackberries (yum!).

Day 14 - Friday

We had a field trip planned for the afternoon, so I told M she needed to get her work done in the morning before we left. She had already finished most of the categories on her work plan except for math (bead chains), calendar work, and maps.

She started with the short bead chains. She has done this work before, but she has started confusing herself with counting now that she is counting larger numbers. She tries to overthink it and skips around between counting by ones and counting by tens (so she'll say 18, 19, 20, 30...). She completed through the 6's (including comparing to the bead squares, which are new), and then started having trouble with the larger numbers at the end of the 7 chain.

I had her pause and put the bead chains away, and we took out the ten board instead. I did a presentation on quantity and numeral for 10-50, then had her continue through the 50s. You can see below how she made the quantity 53 to match the numerals. We practiced counting tens as 1-ten, 2-tens, 3-tens so she could remember that the numeral in the tens column represented the number of ten bars. I can tell that she would benefit from more practice with the ten board.

While I was putting the baby down for a nap, she chose to work on her calendar tray and some handwriting practice books. When I got back, she showed me how she could put the days of the week in order without looking at the control card.

She used this dry erase handwriting practice book to practice drawing straight lines, circles, and letters. She was proud of herself for tracing the letter "e" correctly, since that was one of the letters we had just worked on.

We were ready to leave, so I packed her map work for her to complete on the way to the museum. I put a colored dot on each of the continents on a control map, then also gave her a set of blank continent cards. She finished coloring the control map, then matched the individual continent cards to the control map to determine which color to use on that card. When she finished, we sang the continent song, and she put the cards in the order of the song.

We spent the rest of the day at the Upcountry History Museum where M and her friends had a fantastic time playing in the Magic Tree House exhibit. M loves the Magic Tree House books (affiliate link), and was thrilled to see Jack and Annie on the displays as we entered. The exhibit was really well done, and the kids were able to dress up in costumes and pretend to be characters in several of the books. It was an interactive lesson in American history, including a visit to Plymouth Bay at the time of the first Thanksgiving, a trip to a field hospital to help Clara Barton during the time of the Civil War, and a visit to a one-room school house to experience life as a pioneer.

Successes and Challenges

Successes this week -

  • The work plan. It wasn't perfect (I plan to tweak the categories for next week), but it keep M on track and eliminated any power struggles over which subjects she needed more work on. It was just the right balance to give her choices, but make sure we hit all the major subjects.
  • Using materials at co-op. The work plan really helped with this as well because we could look over the list and talk about what she might want to accomplish during co-op time, and what materials are available there and what is available at our apartment.
  • Taking a break when we needed it. We took Wednesday off completely, and we had a great time relaxing and spending time with friends. This is one of the huge benefits of homeschooling, and it's one of the reasons why I chose to do school year-round. We have so much extra time to get in our required days, so there's no reason to feel pressured or guilty when we want to take a day off.
Challenges this week - 
  • Work period. I'm on the fence about whether this is really a challenge worth fighting for. M seems to be doing well with having her work time spread throughout the day, but I wonder if she would choose more if she had a set 3-hour work period. It's challenging to find a 3-hour block of time that is free from distractions (especially little sister), so that may just be something that we put on hold for a while.
  • Organization. I took everything out of M's room to re-organize, and I'm slowly adding materials back to her shelves. The process is slower than I was hoping, so most of her cultural materials are in boxes right now. On the positive side, she's spending more time with her math and language materials because they are the only things on her shelves right now.  
  • Long term planning. I'm still feeling a little fuzzy on our long term goals for the year. I need to sit down with my primary albums and make a list of the general topics I want to present. I want to keep things flexible enough that M can follow her own interests, but I want to be prepared with lessons to introduce her to some new topics that we haven't gotten to yet.

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