Friday, August 30, 2013

Kindergarten Binder - Win!

   The kindergarten binder has been a winner! It's efficient, keeps little things from getting forgotten, and Faith loves it. 

   When it's time for Faith to start school she pulls her kindergarten binder off the shelf and brings it to the table. The first cardstock page has a chart with 93 squares. The Child's Story Bible New Testament by Catherine Vos has 93 chapters. After we read and discuss one chapter she colors a square. Since then she brought home an early reader Bible from Sunday School that she wants to read instead. The 93 boxes won't line up anymore... but that's okay. =)

After coloring her square she turns the page to find her memory work. Bird Talk by Aileen Fisher is her first poem this year. She practices it three times.  

And the beginning of The Lord's Prayer, which is part of her homework from American Heritage Girls this week. That zigzag page underneath the memory piece is a book log. I put it in the daily pages to remind us to write down any titles she's finished.

Then she makes a tally mark for tracking how many school days she's had. 

  The days of the week, today's date, season, and place value with school days page is in a page protector. She does this with a dry erase marker, and cleans it off for tomorrow before turning the page. This was printed from Mama's Learning Corner. I skipped all the kewl weather tracking sheets one typically finds for kindergartners. Somehow marking that it's sunny for 350 days just didn't seem worth it. Areas with normal seasons probably enjoy those more than we do. ;-)

There's a clock on the backside. Faith checks the clock above the refrigerator and fills it out accordingly. 

Then we get into the tabbed sections. The first one is phonics. When she practices her Spalding phonogram cards she can color a square. (I made this one with a free empty 100 chart)

Under that is a pile of premade handwriting pages that coordinate with her phonogram cards. (Made on the Zaner-Bloser copywork generator thingie-ma-bobber.)

 She reads one short, phonetically controlled paragraph aloud. These are fairly easy for her, but I made her start at the beginning anyway. This is Blend Phonics Decodable Stories by Elizabeth Brown. You can download it for free at Don Potter's blend phonics page.

  Then she reads one of the Veritas Press Favorites books to me, and does an activity page to go with it. This day she read about 12 pages of Sammy the Seal, and did a seal dot-to-dot I found on the internet. (Sammy the Seal is her last Kindergarten Favorites title to finish, and she'll start First Favorites volume 1 next week.)

The math tab reminds her to get her Horizons 1 math book off the shelf and do the next lesson. Under the math tab she finds pages from MEP math practice book 1. She pulls those out as she feels like it, usually when all her daily work is done and she's not ready to give up school time. The Goops tab has Goops coloring pages to do after we read that section in her Goops book. When she completes the Goop book that divider will say maps, and have the Legends and Leagues activity pages tucked behind it instead. The little pocket in the back of the binder has random activity pages such as color by number/word/sum/difference, mazes, cutting practice, paper crafts, and other random pages I found free on the internet. When her daily work is done she can get those out anytime she feels like it.

Faith loves kindergarten! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013



     I probably spend too much time worrying about doing this one right.

     When my big kids were small I knew much less about the topic, but I was more certain that the methods we chose were the right ones. No exceptions. The older they got, the less I knew. I know where I'd like them to be when they graduate our homeschool, but the getting them there tripped me up. Needless to say the cookie cutter approach didn't work well for long, no matter how awesome that cookie shape is.

     This year I'm feeling more on top of composition. I stopped looking at the big picture and individually examined where each kid is and where they were heading. Individually I made plans for the year. They each have a different path.

    Justice has always disliked generic writing projects just for the sake of practicing a new concept or skill. I've never been very comfortable designing his composition around his other subjects myself. I like a book written by somebody who knows what they're doing to get me started. Justice had a hard time accepting any criticism of his writing last year; he was actually pretty offended by it. His writing didn't improve much as a result. We've had several heart to heart conversations about it this summer. He wants writing to be embedded in history and literature. I want him to have more writing instruction before we go without a safety net. The compromise is he'll work through the rest of the Stewart English program (last book focuses on writing) to start with, while I work on a solid plan for the rest of the year, using a Norton handbook as an aide.

    Joy, being Justice's polar opposite in practically every way, prefers to just open a book and do what's next. She doesn't want a lengthy conversation to clarify expectations, and is quite happy subbing topics in those generic writing assignments. She'll be using Jump In! by Watson, with the understanding she can do the assignments as is, substitute a topic if it still suits the assignment, or even merge it into something in another subject. She is very happy with this plan, and will primarily run it herself.

     Honor writes great for his age, but could really care less about the subject in general. I pushed him to try bigger and more complex assignments at the end of last year, and he really rose to the challenge. Justice and Joy both used Classical Writing's Homer book in fifth grade, but Honor just doesn't seem like a Classical Writing sort of kid. He considers writing about the complexities of a cell to be more interesting than a fable most days. When I asked him about being a reporter his interest was peaked, and he really liked the samples of Wordsmith Apprentice. This book starts with really simple grammar work, and ends with a basic essay under the guise of writing an editorial column. I don't think it will last him a whole school year, but we could easily flesh out more writing using the same methods and focusing on one big project a week. He's going to love this!

    Grace, on the other hand, is absolutely a Classical Writing type of kid. She adores working on fables and short stories and being able to call it schoolwork. My only problem here is she'll be ready for the Homer levels by early spring at the latest. She'll be 8 years old. Homer A is a pretty rigorous book aimed at the maturity of the average fifth grader. When I get all my lesson planning for fall done I'll reread the core and see how feasible it is. If I cut the analysis work it won't be much more challenging than the Aesop books, and the grammar is so intertwined we couldn't drop all of it. This will take some tweaking.

     Faith will get the benefit of the guinea pigs, err, oldest children, paving the way for her. For kindergarten she gets plain ole copywork, and gentle amounts of it. Most of it will come from good children's literature. :)  Copywork taken from good writers works, and works well. Who better than masters of English for a young one to start copying?

     Writing 2013-2014?  My no. 2s and Pink Pearls are ready for you. Bring it on.