Thursday, March 17, 2016

9 Activities for a Preschooler Tag-Along

One of the questions that I get frequently asked is "What does your little one do while you homeschool your older daughter?" In order to give a visual answer, I've been collecting these pictures over the past few months. Sometimes these were activities that I laid out the night before, sometimes they were things she found for herself, but they are all activities that have been frequently enjoyed.

1. Participating with Us

This is so important, and I forget more than I like to admit. She wants to be included, and if I think a little bit, many times I can find a simple way to include her. She loves being read to, so she often listens during all of our read-aloud times. She also loves when her big sister reads to her.

This was a fun math activity that involved M&Ms. How could she be left out?

I very recently made her a box violin so she could practice with her sister and bring it with to violin lessons. This has been HUGE! Before this she was becoming disruptive at lessons, and this was the answer we were looking for. She'll probably start her own lessons sometime this summer, so it's good practice but also good pretend fun.

2. Coloring

Crayons. Colored pencils. Markers. Hats. So fun.

3. Biggie Beads or Pattern Blocks

Free play making patterns can occupy toddlers and preschoolers for quite some time.

4. Dry Erase Cards and Markers

I have two sets of these cards, numbers and ABCs. They are dry erase and include small puzzles on each card.

5. Drawing

The lap station works wonders to draw a preschooler's attention. Fill those side compartments with some fun paper and pencils.

6. Math Manipulatives

Every time we get out our big bin of math manipulatives, she has to play too, of course. The geoboard with rubber bands is a big hit. She also has her own set of cuisenaire rods that she pulls out every once in awhile.

7. Puzzles

She could do this for hours. I set this out for her during our read-aloud time one day.

8. File Folder Activities/Games

I have a few of these she can do on her own. I also have some I play with her when we spend time together one on one.

9. Whatever She Wants to Do

Imagine my joy when she is easily occupied with some 'friends' and a mirror.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Finishing All About Reading, Level 2

We just finished All About Reading Level 2!

We love this program! I especially like that reading and spelling are done separately since most students will be able to read words that they are not yet ready to spell. So, now that we have completed AAR Level 2, we will now start All About Spelling Level 2.

Through some trial and error, I have come up with a system that works to help us continue to review and solidify the reading concepts she's already learned while also working through the new spelling lessons. This review ensures that Miss A. is working on reading and spelling every day and keeping them fresh in her mind.

Review. Read through 10 word cards and/or phonogram cards still located behind our review dividers. We do this very quickly - 1 to 2 minutes max.

Challenge Words. Work through the challenge words on the fluency pages. These were words that we skipped when working through the curriculum. I go back through the fluency pages, find all the pages with challenge words and assemble them together on a clipboard. Each day Miss A. will read through a section for about 10 minutes.

Re-read Stories. Practice re-reading through the provided readers (What is This? and Queen Bee), one story per day. This is something that we do at bedtime. She reads one story to me, and then I read to her from a selected re-aloud. Snuggling makes it so much more enjoyable!

We love the stories in these readers!

New Material. Read outside material/books at other times throughout the day. This is the difficult one!

The All About Learning curriculum is by far the best I've encountered in our homeschooling journey. I sincerely mean that to include all curriculum we've tried, not just curriculum for language arts! But, if I HAD to list one complaint it would be finding readers and books that correspond to the curriculum. Since the curriculum follows a somewhat non-traditional method of teaching phonics with very few sight words, the result is that children get a solid understanding of phonics but also are not able to read much on their own besides the readers provided.

This would not have been an issue for me (because we love the stories in the readers and don't mind re-reading them), but Miss A. was lacking confidence in her ability to read on her own. She almost didn't even believe me that she could read because she thought the only books she could read were the AAR readers.

My mission became finding books and readers she could read mostly, if not all, by herself. I also didn't want to tell her to read a book (since I was also requiring her to read to me at bedtime); I want to inspire her to read it on her own.

This is what has worked for me. First, I chose a book. I could not find any books that corresponded exactly to the curriculum, but I found that if I chose books that were familiar (we've read together before or even multiple times) and used a lot of rhyming, we had success.

Next, I sat down with her and we read through it together. When we encountered an unfamiliar word which contained a phonogram that hadn't been learned, I simply read the word for her and quickly kept going. The object is to create confidence, NOT teach new phonograms. Of course, if they are interested in learning, go ahead.

After sitting down with Miss A. and going through a few books in this way, she was able to read the following books on her own (and enjoyed doing it). Hopefully I will be able to add to this list and help others who find themselves in a similar situation. These are all Dr. Seuss books (like I said, lots of rhyming!).

  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • Hop on Pop

If you encounter any other books that your child can read after AAR Level 2, please let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Wildflower Unit Study

One of my goals for my children's homeschool education is to instill in them an ownership of their own education and inspire them to pursue their own interests. In January, I sat down with Miss A. and we talked about topics she was interested in studying for the coming year. Art is huge for her, but she also mentioned wanting to study flowers. So I decided to purchase Our Journey Westward's ebook, Wonderful Wildflowers, as the inspiration to get us started.

Thanks to a particularly long winter, we've been waiting patiently for wildflowers to bloom in our area. So you can imagine how excited we were when we finally spotted some today!

The bulk of this study will to revolve around experiencing nature, finding, identifying, drawing, and keeping a record of the flowers in a nature journal. We used our picture of the flower to identify it on the US Wildflower's Database of Wildflowers in Virginia and then she documented it with a picture and description in her notebook.

Because art is so important to Miss A., I try to incorporate it into as much of our curriculum as possible. She used Draw 50 Flowers, Trees, and Other Plants to help her draw some flowers and other plants, some which we will hopefully find in the future. She loved this book even though it was a little challenging for her. Click on this picture, if you would like to purchase your own copy and learn how to draw various flowers and plants including a cactus and a daffodil.

I look forward to seeing Miss A. add many more flowers to her notebook over the summer and possibly beyond! Subscribe to make sure you don't miss anything! We will be dissecting flowers, learning about pollination, and reading as many books as we can find about wildflowers.

Also, follow my Summer School Pinterest board to see all the nature, gardening, and other fun stuff we have planned!

Follow Karla's board Summer School on Pinterest.