Our Curriculum for Next Year!

Books

This past year we have been using Alpha Omega’s Horizons preschool in our homeschool.  For Kindergarten in the fall, we have selected Memoria Press’ Kindergarten classical curriculum.

Memoria Press’ curriculum appealed to me with its introductions of amazing art and music throughout the school weeks.  There is focus on Bible teaching using the Golden Books Children Bible which I remember from childhood.  Copybooks emphasize phonics lessons with seatwork and copying of Scripture as the kids advance in their handwriting.  There is a recitation period to start each school day, where the kids get to formally recite what they have learned.

Memoria Press starts the kids on Latin around the 1-3 grades and I, at least, am looking forward to that, having been taught Latin when I was homeschooled! The dividends on that are paid in vocabulary and in general language learning.

I am a big fan of the classical approach to learning.  I should add that we intentionally went looking for a curriculum with structured lesson plans so my husband and I can hand off school throughout the week depending on our schedules.

For my visual learner, I knew we needed something with manipulatives and visual emphasis of math lessons.  I didn’t see that in the Rod and Staff math that comes with the Memoria Press curriculum, so we wanted to substitute something else in its place.  I saw Right Start Mathematics and instantly liked the fact that the concepts were not watered down from the very beginning.  We do the same thing with our science instruction at Homeschool Science Press, so it seemed like a natural carryover.  Right Start Math uses tools such as a Math Balance, abacus, clock games, and manipulatives.  Having already introduced some basic math and counting this past year with the Horizons curriculum, Right Start recommended we begin with Level B.

There is no dedicated science book with the Memoria Press Kindergarten curriculum, so as science is covered, we will supplement with pages from My First Science Notebook by Homeschool Science Press.  This will help us learn science as we encounter it in the real world, but still drive home the skills of science: observation, measuring, drawing, and recording.  I expect to continue this approach for this next year at least and then we’ll be looking for a dedicated textbook.  I might use vintage science books, who knows?  My most important goal with science for now is to make sure they are asking questions, guessing the answer, and observing outcomes.

What are you using in your homeschool this fall?  Leave a comment and let us know!

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Gardening!

HSV Garden Challenge

Garden.  Challenge.  We’re ready.

Our garden? Shown here.  a 16 x16 plot, scraped clean by tractor and ready for final assembly.  We have a water line set to run perpendicular to the southern side, and we’ll tap off it in east-west rows with soaker hoses.  You can’t grow anything around here without irrigation.

Garden plot

The dirt? Not good, so it will all be amended with topsoil and compost.

The compost? This year we’ll be buying compost, because we don’t yet have a bin for it.  We’ll be building our first pile this year.  It will be adjacent to the garden, made from pallets and rebar, which I saw on this website.  Looks like a good starting point!

The challenges: Frequent chinook winds and rabbits.  We live on the front range of Colorado, so nothing is left outside which could blow away.  We also have a healthy rabbit population which we are trying to keep in check, but in the meantime a fence should solve both issues, and we’ll be installing one surrounding the entire garden.

Growing season? Not yet… but soon.  Can’t plant anything around here until mid-May (they say after Mothers’ Day you’re pretty safe), so we have started seeds.Planted seeds

I started small.  I felt fairly confident with a limited selection to start, so on our kitchen counter, we have zucchini, cilantro, roma tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers.  This will be a good start to a salsa garden, and as I gain the know-how, we could add garlic, onion, and berry bushes.

Cilantro plants

Here are the cilantro seedlings we started in Mid-March.  My little preschooler helped with the planting and we’re observing them (scientifically, of course!) as they grow.

To aid in that endeavor, I printed this page from My First Science Notebook (eBook version).  His little drawings are simple, but good practice in the scientific skill of observation!

Plant growth chart

This is our first garden here, but I’m pretty certain the next steps are to start hardening the plants off with time outdoors on the warmer sunny days to come, then plant them in the garden the second week in May.

More to follow as we try to meet the garden challenge!  If you’re starting your garden too, leave us a comment and also head over to The Homeschool Village to join the Garden Challenge linkup!

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Preschool Science: Studying Water Creatures

We’ve been using Alpha Omega’s Horizons Preschool curriculum, and this past several days we have been learning about day 5 of creation, wherein God made the creatures of the sea and the birds.  Using water creatures as a theme, we’ve learned quite a bit of science in the process!  Here are some of the things we have been doing.

Fish

First and most obvious water creature is fish!  We learned about the different types of fish and checked out some books we had on hand with good fish pictures.

My son fell in love with this book, National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes, Whales and Dolphins.  He carries it around and loves to look at the pages with sharks and whales.  Catfish are a big hit also.

Fish book

This book, The Sportsman’s Guide to Game Fish, is an old 1968 edition we have in the book shelf.  A good one, but not as big a hit as the Audobon book, which he has been poring through for days and days, studying each fish and their characteristics.  Fish book

On days when the weather is warm, the kids get to go fishing.  Great chance to look at fish up close and in person, then discuss what fish need to live, how they breathe, the parts of the fish (gills, fins, mouth, eyes, tail, scales), and release them back into the pond.  That is, it would be if they were able to catch one, which is hit or miss.  But it’s a great outdoor activity regardless!

My kids got a great kick out of pretending to go on a fishing trip in the great room.  We gathered our imaginary bucket, fishing pole, bait, lunchbox, and went to the pond.  We declared the floor transition at the foyer to be the pond entrance, and then we declared the adjacent carpet transition to be the ocean.  My preschooler practiced casting alternately into the pond for trout and catfish and then into the ocean, where he reportedly caught a whale.  It took some visible effort to haul that one in!  My 2 year old kept running out into the water and pretending to swim.  We finished our fishing excursion with an indoor picnic lunch next to the pond.  Yes, we ate lunch on the floor!

We chose this study as a good time to purchase a fish tank for the boys.  More on that in a future post on Everyday Science: Fish and What they Need to Live, which could also be titled How Not to Start an Aquarium.  In any case, after buying a second round of fish, we were able to make a scientific drawing of the fish in the tank.

Fish Drawing

This page is from My First Science Notebook, which is intended for K-3 to teach the skills of science: Drawing, Recording, Measuring, and Observing.  Even though we are pre-K, it is still an excellent opportunity to introduce these skills, sort of a science lab for preschool.  I use the eBook version of My First Science Notebook, because it allows me to print the pages I need as we go.

Our fish tank drawing identifies the parts of the fish that we learned, and introduces the word “environment” to label his plants and rocks that he drew.

Crustaceans

We discussed what crustaceans were, and got a close up look of crab legs.  He was not sure at first, but then spent half an hour interacting with the claws and pretending to make the crab walk.  Short of being in a place where we could catch some crabs, this is the best we can do!

(The crabs tasted good, too!)

crab legs

Amphibians

We discussed frogs as well, and described what makes them unique.  We practiced hopping around the floor and catching insects with our tongues.  We read this one of Aesop’s Fables:

The Ox and the Frog, an Aesop’s Fable

And we learned about the life cycle of a frog with this video from YouTube.

 

That image at the end was really fast, here it is again:

Life cycle of a frogVisual Dictionary – copyright © 2005-2009 – All rights reserved.
Life cycle of a frog

If you have a pond nearby, you could go locate frogs in the various parts of their life cycle.  Otherwise, you can act out the different stages by pretending to be sequentially eggs, tadpoles, then turn into frogs.

Moving on

In other, non-science study with Horizons, we have been practicing the beginnings of phonics, reading a clock, memorizing Scripture, learning basic addition, practicing coloring and cutting and gluing, and doing gross motor skills.  All in all its been a pretty good curriculum for us.  We skip some parts, and we do school only a few days a week, gearing up for year-round schooling.

I feel like year-round schooling will offer flexibility for us, so we can take days off mid-week when we need to head to the mountains and get some hiking in, or when we’re busy with swim lessons, summer projects, etc.  Do you have thoughts on that?  I’m curious to hear reasons for schooling year round. I already know my little preschooler does better when he is required to sit down and “do school” on a regular basis, so I know we’d be backtracking if we took a summer completely off.

If you want to read more preschool ideas, be sure to head over to The Preschool Corner linkup this week!

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