February 19, 2004

Overview of our curriculum... I was recently asked about what we do for our schooling and after writing out a long response I decided to post it here as well - for the homeschool record - as that is what I started this blog as (our homeschool records) though it has grown since then. So for those of you interested - this is our basic weekly plan:

We base our weeks around a single letter - I call it "playing with the letter". We do some consistent things each week and then add a lot of variety depending on the subject.
-I use Jane Belk Moncure's My "sound Box" series - one book for nearly every letter of the alphabet. My kids love these books.
-We read that at the beginning of each week and then we keep our own soundbox - a cardboard box the kids can collect objects that start with our letter for the week. They love putting things in there, taking it out and getting to show dad what is in their box.
-We also keep a word list of all the words we use that week that start with the letter.
-We listen to a composer and look at art from an artist (this is in addition to the composer and artist we study for 3 months at a time)
-The kids draw items in their nature notebook when appropriate - my youngest just scribbles but he labels it and he is drawing it in his mind
-We try to coordinate all our activities (math, science, stories, field trips, even play activities and crafts) around that letter
-my oldest does handwriting practice on that letter
-We use the www.letteroftheweek.com as well - but I only use it as a springboard
-Every week I take my kids (age 4, 3 and 6 months) to the library for an hour - the older two get to play a computer game while me and the baby walk around the non-fiction and fiction section and collect all the books we are interested in that start with next weeks letter. There are some consistent things we find: an artist, a musician, a historic figure, an animal, a science concept, a geographical location and a sport or activity. We often find many other subjects that interest us - then I browse the fiction section for stories about our subject or with titles that have the next week's letter in it. We read a lot (on average 10 books a day)
-Each week we visit www.enchantedlearning.com and go through their interactive dictionary of the letter we are on.
-We printout coloring sheets and crafts for the letter
-We do a scripture memorization for the week and a bible story
-We try to coordinate our field trips with the letter (I choose the letter after our homeschool group chooses the activity)
-On good weeks I remember to make a collage at the end of the week with pictures from the letter
-I mostly try to consistently point out the letter whenever possible and ask the kids what words start with it or to find it or if they have ideas of what to do next. We really do try to keep it light and fun.
-Each week I place our library books in one section of the house and the kids can always ask to read a book from that stack. I try to remove the ones we have already read so they get a lot of variety. I of course let them hear their favorites again and again. I try to make it through 3-4 non fiction books a day (sometimes I paraphrase or only point out the most interesting information and let them look at the pictures).
-Rhiannon reads a phonics book each day
-Rhiannon practices Irish step dance a few times a week
-We read a chapter book before bed (current: Little House in Big Woods and Frog and Toad, we just finished "The Chronicles of Narnia")
-We listen to books on tape in the car (current Black Beauty and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) - I try to chose good literature unabridged when available.

As I type this out I realize that it sounds like a tremendous undertaking and pretty excessive for a 3 and 4 year old - but I have discovered that my kids love it and we just incorporate it into our day - it is the way we live. I don't often call it "school" time as they are often not as excited by that. Sometimes I do and they often ask to do "School" stuff - but mostly we just live and play with the letter. I try to make it as natural of a process as possible for them. We take hiatuses and we play alot. We are a reading family and we watch very little TV. My husband and I just try to create an environment where learning is a natural and exciting and expected part of life. I do very little "prep" or planning time and I learn right along with them. I don't expect them to retain much (though I am always amazed at what they do) - we are just trying to expose them to as much as possible while they are interested in it. We are having fun and learning together.


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