Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Preparing for Kindergarten

Kindergarten is such a wonderful time in a child's schooling. I, however, was very nervous about beginning this journey!:) Give me a high school class of Seniors and I am comfortable, but Kindergarten is another story!

I was overwhelmed with the pressure to get it right: the reading, the handwriting, and the math. The reading was the most intimidating to me. What if I messed them up somehow? Could I ruin their whole school career in one year? I wish someone had been there to tell me to RELAX!

Kindergarten is a year of exploration for you and your child. Your child gets his first taste of "school" and you begin to learn things about your child that you never knew before. Is he good at scientific thinking or mathematical manipulations? Does he love books or drawing? It is truly a magical time that goes by too fast.

My advice in a nutshell is to enjoy the wonder that is in your child's eyes. Read with them and explore God's universe with them. Unit studies and lapbooks are a great tool for homeschool teachers. This time goes by so quickly and then you are faced with "curriculum" that must be completed.

Here are a few sites that might be helpful in your journey:


There are also a number of great books that I have used in our homeschooling that I would recommend:

Phonics Pathways
The Scientist's Apprentice
A Story of the World
Apologia Beginner's Science
Bob Books
Handwriting without Tears
Explode the Code
Math U See (love the manipulatives)
Sonlight Read Alouds

This is a great time to use games to augment your learning. You can reinforce letters, numbers, etc... or focus on good sportsmanship. Here are a few that I recommend:

Boggle Letters
Boggle Numbers
Letter Soup
Hi Ho Cherry-O
Bingo (you can make letter bingo, number bingo, shapes bingo...)

When you are looking at Kindergarten remember that life is full of learning opportunities. Look around you.

Zoology Projects

For the culmination of our Zoology study (Land Animals), we decided to produce a few wildlife videos. The basics of what we did were this: each child picked an animal that we studied this year and wrote out interesting facts about the animal and their feeding and habitat. Then, we paid a visit to our local zoo and videoed each animal that they had chosen.

After we got back home and examined our footage, we realized that we need to add more information to make the video more interesting. The kids did a little more research on their animals and then we went to the park to film a bit more.

Creating the final product was a learning experience in itself! I used Microsoft Movie Maker and of course my oldest figured it out quickly. I then uploaded our finished projects on to TeacherTube.

Please check them out under the key words "Meerkat", "Giant Panda", or "Komodo Dragon". The account is under "Mrsbwrite".


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Landforms Lapbook

Imagine my shock and surprise when my child was working on an assignment and had no idea what a plateau was! Well, I knew that I must take action and teach this child about landforms (I thought that was done last year but maybe it did not stick). My first step is always to Google my desired lapbook first to see if anyone else has already done the heavy lifting for me. There was no published land form lapbook but instead someone who had a few great photos posted of one that they did with their child. Those pictures got my poor, old brain clicking!

First, I decided to have my kids complete a mini book with a definition of the particular land form. We discussed what the land form was and I showed them a few pictures of the land form under discussion.

Then, I had the kids draw their own picture of that land form. Now this proved to be more revealing than I thought! You can really get an idea of what they understand based on what they are able to produce.

Next, we looked at different examples of the land form as seen in the world. While doing this, we found the examples on our world map.

Finally, at the end of the lapbook we discussed latitude and longitude and found coordinates on our world map.

Of course, I cannot resist getting our hands dirty- so I decided for us to make a a salt dough map illustrating the landforms that we learned about.

Here are a few of the web sites that I found with information and videos pertaining to landforms.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lapbooking and Notebooking 101

Lapbooking and notebooking are great ways to tap into your child's interest and creativity. I like to sit down with my children and ask them "what are you interested in today?" Based on their answers, we look for lapbooks or if need be I create ones to suit their interests.

Here are a few great sites that offer free lapbooks:

Here are a few sites that offer free notebooking pages:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Epcot Lapbook

In my house, we are a little Mickey crazy!:) I grew up in Florida and although my parents did not have much money, I went to Disney with my summer daycare just about every summer. Of course, I think it was a lot cheaper back in those days. My last summer was the first year that Epcot was open, and I really did not like it. It was too educational for my young tastes!:) I have never been back to Epcot.

Now that I am a parent and we are looking at going to Disney, I really want to see Epcot again. I know that a lot has changed of the last twenty-five years and I want to see it all! Of course, I cannot miss and opportunity to hijack a vacation with a little education!:) I create a very basic lap book to proceed our visit to Epcot.

Since we are focusing on World Geography at our co-op. I decided to focus on that aspect of Epcot. I looked at the Disney web site and read through each country description of the World Showcase. I tried to highlight some of the aspects of each country that I could investigate with the kids before we arrive. My hope is that by familiarizing the kids with these things ahead of time, they will recognize them when we are in Epcot and the experience will be more educationally meaningful for them. If they can see past Mickey's big ears!:)

Here is the original post that I did on my Walt Disney World Lap book that we did last year. It has a lot more of the basics for Disney. I also have a number of great links for information about Disney World. Also, Crayola has a great site for coloring pages. That is where I copied off the country pages for this lapbook.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Aquarium Lapbook

My kids love the Aquarium! They could sit and stare at those fish all day long. I really enjoy watching the fish in the Ocean Explorer exhibit the most. It seems so peaceful to watch those giants swim slowly by you. You see the beauty in their design.

We are going to the Aquarium in a few weeks and traditionally we just go and look at the fish and then go home. This year I really wanted to suck the educational life out of our trip!:) So, I create a lap book to go with the different exhibits at the Aquarium. The Aquarium website was a wealth of information as I set out to design the lap book. I settled on creating a double page spread with the exhibit habitat as the background. Then I created mini books featuring some of the animals that the Aquarium has located in this specific habitat.

As far as information for the filling in of the mini books, I have thought of several options for completing that portion. First, I created inserts that can be cut and pasted into the books for younger children. Secondly, I thought that you could use those same pieces to create a type of matching game after your Aquarium visit. Lastly, I thought that we could bring the unfinished lap book along on the trip and the kids could go on a scavenger hunt for these animals and then when they have found them, fill in the books with their observations of the animals. I believe that any of these options could be fun for them and a learning experience. Perhaps you could chose the option that best fits their ability level.

I feel that to optimize the educational opportunities that a field trip can bring you need to give your students background information that they can use as a "hanger", so to speak, for the new knowledge that they will gain during the trip. It is a thrill to see their little faces light up when they discover something during the trip that they have learned at home. They look at you as if to say "it really is true!" You could use books, movies, or Internet sites to provide this background "hanger" for them.

Here are a few that I suggest:


Monday, January 11, 2010

Vocabulary Mini Office

To be honest, I struggle with the concept of teaching vocabulary. Some teachers feel that teaching traditional vocabulary lessons are the way to improve a child's spoken or reading vocabulary, and others believe that simply reading good books will provide this improvement to the child's word base. I have used both approaches and see the advantages to both. I believe that traditional vocabulary lessons may not provide the crossover knowledge that we desire, but it does provide other areas of learning. These lessons help train the child in alphabetizing, dictionary skills, and discernment. I feel that all of these are important skills for children. After much back and forth, I have decided to create a Vocabulary Mini Office for my children using the Four Fold Vocabulary Method. I found this method and a wealth of others at this site: http://www.cobbk12.org/Cheathamhill/LFS%20Update/Vocabulary%20and%20Word%20Walls.htm .

The idea behind the Four Fold Method is that the student folds their papers into rows of four sections each. In the first section, the student writes the word. In the second section, the student writes a definition of the word in their own words. In the third section, the student draws a picture or symbol to represent the word. In the final section, the student writes a sentence with the word based on their definition.

After completing this, I have my kids place the sections into pockets in their mini office. They must review the cards daily as part of their vocabulary study. Eventually, I would like for them to cut apart the sections and play a matching game.

My children actually think this is a fun activity!:) I even let them decorate the outside of their office.

I found a few good sites while on my quest for direction in the realm of vocabulary and I hope they prove helpful:

http://www.proteacher.com/cgi-bin/outsidesite.cgi? id=12912&external=http://www.factmonster.com/cgi-bin/word&original=http://www.proteacher.com/070169.shtml&title=Word of the Day
http://www.teach-nology.com/worksheets/language_arts/vocab/third /