In my last post, I shared the styles of homeschooling that have influenced the kindergarten curriculum I’ve created this year for King Sturdy. In this post, I’m going to tell you which subjects we’re focusing on, and how we organize our learning process.
Our plan includes six subjects. Of course, the three Rs (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic):
Next, a jewel from common core:
As it turns out, spoken language exercises are important in common core, something that wouldn’t have occurred to me.
Finally, two others that are personally important to me:
When I was a kid, I struggled to develop any awareness of the larger world because I’d never been provided a coherent context to hang it on. I couldn’t retain a shred of what I learned in social studies or history, because I couldn’t connect it to anything familiar. Cultivating King Sturdy’s familiarity with various parts of the world — the stories, sounds, flora, fauna and so on of different regions — has been a priority for me since he was a toddler.
In our family, we value being able to make sense of the real world, too, not just the one that we humans have constructed for ourselves. For example, when an animal has crossed your path, do you notice the signs of its passing? When you look at the clouds, can you recognize not just what they are, but what they’re planning to do next?
To help my not-yet-literate kindergartener track with these subjects, I’ve created a picture chart where each subject is defined by a different color.
For each subject, there are eight activities we can choose from. To keep those straight, I’ve made a deck of cards with six suits (one for each subject) and eight cards per suit (one for each activity). My kindergartener can tell these apart because they’re color-coded: reading is purple on our chart; so are the reading cards. The blue suit is for writing. The green cards are for math.
Where did we get the activities themselves? I made them up, drawing from the influences I mentioned earlier. Some are straight out of common core for kindergarten, some reflect the classical process, and some are my own invention. For your reference, here they are.
- Practice writing uppercase and lowercase letters. Letters may be chosen alphabetically or in a sequence to form words or sentences of your choice. Alternative: Play “Fishing for Letters” (a memory-matching card game).
- Write the long and short spellings of each vowel.
- Listen to a story. Afterward, tell the story out loud and draw a picture.
- Dictate an opinion essay (for example, “My Favorite Book”) and draw a picture.
- Dictate a narrative essay (including something that happened to you and your reaction) and draw a picture.
- Dictate an informative essay (including a topic and some information) and draw a picture.
- Look at a word. Turn it into a plural by adding “s” or “es.”
- Start with a one-syllable word. Replace one of its letters to make a new word. How many new words can you make?
- I start a sentence; you finish it. You start a sentence; I finish it. We take turns.
- I say a word; you count its syllables.
- I say a word; you make a rhyme. We take turns.
- I say a word; you say a synonym. Then we think of an antonym. We take turns.
- Think of a homophone. How many meanings can one word have?
- Think of three synonyms, then act them out to show how they’re different.
- Think of a one-syllable word and break it into two parts: the first sound and the rest of the word. Alternative: find the middle sound in words that don’t end in L, R or X.
- Play “Mr. Know It All” (a game where two or more people form a sentence together, but each person can add no more than one word at a time).
- With beans: Start with a group of 1-9. How many more do you need to make 10? Alternative: Break a group of 1-9 into all its additive pairs (5=2+3, 4+1, 5+0). Alternative: Start with a group of 11-19. How many plus 10 do you need to make 20? (15 is 10+5=20). Alternative: Use beans to solve a word problem.
- With buttons: Sort into as many different groups as possible (by color, size, number of holes, etc). Groups should be no larger than 10. Every time you form a group, count its buttons.
- Outside: Make geometrical shapes out of found objects. Observe attributes of objects (width, weight, number of sides, etc).
- Cooking: Follow a recipe that calls for careful measuring. Talk about shapes, fractions and other math concepts while you work.
- With pictures: Shown a variety of differently-sized shapes, find all instances of a given shape. Alternative: Tell if a shape is two- or three-dimensional. Alternative: Use shapes to solve a word problem.
- Speaking: Count forward by ones and tens. Alternative: Choose a number (not one) and count forward from there. Alternative: Count backward from 5, then from 10, then from 15 and so on.
- With tiles: Use geometric tiles to form larger shapes. Compare length, width, size, number of corners, etc.
- Writing: Write numbers 0-20. Alternative: Look at two written numbers and compare (more, fewer, same?). Alternative: Count objects; write how many.
This subject involves hanging a world map on the wall and letting the child draw on it or pin things to it throughout the year, gradually filling it with pictures.
- Choose a place on the map. Find out what the climate is like there and draw a picture of that on the map.
- Think of a plant. Find out where it came from and draw it on the map.
- Think of a fairy tale. Find out where it comes from and mark it on the map.
- Think of an animal. (It can be biological or mythical.) Find out where it came from and add it to the map.
- Choose a place on the map. What language do they speak there? Add it to the map.
- Choose a place on the map. Find a song or work of art that comes from there and add it to the map.
- Choose a place on the map. Find out about traditional clothing from that place and add it to the map.
- Think of a kind of food. Find out where it came from and add it to the map.
- Listen to a story. Tell what’s happening in the pictures. How do they help tell the story?
- Think about two different stories. How are the characters’ experiences and themes similar? How are they different?
- Listen to a story. Talk about the words that shape its tone.
- Think of a question. Remember or research the answer.
- Read aloud for a long time.
- Listen to a story. Identify its genre, author, illustrator, title page, front and back covers, chapter headings, etc.
- Read a Bob book together, sounding out words. Alternative: I write a simple word; you sound it out.
- Listen to a story. Answer who, what, where, where, why, how. Identify the setting, characters and point of view. What didn’t you understand?
- Look at the sky. What clouds can you identify? What do you know about them? What will they do?
- Look at a book of stars or look at stars in the sky. Which constellations can you see at this time of year? Alternative: Start with a diagram of a constellation. Draw a picture on top of it.
- Take a field trip.
- Look for tracks and other animal signs. What do they mean?
- Listen to recordings of birdsong or animal calls and try to imitate them.
- Choose a book on tracking or identification. Find a picture you like and draw it.
- How many plants outside can you name? What do you know about them?
- Find as many different rocks, leaves or other objects as you can, set them side by side and compare them.
As for my other influence, unschooling (in which you follow the kid’s lead and facilitate their exploration) — that’s expressed in how we go about our routine. Which is what I’ll talk about next.