Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Science Journal

Inspired by a friend who has her daughters keep a science/nature journal, we began our own journal last spring.  It began naturally as we began planning and planting our first vegetable garden.  It was a learning experience for mommy as well as the kids.

Some items that we included in our science journal/notebook:
* hand drawn pictures of our garden
* a list written by my daughter of vegetables we should plant
* coloring sheets relating to gardens (rain, seeds, etc)
* a color sheet from the children's museum about seed growth
* a graph showing the number of different insects/pests we found outside while digging
* a Bible verse - Zech 10:1 "Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime. For it is the Lord who sends the thunder clouds."
* drawings of insects and other things found in our yard
* an iron pressed leaf
* leaf tracings and observations of how leaves shrivel over time

We haven't added much as of late, but as the weather cools down, we will get outside some more to make more observations.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Talk with a Kindergarten Teacher

After making it through my first official week of homeschooling, I had a great discussion with a friend of mine who has been a kindergarten teacher for seven or eight years.  Am I doing this right? I wondered aloud to him. 

He went over a list of things that they work on throughout the school year:
* being able to write and recognize all the letters and numbers
* knowing the sounds for each letters
* learning the 3 H combinations (th, sh, ch)
* learning about 40 sight words
* "reading" books, but only after lots of repetition

He reminded me that children learn through lots of repetition.  It's a good reminder to me because I sometimes think my children should already know it by now.  I get bored with the repetition, but they need it and actually thrive on it.  I am learning that if I will slow down a little bit and allow my daughters to actually master what we are learning that it builds their confidence instead of frustrating them.

Now, the advantage of homeschooling though is that I can start with where my children are already.  So I don't need to spend a week on each letter of the alphabet at this point, but I should slow down my expectations on how many sight words and spelling words that they can learn a week.  I need to think of ways to make repetition of words or concepts happen without boring either of us.

For now I'm doing sight word flashcards and I try to think of ways to make it fun, like making a game out of it.  We had flashcards of pronoun words (he, she, it, they, we, them, her, etc) and names of people in our family.  One day we just read them.  Another day we sorted them into male, female and neutral piles.  Another day we matched the flashcards up with pictures.  This week we are doing some number flashcards and I want the kids to put stickers on the flashcards - 1 star on the number one card, 3 hearts on the number three card and so on.   We have flashcards of words from our Bible study and we can play a match game with those as well.

My husband suggested maybe every third or fourth week, not planning new words or concepts but just reviewing.  I think that's probably a good idea with my style of teaching.  It will make me slow down enough for them to really master what we are learning and keep me from jumping around too much on too many topics.

One other thing I learned from my teacher friend was this handwriting website.  You can print off handwriting sheets with whatever words you input and it will give dotted line practice as well as dots for starting points.  I printed off a page with our last name to try for this week.
Check it out at http://www.handwritingworksheets.com/print-1/make-p.htm

*Image by Maggie Smith, used with permission.