We just finished up week 20 of Princess Castle Kindergarten. We took the week before off. It was our first long break this year. We had some family visit us for the last 3 days of the week so we were planning to do school the first two days. However, our to-do list was so long that we just decided to take the whole week off. It was a crazy and fun week so I figured that it would be hard to get back into the swing of things come Monday morning but it wasn’t too bad.
The week before our break was actually our first full five day week. Yes, we managed to stay home all week and complete all of our school work each day. We haven’t been slacking off this whole time but just trying to fit in some of the fun activities our community has for homeschoolers. It’s also been a big transition period for all of us as this is just the beginning of our homeschooling experience. It’s taken some time to find our groove. I consider a full day to be math, reading (learning to read), calendar, handwriting and Sonlight. Science is included in Sonlight. I guess I could also include our gardening time as nature study. That’s in addition to any art work, play and read aloud time. I don’t count those activities as school, even though they’re probably more important than the other school work at her age, because we’d be doing them anyway.
Just before the break we started getting into counting by 5’s in our math curriculum. So far she has grasped new concepts quickly but for some reason this is taking some time. Obviously, she’ll eventually pick it up but it was interesting to start back up there. It seemed like we hadn’t even touched on it before. We’re on lesson 60 out of 160 in Horizons Math K. The lessons are getting longer with each one still meant for a single day. Each lesson has flash card work for addition and it’s moving very quickly. We’re supposed to be doing the 1’s and 10’s families flash cards every day but I just pick about 10 cards. In the lesson, she’s doing addition within those two families with answers up to 20 while using different manipulatives and number lines. That’s a lot of flash cards if we were to incorporate all of them each day! This is her first experience with math flash cards so we are taking a slower approach than the teacher’s manual seems to recommend.
For Sonlight we are into week 23 of their P 4/5 their curriculum. I was hoping to go faster through this because it is easy for her but we are still plugging along right about on schedule. We can easily finish a whole week’s worth of reading in one or two days but I’ve been slowing down so that we can make sure to do our other work each day. I think we’ve pretty much decided that next year we will give Bookshark a try for first grade. This is a secular version of Sonlight from the same parent company. This current year is the first year that it’s been available so there are not many reviews right now. I would normally like something that has been around longer but it really is just a revised Sonlight.
We really kicked up handwriting during the last few weeks. We chose Peterson Directed Handwriting for our curriculum and have the pre-k/kindergarten version. Beyond the first six weeks of gross and fine motor skill activities, not much guidance is given on how to proceed. The best direction I’ve found is a short blurb on the website saying to incorporate their technique with other language arts activities. Sonlight’s P 4/5 curriculum has a letter of the week and the assigned stories are loosely tied to the letter. We are doing handwriting activities to correspond with it. Storyteller has known all of the uppercase letters for almost two years but we hadn’t spent much time at all on lower case letters until now. She could identify them but not write them. For the letter of the week we do both uppercase and lowercase. I’ve also put together a handful of coloring and activity sheets related to the letter of the week. On one day we’ll work on the uppercase letter and review two previous letters. On the next day we’ll do the lowercase letter and write several words. Each day we finish with a coloring or activity page. Once we finish our lesson she likes to write the names of her stuffed animals. We are now caught up with the letter of the week for Sonlight so I’ll have to add in activities for the other days or we may just work ahead with writing. Storyteller was very resistant to writing in the beginning but now it’s her favorite part of school.
For calendar time, I’ve pieced together activities from Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Letter of the Week and K4 curricula. The Letter of the Week calendar work was just right for Storyteller at the beginning of the year but now it’s too easy. She breezes through it on her own. I like the calendar activities in K4 however the lines are too small for where she is with writing. So, I’ve combined pages from both but she could really use something right in between. I’ve played around with creating my own activity pages but haven’t come up with something that I like yet.
We just finished with lesson 24 in All About Reading. Lesson 22 introduced ending consonant blends and lesson 24 was beginning consonant blends. The fluency sheets for these lessons were really long because of all of the different possible combinations. The instructions say not to do the entire fluency sheet with beginning readers but Storyteller was upset when she figured out during the earlier lessons that I was skipping some words. However, now we skip every other word because they are just too long and she was getting really frustrated. Lesson 22 took us almost 2 weeks until she agreed to skip some of the fluency sheet. The fluency sheets take away from their hands-on interactive approach for younger readers because they take so much time to do but it is great for older kids who need extra practice. Skipping some of it is definitely a good idea for us.
We’re coming up on the holiday break for regular school kids and we haven’t figured out what we’re going to do yet. At first, I thought we’d keep similar breaks so we could spend more time with our friends but it turns out that all of our close local friends are homeschoolers. I’m not sure what they are doing for breaks so I think we’ll just figure it out as we go along. I’m sure if we made specific plans for a break it would just get changed anyway. 🙂