Recap and Review of Kindergarten Homeschool Plans, 2019-2020
For the third time around, I got to enjoy spending meaningful time with my 5-year-old as I created a space for a quiet growing time before starting formal schooling.
Although I didn't faithfully follow all of my plans, we read a lot of new-to-her books that she loved, learned MANY new songs and poems, and also completed more crafts than I would have done without planning it out ahead of time. On to the review . . . .
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We've been doing morning time for years and years. And while we never really know how much toddlers are getting out of our morning time, it is very clear that the 3 and up crowd does absorb a lot of what goes on during this time.
The last time I had a kindergartner, I was doing our first full year of Charlotte Mason Method style lessons with my oldest son, then in 2nd grade. Here are the books we read at morning time during that year. On that list there were many, many titles about nature and science, as well as fairy tales, fables, shakespeare retellings, books about other cultures, and favorite picture books.
As the years have gone on and I have learned more about the Charlotte Mason Method, I have incorporated some of our formal lessons, like the bible, artist study, poetry, and sometimes literature and composer study, into our morning time. So, in addition to reading books about nature, science, fairy tales, and other cultures, Sylvia also participated as much as she chose to in the following subjects:
Bible lessons where we read narrative portions of the bible using the lists available on Ambleside Online and using a New Revised Standard Translation. Sylvia often volunteered to narrate some of these readings, especially toward the end of the year.
Our reading of The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan which she also frequently volunteered narrations.
Poetry where we focused on a different poet each term:
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- John Keats
- Eugene Field
Living science and natural history books (not narrated) including:
Battle on the Rosebush: Insect Life in Your Backyard by Marian S. Edsall
My Puppy is Born by Joanna Cole
Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith
A Child's Book of Trees by Valerie Swenson
Wild and Woolly Mammoths by Aliki
The Sun: Our Neighborhood Star by David J. Darling
I See Animals Hiding by Jim Arnosky
Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists by Jeannine Atkins
Simple Machines by D.J. Ward
Why Glasses? The Story of Vision by George Sands, M.D.
Marie Curie: Brave Scientist by Keith Brandt
The Burgess Bird Book by Thornton W. Burgess
Mill by David Macaulay
Milk from Cow to Carton by Aliki
The Burgess Seashore Book by Thronton W. Burgess (some)
History books about the1800s (not narrated) including:
- A Head Full of Notions: A Story About Robert Fulton by Any Russel Bowen
- Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude by Louise Borden
- Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille by Russell Freedman
- Journey to the Bottomless Pit: The Story of Stephen Bishop & Mammoth Cave by Elizabeth Mitchell
- Along the Santa Fe Trail: Marion Russell's Own Story by Marion Russel / Adapted by Ginger Wadsworth
- Walking the Road to Freedom: A Story about Sojourner Truth by Jeri Ferris
- Children of the Wild West by Russell Freedman
- The California Gold Rush (Landmark Book) by May McNeer
- Marie Curie: Brave Scientist by Keith Brandt
- The Story of George Washington Carver by Eva Moore
- Navaho Long Walk by Joseph Bruchac
- Klondike Gold by Alice Provenson
- The Story of the Gettysburg Address by Kenneth Richards
- Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell
- The Mill by David Macaulay
Sylvia also participated every time in our singing lessons where we learned the following songs:
She also took part in our German lessons with Talkbox at the beginning of the year, but even after her and 2nd-grader John dropped out of our language lessons, both of them continued to participate in learning German songs via YouTube.
Special Morning Time
In addition to our regular morning time, I spent time before the boys' lessons doing special work just with her. As planned, we
- Worked through all the seasonal songs in Early Childhood from Legends of the Staff of Musique [free!] which I highly recommend. She loved learning old and new favorites like There's a Hole in the Bucket and Little Bunny Foo Foo
- Read about one new book per week (sometimes more and sometimes we kept rereading a favorite). Booklist below!
- Learned a poem/nursery rhyme - I printed off the selections from the Wee Folk Art Spring Bs, Harvest Time, Winter Wonderland, and Puddles and Ponds Curriculum and I just pick one to read a few times every day. Some of the poems didn't resonate with her and she didn't fully memorize them, but throughout the year she found many to enjoy and share at our family poetry tea that happens after every 6-week chunk of lessons.
- Read from some other books--some new, some old, some reading just a chapter a day, some reading the entire thing in one sitting (book list farther down)
She spent much of the rest of her time in the morning drawing, painting, doing workbook pages, drifting in and out of lessons, doing puzzles, listening to audiobooks, and playing with her baby brother.
Other Read Alouds
During lunch, she also listened to our read alouds, which included:
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
The Hundred Dresses by Elanor Estes
Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Light at Tern Rock by Julia L. Sauer
By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
The White Stag by Kate Seredy
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
The 13 Clocks by James Thurber
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Hachiko Waits by Leslea Newman
The Big Wave by Pearl S. Buck
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Shadrach by Meindert DeJong
We always have 2 read alouds going at one time even though this means I only get to read a chapter or less at each session. This way, I can start our reading with a book I think will appeal more to my younger children and end with a book that may please my older children more. When the younger child is 3 or 4, they may have mentally checked out by the time we reach the second book and that is fine.
This year, our list included lots of stories about horses and other animals, because Sylvia loves animals, but it also included books taking place all over the world (Japan, Korea, India, Alaska, England, and South Pacific) as well representing genres like historical fiction and fantasy. For all of the kids, these read alouds provide another worthwhile piece of their education.
At bedtime, her father read the following books to her this year:
The Chronicles of Narnia (entire series) by C.S. Lewis
Hitty: Her First 100 Years by Rachel Field
Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
Afternoon Time for Crafting and Learning Together
In the afternoon, I sometimes tried to make another 10-20 minutes period of time immediately after 1-year-old Harry laid down for his nap to spend time with Sylvia. I had hoped to do this every day. Realistically, it happened at least once a week, but usually more. I still spent time with her, I just didn't always carve out special time JUST for her. During that time, we would
- work on a craft or art project I had selected for the week usually related to our weekly book or the seasons (see booklist below) work through a letter book, or play with a moveable alphabet
- make something in the kitchen
- work in the yard together
- play a game
Kindergarten Booklist with Projects and Activities
Below are the books and projects I planned to share with Sylvia this school year. We ended up reading all of the books (and many more that didn't make the list) and we completed all but 4 of the projects. Sometimes a project sparked a special interest so we continued to work on the same type of crafting project on and off for several weeks (Plastic Canvas Rainbow Project and Constellation embroidery are two such examples). And some projects (like Make fairy peg dolls and Tin can lanterns) were big hits with everyone in the family.
Besides these projects, Sylvia also took a 4-week art class and made countless other projects including loop potholders and created with paint, clay, play-doh, and more. I really, really need to get better at taking pictures of Sylvia's (and her siblings') many delightful projects and handmade gifts!!!!
Once Upon a Starry Night / Night sky drawing with white pencil on black paper
Cut-Out Fun with Matisse / Cut-out art project with bright card stock
The Monarch Butterfly / Make caterpillar out of air-dry clay and paint
The Planet Gods / Paint rocks to represent each planet
Christmas books (week 1) / Lucet wreathes
Christmas books (week 2) / Make Christmas gifts
How Much is a Million? / Ghungroo project from Early Childhood from Legends of the Staff of Musique [free!]
Winter Trees / Pinecone birdfeeders
The Cookie Store Cat / Bake something together
The Dutch Twins (finish over the course of several weeks)/ Go ice skating
Mole Music / Embroidery hoop instrument from Early Childhood from Legends of the Staff of Musique [free!]
The Goat Lady / Try goat milk (something Sylvia's been asking to do!)
One Day in the Desert / Paint a desert scene together
Physical Education / Nature Time
Sylvia played fall soccer and mainly enjoyed it, but spring was canceled due to our state's shutdown. She also took 8-weeks of ice skating lessons which she often found challenging, but she made a lot of progress. I'm sad there were no swimming lessons for her this year because I think her swimming would have really taken off with the lessons. We will look forward to them next year!
Sylvia became an excellent bike rider this year and she really wishes we would let her ride around town with her brothers, but I think 5 is a little too young for where we live. She also got to do indoor rock climbing, went roller skating, and visited an indoor trampoline place.
She also attended our weekly year-round nature meetup at a rural property through the summer, fall, winter, and into the spring, rarely missing a week until our state shut down due to the novel coronavirus. Fortunately, we were still able to get out to local nature spots regularly through the shutdown and we were able to go cabin camping at a state park. She enjoys spending time in nature and is great at noticing all the little things that I miss!
I enjoyed our gentle, non-academic-focused kindergarten year and I can tell Sylvia did too. My goals for this year were to offer activities to Sylvia to prepare her for formal lessons in first grade. Our crafts built the focus and hand coordination for sloyd, sewing, and embroidery. Her Kumon workbooks and drawing built the hand strength for copywork. Our many read alouds and her contributions to narrations will make our history, geography, and nature lessons go more smoothly. And we enjoyed lots of beautiful language in our poetry, songs, and stories.
She has always shown an interest in letters and the end of the year finds her knowing all of the letters by name and sound, or at least by sound. Some of this comes from our lessons with movable letters and alphabet books, but I also have leaned on using Reading Eggs to help solidify a lot of this knowledge, especially since our school year ended in April.
I have a love/hate relationship with Reading Eggs. My kids enjoy doing it, but it is definitely twaddle and sometimes they get through a level without having really retained the knowledge and get stuck at the quiz. It provides lots of reinforcement with letter sounds and identification which they seem to prefer getting from a screen than from me. It saves me time and energy so I use it, but I don't think it is ideal . . . . but my time and energy is limited and I don't love teaching letters so . . . I will continue to use it for phonics reinforcement.
Like her brothers, Sylvia has a summer schedule but hers is less academic. Most weekdays, I expect her to do Reading Eggs for 10-15 minutes, tidy up her room, play outside and check her garden, read a book with a parent, and create something (picture, writing, craft, building, anything!). I also try to get her excited to start 1st grade in August. She is a little skeptical, but I think she will thrive on the one-on-one attention from mom ;-)
You can see past plans and recaps here.