The changing nature of Kindergarten

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Clarissa and I did a preschool curriculum together last school year. She really liked it in the beginning and then started to lose interest in April so we stopped. By May she was asking to do “real school” at home so I planned a June start to kindergarten.

I spent hours looking through all of my school supplies and the activities that I had downloaded. I tried a homeschool planning course to see if that would help me. But I think that stressed me out more because it encouraged me to plan for the entire year before I start the school year. I decided to plan unit studies since I don’t have a formal curriculum to just break down into sections. I did make an outline of what units I thought we would do this year, but I knew it could change because I wasn’t sure how much Clarissa would enjoy doing each day.

I wanted to start slow and get into a habit of doing lessons 20-30 minutes per day just four times per week. Our June Bible story was about Joseph (his coat, his brothers, and his life in Egypt). We read some of the Bible story each day and did a few crafts. We spent some time learning about our five senses, colors, shapes, and emotions. She also learned how to make a peanut butter sandwich and a peanut butter waffle. Some days Clarissa would enjoy school so much that she wanted to do more so we would do two or three days worth of lessons in one day and then she wouldn’t want to do school for a few days. The weather was so nice that we would often do school outside.

In July, we started doing more academics, adding letters and numbers to our days. We went to Japan in July so we spent some time watching videos and reading books about Japan. We also learned about the letter J; it’s sound and how to write it. I wanted to spend the month memorizing Jeremiah 29:11 instead of focusing on a Bible story, but Clarissa kept asking for Bible stories anyway so we did both. I knew that one of our next family adventures would be to the aquarium so we started studying sea animals when we returned from Japan. We learned about the letter C and Clarissa practiced writing her first name. She can already count past 10 but we focused on writing just those numbers and counting things or playing board games that require counting dice and spaces.

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By mid July, Tim thought that I was spending way too much time planning our activities. He suggested that I buy some curriculum instead of making my own in order to make the planning of school less stressful. I agreed that although I enjoy planning, I was spending too much time “trying to do it right.” I was also printing so much that we were spending plenty on ink. So I went online and ordered some kindergarten books.

In August, Clarissa learned how to make her bed. Since it was been so hot outside in Korea, her new favorite place to do school was actually on her bed. We spent two weeks reviewing a literature study on Paddington Bear that was excellent. We then went back to studying ocean animals, worked on counting and writing numbers to 20, and learned the sounds and letters P, B, F, and S. We focused on Bible stories about fish; Jonah, Jesus calms the storm, and feeding the 5,000. For her birthday we went to an aquarium in Seoul and she really enjoyed looking at all of the animals and feeding the fish. At the aquarium, Clarissa and Tim got really excited about the kits to grow triops and angel fairy shrimp, so we have a few new pets at our house. We learned about life cycles too.

September was less stressful. The weather was cooler so we read and explored outside again. I also have a reading curriculum, math workbooks, and some unit studies that we both enjoy so I don’t have to do as much prep. We also read a lot of books. When we studied Noah’s Ark we spent a couple of weeks reading about animals. After a walk last weekend, she is all about bugs. I am so thankful for the library these days! Clarissa is also enjoying attending AWANA, a Korean class, and gymnastics one hour each per week to round out our lessons.

Reading Eggs Review

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Online Reading Eggs Suite

Most days when I am making dinner, I listen to a podcast. Each podcast episode will have a sponsor. I have been hearing about a website called Reading Eggs for months. I was really excited when I had the opportunity to review their website and new workbooks. The new workbooks are grade specific and focus on either reading or math. Specifically, Clarissa and I worked with the 240 Essential Reading Skills for Kindergarten workbook.

Online Reading Eggs Suite
Clarissa turned five while we were working on this review, so she isn’t very far in her reading skills yet. She can generally recognize the letter names (especially the capital letters), but isn’t super familiar with their sounds. The website has three levels of reading instruction: Reading Eggs Junior (ages 2-4), Reading Eggs (ages 3-9), and Reading Eggspress (ages 7-13). The first time she explored the website she thought that Reading Eggs Junior was way too easy and Reading Eggs was way too hard. It was hard to convince her to try again so we took a break from the Reading Eggs portion for about a week.

During that week, we focused on the workbook lessons. The workbook lessons actually match the website really well. In the workbook, the child completes four pages of one letter. You learn the sound of the letter, decide which words start with that letter sound, finding the letter in a list, and practice writing the letter. It took Clarissa a few days to gain confidence with discriminating the letter sounds. She did enjoy writing the letters. I also really liked that each day, she was able to circle which letter she wrote the best.

Clarissa actually really started to enjoy the workbook the more we did it. Now she is recognizing “at” and “am.” On the day we did “at” she was really excited because the directions said to “draw a cat.” So she wanted to sit on the couch near our cat Mittens so that she could draw her correctly.

As she started to gain confidence with the workbook, we went back to the website. Each website lesson covers the same skill as the workbook. She wasn’t as frustrated with the website this time. She was able to choose the correct words that started with each letter. She also liked the videos that went with each lesson and that the little ant friend would read the words for her to help her figure out the answer.

I really like the way the website is set up in that you have to complete the first lesson before you can go on to the next. This way, children are learning skills in a logical order. Also, there is a parent dashboard on the website so I can see which lessons Clarissa has completed and how well she mastered each lesson. At the end of a unit, the website emails me so I can see her progress.

Another thing to note is that the website also has a math section for children ages 3-9 called Mathseeds. Clarissa loves Mathseeds! Even on days she didn’t want to do Reading Eggs, she asked to do Mathseeds. It is set up in a similar way in that the child has to complete one lesson before moving on to the next one. The dashboard and parent email works the same. She really enjoys the lessons and games. There are also workbooks available for math that you can read about from other reviewers.

I think that both the workbook and the website are beneficial because it is more reinforcement of the same skills. The prices are reasonable too. Workbooks are normally $19.95, but you can use the coupon code WK10IYWAG6J for  10% off before October 15, 2018Also, if you register before October 7, 2018, you can do a four week free trial of the website. The website membership is normally $59 for the year.

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Learning About Science Collection Review

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WriteBonnieRose has created a new series of homeschool elementary science curriculum that Clarissa and I have really enjoyed working on together. There are three levels of this curriculum so far. For the purposes of this review, Clarissa and I were given Learning About Science Collection, level 1.

Learning about Science Collection Level 1

Learning About Science Collection, Level 1 included seven different units as well as a list of website links that you could use to supplement the material if you chose to go further. Units included Familiar Plants and How they Grow, Fruits and Vegetables Around the World, Animal Habitats of the World, Our Senses and Systems and How They Work, Learning About Life Cycles, Earth Layers, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes, and Exploring Senses of Matter.

The collection is a pdf download, so it was easy to access and use. I emailed it to my kindle and we read each unit like a book. Each unit read like a story. It was a nonfiction story because there were facts and information to learn, but it was easy to read. Another thing that we really enjoyed were the illustrations. They were outlines in black and white. This is great because Clarissa wanted to color them in herself. Also, each page had some copy work, which is perfect for my pre-reader. During the review period, Clarissa and I had time to get through Learning About Life Cycles and Animal Habitats of the World. These were the two longest units in the collection. We enjoyed several things about each unit.

Clarissa really enjoys babies and watching animals grow up so she was very excited to learn about life cycles. After most animals, she would ask me to stop reading and ask me to print out the page so that she could color in the pictures of the animals at each stage and trace the words provided for each stage. Each page felt like just the right amount of information for my kindergartner. It was enough to teach her something but not so much that she would lose interest. I liked that there were different kinds of animals included: mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles. This way Clarissa was able to see that animals have many different kinds of life cycles.

The unit on habitats was also laid out very well. There were several different habitats listed. Included with each habitat was a description of the habitat as well as information about animals in each habitat to color and trace the names. She really enjoyed this unit as well and never wanted me to stop reading for the day.

This collection of units feels more like a literature unit than a science textbook. That was probably my favorite thing about it. I also liked that I could work on writing with Clarissa during our science lesson. I think a young reader in first or second grade would be able to read at least part of this to himself.

Each level of  the Learning About Science Collection retails for $12 or $13, or you can buy individual units for prices from $1.49-$3.49 depending on the unit. Bonnie is offering a deal for my readers. Until August 15, you can use coupon code REVIEWCREW50 to buy all three sets for $6 or $6.50 each. I went ahead and purchased levels 2 and 3 to use as future science curriculum.

As I glance through the level 2 and level 3 lessons, the set up is similar with copywork and illustrations. The content does increase in difficulty with each level. I think the level one would be great for kindergarten or first grade. The level 2 is probably better for late first grade to second grade if you want your student to be able to read the content to himself. Level three is a good fit for third grade. You can also read reviews of those levels to get a better feel for them.

Bonnie is planning to expand this collection of lessons, so if you have ideas for units to include, please comment on this post or email them to her directly.

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