Monthly Archives: August 2015

Unit Study: Oceans [Homeschool Kindergarten]

After a lackluster first week, we decided to focus our second week around a subject of Lucy’s choosing and she picked: the ocean. Perfect!

I started out by making a Pinterest board and seeking out some inspiration. So many smart people out there with so many ideas.

Then I took a couple sheets of paper and wrote out my favorite ideas:

– Make a fish stamp [with an apple, potato, eraser, etc.]
– Identify different kinds of boats [use books and toob boats]
– Fish Subtraction Center
– Tide in a bottle
– Gross Motor Ocean-themed game [see below]
– Draw a fish and label its parts
– How much is that fish money game
– Lego dropper game
– Make starfish cookies
– Videos to watch
– Where do you live [sea/land] game
– Sea level experiment
– Ocean levels in a bottle
– Kinetic sand play
– Seashell sort [big vs. little & smallest to largest]
– Fishing puzzle word match up
– Introduce Montessori Math beads
– Water bead sensory play
– Match toob animals to flashcards
– animal beginning sound game
– Pattern block or tangram fish
– Make a jellyfish
– Five Oceans song
– Map play or puzzle

I started out with a pretty intense list, we didn’t get to everything, but I will show you what we did!


Daddy reading the Magic School Bus ocean book before bed.


One thing we wanted to add more of was physical activity. So we made sure we were either playing outside or going on bike rides every day [I promise we aren’t in pajamas all the time. :) If it’s not too hot at night we put everyone in pajamas and take a lap around the neighborhood].


I also worked more towards understanding her best learning style and we discovered she really enjoys listening to… everything! So we got some books on cd from the library and made sure we set aside time to listen to our Phonics Museum phonics cd.


We introduced the Montessori bead stair because she’s working on her 5-9 doubles for math and the higher numbers are a little trickier!



I knew we were on the right track for making school more fun this week when little brothers wanted to join in.


Math doubles practice with a twenty chart and gems.



Practicing our hundreds chart outside.


She fished for the animal and then found the matching cards. She enjoyed this but wished there weren’t so many animals with ‘s’ names. Hehe.


We found this Lakeshore Subtraction Center at the thrift store and it was perfect for the theme! It would be easy enough to recreate.


She worked with these tweezers while I read some ocean facts from the Usborne First Encyclopedia of Animals.


This game was a big winner. She spelled the word and then rang the bell. I’ve now decided every homeschool needs a bell.


Exploring shells with a magnifying glass. She loved this.


I loved how she thought of which animals like both land and water and put them closer to the line.


I showed her the picture and said the word and she found the corresponding beginning letter. And then rang the bell. ;)


We had such a blast this week!

Here’s our book list:

– The Underwater Alphabet Book [She laid out the Handwriting Without Tears letters while I read]
– Eric Carle’s Animals Animals
– The Usborne First Encyclopedia of Animals
– Big City Port
– Usborne’s Agent Arthur on the Stormy Seas
– Swimmy
– One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
– Dora Saves Mermaid Kingdom
– David McCaulay’s Ship

And for the previously mentioned gross motor game, I put the suggestions below into a jar and she picked them. We started our day off with these “exercises” to get the blood flowing. :)

-Slither like an eel
-Crawl like a crab
-Swim like a jellyfish
-Starfish jumping jacks
-Mirror fish [copy the other player, take turns]
-“Swim” fast
-Crank the boat’s motor
-Catch a wave
-Whale push-ups
-Cast your fishing line

Homeschool Kindergarten [The First Week]

Homeschooling is hard. I thought I knew what I was getting into since we did our “soft launch” in March. I was not prepared.

I detailed out our plans in the last post. And we stuck to them for the first week. I made a schedule board on the side of the fridge for my gal who loves to ask, “What’s next?”. We fell into a routine of starting our Bible as everyone was finishing up breakfast. We then transitioned to Saxon Math because it has a Morning Meeting and calendar time built into it. We then did our Explode the Code work. Followed by Handwriting without Tears and Phonics Museum. And then we did the subject of the day, either reading a book together, doing a science project, or going for a nature walk.

It all lined up perfectly with what my student told me she wanted before the school year began. It was just a little flat. As flat as the worksheets we were completing. There was way more “seatwork” than I wanted and towards the end of the week Lucy was complaining that looking at all the words were “hurting her brain”.

We still had fun together, but I went into the second week ready to transition to something that looked a little more like interest-led unit studies vs. traditional schooling.


Our first week of homeschool co-op went well. It gets a little dicey at the end when baby’s ready for a nap.


Lots of playing, inside and out.


Science is her favorite subject so we broke out the science kit a few times.


Typical first week of school shenanigans.


As soon as the crayons and markers come out, the boys are ready to join in!

So I decided that one of the biggest assets of homeschool is changing everything up until you settle into what fits right. So change we did.

Homeschool Kindergarten [Curriculum & Schedule]

I think the only reason I’m writing this post is because of the joy I get from reading other people’s. Weird?

We’re cheating a little because we technically started at the end of February and took a summer break. But it makes me more confident in making this list because we know these are the things that work. And we understand a little better what kind of learner we’ve got on our hands.

We have been easing into the idea of school at home with Lu. When we started in February it looked something like 25% me reading aloud to her, 15% sitting down to do traditional school work, and 60% art and free play. It worked gloriously but we do want to start adding a little structure [because she craves a schedule] and some more subjects than the math and history we used at the end of last year.

So before we jump in with both feet this year, I gave my gal a little survey to see what she liked most and least last year:

+ Blending Words
– Sentences

+ Counting to 100
– Remembering Big Numbers

+ Every Part
– Nothing

+ Hearing Stuff / Coloring Pages
– Nothing

+ Worksheets
– Nothing

Favorite things? Blocks and Building Things.
Things that were hard? No.

So here’s what we’re using this year:


Continuing with Saxon Math 1. We are about 30 lessons in and Lucy is loving it. As the survey suggests, one of her favorite parts is the hundreds chart. She loves to do it forward, backward, and while “teaching” her brothers. I like the pace of this book for her. She is challenged but it’s slow enough and builds on itself enough that she isn’t flustered.


Since our style is Charlotte Mason / Montessori / Classical / Hands-on / Student-led [hehehe] we are doing a Nature Study this year. We’ll mostly be walking around our neighborhood and a couple of nature centers that are close by.


She did ask to do more science so we’ll be doing one day a week of reading together and one day of experimenting.


For the Bible this year, we are moving past the Jesus Storybook Bible, which we love but have read through a bunch, with something a little meatier. I also grabbed a couple sticker and coloring books from Dollar Tree for her to work on while I read aloud.


Reading has been a bit of a blemish on the otherwise great time we’ve been having together. We’ve tried a few of the different “Teach your kid in 100 lessons” style books and we both end up frustrated. So we’re relaxing in this subject for a while. We’re doing moveable alphabet work and the Explode the Code books. We’re also going to start the Phonics Museum [not pictured] program, which seems slower paced.


For History and Geography we’ll continue reading and doing coloring sheets from Story of the World. We’re going to work on map skills this year as well so I made this map puzzle from this pattern and we’ll do some of the activities from the books.


We will also continue our Magic Tree House real-alouds and mapping. I can hardly believe we’ve read almost 30 books together! They have been so fun!


We are going to continue Handwriting Without Tears and as much hands-on work as we can fit in. She loves these.


To keep everything organized, we have a weekly work folder where I can have worksheets ready to go. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to work and realizing you forgot to print something.

And, as requested, we’ll be doing tons of building with our wood blocks, legos, tinker boxes, and manipulatives.

I asked Lucy if she would rather do her school right after breakfast or while Landon is at school and Cohen is sleeping and she chose the morning. So our days will look something like this:

Partial Explode the Code lesson & Phonics Museum
Saxon Math
Handwriting Without Tears

Partial Explode the Code lesson & Phonics Museum
Saxon Math
Handwriting Without Tears
Story of the World or Map Skills

Partial Explode the Code lesson & Phonics Museum
Saxon Math
Handwriting Without Tears
Science Houghton Mifflin & either Berenstain Bears or Usborne

Phonics Museum
Saxon Math
Homeschool Co-op from 9-12 [Art, PE, Music, Sign Language]

Phonics Museum
Saxon Math
Science Little Explorers Experiments
Nature Study

I am curious to see if we will have to move some things to the afternoons when it’s quieter, but otherwise I feel pretty confident in our choices. Yay!