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Archive for the ‘Unit Studies’ Category

Backyard Nature Study: A Surprise Visitor

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 27, 2011


We had a visitor in our backyard this week—one that really surprised us. Here’s what
happened:

The dogs were barking like crazy. They seemed to be barking at something on the ground. In the past, they’ve killed mice (our doxies are great mousers), toads (I can’t tell you how many toads I’ve saved from the “jaws of death”—I’ve decided to count  next spring/summer), baby birds, and kittens (they dug under the fence and dragged them out of a neighbor’s yard—so sad–but they survived, thank goodness.) Anyway, the dogs were intently staring at something
on the ground, and barking like maniacs. I sent Ben outside to see what they were upset about, but I quickly followed him outside when I heard the dogs starting to fight over it. Was it another mouse, or some other creature I needed to save? I could see something in the grass, oblong shaped, but I wasn’t quite close enough to see what it was (or didn’t believe my eyes) until Ben shouted, “It’s a turtle!”

Sure enough, it was a turtle, flipped onto its back. I quickly snatched it out of the dog’s reach and brought it to safety inside.

The turtle was completely pulled into his shell.  There were not even any visible openings for its head, arms, or legs. We put it in a plastic container with some lettuce and a lid filled with water, and waited to see what would happen. We weren’t even sure if it was alive.

But after only a few minutes, a little head poked out! While the boys watched it, I got on the internet to see if I could identify it. I had noticed that the bottom of its shell seemed to be cracked in a straight line across the upper third of its body, and there was a tiny bit of blood in spots. That “crack” turned out to be a hinge—and we quickly identified it as a box turtle.

I found out that the box turtle’s hinge allows it to completely hide inside its shell. (There aren’t any visible holes in the shell at all when it’s pulled inside!) It can open and close its hinge  like a little door. Also, while inside their shells, box turtles can move their hinge and “rock” themselves from front to back. There is a band of skin around their necks—almost like a tight, thick choker necklace—that their head retracts into. Josh said it looked like
leather. This little guy had three back toes and four front toes, both with impressive little claws, and it had orange spots on its body. Whenever it was startled, it hissed. We were fascinated!

The boys begged to keep the turtle, but I knew that its presence, even in a habitat in the front yard, would drive our dogs nuts. I also knew my dear husband had no interest in trying to build
us a safe place to keep him/her…so I decided  to find our visitor a new home, and it’s a good thing I did.

A friend knew a friend who kept turtles, and she agreed to take it…until she saw it, that is. She could tell that it was a female, and she could tell right away that it was hurt and might
be sick. She didn’t want to risk exposing her healthy turtles to a sick one. So I drove it out to California Living Museum, having been assured by another friend that they would take her. However, they take only indigenous animals, so they didn’t want her, either! Even so, it wasn’t a wasted trip, because they gave me the name of someone from our local “Turtle and Tortoise Club”, saying they did “recues.”  What a relief.

That very night we bid good-bye to our visitor and drove her to the man from the Turtle Club. He immediately recognized that her shell had been chewed, right near her head (I don’t know why I didn’t realize it—it was obvious.) Also, her hinge had small specks of blood on it, still. Additionally, by then, we had realized that she wasn’t eating. He assured me that she would be seen by a vet right away, be nursed back to health, and then placed in a good home.

So ends our turtle adventure–except…naturally, like any typical homeschooling family, we had to learn more about turtles!

Box Turtle facts we learned (besides what I shared above):

-Box turtles are land-dwellers.

-Our little turtle was no more than 5 or 6 inches long, but she was surprisingly heavy.

-Box turtles eat grass, lettuce and so on (as I expected), but I was surprised to find out that they are omnivores–enjoying snails, worms, and other insects as well (they eat the snails shell and all.) According to  Box Turtle Care A to Z,  “Wild turtles are omnivores and in will eat earthworms, snails, grubs, beetles, caterpillars, carrion, grasses, fallen fruit, berries, mushrooms and flowers. They will take a bite of anything that smells edible.”  Apparently they love corn on the cob.

-Their backbones and ribs are fused to their shell. Since they have backbones, they are vertebrates.

-Turtles hibernate. Our friend told us that their pet turtles stop eating before hibernation (that’s not why ours had stopped eating–it is still warm here, and too soon for hibernation). When it’s time for them to hibernate, some people put their turtles in the vegetable drawer of their refrigerators for the winter; others put them in boxes (with newspaper padding) and then put them on a shelf in the garage until spring.

-Box turtles cannot right themselves if they are flipped on their backs. If we hadn’t found her, she would have died.

-Box turtles are NOT slow. They are quick little characters, and can even CLIMB.

-Box turtles can live as long as fifty years.

This was a unique opportunity for us to see a turtle close up–it really was amazing. I’m sorry the dogs chewed on her…I’m sorry we couldn’t keep her…but I’m glad we got to study
her for a couple of days, and glad to know she’ll get a good home.

Turtle books we’re going to read for continued research (This is one of those “teachable” moments that we’ll turn into a mini unit study):

Box Turtle at Long Pond, by William T. George

Take Along Guides: Frogs, Toads, and Turtles, by Diane L. Burns

A Turtle in the House, John Gabriel Navarra

Album of Reptiles, by Tom McGowen

(We’ll see if we get off on a tangent of reptiles, in general.)

Books for the boys to read:

Let’s Get Turtles (A Science I Can Read Book), by Millicent E. Selsam (a longer one)

Reptiles do the Strangest Things, by Leonora and Arthur Hornblow

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author. 

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Posted in Book Lists, Creation Science, Family Life, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschooling, Nature Study, preschool at home, Reading Aloud, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Valentine’s Day Unit Ideas (for Preschool and Kindergarten)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on January 24, 2011


  Valentines Day will be here before we know it!  It’s time to get ready now.  Here are some ideas to make your Valentine’s Day tons of fun–I’ve added more art ideas and pictures for this year’s post!  Here we go:

Homemade Valentines: (Important tip:  If you are going to have your children craft your own cards this year, be sure to allow plenty of time–especially if you are going to mail them.  Don’t try to make them all the night before you need them!)  Making your own Valentines is fun and easy.  Best of all, it gives children a way to express their love for others.   Materials you will need:  Heavy cardstock (cut to 3×5) or folded paper of varous sizes (for the card base), stickers, pre-cut hearts, small lace doily hearts, etc.  Look HERE for specific/more elaborate ideas.

Other Fun:

How Sweethearts are made (virtual fieldtrip)

 Games and other fun for older kids

 Books to read: A Friend is Someone Who Likes You, by Joan Walsh Auglund

A Kiss for Little Bear, by Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak

 Otto Shares a Hug and a Kiss (Kathleen Morey)

(We also love Otto Shares a Tear, by the same author.)

Let’s Celebrate Valentine’s Day:  A Book of Drawing Fun, by Carolyn Loh

Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch (this is so sweet…a real tear jerker for us moms!)

Valentine’s Day Is, by Gail Gibbons (history of the holiday)

That's What a Friend Is

  Valentine’s Day Is… by Gail Gibbons 

Product Details

   Product Details

The Valentine Bears, by Eve Bunting

 A post office theme is a traditional part of Valentine’s Day.  It’s fun to make a prop box for this—including envelopes, stickers (for pretend stamps), a grocery bag with handles (mail bag), and a box with slits in the front to put mail IN, and an opening in the back to take mail OUT.  Some families make their own “family mailboxes” so that they can send “love notes” to each other year round!  A good book to read for this is The Post Office Book:  Mail and How it Moves, by Gail Gibbons.

 More Art Ideas:

-Paint with red and white, and make pink.  Talk about color mixing and name each color.

-Make heart people and animals:  Cut hearts of various shapes and sizes.  Also have google eyes, pom-poms, and felt tipped pens available.  Use these to make your heart people/animals (it’s a good idea to have your children lay out their ideas before gluing.)  These creations are only limited by your imagination; here are some pictures of some we have made in the past (below).

the legs are paper that is cross-folded.

Mr. Lion only needs 5 hearts

Alternate idea: Make Valentine people out of playing cards.  Find the Queen of Hearts and other  cards in the heart suit.  Use a Sharpie Pen to draw a nose and mouth; add google eyes.  We added pipe cleaner arms and legs, too.  So cute!

-Marble painted hearts:  Cut a heart shape our of white or pink paper.  Place the heart in a shallow box (we use masking tape to secure it to the bottom of the box.)  Mix up some tempera paint (not too thin-not too thick–preferred colors are red, pink, and purple.)  Using a spoon, dip one marble at a time into the paint mixture, then gently drop it onto the heart.   Move the box from side to side to make lines on the heart.  Repeat with the other colors, as desired.  After the heart has dried, glue it onto a larger piece of paper to make a card.

       Have fun!  ~Susan

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

For more ideas, check out these links:

http://familyfun.go.com/valentines-day/ 

 http://crafts.kaboose.com/valentines-day-crafts.htmlV

Posted in Art, Book Lists, Crafts, Holidays, Uncategorized, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Valentine’s Day Poems, Finger Plays, Felt Boards, Games, etc

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on January 23, 2011


Special note:  I’ll be re-posting my Valentine’s Day posts so that they will be easier for you to find.  It may seem early, but if you want to plan your units/make any felt boards or finger play play props/purchase any books (or reserve them at the library), now’s the time. 

     I collected most of these as a college student or as a preschool teacher.  These were given to me by other teachers, minus the original source.  If anyone knows the proper source, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due.

 Poems-Just for Fun (these can be recited or used on homemade cards):

 *Pucker you lips, close your eyes, you’re going to get a big surprise!

 *Do you love me or do you not?  You told me once, but I forgot.

 *I could not find a valentine, Meant just for you, for me to sign.

I thought and thought and then you see, I thought that I would give you me!

Two eyes that smile, two lips that kiss, And all my love come with this.

So here I am for you so fine, Here’s just myself-your Valentine.

(Discuss-how do eyes “smile”?  Fun idea:  Make a heart into a necklace, and let your child “give himself” to Grandma and Grandpa.)

 *This brings a very special prayer:  God keep you always in His care. 

And day by day, may you be blessed, With all that makes you happiest.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 Felt Board Fun:

 Valentines

One red valentine, two red valentines, three red valentines, four.

We cut and cut and paste and paste, and then we make some more.

(Cut ten red hearts out of felt for this one.  You could number them, if you wanted to use them to introduce/practice number recognition/order.)  Lay them on the felt board as you say the poem; count “how many more” there are.)

 Five Little Valentines

 One little valentine said, “I love you.”  _______made another, and then there were two.

Two little valentines, one for me!  _______made another, and then there were three.

Three little valentines said, “We need one more.”  _______made another, and then there were four.

Four little valentines, one more to arrive;  _______make another, and then there were five.

Five little valentines, all ready to say, “Be my Valentine this happy day.”  

(Make the valentines by gluing felt or interfacing onto the back of store-bought valentines.  Alternately, you can glue the valentines onto tongue-depressors. You can use these for the next poem, too.)

Counting Valentines

Valentines, valentines, how many do you see?  Valentines, valentines, Count them with me.

One for father, one for mother, one for granny too;  One for sister, one for brother…and here is one for YOU!  (This is also a finger play; see below. Idea:  Add felt numbers to this one.)

 *Valentines Songs

(Sung to Farmer in the Dell):

My valentine is red, my valentine is blue,  Put them in the let-ter box and mail it off to you.

The mailman picks it up,  And sends it on to you.

And when it gets in-to your hands, it says “I love you true.”

 Also don’t forget:  Jesus Loves Me/You Are my Sunshine/I love you, a Bushel and a Peck/Jesus Loves the Little Children/etc

Finger Plays

 A Valentine

Snippity-snip my scissors go, (pretend to cut with fingers)

Cutting my paper to and fro  (cut one way, then the other)

Make a big red heart to be  (shape heart with arms & hands)

A valentine to you from me.  (point to self, the point to another.)

Counting Valentines

Valentines, valentines, how many do you see?  Valentines, valentines, Count them with me.

One for father, (hold up thumb)  one for mother, (hold up pointer finger)

One for granny too; (hold up middle finger)  one for sister, (hold up ring finger)

One for brother, (hold up little finger)   and here is one for YOU!  (Make heart shape with thumbs and pointer fingers.

Paper Hearts and Parachute (or blanket) Game

This is a game I made up to use with my parachute.  (For home use, you can substitute a small blanket.)  It works well with large or small groups.

Preparation:  Cut paper hearts out of construction paper.  How many?  This depends on the size of your group, and your blanket!  For family use, I would guess 40-50; for only one child, 20 or so. 

        Here is how you play the game:  Have children grab the sides of the blanket.  Tell them, “I’m going to put the hearts on the blanket in just a minute.  When I do, I want you to shake the blanket/parachute as hard as you can. As soon as all the hearts are off the blanket/parachute, I’ll say, ‘Go,’ and then you can let go of the parachute and pick up all the hearts you can.”  After the children have picked up the hearts, you can:

-Have them count their hearts; they can trade one heart for one small candy.  (Or two hearts = one candy.)

-For older children:  Before the game, write numbers on all the hearts (+1, +0, +2, -1, etc.)  After the children have picked up their hearts, have them add the numbers together.  This is the number of candies they receive. 

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Felt Board Fun and Learning, Finger Plays, Holidays, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Preschool/Kindergarten: A One or Two Day Unit for Groundhog Day (Feb. 2)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on January 17, 2011


Books to read:

Groundhog Day, by Gail Gibbons

Gregory’s Shadow, by Dan Freeman 

Groundhog Day (Rookie Read About Holidays) by Michelle Aki Baker (all the books in this series that I’ve seen have been good.)

What Makes a Shadow (a Let’s Read and Find Out book)

 Shadows and Reflections, by Tanya Hoban

How Groundhog’s Garden Grew, by Lynn Cherry (I haven’t seen this one, but I have some of her other books and enjoyed them very much.) 

Activities: 

-Watch the news in the morning (on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2nd) and see what the groundhog “predicted.” Talk about the prediction, and whether or not you think it could be true.

-Record the weather for the next six weeks and see if the groundhog was right or wrong.  If he was right, be sure to explain to your children that he isn’t always right.

-Check out the website, Groundhogs at Hogheaven and look at pictures of groundhogs and listen to the groundhog’s calls.  Find out even more about groundhogs (or woodchucks)  HERE and more about Groundhog Day HERE

-Play shadow tag.   

Learn a Tongue-twister:  Teach your kids the old stand-by:  “How much wood does a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”  (“Woodchuck” is another nickname for the groundhog.)

Vocabulary:  Hibernate (“Phil” is pulled from his burrow—he hibernates), groundhog, woodchuck, whistle pig (other names for the groundhog), predict, weather.

Art: -Make a pop up ground hog or a stick puppet groundhog (preschoolers can assemble these if you prepare the pieces.) 

-Make shadow art:  Fold a piece of construction paper in half.  Have your child paint (thick tempera paint works best) on only ONE SIDE of the fold.  Then carefully fold the paper together and press gently.  Open the fold to see an exact copy (or shadow) of what your child painted.

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Homepreschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschooling, preschool curriculum, Uncategorized, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

A Traditional Winter/Snow Unit for Preschool/Kindergarten

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on January 12, 2011


     Here is a traditional, literature-based preschool/Kindergarten unit on winter/snow for one week.  I listed the finger plays and songs first, since you will enjoy them all week.  The finger plays have been passed from teacher to teacher, and are therefore “author unknown.”  If anyone knows the author of these poems, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due.

Music/Finger Plays for the Week:

Snowman  (use this as a finger play, or sing it to the tune, “I had a little turtle, his name was tiny Tim…”)

There was a little snowman, who had a carrot nose (circle arms in front of self like a fat snowman.)

Along came a bunny, and what do you suppose?  (Hold up two fingers to make bunny ears and make them “hop”)

He was very very hungary (rub tummy)

And looking for some lunch (put hand over eyes to shade them and look from side to side)

He ate the little snowman’s nose (pretend to put food in your mouth)

Crunch, crunch, crunch! (pretend to chew a carrot).

5 Little Penguins

5 little penguins sat on the shore (hold up 5 fingers); One went for a swim, then there were 4 (“swim” one finger away; hold up four fingers.)

4 little penguins, looking out to sea, one went swimming, and then there were 3.  (hold up fingers OR remove felt board figure from the board.)

3 little penguins said, “What can we do?” One jumped in the water, then there were 2 (hold up 3 fingers; “jump” one finger away, then hold up 2.)

2 little penguins sat in the sun, this one swam off, then there was 1 (hold up 2 fingers; “swim” one away and hold up only 1.)

1 lonely penguin said, “This is no fun.” He dived in the water, and then there were none.  (Hold up 1 finger; make it “dive” into pretend water.  Hold up closed fist to show “none.”)

NOTE:  Find a picture of a penguin in a picture book or a felt board pattern book; make your own pellon felt board figures according to the directions  HERE. 

Songs to Sing

1 little, 2 little, 3 little snowmen.  4 little, 5 little, 6 little snowmen.  7 little,  8 little 9 little,  10 little snowmen, 10 fat little snow-men. 

Scroll down on THIS SITE to read some cute poems, finger plays and songs about winter/snow. 

Weekly Plan

Day One: 

Read the book, Snowflake Bently  by Jacquelin Briggs Martin. 

Activity:  Look up Snowflake Bently online and click on the snowflakes to get a closer look at his real pictures.

 Art:  Cut snowflakes and tape them to your windows or walls.  You can find directions HERE and HERE (Note to mom:  Save several detailed snowflakes of various sizes for another craft later in the week.)

Day Two:

Read Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton. 

Discussion:  Katy kept going without complaining even though her work was hard. 

Activity:  Talk a little about maps.  Take your child for a walk around the block, and draw a map for your child (similar to the maps in the book) of your neighborhood or of other major landmarks close by (the grocery store, the library, Grandma’s house, etc.)  After your walk, let your child color her map.

Art:  Paint with white tempera paint on blue paper, like the pictures in Katy and the Big Snow.  Teach your child how to paint asterisks (“snowflakes.”)  TIP:  Mix tempera paint with salt to make sparkly, textured “snow”.

Day Three: 

Read The Mitten  by Alvin Tresselt (this is, by far, my favorite version.)

Art:  Make your own pretend “mittens.”  Trace around your child’s hand to make a mitten shape, and have your child cut them out (cut only one for each hand.)  Use a hole punch to make holes around the edges of the mitten; “sew” around the edges with yarn (you may need to tightly tape around the end of the yarn with masking tape to make it easier to thread through the holes.)   Last of all, decorate with felt-tipped pens. 

Punch holes where the dots are, then "sew" your mittens

Discussion:  What would these animals really do to keep warm during winter? (You can find out more tomorrow!)

Day Four: 

Read Animals in Winter (A National Geographic Book for Young Explorers) by Ron Fisher or another book that explains how animals survive the winter.  Another good book to consider is First Snow in the Woods, a Photographic Fantasy, by Carl R. Sams. 

Vocabulary to learn:  Migrate, hibernate, den, burrow.

Art:  Lay out one of the more detailed snowflakes you saved onto navy blue construction paper.  Use a sponge or cotton balls to dab paint around the snowflake and in all the holes.  Carefully lift up your snowflake to reveal a new snowflake. (NOTE:  You can also use doilies for this.)

Day Five: 

Read the Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. 

Activity:  If you live in a snowy area, bring in some snowballs and watch them melt. If you leave them a little longer, you can talk about how they disappear altogether (evaporate.)  If you don’t live in a snowy area, substitute ice chips for snow.  You can also experiment with salt and snow; does salt make the snow melt more quickly?  Why do cities put salt on their roads?

Vocabulary to learn:  Melt, freeze, salt, sodium, evaporate.

Poem:  Read the poem “Snowball” by Shel Silverstein HERE. 

Art:  Make a snowman.  Use two or three different sizes of doilies (very cute) OR paper plates OR construction paper circles to make a snowman.  Other option:  Have your child paint the circles, and let dry before decorating.  Add real buttons, small sticks for arms, black construction paper circles for eyes, nose, and mouth OR draw facial features.  Other ideas:   Mom can cut  a “carrot nose” out of construction paper, and a hat out of construction paper or felt (OR draw them out and let your child do the cutting.)   Here’s an old snowman that one of my kids made years ago:

     If you live in a snowy area, be sure to make a snowman  outside, too!  You can also try dragging a stick through the snow, smacking the stick on trees or bushes, and making snow angels just like in the book.  We live in sunny southern California, so we made a special trip to the mountains to play in the snow as a wrap up for our unit.

Other Books to read:

Big Snow, the, by Bertha Hader

Hat, The, by Jan Brett

Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen

White Snow, Bright Snow, by Alvin Tresselt

Other unit ideas: 

-Play with white play dough (make snowmen, animal tracks, etc.)

-Finger paint with shaving crème (our favorite place to do this is during bath time, on the walls of the tub.)

-Stamp with snowflake-shaped stamps onto black or navy-blue construction paper.

-Making a paper bag penguin is a tradition in most preschools—and easy to do at home, too.  Find directions HERE  or HERE

-Collage with white packing peanuts (to emulate snow.)

-Make a scarf out of fleece.  Purchase fleece remnants.  Cut a rectangle to the length you desire. Mom should cut a fringe; children can tie the finge off (knot every two fringes together) OR—allow your child to cut a shorter fringe.  For more detailed directions, look HERE

-Read other books about penguins,  polar bears, and Inuits (what we used to call “Eskimos”.)

-Make an Inuit out of a paper plate:  Cut tan construction paper to fit the inside of a small paper plate.  Color a face with felt tipped pens.  Glue on black yarn for hair (forehead area) and cotton balls on top all the way around to make a fur hood around the face.

Have fun!

     ~Susan

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Homepreschool, Homeschool Preschool, preschool at home, preschool curriculum, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Routines, Part Two: Developing Your Own Daily Routines (for homepreschool/homeschool)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on November 25, 2010


        If you have decided that you need to establish routines for your family—or even tweak the routines you already have in place—the first thing that you should remember is that this will take a little planning and a LOT of time and commitment (remember, the only way a routine becomes a routine is if it is consistently practiced on a day-to-day basis–so that it becomes a habit.)   

Planning Your Routines

        The first thing that you need to do is decide what the “skeleton” of your routine should be.  These are the non-negotiable things that must happen everyday…the things that you can’t skip or re-arrange.  These are the things that should get done even if you run into unusual circumstances such as illnesses, interruptions, doctor’s appointments, and so on.   My “skeleton” includes Bible/devotions (Monday through Friday), meals and snacks, nap time and bedtime.  In between the “bones” of my routine, I’m free to plan our day however I want to.  If you’d like to see some sample routines for preschool and kindergarten-aged children, be sure to check out my tab, “4R’s: Routine.”

        In addition to the basic examples of routines on my tab, there are some other items that we should remember to include in our routines…errands.  Many families choose a specific time one day per week to run errands, cook and freeze meals, clean house, etc.  We  opt to “do school” formally only 4 days a week, saving Fridays for messy art projects, field trips, park days (this is the fun stuff—what I call “Friday school”), and/OR cleaning house, running errands, and so on.  On Fridays, only the skeleton of our routine remains.  Similarly, on weekends, only the “skeleton” of the routine remains, leaving us free to be spontaneous, relax, or continue our housework.

What to Do if You Have Older and Younger Children

         So far, the things I’ve talked about are pretty basic.  But how do you plan your day if you have preschoolers AND older children?  How do you ensure that all your children get what they need?  That’s a lot harder.  I know from experience…I’ve done both Kindergarten and high school with babies/preschoolers in tow.  I know it’s tough!  None of us want our preschoolers to get “mommy leftovers”; nor do we want our older children to be left unsupervised, or trusted to do too much of their school work independently.

        So, what’s a mother to do? Here are the three best planning options that I have come across (the meat on the bones!):

1. Alternate your entire day between older and younger children, starting with the youngest. Spend time with your preschoolers, then alternate and spend time with your older children…continue this pattern throughout the day.  Be sure to give your preschoolers their own “preschool” time (circle time, art, developmentally appropriate activities/play), so that they will see that they are just as important to you as your older children are.  After all, we plan activities for our older children, don’t we?  I believe our preschoolers deserve the same.  An hour or two of special attention is all it takes. 

 2. Concentrate on your preschoolers in the morning, and then your older children in the afternoon.  Assign your older children independent work in the morning for an hour or two while you enjoy your “homepreschool” time with your young ones.  Depending on the ages of your older children, independent work could include things such as personal daily devotions/Bible reading, handwriting or copy work, spelling, independent reading, music practice, etc. Once your homepreschool time is done, get your preschoolers involved in play and then work with your older children.  Be sure to read my article, “Keeping Little Ones Busy”  for ideas to help your preschoolers stay busy and happy while your school your older children.    In the morning, your older children will enjoy taking breaks to “help you” do music with your preschoolers; if you provide open-ended art for your preschoolers, older children will enjoy joining you for those activities, too.  Don’t forget to give your older children frequent play breaks, as well.

        After lunch, read aloud to your preschoolers and then put them down for nap or quiet time in their rooms. 

        Once the preschoolers are settled, concentrate on your older children.  Start by checking the work they have done in the morning.  Then, while your preschoolers are still napping, work on your hardest school subjects/the subjects that need the most uninterrupted attention (phonics, math, editing writing, etc.)  I usually sit between my boys while they do these subjects. Try to look at, discuss, and correct the rest of your children’s work right as they finish it. 

        Once your preschoolers wake up from nap, take a break and cuddle them awhile, give everyone a snack, and then get your preschoolers involved in some play before continuing your school time with your older children (if necessary.)  This might be a good time to do the subjects that need lots of discussion—science OR history (alternate them–don’t try to do both in one day!)  Once your school time is done, follow the rest of your daily routine like normal.

3.  Teach all your children together as much as you can, using the unit study/“bus stop” method (there is still some alternating involved.)  If your children are fairly close in age (preschool-first grade, for example) it’s easy to do almost everything together—especially if you use a unit study method.  The rule is: Do what your can with all your children, and then let your youngest “off the bus” for free play whilst you continue to work with your older children.  Take frequent play breaks, and be careful to keep things developmentally appropriate for your youngest children. 

        The thought behind this: a) Preschoolers pick up a lot by listening in on older children’s lessons (passive learning), and b) it saves time, making a shorter day compared to the first two options. 

         If you choose to use this method, you’ll want to treat everything you do like a unit study: Everyone “studies” the same things, but each “studies” at their own level.  Here is what a typical day might look like: 

        Do your family worship and Bible time with all your children first thing in the morning; yes, including your preschoolers.  Preschoolers love to participate in worship and Bible memory work.  If your older children’s Bible story/devotional doesn’t hold your preschooler’s attention as well as you’d like, read your preschoolers a short, age-appropriate version of your Bible story first, and then let them “off the bus” to color printable Bible story pages that correlate with the Bible story while you continue Bible with your older children (OR let your preschoolers play quietly with Bible felt sets/your “box of the day.”)  After a short break, do your “circle time” with all your children:  Calendar, perhaps the flag salute, music/singing, and then your story time. This is your unit study—the time you spend reading about the topic/theme of your choice.  Spend a little time talking about what you read and reviewing any new vocabulary.  If you have any activity to accompany your unit (remember, activities are not required), do it next.

        After another play break, let your preschoolers “off the bus” for the day.  Get them involved in some play (or perhaps your box of the day—be sure to read “Keeping Little Ones Busy”) while your older children do their math lessons (keep your preschoolers close by, and/or let them play with math manipulatives.)  After math is completed (be sure to check it on the spot!), have everyone take an outside play break for 20-30 minutes.  When you come inside, have your morning snack before getting your preschoolers involved in another activity—play dough, a sensory tub, or a simple art project that isn’t too messy (stickers and felt tipped pens, stencils and colored pencils, water colors, etc).  While they are happily engaged, start your phonics/language arts lessons.  After your phonics/language arts lessons are complete, take another play break together…perhaps a longer one, if time permits.  Try to get some outside play time if weather permits. 

        If you start your day at a reasonable hour and keep your lessons developmentally appropriate (in other words, on the short side), you should be able to wrap up your school time before noon.  During the afternoons while your preschoolers nap, your older children can finish their lessons (if they haven’t already.) 

        Once everyone is awake again, use the rest of your day for more creative/outside play, art, learning games for your older preschoolers, and so on.

    Let me know how it goes–I love comments!

            ~Susan

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Elementary School, Family Life, Homepreschool, Methods, preschool at home, Routines, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Fall Unit/Theme for Homepreschoolers: Books, Songs, Finger Plays and More

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 2, 2010


     I realize that this unit is probably a little late for many of you; others, like me, would save this unit unil late October/early November.  Where we live, the leaves don’t really start turning until then.  In fact, although it’s cooling off now, it was over 100 degrees last week.  Please NOTE:  As with any homepreschool unit, please that these ideas are only suggestions.  Make the unit work for you by deleting or adding as you please.  Use the books and activities you already have at home, and make use of the library!  

      Keep it light and fun, and remember that reading aloud is the most important part of any preschool unit.

Concepts to Learn:

-There are 4 seasons in a year.  The seasons are winter, spring, summer, and fall.

-Another name for “fall” is “autumn”.

-In the fall, the weather starts to turn colder.

-Fall is harvest time:  Grapes, corn, nuts, apples, pumpkins, cotton, walnuts, almonds, watermelons, etc (individualize this for where you live) are harvested during fall.

-During the fall, the leaves on trees change colors and then fall to the ground.

-During the fall, animals are busy getting ready for winter.  Some animals eat lots and lots, storing fat in their bodies to prepare for hibernation.  Other animals collect and store food for winter.  Some animals migrate (or travel) to warmer places during the fall. 

-In olden days, families where busy preparing for winter–just like the animals!  During fall farmers harvested their crops and stored up food that they could eat during the fall.  They had to do this to have enough food to eat during the long, cold, winter (read the book, Blueberries for Sal.) 

Vocabulary:  Seasons, fall, autumn, migrate, hibernate, seeds, and harvest. 

Suggested Books to Read:

Animals in Winter, by Henreitta Bancroft and Richard G. Van Gelder (how animals prepare for winter)

Apple Pie Tree, the, by Zoe Hall

Autumn Leaves, by Ken Robbins

Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey

Chipmunk Song, by Joanne Ryder

Fall Leaves Fall, by Zoe Hall

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, by Lois Ehlert

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, by  Marjorie Priceman  (just for fun–goes with the apple theme.) 

Why Do Leaves Change Color?  By Betsy Maestro

How Do You Know It’s Fall, by Allan Fowler, A Rookie Read About Science Book (includes a quick, inoffensive mention of Halloween)

What Happens in Autumn, A National Geographic Young Explorer Book, by Suzanne Venino

When Autumn Comes, by Robert Maass

How Do Apples Grow?  By Betsy Maestro and Giulio Maestro   

Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh and Kathy Jakobsen Hallquist

Corn is Maize by Aliki (or, you can save this one to read during your Thanksgiving unit.)

Finally:  Tell the story, “The Little Red House with No Doors and No Windows”, and illustrate with an apple.  Find the story HERE.  It’s fun to plan to do apple printing afterwards–make apple prints showing the star inside (see directions below under “activities.”)  

I haven’t read these books, but they look appealing to me:

Busy Animals: Learning About Animals in Autumn, by Bullard/Takvorian

Apples, Apples, Everywhere!  Learning About Apple Harvests, by Koontz/Takvorian

Raccons and Ripe Corn, by Jim Arnosky

Every Autumn Comes the Bear, by Jim Arnosky

Finger Plays

Alphabet Soup’s Apple songs and finger plays

More apple poems

Alphabet Soup’s Fall songs and finger plays

My Favorite Finger Plays and Poems:*

 10 Red Apples

10 red apples grow on a tree (hold up fingers)

5 for you and 5 for me (hold one hand forward, then the other.) 

Let us shake the tree just so (shake body)

And 10 red apples will fall below (hands flutter and fall)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (count each finger.)

 

Popcorn Clapping Chant (clap where the letters are in bold print)

Popcorn, popcorn, shakin’ in the pan.

Popcorn, popcorn, Bam! Bam! Bam!

 

5 Red Apples 

5 red apples in a basket by the door,

Little _____took one, and then there were 4.

4 red apples were still enough for me. 

 _____took one, and then there were 3.

3 red apples, and what did I do? 

I baked one in an apple pie, and then there were 2.

2 little apples before this story’s done,

______will make some applesauce, and that leaves 1.

1 little apple, I’ll put it in a sack,

I’ll give it to my grandma, to have for a snack.   (fill in with names of people in your family.  This is fun to do with real apples, or felt apples and numbers.)

Four Little Leaves

(cut out 4 differently shaped leaves from pellon or 4 felt leaves in the colors below.  Place leaves on your felt board before you start the poem.  Have your children pick the correct leaf off the felt board as you read the poem.) 

There were 4 little leaves, on an autumn day.

The green leaf said, “it’s time to play.”

The yellow leaf said, “I will tumble to the ground.”

The brown leaf said, “I will not make a sound.”

The orange leaf said, “I can hear the north wind blow,”

Then the 4 little singing leaves drifted down below.

*I learned these as a preschool teacher years ago. The author is unknown.  If you know the original source, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

Nature Walk and Related Activities: 

-Go on a nature walk and look for signs of fall:  Beautifully colored leaves, seeds and seed pods, squirrels gathering nuts, squirrel holes/caches/nests, migrating birds, and so on.

-While on your nature walk, collect leaves for these ideas:

  • Press leaves between wax paper
  • -Preserve leaves in glycerin and later, use them to decorate for Thanksgiving (warning:  lots of supervision required—poisons involved.  Kids can pound stems and drop leaves into glycerin.) 
  • Make leaf rubbings
  • Older preschoolers will enjoy learning the names of some common trees in your area.  They can also learn to identify their leaves. 
  • Children will be fascinated to look at leaves using a magnifying glass or a simple hand-held magnifier/microscope
  • Older children will enjoy a scavenger hunt, matching leaves to trees and then identifying them by name (use a field guide for this.)  Draw or photograph your finds.

Other Activities: 

-Visit an apple farm and pick your own apples.  Use them to make apple pie and/or applesauce (see below for recipe.)

-Preschool Education.com includes a long list of fall art projects 

-Crepe paper fall tree:  Have your child draw or paint a bare tree trunk (or you make one for them.)  Pre-cut tissue paper squares (1×1”) in fall colors.   Have your child collage leaves onto the tree.  Experiment with crumpling the paper, laying it flat, rolling it, or wrapping it around a pencil eraser to make a flowery effect.  Alternate idea for the tree trunk:  trace around your child’s arm and fingers, then paint or color.

-Paint with fruits and vegetables harvested in fall:  Cut one apple in half down the middle in one direction, and another apple in two large halves across the middle; shuck corn and cut in half.  Set cut pieces out overnight (this dries them out a little to make a clearer print.)  Dip the fruit/vegetables in thick tempera paint or acrylic paint and then stamp or roll them to make designs (this is fun to do along with the story, “A Little Red House With No Doors and No Windows” (see above.)

-Make a collage with things harvested in fall:  Popcorn, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.  Some children enjoy drawing a simple flower or sun shape to fill in.

-Crack walnuts and eat.

-If you can, take a field trip to an agricultural area and watch the harvest.

-Take a trip to the grocery story and talk about things harvested in fall.

-Learn how grapes are made into raisins.  Make your own raisins by drying grapes on a dehydrating machine.

Snacks/Cooking Experience: 

-Anything harvested or processed in fall (grapes, raisins, apples, corn, etc.)

Make homemade applesauce (you cut the apples into medium sized pieces, and then have your children chop them into smaller pieces with a table knife.  Kids can also help measure and add sugar/spices and mash cooled applesauce.) 

Have fun!

     ~Susan

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.  

Posted in Art, Book Lists, Finger Plays, Homepreschool, Music, Picture Books, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Preschool/Kindergarten Unit: Community Helpers Theme

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on September 14, 2010


 A unit or theme about “Community Helpers” is a wonderful way to broaden your children’s horizons and help them learn about the world beyond home–their community.  It is easy to find books for this unit, and there are a number of creative activities to go with it—everything from dramatic play to field trips.

We usually spend 1-3 days per “helper” in this unit.  Remember to keep it simple; you don’t have to do every activity.  Reading aloud and talking about what you’ve read is the most important element.

Special notes about this unit:  Be sure to balance the safety lessons with your child’s age and maturity.  We don’t want to frighten our children.

 Concepts to learn:

 -Community helpers are special people who help and protect us:  Policemen, firemen, doctors, nurses, carpenters, postal carrier, grocer, baker, librarians, etc etc.

 -Community helpers often risk their lives to save the lives of others.

-Learn what the following helpers do: Policemen, firemen, doctor, nurse, carpenter, plumber, electrician, pilot, postal carrier, grocer, baker, librarian, etc (as appropriate for your child’s age and maturity.)

-Help your child learn the name of your city/state/country  

-Teach your child your address and telephone number (this will probably take longer than the unit—be patient.  This is simple memorization, and it’s important for safety’s sake.  See my book for more details on how to do it.)  

-How/when to call 911 and when not to  

-Safety rules (especially relating to pools, poisons, medicines, matches/stoves/fire, etc)

-Develop a home evacuation plan and practice it

-Practice what to do in case of fire/fire alarm (check doors to see if they are hot before opening; stay low to the ground; stop, drop, and roll) 

Vocabulary to learn:

Emergency; stop, drop, and roll; K-9; siren; poison; smoke detector, and the names of helpers and what they do:  Policemen, sheriff, firemen, doctor, dentist, nurse, carpenter, plumber, mason, postal carrier, grocer, baker, librarian, barber, pilot, employee, etc.

Generally suggested books to read/music, finger-plays, and activities:

If you can only purchase one book for this unit, I would recommend Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day; it pretty much covers all the bases.

Another fun general resource is the Sesame Street song and book, “Who are the people in your neighborhood”.  The video’s fun, too—and once you know the tune, you can “sing” the book (I always emphasize that “Mommy is your teacher!”)

 Police:

Books to read: 

What Do People Do All Day  (Richard Scarry)

Policeman Small  (Lois Lensky)

Emergency! (Gail Gibbons)

 Music and finger plays:

-Sing this “safety song,” from the TV show Barney, I believe: (Note:  If you know the original source, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due!)

Sing to the tune, “When the Saints Go Marching In:”

Oh, when I walk, across the street, oh, when I walk ac-ross the street, I always stop, look, and listen, when I walk ac-ross the street.  Oh, when I walk, a-cross the street, oh when I walk a-cross the street, I always wait for the green light, when I walk a-cross the street.

Here’s another “source unknown” finger play (if you know the original source, please let me know so that I can give credit where credit is due:)

Red says STOP (hold up hand in “stop” gesture)

And green says GO (make motions as if you were a traffic cop motioning people to go)

Yellow says WAIT you’d better go slow! (with index finger extended, wave hand across body from right to left and then back)

When I reach a crossing place (cross arms at wrists)

To the left and the right I turn my face (turn face)

I walk, not run, across the streets (“walk” with fingers)

And use my head to guide my feet (point to head and feet.)

 Activities:

-Block city:  Make a city for cars out of blocks.  Use chalk or masking tape to mark intersections.  Pretend you are a policeman, making sure people obey traffic laws.

-Make a bigger version of the above on your driveway outside and drive tricycles around it….Mom or Dad can be the “police” and dole out tickets for reckless drivers.  Mom or Dad could also direct traffic or pretend to be a stop light (“Red light, everybody STOP!” etc.   If you are ambitious, it’s  fun to add cardboard box “houses”/”businesses”, etc; the children can paint the boxes and lay out their “town”.  Some families rig up pretend stop signs/stop lights out of cardboard as well.

-Learn about stop signs and stop lights, crosswalks and crossing streets

-Play the game, Red Light, Green Light

-Watch for opportunities for your children to “meet” a policeman, especially a K-9 officer/unit.  Some of these units put on demonstrations at community events, often allowing children to see the officers and dogs at work, sit in police cars, etc.

 Art: 

-Draw our three large circles for your children onto separate pieces of white paper (don’t cut them out yet.)  Let your children paint the circles:  One should be green, one should be yellow, and one should be blue; let dry.  The next day, have your child cut out his circles (to the best of his ability) and then glue them onto a black rectangle to make a stoplight (from top to bottom, the colors should be green, yellow, then red.)

-Paint with blue and then add a sprinkling of gold glitter (the colors of police uniforms.)

Firefighters:

Books to read: 

What Do People Do All Day  (Richard Scarry)

Fire! Fire! (Gail Gibbons)

Curious George at the Fire Station (Margret Rey and Alan J. Shalleck)

The Fire Engine Book (a Little Golden Book, by Gergely)

Richard Scarry’s Busiest Fire Fighters Ever (A Little Golden Book, by Scarry)

I’m Going to Be a Firefighter, by Edith Kunhardt

Pickles the Firehouse Cat (Esther Holden Averill)

 Songs and Finger plays

Sing the song, “Hurry, Hurry, Drive That Fire Truck” from the Barney show

 Activities

-Pretend you are a firefighter:  Gather props such as an old garden hose, coat, snow boots, or any props you have on hand such as a plastic firefighter’s hat, badge, tricycle, etc (drive tricycles to fires with sirens blaring, then pretend to put out fires.)

-Learn about fire safety (see concepts to learn, above)

-Learn rules about lighters and matches/playing with fire

-Arrange a field trip to the fire station

Art:

-Paint with “warm colors” (yellow, orange, red)

-Make a crayon-melt picture (fire makes heat; heat makes things melt.  Note:  We laid paper directly in the pan and colored right onto the paper instead of making prints; we also laid towels around the edges of the pan to prevent burns.  When you lift the pictures out of the pan, watch out for drips!  See directions HERE.) 

 Mail Carriers

Books to read: 

What Do People Do All Day  (Richard Scarry)

Seven Little Postman (a Little Golden Book, by Margret Wise Brown)

The Post Office Book: Mail and How it Moves (Gail Gibbons)

The Jolly Postman (Aglberg; the postman delivers mail to fairy-tale characters; does contain a “witch” but otherwise a delightful book.  We also love the Jolly Christmas Postman.)

 Activities:

-Buy a wooden/cardboard mail box from an art supply store (Michael’s stores carries them.)  Paint, decorate, and then use your mail box to “mail” letters.  Be sure to teach your child what the flag on the mailbox means.

-Have your child draw pictures and dictate letters for you to mail to your relatives.  Show your child where the stamp goes, and the address.  Ask your family to write back, so your child can have the thrill of receiving her own mail. 

-Gather props to play “mail carrier”:  Large canvass/grocery bag, envelopes, paper, stickers, etc.  “Write” letters, “mail” and “deliver” them. (Don’t let preschoolers play with plastic bags.)

 About Doctors, Nurses, Dentists, etc

Books to read: 

What Do People Do All Day  (Richard Scarry)

Going to the Doctor, Going to the Dentist, Going to the Hospital (Mr. Rogers)

Jenny’s in the Hospital (a “Look Look” book by Seymore Reit)

Suggested songs and finger plays:

Sing “Miss Suzy” (sung to the same tune as, “There Was a Little Turtle, his name was Tiny Tim…” OR chant the words adding a hand-clap pattern such as clap your own hands, clap your partner’s hands, or pat your lap then clap.)

-Do the finger play, “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”  

-Buy a “doctor kit” type toy, and combine it with props from home to play doctor/nurse, etc:  Toilet paper (bandages), “band-aids”, etc (see HERE for more ideas.)  

-If you can, see if you can purchase a real, working stethoscope and let your child listen to her heart.  Alternately, see if your doctor will let you take a “field trip” to his office and use his stethoscope and to talk about what doctors do.

-Talk about health rules that doctors/nurses teach us and why they are important (get plenty of sleep, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, wash your hands, keep clean, brush your teeth, etc.)

About Carpenters, Masons, Electricians, Plumbers, etc:

What Do People Do All Day (Richard Scarry)

The Tool Book, How a House is Built, Up Goes the Sky Scraper, (Gail Gibbons)

Songs and finger plays about carpenters, masons, etc:

Johnny Works with One Hammer (one hammer-“hammer” with one hand; for two hammers, “hammer” with two; three and four hammers, add feet, one at a time; for 5 hammers, add bobbing your head.)

Activities: 

-Hammer nails (supervise carefully!)

-Use pipe cleaners as “wires” and make a sculpture (use styrofoam as a base.)

-Use frosting as cement and sugar cubes as bricks to build a house, just like a mason (don’t let them eat too much!) OR make a gingerbread house

-Talk about parts of a house (walls, ceiling, floor, window, door, etc)

-Drive by construction sites and observe the activity.  Don’t enter the site without permission due to safety issues. 

     There are almost unlimited possibilities with this unit…play “restaurant”, baker (make some homemade bread!), pilot, store (complete with play money and empty cereal boxes to buy) and so much more!  Look for other ideas on these websites below (note:  I cannot vouch for all the content/appropriateness of all the suggestions on these sites, so use your own discretion):

http://www.childcarelounge.com/activity/dramatic-play.phphttp://

www.preschoolrainbow.org/helper-rhymes.htm 

http://www.everythingpreschool.com/themes/helpers/songs.htmhttp://www.preschoolexpress.com/theme_station.shtml

     Have fun, and live the 4R’s! 

           ~Susan

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Art, Book Lists, Crafts, Elementary School, Finger Plays, Homepreschool, Homeschooling, Music, Picture Books, preschool curriculum, Reading Aloud, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Unit Study Planning for “Chickens” (A.K.A. a “Chicken” Unit Study)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on May 1, 2010


        Do you have elementary school-aged children?  Do you want your curriculum to become more “literature-based”? Would you like to try the unit study method– but you’re scared to take the leap?  Then read on, because this post is just for you.

         Ever heard of a “chicken” unit study?  It isn’t a unit study about chickens…it is a unit study for chickens (those of you who can’t give up your textbooks.)  Here’s what I mean:

        If you’ve been having a hard time giving up your (boring) textbooks (chicken!), then why not turn each major chapter or topic in your children’s textbook into a mini unit study?  That way, the text book becomes a sort of “spine” or outline that leads you along.  I admit it:  One of our best year’s homeschooling ever was done this way, and I’ve been considering doing it again. 

        It really is a (nearly) perfect solution, giving your children the “best of both worlds.”  Yes, it takes longer to get through the texts this way, but your children will remember lots more—and enjoy it more, too.

        Here’s what to do:  Choose your textbooks as usual (try to choose a textbook that is as pleasant to read as possible, preferably one written in a “narrative” or “story-like” style.)  Use the index to plan your topics.  Alternate your “units” by topic or major time period and subject (i.e. do a history unit, and then a science unit).  Another option is spending half the year on history, half on science. 

        Read the textbook aloud to your kids and then, instead of written Q & A’s or tests, embellish each chapter with unit study elements:

 ~Books are the most important element to add.  You’ll want to look for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry; literature written during or about the time period you are studying (historical fiction), and/or biographies of important people who lived during the time period you are studying.  For science units, read biographies of famous naturalists, scientists and inventors, as well as fiction and non-fiction stories about animals/nature. 

        Since you are only doing science OR history in a single day, you’ll have more time to spend reading aloud.  We usually read the non-fiction books during your unit time, and then read the fiction books after lunch and/or before bed (yes, this counts as part of your school day!)

 ~Lapbooking, notebooking,scrapbooking: Look for resources to go along with each major time period or science topic, such as materials from Hold That ThoughtHands of a Child; History Pockets; Homeschool in the Woods,  etc. 

 ~Time lines: Check out the variety of ways to make and use timelines on Squidoo.     We are going to use the card file type of time line, and occasionally Mini Books.  There are lots of good ideas on Paula’s Archives, too. 

       Some people don’t believe that timelines are helpful to children until they are in the fourth grade or so, but  I disagree.  I think a simple timeline for early elementary aged children (grades 2+) can help them get a sense of “what came first” and “what came next”.  They can slowly build their timelines, and review them over the years to help them remember what they studied.  I wouldn’t worry about trying to get your children to memorize very many dates or time periods, though, until they are around Junior High age.

 ~Charlotte Mason-y elements:  Pull out copywork, vocabulary and spelling words from your literature; have your children narrate (or tell back) short sections of the literature.

 Other, optional things to add:  These things might take more work to come up with, but they sure add a lot to your units.   Don’t go overboard with these; if they seem contrived or unnatural to you, or if they take too much effort to come up with, then feel free to skip them.  Each family has to decide which of these elements are important to them.  In our family, art and music are high on the list; videos are always easy to add, via Netflix.  Field trips and experiments are easy to find for science, but harder for history.

 ~Arts and crafts: Study art from the time period you are studying (picture study); “copy” art methods (i.e. paint with dots like the impressionists, or paint upside down like Michelangelo had to do while painting the Sistine Chapel.)

~Music: Listen to music related to the theme, or written during the time period of the theme.  Study the famous composers during each major time period.

 ~Projects/activities:  This includes cooking experiences, science experiences/experiments/exploration, nature walks, mapping, dioramas/models, etc. 

~Dramatic play:  Some families really get into using dress up clothes, props, and prop boxes to to “pretend” about their unit or “reenact” history. 

 ~Videos:  Used sparingly, these can be a great supplement–especially when it comes to science (documentaries.) Warning: Watch out of evolutionary content and history that has been “re-written”.

~Field trips or virtual field trips: Icing on the cake!

        There are no required elements to this.  I like to keep things simple, so most of our embellishments would be books.  Lapbooking or notebooking would be another element I’d like to use as much as possible.  Other than that, I’d use whatever elements I could come up with!

        This is a great way to break into unit studies, while holding onto the security of textbooks.

        There’s only one thing I ask:  Do yourself and your children a favor; don’t ever use a textbook by itself! 

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Art, Curriculum, Homeschool, Music, Reading Aloud, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Homeschooling Early Elementary Aged Children: How Many Subjects Do We Need to Teach, Anyway? (Keep it Simple, Silly!)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on April 15, 2010


       Looked at a curriculum catalog lately?  If so, you must have noticed the overwhelming number of subjects most “boxed” curriculums offer.  Take a look at the number of subjects usually offered for an elementary school aged child:   Bible, math, reading/phonics,  grammar, handwriting, spelling/vocabulary, history, science, health, music, art, and  foreign language.  That’s twelve subjects in all.  Some parents choose a vocabulary curriculum that is separate from spelling, adding another subject; others add separate writing, thinking skills,  geography courses, too.  That’s 16 subjects in all.  Whew!  Multiply that by more than one child:  Two children = 32 different subjects…three children = 48 different subjects for you to teach….with each and every book/subject unrelated to all the others.  Ridiculous. 

        And what about the amount of time it takes to teach all those subjects?  If you adopt a “public school” mentality, you would confine your children to their chairs until they had spent 50 minutes per subject.  That equals approximately 13 hours, 33 minutes of school time per day.  That’s insane.  Even if you only spent 30 minutes per subject, which is a much more reasonable amount of time for homeschoolers, you would still spend 8 hours per day of solid academics.  Still too much!   So what are we to do?!  Simplify the curriculum.  Click on this important link to find out how! 

         Don’t continue till you’ve read linked article by Dr. Ruth Beechick!

        It’s a whole new way of thinking, isn’t it?  As usual, Dr. Beechick makes homeschooling sound easy…almost too easy.  Don’t worry though; it is a reasonable and proven approach.   If you haven’t read her books, The 3R’s,  You Can Teach Your Child Successfully Grades 4-8,   or A Biblical Home Education, I encourage you to do so.  I promise you that you’ll refer to them over and again during the years you homeschool.

       Here are several other ways to keep your curriculum simple:   Alternate your subjects.  Alternate science OR health with history OR geography;  alternate art and music, too.  Be brave and teach language arts as a unified subject, as Dr. Beechick suggests (and/or count the writing/reading/etc or child does in other subjects as a part of language arts.)   Never try to teach 11-15 subjects on the same day.  It’s a sure recipe for burn out–both for you and your children.

       Implementing these tips will get you down to 1) Bible, 2) math, 3) language arts, 4) history/geography OR science/health, 5) art OR music (and not in the form of a formal curriculum–and not everyday, unless you incorporate them into other subjects or your child practices an instrument) and 6) foreign language (which is optional; we “skip” this till junior high or high school.)  

Still more ideas: 

~Alternate history/geography OR science/health by day of the week, or better yet, by chapter or topic (this will edge you into unit study territory.)  You should also consider if you even need  a health class every year.  Most of the “health” content for grades 1-4 is the type of thing parents teach their children at home through conversations:  Safety rules, taking care of our eyes, keeping clean, the importance of brushing teach, etc.  In my opinion, if you provide your children a health class in the 5th or 6th grade and again in high school, you’ll have it covered.

         Are you still afraid to take the leap, especially in the area of language arts?  Do you think you won’t be doing enough?  There are several curriculums that combine the different “subjects” of language arts for you.  We use Sing, Spell, Read and Write to teach our children K-2nd or 3rd grade.  This combines the most important elements of language arts for the early years (phonics, reading, writing, and spelling.)  This is all children need until they can read well.

        Once your children are reading well and ready for more, take a look at an “all in one” language arts curriculum such as Learning Language Arts Through Literature,   (we love the old, out-of-print spiral bound editions best) or Queen’s Language Lessons, which include poetry and picture study.  Alternately, you can use the Charlotte Mason method–pulling your language arts lessons from your reading (copywork, dictation, and narration  from the books you are already reading for history/science; see how to do it HERE.)  You can also pull your spelling words and vocabulary words from your reading, if you’d like to.  It’s easy and it’s free.

         Finally, consider an entirely different method of homeschooling—one that will really simplify the curriculum.  If you switch from a textbook approach to a unit study/literature approach, you can cut your subjects down to four:  1) Bible, 2), math, 3) language arts, and 4) unit study.  Some of these four subjects might have more than one element, but still, doesn’t this sound more reasonable?  It is especially useful for teaching multiple children.

       It’s something to think about…simplifying your curriculum. 

  © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

 

 

Posted in Curriculum, Elementary School, Encouragement, Homeschool, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Spring/Gardening Unit/Theme for Homepreschool/Homeschool

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 23, 2010


A springtime/gardening unit offers us many opportunities for learning and fun.  What fun it is to look for the first signs of spring!  This post is a mish-mash of resources for Springtime units.

Signs of Spring

Spring is a great time to teach your children to observe nature, and learn some names of common plants and animals.  Here are some of the plants and animals we commonly think of during spring:

Crocus flowers are grown from bulbs.  The Crocus is known to be one of the earliest spring bloomers–they sometimes bloom right through the snow! If you have Crocuses planted in your area, go on a nature walk and take a look at them; if you don’t, at least show your children the pictures.

Another plant we identify with spring is the Daffodil.   It’s fun to make your own Daffodil craft by drawing a long green stem on a light-colored sheet of paper.  Next, cut out (or help your child cut) 2-3 inch long, fat triangular-like petal shapes (they can be yellow or white.)  Arrange the petal shapes to make a flower, and then glue a yellow or white mini cupcake liner on top to make a daffodil.

Pussywillows, like Crocuses, are plants we traditionally look for in spring.  Ideas:

Read the book, Pussywillow by Margaret Wise Brown (a Little Golden Book.)   If Pussywillows don’t grow in your area, visit your local florist shop and see if you can purchase a few cut branches.  They make a beautiful display…and children love to touch their velvety-soft buds…be sure to let them!  Next, try your hand at some Pussywillow art.  Click HERE for a site that has several different craft/painting ideas, and some flower crafts, too.

Spring growth:  Other signs of spring we look forward to are new green grass, budding/blossoming trees, and wildflowers.  See if your area has a wildflower or tree blossom trails like ours (Bakersfield, CA Wildflowers; Fresno, CA Blossom Trail).   If so, try not to miss them! Idea:  Bring some “spring” inside by clipping a branch from a tree that is blooming (or about to bloom), and putting it in a vase.  At the very least, go for a nature walk in a nearby park and look for signs of spring growth (etc.)  Fresh cut flowers from your own yard are always enjoyable.  If you are really ambitious, you could try your hand at forcing some bulbs.

Spring Poem:  I looked out-side and what did I see?  Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!  (Author unknown.) For more spring poems, click HERE.

Art ideas: 

– Have your child draw a “tree trunk” onto light-colored construction paper (or draw it for them.)  Pop popcorn and glue it on the branches for “blossoms.”

-Paint with branches, OR paint flowers and then use them to make prints.

-Collage with seeds (be sure to use only edible seeds such as lentils, beans, etc, in case your children try to eat them.)

 Activities:  

– Purchase a variety of different seeds. Look at them, and compare (try to have a varity of types and sizes, such as avacado seeds, bean seeds, corn, sunflower, mustard seeds (or other very tiny seeds.)

-In a mason jar, sprout the avacado seed; in another, sprout the beans (put dampened paper towels in a mason jar; place beans right next to the glass. Place them in a summy window, and then watch them sprout.)  Watch and compare. Experiment: What happens to the seeds without light or water?

-Plant some of your seeds in peat pots or starter trays (available at home and garden stores), or sow them directly in the ground.

-Learn about trees. Is your area known for certain types of trees? If so, make sure your child can recognize them.  Take a nature walk and look for signs of spring.

Books to read:  The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree, by Gail Gibbons; The Apple Pie Tree, by Zoe Hall; A Tree is a Plant (a Let’s Read-and Find-Out Book), by Bulla; How a Plant Grows, by Bobbie Kalman (beautiful pictures); A Tree is Nice, by  Janice May Udry (this one’s considered a preschool classic);  Planting a Rainbow, by Lois Ehlert;  Jack’s Garden, by Henry Cole;  The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Kraus (another classic; great for younger preschoolers); The Sunflower House, by Eve Bunting (you can look for grown-up books about sunflower houses, too, and some for kids AND grown-ups.)

Vocabulary: Bud, blossom, fruit, shoot, root, seed, and so on.

Animals and Spring

Robins are considered to be signs of spring.  Watch for the return of Robins and other birds.  A good book to read about robins is A Nest Full of Eggs, by Priscilla Belz Jenkins.

Make a paper bird:  Enlarge any one of these bird patterns and copy onto heavy paper.  Let your child paint the bird with water colors, and let dry.  Glue wings on to complete the bird.  Click HERE for an alternate pattern.

For a craft activity, consider making/setting up a bird feeder, bird house or bird bath to attract birds to your yard.  Here are a variety of bird/bird feeder craft ideas: http://kidsactivities.suite101.com/article.cfm/easy_bird_feeders_for_kids

http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/birdfeedershousesperchescraftsmakingartscraftsideaskids.html

For the ambitious:  See if anyone you know has an incubator you can borrow and hatch some chicken eggs.

Other books about birds:

An Egg is Quiet, by Dianna Aston Book, by Jane Werner Watson (Out of Print)

Birds:  A Child’s First Book About Our Most familiar Birds, a Big Golden Book, by Jane Werner Watson

What Makes a Bird?, by May Garelick (may be out of print)

It’s Nesting Time, (an older Let’s Read and Find Out book) by Roma Gans (out of print)

 Baby Animals:  Many animals have their babies during spring.  This is a perfect time to learn about baby animals and their special names.  If you can, visit a petting zoo, zoo, or nearby farm to observe baby animals.  Books to read:

Baby Animals (a Little Golden Book), by Garth Williams

Baby Animals, by Harry McNaught

Kitten, The Little Rabbit, and others by Judy Dunn.

You can find other books about Spring, plants, baby animals and more in the series, Books for Young Explorers, from National Geographic (one of my favorite science series for ages 4-9; beautiful photos.)

 General Books About Spring/Seasons:

What Happens in the Spring, a National Geographic book Young Explorers, by Kathleen Costello Beer.

How Do You Know It’s Spring, a Rookie Read-About Science Book, by Allan Fowler (ages 2-6.)

Over and Over, by Charlotte Zontolow (contains references to Halloween, but they are easily skipped.)

Other related/possible units:  Bunnies, Plants and Trees, Gardening, Weather, Insects and more!

Have fun!

Note:  I can only recomend the pages I link to, not the entire content of each site.   Further note:  Many of the books I recomend are out of print.  But thanks to Amazon, it’s no problem!  (I am not an Amazon Affliate; I don’t get any money if you purchase any of the books.  They are simply books I’ve enjoyed with my children.)

This post contains excerpts from the book,Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission.  © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Art, Book Lists, Crafts, Curriculum, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Nature Study, Reading Aloud, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Choosing and Finding Classic Picture Books

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 4, 2010


 

                Choose your books and your friends carefully, because they both exercise tremendous influence over you.  When you and your child finish reading a book, has it added to your knowledge and virtue?  Are you somehow left a better person?  Have you been edified and grown in spirit?  If yes, then the book is worth reading.  If it is mere fluff and brain candy, read sparingly, if at all.  Reading should help develop character and empower knowledge.-Mark and Christine Field, Homeschooling 101:  The Essential Handbook

 

 

          Once you’ve made a plan for the units you’d like your preschoolers to learn you’re ready to choose the books you want to read to them.  But how?

          We’ve all heard the “experts” touting the importance of reading to our children during the early years, and of course, we agree with them.  The problem with this push is that parents are often told, “It doesn’t matter WHAT you read to preschoolers… as long as you READ to them.”  Parents of older children are told, “ANY book is acceptable reading material for your children, as long as it gets them to read independently.”  I couldn’t disagree more.

It DOES matter what we read to our preschool children!

Once our children learn to read, it DOES matter what they read.

It matters what we read to our children, no matter what their ages.

          During the preschool years, we are developing our children’s attitudes and appetites towards books.  We want them to hunger after the best–so only the best, most uplifting and educational books will do. Just as children need a steady diet of healthy food that is good for their bodies, ALL children need a steady “diet” of quality books to feed their minds.  The problem is, many of us grew up on “junk food” ourselves, and don’t know what makes quality literature—especially for preschoolers. Others of us have forgotten the classics we cut our teeth on.

What Is a “Living Book”?

          “Living book” is a term coined by the famous turn-of-the-century British educator Charlotte Mason.  A “living book” is a book that is written by a single author, versus text books which often have many “authors.”  Living books are written in a narrative (story-like) style by authors who know and loved their subject well.

          The “Classic” books we all are familiar with are living books.  These are the books that are rich in imagery and emotion…books that children can’t put down…books worthy of our time and attention.

What is a “classic” picture book?

  • A book that has stood the test of time– beloved by generations (although there are occasional “instant classics”).
  • A classic book is appealing to all ages; parents enjoy reading them, too
  • Classic books are well written and descriptive.
  • The characters and settings in these books are memorable and meaningful to us.

 

A book which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story.  The good ones last.  A book which is not worth reading at age 50 is not worth reading at age 10.

-C.S. Lewis, “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”       

 

Additionally, a Classic Picture Book Should:

  • Appeal to/be appropriate for young children– in subject matter, content and style.
  • Include many interesting if not beautiful illustrations.  Illustrations help children visualize the story in greater detail, sparking imagination and conversation.
  • Teach lessons about the world, about people, about emotions.
  • Set an example of positive character traits; give our children heroes.
  • Inspire the imagination–not only during the reading of the book, but after    as well. (You know you have found a good book when children incorporate it into their play.)
  • Good books give young children “something to think about” (Charlotte Mason). They often inspire play, art, discussion or further research (“Can we read another book about ducks, Mommy?”)
  • Many contain appealing elements such as humor, word play, repetition, or rhyme.

           (Note: To find out what a classic picture book is not, you’ll have to pick up a copy of my book! Charlotte Mason calls such worthless books “twaddle”.)

How to Find Quality Books

          Even having the standards listed above, many parents tell me that they still don’t know which books they should be reading to their preschoolers.  They don’t know how to choose quality books, OR how to find them.

          There are many literature lists and books about choosing literature, but unfortunately, most don’t include very many picture books; some skip them altogether. The best books about finding and using classic preschool books that I have found are Peak With Books, by Marjorie R. Nelsen and Jan Nelson-Parish, and Before Five In a Row / Five In A Row, volume 1, by Jane Claire Lambert.  Each of these books contains booklists with recommended picture books; you can find Five In a Row’s complete booklists HERE and HERE.  (Note:  My book includes a chapter long book list, divided up by topic.)

          Many of the Five in a Row titles that used to be hard to find are now being reprinted by Purple House Press along with other old, classic picture books.

          Another good way to discover great literature for children of all ages is through browsing curriculum catalogs.  Catalogs such as Beautiful Feet, Sonlight, Winter Promise, and Book Peddler contain excellent book lists.  (Note: Since each family’s standards are different, choose carefully.  For instance, I like Sonlight’s book choices for grades pre-K-3, but afterwards, the catalog includes some books I dislike or consider inappropriate.  It is a good idea, if you have any doubts, to read or at least skim books before giving them to your impressionable children.)

          Where to find them used:  We’ve had great luck at our local library sales and at Thrift stores (we’re lucky enough to have a Goodwill Store here that only carries books!)  Other places to look:  Homeschool curriculum sales, online curriculum/literature loops, yard sales…..and for harder to find books, check out Amazon and EBay.

          Remember to guide your child’s appetite towards the best. Junk food is all right to eat once in a while, but it should not become our usual diet.  Instead, guide your children towards the best in literature. Use books to teach moral lessons, and to teach about the world. Enjoy books with your children, taking time to look carefully at the pictures, answering questions and discussing each book.  If you do this, you will be well on your way to a happy and healthy homeschooling lifestyle.

This post is excerpted from the book,Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission. 

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Book Lists, Curriculum, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Picture Books, Reading Aloud, Uncategorized, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Preschool Unit Studies, Preschool Themes: What Do They Look Like?

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 2, 2010


          OK, you’ve decided on your topics (themes) and are ready to get going!  But what should a preschool unit study look like?  What types of activities should be included in your unit–and how many of them do you need? 

          The first thing to remember is to  keep it simple.   There is no “rule” stating what a unit study “should” be or “should” contain.  Reading picture books is the bulk of our preschool “unit studies”.  But whenever we can, we add simple activities that go along with our theme.  This isn’t an obsession; I don’t go crazy with it; we simply add activities when we think of them. Here are some elements you might think about when you are planning a preschool/Kindergarten unit study:

~Books, both fiction and non-fiction (if appropriate); this is your most important element! If this is all you have to offer your children, that’s OK!

 ~Music: Music related to the theme (for older kids, music written during the time period of the theme.)  For the farm unit, we’d sing “Farmer in the Dell”, “Old MacDonald”, “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” etc.

 ~Finger plays/poetry/nursery rhymes: Poems, finger plays or action rhymes about the unit. For a farm unit, we’d do finger plays like “5 Little Ducks”; nursery rhymes like Little Boy Blue and Little Bo Peep, and poems such as the Giving Farm, by Vicki Witcher http://www.kinderkorner.com/farm.html .

~Art and crafts: I like to keep art as open-ended as possible.  Use projects that have a set result (that “should” look a certain way) sparingly, and concentrate on open-ended art ideas instead (I included a list of more than 50 such projects in my book.)   Examples of art for a farm unit: Draw or trace the shape of a cow, and then finger paint or paint on it; draw or trace the shape of a lamb, then cover with cotton balls; paint with milk paint, paint or write with feathers, etc.

 ~Projects/activities: This includes cooking experiences, science experiences/experiments/exploration, Montessori type activities (hands on, small muscle), large muscle activities, and so on.  For a farm unit, we might: Look at and sort different types of seeds; put whipping cream into a jar and shake until it turns into butter; sprout beans in a clear glass or zippy bag, start a garden, and so on.

~Dramatic play:  Use dress up clothes, props, and prop boxes to inspire your children to “pretend” about your unit.  For example, for the farm unit, you might have overalls, boots, and a big hat to wear (traditional “farmer” clothes); a rake and other gardening tools to play with outside (supervise carefully), etc.  You can find some great ideas HERE  and HERE

 ~Videos:  Used sparingly, these can be a great supplement-especially when it comes to science (documentaries.) Warning: Watch out of evolutionary content.

~Field trips or virtual field trips: Icing on the cake! Not every unit will have field trips; they can be as simple or as complicated as you wish. For our farm unit, we watched several “virtual” tours of farms, visited a dairy farm, went to our grocery store where we talked about which produce grows where (Does it grow on a tree?  Under the ground?  On a bush?), and where products come from (Meat:  Bacon = pig; beef = cow;  milk products & how they are made, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, etc);  for a wrap-up, we went to our county fair.)

          Be careful not to go crazy with these! A few really good elements make a more enjoyable unit study than a bunch of meaningless ones. A rule of thumb for a two-week study (for preschool/Kindergarten) would be: 10-12 books; 1-2 songs to learn; 1-2 finger plays; 4-8 different art/crafts (not all have to be related to the unit–just offer them throughout the week); 4-8 hands on projects/activities; 1 creative/dramatic play activity, 1-2 field trips (if possible).  Every element does not have to be present.  The idea is to make your “study” meaningful and fun.   Remember, the single most important thing you can do to help your preschooler learn is to read aloud to her.  As long as you do that while providing a loving, consistent, creative home environment with lots of time for free play, you’ll do just fine.

Next post: Unit For A Day

 

Portions of this post are excerpts from the book,Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission. 

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Art, Crafts, Curriculum, Goals, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Music, Reading Aloud, Uncategorized, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Unit Studies for Preschoolers (and beyond!)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on February 28, 2010


What is a unit study?

          Themes.  Units.  Unit studies. Topics. Thematic units. Hang around homeschoolers very long and you are likely to hear these terms.  What do they mean?

          (For older children):  The unit study method really stream-lines homeschooling.  Instead of studying eight to ten unrelated subjects and using eight to ten different text books, the same material is studied while centered around one central topic or theme. We do only four subjects a day:  Bible, math, language arts, and unit study (each of these may have more than one element; we do add more subjects during the high school years.)

          A unit study can be about a person, a period in history, literature, an animal, a place, or whatever interests you and your children.  For example, when covering explorers, you might study the men themselves (history), the routes they explored, (geography), literature written about or during this time (literature), the oceans and their currents, (science), art/music about the topic or created during the time period you are studying, and on and on.  Most of the major disciplines are included, but in a more unified way. 

          (For preschool/Kindergarten):  Preschool and Kindergarten has been traditionally taught using unit studies.  For preschool, many of the units are centered around the holidays (a preschooler’s first introduction to “social studies”) and the seasons (science.) 

         I plan our “units” ahead of time, so that we can be sure to cover a variety of subjects every year.  The goal of our units is to: 1) Take into account what the children already know and move them out from there;  2) Take advantage of their interests, when possible;  3) To introduce them to new areas of interest/learning (including the best in literature, art, and music–as is age appropriate); and 4) build a base of knowledge about the world, and the vocabulary to go with it.

         Here is an example of the themes studied in a typical preschool/Kindergarten year.  Most of the units are around two weeks each:

September: Community helpers (policemen, fireman, doctors, etc); Farms, farm animals/products (“field trip” to our County Fair.)

October: Transportation (planes, trains and automobiles); Zoo animals (wrap it up with a trip to the zoo)

November: Fall, things harvested in fall, animals getting ready for Winter; Thanksgiving (Indians, Pilgrims.)

December: Christmas (we include lots of baking, arts and crafts.)

January: A couple of days on the New Years and the four seasons; Wintertime, Snow; Healthy Habits (cold prevention, brushing teeth, getting enough sleep, healthy eating)

 February: Groundhog Day, Hibernation, animals that live underground (2-3 days); Valentine’s Day/Love; Weather (rain, thunder, lightening, wind, storms, etc.)

March: My Five Senses; How we grow (from babies to big kids!); Dinosaurs

April: Easter; Eggs, chicks and birds; Spring/gardening/plants

 May: Nursery Rhymes; Animals and animal babies

 June:    The planets and space; Insects

 July:   Independence Day;  Ocean and ocean life, Water fun (Sink/float experiments, melt ice, etc)

 August:  Vacation

          Other themes you might want to explore now or later: (In no particular order): Circus, safety, zoo, Johnny Appleseed, pets, nocturnal animals, migration/hibernation (a great fall unit), art and artists, teddy bears, trees and plants, trains, fairy tales/tall tales (use your best judgment on this), the earth (rocks, caves, volcanoes), where things come from/how things are made, cooking and nutrition, jungle animals/jungles and rain forests, mountains, deserts, animal homes/habitats, pirates, ships and ports, Knights and castles, life in olden days…whatever your children are interested in!

   Next post:  Planning Your Unit Studies:  What Does a Preschool Unit Study Look Like?  

Portions of this post are excerpts from the book, Homepreschool and Beyond; used with permission. 

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Curriculum, Elementary School, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »