Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hunter's Kindergarten Curriculum

"The kindergarten children are confident in spirit, infinite in resources, and eager to learn. Everything is still possible."
Robert Fulghum
It is kind of difficult for me to write this post.

Not because I don't want to (I've actually been wanting to for a long time) but because when I think of the word "curriculum", I think of anything and everything that goes into and contributes to ones learning experiences and education.

Which I of course could never just compile into one nice, easy post.

So even though this is definitely not a complete list of every little thing that we will be learning or doing this year, I thought I'd write a general outline of our most basic plans, just for your information and enjoyment, about our fourth year of homeschooling.

(And no, we don't do all this stuff every day)

Language Arts
  • Reading  Basically, read lots of books. We get tons of new 1st - 3rd grade readers from thrift shops every month to add to our growing library of things for him to read. He has kind of started his first chapter books so hopefully, by the end of the year, he will have moved to that stage completely.
  • Handwriting  He is currently doing both regular manuscript and now he wants to do cursive. I think we will use copywork (copying, in his best handwriting, great pieces of literature) and story-writing instead of just alphabet writing.
  • Grammar, Phonics, Spelling  We are just winging it here. We have games to learn some more phonics / spelling rules. And I will be using my old high school writer's resource reference book as a basis to teach him different grammar things, such as all the technical words for those rules all kids figure out on their own when learning how to talk (such as passed tense, suffixes, etc.) and also punctuation and other fun things that come up. He will also be doing a lot of writing on the computer [because he loves to] and make use of the lovely spell check and grammar check.
  • Literature  We read together a lot. And we like to read good, quality books (as well as some silly ones, too). For this we will be getting picture books from the library for the younger kids' portion of the classic children's literature list, The Book of Virtues for lots of poetry, folk tales, fables, even history, and a lot of different longer, more advanced novels [unabridged] that I read aloud to him during the daycare baby's nap time (a lot of them from above children's literature list).
  • Games and Explorations  Lots of play and math explorations. Patterns, games, measurement, fractions, shapes and geometry, more time and money concepts, graphs, experiments, whatever comes up.
  • Biology  This year we are moving on from a main focus in astronomy / earth sciences to turn our sights towards biology. We are using Mom's adaptation of Exploring Creation with Biology, which is technically a high school text but I am taking the concepts and simplifying them to a way he can understand. We will do lots of hands-on activities and crafts.
  • Other  Since this boy loves science we will probably be doing lots of other science topics throughout the year in our free time, including continuing on with his astronomy love and rock-collecting kick (even though that's not technically our "main" focus anymore), reading lots of science books just for fun, our walk through the science encyclopedias, and whatever other interesting things that come up and we want to learn about.
History and Geography
  • Ancient History  We are continuing with our study of ancient history and hope to get much more in depth this year. For the most part we are using the Bible as our core, with James Ussher's Annals of the World, and Streams of Civilization, and lots of books / supplements from the library and web. Our main focus will be from about 4,000 to 500 B.C., maybe going further. We do a lot of crafts and fill in our Book of the Centuries timeline.
  • American and Other History  This is not our focus this year but we do like to read through the stories of In God We Trust: Stories of Faith in American History for leisure and other history story books as well, especially around holidays such as Thanksgiving, Cinco de Mayo, etc.
  • Geography  Besides learning about the countries in our history studies, our bedtime ritual of finding countries, states, bodies of water, capitals, flags, etc. on bedside world map / flag display. Also reading and praying through the children's book You Can Change the World volume 1 of Operation World, and learning about the countries we're praying for.
Art and Music
  • Art  Drawing with Children for realistic drawing, artist study with library books and homemade bits, and occasional different activities and projects from the web (such as Teach Kids Art and Harmony Art Mom) just for fun. Also lots of science and history crafts, and free access to lots of materials to make art whenever he wants.
  • Music  Once I get my keyboard shipped out here we will starting keyboard lessons again (hopefully soon, we miss it). For now we are doing Doman-style music appreciation by listening to pieces of classical music throughout the day and naming its composer, name, and key it was written in. Hopefully starting music theory and perfect pitch again with web resources. Also composer study with our fandex bit cards.
  • Hymns  We like hymns. And they are good quality music, too. We will be learning the full lyrics to a hymn or two every two weeks. Using an old hymn book and Youtube.
Foreign Languages
  • Spanish  We will be doing a lot more with Spanish this year, mostly vocabulary words and sentences, with games from How to Help Your Child with a Foreign Language. I am hoping that with us living in this highly-hispanic area that I can find some Spanish play dates so maybe he will learn to actually speak it. Here's hoping.
  • Other Languages  We'll probably do a lot more words from different languages like we have in the past, just for fun. We've learned different alphabets such as the Greek, Hebrew, Russian, Japanese, etc. and are teaching sign language to the daycare babies. Sometimes we learn words from the country we're studying or history topic such as Egyptian hieroglyphs. 

  • Mealtime Reading  I haven't mentioned the our Bible / scripture studies before now because it's really not a separate subject, but incorporated into everything we do. At each meal however, we (ideally) would read the Proverb chapter of the day plus three other chapters at each meal (which takes 20-30 minutes). If we did this at one meal a day, that would get us through the whole Bible once a year. Doing it at every meal gets us through the Bible three times a year. Reading a Proverb a day gets us through the book of Proverbs once a month, with three readings a day, three times a month. He also falls asleep to the reading of the New Testament on his MP3 player. We're striving for more consistency with this this year.
  • Memorization  Ideally the whole mealtime reading enables him to memorize a lot of the Bible, especially Proverbs. The goal is to memorize the whole book of Proverbs (eventually, no time limit here) and be very familiar with the rest of the Bible by going through it so often. He will occasionally memorize character-related verses and I want to start using Bible passages for his copywork. 
Life Skills
  • General  We learn about all kinds of safety, health, and social topics on an ongoing basis through conversation and real life experiences.
  • Character and Responsibility  He helps out a lot around the house and has always enjoyed this, especially if it's something we do together. This year I want to help him get more organized with his chores and also to do them without being told (I can dream, right?).
  • Time Management and Goal Setting  I will be focusing a lot on teaching him time management, goal setting, and organization this year now that he writes and reads well. Earlier this year I bought him his own calendar and alarm clock and I am planning to buy him his own day planner now too, and start helping him set his own goals in both little and big areas. He loves talking about "when I'm a dad" so helping him plan for the future is right up his lane. We are using our own version of workboxes now too, to help him organize the things he can do "on his own" for school and do them without being told or reminded (ideally, right?).
  • Money  We've started to pay Hunter a small sum each week for his contributions to the family business (childcare and odd jobs). I don't really believe in an "allowance" nor paying him to help around the house, but this is his way to be "employed" while learning about money and how to manage it. Right now he is getting paid $5 per week and the goal is to learn about saving, spending, giving, and investing more this year.
  • Speaking and Communication  We are trying to work more on effective communication and assertiveness. Having him practice narration and describing things, reading aloud with inflection, and other "public speaking" techniques to help get him be more "comfortable out of his comfort zone", so to speak. Possibly using From Playpen to Podium.
  • Boy Scouts  He is possibly going to be starting boy scouts this year. Either way we will be doing our own program at home, using the Contenders for the Faith program, specifically Little Contenders. It is basically a Christian version of boy scouts. This is just for fun and we are not using the whole program, but just for ideas for interesting activities to pursue in his free time.
  • Computer Science  I let him play on the computer a few times a week. We do not have any "educational games" but he instead plays with programs such as Microsoft Word and Paint that are fun but teach him real skills. We are also using an old Usborne Computer Dictionary and bit cards to learn about how a computer works and eventually I'll start teaching him proper typing.
Physical Excellence
  • Family Runs  (3-5 times a week). We currently, as a family, run together when we can, usually 2-3 miles (with a walk / run / walk / run pattern). We hope to increase the mileage and straight-running time steadily throughout the year.
  • Swimming  Swimming at the year-round lap pool on the Navy base's gym, once the community pool closes.
  • Vestibular and Other  Various Doman-style vestibular [balance], strength, and flexibility activities. This stuff is as simple as sending him outside to play with a jump rope or doing somersaults in the house, and we have a lot of fun with it.
  • Martial Arts  I hope to start incorporating more martial arts this year. He is learning basic Taekwondo and learning to use the nun chucks (I am teaching him both). Let's hope I can remember how.
Field Trips and Outside Activities
  • Field Trips  I don't have all of our field trips planned, and a lot of them our spontaneous, but we will be doing a lot of on-base field trips this year such as the commissary, the jet hangars, security, fire station, vet, hospital, etc. (with the daycare kids) and lots of local and regional museums and national parks, such as the Sequoias, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and trips to major CA cities.
  • Outside Activities  I mentioned Hunter might be doing boy scouts this year, and he might do a few seasonal sports such as soccer and little league throughout the year. I don't have him do a lot of classes and outside activities because I feel it takes away from more important things - like family time and free time to use his imagination - when used in excess at least.
Using Doman in the older years

Even though it's not specifically stated, just know that it is definitely implied that we will be doing homemade Doman bit cards for pretty much every subject and they will continue to be incorporated into our day. We use bit cards for geography, historic people, reading words, science terms, grammar concepts, foreign languages, math, art masterpieces, and a whole plethora of other encyclopedic knowledge.

And, obviously, still applying Doman's beliefs of short but frequent lessons, joyful teaching, learning as a privilege, etc. This way lessons are quick, fun, and to the point, and often take only a few minutes or even seconds each, enabling us to accomplish at lot on any given day. We also make learning part of everyday routines (such as playing with the world map before bedtime) enabling us to accomplish a lot with little effort.

In our house, learning is the greatest game we play. We do not sit down and do worksheets and flash cards all day. We do so much learning because we both genuinely enjoy it and would rather learn that do anything else. Most of our day is spend in play, fun learning games, and working and talking together.

If you would like to learn more, please subscribe and come back for the following week's blog hops: Our School Room and A Day in the Life. Thanks for reading!

Not Back to School Blog Hop
Go to Heart of the Matter's blog hop to see what other family's are doing this year
"And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship" 
Exodus 35:31
Hunter is 5 years, 4 months old


  1. Thank-you for sharing this. A question I always had is should I keep showing my 5 year old BITS, I wasnt sure if he was still getting the same benefit he did when he was younger. Now I can see its important for me to continue.
    I'm looking into Dr.Jones' Math Program too. I might wait till January when we have completed Math-U-See before ordering. Would you recommend it. I never did Doman Dots with Wes(I kick myself for that now)but he loves math.
    Best Wishes

  2. Thanks for the comment. I still use bits with Hunter, even though now that he is older he doesn't learn them nearly as quickly as he did when he was 2 or 3. He still can learn so much from them and I believe that having a strong knowledge base, with lots of facts to recall from, is important at any age, so I want to continue using them for as long as I can.

    I guess he will outgrow the bits eventually and when he is researching and learning mostly on his own, but I think they can continue to provide a great foundation, especially in the elementary years.

    Also, about the Jones Geniuses math, so far I absolutely love it. I am so thrilled that I found it and will write more about it a bit later, but yes so far with my experience with the early learning program I would highly recommend it.

  3. Wow! What a great post- you explained everything so well!! I have twin girls that will be starting kindergarten this fall also- how fun! :)
    (Found you through the blog hop!)

  4. Elizabeth,

    Do you think that Jones Geniuses math is good for younger children too? For what age is that program good for in your opinion?
    At what age you started encyclopedic knowledge? My Eaton is 19 months and I think to wait until he is 2.
    By the way this is great post. I work on some curriculum for my baby that I will start at age 2, and it's not so easy. You gave me some ideas though :)

  5. Marta,

    The publisher of Jones Geniuses says that their early learning program is for children ages 2-6 years. It teaches counting (backwards and forwards), numeral recognition, numeral formation, and addition and subtraction, and others. I am working on a post to detail the methods used in the program very soon, but I would definitely say you could START the program at a very young age (around two or a little before) because at that point all you are doing in the "first step" is teaching them how to count forwards and backwards, both with a number line and with his "special numerals" (numerals with dots in them). He says that math is a language, and once children have learned how to speak the language of English [or whatever] they can also learn how to speak the language of math very easily.

    A very young child could definitely do the first stages. Once they are in the addition and subtraction stage, it requires writing, which most barely two-year-olds do not yet have. However I think if you wanted to it could easily be adapted.

    I hate to try and write an explanation of this great program in a short comment, but I promise I will give a more detailed summary very soon and hopefully it will help you make up your mind if it is something you want to use with your son. Thanks for your comment!

  6. Oh, and also, we started encyclopedic knowledge when he was two and a half, simply because that is how old he was when I first heard about the Doman programs from the library. However, if we would have heard about it earlier, I would have probably started it earlier. But one thing I have definitely learned is to only take on as much as you can handle, it's better to do a little bit and do it consistently and do it well than it is to do a lot but because you're overwhelmed, do it sporadically and poorly. Good luck and happy learning!

  7. Thanks for sharing. I just knew about Glenn Doman too, and my son is 31 months (2.7 years old). I would like to ask your opinion on how to start Joshua on glenn Doman, raeding that Math Dots card not applicable to children older than 2.5 years old. Thanks for your advice.

  8. I love your philosophy of learning! Your plans look great -- I am especially impressed with the way you articulated your plans for teaching life skills. It's something homeschoolers often overlook, and it's vitally important.

  9. Elizabeth,
    Thank you for your quick response. I will wait for your post about Jones Geniuses and try to assess my baby's level of math. I know he recognizes numbers to 100 but I don't know his level of addition, subtraction..etc yet. I also plan to add encyclopedic knowledge any day now. Eaton asks for more cards and I know he wants more information. Thanks again for your time in response. Marta

  10. I was reading over your son's curriculum and it sounds like you are doing an amazing job with him. I do have one suggestion, in teaching him finances, Dave Ramsey has a great Christian finances curriculum you might find interesting.

  11. I do love Dave Ramsey from what I've read from him, I'll have to check that out. That is one area I am semi-informed on but could definitely get some help with it. Thanks for the suggestion!

  12. Excelente post!!! Hace algun tiempo (1 año mas o menos) encontre tu blog pero despues lo habia perdido y hoy a sido fantastico reencontrarlo.

    Tomare varios de tus consejos para el curriculo del proximo año de mi hijo de 2 años :)

    Por sierto, pertenesco a un grupo de personas que hablan español y hacen Doman. Tenemos muchas tarjetas (y varias presentaciones con sonido)... si te interesa pertenecer esta es la direccion:

    besitos y gracias otra vez

  13. Please make a 1st Grade Curriculum post! It would be great to see how things are changing for your family.


Thank you for your comments!