Homeschool Year Review: What Worked in Pre K & K

We haven’t technically stopped schooling – our approach, at least for these younger years, are much more just living real life than sit down with text books and work books. It’s working for us. 

We are curriculum free for now, and most things are patched together with yard sale and thrift store finds which makes for an extremely affordable education and lots of room for trial and error.

I thought I would break down our year and share some of our favorite things that worked well for us – I am sure I am forgetting some important things, so will update if I remember something.


READING LOTS OF GOOD BOOKS


I have done a rather poor job at sharing favorite books that we have enjoyed along the way – there is the favorite chapter books section that is regularly updated and the picture books from the library series that puttered away. But excellent books are at the very core of what we believe our children need for living and learning and I am constantly running into our local thrift stores and picking out ones that look excellent. 

We read books throughout the day, and then always at bedtime. Bedtime reading consists of 1 picture book, a few chapters of our current read aloud, 1 or 2 fairy tales, 1 hymn biography and/or singing hymns and a Bible story. It’s a lot, but the time is carved out for it. And they give us back rubs while we read.

A few scattered thoughts on good books:

> Let people know you want books. I have some sweet friends who are stages ahead in their homeschooling journey and they have been so generous in passing books onto us.

> Visit your local thrift stores. We have three in the area that I consistently find good books at – one of them is extremely cheap (they mark hard backs down to .35 cents on occasion!) and I visit that store 1-2 times a week. It takes me a few minutes to run in, scan the shelves for new additions, and then leave.

> Read fairy tales – the old, original ones – are brilliant, witty and thoroughly engaging. They have the bonus of inspiring the moral imagination.
Collections of fairy tales are available at the library, and I have seen many at the second hand stores too.

> Good poetry, rhymes and hymns are easy to learn and contain virtues and truths that I want my boys thinking about.

Hymns for a Kid’s Heart is a series we have enjoyed. Each book in the series covers a dozen or so hymns – it gives the history of each writer and, if known, a bit about why the specific hymn was written. An accompanying cd includes all of the mentioned hymns. 

> I try to include biographies as a regular genre in our read aloud. There is so much to be learned from others – both to learn from their mistakes and to be inspired to greater good. We have enjoyed some from the Trailblazer Series as well as the Christian Heroes Series and several collections of short stories.

I discovered these Torchlighters DVDS put out by Youth on a Mission and really enjoy them; we have read a few of the biographies as books, and the movies have really helped the boys connect to the stories.

> We are gently entering into the world of narration – the art of telling in ones own words what was comprehended from a reading. While it is done casually at the end of (most) single reading sessions, we summarize each book we finish with an illustration (boys take turns doing the drawing) and a simple sentence or two from each boy telling something about the book.
I hope to stay on top of these book summaries and adding them to our binder to look back on in years to come.

> Through friends, audible.com, the library and yard sales I have been able to build up our audiobook collection – they are generally listened to daily by the boys, usually while playing Lego or something similar.
Some favorites include:
The Magic Treehouse series
- Story of the World, volume 1
Jim Weiss stories (we have only heard a few, but have enjoyed them!)
– Classics such as The Secret Garden, The Wonderful World of Oz and Anne of Green Gables.


GIVING THEM THINGS TO BUILD WITH


Building toys work really well with audiobooks – occupy their mind and their hands at the same time.
But regardless of whether there is anything playing in the background, there is something to be said for the skills that come from sitting for hours building. I have watched their level of detail and complex creations increase over time – and that is a neat thing to behold.  These types of toys can easily take over a room so we have worked hard to find ways to manage them.

All building toys except Lego need to be tidied up when they are done playing with them. Lego creations can stay out, but need to be pushed to the side. Each toy has its own storage, and I try to store building type toys in different rooms from each other.

Some building toys we enjoy
> Lego
> Magnet construction set
> Marble Run
> Knex
> Pattern Blocks


LETTING THEM SEE THE WORLD


One day we will be exploring the world ourselves – feet in the dirt of the places we look at in pictures. But for now we just enjoy looking at a bigger world.
This laminated National Geographic map is one thing I did purchase brand new, and I have color coded the countries with stickers to show where friends and family that we know are living around the world, places we have been, animals we have studied and Bible places.

We talk about places around the world often and it is neat to see their excitement as they hear about places they have heard about previously (like when they listened to The Secret Garden on audio book they were thoroughly delighted that it starts in India – which is where my sister is currently living.)


We expose them to stories of people around the world through biographies and stories about different cultures, and every chance we get we have guests in our home – many of whom are living in other countries, or who have traveled to many countries.


WORKING ON READING SKILLS


Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons has worked fabulously for us. {and prior to that it was the Leap Frog Learning DVDs – highly recommend them for your preschool age child!}  These books by Nora Gaydos are excellent for building reading skills and confidence. For some reason they are ridiculously expensive on Amazon, but a quick search on ebay had a large selection and decent prices.
These are short stories, each story starts out very simple and builds throughout the book on words the child has previously read within the story.
There are 4 stickers per story and the child is to add a sticker to the book each time they read it, and then move on to the next book when they complete the current story 4 times.

I thought I would slip the copywork in here – I have written about copywork extensively here in the past; the importance of copywork and how we make copywork work in our home.


A SMATTERING OF THINGS


Good pencil crayons {found on clearance and a gift} have served us well – an assortment of flesh toned pencil crayons has truly opened up a new world of coloring for them. {And despite the Charlotte Mason style education we lean towards and her followers disdain for coloring books, my boys have a love for them and I am cool with that. Dover coloring books are my favorite – I bought a huge stack of them from someone off Craigslist and most are historical or educational in nature.} Dress up clothes and accessories have served to encourage their imagination and live out the heroic people we read about. Weapons are especially popular. Math skills are built mostly through every day living – fractions are introduced in a practical manner with recipes, addition or subtraction through verbal instructions for setting the table (“We will have two guests for dinner, please set the table accordingly.”)
And through helping around the house they are becoming useful people.


STUDYING THE BIBLE


We worked through some of the Old Testament stories this year – reading the Biblical account and keeping a binder of coloring sheets and related activities. We followed the accounts on a map.
Printables were found via Google and came from a variety of places. There is a huge assortment of resources available for free online.
We reenacted some of the stories for fun and to help build an excitement for the word of God. We have also enjoyed watching through the What’s in the Bible dvds, which have helped reinforce teaching about the Bible.


PLAYING LOTS OF GAMES


Games are an excellent way to help learn skills; specifically math and concentration skills.

Uno and Spot it have both been wildly popular and useful at teaching skills. Printing off free Bingo sheets and free mazes have also been fun additions to our days. I have shared some other Math Games we have used to help re-enforce math skills over this past year.


SPENDING TIME OUTDOORS


A lot of time was spent outdoors – I am thankful for a large, fenced in backyard for the boys to explore in, but we also took every opportunity we had to go places and do things outside. 

And our nature hunt poem was a lot of fun and had several other variations. 

Whew! That concludes the highlights I can recall from our past year of homeschooling – we are going to continue on in this way throughout the summer and, for the most part, through grade 1 too.
Our habit building will become a more prominent part again – it will be connected to our school year rather than our calendar year. And we will be exploring specific time periods and scientific subjects through our reading – but the goal, as it was this year – will be to build a love for learning and a mastery of the task at hand. 


Sharing on Homeschool Mother’s Journal, Homeschool Review,  The Homeschool Village

 

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Jessica Lynette

8 Comments

  1. Thank you Jess for this. I loved reading it and have loads of ideas and bookmarks now :D

    • You are so welcome Brandy :)
      haha, it helped to collect everything together and see that, despite the fact there are no workbooks filled with pencil markings, we are indeed moving forward :)

  2. Just printed out a version of your nature walk poem and taking it to the park with a nice walking trail :)

  3. I LOVE this post. I kind of stalk you on your blog…:) It’s very exciting to read your ideas. Some of them are things we do and it’s a “hey yeah! we read a million books out loud too!” moment. And then there are other things that make me want to stop everything so I can implement your ideas into what we’re doing…I had never thought about putting something on for Evan to listen to as he plays quietly. But now we do!
    So thank you for sharing what you guys are doing. It is quite inspiring and encouraging all at the same time.

    • Thanks Heather :) I am thankful for so many people that have done this journey and shared their ideas! Again … wish we were neighbors!! :)

  4. Thanks for the great round up post! I love the way you teach your boys and you have had a big influence on what I do with mine:)

    I finally bought a copy of The Core yesterday and started reading it. Thanks so much for recommending it! Great read so far that really makes you think. I like the shifted focus of why we educate ourselves and our kids. It changes everything.

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