Kindergarten has got to be my favorite year of homeschool: sweet little eager minds so anxious to be big and to learn and everything! Come with me through a day of teaching a kindergartner at my house.
After morning scripture study, bath and dressing, breakfast, chores—it’s school time. At our house, that is at 9:00 AM. We begin with a pledge of allegiance, patriotic songs and reciting our memory scripture verse. I like to talk about manners or safety, using The 21 Rules of Our House. We also enjoy reading aloud—today it is a chapter of On the Shores of Silver Lake, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (For other good read-aloud books for your kindergartner, see Honey for a Child’s Heart.)
My kindergartner has a chart on the wall of our schoolroom that details his day’s studies. As he completes each task, he puts a sticker in the box on his school chart. When the day is done, the check-off boxes on his school chart are all filled and he can be free to pursue some of his interests. He enjoys knowing just how much more work he needs to do, and he feels more in charge of getting it done having the chart to work by.
To make a wall chart, I used a large sized piece of sturdy paper and had Ammon write his name at the top in his best writing. Then I listed his subjects with a box in front of each one. Here are the subjects I chose: Math, Journal, Phonics, Reading, Subject of the Day. Ammon decorated his chart with a few airplane stickers and then he chose several stickers that would go in his check-off boxes. I had him stick these on 2” x 2” squares cut from colored index cards. Then we had the print shop laminate the chart and the sticker squares. We hung the chart on the wall and put a rolled piece of masking tape (or Velcro or sticky tack plasticine) on the back of each sticker card. These we stuck to the bottom of his chart. He chooses a sticker card to press on whenever he completes a subject’s assignment for the day.
I let Ammon choose which subject he wants to begin with each day. I usually take a few moments before school time and pull out the books and materials that I want him to do that day. When he comes to school, a stack is waiting at his place and he can decide what he wants to do first. Ammon decides he wants to do his math. I use Earlybird Singapore Math Kit. Children move along so fast in it that you begin to think they will be math geniuses! I also use many hands-on games and activities to keep math fun, such as Pattern Blocks. He loves to play them! When math is done, he sticks one of the sticker squares in the box on his chart. Ta-duh!
Next I decide we need to work on phonics, before the baby needs to be nursed to sleep. For teaching reading and phonics, I use my program, Happy Phonics, which contains fun games and activities to teach reading step-by-step. Today he plays the “Muffin Match” game, matching capital letters to their “babies” (lower case letters). Then he does two pages in his Explode the Code Primer workbook. These workbooks are great because they teach handwriting, letter formation, as well as the phonic sounds of those letters. (Once he can write every letter in the alphabet well, I will advance him into A Reason for Writing, book K, a very fun animal-themed writing workbook.) Practice, practice, practice is what makes a good little reader and writer.
Time for reading—while phonics is still fresh in his mind. As you progress through Happy Phonics, if you want more reinforcement, you will find Decodable Little Books are great! They contain 20 little books, and are the first books your little one can read, giving them such a feeling of accomplishment. I love the Beginning Steps to Reading reader too, and use it with every child that is learning to read. It is simple, inexpensive and totally phonetic. Best of all, the double spaced one page stories are really Bible stories, simplified greatly.
Today, Ammon reads about the prodigal son, only the story is entitled “A Sad Man”. We have fun guessing which story it is. Then I let him pick any of the stories in the book that he has already read and read me that one too. On other days, he sometimes reads one of the Phonics Readers called Animal Antics with its funny stories!
Time out to put the baby to sleep while Ammon and his sister ride their bikes and jump on the trampoline. Then while the baby is asleep, we have our daily lesson. I rotate the Subject of the Day, doing Science one day, History the next, Art on another.
Today is History/Geography Day, so I bring out a map or the USA placemat and ask some questions, such as: “Which state does Grandma live in? Which state do you live in? What is the name of the ocean by Grandma’s house?” and more. Then I point out the location on the placemat of Valley Forge. I do a lesson from I Love America, the one on George Washington at Valley Forge. We make “firecakes” from the recipe in the book and talk about what it would be like to have only flour and snow to make your meal from.
Ammon checks his chart and sees that he still needs to write in his journal. He gets out his writing journal (K-5 Journal and Language Arts Program) and his jumbo pencil and we begin his journal entry of the day. He checks the calendar so that he can write the date on the top. He makes his “J” backwards and I point it out on an alphabet chart and help him trace my corrected “J” a few times. He tells me what he wants to write about and I help him spell each word. When he forms a letter wrong, we fix it right then and there so he doesn’t get in a bad writing habit.
Today he wants to write about the cherries that are forming on our cherry trees. He writes 2 sentences and then draws a picture in the space about his writing. He makes a green tree with lots of branches and many bright red cherries. Then he makes himself next to the tree.
Some days writing feels tedious to him and he makes many letter reversals and feels frustrated. On these days, I have him tell me his sentences and I write them down in yellow felt pen so he can trace over the letters carefully with his pencil. It is still very good practice. I remind him of the fact that his children will read his journal someday. It helps him want to do his best writing and drawing.
As the morning progresses, I take a look at Ammon’s chart and see that he has filled all his boxes with sticker cards and that he is finished for the day. He is happy and goes off merrily to ride his bike. I feel a great sense of accomplishment that we have enjoyed one more day of reading, writing and arithmetic plus history. He is learning and progressing and having fun at it. What a joy it is to be in the companionship of my children and to see them growing each day!
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