Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Now He Knows His ABC's

Now Parker knows his ABC's.  Hmm...if that were my only objective in this whole thing I'd say it was an epic flop, considering he pretty much knew them before we even started.  A lot of times throughout the year, people would ask Parker what sound a certain letter made, and he didn't really know.  Then I'm sure they were wondering what in the world I was even teaching him if I was teaching the ABC's without discussing their sounds.  So here's my explanation.

As a Kindergarten teacher, I saw a lot of students coming in with bad habits and lack of true understanding.  It was my goal in this first year of "school" with Parker to provide a solid foundation in phonics and math, and start fostering a love for learning.  Also, Parker is still 2 YEARS away from Kindergarten.  He was three throughout most of it, but because his birthday is in September, he will be almost a whole year older than some of the kids in his grade.  We had the time to start super basic and we will work up from there.

Parker Prep

1 - To recognize all the the upper AND lower-case letters.  
     When I was testing incoming Kindergarten students, most of them knew the uppercase letters, but weren't very familiar with lowercase.  Considering MOST of the letters they will read and write will be lowercase, I think it's pretty important to learn them right along with the uppercase.  Not to mention, it is nearly impossible to teach someone to read when they have to first remember what the letter even is.  There is no point in teaching the sound of the letters before they can identify ALL of them without any hesitation.

2 - To recognize his name and recite how it's spelled.  
     So much of school nowadays is giving the students a little bit of guidance and then telling them to do their best at spelling.  Then you have to go back and correct all of their mistakes.  Why not have students learn it the correct way the first time, instead of continually trying to break inadequate habits?  (I could go on and on...I'll have to write a separate post about that in particular.  There is a time and a place for it, but not before some beginning phonics rules).  I didn't even teach Parker how to write his name by himself.  He can recognize it when I write it, put the letters in the correct order, spell it out loud and find the letters in his name, but his little fingers can't hold a pencil correctly yet, so why push it?  Which brings me to my next point.

3 -  To develop age-appropriate fine-motor skills.
    95% of my Kindergarten students were coming in to school holding their pencil incorrectly and writing their name in all capital letters.  Do you know how hard it is to break children of those habits?       For a majority, it took almost the entire school year for them to feel comfortable holding a pencil correctly and writing their name neatly.  Parker's little hands need to learn how to manipulate things such as scissors, clips, magnets, markers, puzzles, paintbrushes, beads, puff balls, etc. before they can learn the fine art of holding a skinny pencil.  Next year we will really focus on holding a pencil and writing correctly.

4 - To count to 50 without help.
      Once a child catches on to the pattern of numbers, it's pretty easy for them to count all the way to 100.  They just have to remember which group of 10 is next.  Parker can go to 50 without help and then needs help remembering 70, 80 and 90.

5 -  To recognize, identify and order numbers 0-15.
       Just like it's important to know the upper and lowercase letters, I feel it's very important for children to easily recognize and identify 0-10 before trying to do any addition and subtraction.  Hopefully we can avoid going "back to the basics" when we really get in to the meat of the subjects.

6 - To identify and finish simple patterns.
      Patterns are everywhere.  Once kids can identify and complete AB, ABB, and ABC patterns, they'll start noticing patterns in other aspects of life like their daily schedule, the stripes on their t-shirts, stop lights, rainbows, counting, etc etc.

7 - To develop beginning comprehension skills.
     My reading and listening comprehension was pretty horrible before college. I would totally space out while reading or being read to.  I could answer general questions about the characters and plot, but I couldn't really relate to the character or predict what might happen next, and I definitely did not enjoy reading.  What changed everything was when my college professor told me to picture the story in my mind.  Why hadn't I done that before?  Ever since then, reading is a totally different experience.  I am engulfed in the story, I even find myself wanting to pray for certain characters if I'm in the middle of a novel!  All that being said, I want Parker to develop this skill before he is 18 years old.  The easiest way to do this is by reading familiar stories with similar patterns and having him act-out or re-tell the story.  The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, and The Three Billy Goats Gruff are a great place to start.  After you read one or two, he could start to predict what would happen in the next one.  Also, each of these stories has endless interpretations that you can read and compare/contrast.  The best part is, it's so much fun!!

8 - To begin hiding God's Word in his heart.
     When Jesus was being tempted in the desert for 40 days, he was constantly reciting scripture to battle and ultimately overcome temptation.  As Parker grows and is faced with temptation, I want these verses to be engrained in his heart so he can resist the devil in the name of the Lord!  (Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it). 

9 - To begin fostering the lost art of "thinking."
     I'm not interested in teaching Parker a ton of information and having him regurgitate it back to me.  I want him to relate new information with his prior knowledge and gain an understanding of how things work together.  I also want him to question and process the incoming information instead of just taking it at in as truth.  That obviously happens more as he gets older, but for now I just want to nurture his imagination.

This is so fun for me to write about!  God has laid a lot on my heart lately, and I'm waiting for his clear guidance as to what to do for schooling once Parker is school-age.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Z is for Zuchini

We made it!  We really made it!  Some weeks were better than others, but we made it all the way to Z!  I'm not surprised, but I'm kind of relieved.  It actually helped to be blogging it all as we went because when my creative juices were low, we were busy, and time was limited, I had to keep on trucking so I could post it on the blog =)  Whatever works, right?

Here's what we did for Letter Z.

Day 1

My brother invited us to the local zoo!  Good timing.   

Later that day, I asked Parker count to 100 by himself.  He did really well!  The only thing I had to help him with was which set of 10 was next.  So for example, when he got to 49, he said 60 instead of 50.  I'd say he's doing alright ;)  

We reviewed letters and number cards, and then I showed him letter Z and its verse,

"Never be lacking in zeal." - Romans 12:11

Parker is a fan of Romans, as am I.  As soon as I said it, he remembered that Letter A's verse and Letter N's verse were from Romans, too.  Smarty.  

For our Intro to Letter Z Activity, I had him circle all of the letter Z's he could find.

After he found them all, he counted how many he had, (6) and I started to make a graph.  Then I asked him to choose another letter.  He chose W, and circled all of those with a different color.  He counted them up (2) and I charted those on the graph.  Then I asked him which letter he found more of, and he answered Z!  Finally, I showed him how to figure out how many more Z's there were than W's.  I did this activity as part of my morning message all the time when I taught Kindergarten.  Graphing letters is so much fun!  Here's a picture of everything when we were finished.

Then he gave the Zz's some zebra stripes.

We practiced zipping zippers. 

And we read

We made zucchini bread with supper that night.  Awesome paleo recipe, btw!

Day 2

Today wasn't so much about Z as it was about alphabet review.

Matching upper and lowercase letters.

Then he chose two alphabet books for us to read.

 I had this worksheet I saved from when I was teaching.  It has all the letters and then you have to find the little pictures that start with each letter and glue them on.  The word is on the picture, so Parker just looked at the first letter and matched them up.  Daddy helped with the gluing =)

We read a few more alphabet books and did an alphabet train puzzle.

Here are some of the books we read.

These ones were my favorite.

That was about it!  It was kind of anti-climactic, but I gave Parker a small sentimental speech about how I'm so happy we were able to do preschool together and I'm really proud of all the things he learned this year =)

Swimming lessons start tomorrow.  We finished just in time.  
Now I have to figure out what to do next year!!

Thanks for reading and happy teaching!

Y is for Yarn

I considered being a total cop-out and just doing one day of Y and one of Z, but I resisted.  Ella was over for part of letter Y.  That was fun!  Here's what we did.

Day 1

We reviewed numbers and letters as usual.  Then the kids practiced patterns on pipe cleaners (AB, ABC, ABB, and AABB) and matched the gradients of yellow.  When they were finished with one, they switched.  It was kind of fun having a little pseudo-classroom for the day.  

 I introduced letter Y and its verse

"You are the light of the world." Matthew 7:12

For our Intro to Letter Y Activity, they wrapped Yy's with yarn.

Then they used the yarn to paint.

We finished by reading

Day 2

Today Parker started by putting the letters of his name in the right order.

Then he ordered numbers 1-15.  I was SO proud of him for being able to do that!!

Next, I got out one of his Highlights Magazines and he circled all of the Y's and things that were yellow.

Time to make a yo-yo!  He started by tracing two mason jar lids with a marker (to the best of his ability.  I had to help a little ;).  Then he colored the circles.

And cut them out.

Isn't that pretty awesome?  I can't even cut circles that well!

I cut a toilet paper tube in half and then we glued it all together...and of course I forgot to take a picture.  It didn't actually roll up like a yo-yo, but it was still fun to make.

We finished by reading

One letter left!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

X is for X Marks the Spot

Gotta love letter X!  It was tough to even come up with two days worth of material.  
Here's what did did!

Day 1

After doing the usual review, we learned letter X and its verse

"Let us examine our ways." - Lamentation 3:40

For our Intro to letter X activity, Parker made Xx's out of q-tips.  You know, like an x-ray?

Then we read

Next, we did a color-by-number xylophone.

I played the xylophone while we sang the ABC's.  Then I tried to teach Parker some simple songs. 

We finished by reading 

Day 2

We started by reading about the Exodus (when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt) in the 
Childrens Illustrated Bible.

Then we changed gears.  I made some X marks the spot tracing mats out of paper bags.

Parker traced the lines.

I tried to find a book about X marks the spot, but they were all chapter books, so Ryan made up a story about how he found this treasure map in the attic and that there might be some treasure under the red X.  Parker was excited to search for it!  

Sweet map eh?  (Compliments of my awesome husband)!

Ryan showed Parker how to read it.

Then it was time to go on an adventure!

It took us all around our block.

Until finally...

It was a special note that said we should go out for Fro-Yo!

Seems lame now that I'm writing about it, but Parker was more than happy to go out for a special treat =) 

Only two letters left!!