Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Homeschooling a 5 Year Old Asynchronous Visual Learner

Things Worth Sharing

My son is such an asynchronous learner that in the past 2 or 3 years, we've done our share of pre-Kindergarten to 5th grade curriculum purchases and trials.  Some have worked out and some haven’t.  I’m sharing some of our recent faves.

Art (at least once a week)                      

Appreciation: we study 1 artist every 6 weeks, once aweek.  We read books about the artist and look at his/her works of art (we got the Art Authority App but it is too slow, so we prefer to simply google it).  Art appreciation can be a quick lesson (look at a picture of the work of art anddraw/describe it in detail from memory) or a longer one (re-create the art work).  

Classes at the local art museum.  We are lucky that ours has a homeschool class for kids!  This year, my son enjoyed designing his own chair, printing his own design and creating his own special box for his treasures (among other fun stuff).

My son designed the Pinch Pot and Super Doggie Chair at the museum homeschool class.
Craft projects related to other subjects.

The clay figures (Daddy, Mama and Me with their doggies) were created at home.
Visit art museums.

Chinese (my son does some type of Chinese related activity everyother day)
Muzzy: my son loves this BBC series for Mandarin Level 1 and 2.  He watches it in Mandarin with English subtitles. My husband and I are amazed how much he learns that way.

Rosetta Stone Level 1: after using the program for a few weeks, my son’s Chinese teacher asked me what I was doing differently at home because he was speaking much more to her in Mandarin. The program is easy enough for a 5 year old – although I find the pace very slow and repetitive.  After a year of using the program, my son will be completing only 1 unit out of 4 in Level 1 (we have 3 levels in ourprogram).  I think I will probably increase his time/pace on the program for our next school year.

Teacher: I found a friend who is Chinese and has a preschooler too.  She is awesome because she doesn’t ‘teach’ but plays with my son and speaks to him in Mandarin all the while.  He still answers back in English most of the time… but at least we know he has some grasp of the language.  That’s a start.
Copywork (you always hear that boys don’t like to write… well, mine happens to love it… just not very neatly.  The good thing is, he loves practicing everyday.)

Draw Write Now Series: this is one of the most wonderful and eye-pleasing books to look at and to get kids to draw and write right now!  If there is a page in the series that relates to history, geography or science, you can bet we are drawing and writing it.

We were reading the Cats chapter from a Horrible Science book, Angry Animals.
So, I brought out Draw Write Now and he drew a Tiger and a Leopard.
"Tigers are the largest cats."
"Leopards are strong cats."

iPad Apps: blockletters and cursive

Write Letters and Notes: my son loves receiving and sending outsnail mail.  He’s inherited a calligraphy pen my cousin gave me years ago and he has enjoyed pretending tobe someone from the olden days.

My son writes with a quill pen as he pretends to be Beethoven writing music by candlelight.

Geography (my son loves these Evan-Moor workbooks!  Lately, I’ve placed a lesson a day in his workbox as homework.  No complaints.) 

Beginning Geography Workbook by Evan-MoorGrade K-2: the worksheets were a lot of fun for my son.

Daily Geography by Evan Moore Grade 1 and Grade 2: I would say you wouldn’t have to buy these if you’ve done the K-2 book (above).  We bought them so my son could practice before moving on to Grade 3. Note: my son does a week’s worth of lessons in 5 minutes.  It would be useless to answer just 1 question a day, as the publishers have it laid out.

iPad Apps: Stack the Countries

Little Passports: my son loves receiving one packet a month from Sam and Sophia with stories of their travel, photos and stickers for his very own passport, which he can put in his own Little Passport suitcase.  They have different packages, but my parents got my son the 12 month Globetrotter Package, which includes Brazil, Japan, France, Egypt, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, India, England, China and Argentina. Oh – did I mention that there are fun computer games each month too?

Our Australia Project
Restaurant outings and/or cook exotic dishes at home!

Travel and Field Trips: nothing can beat first hand experience!

We visited family in the Philippines and watched some singers and dancers performing.
History (we enjoy reading books together and doing activities that relate to our topic 2 to 3 times aweek)

Horrible Histories books and DVDs: we traded Story of the World Audiobooks for these books and they have made history come even more alive for my son.  Plus, they are so much fun!

We created Stone Age Boots after reading Horrible Histories' Savage Stone Age.
My son also created his own Stonehenge-like structure outdoors.

Story of the World CD and Activity Books: my son really enjoys the literature recommendations and activities from this series.  He never showed interest in the Audiobooks though.

iPad Apps: Presidents vs. Aliens (my son loves this… sort of like Angry Birds with an educational twist).
Math (non-negotiable school work everyday, plus some for homework)

iPad apps: Math Train (my son loved this for the longest time and it’s FREE!) and Rocket Math

Life of Fred Elementary Series: my son loves reading about Kingie and Fred… but I don’t see the point.  My friends swear by this, but I wouldn’t spend money on them again.  You can make Maths fun in other ways... ummm, like I have time to!  I should make time.

Math Start Level 1, 2 and 3 books: these are fun supplemental books. I prefer these math stories than Life of Fred (above)… but my son may not agree.  

Math-U-See: my son is a visual learner, and loves the videos of Mr.Demme!  We’ve done all of alpha and some of beta.  In fact, I think I'll bring them out again!

Right Start: my son loves his abacus and enjoys the games.  I, on the other hand, am tired of reading the  lengthy lessons.  I wish they had more videos to explain to the kids themselves about the different math games instead.

Singapore Math Grade 1 Standards Edition: I’m happiest teaching my son Maths through these text and work books.  Each lesson is not too long and each page is in colour, which helps a visual learner.  FYI, buying manipulatives is a must!

Music  (we probably do much more music related activities than art)     
Appreciation: we study 1 composer every 6 weeks, once a week.  We read books about the composer and listen to his/her music.  We have loved the Classical Kids CDs since my son was 2 years old.

Drums: my son has been drumming ever since I can remember and he drums on everything!  We found a really cool teacher, who teaches through play. It is amazing how much my son has learned from him through 'echo' games!

iPad app: Young Music Genius

Keyboard: I teach him at home and my son loves learning from John Thompson’sTeaching Little Fingers to Play.  He practices all the songs he has learned so far almost everyday (his idea, not mine).  I also recently bought note stickersfor our keyboard, which I’m happy to report works much better than plain old tape.

Listen to a wide range of music and attend performances.

Theory: my son has loved Complete Groovy Series: Shapes, Jungle and City, which teaches music theory in a very fun way for ages 5-9.  I would highly recommend these series if your kids love music.

 Our 4 years old wanted a GOLD violin.  
Since the gold one was actually the cheapest one I found, he got it!

Violin: we have been taking classes for a year with a Suzuki teacher and we practice almost everyday.  So far, my son has learned 10 songs from the Suzuki Book 1. I’ve just started Book 2. A cousin just recommended this site for Suzuki printables for practice charts and my son couldn't wait to use them as soon as he saw them.  Good thing too, because my son says Violin is his favourite instrument but getting him to practice is a challenge sometimes.

P.E. (5 days a week)

Gymanastics: my son loves his classes once a week.

Indoor Rowing: we are an indoor rowing family… so it’s not surprising that our son is world ranked for kids under 12 too.

Our son, the indoor rower.
Swimming: during the summer.

Philosophy (we are Buddhist, but want our son to have a world view of religion.  We read stories a few times a week.  Or, we do exercises that try to teach Character Development.)

Buddha at Bedtime by Dharmachari Nagaraja: my son loves these stories… some reminiscent of Aesop’s Fables.

The Self-Awakened Child by Jonathan Wolff – for character development, this is probably easier to teach in a group setting, but I love hearing what my son has to say and I like the messages.

I read Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree (poem here) to my son's homeschool class
and we created our own giving tree.
I asked them what we could give back to the tree.
I discovered that these elementary kids are far wiser than we give them credit.
Wisdom Tales from Around the World by Heather Forest – my son also loves these stories, even if they don’t have pictures.

Poetry (My son memorizes one a week for homework.  There are a few poems in his grammar book that he has to memorize too.)

Poems for the Very Young by Michael Rosen: he still enjoys these short and funny poems, which he memorizes for 'fun' homework.

Reading (everyday, plus for homework)

All About Spelling Levels 1 and 2: we actually prefer doing the exercises without the tiles and without the student book (i.e. my son simply writes them down) .  My son really likes the progression and how he has learned spelling so far.  AAS has made it so easy for both of us.

First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 1: easy to follow, not too wordy for a busy homeschool Mama to read just before the lesson and not too much rote for a 5 year old.  It gets the job done!

Hooked on Phonics Grade K,1,2,3, 4, 5 and 6: I have to add the whole series here because my son LOVED these.  He loved the method, he loved the books, he didn’t even need the star stickers to do them!  We started HOP a year and a half ago and finished them all last November.  My son reads at his level now because of this program!

Library books: nothing beats just reading!  Among others, my son has loved the stories written by Roald Dahl, Dick King-Smith, and the science books by Gail Gibbons.

My son also loves Paddington Bear stories!
He dressed up as Paddington Bear when we visited Paddington Station one day
and attached this to his sweater: "Please look after this bear. Thank you."
Playing with the Paddington Bear Statue in Paddington Station with a friend.
Science (we enjoy reading books together and doing activities that relate to our topic 2 to3 times a week)

Experiments: Magic School Bus Science Club packets come once a month for a year.  Experiments include: Magnets, Acids/Bases,Human Body, Solids, Liquids and Gas, Bacteria/Fungi, Weather Station, Water,Light/Rainbows and Mirrors, Volcanoes, Air, Fossils, Stars/Planets.

Our Magic School Bus experiment on Bacteria
We watched our caterpillar grow bigger each day.
Here is the chrysallis.

Horrible Science: my son loves this series.  Although I aim for him to read only one chapter a week of a book so we can borrow other books related to the chapter topic, he keeps wanting to read more.  That’s a really good thing!

Nature Study: hikes, walks, enjoy being and learning to respect the outdoors.

You never know what you might see outdoors!

Stephen and Lucy Hawking’s books: George’s Secret Key to the Universe, George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt and George and the Big Bang – my son couldn’t get enough of these and we all wish there were more!

Learning about Planets

Videos: Animal Planet, MagicSchool Bus videos and NationalGeographic - my son loves these!

Zoo Classes: we are lucky that our local zoo has homeschool lessons and that the teacher is amazing!  My son probably gets to touch some kind of animal every time we go to one (from a guinea pig to a cockroach to different types of reptiles).                

Spanish (every other day)

Muzzy: like the Mandarin, these are fun for kids to watch too.  I need to spend more of our time doing this instead of worksheets from the NAUES (below).

NorthernArizona University Elementary Spanish Grade 1-2 and Grade 3-4: my son used to really enjoy these much more when he was younger.  Although he is still learning, he’s not as engaged as he used to be (probably because of the slow pace).  I may have to change our program for next school year. Rosetta Stone, maybe?

My son's Spanish workbook.


Homeschool Coop: we love our Charlotte Mason homeschool coop!

Moving Beyond the Page Curriculum for 5-7 year olds: you always hear that boys don’t like worksheets, but my son loves these very creative worksheets.  Note: if I had seen the whole set beforehand, I would have bought the next level for my son.  He still had a lot of fun with this set though and he is very proud of his work (from books to videos) with MBP this year.

When studying the 5 Senses, we created our own Scratch and Sniff 'toys'.