Saturday, April 27, 2013

What Worked in Our Asynchronous Kindergartner's Homeschool

Firstly, some statistics on the last 7 1/2 months at our homeschool. Our Kindergartner:
  • enjoyed the outdoors for at least 188 hours 
  • did 1,031 hours of homeschool work
  • wrote 1 novel, 1 comic book, and 5 book reviews
  • read a total of 245 books
  • rowed 200,000 meters in a year
  • appeared in 1 play and 1 music video
  • ended this school year more asynchronous than before: almost done with 2nd grade Math, writing  and spelling at 3rd grade level, working on reading comprehension at 3rd and 4th grade level, reading fiction up to 7th grade level.
Secondly, what has worked for him this past year?

ART, CRAFTS and ART APPRECIATION

We introduced our son to real art materials, not just crayons and water color pencils. Art Appreciation followed our history curriculum. More information here.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE


Our son uses Rosetta Stone for Mandarin and the Elementary Spanish Program by the University of Northern Arizona. The former is more difficult to get through, my son is now only finishing up Level 1 Unit 2 after a year and a half. He also attends a Mandarin class once a week. The latter is easier to follow and he will be finishing up Grade 3-4. Rosetta Stone is better in that our son can actually conduct simple conversation in Mandarin, but he probably enjoys the easy presentation of his Spanish Program.

GEOGRAPHY

Matching Postcards with Countries of Origin

Map Work

Our son loved the Evan Moore Geography Centers for Grades 4-5.

GRAMMAR

Our son loved the stories of MUD in Michael Clay Thomspon's Level 1. We are finishing up Music Hemispheres and plan to go on to Level 2 when we are done.

HISTORY

Lots of Dress Up (here as a Spartan Warrior)


Cooking Food (here King Alfred Cakes)


Arts and Crafts (here trying out his Viking Longship)


We follow Story of the World and Horrible Histories, which really enliven history through stories (the former) and a mix of comedy and horror (the latter) for my son.

MATH

My son doesn't really enjoy Math. He understands it and masters what is taught, but he is not motivated by the subject. That said, when we combine it with Brainpop Jr. or Brainpop videos, he is much happier during his Math lessons. We have tried Learning.com, Math-U-See and Right Start Math, but prefer Singapore Math the best... although we are still plugging along in Grade 2.

Using "magic tricks" or having him "teach" us also helps:


MOVING BEYOND THE PAGE (LITERATURE AND SOCIAL STUDIES)

We used the 6-8 year old curriculum and our son loved it. We decided to continue with MBTP and are now on their 7-9 year old package. I think it is a better fit. If I had to do it all over again, I would have advanced my son to the 7-9 year old package sooner. That said, he can still learn a lot from the process of literature studies (more information here). They also have SOCIAL STUDIES units, which is used alongside a literature study unit. I found this in my son's Amazing Weather MBTP Unit. If that doesn't 'sell' MBTP products, I don't know what will! ;)


MUSIC AND MUSIC APPRECIATION

Our son studies Drums (with a teacher who uses Echo games), Piano (at home) and Violin (with a teacher who uses the Suzuki method). Like Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation follows our history curriculum. More information here.

NIGHT OF NOTABLES

Our son studied Christopher Reeve and Bruce Lee this year. The video of the Bruce Lee project to be uploaded in May.

PHILOSOPHY

Our son really enjoyed the discussions in Jonathan Wolff's The Self-Awakened Child series, the stories in Wisdom Tales from Around the World and the activities in A Season for Nonviolence: 64 Daily Practices for Children. Some assignments from 64 Practices for Children includes smiling at a stranger, saying something nice to someone you don't know very well, expressing gratitude to someone...


PLAY WHILE LEARNING

After introducing new material, our son needs time to PLAY in order to internalize and practice using this knowledge. More information here.

READING

Our son read 245 books this year.

His favorite books? Comics, graphic novels and fiction.

His favorite authors? Roald Dahl, Suzy Kline, Brian Selznick, J.K. Rowling, Chris Butler, Grace Lin, Eth Clifford, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, James Howe, Alvin Schwartz, Cornelia Funke.

This year, he also stopped asking me to read to him. They really grow up too fast!



SCIENCE

We used Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding for K-2. Although it seems like a lot of reading and preparation for the teacher, it isn't. In fact, it makes teaching science so much easier. After studying Earth Materials, our son's Rock Project just took off. More here.

We also used Engineering is Elementary's Designing Walls:


and Building Bridges.

IMG_0715002

Finally, LEGO has been introduced into our curriculum too.

SPELLING

All About Spelling Level 2 and 3. Easy to follow for our son. We didn't buy the manipulatives, just the teacher's book. I just dictated words 4 days a week.

WRITING

Writing Letters to Teachers to Thank Them

LEGO's Story Starter is a wonderful program for kids who like to building things before or after they tell a story. Our son enjoyed creating his first comic book with his new LEGO.

Nanowrimo's Young Writer's Program has a fantastic and FREE program for Kindergartners up. Our son would only write a word or sentence for me, but after using the Nanowrimo.org curriculum, he wrote a chapter a day. Our son had a blast writing his novel entitled Chisel and Fluffy.

San Francisco Book Review has a wonderful Kid Book Review Program. Your child gets to choose and keep the book that they review. Sometimes, they get to 'talk' to the author of the book they review too.

Writebrane.com's A Zombie Wrote My Essay is a really fun fiction writing program for kids who love a bit of horror. Writing lessons are taught by a comedic Vampire teacher, Mr. Butt, and his student, an equally funny and messy character. My son couldn't wait for 'Mr. Butt' lessons.


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