Thursday, October 15, 2015

Kindergarten Curriculum Review

This post contains affiliate links through which I can earn commission.

Below are the curriculum and materials we used for our first year of homeschooling, both ones we purchased and free resources we found.  I didn't get all my curriculum at once...I gradually added curriculum as the year progressed and I got a feeling for how my child learned.

We are still using all of these this year, though some of course at different levels.


READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS

I looked at a lot of reading programs...and I finally decided on none.  My son had already started blending simple words, and before we had even decided for sure we were homeschooling, we had started working through some simple readers, and that was working well so we stuck with it.  So, while we didn't use an "all in one" reading program, here's what we did use for reading, writing, and spelling....

Bob Books

I like the Bob Books Beginning Readers because, while simple,  the stories incorporate humor (my son laughs at a lot of the pictures, and laughter is great homeschooling medicine).  Compared to "real books" of course the stories are pared down, but that's the nature of readers.  They are meant to give a child an easy way to practice reading that gradually ads new reading concepts, and doesn't include "tricky words" (unless that's what they are introducting).    I also like the "Hooked On Phonics" readers, which we supplemented with as we had an incomplete set of those as well.



Progressive Phonics


Progressive Phonics is a site with free printable phonics readers and other tools.  I discovered this mid-year when we were struggling with our ch,sh and, th sounds...and someone on a forum suggested this.  It's a great program. Each section starts with an explanation of the new sound you will be learning.   The printable books are full of rhyming poems you read WITH your child.  The words your child should read are in one color, and you read the rest.  This is easier for kids who struggle with reading longer sentences.  I started switching back and forth with this and the Bob Books once I discovered this program.


All About Spelling


All About Learning 

All About Spelling is SO EASY TO USE.  It's one of those programs that you can open up, skim, take out the materials and start...with no prep.  It's been wonderful for helping my child to learn the rules of spelling.  They also have a reading program too, called All About Reading, which sounds wonderful, but was a little outside our price range.  Their spelling program costs a little less, and much of that is one time cost for materials that are used at every level, like the letter tiles.  It's also easy to find used materials online as most of the materials are non-consumable (not used up--reusable).


Print Path:  Lowercase at Last


Before I was teaching my own child, I had no idea what the big deal was about different letter styles.  I saw no issue with ball and stick letters (or others).  Once I started teaching my son at home immediately I saw how the "ball and stick" style was causing problems with how he formed his a, g, d and several other letters.    I realized I wanted to teach him another way.

At a local Mardel's bookstore I found a copy of Handwriting Without Tears and loved how the letters were formed and the instructions on how to form them.  But since my son only needed help with a few letters, I thought I might be able to find something cheaper on Teachers Pay Teachers to practice with (and of course started by looking for something free).  I found the A Free Sampler from Lowercase at Last by Print Path that had all the letters I was most concerned about.  But as I worked with him I learned he was iffy on some other lowercase letters too so I bought the whole Lowercase at Last Set for less than $5 and it was worth every penny.  I really wish that he was taught with this style from the beginning because it's so much harder to re-teach something a new way, but I feel like this is helping him in the long run.



MATH

Math U See


Math U See helped my son understand place value, which he really struggled with.  The way they teach it is very visual and hands on, and even incorporates a story (a bonus for an imaginative learner like my son).  And once he learned place value it helped him with counting larger numbers too.

We got the program later in the year after winging math for a while, so we are still working through this book.  Actually, when we got to addition, we took another direction because my son, who had struggles with memorization, had a "learning burst" where we were able to memorize addition facts by jumping them out, so I dropped this for a while to focus on that. 

I did find that the lessons, while excellent, did take a lot of prep.  Not "gather things up" prep, but watching and reading prep.  Math U See is designed to help teach you how to teach your children, which is what I wanted, but sometimes I had trouble taking the time to do the learning I needed to teach him this way.  Some people just show the videos directly to their children (which are designed to show how to teach the lessons).  While I see where that might make things easier, it didn't work for us.

So, I'm not sure whether I'm going to keep using this or try something else.



SCIENCE 

This year we focused on three main science topics:  Dinosaurs, Weather, and Caves (which touched on a lot of other subjects...food chains, geology, life cycles, etc.).  We didn't use a curriculum for these, just made our own with a combination of activities we found on the internet, library books, cheep dollar store workbooks, museum trips, etc.   I'll be sharing the Unit Study we did on caves here on the blog some time in the future (still writing everything down).



SPANISH

Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids


I picked up a Spanish membership to Foreign Language For Kids through Educents, and their videos are the BEST THING I've ever gotten for teaching Spanish!  They are full immersion (completely in Spanish...save for the intro), but presented in a way that makes it easy for the kids to figure out whats going on and what the words mean.  My son was picking up phrases from the first video on.

When I got my membership, it included online access to the videos,  workbooks, and a few online games.   We only really used the videos.  The workbooks and games all required reading, and my child wasn't reading yet. I got a really good deal on a year's membership, but if you buy it at regular price I think just buying the videos are a better deal.

Though the deal I got them with is gone, these products are still less on Educents right now than on their main site. 




This post contains affiliate links (links though which, if people purchased products, I receive commission) to Amazon.com, All About Learning Press, and Educents.  All oppinions are my own.

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your son's experience trying to learn printing with 'ball & stick' letters.

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    1. You're so welcome. Thank you for making such great resources for handwriting!

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  2. Great list - I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Bob Books!

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  3. Great resources! We loved the BOB books. :-)

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  4. Great resources. You're a great "think outside the box" type mom. Your son is learning lots and having fun. That's the important thing!

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  5. These are very timely, because I'm starting to look at curricula for my daughter who will start Kindergarten next year. I'm using the HWOT Preschool program with her right now, and it is wonderful!

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    1. If you can use it, I have a pinterest board where I post all the HWOT compatible resources I find (mostly free, though I posted some paid too) https://www.pinterest.com/galel/hs-where-to-find-hwt-printing-resources/...and right now I'm working on a list of free and cheap fonts that are close to HWOT (the actual font costs $50...and that's for individual or classroom use only). That's the ONLY drawback to using Handwriting Without Tears, is that there's so many free printables and cheap workbooks and such we can't use without tweaking because the font isn't right.

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  6. Looks good to me! It is so similar to our choices for early learning, and the playful aspect is so important. Betsy @ BJ's Homeschool https://betsyhomeschoolconsulting.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks. Yes, play is so important, and undervalued so early now. Even older kids can benefit from play in learning, I think, though the type of play will differ.

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