14 August 2015

Preschool at Home: Week 1

In case you didn't know...and it's quite possible you didn't...I'm currently homeschooling two little girls, the daughters of close friends of mine, 5 days a week.

Because so much of my time is spent preparing lessons for and hanging out with my two preschoolers right now, I thought I'd start sharing what we do for preschool each week. I have a lot of fun working from the books my mom has in her collection (homeschool tip: borrow all your resources from someone who's been homeschooling for 20+ years), as well as collecting ideas from the internet. I will try to link to specific idea sources when possible.

I don't really know if there's any interest in my posting our weekly homeschool schedule, but since I write it all out for my own benefit anyway, I'll experiment with posting it to see if anyone cares. I don't know if there are any homeschool-interested folks in my audience, but it's always been a topic that has interested me, so I thought I'd try out blogging about what we're doing.

For purposes of knowing why we're studying what we're studying: Shiloh and Anna are both about 4.5 years old. They are Malaysian, their families are Christian, and both speak English as their native language. They are both already quite solid at recognizing their letters and their numbers 1-10, and they know basic colors and shapes already. Shiloh is more verbal than Anna, but Anna is better at staying focused and is more advanced in beginner reading and math skills. Preschool needs to include a lot of repetition, so much of what we do consists of daily routines and repetition of the same songs, games, and flashcards on a daily basis, with a variety of random fun stuff thrown in to keep both teacher's and students' interest. All activities that are repeated daily are italicized.

Homeschool Preschool Schedule

Week 1:
Major Themes: The Letter F and Winter

My notebooks are matching butterfly-covered two-ring binders. The purpose is to store any ongoing projects and any extra-cool projects that the girls want to be able to show their parents. I hope that the binders will show progress as the year continues.
-fill in 1st day of preschool page with name, age, and favorite things.
-Check the weather and mark the weather on the graph (sunny, cloudy, or rainy) 
-Color in the number of the day on the calendar.

Homeschool Preschool

-Sing the letter sounds song. {With letter chart} I use the Sing, Spell, Read, & Write letter sounds song as that was what I was taught letter sounds with and it's stuck in my head for more than two decades. I don't know any other letter sounds songs.
-Sing the short vowels song. {With vowels cards} From Sing, Spell, Read, & Write, again.
-Practice writing names. Anna already has her name down solid. Shiloh, not at all. Granted, Anna got off easy in the name game. This week we practiced with writing her name one letter at a time.
-Practiced writing upper and lowercase letters with workbooks.
-This week we focused on the letter F and had several associated activities:
  -Found things in the house that started with the 'F' sound. Notably, the ceiling fans in every room.
  -Practiced writing uppercase and lowercase Fs.
  -Asked, "Does your name have the letter F in it?"
  -Listened to this Letter F song.
  -Used paint to make a footprint on a piece of paper and talked about how F is the first letter in the word footprint. After they dried, the footprint pages were added to their notebooks. (I am very grateful for my bathroom which can be cleaned by spraying water all over it after I tackle paint projects with preschoolers).
 -Made a tissue paper flower to bring home to mom and dad.
 -I like my projects to serve multiple purposes, so we made a snowman face --score 1 for winter and 1 for the letter F!

Homeschool Preschool

-Number flashcards up to 20
-Used Uno cards and had them sort cards into piles by the number on the card. This was hilarious. It actually worked quite well, and they had nice little piles going, but when they were told to put all the Uno cards away, they obviously decided to cheerfully throw them all over the room. You know, the reaction any sensible person would have.
-Played dominoes with a giant set of toddler dominoes. Matching the numbers from one domino to the next is good practice for them.
-Practiced writing numbers on whiteboard
-Counting blocks--I have a bag full of little blue blocks. I'll usually dump them all out on the other end of the room and give the girls orders to bring me specific numbers of blocks until all the blocks have been picked up. If they bring me the wrong number of blocks, I send them back to try again, reminding them to count carefully.

Anna-- She's using a beginner reader ("I Can Read It!"), and going very, very slowly, repeating the same page several times and working on a few sight words with flashcards.
Shiloh--letter blends with short vowels: fa, fe, fi, fo, fu
We practiced adding an end letter, too: fa-t, fu-n, fe-d, fi-t.
Both: I made accounts for them on Teach Your Monster to Read and let them each play for 5-10 minutes a day. At this point, the motor skills involved are much harder for them than the letter sounds, which is great, because they need to work on both motor skills and letter sounds. Bonus!

Bible and Storytime:
I am using Sonlight Core P4/5 Instructor's Guide, loosely. We started right at week 1. Some of the books/stories are a little too complex for my girls, so I am not using those, but I like how this guide is organized, and the fact that it includes memory verses and songs for each week.
-I throw in a coloring sheet related to the Bible story we read each day because man, they LOVE coloring. It helps that coloring gives me a bit of a break to clean up or do some housework for 10 or 15 minutes.

Days of the Week:
Listened to this song from youtube. Yes, it is stuck in my head. But the girls were singing it on their own by the end of the week--score one for learning through song! It'll probably take a few more weeks to actually apply the names they've memorized to the actual concept that every day of our lives has a name. Every day I ask them, "What day is it today?" and then I tell them what day it is and then we usually jump around saying stuff like "Hurray! It's Thursday!"

The Sonlight Core P4/5 came with a Bernstein Bears' Science book that I'm really liking. The pages we were assigned for the week covered an introduction to seasons and focused on winter. Winter is an odd concept to teach to little girls growing up in the land of perpetual summer, so we did several activities throughout the week help them get a more well-rounded picture of what winter is like:
-I showed them home videos and pictures of Angel and I playing in the snow in Michigan.
-I dumped a bunch of ice cubes in the bathroom sink for them to play with and feel how cold they were, and we talk about how winter feels like ice.
-I had them practice cutting out paper snowflakes. They aren't good enough at cutting for the folded kind, but I printed out outlines of snowflake shapes and they could cut the rough shapes out.
-We watched clips of "Frosty the Snowman" on Youtube and made snowman faces with paper plates and coal for eyes.

Harold and the Purple Crayon - Homeschool Activities

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
- We spent the whole week reading this book and doing related activities. I used several of the activities outlined in this blog post. I found the cutting and counting activities to be especially useful, as the girls need all the practice they can get in those areas. We drew pictures using only a purple crayon (just like Harold!) and I had the girls tell me what happened in the story as they looked at the pictures.

Shiloh will eventually be going to a school that uses Bahasa in most classes, so it's especially important for her to start improving her Bahasa comprehension. Anna probably will be going to an English school, but it's still good for her to start learning her nation's language. Because they can't do much in the way of reading or writing in English right now, I'm not teaching reading or writing in Bahasa, just speaking and listening. We're starting with really basic vocabulary, and going slow, because neither of these little girls speak a language other than English, and the concept of learning vocabulary in a different language is new to them. This week's unit was words for parts of your face and head:

Mouth = Mulut
Eyes = Mata
Ear = Telinga
Hair = Rambut
Nose = Hidung
Teeth = Gigi

-We did a lot of physical response activities, i.e., "Where are your gigi?"
-I didn't explicitly teach the words or grammar involved, but I did start having the girls repeat after me using the simple sentence structure: Saya ada ... {I have...}. i.e. Saya ada mata. Saya ada telinga.
-You can imagine that the snowman face activity got triple duty when we started pointing out his eyes and mouth and nose in Bahasa!
-We listened to the Didi and Friends song Rasa Sayang. It has nothing to do with parts of the head and face--but because they don't get a lot of practice listening to Bahasa, I want them to just have fun listening to catchy songs in the language even if they can't exactly understand what is going on yet. Anna really liked the song and wanted to listen to it multiple times a day--Shiloh seemed to find it rather annoying. I can see both sides of the issue.

Life skills: 
-Wiped down my coffee table
-Stood on stools and washed bok choy for lunch in the kitchen sink.
-Helped take dry clothing off the hangers and pile it up so that I could fold the clean clothes.

Crafts + Play:
-Princess Puppets
-Played airplane - pilot, flight attendant, and passenger (Not my idea. Sarah was visiting and they arranged all the chairs and started taking off for Singapore before I even knew what was going on!)
-Went swimming.
-Went to the playground.
Kay R. said...

Thats so cool that your homeschooling two girls!! Those drawings are too cute.

Jen Lud said...

I think this is awesome, especially since my youngest is starting preschool in the fall. I already have a few opposing views with the school (although I love the director and it's at my church, my daughter's teacher told me my 3-year old needs to be capable of cleaning herself after potty time with no assistance and if she couldn't, that mommy would just need to "give her a bath" when preschool was over....what? She just started using the potty a few months ago and I obviously was pretty concerned about they want parents to bring in pre-packaged AKA processed snacks and mini-water-bottles AKA plastic garbage our kids don't need - they have a water fountain there and everything!) I know I'm a tad bit nit-picky but this is my kid we're talking about. I seriously considered pulling her and teaching her at home, but I am fearful of my abilities to maintain the proper educational structure. It's posts like these that help me out in case things continue to mismatch with her current preschool!! You sound like an awesome teacher!

Gillian said...

I love this! Please keep it up, being a 'lifer' has made me really interested in homeschooling, too, and I love reading about everyone's different routines/ideas. It'll be so cool to see how the girls improve over the year!

Inge Jane said...

I was wondering if you were still going to be teaching since you've moved. It sounds like you've got a lot of good experience and resources to help these girls!

Anonymous said...

I love reading about your homeschooling schedule and all the tools you use for it. I don't have kids, but I just so love learning about educational activities. I never thought about how hard it is to learn about winter in a land that doesn't have real winters. Not that we have snow a lot in my country, but at least we have it sometimes.

Unknown said...

I love this. I never thought of doing actually preschooling at home with my daughter. We work on specific things throughout the day, but having a structured time to learn would be a great idea. Especially in the summer when she isn't attending preschool. I think I'll use some of your tips :) Thank you so much for sharing what you are doing.

Heidi Hillman said...

This is so great! I'm a Mama of 3 and we've been homeschooling for 6 years. I love your idea for practicing writing their names. I'm definitely going to use that!

Unknown said...

This looks like a great program! I don't plan on homeschooling but think it's great!

Unknown said...

Thank you for posting this! I have an almost 2 year old that I want to homeschool, and I know I'm a ways off but it's so nice to see what other people are doing and get ideas for the future!

Unknown said...

This is awesome!! I have a 20 month old and it is never to early to start her learning. I love some of your ideas! I will definitely be using some of them! Thanks!

Gina said...

Wow! You're busy! It looks like those girls are getting a great education. :)

Unknown said...

This looks like so much fun - you have been busy!

Erika said...

I liked the idea for practicing writing their names! I will use this idea! Visiting from the Mama Moments link up.:)

Bible Fun For Kids said...

Thanks for sharing your ideas! I babysit and am also teaching preschool skills and Bible. I love the name writing worksheet.

Daisy @ Simplicity Relished said...

Working with little kids can be challenging! Thanks for sharing these brilliant ideas-- I'll store them for one day... currently my youngest students are 10 years old, thank goodness!

Bekah Loves Blog said...

How fun! This is your job?

Rachel said...

It's what's keeping me busy at the moment! I don't have an outside job right now.

Midnight Cowgirl said...

I miss the days when Uno and dominoes could count as math :)

Stasia said...

Sounds like you have a lot of good things going! Excited to read more!

Amanda said...

I love this and always think my son is "behind," but he's so smart... Your ideas are great I think I'm going to try writing his name out like that.. He seems to be all over the paper most of the time !! Thanks for sharing... This post would do great on my Learning from each other link up on Fridays :) Come on over if you have the time ! :)

Keit said...

I'm in no way interested in schooling or homeschooling, but I read this from top to bottom and now I'm actually pumped about it! :D I love your writing and I love to read about your life, you always warm my heart!
If we had such dedicated teachers here, kids wouldn't be as dumb as potatoes. I think songs really help with everything, even when you're an adult :D I find that memorizing for me works best with association, think it works great for kids as well. I love your butterfly binders, so cutesy makes me almost want to study, almost!

My Bashful Life said...

Preschool is so much fun! I teach preschool in a private preschool and I get so many wonderful ideas from Pinterest. Have fun with your sweeties!

xoxo Mickey

Kate Pace said...

This is actually really great information since I plan on home-schooling our son! Sure, he's just under a year old, but it's never too early to make some educational plans and goals for him!

Lucia Antenori said...

very interestin article!
Italia Caruso

Unknown said...

This sounds awesome! I was homeschooled all the way through high school, so these ideas bring back a lot of memories. Right now I'm a nanny for an Indian family so I've been doing some homeschool preschool as well. The oldest is 2 so we don't do quite this much, but I do some similar activities for learning letters and we have also been working on improving her English.

Unknown said...

This is awesome! I'm homeschooling my kindergartener and we love it so far! I will definitely be pinning this to give others inspiration. Approximately how much time does it take you to get through all of this?

Rachel said...

We have school time from 8:30-12:30, since that's the amount of time that I have the girls each day. It could definitely be completed faster, but since there's two of them I work on some things individually while letting the other one play with the math blocks or a puzzle or something, and we take breaks to do a little housework and start preparing lunch.

Lex said...

I'm subscribing to your blog as I can already tell I'll be learning a lot from you! Thanks for sharing how you're teaching the girls :)