Eva Marina Homeschools

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our Curriculum

Let me start by saying that this list is incomplete and could very well change during the year.  As stated previously, I'm experimenting this year.  I plan on increasing (or decreasing) the level of difficulty as necessary.  Although, my son seems to really enjoy what we are currently working on.  I'll keep you posted.

  • Ready-Set-Learn: Beginning Math PreK-K  We started this little workbook in July and finished it mid-August.  We didn't work on it every day.  I just thought it would be a good way to ease him into our first school year while helping him improve his math skills.  He loved it!  I have to say that I was very impressed by this book.  It covers many topics from writing the numbers 0-10, to counting and matching.  At under $3.00, you can't go wrong!  It also includes reward stickers and a completion certificate.
  • Horizons Kindergarten Math  After much research, I decided to use Horizons math curriculum.  I like its format, I was also very impressed by their level of difficulty.  Originally, my plan was to finish the Beginning Math workbook and then work on some more review sheets before starting the Horizons set.  I was afraid that if I started it too soon he would just become frustrated.  However, Ignacio had plans of his own.  He was bored with the review work and kept telling me he wanted to work on his math workbook.  We started the Horizons set last week and he is doing great!  I know this set can be a little pricy, but there are deals out there.  I was lucky enough to find the entire set on eBay for $36 including shipping!  I've already started looking for deals on the 1st grade level.
  • I've been reading him Level 1 books from the MathStart series.  I love these books.  They do a great job at teaching math concepts, while also being entertaining.  Were lucky enough to have most of the series available at our local library.
  • We also have quite a few fun math manipulatives and games.  I'll write more on that in the future.
  • More than anything, we are reading, reading, reading!  We go to story time weekly and to the library two or three times a week.  I also read to him daily, usually anywhere between four and fifteen books a day.  He always begs for more!  (I currently have 68 books checked out from the library, only two of them are for me.)
  • Take It To Your Seat Phonics Centers PreK-K by Evan-Moor.  This book does involve some time on the parent's part.  You have to put the centers together by cutting everything apart and laminating them.  (I used Contact Paper)  Overall, I think its a good deal.  My son sees these centers as games and really enjoys them.  Each center is also conveniently stored in its own large envelope, making them perfect for travel. 
  • Skill Sharpeners Reading Pre-K by Evan-Moor.  This book is pretty basic.  I think it would be really good for the beginner, but considering my son already knows his alphabet and letter sounds... I think he could be using the kindergarten level.  That being said, it is good reinforcement and I can't stress enough how much I love their cut and paste activities.
  • Ignacio has already started sounding out words on his own.  I went out and picked up a few sets of Brand New Readers.  He really likes them.  I know a lot of people are fans of Bob Books or other similar sets, but I found these books more appealing.  I also let him page through them at the store.  The pictures are engaging and their stories are cute.  They are "readable" without being too easy.  I'll make sure to write a more thorough review in a future post.
  • For a more "formal" approach I've decided to try the Explode The Code series.  I've already bought books 1 through 2 1/2 and the teacher's guide.  I also found a good deal on the Code Cards on eBay.  I wasn't sure whether or not he would like the books, I debated for some time whether or not to buy them.  I loved their approach, but I wasn't sure if my son would be interested in their simple "oldschool" drawings.  Well, I was looking at the Level 1 book on my computer (using Amazon's See Inside feature) when my son walked into the room.  We worked through some pages on the screen and he excitedly told me that he wanted to do more!  I took that as my answer.  I haven't started using these yet.  I'm going to be taking our first break when the baby is born and thought it would be best to wait until after that break to begin. 
  • We've been using Pre-Handwriting Practice by Sherrill Flora.  We started working on it in July and should be done with it in the next week or so.  I really like how this book is formatted.  It is full of half sheet activites.  First they work on their tracing activities (cute little drawings), then they work on their letters.  One row of tracing the letter, followed by one row of writing it on their own.  Worth the price.  It is reproducible, I made copies for him.  I figured if he needs to review I can make more copies for him, otherwise I am saving it to use with the baby in a few years.
  • Once we finish our Pre-Handwriting Practice worksheets I plan on using Alphabet Animals by Carson-Dellosa.  This little workbook is pretty basic, but I think it will be good review after finishing his practice book.  The entire book follows the same format.  The left page has a drawing of an animal that begins with the letter of the alphabet, the right page trace and copy the letter in both uppercase and lowercase.
  • Once we finish Alphabet Animals I plan on using printables from Starfall.  I'll share my opinion on it once we start the program.
  • We also do some tracing/copy work and some "creative" writing.  I have traditional (dotted line) writing paper that I use for his tracing/copy work.  Sometimes I have him write his name, others I let him choose what he wants to write.  I write the word on the first three lines using a lime green highlighter (green is his favorite color).  He traces over my handwriting, then copies the word on his own on the lower line.  For our "creative" writing I give him either a sheet of bland printer paper or a sheet of storybook paper.  I let him write and draw whatever he wants.  Sometimes just random letters and his name, other times he will try to spell words or ask me how to spell them.  I don't correct him at all on his "creative"writing. 
  • For the most part we are reading library books, choosing them based on his interests. 
  • I picked up a copy of Take It To Your Seat Science Centers PreK-K by Evan-Moor.  I plan on using these little centers to reinforce what we learn in our reading.  My son has a really good memory, I don't think he'll be interested in using the same centers multiple times.  I will probably come up with modifications on my own.
  • I also purchased Teaching the Fun of Science to Young Learners: Grades Pre-K-2 by Janice VanCleave.  I think it has some great ideas, but have yet to try it.  I might start it towards the end of September, but I am leaning more towards waiting until January.
Social Studies/ Geography:
  • My son loves maps!  He actually has two globes and a laminated map of the US in his bedroom.  All purchased at his request.  He has map puzzles also.  I'm taking a similar approach to science, by reading library books chosen to expand on his interests.
  • I came across The Big Sibling Book at our local bookstore and just had to buy it!  Its an adorable pregnancy journal that also covers the baby's first year... all written by his big brother!  Ignacio loves working on it and it gives us a good opportunity to talk about our family and his soon to be born little brother.
  • I am bilingual, but have struggled to teach Spanish to Ignacio.  He understood it and spoke it as a baby, but started rejecting it as he got a little older.  I've been making it a point to also read to him in Spanish.  I am also working on teaching him the basics.  For starters, when we work on our math I make sure to count in both English and Spanish.  I also picked up Everyday Words Spanish Flashcards, Everyday Words in Spanish and Very First Dictionary in Spanish all by Usborne.  Ignacio actually chose these himself.  He really likes their claymation pictures.  I really like them also, you can never really go wrong with Usborne books.
  • I am a huge fan of art!  Actually, my whole family is artistic.  I think it is very important for children to be allowed a creative outlet.  I have tons of art supplies and Ignacio loves getting crafty.  I am sure I'll be posting a lot of future projects.