Tuesday, August 30, 2011

First Grade Curriculum

We are starting school up in a couple of days, so I thought I would share our curriculum plan for First Grade. This is what we have planned to start the year however, after the new year we might toss in a couple more items for unit studies... I am still deciding on that. This year I asked Holly about some ideas she would like to see with school and she mentioned she would enjoy more with nature, dinosaurs, body, rocks/minerals/gems and space. We started Nature Club to fulfill the need of more nature (we meet at least every other week, often times more) and I have a plan we (Bryan & I) are completing with the dinosaurs to start the year off. We will be studying the human body along with our health curriculum this year, taking our time versus rushing through it. As for a space unit and rocks/minerals/gems unit I will work on those some more before sharing them. I actually foresee those happening after the beginning of the year, a Winter/Spring unit.

For our core subjects we have decided to use Horizons curriculum: Math, Reading & Phonics and Spelling & Vocabulary. The Reading/Phonics and Spelling/Vocabulary work really well together. The math program seems to be pretty in tune with how Holly enjoys her math studies. I am not sure how challenging it will be for her though as I think she is past first grade - however, I would like to drill in some basic a bit more before advancing. I won't be surprised if we move up mid year with math. However, for now to augment math we will be starting a math journal with word problems and games. I will also be enjoying more game play and manipulative's with her.

For Geography we will be working completely through Evan Moore's Beginning Geography book in which she will review some mapping skills, learn about land forms, bodies of water, continents and oceans. I will build on this more as we continue through the program. We also have a really nice children's world atlas we will be using in conjunction with it.  We will also tie in a 50 State Study and a United State atlas and some brief history along the way.

History will be using The Pioneer Sampler to read. Throughout reading this book we will take a closer look at pioneer life and try our hands at several projects along the way such as hand work/stitching, corn husk dolls, making butter, children's toys, creating a cabin from sticks or Popsicle sticks, felting wool balls to play with, trying natural dying, learning older measurement lingo and trying it out, weaving art, tin punching, making shadow puppets, etc... I have a load of ideas to enjoy with this history theme. I believe we will also rent the Pioneer Era history box from the Washington State History Museum once we get into the unit a ways to try some old toys and see some artifacts. We will also take at least one visit to Pioneer Farms... if not a couple throughout the year. I have a feeling this might also branch off into some Little House on the Prairie introduction (books/movie) and Native American introduction.

Health this year will be based from our current book collection and a new addition we have called Why Should I Bother To Keep Fit. We will be learning all about the human body, how it functions and how to keep it healthy. As well, we will be using this great site called KidsHealth.org - it is a wonderful site with a nice little curriculum for all educators.

Physical Education will include swimming two days a week, soccer until mid-November, daily outdoor time, park play and activities with our home school group such as kickball, basketball and more. Holly experiences a ton of physical play... I have no worries on this front at all!

We will be enjoying a few units from our Moving Beyond The Page curriculum as well. These are fun units that incorporate a lot of different avenues of learning that are project based.

Holly will be enjoying more poetry this year - this was a favorite last year and I am excited to continue with her this year. We will be using a couple a great books from Scholastic, this year introducing graphic organizers! I also own a wonderful selection of poetry guide sheets that she kept last year in a poetry notebook, we will continue this in a new notebook. And, I have a great list of poetry books we will be enjoying throughout the year. This was really one of her favorite lessons!

Dictionary work will be new this year. Last year we learned alphabetizing and this year she will be applying it. I will do small lessons with her dictionary as she learns how to use it. We will also be keeping a small notebook of new words/vocabulary building on great lesson sheets that walk her through using a dictionary: spelling, meaning, part of speech, other meanings/words, picture of word, prefix/suffix, etc. She is looking forward to this, as of now she just sits and randomly looks through and reads her dictionary.

Science for us will include a variety of items. We have an Evan Moore book we will work through, a few new books on introducing the concepts of physics and chemistry, an Usborne Science Encyclopedia we will read through slowly as it applies or strikes interest. However, our largest part of science will be through out Nature Club. We meet at least every other Friday and sometimes more for nature studies, lessons and journaling. This is outside of our own nature work we do. We will be reading through The Young Naturalist this year and really taking that book to heart within our approach to nature. We will also tie in any science studies or experiments that work well with other units or seasons.

Art this year will include a whole new art curriculum we decided upon called Atelier. This wonderful program has a great scope and sequence I am very happy with that looks at skills, creativity and some art history. It is a dvd based program in which Holly can watch a lesson, see how it is completed, witness other variations of the lesson and then apply that information to her own project. I hope to do some of these with some friends of ours. As well, we will work through more in our Art Treasury book taking a look at a few more artists and choosing fun projects from our Art Ideas book... we have a super long list of desires in this book and others I have found online. We are also fortunate enough to have some lessons available in our home school group, we will attend these as time allows.

Our first special unit study will be on dinosaurs. Holly adores... adores... adores dinosaurs! We are very lucky in that we own a lot of materials on dinosaurs. We did however find some new books to add to our collection that will also offer up new materials for our unit. DK has a great book she is really looking forward to that includes a workbook too - this is going to be great for her. We have a new poster for the wall (my eyes on others too) and the best part so far is we are going to create a timeline for her to work with. I am also toying with renting a learning box from the Burke Museum called Age Of The Dinosaurs. Really, there are a couple I'd love to rent from them... so many great choices!

Wow -- that is one big plan there!!! Wish us luck on the great year ahead!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pond Viewer & Nature Club

We met up with our friends in Nature Club at Deep Lake this Friday to create pond viewers, try out pond viewers, take a nature walk around the lake and take some time to draw in nature journals. The outing was an all day affair, really wonderful and a lot of fun! The kids played, explored, picked berries of all kinds and enjoyed swimming in a lake... for some it was their first experience in a lake! Great memories for sure!

To make a pond viewer is very simple. You take a larger empty metal coffee can and cut both ends off with a can opener. Then you will put Saran Wrap over one end and secure with a rubber band, making sure the Saran Wrap is taught. Then use duct tape to secure it in place. You now have a pond viewer. To use a pond viewer (or river viewer, lake viewer, stream viewer) you step out a bit into the water and submerge the viewer Saran Wrap side down until the water is almost near the top. Don't let the water in the can. You can now look through your can allowing you to see under water to seek out critters. On this outing the kids found snails on the bottom on Deep Lake, little fry sized fish and some bug like swimming creatures. It was a lot of fun!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making Ice Cream

Yesterday we enjoyed a beautiful sunny day at one of our favorite parks, Wildwood Park. But to make the fun even BETTER we hosting an ice cream making day with our homeschool group - it was fun!

This is such an easy and fun little project that can be done anywhere. You take a gallon ziploc bag and fill it about 1/4 full of ice and six tablespoons of ice cream rock salt. Then you take a quart size ziploc bag and fill it will 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 cup cream and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla. Seal this ziploc bag really well and place it inside the gallon size bag of ice & salt. Seal the gallon bag up really well and start 'working' the bag - shake it, shimmy it, roll it and wiggle it. Shake all the ice cream makings around in that ice until it is frozen... about five to ten minutes. Then open and enjoy the ice cream ~ DELICIOUS!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rainbow Batik

I saw this wonderful project at this great site Pink and Green Mama (a favorite of mine)- as soon as I saw the project, I just had to try it out with Holly as this was right up her alley. When I showed her what we were doing, she was very excited. We started with a white cloth napkin and if she enjoyed this project we would later tackle something larger like an apron or book bag. This was just the right size for now though.

You take your Elmers Gel Glue and draw a design all over your fabric. Let is sit and dry for a couple of hours, we set ours in the sunshine. Then you paint your design with acrylic paint - rainbow colors for us. Again, let this dry for a couple of hours, we set ours in the sunshine. Once the paint is dry you will then soak your fabric in a sink of hot water for about 15 minutes and the glue will begin to dissolve. You can scrunch/rub the fabric together to encourage it to happen quicker, this will not ruin your paint job. Once the glue has fully dissolved from the fabric it will reveal the design you created, a batik.

This project, though it looks fancy, was amazingly easy and quick! Holly truly enjoyed this - we'll be doing more I am sure! A fun art project!!!