Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Father's World Kindergarten: Unit 1 Sun

We started the first regular unit, Sun, on a Thursday. I like how this curriculum is designed so one unit = 6 days, rather than 5. It is helpful so that you don't feel like you have to start something new on a Monday, just because it's the beginning of the week. Instead, you start or pick up where you left off and enjoy flexibility that homeschooling allows.

Like for instance -- on Tuesday, we should have started day 4. Unfortunately, I had a dental emergency (lost a filling! BAH!) and needed to get in right away. So we did day 4 in the afternoon, because we felt like it. I could have easily put it off another day. Either way, I don't feel "behind" at all. We just do the next thing. This is great for my state of mind.

Oh, and I left Johnny at home with Shane (working from home) and took the girls with me. Vivienne was amazing with Amelia. She helped with her toy, talked to her, rocked her in her car seat, sang to her...basically melted my heart while I was getting my tooth drilled. Viv has exceeded all my hopes by far with how she treats her sister. Yay!

The biggest challenge for me right now is figuring out how to include or otherwise parent Vivienne. Sometimes she wants to participate in what Johnny's doing, or she wants her own activity. Other times, she wants to destroy whatever plans I have made with a big ol' tantrum. Yes, she is 3 and a young 3 at that. But, we are working on self-control, discipline and attitudes. For mama and tot. My word, Viv, you reveal lots of flaws in me.

Meanwhile, Amelia is still at the wonderful stage where she doesn't care one way or another. For most of our school time, she has either played on the floor with some baby toy or been in a baby carrier while I'm trying to get to sleep (lately for naps it has been the woven! A Storch Inka). She slobbered on Johnny's worksheet without me knowing it (it was on the floor and she was sorta aimed over it but I didn't know). Whoops.

Thankfully it was no big deal and he wasn't phased by it. He gets that she is a baby and does baby things like slobber. :D

Speaking of that worksheet, one side had him trace a cup to make a circle, representing the sun and then he traced a penny and compared which was larger. He wrote the cent symbol and learned what that was.

When he was playing later by himself and drawing stuff, he used the cent symbol again on his own.

The other side he was supposed to cut out 6 letter S's and glue them below six pictures, each of which depicted something that began with the letter s. I was like, whatever he knows this, let's skip it. So we did. He could of course use some more cutting practice, but eh whatevs.

He also made his sun "badge" and we taped the words to remember card along with the badge on his bedroom wall. We'll put the 25 future badges and words to remember cards on there as well, and then at the end we'll compile them into a book. He likes that idea a lot.

I think you're supposed to use the "badge pattern" sheet as, you know, a PATTERN, but I just had him cut out the circle and color it directly. I guess if he ever wants to use it like a pattern he could -- but maybe I'm just I want to conserve paper. Yeah, we'll go with that.

Some of the hands-on things we did:

- a see-through sun made from streamers and a lamination sheet. Hah! Not in the manual
- the spaghetti-on-paper craft mentioned in the guide (definitely do it on cardboard instead of construction paper, as this curled. Not that we kept it for long anyway)
- tried to sprout beans. One jar in a sunny window and the other in a closet.
- sun dial. Paper plate, pen stuck in the middle, boom. Sun dial. The first day he made it, we had decent sun from late afternoon on. But the next day was cloudy all day. It was a great demonstration of why a sun dial does not work in those situations. Back at it again the third day. He kept reminding me to update it every time he saw the sun peek out, but hey we don't need to record 12:48 on the dial. Just on the hour is enough :).
- the handwriting sheet (only one day per unit is handwriting...I will leave it at that for now, but eventually I think I'll want to increase that)
- another work sheet (the math activity, and sound discrimination sheet (circle the things that start with the letter s and cross out things that don't).

Books and videos:

Somehow I reserved the book Round Trip by Ann Jonas from the library, which isn't quite about the sun or moon but it does have a day and night theme. It has REALLY cool illustrations. You read the book straight through one way, and then when you get to the end, you turn it upside down and keep reading. The illustrations match both versions. Johnny thought this was so cool! Find it at your library.

At the back of the manual, there are about a dozen or so books that go along with each unit. You don't have to read these -- it's just a helpful library list. My library had only 2 or 3, but we also owned a couple. For the rest of the book basket, I just checked out other books on the sun. No big deal.

There are a lot of Magic School Bus episodes that tie in with MFWK rather nicely. I bought the box set on Amazon when it was on big sale, and not long after, these episodes were all available on Netflix streaming. Go figure.

For Sun, there is an episode about stars, and one about getting lost in space.

We also watched some videos on YouTube from NASA. Some were about solar flares, some were about solar and lunar eclipses. Very cool.

Some things we skipped:

Though he would enjoy it, I skipped the "make your own calendar." He has a few calendars of his own, and likes to tell me what day it is. I also skipped making the 100 chart.

I think both of those activities are good ones, but I wanted to save *something* for when he is an official kindergartener. So, I'd rather count 100 days of kindergarten starting in August, rather than start the count right now. Just for the sake of it.

The manual had us read a poem all 6 days. I read it the first day and he recognized it from somewhere else. I skipped it on the second day, and read it on the third. He immediately recognized that we had already read it, but I said let's give it another go and he was a good sport about it. I think six days of the same poem would just make him a little irritated, though there is absolutely value in repeated readings.

We also skipped the "introduce letter sound," the "a-a-apple song" and "picture box activity" for the week. He is way past these phonics activities. We are still doing All About Reading level 1 and he likes it, and I guess I do, too -- but it's not big slobbery love like some bloggers out there rave about it.

Final thoughts

This run-down doesn't include every single thing we did, and I don't mention the Bible discussion here, either. I want to walk that line of respecting MFW copyright, while still allowing a peek at what we do, ya know? But for example, each day for Bible there were different little verses or small Bible stories describing different ways that "Jesus is the light of the world."

These are all bite-sized and very age-appropriate.

Overall, it was a nice unit. I was surprised at just how simple things were, and how quickly we moved through it. I have to remind myself that this is what I want for this stage. I don't want lots of seatwork. I don't want complicated activities. I want this to be fun, easy for me to implement with 3 children, and I want Johnny to learn about God's creation and the Bible truths presented.

I do see why some moms beef up this curriculum. I can see me doing that at some point, too (just like we are with the All About Reading already). I can see us adding more handwriting and more math as we move forward. But for now, I want to do it mostly as-is.

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