Wrapping Up The Year

We are getting close to having completed our recommended 185 days of school for the year. Although I enjoy doing some school through the summer so we keep a rhythm, there are a few chores that I tackle right about now to help our summer feel a little more free.

1. I really like to start planning the coming school year at the end of the current one. I feel like I have a better grasp on what worked and what didn't work, and I'm more realistic about expectations when I'm at the tail end of a long semester. Often I'm just following a progression of whatever I've been using; heading on the next level in Analytical Grammar, Right Start Math, or Teaching Textbooks, or following our chronological flow of history. Since writing The Playful Pioneers this past winter, I've grown more and more excited about our upcoming year of American history. I'll add a college class or two for the older boys, and I'm excited about all the fun projects we will participate in to make the time period come alive.

2. The next thing I do to wrap up the school year is prepare report cards. My children are enrolled in a small private cover school, and its my responsibility at the end of the year to submit report cards and work samples. I try to keep a log of any tests or grades my children get throughout the year in my teacher plan book, which makes it much easier at the end of the year to figure out their grades. I am very low key about grades until high school, but try to abide by the policies of our school.

3. The last task of the year is to shelve the schoolbooks we are finished with. These books get placed in a cupboard for future use, or donated. I put the new books we will be using in each child's basket, and also create a special read aloud basket with selections from our history studies. I also keep a few work samples from the year and file them with my child's name and grade, or place them in a special portfolio of work.

With these tasks done, I am free to enjoy a vacation from the more intense school days, and instead spend that time connecting with my children.

The Playful Pioneers early elementary curriculum is available! You can get a sneak peek of the curriculum here, or purchase by clicking here.

To purchase the Peaceful Preschool CurriculumPicture Word Cards, or even grab some of our freebies, click here.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool, click here.

The Playful Pioneers is Here!

We are so excited to introduce to you our newest curriculum in The Peaceful Press family. One of the underlying principles for the new curriculum, The Playful Pioneers can be summed up in this quote by Charlotte Mason,

“The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” 
― Charlotte M. MasonSchool Education: Developing A Curriculum

The Playful Pioneers aims to give your children a large room to start their education in. Through reading the beloved children's series, The Little House on the Prairie,  and doing related art, science and history projects, your child will develop a love for learning. You and your young children will study famous works of art, copy poetry, learn new handwork skills, and best of all, develop deeper relationships as a family, as you explore new activities together.

The curriculum includes basic letter tracing sheets for beginning writers, as well as gradually more complex copy work sheets so that you can use the curriculum with a variety of early elementary ages and stages.

For each of the 30 weeks of the curriculum, you will have a handy grid so that you can see what activities you will be doing that week. There is also a daily details section with more specific directions. 

Included in your curriculum bundle are instructions for parents, maps, artwork, poetry, recipes, and much more. The curriculum is created to build stronger family relationships as you and your young children explore literature and project based learning together, while you study famous people and events of pioneer history.

You can click here for more information, to download a sample, or to purchase. 

 

Math For Young Children

As a child, I went to a private school that focused on reading quickly, but did nearly all math instruction through workbooks. This method left me ill-prepared to understand more advanced math, and I labeled myself a struggling math learner from then on. 

With my own children, I have been motivated to use more hands on methods to teach math, but have still vacillated between several math programs, because while I might wish for a magical math that teaches itself, there is no such solution. Believe me, I have searched. With my oldest children, I was especially pressed for time and usually chose a method that involved hands on learning, but that was also easy for a student to complete fairly independently. 

As those students grew, each of them struggled with algebra. I used several different programs, Saxon, Teaching Textbooks, Horizons, and Math U See, but it wasn't until they were in an actual math class at the local junior college that algebra began to make sense for them. Although none of my oldest students have gone on to pursue a career in math, those who are pursuing college have been able to complete the upper level classes necessary for their degree.

I feel like there are a few lessons that I can take from the experiences my oldest children have had with math. The first lesson is that math requires a teacher (even a non math loving mother can be that teacher), and the second is that early-hands on math experience is essential for later success.

With these lessons in mind, I have switched to Right Start Math with my youngest son, and I am moving slowly through the lessons. I would rather do each lesson thoroughly and make certain that my child is understanding it, than to push quickly through and end up with roadblocks as he approaches upper level math. Right Start uses many concrete examples and activities to make manipulating numbers second nature for your child. 

Right Start also uses playful activities such as games to reinforce skills instead of tedious drills and flashcards. Playful forms of learning are much more attractive than drills and flashcard to many of us as adults, as well as to our children. They also help us retain the information that we have learned.

Finding the right math program for your early elementary student might require a little research. Each parent and child has a different learning style, and learning styles have a lot of bearing on your child's success with a program. As well, many children are not developmentally ready for abstract learning, so programs that rush this with too many worksheets can ultimately make math more difficult later on.

For your preschool learners, keep using the counting and fine motor skills included in The Peaceful Preschool curriculum, as well as playing math games and counting throughout your day.

For kindergarten students, keep on counting and playing math games. If they are ready for more math, start with Right Start Math or Math U See. 

For later elementary students, if they have a strong command of underlying math principals through Right Start or Math U See, you could try switching to Teaching Textbooks. Make sure they have learned good study skills, including concepts such as writing math problems clearly, and labeling papers before you set them up with a more independent math program. If they need additional help, and homeschooling is your educational choice, look for a math tutor or group class that they can join. Even Khan Academy can be a valuable resource in making math meaningful for your children.

Finally, no matter what math program you choose, try to use positive words to describe math, and help them to see that math skills are an important part of our daily life.

Our The Playful Pioneers early elementary curriculum will be available soon! We are shooting for a June 1st sale date, and will have a free sample before that date, but in the meantime, you can get a sneak peek of the curriculum here.

To purchase the CurriculumPicture Word Cards, or even grab some of our freebies, click here.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool, click here.

 

Easy Saint Patrick's Day

It has been a very busy week here. I am sending lessons for The Playful Pioneers to the designer, and recording podcasts for Wild and Free bundles, so my homeschool creativity zone is not getting all the attention that I would wish.

I knew St Patrick's Day was coming and made sure to buy a corned beef for our yearly corned beef and cabbage meal, but totally forgot to rent any seasonal books from the library. 

In a monk's cell at Sauls Church, the first church in Ireland.  

In a monk's cell at Sauls Church, the first church in Ireland.

 

Even though I hadn't done a fabulous job of planning ahead, we had been in Ireland while traveling this last December, and had crawled into an actual monk's cell that St Patrick might have prayed in, and visited the first church that he ministered at. My kids had a pretty good grasp on who the holiday was about. I just wanted a few activities that we could do to refresh their memory.

After I asked them what they remembered about St. Patrick (which was surprisingly extensive considering it had been a year since we'd done any formal study) we watched a few YouTube videos about the saint.

Next, I sent my children out to collect a shamrock bouquet, while I threw the corned beef and potatoes in the crock pot. Once they came back with some clover, we painted a watercolor version, and labeled it with a short narration.

We love celebrating holidays here, and as often as possible we make our learning fun and engaging by involving projects. Sometimes the projects are simple, such as the shamrock painting, and other times they are more involved, but projects are a great way to connect with your children, and develop many skills.

We are celebrating spring with a special sale on the full 26 week curriculum. Just use code "Spring" at checkout to get $5 off your purchase. Offer ends April 16, 2017.

To purchase the CurriculumPicture Word Cards, or even grab some of our freebies, click here.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool, click here.

Teach Your Child To Read

My seventh child is now reading on his own, and I am thrilled to have successfully taught all of my children to read, and for the most part, to love reading. 

When I started homeschooling 18 years ago, my research led me to the Spell to Write and Read program. It worked very well with my oldest child, but with my second daughter, who had auditory processing difficulties, I needed to supplement with sight words. Because her auditory sequencing was poor (activities in The Peaceful Preschool program work on building this skill) she needed the boost of sight words to make reading less laborious. It was just too frustrating to try and sound out every single word.

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I continued to use Spell to Write and Read with my children, along with reading games that I created from Montessori literature I had read, and it continued to be effective. None of my children were super early readers, but they all (so far) have become avid readers. The child who learned to read the latest, is also the child who has read all the works of Shakespeare.

With my youngest child, who being the baby, had less well-defined motor skills, I switched to All About Spelling materials. It is very similar to Spell to Write and Read, except that their approach is slightly more multi-sensory, and their teacher guide is much easier to understand.

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This system worked very well with him, and when he occasionally lost interest his All About Spelling lesson, I would introduce a reading game, such as the Montessori Object Game, or Command Game. The process took a little longer with him, in part because I was a more laid back teacher, and content to let him play, but he is reading, and especially loving the easy readers produced by All About Spelling.

With all my readers, I supplemented with workbooks such as Explode The Code, and with easy books to read. Teaching my children to read wasn't hard; it took some steady reinforcement of phonics sounds and the discipline to set aside time each day to listen to my children painfully sound out words, but once you get past that learning curve, schooling your own children becomes much easier. A child who can read, can also read a recipe, or directions to build an Ikea shelf, and they can certainly get lost in a great novel, which you can then count as "history reading".  A child who loves to read, is a child who can take initiative over a large part of their schooling, and ultimately, is a child who becomes a very interesting adult and friend.

If you are just getting started with teaching your child to read, I hope that you feel excited. It isn't rocket science, and the same skills that you used to teach them to eat with a fork, and get dressed by themselves will help you to guide them into this new skill as well. The steps are simple, teach them the sounds that letters make, teach them to blend those sounds together to make words. You can do it.

 

Our Favorite Resources

All About Spelling

Explode The Code

Spell To Write and Read

Reading Games Post

Living Montessori Now

This post contains affiliate links for products we use/used and love. 

What letter are you on? Share, by tagging #thepeacefulpreschool on Instagram, or in our encouraging private Facebook group, available with your curriculum purchase. 

To purchase the CurriculumPicture Word Cards, or even grab some of our freebies, click here.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool, click here.

The Playful Pioneers

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This past year since we first introduced The Peaceful Preschool course has been such a lovely journey. I am overjoyed that so many amazing families have joined us on this joyful learning experience, and have added their voice to this community through blog posts and the private Facebook group available to curriculum users. Simply Learning is one of those families, and if you are just getting started with The Peaceful Preschool, I highly recommend checking out the thoughtful planning posts that she created. The recent post linked here, also included a handy supplemental PDF. 

Click here to purchase The Peaceful Preschool curriculum.

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As your family grows, and your children transition from the preschool years, we want to be there to support your journey. One way we are doing this is through the new curriculum we developed. The Playful Pioneers, which will be released in the summer of 2017. We are busy writing, testing, and photographing this literature based kindergarten curriculum. 

(update, 5/8- you can now order the curriculum-just visit our shop link!)

One of the underlying principles for the curriculum can be summed up in this quote by Charlotte Mason,

“The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” 
― Charlotte M. MasonSchool Education: Developing A Curriculum

The Playful Pioneers aims to give your children a large room to start their education in. Through reading the beloved children's series, The Little House on the Prairie,  and doing related art, science and history projects, your child will develop a love for learning. You and your young children will study famous works of art, copy poetry, learn new handwork skills, and best of all, develop deeper relationships as a family, as you explore new activities together.

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We are busy compiling resources for the curriculum so that each chapter from the Little House books will lead to further exploration. If you have a book or activity that you would love to see included, we would love to hear from you. We are so excited about learning new things as a family, and as a community, and we look forward to joining you on the next phase of this journey.

You can keep informed about the special introductory pricing for the curriculum by following us on Instagram, or becoming a subscriber.

What letter are you on? Share, by tagging #thepeacefulpreschool on Instagram, or in our encouraging private Facebook group, available with your curriculum purchase. 

To purchase the Peaceful Preschool CurriculumPicture Word Cards, or even grab some of our freebies, click here.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool, click here.

To purchase The Playful Pioneers Curriculum, click here.

For the complete list of books used for The Playful Pioneers, click here

a simple santa mask

Christmas is speeding towards me, and although our home celebrations are very simple this year, as we have chosen a family trip to Ireland and Africa over a big Christmas, I am still wanting to give my children some of our normal crafting and baking traditions. One simple craft that you can find in the letter R week of The Peaceful Preschool curriculum, is the Santa Mask. Its easy enough for a preschooler, but whimsical enough to entertain an older child. Materials Needed: white paper plates white cardstock stick or large craft stick for handle white cotton balls red or pink crayons or markers scissors   How To: Simply cut a large hole in the paper plate for "Santa's" face. Then color the card stock pink or red for Santa's hat. Cut the card stock into a hat shape and glue to the paper plate. Glue several cotton balls to the hat and bottom of the mask for a beard for Santa. Attach a large craft stick to the mask as a handle and allow your child to act out the story of "The Night Before Christmas".  As children, we would also dress up as Mary and Joseph often, and act out the Nativity story. As you read through your Christmas book lists, your children will get many more ideas for active play, providing you with those pockets of time to clean the kitchen after all the baking!    

Christmas is speeding towards me, and although our home celebrations are very simple this year, as we have chosen a family trip to Ireland and Africa over a big Christmas, I am still wanting to give my children some of our normal crafting and baking traditions.

One simple craft that you can find in the letter R week of The Peaceful Preschool curriculum, is the Santa Mask. Its easy enough for a preschooler, but whimsical enough to entertain an older child.

Materials Needed:

white paper plates

white cardstock

stick or large craft stick for handle

white cotton balls

red or pink crayons or markers

scissors

 

How To:

Simply cut a large hole in the paper plate for "Santa's" face. Then color the card stock pink or red for Santa's hat. Cut the card stock into a hat shape and glue to the paper plate. Glue several cotton balls to the hat and bottom of the mask for a beard for Santa. Attach a large craft stick to the mask as a handle and allow your child to act out the story of "The Night Before Christmas". 

As children, we would also dress up as Mary and Joseph often, and act out the Nativity story. As you read through your Christmas book lists, your children will get many more ideas for active play, providing you with those pockets of time to clean the kitchen after all the baking!

 

 

Check out this sample day, from The Peaceful Preschool curriculum. The daily activities are tailor made for a mix of active and quiet learning, and seasonal play is an important part of the curriculum. 

 

What letter are you on? Share, by tagging #thepeacefulpreschool on Instagram, or in our encouraging private Facebook group, available with your curriculum purchase. 

To purchase the CurriculumPicture Word Cards, or even grab some of our freebies, click here.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool, click here.

ABC Books

Alphabet book have been a big part of our reading instruction. It is a good idea to read to our young children anyway, so reading picture books, where you can reinforce phonograms is a win win. 

To maximize the phonics potential, I teach the sound of the letter, along with the name. For instance instead of saying "A is for Alfred", I will say "A says "a", "ay", "ah"". Ditto for every phonogram. Once our children understand that letters represent sounds, they can string those letters together to make words. I might also say the alphabet with my child, either before or after reading the book, but our main focus is teaching them the sounds.

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"So Many Bunnies" is one of our very favorite alphabet books. It has a sweet story, includes some simple counting, and the illustrations are beautiful. 

"B is for Buckaroo" is a fun story for your little cowboy. It also includes some details about cowboy life, so you get a book that will grow with your preschooler, and might spark other studies. You can also find "C is for Castle" which introduces items related to the middle ages, among thousands of historical themed alphabet books.

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If you are looking for a simpler story for a very young child, this one, "An Alphabet in Bloom" is lovely. The cut paper illustrations could lead to cutting a collage with an older preschooler, and the wordless pages provide lots of visual interest and even some mystery as you discover what each letter is represented by. Some other favorite ABC books for younger children are "A is for Apple" which includes tracks for your child to trace each letter, and "Eric Carle's ABC" which would be a great read on those weeks when we are doing "The Grouchy Ladybug" or another of his stories.

One of my most well loved alphabet books, is "A is for Annabelle" by a favorite children's author and illustrator, Tasha Tudor. Her beautiful illustrations and creativity come through in every page. We also love finding ABC books about nature and animals, such as "Discovering Nature's Alphabet"

Finally, a wonderful way to play with letters, and even to work on articulation with your young children, is with our Picture Word Cards . These would make a wonderful Christmas gift for your child. Simply laminate them along with a few phonogram bingo cards, add some nature themed bingo counters, such as acorn caps, and you have an inexpensive and educational gift.

What is your favorite ABC book?

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