Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 2nd Grade :)

Fabulous Fours and Fives!

on April 29, 2013

Pre-K Curriculum Plans for 2013-2014

(Also see 2014-2015 Stupendous Fives and Sixes, and 2015-2016 Sweet Sixes and Sevens)

Wow, next school year will be the last year of preschool for our four year olds, Noah and Tayler! We are now entering our third year of preschool at Jesus’ Precious Little Lambs. We have built up our curriculum each successive year in order to gradually prepare our little ones for the demands and delights of the high reaching goals of a Charlotte Mason elementary homeschool (Noah will be 5 and 2/3 years old when we he begins elementary school in fall 2014). I have done much thought and research in order to come up with our Pre-K curriculum for next fall, and I am excited to be able to share it with those of you who may also have a four or five year old!! You will notice that there are no textbooks and no workbooks in our curriculum selection, but rather all living books (written by a single author passionate about his/her subject); a Charlotte Mason education is a “living education.”

Before we get into curriculum, I need to mention something important. Anyone can take a book list and a string of methods and put them into practice. What makes a Charlotte Mason education come alive is an internal agreement with Charlotte’s reasons for choosing those books, for using that method. The thought process and belief system behind the methodology give life to the method. So I give you our booklist for next school year to offer suggestions for your own homeschool, but I emphasize that this list is only a list, and not so effective unless you are familiar with Charlotte Mason methods. I highly recommend researching and meditating on Charlotte’s methods this summer: definitely read her 6 volume Original Homeschooling Series or at least a book by another author that brings light to her methods, consider taking a DVD course on planning a CM education by SimplyCharlotteMason.com (especially if you have a school age child), and join my Charlotte Mason Friends Book Club! You will feel more confident, inspired, motivated, and prepared if you know all about the “why” and “how” as you prepare for your first, or next, season of homeschool. Your education methods will be living when you truly understand Charlotte’s methods.

If you are interested in some guidance for next school year, first take a look at Welcome Back to School, my 2012-2013 curriculum post. Every area of study listed there is the foundation of our Charlotte Mason preschool. We will continue those same foundational studies in the 2013-2014 school year, and add some new things as well. This post previews the brand new things we will be building into our 2013-2014 school year.

Overview of Curriculum for 2013-2014

Mother Study

Mothers should cultivate their souls so that in turn they may cultivate the souls of their children.

Home education begins with you staying educated and staying passionate about God, family, homemaking, and homeschool. Passion comes from cultivating yourself! Reading will feed your soul the ideas it hungers to grow upon, and keep your enthusiasm kindled. What you read will largely depend upon your own interests, but here are a couple essentials in my estimation:

Get a really good study Bible! I did some research recently and this is the Bible I ended up ordering. It has great reviews, and if you are in the market for a Bible, see what you think for yourself!

Charlotte Mason’s 6 Volume Original Homeschooling Series! I don’t know, have I made my point clear yet? 🙂

Bible

See my Teaching Children the Bible post for lots of teaching tips.

Is it your aim as a mom to really learn the Word of God? Perhaps you have realized, as I have, that God has given you children to disciple and raise up, and a large part of succeeding at the high calling of motherhood depends on your heart being filled with the knowledge of God? So preparing to teach our children the Bible can and should grow us as moms.

Next year, I plan on studying each Bible story of the week (from the Masterplan) from my adult Bible. Next I will either retell the story to the children in my own words and/or read portions from my Bible (preferably from the King James Version), and also read the story from a quality Children’s Bible storybook on another day. Having to tell a story in my own words really solidifies the details of stories in my own heart. Its amazing how God will shed light on different aspects of how the story relates to our lives if we will meditate on the story and pray about it. Oral storytelling allows the children to practice actively imagining the story themselves instead of passively taking in pictures from a Bible storybook all the time. Since we spend a week on each Bible story at Jesus Precious Little Lambs (actually only two days per week since we meet on T/Th), sometimes we mix things up by acting out a Bible story instead of rereading it (like making a boat on the floor out of the couch cushions and acting out the story of Jesus speaking to the Storm). This is narration in action!

The Child’s Story Bible is one of the few Bible storybooks that accurately retells, and includes over 200 stories told in simple language, yet not watered down. The Child’s Story Bible is great for teaching Bible to children of all grades at once, as a combined family subject, since its appropriate for 4 to 12 year olds. There are very few pictures, just to let you know. You can view the language of the stories at Christianbook.com. We plan to use this Bible storybook next school year.

The Preschoolers Bible is Faith, my two year old’s, Bible. The language is incredibly simple, yet there are a large variety of stories, and so its a great Bible for a 2-3 year old (other than having cartoon pictures, ugh). Noah really benefits from this Bible too because we have started asking him to narrate the story back to us when Daddy finishes reading. Although narration is not easy for a four year old, the stories in this Bible are simple enough that he is able to succeed. Thanks to Faith’s Bible, Noah is starting to practice the oh-so-important art of narration–the backbone of Charlotte Mason methods. Yay!

Besides reading children’s Bibles occasionally at school, we do read them every night with Daddy, and this is when Faith gets to hear from “her Bible”. Even though this devotional time is not during Little Lambs “school time”, it definitely still counts as “curriculum”. Family homeschool happens all throughout the day, and just before bed is a perfect time to include Dad in teaching some “curriculum”–whether its Bible, History, Literature, Science. However, I would say Bible tops the list in importance since it gives Dad the chance to be the spiritual leader of your home.

And don’t forget Scripture Memory and Hymns as part of your Bible curriculum! We will continue to memorize one scripture a month and learn 1-2 new hymns a month. Singing hymns for worship is pretty new for me, but I am loving it!!

History

Adding history studies will be the biggest change in our homeschool next year, and I am very excited to for our little ones hearts to be filled with a patriotic spirit as they learn about “My America”. For school age history studies, we will most likely be using Simply Charlotte Mason’s curriculum guide which contains all living book suggestions. Their history curriculum is divided into time periods, beginning with Bible history and how it fits into world history, which makes perfect sense. I look forward to starting this curriculum when Noah begins kindergarten. My only concern is that American history is not part of the curriculum until much later– like year 6. So my solution is to spend Noah’s Pre-K year studying American history. I want him to know some of the special stories about the history of his country while he is young, and my heart is pulled towards Early American studies, as both he and I love everything “old fashioned”.

Teaching history is about giving our children the right kind of heros to look up to. Boys especially need strong heros to admire and emulate in order to grow up into courageous honorable mighty men of valor. Charlotte strongly believed in focusing on the story part of history when teaching young children, and this completely resonates with me! Politics and philosophies can be examined later, but for now we should fill them with examples of good, noble, exemplary deeds of history heros. Our children will learn to discern the consequences of actions and their bearings upon that historical time period as well as life today. If we read them history in the form of inspiring biographies, we will find our children “playing” or acting out imaginary scenes from their history lessons. Charlotte so wisely stated, “….for it is only as we have it in us to let a person or cause fill the whole stage of the mind, to the exclusion of self-occupation, that we are capable of large-hearted action on behalf of that person or cause.” So true! Doesn’t the truth of that quote hit home as a Christian who relates to Christ in this very way? The more we become consumed with Christ, our hero, the more we become Christ-like.

Since we personally prefer not to have any kind of Spiderman or Batman or Captain America or Iron Man or Disney Princess type of paraphernalia around our house, our kids are unfamiliar with modern day kids “heros.” I have often wondered what will fill the gap for hero admiration in our home. So learning that Charlotte Mason’s method of teaching history is hero study was an “AHA!” moment for me. I am soooooo thankful that true hero admiration will fill the hearts of my children and no comic or TV heros will be needed. What a wonderful way to teach history!

Note: we will skip reading Leif the Lucky because the story revolves around Norse gods.

FYI, Beautiful Feet, a history through literature publisher, has a great K-3 Early American literature pack, as well as literature packs for other grades and historical time periods. High caliber books such as the ones pictured above are the type of books you receive in the literature pack……. but they are really pricey. I am not going to spend $200 on a literature pack to teach one subject! I have done some research and many of the books can be found at the library. Phew! (Plus, I do not recommend the Beautiful Feet teaching guide that goes with the Early American books because the activities are way too difficult for early elementary students.)

Here are some more optional living books that we may check out/buy:

Hands On Ideas for Colonial America Studies

A best friend for planning history studies!

Amazon and Rainbow Resource describe All Through the Ages:

Bring the “story” back into “history” by using this exhaustive guide to over 7000 of the best in quality historical narratives, historical fiction, literature, and “living books”! With nothing more than a library card, parents or educators can effectively teach their children both World and American history using this guide. No more hours of researching historical books that are accurate, engaging, and age-appropriate. All Through the Ages has rendered all that work unnecessary. They have created a comprehensive list from some of the best resources, including Beautiful Feet, Books Children Love, Honey for a Child’s Heart, Greenleaf Press, Newberry Award books, Great Books of Western Civilization, Let the Authors Speak, Veritas, and 18 other publishers. This book merely combines all these lists (along with some of the author’s personal finds) into one volume to save you the legwork of finding and comparing numerous book lists. It doesn’t matter whether the children are pre-readers or college-bound seniors; books of every reading level are included for every era, from picture books and beginning readers through the great books of Western Civilization.

Literature

American pioneer spirit, love of family and God, adventures in homesteading, hard working obedient children, siblings as playmates–Little House on the Prairie is a collection of heartwarming and wholesome stories that resonates so well with my own values. I am SO excited to read the Little House on the Prairie series to my children next year! I never read them as a child and I feel like I have missed out on something that I would have loved. I was so happy when it dawned on me that the Little House series complements our Early American Pioneer studies for history, and that the reading level is not difficult for young children (as a read aloud).

We will also continue reading other classic, non-twaddle literature such as:

Winnie the Pooh series

Beatrix Potter series

Aesop’s Fables

A Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa

Reading

Next fall, we will be using a complete reading curriculum kit that faithfully reproduces Charlotte Mason’s method of teaching reading. This curriculum uses a combination of word building (like we have been doing all along) and learning words by sight. For the convenience and easy storage, we may purchase a montessori moveable alphabet for word building rather than use Delightful Reading’s provided letter tiles. This curriculum is perfect for 5 and 6 year olds who have limited reading ability or no prior reading experience. If you are not familiar with Charlotte’s methods for teaching reading, here it is in a nutshell. However, reading up on why she believes these methods are superior to learning phonics and using readers (the most common modern day method), is important. I would encourage you to read p.199- p.222 in Home Education, Vol.1.

Math

This is the next book in the math curriculum series that we are already using and loving (we currently use Developing Math Concepts in Pre-Kindergarten by Kathy Richardson). I found this curriculum while working in the teaching world, loved it, and am happy to be using it in homeschool with my own children. By the way, I have an extra new copy of this book and I will send it to you if you let me know you would like it!

IMG_0004 IMG_0009

SimplyCharlotteMason.com recommends two good math curriculums: Right Start Math and Math U See. For me, Math U See seems like it might be too worksheet based. Right Start Math seems a little one dimensional as all computations are made off of an abacus, the primary learning tool. So I will continue using Kathy Richardson’s curriculum for now since I am very happy with. However, I really like the idea of the Right Start abacus as a supplement to other hands on math activities. The abacus is grouped in fives and tens for quick recognition of quantities–genius! Children develop visual computation strategies as they use this manipulative. As the abacus can be purchased separately from the curriculum, we will purchase one to play around with next year as part of our math studies. This is a picture of a Rainbow colored Melissa and Doug abacus repainted by someone to look like the Right Start Math abacus:

Nature Study

Also see my Nature is For Kids post.

A science curriculum is not necessary for preschoolers, because science for young children should mostly be about getting out into nature and experiencing it! However, The Handbook of Nature Study, is a book that is used as the backbone of Charlotte Mason nature study throughout the school age years, so you might as well become familiarized with it now even if you don’t end up actually using it much during the preschool years.

Other optional Nature Study books suitable for Pre-K and up:

Handwriting

Next school year, we will likely begin to use pencil and paper while continuing to use chalkboard and chalk for handwriting.

I recently posted lots of info about our handwriting methods and materials:

-Use a chalkboard! Whether starting to print or do cursive, don’t let your child’s handwriting be chicken scratch on paper or the whiteboard. Everyday, your child is forming either chicken scratch habits or beautiful letter formation habits that may persist for a lifetime. The roughness of chalkboards provide the necessary tactile feedback for optimal letter formation.

-Use small chalk bits! Small writing utensils force children to use the correct tripod grip. An incorrect grip practiced for too long can be hard to change later. Even coloring matters–use small broken crayons to encourage the tripod grip. Always correct an incorrect grip so that a poor habit does not become engrained. When a child is ready to switch to pencil and paper for handwriting, do not use regular pencils or jumbo size kindergarten pencils, use golf size pencils. Small hands require small tools in order to write correctly. The weight of large pencils make the tripod grip more difficult.

-Two lines are the easiest format for writing. The standard three line kindergarten paper is very confusing for children, and very unnecessary. Make your own wide ruled two line paper if you want. Otherwise, two line paper, chalk bits, and two line chalkboards can be purchased at Handwriting without Tears.

-We choose to learn handwriting through one theme relevant word a month, rather than writing a string of letters one letter at a time, because it makes handwriting more meaningful. Review of known letters is automatically built in as well, which is great! By writing words rather than letters, the children see that handwriting is for the purpose of making words, which is for the purpose of reading. That is satisfying. We are in no hurry to try get all 26 letters covered in a certain time frame anyway.

-I started doing a mini lesson every time before the children write because I realized they need to be drilled in order to remember some things (and it makes handwriting practice go much smoother):

-I ask, “What letter comes first, next, next, last?,” to push them to recall the spelling of a word without looking at a reference. They were previously not remembering the spelling of a word after a whole month of practicing writing it. Children need to be able to close their eyes and visualize a word in order to be good spellers–so start this habit of observation now!

-I ask, “Where does ‘b’ start?” “Now what do I do?” (go down, up, over, and around) “Where does ‘i’ start?” “Now what do I do?” and so on. The correct starting point of each letter is the hardest thing to remember about each letter and requires special mention every time.

-I point out an area of concern if necessary: today, Noah I want you to work on making your ‘b’ and ‘d’ bellies nice and fat rather than skinny. Today, Tayler I want you to make sure your letters don’t have too much space in between.

-During practice time, the children use my written word sample as a reference while they are writing, even tracing my letters on my chalkboard first if needed to recall directionality. But they do little tracing because usually after all this thorough instruction, they do not require me to write letters on their board to trace, they just take off writing all on their own!

Habit Training

We will continue to choose one habit/character trait per moth to work on as a whole family. I would love to have this little Simply Charlotte Mason goody for teaching habits of good character.

Foreign Language

Whenever I think of it, I am going to throw in Spanish vocabulary here and there as we go about our day, just for fun. I may pull out my old Spanish textbook, if I can find it, so that I can brush up on “items around the house” type of vocabulary. Dean can help me out here since he speaks some Spanish to his crew at work everyday.

Geography

Since we are studying American history, we will follow the stories and journeys of our historical figures across the map of the US. I am talking about really simple geography here–simply pointing out the names of relevant states on a map and thats about it. Our map may in fact be a place mat of the US that we already own.

Handicrafts

We will just have fun with hands on crafts that may be related to a theme, a holiday, a season, or are done just because! Here is a great list of handicrafts to get you thinking.

Miss Mason’s students practiced “various handicrafts that he may know the feel of wood, clay, leather, and the joy of handling tools, that is, that he may establish a due relation with materials…”About the role of daily handiwork in her schools she wrote: The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as “pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like”; that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not allowed.

Poetry, Art Appreciation, and Music Appreciation

Last, but not least, is the humanities, refreshingly central to a Charlotte Mason education. Charlotte Mason believed that children deserved direct contact with the best art.The great ideas of men and women of history are revealed in their works, whether paintings or writings or music.To quote Miss Mason, “Ideas must reach us directly from the mind of the thinker, and it is chiefly by the means of the books they have written that we get in touch with the best minds.” This includes all forms of human expression–paintings, poetry, music, dance, etc. This is why Charlotte said the Bible and “varied human reading as well as the appreciation of the humanities (culture) is not a luxury, a tidbit, to be given to children now and then, but their very bread of life.”

Welcome Back to School, my 2012-2013 curriculum post will show you how simple it is to incorporate humanities in preschool.

Phew! That’s it! So after all that, maybe you wonder, what else am I going to have to do once kindergarten starts!?! Nothing much actually–these are all the same areas Charlotte Mason kindergarteners study, just a little more in depth. The major difference in preschool is that I will require essentially little to no narration, but in kinder, Noah will be required to narrate back to me everything I read to him. If you are able to introduce all these areas of study listed for Pre-K, you will fly right into kindergarten without breaking a sweat. Go ahead and get your feet wet this year, and you will be so thankful for the ease with which you are able to start up your official homeschool kindergarten.

Basic Budget for Pre-K

So how much will this coming year of homeschool cost?

Necessary Books

The Child’s Story Bible $18

Delightful Reading $50

Developing Number Concepts $38

_________________________

Total: $106 

(+ shipping)

Very affordable for private school! The rest of the curriculum is optional and so purchasing more books than the “necessary ones” may depend on one’s budget. Plus, many books can be checked out for free from the library.

.

See Part II: Getting Ready for School!

 Pretty Good Handwriting for Mid-Month

IMG_9799

IMG_9795

Planting Tomatoes

IMG_9851

Planting a Giant Pumpkin

IMG_9871

Planting Sunflowers

IMG_9879

Building Our Playhouse

Scarlet Runner Beans and Birdhouse Gourds are planted at the bottom of each tree stake, and will hopefully cover the playhouse as the grow up.

IMG_9888

Simple Pleasures

IMG_9905

Cute Clay Mushrooms for the Garden

IMG_9923

Our First Crop Harvested

IMG_9930

Cooking Project: Cream, Berries, Honey, and Stevia “Frozen Yogurt”.

IMG_9953

Art Project: Sunflowers

IMG_9976

Look at Me Grow!

IMG_9978


3 responses to “Fabulous Fours and Fives!

  1. Katrina says:

    Wow, you are doing a great job! We didn’t manage quite that much when we did Kindergarten 🙂 Do you still have the math book? I have a 4 yr old that I would love to use it with next year.

    • Miss Lynn says:

      Thank you Katrina! We are looking forward to doing Pre-K next fall and trying to fit it all into a couple mornings a week. I am glad you asked, but the math book has already found another home. 🙂

  2. Tara Hannon says:

    So happy to have two of those little mushrooms living at my house… our garden is so overgrown, we had to move them inside to a more prominent shelf position! lol

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: