Communicating with others is done in many ways. Experience Curriculum did a fantastic job of giving us so many super fun Make & Play crafts.
One of the most popular is with a phone. We made cell phones. They decorated the back of them just like a fancy phone cover. We glued on the number pad and they made a phone book. It was so fun watching them use their phones. They were all taking pictures of each other. And they posed for the pictures.
A child’s imagination is a grand thing!
Another Make & Play for communication with others was a computer. They loved making laptops. They decorated the outside and one boy decided he wanted to draw his own picture on the inside instead of using the picture provided.
They played with them the rest of the day. They emailed each other and shopped online. It was really funny to hear the roll play. They would tell someone “I sent you a message!” One girl told her friend “Stop sending me so many messages!”
The children took their computers home but it was so fun that I want to have it as a play option daily. We have some extra supplies that I’m going to make a few more for them to use, along with some extra cell phones. I am contemplating laminating them to make them hold up longer.
Sometimes pretend play is a whole lot more fun AND beneficial than technology. I encourage you to give it a try.
While learning about how we communicate with each other, we talked about sending and receiving mail! That is somewhat of a lost art but we should bring it back.
The children decorated the front of a postcard, we get one each month in our curriculum. The older children write a small note to someone special on the other side and chose someone to mail it to. Each day we have a coloring picture that has our daily topic in English and Spanish.
Those were the highlights of the week. Next week we will be wrapping up our Friends & Feeling unit and preparing for our October theme!
We fully believe that everyone, children and adults alike, thrive with a routine. But we also believe in spontaneity and changing things up if we see the need for greater learning or a child would benefit from it. We have created these schedules for our classes as a guide. These are updated schedules as of 9/14/21.
The first four weeks of school we played around with the new routine and getting used to some new ways off doing things. We found what works for our group and what doesn't. We made some changes to our schedule because of that. That is the beauty of how our school is able to function and change to meet each student's needs.
Our Morning Classes have all the academic subjects before lunch time and it allows you to add some extra curricular activities to the afternoon and evening to round out their week. Find the ones that your child really enjoys and wants to participate in. We don't always do every subject each day during the 9:45-11:30 time frame. Some days a student may want to do extra of a subject and we will let them. That may mean they will do a different subject in it's place the following day. If a student is really enjoying an activity or subject and wants to dig a bit deeper, we encourage that. A child learns best when it is something they are excited and curious about. A student is never behind here because we work at their pace. We have found that children thrive in that type of environment. They often exceed typical standards. We do encourage them to do more but never force it if we see them struggling or getting frustrated. We allow them to take breaks and come back to it when they are ready.
This approach is more of a homeschool approach and we have found it works best with our own children and the many that we have taught over the years.
Our Full Day Classes are available on a case by case basis, mostly for working parents. The children have the same schedule as the morning classes but we serve lunch at noon after the morning students depart. They have a quiet time, a second outside time and more center and table top activities to fill the afternoon before departing.
On Fridays, the children will be rewarded for their hard work all week. We will play board games or card games. We will change them up each week so they learn how to play a variety off games as we find the ones they enjoy the most. We will play the regular games we all enjoyed as children mixed with some fun learning games.
There may be Fridays were we have a school party and do a movie at naptime. Or we may decide to create with small Legos the entire day! Fridays will be our fun day, no matter what we decide to do. Our basic plan is to have a game day. There may be games a longer amount of time than on our schedule. We will play Friday by ear each week. If you have a fun game to suggest, please let us know!
We are excited for this new school year and all the changes that come with it. Our curriculum is working out great and we are slowly adding in new subjects and elements to our classes.
If you would like to schedule a tour for your student, we do have some morning class options available. We schedule tours on certain Saturday mornings.
We spent the week talking about different feelings. The main ones that our Experience Curriculum focused on were Happy, Sad, Mad, Surprised and Scared.
We made mirrors for our Make & Play activity. We talked about how our face changes when we feel different emotions. We practiced making those faces. They were each given a large wavy craft stick, a blue card stock rectangle and a small mirror board. They decorated the craft stick and the blue card stock before gluing everything together. We added some small pieces of tape to hold the mirror board down because it wasn't sticking around the corners as well as we needed it to.
They used markers because, well, they LOVE markers! You can use anything you want. You can use sequence or glitter if you want. These kids pick markers over just about anything, except paint.
In our Creative Corner we made Picasso Portraits. They really got a kick out of the inspiration photo with the face all mixed up. The children used a mirror to look at their own faces. We talked about the features they saw and about the shapes our faces are made up of.
They were each given a background paper and we divided up our different shape pieces on two cookie sheets so each child could pick the ones they wanted to use. They were encouraged to make a face or whatever they wanted with the shapes. One of the first graders made something that looked like a face at the end of the project. The others wanted to add more shapes and they didn't look as much like a face when they were done. But with this activity, like all of our Invitation to Create projects, we don't stop them from doing their own thing.
Each month we learn three new letters and Experience Curriculum includes a Little Letter Book for each one. Each book has four simple pages to color. The cover has the upper and lower case letter and a place for the child's name. We staple the booklets together. You can choose to let the children get some cutting practice in or you can cut it and staple them before the children arrive. This is just one of the literacy tools included in our curriculum each month. At the end of the school year, the children will have booklets for the entire alphabet.
This month, the kids didn't just get the monthly journal. They also got a Feelings Book. They were encouraged to draw a picture on each page of the different emotions. We like to keep our journals ready to work on throughout the month, so we had those out at the same time. We enjoy giving the children the freedom to work as much or as little in them during our table time. This book will also be used throughout the month. Both will be sent home at the end of week four.
We started out our month of Friends & Feelings talking about Making Friends! Even our youngest students understand just how important having and being a good friend is. One day we made Friend Puppets. Some kids made clothes for their puppets and some just used markers to color on it. and some only put eyes on them. We just let them do it however they chose.
An Invitation to Create activity was the I Am Special Tree. They each started out with their hand/arm as the trunk and branches. Then they had to decided what kind of tree to make. We were given large red circles so once they were finished with the trees they all wanted to add the red circles to them.
There were several students out this week. I am going to give the other students an opportunity to complete this activity because it is one I want to have in everyone's portfolio. I will be putting together a special combination of activities for each child to have at the end off the school year. Each week I will pick one or two things to add to it.
Experience Curriculum offers several resources that we can download each month. It is only available to those who have purchase that month's curriculum. One off them is 20 coloring pictures that go along with each day's theme. We change up what we use to color them with. Sometimes it is crayons, colored pencils, markers and sometimes water colors. We use this as a transition activity so teachers can get the next big project ready while they color. We talk about the days topic while they are coloring the picture.
We have so many different learning activities that the children work with while we are helping other students in the upper grades. Our kinder and first grade classes sit at the big table and we take turns instructing and guiding each student where they are. We don't make them rush to be caught up or ahead of other students.
We had our first graders use the Word Building Blocks to spell their spellings words or any word they wanted. When they needed help, we would assist them. I think they enjoy this was because it is similar to actual lego blocks. It is great because the red are vowels and the blue are consonants. I think it is great when they want to know why Y isn't red since "sometimes y" is part off what they learned. I have to remind them it says "sometimes" not always.
Next week we will be talking about Feelings. We will also be talking about how the children can help others understand what they are feelings and healthy ways to deal with it.
Getting ready for a new month is always fun. It is especially fun when September rolls around because that is when our foundational curriculum starts their new year. This is year four with Experience Early Learning Curriculum and we couldn't be happier with it. They have curriculum for babies and toddlers but we use their preschool curriculum. We have found that is works perfectly for all ages in our school. We can simplify an activity for a younger student or we can make it more challenging for an older one.
Every month we get a new calendar. There are little pieces with the numbers on them that we add to the calendar each day. I decided I wanted the children to be able to see all of the numbers and match the one needed, for the younger students. I love the fact that Spanish words are added throughout the curriculum. We will be adding even more on our own as the year progresses.
Last year, Experience Curriculum gave us this wonderful weather board set and we are going to continue to use it. The kids love to choose what sticks to put each day. Sometimes they use more than one. Sometimes they change it out if it stops or starts raining. Under it we put our monthly poster. This month its all about feelings! The kids get to tell us how they are feeling each day.
As you can see, our I Can Read book, magnets, monthly book and puzzle all go along with the feelings theme. I love how we get new ones each month. We may put away our other material each month so we can put up a new theme but we always keep these resources available for the children to use over and over any time off the year. The monthly puzzle is the perfect size for a three year old to learn with. We have 37 of them! We keep our magnets in ziplock bags and use them on small trays when we need something quiet to do in between activities.
If you have seen our school library, you know we have a huge amount of books for all subject and levels. Experience Curriculum gives us two books a month to add to our library. We always put it on this special book rack and add the other books that go with our different daily topics. We have our two Spanish words books, our Sign Language book, books about friends and about the different feelings we are talking about. We try to read two or three books throughout the day.
We hung our Sign Language ABC chart above our book rack and put the word cards that came in September's box around it. As we go through the school year, we will add new word into our daily routine in a natural way. Just like explaining any word we teach the children to speak, we will add how to sign it. So fun!
I hope you will check back in September to see the fun things we are doing.
A new school year always brings such excitement for me. One thing I love most about being a teacher is getting to find and provide the very best curriculum and resources for my students. I made some upgrades this year. One of them was to create a new parent handbook. I wanted to put everything a parent needed all in one place. It has dates for each semester, closed dates, parties, PNO dates, field trips, birthdays, student list, a calendar to write in all the dates needed for school and personal to each family. It has our daily schedule, monthly themes, our book order information, some fundraising information and a copy of our policies and procedures. These will ONLY be handed out to currently enrolled parents. Each school year, parents will get an updated copy of this booklet. I've gotten great responses from our parents about it.
I got a new teacher planner for this year and if I like it as much as I think I will, I will be getting a new one every year. Not Consumed is such an amazing company. She has provided a Planning Boot Camp to help use the planner to it's full potential and to help you get your thought and goals straight. I am so excited to get started, since our full blown school schedule doesn't start until September. We are taking it a bit at a time to introduce one or two new things each day.
I loved the idea of the Student Planner from Not Consumed but I wanted a way to add or subtract pages to make it fit our students. I chose the digital copy. I love the fact that I get a free update every year! I created a student planner for our kindergarten and first grade students. It helps teach them responsibility for getting their work done and teaches them accountability. This will be the only place for lesson planning for each student. My planner will not contain those elements. Since I printed and bound ours, I added some other pages for the students, including a birthday list, and I put the weekly plan pages in between each month's calendar. This is a work in progress but it is something we are all excited about. Every school year the children will gain more and more independence with that student planner and their work.
We have been happily using Experience Early Learning Curriculum for years! We start year four in September. I started partnering with them during our second year by sharing MORE about our wonderful materials in exchange for curriculum.
Last year I found this wonderful 2-tier metal rolling file cart to sort my curriculum in a way that I could use it with ease. This cart is on wheels so I can drag it from room to room, and I have many times. I have several different color folders. I have a few for the basic things like teacher books, circle time props and extras. There are 20 folders that are numbered 1-20. I have four different colors, one color per week. I just open my box and start sorting. I take a look at each and every element so I get a small glimpse of each day. I will separate the readers, journals, books, puzzle and magnets, along with the bulky supplies. The extra supplies go in the small basket on the bottom. The readers and journals go in a basket next to the lamp. I have extra files below to hold holiday themes and extras.
Since we became a full private school with Kindergarten and Early Elementary, I have expounded on our learning resources. Last year we found The Good and The Beautiful Curriculum. They have been doing updates on certain books but they also did a completely new MATH program that was released just in time for this school year.
We use their Language Arts for all ages. They are updating their preschool LA and that will be ready at the end of August. They are updating the LA Primer early next year so our 4 year old class will be able to do the updated version starting in August of 2022. We always have our students complete the Primer before starting the level K so they are grounded. The Kinder students this year are doing the old version before going on to the level K. It is advanced curriculum so they aren't behind. We are just building a strong foundation for them to build upon.
We are adding their Science to our line up this year. We just got our first two Science units. We will start with Energy, followed by Water and Our World! There are so many topics that we will do over the course of the years and will repeat some as the children enter higher grades. There are some off these courses that are being redone so we are trying to wait until some of them have been updated before choosing them.
Their Handwriting curriculum is something we do for all ages. The 3 and 4 year old's have books that they just learn how to draw lines and loops so that keeps it fun. I purchased a comb binder to make all of these great planners and workbooks. It was a great investment. I like the coil better but that is much most costly and this suited my purposes.
I wasn't sure how I was going to store all of these workbooks during times they weren't being used. BUT then I remembered I had these cloth baskets under the reading bench in the library. It is perfect! I have one more basket that I am probably going to get them to put their science journals and planners in.
Each afternoon the children gather in the den for rest time. We read out of a chapter book. We started the school year off with Misty of Chincoteague. We have already watched some videos of the actual island that the horses live on and the "pony penning day". After we finish this book, we will watch the movie, Misty. We will continue reading the books in this series before going on to another series. We have several picked out for the school year. Books are a HUGE part of our school.
We acquired a beautiful, large table this past year. It has been perfect for our older students to work at. It leaves our smaller table for the younger kids and gives the big kids lot of room to work. After we did our handwriting books, the kids got small chalk boards and colored chalk to work with.
We will be adding things into our schedule a little at a time over the next few weeks. This will give the kids time to adjust to doing school in a workbook but also sitting and concentrating for longer periods of time.
We got out the clay one day and they just enjoyed cutting it and mixing the colors. It is simple things like this that break up the day and give them something different to do while also working their fine motor skills and getting their focus on creating. At this age, they very rarely actually end up with something to keep other than a ball of clay. And that is okay!
Our Math Boxes finally got here. Check out the video because it tells about the math program but also shows the math boxes. The kids had such a ball doing math with them. The brand new math is advanced so we are going through at least some, if not all of the Level K Math with our first graders, too. We don't want them to miss any of the concepts in it. It is a spiral math concept. Watch the video to find out more about it. If it is too easy on some pages, we will skip them. As long as they are having fun and learning we will not worry about the letter or number on the cover.
We had several of our students out this week. So our class was small. We are hoping our other students will be back soon. We do still have several spots for new students, if you know of someone who needs a private school with a homeschool approach.
You can always follow us on IG and FB for daily updates on our activities. Have a great weekend!
This week we told the stories of Paul Bunyan. We talked about how silly the stories became as they went along. I told the kids how you could tell when a story was made up because things just sounded off. This story is part of the Folktales & Fables for August.
We are provided with four amazing teacher's guides each month, plus five lessons and supplies to go with each of those books, for a total of 20 lessons each month. I've done a post about how I organize my supplies each month but I will be posting an updated version next month.
We also get a cute I Can Read book for each student with words and pictures to create sentences from the book. The kids love those. We always keep one with our site word pointers in a basket so the children can read them over and over any time off the year.
Each day this week there was a "chapter" of his story with stories pieces that the kids could look at and hold while I told the story. Visuals are so important to children and visual learners, like myself. Experience Early Learning Curriculum gives us so much quality each month that we always have more than enough to keep our preschoolers and early elementary students engaged.
One off the table top activities was the strip puzzles. There were four of them. We decided for the first graders we would put them all in a pile and time them to see how fast they could put all four together without them being sorted first. I love that with our curriculum I can find ways to adjust the difficulty and challenge to fit a wide range of children's ages and abilities.
I hope you have enjoyed a small look into our class and core curriculum. This is the foundation for ALL of our classes. We use the themes and crafts for all of our students. We change things up to fit each age and grade, from 3 to 1st grade.
Next month is our Friends & Feelings month. We started back to school this week but we ease into our new school year during August so that we don't make the kids feel pressured since our summer camps are less formal. We add in core subjects for Kinder and above. This year we have a first grade class. Each year we will add on an additional grade.
Check out our latest Newsletter to keep up with all the happenings! We share all about our curriculum and the first half of the years schedule.
We started off our Tree week of EcoVenture by going on a nature walk to the park that is just a couple off blocks from our school. They loved finding sticks along the walk. It is a newly remodeled park with a new rec center and library. There is a small pond that runs across it.
This park has been around for a long time and the roots of the trees have grown UP instead of down. The kids were walking on them as we talked about how the roots spread out from the tree as the tree gets taller. We also looked at the different lines on the roots and talked about how trees have rings that tell their age. Experience Curriculum focused on that one of the days this week.
On our walk the kids gathered pinecones to build a bird feeder with. We talked about "Building With Trees" and how we use the wood to build homes and furniture.
A Make & Play craft for the day we talked about Climbing Trees was a koala puppet. There drew the eyes and mouth, glued cotton balls to the tummy and nose and ears on the head. There hand fit into the two pieces that we taped together.
Our curriculum comes with fun games and activities each month. This week we took our the tree shape poster and foam shapes. The kids had so much fun matching them that we left it as an option the rest off the month.
The children created a Tree Story and then dictated it for us to write below their picture. They did such a great job. They were told to draw themselves IN the tree. They decided to put themselves at the very top of their tree.
I hope you enjoyed out week about trees. We will be closed next week. We will return the following week with more fun adventures!
Our July theme is EcoVenture and it is going to be filled with hands on fun. We are actually closed for one week of July but we will touch on all four topics during the time we do have together.
I love that each week we have a different teachers guide and it is filled with so many great things. Every day has two pages but there are also pages with extras that we can do. We will be learning more about Trees, Air, Water and Dirt. Experience Early Learning Curriculum really covers everything they need to know at this age and even my early elementary students get so much out of it. We build on the lessons where we see we can or need to.
Experience Curriculum always puts in a great music CD and the words to the songs. They even offer videos to go along with the songs. We enjoy playing the songs while we are working on activities and then a song here and there when it is time for that specific one in our lesson.
Our monthly theme poster is always filled with cute pictures of children and animals. The I Spy "glasses" are kept pinned next to it so the kids can play with it any time.
This month's I Can Read book is called I Wash. They get to build sentences with the words and pictures and find the words that match inside the book. Each child gets to take a book home each month.
Our Forest Friends Book this month is Pond Party. They get some cut outs to use while recreating the story themselves but I also use them when I am telling the story.
This month our magnets, book, and puzzle are about nature. Our journal is a book they will use to collect nature items and they even have another little nature book to work in. Like I said, lots of very hands-on activities this month and that isn't even the daily crafts and other things!
Check back later for more EcoVenture fun!