Kindergarten Curriculum for this fall

Not Back to School Blog Hop
UPDATED POST: I spent several weeks this summer trying to decide what curriculum to use with Petra this fall 2011. She is 3.5 years old – will be 4 years old on November 18th. As I accessed her abilities and the choices that lie ahead, I pretty much decided she is either already working at a kindergartner level, or at a minimum ready for kindergarten work.

There is a quick at-home online assessment you can give your child to find out if they are ready provided by Covenant Home Curriculum. Petra knows all her letters, sounds, numbers up to 20, is starting to count by tens to 100, understands books meant for ages 4-8, is reading lots and lots of words, understands phonics and is whizzing through her reading lessons, can count objects, can identify all her shapes and colors, can jump on one foot, is pretty good at cartwheels, can memorize lengthy scripture verses and poems, knows a ton of songs and can sing them by heart, and can practically recite the Tale of Peter Rabbit word for word.

Where she is lacking is social skills. She is still having a hard time playing with other children kindly …and we are really working on this. Thomas and I have refocused our efforts to encourage positive behaviors and we are already seeing the fruit from the changes. But she can get upset easily, complain, whine and hit–all within a matter of moments. But she is three, and that is pretty common. She gets overwhelmed quickly by her emotions. As a result of this, and well just realizing the plain need (which is not particular to our children), we are working on some habit and trait training with our children.

But the  really nice thing about homeschooling is that she might not be socially ready for kindergarten, she IS GETTING there, however she is definitely academically ready. So we are moving ahead at home. We have planned to homeschool since we’ve been married. There has never been another option for us. So this isn’t a surprise. We will be using the CLASSICAL METHOD. But as I research more I think we will be using a lot of CHARLOTTE MASON methods in these early years especially.

This summer I have spent time on helping Petra with her reading and writing. When picking out curriculum I wanted to be sure I wasn’t pushing it too hard. If she was going into a school setting she wouldn’t be starting kindergarten this year, not even next year, but it would be the following year (in the fall of 2013) when she would start. So its early. So after looking very closely at samples of the materials online, I feel very confident nothing that I have ordered will be too difficult for her. In fact, after ordering it online, and now receiving it, some of it may be too easy.

So here is the down low of what we plan to cover this year: Reading, writing, math, music, science, Bible, art/drawing, history and geography.

And here are the books and curriculum we will be mainly using. (or at least the attempted plan =)


  • Leading Little ones to God by Marian M Schoolland and some other biblical books will be used for Bible studies. Thomas plans to work on character training with them after lunch each day. I don’t think we have a resource yet for this.
  • Tots on a mission at Totally Tots – Free online resource that will help them learn about and pray for others in the world. I want to find ways to focus on serving others. We will be doing participating in Operation Christmas Child, but I also want to find some other ways to help those in our community.


  • Usborn Lift the Flap Picture Atlas – to help introduce them to geography. I’m not sure how useful this will be. We just received it this week and Thomas did not like it. Both Petra and Jasper (who is 2.5 years old) had a blast lifting the flaps.
  • A Street Through Time – a book to help introduce them to historical changes in society.


  • Five in a Row – I love this book and how it teaches science, art, history and other subjects through children’s literature. UPDATE – I decided to hold off on this book 1 year, maybe half a year – I think we will get more out of it if both Petra and Jasper are a little older. Plus I don’t want to pay for it at the moment.
  • All About Spelling – Level 1 – I had originally thought about holding off on this book until December. However, after seeing that Petra can sound out and spell most 3-letter words without assistance, we will be moving forward right away with this great resource. The first half of the book is spelling 3 letter words, so this shouldn’t be complicated for her.
  • Zaner-Boser Handwriting – student edition K – this is a really cute workbook to help Petra with her handwriting skills. It came in the mail today, she opened it up and started on it right away. She can already write most her letters, but needs to improve. This book looks like it will encourage her to be more careful when she writes.
  • Beginning Readers – we purchased our first set of Bob Books from Sams. But Petra moved so quickly through them that we will be using the library a LOT for additional beginner readers.
  • The Parent’s Ordinary Guide to Teaching Reading – we will definitely be continuing lessons from this book. I would recommend it to anyone. Reading is going smoothly and Petra is doing great. She is beginning to read signs and packages everywhere we go. She is somewhere around lesson 60 as I type this and I can’t believe how well she is doing. She asks for it daily.



  • Piano lessons at home using Alfred’s Little Mozart Piano Book
  • Gymnastics lessons will be continuing twice a week. She started pre-team this summer.
  • She has asked for violin lessons and ballet lessons for a while. We may start her in ballet this winter. But I think violin lessons will have to wait another year. I think starting her at a more mature 4 years old may be a better idea anyway. Ballet is on hold until she can follow directions better at gymnastics and learn to get along with others in a more mature way (ie, no biting, kicking, touching, etc)



We will continue with our normal workbox materials for Jasper.  He loves his workboxes so that is not changing. I would love to use some online resources – but alas our printer has no ink. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. His workboxes regularly include:

  1. An assortment of Kumon workbooks – letters, numbers, mazes
  2. Puzzles
  3. Manipulatives
  4. Tracing practice
  5. Letter writing practice
  6. And other stuff


Preschool – Fish, Ducks, and other water animals, and the rest

Our excursion to the Ochlockonee River on July 4th began our July preschool studies on fish, ducks, clams, and other water animals. You can see the previous post, but quickly in summary that trip included clamming, fishing, and a day on the river.








I tried to tie in fish and similar activities when possible. We spent time:

  • Cooking and Eating Clams
  • Bath time and lots of fun with empty clam shells  – chomp chomp!
  • Cutting up and eating sushi
  • Going to the pool and practicing swimming like fish
  • Counting with sea shells
  • Painting seashells
  • We even found a turtle in the backyard

And we read several books on the matter including:

  • Ducks Don’t Get Wet (Let’s Read and Find Out Science Book) by Augusta Goldin- this science book had a neat experiment that helped the children learn that oil and water do not mix.
  • About Fish – A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill
  • 25 Fish Every Child Should Know by Jim Arnosky
  • Great White Shark
  • Clams All Year by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
  • Tadpoles and Frogs – Usborne Begginers
  • Starfish (Let’s Read and Find Out Science Book) by Edith Thacher Hurd
  • The Story about Ping – A story about a duck on the Yangtze River. I followed directions from Five in a Row on this book and we had a great time discovering this book in greater detail. This was the first time I’ve used Five in a Row and really loved it. In addition, the children both thought this was a fabulous book and asked me to read it to them daily.

And of course we topped the activities off with a visit to the pet store to buy some pet fish! The children enjoyed looking at all the animals, but weren’t that interested in picking out a fish. At that point they thought stacking cans of cat food into a tower was much more fun. At home their interest piqued when we started putting together the 5 gallon fish tank we bought and then they both wanted to help. The first day we bought a small tank and a beta fish. The next day I went back for two more fish. We had quite a few rough days with fish and preschoolers. I would highly recommend buying a tank with a lid – ours doesn’t have one. All but one of the fish survived the first week – and that one wasn’t happy with the move and  jumped out of the water the first night home.











We’ve read a ton of other books this month from the library-I’ve been checking out about 20 books every other week. Some of their favorites include:

Bats at the Ball Game by Brian Lies.  WE love, love this book. This book is fantastically written and tells the story of bats playing baseball at night. The pages unfold in perfect rhythm to explain the game, and even mention the star-spangled banner and the song “take me out to the ball park.” When I get to these pages I pause reading and belt out the full song. This is a big hit with the children. I was worried at first the children wouldn’t understand the concepts of what is happening in the poem, but I think they caught on more than I expected. And they love the singing.

We loved this book so much we went out and ran around a baseball field.








Grandma Joyner gave them a Collection of Beatrix Potter Books – the children are in love with The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, and I love reading it. One of my absolute favorite children’s books and I am so thankful our kids feel the same way about it. And I can’t stop laughing at the Tale of Benjamin Bunny. I found this one also on a read along from the library and we’ve listened to it a few times. The children have started quoting lines from this book over the last week. Hearing a sudden “Stop, thief” from their mouth’s or some other phrase is not that uncommon. Petra also has mentioned several times that she is going to (pretend) eat a butterfly sandwich.

Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale by Leo and Diane Dillon – I found this in a read along version also at the library. And we have really enjoyed it night after night. The narration and sounds in the book are fabulous. And I’m hoping the children see how disaster occurred from one small lie and are able to learn some application from it.

Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia is a great trucks and tractor book. Jasper really likes to read it and asks for it over and over. And its simple enough for Petra to read most of it to us. It works great for both of them!
And last but not least, Who Sank the Boat by Pamela Allen is a cute little book that always gets Petra chuckling. It introduces the concept of balance to the children as several large animals try to pile in a small row boat.

And other preschool activities continue.

Jasper had a great time one afternoon with this little setup of “houses” (as he calls them) and animals. And Petra is continuing with her reading lessons. In this lesson I wrote the words on the board, she read them, then I had her had the letter “s” and reread the words. She definitely enjoys reading lessons more when they are more interactive and she gets to participate with the writing.

Braving Fresh Water in Florida

This summer marks my 9th year in Florida and the FIRST TIME I’ve stepped foot a body of fresh water. Thomas and I have stayed clear of fresh water for one reason only….ALLIGATORS. We have no desire to get near any of them. We hear stories of people jogging and getting eaten by gators. Thomas saw one on the golf course one day. And well, it just doesn’t seem very smart to get yourself, your dogs, or your children anywhere near them.

Now, true Floridians have no problem getting close to gators. My little tiny boss loves to go gator gigging each year (now I’m no expert, but from what I understand this means she hunts one at night and bops them on top of the head and then pulls them on the boat with her). She spends nearly every day on the river. I asked her if the gators were nearby, “on the other side of the rock” was her reply. Now consider the fact that she is probably sitting on this rock sunning and I think maybe you will see my point that is is probably wisest to stay away (that is if you aren’t a Floridian).

But it seems like everyday this is becoming more and more like home. And well, Thomas and I BRAVED our first river excursion on July 4th with our close friends the Clark’s and got our feet wet in the Ochlockonee River. And it was worth it. NO GATORS in sight. Instead, there was CLAM DIGGING. Hot DOG roasting. FISHING. and lots of FUN. We found some very large mussels, caught some fish, and the kids played in the water. And we also found a Georgia Thumper. This is the big bug Jasper is holding in the pictures below — I had never seen one before. In one of the other pictures below, Jasper is holding an earth worm. When it was time to go, 5 hours later, Jasper was sad and asked to stay.

That night we let the kids try out some very large sparklers (under close supervision). That was cool.

And this marked the beginning of our preschool studies into fish and other water animals.

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Back from Vacation – Part 4

The middle of our trip, in the middle of NC where I grew up, Durham, NC, was stocked with entertainment and activities for the children. This was a very important part of our trip because 1) it included a visit with my oldest sister, and 2) we were able to visit another church, and 3) we visited places that I love that I haven’t been to for years.

First stop was church on Sunday morning. And the preaching was excellent.

Next stop, Duke Gardens. My favorite time to go has always been in the spring to see the hundreds of tulips in bloom, but this place is absolutely remarkable any time of year. It was delightful to walk through this place again. I love the gardens and could have spent hours walking around looking at everything. But since we had a party of about 10 we headed through the main park and over to the fields for a picnic dinner. The children had a blast trying to learn how to roll down a hill from their older cousin.

I tried my best to get some good pictures of them to frame. I tried to get a few photos with pretty flowers in the background.  Children have a mind of their own.

But all in all, I’m very happy with these next two shots.

Thomas and Jasper appeared to work on a synchronized routine.

On the way back to the car we saw two joggers without shirts on. In a heartbeat Jasper wanted to slip his shirt off; I guess this looked like the cool way to get back to the car. It always amazes me how quickly he wants to imitate grown men.

Another full day was spent at the Museum of Life and Science which I haven’t visited since I was about 9 years old. Time changes a lot. And in this case, a whole lot. What once to be a pretty small science museum surprisingly now is an all-day event, taking a full-day if you want to see it all. Our trip to the museum was perfectly priced – free for the family – because we have a annual family pass to our local science museum. And now I can honestly say it is worth it.

We have been to several children’s science museums and we can say this has been the best so far, by a long shot. And definitely worth making a trip for.

I’m not even sure to begin. There were animals, outdoor play areas, a train, indoor exhibits, a dinosaur trail, a butterfly house and so much more.

Back from Vacation – Part 5

We made a whirlwind of a trip to western Virginia to visit my sister for a couple days. We arrived the day she was moving in to a new house: there were boxes everywhere. While it probably wasn’t the best time for company; we were able to help her get the moving truck back to the rental shop over an hour away (I completely forgot this is what happens when you live in the middle of nowhere. I always seem to like the idea of living in the country, but when it comes down to it there are a ton of inconveniences – like it takes half a day to return a rental truck. Not to mention the dangers of driving a big rental truck through mountainous terrain.) This may sound blunt, but to be honest, these inconveniences plus the looks we got in McDonalds for our two biracial children, has me pretty much swearing off western Virginia for any possible relocation in the future.

But I am sucker for country life so it was nice to experience a different area for a few days. And I love my sister’s new garden. It was like none I had seen before, with little hills arranged in geometric shapes. Very calming. And the river running swiftly behind her house also added to the restfulness.

About the only trail hiking we did was here, we actually hiked up the side of a small mountain. The trail included about a zillion (or maybe 300) steps.  Jasper stormed up the side, while Petra took her time talking about how much work it was. And on the way down we had to hold tightly to their hands so they wouldn’t slip as it was very steep with loose gravel.









We rarely see our family, so the two days we had with my sister and her three-year-old son was a treasure.

Then off we headed, through the mountains, across Appalachian territory, over a few miles of the blue ridge parkway, to grandmother’s house we go.

Petra @3.5 years

Do these shoes work with this dress? These are the words coming out of my 3 year old’s mouth. Suddenly she is more concerned with style than in the past. In fact, she won’t even wear shorts or pants. Only dresses. And my room seems to be the new favorite place to play. She pulls shirts out by the lot and tries them all on, then throws them to the ground to try some more.

I’ve been a delayed posting about Petra’s milestones. I’m trying to stick to a post about each child every 6 months. Petra was 3.5 years in May. But these posts are always so hard because I feel like I need to capture the entire child in one post – and that is simply impossible. I started to put a list together of everything I wanted to say, and after filling it up….I misplaced it.

But put simply: The girl couldn’t be more girly if she tried. Dresses, lipgloss, heels, and earrings top the list of her favorite things to wear. And you won’t catch her on a bike. Nope, not her. Not even if 10 children are outside all riding bikes together. She’s happy just to stand around, watch and cheer. Instead painting, swinging, and reading are some of her favorite activities. She also likes to help cook and clean in the kitchen. Usually cleaning equates to playing in a sinkful of soapy water – but it keeps her occupied and having fun.

She is loud. She makes awful noises just for the fun of it. Screaming is a delight…for her that is, not for the rest of us in the home. She thinks stinking out her tongue is marvelous fun.

She gets in more trouble than I would care to post about. She cut my bracelet in Sunday School 2 weeks ago – just to see what would happen.

She still bites, hits and kicks when she is angry.

She stuck blueberries in her ears this past week and a pearl in her nose.

She is what anyone would term politely as “spirited.”

She loves to play with friends – and usually that translates into running and screaming – just for the fun of it.

She loves to explore – which usually translates into making a mess or getting into trouble. But its the scientist in her so I try to find ways to encourage it.

She loves to sing and perform. She danced her way around the house last week, arms stretched wide, loudly singing “I have a dream, I have a dream” from the movie Tangled.

She is very good at expressing her feelings and can tell you why you upset her and what she wanted you to do differently. While I sometimes find it defiant, most specialists see it as incredibly wonderful that she is able to express herself so well.

When she prays she always thanks God first for the “wonderful sun and sky, and all the blessings we have.”

She is always comparing herself to her brother.

She speaks clearly and correctly – but has always been a very clear speaker.

She sings herself to sleep almost every night.

She loves to perform, recite verses and poems, and answer questions about stories. She wants to always be the best.

Today Petra read her first sign on her very own – a neon sign at Pizza Hut. It said “Budlight.” Of all signs, a beer sign was her first…I just had to laugh. Petra on the other hand thought it was suppose to say Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.

Amazingly she is quickly learning to read. I am using The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading and I love it. After spending weeks on “at” words (bat, cat, hat, etc) it finally clicked and we were able to move on to other words (-am, – an, -ed, and more). She was reading her first words in May. In June while we traveled we spent hours working on reading – it made for a wonderful car activity. And she is quickly moving ahead. Usually I teach her once and she knows it. It is amazing to see how quickly she learns each lesson and understands it. The book suggests I read the new words to her first …. and I never need to. Once I tell her the rule, and show her the example, she almost always can sound all the new words out without help. She is quickly moving ahead and daily asks for reading lessons – sometimes more than once a day. But we almost always do one new lesson a day now. She can usually handle a 30 minute reading lesson in one sitting. Yesterday we finished lesson 45 – here are some of the sentences she had to read from that lesson:

Jack got a soft pup as his gift. Jack left milk in a cup in the box.

Mom felt the soft, silk quilt on the bed.

It is a fact. If I act fast, I can help him.

Petra is also continuing to do well in gymnastics. She was the only 3 year old moved up to the pre-team class last month. I am just glad she enjoys it. And it provides an outlet for her to learn to listen and obey and follow directions. As well as time spent with peers.

She can count – but misses the number 14 when counting to 20. She can also count objects – as far as she can count up. She understands basic addition and subtraction. For instance if I ask her to get out 4 mints, and she pours out 5 instead, she quickly knows to put one back. And she recognizes numbers 1-9. She also has started counting by tens with some assistance.

Honestly, she is like no other child I know. I am daily impressed with her … as well as daily horrified with how quickly she misbehaves. And then I remember, she is just 3.