I begin our school time by asking each child, one at a time, "So-and-So, are you here?" They answer, "Yes" and then find their name tag on the home & school board. They bring the name tag to me, spell the letters in their name, and then write the letters in their name on the dry-erase board. They take their name tag back to the home & school board and place it under the school picture because now they are no longer at home; they are at school. This activity simply teaches them to identify, spell, and write their name, as well as answer a question and wait for their turn. This is our home & school board, with their name tags flipped around for privacy.
Next, we say the Pledge of Allegiance as one person holds the flag. The person who is not the flag holder is the calendar helper and helps me figure out which day of the week it is, by singing the days of the week song, and what the date is, by counting the numbers on the calendar.
Then we dress our weather bear according to the weather for that day.
Next, we read a book. I try to select classics, and ones that contain adventure and culture. If the story takes place in a specific geographical area I point this out on our map and globe. I used to move into elaborate Montessori-type activities after this, but as I said in a previous post, I'm trying to be more intentional with our homeschooling. I feel that creating elaborate Montessori activities is time consuming and no more effective than making use of the learning opportunities that present themselves in daily life. So no more of that. I do think that Montessori activities are amazing, but simply too time-consuming for this homeschool family. We now engage in one fun, usually imaginative, activity related to the story. This is not really intended for teaching academics, but for creating a memory that they will tie along with the book we read. I really want them to love books. There is a curriculum called Five in a Row (and Before Five in a Row for preschoolers), which uses a similar concept. The teacher takes one of the book selections and reads it aloud to the children. The title Five in a Row comes from the concept of reading the same book, aloud, for five days in a row. The curriculum teacher's guide lists anywhere from 2-6 lessons, and after reading the book the teacher chooses one or more that seem appropriate for the child. On Monday the teacher selects an informal discussion, Tuesday a language arts lesson, Wednesday an art activity, Thursday a math lesson, and Friday a science lesson. By the end of the week the child is completely familiar with a classic children's book and will forever remember it. I don't use that curriculum but it is similiar to what we do. For example, one day we read Ticky Ticky Tembo and made the characters from the book out of play-doh. We also made a ladder and used the play-doh container for the well. And we acted out the story.
Another time we read Corduroy. Afterwards the kids took turns playing the part of the night watchman, as we conveniently own a police officer hat, a flashlight, and a Corduroy. I hid Corduroy in a different room and turned off the lights, and they used the flashlight to search the house for him. So much fun!
After we complete a book activity, if they are still in the school mood, we assemble puzzles, sing songs, count on the abacus, color, or read more books. We don't have school time every day. Lately it has just been two to three times per week. We will be more consistent when beginning my son's kindergarten curriculum, probably in a couple of months. I can't wait!