Growing Every Day

Posts tagged ‘social studies’

Ebb-and-Flow

Wow.  It truly doesn’t take long for life to hit warp speed.  That is what seems to have happened at our house.  We have recently returned from a nine day trip up and around New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  It was a wonderful trip centered around a beautiful family wedding in Colorado.

With that said, when we returned our rhythm was gone, for myself, the kids, school.  Of course the learning that occurred on the trip and the possibilities for further learning were huge.  However, the day-to-day flow had disappeared.  We are currently in the process of finding our new focus and flow, which seems to be a part of this crazy journey called homeschool.

I have come down to the fact that the next two months are months of completion.  It is time to focus on the units and topics we want to close out and wrap up.  My goals for Builder are to complete his math mastery challenge on Khan Academy, finish our Level 1 spelling, and complete our Volcano lapbook.  In regards to Princess, my goal is to keep on track with her math at Khan Academy, finish up a bone unit she is working on, and complete the set of sight words we are currently working on, from Tweet Resources.  I fully expect to have other learning opportunities arise, but these are my specific goals and focus.  Completing these items will place us in a good position for starting anew in January.

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Outside of completing our focus items, we are starting to memorize and learn the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States.  There is a nice set of resource papers over at Kindergarten Nana that fits what we need.  We will use these printables as our diving board into deeper learning conversations.  Each day we will read, The Pledge of Allegiance, published by Scholastic to help aide in memory.

P.S. There will soon be an update on our Water of Life project.  We are done collecting and will let you know the final amount given.

Your Turn to Play ~  What would you like to complete by the end of the year?

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Social Studies – Session 2

In anticipation for our home schooling adventure, I was the most concerned about social studies and science.  These were my least favorite subjects when I was in school and so I feel my background is pretty weak in these areas.  In preparation for this year, I did a lot of praying…A LOT!  And, this is why I had to chuckle when the Lord told me to focus my attention on science/social studies and that math/language arts would take care of themselves.

Well, wouldn’t you know it.  The Lord was right!

Though I still feel a little uncomfortable and stretchy in the science department, social studies has come along really well.  In our first six week session, we did a unit on US Symbols.  We covered the US flag, bald eagle, Liberty Bell, Mount Rushmore, and the Statue of Liberty.  It was a lot of fun, Mason and 3-year old Madison picked up more than I realized and they are ready to find and visit US landmarks.

Love it!

Our most recent social studies unit covered community helpers.  I knew I could use the mass of wealth on the web to pull together many activities for several different community jobs/helpers.  However, I was running out of steam!  A lot was going on in life, and I just needed to find something already made for me.  So the search began.  I’m telling you, there is so much out there!  Thankfully, after not much searching I found a great unit put together by Travis Hutchins for sale on his teacherspayteachers.com store.

community helper pic

Click Here to preview or purchase

I am extremely picky about what units/curriculum I pay for, and I highly recommend this Community Helpers unit.  It is very thorough, with just the right amount of information about 10 different community helpers.  Each community helper comes with good information, a great song, and wonderful cross-curricula activities.

For an example of the cross-curricula activities, when studying the veterinarian we sorted animals into three classifications – pet, zoo, farm.  This is a great science classifying activity and the kids loved it.

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Classifying Animals

While learning about the librarian, the activity to go along with it is to make a reading tree.  A leaf is added to the tree each time Mason reads a book to me, his little sister, his dad, grandparents, etc.  You notice that our tree’s leaves have started turning colors for fall, Mason’s idea.

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Our Reading Tree

There are mazes and learning sheets to fill out for each helper.  A large teacher book can be printed, as well as a smaller student book that can be colored and used to follow along.  A page poster of each helper with a teacher page that can be printed on the back is also included.  Again, this unit is very thorough and completely worth it.

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Teacher Posters

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I found a great freebie over at Mama’s Learning Corner on building your own town!  So, I went out and purchased a cheap white shower curtain from the dollar store and Masonville was born.  Every time we studied a community helper, identified the building where that person would work, then he would color it and place it in his town.  This was a great motivator.  There were mornings that he spent an hour or more working on his town.

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Masonville

All in all, we had a great time with this unit.  We studied two to three helpers a week, and took approximately four weeks total to complete.  Field trips to police stations, fire stations, libraries, etc can easily be worked into this unit as well.  We did not do that this year, but I’m sure we will in years to come.

Adding to 10

In the beginning of our homeschooling endeavor, the Lord told me to really focus in on Science and Social Studies and that Math and Language Arts would naturally happen.  I didn’t truly understand what that meant, but I have learned to trust the Lord when I have heard Him so clearly.

For our social studies focus, I put together a unit on US Symbols (click here).  Science was a four week study of Force and Motion, which I purchased from teacherspayteachers.comwith a two week focus at the end on gravity and magnets (click here).

Math was a little more interesting.

I have ended up simply teaching to the standards.  Mason has always been very good at addition and so we have been focusing on making the “adding to 10” facts second nature.  Instead of thinking about them and having to “add them up”, I want him to be able to see them and know them immediately.

The following are the steps we used to explore these combinations of 10.  I left them as steps so that you can combine them in whatever timing works best for you.  Steps typed in the same color are what we did on the same day.

Step 1:

  • Using a ten frame chart and double-sided counters, I asked Mason to find all the different combinations that added to 10.  I showed him one example (1 red, 9 yellow) so that he understood how to use the two colors to show the equation.
  • As he found the different combinations, we used our washable Dry Erase Markers to write them on our “white board” (a page protector with a piece of white cardstock).
    • I labeled the “white board” at the top with an R + Y = 10, just to throw some algebra connections in there.
    • As we got to the end, he really started using the recorded combinations to see what he might have missed.
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Ten Frame

Step 2:

  • Do a short mini-lesson on combinations that add to 10.  I used this fabulous “Rainbow to 10 lesson” found at A Cupcake for the Teacher.  It is a wonderful visual to help students remember all of the combinations that will add to 10.  We don’t have a large whiteboard or easel paper, so we used our Window Markers and back door!  We left the information on the door all week so he could refer back to it as needed.

Step 3:

  • Continuing with the “Rainbow to 10 lesson” materials, Mason colored and filled out the blank Rainbow to 10 worksheet.  This was great to begin to solidify these math facts, moving from concrete manipulatives to number representation.
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Rainbow to 10

Step 4:

  • Using the Combinations of 10 worksheet I created, Mason used dot markers to show all the facts that add to 10 (as well as a bonus question to begin thinking of the number 20).
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Combinations of 10

Step 5:

  • We played a fun Ten Frame game over at Mrs. Ricca’s Kindergarten blog.  Again we used the dot markers, but crayons/markers/colored pencils work just as well.  I printed two or three sheets and he had a blast.
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Ten Frame Toss

Step 6:

Step 7:

  • We ended with a set of flashcards.  I developed this set specifically to be both a practice tool as well as an informal assessment.  I wanted to see how familiar and second nature these facts of 10 had become, so I created the flashcards with half “add to 10” facts and half other simple addition facts.
  • As an assessment tool, I held up the cards so that I could monitor the speed and fluency at which he knew the “add to 10” facts.

I listed steps that can all be done separately or combined to create longer lessons.  Every learner is different and will be able to accomplish a different amount of learning in one setting.  Feel free to use each step as needed.

Questions?  Feel free to comment below or email at thelearningleaf.mail@gmail.com

 

Social Studies – Session 1

And then there is Social Studies

This was also a subject that I did not enjoy during my school years.  To be honest, I don’t remember much about it from early elementary.  Then when we hit civics in middle school, I really closed an ear to it.  However, as I have been looking over the Oklahoma standards for some topic ideas, a little more excitement is mounting.

As a family, we plan to travel our nation in the not too distant future.  With this in mind, we have already had discussions about some of the major US symbols.  Our son is really into knowing all the states and where they are located.  This is a great foundation for studying 5 main US symbols: the US flag, bald eagle, the Liberty Bell, Mount Rushmore, and the Statue of Liberty.  This works wonderfully for a six week focus.  We will focus on a symbol a week, planning two days a week for each.  The last week, he will choose what US symbol he wants to learn more about.

QR snap

Click to Preview

The website teacherspayteachers.com has a fun little US Symbols unit using QR codes that the students can scan and listen to facts about each symbol. It comes along with a simple recording sheet, and the facts included are right along the lines of what I want my kiddos to learn.  I am hiding the QR fact sheet and having my son follow three written clues to find it.  This will help incorporate some reading aloud objectives as well.  Here is what the basic unit looks like:

Week One:  United States Flag

  • Define “symbol” – (conversation)
  • Go through “Symbol” Power Point, including a fun brainpop video regarding US symbols
  • US flag QR code hunt, and fill in recording sheet
  • Make a US flag – craft, write the name of the original 13 colonies on the stripes (will upload template when I finish, or click here for another template option)
  • locate the original colonies on our state puzzle, color those states on a black-and-white US map template

Week Two:  Bald Eagle

  • Review US flag info (hang up the flag craft and place a “know” chart underneath)
  • Bald eagle QR code hunt, fill in recording sheet
  • Bald Eagle video
  • make a life size bald eagle on the floor and color, click here for example
  • make a life size bald eagle nest, click here for example
  • bald eagle craft for wall

Week Three:  The Liberty Bell

  • Briefly review US flag “know” chart
  • Under bald eagle craft, make a “know” chart for bald eagle facts
  • Liberty Bell QR code hunt, fill in recording sheet
  • Liberty Bell craft, discuss Liberty Bell facts while creating the bell
  • 5 facts Liberty Bell mobile (will upload template when complete)

Week Four:  Mount Rushmore

  • Review flag, bald eagle, and Liberty Bell facts
  • Mount Rushmore QR code hunt, fill in recording sheet
  • Read book(s) about Mount Rushmore
  • Mount Rushmore craft – rubbing of coins to create a Mount Rushmore

Week Five:  Statue of Liberty

  • Review flag, bald eagle, Liberty Bell, Mount Rushmore facts
  • Statue of Liberty QR code hunt, fill in recording sheet
  • Read book(s) on Statue of Liberty
  • Statue of Liberty canvas painting
  • make a separate name plate for painting, including three major facts
  • copper penny experiment (why not a little science!) – example of why the Statue of Liberty has turned green

As mentioned above, Week Six will be set aside for student choice.  We will either delve deeper into one of these symbols, or pick another great symbol to study for the last week.

Onto the First Day of School…

 

Curriculum Connections

After deciding on our school calendar, as mentioned in On Our Way, it was time to tackle curriculum.  This is an area in which I can easily get carried away…

or lost

This is also an area in which I had some extensive conversations with the Lord.  My experience in planning curriculum is ten years of 6th grade math.  Within my ten years we changed curriculum only once, so creating curriculum from scratch is not really in my comfort zone.  Also, the thought of planning kindergarten lessons in all the subjects made me quiver a little (maybe more than a little).

In the midst of the anxiety that was threatening to overtake me, I decided to lay it all down, and wait for an answer from the Lord.  After all, he knows us and the best path for our curriculum.  His answer –

make science and social studies the main focus

This made me laugh.  Oh how our Father knows each one of us.  The inside joke is that the two subjects I like the least, you guessed it, are science and social studies!  So, obviously in making these the main focus, I have no opportunity to slack on them or procrastinate.  Also, math and the language arts will easily fold into the science and social studies units.

ID-100191625So, I started with science.  In our school calendar we have six sessions.  Taking the Oklahoma Science Standards into consideration for some topic ideas and sequencing, here are the broad topics for each six week session:

Science Focus Areas:

  • Session 1:  Force and Motion
  • Session 2:  Energy
  • Session 3:  Plants & Animals
  • Session 4:  Weather & Climate
  • Session 5:  Natural Resources/Habitat
  • Session 6:  Learner’s Choice

Each of these large areas of focus will be broken down into grade level appropriate (student appropriate) activities to learn specific topics as well as including many opportunities to incorporate scientific skills, reasoning, and methods.

Each six week session will be planned in progression, so I will not have the whole year of curriculum on my shoulders all at once.  Posts containing more specific information about lessons, activities, and resources will come as they are developed.

And now for specifics…

 

Image courtesy of cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Eyes to See

This is the first week using our New Approach of recording lessons as or after they happen.

I have to tell you, I was amazed.

In the previous method of making a list of activities to accomplish through the week, my focus (without succumbing to pressure) was to watch and see which of those specific lessons we completed.  This week, however, my eyes were opened to the amount of learning that truly takes place everyday, naturally.  The challenge this week was deciding what learning experiences to record!  Rather than having my attention concentrated on a pre-made list, I was able to see that when Mason decided to play with the circle math addition facts of 10 for fifteen minutes – it was a math lesson.  When we discussed the difference between cannon and canyon, discussing spelling, and looking up pictures on the internet – this was a science/language arts/history lesson.  I could list numerous other experiences throughout the week.

Don’t get me wrong,

I still have a pathway of advancement that will challenge and move the kiddos forward.  I even found that I personally want to keep a list for each child as to what is the next step in their learning.  For right now, I know the plans I have for them.  I know the next things I want to work on in reading and math.  The freedom is, as I create it or find it, then they can do it.  They are two and four years of age…I’m in no rush!

Week-in-Review

Math:  

Addition facts of 10, by The Learning Leaf

  • Mason rediscovered the two colored counters, with which we made addition cards.  He spent quite a bit of time not only placing the counters but really focusing in on the addition problems at the bottom.  Since the cards are laminated, I gave him a dry erase marker and he wrote in the answer on each, only to find out they all equal 10!  This will launch further exploration and experiences with the very important addition facts of 10.

addition cards copy

(click the pic to download these cards)

Exploring Doubles

  • After working with the addition facts, we took the counters and made two lines for a number.  For example – 4 is two lines of two,  6 is two lines of three counters.  Then it turned into questions such as, “What is two lines of 4?”  This was a lot of fun to watch him explore the concept of doubles.

Reading:  

Story Sequencing

  • While cleaning out the garage this weekend, my husband found a set of Blue’s Clues story sequencing cards.  Mason was very interested in these and spent the next 15 – 20 minutes working on them.  Four cards created a simple story, and he had to place them in the correct order.

Reading Practice

  • We also made a trip to the library this week, and came home with a set of fifteen Hooked on Phonics books in which each book focuses in on a specific vowel sound, as well as incorporating word families and sight words.  Throughout the week he read books #1-8.

Handwriting:  

Writing Practice

  • I pulled out our pile of activity/workbooks and Mason decided he wanted to work in one.  He did many mazes and other small puzzles, which are always good for practicing fine motor skills.  On a couple of pages, there were words to unscramble.  On those pages, I told him what letter to write next, so he was able to practice writing alphabet letters.

Coloring by Number

  • There were also two pages of color by number which is wonderful because he read the colors himself.  So really this doubled as Reading practice because of the sight words he was using.

Calendar Activity

  • Mason traced numbers on an August calendar up to the current day.  He also completed a shape tracing sheet that came with the calendar pack from RoyalBaloo.com (search for calendar)

August calendar

Geography:

Color and Name States

  • A US map was included with the calendar pack from RoyalBaloo.com (search for calendar).  Mason colored in and we named each state.  We will revisit this in the future to learn facts about these states.

colored map

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