Thursday, August 13, 2009

PLANNING {for Kindergarten}

J wrote:

"I so wished that you lived down the street and I could pop over and have you help me plan for the year. I am in MD and starting my first official year homeschooling with my daughter (5 ½). Reading your post about homeschooling and kindergarten was so encouraging to me. I already use SWR and Saxon, I’m a book “snob” and am probably excessively picky about what I read to my kids. All this being said, I was wondering if you’d share anything that you used for planning K? And, if you are so inclined to give a list of read-alouds that you like."


Hello J!

Oh, that would be fun, wouldn't it? I'd love to have you come on over! You know, it feels like it was just last week when I was planning for my first year of Kindergarten instruction, but in reality I'm a week away from teaching Kindergarten for the fourth time. I couldn't be more excited! What a delightful task we have before us!

I'd love to share what we are planning for Lydia this year. It sounds like you already have several great resources available to you. I hope the Lord can use this to spark your creativity.



I would be remiss, if I didn't begin with a bit of encouragement for you, J. As a mom who has been around the kindergarten block a few times, I know that it is easy to lose focus and begin to homeschool for others. Maybe you will be tempted to sign your children up for a ton of outside activities to impress the extended family, or maybe you will be pressured and frustrated if you have a child that doesn't pick up reading as quickly as you think they ought. I mean~ yikes! What will the neighbors think? I've been there. But I would like to encourage you that you are to homeschool to bring glory to God alone.

"Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."
~ 1 Peter 4:11
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

Amen. : )

Whenever I begin to think about a new year, I start with a written plan. I print out and scribble in my Proposed Course of Study for each student. It just helps me to organize my thoughts and plan for any purchases I may need to make. I eventually type it up and put it in my student's CUM file.

Here is what our kindergarten plan looks like this year:

1. Bible Study/ Devotions. This year we will use Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson.

What I like about this devotional, is that it set up to be very relational~ you ask simple questions; read the Bible; talk about it and then pray together. It makes God's Word very applicable in the day to day and it is very usable for a group K-7th! For more on the types of devotional books we choose and don't choose check here.

2. My Calendar Book. By Christian Light Publications.

Every kindergartner in our home gets a calendar. If you are using Saxon K, they recommend this as well. This year I opted for this cute calendar book with sweet illustrations that reinforce the character traits we are seeking to develop. Best of all, it can be kept in Lydia's school binder.

3. Math. We use Saxon K as you know. It's what the Lord has provided for us and we love it. It teaches much more than Math as the student learns to follow instruction while doing hand-on activities. I also have my eye on the Math-U-See Skip Counting CD- Bible version. The words to the music are here. I love painless learning whenever possible~ presidential place mats at lunch; states and capitals to music in the car... you get the idea. : )

4. English. You are a fellow SWR user, so you will probably be using the flash cards to teach the phonogram sounds. We have found their 70 basic phonogram CD very helpful in this process. They recommend teaching the formation of the letters using large muscle groups at the start (air tracing; writing with their finger in salt etc.) Then we usually make copy work pages. If you choose to teach Cursive First, they will walk you through the process of teaching similar letter shapes together (ie. lowercase a, c, and d all start in the same way). We will also use the Rod and Staff workbooks for those fun color, cut, paste activities. The illustrations are very sweet and again, reinforce the attitudes we are seeking to develop.

5. Read Aloud. I will tackle Science, History and Social Studies as read aloud topics. For example, for Science we are planning to use an Answers in Genesis book about the human body as well as an Evan Moor resource that has you trace; cut out the child's body and then color and paste the body parts in the correct locations as you study them.

Read aloud time is also and important vehicle for instilling character traits, as you know. Which is why you are so picky about the books you use. You can't be too picky! Once we put something in those heads, it's in there! I'd rather read a great book twice- or more- than have a large supply of mediocre volumes undoing all the effort I am putting in.

It is sometimes helpful in this season to maintain a Reading/ Read Aloud Chart to track the otherwise "invisible" investment being made in this area. This one is difficult to see, but hopefully gives you an idea of what I mean:

It's a simple form that will take you minutes to make. I would recommend you fill this in as you go and keep it in your daughter's school binder. It feels good to see that documented.

Kindergarten Age Resources we have enjoyed:

Homemade books! The best books are homemade books! I mean simple stuff~ connected with staples or yarn. It is fun to make your own "All about Me!" book to document this kindergarten age. You can include photos, your child's height, weight and favorites (favorite color, animal, game, toy and so on)! Other ideas might include: "My new ____________" (cousin, kitten, grasshopper~ whatever fits).

You can also make shape books. You'll find lots of templates on line~ apples, popcorn, boots, trees, pumpkins and so on. These are lots of fun to make and read. I guarantee they will become instant favorites.

But you were really asking about pre-made volumes, weren't you? Here are a few we've enjoyed in this season:

Wee Lambs by Rod and Staff (we prefer the bound volumes to the pamphlet option). These are large volumes with many sweet stories.
The God is Good Series by Rod and Staff (I think you can get a deal if you buy them in sets)
Little Jewel Books by Rod and Staff
Adam Raccoon books by Glen Keane (we omitted the circus keeper and the bully books from the series).
If you give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingallas Wilder (some editing)
James Herriot's Treasury for Children
A Summer with the Moody's Series by Sarah Maxwell
Jesus Loves Me by Helen Haidle (Fun Lullabies with hand motions~ especially fun for this age at bed time)

You may also enjoy Learning at Home by Ann Ward. It's a great resource for inspiration although you probably won't use it exactly as laid out. I think the "All about Me" book came from this resource. You should be able to find at the library.

6. Get outside! It is my goal to get the girls outside for an hour a day. That often means an evening walk or bike ride after dinner. It makes for a fantastic Deuteronomy 6:4 time.

I'll try to write more on this topic as the year progresses~ including ideas for making your own unit studies.

Photo: Lydia at the bluegrass festival. I just love this picture of her. She is such a bundle of fun!


  1. Cut n' Create. Love those books! A little time intensive to prep, but they make the cutest books!
    I love kindergarten!

  2. Hi my friend,

    Me too! I thought of you so many times while writing this post. Can't wait until you are blogging again!


  3. ** PostScript: Blogger will let you click on the Read Aloud chart to enlarge it and see it up close. : )

  4. Thanks for these great suggestions! I didn't realize that Answers in Genesis had such neat looking science curriculum! I will have to keep that in mind for the future. :)

  5. You're welcome Stephanie. We love the AIG book. It really suits multiple ages.


    1. For the timeline, I am going to use Homeschool in the Wood's printable timeline They have pre-made books, but I opted to buy the CD and print my own~ $40. for as many as you need to print. I'll try to take a photo of ours.

    2. Usually I have the olders take turns with youngers with pre-determined activities (ie. Monday puzzle with L; Tuesday do Evan Moore hands on activity with L; Wednesday read a book to L; Thursday pull out the Play-Doh etc.) Granted~ it is easier with older ones. But it's great to have a plan so you aren't trying to think on the spot.

    Making your own binder of activities may be helpful. Family Fun, Busy Books and so on are packed with activities for these ages. Keeping these ideas organized in one spot (maybe by month to keep track of seasonal ideas) can be helpful.

    This looks like The Siblings Busy Book by Lisa Hanson is written for family play. Anyone own this?


  6. I enjoy reading other's plans and learning about new resources. I'll share two I my own, since I don't have a blog, -wholesome Christian reading materials and -her preschool materials are what a lot of kids do in kindergarten. A lot of great ideas and worksheets to print out.

  7. Thank you Amy!

    Great stuff!

    How could I forget to mention Keepers of the Faith? Bernie's White Chicken is one of my all time favorite read alouds. Makes me cry everytime. : )


  8. Such a timely post. Thank you so much Rebecca! You have given me a great start to planning our first year of homeschooling - beginning in January next year. :) Grace and blessings! ~Amanda

  9. Hi Shannon! Thank you! : )

    Wonderful Amanda! God is good. : )


  10. What a neat post, Rebecca. Would you believe since the boys were in Christian school the first few years, I've never had the pleasure of teaching kindergarten! I'm going to file this post away so I'll have it in two years when I finally have that opportunity! :o)

  11. Hi Lisa!

    I didn't think about that. So many fun things to look forward to. : )


  12. Your voice of experience is wonderful. I've jotted down your recommendations. We've already been using "Learning at Home" and love its simplicity. You're right: the "All About Me!" book is something she has us do in the first week. Many thanks!

  13. Thank you Laura! Great input. It can be helpful to have a resource that lays things out~ especially as you are getting started.

    If you've never heard Kendra (Preschoolers and Peace), check out her Circle Time ideas as well.


  14. So I was just doing a search on Rod and Staff Wee Lambs to see if they have any news ones, and guess what came up? A link to this post (about 4 or 5 down)! Amazing. My sister is famous!!!

  15. Ha! How funny!

    Famous? No.

    Wee Lamb enthusiast? Absolutely. : )


  16. For a fun way to always remember the 50 states and capitals, check out: