Friday, September 2, 2011

Homeschooling - Preschool on up - Animal Circle Time




Ok so first, the homeschool day starts out for us with "circle time" this is a term that is used widely in preschools and kindergarten.. I have been calling mine circle time for years and my kids are way above preschool.  I just decided a few days ago to start calling mine "mom school" which is a Thomas Jefferson Eduction term.  (TJE is the biggest homeschool philosophy among Utah LDS, it has lots of good ideas, and I use many of them).  I also mix my morning devotional in with my circle time/ mom school time.

Circle Time - Circle time is together/ learning/ fun time, with some foundational drilling (like spelling and math) mixed in.  It is called this because normally the class of kids sit in one big circle on the floor around the teacher.  Sitting on the floor is good for this because it puts you at their level and in a less formal setting.  In circle time you introduce new ideas, review old ideas and drill the foundational ideas.  So here are some ideas on how to do a animal circle time.

Step one - Do not get over whelmed at the volume of the information available.

Step two - Do what is fun and you enjoy.  Adapt all this to your interests and needs.

Step three - Let your daughters mood be a guide for how much schooling you do.  If she is board with an activity, change activities.  If she is done with school save the material for the next day.

Step four - circle time is normally something that becomes habitual.  After a while you will develop a rhythm and do the same things each day in the same order mostly.  But circle time is not rigid and it does change and adapt over time and with the daily needs.  Pick the activities you would like to repeat and have some fun.

Step five - keep things interesting by having your circle time activities mixed, do not do all the flash cards together, mix them with the singing and other things so your child does not get burnt out on them.  Changing the type of activity helps your child stay attentive
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Step six - End circle time with some form of active play

Step six - pick one to two table activities to do at the table.

Step seven - show your child one of the fun games or animal activities for the day and send them off to play with it.

Step eight - smile, pat yourself on the back, you just finished today's school.  But you may say it was so short and so quick?  Hey your teacher to student ratio is 1 to 1, that is a heck of allot better then 30 to 1, everything will go faster and work better because of that.  Don't under estimate the value of it based on how quick it is... You have covered many important things in a short time.   

Step nine - your child is learning a whole world of wonderful things just by being home with you.  Things that can not be duplicated in the sterile environment of the public school.  When days go by that you don't do school, don't stress, your child learns naturally all the time.  John Holt in "How children learn can teach you all about that."

Step ten - send your child outside, the world outside teaches all by itself.  For more information on this read about Charlotte Mason and her educational ideas.  
"They must be let alone, left to themselves a great deal, to take in what they can of the beauty of earth and heavens; for of the evils of modern education few are worse than this- that the perpetual cackle of his elders leaves the poor child not a moment of time, nor an inch of space, wherein to wonder- and grow. At the same time, here is the mother's opportunity to train the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom, and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of hers. " Charlott mason

Zoo Animal Circle Time

Animal flash cards - buy a box of animal flash cards which are easily found in dollar stores or online.  Each day pick one animal, read the back of the card and talk about the animal, teaching about it.  Add this animal to your animals learned stack.  For review you can flash the stack of animals that you have learned and have your child either tell you the animal's name or something they have learned about the animal (depending of learning level).  I suggest to only use 5-6 animals in your review stack and retire the older ones so the animal review does not get too long.

Preschool nursery rhymes - nursery rhymes are wonderful for the young learning child.  I forget all the reasons but there are actually full studies done about how they help.  They help with information retention, memorization, fine motor skills, poetry and more... Not to mention that they are part of our culture, so it is cultural education.  Here you can have fun singing all the wonderful animal songs.. Old Mcdonald Had a Farm (you can theme this out, by using jungle animals when you are teaching that theme). 

Story time - With story time your child can learn a little bit more about the animal in the story.  They can gain a further appreciation of reading.  They can learn the skill of story retelling and they can do story sequencing.   It is fun while on the floor together to read or retell stories. If you have a print out of the characters you can put the card stock print out on popsicle sticks or paint sticks and use them to act out the story.
Letter and number of the day - learn a letter and number of the day.. use some of the fun printables durring table time to color or make.  make flash cards with markers and 3x5 cards and flash them to your child like you flash the animals.  Sometimes it helps a child pay attention to flash card time if you say the different words on the flash cards in different funny voices.  Talk like a lion or a mouse or a monster or a fish or an alien or something else funny.  Teach the letter sounds as you teach the letter.  You can pick one of the alphabet animal printables below and teach the animal on the letter for that days animal flash card.

Weather and calander of the day.- Start the day off by asking what is the weather like outside or what day is it. Find some visual aids or printables that show days of the week or months of the year or weather symbols to help you talk about these things.

Pretend play - This is a fun time to play pretend that you are the animal of the day.  What do you run like, what do you eat, how do you sleep, do you play?  Nothing like crawling around on the floor rawrring like a lion with your child for a good start to the day.  Also this is a good end to circle time.  It helps the little ones who don't want to sit for too long get the blood pumping again and ready to move onto  something fun.  Overtime you children can develop a love for homeschool because that is the time of day that they get all that great mom attention and do all those fun things.  http://sharinwithsharron.blogspot.com/2009/08/musical-push-n-go.html

Table time

Reading - Animal Alphabet
Writing and Spelling - 

Math - 
Science - 
Art - When I do an animal theme I plan to make art of many of the animals we learn about,  I would use hand prints, finger prints and paperplates to do this.
Play time

Square Time - for us square time means computer time.  In this day and age there is a world of learning on the "screen."

Games - a fun way to play with your child's new knowledge.
Preparing 

Library Resources - 
  • Hot Hot Hot Dance Songs, Sesame Street, Cat Had a Birthday,  Doing the Penguin, Silly Squirrel Dance, The Lambaba!, Do de Rubber Duck, Do the Dog, Clucky Clucky Chicken, Macarena
  • Zack's Aligator
  • Brown bear, Brown bear
  • Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? [Board Book], Bill Martin Jr. (Author), Eric Carle (Author)
  • Barney - Alphabet Zoo [VHS] (1994)
  • Barney's Favorites Vol. 1, Barney | Format: Audio CD Sally the Camel, Six Little Ducks, Do Your Ears Hang Low?,  Down On Grandpa's Farm
  • From Head to Toe Board Book [Board Book], Eric Carle (Author, Illustrator)
Shopping 
  • My First Brain Quest Matching, by University Games.
Other ideas 

Field trips - take a field trip to the zoo, or my "petting zoo", or Wheeler farm, or Tracy aviary.

Foreign language
Music

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