Deuteronomy 16:15

Deuteronomy 16:15
For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Naomi's Kindergarten Year: 2012/2013

The weather is warming up, the days are longer, and we are spending more and more time outside. That means that we are wrapping up Naomi's 2012/2013 Kindergarten year! With moving from West Virginia back to Alberta, Canada, me being pregnant, sick, and then having a new baby, this has been an insane year for our family. Looking back now though, I am so pleased with what we accomplished. God's timing is always perfect, and maybe if our year hadn't been so crazy I would have tried to do too much! As it stands, I think what we did was perfect. Naomi made excellent progress, and most importantly, feels proud of her accomplishments and confident in her abilities.

So, what exactly did we do?

For phonics/reading we did the first two books in the "Explode the Code" series. I LOVE these books and can't say enough about them. There are so many expensive, complicated reading programs out there and it can be hard to choose. For me, I like simple, cheap, to the point, something that doesn't take much (or any!) prep on my part, and best utilizes our schooling time. This series is exactly that! The books focus on sounding words out, while also utilizing some basic sight words. By the end of the first lesson Naomi was able to read a simple book using 3 letter words that had the short "a" sound. She was thrilled!!

I often have Naomi read to Nathan for extra practice.

Your child is ready for "Explode the Code" if:
  • they know all their letters
  • they know all their letter sounds
  • have an interest in beginning to read
  • show the ability to start blending sounds together (this point is key!!!!)
If your child isn't quite ready yet, there is a series of 3 books that are a primer for the "Explode the Code" series. Thy are called "Get Ready for the Code" and focus on introducing the letters and their sounds. They are a perfect first workbook if your child has never done one before. I did the first book and a half with Naomi when she was 4 and they were great!

I just want to say that either the "Get Ready for the Code" OR "Explode the Code" are perfectly great options for Kindergarten or 1st grade depending on where you child is at. The developmental range for learning how to read is anywhere from 5 to 8 years old, and the worst thing you can do is push your child to do something they aren't ready for. I equate it to a toddler learning how to walk. You can push them to practice walking all you want, but until they are developmentally ready, it just isn't going to happen! It is the same with reading. That's not to say you shouldn't provide them with learning opportunities, but you need to meet them where they are.

I started "Explode the Code: Book 1" in the spring of 2012 when Naomi was 4, turning 5 that fall. Although she knew all her letters and letter sounds, she just wasn't ready yet to blend the sounds together and quickly became frustrated. I immediately shelved the book, and took the summer off. I almost fell over in surprise that fall when we pulled the book back out and she was easily able to blend the sounds together. That my friends is the benefit of a summer spent swimming, playing outside, and being read to!

Working in her "Explode the Code" workbook.

There are no official readers to go along with the "Explode the Code" series. We used the level 1 readers of the "Now I'm Reading!" series by Nora Gaydos and it was like they were made to go with it. I can't say how much I love these readers! In level 1 each book focuses on words with the same short vowel. The text is repetitive and builds on itself, which is perfect for beginning readers. The illustrations are super cute and the stories are funny. I had both the "Playful Pals" and the "Clever Critters" sets. There are 10 books in each set. Books 6 - 10 also introduce some simple letter blends. We also used the level 1 books of the "Bible Stories for Early Readers" series once Naomi had finished the first book of "Explode the Code". These are excellent as well.

You can find the "Get Ready for the Code", "Explode the Code", and all the Nora Gaydos books on,, and Chapters online. I recommend looking at Amazon and Chapters (or Barnes and Nobel for you Americans!) to compare prices and shipping as it seems to change.

For practice printing letters and numbers I used several of the "Kumon Workbooks". Some of these are very nice and Naomi enjoyed working through them a little at a time. These can be easily found at Chapters or Barnes and Nobel. We also did a lot of copy work. Naomi would dictate something such as a thank you note etc, I would write it, and then Naomi would copy it. We used the printing paper that has the two solid lines, and the dotted line in the middle to help with letter size.

Writing a letter!
Here Naomi was learning space vocabulary words using the "Read! Build! Write!" mats from the Homeschool Creations blog.
 For math we did "Singapore Math" books A and B. For Kindergarten I feel practical math, learning to count real things, measuring in the kitchen while cooking with mom or Mimi, skip counting in the car, etc, is far more important than "workbook" math. I like Singapore Math and will continue to use it in grade one. In all honesty though, 98% of what was in the book was stuff that Naomi knew from our practical math activities, or playing on the iPad. The book was just reinforcement.

Learning about measuring weight.

Using our counting bears to help learn about place value.

Unit studies are great at any age, but are especially important for young children. This is the age where children are working on making connections, and seeing how everything fits together in their world. Picking a topic, learning about it, and doing a range of science, art, history, math, and writing activities is a great way to help children make those connections. Therefore, we did unit studies to cover all the other subjects, and also incorporated them into our reading and math.

Space was one of the big units we did this year. One of our projects was to make a poster to show how the planets orbit around the sun, and the order they are in. Here Naomi was pointing to each planet and singing the song we learned about them. In one project we covered science, art and music!
Both kids wanted to learn about dinosaurs this year. Here they are doing an art project showing different types of dinosaur tracks.
Of course, life is about a lot more than just school work! One of the big reasons we moved to Alberta is because of the large homeschooling community and all the opportunities that provides. Naomi went to plays, did gymnastics, gym classes, nature classes, a tea party, girl's beauty day, swimming lessons, snowmobiling, skiing, skating, and so much more!
Naomi did amazing for a first time skater! It was so fun to watch her confidence grow.

She also got to particpate in homeschool ski days. I was so proud of how well she did! Here she is going up the t-bar all by herself.

We couldn't move to Canada without learning about hockey! The kids got to go watch Pa play hockey and were very impressed.

We also did a comparative weather study between West Virginia and Alberta for geography. The conclusion? Alberta gets a lot more snow! haha

Naomi's first time bowling was at the Valentine's Day bowling party. I used to go to the homeschool Valentine's Day party every year when I was a little girl!
Having a new baby sister is a big deal! Naomi is so good with Nicole, and such a wonderful help to me. I would never get a shower without her entertaining her two younger siblings!
As I said, what a year!! I can't believe my little girl has already finished kindergarten. I am so proud of her! I am looking forward to a fun summer relaxing, playing outside, bike riding and more, although I admit I am already making plans for her fist grade year and can't wait for that too!
Until next time!


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