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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Harvest Time Curriculum

My freshman year of college I listened to a talk by a boy I don't remember at all.  But it was about his mom and how big of an influence she had on his life.  (It was probably a mother's day talk.)  The part I specifically remember was how she took an active role in their education outside of school.  She made sure they learned things that they didn't necessarily learn at school.  For example, one month she focused on cooking.  They were each responsible for planning, shopping for, and cooking some number of meals.  Ok, that's great.  But lots of moms do that, right?  But the part that really caught my attention was that she then took them on a field trip to a top notch restaurant and the chef taught them how to cook a dish.  And apparently she did stuff like this all the time.  That sealed this mom in my head as one of the coolest moms ever.  Ever since then, I've wanted to take the same sort of active role in my children's education.

Fast forward to today.  I have a 3-year old and an almost 8-month old.  I'm learning how to manage a large house (after never fully getting a handle on managing our 2-bedroom condo) and I'm still trying to recover from the newborn stage.  I keep trying to do things with Kessa.  Mostly it ends up with us doing some sort of handprint painting that we send off to grandma's.  (Which, I admit, is really fun and makes me a cool mom in Kessa's eyes. Especially since we then hang them up on the wall in our stairway where she sees them every day.)  I even started downloading pre-k packs that have various skills in printable form.  Cutting, drawing, matching, shadow matching, patterns, puzzles, coloring, counting, etc.  Kessa loves them.  Whenever I print anything, she asks if I'm making more school.  She loved doing "school" so much that we decided it would be a good idea to put her in preschool.  So we did.  For 2.5 hours two days per week, she goes to a preschool taught by a lady in my ward.  It's fun, because several of the kids in her class are our neighbors.  And I like it because I know the teacher shares many of my values.

But I kept thinking about how I wanted to play more of an active role.  I don't want to just ship her off to school and only participate in her education when she needs help with homework.  BJ and I have talked a lot about ways we can help teach.  When she has questions about things, we try to give her real answers.  When we see opportunities to teach her, we take them.  We often talk about the different plants in the garden and their different stages of growth.  Today she wanted to look at the flowers outside, so while we did, we talked about how flowers have different parts.  We specifically discussed the petals, stem and leaves.  Then we walked around and found those three parts on several different kinds of flowers.  And then, directed by her, we talked about which flowers were the same, and which were different.  I took it a little further and showed her how some flowers were the same in everything except color.  Someday when she's a little older, we want to do more themed things that cover, potentially, several months.  We want to learn right there with her.  Like maybe we'll do a geology section and do field trips.  Close ones like Rock Canyon.  Far-ish ones like Craters of the Moon and practically all of southern Utah.

But there was still the thought in my mind of doing more themed things now.  And, of course, cool field trips now.  But I'm just not good at creating curriculums or putting things like that together.  The idea is cool, but in practice, I tend to flop pretty quickly.  AND THEN one day I was chatting with my friend, Meagan who home-schools her preschool aged daughter.  She was discussing her need to be more crafty in her homeschooling and mentioned that she ran across a free homeschooling preschool curriculum and wanted my opinion on if it was good in the crafty department.  So I got looking at it and very quickly fell in love.  I realized this is exactly what I wanted to do with Kessa.  It's simple.  It's already planned out.  It's themed.  It has field trips.  And it has cool activities. I quickly set out to figuring out what all I wanted to do and when I'd need to start.  See, there are actually four curriculums, one per season.  The Harvest Curriculum has holiday-centric weeks (Halloween and Thanksgiving) so I wanted to make sure I'd be doing those weeks at the right time.  I quickly discovered that I'd have to take a week out and start right away.  So I did.

The curriculum consists of:

  • Letter of the week.  We decided not to do this because Kessa already has a letter of the week in school.  I didn't want to try and coordinate them or make her have two letters of the week.
  • Primary Story, which is fiction, in general, and you read 2-3 times per week.  (Or more when we really like the books.)
  • Enrichment Book, which is non-fiction in general.  Which you read once per week.  (We're doing more often.)  I like this idea because I didn't realize that non-fiction books were actually good reading outside of research papers until Kessa was born and I wasn't getting any sleep, so I started reading sleep training books.  I like the idea of introducing non-fiction books for the sake of learning early.
  • Activities.  I love these.  They aren't your typical activities I think of, but things like making butter and making candles out of beeswax.
  • Art.  All of the art is based out of a book.  She doesn't describe the art at all, just tells you which one in the book it is and expects you to buy the book.  We decided not to do this.
  • Poem: I'm not a poetry person.  Perhaps that's a good reason to do this section. And maybe periodically I'll throw one in if it's one I already know, like Little Boy Blue.  Or if I decide to be more proactive.  But I'm not planning on it.  And the curriculum has you memorize one poem each month.  I think Kessa could do memorization.  She's pretty good at songs.  But I don't see enough benefit at this stage to make me want to do it.
  • Flower Fairy Alphabet coloring book and corresponding poems (to read, not memorize).  These go with the letter of the week.  We're not doing these for the same reason we're not doing the letter of the week or the poems.
We also rearranged a few weeks to make them fit better for us, so our weeks don't match the original weeks.  I will post about each week about the things we did in each category and link them here.

Week Two - Milk
Week Three - Tractor
Week Four - Grains
Week Five - Apples
Week Six - Leaves
Week Eight - Fall
Week Nine - Pumpkin
Week Ten - Wool/weaving
Week Eleven - Candles
Week Twelve - Thanksgiving

Disclaimer: The book links in the posts are links to my Amazon Affiliate program. If you click on the pictures, it will take you to its page on Amazon.  I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make while there.


Emily said...

I'm so jealous! This sounds like SO much fun! We'll probably be homeschooling, so I guess I will eventually be able to teach Paisley things in fun ways, but, what about NOW? Can we do fun things NOW? Maybe we could follow the same curriculum and I could modify it for a 3 month old baby? Haha! That would be tough since she doesn't speak English and hardly even realizes she has hands, etc. ;)

Also, in case you're interested, I see that the Milcreek library carries the art book. (And other ones in the same series.)

Katya said...

A vegetable poem:

I eat my peas with honey;
I've done it all my life.
It may sound kind of funny,
But it keeps them on the knife!