How to Use the Homeschool Companion Pre-School/Kindergarten Seasonal Series
I developed our Homeschool Companion Seasonal Series to use with my own kids. The first three units (Harvest Time, Winter Wonderland and Spring B's) were originally created when my oldest was in kindergarten and my middle child was in preschool (originally published Jan 2009). Each school term includes a 12 week schedule that focuses on the rhythm of the seasons with a special emphasis on holidays and nature. These programs were designed as a gentle way to introduce my children to the world around us. We read, baked, and crafted together. We spent a lot of time outdoors and at our kitchen table completing Nature Studies. These units can be used with children from 4-6 years old, although older siblings may enjoy joining in the activities.
Due to popular demand I have now added a slightly shorter Summer Unit (Puddles and Ponds) to complete the seasonal year.
Is this program really free?
Yes, the schedule, book lists, and activities guides are all available for free on our website. We understand that homeschooling can be expensive and many of us are working on tight budgets. We have chosen to make our resources available to everyone free of charge. You can make as many copies of our curriculum materials as you need for your own personal use. Please keep in mind that one of the best ways to say thank you is to place your book orders by starting on our site. This helps support what we do and let's us keep sharing great books and materials with you!
What are your copyright rules?
All materials are copyright protected and cannot be sold or distributed without our consent. That includes any schedules, text, graphics, photos or included resources (like journal pages or calendars). You are free to use these materials with your own family, in a co-op setting or any other non-profit situation as long as the copyright and website information is kept in tack on the bottom of all printed pages. You may NOT post the materials on your own website, blog or any other internet space!!! If you would like to share Wee Folk Art and our Homeschool Companion tools with your friends please link back to our site.
How is this program set up?
Each week includes one fictional story to be read two or three times throughout the week and one corresponding non-fiction book that can be read once. These books will cover all the social studies and science you need at this age. Each week includes one or two activities that correspond with the book theme of the week. One journal page with your child’s narration is completed each week. I also encourage you to take a weekly Nature Walk or field trip throughout the term. We also add in a picture studies and poem memorization. Keep in mind that the layout is very flexible and you will have to determine when to complete each task. You will find a Weekly Guide within this packet to help you get organized. You can complete the ‘assignments’ by working two, three or four days a week.
The Flower Fairy Alphabet coloring book & corresponding poems are a lovely way to introduction your preschooler to the alphabet. Please note, the letters are arranged in the order they are presented in the Explode the Code Series for Kindergarten. You can follow that order or just start with A if you would like. Handwriting wise I’m happy if my preschoolers can write their own name (I write my preschooler’s name with a yellow marker on lined paper for her to trace) but you can easily add in the D’Nealian Handwriting Little Books, completing one a week if you have a child who would like more instruction. For math we play counting games (counting bears, beans, pennies), use pattern beads and play simple card games like Go Fish, War and Memory (we use a Math Deck - no face cards and Aces are marked as 1s). For math game ideas I recommend the book “Games for Math” by Peggy Kaye. We also practice color and shape recognition. Puzzles are a great too.
To make this a full curriculum for a kindergartner you will need to add in a math program, I recommend Right Start Math A, and a phonics program, I use the Introduction to Explode the Code Books A, B, C for Kindergarten (and possibly book 1). I have scheduled the alphabet in the order they appear in ETC. ETC also has teacher guides if you would like assistance in introducing phonics. I do recommend the Leapstart Letter Factory DVD as well but be careful with the sounds for R and L. On the video the R comes off sounding like ER and the L like UL... be sure to repeat the sounds to your child without the leading vowel. When my kids start showing an interest in reading I start with the Bob books and move onto the Now I’m Reading readers. I recommend using D’Nealian or the Getty-Dubay Italic style handwriting books vs "Ball and Stick." I have added both the D’Nealian Handwriting Little Books and the Kindergarten book to my Amazon list. “Games for Math” by Peggy Kaye is a great add on.
That’s A LOT of Books
Yes, it is. 24 books a term, 3 terms in a year... gulp! I’m fortunate to have my mother’s old preschool library available to me and therefore own most of the listed titles. But do not despair. You don’t need to buy them all. I recommend purchasing the Primary Story Books. Those are the books you and your children will want to read again and again. Amazon’s 4 for 3 promotion is available on most children’s books which helps bring the cost down or try Better World Books to get used books. Then, use your library to fill in the Enrichment Books. If you can’t find the exact enrichment book I list at your library that is o.k.. You can make substitutions. Also, over time children's books do go out of print. I try to keep the book list up to date but if you run across something that you can't find or the used price is too high, just make a substitution following the same theme. I hate to see people spend an arm and a leg on a single children's book.
Some terms include additional items you may want/need such as a toy farm, bird feeder and a butterfly house.
Journal Pages & Narration
Every week you should complete at least one Journal Page with your child. There are several ways you can use these pages but the basic idea is to have your child narrate back to you a summation of the Primary Story you just read. Younger children or children new to narration may need help from you, in which case you can ask them leading questions (What happened first? Who was the main character? What did she want? How did she get it? etc.). You can either write the narration directly on the page (good for young students), write the narration on a separate sheet of paper and have your child copy it to their page (good for older students) or neatly write the narration on the page in yellow marker and then have your child trace the narration. Regardless of how you record the narration, be sure to follow grammar rules. Encourage your child to narrate in complete sentences. Younger children may need coaxing. Remind your child that all sentences start with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark. Every main word in a title should be capitalized (you do not capitalize little words such as, and, of, the). The second part of the journal page is to have your child draw a picture about the story in the box. You may choose to have your child do this while you read the story or after she completes her narration. I have found that my very active son actually listens better when his hands are engaged in a task but my daughter does better curled up on my lap during the story with time to color after.
Feel free to make extra copies of the journal page to record field trips, science experiments or nature studies. I leave blank copies of the journal pages in my children’s coloring area for them to write stories and such on whenever they want. You can find a variety of different journal pages available on WeeFolkArt.com with varying line spacings, number of boxes, etc.
You may choose to use the journal pages to record some of your child’s activities. I will paste a photo of my child completing a craft in the coloring box and add a few notes in the space provided. I then tuck the journal page back into my notebook along with my child’s narration and I have a great portfolio of my children’s work.
In some units Nature Studies (NS) listed are listed in your activity box. These are all easy and fairly quick activities to complete with your children. They can all be found in the book “Nature in a Nutshell for Kids.” Feel free to try additional activities or change up the order based on your climate. Our family tends to ‘hibernate’ a bit during the winter months sticking closer to home. The layering on of boots, hats, mittens, coats then dealing with car seats just about does me in. ;) Although most of the Nature Studies suggested can easily be done in your own backyard I do encourage you to visit your local Nature Centers and/or hiking trails. There are many observations you can make on a winter walk that you cannot see when all the leaves are in bloom. Enjoy the quiet of a forest blanketed in snow. Look for footprints and other evidence of animal activity. I also recommend placing a bird feeder outside a prominent window. This will help bring the wildlife to you. We love to sit and watch the birds at our kitchen table.
In your activity box you may see some basic Field Trip (FT) ideas. Actively participating in the community is important and children learn a lot from these simple outings. Try not to run other errands while on a field trip. Spend time talking with employees. Have your child ask the employee questions. Being comfortable asking for help is a life skill (talking about stranger safety is important too). When you go to the grocery store to look at the produce isle be sure to spend a lot of time comparing the veggies. Have your child try to relate the veggie with the part of the plant it comes from... leaf, stem, root. Try not to shop for your whole shopping list but rather pick some veggies (and other items needed) for a single meal. Be sure to try a new veggie... if you let you child pick anything she wants she may be willing to try something you would never have imagined her liking. Take time at the bakery to sit down and have a cup of coffee (you, not your child :) ) and a pastry. Enjoy a special treat together. Use your imagination with the field trip ideas and try not to skip them even if they seem really simple. Don’t under estimate how much fun your child will have sitting on a riding lawn mower at Home Depot (or similar store) and be sure to do stuff like compare prices, sizes, colors... even features if you child is interested. You have a few extra weeks without a FT listed in which you can make up any missed field trips. Take photos on your Field Trip and remember you can complete a Journal Page about your Field Trip when you return home.
Each month you will be memorizing one poem. There are many different ways to do this. Try reading it to your child three times, then have you child repeat the poem as best as they can remember with you. After that, have you child repeat the poem with you three time in a sitting. When they are ready have them try on their own. This is a great activity to work on in the car. You can also use line from the poems for copy work/handwriting practice. When they have learned the poem have them recited it for someone other than you. Maybe they can call a grandparent. My children love reciting poems that they have learned to friends and family. Recitation is a great beginning to public speaking, a life skill everyone should develop. Don’t forget to review past poems as well.
Use the scheduled Come Look with Me Books (or similar) for Art Appreciation. The kids should look at the pictures while you read the short text about the image. Then use the discussion questions in the book to talk about the art in more detail. Theses books are used mainly to spur constructive discussion about the images.
If you are looking for a more in depth Art Program I highly recommend Artistic Pursuits. I have used their preschool and level one books mixed in with our other curriculums.