Books, Review, Homeschooling, Story Telling, Poetry, Library

Puddles and Ponds update...

Hi everyone. I just thought I would stop in and let you all know that the new Homeschool Companion Puddles and Ponds schedule and book list are organized and ready to use. I don't have it ready as a printable pdf (I'm working on updating all of the unit pdfs) but in the mean time all the info you need to use the unit is posted on the blog. Just copy and paste the schedule and activity guide into a Word doc in order to print it. You can also print journal pages and a weekly schedule from one of the other units if you are ready to get started now. I hope everyone enjoys the latest unit in the Seasonal Series.

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.

Additional items:
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 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.

Nature Studies
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.

Field Trips
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.

Art Study
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.

Puddles and Ponds Activity Guide

Puddles and Ponds Activity Guide

Click here for the Puddles and Ponds Schedule and Book List.

The science experiments can be found in Nature in a Nutshell or One Small Square Pond. Use Can You Hear It for your art and music appreciation.

Make a Weather Chart to use daily. This chart should have space so that you can record your weather observations and daily temperature high (and low if you would like) for 4-5 weeks. You should work on making observations such as sunny, rainy, cloudy, windy, etc. Be sure to do it at the same time every day, preferably in the afternoon to get a more accurate high temperature recording. To take it a step further, you can then place daily temperatures on a line graph and/or use a bar graph to chart the number of sunny, rainy, cloudy, or windy days. You can get some good weather charting resources here.

Go cloud watching. Take a blanket to the park or just to your backyard. Lie down and watch the clouds for 15-20 minutes. Try to find pictures in the cloud forms. This is a great time to practice story telling with your children. Try it again at another time of day. We have some amazingly beautiful sunsets when the clouds look all pink and purple. When looking up at the sky, be sure to never look directly at the sun.

Play in the rain. As long as there is no lighting, send the kids out when it is raining. Most kids love donning their rain coats and rain boots. Not raining? Use a sprinkler to make your own rainy day. Let you kids play with an umbrella (there is something super fun about an umbrella) in the sprinkler or make mud puddles with the hose to splash in.

Put together a storm safety kit and plan for your family. Here is a link to a list of what you might want to include in your storm safety kit.

Make your own rainbow with a hose. Turn on your hose, stand with your back to the sun, use your thumb to make the water spray in droplets. You should be able to see a rainbow through the water mist. Click here for more details and other rainbow activities.

Make a Pond Journal to record your weekly observations. You can decorate the cover of a store bought journal, make your own journal with printer paper and a construction paper cover or print out several froggie journal pages and bind them together. Use your journal to make weekly observations about your Pond Square.

Wet Feather Experiment can be found in the Don't Ducks Get Wet Book.

Go outside and have fun with bubbles. Here are some Homemade Bubble recipes or store bought is fine. There is something magical about bubbles in the summer.

Practice Story Telling using A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Meyer. This sweet book series does not have any text. The stories are told through the illustrations. Take turns with your child making up the story to go with the pictures. If you would like to take it one step further, have your child illustrate their own wordless book.

Make the Turtles on a Log snack. This is a variation the traditional "Ants on a Log" snack. Clean and cut celery into 4" long sticks. Have your kids fill the crevice with peanut butter (or cream cheese if you are allergic to nuts)... or better yet use our Apple Stacker filling. Since my kids don't like raisins, we place several peanuts on top of the peanut butter as Turtles on a Log but of course you can use raisins or other dried fruit if you would prefer.

Poetry for this Unit:

Rain Clouds
By Elizabeth-Ellen Long
Along a road
Not built by man
There winds a silent
Of camel-clouds
Whose humped gray backs
Are weighted down
With heavy packs
Of long-awaited,
Precious rain
To make the old earth
Young again,
And dress her shabby
Fields and hills
In green grass silk
With wild-flower frills.
A Dragonfly
By Eleanor Farjeon
When the heat of the summer
Made drowsy the land,
A dragonfly came
And sat on my hand.
With its blue-joined body,
And wings like spun glass,
It lit on my fingers
As thought they were grass.

Copyright © Wee Folk Art, LLC 2008-2012. All rights reserved. This guide is part of our Homeschool Companion Series and is available for non-profit use only.

Puddles and Ponds Schedule

This unit was designed to be used as a summer guide in our homeschool companion series. If you followed our other units you will notice a few differences. First there is no phonics/alphabet study included. If you child has completed the Pre-Explode the Code books A-C and you would like to continue... feel free to start on Explode the Code Book 1. I suggest getting the teachers guide book and a set of the ETC flash cards. Second, the crafts and recipes have been replaced with outdoor activity suggestions. We like to get outside and get messy in the summer. Third, it is only a ten week guide rather than covering a full 12 week term to accommodate vacations and lazy days. We love to encourage learning all year round... but do suggest that it be a bit more laid back during the summer.

Puddles and Ponds Weekly Schedule

Week Literature Lesson Activities Enrichment
1 Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema Oh Say Can You Say What's the Weather Today? by Tish Rabe Closed Cones NNS pg 7
Make a Weather Chart to use daily for the next 4 weeks.
Poem: Rain Clouds
Music/Art Study: Track 1
2 Little Cloud by Eric Carle The Cloud Book by Tomie de Paola Cloud Creation and Cloud Predictions NNS pg 8-9
Go cloud watching.
Poem: Rain Clouds
Music/Art Study: Track 2
3 Rabbits and Raindrops by Jim Arnosky Down Comes the Rain by Frankly Branley Water Cycle NNS pg 30
Play in the rain.
Poem: Rain Clouds
Music/Art Study: Track 3
4 Thundercake by Patricia Polacco Flash, Crash, Fumble and Roll by Franklyn Branley Tornado Mix NNS pg 29 or Windy Weathering NNS pg 33
Put together a storm safety kit and plan.
Poem: Rain Clouds
Music/Art Study: Track 4
5 A Rainbow of My Own by Don Freeman All the Colors of the Rainbow by Allan Fowler Rainbow Milk/Soap experiment,
Make your own rainbow with a hose.
Poem: Rain Clouds
Music/Art Study: Track 5
6 Pond Circle by Betsy Fanco What's in the Pond? by Anee Hunter OSS pg 3-7, Establish Your Square
Make a Pond Journal to record your weekly observations.
Poem: A Dragonfly
Music/Art Study: Track 6
7 The Little Wood Duck by Brian Wildsmith Ducks Don't Get Wet by Augusta Goldin OSS pg 8-11, Wood Duck House, Wet Feather Experiment Poem: A Dragonfly
Music/Art Study: Track 7
8 Eliza and the Dragonfly by Susie Rinehart Take a Walk with Butterflies and Dragonflies by Jane Kirkland OSS pg 12-17, Periscope
Homemade Bubbles
Poem: A Dragonfly
Music/Art Study: Track 8
9 It's Mine by Leo Lionni Frogs by Gail Gibbons OSS pg 18-23, Leaf it Up
Story Telling using A Boy, A Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Meyer
Poem: A Dragonfly
Music/Art Study: Track 9
10 Box Turtle at Long Pond by William George Look Out for Turtles by Melvin Berger OSS pg 24-27, Come and Get It
Turtles on a Log snack
Poem: A Dragonfly
Music/Art Study: Track 10

Click here to go to the Activity Guide Page where you will find directions for the activities not included in a book and the poetry for memorization. If you need more information on how to use the schedule click here.

Additional Books & Supplies:

Books you need to complete the unit:
One Small Square Pond (OSS), Nature in a Nutshell (NNS), and Can You Hear It (Music/Art Study), An Outdoor or Student Thermometer

Chapter Books:
Is your child ready to listen to longer chapter books? Here are a few suggestions for summer reading. By no means do you need to read them all. Pick a couple of your favorites and read a few pages at a time as your little ones get used to listening to stories without all the pictures. These books should all be readily available at the library but on the other hand, they are also great books to own and re-read. Ramona the Pest and Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary, Stuart Little by E.B. White, James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, and  Pippi Longstockings by Astrid Lindgren.

A Family Favorite:
I also highly recommend the Boobela and Worm series. They are hard to find in the US but the kids and I adore these books. Snatch some up if you can.

Copyright © Wee Folk Art, LLC 2008-2012. All rights reserved. This guide is part of our Homeschool Companion Series and is available for non-profit use only.

A Flag for Our Country | One Snip Stars Project

We are studying American History this year. We are in the midst of the American Revolution Stories at the moment. This week we read about Betsy Ross and the First American Flag, A Flag for our Country by Eve Spencer.

The legend goes that George Washington came to Betsy with a drawing of a flag for her to sew. He suggested a flag with 6 pointed stars thinking that making perfectly even 5 pointed stars would be too difficult. Betsy showed him that with a few quick folds and a single snip of the scissors that a perfect 5 pointed star was easy to make. After a quick demonstration she was given the job to create the first American flag.

Of course we had to try it!

You can start with a plain ol' piece of 8.5" x 11" paper.

Fold it in half so it measures 8.5" x 5.5".

Fold it in half again so that it is 4.25" x 5.5".

Unfold the second fold. Fold it in half now the other way so that it is 8.5" x 2.5".

Unfold that fold. You should have a folded piece of paper that is 8.5" x 5.5" and that now has horizontal and vertical crease marks. (I added pencil lines to the creases to make them easier to see).

Align your paper so that the fold is on the top. Fold the left top corner down so that it fold with a sharp point on the top of the vertical crease down to the horizontal crease on the right side. You should have created an oblique crease on the left side.

Leaving the left side crease in place, fold that same corner back onto itself, lining up with that left side oblique crease, keeping a sharp point at the top. My kids say that this step looks like you are making a paper airplane.

Keeping a nice point at the top, now fold the right side over so that it folds over top of the current paper airplane shape.

Fold this piece back on itself so that you have that paper airplane shape again... or basically a pie shape with a sharp point on top.

Starting where the bottom corner of the top most piece is open, make one snip up on a diagonal about 2" down from the top point. I drew a line to help you see the cut mark.

"Then she took just ONE SNIP with her scissors and unfolded the paper. Betsy had done an amazing thing. She had cut a perfect five-pointed star!"

Keeping the top point portion, unfold and you should have a perfect 5 pointed flag shaped star!

After cutting out several stars, the kids took it one step further and added snowflake like details. Have fun!

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