We had a good day yesterday! It was easy and fun, and we talked a LOT together. We decided to tweak just a few things, and I’m sure we’ll change something little every day to work for us, but here’s how it went down…
8:30 ish (or when we all get awake–there is only one morning person among us, and it is not me)- Fire up the ol’ Toshiba laptop…it takes awhile to come on. Meanwhile, we eat breakfast and talk about today’s date. What famous things happened on this day in history? What holidays are this month? Remember, I’m a kindergarten teacher and I can’t let go of calendar time. I’m glad for these chats, because my very smart middle school boys needed to polish their calendar skills, even simple trivia like how many weeks are in a year, what day of the year is this if we count in order, what effects does Leap Year have on the next month, etc.
After Breakfast- in class, I always read a story to my kids after calendar time. At home, I read from a devotion book for teen boys that the boys’ Papa gave to them last year. We also read aloud from one hymn a day. The old hymns are very lyrical and introduce my boys to some new vocabulary words while also promoting fluency in reading.
Reading Stations- We do four “stations,” just like my super-smart kindergartners.
1. We do Read to Self, where the boys read a book of their choice to themselves for 20 minutes. For younger kids, I’d suggest 15 or 10 minutes. Right now, one boy is reading an I Survived chapter book and the other is reading The Hunger Games. I also grab a book for Read to Self, and we all find a comfy spot on the couch or chairs to read.
2. We do Work on Writing, where the boys and I write for 20 minutes. This is where I blog (I won’t finish this post before Work on Writing is over–it will post later today) and the boys write on a topic of their choice. I thought they would buck me here, but it is so silent while they are writing. This has been my biggest and most pleasant surprise so far. They love being able to write! I have never thought to ask their teachers if they are so enthusiastic about writing at school.
3. We learn with technology for 20 minutes. A GREAT site for this right now is Moby Max, which is free for a limited time due to our very special circumstances across the nation. Moby Max has a “teacher”, albeit a somewhat creepy-robot-voice teacher at times, that actually goes over specific skills for reading and math. Since these are our Reading Stations, the boys work on reading skills. Once a child gets into Moby Max, I’d suggest either taking the placement test and going from there, or working on sight words, vocabulary, or fluency skills, depending on age. My kindergartners work on letter naming, letter sounds, and sight words at school. 🙂
4. We do the Teacher Station. At school, this is called the Mrs. Givens station, but at home, I just sit down with the boys and monitor/guide them as they work through an i-Ready Student At Home Activity Packet for reading.
*Reading Stations takes us about an hour to an hour and twenty minutes to complete. It’s not over in a flash. Yes, I’m aware that it sounds very school-ish, but I am a public school teacher, and I do like to work on grade-specific skills per the Alabama State Course of Study, which you can find here: https://www.alex.state.al.us/browseStand.php . I will work on these skills whether we are required to or not, because it is what I do! Also, my boys like it so far. I will admit that I thrive on structure, and at home I am realizing that it is okay to be a little un-structured. For instance, today I let the boys do Reading Stations in any order that they wanted to, lol! We also took a very extended recess outside, and just picked up where we left off when we returned.
I read to them again. After reading stations, I read again to my boys. Yes, you read that correctly, I read aloud to my middle school kids, just like I would to my kindergartners. We pick a chapter book together, and I read a chapter a day. We’ve done this for years right before bed, and we decided to stick in our day right here. Your kids are never too old to hear fluent reading, and it’s even better if they hear it in a genre that they normally wouldn’t pick for themselves. They are introduced to a world of characters and places.
RECESS- How fun is this? At school, we are limited due to having so many minutes per day and so many children waiting for their turn on the playground, so our recess is only 15 minutes. At home, we are unlimited! Our time is unlimited! I’ve been so glad for pretty days that we can all get outside and take a walk, play with the dogs, look at the cows, and enjoy the fresh air.
Music- At school, my class has a time of music and singing right before lunch. We watch videos from The Singing Walrus and Super Simple Songs that correspond with current holidays and themes. At home, one boy practices piano and the other beats on the–I mean practices–the drums.
Trivia Time- for my tiny kindergartners at school, we so love this time right after lunch (that doesn’t actually include trivia). At school, I read a chapter from Junie B. Jones and her latest adventures. At home, given my boys have a love for trivia, that is what we do for a few minutes to transition back into a learning mindset. We are currently using a Bible trivia book, but there are many resources online for trivia!
Number Talk- For very young children, this can simply include counting to 100 from any given number, counting collections of things and discussing how the child counted, counting by tens, fives, etc. Yesterday my boys and I revisited what a prime number is and visited Khan Academy to sharpen our skills with prime numbers.
Independent Math Work- for about 20 minutes, one boy works on i-Ready grade-level math work while the other one works on Moby Max math fluency. Remember, Moby Max is currently free and is very good for taking your child at his/her current level of learning and moving forward from there. After 20 minutes, the boys swap.
Science Experiment- This week we did an experiment with an egg that I found here. We are watching it and recording our observations daily.
Social Studies- Yesterday, we talked about St. Patrick’s day, and today we discussed Ireland, their government, economy, etc. We will also look to see how society is being affected by the current global situation.
Pebblego is a great resource for ideas for social studies and science.
PE- back outside! Running, basketball, football…I don’t have to encourage them much to get out and get active!
Read or Rest-So, my kindergarten friends always rest after PE, and I have told the boys they can read or rest quietly for a few minutes. Yesterday one looked at his baseball cards while the other built with legos. I was the only one who read! Haha! Maybe this time is really for Mama!
Snack- Who am I kidding? They’ve been eating the whole time!
Jobs- my school kiddos love to have a job at school. My boys are less-than-excited to do chores, but chores must be done, and this is when we are doing them. So that’s that.
Afternoon Meeting- I was a little unsure about this part. At school, we talk about our day and what we loved about the day, what we will do tomorrow. So yesterday, the boys and I had a quick discussion about the day, and they said today they might want to “get all the school done early and play the rest of the day.” However, our plans changed this morning with a quick trip up to the church gym (which was empty…we are following the social distancing rules, don’t worry!), and we all learned that flexibility is a great aspect of learning at home. The seventh grader said he loved the afternoon meeting most of all, and my heart grew and swelled a bit bigger, and then he said he loved it because it meant that now he could go play Madden, but you know, whatever. I still know he had a good time, and that he spent a lot of it with me. 🙂
*So that’s a lot of words to explain our day, but that’s what our day’s framework will look like for now. It’s two days tested at home, and 15 years tested at school, and it’s never failed me yet. What are you doing to keep a routine at home? I’d love to know!
By the way, the first thing I noticed this morning when I woke up were the birds singing outside. I immediately thought of this passage, found in Matthew 6:26-27. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
They were singing without a care in the world. You are worth so much more than a bird, my friend. Sing loud, and cast your cares on the One who cares for you more than He cares for the birds.