Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Homeschooling Kindergarten: Our Frugal 2013-2014 Curriculum, Resources, & Materials

Earlier this week I posted on 4 resources that have been pivotal in planning our first year of kindergarten. If you have a kindergartener or will in the future, you should check out this post.

As I mentioned in the prior post, I am creating my own curriculum for this first year of kindergarten because . . .

(1) I can't justify the exorbitant curriculum costs,

(2) I can't find anything I really like, &
(3) I'm a nerd.

So, I made a lot of missteps as I created our kindergarten curriculum, and I want to share with you what I've learned as well as what we plan to do this school year.

First of all, you have to Determine Your Goals.

  • What do you hope to accomplish this school year? 
  • What subjects do you want/need to teach?
  • What information do you think your child needs to know?
  • What are your priorities (Bible & character issues? academics? service?)

Pray about your goals. Seek seasoned homeschool moms for advice. Do some research. I used these resources to help me. Even if you aim way too high, create some goals!

Next, you need to 
Establish Your School Year.

In Tennessee, kindergarten is not mandatory, so we do not have to report grades or anything to the State. {Note: You will have to find out the homeschool laws where you live and if there's a set number of days you're required to have school.}

We're following a 6-weeks on, 1-week off schedule just for my sanity. That means we'll have 5 weeks of learning followed by 1 week of review, and then a 1-week break where we'll do Five in a Row (FIAR), vacation, whatever. 

Find Your Resources, Material, &/or Curriculum.

With the exception of handwriting, I have chosen not to purchase curriculum this go-round. Instead, I've bought books, printed free work sheets and projects off the internet, and made library book lists. 

Here's a glimpse at the curriculum, resources, and materials we're using this year in the following subjects*:


We're 3/4 of the way through Leading Little Ones to GodIf you're looking for a well-written, very thorough devotional for children, I HIGHLY recommend this book. It includes a lesson (all leading to salvation) with questions, scripture passage to read, memory verse, a hymn, and prayer. 

Next, we'll work through Hands-On Character Building by the Boyers. 


In my lovely resources on kindergarten planning, I found references to the above books: Family Math for Young Children and Janice VanCleave's Play & Find Out about Math: Easy Activities for Young Children. Both are full of great real-world math activities that are fun and hands-on. 

In the first few weeks, we'll practice counting with beans and we'll bake cookies to understand what one-half means. No fancy manipulatives necessary! 

We're also using some awesome resources from Confessions of a Homeschooler and Mama's Learning Corner.

Language Arts

Sing Spell Read & Write Kindergarten/1st Grade Combo Kit is the primary program we plan to use for phonics, reading, spelling and writing. It does it all! We've used the preschool home kit and LOVED it, so I'm excited to see how my daughter responds to this one.

We will also continue using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for a while at least. This book has really been the catalyst for teaching Kate how to read, but it's boring and tedious and very repetitive. So, we don't do it daily anymore. 

Instead, we're supplementing more with Reading Eggs and BOB Books. Plus, every 6th week when we review, I will be doing Five in A Row (FIAR). The girls love it. 

Handwriting/Copy Work

I really hadn't planned to purchase a handwriting curriculum, but I feel like we need some "professional help" in this area :) So, I bought A Reason for Handwriting: Manuscript A only to discover that we probably need to back up and start with the Kindergarten version first. I really like the Creation theme.

We'll also be using this excellent copy work from Kirsten Joy Awake that she offered for free recently revolving around Old Testament scriptures about who God is.

Read-Aloud Books

Reading will be the main focus of our schooling. I've accumulated loads of books from the booklists at Simply Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online. I have pulled these and other "living books" from our bookshelves and now they're in a basket in the living room for easier access.

I also recently purchased The Miller Family Series, which we will read aloud throughout the year. These books were recommended by several readers, so I'm eager to jump into them with my girls.

I have several hands-on science books for children, but I plan to start with Apples, Bubbles, & Crystals: Your Science ABCs because the experiments are simple and fun and the illustrations are too cute! Plus, each activity--beginning with "A is for Apples"-- offers scientific explanations for each experiment. I think this will be a gentle way to introduce my kindergartener to science.

We'll also use Science in the Kitchen (Usborne Science Activities) and Janice VanCleave's Play & Find Out About Science: Easy Experiments for Young Children.


For history, we're going to begin with early American history and try to cover the major events (Indians, early settlers, Pilgrims, Revolutionary War, etc.) as well as famous figures. We'll also discuss national symbols (flag, pledge of allegiance, national anthem, the White House, etc.) and learn about various holidays and traditions.

To learn more about these events, we'll be checking out books from the library. We'll be reading lots from David Adler's picture book biography series. I want my daughter to have a basic understanding of our nation's history. Then, next year, we'll go more in-depth.


My goals for geography are as follows:

(1) to familiarize my child with the use of maps and globes, 
(2) to learn to write her address and telephone number, 
(3) to draw simple maps of known areas, and 
(4) to know the names and locations of the 7 continents. 

We'll be using our globethis amazing atlas, free worksheets online, and our library. 

Art Expression/Appreciation
Confessions of a Homeschooler has an amazing artist study called "World's Greatest Artists 1." This first volume, which includes Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and others, is FREE. The activities are a bit advanced for a kindergartener, but, to me, it's the exposure that counts. 

We'll also be doing some fun art projects each week based on the artists in the study. I've started an "Art for Kids" Pinterest board specifically for such art work if you're looking for fun ideas.

Music Appreciation
I want to use SQUILT by Mary Prather @ Home Grown Learners but have decided to wait until next year. Instead, I am choosing a composer a week to "study." Basically that means we will:
  • Listen to his/her music
  • Read a library book about him/her (I love this composer series.)
  • Draw/write about how the music makes us feel

We will be working on memorizing and reciting 1-2 poems per month. The poems I'm choosing come from this source. The goal is exposure to great literature, which helps with grammar, writing, and so many other wonderful things. 

Tailor-making a curriculum for my kindergartener has been a lot of work but really fun. Ask me if I'll do it again next year when I have a pre-Kinder on my hands too, and my answer may be vastly different. 

But isn't that the beauty of homeschooling? We can tweak, revise, and edit any time we need to! I know that each child is unique, so my approach to kindergarten with our eldest reflects her personality and interests. At this very early stage in the game, the key is to make learning fun. 

That's our frugal kindergarten curriculum for the upcoming school year. What do you recommend?

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  1. Looks like you're off to a great start!! We used Leading Little Ones to God, the Missionary Stories with the Millers, and one of Usborne's Science Activities books for our first grade(-ish) curriculum. My girls are enamored with the Millers collection!

    I'm excited for you - kindergarten was so much fun for me (and my daughters)! :)

    1. I'm so glad to hear that your kids love the Millers books because I'm really not familiar with the series, but so many people have recommended them.

      Hope you're doing well!

  2. Good job mama! I am frugal and also love hand picking our resources and mixing it up. Looks like you have a great selection and I hope your year goes wonderfully!

    1. Thanks, Del! It's fun, isn't it? I hope your year goes well too! Blessings to you, sweet friend!

  3. May God bless your efforts & give you & your children a great year of learning! I was your neighbor at A Wise Woman.

  4. This is a great set of resources! Bookmarking for our use as well. Some of these books like the miller series and the history picture books you mentioned sound like they may work well for us. Have a fantastic year!

    1. Thanks, Tauna. I love reading what other people are using in their home schools. Your post reminded me of the COAH's artist study :)

  5. I tried boxed curricula with two of my kiddos for Kindergarten with DISASTROUS results! The over-structuring just didn't work well for us at all. I'll start a new Kindergartener in a couple of weeks and this time I'm taking your approach--piecing together a curriculum on my own and using lots of free resources as well. And I'm SO excited about it! I've learned to love the freedom to adjust things as I need to without feeling all this guilt for wasting money on a curriculum that isn't working for us.

    Hope you have an awesome school year!

    1. That's so reassuring to hear, Tanya! I have had some doubts and misgivings about doing it all myself instead of opting for a boxed curriculum. I think the flexibility will be good for both of us though. I tend to complicate things especially when I've invested a lot of money into it.

      Have a great school year! Thanks for the encouragement!!

  6. Its seems like yesterday I was homeschooling my kids at that age.. now one is 13 and the other just graduated homeschool this summer!

  7. Looks perfect! I love your art suggestion. I borrowed some readers from my pastor's wife a couple of days ago and my daughter loves them. I'm sure Kate would love them too, since she & Isabelle seem to be at about the same reading level. They're called Bible Stories for Early Readers by Lavaun Linde. They have very simple words that are perfect for emergent readers. I would include a link to the readers on Amazon, but Google calls that a spammy comment. :)

    1. Thanks, Gabby! I will definitely check those readers out! They sound perfect!

  8. Kindergarten is such a fun year! I remember it well. Now my eldest is a senior in high school and my youngest is a freshmen. God Bless You!

  9. what a great list of resources, we love love love the BOB books here :-)

    1. Mama S, this is our first experience with the BOB books, but my daughter seems to love them too!