2019-2020 Kindergarten and 2nd Grade Wrap-Up + Curriculum Review

Today’s post is a wrap-up of our 2019-2020 school year including our curriculum.  These types of posts are always my favorites to read on other homeschool blogs and I hope this is helpful to someone!

NYC has different age/ grade cut-off dates than most other places.  The year you turn 6 is your 1st grade year.  This year Ethan turned 7 in the late fall and Lillian turned 5 at the end of the summer.

I’ve broken down our Kindergarten and 2nd grade curriculum choices into the subjects required in NYC.  Kindergarten is not mandated in NYC so my daughter was not an officially registered homeschool student.  She will be next year for her 1st grade year.

I hope that this post illustrates that everything counts!  Homeschooling is a lifestyle which encompasses more than your curriculum choices.  I love choosing curriculum but it is just one part of a life full of learning and fun.

Arithmetic

Kindergarten:  Lillian did not use a formal math curriculum.  She worked with our Montessori Materials, some printables and self-chose work during her school time.  She enjoyed the teen hanging bead frame, the hundreds board, the beads paired with count and clip cards, the game Roll and Record and some holiday themed worksheets from the Moffat Girls at Teachers Pay Teachers.  Math was not her favorite subject and I definitely did not push it (I firmly believe all academic work can wait until after a child turns 6).  One morning recently when she woke up, she asked me, “Do you want to see what I wrote in my notebook last night?”  She proceeded to show me how she wrote out all of her doubles facts (1+1 =2, 2+2=4, etc).  I had NO idea she even knew about doubles facts or how to write an equation.  She said she had been watching Ethan and she learned these things herself!  It was really amazing.  She let me know she is ready for more math work, all in her own time.

2nd Grade:  Master Books Math:  Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 2.  This is a religious curriculum and we are a secular homeschool.  But, it is very easy to simply overlook the small portions of the Math stories that did not apply to us.  We both loved this program.  The format was a story to read aloud and then problems to solve – always a good mix of review and practice with new concepts.  The pace felt gentle but never boring.  It was very “open and go” with absolutely no prep for the parent.  I felt it was very thorough and this level covered addition and subtraction (single digit, double digit and regrouping), word problems, measurement, simple fractions, money, time and bar and line graphs.  I am thinking about using Level 1 for Lillian next year.

Ethan also completed a Kumon math book on counting money and another on telling time for extra practice.  I will definitely use those books again with Lillian.

Ethan also enjoyed working with our Montessori materials – the stamp game for static and dynamic addition, the multiplication bead board and the bead chains.

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Both kids loved the Skip Counting Songs on Spotify from Heidi Butkus and the math gamesSum Swamp and Dino Math Tracks.

Reading

Kindergarten:  We used a textbook that I had previously used with Ethan called, Phonics Pathways:  Clear Steps to Easy Reading and Perfect Spelling by Dolores C. Hiskes and Montessori’s Pink Series Language Program.  We will continue working with both of these in 1st grade. We also used BOB books.

2nd Grade:  We used the next level of the same program, Reading Pathways:  Simple Exercises to Improve Reading Fluency by Dolores C. Hiskes.  This book focused on reading accuracy and fluency.  I loved the format of a daily pyramid starting with one word and then phrases and lastly sentences.  As the amount of text increases on each line it builds eye span, strength and tracking, fluency and confidence.  Each pyramid has a different phonics focus and the book culminates in reading multisyllable words.  This is another very open and go curriculum.

Both:  Reading Eggs is an online phonics program that is a monthly subscription.  It is full of lessons and games and is a great supplement to your at-home phonics program.

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Both kids also read independently each day and read aloud to me each day.

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For Read Alouds, we typically read 2 picture books every day and 1-2 poems (not including bedtime books).  We loved reading poetry together over Poetry Tea Time!

Here are the chapter books I read aloud to both kids this year as part of our homeschool:

  • All of a Kind Family, All of a Kind Family Uptown and Ella All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
  • Bunnicula by Deborah Howe
  • Catwings by Ursula K Le Guin
  • The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds
  • The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

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Writing

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  We used Handwriting Without Tears – both for Kindergarten and 2nd Grade.  This is the same program I used when I was a NYCDOE teacher.  I am very familiar with it and both kids really, really like it.  We have the full kit – teachers guide, wooden pieces, foam mats and chalk boards.  It is amazing to look at the progress they both made in Handwriting this year.

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Each child also wrote their own original stories often!  Lillian would either dictate hers for me to write or enjoy writing pages on her own.

Spelling

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  We used Spelling You See – Level B.  This program develops visual memory to learn common spelling patterns. I felt this program was effective, age appropriate and both Ethan and Lillian loved the nursery rhyme format.  It was very age appropriate for Ethan and a little bit of a reach for Lillian.  We will also continue with this program next year!  Something that I did not realize is that you can use this program as a handwriting program as well.  At times I felt it was too much writing for young children between the two programs.

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History

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  We used Story of the World:  Volume 1.  We love this program!  I also purchased the Activity Guide and we enjoy doing the activities that go along with each story.  I love that history is presented in chronological order and also that if we stick with it, we will re-visit this time period in the next 3 year cycle.  We always do History together.

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Geography

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  We used Beautiful Feet Books:  Around the World with Picture Books.  To be honest, this was the hardest to keep up with. The program is lovely and the books are beautiful but if we skipped something, it was usually this.  We will try to finish it this summer.  Story of the World, our history program, contains geography work (maps, bodies of water, continents, cardinal directions) so I do feel like we still covered quite a bit of Geography.

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Science

Kindergarten and 2nd grade:  Science is another subject we always do together.  I did not purchase a formal science curriculum this year.  We completed a Timeline of Science Sticker Book which was a great way to look at the progress of scientific advancements.  Also:

  • Weekly Forest School – Homeschool Program with Brooklyn Nature Days
  • We planted a garden
  • We used an InsectLore kit to watch caterpillars transform into butterflies
  • We kept nature journals
  • We watched videos on YouTube – Science Max
  • Ethan took weekly classes at Brooklyn Robot Foundry 
  • Ethan got a microscope for his birthday and loved learning how to prepare slides and study specimens.

Health Education

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  Both kids learned to prepare healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We do not use a formal health curriculum.  We talk often about making healthy choices and what we can do to keep our bodies healthy.

Music

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  For the first half of the year we read through the Usborne Book of Famous Composers and listened to the corresponding classical music.  We studied the Nutcracker and The Magic Flute and saw a kid’s version of each performed live!  During our quarantine, both kids loved taking piano lessons online from Hoffman Academy.

Visual Arts

I did not purchase a formal art curriculum.  We had a subscription to Artventure which was great for drawing lessons.  We used Usborne cards for studying famous paintings as well as several Usborne art history books.  We visited the Met Museum and completed many seasonal arts and crafts projects.  Both kids loved selling their artwork at our annual Wild + Free Homeschool Handcraft Fair in December.

Physical Education

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  Our PE consisted of hikes with forest school and weekend family hikes, weekly bike rides, outdoor play with Wild + Free, swim lessons, Tae Kwon Do lessons and ice skating lessons.

Bilingual Education

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  This year one of the moms in our Wild + Free group provided weekly French lessons to any children who were interested.  They were fantastic and we are so grateful!  My kids learned the days of the week, colors, names of food, how to count and vocabulary for weather.

Field Trips

This year we visited:

  • The Met
  • The NY Hall of Science
  • Intrepid Museum (they run a wonderful homeschool day program!)
  • Puppetworks
  • The Little Orchestra Society
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Prospect Park Zoo
  • Sweet Briar Nature Center
  • Tea Town Nature Preserve
  • The Nature Place (we learned how to tap trees and make maple syrup!)
  • Theodore Roosevelt Bird Sanctuary
  • Blydenburgh Park (we built our own small boats and set them sailing!)
  • Sunken Meadow State Park
  • Planting Fields Arboretum
  • Lewins Farm

Extras

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade:  Both kids kept a gratitude journal and took 1 class each with Outschool.

As part of our Wild + Free group we enjoyed weekly free play with friends in nature, weekly time for nature journaling, monthly book clubs and a winter handcraft fair.

Both kids enjoyed ice skating lessons at Lakeside, playdates with homeschool friends, using apps with Osmo and Cosmic Kids Yoga.   Ethan loved his boat building class with Koko NYC and Lillian loved her ballet, jazz and tap classes with a local dance studio.

And that’s a wrap on our homeschool year!  It was a crazy year for everyone but writing out this post helped me focus on the good and all the academic progress the kids made!

I will write a post soon with our curriculum choices for this upcoming year.

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