I have to admit, I really love these two curricula! I know, it’s only the first week, but instead of feeling like “oh, gosh, I guess we better get our school day done”, I’m now thinking that I can’t wait to get into our school day, it’s so addictive, so fun and educational. I’m actually enjoying teaching Peanut! In fact, some mornings this week I actually was tempted to wake up Peanut early just so I could start our day! I didn’t though, because I really do cherish the couple of hours I get when he’s asleep. Plus I need my coffeee to kick in before taking on the world! Still, I noticed that this was a real nice change from last year!
So what makes these curricula stand out from the crowd? Wow, where to start! I think what I appreciate most is how both McRuffy and Moving Beyond the Page are organized by each day. I love that they aren’t overly scripted, but gives me enough information that I can teach with ease. Also, each list exactly what I will need each day.
Moving beyond the Page even goes a step further than other curricula – the 4-5 level includes a materials kit, and inside this huge box is almost everything we need for each and every lesson! Oh, and it’s not just all tossed into the box, each of the 30 units have all the needed items for that specific unit bagged up, labeled with the unit number, and ready to go. There is also a few “general materials” bags that contain things you will use over and over for several units – things like paint brushes, paint, play dough, etc. I absolutely love how it’s so grab n go! Also, the quality of the materials is definitely first rate! I haven’t reached the unit on dinosaurs yet, but I hear that this is the only unit that gives families issues since the cardstock dinosaur skeleton is too delicate. I’m thinking about looking for a balsa wood puzzle/model instead, but if I can’t find one, I may try to reinforce the cardstock with cardboard from cereal boxes or boxes we get at the grocery.
So what did our first school week look like? Well, we read the book A is For Musk Ox every morning. It’s really funny, and we found lots of different things to do each day with it. First day we just read it cover to cover. Second day we introduced the sight word “you”, so I had Peanut look for that word on each page. Third day we tried to find the pictures of the things the musk ox covered up (ie. C is for
clown musk ox – we looked for the clown on the page). The fourth day we concentrated on the sounds the letters of the alphabet made, and paid attention to how the musk ox described himself. The fifth day, Peanut told me in his words what was going on in each page.
For Social Studies and Science we studied musk oxen. We learned where they live, what they eat, their preditors, and even watched some videos of wolves hunting them, two males fighting, and even watched an episode of Wild Kratts about musk oxen! Did you know that they are the largest member of the goat family? Even I learned something new!
For Language arts we are learning the alphabet song, we learned the sight word “you”, and we practiced making the letter “a”. Since Peanut has fine motor issues, we have always had problems with writing. Moving Beyond the Page has helped us already. They have 2 handwriting options. Option 1 is a worksheet where the first few letters are traced, then the last few letters are done without any guidelines. Option 2 is for kids that can’t write yet. This option always helps to exercise the fine motor muscles, and still had Peanut learning the letter! For the uppercase A, Peanut placed tiny apple stickers on a die cut letter A.
The lowercase “a” had Peanut putting glue over 4 large letter “a’s” then cutting some yarn and gluing it down to form the letter “a”. After he did option 2, I had him try to do option 1, and he did pretty well!
Then we learned the sound that “a” makes, and cut and glued the proper picture under the letter. Messy but fun!
On day 5 of this unit, we did a reading workshop – Peanut spent about 5 minutes with the book “A is For Musk Ox” and just enjoyed it on his own. Then we did a writing workshop. He began his student journal by drawing a picture of a musk ox, and then “wrote” about it himself. On the second page, he made a drawing of a dragon, some knights, and a castle, all under a nice yellow sun. He then dictated his story to me and I wrote it down for him.
Mathematics is included in Moving Beyond the Page, but it’s pretty basic. We practiced counting to 20, and wrote the numbers 1,2, and 3. Like Language Arts, this has 2 options, so first we took some shaving cream and put it in a tray, and Peanut wrote the numbers with his fingers in the shaving cream, messy but effective! Next I had him write them on the worksheet.
McRuffy Math is definitely worth the money! This week Peanut counted to 10, learned grouping (ie. take 4 counters and make 2 groups of 2 with them, setting up the groundwork for addition). He is learning to slow down and carefully count the items in front of him, but he also is learning to recognize what a group of 1, 2, 3, and 4 items look like without counting them. He reviewed his basic 2D shapes (square, triangle, etc) and actually learned some basic 3D shapes (cylinder, cube, cone, sphere). We did some work on patterning too, and also biggest, smallest, middle sized. Then he put all the numbers from 1-10 in order, and also learned to count backwards from 10-1! Each day also saw him tracing the numbers in the workbook, and even doing this brought on laughter. McRuffy Math is such a great fit for us!
For Art and Phys Ed we go back to Moving Beyond the Page. Peanut did at least one art project per day, either drawing or making a collage, and even though it was fun, it also reinforced those fine motor skills! A win-win!!! For gym, he acted like a musk oxen. He loved stamping his hooves and charging at a pillow, giving it a good head butt!
So our first week was fun, full of games, laughter, videos, too much glue (I need to get some glue sticks, the liquid ‘elmer’s glue’ is just way too messy for me – Peanut loves it though!) and tons of learning for both Peanut and me!
Would I recommend Moving Beyond the Page 4-5 for a Kindergarten aged child? No way! I would INSIST on it!!!! I truly wish I would have stumbled across it last year, but then I don’t think Peanut would have been ready for it then. The right curriculum at the right time makes a world of difference.
So now it’s Saturday, and I’m already anxiously and eagerly waiting for Monday and our 2nd unit to begin!