Using a Different Theme Each Year
Although I tend to keep the younger girls basic schooling (reading, writing and maths) as simple as possible, requiring little more from me than opening a book at the correct page, the rest of their day I try to make themed. For example, the first year I started teaching them together (2012-13) they knew each week began with a preschool adventure box, often using the excellent Before Five in a Row books:
Last year (2013-14) I began Mr Men school (scroll down for list of Mr Men posts), and we used one character a week and based the majority of our school work on that character. We have now done almost an entire year of Mr Men themed learning (which I really must write up and post). Both girls asked for a Mr Men themed birthday this year. We did a general Mr men themed one for B3 and a Little Miss Splendid’s Spa party for A6. I love the off shoots of learning which come from a heavily themed year.
Introducing Dr Seuss School
After Christmas we will be starting Dr Seuss school. A6 has had Dr Seuss read out to her since she was a little baby. All our family love the rhythm and sense of fun each book has running through it. She had already expressed the desire to use them as our theme after we finished Mr Men. Imagine my delight when I discovered a new (to us) series – The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library:
This is a series of umpteen books all related to science in some way. And they are incredibly good! Apparently they were written to bridge the gap between preschool science and late elementary science and as such are meant for the 5-8 age group. I bought the weather book to try it out and to see if it would appeal to both the younger ones. Well, I don’t know about the younger ones, but their mother and grand mother LOVED it. Both of us learnt something new and found it really interesting:
I have since read them to the little ones and they lapped up every word. My mum bought a selection for them for A6’s birthday and I will ask her for a few more for A and B’s Christmas present.
We intend to use one of the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library books in addition to one of the other Dr Seuss books each week to supplement their workbooks schooling:
Incorporating Dr Seuss School into our morning schedule
Whilst most of the little one’s school morning is taken up with work book type activities there will be chances to pop a Dr Seuss activity here and there. Pepper their work with it, so to speak, to encourage variety and interest. This will be done in the following ways:
- One day each week L11 will make a Cat in the Hat themed snack during her morning slot with A6. On the same day C11 will make the same Cat in the Hat snack with B3, during her morning slot. We will eat these during our morning meeting.
- Dr Seuss books are full to the brim with quotable phrases just perfect for A6’s copy work. I intend to incorporate Dr Seuss copy work at least twice each week during her three R’s time with me, using StartWrite.
- The morning meeting will be an ideal opportunity to provide Dr Seuss themed colouring/ painting/ collage and play dough sheets during our read aloud. It will keep the two younger ones busy and whet their appetite for further Dr Seuss learning later in the day.
- Between 11-1130 am both girls will join me for their science. We will be specifically basing our weekly science on one of the Dr Seuss’ Learning Library. During this half an hour I will be reading the book and there will be time for the little ones to chat, ask questions, and narrate the book back to me.
- Once a week I aim to create a Dr Seuss Muffin Tin Meal
Dr Seuss School in the Afternoon
Our afternoon schedule will change each day, depending on Gary’s work schedule and the older ones’ electives. It looks like, in general, the little ones will be able to spend an afternoon twice a week on Dr Seuss activities, on a Monday and a Wednesday, from 1-3pm. I’ll be trying to get a balance between bum on the seat activities and more active work; and also independent activities and activities which need me.
Session One: 1-140 pm
We will carry out a science experiment to go with the Cat in the Hat Learning Library book. Seuss Ville have a selection of activities based on some of these books, although I also have many ideas of my own and I know the web is full to the brim with Seussy activities. The children will learn the basics of the experimental procedure and the importance of keeping a record of all their findings. For this I shall be using the Science Log from Seuss Ville.
Session Two: 140-210 pm
We will use this session for making a Cat in the Hat snack for every one, giving us time to tidy up after ourselves and also to join up with the older children to eat it. I intend to read aloud the second Dr Seuss book in preparation for the next session.
Session Three: 210-3 pm
During this session we will be doing activities to go along with our second Dr Seuss book. These will consist of writing activities, maths activities, fun creative activities – basically anything I think would wrap up the day’s study in a fun way. There are a plethora of activities to be found on-line, so I’m not expecting to have much trouble finding something that might tickle their fancy!
On a Wednesday we will be trying to find something really Wacky to do, like inside out sandwiches. I just know three 11-12 year olds who will probably put waaaay too much thought into all the wacky things they might like to do each Wacky Wednesday!
And just in case they are not all Seussed out I have lots of interactive books and games which I can use to supplement their learning. They are allowed one hour of screen time each day. Half is taken just before lunch with an educational DVD called Alpha Blocks. The other half happens sometime during late afternoon/early evening. I intend to download some Dr Seuss interactive books onto their computers for use during that second half an hour.
On a Saturday, although we tend to be fairly busy outside the house, if we are home I tend to be more lax about how much screen time they are allowed, increasing it to enough to watch a film. I have bought a selection of Dr Seuss DVDs which they will be able to watch if they want to Saturday before they go to bed.