Google and the library are my best friend. I didn't want to spend money on a curriculum set, nor did I have the money to buy a big set, when we're taking this month by month, this year at a time. Besides, Kian is at varying levels with each subject, it would be pointless to pay upwards of $500 for a kindergarten set, when he's reading above that and doing math above that. Piece meal is working for us for now.
I set out some themes for the months ahead. Then, I narrow down exactly what to focus on, and include art, music, math, science related to those themes. We don't do everything every day. We do Bible reading/devotional, math and printing daily. Reading is done several times a day, sometimes by me, sometimes by Kian, always at bedtime, etc. Some themes call for more "science" than others, some more reading, etc. Sometimes we role play and do hands-on. It's more fun and relaxing for all of us this way I think. When Kian is sick of sitting for 5 minutes, I remind him that he'd be doing a lot more sitting in a public school right now. Hehe.
November's "themes" were focusing on manners, for half week with moving the topic for the last half of that week. The next weeks are: Colonial America/Pilgrims, Native Americans (Treaty day celebration is in Canandaigua each November 11th, so i tied that in), Thanksgiving, and I forgot the other one, so shoot me, I don't have my calendar handy.
Yes, I use a blank monthly calendar. I write the themes on Sunday boxes, on Saturday boxes I jot ideas for art, science, other stuff. I write P, B, M on each day of the week for Printing, Bible and Math, as are daily subjects. Reading just goes without saying. Mostly, because I use books to introduce and explain the themes each week. I know other people are thinking this is rudimentary, such understated organizational homeschooling lesson planning...but, again, it works for us, for me. I like the flexibility of erasing one week and swapping it with another, etc. Some moms have these huge spiral bound specifically downloaded binders with each minute planned out and the whole year already set. I like planned life, but I'm not that motivated I guess? Oh well. Plus, I ask the boys for input, and this is supposed to be "kindergarten". I have to throw in some skills like scissor use, playdough, and whatever else 5 year old are supposed to do and know.
So, once I decide on a theme, I go to the trusty library....website. I search the topics, I search for specific books I have in mind, and then I put them on hold. It's great. I can just walk in and pick them up at the desk instead of trying to locate them when we go and hope they're still there. And, I can search the entire system which includes several counties, from Attica to Walworth towns as well. Some libraries have these great kits too. They are themed, like weather, or based on books, like Mouse paint or red Riding Hood. They come with puppets and games or cards, etc. Bingo, lesson complete.
Our workbooks have come from Wal-mart and 5 Below store. Yes, you heard me right. Math basics, printing, and brainquest cards and books. And all under $5 each. Score. I also have some of Kenny's old math and handwriting books. My mother-in-law found me some more workbooks and activity/craft books at garage sales of homeschoolers and teachers who were selling all their books and curriculum. Forget that $500 budget on books! I handwrite some problems and things as well, why not? Better than those carbon copy things I remember my mom doing for Sunday school where you had to use the plastic thing to scrape and press the copies to get onto the sheet underneath it!
The other greatest tool? The Internet. I am in a few homeschool groups online via facebook, and follow some blogs as well. But, youtube and google provide fantastic, instant explanations and lessons right at my fingertips. Kian loves going through youtube to find videos to explain science and other stuff. I have a ton of free websites, free downloads, free worksheets, etc. that the groups share with each other. It's pretty cool to see how much stuff is out there, and free!
Can't forget TV. Yup, me the anti-TV queen. I figure since we have the directv, might as well use it wisely, right? History channel, National Geographic, and it's new sister NatGeoWild, Animal Planet, Military channel, PBS, even regular every day channels, all have a ton of educational programs. Probably once a week I skim through the guide and record things that are "educational" or interesting, or to do with our themes. Kian's watched medieval castles and forts, ships, leopards of the jungle, how they make candy, how they make ...whatever, anything and everything. We only watch something like that about once a week, or when we've had one of those days and need to chill out. But, he eats it up, anything science or animal related, so it's a win-win.
Today we toured the Plimouth Plantation and the Mayflower ship, from the comforts of our dining room. (We also get lots of vacation ideas from these things!) So, I figured I'd attach a few links:
http://www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/index.htm?slideshow=y this one is great!