Monday, January 30, 2012

Math, Art and Time to Move On

Even though we aren't doing formal lessons yet, I have purchased some materials to use for Kindergarten this fall.  The math curriculum I purchased was Essential Math, Kindergarten from Singapore Math because I liked everything I had read so far about the curriculum.

Well, the first half of the Kindergarten level is not challenging.  At all.  It's like the dollar store workbooks for young preschoolers that say "draw a line to the matching picture" except the workbook is thicker, cost more, and has the word Kindergarten across the cover.

Elliott would probably want to poke his eyeballs out if I asked him to work through the book lesson by lesson.  I know I would, after the meltdown he would have over how boring it is.

So instead, I thought we could use it as a review.  There's no way he would work through the book "workbook" style, so figured if I combined several lessons into oral lessons, and try to make some of them hands-on and tie them into other subjects, I would be able to make quick assessments and we can soon move on to something that is actually challenging to him when we do start formal lessons.

We worked through the entire first unit in about 5 minutes, and he was bored before the end of it.  I saved one lesson from the unit to do as part of our art lesson.

Color Scavenger Hunt
When I told Elliott we were doing a scavenger hunt, he was very excited.  He asked if it was going to be like our Christmas Scavenger Hunt and he seemed disappointed when I told him it was going to be a color scavenger hunt.  I told him we would be turning it into an art lesson, and he seemed slightly intrigued, so I asked him to choose four colors, then find four items in each color.

Can you tell he's into superheros and action figures right now?

Now can you see why I said he would be bored out of his mind working through the book as intended?  Perhaps this book is meant to be a review, but the boys could sort colors as toddlers, so I'm a little disappointed that this is considered Kindergarten curriculum.  However, the beauty of homeschooling is that I can turn a worksheet into a game and make it at least slightly more interesting.

Art Integration
So we got out I Spy Colors in Art and looked at Untitled by Michael Craig-Martin.  Obviously he found the red key right away.  We talked about the different objects on the page, and his observation was that even though they were all different, two of the keys were the same size.

Then we broke out the art supplies.  I had recently found these fun and colorful paintbrushes for a good price and the boys were excited that they finally got to try them out.

I let them experiment with the brushes first, to get it out of their system...

Then I asked Elliott to make an "I Spy" painting based off of some of the items he had chosen for his scavenger hunt.  He painted the coal car, a carrot, a blue alien thing, and didn't finish the blue block.  

After it was all said and done, and I actually thought about his reactions, I was in for a bit of a wake-up call.  Perhaps I underestimated him since we've never done formal lessons before, but I thought a review would be beneficial.  He was bored throughout most of the guided activities, so I think actually skipping ahead might be a better option for him.

I recently read an article, Top Ten Ways to Annoy a Gifted Child.  Now I'm not saying Elliott is gifted, but I refer to it because most of the things on the list would apply to any child, and making him "review" and stay at his "Pre-K grade level"  is only going to make him hate doing the work.  It's time to move on.  If I skip too far ahead, I can always back track, but I think it would be more beneficial to actually find material that challenges and interests him.  So wish me luck as I try to figure all this out!


  1. I completely understand you situation. When we first started I thought a review would be good for my 4 year old, however, we both just ended up really frustrated because it was too easy and boring to him. I am on my third math curriculum with him. They have all been 1st grade material because the k and prek stuff has been too easy. I have learned to take the concepts and adapt them to his likes (trains). It has worked much better and we are both so much happier. Good Luck!

    1. Thanks for your insight. I didn't plan to start doing lessons until this fall ("Kindergarten") but he is asking for school work. I looked through the second Kindergarten book and it at least covers addition and subtraction, so I might start there for our "review" and just go back to playing math games until I get him a 1st grade curriculum.

  2. Really cute idea, but I agree, this looks more like something Jett (33.5 months) would enjoy than my four year old. I'm glad to hear your thoughts on the curriculum. We haven't purchased anything yet, but I'm doing a lot of research. I prefer hearing from people who have used it rather than reviews.

    1. Allison, I have heard great things about the elementary years in Singapore, so I thought I would give the Kindergarten level a try. Luckily I didn't spend that much on it, but I wish I could have really previewed it first. I think I am going to go back to math games for awhile, because he is a very hands-on learner, but I think I will still try the 1st grade level.

    2. I've heard good things as well, so maybe I'll take a look at the first grade level. I love the benefit of homeschooling and not needing to keep our kids at a specific level! By the way, I read that post you linked to about gifted children, and I completely agree. Jax really enjoys worksheets, but once he is done, he is DONE. I couldn't imagine requiring him to do busy work if he finished early or staying at a level beneath him. Thanks for posting it, because I might not have seen it otherwise.