Thursday, July 7, 2016

Choose Your Curriculum

So, you've found your tribe, you've defined your structure, and now it's time to have some fun! It's time to choose your curriculum!

I know what you're thinking, curriculum? That sounds way too formal for me! But don't freak out -  it's really just deciding what you are going to teach. And in most cases, simple is better. You've got this momma, let's just take it one step at a time.

While I was getting my degree and teaching credential, one of the concepts that constantly resurfaced was the idea of backwards mapping. Basically, it's just thinking about what goals you'd like your kiddos to achieve by the end of the year, and planning backwards from there.

Now, depending on the ages of the kiddos in your group, the skills and concepts you may want them to learn will vary. For example, your goals for a group of 2 and half or 3 years olds, will probably be different that your goals for a group of 4 year olds - which is actually perfect if you're planning on continuing your co-op for more than one year.

So, this is where you get to chat and decide, what do I really want them to learn at this point? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

Suggested Activities for 2 years old and older
  • Learning the Letters of the Alphabet
  • Counting 1-10
  • Basic Shapes
  • Colors
  • Gross Motor Activities (exercise type activities are great for this)
  • Animal Names and Sounds
  • Bible Stories and Activities
  • Memorization Skills/Bible verses
  • Read Alouds

Suggested Activities for 3 years old and older

  • Recognizing the letters of the alphabet
  • Capital and lowercase letters
  • Beginning to learn letter sounds
  • Counting 1-20
  • Number cardinality (basically being able to count a group of objects accurately, naming the first object as 1, the second as 2, and so on) 
  • Shapes
  • Colors
  • Pre-Writing Skills
  • Tracing Letters
  • Simple patterns
  • Sorting objects into categories
  • Simple cutting and gluing
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Simple Science Activities
  • Bible Stories and Activities
  • Memorization Skills/Bible Verses
  • Read Alouds
Suggested Activities for 4 year old and older
  • Recognize capital and lowercase letters of the alphabet
  • Associate letters with their sounds
  • Identify beginning and ending sounds in words
  • Possibly starting to read CVC words
  • Basic sight words
  • Counting numbers 1-30
  • Number cardinality
  • Comparing Numbers
  • Review shapes and colors
  • Tracing letters and words
  • Beginning to write letters independently
  • Cutting and Gluing
  • Patterns - various types of patterns
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Sorting objecting into categories
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Simple Science Activities
  • Bible Stories and Activities
  • Memorization Skills/Bible Verses
  • Read Alouds
Remember, these are only suggestions! Don't worry if you're starting this with a 4 year old  - you are not behind. Just start with what they know, and move on from there.  You need to do what it appropriate for your child, but this is to give you an idea of what you could cover. As a side note, if you're struggling with exactly where to start, don't hesitate to send me an email. I'd love to help you out.

Now, don't be overwhelmed with this list. You DO NOT need to do it all - and you definitely don't need to do it all every week. In fact, that would be quite impossible! Just think about what you want them to learn and we'll get into the nitty gritty stuff when we make the schedule (which is coming in Lesson 5).

But to give you an idea of how this might look, I'll share what we have done in the past. For simplicity sake, we started with the alphabet.

Each week was assigned a different letter as our focus. The teacher could be as creative as she wanted with teaching the letter, but the letter was assigned.

Then, each week we assigned two additional skills - science, numbers, sorting, cutting and gluing, etc. The teacher could do activities that tied in the with letter or just a great activity to teach the skills. Again - total creative license,

Each month we practiced and memorized a Bible verse, and at the end of the month, the kids would each get up and say the verse - usually with some help - and always for a little treat!

That's it - a letter, two skills, practice the verse, and snack. See, I told you you've got this!

We actually repeated this cycle for two years - focusing just on letter recognition when they were little and moving on as they grew. Don't get me wrong, when they were little, we taught the letter Bb and that Bb says "buh," but our focus was on teaching them to recognize the various letters.Then, as they grew we worked more on connecting the letters with their sounds and even some beginning blending.

However, you could also go a totally different route and have a different theme every month - farm, ocean, construction, etc, and incorporate various activities related to the theme over the course of the month.

Again, this is where you get to decide. Choose what is going to work best for your kiddos - without causing you to want to rip your hair out! Remember, you want to enjoy this process too.

So, there you go! Get together with the other moms, and dig in. What do we want them to learn and how do we want to structure it? I guarantee, once you start jotting ideas down, it will be so much easier than it seems!

So, now it's your turn. Leave a comment below and tell me where you are in the process. Do you need help deciding exactly what to teach? Are you using an overarching letter theme, are you going to plan thematically, or do you have another idea? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

And if this post or this series has been helpful for you, I'd love for you to share it with your friends - either via Facebook, email, or even word of mouth.

Be sure to check back next week for Lesson 4: Agreeing Upon Your Norms. See ya soon!

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