One way to go is to order a complete curriculum, such as these from Timberdoodle (an awesome homeschooling curriculum company!) Timberdoodle lets you customize your order to fit your needs. Since some of the choices are from another religion, that’s something the Jewish consumer would do! I used some of their products, but branched out quite a bit on my own.
My goals for ds5 are to improve his fine motor skills, feed his voracious desire for general knowledge with appropriate topics, and encourage a love of learning and reading. He is already reading simple books, doing more complex math (some up a grade or more), and loving workbooks.
So here’s what we’re using…
- Language lessons: a good Charlotte Mason based introduction to all sorts of language topics, including narration, artwork, copywork, poetry, and more. This apparently has some religious content to it – I was reading along and just changed out Yoshke to Hashem in that instance “Hashem wants us to treat other people well,” and we were back on track. But it’s something to be aware of – I’ll read ahead in the future and adjust as necessary. This has letter introduction, which ds is past, so we might do those or skip them, depending on the day.
- Easy reading books: Now I’m reading and Bob book sets. We have worked our way through some of these, and they are both good sets.
- Handwriting without tears: A good step by step way to learn how to correctly form the letters. There are a bunch of books in this series, but the mnemonics and visual helpers make this series stand out for handwriting. (They have a Hebrew script version for older kids, too.)
- Go for the code: A great series. This is a reading starter, and the next group (Explode the Code) is a phonics workbook – we’re just about to start Explode the Code 1.
- Magnatab: A cool, magnetic tracing board for practicing letter formation – fine motor skills are something we’re working on this year. This takes a few minutes to trace the entire alphabet, and I watch for correct letter formation. The metal balls popping up is fun feedback, and then you can push them all down again. My 3 year old likes this, too! (See photo above this section.)
- Mathematical reasoning: This workbook is a fun one, and it focuses on the why behind the math. It’s got fun activities, and we really like it.
- Inchimals: This kit is a set of animals, each measuring from 1-12 inches long. It comes with a spiral wipe-off book and helps kids work with the numbers visually. Ds5 is already past this, and did 20 or so puzzles a day until he has already done them all – the recommended amount is 3 a week. So this is now added to our choice activities, and is something that ds5 gives lessons to ds3 on. It’s a good starter, and a great visual idea, but ds is already past it.
- Montessori bead cabinet: (see photo above) This is a great hands-on activity for numbers. Each of my older boys has spent hours working on this bead cabinet, alone and together! They learn chains, skip counting, multiplication, division facts, organization, responsibility, etc. This was expensive, but is a fantastic learning tool!
- Birdwatching: We have set up bird feeders near our house and are actively working at seeing, identifying, and observing the different birds here. So far, our favorite has been the beautiful magpie!
- BBC’s Planet Earth: this set of DVDs has fascinated both kids. They remember a surprising amount and love it!
- My first super science kit: This kit has a variety of experiments. We tend to do an entire theme at a time – it’s just easier. But they kids all have enjoyed these so far. And the giant magnifying glass that comes with it is still in use all around the house.
- Beginning geography: This is a good map and direction introduction. We do a few pages at a time, working on things like North, South, East, and West, following directions, and using maps. The activities are fun, and ds enjoys them. There are also reproducible maps for teachers of classes with more than one student. 😉
- Geopuzzles: These are a set of puzzles of each continent with country shaped pieces. DS5 likes puzzles, so he is a fan, and since we live overseas from “home” and travel internationally, this is something that he has a good context for learning. He does one or two most weeks, except for the times when he sits down and down the entire set. Yep, he’s a puzzle guy.
- Logic: This set of 4 workbooks is meant to develop the early learner’s sense of logic, perception, and concentration. We’re about halfway through the first book in our second week of school, ds5 loves them so much. Update: at the end of November, we’re about 1/3 into book 3. We could go much slower, but I just let my kiddo decide how much (if any) he wants to do pas tthe 7 pages recommended weekly.
- Story of the World: Remember our mummy, pharaoh chicken? That’s just one of the projects we did from this book. The stories are interesting and the activity book has some good ideas for working with what you just read. We’re still working through book one and on our way to book two – this is something everyone sits in on. And we just bought the cd set, which means the kids can listen to what they’ve heard whenever–they love it in the car especially!
- See our Jewish /Kodesh list for kindergarten here.
- Knights Sticker dressing: just for fun, with a little history thrown in (another fun Timberdoodle extra).
- Some of the letter busy bags, like these: AaBbCc spoons (soon to be added are cursive/print Hebrew letters), and Build a letter
- Reading eggs: A computer game with step by step interactive reading lessons. Both of my kids like this site, and we use it as a treat when they have finished their daily work. But it’s a great learning tool on its own.
- English language library trip every week for new books.
It sounds like a lot, but we set it up by how many pages/lessons should be done in a week, and ds is flying through things. We have been done on Tuesday each week so far, and he asks to do more, so I’ve just encouraged him work to his heart’s content. We will certainly be needed more and different work before this year is done (BH!).
His latest project: a parsha coloring pages book. He wants to color the whole chumash and put the sheets together into a 3 ring binder book!