Monday, August 23, 2010

Latest "project"

I mentioned before that I was working like crazy to get the kids' school curricula ready for them. This entails finding activities in each subject to supplement the Head of the Class curriculum they are signed up for because I find Head of the Class to be a nice seed, but not a complete, fulfilling curriculum. But it's free and I love the interface--and they let me put other activities from around the web into their interface. Anything that has a website or a download link can be inserted, so I've been digging for web activities, interactives, interviews, lessons, and .pdfs to add to what Head of the Class provides.

It's a fun search, but doing it for 5 kids is a little overwhelming. Especially since I keep finding things that really fit into other years of my master plan, so I've also been filling out 1st and 3rd grade extensively (and I don't have anyone in those grade) 5th grade pretty heavily, and 6-8 lightly (and I don't have anyone those ages yet!).

The search has been really interesting, and has resulted, I think, in learning materials that are more appropriate for gifted kids than the usual options (either the material is too easy by far and too repetitive by far but appropriately entertaining, or the material is intellectually stimulating but not really high interest and fun).  For example, Anda's biology curriculum, as it's coming together, consists of core lessons from AP Biology on Hippocampus surrounded by coloring sheets, art projects, kiddie animal music videos, interviews with biologists, outdoor experiences, videos from Bill Nye, materials from Mythbusters, cut-and-glue worksheets, and other more traditional materials pulled from the entire K-12 spectrum. So, for example, she'll read a passage from a college-level textbook about animal adaptation, and then watch a video of a picture book of camouflage, do an interactive activity about tide pool animals versus coral reef animals, play a "find the camouflaged animal" interactive designed for 8th graders, watch a clip of a National Geographic movie on animal adaptation, and then color a picture or create a wall mural or puppets from cut-outs.  By collecting materials from the whole range, we can stimulate both her brain and her interest and keep the learning fun without making it boring.

And I'm doing that for 5 kids, covering 2 different preschools (one for kids who can't get control a pen well or click-and-drag and one that is really kindergarten-level, learning to write and do math), Kindergarten (which is really more akin to an average 1st grade), 2nd grade, and 4th grade. Really, none of the years actually resemble what they do in public schools, though. I just find it easier socially and mentally when interacting with the public schools to call them by their age-grades and just make sure the material is actually appropriate for my child.

So it's been fun. And it's been really fun to have the kids gather around and watch me collecting learning experiences for them and have them saying, "Can I do school right now?"

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