I’ve gotten a few inquiries about a new kindergarten (or Year 0.5 if you speak AO 😊) curriculum for next year and I know that many moms like to have everything planned out before beginning the school year, so I decided to just sit down and make all the revisions that have been rolling around in my head since the end of this year.
This version looks very similar to last year other than a few changes, which I’ve noted below. I also updated the art (with picture study aids to come) and composer schedule to reflect the AO selections, but other than that, it’s untouched. I was going to make other changes also but decided that last year worked so well for us that it was probably best to leave it as is. Feel free to change it as you see fit, inserting other books, leaving sections out, whatever you need to do. Make it fit your family’s needs rather than the other way around. 😊
I want to emphasize before diving into the actual curriculum that Charlotte Mason did not recommend any type of formal education for children before the age of six.
How much time daily in the open air should the children have? And how is it possible to secure this for them? In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mothers first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air. And this, not for the gain in bodily health alone––body and soul, heart and mind, are nourished with food convenient for them when the children are let alone, let to live without friction and without stimulus amongst happy influences which incline them to be good. (vol 1 pg 43)
My original impetus for creating this curriculum was the fact that my son’s birthday falls in August and when he turned six, I didn’t think he was quite ready for AO Year 1, so I decided to do a type of Year 0.5 with him. A great help to determine where your child might fall is the Ambleside Online Forums where there are many, many threads in which other mothers have asked if they should go ahead with Year 1, or wait. I’d recommend starting there before you decide if this particular curriculum is a year you need or even want to add to your schedule.
I haven’t done a full AO Year 1 yet, so I can’t offer up a comparison between that and this Year 0.5, but I have read in a few places that AO Year 1 takes about 2 hours per day, on average. In contrast, this curriculum, without a morning time, takes about 20 minutes per day if you’re doing 4 days per week as we did (with a nature walk day on Friday). If you choose to do five days per week, it would take even less time each day. With the morning time that we did, it was about 40 minutes in all. Some days are longer than others and I’ve offered a few notes where I think you could split readings up between two days, but for the most part, we usually began our days at around 9:30 to 9:45 and were done by 10:15 or 10:30.
Another point I want to add is that I did not require narration from my son. I would occasionally ask him what he thought of or if he remembered anything in particular from a reading, but if he didn’t have an answer, I didn’t force the issue. Again, this is your call, but I felt this was not something I needed to require of him at this age.
Also, a disclaimer in that this is not an exhaustive kindergarten curriculum for states in which kindergarten is required (especially as it does not include any kind of formal reading instruction). If you happen to like this curriculum and download it for your own use, please make sure you’re meeting your state’s requirements for subjects covered, etc, if necessary.
Finally, as in the past, I want to emphasize that I am not a Charlotte Mason expert. I do try to stick to living books as much as possible and use short and varied lessons, so I did cite her as my inspiration. However, there are some things listed here that may not be considered “strictly” Charlotte Mason. Again, feel free to use it however you find it useful.
I mentioned in my recap post that I was going to look for an alternative to Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans and Fifty Famous People fit in nicely. I actually prefer the writing of this to Stories of Great Americans, it’s free, it does not include the outdated ideas about race, and covers world history rather than just the US. The stories are, for the most part, very short, interesting, and they cover a wide range of history and individuals.
I would suggest pre-reading this one just to know what’s coming. While I don’t think the material is offensive, there are mentions of battles and weapons (though not really any violence that I can remember) and there were two notes that I made while reading it: in “Going to Sea,” Washington’s servant (or slave?) is simply referred to as a black boy. I changed this just to “servant.” Also, in “The Story of a Great Story,” there is a mention about how all boys know the story of Robinson Crusoe – I just changed this to “all children.” I know it’s a tiny thing, but I thought I’d mention it.
Also, I did skip some of the readings just to fit them into 36 weeks. Feel free to look through the unread ones to see if you’d like to add those in somewhere.
In case you’ve already read Fifty Famous People or just don’t care for it, you can definitely substitute something else. Yesterday’s Classics offers quite a few history books (in particular, I was interested in America First and American History Stories). A reader also mentioned Beautiful Feet Books as a good source as well and I was particularly interested in their Child’s First Book of American History. You could also just leave it out completely if you’d rather. I don’t think history is necessary for Kindergarten, but if your child likes being read to, it’s a nice little addition.
How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning was part of the original curriculum as a supplement to the weeks when he was discussed in Stories of Great Americans. I took it out because I felt it was a little redundant and unnecessary, but feel free to add it back in if you’d like. Franklin is discussed in Week 4 on the current schedule.
- The Irish Twins (free on Kindle and Gutenberg)
- The Seven Little Sisters Who Live on the Round Ball that Floats in the Air (free on Kindle and Gutenberg)
- Rookie Read-About Geography: (I checked all of these out from the library but the individual books are also inexpensive)
- Wall Maps
I chose The Irish Twins because my side of the family is Irish and I’m a tiny bit obsessed with the island, but Lucy Fitch Perkins wrote about a million of these books (also a few on Gutenberg), so you can easily switch out however you see fit. This is another one that you may want to read in advance. In particular, chapter three (The Tale of the Leprechaun), the poor Leprechaun has his life threatened, and chapter seven (The Bog), in which they tell the story of Deirdre and the sons of Usnach, has a little (very non-descriptive) violence.
I decided to keep The Seven Little Sisters because B really did enjoy parts of it. I made a note to break several of the readings into two days and moved around other reads for those weeks so there aren’t too many. You’ll want to pre-read, or at least skim this one as well, especially “The Little Dark Girl” and how they talk about African hair. Jane Andrews took some liberties throughout the book and injected her own opinion, assuming that her readers would agree with her. There are a few that aren’t so much offensive, but kind of quirky (eg. “The father eats by himself: when he has finished, the mother and children take the dates and bread which he leaves. We could teach them better manners, we think; but they could teach us to be hospitable and courteous, and more polite to strangers than we are”), so it’s all your call. I just left these little asides out while I read it to B and let him form his own opinions.
Pre-reading also allows you to find pictures and videos of some of the things mentioned in each of the chapters that you may want to use as a reference while reading, eg. igloos, the northern lights (B was very impressed with this video), camels, maybe have some dates on hand so they can try them, turban, ostrich, etc. This is definitely not necessary, though.
I got all of the Rookie Read-About Geography books from the library. You may want to make a note of the weeks you’ll be reading these so you can reserve them in time. My local library didn’t have most of them, so I had to get them through inter-library loan which sometimes took several weeks.
I replaced Old Mother West Wind in the original curriculum with Among the Night People simply because I think the Pierson books give a better look at actual nature, while the Burgess books are more about the stories. B loves both series, though, so either one will do and you could easily add any one of the Burgess books (or more of the Pierson books) outside of the curriculum if you’re wanting to read more.
Seed Babies is just a fun book all around. My only suggestion is to grow your own beans at home as you work your way through the chapters so your student can see what’s discussed in the book firsthand.
The One Small Square books are nice because you can use them either in the “real world,” meaning you can actually do the one small square in your backyard or a pond, or you can just play along in the book if you don’t have a yard or access to a pond. There are a few side projects that you can do that may require additional supplies, but they’re completely optional.
For Science in Seconds, I’d highly recommend reading each unit at the beginning of the week so you know what you’ll need for science time in advance. Your household items may be different than mine, so you may want to look over the other activities to see if there is one that you’d rather do. Otherwise, I tried to choose those that didn’t require a lot of supplies and were pretty simple to do.
These three are fairly straightforward. If you’re going on to do AO Year 1, the Winnie-the-Pooh book I linked to also has all the poems as well. The Children’s Treasury of Virtues is no longer in print, but I was able to find it reasonably priced and in very good condition on Bookfinder (which I’d highly recommend for all of the books you need to buy). I only removed one reading that had originally been listed for Children’s Treasury (“Boy Wanted”), otherwise the rest of it is the same.
I did make some minor changes to the schedule we had last year, but nothing huge and we’re still following the schedule of one poem per day.
I was so glad we made the switch to MEP Reception early in Term 1 and I’d highly recommend this if you want or need to do some kind of math curriculum. As I said in my recap post, B absolutely loved the games and really enjoyed the crafts too. The activities are cute and engaging and mostly short, with no structured math. MEP is a spiral approach, so not strictly Charlotte Mason, but many Charlotte Mason educators do use it successfully with their students (you can read a review by Brandy Vencel here).
When it comes to things like this, I’m a paper kind of girl, so I did print out both the lesson plans and the copymasters, but you could probably get away with only printing the copymasters if you want to read the lesson plans on a screen and save some ink and paper. I also tried to include a list in the ebook of some of the supplies we used, but may have missed one or two things. For the most part, these are probably things that you have around the house. There was one activity (37.2) that required plasticene to form animals, but you could easily use modeling clay or salt-dough as well (we actually just skipped this one). Also, because we didn’t have enough people in our family to fill all the roles of the “family,” I just printed them out on cardstock and made little stands for them. It worked well throughout the year.
You can find the picture study aid for Rubens here. This was something we did during morning time and all I did was print them out on cardstock, laminate them, and put them on a little easel on our school table. Usually, for less than five minutes per day during morning time, we’d talk about the pictures. I’d tell him the title and who painted it and when, then read the story behind them if there was one. Then I’d ask very open, general questions, eg. if you were in this picture, what do you think you would hear? smell? do you think it’s hot? or cold? What colors do you see in this picture? If there’s a person in this picture, what do you think they’re thinking about? Looking at? Talking about? What do you like about this picture? Is there anything you don’t like about this picture? etc. And usually only one question per day so as not to bombard him.
On the last day of two weeks of doing this, I let him look at the picture for a little bit, then turn it around so he can’t see it and have him tell me about it. This was not a quiz or exam at all. I just had him tell me whatever he remembered about it, which are also the things that probably stood out to him.
I’m still following the AO composer schedule here (there are links there to download/buy the music). Essentially, all I do is download the music to an ancient iPod we have, then play the music while B is doing his copywork or when we’re in the car, letting him know first who the composer was or what type of music it is. I’ve also made an Amazon music playlist with all of it and I play that on our TV sometimes during the day when the kids are playing Legos or some other hands-on activity. I know this needs improvement and there are resources out there for composer study, but I think for our Kindergarten year, this was a good start.
This is the area where I made the most changes as we had a really hard time with handicrafts last year. I think my initial plans were either too-far spaced or a little overzealous, and we only ended up doing a few things. Instead, I replaced them with weekly activities. These probably don’t fit the strict definition of “handicrafts,” but I tried to choose activities that create things that are useful, beautiful, and/or incorporate nature. I think how we as parents respond to the things our children make also defines how they’re “used.” If we show (real) pride in their work and display it in our homes (particularly things like the paper chains, tin can lantern, yarn-wrapped branches, and paper mache bowls), it shows them that what they make has value.
I also added quite a few recipes as I do believe cooking is a handicraft, and I used The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children as Nourishing Traditions is suggested in AO Year 12.
For this, I just used whatever poem we were memorizing and made copy pages from Worksheetworks.com with it using these settings:
This allows for usually only about four to eight words per page, which was just right for B.
While I do plan out what we’ll do each week before the school year starts, I do not lay out each day of our school year way in advance. This really was for a few reasons, mainly because I’m lazy and that sounded like a lot of work. But also because I find that laying the days out just before we actually dive into them keeps everything fresh in my mind and I have a better idea of what we’ll be covering and any supplies I might need.
So usually on Wednesday, I’ll take a look at what I have on the schedule for the next week and then open my homeschool planner and drop everything in. I find it’s easiest to copy the layout from the previous week and change things as needed. I was extremely fortunate to find a coupon for a free lifetime account (which is no longer available 😕) for Lessontrek a few years ago and it’s been so helpful in planning, but there are other tools (including free options) out there as well.
One of the nice things about the kindergarten curriculum ebook is that I’ve laid all the weeks out for you in daily schedules, so you really don’t even need to schedule anything unless you’re substituting somewhere.
Once I have everything in place, I print it out and put it in a 3-ring binder which also has the current term’s overall schedule, current and past morning time routine, B’s math sheets for the current term, as well as his copywork. At the end of each term, I move all of the weekly lesson plans and the math and copywork sheets to a larger 3-ring binder that I’ll keep as a record of his year.
I mentioned in a few sections above that we do a morning time. You can read more about that here, but generally we cover the following during morning time:
- The Lord’s Prayer
- Bible Story (I mainly used The Jesus Storybook Bible and the Children of God Storybook Bible)
- Picture Study
- Poem (this was read every day until we had it memorized – we also used this for copywork)
- Nursery Rhyme (this was mainly for C)
- Benediction (“The Lord be with you.” “And also with you.”)
We also do daily Bible verse memorization using the Simply Charlotte Mason system during breakfast.
I hope this post has been helpful! If you’re ready to download the kindergarten curriculum ebook, you can click on the button below!