November 2015 Curriculum

November 2015 Curriculum

I’ve never written a curriculum for a 2-year-old, but I was a high school teacher for 7 years. Because of that, I am familiar with how to plan a month of lessons, activities, projects, assessments, and I know what a curriculum looks like (for high schoolers anyway).

I used my basic knowledge of scheduling and planning to put together some ideas for this month. I have some primary objectives for Alexander, but since I’ve never worked with a 2-year-old and can’t see the future, they are simply a loose guideline. I’ve also got no one to compare him to, which is a good thing at this age. No need to get all uptight about meeting certain standards. He’s learning, and he’s having fun, and that is the main objective.

All that said, I use the word “curriculum” very casually. If you’re looking for a professional curriculum, you’ll want to look elsewhere! This is a general guide that we’ll be following, that may give you some ideas.


NOVEMBER 2015 CURRICULUM
Topics: 
Animals, Numbers
Timeline: 4 weeks

Objectives: (Some of them have an asterisk. Those are the ones I think will be more challenging.)

  1. Identify at least 5 more animals.
  2. Learn terms for animal body parts and relate them to human body parts.
  3. Separate fruits and vegetables, meats, and nuts.*
  4. Identify which animals are carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.*
  5. Learn about teeth.
  6. Count to 20.*
  7. Trace the numbers 1 through 10.
  8. Write the numbers 1 through 10.*
  9. Identify the quantities 1 through 10.

Objective 1: Identify at least 5 more animals by picture.

So far, Alexander can identify about 25 animals. I would like to expose him to a few more that he does not know. I’ve considered a lot, but I want to find 5-10 animals that are somehow related. Here are some that have come to mind:

  • flamingo
  • aardvark
  • platypus
  • shark
  • chipmunk
  • moose
  • skunk
  • walrus
  • jellyfish
  • ostrich

I want to consider animals that are pretty distinctive. For example, I would not show him an ostrich and an emu because they are too similar.

ACTIVITY (science): Once I pick the 5-10 animals that are related, I will create some animal flash cards to accompany them. It may be worth my while to find animals that would be in the same exhibit at a zoo.

ACTIVITY (practical life, science): Visit the Zoo Atlanta or a local farm. Practice animal sounds on the drive to the zoo so that he can interact and be a part of the experience. (In the past, trips to the zoo have been pretty boring for him, or at least he never seemed interested.)


Objective 2: Learn terms for animal body parts and relate them to human body parts.

While we have feet, some animals have paws, claws, and hoofs. We have noses, but some animals have snouts or a trunk. I want to learn some of that terminology and teach those words to Alexander.

ACTIVITY (science): We’ll start with a piece of paper that shows the face and body of an animal. I’ll see if Alexander can point to the animal’s NOSE, for example. He’ll most likely be able to. Then I’ll say, “This is a pig. His nose is called a SNOUT. Can you say SNOUT?” He’ll give it a shot. And we’ll keep going for a few different animals.

ACTIVITY (science): We will play a game. I will say, “Pretend that mommy is a pig. Where is mommy’s SNOUT?” And he would have to touch my nose. This may be a challenge because I’m not sure if he knows how to play pretend just yet. If that idea is successful, then we can play a similar game where Alexander is the animal, and I’ll ask him to point to a particular animal body part.


Objective 3: Separate fruits and vegetables, meats, and nuts.

Alexander is definitely capable of identifying some fruits and vegetables that we eat regularly. He would probably be able to identify nuts and some meats. For the meats, I would use an image of a cow and state that a cow is where beef comes from (instead of a picture of ground beef). I think it’s important that he understands that some things that we eat are parts of animals. (If you are vegan/vegetarian, I apologize if this makes you uncomfortable!)

ACTIVITY (sensorial): We’ll do a pantry and refrigerator raid. We’ll go through the foods we have in our house. He can identify specific fruits and vegetables, but I want to see if he can say “fruit” or “vegetable” or “meat” and so on. Nuts and grains are lumped together for this activity.

ACTIVITY: Grocery store advertisements are filled with pictures of foods. Each week, we get at least one flyer/coupon book from a grocery store. I will start to stockpile them for this activity. I will cut out the various fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains/nuts. (I will also tape them to a sheet of white paper and laminate them.) I’ll have Alexander separate them by fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains.


Objective 4: Identify which animals are carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.

I imagine this will be fun if he picks up on the idea quickly. Once I feel like he has a good grasp of objective 3, I want to talk with him about carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. He will learn that we (our family) are omnivores because we eat fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains/nuts. Some animals (and people) only eat grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, and those animals are called herbivores. And some animals only eat meats: they are called carnivores.

Since we have a good selection of printed animal cards – and I plan to purchase another set of animal figurines this month – I will be able to teach Alexander which animals have which types of diets. If he understands the distinction, then we will do an activity.

ACTIVITY (science): I will use the food flash cards (from objective 3). I’ll put a few food items in front of Alexander and ask him which animal might eat those foods. If that is completely too advanced, I will guide him. For example, I will say, “Which foods do you see here? Yes, ____ and ____ are fruits. And ____ is meat. We know that omnivores eat fruit and meat. Which animal is an omnivore?” And he may be able to identify that.


Objective 5: Learn about teeth.

It’s possible that Alexander will get his last 4 teeth this month. If that happens, he will have 20 teeth, which is perfect for the next objective. If not, we can still learn about teeth.

One thing I want to point out is that some teeth are flat (molars) and some are sharp (canines). Some of them help to cut off a bite, and others help to chew the food. I want to talk about how different animals have certain types of teeth. (And a shark has a lot more than we do!) If he understood the carnivore, herbivore, omnivore terms, then I may link types of teeth back to certain types of diets.

ACTIVITY (sensorial, science, math): We will stand in front of a mirror and count our teeth.

ACTIVITY (sensorial, science): We will have a snack. When we take a bite, we will look at the marks that our teeth made on the food. Depending on the food, we will be able to count the teeth marks.


Objective 6: Count to 20. (math)

Alexander can count to 13 consistently. But after 13, they all sound the same, and he usually gives up around 17.

I want to see if he can practice making it to 20!


Objective 7: Trace the numbers 1 through 10. 

We have started this objective already (see here).

ACTIVITY (math, fine motor skills): We will continue to practice tracing the numbers 1 through 10. I saw a set of tracing cards online that were better than the ones we have. They’ve got arrows helping to direct your pen strokes. I will continue to demonstrate this skill and have Alexander copy me. Since he enjoys it, I imagine we’ll do this activity most days.


Objective 8: Write the numbers 1 through 10. (math, writing)

I don’t want to set lofty goals, but I want to assume that it is possible that Alexander will get confident with tracing his numbers. If that happens, we will practice writing them on plain paper. (This skill may not develop for another year. I have no idea!)


Objective 9: Identify the quantities 1 through 10.

For whatever reason, Alexander is not very interested in quantity. If I display 4 objects and ask him “how many?”, he will just ignore me. If I ask him to count the objects, though, he will count 1-2-3-4. I know he understands that there are 4 objects, but actually stating that there are 4 of them (without counting) is proving difficult, or maybe just boring. Also, past 5, he gets distracted and sloppy with the counting.

I feel like looking at a quantity and seeing the quantity (as opposed to counting up to it) is a skill in itself. I would like to continue practicing this with him this month. If he shows no interest, we will move on, as we always do.

ACTIVITY (math, fine motor skills): I have a set of lollipop sticks and a set of number cards. I’ll display a number card and ask Alexander to place that many sticks on the card.

ACTIVITY (math): I will place a certain number of sticks on his table. Then I will ask Alexander to place the correct number card next to the sticks. If that instruction does not make sense, I will simply ask him to tell him how many sticks are on the table.


EXTRA STUFF

In addition to the activities above, I know that we will continue with pouring, color matching, puzzles, letter matching, and more. There are a lot of things he enjoys, so I don’t want to take those away.

The activities above are just plans and ideas.

At the end of the month, I anticipate that I will go back through this post then create a new post with links to specific videos, printables, and activities that we actually did!

Plans for the Week #2

Montessori Plans for the week template (1)

The last post goes through what we worked through last week. I noticed that we didn’t get to everything, and that’s okay. But because of that, I wanted to pare it down just a little this week. We have a few impromptu activities that pop up, in addition to puzzles and laundry and helping load the dishwasher.

Here are some ideas I have for this week and which category I’d put them in.

  • Alexander has started to dance again! He was on a dance hiatus for a few months there. He just refused to join in! So this week, now that he likes to dance some more, we’ll turn on some fun music, blow up some balloons (he loves hitting them around) and just dance. We’ll also probably do some songs with motions, like The Itsy Bitsy Spider.
  • Piggybacking on that idea, we will probably toss the balloons back and forth because it really helps with hand-eye coordination. He’s not great at catching a ball that’s tossed to him, but he can usually catch a balloon!
  • We will color. I have coloring pages and also blank white paper. We will both sit down and quietly just color. I’ve tried this with him several times, and he isn’t normally into it. It will be interesting to see if he ever latches onto the idea of coloring! (I assume he will, one day, but it’s not his thing right now.) I want to have crayons and markers available because I’m not sure which one is easier to use at his age.
  • Eventually I want to teach him how to folks shirts and pants and all things. But I think that starting with washcloths (basically a simple fold-in-half) makes sense. Then we can move onto hand towels and regular towels. And then we can move to t-shirts and more. I think that he will enjoy it, if he can focus on it! I have some cheap white washcloths that I can write on: I will draw a line down the middle of it to show him where to fold. And then we can practice with the other washcloths.
  • On top of reading to him each day, I want to keep working on the lowercase cursive. He has grown leaps since last week. They learn so quickly at this age! Next I want to try giving him opportunities to trace the letters. I’ll stick to simpler letters first. We may even start with basic tracing and not end up doing cursive letters for another year. I have no idea! I’m going to just roll with it.
  • Last week we tried working on quantities, but it didn’t go well. I want to work on that some more this week. I may start with just 1, 2, and 3. I’ll put 2 objects in front of him and ask, “How many?” And see if he can identify the number of things. If he is able to do that, we may try a matching sort of game with numbers and quantities.
  • He can still count to 13 but not beyond that. He can identify the number 20, but he can’t identify 14-19. Saying them is tough! But maybe if I say “Point to 17” he will be able to do that. It’s worth a shot.
  • We’ll do a little science exploration this week. I’m not sure how much explanation I need to offer. I feel like seeing and experiencing science is good enough at his age. To do that, I want to make some bubbles with soap and water. We can make bubbles with our hands!
  • Finally we should go to the plant nursery in town and talk about the different colors and shapes that we see. He may really enjoy just wandering and exploring the nursery. We have been once before, and he was mostly interested in the fountains that they had for sale. 🙂 This time I want to focus on the types of plants and trees that exist.

In a week I’ll write an update of what we actually do!

Plans for the Week #1

Montessori Plans for the week template

In addition to the puzzles and activities that are on the shelves already, I want to introduce a few things each week. I am not unreasonable, and I don’t want to push things that aren’t interesting. But without a plan or a goal, we won’t ever move forward! I’m using some of the scope and sequence terms (see “useful links” at the top of the page!) to help guide me. For now, I just want to explore lots of things and take note of what Alexander does and doesn’t enjoy. It could be that we scoop rice all week, and if so, that’s fine with me!

I’m going to read more about each scope and sequence, but it’s a lot of information! And each S&S is lengthy. So I haven’t got them memorized. I’m just using my brain to come up with ideas right now, and soon, I’ll start going in the “right” order. (As long as he’s learning and having fun, that’s what matters right?)

I decided not to organize this by days of the week because that will cause me some anxiety. If I have a plan to get something done on Monday, and it doesn’t get done, I add it to Tuesday. Then Tuesday has extra things to do, and I end up falling behind. Ultimately, the goal of this weekly plan is NOT to get a certain number of tasks done each day. The goal is to expose Alexander to as many different topics as possible so that he can decide what he finds interesting.

This week….

  • I want to play with play-do again. We have played with it several times in the past, but it always turns into something different. Some days, he just pinches it into tiny pieces. Other days, he flattens it with his hands. This week, I want to print some shapes onto a sheet of paper, laminate it, and see if we can turn the play-do into various shapes. I’ll probably share the link/PDF of the shapes here, especially if it’s successful. (I’ll try to take pictures of this activity and share what worked and what didn’t.)
  • I’m expecting another baby, and I keep meaning to do yoga here at home. My husband Cameron has been doing Crossfit for a while, and Alexander has started to mimic some of the movements (like pushups and situps). I figured we can try doing yoga together, even for just 5 minutes. He might like trying some of the movements with me. He can even have his own mat, which he may like!
  • We’ve got a giant floor puzzle of the USA. Alexander has gotten very good at jigsaw puzzles, so this could be fun for us to put together. And I have a feeling he will want to do it again and again and again. While we’re putting them together, I can point out where we live, where he was born, where his grandparents live, and so on.
  • I figure that mountains are easier to build than some other natural structures. We can build mountains with play-do, blocks, pillows, and so on. Maybe this week, he will learn the word mountain! We also live near a small mountain. If the weather is nice, we can go for a hike and talk about the things we see on the mountain.
  • I’ve gotten lazy about reading to him. I should make it a point to read several books, at least 20 minutes each day.
  • Since we started backwards (with print letters instead of cursive), I want to introduce cursive letters this week. I might try to make some cursive flash cards, unless I can find them online. Eventually I want to purchase the sandpaper letters for lowercase cursive. I’m not sure when he will be able to write letters anyway.
  • I stated in an earlier post that he likes putting nesting dolls together, but he only puts the tops with the bottoms (and doesn’t nest them). I want to demonstrate the nesting aspect and see if he can figure that part out as well.
  • He can count to 13 already. When I say 14, 15, 16, and so on, he’ll copy me, but after 13, they all sound the same! We can try counting to 20, during diaper changes, while we climb the stairs, etc.
  • In the back yard, I want to hunt for sticks and rocks. He loves finding sticks and telling me which letter it looks like. So we can find a Y-shaped stick and an L-shaped stick and so on.
  • Finally, I want to set up a rice-scooping station and a water-pouring station. I don’t think I’ll keep them out at all times because they’ll be messy. But it would be a fun activity for him, just to practice scooping/pouring from one container to another. It takes a lot of concentration! He has been helping me with cooking more, and he’s gotten better and dumping flour and milk into the bowl without making a mess. This will just help to strengthen that skill.