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Done with All Aboard!

Today we celebrate a milestone in our homeschool journey. We finished Book 1 (“All Aboard”) of the Sing, Spell Read Write (SSRW) curriculum. Buchi and I are both happy and excited to start with the second book “On Track”.

SSRW’s All Aboard

Around July of this year, I was lucky to be able to talk to Shawie, a homeschooling mom. She answered a lot of my questions about homeschooling and recommended this reading program. I was amazed that she homeschools her three children and was immediately impressed when she told me that her youngest daughter was able to read by the age of 4. I wasn’t still decided on a lot of things regarding homeschool but I was sure of one thing, I wanted to teach Buchi that reading is a fun activity.

So off we went to buy the starter kit of SSRW. When we opened the box, it was like Christmas morning. Buchi immediately wanted to write his name and color all the pictures. I explained to him that we would take things one page at a time. Initially we did all the recommended activities. Later on, we skipped some that Buchi found boring and replaced them with others (if you have Google, you’ll never run out of ideas).  However, we worked on every single page of the activity book and did a combination of art, science, math and writing projects in between reading and writing exercises.

Colorful alphabet card

The kit comes with a manual, which includes a reading list in case you are clueless on which books would be suitable for your kindergartner. I complemented the SSRW reading program with Dr. Seuss and other books from our mini-library.

Today, we wrote the letter Z and officially closed the book. We are taking a 1-month break from the reading program and will start with the second book on January 2012. This morning Buchi said, “Mama, I AM A BOOKWORM!”

Color-and-paste activities

Proud moment as a parent!

What he learned with this book:

Writing his name

– write his full name and nick name

– write the capital and small letters A-Z- draw basic shapes (triangle, circle, square, rectangle)

– recognize primary and secondary colors

– recognize patterns

– identify beginning sounds

shapes and colors

– identify rhyming words

– letter and sound recognition

– refine his fine motor skills (cut straight lines, color in pictures)

– recite simple poems

– master nursery rhymes with actions

– write numbers 0-9

He also learned the following:

– patience (waiting for one’s turn)

– perseverance (finishing work that has been started)

– independence (learning to do activities with minimal supervision)

– confidence

Resources and Materials:

Sing Spell Read Write

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Counting to 100 and other math games

3 August 2011

Buchi can count to 100, hurray! His natural fascination towards numbers is really something that makes me smile because I have MAD (math anxiety disorder). This is why I chose a major that wouldn’t require me to sit through hours of calculus lessons. I see the practicality of math and I use a lot of math everyday: household budget, cooking measurements and time management. I’d be lost without my handy calculator (good thing this is available in all cellphones). I don’t really know where my lack of confidence comes from. I didn’t exactly fail my math exams (got pretty satisfactory grades actually and even aced the accounting subject).

Knowing that homeschooling Buchi would mean teaching him all subjects myself, I’m a bit nervous about my arithmetic abilities. Eug told me to appear confident so that the little one would think that math is easy and fun. As early as two, Buchi could count 1-10 in 4 languages. He liked The Count (Sesame street character) and would attempt to count everything (even hair). This puts me at ease because math lessons at this point are fun.

Here’s what constitutes our math lessons for now:

1. Dominoes: This teaches math comprehension, visual recognition and patterns. There are various domino games  that cover basic arithmetic concepts like addition.

2. Card games: There’s a lot you can do with a deck of cards. I let him sort by suit, color or number. He loves to play “Go Fish” or “Monkey monkey” (pair card game). He arranges the cards by order and sometimes plays solitaire. You can teach patterns, ordinal numbers, differences (high,low, more, less), addition, subtraction and even basic probability.

3. Bingo: Playing electronic bingo is so much fun. Aside from racing to cross out all the numbers in our cards, Buchi likes to shout out the number when it gets picked. It is the perfect way to practice pronunciation and number recognition.

4. Coins: We do a lot of pretend play with money: going to the bank, buying produce at the grocery, paying for food at the restaurant, shopping at the mall. This activity covers addition, subtraction, assigning values. You can even introduce the concept of saving for a rainy day and utilizing resources properly.

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Alphabet lessons: Mr. A

1 August 2011

After two weeks of preparing Buchi for formal language lessons, I’m glad we were able to start the month by learning the first letter of the alphabet: A. We colored a picture of an apple — the most common example for this letter. Shortly after that we did manuscript writing of big and small letter A. There was an activity in his pre-k book that required him to cut out pictures and choose the words that started with the letter A. He did wonderfully and I can say he’s getting better at cutting square pictures. He even wrote a few lines of the letter A in uppercase and lowercase to practice his penmanship.

We read three books of his choice emphasizing “a” sounds and words whose initial letter is A.

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Teaching patterns

28 July 2011

Buchi was very eager to do several pages of his kindergarten activity book. It is quite amusing to see him as a very competitive little guy. He treats learning as if it’s a game — wanting to go to the next level all the time. This is okay but sometimes he’s hard on himself. We always remind him to take it easy and that mistakes make us a better person.

The lesson today involved some of his favorites: colors and shapes. It wasn’t really difficult to teach him patterns because some of the games in Sesame Street and Nick Jr. are all about identifying which comes next. We played “follow the leader” game. I kept things pretty simple: clap, jump, sit and stand. Buchi and I switched roles and he came up with outrageously silly actions. We ended up dancing.

Using markers and crayons, I introduced the lesson on patterns. He could quickly identify which item would come next so I decided to let him create patterns on his own using whatever items were available (blocks, toys, pencils). We drew circles, triangles, squares and rectangles.

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Writing his name

21 July 2011

Buchi was able to write his nickname and surname all by himself! The pre-kindergarten kit we purchased contained charts which showed how each letter is written. First we traced the letter with his finger. Next, holding the pencil we wrote letters in the air. Then he was all on his own. He carefully wrote down each stroke on his book. When he finished writing his name, there was a big smile in his face. He looked so proud. I was too.

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DIY molding clay

Today Buchi and I did a special art project. We made our very own molding clay!

colored icecream

I did the blue one first and I’m not really happy with the consistency. (I was able to perfect it though towards the end) But who cares? The little one is jumping all over the place. I was able to work out my arms with all the mixing and kneading.

Thank you Tita Jola for the recipe!

Here’s the fool-proof recipe


1 cup flour

1 tablespoon oil

2 tablespoons cream of tartar (I added another tablespoon)

1/2 cup of salt

food coloring

1 cup boiling water



1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl

2. Mix wet ingredients (food coloring and boiling water) in a separate bowl.

3. Add the colored water slowly to the dry ingredients.

4. Mix well. I used 4 separate bowls since I was making 4 different colors.

5. Sprinkle flour on a clean surface for kneading until you get the consistency you desire.



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Lessons at home: Writing

Buchi knows how to type his name and some words, so he asks me what’s the point in writing. For now he doesn’t understand its use. So we’re trying our best to show him that writing is a fun activity. No pressure, just taking one step at a time.

My mom suggested that we draw circles and lines first before I formally introduce writing letters. I think it was an awesome idea.

Today we officially started writing lessons. I let Buchi write big O’s and small O’s. We did this for 15 minutes. We had a watch beside us so that he was aware of the time. He did pretty good. He wrote about 40 O’s.

We also read two books today and he ‘read’ the first three pages. (He memorized these parts already).

He was really proud of himself.

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Art activity: Valentine card

I don’t really like celebrating Valentine’s Day but that doesn’t mean Buchi gets deprived of the nice things that come with the popular holiday. Since Hearts’ Day is just around the corner, we decided to make a Valentine card.
I let him choose the colors and here’s what he picked: red, white and black. Great color combination, if you ask me.

shapes stencil
scissors (with dull ends)
glitter paper (red, white and black)
scotch tape

1. Draw hearts using stencil in white paper. (I let Buchi do this step so that he can practice holding a pencil)
2. Cut out the hearts. (I ended up doing this since hearts are difficult shapes to cut for toddlers)
3. Fold the black paper into two. (Your toddler can do this)
4. Glue the little white hearts to the black paper card (your toddler can do this)
5. Make red hearts by origami. (We made two, you can make as many as you want)
6. Use tape to stick the hearts on the card.

Here are the origami instructions in making a heart. Buchi tried to fold the paper but when it became a bit complicated, he handed it over to me. I guess he enjoyed watching me turn a square-shaped paper into a heart. He clapped his hands when he I was done.

I think it turned out pretty okay.

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Teaching practical skills

I am a product of the Montessori curriculum (this doesn’t mean that I’m all for it). Although there are so many other schools and programs out there, I must say that it is extremely important that kids are taught practical skills. I had a classmate in fourth grade who didn’t know how to tie his shoelaces. Sure there are velcro straps and snap buttons, but tying shoelaces is a good activity to develop fine motor skills.

Now the little one still doesn’t know how to tie laces — I’m sure he will in time. Meanwhile, he dresses himself with minimum help (buttons and zippers are tricky for toddlers) and we let him do a few chores like fixing the bed (after mild pillow fight) and sorting laundry (good activity on colors). Since he no longer has a nanny/yaya he has learned to put away toys after playing. Sometimes when the room is such a mess, I clean up because it is so much faster. But when I’m exhausted, I let him tidy up at his own leisurely pace. (even if it takes forever)

So since he is not getting any formal schooling, we teach him practical lessons at home instead:

1. Undressing/Dressing: shirts, jackets and buttons are tricky.
2. Brushing his teeth: with supervision of course. (sometimes I do it again just to be sure)
3. Going to the toilet and washing hands: he’s a bit obsessed with using hand sanitizer
4. Eating snacks and meals on his own: including opening small packages
5. Putting toys and books in designated containers
6. Making up the bed in the morning
7. Help in sorting the laundry
8. Bringing small things: absolutely no breakables

For now we don’t find the need to enroll him in a school just yet. I’m pretty happy with how he’s getting to be an independent little guy one step at a time.

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Kid’s polite words

When Buchi first said the words “Thank you” I was so happy. He was a little over a year old and we’ve been repeating the words several times a day so that he would pick this up. Every time he would receive a gift, we would ask him nicely to say thank you. I noticed these past few days that he says thank you without much prodding. He even thanks me for helping him brush his teeth (Will he still be this grateful when he’s a teenager?)

This week he learned a new sentence: “No, Thank you.” When he was throwing a tantrum I asked him if he wanted to spend some time standing in the corner. He says, “No, thank you mama.” I found it really funny. I tried so hard not to laugh.

Now if only he would say “Please” more often, I would be such a proud parent. For now, we still have to remind him to say the “magic word”. There’s a cool game in Nick Jr that helps them spell and remember the word “Please”.

Teaching him to be polite has made me more conscious of what I say and do. I think the best way to impart the importance of respect is by being a good example. This is easier said than done 🙂

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