Oak Meadow (Kindergarten and Grade School)
Oak Meadow Kindergarten
Kindergarten, for me, brings to mind the following: Playing. Sharing. Imagining. Creating. Co-operating. Building. Crafts. Music. Movement. Read Alouds. Educational Toys. Bright colors. Conversation. Imitating the adults in your life in regard to chores and activities. It's that sweet, magical time that's past the toddler stage but not yet at the student stage, where you get to just "be a kid." Where you are gradually prepared for moving on to "real school." That's how I remember it, anyway.
Making an Ice Sculpture
Paper Bag Puppets
For my daughter, when she attended public school Kindergarten, it was nothing like that. It was a very long, very academic day. Worksheets, homework, sitting at a desk all day long, barely getting any recess whatsoever, silent lunches. I thought that was a real shame. I thought there should have been more to a five year old's day. More fun. More getting outdoors. More wonder. More joy.
Building With Beans
Making Nature Silhouettes
When I began homeschooling (my daughter was in third grade when I pulled her out toward the end of that year, and my son not yet ready for any sort of formal schooling), a friend introduced me to Oak Meadow's Kindergarten curriculum. I looked through it, and I fell in love. I knew that when the time came, THAT was the kind of Kindergarten curriculum I wanted to do with my son. And I eventually did!
Oak Meadow K does not push academics or deskwork or worksheets or anything of the sort. It is sweet and gentle, laid back and slow-paced. I LOVE that about it.
Playing With Pattern Blocks
Instead of having to learn to read and add and things of that nature by the time a child is five years of age, Oak Meadow K focuses on imagination and creativity. On the developmental needs of a child as a whole. There are sweet stories and fingerplays and poems. There are fairy tales and crafts. There are nature walks and movement activities. There's gardening, cooking, painting and games.
Helping To Bake
Kids learn the uppercase letters of the alphabet by finding them in nature, forming them with twigs, with your finger in a tray of salt, with a stick in the dirt, with tape on the ground so you can "walk" the shape, by forming it out of clay and bread dough. By listening to stories and drawing pictures. They learn numbers in similar ways, through play-based, hands-on activities, stories and crafts.
Hammering Nails Into The Shape Of A Capital N
Work is done in a "Main Lesson Book" (like an artist's sketch pad), which I know I will cherish for years to come.
I love the whole Oak Meadow philosophy, and I was excited to share in the experience with my son- Kindergarten in the way it SHOULD be experienced.
Field Trip To Butterfly House
If you want to know more about what Oak Meadow K is like, see the following link for a "Detailed Oak Meadow Kindergarten Schedule Sample"- it shows how I broke down the first weekly lesson into a daily lesson plan, shows pictures of some of our first week's activities, shows a picture of what I used for our "Main Lesson Book," includes a bit more information about OMK as a whole, and links to my daily journal entries where I blogged about Kindergarten:
Oak Meadow, Grade School Years
Around the same time I decided that I would definitely do OMK with my son when the time came, I found out that another friend in my homeschooling group was also doing Oak Meadow. She was past the Kindergarten stage and into 1st and 2nd grades, I believe. I was able to look at some of the work her children were doing, and I continued to be impressed with it and excited about the idea of using it- for both of my homeschooled children.
So after finishing up the last two months of my daughter's third grade year in an eclectic fashion, not using any particular curriculum since the school year was nearly over at the time I pulled her out, I started searching for Oak Meadow used. Like any curriculum, it's not cheap to buy new. I lucked out in a major way when I found someone selling OMK all the way up through OM8 in one big lot. It was an older version of the curriculum, and it was listed at a price that was way too good to pass up.
I actually called Oak Meadow and asked them if there were any significant changes, curriculum wise, from then to now, and there weren't. Nothing major enough to be concerned about, anyway. (This might be a good place to add that Oak Meadow has wonderful customer service, any time you call or email with a question, they are so friendly and helpful. I've heard that from other people, too)!
Anyway, I bought the lot, and I'm so glad I did.
When Fall came around that first year, I was excited to start Oak Meadow 4 with my daughter. I loved it. By fourth grade, Oak Meadow is definitely more on par with what other students of that age would be doing and learning (as opposed to their earliest grades, which are less academic). But with that said, they still manage to make their curriculum interesting and creative. It's not textbookish. There aren't many tests. There aren't worksheets. There isn't an abundance of busywork.
We used the "main lesson book" approach and my daughter kept a daily journal (in colored pencil with illustrations), wrote poems, listened to stories, did writing assignments wherein she was given a handful of creative choices as to which way to go with her reports (maybe one book report would be a storyboard, another might be a letter to a main character, another might be changing the ending to a story and so on). For spelling review, she got to do things like drawing a "small town map" and naming the streets and buildings after spelling words. She made "windsocks" out of paper plates and crepe paper streamers, and wrote the words on the streamers. She wrote her words on the sidewalk with chalk. She made big bubble letters for the first letter of each word and decorated them. Fun, creative things like that in addition to the "write some sentences, put the words in alphabetical order" type stuff.
We did art, we played math games, we did colonial crafts, and more. There were many hands on activities, science and social studies projects that enabled us to get out and do things in a more physical or artistic way, with a lot of discussion and integration- what I'm trying to get at is that it wasn't boring. And I liked that about it. A lot.
Learning does not have to be dull to be effective!
It might be worth adding that toward the end of fourth grade, I ordered the CAT from Seton and had my daughter take a test ("for fun"). It wasn't a required testing year for us, but I was curious to see how she would do after over a year of relaxed/laid back homeschooling, using a curriculum like Oak Meadow that doesn't consist of worksheets and busywork. She scored right where she was supposed to. No worries.
It might also be worth adding that here in PA we must hire an evaluator at the end of each school year to look over our portfolio- well, my evaluator had never encountered anyone using the Oak Meadow curriculum before I came to him with my daughter's Oak Meadow 4 portfolio- and he was perfectly impressed with it. The superintendent at my school district accepted it with no questions or problems.
If you want to know more about what Oak Meadow 4 was like in particular, see the following link for a "Detailed Oak Meadow 4th Grade Schedule Sample." It shows how I took a random weekly lesson from the OM4 syllabus and broke it down into a daily schedule. There are also pictures of some of the activities and schoolwork we did that week, and there will be a link at the end to my very first blog entry for the 4th grade school year.
I continued on to Oak Meadow 5 with my daughter. I enjoyed it just as much as I enjoyed Oak Meadow 4. It continued to pose interesting questions for discussion and a choice of creative writing assignments. It continued to offer hands on activities, crafts and projects. My daughter especially loved Oak Meadow 5's Environmental Science. She's done some really neat things, such as making a multi-media forest mural, burying items in the yard which she later dug up to examine for changes (if any), starting a simple worm bin, "interviewing" a friend about what they grow in their garden, and more. I'm happy with my choice to use Oak Meadow. My daughter seems happy with my choice. I rave about it to everybody and will continue to do so.
If you want to know more about what Oak Meadow 5 is like in particular, see the following link for a "Detailed Oak Meadow 5th Grade Schedule Sample." It shows how I took the first weekly lesson from the OM5 syllabus and broke it down into a daily schedule. There are also pictures of some of the activities and schoolwork we did that week, and there will be a link at the end to my very first blog entry for the 5th grade school year.
We are now doing Oak Meadow 6. I'm still a fan. Much more reading, writing, research and so on, but it's still creative, not too textbookish, gives the student creative choices and hands on activities and so on.
For more details on Oak Meadow 6, see the following link:
There's also a link at the very bottom of that page to Ben's first day of 1st grade, as we have since moved on to that.
I should probably add that Oak Meadow is a secular curriculum. So those who would prefer NOT to use a religious curriculum, this one's for you (and me)! Those who are religious could still very much enjoy this wonderful curriculum and add in their own religious teachings and studies as they see fit.
P.S. A word about "Main Lesson Books"- Main Lesson Books can be ordered from Oak Meadow's website. However, I have found that buying simple spiral bound "Artist's Sketch Pads" from Walmart works just fine! You can see pictures of them and how we used them under the "Detailed Oak Meadow K Schedule Sample" and "Detailed Oak Meadow 4th Grade Schedule Sample" links- see sidebar to left.
RETURN TO MY MOST RECENT BLOG ENTRY:
This Entry Last Updated December, 2012