HAPPY SEPTEMBER! For us at the McGaugh Academy, it is the month of the apple. We began our September apple unit today right after we turned the calendar page. The morning had a feeling of celebration to it, in a way. In addition to all of the fun apple-inspired lessons and events (apple picking in Julian with the family and a possible apple field trip to Los Rios Ranchos with a home school group), we also have Eric’s Namesake Day celebration (Namesake Day is a holiday I made up for both of the kiddos, who both have namesakes, and little Eric’s falls on September 8th, which is Uncle Eric’s birthday) and my mom’s birthday party on the 20th. So September has almost a feel of Christmas to it, with themed crafts, themed lessons, themed outings, and parties to go with it. I am excited, too!

To begin the morning, Katie woke up to a warm-up tray activity: color the parts of the apple and glue it together.

Then, over the duration of breakfast, we worked on our KWL chart for the apple. You know, I have seen KWL charts for other apple units, indeed for many units, as this chart is one of the “tricks of the trade” in my profession. I used them occasionally in my high school classroom. So, I cannot say that the KWL chart is original; however, what I do think is unique is the fact that we applied it to the preschool level and to  great success (to my pleasant surprise). Leading Katie (3 years and 10 months) through the KWL chart was a bit of an experiment, I must say. I think of the KWL schema applying mainly to older students, perhaps for no other reason than that high school was my area of focus.

But why not introduce this metacognitive piece now?

The KWL schema starts by asking students what they already Know about a topic. Then we ask students what they Want to know. Finally, after the unit is done, we ask students to identify what they have Learned.

I believe completely that a student is a more effective learner and a more effective human being, only when she is able to know what she does not know, in addition to what she does know. When we are able to identify what we do not know, this is the result: 1) We are filled with the thrill of curiosity and intellectual vibrance; 2) We let go of arrogance, knowing we can never possibly know everything, humbled by how there is more to learn in life than years to learn it; 3) We take ownership of our own studies and passions and pursuits.

I loved Katie’s responses to the question about what she did know already; and her questions were equally enjoyable. I wrote down everything she said verbatim (that is my personal rule: we don’t need to critique a brainstorm), and it was so interesting to me to watch her 3-year-old mind chew on this metacognitive task. Love it.

Did she understand the purpose of the chart? Yes. Many hours later, my mom visited, and Katie explained each piece of the chart to her and what it meant. Reflections on learning, here we come!

The kiddos are eating challah and marmalade for breakfast. We are in the middle of working on our chart here. I have been trying to get up and eat breakfast before they do, because I hardly get to my own breakfast otherwise. After several days last week of it reaching noon before I had a moment to eat, I figured I should change my routine a little. Fine tuning the home school schedule to run as efficiently as possible is part of the game, for sure.

After the KWL chart and breakfast, it was time for Circle Time! I actually blow a train whistle and make a big deal of it. Circle Time at the McGaugh Academy includes finger plays, a song or two, and reading time at the very least. Today we added an apple-themed game. I found these apples with numbers as a printable online, printed them out, and self-laminated them (oh I would just about eat my own head for convenient access to a lamination machine…and a die cutter, but that’s another story). We’ll add 11-20 in a few days, but for now, Katie played around with putting them in order and teaching the numbers 1-10 to Eric.

Then we sang a song about apples to the tune of “BINGO” and read Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer (a 1965 Caldecott Honor book) and The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall. We have a lesson and a craft based on those two books, but we need to get familiar with them first.

After we got dressed, Eric took a nap, and Katie and I did a little more work:

For a change of pace with our white board and counters, I made an “McGaugh Academy Apple Math” worksheet using apple clip-art in my Word program. Katie seemed to welcome the new look and feel of an actual worksheet. We did a couple of pages out of her other workbooks, and then we took a break. I let her watch a program while I laid out and pinned a pattern on fabric for a dress I am making for her to wear this fall. It’s pinned at least… it takes baby steps to get projects done sometimes! Yet a little everyday, and it will be done!

Tomorrow, we have a bit of an apple craft for the morning. Then, my cousin is coming over and we’re going fabric shopping for her quilt! Cozy times ahead!