The past two weeks in our home have been full of frogs and ponds as we have been working through Unit 1 of Gentle + Classical Preschool (G+C). Erin Cox at Life Abundantly Blog is the author of this comprehensive Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum — and she offers it for free on her website! We are following the general structure of this curriculum as well as adapting it to our family’s needs and interests. For us, this primarily looks like emphasizing the science portion and building the other subjects and activities around it like a unit study.
Frogs & Ponds
“Tadpoles grow into frogs” is the objective for Unit 1 of G+C. Suffice it to say I may have gone a little frog crazy, lol. I arranged several wall displays to give the kids continual exposure to our lessons and create a space to showcase our completed projects. The kids loved this! The displays fostered frequent informal conversations about frogs, plus helped me remember what we were supposed to be learning.
What G+C Looks Like in our Home
The beauty of G+C is that it can be adapted easily to suite just about any need a student or family might have. Erin even mentions in her notes that we should feel free to do things in a different order, skip things entirely, or expand on topics as needed. I love this level of flexibility!
We are leaning heavily on the science portion of Gentle + Classical Preschool, and I am incorporating aspects of Gentle + Classical Nature (GCN) as applicable. (Many of the resources accompanying GCN are available as subscriber freebies at Life Abundantly, plus the entire course framework/guide). The advantage to using both resources is that it helps me balance the learning demands of my voracious 3 year old learner with those of my steady-as-you-go 2 year old by providing a variety of options for studying in more or less detail.
Have I mentioned frogs yet? We read frog-themed books, watched a documentary about frogs, practiced creating frog life cycles, made frog pond playdough, and colored frog pictures. We used some gorgeous materials to supplement our studies, particularly the watercolor art by Stephanie Hathaway and Fiddlesticks Kids. Click here for our full list of resources.
We focused on the letters F and P, for frog and pond. This is different from the G+C outline, which starts with letter A. In an effort to follow the Montessori concept of teaching letter sounds out of alphabetical order, we are simply going to work on 1-2 letters each unit that relate to our main science theme.
To practice the letters, I laminated posters by Steph Hathaway Designs, which we used repeatedly to trace with fingers, draw with dry erase markers, or make playdough letters. We also used our sandpaper letters and moveable alphabet… but not as much as I had intended.
This may be the number 1 most valuable aspect of using G+C in our home. I love these memory statements for building positive behavior by setting clear, reasonable expectations and building positive self-affirmations for my kids. This week we did, “I am patient. I put off for later what I want right now.” Erin recommends singing this phrase to the tune of “Are You Sleeping?” — and this worked brilliantly! Even my 2 year old asks to sing “I yam pay-tent.”
“I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20) was this unit’s verse. We learned this as a song using Songs for Saplings from Amazon Music. We sang this song every day while swinging on our new swing set, and during snuggle time before bed.https://greenurbanmama.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/img_9160.mov
We will be focusing on one author or composer each unit, which isn’t part of G+C — but guess who was so excited to see that Erin is adding this aspect to the forthcoming Level 2 of G+C??? Yes, me. Things to look forward to!
For this unit, we looked at Monet’s Water Lilies. Linnea in Monet’s Garden was a lovely book to add to our study. You can check out the craft project we made in this blog post.
Math: Count to 5
Math almost felt like it didn’t happen, it was so easy to find incorporate organically into everyday activities. We practiced counting any time an occasion arose: over peas at dinner, while playing with blocks, and during morning Octonauts (yes, we watch some TV).
I did do one official activity with a sensory tray using split peas to make a lily pad pond. The kids hunted for and counted lily pads. Mission accomplished.
Two weeks ago my 2 year old could barely chatter about numbers. Now he can consistently count to 3 while pointing at related objects!
Books were a key aspect of our “study time.” Erin has created a great book list, which we used as well as adding our own selections. For all the details, check out this resources post.
My Unit 1 Takeaway
During this Unit, I realized the absolute joy that a visual learning display is — not only for the kids but also for me! I tried only posting a few of the memory statements for G+C, but I honestly felt I needed all the statements posted. There are so many subjects covered by this curriculum that my never-resting mommy brain simply cannot keep up without a visual reminder. So, for our next unit, I will be posting all the subject memory statements on the board and giving my poor brain a break, lol.