Curriculum Choices: Preschool Edition

Every homeschool blogger is obligated to post her curriculum choices each year. We are “year-round” schoolers, so our new school year began mid-March.

Last summer through February we were using preschool curriculum. We kind of floated around with preschool. I just followed the Champ’s lead on when we did school and how much we did.

Here is what we used for preschool!

Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Letter of the Week

This was our core curriculum. I only printed off part of the curriculum because it is a ridiculous number of pages. We started by using most of the activities, but I ended up getting very frustrated with the Champ because I did not know how to explain the pattern activities. We then decided to hold off on those (as well as a few other activities) until January. When we came back to them, they clicked with him!

So, we did all of the letters (one per week) to begin with and then did all of the letters again to review (one per day). Doing the program this way took us a total of 32 weeks.

The Rhyme Bible

This children’s Bible is perfect for two year olds. The stories are told in rhyme form, so they tend to hold young children’s attention more than a narrative form. We attempted to read one story daily for a couple of days until it sank in.

Art and Pinterest Crafts

We tried to find one craft each day that related to either the letter we were working on or the Bible story we were reading. I also gave the Champ plenty of creative opportunities by allowing him to finger paint, color with crayons, paint with a large brush, and play with play dough.

Miscellaneous Workbooks

When we finished the Letter of the Week program, we worked through the Big Preschool Workbook. The book is around 300 pages, but the Champ finished it in about four weeks. However, if I had limited the number of pages he worked each day, this could have easily made it an entire school year. This was one of the best workbooks that we found. The concepts were for the most part on his level and went along perfectly with the concepts I wanted to teach.

I also used several workbooks from the Dollar Tree including Disney’s “I Can Learn With Pooh” Early Skills Workbooks, Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Learning Workbooks, and Playskool’s Pre-K Workbooks. These were used sparingly throughout the year when the Champ demanded “MORE SCHOOL.”

Free Printables and My Own Games

I made up a lot of games for the Champ and I relied on the internet to create other learning opportunities for him. It is possible to teach preschool and kindergarten without buying a single thing!

Check back on Tuesday’s for FREE PRINTABLES that you can use with your preschooler and kindergartner!

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School Before Age 3

We started “formally” homeschooling a few months before my son hit his third birthday! I heard some criticism about starting him too young. Of course, no one would criticize starting preschool at that age.

If you were to ask when I started teaching the Champ, I would reply “at birth.” Children are always learning. And, while worksheets and textbooks are not necessary at a young age, you can teach your child a lot through play.

So, how do you “School” before the age of three?

Count Everything

When I changed the Champ’s diapers as a newborn, I counted the buttons on his pajama’s. Count everyday objects such as toys, place settings at the dinner table, or ducks at the park. When the Coach would swing the Champ on our porch, he would hold the swing and count “1, 2, 3…” before letting the swing go. The Champ was proudly imitating him within weeks.

Read Everything

It is never too early to read to your child. You can introduce books to your baby from the moment he arrives, and babies love to hear their parent’s voices. As your child gets older, you can point out words on buildings, signs, and brochures.

Sing and Dance

Gross motor skills are important to learn. Dancing is a great way for your child to learn how to control his body. Children’s songs are another way to introduce vocabulary and language skills.

Create a Literature Rich Environment

Make sure there are letters and words everywhere around your child. Have children’s books readily available. Hang up letter activities they created in the hallway or their room. Hang up an alphabet chart, calendar, or number chart next to the dinner table so they can ask questions while you are eating.

Go to Activities

Mommy and me classes are great if you can afford them. Many of these classes work on gross motor skills and social skills. If there are none in your area, or you don’t want to pay for them, start a mom’s group or set up play dates.  Story time at the library is a great opportunity for your child to work on social behaviors and be introduced to new books. Some libraries even offer puppet shows and craft time.

Creative Play

Playing dress up, toy cookware, toy tools, and other pretend toys are great ways for your child to learn about the world around them. Creative art such as drawing, coloring, painting, and playing with play dough is great for working on fine motor development. Sensory boxes can also help your child work on fine motor skills.

Cook and Clean Together

Assist your child as they work on skills such as pouring and mixing when you are working in the kitchen. Let them help you put clothes in the dryer and fold washcloths when you are folding towels. You can also let them think they are helping. Give them a miniature dust pan and broom while you are cleaning or fill the sink with water and let them “wash” a few dishes. They will slow you down, and they will make a mess. But they are learning and will actually be helping you one day.

Create Independence Learning Opportunities

As soon as your child can dump out a box of toys, you can begin to work on independence skills. Chores such as cleaning up toys, taking clothes to the laundry basket, cleaning up water spills with a towel, and taking dishes to the sink can all be introduced to two year olds. Other skills such as getting dressed, washing hands, and taking off shoes can also be introduced. Do not expect these skills to be mastered, but simply allow your child to have the opportunity to work on them.

World Ocean’s Day!

Today is World Oceans Day!

Play with an ocean themed sensory box, make ocean themed crafts, and watch the movie Oceans.

Fake Aquarium

A craft we made a few years ago that has been a huge hit was our fake aquarium!

We found a fishbowl jar (different candies and other items that are sold in these or pick up a cheap one in the fish aisle of a pet store).

We cut out a piece of paper in the shape of one flat side of the fishbowl and glued it to the back side of the bowl.

You can use decorative stones or shells from the floral department or decorative gravel from the pet store to fill the bottom of the bowl.

Then we placed cardboard strips of “sea grass” in the decorative stones at the bottom. (See further down for a free template download).

We punched out holes in the lid of the bowl and ran string through the holes. We attached our pet fish to the other end of the string.

Two years later, we still have our pet fish that we never have to feed!

Octopus Handprint

Cover your child’s hand with finger paint. Then have them press their hand down on a piece of construction paper. Flip the paper over and glue on google eyes and decorate the “ocean” around your octopus.

Paper Bowl Turtle

Color or paint a paper bowl green. Tear up pieces of green and brown construction paper and glue to the bowl. Then cut out four turtle feet, a tail and head. Glue these pieces to the inside lip of the bowl. Attach google eyes to your turtle’s head.

Download Free World Ocean Day Craft Templates for the Fake Aquarium and Paper Bowl Turtle.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day to remember the more than one million men and women who lost their lives while serving the United States.

This holiday may be difficult for younger children who do not understand the concept of death or for children that are sensitive to the topic. Be sure to celebrate on your child’s emotional level.

If you have any ancestors or family members who died in service, today is a great day to tell your children about them.

Paint Poppies

Traditionally, red poppies were worn on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving their nation.

Paint green stems on a piece of paper. Clamp two clothespins over two pompoms. Dip one pompom in red paint and then paint dots at the top of your stem. Dip the second pompom in black paint and use it to paint a single black dot at the center of each poppy.

Flag Etiquette

Until noon on Memorial Day, the American flag is displayed at half-mast in memory of the men and women who lost their lives. At noon, the flag is then raised to full-staff. This symbolizes that the living will continue to fight for liberty and justice for all.

If you have a flag, make sure to follow proper flag etiquette and explain the symbolism to your children. If you do not have a flag, find pictures of the flag at half-mast and full-staff to explain Memorial Day flag etiquette.

Moment of Remembrance

At 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, a National Moment of Remembrance is observed. Everyone is asked to take a moment of silence or listen to Taps. While your younger children will probably not understand the concept of a moment of silence, you can take the opportunity to say a short prayer for the lives lost and/or play Taps for your children to listen to.

Rainy Day T.V. Alternatives

It is a rainy day and you just don’t feel like leaving the house. You don’t want to put on ANOTHER television episode and you keep hearing choruses of “Mommy! Play with me! I’m Bored!”

Here is a list of eleven types of activities to entertain your toddler (and most are so minimal effort on your part that you can do them when you are sick, tired, or pregnant)!

Sensory Boxes

I admit that I have minimized the use of sensory boxes with the Champ because he loves to make a mess, but these are great for indoor learning. Add a “base” such as rice, pasta, oats, flour, beans, sand, or cotton. Then add small toys and objects to match your box “theme” (ex. Toy animals for a farm theme, toy bugs for a bug theme, shells for a beach theme , toy dinosaurs and rocks for an archaeologist theme). Spoons, small shovels, small measuring cups, and tongs are great for kids to use to play with the box.

Busy Bags

Busy bags are activities that are stored in a bag for ready to go learning and fun. They are more portable than sensory boxes, and are usually less messy. Most of the Free Printables that I offer on Tuesdays are perfect to put in a Ziploc bag and offer as a busy bag. You can also search “Busy Bag Ideas” on Pinterest.

Board Games

Kids love playing games with their parents. Some of our favorite games for young kids are Don’t Spill the Beans, Cootie, Zingo, and Candy Land.

Arts and Crafts

Painting, coloring, playing with play dough, stringing beads, or tearing up paper and gluing it into shapes are all great free form art activities. Craft projects are also great for rainy days.

Flashcard Relay

Grab any set of flashcards and create your own active game. For word cards, I will ask the Champ to identify the object on the flashcard. If he gets it right, he can race a lap around the room. For our color concept cards, he has to find something in the room that matches the color on the card. With number concept cards, I will ask him to clap or hop the number of times shown on the card.

Indoor Bowling

Grab a ball and any set of objects that can serve as bowling pins. You can use blocks, pvc pipes, toy animals, etc. Or buy a plastic indoor bowling set. I love this game because I can sit in one spot with the Rookie while the Champ sets up the pins. The Rookie can even “bowl” with his big brother.

Blocks and Other Creative Toys

Mega Blocks, Duplo Blocks, Legos, Lincoln Logs, or Kindergarten blocks are all great for building. You can also play with other creative toys, such as toy tool sets, kitchen sets, trains, or dress up sets.

Books

Rainy days are a great time to cuddle up on the couch with a great book. To make reading even more fun for your child, build a fort out of sheets and read in your secret hide away.

The Number Game

We love playing the Number Game to get our wiggles out. I call out a number and an action (e.g. Flap your arms 8 times). The Champ then performs the task. Other action examples include: run a lap around the room, hop like a frog, spin around, pat your back, give mom a kiss/hug, clap, pat your head, touch your toes, etc.

Create a Story

Make up your own story. We take turns saying a sentence until we are giggling over our silly creation. Bonus points if you dress up and act out a play.

Dance Party

When all else fails, turn on some tunes and have a dance party!

Free Printable: Number Concept Matching Cards

Number Concept Match

Count EVERYTHING! That is one of my favorite pieces of advice to give to moms of young children.

Print these number concept cards on card stock. Cut out each individual square. Then they can be used in multiple ways:

Number Recognition: Have your child identify the numbers 1-20.

Number Counting: Have your child count the number of objects on the card.

Number Concepts: Have your child match the number to the card with the matching number of objects.

Number Order: Have your child arrange the numbers (or objects) in order from 1-20.

Download my Free Number Concept Match cards.