Jellyfish, whales and sharks. These are some of my family’s favorite ocean books for toddlers that your kids will love.
We are doing ocean week for our tot school so I thought I would share some of our favorite Ocean books for toddlers. Both my boys love the ocean. My older son seems to love it more which is why I decorated his room with an ocean theme. Right now, we are doing tot school with my youngest. It is sort of like a preschool, but more play time. It also focuses primarily on three things. Colors, shapes, alphabet and number recognition. He knows them pretty well, but we make sure to reinforce the knowledge everyday through play.
My oldest really loved this book. Mr. Seahorse is a great book to add to your collection if you are an Eric Carle fan (Very Hungry Caterpillar). This sweet story tells the tale of how the male seahorse carries the baby sea horse eggs until they are ready. Mr. Seahorse has become a favorite of my boys. This book is offered in a classic paperback in a board book style. I’ll leave the links below for both.
My Octopus Arms is a playful and colorful story by Keith Baker. My boys have always loved this book. This book is just plain fun. It’s the story of an octopus who uses his arms to do various things that humans do. This was a great way to teach about our arms as body parts and sense of touch. It is a simple book but it is so silly that the kids love it.
The Rainbow Fish is a classic children’s book. This sweet book has been around since the late 1990’s. The book focuses on a moralistic tale of a fish who has beautiful scales. The fish around him only have regular scales. A fish asks him to share one of his beautiful scales, but the rainbow fish refuses. The tale is a parable of sorts about both vanity and sharing.
The really special thing of this book is that the rainbow fish has holographic scales on every page which is sure to delight your child. It was a favorite of my cousins when they were young and now a favorite of my sons.
I Spy Ocean Animals is a fun book even for preschoolers. Even my six-year-old still loves it, So this is a great I spy books. It is in a board book which I always loved with little ones. I know they take up a lot of room on a bookshelf, but my boys were so rough with books I needed something that could survive them!
This book is a lift-the-flap book. If you are unfamiliar with it, a lift-the-flap book has flaps on the inner pages and your child can peek underneath to find a hidden illustration or words. If your child has a hard time sitting or staying entertained with books, lift-the-flap books can be really helpful. Honestly, they helped my oldest enjoy books since his attention span was so poor.
There are 100 ocean animals featured in the book and they also go through the ABCs to help build language. If your child enjoys, I spy activities be sure to visit my other posts, Halloween I Spy and Christmas I Spy which include free printable games for your kids.
Good Night Ocean is a delightful little bedtime book. The book goes through all kinds of diverse sea life in the ocean. It goes through everything from beaches and reefs as well as sharks, whales, and various sea life. The story itself is pretty simple, but my children enjoy going through marine life. This book is actually part of a larger series that explores other locations and parts of our world.
Do you remember Raffi? Maybe I am showing my age here, but Raffi was a children’s entertainer. He was not a favorite of mine when I was a kid back in the 1980’s although many of my friends liked him. In any case, one of his favorite songs has been turned into this book and my boys have really enjoyed it. Baby Beluga tells the story of a baby beluga whale with a heartfelt ending that will make mamas choke up. It is a sweet book and it comes in both traditional paperback and a board book.
I’m The Biggest Thing In the Ocean is a lovely book by Kevin Sherry. The book focuses on a giant squid and his travels discovering other sea life in the ocean like jellyfish and turtles. I definitely think this book is more suited for very young children. I have heard that the board book version and the classic book are not identical. Just something to keep in mind if you purchase. The board book appears to be an abridged version.
Way Down Deep In The Deep Blue Sea is the story of a boy swimming through the ocean and meeting all kinds of sea creatures. At the end of the story, we learn that he is actually in his bathtub playing with his imagination. It’s a sweet story and both my boys really love this book. The story is quite simple, but sometimes that’s all a child needs. My boys enjoyed it so much that we bought a copy for their cousin since they refused to gift their copy.
Are you a Beatles fan? Well, my family is. The Beatles are my dad’s favorite band of all time. So when I found this children’s book, Octopus’s Garden by Ringo Starr, I was pretty excited. This book is just the complete lyrics of Octopus’s Garden. My boys love this book because when we read it, I always put on the song and we read/sing it together. Also, this isn’t the only Beatles children’s book out there. Paul McCartney has a book All You Need is Love and With A Little Help From My Friends just to name a few.
Hello, World! Ocean Life is a book that is perfect for babies to about 3 years of age. It will likely be too simple a book after that, but it is a great language builder for infants and toddlers. As far as I can tell this book is only available in a board book format. This is actually part of a larger series. The series includes other science-related topics like bugs, artic animals, rainforest animals, planet earth, etc. So you may also want to look at their other books if you like this one.
Thanks for joining me. I hope you and your children enjoy these ocean books for toddlers. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share some of our favorite ocean story time books. This month I’ll be sharing our first-grade curriculum picks so don’t forget to subscribe and come back!
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Join me as I share 12 beautiful Easter books for children, perfect for filling Easter baskets or just sharing the story of the Resurrection with kids.
Becoming a parent was very interesting. I never considered how I might share the Easter story with my children. My boys, ages five and three are interested in Jesus, but are barely starting to understand the concept of sin, much less theology like the hypostatic union and substitutionary atonement. That understanding will come in later years, but right now is really just about them being introduced the the passion of Christ, the crucifixion and the resurrection as it happened.
Today, I’m going the share 12 beautiful Easter books for children. Each book is different and I will try to illustrate some of those differences. You can give the book as a gift to your child or even tuck it in their Easter basket like I do. If I see any differences in denomination, I’ll try to mention that.
12 Beautiful Easter Books for Children
God Gave Us Easter
God Gave Us Easter is a favorite book. We actually have the companion book, God Gave Us You, which is a beautiful book about how God created us. In God Gave Us Easter, the book includes the same characters and similar beautiful language. I will say that this book doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of Jesus dying on the cross. It keeps it very light hearted. So if you are looking for something with more of a high-level overtone, this one is a beautiful book. This book is probably better for very young children that you understand death or the idea of crucifixion. See below for my more biblical choices.
The Easter Storybook: 40 Bible Stories Showing Us Who Jesus Is
This is a beautiful storybook with a biblical foundation showing us the character of Jesus. The storybook has lovely illustrations for each story and a bible passage. The stories selected are designed to give children a look at the character of Jesus. We see Jesus as a teacher, redeemer, rescuer, friend, King, savior, Each story is one page long and includes a scripture passage. At the end of each story, there are questions for children to think about or answer. This one is a favorite of ours! I think this book is great for preschool age through about nine.
Notes From Jesus
This is a lovely book! Although it isn’t specifically Easter themed, I think it is really lovely because it lays the foundation for establishing a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. It provides answers to common thoughts and questions like, “how does Jesus feel when I mess up?” “Is it okay to pray with my eyes open?” “Does Jesus care about my day?” The answers are simple in a narrative that is easy for young children to grasp and thoroughly explains God’s love for us.
This book is recommended for ages six and up, but honestly, I find it perfect for my four-year-old who is just starting to build a relationship with the Lord.
We Believe: An Alphabet Primer
I’ve included this book, for those looking for a Catholic perspective. We Believe: an Alphabet Primer is a lovely book with simple, colorful beautiful illustrations. The artwork is vibrant and has a lovely color palette. In the book the alphabet is used by theological terms. If you are a Catholic, you will probably enjoy that this book discusses things like the Eucharist, the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. I was raised as a Catholic and this would have been a lovely book when I was young. If you are a Protestant, like I am now, you may want to skip this book as it does have Catholic theology. This book is best for children four and under.
This sweet book, Lift the Flap Easter Stories for Young Children, is great for little ones who have a hard time sitting still for stories. When my boys were between the ages of two and three it was so hard to get them to sit for stories. This is where I think lift the flap books are very helpful. It gives them something to do while we are reading and keeps those little hands busy. This short book is about sixteen pages and is perfect for ages two through five. There are multiple flaps per page with colorful explanations. This covers the major events surround the resurrection story but omits the gruesomeness of the crucifixion because it’s designed for toddlers.
The Donkey Who Carried a King
This book by reformed pastor R.C. Sproul is a beautiful, endearing story and certainly one of my favorites. Now this book is going to be very different from other books in this list. First, this book is not really centered around the events around the resurrection, ( I mean it IS and it ISNT) rather it is centered around Christ coming in humility not to be served but to serve. In essence it is more of a moralistic tale than a play by play of the Easter story. I think it is a really good book especially when paired with other Easter stories.
If you like Twas the Night Before Christmas, you may really enjoy this Twas the Easter Morning as well. This book uses the same ionic pentameter of Twas the Night Before Christmas except it tells the story of Easter instead of Christmas. That makes if for a special telling of the Easter story. The illustrations in this book are really breathtaking. I have a feeling this one is going to be a classic story in years to come.
The Easter Story
The Easter Story book is great for kids around the kindergarten – first grade age. The book is biblically based with lovely illustrations and isn’t too long ( it is 32 pages). There is also a board book version available if you want tear resistant pages. It is not graphic for children who may not be ready for the crucifixion. However there is just one small thing I would change and it is probably a minor detail to most parents. It says that Jesus died so that we “will” all go to heaven. We don’t want to imply universalism to our children. It should read so that we “can” all go to heaven. This is probably such a minor detail that most parents won’t care. After all, that kind of theology is something that can be discussed when children are older anyway. Still, this is a great biblical story.
100 Little Bible Words
So I’ve included this book, 100 Little Bible Words, in the list because I don’t want to leave out infants or children under the age of two. This board book contains 100 words to build the vocabulary of your little man or lady. Throughout the pages it goes through major biblical themes like the creation story, Noah’s ark, etc. It provides a scripture, then provides words related to that part of the Bible. For example, Noah’s ark lists many animals. The creation story teaches words like Adam, Eve, apple, tree, sun, light, sky, etc. Although this isn’t specific to Easter, I still think it is a great book to start introducing biblical vocabulary. This little book is perfect for an Easter basket.
The Very First Easter
The Very First Easter by Paul L Maier is a beautifully illustrated book of the Easter story. The book is biblically accurate and Christ focused. The illustrations are really lovely and contains accurate scripture. However, I thought I would mention two things for the discerning reader. The first is that the book infers early on that the Easter bunny is not real. If your children believe in the Easter bunny, this might catch you off guard. Additionally, after stating the scripture verbatim at the Lord’s supper, the book says then explains that it is a sacrament which offers grace and forgiveness of sins. It is fairly subtle but obviously, your views on transubstantiation may find this verse troubling. I think it is subtle enough, but I still thought I would mention.
The Story of Passover
I thought I would include The Story of Passover by David A Alder in the list. While this book isn’t about the death and resurrection, I think it’s appropriate for children to understand what passover is referring to in scripture. After all, I don’t think it was any coincidence that Jesus died on the anniversary of God setting the Jewish people free from slavery. For we were slaves to sin and now we have freedom in Christ. This book centers around Moses leading the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt. The book is full of bold illustrations and is good for preschool and young elementary school children. My only critique is that although it explains the events leading up to passover it doesn’t not fully explain the passover seder.
The Donkey No One Could Ride
This sweet book, The Donkey No One Could Ride, by author Anthony DeStefano is a sweet tale of a donkey who felt unworthy until he meets his master, Christ. This adorable rhyming tale is best for kids under the age of seven. I will add that this book doesn’t really tell the Easter story like other books. Rather, this is more about our relationship with our master. It also centers around Palm Sunday. Still I think it’s a really lovely, innocent tale that will encourage children to see the love of Christ.
We have a had a great homeschool year. My kindergartener is reading very well and he is obsessed with spelling at the moment. I’m so glad that we have managed to keep their interest in school even though we aren’t getting out much. I am so grateful that we had a wonderful and productive Fall. That said, I am so glad that we are taking some time off in December. We will be taking a whole two weeks off and just focusing on fun activities and play, so I’ll be sharing some of our fun activities here on the blog.
Printable Christmas I Spy
To Christmas off, I’m sharing a printable Christmas I Spy that I’ve made for my kindergartener. I think that children under five might struggle with it. I purposely made it a little challenging by using similar objects. Therefore, it is better suited for ages five and up. You can download it here and print it out at home. Feel free to share this post with others.
You can download some of my other FREE games and activities for other holidays
And coming soon this month, I’ll be doing a printable Christmas Memory Game! Stay tuned or subscribe to the blog to be notified.
As with all my printables on the blog, you can print them without an email sign up, although I”d love it if you subscribed.
You can use the following for your I spy game:
There is an answer key at the bottom of the page that states the objects to find as well as how many of the items there are in the maze. I suggest having your child count and color them as they find them. I’ve included lots of objects that are similar and objects that are not in the key to make it more challenging.
Snowy Village Christmas Game Bundle
Whether you are taking your Christmas Party to the next level or just want some fun holiday-themed activities with your family, this bundle of ten printable Christmas games are sure to delight everyone!
Download your free Thanksgiving Word Search for kids. This is a fun word recognition activity for elementary school aged children.
Hey friends, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Thanksgiving has always been a special time. First, my mom’s birthday almost always falls on the week of Thanksgiving, so it’s always super special. Secondly, as a child, I used to love to hear my grandfather’s stories about our own Apache heritage. We are prepping for Thanksgiving this week. I imagine this year, Thanksgiving will look different for many families. I’ve heard some cities are locking down again. If you are in one of those cities, I’m sorry. It’s very tough to be apart from families especially this time of year, especially after all we’ve done already this year. We are staying home and cooking for a few immediate family members.
Today, I’ve created something fun for your older elementary school kids. I’ve created a free Thanksgiving word search for kids. Who knows, maybe it will keep them busy long enough to butter rolls! I personally used to love word search games particularly as a kid. Who am I kidding? I still really love them. I always felt like it helped me with my dyslexia because it forced me to concentrate.
Benefits of Word Searches
Sometimes word searches can get a bad rap. They seem like they are just busywork, but the truth is, they have lots of benefits. Here are some of the perks to incorporating word searches into your child’s playtime or school time.
Word recognition – Word recognition is very easy for adults that have been reading for years and are familiar with recognizing words by just a glance. While such things are obvious to adults, it’s not to you our little ones. For the emergent reader, word searches require them to truly hone in on the letters that make up the word.
We visualize words as a picture – Word searches have a unique effect on our brain. When we search for a word in a word search, we continually picture the word in our mind, thus reinforcing the spelling and structure of the word. This, of course, improves memory.
Focus on letter combinations. It’s in our nature to look for parts of the word that are unique like ie, uo, ea, tr, etc. We tend to hunt for letter combinations in word searches. For example, in the word Thanksgiving we tend to look for the letter combination ‘TH’ and ‘NG.’
Spelling – This might seem obvious and that’s because it is. Word searches encourage spelling. When you word search, you will have to examine the maze of letters to find the letters that make up the word and you have to spell it in order to know if you have found the word correctly.
Improves Vocabulary – I like using word searches to help reinforce vocabulary words. You can make the word search for just about any subject. Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, etc.
My Word Search
I’ve created this word search with 25 different Thanksgiving-themed words. Have your child search for the words horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. To add an extra level of difficulty, the words can also appear forwards or backward. I’ve created the word search in a .pdf document. You will need Adobe Acrobat or some other pdf viewing software to view it. You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.
I love coming up with some of these fun games. I created a Halloween I Spy as well and I plan on making a fun Christmas version as well in the next coming weeks. Also, be sure to check out Snowy Village Christmas Game Bundle available in my shop here on the blog or in my ETSY shop.
Snowy Village Christmas Game Bundle
Whether you are taking your Christmas Party to the next level or just want some fun holiday-themed activities with your family, this bundle of ten printable Christmas games are sure to delight everyone!
Are your kids bored this week? Download my free Halloween I Spy Printable for a for spooky Halloween activity that’s fun for all ages.
Hey Friends! We are in October and here in my house we are wondering how things will be different in 2020. This year, lots of things have looked differently. This year, we did all of our birthday parties on Zoom and we even had drive by parties. My husband and I have had to get pretty creative on how we can keep the kids entertained.
Personally, I’ve been creating lots of printables to keep my kids busy. Things that are low cost and certainly things that kill their boredom while social distancing. You see, I know many people have returned to relatively normal lives, but since we help my elderly parents, we are still strictly quarantining. I keep telling myself one day this will be all over!
So, I decided to create a fun Halloween I spy printable to add to our homeschooling activities. My kids love I spy games and they are so fun to do. But they are more than just fun, they are actually educational. So why are I spy games good for kids, you ask.
The Benefits of I Spy Games
It Builds Memory Skills
Memory games and I Spy games help your child fine-tune their photographic memory. When children search for the image in the maze of other pictures, they must use their visual memory to find the picture. Using I Spy activities really strengthens your child’s memory. This is essential for growing children. It can be really frustrating when children disobey us. But as a mom of two, I’ve learned that many times my kids don’t mean to disobey, they simply forget. Little ones still have budding brains and it has become really apparent to me as I’ve homeschooled that children really need memory training.
It Improves Focus
Children have to focus when they do an I spy game. Nearly all young children struggle with concentration and focus. That’s why training their minds to focus through games is so helpful. To them it is just play or a fun activity, but ultimately you are trying to get them used to focusing so it can carry over into school work and other life skills.
They Can Improve Counting Skills
Some I spy games, like the Halloween I Spy printable I’ve created for you, asks children to find the picture multiple times. This forces children to keep count. When you complete the I spy printable, have your child make tally marks as they find the picture.
Halloween Watercolor Wall Art – Set of 4
It’s time to start decorating for Halloween and My Beautiful Mess Blog has a fun Halloween Watercolor Wall Art set to help get you started. This fun digital download set contains four individual 8×10 printable prints you can print and frame.
I can recall when I started to teach my children colors. We did lots of color sorts. I’d give my child math counters of different colors and they would have to sort it into the coordinating colored bowl. Why? Because sorting helps your child not only decide what color it is, it helps them figure out what color it is not. The same is true for I spy. As your child sorts through the jumbled pictures, your child will have to hone in on the discrepancies, differences, and similarities between the pictures and ultimately decide if the picture is the same they are searching for or not. Your child will have to use visual discrimination to determine the differences.
How to Use The Halloween I Spy Printable
The printable is a US letter-sized document. I’ve made it into a PDF document you can download. You’ll need Adobe Acrobat or some other PDF viewing software. You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free here.
I’ve purposely made the pictures black and white. First, so that the images are harder to find. Secondly, so that your child can color them in when they find them. He or she can also put an “x” over the image if they’d rather not color. If it’s easier for your child they can also put little tally marks in the answer key if they want.
Whether you are homeschooling or trying to supplement your child’s ability to read, you’ll love these free preschool sight word flashcards. Simply print them using your home computer.
Welcome, friend. We’ve started homeschooling already this year and my boys are doing awesome! My oldest is now in Kindergarten and we have been working hard on learning to read. Can I be honest with you? I was terrified to teach reading. We’ve been working on it over the summer with the help of Hooked On Phonics. If you would like to know what else we are using, be sure to read my posts Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum and Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.
My son is doing well reading emergent readers. I ended up creating some flashcards to help him and I thought I would share them here on the blog. Let me share why I think these free preschool sight word flashcards are helpful to your new reader.
Is Your Child Ready to Read?
Although this post is labeled for pre-schoolers, honestly it is for any child that is a beginner reader. “Level 1” just doesn’t have the same ring as Preschool. I thought about trying to teach my son to read in preschool, but I did not feel he was quite ready. How do you know your child is ready to tackle reading? Believe it or not, children give us clues that it may be time to start introducing reading on their own
They are motivated. Children who ask to learn to read or show signs of motivation to read are probably ready to put forth the effort it takes to learn reading.
They know how to navigate a book. Children should have already grasped the concept of how reading works like starting on the first page, going from the top to the bottom of the page and words going from left to right. They may start pointing to words and letters on the page. Additionally, they may even point and ask what the word says.
They recognize letters. Children should be thoroughly familiar with recognizing all letters of the alphabet.
They should have a good understanding of phonics. Kids should understand what a rhyme is. They should know what a syllable is and should have a good understanding of the phonics of single letters.
If your child is not there yet, don’t fret! Children learn at different stages. Some may need more familiarity with letters or letter sounds before they move onto reading. That is perfectly okay. Over the summer, my oldest started to show motivation, something he had lacked all through preschool. He would sit in his bed and pretend to read, repeating phrases he had memorized from the book. That was the main reason I knew he was finally ready. He was showing interest and motivation…finally.
Using Sight Words
Sight words are words that are short and easy enough for your child to recognize and read without having to sound it out. Sight words also make up 50-70% of the sentences we use all the time. So learning how to read sight words can immediately build confidence when your child starts reading emergent readers. Sight words help build the foundation for more challenging, complex words.
To use these flashcards, print them out on white card stock on your home computer. Make sure that your printer is set to full bleed and that it doesn’t shrink down the pages or the alignment may be off. Trim down following the trim guides. If you prefer, you can laminate them for extra sturdiness.
Sit in a distraction-free area and show your child the flashcards. Model the word. Have your child repeat the words back to you. If your child loses focus, redirect them to look at the card. Also, if your child struggles with the enunciation of the world, hold the card up to your mouth so they can see how you are making the sounds with your lips. If your child begins to become frustrated or very disinterested, stop and resume another day. Young children have a short attention span and you don’t want this to be an awful experience.
For best results, do this daily. When you feel your child is ready, challenge your child to read the words by himself or herself. If he or she is incorrect, I suggest not telling them they are wrong as this can crush budding confidence. Instead, keep it positive. Simply model the word correctly by saying, “The word is…” Then tell them they did well for trying. Always boost your child’s confidence whenever you can.
If your child is practicing handwriting and you feel they are proficient enough to start writing full words, you can always give them sight words to trace or copy. This will help them become even more aware of helping them memorize them. I have a printable you can download. The words are printed in light grey and your child can trace the sight words with their favorite pencil or crayon.
I hope that these help you and your little one enjoy the beginnings of your reading journey. If you would like some other fun printables to do with your kids take a look at my other posts like Valentine’s Day Bingo and Printable Halloween Memory Game.
Need some help teaching preschool at home? Today I’m sharing the resources we used for our preschool homeschool curriculum.
Today I’m sharing some of the resources we just finished using for preschool back in May. I’ve had lots of friends reach out to me about homeschooling their preschool child because of Coronavirus, so I decided to sit down and provide all of our resources. You can take a look at the Kindergarten curriculum we are using for my oldest this year in the post, Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.
Homeschooling isn’t as scary as it sounds, at least not at the preschool level. Not only will you child be learning lots of things, but it is also an incredible bonding opportunity for the two of you.
Most states don’t have regulations for homeschool preschool because preschool typically isn’t compulsory, but always check your state regulations before getting started to make sure the curriculum you choose complies with state guidelines and prepares them thoroughly for kindergarten. You can find your state regulations here.
A Preschool Introduction
Before I begin, I want to clarify that young children at the preschool level learn best by doing and by learning through play, not textbooks. I organized our school year by unit studies. Meaning we focused on a particular theme for a week and did activities around them. If you are interested, I’ll provide our unit studies below
A typical preschool day for us includes the following:
Math (number recognition, counting, patterns, reinforcement of shapes and colors)
Handwriting (how to hold a pencil correctly, learning how to write numbers, letters and basic shapes)
Reading (Reading favorite children’s stories)
Bible Study (simply reading a bible story from your favorite children’s bible)
Phonics: Letter recognition, letter sounds
Arts & Crafts (fine motor activity like coloring, painting, drawing, paper plate crafts, etc)
Science (informal introduction to our body, animals, plants, space, etc)
One of the best teaching tools I’ve ever found are little animal counters (called manipulatives). You can use them in many different activities. I have found that children learn math best when they can visualize it. That’s what makes these counters invaluable. My oldest, now in Kindergarten, is grasping the concept of subtraction and addition thanks to these. Honestly, I think this is about all you need to teach math in preschool with the exception of learning to write and identify numbers. Here are some of the activities you can do in preschool just with counters.
SORT BY COLOR: Color sorts challenge your child not just to select the correct color but also eliminate the incorrect colors. It provides you with a way to gauge how well they really know their colors and how well they can distinguish between colors that are similar such as blue and green, orange and red, purple and blue, etc.
COUNTING: Obviously, you can use colored counters to simply count. Most counters come in packs of around 100 making it great to count all the way to the 100.
SKIP COUNTING: Once your child masters counting, they can learn to skip count with the counters. Like counting by twos, by fives, and by tens Many children don’t learn this until Kindergarten so it’s okay if they aren’t ready for it in pre-school.
PATTERNS: Counters can also be a tool for critical thinking. Identifying patterns is an early Math skill. With colored counters, you can create patterns (e.g. blue-blue, green-green, blue-blue, green…) then have your child finish the pattern. Or you can remove a counter and ask your child which color is missing. Once your child has mastered identifying patterns, challenge him or her to create their own patterns.
POSITIONS and QUANTIFIERS: Counters are also a great way for your child to learn positional directions like above, below, first, last, top, middle, bottom, right, left and quantifiers like more, less, greater, less than, etc. Lay them out in different directions and then ask your child to identify the one on the right, left, on the bottom, etc.
If you prefer a workbook/textbook experience for Math, we love Horizons. We are using it for Kindergarten and my son loves it because it incorporates hands-on and textbook learning.
I wish I had known about this program when first teaching my son to write. We tried multiple programs and every program left both of us in tears! My oldest was very resistant to writing. He was great at pre-writing activities, but had no desire to use a pencil. I had heard lots of great things about this program so in the final months of our preschool year I changed our handwriting curriculum to Handwriting Without Tears. The results were amazing! We made more progress in the first month of the program than we had in the prior 10 months of the school year. (We homeschool year round). In three months, Jack was finally writing his own name without any help or prompting. I honestly can’t recommend this program enough. Now he begs to do his handwriting first before other subjects. It has totally changed our school day.
One nice thing about the program is that it breaks the letters down into individual strokes for your child. Instead of just trying to copy the letter in full, children color and fill in a picture using the strokes that will be needed to make the letter. Then they’ll try to trace and write the letter on the next page. Over the book, it increases in difficulty. Struggling writers are often frustrated by the precision and concentration needed to write small. So the book has students practice on a larger scale in order to build confidence before asking for precision and control.
If you can afford it, splurge on the chalkboard. It made the lessons extra fun for my son and he loved the novelty of doing extra practice on the blackboard.
Many preschoolers are not ready for reading on their own yet. That’s okay. The way to encourage your child to read is to read to them. Reading to your child every day can foster life long literacy. Just one or two storybooks a day is all you need. I normally tie our books into our weekly unit study. For instance, if we are studying ocean week, we read at least one ocean-themed book a day. You don’t need to spend a fortune. The library is a great resource for books. Many libraries even allow you to search and reserve books online so you aren’t spending a ton of time searching for them at the library. You can see some of the classical books we are reading through preschool and kindergarten here in my post Classical Books for Kindergarteners. Don’t worry, they are perfect for preschoolers too.
Also, you can keep track of all the books you read with your child with my FREE Reading Log Printable.
Learning to read starts with learning the sounds of the alphabet. It’s really that simple. There are lots of ways to teach that. My son learned the alphabet really well by three. Then after his third birthday, we started to work on all the sounds the alphabet made. It is still hard for children to start putting the sounds together into words. That’s where phonics programs really help.
There are lots of phonics programs out there. Ultimately, you will need to choose what is right for you. Explode the Code is a very popular choice for homeschoolers and it is heavy in writing and drawing as well. A good friend of ours taught their twins how to read using nothing more than the book entitled, How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. (We are also using that book as a supplement) A comprehensive program that some friends have used is Little Champion Early Reading, but it is on the pricey side as far as programs go. There is another popular program entitled All About Reading. And of course, there is the very popular Hooked On Phonics. We are currently using Hooked On Phonics and we started at the Pre-school level.
The main reason we chose Hooked On Phonics is that it has been around for a very long time (my own brother used it) and the price is in the middle price range of phonics programs. We used it all through pre-school and now we are using it in Kindergarten and my son loves to read the emergent readers. More than anything, it has helped him become interested in reading instead of resistant.
And that is the best kind of advice I can give you when it comes to homeschooling. If you or your child are becoming increasingly frustrated, more often than not, the curriculum just isn’t a good fit. Don’t be afraid to change what isn’t working. You know you have hit the sweet spot when your child is engaged, willing, and making progress.
Arts & Crafts
Arts and crafts are very important for preschoolers for a variety of reasons. First, arts and crafts are fine motor activities. Having to use glue, scissors, crayons, paint, etc, fine-tunes their fine motor skills which inevitably helps with writing. It gives them an opportunity to use their budding imaginations and is also a sensory experience. All you need is a small list of supplies and the possibilities are endless! Honestly, we just found a craft every day on Pinterest that coincided with our theme.
Preschoolers should also be mastering the use of scissors. By doing arts and crafts they will get plenty of practice, but if you still feel like your child needs more practice (like mine did) you can purchase a scissor practice book. I’ll provide some links for art supplies because honestly, Target is one of the more reasonable places for school supplies.
There isn’t a lot of resources for preschool Science. We just bought a few educational Science related things to help foster a love for Science. Children at this age really just need to be able to distinguish between living and non-living things. They also should be able to recognize and name body parts, basic things in nature (plants & trees, animal types, the weather, and the seasons). Keep in mind, lots of Science can be learned by simply including the subject in your daily reading.
For instance, we purchased this book with 20 STEM pre-school activities. We also received this awesome body book from our Aunt and we decided to incorporate it into our studies by going through a page or two a day. My son became totally obsessed with the human body. I’m shocked at what my son learned by going through it. Then we got a Science lab kit and we found some fun kitchen experiments. We are using it again this year for Kindergarten.
We also used a Pre-K Science workbook by DK Workbooks. It isn’t very in-depth, and I really wish it was in color instead of black and white, but it does include many of the basic concepts that preschoolers should know.
If you are religious and you want to start introducing God into your studies I have found at this age all that is needed is to read a bible story and ask your child some questions. In Kindergarten we are using The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible. However, the wording may be above your preschooler’s vocabulary. My oldest child wasn’t quite ready for it when we started preschool, but was ready around Kindergarten. What a difference a year makes in a child’s vocabulary! Therefore, the other two we used at the younger preschooler age was 365 Bible Stories and Prayers and The Beginner’s Bible.
Before You Go
Thanks so much for taking the time to visit today and read about our preschool homeschool curriculum. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’ll try to respond promptly.
If you are nervous about homeschooling, don’t worry. You and your child will do great. It can be a little scary at first. As parents, we want to make sure our children aren’t falling behind in school, but I promise it isn’t as scary as it seems. Children learn so much by playing and by you explaining things to them. So take every opportunity to do that and try not to stress over it too much.
Interested in homeschooling, but don’t know where to start? You aren’t alone. Take a look at my quick guide on how to start homeschooling. It’s easier to get started than you think.
If you are here, it’s because you are considering homeschooling. First off, let me say I’m proud of you for taking charge of your children’s education. Whether you are dead serious about starting or simply want to find out more about what it takes to educate your children at home, know that you are doing a great thing for your family.
There are lots of reasons families decide to educate at home. Currently, many families are considering homeschooling due to COVID concerns and the instability it might bring to the upcoming school year. Whatever your reasons they are both valid and personal. Today, I am going share with you how to start homeschooling.
How To Start Homeschooling
Review Your State’s Homeschooling Laws
Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states. The very first thing you’ll need to do is review your state’s homeschool regulations. Homeschooling laws are regulated by your state, not the federal government. You can find your state’s homeschooling laws at HSLDA. Some states, like Texas where I live, have few regulations, giving parents lots of freedom and autonomy. However, other states have moderate regulations and a few states (primarily in the North Eastern United States) have far more stringent regulations. These laws will tell you:
How many school days are required
Mandatory number of days (attendance)
Notifying the local public school/withdrawing children from public school
Figure Out Who Will Teach
There are a few states that require homeschool teachers to have teaching certificates. Some states only require it if you are teaching additional children that aren’t yours. That’s right! Did you know that many states allow people other than parents to homeschool? It’s true. Homeschool teachers can be parents, neighbors, aunts or uncles, even grandparents. This can be a great solution for working parents who want to homeschool. For example, in Texas, you can teach up to five kids that aren’t yours before the state requires a teaching certificate. So if my brothers wanted me to homeschool their kids alongside mine, we can. You’ll need to figure out who will be facilitating school and make sure it is in accordance with state regulations.
Decide on a Homeschooling Method
There are lots of ways to educate a child and homeschooling provides different methods of teaching. If you are homeschooling temporarily due to COVID, you may want to consider doing Traditional homeschooling. Traditional homeschooling will mirror public schools in structure and method. There are other methods like Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unschooling, and Eclectic. I’ve created a separate post entitled, Homeschooling Methods Explained, where I explain the differences in detail.
Decide on a Schedule
Part of planning your homeschool will involve planning out your school calendar. It is important to note that some states have a required number of days your child must attend school. 180 to 185 days is the average requirement. In some states, like my home state of Texas, there is no attendance requirement. This is great because it means you can finish your school year as quickly as you want or you can stretch out your school year-round with lots of days off during the year. Many families simply follow the same schedule as their public school system. For some it just makes it easier.
Personally, we homeschool year round. First, it ensures your child doesn’t forget things over the summer. Plus it means I don’t have to remotivate them (or myself) at the beginning of the school year. Also, it means we can take lots of vacations or time off anytime we feel we need it during the year. This really helps us from feeling burnt out. It means we don’t have to take our family vacations in summer when everyone else is also vacationing. (Thats right. No lines at Disney World!)
Choose a Curriculum
The idea of choosing a curriculum can be really overwhelming to parents who are homeschooling for the first time. My advice is not to stress too much over it. If you and your child are struggling you can change the curriculum at any time! One of the best resources I ever found is a book entitled, Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. In this book, Duffy writes in-depth curriculum reviews and also helps you assess which curriculum will best meet your needs. Here are some things you need to consider when choosing curriculum.
How to Choose Curriculum
TEACHER-LED OR STUDENT-LED: Curriculum is designed to either be led by a teacher or by the student. In the early years, students will likely benefit more from having you work directly with them. However, as your child matures, independent learners may benefit more with the autonomy found in student-led curriculum.
SECULAR OR RELIGIOUS: You will need to decide whether you want religion to play a part in your child’s studies. Some religious families opt for a secular curriculum with separate religious or bible studies. Others prefer religion to be intertwined in subjects. Many secular curricula are religion-friendly, meaning there is unlikely to be anything in direct opposition to religious tenets. This will become especially critical in Science when deciding whether to teach creation or evolution.
YOUR HOMESCHOOLING METHOD: Curriculum varies widely in their approach to learning. Your curriculum choices may be impacted by the homeschooling method you wish to employ. Be sure to read my post, Homeschooling Methods Explained for an in-depth look at the different homeschooling methods.
YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING STYLE: Just like us, children have different learning styles. Some children are auditory learners, while others need to visualize concepts. Still, others benefit more from a hands-on (tactile) experience. One advantage to homeschooling is the ability to use a curriculum tailored to your child’s learning style. It is important to note that young children are generally tactile learners and may change learning styles as they mature.
HOW MUCH TIME YOU WANT TO SPEND: Some curriculum requires prep work on the part of the teacher, while others allow you to dive right in. Some curriculum is relaxed, others are rigorous and of course, there is everything in between. You will need to figure out how much time you are willing to dedicate. This is especially important if you are a single parent, working parent, or are teaching multiple students.
SPECIAL NEEDS: Consider if your child has any special needs that may influence the curriculum you choose. Not only are there curriculum choices that are special need friendly, but there are also support groups for families.
YOUR BUDGET: You will decide how much you are willing to spend on the curriculum. It is important to note that there are many free and low-cost options available. In fact, some school districts even offer public school online at home and it’s completely free!
ONLINE OR TANGIBLE: You will need to decide how much screen time your child has. There are pros and cons to both. Some parents want their kids to be tech-savvy and comfortable with online applications. Whereas other parents feel too much time online can stunt literacy. Many families find a happy medium or encourage technology in later years like high school.
Join Homeschooling Groups
One thing that is wonderful about homeschooling is the community. I have found homeschooling families to be wonderfully accepting and helpful to other families, especially those just getting started. Other families are a valuable resource for both motivation, advice, and socialization, so look into joining homeschool groups. You can find many online, even on Facebook.
Other Common Questions
Do I need to formally withdraw my kids from public school?
The answer depends largely on your state laws. Many states do require you to submit a form to avoid truency problems. You can find your state laws here: https://hslda.org/legal
Will my child receive a diploma when he / she graduates?
A diploma is just a piece of paper saying that school was completed. If your child wants a paper diploma, homeschool parents can order them online. https://www.homeschooldiploma.com is a great place to order them and other graduation items.
Can my child still attend college if they are homeschooled?
Absolutely. In fact, I was a homeschooled child and attended college. Colleges will require a high school transcript and may require a standardized test such as the SATs.
Where can I get a high school transcript?
Parents will need to create them using the child’s grades. Most online homeschool planners make it easy to create a transcript based on the grades you input.
I’m nervous about teaching math and science. What happens if I struggle teaching a certain subject?
First, teacher manuals will teach you how to teach the subject and how to engage your child. If you still feel uncomfortable, you can also look into a tutor. Aside from tutors, Co-ops are a great resource for teaching help. Co-ops are teacher-led, classroom style classes. You can always put your child in a co-op for harder subjects. Another option is to simply get together with another homeschooling family for help.
What is a co-op?
A co-op is a group of homeschoolers that come together for classroom-style learning. The co-op class can be lead by one appointed teacher or a group of them. The co-op can include traditional subjects like math and science, electives like drama and art, or extra-curricular activities like band, orchestra, or sports.
What if my child has special needs?
Homeschooling is great for children with special needs. For starters, there is no shame or peer pressure for going as slowly as your child needs. Homeschooling also allows you to tailor the curriculum and learning process to your child’s specific needs. These days there are lots of homeschool curriculum that is designed for special needs like dyslexia, autism, ADHD, etc. Just take a look at one example at https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling/special-needs/
Will my child be socialized?
Absolutely. Children not being socialized is the biggest myth about homeschooling. As a homeschooler, you should get involved with co-ops, support groups, extra-curricular clubs, sports, and other homeschooling families. Contrary to popular belief, homeschoolers aren’t stuck at home all the time. Rather, they have the freedom to accompany parents, volunteer, and join other homeschoolers during the day for social activities.
What happens if I need legal help regarding homeschooling?
There are many coalitions that help protect the rights of homeschool families. Many coalitions provide legal assistance, forms, information, legal resources and sometimes even legal representation. Some are state specific (such as Texas Homeschool Coalition) and others are for all fifty states (such as HSLDA).
Do my children need to complete state standardized testing?
This depends on your state’s homeschooling laws. Some states require it, while others exempt homeschoolers. Many colleges and universities may still require your child take the SATs or other college entrance exams.
How do I know my child is learning as much as public schooled children?
This is often a common concern of beginner homeschoolers. First, many parents choose to homeschool because many studies show that homeschooled children are more advanced than public schooled children. However, if you would like to compare you child’s progress to public school you can use the state core standards to set educational goals.
What kind of records do I need to keep?
This is dependent upon your state’s individual homeschooling laws and regulations, but generally speaking, you will need to keep records that prove your child’s progress, attendence and abilities. These may include items like attendance records, grades, names of curriculum used, reading lists, field trip lists, standardaized testing scores, work samples, volunteer work, extra-curricular activities, and subjects mastered.
I hope I have answered some of your basic questions on how to start homeschooling. If you have other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will answer as soon as I can. Thanks for reading!
Today I am pulling back the curtain and giving you a glimpse inside our homeschool room. Join me for our homeschool room tour!
I am often asked about our homeschool room and with so many friends turning to homeschooling this fall due to COVID, I’ve decided to give you our homeschool room tour. First, let me start by saying, I know how blessed I am to have a dedicated room. I know most people don’t have an extra room to use. That said, many families opt for the kitchen table or home office as a learning space. However, when my husband and I were building our house, years before we had children, we knew we were going to homeschool. Therefore, we built this room just for homeschooling. If you are just homeschooling for this coming year due to COVID, a kitchen table is fine! If you are interested in learning about more about homeschooling permanently I have lots of homeschooling posts including, Homeschooling Methods Explained.
Lots of moms have asked me if you need a dedicated room. I would say you need a dedicated space. That doesn’t mean the room can’t serve more than one purpose. Up until last year our classroom was also a playroom. But since we buckled down on home education, we removed the toys and put them in their bedrooms. That would probably be my only caveat. I have found that if you have little ones, removing distraction is key. Having the toys in the same room as our learning space is just too distracting for my little guys.
Let’s start our tour and I will explain why and how I do things.
Our room is the game room in our house. It is at the top of the landing in our house. Before kids, it was just another comfy living space. Our space isn’t really decorated. I added some color with a rug, but it was more to protect our carpet in case we accidentally spilled glue, paint, or other stuff. I’d rather replace a $100 rug than wall-to-wall carpeting! I put up some matching curtains for color and made some streamers and alphabet with paper and stickers. A few of the alphabets have fallen down and I just haven’t made time to get the ladder from the garage and put them back up. I’ll do that before we start school again in a few weeks. Other than that it is a hodgepodge of bookcases and file cabinets. I don’t really care if things are matching. It’s more about functionality than aesthetics.
The Desk and Chairs
I’ll be honest, it took me forever to decide what kind of desk and chairs to get. There are so many options and I had no idea what I wanted it to look like. Well, I finally made a decision a few years back. I decided to build my own desk with IKEA accessories. I got two desktops from IKEA in gray. They are basically long rectangles. Then I bought four drawers and put the tops on top. We then secured the top with brackets. I offset the drawers to create a square table with four workstations which gives us plenty of space to work.
Furthermore, I decided on this set up for one main reason. I have no idea if we will always be in this house. Right now, we have space to create this four-workstation look. However, if we have to move, I can take this desk apart and create more of a traditional workstation with two drawers on each side and a rectangular top. It’s versatile.
PARDON MY KIDS THINGS ON THE FLOOR. I purposely didn’t pick them up because I want you to know this room is almost never pristine! We live in this room and it is often messy and disorganized. Real-life, friends!
In the drawers, I keep art supplies, workbooks, construction paper, playdoh, paper plates (for crafts and painting), and all kinds of other school-related materials. On top of the table, I found a cute craft carousel from Michaels Craft Stores. Here I keep all the supplies we use all day long so they are close at hand. Things like paintbrushes, glue sticks, glue, markers, pencils, erasers. dot stampers, pencil sharpeners, watercolors, rulers, etc.
I decided on these chairs by IKEA because they adjust to the children’s height as they grow. They were $35 each and they still have them on the IKEA site. Additionally, we have an old tv in the room for when we watch educational videos and we have a Melissa and Doug Calendar.
We repurposed my husband’s old office bookcase. In here I keep our curriculum, educational books, some educational games, DVDs, dictionary, thesaurus, etc. I keep a large trash can here for all of our craft messes. I also keep some folders (Target Dollar Spot) for my teacher organization. I also keep my teacher planner (The Happy Planner) on this rack. We have a teacher whiteboard and a wooden abacus which really helped my little ones count and are helping them learn addition and subtraction. Below the whiteboard, I repainted an old coat hook mint and sprayed the metal gold. I found some metal pails at the Target Dollar Spot and filled them with things like dry erase markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc.
We have a smaller children’s table and chairs which my mother had specially made for my boys. It doesn’t provide enough room for our studies so we use it as a dedicated coloring station. I have this awesome roll of paper dispenser which is bladeless for the kids to draw on. I give them each a pail of crayons and they have fun drawing away.
We use an old filing cabinet for a lot of my teaching materials including teachers manuals, sensory bin fillers, file folders, worksheets and other things we want put away from the kids. We have a globe which the kids absolutely love! It has been such a great learning tool! I’ll go through the bookcase with more detail.
On the Top
Up at the top, I keep bins for Art, Colors, and Language. The art bin contains things like paints, glitter, etc. I keep these things up high so that the kids can’t get into them and potentially spill them on the rug. In the colors bin, I keep colorful counters that we use for math and color sorting as well as other color-related activities. Lastly, I have a tub labeled “language.” In this bin, I keep different kinds of letter related activities.
On the second shelf, I have some awesome picture vocabulary photo cards I bought from Lakeshore learning. I keep extra boxes of pencils and erasers. I keep dot markers in a glass container. Also, I have two photo boxes (purchased at Michaels) that are full of all kinds of math activities and learning items like play money, shapes, etc.
On the Middle shelves I have a storage container with drawers. These are similar to what you might use as an organizer in your garage for nuts, bolts, and screws. Originally, I used this for language. I had letters of the alphabet on each of the drawers and inside the drawers I put objects that started with that word. For example, the letter ‘C’ drawer had things like a candle, cotton, candy, coins, a car, a crayon, and a cardinal. You get the idea. After my kids outgrew this, I use it to store small parts that we use for homeschooling. We use TOOB figures in our learning all the time. For example, when we learned about Egypt, I bought some TOOB Egyptian figures. We learned what everything was called and then we pretended to excavate them in kinetic sand. So much fun!
The decorative boxes are just filled with miscellanies like flash cards, lacing cards and other things. The decorative boxes were purchased at Michaels craft stores.
The last shelves have some miscellanies. I have a nautical tote filed with felt activity books (quiet busy books). We use these for quiet playtime during the day. I promptly put them away after using so that we don’t lose pieces. In the magazine holders, I have activity books organized by grade level.
On the bottom, I have file boxes. In these boxes are 180 manila file folders. They represent 180 school days. Each one labeled with a day (e.g. Day 1, Day 2, etc) I organize the kid’s schoolwork into these folders. Once we get through all 180 folders we are done for the year.
Thank you for joining me on our homeschool room tour. I hope I’ve given you an insight as to how we stay organized all year. If you have questions about anything, I am happy to answer them. Just leave me a question in the comments and I’ll answer.
Are you looking for some curriculum recommendations? Here are our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum choices as we start schooling at home this Fall.
I have been asked by numerous friends and family about our curriculum choices for Kindergarten. I am certainly happy to share what we have decided to use. First, let me share the tool that really helped us make some decisions. This book has been a Godsend to me. It is a handbook of sorts for homeschooling families. In fact, I’ve included it before as a must-read homeschooling book in my post 4 Books You Need to Read Before Homeschooling.
The resource is Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. In this comprehensive book, Duffy provides a questionnaire to help narrow down the homeschooling method that is right for you and your family. (You can read more about homeschooling methods in my post Homeschooling Methods Explained) Then, she provides information on how to determine how what kind of learner your child is. For instance, some students may be tactile learners (hands-on), visual or etc. Some children prefer to work independently, while others need instructor-led education. Some families prefer textbooks, while others want an online experience. This book helps to determine those choices and ranks curriculum based on those needs so you understand which material will be a good fit. The book also provides a thorough review of each of the curriculum choices including the time intensity of the program, other materials that might be needed, and cost.
You can purchase Duffy’s Homeschool Picks through the affiliate links below. You may also purchase it through her website, Cathy Duffy Homeschool Reviews. I think the book is easier to navigate than the website and provides more handholding when choosing a curriculum, but the website is also a wonderful curriculum source.
Lastly, when it comes to choosing which subjects you are going to teach, understand that some states may have specific requirements. So, don’t forget to look up your state’s requirements first.
Where to Buy Curriculum
First, all publishers of the curriculum have their own websites with information and links on where you may purchase curriculum. However, my favorite shopping source is Rainbow Resource. Even though they are a smaller company they have one of the largest selections. They carry about 40,000 educational resources all geared towards homeschooling. You can purchase online, but they also provide (for the asking) paper catalogs that you can browse through.
Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is another good source for curriculum. They run sales often and even provide teacher and student IDs for your homeschool for about $5. As a co-op, they have big discounts on lots of curriculum. You can also find curriculum on Amazon, Christian Book, and The Curriculum Store. You can even buy used curriculum in Buy/Sell Homeschool Groups on Facebook.
Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum
Social Studies / History
Most kindergarten curriculum does not include social studies or history at this age. However, even at the preschool age, I introduced my son to Egyptology. He is fascinated by The Great Sphinx. Jack can name things like a cartouche, sarcophagus, canopic jar, and hieroglyphics. He can even recognize the images of Pharaoh, King Tut, and Nefertiti. We talked about the four directions (the points on a compass). I taught him how to find our city, state, and country on a globe. We’ve also talked extensively about our Apache heritage. My point is that even though they are young, your child may enjoy social studies and history. Most children don’t really start this until the elementary years, but since our son has expressed interest and we are history lovers ourselves, we have introduced it earlier. You certainly do not need to include this in your homeschooling unless your state requires it.
We are using 180 Days of Social Studies. I plan on using this workbook for regular social studies lessons. Additionally, I plan to supplement some fun field trips to museums and historic sites here locally. The social studies workbook has 180 days of lessons which is the average length of a school year.
The social studies workbook introduces concepts like civics, economics, and history. I admit that I don’t like that these books are in black and white. The lessons are also very simple. I would prefer something more comprehensive, but there aren’t a lot of choices at this age so I’m willing to use this for now to at least introduce the subject matter. I’m sure in first grade I will find something more in-depth.
We are also using DK Geography Workbook. The geography book covers topics like how to read maps, our community, landscapes, and spatial skills. The workbook itself is fairly short (only about 40 lessons) so I will combine it with the social studies.
Math is a scary subject for me. Perhaps because I’ve come to realize that it’s very easy to fall behind and then stay behind. So far, Jack has done very well learning things like counting to 100, number recognition, etc. I think that he may need some visual and hands-on work as we start to introduce additional math concepts to him in Kindergarten. So I found a program that is both Classical-friendly and also has some tactile learning, Horizon’s Math. The set includes two workbooks and a teacher’s manual. The lessons include directions and positions, introducing simple fractions, time, days of the week, money values, adding and subtracting single digits, etc. The other nice thing about Horizons is that they have done the lesson planning for you into 180 lessons. So far I am very pleased with this curriculum. Aside from the workbook, the teacher’s manual provides additional games and activities you can do with your child to cement concepts.
In addition to the curriculum, we use these math manipulatives and math counters so that our children can visualize addition and subtraction. We also use dominoes which is a great way for children to learn patterns and visualize numbers in the dots as well.
Jack is struggling with handwriting. He hates coloring and using a pencil. Honestly, it has been a frustrating experience for both of us. Because he laments doing anything that requires writing, we had been more focused on pre-writing skills. We’ve been doing lots of things that don’t feel like handwriting practice, like salt writing, tracing, looping, etc. After lots of discussions with teachers and hours of research, we are going to be using Handwriting Without Tears. This program seems to be one of the better ones for resistant learners. Hopefully, this will help us break through some of the frustration. HWT is a workbook based writing program but includes multisensory learning. It has leveled books and a teacher’s manual. Wish us luck!
UPDATE: We’ve been using Handwriting Without Tears and we have a completely different child! After four weeks of using the program, Jack is writing! He loves it. We had tried other programs during pre-k, but none of them managed to break through his resistance to it. I can’t even begin to explain my love for this program. It is quick and easy and it has made writing fun for Jack. I will tell you one thing that really helped was using the program’s chalkboard in addition to the workbook. He wants to do handwriting first before other subjects every day. The blackboard isn’t currently available on Amazon. You can buy it through Christian Book below.
So far, choosing a Phonics program has been one of the hardest things I’ve researched. There are so many choices out there that claim to be the best. Dyslexia runs in my family, so naturally, I am concerned about that with Jack. I do think that Jack needs a program that is fun and engaging. We are starting with Hooked On Phonics. One of the main reasons we are choosing it is because my brothers and I used it to read when we were children, so obviously, it’s been around for a while. It tried and true. There are two levels for every grade and you can buy them individually. The levels are about $26 each so it also one of the more reasonable programs out there. I figured we can try it and if it doesn’t work out, we haven’t invested much.
Since we are classical homeschoolers, we focus heavily on reading. Here is our fiction reading list. We will also be reading lots of other books that are about science, notable people, places, and other things, but here are our storytime books. I’ve included them in the post, Classical Books for Kindergarteners. We are getting most of them through the library and used book sources.
We are also playing a fun phonics game called, Launch and Learn: Beginning Sounds from Lakeshore. This really isn’t part of our curriculum. It’s just something we can do as a family, helps reinforce phonics and doesn’t feel like learning! It’s not available through Amazon and is only available on the Lakeshore website.
Our Bible Study is simply consisting of reading stories from The Complete Children’s Illustrated Bible. This bible is in full color and has beautiful illustrations on every page. One thing I love about this particular bible is that it does not omit stories that other children’s bibles do. For instance, in the Moses story, it plainly says that the Egyptians drowned when God closed the Red Sea. It does not water down Cain murdering his brother Abel or the killing of the firstborns by Pharaoh. Nor does it leave out Sodom and Gomorrah. It does however, leave out the Song of Solomon. I love that even though it is in story-form for young readers, it still is very complete.
We are reading 2-4 pages per day. Since a great deal of the pages are illustrations, it is a very quick read. In addition to reading Bible stories, we will also be singing some praise songs, hymns, and children’s Christian songs.
You may find that Science is hard to come by at the Kindergarten level. Most children begin learning Science in first grade. I did not include Science in my original version of this post because we were still trying to find resources. My husband, who is a chemical engineer is excited to help with our Science class. Here are the resources we are using.
I never considered how confusing it is to explain the concept of time to a five-year-old. Seconds, minutes, hours. The 7 represents both a 7 and 35. The 12 is a 12, 60, and a 00. This learning clock by Melissa and Doug has been awesome. We bought it in May this year and it has totally helped him under the concepts better and he’s doing fantastic so far telling time. First, we worked on learning 5-minute increments along with the hour. After being fluent in that, we will then introduce how to read the precise minute. Then we will introduce quarter and half-hours. This clock comes with flashcards to practice. It has been so helpful! In just the first week of owning it, my son finally understood what I had been trying to explain for months.
This past year we started to implement a small allowance for my oldest in exchange for doing household chores. It’s important to us that he learns the value of money and delayed gratification when it comes to buying things. That said, it dawned on me that he had no concept of the worth of money, so I decided to dedicate some time to learning about money. Sure, we played “store.” He understood the concept of money being exchanged for goods and services, but it was time to learn how to count money. So, I purchased some realistic play money to be used in our math studies.
We learned about seasons and weather in preschool. Now in Kindergarten, I am requesting that Jack use this Melissa and Doug calendar at the start of our homeschool day.
Music and Arts & Crafts
We will incorporate arts and craft times throughout the week. I find hobby stores have lots of seasonal crafts that are fun as well as coloring and painting.
Over the last couple of years. Jack already knows some musical terms like piano, pianissimo, crescendo, accelerando, forte and fortissimo. We will continue to introduce and add more musical terms and we will listen to one piece of classical music a day. Jack already loves several pieces by Verdi and Peer Gynt “In The Hall of the Mountain King.”
That’s it. If you have questions about curriculum or homeschooling, feel free to ask them in the comments section. If this is your first year of homeschooling, try not to stress too much about it. Homeschooling is a journey and there is a lot of trial and error as you find your way. You can find me on Instagram where I share our homeschool day and activities.