Our "Curriculum"

At the preschool age, I hesitate to use the word curriculum.  It is and should be, mostly about having fun!  That being said, I wanted a little more direction to our days and a way to organize our materials better.  Plus, Luke really wants to learn to read.  So, these are the programs we have begun or plan to begin implementing soon!

(I will update this post as we add or stop using programs.  I am also planning future blog posts focusing on individual programs and how we’re using them.  This is just designed to be an overview of what we’re using and doing.)

For 3.5 year old Luke:

For both 3.5 year old Luke and (almost) 2 year old Lilah:

For the whole family:

Here’s a description of the programs:

You Can Read sight word program — This is a FREE program created by Carisa on the 1+1+1=1 blog.  There is a bonus section you can subscribe to for a one-time fee of $10 (it’s only $8 until she completes it) that includes some extras like stamping sheets and sight word sensory bin words.  I opted to buy the membership because Luke LOVES to stamp and we already have these transparent stamps.  The program has a total of 18 units with 4 words covered per unit, so there are a total of 72 words.  My plan is to spend 1-2 weeks per unit depending on how I observe Luke is learning the words.  I plan to incorporate lots of word play into the lessons.  For example, I made these DIY Reading Rods to use with the program.  Most of the activities that go with this program will be put into Luke’s workboxes (see further down for an explanation of workboxes).

Phonics Instruction: Bob books, Starfall.com‘s ABC and Learn to Read pages, other beginning reader phonics books –Luke knows all his letters and almost all his sounds, though we need to continue to brush up on them.  We’ll work more on letter sounds, combining sounds to make words, word families, etc.  Lilah also likes to do the ABC pages.

Kumon Workbooks:  We’ve been doing these for awhile and will continue to use them.  They are GREAT for fine motor skills!  So far we’re working on Let’s Color!, Let’s Cut Paper!, Let’s Fold!, Let’s Sticker & Paste!, My First Book of Tracing, and My Book of Numbers 1-30.  I’ve found that if you put a few on your wish list on Amazon, similar ones will pop up on your Daily Quick Picks for 5% off.  Also, most of them qualify for Amazon’s 4-for-3 program, so I usually buy 4 at a time so that I get one for free!  For the books like tracing and numbers, I usually cut out the pages and put them in page protectors so that Luke can use dry erase crayons or markers.  That way he can easily erase the page when he’s done and practice it again later.  Also, the books will still be around and ready to go when Lilah is ready for them, and I won’t have to shell out more $$$ for new ones

Handwriting without Tears Get Set for School – I need to read more about this program, but so far I like how it seems to be very hands-on.  We already have the Roll-a-Dough letters and the wood pieces for creating capital letters which go with the program, but I’ll have to check into what else we need to implement it (i.e. Teacher guide, student workbook, etc.).

Before Five in a Row — This is a program chock full of great literature!  Basically “Before Five in a Row” is a manual that lists 23 great books for children ages 2-4 (the program continues as “Five in a Row” and “Beyond Five in a Row” for older kids).  The manual goes on to list activity and discussion suggestions to use with the books.  The idea is that you read the book to your children for 5 consecutive days and follow the reading with an activity/discussion or two.  We started this program today with “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”  I found some great BFIAR resources on the Homeschool Share site.

Raising Rock Stars Preschool — This is another FREE program offered by Carisa from 1+1+1=1.  It is based around the book My ABC Bible Verses and it incorporates a weekly Bible verse to memorize and apply, as well as other preschool skills like learning letters, colors, numbers, and sight words.  We started this today!

Piano for Preschoolers — I haven’t purchased this program yet, but I’ve heard from a little bird that Lilah is getting a keyboard for her 2nd birthday this month, so I do plan to buy it soon.  Since I took piano lessons as a child, I feel confident enough to teach L&L some very beginning piano skills.  This program appeals to me because it color-codes the keys and songs so that children can begin to play before they can actually “read” music.  I guess I could probably find some free printable beginner’s piano music and color-code it myself if I get some time.  Perhaps I’ll start with that and see how it goes.

Workboxes — This is not really a program, but a system for organizing your child’s materials and scheduling their day.  It was developed by Sue Patrick and there is a book that tells all about it.  I didn’t buy the book or even read it, though.  *Gasp*  I’m sure it’s probably the best thing to do if you’re going to use the system, but I’ve read TONS of blog posts about how families are using workboxes (and how they’ve modified the system to better fit their needs) — seriously, google it and you’ll have more than enough information to understand the basic concept, and I felt that was enough for us to get the system working for us!  To give you an idea of what it’s all about, you give each child up to 12 boxes and a rack that holds the boxes.  Then you fill the boxes with the work they should do for the day.  The child completes the boxes in order and removes a velcro number once the box is complete.  They stick the velcro number on a schedule sheet which shows what they’ve completed as it’s done.  You can add labels that show if the child is supposed to work with you on a particular box.  I think this is just what we need to control our surplus of materials.  I think Luke will absolutely adore this system; I’m not so sure about Lilah who is more of a free-spirit, but I’ll put some materials in her boxes as well just in case she chooses to copy big brother.  Some ideas of what will be in their workboxes: nursery rhyme coloring pages to add to their nursery rhyme books, math activities like pattern blocks, Leapfrog Tag Reader books, our BFIAR book and daily work, Luke’s You Can Read work for the day, any coloring/activity sheets from Raising Rock Stars Preschool, Montessori materials like color tablets and sound boxes, dry erase activity sheets, pages from Kumon workbooks, puzzles and matching cards/games, and independent reading books.  I’ve also made cards that can go in the boxes if what I want him to do is too large to fit in the box (i.e. the Montessori pink tower or number rods) or if the activity is something to do (i.e. go outside, go on a nature walk, go to the playground).

Classics for Kids: Music Appreciation – This site hosts a weekly show to listen to that teaches about classical music and composers.  There are activities that go along with it, too, but for now, we’ll probably just listen.

Child-size Masterpieces: Art Appreciation — This program consists of art reproductions which children learn to match, identify similarities and differences, and create pairs.  At higher levels, children learn to identify common themes, works by a particular artist, styles of painting, and works from a “school of art”.  This program is based on Montessori methodology.

Raising Rock Stars (Family Edition) — This is basically a family devotion time to read and learn about the Bible, practice memory verses (songs, too!), and share prayer requests and prayer time.  You can read all about it on the 1+1+1=1 blog – Yep, it’s another of Carisa’s great FREE programs; I just LOVE her!  We plan to start this in about 3 weeks after we finish up a couple of long-weekend trips.  The first two weeks we will learn about Creation.

Ok, that’s all I can think of for now.  I’ll be back later to spiffy this up and add in some pics, but wanted to go ahead and get this posted!

Have you used any of these programs?  Thoughts, reviews, ideas, suggestions??  All are always welcome! :)


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