So this is the year everyone has been asking me… “So your five-year old… is he going to kindergarten this year?” Yes, it’s finally happened. I have a kindergartener! He will, indeed, be going to kindergarten this year… at home! I had hoped to have this post about homeschool tools for preschool and Kindergarten up before now, but… so it goes…
Okay so to begin, I am first of all, SUPER excited that over the summer, we turned our
spare bedroom storage hoarding room into…. a unified play and learning space for the boys! Hubby painted the walls a beautiful silvery blue (Benjamin Moore’s Silver Half Dollar), and I went on a little shopping spree at IKEA to make the transformation. I’m going to post more photos of the room in a later post. Onward to the homeschool tools we’re using this year!
Homeschool Tools for Preschool & Kindergarten
A Year of Playing Skillfully – Preschool Hands On Play Curriculum – Of course, I’m using the curriculum I reviewed for you this past summer: A Year of Playing Skillfully by The HomeGrown Preschooler. Beyond our delight at our summer-run with a few of the activities, this curriculum has been amazing so far (3 weeks in!). We used their suggestion of starting the year off with a hot air balloon theme – and I even had some of My Wonderful Walls stickers to put on our homeschool room walls to match the theme. I created a “hot air balloon” with a large tub and some helium balloons from the dollar store. I used letter sticky notes to personalize the boys’ names onto two of the balloons! The “balloon ride” and our Hot Air storybook made for a special and memorable start to the school year.
I will be sharing more on this curriculum as I use it throughout the year, but I love how simple most of the projects are, and how open-ended it is – you can mix and match activities to fit your schedule and plans!
My Very First Dab & Dot Markers – Ohhh we love these colorful little tools in our lessons! So many uses for dauber markers (sponge markers, whatever you may call them!). Not only are they less messy (I mean, unless you actually dot them on the wall or floor!), but they are just plain FUN for the kids to use. I think they promote gross motor skills as well, and my 3 year old seems to ADORE happily thump-thump-thumping away with these markers! We used them as part of our hot air balloon coloring project for the start of the school year! They come 8 to a set, so you get a full range of colors. Grab these markers for your homeschool fun!!!
eeBoo Tell Me A Story Cards – Must. Get. More!!! I received eeBoo’s Back to School Tell Me A Story cards, and just fell in love. It’s PERFECT for non-readers and readers alike! Now, I did have to chuckle, because many of the pictures show school buses and classrooms, and my little homeschooled boys didn’t quite know what to say about those! (ha!). But they totally related to the images of teachers, learning activities, the animals playing with each other. We’re having great fun sorting, selecting, random drawing, then telling stories. The beautifully detailed images remind me of vintage storybooks (a la Runaway Bunny). eeBoo makes a huge range of crafty and artsy educational products covering subjects from Poetry to Math and beyond! I simply MUST have more of their cuteness in my homeschool room!
Table-Time Look & Learn Mostly Math Tablecloth – Are you wondering why a tablecloth is one of my teaching tools!? Well, we have a LOT to cover in our homeschooling! And I don’t want to waste a single moment if I don’t have to! We love our Mostly Math Tablecloth – it wipes clean easily, and the vivid illustrations provide over twenty activities for my boys to learn from during meal times. With this cloth, I’m able to help my kindergartener review counting to 50 (forwards, backwards, by 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s), learn about seasons and weather, identify shapes and coins… phew! And guess what, our 3 year old? He’s picking up a LOT of the information as well, and enjoys talking about each section too!! Win-Win!
We’re still using Kumon workbooks for cutting, tracing, and coloring practice as well. And what else? Let’s see, the usual play dough, blocks, lacing beads preschoolers love to work with… since our play area is IN the classroom now, I can set my 3 year old up at the train table or the kid table to play while I teach my older son. (Now, that made it seem MUCH easier than it really is! ha! We’ll talk more about homeschooling two little boys later on!). And we still use many of these 10 Tools for Home Preschool from previous years
Sonlight Curriculum Core A is the basis for our literature this year. I did not purchase the language/reading section or the Science Kit. I’ve used Sonlight P3 and P4/5 the last two years and been delighted. I have to say that so far, I am finding this year a little bit less enchanting. The boys love the stories, but I miss the detailed suggestions for discussion and activities that the other Instructor’s Guides included. Yes, I can make things up myself, but I really loved the support and ideas; also I find flipping back and forth and back and forth between sections incredibly tedious. I wish all the content was just WITH the weekly schedule. But… I’ll stop complaining. I am happy to be using an “authentic text” curriculum, and maybe it’ll get better!
Saxon Math 1 – My son’s birthday is halfway through the school year, which means he’s not exactly “red-shirted” but he’s always going to be one of those “older kids” by nature. Since he was 4/5 years last year, I opted to do preschool activities for everything, but start him in Kindergarten Math. And he grasped EVERYTHING the entire year through. So I figured I’d start him in 1st grade math this year. He’s doing well. We loved Saxon Math last year; this year, I’m finding that it moves a bit slowly and so far all the activities are ones he did last year; I’m going to wait to see how it plays out though. The workbook part is a challenge: because it’s a 1st grade book, I think the assumption is that he can read the instructions. But he’s just now learning to read, so I have to read all the directions to him, meaning the “independent worksheets” really aren’t. I may end up getting some kindergarten math worksheets for practice, and save the 1st grade worksheets for later in the year.
Classical Conversations – We’re in our 2nd year of the Foundations program in Classical Conversations (CC). We truly love our community and enjoy each day! This year I am actually tutoring my son’s class, meaning I get to be SUPER involved! Love that! The key factors I love about CC are the community (social life) it gives us, the classroom structure (because I think kids do need to have a little practice sitting quietly and working in groups), and that they cover a staggering amount of information with fun-to-learn songs and hand-play. Also, I appreciate that they put a high premium on keeping the learning activities simple and tech-free – wow! Doesn’t that take the pressure off me as a homeschool mom to know that I can effectively teach without having to “perform” or have a lot of bells and whistles. Academically, we’re using CC to cover Art, Music, and Science – I extend the learning at home through reading and projects. The weekly lessons give me a great jumping off point!
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons – I feel like, what more can I say? That’s exactly what this book is! We’re on lesson 34 (we started last year), and my son knows about twenty phonics sounds, and can sound out (read!) “stories” like: We will run. I will win. I am not a duck. I am an ant. Pretty good, right!?
Honestly, teaching my kids to read? The concept terrified me. But you’re an English teacher!!! Yes, exactly! I taught kids who already knew how to read!! Ha! However, with this book, I can see I had nothing to worry about. The whole process has been painless and drama free. With just 20 minute lessons that are ENTIRELY scripted out for you, any parent could teach their child to read! I’m excited to continue working through this book and watch my son’s reading take off!
We Choose Virtues – These Bible-based character trait cards are forming the first part of our at-home Bible lessons. Using the cards, I create some mini lessons for the boys. As a parent, I find these cards so helpful! The boys love the little Kids of Virtue-ville stories that present each character trait, and the catchphrases make it easy to discuss with the boys when they need to stop and remember to exercise godly character! We’ve been working on Self-Control, and in just a week, my little 3 year old runs around chanting, “I will make myself do the RIGHT thing!” (of course, sometimes the little stinker inserts other words in there like, “I will make myself do the SILLY thing!”) but he is getting the concept that it can’t always be about what HE wants, it’s about the RIGHT thing!! I’ll also be able to revisit these cards either later in the year or in following years, as some of the discussion suggestions are for a slightly older age group. Get it here!
Well, I think that about covers it!
PIN THIS–>> to your education or homeschooling boards so you’ll always have this list as a resource for your own homeschooling adventures!
Do you have any questions about homeschooling? Our homeschool? Any of these homeschool tools for preschool and Kindergarten? Ask away!
And please, share what you’ve have/are using this year in the comments!! I love getting new ideas!
I was sent some of these products for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you purchase via these links. All opinions are my own.
Sunday 13th of March 2016
Hiya! Can you tell me a little about how Sonlight & A Year of Playing SKillfully are working out together? That's what I was thinking for next year when my little guy is 3. Thanks so much!
Thursday 1st of October 2015
Julie, it looks like you are going to have a fun year with your boys.
Thursday 1st of October 2015
Julie, it looks like you are going to have a fun year with your boys.