A Great Intro to Homeschooling Your Preschooler

 curriculum, Reviews, TOS Crew  Comments Off on A Great Intro to Homeschooling Your Preschooler
Sep 142011

As a part of The Old Schoolhouse’s Crew, I get to review many different homeschool related items. Normally those items are geared towards the Bugs because she is the older of our girls. This time around, we got to try something out with the Beans. Let me tell you, Beans was so happy to have something for her for a change.

This time we got to review Before Five in a Row. As the name implies, it comes before the Five in a Row curriculum. It was put together by Jane Claire Lambert.

Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) is a wonderful curriculum to gently introduce your young preschoolers (it is designed for ages 2-4) to the beginning of their homeschool (or preschool if you decide to not homeschool all the way through) years. BFIAR is at its simplest, a guide of activities, projects and discussion starters that correlate with the gems of children’s literature. While it seems simple it is also more than that. It helps to reinforce listening skills with the youngers, helps them work on motor skills, pre-reading skills, health, art, music, drama and more. So while the curriculum seems rather simple, don’t let it fool you.

You don’t need to go out and buy much to use this curriculum either. Most (if not all) of the suggested activities can be done with common household items and the books used as the spine can be found at most libraries. I will warn you though, even though I do live in a moderately sized town, I was only able to find half of the books listed (we do own Caps for Sale which is a family favorite, however, I couldn’t find over six titles suggested at the library. I’m not sure if that is because they were checked out and lost in the tornado or not.)

BFIAR uses as it’s spine classics like Caps for Sale (HubbaHubba’s favorite book as a child, which he still has memorized); Angus Lost; If Jesus Came to My House; Corduroy; and Jesse Bear, What Will you Wear? I like the fact that these are older children’s books as I know that they won’t have the sometimes questionable content so prevalent in children’s books today. While I still pre-read everything and I do suggest that all parents pre-read the literature they introduce to their children,  these are safe books according to most standards.

Now, since we own Caps for Sale, and it is one of the family’s favorites, I’m going to explain a bit of what we did (now, you can do a book a day, a book a week [what we did] or a book every few weeks. You totally get to set the pace and timing of this curriculum. There is no hard core, set in stone lesson plans for this, so you do what works best for you. It’s very easy to customize).  The theme is that there are many different ways to solve problems. You have a Bible lesson (Proverbs 6:10 & 11). You do counting for some math work (count the caps, count the monkeys, count the different  colors of caps…count your child’s hats, their stuffed monkeys, etc). For vocabulary, we learn what a bunch is and that cap means the same as hat. You can talk about how walking like the man in the story is, is good for your health and then take a walk (P.E. and Health, which can also include safety lessons if you go out for a walk in the neighborhood, and some dramatic fun if you go on a hunt for monkeys).  For art, look at the illustrations and have your child tell you what they see, what colors are used, how the pictures show the progression of the story, and then have them draw a monkey or a hat. You can also discuss how the man must feel to have the hats stolen by the monkeys, how it might be angry and confused. Now, we didn’t do all of this in one day. This was over the course of a week. And each day we read the story again.

I love the concept of BFIAR. I love books. I love introducing my children to the wonders of literature and the comfort of a good book. I like how this is so easy to incorporate into a very busy schedule (moms of more than one can agree, I’m sure). It really doesn’t take very long to do either. Just a few minutes to read the book and do one or two things in relation to the story. It can be done quickly after lunch, while the olders are working on independent school projects and some activities are great for just before bedtime. This is a very gentle introduction to school for the younger children.

I don’t recommend this is curriculum if you prefer a more structured curriculum that is heavy in worksheets and is hitting on the academics. However, if you lean more towards a Charlotte Mason philosophy in your schooling, this is a great product for your first year with the littles. And if you really want to work in some more academics, that is easily done with this curriculum.

For us, with Beans being three and a half, she wasn’t too thrilled with the same story being read every day. And she is above academically for a lot of the suggested activities. I like how I could adjust things and did use BFIAR as more of a springboard for ideas for themed activities I could do with her. I would suggest this for a young three or a two-year-old. And it is so easy to do, if you have enough children to have a buddy system going, the older buddy could do some or all of this with their little buddy.

At the time of this post, Before Five in a Row is available exclusively through Rainbow Resource for $35.00.

If you want to read what others had to say about this curriculum, go visit the Crew’s Blog.

As a part of The Old Schoolhouse’s Crew, I was given the curriculum/book Before Five in a Row by Jane Claire Lambert for the purposes of this review. All opinions are mine and mine alone and no other compensation was received..

Sep 132011

This contest is now closed.

Theo, Teaching Children God’s Word is a new offering in the realm of children’s ministry/Biblical/Theological offerings.

I was expecting full length (20-30 minutes) episodes. These lessons are short. 5 and 9 minutes long to be precise. While I was disappointed in how short each of the episodes were, my girls weren’t. They really seemed to like them and begged to watch them again, and again.

The two episodes are Saving Faith (9 min) and Good News (5 min). Their titles are pretty self-descriptive. Theo is an older, grandfather type individual who talks directly to the children and doesn’t dumb things down with theological terms. Bugs seemed to understand what he was saying, but then she and her sister are being taught the Bible and theology in homeschool now. So, they have a greater understanding than a lot of children their ages probably do. My husband thought the words used was above the normal young child’s comprehension range. But in regards to our children, it isn’t. There are two mice in the series who provide comic relief of sorts from Theo’s explanations and while they are funny, might have been better worked into the story.

I would love to see more of the series to see if it could be incorporated into our Bible lessons in our homeschool. There is a church curriculum available now from LifeWay Christian stores (wish we had one local so I could look at it all…) and I can really see this being used in children’s ministry in the church. It does have a depth that most children’s church curriculums seem to lack.

Theo was created by Michael Joens whom you may recoginize from his work on McGee and Me and Adventures in Odyssey.

To learn more about Theo for yourself, feel free to visit the Theo Website, Theo Facebook Page, or the church curriculum from LifeWay Christian Stores. There are even iPad and iPhone apps available on the website.

Now, on to the giveaway. I have permission to giveaway two DVDS of Theo to my readers (US only please). To enter, leave me a comment. To gain additional entries (leaving a seperate comment for each) follow me on Google Friend Connect, like my Facebook Page, follow me on Twitter (in right sidebar), follow me on Networked Blogs, tweet or post this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter, and enter my giveaway for Ginny Owens’ new DVD. I will draw a winner on Monday September 26, at about 9 pm CST.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Jul 222011

The start of our school for the year has been delayed. As much as it drives me batty, I was hoping to be six weeks into the year by now. However, life took over. That and our Jr. Notebooking Journal for science that I preordered is now back ordered until the end of the month. So our target date for starting school is August 8th. I so look forward to it this year. It will be one step closer to reclaiming our lives.

This year, I’ve decided to do what my friend Renita does and school for six weeks, then basically take a week off and do light work and have a break. It worked well for her last year to do Sabbath weeks and I think it will help keep us from getting burned out and on information overload. I have no real intention of following the public school calendar anyway, so this is one step closer to our independence.

I pieced together our curriculum this year. The Bugs and the Beans are both all over the map with where they are operating, that no boxed curriculum would truly work for them. I figured if I bought Sonlight’s Core A along with Timberdoodle’s First Grade Core, sub in Mystery of History for Story of the World, add in Kindergarten level handwriting we might have a program that would work for the Bugs. Yet, that would have eaten up my homeschooling budget for the next two years…

So, here is what we’ve gotten. I’m still debating adding the Stick Figuring Through the Bible from Grapevine yet. We’ll see if I need to add to our Bible or not…

So, for the subjects we will mainly do together:

Bible: I have Leading Little Ones to God by Schoolholland. We will also be going through the Mighty Acts of God Bible put together by Star Meade. After we are done with Leading Little Ones to God, we will begin Who is God and Can I Really Know Him put out by Apologia Press. I am debating if we need the Stick Figuring Through the Bible by Grapevine Studies yet or not. I’ll make that decision after we’ve started if it seems that we aren’t getting enough.

History: We will be reading through the Mystery of History together. We’ll add in some of the suggested activities and I also have the reproducible CD-Rom. I chose this because it is a providential view of world history that starts with Creation. My husband and I believe that we really cannot separate our world view from any part of life and that includes the education of our children. Other history products totally neglect God and it is because of Him we have a history at all.

Science: we are using Apologia Press’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeanie Fulbright. The Bugs has been asking questions about the sun, moon and stars and begging to learn more about them. So that is what we are doing. We will throw in some kitchen science and do other things, but our main science focus will be astronomy. The girls are so excited. It is my Jr. Notebooking Journal that is backordered at the moment. I so can’t wait for it to arrive the end of this month after vacation.

Art: We will continue using Artistic Pursuits, The Way They See It (their preschool art book) that I got to review last year as a part of the TOS Crew. It is so gentle in introducing art concepts, theory and artists to young children. If we get through this book this year, my mother-in-law found the next two at a garage sale for me so we will just continue with the series. I really like how easy this makes it to teach art to children. Especially when Mom isn’t artistic at all.

Music Appreciation: We plan on introducing a variety of music styles to the children. We’ll spend some time listening to different genre’s and discussing how they sound. I also hope to start introducing them to famous composers and do some composer study. It depends on how busy we are with our other school work.

For the Bugs, we are going to continue along with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading for phonics. We’ve neglected the lessons since May in that book so I know we will have quite a bit of review to do. We will also be doing

First Language Lessons for a gentle introduction to English. The Beans can tag along with that if she is interested.

The Bugs’ math this year is a new item. I debated long and hard about math curriculums. Each company has things to recommend it, and yet deter me from it. I ended up going with JUMP at Home Math for first grade. It is a workbook (I can add manipulatives) that is making it’s debut in the U.S. this year from Canada. I like the way the book is laid out, how simple it is and the way it introduces concepts. That and it was pretty cheap. I figured if I tried this and it didn’t work out too well, then I won’t have as large a pill to swallow to replace it with something else than if I had bought the other product I was looking at that cost well over a hundred dollars for everything.

Handwriting for the Bugs is A Reason for Writing book K. Which I have the feeling she will simply blast through and I’ll end up having to order her the next book in the middle of the year. That child loves to trace and do workbooks.

I’m also introducing Geography to the Bugs this year. I have Beginning Geography by Evan Moor for her. She loves maps and is always asking to look at them, so I figure we can go off of her interest for it.

And we are continuing on with our studies in Latin. I will again be using Song School Latin from Classic Academic Press. The girls love it, and I love how easy it is to teach.

For the Beans, we are going to continue using All About Reading for her introduction to the world of the alphabet. She loves the stories that go with the letters and the puppet. It is a nice gentle introduction to the world of print and reading.

The Beans gets to use the I Can Trace book by Big Skills for Little Hands. Bugs loved that book when she got to go through it. And the Beans has been trying her hand at tracing various things. I just hope that I can teach this child how to write. It is looking like she is going to be the solo righty in our family (at least at this time).

We also got the Beans Mathematical Reasoning Beginning by Bright Ideas Press. She counts along with her sister and is showing an interest in early math skills. So I figured why not try it? If I have to put it away for a while, I do, but it will come back out. The book is reproducible, which is nice.

We also got the girls Building Thinking Skills from the Critical Thinking Company. I wasn’t really taught to think in the terms of logic growing up and I mean to rectify that with my children. I want them to be able to use logic and have it be basically second nature to them.

We are also planning on field trips. We are planning on making to the annual Prairie Days at the George Washington Carver site. That is something we’ve done the last two years and have always had a great time at. And I’m thinking about maybe a trip back to the Candy House. That is an incredible tour, they are great with the kids and you get yummy things afterwards and sometimes during. I’m contemplating other fun trip ideas. Maybe Bass Pro would count. It is nearly as fun as a zoo, and it is free to go and wander around in. Plus there are various places to go for field trips over at Grandma’s.

So, there is the basic plan for the year in a nutshell. Hope it works out!.

May 192011

So, I’m working on a book list. Things I want to read this summer and on through next school year with the girls. They love being read to. For the Bugs it is a social thing.  She loves sitting up with me and reading and looking at the pictures and talking about what we are reading.  She and the Beans then go and play what they had just heard. Currently we are working on the Little House series. We’re on Little House on the Prairie.  I’m sure that this will be the first time through it. I can’t tell you how many times I read that series as a child.  Then to each of my classes while I taught school.  We spent a semester each year reading the whole series outloud.

I’m considering our next big series to be the Chronicles of Narnia.  Yes, I know that it is older, but I have read it outloud to first graders and they just ate it up. I know the Bugs would love it.

However, I am always looking for more books (yes, we need more books like, like, I need to be struck by lightening…). What are some longer books that you like to read out loud to your children? What did you love having read out loud as a child? I have a few books about books (one that is going to be reviewed on here next week, be waiting, it is great). But what is it that you love? I know that I am going to get Mr. Popper’s Penguins for fun this summer (especially since the movie is debuting next month. I think the girls would love that). But what else should we read?

We love books.  Let me know what is on your reading list. Past, present and future choices.  Maybe if we have a lot of fun with this, we could blog about it..

Brill Kids, Aesops Fables

 curriculum, homeschooling, Reviews, TOS Crew  Comments Off on Brill Kids, Aesops Fables
Mar 212011

Normally, whenever we get books in the mail, the house goes into a state of excitement. Yes, we are a family of bibliophiles.

Several weeks ago, we received the Brill Kids Storybooks: Aesops Fables Vol. 1 all the way from Hong Kong from Brill Kids. This is a set of five books (The Fox and the Crow, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Fox and the Grapes, The Lion and the Mouse and The Turtle and the Rabbit.) adapted from the popular Aesops Fables that most of us grew up with. These adaptions were written by Kyle Lucas and were Illustrated by Charlie Sinn.

These books are delightful for reading together with your young readers.  The font sized is larger than a lot of other books on the market, and the wording used is fairly simple (I still had to help the Bugs sound out several words).  And the real plus for me is that the words are printed on the left page, the picture is on the right and there is a flap you can use to cover the picture so the child reading through the book isn’t distracted with the picture.  It helps them to focus on the words and figuring out what they say and mean (aiding in comprehension skills) and then they get to look at the picture as a supplement (I really like the function of the flap, I’m hoping that they do more books in a similar style).

The Bugs loves the bright and colorful pictures in these Aesop adaptions (and they are adaptions. They are not the original Aesop’s Fables, but they aren’t too adapted, if that makes sense.). She can sound out many words now, and having the picture covered up does help her focus on the task at hand and get it done and it does help keep her eyes from wandering. She and the Beans ask to have these books read to them on a regular basis, not just during school time, but also during fun reading time. They don’t do that with every book we come across, they are fairly picky in what they like to read.

These books were designed to be used in conjunction with the Little Readers system they have created, but they could be easily used on their own merit (so if you have a computer system that isn’t compatible with Little Reader, you can still use these.  They are physical books).  There is a digital download to use with the Little Reader system available when you purchase these books.

I really liked the books on their own. They are a great size for taking places, the pages are thicker than a lot of other books and they are quite sturdy.

At the time of this post, Brill Kids has this set of five books on sale for $37.50 when they are normally $50.00.

To read what others had to say about these books, go visit the Crew’s Blog.

I was given the five book Aesops Fables Vol. 1 from Brill Kids as a part of The Old Schoolhouse’s Crew for the purposes of this review.  All opinions are mine and mine alone, and no other compensation was received..