What do I do with my preschooler?
Do you have older kids you’ve worked hard to find the best curriculum and programs (like maybe Catholic Schoolhouse?), you’re finally getting into the school routine, and then you find yourself with this preschooler who is DYING to do school with his/her older siblings? If this IS you, well, this bonus post was written for you!
Most of us spend a lot of spring and summer getting ready for those older kids, the ones who are ready for religion, history, science etc. We spend hours picking just the right materials and program. And then fall comes and we realize, WOH, I have a 3 or 4 year old who is totally capable of learning something but I never got her/him anything to work on during school time. Here are a few options to consider, ranging in both depth and affordability. You decide what is right for your preschooler, and make it happen. They will be so excited to be part of school at home, and you’ll be getting them ready for those harder subjects when the time comes!
(None of these products were free for me, no companies paid for a review, and all reviews are my honest opinion)
At first glance I thought this was simply a letter per day and cute craft to go with it. However when I got my own copy, I realized it is so much more. The first half of the book is fully scripted co-op preschool plan, and a fully scripted preschool at home section. You don’t have to have a co-op to do this; it’s set up for co-op or at home. It also has 5 crafts for the different liturgical seasons. All that is before the Letter Lessons in the book, which indeed are super cute crafts PLUS a description of what the letter topic is, a scripture quote for the letter and a saint for the letter. I love this book; I also love crafts. The crafts are both the strong point and the downside to this book. If you really don’t have time to pull out several supplies for each craft, then this book may not be for you. If your preschooler loves crafts and loves to be creative, and you need some fun, better-than-just-worksheets activities for them- this is what you want.
Pros: FUN, crafty, religion for preschoolers, letters
Cons: Some crafts are involved and will need supervision
All About Reading- Level Pre-1:
(Using the link above to purchase All About Reading products, helps CSH continue it’s mission!)
All About Reading has several levels of Reading and Spelling curriculum (which are great) but I’m talking about preschool here. The Pre-1 level is perfect for the preschooler. It takes them through capital letters, lower case letters, and letter sounds in 78 lessons. If you want to be crafty but not Catholic ABC’s crafty, the letter worksheets in All About Reading are for you. They are fun to color and then the instructions have optional ways to ‘craft-up’ the worksheet with supplies you probably already have. An example is ‘a’ is for apple tree. Color the tree, then use a Q-tip and red paint to dot apples onto the tree. A craft that involves only one color and one disposable (I don’t have to clean it) paintbrush-like utensil! The pre-reading activities described in the Teacher Manual book, are great. They teach things that I didn’t even know where skills necessary for learning how to read. Pre-1 Level also comes with two books that have cute short rhymes in one, and longer poems in the other. Both are fun. Depending on which package you get, you can also get a letter sounds CD, a Ziggy-the- Zebra puppet, stickers, etc. (check their website by clicking the picture above). The best part of this program is it really takes zero-effort to plan or prepare. I open the book, do what it says. A typical lesson would be to sing the ABC’s song with your student, point to the letter of the day (and talk about it), read the poems/rhymes in the book provided, do the craft/worksheet, and do a letter writing activity, and do a pre-reading skills activity.
Pros: No planning effort needed, easy crafts, comprehensive reading preparation
Cons: It’s probably at the very top of my price range for a preschooler at $80 for the basic package and $120 for the deluxe package.
Teacher Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Using this link to purchase this book helps CSH continue it’s mission)
This is a how to read book for your preschooler (or 1st grader), that is completely self contained (you need nothing other than this book). If you don’t like crafts, and just want some one-on-one time teaching your preschooler how to read, this may be for you. Each lesson teaches an easily achievable skill for learning how to read, and by the end of the book your student is reading actual sentences and simple books. I’d say very little (not exactly zero) effort is needed for planning ahead. Most lessons you can open the book and just follow along. The script for what to say in each lesson is even in there. It is great for the mom who has too many things to keep up with already and adding crafts and worksheets is just too much right now.
Pros: Simple- just one book, fast- 100 Easy lessons which only take about 15min to complete
Cons: Dry, not an activity book, not what I would call ‘fun’
Mother Goose Phonics
Mother Goose Phonics are totally fun! You read a short nursery rhyme, and a lesson is built around it which involves a craft, manipulative, or activity. The activities are totally adorable. It has the lesson plans written out and require only a little effort in planning (like read through the lesson and have scissors or lace ready). This will also introduce your student to some of the more famous nursery rhymes like Hickory Dickory Dock, Pat-a-cake, etc. One down side to this as a preschool program is that your students need to already know their letters and most of the basic sounds they make to get the most out of this. You get a few lessons to learn letter sounds and then it dives right into the sounds that multiple letters make together and word families. I know some younger siblings have already been taught letters and basic letter sounds (either by you or their older siblings), so this could be for you. Also if you are trying to find something for your preschooler to do everyday, this won’t fill up your school year. There are 13 activities in this book. But if once a week is enough for your preschooler to feel included in school, this is perfect.
Pros: Fun, cute, planned lessons
Cons: May be too difficult/go too fast through the letters for the true beginner. 13 lessons.
Target Dollar Bins
Yes, you read that correctly. If you spent all your money on awesome curriculum for your older students, do not overlook those dollar bins at Target and the Dollar Tree. Right now (as in I went on Saturday) Target has some cute workbooks and card games that would work great for your preschooler, for just $1. Make your own lesson plan by getting some letter work books, and card games. It’s as easy as this:
- Sing the ABC song
- Talk about a letter (of the week/day)
- Do a sheet in your target workbook
- Name some items that start with that letter
- Play a card game to identify two pictures/words that rhyme
- Read a story
That example would only cost $2 ($1 for a letter workbook and $1 for the Rhyming Game).
Pros: They’re CHEAP, fun, easy
Cons: You have to plan your own lessons, not going to include all the skills needed to learn how to read/write. Not really an activity or craft, just a workbook.
These 5 ideas listed above are mainly for learning skills needed for reading. Your preschoolers should also do math! Maybe not in the way you typically think of math, but they should be learning, colors, shapes, patterns, counting to 10, counting to 20, counting backwards from 10, sorting from smallest to biggest, matching (finding alike vs different), bigger vs smaller, and probably a couple others I can’t think of off the top of my head. Other than the dollar bins at Target, I haven’t found a book/curriculum for the preschooler on these that I want to recommend, but I’ll get back to you if I do. There are tons of fun ideas for these on Pintrest, which you may know already.
Lastly, a real life example. Me, personally- I’m using a combination of Catholic ABCs, All about Reading Pre-1, and those $1 books at Target. I realize I am overly ambitious (or maybe I just don’t have enough kids yet!) Each of those easily work on their own. But between all three of those, I made full week of ‘school’ activities for my preschooler. Instead of following the All about Reading as it goes through all the capitals, then lower case, then sounds, you can do a Letter a week by this method:
Day 1- Capital A (All about reading)
Day 2- Lowercase a (All About Reading- skip ahead)
Day 3 – /a/ Sound (All About Reading- skip ahead)
Day 4- A is for Angel (Catholic ABC’s)
Day 5- Target workbooks and cards
As for Math, we either do a worksheet in a Target book or practice counting by cutting scraps of paper (scissor practice!) and gluing a certain number to a sheet of paper (like today’s number is 13! glue 13 scraps of paper).
I recommend you do whatever works best for you, your family and that enthusiastic preschooler of yours.
I hope this post helps. This blog is here to make your life and your childrens’ lives better through enriching their education. I hope one day we at Catholic Schoolhouse can provide a preschool program. But until that day, you still have a lot of great resources out there to keep those 3 and 4 year olds happy and learning!