15 Favorite Preschool and Kindergarten Resources – Part 1

I’ve briefly mentioned our homeschooling adventures over the past year and many of you have written in with questions on recommended resources for teaching young children. I’m nowhere near an expert on the subject considering I only have one year of “official” homeschooling under my belt. However, I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite preschool and kindergarten resources from the past year for those of you who are interested.

So, I condensed my list to 15 resources and books and the next three Mondays, I’ll be sharing a post with five of our favorite resources. Here’s Part 1:

1. My Father’s World: Kindergarten

We absolutely loved this Kindergarten curriculum! It is very simple, fun, hands-on and easy-to-use. There are 26 units and each unit covers one letter of the alphabet and corresponding Bible, Character Development, Art, Math, Creative Thinking, Reading, Phonics and Science lessons.

We didn’t do every thing in every unit, but more used it as a springboard for our weekly curriculum. I thought it made an excellent framework and the girls thoroughly enjoyed it. We usually spent 20-45 minutes 3-4 days per week on the lessons and supplemented with a variety of other great resources (mainly the other 14 resources I’ll be mentioning in this series!).

After doing this curriculum for a year, I’d highly recommend it if you are looking for a Bible-based curriculum with a mix of Classical Education and Charlotte Mason approach.

2. StarFall

This is an entirely free website has lots of fun interactive educational games and teaching tools for preschoolers and kindergartners. We don’t allow a lot of computer time for the girls at our house, but Starfall is a special treat which our girls get to enjoy on occasion. There are a few minor things on the website which aren’t in line with our Christian worldview, but overall, we’ve been very impressed with Starfall.

3. Letter of the Week Curriculum

One of my very favorite homeschooling blogs, Confessions of a Homeschooler, has a fantastic Letter of the Week Curriculum which has tons of printable worksheets which we used to supplement the letter we were studying each week in My Father’s World. The curriculum is only $10 and an exceptional buy for all the amazing downloads and helpful resources which come with it.

If you can’t afford to buy the curriculum or would like to check out some of the printables before purchasing, there is a huge list of incredible free printables available here.

4. Wee Sing Bible Songs

The girls love listening to this CD before they go to bed or while playing together. And they’ve learned so many great children’s songs as a result!

5. Come Look With Me: Enjoying Art With Children

These are the best books I’ve found so far for teaching art appreciation to young children. Each book in the series introduces children to twelve works of art and engages the imaginations and interest of young children by asking thought-provoking questions about the picture.

…To be continued next Monday

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15 Favorite Preschool and Kindergarten Resources — Part 2

If you missed it, be sure to read Part 1 here.

6. BOB Books – I love these beginning readers – and so do the girls! Some early reading books can be frustrating, but not the BOB books. They introduce new phonetic sounds so engagingly and at a pace that wasn’t overwhelming so Kathrynne rarely even noticed she was adding a new concept.

7. Homeschool Share – This free website has tons of great printables, educational resources and lapbooks. When planning our homeschool for the week, I often search for extra printables or fun activities we can supplement with which go along with our unit themes and have found all sorts of free goodies on this site.

8. Signing Time DVDs – Hands down, these are the one educational DVDs we’ve pretty much worn to a pulp. We got one as a demo a long time ago and enjoyed it so much that we asked Grandma and Grandpa if they’d buy the set for the girls for Christmas. Not only do I believe it is valuable to introduce your children to the deaf culture, but we’ve found that our children’s vocabulary has increased by leaps and bounds as a result of teaching them ASL.

If you have a baby, I’d also highly recommend Baby Signing Time. Being able to communicate with your child at a young age makes life so much easier!

9. Everyday News Network – If your youngsters haven’t been introduced to the Everyday News Network, they’ve been missing out. Our girls love to watch the free online episodes and have picked up lots of great educational tidbits and fun ideas from ENN.

10. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name — Read my review of this book here.

The final installment of this series is coming next Monday.

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15 Favorite Preschool and Kindergarten Resources — Part 3

If you missed it, be sure to read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

11. PaperBackSwap — I know I’ve mentioned it over and over again here, but we love PaperBackSwap. We’ve basically built our entire children’s library through books from PBS and Grandparents. So we’ve ended up spending very little out of pocket to do so.

12. Magnet Boards — I don’t know that there’s an official name for these, but we call them “magnet boards” at our house. And they are one of the girl’s all-time favorite things to do! I got some cheap cookie sheets and these Power Magnets and we’ve used them for all sorts of educational activities.

I often give the girls the Magnet Boards and a the magnet sheet from the Letter of the Week Curriculum (see an example below) and let them fill all the magnet holes on their board while I’m reading aloud to them. When they are finished, they can create shapes, letters or whatever else they’d like.

13. Read Alouds — Speaking of read alouds, books make up the core of our homeschooling “curriculum.” I think that there is so much value in reading a wide variety of books to your children. We’ve learned so many new things, explored so many fascinating cultures and time periods and had so many excellent discussions as a result of books we’ve read. You can see some of our favorite picture books here. I’m hoping to do a series on our favorite chapter books in the not-too-distant future.

14. Do-a-Dot Art Markers These markers are so fun. You can use them to create your own pictures, on the downloadable sheets in the Letter of the Week Curriculum or there are also Do-A-Dot Coloring Books available. Just make sure to supervise the 2-year-old with them, unless you want Do-A-Dot Artwork all over the walls (ask me how I know!). These wash off of hands and clothing quite well. Walls, not so much. :)

15. ABC Scripture Memory BookI used this for Scripture Memory as a young girl, so I especially enjoyed using it with the girls. We just read through it every day at breakfast for a number of months and the girls memorized the verses by that daily repetition. Plus, Kaitlynn (then 2) picked up on quite a few letters, too.

A Few Words of Encouragement for Young Moms

For those of you who are young moms wanting to add in some educational activities to your day, please do not go buy all the things I’ve listed. These probably won’t all work for you and they certainly won’t work for you if you try to do them all at once. I offer these just as ideas of things which are available; please tailor what you do in your home to what works for you.

If you don’t currently have much structure in your day, I’d first suggest you focus on getting a consistent routine in place. Make your routine simple (maybe even just five or seven things you want to do in the same order every day), write it out and make yourself stick with it for three weeks. After that, you’ll probably find it’s become somewhat of a habit.

Don’t set your expectations too high. If you’ve never had a consistent routine, you’re not going to go from chaos to a regimented schedule in two days. Start small, take babysteps and — most of all — enjoy your children.

In my opinion, it’s much better to spend quality time laughing, talking and playing with your children every day, than to stick to a strict schedule. That’s why I think a flexible routine is more doable when you have young children. You need some breathing room for interruptions, fussy babies, diaper blowouts, kissing owies and seizing teaching opportunities.

If there was one thing I’d say to start with, it would be teaching your children obedience, character and God’s Word. When your children have learned the basics of obedience, not only will you enjoy them more and your life will operate much more smoothly, but you’ll also have a much easier time of being able to teach them academically.

Read aloud from a plethora of good books. Look at the pictures together. Talk about the stories. Stop and listen and answer your children’s questions. It’s not about finishing the book; it’s about investing in your children’s lives.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I try to ask myself “what will matter in 25 years from now?”and then live my life accordingly.

Take advantage of teaching opportunities. It’s amazing the things you can learn and explore together when you’re willing to stop what you’re doing and seize a teachable moment.

Praise your children liberally. Have you ever stopped to consider how much you praise your child versus how often you correct or criticize? Of course, as parents, it’s our role to guide and nurture our children, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also be their biggest cheerleader!

If your child is taking initiative, putting forth effort, or showing any signs of positive behavior, praise them. One thing I try to do often is to praise the girls in front of Jesse. You can just see them beam with such joy when I say, “Jesse, I have a good report to tell you about so-and-so.”

Realize that no mom — however put together she might look — is anywhere near perfect. Stop comparing. Stop feeling guilty. Focus on what works for your family and be okay with the fact that you aren’t gifted in all areas.

I wish I could sew and decorate and scrapbook and cook gourmet dinners. I used to feel really guilty when I’d read about these incredible crafts and hands-on activities other moms were doing with their youngsters.

But you know what? I’ve had to accept that I’m just not gifted when it comes to arts and crafts. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I love my children any less if we’re not making these elaborate paper mache castles. They just love spending time with me — even if we’re just coloring and cutting, making silly faces or mixing up pancakes.

Finally, don’t give up. Being a mom is hard, hard work. If you’re anything like me, you have days when you feel like you just can’t do it anymore. And I’ve come to learn that I can’t, in and of my own strength. But “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

If you’re a Christian, I strongly encourage you to make your relationship with the Lord your number one priority. For me, I’ve found that getting up early and reading my Bible and a good devotional, writing in my journal and praying is extremely beneficial in laying the foundation for the day. That time in God’s Word and prayer fills up my heart and gives me strength and courage to face whatever the day holds.

If you’re too busy for God, you’re just plain too busy. Make time for the most important things. You won’t regret it.

What are some of your family’s favorite preschool and kindergarten resources? I’d love to hear!

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15 Recommended Preschool and Kindergarten Resources

15 preschool and kindergarten educational and learning resources

In recent months, I’ve gotten email after email after email from people asking for me to write more about our homeschooling. Truthfully, it’s a topic I don’t feel ready to broach much as my children are only 7, 4, and 2. Maybe in 10 years from now I’ll have a lot of words of wisdom to share, but for now, we’re just enjoying our journey and learning much along the way.

For those of you who have begged, though, I wanted to share 15 of our favorite preschool and kindergarten resources. These are things our family has especially enjoyed and found beneficial over the last few years. I can’t guarantee that any of these things will work well for your family or child as each child is unique and has different learning styles. However, these are all resources I would definitely recommend looking into if you’re thinking of homeschooling.

1. My Father’s World: Kindergarten

We absolutely loved this Kindergarten curriculum! It is very simple, fun, hands-on, and easy-to-use. There are 26 units and each unit covers one letter of the alphabet and corresponding Bible, Character Development, Art, Math, Creative Thinking, Reading, Phonics and Science lessons. We’ve used this with both of our girls and I’d highly recommend it, especially if you are looking for a Bible-based curriculum with a mix of a Classical Education and a Charlotte Mason approach.

 

2. StarFall

This is an entirely free website has lots of fun interactive educational games and teaching tools for preschoolers and kindergartners. We don’t allow a lot of computer time for the girls at our house, but Starfall is a special treat that our girls get to enjoy on occasion. There are a few minor things on the website which aren’t in line with a Christian worldview, but overall, we’ve been very impressed with Starfall.

 

3. Letter of the Week Curriculum

One of my very favorite homeschooling blogs, Confessions of a Homeschooler, has a fantastic Letter of the Week Curriculum that has lots of printable worksheets that we’ve used to supplement the letter we were studying each week in My Father’s World. The curriculum is only $10 and an exceptional buy for all the amazing downloads and helpful resources which come with it. If you can’t afford to buy the curriculum or would like to check out some of the printables before purchasing, there is a huge list of incredible free printables available here. You can also find many free preschool printables available here.

 

4.Wee Sing Bible Songs

The girls have loved listening to this CD before they go to bed or while playing together. And they’ve learned so many great children’s songs as a result!

 

5. Come Look With Me: Enjoying Art With Children

These are the best books I’ve found so far for teaching art appreciation to young children. Each book in the series introduces children to twelve works of art and engages the imaginations and interest of young children by asking thought-provoking questions about the picture.

 

6. BOB Books

I love these beginning readers – and so have the girls! Some early reading books can be frustrating, but not the BOB books. They introduce new phonetic sounds so engagingly and at a pace that wasn’t overwhelming so the girls rarely even noticed they were adding a new concept.

 

7. Homeschool Share

This free website has tons of great printables, educational resources and lapbooks. When planning our homeschool for the week, I often search for extra printables or fun activities we can supplement with which go along with our unit themes and have found all sorts of free goodies on this site.

 

8. Signing Time DVDs

Hands down, these are the one educational DVDs we’ve pretty much worn to a pulp. We got one as a demo a long time ago and enjoyed it so much that we asked Grandma and Grandpa if they’d buy the set for the girls for Christmas. Not only do I believe it is valuable to introduce your children to the deaf culture, but we’ve found that our children’s vocabulary has increased by leaps and bounds as a result of teaching them ASL.If you have a baby, I’d also highly recommend Baby Signing Time. Being able to communicate with your child at a young age makes life so much easier!

 

9. Explode the Code Series

We’ve fallen in love with the Get Ready for the Code and Explode the Code workbooks this past year. It makes learning phonics and practicing handwriting and spelling so much fun and the girls look forward to doing these books each day, often asking if they can go ahead and do more pages than what I’ve assigned them!

 

10. The Jesus Storybook Bible

We’ve searched high and low for quality children’s Bible story books — ones that are accurate, doctrinally sound, and not filled with nonsense and fluff are hard to find. I apprehensively ordered The Jesus Storybook Bible based upon the strong recommendations of friends I trust. It has since become our most treasured read-aloud. The girls would pick this over any other book any day.

11. PaperBackSwap

I know I’ve mentioned it over and over again here, but we love PaperBackSwap. We’ve basically built our entire children’s library through books from PBS and Grandparents. So we’ve ended up spending very little out of pocket to do so.

 

12. Magnet Boards

I don’t know that there’s an official name for these, but we call them “magnet boards” at our house. And they are one of the girl’s all-time favorite things to do! I got some cheap cookie sheets and these Power Magnets and we’ve used them for all sorts of educational activities.I often give the girls the Magnet Boards and a the magnet sheet from the Letter of the Week Curriculum (see an example below) and let them fill all the magnet holes on their board while I’m reading aloud to them. When they are finished, they can create shapes, letters or whatever else they’d like.

 

13. Read Alouds

Speaking of read alouds, books make up the core of our homeschooling curriculum. I think that there is so much value in reading a wide variety of books to your children. We’ve learned so many new things, explored so many fascinating cultures and time periods and had so many excellent discussions as a result of books we’ve read. You can see some of our favorite picture books here.

 

14. Do-a-Dot Art Markers

These markers are so fun. You can use them to create your own pictures, on the downloadable sheets in the Letter of the Week Curriculum (see #3 above) or there are also Do-A-Dot Coloring Books available. Just make sure to supervise the 2-year-old with them, unless you want Do-A-Dot Artwork all over the walls (ask me how I know!). These wash off of hands and clothing quite well. Walls, not so much.

 

15. ABC Scripture Memory Book

I used this for Scripture Memory as a young girl, so I especially enjoyed using it with the girls. We just read through it every day at breakfast for a number of months and the girls memorized the verses by that daily repetition. Plus, Kaitlynn (then 2) picked up on quite a few letters, too.

 

What are your favorite preschool and kindergarten resources?

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