First, this is a LONG post. I hope that the length doesn't scare some of you away. However, I know you guys love details, details, details...so I tried to give you as many as I can.
Disclosure: I received NO (ZERO!) compensation or free products when putting together this list. These are all products that we purchased with our own hard-earned money. (I think we tend to judge products more harshly and truthfully when we have actually paid for them!) So rest assured that my reviews and recommendations are all brutally honest. These are all products that we use in our home and have found valuable.
I do have an Amazon Associates account. So if you purchase any of the products using the links on this page, I do receive a very small compensation. Lists like these take quit a bit of time to put together. So if you find this post or my blog helpful, it would be greatly appreciated if you could use the links below to purchase your products.
And now....(drum-roll please)....our 2010-2011 Curriculum:
CALENDAR / MORNING BOARD:
(More on this coming in a separate post.)
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones
(We use both the book and audio CD)
I can't say enough good things about this book. We LOVE it! The message in this book is exactly the sort of thing I want my children to hear. We read about 3 stories a week from this book. We also listen to the audio book in the car. The audio book is very well produced and I highly recommend both!
Songs for Saplings, Dana Dirksen
Supplemented with the printables from Totally Tots.
I really like this CD too. It has music that both kids and adults will enjoy.
About once a week we introduce a new memory verse. Each verse is tied to a letter of the alphabet. They also have a verse for many of the holidays. The kids and I act like nuts and dance around the house to this. I also use some of the printables from Totally Tots to supplement this. We hang one picture up on our morning board as a visual to help us remember.
Right Choices by Kenneth N. Taylor
I will say that I don't totally recommend this book. There is a lot in this book that I don't personally agree with and find it preachy and creepy. For example, there is a page on why parents must spank children because they love them. (I find phrases like that creepy. I personally don't associate hitting and causing pain with showing love.) In the book the child "needs" to be spanked because the young child took cleaning supplies out of a low cabinet. (My thoughts: Perhaps the parents needs a spanking so they can learn how to secure dangerous things like cleaning supplies. Then perhaps the parents needs a lesson on how to teach their child...not just punish and hurt.)
There is also a lesson with the example of a child who gets upset over having to leave a fun place, and the child is supposed to pray that she will not "get mad over nothing".
How belittling is that to a child's feelings?! I think it is wrong to tell a child that they are "bad" for feeling a natural disappointment when they leave a fun place. I personally think it is OK to feel disappointed or upset. Instead of teaching that an emotion is wrong, we instead work with our kids to teach them the correct way to express the emotion. (For example: it is OK and understandable to feel disappointed that we are leaving. It isn't OK to shout or kick or hit when you are angry.)
However, there are some good lessons in this book. It has a nice lesson on "stranger danger". It also has some nice lessons on the importance of honesty and gratitude. We will be using about half of the lessons in this book. I am definitely pre-reading this book and editing it heavily as I read it aloud. Most of our character lessons will not come form a book. The majority of them will come for modeling and life lessons.
We found a great Spanish class for preschoolers in our area. The class size is very small. (6 preschoolers counting Marcus and Sophia.) The class also meets once per week. The teachers uses a variety of teaching methods including storybooks and Montessori materials. It meshes perfectly with our style.
Handwriting without Tears Pre-K
When it comes to handwriting programs, this is the best there is! Often times the names strikes people as a bit funny, but it really is a great program. Everything is done in a playful method using many different learning methods. (Manipulatives, music/song, workbook, games.)
The children learn to form their capital letters using wooden pieces, roll-a-dough letters, stamp n see screen and other methods. They also learn colors, pencil grip, pencil control and some basics phonics. The program also comes with a musical CD for children who learn through moving and listening. We are currently just working through building the ltters with the various manipulaitves (shown below), the capital letter cards, and the blue mat. We currently have started our children on the workbook becaues my son has absolutly no interest in sitting at a table and doing a workbook page yet. :)
|Wooden Pieces used to build the capital letters|
|Slate used in"Wet, Dry, Try"|
From time to time we also put out some Montessori language materials that focus on pre-reading and pre-writing skills. We usually tie these into whatever holiday or unit we are studying.
|The Montessori "Brown Stairs"|
|The Montessori Pink Tower|
Leap Frog Videos:I know, I know.... a DVD? But I highly recommend the leap frog learning videos. They are very high quality and very effective and fun for kids.
Sonlight P3/P4Sonlight P3/P4 curriculum. We are just slowly making our way through it until Sophia gets old enough to start Sonlight P4/P5. Sonlight is actually a complete curriculum, but it is a very gentle program that focuses on using high quality books as a learning tool.
Before Five in a Row
Before Five in a Row is not a curriculum. It is a book filled with great ideas to bring literature, music, and learning into your child's life.
The book is divided into two parts. The first half of the book is a list of activities centered around the titles pictures above. The second half of the book contains ideas to help promote learning in the home. I had this book checked out of the library for weeks and weeks. I was so sad when I had to return this book to the library. I knew that I would have to buy it and luckily found it used through amazon for a good price.
Ambleside Online Year 0 Book ListAmbleside also has a great list of books for young children. We don't' own many of them yet, but as our budget allows, we hope to add these to our home library. They are all classics that will last for generations.
Unit Studies at times
Periodically we will branch out and explore topics of interest to the kids. I call these taking a rabbit trail. We usually do this by visiting the library and checking out some books on the topic. We will also supplement this with some field trips, activities, and movies. (Whatever I can find.)
MathStart BooksMathStart books are fun story books that integrate preschool math concepts. If you child likes to be read to, these are a fun and way to introduce some basic math concepts. Plus, the author has all sorts of great extension, "hands on" activities that you can use to expand these concepts.
We also put out some Montessori inspired activities onto our learning shelves from time to time.
Geography and History using quality children's books
Sensory activities using Montessori Materials
Practical life lessons using the Montessori method as a starting point
Once or twice a week we also meet with a local preschool group. We do holiday related activities or go on field trips.
I also plan to purchase a large mark-able world map, map of the USA, and globe for the kids and start pointing out locations as we come across them in life. I am trying to save up for these! :)