May 18 2012

What we’re doing for preschool this year — Curriculum Fair 2012

In June, Jonathan will be 3.5 and Vivienne will be 1.5.

I thought I’d share some of the resources we’re using for Johnny’s pre-preschool as a part of Simple Homeschool’s Curriculum Fair 2012. He’ll have another year of preschool in 2013, and will start kindergarten in the fall of 2014 when he’s 5.

[This blog isn’t turning into a homeschool blog. I’m just going to have a post or two on the topic, and maybe branch out on homeschool stuff elsewhere.]

I looked at a variety of resources and curricula for this age group — Timberdoodle, Sonlight, Before Five in a Row, Heart of Dakota, My Father’s World, ABC Jesus Loves Me…and plenty of blogs.

I don’t want this year to be academic. At all. I want it to be fun, no pressure, and just introducing some prek skills. I want to read great books with my kids, do simple (keyword SIMPLE!!) crafts with them, and explore the wonderful world around us.

I greatly appreciate The Wonderment Curriculum and How to Homeschool the Early Years for how I’m trying to model what I’m doing.

Children’s literature

I’m using book recommendations from Honey For a Child’s Heart*, and book lists from Ambleside Online, Before Five in a Row and Sonlight to get ideas of what we might enjoy reading together. Not all titles on the reading lists appeal to us, but it’s nice to have a starting point.

I created a Shelfari account for the kids so I could keep track of titles I want to find, titles we own, and which books we’ve already read.

I want to buy this Virginia Lee Burton treasury*discovered in a Sonlight core and borrowed from the library, because it includes all original pictures of 4 books, at full size. I recently read The Little House to Johnny, from within that treasury book. I remember that book from when I was little.

The book had a strong effect on him. He was grabbed by the story, and concerned for how the plot was progressing. He talked about what was happening, and flipped back to study previous pictures more closely. It was awesome! He’s now at the age where he’ll sit through and enjoy a longer children’s book like that. We read through that one several times and it’s a title we need to own. He was sad when we took it back to the library, but said, “It’s someone else’s turn to read it.” awww, Johnny.

I like owning children’s books. I’m working on acquiring books affordable (that’s a post for another day) and of course using the library for all we can.

My Father’s World

Preschool toddler package for 2-3 yo (I bought the first two of these items around the time my daughter was born for my son)

  • Number Express — it’s a puzzle, train, and stacking counting tool. He likes it!
  • Wee Sing Bible Songs — I’ve loaded these tracks ontoour toddler mp3 player* and it gets daily use, with a few favorites played over and over. Both kids like it.
  • Shape and Color Sorter — I skipped this last year, though I can’t remember why. I included it with my order for other MFW things just this week. Vivienne will be able to use it later, but Johnny too.

Preschool package for 3-5 year olds


I bought the whole pack, and added an extra 8″ pegboard so each kid can have one.


When I first looked at these items, I was like, “meh.”  They just didn’t look that exciting at first. And then I thought I’d buy just a few of those items.


But the pack made an impression on me. I read reviews of the package and ultimately, I decided that these activities will help my kids learn a few preschool lessons without it being over-the-top academic. I like that I’ll be able to use it with both kids.




I love Timberdoodle for their fun, educational toy ideas. I’ve browsed their site for gift ideas for other kids, and my own. I didn’t go with a prepackaged core from them, but chose a few things.


From their preschool core (not to be confused with their prek core):

  • Colorblock Sea Turtle Maze (I bought this last year because I thought it would be a fun toy for in the car. It was too hard to use there — too much rattling. Johnny understood the concept and seemed to like it but it didn’t hold the staying power that I thought it would. Better luck with Vivie?)
  • Big O-Ball. Easy to catch and fun!
  • Big Book of Things to Spot (waiting for this to arrive, and the rest of the items below from Timberdoodle)
  • Hape Zoo Animal Blocks puzzle — Johnny likes puzzles, and I like that this is a 3-d different sort of puzzle than what he already has.
  • Day and Night logic puzzle
  • Kumon My Book of Easy Mazes — I guess this is considered a workbook of sorts. There were a few mazes in a recent coloring book he used and he seemed to like those activities, so I went with a maze book. If he isn’t into it, I’ll put it away for when he’s a little older.

From their prek core

  • My First Scissors kit — we own some scissors made by Melissa & Doug, but they are still hard for him to work. Maybe this set will be easier and more fun at this stage.
  • Big Book of Play and Find Out Science Projects

Other from Timberdoodle:

  • Hugg-a-Planet’s world globe
  • Magnetibook Crazy Face and vehicles (I might hold onto these and use as a gift. Maybe for their half-birthdays! heh)



I do want to map out some sort of Bible curriculum for the kids — probably tying songs with stories we’re reading. I have several Bible resources and I’m also browsing the free ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum for ideas. I am still working on how I’m going to approach it.

*affiliate link

9 Responses to “What we’re doing for preschool this year — Curriculum Fair 2012”

  1. Sounds like you’re getting a good start!

    I have such a hard time with Judah and books. He loves them — so much that he hurts them. I’m trying to collect some good books cheaply, because I just don’t trust him with library books, and new board books are so stinking expensive. He crumples and tears the pages in regular books, and he’s even ripped apart a couple of board books (Baby Hulk!)

    I have such wonderful memories of walking to the library with my mom and sisters and carting a wagon load of books back home only to read them all and bring them back the next day. I’m looking forward to doing that with Judah, especially since we live so close to a nice library! He’s going to have to grow up a bit and learn how to be nice to books first, though. Pfft.

  2. That sounds like an awesome plan! Fun to read about, thanks for sharing.

  3. I’m totally bookmarking this for future reference! Any chance you’ll post again with a review of the Timberdoodle products? I’ve looked through their catalog again and again, but I haven’t bought anything yet.

  4. I need to save this for when I have time to think about it. Looks like Johnny and Savannah are entering Kindy at the same time!! That seems funny to me because he seems so much older, but that’s what I get for having an end of summer baby. (Cutoff here is Sep 1, and I’m going by that but will have her repeat K if she isn’t ready.)

  5. Sure, Amanda! Let me know if you’d be interested in more of my thoughts on any one item and I’d be happy to share. Feel free to email me.

    I think I will do an update later on once we’re actually in the midst of it all.

  6. Oh and my Timberdoodle box came today — I LOVE THEIR STUFF!

    Johnny hasn’t seen any of it, though. I plan to bring some of it out gradually. He gets the hugable globe right away, though.

    The maze workbooks are a bit beyond him, so they’ll go on the shelf. I really think they will be fun. Go to Amazon and click on the picture to preview the inside — wish I did that before buying!

    As far as workbooks go, I’m going to back up a few steps, since I now have discovered Kumon’s “First Steps” series, with books on coloring, cutting, pasting and folding paper. The previews look fun and also a gentler introduction to the uh…paper arts? What do we even call this?

    I’ll see how he does with those books in terms of interest and skills, and go from there.

    The “My First Book of Tracing” looks to be the first book in all of those (even before my mazes books) and I think we’d get that too, probably.

    Overall, I’m really impressed with the Kumon workbooks in terms of paper quality, color, and how the skills gradually progress. That’s just my opinion — we’ll see what Johnny thinks later on :).

    The My First Scissors kit looks really fun, but I’m not even going to show it to him until he is better with scissors. I will use the scissors with him soon since I think he’d have fun cutting scrap paper to bits.

    The “Big Book of Play and Find Out Science Projects” seems to be geared toward older kids. I’ll flip through it and shelve it until we’re ready.

  7. Hi, I couldn’t tell from your post- are you planning to homeschool the kids indefinitely, or just for the early years?

  8. Jan — we’ll just have to see how it goes. We’re planning to homeschool the early years and make decisions on a kid-by-kid, year-by-year basis. If we could homeschool through high school graduation that would be cool, though!

  9. I want to share this with my wife. We have a 2.8 yo and a 1.2 yo. I was thinking of various things for the next couple of years and this post helps.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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