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Preschool with Bo {Curriculum and Plans}

I'm ready to share my preschool plans for Bo! I've only had our curriculum planned, purchased, and ready to go since last spring (I've had my eye on this for quite a few years! thanks to Our Family for His Glory), but I wasn't sure if Bo was ready, and wanted to get a few weeks in under my belt to make sure what I selected will work for us both, and so far it is working wonderfully!

~Boaz is currently 3 years, 2 months~

I have more than I need to get us through one or two years of preschool. And I have everything printed, filed, and ready to go!

Little Hands to Heaven is the heart of my preschool plans, along with Sonlight Core P3/4.

For Little Hands, I am using Big Thoughts for Little People, A Child's First Bible, and The Singing Bible. (Affiliate links to Amazon).  What's nice about Little Hands to Heaven is that these are the only books I need for Bo's age.

I'm also using My First Hands-On Bible. This is really a cute and fun Bible! It has lots of hands on activities to do throughout each Bible story, and every story makes a connection to Jesus.

It also replaces the Bible in Core P3/4, The Family Time Bible, which originally came with Core P4/5.

And, here is the line up of fabulous children's books from Sonlight Core P 3/4. Please note that other than The Tall Book of Nursery Tales, we are not doing the "fairy tale" books from this core - just all the fun fiction books! There's just so many classics and fun books in this core, that I really want them to be a part of Bo's preschool experience.

Not all of the books I have for this core are pictured. And here are two more that I added: The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare  and Guess How Much I Love You All Year Round.

And finally, I have Before Five in a Row! Would you believe these books, the same ones I used to row with Mali and Elli, have been around the world and back?! I loaned them to a missionary family in Laos and was happy to have them back just in time to use with Bo for preschool!

I'm not in a hurry to get through B4FIAR. (I have a tendency to do too much, and I don't want to burn out). And I have not started planning all of our rows yet. I do hope to share what (and how!) I plan when I can.  (Hopefully soon!)

I'm also using Animal ABC's. So far, I have been using them in lieu of the alphabet activities in Little Hands (for example, instead of glueing cereal to the letter A, we glued alligators to a letter A.)

Are you wondering how I am going to fit all this in? Me too!

Here is what I am thinking:

Little Hands to Heaven {30 minutes a day}
Sonlight Core P3/4 {20 minutes a day}
Animal ABC's {10 minutes a day}

That's only one hour a day, and I am not doing all of the Animal ABC pack yet, so it is easy to add in the letter craft to Little Hands. So far, I have been doing Little Hands and Animal ABCs in the morning, and I read Sonlight books to Bo in the afternoon or at bedtime.

I'm planning to do Before Five in a Row every 6th week or as I am inspired.

In fact, I have been thinking about trying a Sabbath School approach to schooling Bo - 6 weeks on, 1 week off.

Here's what I am thinking, for example:

  • 1st week: Letter Aa,  Adam and Eve {LHTH}, Alligators, Ants {Animal ABCs}

  • 2nd week: Letter Bb, Noah's Ark {LHTH}, Bears, Butterflies {Animal ABCs}

  • 3rd week: Letter Cc

  • 4th week: Letter Dd

  • 5th week: Review Week {Review letters A-D}

  • 6th week: Rowing Week

  • 7th week: Break Week

I have already challenged this schedule, as we rowed a book after our 2nd week. And if I had had My Blue Boat (an OOP book that I can't get through interlibrary loan), I would have wanted to row it, too. So, that's why I added every 6th week, or as inspired.

We are on our 5th week of preschool, and Unit 4 in Little Hands (and we took a sick week already), so I will just bump everything up a week.

Update 4/7/14: I am planning to slow down and take two weeks per letter. I will do HOD one week, and Animal ABC's, Sonlight and/or Before Five in a Row the next.

Update: We dropped LHTH over the summer, finished reading the Bible story books, and continued on with Before Five in a Row for preschool. :)

My heart is to make memories and inspire a love of learning through books, songs and music, pretend play, arts and crafts, sensory play, and more. I think having the materials I have will not only make it enjoyable for Bo, but easy on me, and enjoyable for me, too!

About Blogging Bo's Preschool

I'm am not photographing everything we do, because there is a lot of movement and interaction in Little Hands - it's really hard to photograph! We do a lot of role play or pretend play, singing, dancing, and more. I'm doing my best, but I put the camera down a LOT more now, especially when my little one says, "tome dance uh me!" How could I say no?!  But, I do have quite a bit already to share and hope to start sharing soon before I get too far ahead of myself. :D

Online Science: Science4Us.com {Review}

Science4Us Review

When I started reviewing a Science4Us.com Online Subscription, I had no idea that my kids would become so addicted to it!  Science4Us.com has been a daily request in our home for the past 6 weeks.  And to be honest, I thought it was just an online program at first, but as I dug deeper, I was surprised to discover that it is much more than just an online Science program, and it is more than just Science! 

Science4Us.com is geared for grades K-2, but Malachi, my 3rd grader, reviewed it along with Eliana, my 1st grader, and had just as much fun learning about Science concepts. In fact, children in grades 3-5 can use it as a review of earlier learned concepts.

Online Piano Lessons: KinderBach {Review}

Kinderbach Review

For the past 6 weeks, we've been singing, dancing, listening to stories, coloring, playing rhythm instruments and more to learn to "play the piano."

We've been learning music concepts and theory, with KinderBach, using fun activities and characters, like Dodi, a donkey who lives on the two black keys.

KinderBach provides online piano lessons for children ages 3-7. I reviewed The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner with my two children, Bo and Elli, who are at both ends of the target age.

Malachi's Science Party

For Malachi's 8th birthday last year, he asked for a Science Party. We were sick again this time of year (as we are almost every year come February), so his birthday was spread out over several days. We usually only have family parties, so we were easily able to do this.

Decontamination Zone

I hung lime green and sherbet orange balloons above a set of lime green streamers for the "decontamination zone." I hung a sign for a hand-washing experiment to "decontaminate" with, but we didn't get to the experiment.

Food & Drink

DNA Double Helix Spiral Pasta Salad

Fruit Molecules and Building Blocks {Graham Crackers}

This idea came from Malachi's desire to make a Graham Cracker Cake. I didn't really understand what he was asking for, so I asked him to tell me the ingredients. He wanted graham crackers, fruit and frosting, so I had to be creative to tie this into a science theme. You'll see their creations below.


Dr. Malachi's Orange Bubbly
{Orange punch with dry ice}

This was a first for them and they loved it!

I marked plastic cups with measurement lines for "beakers" to drink out of.

The Birthday Boy

Their Creations

Elli's Molecular Creation

Malachi's creation... It wasn't quite what he envisioned - he wanted it to be about 8 inches high. Bless his heart - his "graham cracker cake." ♥

Science Experiments

We made Elephant Toothpaste and Glitter Glue Slime.

Elephant Toothpaste

Experimenting with 3% and 6% H2O2 to see which, when the catalyst is added, will produce oxygen bubbles the quickest from the breakdown of the hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. Fun!

(We used this Extreme Secret Formula Lab Kit).

Another one with a bigger bottle and 6% H2O2, that I purchased separately.

6% H2O2 was slower to react because the mixture was so thick (cream developer from a hair lightener kit), but it lasted longer and made more foam. Probably needs a stronger catalyst (we used yeast).

Glitter Glue Slime

We used clear glue, glitter glue, and food coloring to make several different slimes.

More Food

We had Taco Cups for dinner...

And at Malachi's request: a key lime pie.

I'm thankful that despite sickness and other trials, we were still able to celebrate Malachi in a fun way. 

Tomorrow, he turns nine. Sniff, sniff. It's all going so fast. I'll share what we did for his 9th in my Let's Click post for this week.

Why I Love Teaching With All About Spelling

When I started using All About Spelling, I was not currently teaching spelling as a formal subject in our home school. I wrote in my original review:
I love natural learning and for me that means learning takes place outside of a “subject” whenever possible. So, I have not taught spelling as a formal subject for a couple years now. I teach it as it is needed in the context of our everyday writing and we have plenty of spelling opportunities this way. Simply put, if they misspell a word they are required to correct it right away. If they cannot spell it on their own, they are required to look it up.

So, when I had the opportunity to review All About Spelling, I wasn’t sure what I would think of it (or how my children would respond to having spelling as a formal “subject”).

Thankfully, my boys were willing participants, we quickly grew to love All About Spelling, and I've never looked back.

Spelling is one of my favorite subjects to teach now, and I have a much different perspective about teaching Spelling after using All About Spelling in our home.

Did you know that O has 4 sounds? When we first started All About Spelling, I didn't know that vowels had more than a long and short vowel sound, and I certainly couldn't name them all for you. I didn't feel very smart.

But, that changed with All About Spelling.

The manual is "open and go" and shows you EXACTLY what to do. It is super easy to follow, with lots of illustrations and tips. The lessons are gently scripted and you know exactly what to do every step of the way. I feel smart because I always know what to say. Even when a child misspells a word, I can tell him or her exactly WHY it is misspelled. This not only helps my children to be better spellers, but it helps me be a better TEACHER.

All About Spelling just makes sense:

  • Spelling concepts are based on phonograms.

  • It's taught in a logical, understandable order and there are no gaps.

  • It's based on the Orton-Gilingham method of spelling.

  • The lessons are multi-sensory and engage the child using sight, sound and touch.

  • All About Spelling has continual review.

  • Everything you need is included.

It is also non-consumable. This means you can use the manual over and over with multiple children. I'd add resell it, but I'm not sure that I could ever part with my manuals. I'll save them in case my children decide to homeschool their children. A program has to earn a special spot on my shelf for me to say that.

I get asked a lot, "Is it worth it?" This all makes it worth it to me.

But, All About Spelling is also easy to learn.

It is such a smart program, I not only feel smart teaching it, but my child feels smart, because with this program, he or she is smart. It equips a child to learn how to spell by teaching them the phonograms, English rules for spelling, and reinforcing these concepts with continual review.

Today, I'd like to share how this program is "easy to learn" and "easy to teach," by sharing a typical lesson.

We are on Step 20 - Consonant Team NG. This lesson will teach how to spell words containing ng. It is a short lesson, so I take this opportunity to do a full review of the Phonogram Cards, Sound Cards, Key Cards, and Word Cards.

Phonogram Cards

Key Cards

These are quick, fun and review phonics rules:

  1. Every word has at least one _________.

  2. Names start with a ________.

  3. What are two ways to spell the sound of /k/ at the beginning of a word? _______ Which letter do we try first? _________.

  4. C says S before _________.

  5. Ck is used only after ________.
Answers: 1. vowel, 2. capital letter, 3. c and k, c, 4. e, i, or y, 5. a short vowel.

Counting Syllables

Word Cards

Reviewing Sight Words.

Did you know that 90% of the words on the Dolch Sight Word List are completely phonetic and can be sounded out if the child knows basic phonics? Here's proof.

All About Spelling only teaches words that can be phonetically sounded out as sight words if the student has not yet been taught the phonogram and they are common words. For example: do and to.

Sound Cards

I dictate the sound and my child writes the phonogram.

Today, she misses the sound /k/ two letter /k/. She writes it as k, until I remind her that it is "two" letters. She only learned this in the previous lesson, so this is good review.

Since we are continually reviewing, I know she will get it.

New Teaching

I arrange the tiles on the board and explain that "The tile ng can come after a." And I slide ng next to the a. I repeat this for letters i, o, and u.  "But, it rarely comes after e." So I remove the e tile.  (The manual clues me in to the 4 words that have the combination eng and lets me know that they will be taught in a later lesson).

Then, we Spell with Tiles.

I don't skip this step with Eliana. (I can with Malachi, but she needs the practice).

I like to spend no more than 15-20 minutes on a lesson, so next lesson we will Spell on Paper, reinforce with More Words, and I will dictate phrases for her to write.

Before All About Reading, All About Learning Press first came out with a reader for All About Spelling - The Beehive Reader (it is now a part of All About Reading), but the spelling manual lets me know that my student is now ready to read "The Bat and King Sam."

Which means we are ready for Lesson 36 in All About Reading! This lesson reviews Consonant Team ng, and in Lesson 37 she reads "The Bat and King Sam." Then we move on to the next lesson in All About Spelling.

Note: "Marie recommends that you complete All About Reading Level 1 before beginning All About Spelling."

Is there anything I don't like about teaching with All About Spelling?

All About Spelling can feel "teacher intensive." Sometimes it is more work than I want to do, and our lessons last longer than I'd like, so I don't pull it out daily. I usually only do 2-3 reading/spelling lessons a week. When I feel like "couch schooling," I use a moveable alphabet app and the Phonogram Sounds App on my phone, and find other creative ways to make it work because I believe it is a valuable program.  But, this is the only thing I can think of that's not to like - I can't just hand my child a workbook. I have to teach.  But, that's just another reason why I feel most like a real teacher with this program - I am actually teaching!

All in all, All About Spelling has really made a difference for me and my children. I am a better teacher with this program, and my children are better spellers!

Tawny Scrawny Lion & a Little Golden Books Celebration

Bo turned 3 the last week in December and in trying to come up with a theme for his birthday, I thought about all the things that Bo loves.

He loves puppies, so I first thought of  The Pokey Little Puppy (links to Amazon are affiliate links). He loves animals and had been bringing me Tawny Scrawny Lion to read to him lately.  So I was inspired to do a Little Golden Books birthday along with a fun unit study on Tawny Scrawny Lion. I did this unit with Malachi for preschool and had so much fun that I knew I wanted to do it with Bo.

On Day 1 our focus was on Math and Colors.

We read through the story, then:

We counted the lion's ribs. Then, I counted Bo's ribs and tickled him. This is so much fun and brings lots of giggles.

When we got to where the lion is full and the rabbits dance around him merrily singing songs, we sang "One little, two little, three little rabbits..."

We talked about what tawny means - a mixture of brown, yellow, and orange.

Then we painted with brown, yellow, and orange to make the color tawny.

And made a lion with the painting.

On Day 2, our focus was Pretend Play and Days of the Week.

We read through the story, then:

I asked Bo what the lion chased on Monday? Tuesday? etc. He pointed to the animals in the book. And we sang the days of the week song.
"There are seven days, there are seven days, there are se-ven days in a week...
Sunday - Monday, Tuesday -Wednesday, Thursday - Friday, Sat ur day."

We gathered up all the stuffed animals we could find from the story to act out the story.

On Day 3, our focus was Cooking & Bo's 3rd Birthday!

Bo loves playing kitchen, so I surprised him with the KidKraft Vintage KitchenHape Garden Salad Play SetHape Pasta Set and a Metal Pots and Pans Play Set. (I had Bo and Elli both in mind for this when I got it, but he plays with it more.)

I made a Little Golden Books bunting. It was easy to find inspiration for a bunting, but instead of using book pages, I scanned and printed pages from books Bo loves, and then gave them a finish with Modge Podge.

Highlights of Bo's Day

Baked Berry Birthday Pancakes with Lemon Yogurt and Strawberries

New Little Golden Books

Making Homemade Goldfish Crackers

We read Tawny Scrawny Lion while we waited for crackers to bake.

Homemade Goldfish Crackers!

And of course, we made Creamy Carrot Stew and added fresh herbs and "fish." And berry punch to drink.

He played with it at first, not sure he wanted to taste it.

He was a good sport to try it, but didn't eat up his bowl, or even ask for more. (And I used a small bowl!)

So, I read the page where the Tawny Lion eats another good big supper of carrot stew!

The rabbits heap the Tawny Scrawny Lion's bowl with berries after he eats his stew, so we had berries for desert along with Bo's cake.

Bo's angel food cake with whipped cream and berries. Yum!

I asked Bo:  Did the lion like the carrot stew? How do you know? [He wanted more!] I encourage Bo to sign and say more. Then asked: Did Bo like the soup?! I don't think he did. How do I know? [He didn't eat more than one no-thankyou bite, haha!] Did Bo like the berries and whipped cream? [Yes!]

On Day 4, we made Pretend Carrot Soup and played kitchen.

It was a fun week and a fun way to tie learning into Bo's 3rd birthday celebration!

Bo, your life at 3 is:

  • Busy as a bee

  • Tot school

  • Speech therapy

  • Learning new words

  • Playing toys

  • Pretend play

  • Taxi rides at bedtime

  • Stories at bedtime

  • Spinning circles

  • Loving to go

  • Fermented cod liver oils and healthy dairy fats

  • Dressing yourself daily

  • Daniel Tiger

  • Snuggling with Mommy or Pop

What I love about Bo...

I love...

  • Your sweet little voice

  • How well you communicate with gestures and that you are starting to talk more (he's come a long way since!)

  • How you snuggle with me and still hold "nursie"

  • That we made through a whole year of Tot School A to Z! And how eager you are to learn

  • How you love to help me around the house from cooking to chores

  • How advanced you are in self help skills - from pouring your own milk to cleaning up spills

  • That you are potty trained and even wipe yourself and wash your hands

  • That you dress yourself each morning

  • That you still don't like your teeth brushed but let me do it

  • That you love the egg nog I am making you and that you will take your fermented cod liver oil

  • Each and every new word you say or try to say

  • Watching you play - especially pretend play

  • That you play  very well by yourself and also with Elli and Mali.

  • You and your boots and wanting to go outside all the time

  • That you are three and the cute way you say thee - super happy that you are trying

  • Your sweet personality

  • That you have a favorite color: blue an can say boo for blue

  • That you thrive on routine but are flexible and easy going

  • When you hold my hand and want us to wait for you

  • That you like to be close during the day and cuddle at night

  • The cute way you say I love you - "I you." Or, "I you, too."

  • How you tell me something, and I say, "Me too" in agreement, and you agree right back saying, "Me too!" as if I was the one who originally thought of it.

  • You!

I You, Bo. ❤️