Horizons Preschool {A TOS Crew Review}

8/17/2015
Alpha Omega Review
I was eager to review the Horizons Preschool Curriculum Set, by Alpha Omega Publications, with Bo, my 4 year old, who is entering his 4K year. I thought that he'd love to have a "book" to work in like his siblings and I wanted an all-in-one program to cover Pre-Kindergarten skills.

Alpha Omega Review

Bo does not turn 5 until the end of this calendar year, so while he is almost ready for 5K work, I'm not in a hurry to rush him to Kindergarten and I thought the concepts in 4K would be more enjoyable (and easier).

When I received the curriculum set, I was in for a little surprise. It is a lot more in depth than I thought it would be, it's easier than I thought it would be, and it's really not designed for home school use, though it certainly could be used for a home preschool.



There are several components of the Horizons Preschool Program:

  • Student Workbooks - consumable worksheet activities divided into two books.
  • Teacher's Guide - 180 full lesson plans divided into two books
  • Preschool Resource Packet - full color teaching aids and black line masters that include:
    • Memory Verse
    • Alphabet Puzzle
    • Flashcards - Letters Aa-Zz, Numbers 1-12, Colors, Shapes, Time, Seasons, and Months
    • I set this up in a three-ring binder using plastic page protectors to hold all the pages. (see below)
  • Preschool Sing Along Music CD


Resource Packet samples



I had no idea that each day would be so packed with detail and more than enough for a school day. My first impression was that one day was too much, packing every subject in. But, instead of being overwhelmed, I selected the subjects I found interesting and/or wanted to cover.

I am impressed with the variety of topics, but several stood out to me each day as valuable topics that I'm not sure I would have thought to cover. I'd love to share a little of what we have covered.

First, let me fill you in on the lesson structure.

180 days of lessons include:

  • Bible Reference - for teacher understanding
  • Bible Concept to Cover - objective of the lesson
  • Bible Lesson - teacher reads and then presents information - not intended to be read to student
  • Social Studies - practical applications of material being studied
  • Science - concerned with God's creation
  • Language Arts - pre-reading activities designed to prepare preschool students for reading
  • Phonics - letter recognition and alphabet order
  • Reading - listening and comprehension skills 
  • Writing - pre-writing skills focused on writing their name
  • Memory Verses - hiding God's word in their hearts young
  • Math - fundamentals of number sense
  • Shapes - basic geometric shapes
  • Colors - basic colors
  • Story Time - very open ended - suggested books are provided but not scheduled in each lesson
  • Music - character building songs or teaching songs to reinforce concepts
  • Arts & Crafts - suggested mediums in each lesson
  • Physical Education - develop motor coordination and large motor skills
  • Outdoor Activities - a time to observe the wonders of Creation and learn how to care for it
  • Creative Cooking - hands on learning in the kitchen
  • Health & Safety - hygiene and daily safety skills
  • Field Trips - suggestions are listed
  • Homework - student book activities

That's a lot packed into each lesson! But, a schedule is given for a half-day preschool or a full day preschool. Even following the half day schedule would just be too much for my homeschool, though, and I get the feeling that this is designed more for a private school preschool setting and not a home preschool. I realized then that this is designed more for classroom use and not home school use, though it could certainly be used for both.

I'm not really up for recreating a classroom setting at home; however, I set to work to get started and we took it slowly. We didn't get a full day lesson in each day, as I mentioned, as I did pick and choose, but I was pleasantly surprised that I found many concepts to be appealing and proved to be meaningful lessons with Bo. 

We started out with a lesson on God: "God is our Father who always was, is now, and always will be." I love that the lesson focused on how Fathers do very special things for their children and led to Bo's relationship with his earthly father. I loved hearing Bo's answers to why he loves his daddy, what he likes to do best with him, and how his dad lets him know that he loves him. Then I had Bo color a card for his dad (which was really sweet with pictures and hearts). I skipped the Language Arts poem for this lesson because I didn't feel it fit well with the theme.

For phonics, I taught the letter Aa, and we named words that start with the letter A, but the classroom activity didn't apply to us (name students in the classroom that begin with the letter A). Then we did the Lesson 1 phonics worksheet from the student book, and then worked on writing Bo's name, the number 1, colors red and green, read a short story of our choosing, sang a song... and phew! Arts & Crafts was not happening too (especially since he already made a card), nor was Physical Education. 

That's just a lot to pack into one preschool morning.

Day 2's Bible Lesson was a new concept: "God is ever present, always there for us." We compared that to police or fire fighters who are always on duty (a field trip to visit a station was suggested). This all led to a lesson on dialing 911. This day seemed easier with some review of the day before, but still quite a full lesson. When we got to the music lesson, which was to sing the ABC song, Bo was excited to sing it all by himself (he had been practicing on his own!). Our Outside Activity was to go on a Nature Walk, but we saved that for the weekend. 

Coloring a picture of his house to go with learning his address. 

I wasn't really sure how to present the Bible Concept for Lesson 3, so I explained the concept and moved on to Social Studies and had Bo practice saying his address. Then we read The Country Mouse and the City Mouse and I asked Bo if he understood the moral of the story. (I added in a few of my own comprehension questions here). Then we reviewed the letter Aa and practiced writing it. The number activities are too easy for Bo (he's really more ready for K math). He enjoys the poems and I find his older sister enjoying them too. I don't enjoy Music, P.E., or Arts & Craft time. I enjoy the Social Studies lesson and Homework (student workbook) the most.

Not every subject is taught everyday, but it feels like it. But, often several subjects are combined into one - like in Lesson 4, for Health & Safety/Arts & Crafts/Outdoor Activity, I covered what it means to be a Litter Bug. We didn't do the craft activity, which was to make a litter bug bag, but it was still a good lesson that carried over into real life on several occasions, like when we saw litter on a trail hike, or when Bo himself threw a piece of garbage on the ground.

Bo likes the workbook part and doesn't mind the lessons as long as I keep them short and choose topics that I think will be of interest to him. Some days it was hard to get him to want to do a lesson at all, but he didn't mind working in the workbook on those days.

Here are some examples of the student workbook pages:


I love how the pages are so functional - if there is a cut and paste activity, it does not interfere with the activity on the opposite page. 


The lessons are also relevant to the child and involve him or her on a personal level. You can see how this was designed for classroom use - the workbook is largely for "homework" as evidenced by the directions: "With the help of your parent, draw a simple picture of where you live. Bring it back to school tomorrow." 


It is recommended that you pull the pages out for your little one to work on (and for sending home) but Bo wanted to keep them in the book. 





This is really not the style that my little one has come to know in our homeschool, and I honestly don't plan to continue on with the lessons, as is, once the review period is over. I like the workbook (though Bo is ready for more and the phonics doesn't cover important pre-reading skills that I feel are important at this age) but it's just too much work to filter through the lessons and activities to find what I need. It might be easier for me to choose topics from the Scope and Sequence in the Teacher's Guide to find this useful, but I think this program is more fitting for a Christian school or co-op class room setting, and not for my home preschool. It is, however, a full preschool program that covers a wide variety of topics relevant to preschoolers and would likely work for a parent who is comfortable with a classroom setting and schedule.

I recommend Horizons Preschool Curriculum Set for those of you who are teaching a preschool co-op class this year, are a teacher at a private Christian school, or want a more formal program in your home preschool. If that is you, or you want to learn more, please go read my Crew mates reviews!

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7 comments:

SunshineyDay said...

We used the same curriculum and I felt the exact same way! I want to be able to do everything, but in reality, no one can! There is SO MUCH in this curriculum. My daughter loves it...but I get a little overwhelmed. I love all your photos; they are lovely.

Homeschooling6 said...

I've always wanted to try this program but it came out when my youngest was a few years too old :(

Great review and love the pictures!

Michelle said...

SunshineyDay, I'm glad I'm not the only one that felt that way! It's very thorough! Glad your daughter loves it!

Michelle said...

Thank you, Linda! I'm anxious to read some of the reviews for the upper levels for sure. :)

Michelle said...

Just read your review, but it won't let me comment... Just wanted to say - what a great review! I love this: "You have to make yourself pick and choose or your child will be in Preschool for three years." We didn't make it very far in the curriculum for this reason and I had to do the same as you saw - pick and choose! Lots of great lessons though and I'm happy to see your daughter loved it!

Cynthia Minton said...

Great review; I had the same feelings while looking it over. I bought it used from a friend who said she loved it. I do like aspects of it and the worksheet pages but alot is busywork or just plain too much. Picking and choosing, if you have the time, seems the only way to go unless you want traditional school at home. I'm glad to see others felt the same.

Shelley said...

I love this program and have wanted it for my 3 year old who I think it would be just perfect for. I know this is kind of random but if it is not something you are going to use would you consider selling it for a discounted price or donating it to a mother of 3 in California? Never hurts to ask, right?

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