View Full Version : Pre-school and K curricula and materials?

06-01-2010, 02:53 PM
Hi all - I'm mom to one (soon to be two) - Oscar's nearly four. We're homeschooling and plan to through preschool, perhaps (likely) beyond. I'm currently looking for good curricula and materials for pre-k. Any suggestions would be welcome. I don't give a rip what "style" they are, and I'm the kind of parent who uses a "little of this and a little of that." What I'm struggling with is a series of activities to keep him reasonably on track with some semblance of formal learning. He's doing great at acquiring basic skills, but I feel like I (not he) need to be a little more organized.

I checked out time2learn.com and honestly felt like I'd be paying $20 a month for stuff we already have or do. Would prefer something I can either cobble together myself or buy once instead of subscribing to...

Thanks in advance!


06-01-2010, 04:26 PM
I can only say what I am doing LOL. For Pre K last year we did a mix of Sonlights Prek 3-4, ( I did give away 1 book, that was not right for my home, and skipped a few stories ), we did Mudpies to Magnets, Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading, and tons of other reading. We did Singapore EB, some MEP math and Saxon Math K. For me at that age it was beginning to read, and beginning math, along with tons of reading.

There are tons of curriculum, Oakmeadow, Sonlight ( easily secularized in the PK cores, not to hard later ), Calvert, Moving Beyond the Page, What Your PreKindergartner Needs to Know.. I am sure there are other, but they are not coming to mind. Most of these you can just buy the books and make your own schedule, except from Calvert. Or you can pick and choose.

06-01-2010, 08:48 PM
I just started teaching my daughter 1st grade on Monday. I've been homeschooling her for nearly 3 years now. For preschool, we used a Hooked on Phonics Pre-K math book and then I printed out worksheets and lesson plans from this website: http://www.first-school.ws/

Otherwise, we visited the library ALOT and did quite a few arts and crafts projects.

06-01-2010, 09:05 PM
Are you set on purchasing a curricula? You can find lots of different workbooks and flash cards @ the dollar stores that teach sequencing, numbers, simple math, and phonics.Also might want to check out the Backyard Scientist series for them to get some hands on experiments in that are fun and teach science (and can be brought back into the mix much later on). Sorry, I honestly don't know much about curriculums.

06-01-2010, 09:29 PM
My son is just a few months shy of yours. Awhile back I did some stuff from Letteroftheweek.com. It's definitely Christian, but it had some good ideas for activities and whatnot, and helped me get my feet wet and us used to doing something every day.

You might check out Starfall.com too...my son LOVES to poke around on there (it's phonics/reading focused).

As for curriculum, we use Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read (the newest version). We're about to wrap up the pre-K level and start on K. My son has a blast with it! Pre-K is just learning letters, letter sounds, beginning sounds, and rhyming. Ooh, we also use the Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD, and I swear he learned letter sounds in like a day!

We use Handwriting Without Tears pre-K and this is my FAVORITE so far. It's multi-sensory, and very engaging. We sing, dance, play with wood pieces to build shapes, Mat man, and letters. In about five weeks of using this he's started writing letters on his own.

For math I'm just using workbooks I've picked up here and there. I'm not too worried about a formal math curriculum until he's closer to the K level.

Other than that we do Kumon workbooks...the little ones..to develop coloring, cutting, and pasting skills. And then just lots of regular kid stuff. :)

06-01-2010, 09:40 PM
I also love the Leap Frog DVD's, all of them.

On Hooked on Phonics, we have it. But we just read the books. The program teaches more sight words that I like, but that is a personal preference. I like a strong phonics base, then to work on fluency. There is also Progressive Phonics which is free, and if you want to teach sight reading there are I See Sam Books.

06-01-2010, 10:02 PM
Lots of reading aloud. Lots.

I gave my son base-10 blocks and fraction tiles just to play with. He resisted any attempts on my part to explain what they were, but he enjoyed building with them. I do think the exposure really helped with his number sense.
If I were re-doing things, I'd also have gotten Cuisinaire rods (non-linking, non-marked) and maybe have attempted some play with them a la Miquon (http://rainbowresource.com/prodlist.php?sid=1275444110-1565394&subject=10&category=2204)(being sure to read the First-Grade Diary and the Lab Annotations.

Oh... and lots of reading aloud :)

06-01-2010, 10:09 PM
On Hooked on Phonics, we have it. But we just read the books. The program teaches more sight words that I like, but that is a personal preference. I like a strong phonics base, then to work on fluency. There is also Progressive Phonics which is free, and if you want to teach sight reading there are I See Sam Books.

I've heard this before....naturally I heard it AFTER I purchased the entire HOP set! Ha! I plan to follow up with AAS in the future, which is a strong rules-based spelling program. So between the two I'm hoping he'll be set!

06-01-2010, 10:21 PM
I've heard this before....naturally I heard it AFTER I purchased the entire HOP set! Ha! I plan to follow up with AAS in the future, which is a strong rules-based spelling program. So between the two I'm hoping he'll be set!

I have it and used it with my older children in conjunction with I See Sam Readers, which are alot the same. I just sound out the words and explain the rule as we go ( not really teaching it, but just trying to make them familiar with it, I remind them each time ). This time around I went with OPGTR, and I love it. We still play with HOP though on occasion, a lot more now that my son is half way through OPGTR.

06-02-2010, 02:54 AM
I'm sorry I can't be of help here-my kids are long past the "K" stage, and they attended public school for K and a private preschool before that, but I just wanted to welcome you to the site. I'm sure a lot of people will have some good answers for you.

06-02-2010, 07:31 AM
For reading I like Explode the Code, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Starfall (http://www.starfall.com/), and PBSIsland (http://pbskids.org/read/).
We never used a formal curriculum for Math until K, when Jay started a 1st-6th grade Mastery Math program. All the other stuff we did before 1st was created by me or was fun games (card games, board games, online, etc). Pre-K was very interest-led for us. We spent a lot of time learning about Dinosaurs, animals, and whatever else sparked an interest.
The Links (http://www.valeriaiona.com/Links.php) section of my website has some fantastic resources. I'm still adding to it, but there's already a large collection of useful links for many subjects.

Also, as great as reading to your child every day is, what will really make a difference is making sure he has access to a lot reading materials. Give him his own bookcase or his own shelf on the family bookcase. Get a subscription to a good kids magazine like Zoobooks, Nat Geo Kids, etc. Take him to the library regularly & allow him to choose his own books. There have actually been studies (sorry, don't feel like searching for the citations right now) that prove that having access to lots of reading materials - books, magazines, newspapers - is more important, to becoming a good reader & enjoying reading, than being read to daily.

06-02-2010, 09:04 AM
Before grade 1, when I actually start 'school' with the children, I have used online, free materials from Letter of the Week Preschool (http://www.letteroftheweek.com/preschool_age_3.html), First-School Preschool (http://www.first-school.ws/INDEX.HTM), and Starfall (http://www.starfall.com/). I also have a membership to Enchanted Learning (http://members.enchantedlearning.com/), which is $20/year but has great printables for grades preK-3...I still use it some with my 4th grader for geography. This site also has downloadable traceable fonts (http://www.mommynature.com/learning-fonts.html) that can allow you to make up your own worksheets.

Dollar Tree has simple workbooks for letters and numbers for only $1 that my children have enjoyed using at that age. I've also found inexpensive 24-piece puzzles at Dollar Tree.

Lots and lots of books. My children at that age have always enjoyed a variety of books read to them, but really get into Dr. Seuss. With all the rhyming it gave them the chance to try to 'fill-in-the-blank' as I read along. Our library also has a Rookie Reader series that is easy to read and understand on science, social studies and math topics.

Learning to read I have used a bunch of different things, but I really like Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading (OPGTR), although it can be a bit plain in presentation. The girls also enjoyed using HOP, the older edition, for the readers. My current K'er is the only one that has liked the "Bob" books, so I just checked them out from the library. I supplement with phonics worksheets from Evan-Moor.

For that age I like using a lot of play... wooden blocks, colorful shape blocks, legos, clay, and whiteboards with markers. Currently, ds3 and dd5 are into cutting and gluing so I keep a pile of magazines that they can cut up and we make a weekly poster. It might be all things one color, all things that start with a certain letter, or all things with wheels, etc.

My philosophy has been to keep it simple and fun for those ages. Some days they are really into wanting to sit and do something and other days it is all about the mud puddle in the backyard ;).


06-02-2010, 09:39 AM
My daughter and I just finished up Calvert's Pre-K curriculum. I liked that it was already organized into lessons for me. I also liked that it was a bit flexible, I could move lessons around if I wanted to, and skip or substitute certain parts. We also used Kumon books and right now Kumon books are our main curriculum until we move into Kindergarten. Also we read a lot of fairy tale stories.

06-02-2010, 10:48 AM
OPGTR is not fun at all, my son never sees the book. It is non consumable, and will be passed down for my grandbabies to learn to read. Iin all my years of homeschooling it is the best I have seen. We use the white board, chalk board, magnets, blocks, & etc. Anything to keep it fun, and keep him asking for more. My son loves Click N Read, Starfall, Reading Eggs, along with various readers.

I have a subscription to Enchanted Learning, and use many of the oldfashionededucation.com books too.

I used Calvert many years ago when just starting out, I really had fun with K, 1st was pretty good, and 2nd was a bit dry for my taste so we moved on.

Everything here is interest based too, there are days and weeks where we don't do anything. I want to teach a love of learning in these early years, a no stress enviroment !

06-07-2010, 10:39 AM
I will be starting Jake with a little bit more work next year. (He wants to do school like Bubba) We will be loosely following letteroftheweek.com and using starfall, I also have a few workbooks from the Dollar Tree. If you are looking for more hands on activities you might want to check out this (http://confessionsofahomeschooler.blogspot.com/2010/04/prek-letter.html) blog. Just like letteroftheweek it is Christian but most of the activities are secular. You may notice that for the letter J there is an alternative, this is because she originally did J is for Jesus. The alt is J is for Jellybean. There is also a weekly bible verse, just to warn you. We started using a lot of the activities last year and Jake really enjoyed them.


06-07-2010, 11:52 AM
If you are interested in a literature-based approach, I've heard PEAK WITH BOOKS (http://www.amazon.com/Peak-Books-Childhood-Resource-Balanced/dp/0766859487/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275925848&sr=1-1) is an excellent program, and you have the whole curriculum for less than $30!!

06-19-2010, 06:52 PM
My son will be five and a half in September. So far beyond having fun, reading books, coloring, etc we haven't done anything formally. I wanted to stick with including him in the daily workings of our family and allowing him space to play for hours at whatever it was that struck his fancy. I can see that there are ways that he's a bit behind other kids his age, though, so this next year I want to focus on helping him develop those skills a bit more. It's somewhat of a combination of PS and K. We're going to combine unit studies from Lesson Pathways (www.lessonpathways.com) along with HWOT Pre-K as well as maybe Miquon Orange...or McRuffy K(?) supplemented with lots and lots of books from the library.

tbh I'd probably skip most of it this year (definitely waiting on reading), but given that my son is still very much a scribbler when drawing, I think the HWOT Pre-K (and Mat Man) will help him develop those fine motor skills a bit more. We'll stick with introducing letters in the same order as HWOT Pre-K, but will also tie in the letter cards/songs from "LMNOP". A bit on the Waldorf-inspired track. The math? I still haven't quite decided on that just yet, but I am leaning towards McRuffy Math with its cut and paste aspects. Again...all skills I think my ds could use some practice with...then again who knows how it will all work out in the end.

09-17-2011, 03:20 PM
My son is 3 1/2 and here is what we use:

English - Phonics Pathways and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (I piece together a few lessons here and there, but we're in no rush). We also utilize Starfall (the phonics website in addition to their printable materials).

Math - IXL has a good Pre-K section. Granted it's not a full curriculum, just practice problems. But my son has a great time clicking the shapes and other answers. It's $9.95 a month, but they offer 20 free questions a day, so that's what we do. With the paid version, you can print off reports and see where your child is according to your state's standards.

Science - Science is Simple. Just fun, preschool level science experiments.

I have more info on my blog (it's dedicated to homeschooling my preschooler).

09-17-2011, 04:01 PM
I just wanted to add my voice to the "you really don't need a curriculum for preK" voices. We did a lot of learning stuff in preK and it was a good time to start learning about curricula I might want to use in the future, but I'm really glad I didn't buy a bunch of workbooks or things for preK.

But that said, it's good to start building your educational toolbag, so to speak. Seconding free resources like Starfall and Progressive Phonics. If you have a child who's keen, you can get something like the BOB books or the I See Sam books (free!) or something like that. And we used lots of big letter magnets to play games all the time. We also had card games like Bzz Out around for math, as well as Cuisenaire Rods and things like that for just playing around. I had some science activity books and I had Science is Simple, though I didn't end up using it really. Mostly, we just read lots of books, played games and went out in the world to have fun on nature walks and at museums.

If I had to go back in time and use a curricula, I might consider something like Before Five in a Row or Five in a Row, but even then, I think it's just not necessary for preschool.

09-17-2011, 04:34 PM
I just went ahead and got everything we needed through 2nd grade, while I knew I had the money to do it. So I'm taking all the 'K' stuff and just doing it reeaaalllyyy slowly. My son will be 4 in Nov, and while I won't SAY we're doing school until January 2012, we're totally already doing it.

I got that Family Math (http://www.amazon.com/Family-Math-Young-Children-Comparing/dp/0912511273/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316291084&sr=8-1) for younger kids and it has some good ideas, but honestly it's a lot of stuff I already knew. I think it would be good for someone that wasn't obsessed with homeschooling curricula//method//artcles et cetera...

We're doing the K-2 Nebel Science curriculum (http://www.amazon.com/Building-Foundations-Scientific-Understanding-Curriculum/dp/1432706101/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316291174&sr=1-1). I love this one!! Some people don't like the spiral approach, so it's personal preference. You can't beat the price, and Nebel himself will answer ANY question you have in the yahoo group for the book, which is very active. I like all that support.

We're doing Alpha Phonics (http://www.alphaphonics.com/). It's super straight forward and does exactly what they say it's doing.

The rest is a big grab bag. Lots and lots of American Indian myths, Norse myths and The American Revolution-period stories just because those are what my kids like. I like to have a big focus on nature, but I just kind of free-hand that. Lots of puzzles, stories and observational math.

09-17-2011, 05:40 PM
My son is about the same age. I got our state standards and then also googled and checked out what's online in the way of preschool/kindergarten classroom curriculum/teacher guides to get a feel for it. While there I found some printable assessments. I also like Lesson Pathways. It's free too. They have activity suggestions for each lesson. I just pick and choose which ones I like or just get inspiration to make up my own.
I also have Family Math. I wouldn't call it enough alone but more as a way to introduce or reinforce math in a fun way. I also pick out a lot of literature. Not only for reading/LA but also like counting for math, science and historical ones as well as poems.
I don't like a set curric when I have to parrot teacher lines. I prefer to find out what he should know (mainly based on the state standards) and present it my own way getting inspiration for other sources (for free!). If I where to buy a curriculum I might do Moving Beyond the Page-take that with a grain of salt cause I haven't extensively researched it since I know that's not what I want.

09-17-2011, 05:52 PM
One more thing worth investing in is the Peggy Kaye books - Games for Math, Games for Reading, etc.