Sunday, March 1, 2009

Preschool Ideas

Jackson will turn four towards the end of this summer, and technically he would be "school age" for the 2010-11 school year. Scary. We've already decided he won't be beginning kindergarten at that time--I have a feeling he will benefit from being at the older end of his grade. (Which is a decision we also made for Isabella this past year--she could have started kindergarten and done fine, but I'm in no hurry.) However, I am starting to compile resources for activities I am hoping to do with him. Some of these resources are "tried and true" at least in my family, and some are new ones I am exploring because I realize Jackson is not going to be like my girls. I see him as more of a tactile/kinetic learner. . .
My thoughts on reading readiness--I spent a year working in a Montessori preschool in Lincoln, which was an INCREDIBLE experience. If you have a chance to spend a morning or whole day just observing you will come away incredibly inspired. One of my favorite ideas is the "sandpaper letter" work. If we stop and think about it, learning the "ABC song" or even recognizing letter names really does nothing as far as getting a child ready to read. Montessori approaches the letters as sounds. You demonstrate how to trace the sandpaper letter with your finger and encourage the child to do the same and then tell them the SOUND the letter makes, not the name of the letter. When Marissa was a baby I made her a letter book using corrugated paper, and then adhered the corrugated letters into a small little spiral bound scrapbook. She seemed to just "know" the sounds the letters made as she got older. I think that little book had a lot to do with that. You can buy actual sandpaper letters mounted on wood for around $30-$35 dollars, or sandpaper letters mounted on cardstock (pictured below) for around $15. You can also make your own.
Something new for Jackson and eventually Emmett too are these wooden forms from . I have been checking out items on their site lately and am pretty impressed with the unique products they have to offer. These wooden forms are used to build letters--perfect I think for building-minded little boys. I think these run around $35. I was thinking that you could also make something very similar using craft foam. The following book is by a homeschooling mom with a Montessori influence. She goes into much better detail about how to use the sandpaper letters and also has a website with ideas, including how to make your own sandpaper letters. I checked my copy out at the library.

This is the actual book I used to teach both my girls to read. My mom recommended it to me, and I love it. It is also full of games you can print off. If you look over on my right sidebar under "home schooling" you will find a link to this site. I ordered my book from Amazon for around $17.
Once your child starts reading "Bob Books" make the best early readers. So many books claiming to be early readers are really not! These are great. You get a box of 10-12 little books for around $12-$14 I think. I have noticed these at the library too.

The next book is just a great book to get you on the path to reading aloud to your kids. It offers great book lists. I'm pretty sure the library has a copy.

The next book isn't so much a homeschooling book, but just a really great book to peruse for some unique ideas. It is written by an "unschooling" mom who likes to live in a more old-fashioned way and just has great ideas for encouraging creativity in children. Again, visit your local library. ;o)
You CAN choose to buy a whole preschool program when setting out to homeschool. Somebody gave me the advice to "just get them reading" because once they are doing that successfully a whole new world has been opened for them. That has always been my main focus. There are so many WONDERFUL ideas out there, like tracing letters in sand or shaving cream and rolling letters out of play dough that encourage reading readiness. If you check again on my sidebar under "blogs I enjoy" you will see the link to My Montessori Journey. This lady teaches in an actual Montessori classroom and has fantastic pictures, descriptions, and sources available. Well, I've gotten long-winded, but hopefully this information will be helpful to someone. ;o)


Anna said...

What great resources, Janna! That is a great point about getting them reading..and also to focus on the sounds more then the letter names. Great info, thanks for sharing!

Kathy said...

You inspire me! I had such 'high hopes' for doing preschool things with Nathan this year and have just let the busy-ness of 2nd grade and kindergarten take over and let him be content with cutting/pasting and various little worksheets. I love how you listed all these resources and one my school goals this year has been to read more of the book in "Honey for a Child's Heart" for read alouds to the boys. It's been fun. Thanks for sharing all of the info!