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We wrapped up our preschool homeschool curriculum in May. I am happy to report it was a success!
I did not lose my sanity and my son’s skills grew by leaps and bounds over the school year. At the end of the year, I was one proud mama.
But at the beginning of the year, I was trying to figure out how in the world to do this and wondering if I really could…..
And so began the research….. research, research, and more research.
That is the short version of how I was inspired to create our own preschool homeschool curriculum, rather than purchase a boxed curriculum.
We are eclectic homeschoolers. Our curriculum is a little of this and a little of that. I was able to build my son’s preschool based on what I wanted him to learn.
Below I will walk you through the steps it takes to create your own preschool curriculum, exactly what resources we used in our home Pre-K, and what our typical school day looked like.
Sound good? Okay, let’s jump right in!
How to Create A Preschool Homeschool Curriculum
There are SO many homeschooling resources for all ages and with all kinds of price tags. It is crazy! So where do you start to build your own?
To avoid getting lost in the sea of curricula, follow these steps to create your own preschool homeschool curriculum:
1. Set goals.
These were the goals that I wanted my son to accomplish:
- Increase his involvement in household responsibilities.
- Begin studying history and learning about other cultures.
- Have fun and develop motor skills with arts and crafts.
- Build an interest in learning by participating in hands-on activities.
- Pursue a kinship with someone other than his sister.
2. Note basic standards for your child’s age.
I noted this Kindergarten readiness list from my daughter’s traditional kindergarten class:
- Holding crayons, pencils, & scissors appropriately
- Writing his name & letters within the lines
- Identifying the name and sounding out all upper and lower case letters
- The ability to sort pictures in sequential order
- Interpreting a story and predicting an outcome
- Completing repeating patterns and classifying & sorting similar items into sets
- Writing & Recognizing the numbers 1-10
- Identifying basic shapes & colors
- Recognizing left & right
- The ability to follow multi-step directions independently
- Responding to guidance
We had every intention of continuing to homeschool after preschool, so I was not overly concerned with Common Core standards.
However, if your goal is to prepare your child for his or her upcoming kindergarten year in a traditional school, you may want to check out your state standards before creating your preschool homeschool curriculum.
3. Determine the subjects you want to cover.
I stuck with the basics, but you may want to add extras based on your goals.
- Reading – Learning to Read & Read Aloud
- History – To participate with his sister
- Science – To participate with his sister
- Arts & Crafts
4. Set curriculum shopping guidelines.
My guidelines were:
- Low Cost
- I really struggled with paying any more than $30-$40 on a single worktext. I really wanted the $20 or less range!
- Minimal Preparation Time
- Easy to Use
- I wanted ease of use for myself and my son.
- Minimal Time Required
- The goal was to keep his school day to less than three hours per day.
5. Find your ideal curriculum.
Start shopping or searching based on your decisions from Steps 1-4.
Find resources that meet your goals, teach age-appropriate skills, cover your subject list, and are within your shopping guidelines.
Some resources to help you find a great curriculum:
- Our Curriculum choices and the results are listed in detail after the school day time section. The basics in short:
- Amazon – View the Preschool item best sellers and read the reviews
- The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education
- Cathy Duffy’s Reviews
- SecularHomeschool.com – Homeschool Links & Info Forum
- Google Search: Free Preschool Resources, Best Preschool Gross Motor Skill Activities, Best Preschool Fine Motor Skill Activities, Language Development Activites for Preschoolers
- Pinterest – Search Preschool Activities
Based on our answers for Steps 1-4, I was able to create a curriculum of off the shelf workbooks, local library books, and homeschool math and reading resource guides. You can find our full curriculum selections and how we used them as you read below.
A lot of Google searches and product reviews guided me along the way. The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home served as a great resource for curriculum recommendations, finding both our math and reading guides in it.
How Much Time Did We Spend on School Each Day?
At Pre-K age, the attention span is not long. A lot of a traditional full preschool day is spent playing, napping, eating lunch, having snack time, or waiting in line to go from one activity to another or the restroom. The actual instruction time is minimal compared to the attendance time. And that is understandable, they are only 3, 4 or maybe 5 years old.
The last thing that I wanted was to have him dread learning with long lessons that required sitting still. So whenever possible, I would incorporate learning into whatever we were doing. Things like, “How many bananas are in this bunch?” and “What rhymes with car?”
But on a regular school week, the ideal was to spend 10-20 minutes on lesson time per subject, four days per week. Between each lesson, he would take a break for 5-10 minutes to play with legos, eat a snack, or listen to his sister’s lesson.
So with breaks included, his total structured school time was around two hours Monday thru Thursday.
Then every Friday was dedicated to science experiments and history activities. This was by far his favorite day!
A typical day would look like:
- Snuggling on the rug for reading time – Read Aloud and Reading Lesson
- Desk Work – Handwriting, Math, or Coding
- More rug time for science or history reading
- Free Play Time
We use weekly checklists to make our days go smoother. It helps both of them know what is expected each day. Check out Thing 2’s Weekly Schedule to see exactly what he did each day.
Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum Choices
The resources we used by subject for my son’s 2017-18 preschool homeschool curriculum are outlined below.
Included are links to free printables and recommended worktexts that you can purchase. In each subject section, you can read how to use the resources, how we used them throughout our year, and why or why I wouldn’t use it again if given the opportunity.
- Count to 119_Tabletop Chart – Free Printable
- Number Flash Cards – Free Printable
- Khan Academy – Free Online Resource
- D&K Math Made Easy – Kindergarten Math Workbook – Amazon
- Math Mammoth Light Blue Series Grade 1 – Math Mammoth or Rainbow Resource Center
In the beginning, we sat down every day and counted with the number chart one or two times using it for number recognition. He even still uses it some when he gets confused about how the higher numbers are written.
I used the number flash cards to teach number recognition and to have him practice number order throughout the entire year.
He completed the entire D&K Math Made Easy Kindergarten Math workbook. The purchase of this workbook was the only money that I spent, aside from printing the number chart and flashcards. This activity book was a recommendation out of The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education.
He completed the Early Math and a portion of the Kindergarten math sections on Khan Academy. You can read about how we used Khan Academy in my post about utilizing the free math curriculum.
He started the 1st Grade Math Mammoth Lessons in the last two months of our school year. He was able to complete the Kindergarten Math Review and the 1st-Grade lessons through Sums with 7.
How Did the Year Flow?
We started the year simply learning how to count to 100. Then I worked in counting to 100 using the number chart for number recognition. The counting number chart was truly invaluable.
I started incorporating two pages of the Math Made Easy-K workbook three times per week. And I also began using the flash cards and having him lay them in order on the floor.
He started Khan Academy math in January and he loved it! I let him progress as quickly as he wanted. The thrill of working on mom’s computer had him completing more lessons than he would have on paper. He would work through lessons until he got 100% right and then move on. Khan Academy definitely helped him to master the early math skills.
He completed the Math Made Easy workbook and I was looking for worksheet type activities to help master writing numbers. So in April, I introduced the 1st grade Math Mammoth worksheets.
He breezed through the Kindergarten review: shapes, patterns, etc. Then he would work through one page on Math days of the 1st-grade lessons. I did not push on this and if he got frustrated, we would stop.
Math Mammoth introduced some really fun math games that we were able to practice sums to ten. We are still playing these games and using Math Mammoth for kindergarten.
Would I Pick This Again?
I was very satisfied with the Math Made Easy workbook. It introduced the numbers 1-20 in both number and word form, the concepts of more than and less than, positioning, patterns, shapes, color words, and much more. It also comes with a page to place gold stars when they complete each lesson. I would definitely recommend this as a supplement to your Pre-K or K curriculum.
If you are looking for a full math curriculum to use for the elementary years, I would definitely recommend Math Mammoth because of the: the low cost, additional resource lists in each chapter, colorful worksheets, and detailed concept explanations. However, I don’t think it is necessary for a preschool homeschool curriculum. I strictly used this because it was something I had already purchased.
Reading & Language Arts
- Alphabet_Small Flash Cards – Free Printable
- Fry’s Sight Word Cards 1-32 – Free Printable
- The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading – Amazon
- Double-Sided Chalk & White Board w/ ABC Magnets – Amazon
- Alphabet Magnets w/ Upper & Lower Case Letters– Amazon
Okay, so reading is the big one. There is no way around it. Your child is going to have to read sooner or later. Are you ready to start teaching her now? Or is she even ready to start learning?
My goal was to continue to introduce reading skills to my son and take them as far as he was interested.
Throughout the year, we consistently reviewed the alphabet flash cards for letter recognition and phonetic sounds.
We completed the following lessons from The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading:
- Section 1: Short Vowel Sounds – 5 Lessons
- “The Five Vowels” poem memorization
- Section 2: Consonant Sounds – 21 Lessons
- “The Consonant Rhyme” memorization
- Section 3: Short-Vowel Words – 14 Lessons
- Start reading words and sentences with the short vowel sounds. (Ex. at, fan, red, get, in, sit, dog, pop, up, bus)
And I introduced the first 25 sight words from Fry’s First 100 Words list.
How Did the Year Flow?
There were days that we could get two lessons completed in the reading guide. But then there were days that we would only complete 1 lesson. After we completed Sections 1 & 2, it was apparent to me that he was simply not ready to move into Section 3. He could sound out all the letters in a word, but could not blend them without a lot of frustration. So we put the guide down for January and February.
During our break from the reading guide, I introduced the first 25 sight words from Fry’s First 100 Words. I would introduce one at a time, practicing daily, and adding new ones after he mastered the first ones.
Even though the traditional phonetic approach to teaching reading discourages teaching words that can be phonetically decoded as sight words. I found that taking a break from the rigors of blending sounds and simply learning some words by sight built his confidence and transformed his attitude toward reading.
We picked back up with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading after our Spring break, and we are still using it as part of his Kindergarten curriculum. (It is intended to be a 2-year primer.)
Would I Pick This Again?
Early on after pricing other Reading curriculum, I thought this guide was a steal. We have not completed the guide yet, but my son is already reading and learning more every day. I attribute his success to the simple lessons and emphasis on mastery.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone that is ready to start teaching their child to read, no matter the age.
Personal Note About Learning to Read
I clearly remember helping my daughter with her reading homework, when she was in private school, and getting so frustrated that she could not blend the sounds and understand what she was saying. I was worried that she was going to fall behind her classmates. Then one day the lightbulb just came on. Now she reads well above average and it’s one of her favorite activities.
I share that story to put the goals I set for my son’s preschool reading into perspective. I had experienced first hand that light bulb moment that parents mention about reading. The experience with my daughter showed me that if I was patient enough and focused on the pre-reading skills, that one day the light bulb would light up for my son too! 💡
Handwriting & Fine Motor Skills
- Handwriting Without Tears – Get Set For School – My First School Book – Pre-K Activity Book – Amazon
- School Zone Big Preschool Ages 3-5 – Amazon
- School Zone Big Workbook Alphabet- Ages 3-5 (P) – Amazon
- School Zone K-1 Reading Readiness – Amazon
- Dot to Dot Workbook #s 1-20 – Amazon
- This is not the exact one we used, but it looks pretty fun. The one I bought I grabbed at our local grocery store and it was only Dot to Dots with only about 30 pages.
At first glance, these workbooks may look like math or reading workbooks, but I primarily used them for handwriting and fine motor control.
How Did the Year Flow?
Every day, Thing 2 would complete as many of the worksheets from the School Zone and Dot to Dot workbooks as he was interested in. Then 2-3 times per week I would have him complete at least 1 School Zone worksheet that was only writing letters.
Mazes and dot to dots were his favorite and he would work through as many mazes as he possibly could. These were a great way for him to not only work on pencil control but also problem-solving, counting, and alphabetical order.
Would I Pick This Again?
I would not purchase the Handwriting without Tears again. There were ZERO instructions on how to complete the exercises and it only lasted one day in our curriculum. After talking with other homeschool moms, I figured out that it must be intended to coincide with a boxed preschool homeschool curriculum.
However, I was happy with the “off the shelf” workbooks I picked up here and there. Not only were they inexpensive, they were fun for my son. Anything you are able to find for your preschooler to practice writing his or her name and letters will be helpful. A simple Google search will help you find activities like coloring, playdough, cutting, gluing and crinkling paper.
- The Story of the World: Volume 1 – Ancient Times – Amazon
- The Story of the World: Vol 1 Activity Book- Ancient Times – Amazon
This is a curriculum that I wouldn’t have thought to add to our preschool homeschool curriculum if I did not have an older child that needed a Social Studies curriculum.
But, with that being said. The Story of the World activities and stories was one of my son’s favorites, second only to animal science.
I don’t regret this purchase at all. And I don’t regret including him with his 3rd-grade sister in not only the reading of the text but also the hands-on activities that we did each week.
He is now intent on going to walk on the Great Wall of China one day soon!
- First Human Body Encyclopedia – Amazon
- The Animal Book – Amazon
- The Story of Astronomy & Space – Usborne
- Variety of Books from the Local Library on Science Topics of Choice
- Brain Pop Jr. – A subscription that we were able to access temporarily.
Okay, let me be real. My strong suit is not science and it isn’t my favorite either. But, homeschooling my kids is really pushing me to have a change of heart. I started the year off with big science plans. Then due to my lack of interest, toward the end of the year, my enthusiasm had significantly dwindled.
Do you have a subject that you dread?
I can assure you that if I was preparing only a preschool homeschool curriculum, a science curriculum this detailed would not have been involved. But unfortunately, that was not the case since my son’s science curriculum followed his sister’s.
How Did the Year Flow?
I am proud to say that we started the year out strong learning about the human body, animal science, and astronomy. But then things changed…..
For our human body study, each of the kids got to pick three sections of the “First Human Body Encyclopedia” based on the parts of the body that they wanted to learn about. So we spent one week for each of the following sections:
- Skeleton & Bones
- Brain & Senses
- Heart & Blood
- Skin, Nails & Hair
- Life Cycle
- Staying Healthy
This book is full of great information geared toward our littles with lots of colorful pictures, fun illustrations, and even some playful learning activities.
Then we spent the entire next six weeks working our way through “The Animal Book.” This was my son’s absolute FAVORITE part of his preschool homeschool curriculum.
All three of us really loved “The Animal Book.” It had fantastic pictures, unique animal facts, and basic descriptions of animal characteristics. I initially found this book at the library but we loved it so much that I bought it.
We covered what makes an animal an animal. And we learned about a variety of unique animals as we worked through all the chapters about the animal senses, predators, animal defenses and other cool animal extremes. We will most definitely circle back around to this book and dive a bit deeper next time! 👍👍👍
Then we moved onto Astronomy and he started losing interest. We started out reading library books, but they were over his head. And honestly, for him, it was hard to top learning about the unique animals.
I finally gave up on my library curriculum and ordered “The Story of Astronomy and Space” from Usborne books. Over the next six weeks, we worked through the majority of this book.
I was able to redeem astronomy enough that he asked for a telescope for Christmas!
This book is definitely geared toward older elementary children and along with the quick links would be an excellent resource for an astronomy study. But in all honesty with the exception of the planet details, it was a little much for a preschool homeschool curriculum.
Like with “The Animal Book,” we will probably circle back around to it for a more detailed study during the elementary years.
We used library books and accessed Brain Pop and Brain Pop, Jr. videos for our plant science studies. The original plan was to study plants as we planted our vegetable garden, but an unusual amount of rain cramped those plans.
Brain Pop has a ton of great videos on a wide variety of topics. However, only paid subscribers are able to access the majority of the material. They do offer some free stuff that you can check out.
This worked out great as a fallback plan, but I am not sure that it would be worth the subscription fee per month.
Game Change to Interest Driven Studies
As it came time to start geology, I felt overwhelmed on where to start. I took geology in college and almost failed it. It was the worst class of my college career and thinking of going back to it gave me chills… and so I didn’t do it.
I changed our plan. I did not want the kids getting bored with science like I did, so I made an audible. And I let them pick what they wanted.
Each week, my 3rd grader and preschooler would pick a science topic of choice. Then they would scour the library for books and I would look through YouTube for videos to supplement their book selections. I felt like a failure, but they loved it!
My son took the opportunity to learn about King Cobras, Anacondas, Tigers and more. At the end of the week, we would take time for him to share with the family what he had learned.
What would I do again?
By far, my preschooler’s favorite science study was about animals. And our animal study inspired most of his topics of choice at the end of the year.
If we could have a redo, I would have spent the entire year studying animals and added coloring sheets, nature and wildlife walks, and hands-on activities.
If you are looking for any type of science for your preschool homeschool curriculum, I would highly recommend “The Animal Book.” Of all of our science studies, this was by far everyone’s favorite. Really, I don’t think any age would be disappointed with this book!
Arts & Crafts
- Our Local Library
I will freely admit that I “outsourced” this. In week one, we attempted arts and crafts at home. It was fun, but it was not really the most efficient. When you are doing a craft with only two kids, you don’t really need 100 googly eyes! 👀
After week one, I discovered that our local library, only eight minutes away, offered arts and crafts for elementary age kids every week. So I jumped on the opportunity to head to the library every week for a story and related craft.
Both of the kids loved getting to know the children’s librarian and making some crafts not lead by mom!
The Main branch of our local library also offered a two-hour class every week for homeschoolers that we participated in. Every week had a theme that the kids would learn about, participate in related activities and typically complete a related craft.
So with two library events each week, our arts and crafts were covered!
If you are not utilizing your local library, I highly suggest checking out what activities they have to offer. Between checking out books and participating in activities, the library will save you hundreds over your homeschool career!
- Code.org – Free Online Resource
Studies show that teaching kids computer coding helps them learn critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, math skills and many more developmental skills. But this is not really why we chose this subject.
My husband is a “techy” (sorry, babe) so he wanted both of the kids to develop computer coding skills.
My husband created a teacher account and assigned both my preschool son and 3rd-grade daughter as students.
Thing 2 did coding for the first half of the year. After he completed his first course and received a certificate, he did not start a new class.
He did enjoy being able to do “school work” on the computer. Code.org also does a really great job of making the lessons feel like just playing a game.
If you are interested in computer coding for your child, code.org is definitely a great resource.
Final Thoughts on a Preschool Homeschool Curriculum
To be completely honest, if he had been the only child I was homeschooling, formal instruction time for reading and math would have probably been on 30 minutes 3-4 times per week as long as he was progressing.
I can’t say for sure whether or not I would have included science and history, but I do know that my son will tell you very quickly that those are his favorite subjects. So as essential as reading and math skills are, I now find it hard to discount introducing science and history at such a young age.
I hope that our Pre-K curriculum inspires you to create your own preschool homeschool curriculum. You can do it! Make your curriculum unique and suitable for your little one and his growing desire to learn.
It is a little (okay, extremely) nerve racking taking on the responsibility of teaching your child to read. But I can’t express how rewarding it is to see their eyes light up when they read that first word and then the first sentence. Your heart will be so filled with joy!
Okay yes, there are going to be days that are extremely challenging. But it will totally be worth it on the days that you actually see the love for learning, see the confidence growing, and experience the “O My Gosh, you really just did that by yourself,” moments!!
I truly wish you the best for your homeschool preschool year. May it be filled with joyful moments!
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- Should I Homeschool: Our Homeschool Decision Story
- Why Not Consider Year-Round Homeschooling?
- New to Homeschool: Making Sense of Homeschooling Styles
- A Week in an Eclectic Homeschool