Jack just turned 3 in July and we decided to officially start Preschool with him. He loves learning and loves structure, so I knew he would thrive having a "school time" during the day. We decided to start with learning his Alphabet.
"Preschool Our Way"...
Each week we learn a new letter of the Alphabet. Each project/craft/work page is centered around that specific letter. We currently use many different methods to help him learn each letter's name and sound. I try to vary between structured worksheets, a craft, a song, a game, and hands on learning/sensory.
While we do have a few work books that we purchased, the majority of worksheets are made up by me. Pinterest has also been a wonderful help with finding many free resources for teaching methods, projects, and even lesson plans.
Here is one of Jack's favorite games: He has to dig out the foam letters from the bean box, then put them into the appropriate matching box on the paper. When he places a letter in the box, we say the letter name and the sound it makes. Repetition is the key! The more you can go over and over and over, the better they will remember. I also throw a few letters in that he has not learned yet, those he puts into a separate pile, acknowledging that they do not match.
To practice our writing skills we have adapted a few different ideas. Jack isn't quite ready for the trace the broken lines concept so instead I simply draw out the letter with a marker, and he traces the letter with a paint pen. These paint pens are his favorite thing to use!
This is great pre-writing skill builder! Draw out the letter you are learning and have your child place stickers in a row along the letter. It is wonderful for fine motor skills and hand eye coordination practice. I will say this is not Jack's favorite since it takes a lot of focus for him. So I try to keep him motivated to finish and then we do something a lot less intensive after to let his little mind rest. Seriously, he looks like his brain has been zapped after this activity from focusing so hard! lol
We do have a few workbooks that we use. We have phonics, numbers, cutting, and pasting books. However, with all the free resources on line, you honestly don't even need to bother buying them. For the week of the letter A instead of using our cutting book I made a Trail of Ants instead. He loved this activity so much!
What else do we like to do:
Library day: On Mondays we try to make a trip to the library to find books that start with the Letter of the week. For letter A week we read about Ants, Armadillos, Alligators, and Apples. We read through the book once, then go back and find as many letter A as we can.
ABC Bible Verse: This has been my favorite part of our preschool. I did not think that Jack would be able to really retain a full Bible verse, but decided to go ahead and try it. I am amazed at not only how quickly he learns them, but how well he remembers them even weeks later! We are using I Can Teach My Child's ABC Printable Scripture Cards. They are wonderful! And free! Each letter has it's own Bible verse to learn with it. We simply put hand motions to the verse and repeat it a few times every day. Jack has learned it in full by the end of the first day, and usually can say it all by himself by the second. So, that makes Wednesday-Sunday (we do the verse, not school, every day) simply review and committing it to memory.
Grocery Store Letter Hunt: This is Jack's all time favorite game to play. Before we go out to any store I give him a 3x5 card that has the letter of the week written on it. As we are going through the store, Jack's job is to find the letter any where and tell me about it. It is so cute how excited he gets..."the letter A mom!!!!!!!!!" The first time playing this took a little while for him to get the concept but now he is a pro. He has even started pointing out the letter on billboards and signs outside when we are driving in the car.
Letter Craft: We love to do at least one really fun project where we turn the letter of the week into something else. No Time for Flash Cards has a fantastic list of crafts for each letter. You can also find free printable letters to use for crafts from Learn Create Love.
Our structured sit down "school time" usually consists of around 30 minutes -1 hour a day. This is when we will go over what our letter is, practice our handwriting skills, and make our craft. Learning happens through out the entire day though. We have reading time, and play with play dough- spelling out our letters, or making a dog for the letter D. We paint, color, or sing. I think sometimes our most meaningful lessons happen during our every day life as opposed to our structured time. And of course we make lots and lots of time for just play.
Make sure to stay flexible. If there is a day in which Jack is really struggling to stay focused, we will only do one structured, focused activity and then try to do more hands on, sensory, or play based learning. Every child is different and therefore learns differently. Just because something works great for my child, doesn't mean it will work perfect for yours. Take time to learn your child's interest and strengths, then come up with a plan to use those to help them learn.
In a nut shell (or a very long blog post) that is how we do it.
Any one else out there in the midst of preschool? Any tips or fun things that you and your children enjoy?