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November 26, 2014

Homeschool Pre-school Ideas for Letter a Week

When it comes to Homeschool Pre-school, we have taken a Letter-a-Week approach. I do not use any one curriculum - I have actually created my own by simply taking ideas that I love from a variety of different resources and putting together something that works great for us. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can tailor your "curriculum" to what fits you and your family best. It is possible for everyone - no matter what your budget - to acquire great homeschooling supplies and resources, and and I am excited to share some budget-friendly homeschooling tips with you today!

Letter a Week

I have mentioned before that we use [Manuscript First] A Beka Phonics as our foundation, but we also use a variety of other resources - as well as Pinterest!

This year, we ordered these two 3-year old workbooks from A Beka~  

Each week, my oldest completes three tracing activities from the Letters & Sounds book and two counting activities from the Numbers & Skills book~ 
Each morning, we go over Phonics Charts 1 & 2.
*I also play the A Beka Phonics Sounds Cd at least one time a week - It might play while he's in his room for rest time or going to sleep at night. Letting it play in the car is also a great option.*

Two days a week, we work from this Kumon workbook; and at least one day a week, we complete an activity from this "I Can Cut" activity book.

Kumon Workbook:

I have loved this Melissa & Doug Easel Tablet - Each week we color the weekly letter collage~
We typically keep it up on the easel - to assist with hand/eye coordination, but on this day, we were working at the table.

Over the years, I have gathered all kinds of educational supplies! This next section will show you some of the items that we have been consistent in using this year:

These supplies stay at our fingertips, and we use them often! We love Crayola's Triangular Crayons that assist with learning how to correctly grip a writing utensil. 
We use the blocks and popsicle sticks for counting, letter design, etc. The blocks were found at a craft store for $1.99 a bag, and the popsicle sticks were found at a yard sale - I scored a brand new box down in a large bin of leftover craft supplies. I am able to get so many of our resources this way, and it's completely wonderful - all it takes is being willing to get up on Saturday mornings and go!

Various Letter Flashcards

I found these large cards at a local Homeschool Consignment Store~ The coordinating Spanish words are found on the back of these cards.

We use these ABCJLM letters to promote letter recognition. (They also offer numbers.) I printed them for free from their website, and then I laminated them! We use them in all kinds of different ways. (They make great Playdoh mats!)

Filling in the open spaces has been a great way to learn the shape of each letter in the alphabet.

We have used a variety of items for this! Bugs, buttons, sticks, rocks, etc.

Whatever the "letter-of-the-week" is, that is where we focus! We focus on that letter...we talk about words that begin with that letter...we eat foods whose name starts with that letter...we sing songs/recit
e short poems that include words that start with that get the idea.

There are all kinds of great flashcards out there! 
Here are a few of the ones we use throughout the week:
This first set was $1.00 at Michaels.

The English/Spanish set is from Hallmark; The Dr. Seuss set was $1.00 at a consignment sale; The alphabet cards on the ring were cut out of a summer bridge type workbook I got for free at a yard sale. I laminated the cards and tossed them on a metal ring.

Because we are heavily focused on learning letter names, letter recognition, letter sounds, a variety of alphabet books are always close at hand. You may already have these types of books in your home, but the library is also a great resource and helps to introduce your child to books that are new to them. If you want to read a little bit about how we've built a great collection of books for our kids, check out this post.

I love these magnetic sets. They are fun to bring out every once in awhile!
Marshalls carries these sometimes - Their price runs around $5.99 - You can typically score these at consignment sale as well - just make sure all the pieces are still there. 

My pre-schooler is in the very beginning stages of "writing", and I love to give him opportunities to work with different writing utensils: crayons, pens, pencils, markers, paintbrushes, and chalk. I found this "Handwriting Without Tears" (love that curriculum) chalkboard at a yard sale for ten cents; the chalk at Walgreens for free; and the Melissa & Doug dry erase markers for $1.99 at Tuesday Morning.

I love this interactive finger-tracing alphabet book! I got it at Target - using some of the coupons they mail me periodically. We also use the "Whispy" when talking,
"reading", etc. I have used these with preschoolers, but I have also used them with older elementary students who may be struggling with reading issues, speech difficulties, etc. Using this tool, students are able to hear the sounds, etc. that are coming out of their mouth and make corrections as needed.
(I have seen teachers make these out of pvc pipe - but I found my Whispies at a local teacher store.)

I found these stamps in the Target Dollar spot~ Melissa & Doug make some great ones...Michael's usually carries some...and They're great for little ones to use as they first learn their letters. 

I love texture activities - like "writing" in shaving cream, sand, or cool whip; molding letters out of Playdoh; etc. These are great activities for kids of all ages!
 My preschooler loves this type of thing, and so did the second/third-graders that I used to teach.

Bible Curriculum:
Bible Stories are also a part of our at-home curriculum. On Monday, we start the week with a story from this book...a book I have had since I was a little girl...and it's copyright date is 1924. It is old and torn up and water stained, but the stories in it are perfect! There is a different story for each letter of the alphabet, and we read one each week. 

At night, we read from The Jesus Storybook Bible or the Jesus Calling Bible for Kids. In the mornings, we read from the book above (one-day-a-week) or from these gems. See the cards on top? They are an amazing resource. I wrote a little bit about them here

 Bible Memory is also really important to us! Our goal for this year was for my three-year-old to memorize Psalm 23. He completed the task in two, we have moved on to working on other passages. The key for us is simply to keep it before him all throughout the day...while he's we're out for a walk...when we're in the we're waiting on the pediatrician...while he's taking a bath...before bed...and he picks up on it in no time. Want to encourage your children to memorize more Scripture? Here are a couple of ideas that are so, so easy to implement:

1. Play Steve Green's Hide 'Em In Your Heart CDs in the car or as they are going to sleep at night. In no time, your kids will know every single Scripture verse on the cd - word for word!

2. Keep a small Bible in your car - at all times. When you are sitting out in the car with the little ones...waiting on hubby to come out of Lowe' on memorizing Scripture with your kids.

3. Use one of the many, many ABC Scripture Memory Card Sets that are out there to go along with your letter-a-week approach - I know this set is absolutely beautiful!

I may write more on this topic later!

Supplementing with Technology:
I unashamedly use educational apps and You Tube playlists to reinforce what we are learning. Folks, we are living in a different time - Children must be proficient with technology - That's just the way it is. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that too much of a good thing is too much...I have shared my heart on that topic here in this space...but I [on purpose] provide my preschooler with opportunities to interact with apps, watch You Tube videos, etc. that "teach".

Some of our favorite Youtube Playlists: Super Simple Learning, Maple Leaf Learning, Oh My Genuis, Storybots, Edewcate, and Mothergoose Club. There are so many great ones out there!
We are also a big fan of Starfall! An awesome website - a great app! 

How I Create My Weekly Lesson Plans:
At the start of the month, I sit down and create lesson plans.
I mark the workbook pages we are going to do and then quickly jot down ideas for various hands-on *letter activities that will go with the letter for each week. If the letter is "B", we do our counting with buttons, eat bananas, and blow bubbles; If the letter is "D", we play with dinosaurs and bake dog bone shaped sugar cookies; If the letter is "G", we eat guacamole, play the guitar, and talk about David & Goliath; If the letter is "N", we have a Nacho Bar and play with spaghetti noodles; If the letter is "R", we color rainbows and read books about rockets; Etc.
 I like ideas that can be carried out using resources, toys, supplies that we already have here at home. Rarely am I purchasing supplies in order to make something happen.

A Beka Phonics Charts 1 & 2
Bible Reading/Bible Memory
Letters & Sounds Tracing Activity
Numbers & Skills Counting Activity
*Hands-On Letter Activities

A Beka Phonics Charts 1 & 2
Bible Reading/Bible Memory
Letters & Sounds Tracing Activity
Kumon Workbook Page
*Hands-On Letter Activities

A Beka Phonics Charts 1 & 2
Bible Reading/Bible Memory
Letters & Sounds Tracing Activity
Numbers & Skills Counting Activity
*Hands-On Letter Activities

A Beka Phonics Charts 1 & 2
Bible Reading/Bible Memory
Kumon Workbook Page
*Hands-On Letter Activities

Cutting/Pasting Activities
*Hands-On Letter Activities

Ideas to Fit Every Budget

Most of my educational supplies/toys have come from yard sales, thrift shops, dollar stores, and consignment sales! You do not have to spend a lot of money to provide great resources for your children. Always be on the lookout - Buy ahead - and you will be amazed at the incredible collection you will be able to build. Someday, I promise to give you a glimpse in to my Homeschool Closet!
*While we do not lend items from our personal collection of resources, we are happy to point others toward where they can find the same great goodies!*

For more information on classes/activities that we attend outside of the home, hop over here.

Want to know more about why we have chosen Homeschooling?
Why Gov't Schools are Not an Option for Our Family

Want to know more about my choice to be a full-time mom?

My Favorite Book Report Projects: For Classroom Teachers & Homeschool Educators
Also be sure to visit my Teachers Pay Teachers shop!