Curriculum Review : The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K

Inside: A full review of Pre-K curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful

A Full Curriculum Review of The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K

As you may already know, I began homeschooling our daughter, Arwyn, when she was 2 years old. It started out simply enough with some letter basics (singing ABC’s and recognizing a good bit), colors, shapes, etc. But it quickly became apparent that she was ready for more.

So when my daughter was about 2 1/2, I started using The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K with her. It was a curriculum I had researched (mainly through YouTube videos) and that came highly recommended.

Arwyn finished that curriculum back in July 2019 (just 6 months after starting), so I want to share our experience with you!

Arwyn doing a lesson in The Good & the Beautiful Pre-K

My Full Curriculum Review

Before we get started, know that at the time when I’m writing this, I am not affiliated with The Good and the Beautiful in any way. No one is paying me to do this review. But in the spirit of transparency, I will say that I would love to work with them some day, ONLY because of the positive experience I’ve had with their company and their products.

Below I’ll include my full review of the Pre-K curriculum from The Good & the Beautiful. Hopefully it will help to answer any of the questions you may have. If I’ve forgotten something or you have any other questions, drop a comment at the bottom, and I’ll answer to the best of my ability!

What is the Good & the Beautiful?

The Good & the Beautiful is a company created by Jenny Phillips, a fellow homeschooling mother. And like the title of the company implies, their curriculum emphasizes what’s good and beautiful in life. Children who use this curriculum learn to study art from a young age and also listen to music (recorded by Jenny Phillips herself) to remember and solidify concepts. There’s also a strong emphasis on good literature.

The curriculum does have the Christian worldview, which we personally love and were looking for.

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K Sample Page

What does the Pre-K curriculum cover?

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K is 53 lessons (112 pages) long and focuses mainly on the alphabet but also covers other pre-k related topics.

Concepts covered include:

  • letter recognition (including if the letter is uppercase or lowercase)
  • letter sounds
  • basic handwriting & fine motor skills
  • number recognition
  • counting
  • colors
  • shapes
  • rhyming
  • sorting
  • order of events

As I mentioned, the primary focus is the letters. There’s also handwriting practice in each lesson to start learning how the letters are formed. All other things covered are very much secondary.

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K Course Book

The Good and the Beautiful is a more literature-heavy curriculum, so it makes sense that even at a young age, language would be the primary focus.

What age group is it for?

According to The Good and the Beautiful, the Pre-K course is for kids between the ages of 3 and 5.

With that being said, Arwyn had nearly completed the course before she turned 3. So if you have a child who is in love with learning and ready to soak it up, they could definitely start this curriculum before 3 and excel.

How will I know if my child is ready?

There is a placement assessment available on the website. To see what level of curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful fits your child best (or if they’re not quite ready to start yet), go here.

Fun learning Activities for a 2-Year-Old
Back when Arwyn was 2 years old, and we were working through the Pre-K course

How’s the ordering process?

Ordering from the website for The Good and the Beautiful is very simple. You can follow these steps:

  1. Go to thegoodandthebeautiful.com
  2. Hover your mouse over the tab that says “Pre-K – 8 Curriculum”
  3. Under the green “Language Arts” menu, click “View Levels”
  4. From the drop-down menu, select Pre-K
  5. Add it to your cart & check out!

Shipping was fairly quick, and I was able to track our order while (impatiently!) awaiting its arrival.

What’s included when you purchase the curriculum?

The course set comes with:

  • the Pre-K course book
  • 4 letter flip books
  • an activity packet with:
    • a number slider
    • a letter cube
    • Mouse House
    • Feed the Elephant
    • Hide and Seek Pets
    • Swat the Fly
    • Letter Memory

We can think of each of these three things (the course book, the flip books, and the activity packet) as a different layer in the learning process. Read more about each one below.

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K Course Set

The course book

The course book is the framework for this curriculum. It’s the “bones” and structure. It’s where the concepts for the Pre-K course are introduced and lightly practiced.

It’s also super parent-friendly and easy to use. All of your instructions for what to do with your child in each lesson are found in the pages of the course book. AND it prompts you to use the flip books and materials found in the activity packet (though we did all of them more often than what the curriculum suggested).

The flip books

Each flip book covers 6-7 letters.

Uppercase letters are on the left, lowercase letters are in the middle, and a picture with the beginning sound of each letter is on the right.

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K Flip Books

You and your child then flip through the book until you have a match all the way across. Very simple, and great practice!

This is the “repetition” layer of learning for our children. Seeing something over and over and over until it’s second nature and not something they have to think too hard about.

I will say that things like this may get “boring” to some children depending on their interest level, so try to find ways to keep it exciting. Even if it’s just being silly and playful as you do the activity together.

The activity Packet

Arwyn adored these activities and still occasionally asks for them even though she’s done with the Pre-K curriculum. They’re very simple games, but we always had fun with them!

The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K Activity Packet

It’s said that children learn best through play. So these activities are that hands-on ingredient that our kids need. (And of course, you don’t have to ONLY do the games included in the curriculum! We found other ways to play and learn too.)

Does the curriculum require any additional materials?

There are a few other things that you’ll use throughout your child’s time in the Pre-K course. At the beginning of the curriculum, there are 2 lists: one for things to always have on hand and the other for extra items needed during certain lessons.

You can gather all the materials at the same time before beginning the Pre-K curriculum with your child OR you could get them as you need them. For example, before each week begins, you could make a checklist of the items you need for that week. It’s probably easiest to gather them before starting the course, though, to make sure nothing is forgotten.

Thankfully, you may be able to find most of it around your house. We did!

How do you use it?

The real beauty of homeschooling is that the curriculum isn’t a holy grail. It’s a tool that you can use to best fit the needs of your child. So there’s not really a right or wrong way to use it.

We usually covered each lesson in a day, though there were some that required 2 days to complete. And we worked out of the course book 2-4 days a week, just depending on what other things I had planned and her personal interest.

The curriculum prompts you when to use the extras such as a flip book or a game from the activity packet. However, we often played the games more often than suggested. And you can totally do that (or modify the curriculum in any other way) if that’s what your child needs!

To watch us using this curriculum, check out this video over on our channel:

Is it effective?

Here’s the million-dollar question.

It was incredibly effective for Arwyn. She went into it with a fairly good grasp of letter recognition but not many sounds. This curriculum really helped her to solidify those sounds in her mind.

Between the lessons, the flip books, and the games, she was able to learn her sounds and get them down confidently (a skill she is now using to read short words in the K Primer curriculum).

She also had fun with it, which made it that much easier for her to absorb.

Arwyn's first day of homeschool 2019 | Pre-K
Arwyn was able to start this year using The Good and the Beautiful’s K Primer curriculum with confidence because of all the practice she had through the Pre-K course

Is it enough on its own?

Clearly, I love this curriculum. But is it thorough enough to stand on its own? I’m truly not sure.

Does it need supplementation from other curriculum? No, I don’t think so.

But should you supplement with other learning toys, games, tools, and creative activities (arts & crafts)? I did. Mainly because I wanted to present these foundational concepts to her as richly as possible, meaning I layered the way I taught it to her. I didn’t want to use just one source but come at it from different angles to really make sure the information got through in a meaningful way.

Plus, as I mentioned before, the curriculum is more focused on language foundations than anything else. While it has your child practice other skills, extra practice with counting, shapes, colors, etc. is likely needed for full understanding. But those things don’t require a curriculum.

Will I personally use it again?

Absolutely! Our youngest son isn’t 2 years old yet, but when he’s ready, I plan to use The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K curriculum with him as well.

Any other questions I could answer about our experience with The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K? Drop a comment below!

Until next time,

Audriana

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7 Steps to Plan Your Homeschool Week (with a Free Printable!)

Inside: A simple way to plan your homeschool week

7 Steps to Plan Your Homeschool Week

Are you new to homeschooling and wondering how to plan each homeschool week?

Here you’ll find the way that’s working well for me (with a free printable if your brain works the same way mine does)!

How to Plan a Week of Homeschool

FIRST, you’ll need to have your yearly plan set. If you need some help with that, check out this post:

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year in as Little as One Weekend

Once you’ve got that settled, follow these 7 steps to plan your homeschool week:

Step 1: DownLoad the Printable

For my homeschool planning sheets, I use this printable.

Homeschool Planning Sheets

It organizes our week by subjects, which we’ll talk about more in a minute! The big space allows me to write about our lessons in detail, making it easier for me to know exactly what we’re doing each day.

You can hole-punch your sheets and put them into a small binder to use as a homeschool planner. Then at the end of the year, include copies of your lesson plans into your kids’ portfolios (if that’s something you have to do in your state).

Since the lesson plans are organized by subject, it makes it easy to put them right in with the worksheets, tests, or other assignments and keep everything neat and organized.

If you want to use these, sheets, download your copy by subscribing to my email list (I send out just 2 monthly emails) here:

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ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER? Head over to the free resource library to download the lesson planning sheets!

Step 2: Check Your Year at a Glance

So once you’ve got your planner situation figured out, it’s time to consult the yearly plan you’ve laid out.

I have mine set up in Google Sheets, where I can easily access it from any device. While I’m making our weekly plan, I pull up our Year at a Glance on my phone and have it sitting next to me where I can refer to it easily.

Step 3: break It Down by Subject

Then I take it one subject at a time. For every week, I fill out 5 sheets: language arts, math, rotating (science, social studies & interest study), special (art, nature, music & library), and Bible.

Those just happen to be the subjects I need for the different slots in our day, but you can customize your plan to fit what you need.

Homeschool Weekly Lesson Plan -- Special

Some of those are done family style, while others are done one-on-one. For the family-style subjects, I simply use the whole block for each day. But since I’m teaching 3 children, for the one-on-one subjects, I split each block into 3 separate sections.

Step 4: Fill in the Basics

Consulting the year-at-a-glance, I then write down which lesson we’ll be doing in each subject each day. I’ve already done the hard part of this during the yearly planning. Now I’m just taking the data from my sheet and writing it into our weekly plan.

Filled out lesson plan -- plan homeschool week

Step 5: Consult Your Curriculum

But thorough planning (that truly makes the week smoother) requires a little more than that. So at this point, I open up their books and do a quick look at each lesson we’ll be covering. Then I write down the name of the lesson and a few words describing it.

This also gives me a chance to prepare for step 7.

Step 6: Fill in Their Checklists

I then take a moment to fill out my kids’ checklists for the week. For more on that, check out this post:

Simplify your week with a daily homeschool checklist!

Step 7: Take Care of the Extras

When you’re done with everything else, make any other preparations each lesson may need.

Cutting out game cards or an art template.
Gathering extra supplies you don’t have at home.
Making a library run to pick up a suggested book.
Printing a handwriting page or worksheet.
Downloading a song that your kids will need to learn.

You know, all the extras. Make everything as simple as you possibly can for the future Monday-morning-you. She’ll thank you later!

What’s your biggest challenge with homeschool planning? Where’s the most chaos? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Audriana

New here? Check out our family’s About page and visit our YouTube channel!

How to Simplify Your Week with a Homeschool Daily Checklist

Inside: Homeschool daily checklist 101 – what is it, how to use it, and a free printable!

Simplify Your Day with a Homeschool Daily Checklist

Needing a way to help your child stay on task? Become more independent and responsible for their work? Or just wanting to teach them about staying accountable and getting the job done?

Using a homeschool daily checklist helps us organize our week and is preparing my kids to be more responsible as they get older.

What is a homeschool daily checklist?

To put it simply, it’s a list that allows you and your child to see what’s left to accomplish for the homeschool day (and the week). A homeschool daily checklist lists all of your student’s subjects and what they’ll be doing in those subjects for the day. When the lesson or assignment is completed, they simply check it off.

Our homeschool daily checklists

Why Use One?

My kids are still young (our oldest is 6), but using a checklist every week helps give them a visual representation of the work that we need to get through on a daily and weekly basis. Which means they ask me “are we almost done?” less!

As they get older, it’ll also make them more responsible for their own work. Right now, they have some independent assignments, but for the most part, I’m guiding them or completely doing lessons with them. But when they’re older, a homeschool daily checklist will be a great way to keep them on track and show them what they still need to work on without all of the hand-holding.

It’s also great practice to help your child learn to read charts!

How to Use a Homeschool Daily Checklist

Filling out the homeschool assignment checklist

So to do this, you’ll first need to:

  1. have your plan for the year done and
  2. have a weekly lesson plan

(Or at least that’s how I organize mine!) For more on planning your homeschool year, check out this post:

How to Plan a Full Year of Homeschool in as Little as One Weekend

And keep an eye out for a post where I share our free lesson planning printable!

Writing Your Weekly Plan

So first, I make our weekly lesson plan based on our yearly plan. Then I take my weekly lesson plan for each subject and write it (in a more simplified form) on each of my kids’ weekly checklists.

For example, I’ll look at my plans for Bible. Let’s say we’re in the book of Exodus that week. My lesson plan would include details for the chapters and ideas we were covering each day. Then on the checklist, I’d just write the theme or chapters of the day. So when we’re talking about Mount Sinai and God giving the ten commandments, I could either write “10 commandments” in the box OR “chapters 19-20.”

Where to Put It

Next, put the daily checklist in a place where your student can easily access it and check it off daily. We have folders where I put their daily independent work, and the front of those folders have a clear pocket — the perfect spot for our checklists!

Our homeschool daily checklist in the front pocket of a folder

How Your Child Uses Their Checklist

Every day, your child will then check off their tasks as they’re completed. Like I said, since my children are still young, I guide them through their day. But the checklist is preparing them for going it alone.

So if your child is older, they can look at each task on their list, complete them one-by-one, and check them off as they go.

Right now, as we get each activity done, I’ll give my kids a gentle reminder.

“Okay we’re all finished with your math lesson. What do you get to do now?”
“Check off my list!”

SIDE NOTE: Consider building in some time at the end of the week to have “catch-up time” for any assignments that had to be pushed back or needed some extra work. If there’s ever a time when everything is done, the kids get extra time playing or doing something else they enjoy.

Our Checklist

We do nine different subjects/activities that I wanted to have space for: Bible, language arts, handwriting, reading, math, social studies, science, interest study, and specials (music, art, nature, and library).

In our box for language arts, I also included a breakdown of the different things we do during that time (phonics, sight words, spelling, and our lesson from The Good & the Beautiful). It just helps keep us on track and remember what words they’re supposed to be working on every week.

Our Checklist

Download & Print Your free Homeschool Daily Checklist

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The first page of the printable includes the subjects we use, and the second page is blank for you to customize it to your family’s needs.

How to Customize it

No one wants to have to write every subject every time they make a checklist for the week. Instead, I suggest writing your child’s name and your subjects once. Then make color copies of that sheet for however many weeks you’ll be homeschooling this year.

Whatever saves a little time!

Have you ever used a homeschool daily checklist like this? If not, what system did you use to keep lessons and assignments organized in your homeschool? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Audriana

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Benefits of Homeschooling | Top Reasons Why We Chose Homeschool

Inside: Some of the top benefits of homeschooling that led to our family’s choice in favor of home education. AND some of the cons of homeschooling to consider.

The Benefits of Homeschooling (and the Challenges) : Pros and Cons of Homeschooling Your Kids

Maybe your family is considering homeschooling or maybe someone you know is, and you want to know more. Either way, this post should highlight some of the reasons why homeschooling may be a good option. (And some of the challenges of homeschooling to consider.)

What are the benefits of homeschooling?

Let’s start with the pros. Every single one of these factored into our family’s decision to homeschool. (For an infographic summary, scroll to the bottom of the post!)

It’s Just the Right Fit

This may not be a special “benefit” per se. But it’s a huge factor in deciding whether or not homeschool is right for your family.

Before I ever considered any of the other things on this list, there was that little nudge in my chest and “what if” in my mind. At the time, none of my kids were school-aged, and I didn’t know any other homeschool families. I had never been homeschooled, and actually, the thought held a bit of a stigma in my family.

And yet, it was there. That feeling telling me I should go for it. That this would be the best option for our family.

There were so. many. obstacles! But the draw toward homeschooling remained. A few years later, every obstacle has been overcome, and I’m thankful for that desire of my heart that just wouldn’t quit tugging.

More time together as a family

Togetherness -- The Benefits of Homeschooling

When you close your eyes and picture the ideal life for your family, what does it look like?

From very early in my relationship with my husband, Chris, when I pictured our family years down the road, one thing always stood out to me: togetherness. I dreamt of days spent as a unit, strengthening our family bonds, learning together, and growing together.

So having all of the kids home (and my husband too since he’s recently become a work-at-home dad) means that we’re just that much closer to our ideal life.

More Opportunities for training Them Up

More time together means they get their character building at home, with us. It means every day is full of opportunities for training our children up in the way they should go.

Sure, it’s not like we NEVER saw them when they were at public school. But now, I get more one-on-one time with them and get to be an active part in their learning. It also means I get to watch them work. I get to see their biggest struggles and frustrations and hang-ups. I get to see them at their best and their worst.

And I get to be the one helping them to sift through all of it as well as the cheerleader to speak into them and build them up.

You Set your Calendar

TRAVEL.

This is another HUGE benefit of homeschooling. We get to decide exactly what our calendar looks like instead of having it dictated by the public school system. We can go where we want, when we want, and never miss a beat in our studies.

For example, we’re going to the beach in September. Normally, the kids would be back in school by then. But now, I’ve worked our schedule around our trip so that we’ll be free to just relax and have fun with family for the week.

Beyond just travel, setting our calendar means we can have breaks when it makes sense for our family. We’ve opted for year-round homeschooling for now with short breaks in between.

Always Learning, Everywhere

This just fits more with our philosophy on education. It goes right along with the reason why we’ve chosen year-round homeschooling. To us, learning isn’t relegated to time at a desk or at a certain time of year. It’s hands-on, all the time.

We love trips to COSI -- The Benefits of Homeschooling

So with homeschooling, no matter where we are, we can be learning. Whether it’s at home, the farmer’s market, the post office, the bank, on a special day trip or on vacation. We’re always learning, everywhere. (And since I’m the teacher, I can look for ways that our life flows seamlessly in with our curriculum!)

options for richer Learning Experiences

And BECAUSE we’re always learning, everywhere… it makes for a richer learning experience.

I will say that we had a great experience with public school. My kids were blessed to have teachers that were truly great and tried to find ways to deepen their learning and understanding.

But homeschool tends to lend itself to these types of experiences more naturally. We’re able to have more field trips, get outside to study nature more, and learn through our everyday lives in a way that just doesn’t happen with public school.

Daily Schedule Fits the Flow of Your Family

Setting our daily schedule means plenty of time for sleep, play, chores, and what’s important to us. There’s no rush to do things on someone else’s time (and I won’t miss sitting in the parking lot for an hour every day at pickup time).

Choice of What Your Children Learn

The Good & the Beautiful Pre K -- The Benefits of Homeschooling

Speaking of what’s important to our family, the choice to homeschool means that we’re able to choose what materials we use for instruction. We can emphasize what’s most important to us and aligns with our values.

That doesn’t mean keeping our children from hard truth. For us, it actually means giving them the full truth.

Number 1: by not separating what we’re learning from God, and
Number 2: by making sure that history is represented accurately. (In public school, it’s often given through rose-colored glasses that paint certain historical figures as heroes even though they were flawed and human.)

In the world, not of it

Flowing right along with the reason above, homeschooling allows parents to be the main source pouring into their children instead of the “world” filling them up.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t shield their minds from knowing evil exists and understanding what it looks like. However, that doesn’t mean I want the values of the world to shape my children’s foundations.

No Bullying

Sure, we have some spats between siblings, but I don’t have to worry about my children facing true bullying situations (that could cause lasting scars) in their formative years.

This wasn’t our #1 reason. For the most part, my kids got along with their classmates. But as their mom, it’s nice to know that these years will be focused on edifying them and building their confidence.

No Homework

Because really, it’s all “home” work.

Your Child Sets the Pace

Doing Homeschool Work -- Pros vs cons of homeschooling

Whether they’re tortoises or hares, it doesn’t matter. Their education is tailored completely to them, so you can go the speed they need.

So if something clicks easily with my children, we can zip through it more quickly. And if something takes a little longer to sink in, we can really spend time getting it down pat before we move on. It all depends on them.

Tailoring their Education to their Specific Needs

Like I mentioned, their education is tailored to them. Not just in terms of the pace but even down to how they best learn and what they learn as they get older.

My oldest son loves STEM. Any career he’s ever chosen has been related to either science, technology, engineering or math. Right now, he’s all about becoming a mechanical engineer.

Of course, he’s 6. So that could easily change over time.

BUT I love to incorporate what interests them most. So around here, we enjoy ordering STEM projects from KiwiCo. (You can check them out and earn a $10 credit by using this link!) As he gets older, if he’s still interested in STEM, we’ll look at more focused curriculum to get him wherever he wants to go.

Really when it comes to tailoring, the sky’s the limit.

Have a child with ADHD or SPD or something else that needs extra attention or that means they learn differently? Homeschooling makes it easier to teach your child in the way that suits them best.

Consistency from Year to Year

Since my kids will now have one teacher (me) from year to year, their education will be more streamlined.

In public school, there’s lots of review to make sure everyone is on the same page. But that’s just not necessary with homeschool. Of course, they’ll need refreshers to remember everything that’s taught. But for the most part, after a break you start where that child left off. No need to get an entire classroom up to speed or to cover things that may not have been taught by the previous teacher.

The Cons of Homeschooling

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are challenges that come with homeschooling. Here are the big ones to consider.

YOU are Responsible for Your Child’s Education

Homeschool Planning -- Pros and cons of homeschooling

It’s all on you.

You may have a very supportive family and husband and church. But when it comes down to it (depending on your family) you will likely be the main one in the control seat for what happens with your child’s education.

That means you have to be organized and able to stay on track.

There are other more relaxed styles of homeschooling like unschooling, that may make that thought less stressful. But in all honesty, I haven’t looked much into them. For more on unschooling, check out this post from TheHomeSchoolMom.

Family Stress

Homeschooling can add extra stress to your family because of the reason mentioned above, the one below, and just because teaching kids can get stressful. The situation may bring out the worst in you and your kids from time to time. SO it’s something to consider.

Togetherness Overload

While I’m looking forward to all the time we’ll be spending together, that may not be your dream for your family. If the thought of spending time with your kids nearly 24/7 is too much, homeschooling may not be a good fit.

Kids May Test Their Boundaries

Like I mentioned, when you teach kids, it can bring out the worst. If and when you start homeschooling, your children may begin to test their boundaries.

This isn’t like public school with a teacher they only know inside the classroom. This is their mom teaching them. Which means they may try to see how committed you are, how serious this whole homeschooling thing is, and how much they can get away with.

But knowing this ahead of time helps us to be more prepared when the whining starts.

It Could Get Expensive

If you’ve ever looked into homeschool curriculum, then you already know it can get pricey. Especially if you’re homeschooling multiple children. So the cost is definitely something to consider.

But there are affordable options out there.

The Good & the Beautiful Level K -- The Benefits of Homeschooling

You can find budget-friendly and even free curriculum. You just may have to piece them together.

That’s why I LOVE the Good and the Beautiful. It’s incredibly inexpensive (some of it is even offered as a free download online) but amazing quality. No piecing together, which saves me time. Plus it aligns with our values. You can check it out here. (And at this time, I’m NOT an affiliate for them in any way. I’m not getting paid to tell you about them. The curriculum is just awesome and incredibly beautiful.)

You Need to Be More Intentional About Socialization

It’s usually the first thing that comes to mind when people mention homeschooling.

But what about socialization?
Do you want your kids to be socially awkward?
Shouldn’t they be around other kids?

But there are plenty of ways for kids to socialize other than within the public school system. As the parent, this just means you need to be more intentional about creating those opportunities or taking part in pre-existing ones (like a co-op).

No Public School SPorts (in some places)

There are some areas that still allow children to play sports for public school even if they’re homeschooled. However, many places don’t allow it.

Of course, there are other options like rec leagues and private sports.

Pros & Cons of Homeschooling | Is homeschooling right for your family?

Do The Benefits of Homeschooling Outweigh the Challenges?

It really comes down to what’s best for your family. I truly don’t believe that homeschooling is for everyone. But if those benefits resonate with you and the challenges are more like obstacles you can overcome, homeschooling is definitely worth considering!

Is your family thinking about homeschooling? Was this post helpful? What did I miss? Drop a comment below!

Until next time,

Audriana

New here? Learn more about our family here!

5 Ways to Teach Uppercase and Lowercase Letters | Letter Recognition Games

Inside: How my 2-year-old learned the distinction between uppercase and lowercase letters

How to Teach Uppercase and Lowercase Letters to Your Toddler

Psst… DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this post are through Amazon affiliates. That just means, at NO additional cost to you, Amazon gives me a small portion of the sale if you decide to click a link and make a purchase.

Letter recognition is the foundation for all future language arts endeavors with our little ones. So why not start building and reinforcing that foundation early on? It’s actually easier than we may think for our kiddos to make that mental leap.

Rather watch a video? Check out this one:

5 Ways to Teach Uppercase & Lowercase Letters

We started teaching Arwyn in a more structured format when she was just 2 years old. But even before that, she was introduced to letters. Here are 5 tried and tested methods for teaching uppercase and lowercase letter recognition and differentiation to small children.

1. Dave & Ava

Before I ever started teaching Arwyn at home, we loved Dave & Ava’s YouTube channel. Their tagline is “rediscover nursery rhymes,” but they also have a lot of learning songs and even some fun apps for letters, numbers, etc. The bright colors and fun designs really bring their videos to life.

We stumbled upon their alphabet song one day, and Arwyn was hooked. We watched it EVERY. DAY. along with their phonics song.

So before we began anything else, Arwyn could sing her ABC’s, recognized some of the letters, and also knew a few random letter sounds.

To visit Dave & Ava’s channel, click here.

Not big on screens? I get it! Even just introducing a few of the songs and then singing them with your child on a regular basis while pointing to the letters in a book or on a poster will be beneficial!

2. Letter Crafts

Letter Crafts -- Uppercase and Lowercase Letters

Early on in our homeschool year, we began working on little letter crafts. We started with “A is for alligator” and kept rolling from there!

Check back soon for a post with letter craft ideas and templates!

3. Letter Tree

Letter Tree Printable -- Uppercase and Lowercase Letters

I’ve found that simple homemade activities that are fun and game-like work super well for teaching letter recognition. Arwyn loves to use this letter tree! We pretend that our letters are fruit and match our lowercase fruit (bottle lids that I’ve written lowercase letters on with a Sharpie) with our uppercase fruit on the tree.

If you’d like to use our tree, you can get it for free by subscribing below!

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ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER? Head over to the free resource library to download a copy!

4. Letter Acorns

These sweet letter acorns were a Christmas gift from one of Arwyn’s pappaws, and we love them!

Letter acorns -- uppercase and lowercase letters

The uppercase letter is written on the front of the acorn, and the lowercase is printed inside the lid. She has fun finding matches.

Plus they each also have a fun plastic/rubber figure that starts with the letter’s sound and can hide inside the acorn.

You can find them on Amazon here:

5. The Good & the Beautiful Pre-K

Finally, in January we started the Good & the Beautiful PreK program, and I COULD NOT be more pleased with it. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting her to be this far along already, but this curriculum is amazing.

I AM NOT being paid to say this. I bought the curriculum myself. I have no reason to recommend this course other than pure results. Arwyn is excited to do her schoolwork every day, and it has helped her come so far!

The Good & the Beautiful PreK -- Uppercase and Lowercase Letters

Not only does she recognize both uppercase and lowercase variations of each letter but she also knows which one is which AND the sounds for about 90% of her letters. Plus she’s tracing them–something I really didn’t expect her to be doing this early.

The Good & the Beautiful is really language intensive. Because of that, they really focus on laying these early foundations well. I definitely recommend it when your child is ready.

For more on our first year of homeschool with Arwyn and my thoughts on early preschool at home, check out this video:

~~~

How do you plan to teach your child letter recognition? Seasoned moms: what are some of your tips? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Audriana

New here? Learn more about our family and this blog here.

70+ Fine Motor Activities to Build Hand Strength and Coordination

Inside: Over 70 ideas for helping your child build fine motor skills

70+ Fine Motor Activities that Help Build Coordination and Hand Strength

Psst.. Just an honest DISCLOSURE: Some links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. That means (at NO additional cost to you) if you click them and make a purchase, I receive a small portion of the profit.

We know that fine motor skills are important for our children’s development and precursors to writing and other hand-related tasks. (And as homeschooling mommas, we don’t want to grade super sloppy papers because of a lack of fine motor coordination!)

So here are some great ideas for helping our kids build and improve their fine motor skills.

70+ Fine Motor Activities for Your Child

Let’s break them down into categories, starting with more simple tasks and building up to the more complex skills.

NOTE: Everything is more fun with a playful story to go along with WHY they’re doing the activity. Be silly/creative where you can, and make it a game!

Pinching

Pinching is one of the very first fine motor skills that young children can learn (and it’s a precursor to several other categories of fine motor skills). It involves grasping something between the thumb and index finger.

A good way to introduce pinching includes sorting small objects by picking them up and placing them into containers. (If you don’t have your child put it into a container, it’s likely they may just slide them into groups instead of actually picking them up.) Sorting makes up a big chunk of activities on this list, but there are other beneficial ways to practice pinching as well.

Sorting by Color -- Fine Motor Activities
  • Sort gel beads (like Orbeez) based on color
  • Sort glass gems by color
  • Stick skewers into a Styrofoam block then have your child sort beads by color onto the different skewers
  • Pluck pom-pom balls out of a wire whisk
  • Pull objects out of slime and sort them by shape or color
  • Pop bubble wrap
  • Stretch small rubber hair bands onto popsicle sticks
  • Stretch small rubber hair bands onto a spiky ball
  • Stick paperclips onto toilet paper rolls
  • Sort buttons by color into cups with slots
  • Sort assorted index cards by color into a box with colored slots
  • Hammer pegs or golf tees into a Play-Doh mound or styrofoam block (while pinching peg between fingers)
  • Put Cheerios (or other small object) into a water bottle
  • Play the peg board game
  • Drop toothpicks into an empty seasoning shaker
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Threading

Threading involves both pinching and some hand-eye cooridnation to get the string/rope/etc. through the hole.

Pasta Threading -- Fine Motor Skills
  • Thread pool noodle pieces (Parents: chop up some pool noodles, get shoe string or rope, and have your child string the short noodles onto the rope. Depending on age, you could also have them make patterns with different colors.)
  • Letter/number ordering with pool noodles (Parents: write letters/numbers onto pool noodle pieces with a Sharpie and do the same as above, having your child thread them in order)
  • String beads on twine to make a necklace
  • String penne or macaroni on twine to make a necklace
  • Do this rainbow pasta threading activity from Hello Wonderful
  • Or this super popular Cheerio activity from Messy Little Monster
  • String beads onto pipe cleaners to make bracelets
  • Or use Froot Loops instead of beads, and form the pipe cleaners into fun shapes
  • Do lacing cards with shoestrings
  • Thread colored beads onto matching silly straws
  • Or string the beads onto feathers like this activity from Mother Natured
  • Thread straws through hole-punched toilet paper rolls
  • Or thread pipe cleaners through the holes of a pasta strainer
  • Do the number weave by Toddler at Play
  • Try leaf threading by Kids Craft Room
  • Or 2D shape threading by Planning Playtime
  • Stitch a yarn picture like this activity from Toddler at Play
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Peeling

Peeling is another pinch-related activity. But involves a level-up on coordination.

Sticker Tracing -- Fine Motor Activities
  • Use sticker dots to trace name
  • Use sticker dots to make picture on the wall (covered by a paper) like this activity from Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Peel painter’s tape off of a surface
  • Play animal rescue from Busy Toddler
  • Make a picture in a sticker book
  • Peel paper off crayons
  • Peel a clementine like a Halo or Cutie (a parent may need to pre-start depending on age/ability)
  • Take the shells off cracked hard-boiled eggs
  • Dismantle a tape & saran-wrap ball (Parents: you can also put objects inside that your child can “rescue” as they peel the ball back more and more)
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Squeezing

What I’m terming “squeezing” is similar to pinching but can involve more fingers (even all of them). These activities help build grip strength.

Sorting with Tongs -- Fine Motor Activities
  • Use hand-held hole punch to make holes in strips of paper (save as confetti for art projects)
  • Use tongs to sort pom-pom balls by color
  • You can even sort them into the bottom slots of MegaBlocks like this activity from Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Use punch out stamps to make designs on paper strips
  • Sort painted clothespins by color by attaching them to paper of the same color
  • Cap Twist-Off Board from Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Measure cooked spaghetti into bowls using tongs
  • Feed beads or other small objects to a tennis ball creature like this activity from My Life With Littles
  • Spray house plants with a spray bottle
  • Recycled squeeze bottle play (from the OT Toolbox)
  • Do poke pictures (at parent’s discretion) like these from Your Therapy Source
  • Use a pipette to pinch water droplets onto a painting palette or bottle caps
Water Pipette Squeeze -- Fine Motor Activities
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Cutting

Cutting involves grip strength as well as proper hand placement (which takes awareness). It also requires a certain level of coordination. Let your child practice on as many mediums as possible.

Cutting Play-Doh -- Fine Motor Activities
  • Cut Play-Doh to make fun shapes
  • Make Play-Doh grass or hair; then give it a trim
  • Create toilet-paper-roll people; then give them hair cuts
  • Cut lines, zig-zags & squiggles on paper strips
  • Cut fringe all around a paper plate (make a fun craft like a sun, lion, porcupine, or dandelion)
  • Go outside and cut things you find in nature (grass, leaves, flowers, stems, dirt clods, etc.)
  • Cut rubber bands of different thicknesses
  • Cut strings and measure their lengths to see which are longest & shortest
  • Cut apple slices into cubes
  • Cut silly putty
  • Cut gelatin
  • Cut cheese sticks
  • Cut different types of cloth and compare how they each feel
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Tracing

When you feel your child is ready and they can properly hold a pencil, it’s time to let them trace! But it doesn’t just have to be pencil and paper. Since kids learn best through play, let them toy with as many different ways of “tracing” as they can.

Highlighter Tracing -- Fine Motor Activities
  • Use a Qtip & paint to dot-trace letters
  • Shape Play-Doh into letters on letter mats
  • Use fettuccine noodles to trace straight patterns, letters & numbers
  • Use dry-erase markers to trace patterns, letters & numbers on sheets in slip-covers
  • Use fat highlighters to trace lines
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Until next time,

Audriana

How to Plan a Full Year of Homeschool (in as Little as ONE Weekend)

Inside: Wanting to plan your homeschool year? Here’s how I planned our first year (including transitioning from public school) in ONE weekend.

How I Planned an Entire Year of Homeschool in Just 48 Hours

I recently announced over on our family’s YouTube channel that we’ll officially be homeschooling this year. It’s a dream-come-true for this momma. I’ve literally imagined it since 2015. So this is a big deal.

I’ve been BURSTING at the seams with excitement and could hardly contain myself while we waited for our curriculum to arrive. (You can check out our unboxing videos here).

As soon as it arrived on our doorstep, I WAS READY. Let the planning commence!

There’s something extremely satisfying about planning the homeschool year. Like the ultimate puzzle with all these little moving parts. But instead of shooting for the picture on the box, you get to decide what the outcome looks like. SIGN. ME. UP.

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year

The Good & the Beautiful -- Planning Homeschool Year

I know I’m a newbie. And there are plenty of other more experienced sources out there. But this blog is about the journey as much as it is about sharing what works. (Plus, I used some seasoned resources to help me figure it out.) So with that in mind, this is the process I used for planning our first homeschool year.

And can I just say… I’m pretty stoked about how easy it was, that it only took a weekend to do, AND that our first year looks AMAZING.

Note: all of the following planning takes place AFTER you’ve chosen your curriculum.

1. Figure out Your Format

Do you plan to stick to the traditional school schedule (4 terms with a summer break)? Or maybe you want to go year-round? Or even do something completely custom… maybe a long break in winter instead of summer?

Before you plan anything, you’ve got to have this nailed down.

We opted for the year-round schedule. It just makes sense for us. To me, learning (in the way I want to present it to my kids) isn’t compartmentalized to certain times. We stay learning. So homeschooling all year long with smaller brain breaks penciled in just fits.

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year

2. Schedule Breaks

Speaking of breaks, after you find out what format you want to follow, you’ll also need to decide on breaks (especially if you go the year-round or custom route). Some people wing it. They know they want to educate for x amount of weeks and have x amount of weeks off. Then they just decide as they go.

For our family, that doesn’t really work. I need a more concrete plan because we share our two older children with their dad. Co-parenting is always smoother when everyone knows what’s going on.

3. Pencil In Educational Weeks/Days

Once you know when your breaks are, you can number your educational weeks (also keep track of any short weeks) to prepare for step #5.

4. Transitioning from Public School?

Transitioning from Public School -- Planning Homeschool Year

This is a good time to mention transitioning. If your children have never been in public school, don’t worry about this step.

Accounting for the transition from public school to homeschool was probably the most crucial step in planning this year.

It took some time for me to figure out what I would need to teach before starting their new curriculum and what my children had already learned. For my oldest (going into first grade), it meant sitting down with him, Level K curriculum in hand, and going through lesson by lesson to decide if each one was something he had learned this year or not.

There are things that both of my older kids need to know before continuing in the curriculum we’ve chosen, so we have to take the time to bridge that gap. Because of our transition period, I’m going to be homeschooling them for about 4 extra weeks than I will in years to come.

5. Divide Your Curriculum By Your Weeks

Once all that is decided, it’s time to split up the curriculum based on weeks. For some subjects or curriculum, this is simple. For example, some are set up to be a lesson per day or 2 lessons per week. Easy peasy.

The Good & the Beautiful Lesson -- Planning Homeschool Year

Others will require you to go through each lesson and decide how much time it will take you and your kids to get through the material.

Don’t forget to allow for assessments & field trips!

6. Use a Scheduling Tool

This video and printable from Megan Phillips were LIFE SAVERS. I downloaded the excel sheets she created and used the yearly planner to complete the scheduling process.

The weekly planning sheets I use are different, but the yearly one was exactly what I needed. She even created separate tabs for people with multiple children (up to 4) to make the scheduling part as simple as possible.

Planning only took me about 2 days (working on it periodically from Friday evening to Sunday evening), and now we’re set for the year!

I’m sure that as we go along, tweaking will need to be done. Maybe they’ll go faster in one subject than what I thought but need some extra days in another area. But having the general outline for our first year complete is SO satisfying.

What do you do to schedule your homeschooling year? Do you like this method or are you more go-with-the-flow? I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Audriana

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