Archive for Preschool Age 4

Catching Up…

Well, I am obviously behind on my posts. We have been keeping up with our ‘studies’ of the world by reading picture books, making ethnic food, and making art projects. I will try to bring out the highlights here.

We finished North America a while back. We made a sequoia tree out of cardboard :

Here she is attaching green paper to the branches to serve as leaves. This turned out pretty neat!

The ‘ethnic food’ we chose to make for North America included homemade lemonade and Canadian pancakes.  I’m not entirely sure what made the pancakes Canadian, as they were just like the pancakes we make here in the states, but they were delicious nonetheless.

Here are some books we read!

Desert Song by Tony Johnston to read about animals in the Southwest:

The Sugaring-Off Party by Jonathan London to read about making maple syrup (this story is set in a French Canadian family):

The Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews is a story about how Inuits in Canada chop holes in the sea ice and walk underneath it at low tide to harvest mussels. I was fascinated by this book:

We read many more about life in various areas of the North American continent. I think picture books are probably my favorite way to tap into another culture for a small child.

We finished reading about monarch caterpillars and watched a documentary from the library called The Butterfly King. It’s about a college student who collects monarch butterfly eggs from milkweed to raise them. It highlighted how many caterpillars are killed by pesticides and herbicides, and then provided close up video of them growing up.  Here’s a picture of Curly looking for more caterpillars.

Speaking of caterpillars, my husband found an incredible looking caterpillar in our garage and we brought it in. After consulting the internet and an entomologist friend, we concluded that it was a species of Sphinx moth caterpillar. It is currently in a pupa in our fridge, waiting for spring. Here is a not very good picture of it:

I didn’t know if it was poisonous or not at first, so I didn’t want to let it out of the bug case we had it in. It was the largest caterpillar I had ever seen. When it turns into a moth in the spring it should be enormous!

Coming back to North America activities, Curly did this coloring page:

She also did a lot of art not related to North America. Here is one painting in progress.

We continued Kinderbach, which is going well, and did lots and lots of coloring, pasting, and counting. Our K4 year is going well!

I noticed that the look of our backyard had changed dramatically since my last post. Here are a couple of pictures.

Our yard in autumn.

Our yard in autumn. My favorite time of the year!

Our yard right now. A frosty,  beautiful morning!

Our yard right now. A frosty, beautiful morning!

Next up is a post about our studies of South America!

Preschool Study of North America, Week 1

This week we started our study of North America using Build Your Library (BYL). We also continued our Kinderbach lessons, did some painting, and kept our ourselves pretty busy with summer activities.

To start our study of North America we took out Curly’s atlas and read about land features of North America. We had fun inspecting a few maps. Moving on to the people that live there, we started reading in Children Just Like Meand read about children from all over the Americas. We focused on Omar, a boy who lives in Mexico. From there on out, we focused on Latin America for the week. We then raided the library to find some relevant books. One was this book:

I enjoyed the illustrations and all the references to other Latin American animals.

Speaking of animals, we read in our Animal Atlas  about animals and ecosystems in North America and chose an animal to do extra reading on at the library. We chose the monarch butterfly after we went on a walk and discovered monarch caterpillars all over milkweed near our home. We got some cool pictures!

After reading so much about Latin America, we did an art project to make a Papel Picado, a colorful banner often hanging in Mexican markets.

The instructions to make the Papel Picado are in the book recommended by BYL, Around the World Art & Activities by Judy Press. This is a simple and easy project – I hope the projects continue to be so!

We took advantage of some nice summer weather by heading outside with the watercolors. I showed Curly how to splatter paint, which may just be her favorite art activity yet.

Painting outside! I love not having the mess in the house.

Painting outside! I love not having the mess in the house.


The finished splatter painting project.

The finished splatter painting project.


We really enjoyed ourselves! Next week we move on to reading about the United States.

The Start of our K4 Year!

I wasn’t planning on starting our year of activities so soon, but I started to receive some of the books I had ordered and couldn’t resist starting.  We began the first week of lessons of Kinderbach, and started our first week in Build Your Library K – Around the World (BYL). We’ve been having a good time so far!

This first week of BYL was centered around two books. Here’s the first:

I love this book! It follows a girl as she travels across continents and islands to find ingredients for her apple pie, including cinnamon in Sri Lanka, apples in Vermont and semolina wheat in Italy. We read this book several times. The second time we read it, we pulled out Curly’s children’s atlas and found all the countries mentioned in the book. Of course, at the end of the week, we simply HAD to make an apple pie.


Enjoying the apple pie! This was a real treat for us as I am not a baker. She enjoyed making it so much though that I may make it a goal to bake more often!

Enjoying the apple pie! This was a real treat for us. She enjoyed making it so much that I may make it a goal to bake more often!


Here’s the second crucial book:

We had to wait to get this book via inter-library loan, but it finally showed up. BYL provided some pages to do a “Me On the Map Flipbook”. We made maps of the planet, our continent, our country, our state, our town, our street, and finally our house. I most definitely would NOT say that the maps we made are at all accurate, but I do think the concept of what a map can be was established.

Curly and I made a little passport out of cardboard and blue paper, which we will use to put little stamps in when we finish learning about a continent. These stamps are provided courtesy of BYL.

Our first week of Kinderbach lessons was fun for both of us! Kinderbach is geared for students 4-7, and I think it’s especially applicable in the 4-5 range. At least in this first week, the olders may find it too “babyish”. I noticed, however, that even though the lessons are short and simple (and possibly “babyish”), they were very effective in teaching integral concepts of music. The first week focuses on the layout of the keyboard, the difference between high and low sounds, and finger numbers – the thumb is 1, pointer is 2, and so on. I peeked ahead to next week, and it looks as if it  focuses on rhythm. I’m excited to continue!

This week we also worked on our skills in our Kumon workbooks (cutting and pasting), and read lots of library books. I should be putting up another booklist before too long.

Have a great week!


Our Pre-K / K4 Year

We made it through a year of at-home preschool! And as this is the time of year when homeschooling parents start to plan for the upcoming school year (Or, if you’re like me, you’re ALWAYS planning for the upcoming school year…) I thought I’d share my plans.


Curly will be 4 for the 2014-2015 school year, and I am not sure if I am going to label our year Pre-K or K4. I don’t know if there is even a difference, but I’m leaning towards K4 since we will be adding in a few things labeled Kindergarten level.

We will be continuing with:

Kumon workbooks for skills and pencil practice. We are currently using  My First Book Of Uppercase Letters,, My Book Of Numbers 1-30, and My First Book Of Cutting. We do these whenever Curly brings them up. Sometimes it’s several days a week, and we’ve also gone for weeks without looking at them. The cutting one is a favorite, as well the Kumon maze series. She seems to really love the little certificate you get at the end when you finish a whole workbook.

Building Thinking Skills Beginning for critical thinking. We started this last year, and we are about halfway through. It’s a big book! We only do this when Curly asks for it.

Art Lab for Little Kids for art ideas. We didn’t use this much this past year (mostly because I forgot I had it..whoops) so I’m hoping to do better this year.

-We have an iPad we let Curly use, and I’ve found some educational apps I really like for her. One is StartDOT Handwriting by TrishCO LLC, and another is Avokiddo ABC Ride by AVOKIDDO. StartDOT is an app that teaches letter formation (sounds boring but the app is really well done) and Avokiddo ABC is…an ABC app. 🙂 If you have an iPad I highly recommend these two!


iPad Screenshot 2iPhone Screenshot 2 is a fun ABC and learn to read site. You can do the ABC learning for free, and if you want to use their learn to read games you pay a monthly fee. I haven’t tried that part out yet, but it’s very popular. Curly asks to use this site at least once a week.

Educational TV is something I do my best to limit, but sometimes this mama needs quiet brain time. The shows I like include Leapfrog, Wild Kratts, and Magic School Bus.

Whew! When I type out all the things we do it looks like a lot. Rest assured we are pretty laid back around here, and the above things aren’t even the primary part of our homeschool! The primary part is ….drumroll...reading. No big surprise if you’ve read my blog before. We go to the library every Monday to get new books. We get both nonfiction and fiction titles, ABC books, poetry books, ethnic goes on and on. I want to raise a reader! Not only for the joy of reading, but for the world of knowledge that opens up when you enjoy reading. When you can read, you can learn about anything!

So, all of the above are things I will be continuing. Here a couple things I will be adding:

Mathematical Reasoning Beginning 2 from the Critical Thinking Company. This math workbook is from the same company as the critical thinking book I mentioned above. We spend most of our time focusing on ABCs so I wanted something to spend a little time on the 123s. It has good reviews on Amazon, so I’m hoping it’s a hit for us.

KinderBach Piano Lessons is something I’m really excited about! I linked you to the DVDs on Amazon, but we will be getting the monthly subscription from the website, at I was thinking about getting Curly piano lessons starting next year (and not looking forward to paying for them), until I found this site. It’s geared for ages 4-7, and it’s super affordable. Booyah!

Build Your Library K: Around the World is going to be the main focus of our year. This is basically a reading list and schedule, including some science books and art projects. We will going on an exciting ‘trip’ around the world, cooking food from different countries and learning about people and animals from those countries. Build Your Library information can be be found here :  I am really happy I found this for this year, as I wanted to do a ‘Continents’ based year anyway; this way it’s all put together for me!

Edited to add:

I don’t feel Curly is ready to read yet, but every few months I reevaluate. If I feel she’s ready, I will probably use this:

Let’s all have a great year! I would love to hear about your plans!