Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

Preschool Supplies & Resources by Learning Category

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Another Supply List??

Up until now I have resisted putting up a supply list on my blog because I did not think it would be helpful to re-invent the wheel. There are a ton of great preschool supply lists out there already — I personally started with The Peaceful Preschool supply list since that was the curriculum we used and will be repeating again.

However, here’s what I have to offer that might be a unique perspective:

  1. We live in a small house and do not have much storage space so I try to keep the supplies to a minimum,
  2. I prefer nature-based materials because they cost no money, have added sensory benefits, and do not harm the earth when disposed of, and
  3. I’ve done a whole year with The Peaceful Preschool and now that I know what we really need and actually gets use, I wish there were some things that I had not bought so I have noted those things below.

I plan to share my supply list based on must-have essentials, nice-to-have items, and, lastly, things I wish I would have skipped buying.

Note, though, that even the “must-haves” on my lists are my based on my preference and what fits with our preschool curriculum. Feel free to disagree with me!

Each supply list also includes some additional resources like free printables that I’ve found useful over the last year.

The Categories

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Click on a link below to jump to a specific category of supplies & resources:

Lesson Preparation

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Must-haves:
  • Paper
  • Pens, Pencils, Highlighters
  • Scissors

Seriously. If you are on a tight budget, I think you can totally get by not having a printer & laminator & paper cutter!! You could have The Homeschool Printing Company print your curriculum and any worksheets, and not do any weekly printing from home. This is preschool, not college! Granted, this works for a non-worksheet-intensive curriculum like The Peaceful Preschool. There are other curriculums out there that require A LOT of printouts, in which case you probably are better off owning one!

Nice-to-have:

The printer I purchased also has a scanner which I use on a weekly basis to keep digital files of all my children’s artwork.

I resisted buying a paper cutter at first but when I finally got one it was SO much better. Such a time-saver for cutting 3-Part Cards especially. I do think if you are not using a lot of printables you could skip all this stuff, though. I have had the one linked for over a year and have not needed to replace the blade yet.

Then there’s the regular office stuff like scissors, paper, hole punch, etc. that you likely already have.

Lesser-used but still nice to have:

The corner rounder cuts through laminated card stock. I love that thing so much.

I use binder rings to hold A-Z memory verses and other flash cards together.

The circle hole punches I have used for materials preparation but the kids also use them for arts & craft projects.

Read Alouds

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See this blog post for all the resources I use to select Preschool books.

Letter Formation & Phonics

Must-haves:
Nice-to-have:
What I bought but wish I hadn’t:

* The Peaceful Preschool has you make your own DIY sensory letters using their printouts and glitter glue. These are redundant since we have the sandpaper letters listed above. My kids also had a hard time using the glitter glue tubes without frustration. AND, I’ve read that glitter has a negative impact on the environment so have tried to stay away from it.

** We bought this book and my son enjoyed it to a degree. He liked the stickers, but really I did not feel it was worth the money, in the end, because we already did enough letter-learning activities and I felt that this book was not adding anything of value. 

Other Letter Learning Supplies: Printables & Resources

Numbers & Counting

Must-haves:
  • Sandpaper numbers
  • The Peaceful Preschool number cards (with purchased curriculum)
  • The Peaceful Preschool hundreds chart (with purchased curriculum)
  • Manipulatives for counting. Here are some options:
    • Natural materials: acorns, sticks, cut wood discs, rocks, shells
    • Beads, marbles, popsicle sticks, buttons, pom poms
  • Trays / compartments for counting (you can even write numbers in these):
    • Egg cartons
    • Muffin tins
    • Ice cube trays

Note: Preschool Math is a category where I feel like it is easy to get creative, see what is already in your house, or explore a thrift store. In my opinion, there is very little spending that needs to be done here for preschool. Recycle your egg cartons or thrift some trays and tins!

Also, I feel a lot of counting for this age can be done simply by reading books and through the regular day-in day-out play. If I do a pre-planned math activity, I try to keep it playful.

Nice-to-have:
Other Supplies: Printables & Resources

Fine Motor Skills

Must-haves:
Nice-to-have:

Again, a lot of things here can be found around your house or thrifted!

Sensory Play

Generally I prefer the great outdoors for this type of play: playing in dirt or mud or water. But, we have winters and rainy days in Indiana and it’s nice to have a few fun options for indoor sensory play:

What I bought but wish I hadn’t:
  • Water Beads (I just don’t care for the waste and environmental impact of these)

Large Motor Skills

Practical Life

For us, this mainly means including my children in our regular daily rhythm.

We have daily chore tasks which I discussed on our Daily Rhythm blog post.

We try to give the kids independence in self-care as appropriate.

Here are a few things I have found useful to have around:

Arts & Crafts

This category can get CRAZY real fast. My main recommendation for those first starting out: do not feel like you need EVERY SINGLE art supply available to your children right off the bat! Pick just a couple, see how they like it, and as budget allows try to slowly incorporate some others. We have a wide variety of supplies right now but my children love crayons and watercolor the most. If I was on a super tight budget I would start with those. I’m putting a wide variety in my “must-haves” list but know I do not think you need ALL of these things.

Must-haves:
Nice-to-have:
What I bought but wish I hadn’t:
  • Glitter
  • Sequins
Seen on other lists I’ve never bought:
  • Contact paper

Color Recognition

For color sorting there are a lot of cheap and DIY options:

  • I hand-painted our wood jewelry sorting tray (with 12 spots), and we use this a lot.
  • You could also make your own version of something like this using an old cupcake tin & construction paper.
  • We have also used our colored bowls from IKEA or I just make something simple with construction paper.
  • You could also make something simple out of felt if you are that kind of crafty.

I also love Grimm’s rainbow peg dolls that could double as a toy and used for color sorting preschool activities.

Lastly, I love these FREE Color Nomenclature Cards to introduce color names.

Shapes Recognition

I mainly use this shape sorting printable set I created to go along with our Melissa and Doug Wood Shape Sorter — we had the shape sorter already so I went with that. You can find the free printable on this page.

I also love these free shape flashcards from tinyn3rds.

Outdoor Play & Nature Study

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See the following blog posts for more detailed information for this category:

Here is what I use for a nature journal for my kids:

Geography & Culture

See this blog post on our Preschool Cultural Studies supplies.

Art & Music Appreciation

Bible & Spirituality

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See this blog post on our Bible Lesson supplies and units.

Games & Puzzles

Do not underestimate the value of games & puzzles! I think this doesn’t get labelled as “school” but for preschool-aged: it totally counts.

Here are some favorite games:

And some favorite puzzles:

Calendar & Clock

We update our hanging wall calendar. You can also make a free version of a perpetual calendar using The Peaceful Press Calendar Bundle or find a different version.

At the beginning of a new month we read a monthly from Around The Year (Elsa Beskow). There is also a days of the week poem in here that’s fun.

There are clocks that can be purchased but I felt at this point for preschool-age I just wanted something simple that my son could manipulate so I made one using a wood circle and numbered rocks, with two sticks for hands.

What I Wish I Would Have Thought About Last Year Before Stocking Up On Supplies

Lessons I’ve learned after doing through preschool at home for one year:

  1. Use natural materials whenever possible! Sensorial experience with natural materials is a huge bonus, PLUS items from nature don’t cost anything and don’t create excess trash in landfills. Hooray!
  2. Thrift it. Pretty much all of my baskets and trays came from a thrift store. If it’s thrifted, then you don’t have to get mad if it gets ruined.
  3. Find things around your house before you purchase something new and cool. Seriously, you probably have a drawer of random buttons somewhere that can be used for math or sorting or even letter formation.
  4. Think of ways to use materials in multiple ways. For example, wood beads with holes can be (1) laced as a fine motor skill, (2) used for a transfer tray, (3) counted up for simple math lessons, (4) added to play dough for some letter formation fun, or (5) used for arts and crafts. You do not need marbles AND beads AND pom poms AND buttons. Pick one. Simplify.
  5. Printables that make for good Instagram photos are not always worth it. Save that printer ink!! Seriously, the more I do this the more grumpy I get about printables with full-color pages.
  6. If you are going to print something that takes a lot of ink (like 3-Part Cards), make sure you get a lot of use out of them! We use our 3-Part Cards every week in multiple ways, and I have seen so much wonderful learning happening with their use. Also, I save my 3-Part Cards for repeat lessons since we are going through the alphabet A-Z all over again.
  7. Before you buy something, try to plan in your mind exactly where you will store it. If you don’t have a great option for storing it, try to skip buying it.
  8. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Most of my kid’s art projects I later turn in to scissor cutting exercises, so we get 2 uses out of the paper … and then we recycle the cut up pieces if we are able.

CONGRATS on Your Homeschooling Journey!

If you have questions, please feel free to email me our DM me on Instagram.

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Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

Letter T Preschool Unit

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Overview

We spent 2 weeks on The Letter T because I wanted to spend a significant amount of time studying trees. At the end of this post you’ll also find a few non-tree related Letter T stuff we did!

T is for Tree

Books

Nonfiction Books Used:

*From The Peaceful Preschool book list

Phonics & Letter Formation

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As usual, here are my go-to resources & activities for every Letter Unit for phonics & letter formation:

This list is LONG! I never feel like this is a checklist where I have to complete all of this or somehow I’ve failed OR that my son isn’t learning enough. It’s OKAY if we don’t do it all.

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We also used the Parts of a Tree nomenclature cards from The Helpful Garden and my son used our movable alphabet to make the parts-of-a-tree words.

We turned our Letter T printout from The Peaceful Preschool into a tree.

Also seen here is “Tree Anatomy” from Tanglewood Hollow’s tree bundle.

Counting & Sorting

Tree Part Sorting and Counting

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For this activity the kids each would randomly draw a number card (from The Peaceful Preschool), then count out that many pinecones and that many acorns. Then I asked them to count how many total pinecones + acorns there were.

Tree Leaf Sorting and Counting

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Together we collected a variety of leaves from trees. Then, they sorted and counted them on to this lacing stand I made. I wanted to to some leaf rubbings on paper but our leaves are still too early and fragile and I thought they would rip apart too easily.

Matching Games

Tree Buds Matching Game

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For this activity I collected TWO of each type of tree bud that I was seeing. The goal of the activity was to find the matching pair looking at shape, size, texture, color, and arrangement.

Woodcut Matching Game

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This woodcut matching game was fun to play with — they just found all the pairs with all the cards face up. Then, I pulled out 10 pairs of cards and we played a memory game.

Fine Motor Skills

Tree Slice Lacing

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I made this tree part lacing stand by putting dowel rods in to a large tree slice base (I drilled a hole the same size as the dowel rod and it pushed in without the need for any glue!). Then, I drilled slightly larger holes in to tree branch slices. The idea here is that there are a variety of sizes so they can make patterns (large, small, large, small, etc.) or they can count how many it takes to fill up the whole dowel rod. Or, they can put the same amount of branch slices on to each rod.

Pine Branch Threading

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We randomly found a downed pine branch this week so I took it home, cut it up and my daughter threaded the branches in to this holed utensil holder. This is the equivalent of kids making a floral arrangement (or using pipe cleaners) in a colander.

Tree Cutting Practice & Matching

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This is a free printout from Pinay Homeschooler. The kids cut their own trees out and glued each piece to the matching tree on the control sheet.

Art

How to Draw A Tree

We watched the How to Draw a Tree instructional video from Art for Kids Hub a couple times and the kids and I drew trees along with the video. This was really fun!

Tree Bud Collection & Floral Arrangement

We also collected spring flowering branches and branches with spring buds and my son made a fun floral arrangement. This lasted a couple weeks on our kitchen table!

Trees by Season Coloring Page

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We colored in this free Seasons and Trees activity from Teachers Pay Teachers paired with The Four Seasons control chart from The Helpful Garden.

Nature Study: Trees

Observe Real Trees

It was spring during our Tree study so we looked at flowering trees. After a rain storm we were able to collect a bunch of tree flowers and fruits that had fallen to the ground. We looked them up in The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups.

We also found some pollen cones of a Red Pine to take a closer look at.

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We also observed a variety of tree bark. But, really we mainly focused on ONE TREE. It’s too much and too hard to try to identify several trees by bark alone (for a 4 and 2 year old), so I just picked a really easy tree to focus in on for the week: Shagbark Hickory. I started pointing them out every time we would come across one. Then, we got to the point where the kids would start pointing them out on their own.

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Compare Trees

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We explored the difference between conifers and deciduous trees quite loosely, just by gathering a few tree parts, and then read our books to match what we were seeing to what we had collected. This was not a long drawn out nature study—I just explored it with books as much as it held their interest and then we moved on.

We only have White Pine and Red Pine here so we also counted the number of needles to compare (White Pine has 5, Red Pine has 2). If you have more conifers in your area, simply counting & comparing needles is a fun and easy thing to do for preschoolers (you don’t have to correctly ID the trees, just have fun and explore).

Tree Ring Rubbings

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This activity consisted of two parts:

  1. We did a simple paper & crayon rubbing of a tree slice (this one is sanded and finished), then tried to count how old that tree was.
  2. Then, I had the kids draw their own tree slice with rings–I scanned and printed a page from Hello, Nature–they got to pick how old their tree was. My daughter’s (on the left) is “a million years old.”

A Tree Home Out of Play Dough

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We made a large scale tree out of play dough and added animals that live in trees, find food from trees, or move through trees.

Making small worlds out of play dough is such a key and regular way in which my kids interact with their small toy animals. We do this so much! It’s a wonderful way to combine play and learning.

Tree Nature Study Resources

T is for Tiger

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T is for Tiger Tea Time with The Habitat Schoolhouse.

I supplemented a few things to our Tiger study over the course of 2 weeks. As we read and learned about tigers, we also read “The Tyger” poem by William Blake each day during our tea time. A couple days we explored India further (since the greatest density of Bengel tigers can be found in the mangrove forests there) — we used our MAPS book, did some India themed coloring pages, and cooked Indian food for dinner. We also discovered that one of the children in This is How We Do It is from India, so we followed a day in the life of Anu. We read Mr. Tiger Goes Wild (an all time family favorite) as well as The Tiger Who Came to Tea (which was suggested by The Habitat Schoolhouse and my kids adore). We also watched some BBC videos of tigers online which prompted lots of pretend-tiger play: my daughter started carrying her baby doll around with her teeth like a mama tiger.

Other Letter T Activities

T is for Train Tracing

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Anyone have the game Ticket to Ride?? My kids like playing with the little trains from this game sometimes so I thought I would just use them for a pattern-making and tracing activity — they traced some shapes and letters. You could also do something similar with toy wood trains.

Bible Lesson: T is for Treasure

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We read the story “Treasure Hunt” from The Jesus Storybook Bible, then hid some treasure (we have a cute little chest with some fun rocks) around the house for a treasure hunt game.

Please see this page for all our A-Z Bible Lessons.

Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

Letter O Preschool Unit

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OVERVIEW

Letter O Unit fell before Christmas and so we did do some seasonal-related learning with this unit. We also did some stuff with The Peaceful Preschool for Ox Cart Man and An Orange in January. For nature study we looked at owls and otters.

BIBLE FOCUS

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Open Eyes: “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”

We read the story of Saul’s conversion from The Jesus Storybook Bible (“A New Way To See”). No specific craft or activity other than a simple story interaction: I blindfolded the kids and we tested what that felt like, played around with giving and receiving instructions while not being able to see.

BOOKS

O is for Orange

O is for Ox

O is for Owl

O is for Otter

*From The Peaceful Preschool book list

PHONICS & LETTER FORMATION

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As usual, here are my go-to resources & activities for every Letter Unit for phonics & letter formation:

This list is LONG! I never feel like this is a checklist where I have to complete all of this or somehow I’ve failed OR that my son isn’t learning enough. It’s OKAY if we don’t do it all.

O IS FOR ORANGE

READ ALOUD
COUNTING

Count and sort 10 oranges: I had 5 navel oranges and 5 clementines.

We also (on a different day) since we looked at oranges and oranges trees (and orchards) — played our board game Orchard. This game is so wonderful — my kids (4 and 2) can both easily play and it’s cooperative so we either all win or all lose. This is easily one of my favorite games we own for the kids!

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LETTER FORMATION

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The kids hammered (with wood toy hammers) dried orange slices on to our Letter O printout using golf tees and a foam board. I like the incorporation of different elements like fine motor skills + play into our letter formation.

FINE MOTOR SKILLS

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Make orange pomanders — The kids pierced holes in the orange peels with a toothpick first, and then added the whole cloves. The smell was AMAZING.

PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS

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Cut and juice oranges — and of course taste test everything!

ART SKILLS: OSAGE ORANGE

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We used Osage oranges (or hedge apples) to roll in paint and make bumpy prints to look like sparkling lights on a Christmas tree. I’m always looking for ways to incorporate natural materials in to our art projects and play.

O IS FOR OX CART MAN

Books

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We talked about what comes from sheep: wool! I had some yarn so we pretended it came from sheep (it didn’t) and wrapped some pine cones for a simple fine motor skills + art project. We then used the yarn-wrapped pine cones for the following story interaction and play activity…

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We set up a little “Ox-Cart Man” shop. We pretended the yarn, yarn-wrapped pine cones, and cotton balls were a variety of sheep-related farm products to sell. We had a shop owner and that person had to sort and count coins as we played (into this sorting tray) and went back and forth to the shop. So fun!

O IS FOR OTTER

We mainly just read books for O is for Otter and watched some videos of otters, but I did add in a couple printables from Simply Learning from her Do Unto Otters Preschool Pack. We did not read the book “Do Unto Otters” but rather did a more nature-study kind of focus. I wanted books that actually showed river otters in action and helped us all learn about them. It also worked out to see some river otters in the wild after this week: my husband took my son for a trip to a nearby National Wildlife Refuge to see them.

Books

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We used brown play dough to make little balls and fill in the gaps on to this printable from Simply Learning (linked above). Great for fine motor skills and just play.

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Later we did some color theory with our Otter printable — how to make brown with our Dot Markers. Mix red & green, then blue & orange, and lastly purple & yellow. The red + green combination seemed to work best for making brown.

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For some scissor skills we used the Do Unto Otters printable from Simply Learning (linked above).

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Last but not least, my son and my husband got to see wild river otters! They visited Muscatatatuk National Wildlife Refuge together and made a day of it. So special and they both were so happy to finally spot some otters from afar. They talked a lot about the value of preserving land for wild animals.

NATURE STUDY: OWLS

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An owl showed up in this giant beech tree on the camp property where we live this week and the kids adore this spot. They sing their owl hoots every time we walk by it. We LOVE owls so much in our house.

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We looked at our Barred Owl feather and our owl footprint rock and a variety of books for our Nature Study.

Books

We also went to the All About Birds website to listen to a variety of owl sounds and watch a few videos. This website is AMAZING for all things birds!!

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The kids did separate art projects: my son drew a Great Horned Owl (like in Owl Moon) with crayons, and my daughter made a Snowy Owl by gluing white feathers on to an outline I made on white paper.

O WREATH

Wreaths are in the shape of the Letter O so we had some fun Christmas crafting. I just set this up with a bunch of random things to glue on a cardboard shaped wreath.

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O IS FOR ORNAMENT

ART SKILLS & FINE MOTOR SKILLS

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We made a variety of ornaments with pipe cleaners and pony beads. My son had fun working on pattern making with red and white beads. Both kids had a blast with this! I wish I could bottle up their level of concentration and release it on those crazy can’t-sit-still kind of days!

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We also made these handmade ornaments using our nature finds. I bought this white air-dry clay, the kids rolled & cut the clay into circles (and poked a hole for where the hook would go). Then my daughter painted some matte Mod Podge on top. I later added the bows and hooks when they dried.

COUNTING SKILLS

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O is for Ornament counting and subtraction-by-Grinch game. (1) Roll a 12-sided die & read the numeral. (2) Add that number of ornaments to the tree. (3) Mom plays the Grinch and steals an ornament one at a time. (4) Count down each time to zero. Then steal the tree of course!

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We also made a simple paper chain countdown-to-Christmas — the chains look like little O’s so I thought this would fit.

Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

Letter N Preschool Unit

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OVERVIEW

We typically have been spending 2 weeks per letter unit, but for Letter N we spent only 1 week. We followed a little bit of The Peaceful Preschool, but I also found some ways to incorporate some Christmas-themed learning in to the Letter N. I skipped over N is for Noah with The Peaceful Preschool because we had already covered that back at Letter I and it felt necessary to skip some of the curriculum so as not to do too much in one week.

BIBLE FOCUS

As always, I focus our Bible lessons on The Jesus Storybook Bible. You can view all our Bible Lessons by A-Z on this page. I update the page as we move through each Letter Unit.

N is for Night and Nativity

We have been reading the Nativity story a lot from our Jesus Storybook Bible lately and interacting with our peg doll set, but this week we also added in A Baby Born in Bethlehem — a beautifully illustrated book.

We focused on the stars in the sky (N is for Night) and I cut a letter N out of black cardstock and the kids added star stickers.

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We also made little mangers to put babies to bed (night time). I had the kids use scissors to cut a pile of pine needles and then place them in our color sorting tray (I made this). We added the color-matched babies. Baby Jesus has his own special manger.

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The kids then paired Nativity cards with our peg doll set. I made these Nativity cards by taking photos of The Jesus Storybook Bible, so unfortunately I cannot legally share these with you!

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We also yarn wrapped a star that I made by hot-glueing craft sticks together. Yarn wrapping is a fun and simple craft project that combines art skills with fine motor skills!

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BOOKS

N is for Night

N is for Nativity

N is for Nutcracker

*From The Peaceful Preschool book list

PHONICS & LETTER FORMATION

As usual, here are my go-to resources & activities for every Letter Unit for phonics & letter formation:

This list is LONG! I never feel like this is a checklist where I have to complete all of this or somehow I’ve failed OR that my son isn’t learning enough. It’s OKAY if we don’t do it all.

N IS FOR NUMBERS

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N is for Numbers. My son spread glue on each number (cards via The Peaceful Preschool) and sprinkled glitter on top. Then, he peeled & counted little circle stickers to add to the little dot counters on each card. Yes, I realize you can buy glitter glue tubes but we have tried those with little success. The kids get frustrated & don’t like them so I tried a different route. Doing it this way my son sat through creating all 10 numbers!! With the glitter glue tubes he won’t even finish one letter.

Number identification & formation, fine motor skills, counting, and art skills all in one single activity.

N IS FOR NIGHT

LETTER FORMATION

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Books

I cut a letter N out of black cardstock and the kids added star stickers.

ART PROJECT: CONSTELLATIONS

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Books

We talked about how constellations are shapes of stars in the sky and the kids made their own by placing little white circle stickers on to black paper, then drawing lines between the dots with a white crayon.

NATURE STUDY

N is for Nocturnal Animals!

Books

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We have been taking night time walks lately, discussing what animals do at night (and what animals do to prepare for winter).

We read night time books and played with these glow-in-the-dark Flashlight rocks I hand-painted. The kids like hiding them in a dark room and hunting for them with flashlights. If I get my act together I would love to sell something similar to this in my Etsy shop soon!

STORYTELLING & FINE MOTOR SKILLS

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In Night Tree the family decorates an evergreen tree in the forest to leave food for wild animals. We made some bird feeders to hang in our yard, in that same spirit. The kids used fine motor skills to wedge fresh cranberries in a pine cone. We also made pine cone feeders with peanut butter and black-oil sunflower seed.

N IS FOR NUTCRACKER

READ ALOUD

The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers

There are many versions of this book, but this one was recommended by Read Aloud Revival so I went with that. When we read this book, though, we replace the girl’s name Marie with Clara, since I always knew her as Clara.

MUSIC

We of course listened to the music from The Nutcracker all week — it’s cool to have the kids start to recognize the songs and ask for specific parts in the story.

ART PROJECTS

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I found a simple Nutcracker coloring page on this site, and this was a HUGE hit! My kids wanted to do this over and over again.

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We also made snowflake ballerinas for Waltz of the Snowflakes. I used the tutorial on this page and the PDF for the ballerina is here.

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We hung our snowflake ballerinas in the window and made it snow!

NUT LEARNING

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I created these Nut 3-Part Cards (link to PDF) so we sorted & learned the names for a variety of nuts (also looked at Food Anatomy). I put some nuts in a zip-loc bag and the kids just hammered them to oblivion. The kids also used their fingers to try to crack open shelled peanuts & pistachios — simple fine motor skill work! We also made a simple nut bar cookie together with our cracked mixed nuts.

INVITATION TO PLAY

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This is our “Land of Sweets” play — we made a basic play dough and made it brown and added cinnamon & ginger to make it smell like gingerbread. We cut paper straws to look like peppermint. All of the wood dolls & trees & mountains were hand painted by me.

N IS FOR NUTHATCH

We have had a number of Nuthatches showing up to our bird feeder so we did a simple nature study: watch them, look at them in our books, and talk about what they like to eat and how we can help feed them in the winter.

Books:

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N IS FOR NEST

We found a hornet nest and investigated it a little bit with pictures and videos of hornets online. I did not feel like doing an entire N is for Nest study as a part of our Letter N unit because it did not feel seasonally appropriate, and we did a lot of that already with our B is for Bird unit — you can visit that page for a couple favorite books about nests!

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Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

Letter M Preschool Unit

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OVERVIEW

We are gearing up for the Christmas season as of the writing of this post. For Letters M, N, O, and P there will be several Christmastime themed learning activities. The Peaceful Preschool already incorporates Christmas activities for N, O, and P, but as always I tend to add in our own activities as well.

BIBLE FOCUS

As always, I focus our Bible lessons on The Jesus Storybook Bible. You can view all our Bible Lessons by A-Z on this page. I update the page as we move through each Letter Unit.

M IS FOR MARY, MOTHER, AND MANGER

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It worked out that this focus timed nicely with the Advent season. We have already been reading the Nativity story with Letter K and Letter L, so it was nice to continue and highlight different aspects of the story.

This time we focused on Mary as Mother, read the Are You My Mother? story and talked about how moms take care of babies. We also read this page from Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing about mother hens taking care of their babies, and how God is like that for us.

We made a Manger M by gluing pine needles to our Letter M printout.

We also worked on learning the song Away in a Manger.

M IS FOR MAGI & MONEY

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‘Tis the season for giving. We talked about how Christmas gift-giving models the Magi giving gifts to Jesus, and we used these Money flashcards (from the Target Dollar Spot this past summer) to talk about the value of money. I gave my son examples of things that could be bought for $1 and $5 and $10. Then, together we made a charitable donation for our seasonal family giving, and talked about the value of that gift in comparison to what we counted out.

BOOKS

M is for Mother

M is for Moon

M is for Madeline

M is for Mitten

M is for Mouse

*From The Peaceful Preschool book list

PHONICS & LETTER FORMATION

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As usual, here are my go-to resources & activities for every Letter Unit for phonics & letter formation:

This list is LONG! I never feel like this is a checklist where I have to complete all of this or somehow I’ve failed OR that my son isn’t learning enough. It’s OKAY if we don’t do it all.

M IS FOR MAP

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I drew a map layout of our house. Yes, this is our entire house. We live in a cabin in the woods so no complaints from me!

So, with the map we played treasure hunt with our Things That Start With Letter M basket: we took turns hiding an item, then marked an X on the map, and waited for the others to go find it. I put the map in a write-and-wipe pouch so that we can reuse the map as much as we want.

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We also did something super easy and fun: count out the number of U.S. States that start with the Letter M!

FYI our USA puzzle is by Janod — it’s a magnetic board and so gorgeous that I hang it up on our school room wall. It has been updated since we purchased ours but here’s the link.

M IS FOR MOON

We did a more extensive Space Unit leading up to the total solar eclipse earlier this year, so I decided to keep this portion of Letter M pretty simple & playful — focusing on the aspects my kids are currently interested in.

READ ALOUD
LETTER FORMATION

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The kids stamped a black Letter M using a Marshmallow dipped in white & silver paint.

MOON PHASE ART PROJECT

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I pre-cut circles of black cardstock and the kids stamped the moons with a crumpled up aluminum foil wad dipped in white & silver paint.

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Once the moon circles dried, I cut them up with the kids and we looked at the moon phases chart in Nature Anatomy to build a moon phase poster. We paired this with noticing the moon phases during the week. In the moment I did not spend a ton of time with each moon phase name, but rather left it simple. I plan to use the terms with our observations now in the real world.

MAGIC MILK MOON

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We got this Magic Milk idea from Simply Learning — she paired this activity with Letter K and Kitten’s First Full Moon. I thought it would be fun to pair it with reading Whose Moon Is That? and use similar colors to the book.

It’s really simple to do and an amazing science experiment. My only complaint is that it doesn’t last long. It’s not like baking soda + vinegar where it seems to keep going and going. The milk fats react to the dish soap but once they are mixed, it’s over. My kids then just stirred the milk in to a nasty brown color and had fun with that, but the “wow” factor goes by quickly.

To do this just pour a thin layer of milk on to a tray or baking dish. Add drops of food coloring around the tray but do not mix. Dip a Q-tip in dish soap and pick a spot on the tray to dunk (but not stir) the Q-tip: the milk (and colors) will react and spread a little like fireworks! Very cool.

M IS FOR MADELINE

READ ALOUD
MADELINE PRINTABLES
COUNTING ACTIVITY

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We used pine cones plus play dough “hats” in an egg carton and numbered rocks to count out the 12 little girls in 2 straight rows. This could be done with literally any 12 loose parts!

PRE-WRITING MAZE

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I found this cool Madeline Maze via Pinterest. My son loves mazes so this was a hit. It’s a tough one — my son needed help, but he liked tracing the line I made with him to complete. This was also a way for him to reenact the story and work on his pencil grip and pre-writing skills.

EIFFEL TOWER ART PROJECT

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I drew the Eiffel tower with white crayon on white paper. The kids used watercolor paint  to paint the page however they wanted. As they painted the image I drew was revealed. This is really easy! After the Eiffel tower, the kids wanted “secret messages” so I just drew simple things like hearts and their names for them to paint and discover.

PRACTICAL SKILLS & CULTURE STUDY

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We made Nutella Crepes! This crepe recipe was super easy for my kids to mix together. I did the cooking on the stove and they spread the Nutella.

The books in the photo are:

  • MAPS — my son loves exploring this if we have a specific country in mind connected from a book we are reading (e.g. Madeline in France).
  • We also read Everybody Bonjours which was just a cute introduction to French culture (including crepes). Not an amazing read, but fun to connect to Madeline.
MADELINE’S EMOTIONS ART

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I made this little sheet of Madeline’s emotions which is available here in PDF. I made one page with the 6 emotions described in the original Madeline book. The second page is blank so you can write in your own labels!

The main idea was to use this to discuss different emotions and corresponding facial expressions BUT also since the illustrations in Madeline are so simple I thought it would be a perfect example to help my son see how easy drawing faces is. He’s a bit of a perfectionist and gets to a point with art where he quits trying because it can’t look “right” so I’m trying to show him how there are great examples (like Madeline) with simple lines he can work off of.

M IS FOR MITTEN

READ ALOUD
STORYTELLING

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Grab a mitten and stuff small toy animal figurines inside. Count them. Play in a sensory bin or with white play dough. The animals don’t have to match perfectly the story. We read two versions of The Mitten and they both have different animals.

THE MITTEN ART PROJECT

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We used the Mitten printable provided by Simply Learning in her Letter M Preschool Unit bundle. The kids put their handprints on to the mitten pages: pretty simple!

THE MITTEN LETTER LEARNING

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More fun with tools from the Simply Learning’s Mitten: Literature Unit.

OTHER M ACTIVITIES

IF YOU TAKE A MOUSE TO THE MOVIES

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If You Take A Mouse to the Movies is just a really fun Christmas book with plenty of opportunities for story interaction. We made and strung popcorn, made snowmen out of white “snow” play dough, and crafted some snowflake Christmas ornaments with glue and glitter just like Mouse in the story.

M IS FOR MAIL

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We mailed a letter! I had my son participate in the whole process. We don’t have a mailbox right in front of our house (we live on a camp property so all mail goes through the main office), so my kids miss out a little on the fun of watching the mail get picked up and delivered. I try to take them in to the post office sometimes, though, to help make a connection.

Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

Letter L Preschool Unit

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OVERVIEW

We spent only one week on Letter L, but this was spread out over 4 days. Typically I have been doing one letter over a 2-week period but I wanted to try something different for a little while and see how we all like it. We mainly focused on L is for Ladybug and L is for Library, with a few other things mixed in like L is for Leaf and Lion and Love and Light.

BIBLE FOCUS

L IS FOR LIGHT

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Letter L provided another excuse to read the Nativity story again (we did K is for Kings). We talked about what it means for Jesus to be called “The Light of the World” — how light shines out of darkness. We focused on the star in the sky that God placed over Bethlehem. And, we learned some simple hand motions to the song Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. This song is also featured in the book Lola at the Library, one of our read alouds with The Peaceful Preschool.

L IS FOR LOVE

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The memory verse from The Peaceful Preschool for Letter L is focused on Love. I brought back out our list of 10 Good Deeds we made for The Golden Rule (back for our Letter D unit), and we reviewed each item and talked about loving our neighbors. Since we are going to see lots of family coming up for the holidays we talked about what it would look like for us to love them well. We also made simple leave rubbings on to paper that I cut in to hearts.

BOOKS

L is for Ladybug Books

L is for Library Books

L is for Lion Books

*From The Peaceful Preschool book list

PHONICS & LETTER FORMATION

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For Letter L we played a lot with our 3-Part Card set that matches the set from Simply Learning. My son and I played memory a lot with these cards. We also paired the cards with Letter L objects since we seemed to have a lot. For more details on how we use our 3-Part Cards see this page (and scroll down for the free printables).

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We also enjoyed all the Ladybug Letter L activities provided by Simply Learning.

  • Stamp It! Write It! Poke It!
  • Line tracing (prewriting & fine motor skills)
  • Letter L search and match

For the line tracing, I always slip the page inside a write-and-wipe pouch and have the kids do it with dry erase markers. That way, if they mess up they can have a chance to re-do it. And, they can revisit it again on a different day. I do this with mazes as well.

 

L IS FOR LADYBUG

READ ALOUD
CLOCK LEARNING

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The Grouchy Ladybug books goes through hours in the day and has little clocks on each page, so we went through and talked about how the little hand shows the hours. My son has already been interested in clock learning so we did not spend a ton of time on this. Later in the day I presented the blank circle and basket of rocks and asked him to assemble the clock all on his own.

SONG

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Since we were working on counting to 12, we watched this old Sesame Street video that my husband found. It’s super random, called The Ladybug Picnic, but is has a nice counting-to-12 rhythm that both my kids have picked up.

COUNTING & NATURE STUDY

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We read our ladybug page from The Big Book of Bugs and talked about how ladybugs like to eat aphids.

I set up this counting activity for my son: Ladybugs on a Leaf. I wanted to add aphids to the leaf to add to the learning and make it fun (he likes to pretend animals are eating things, naturally). We had leftover dyed corn kernels from a Thanksgiving project so we just used those.

I made the ladybug wood craft counters using the following:

FINE MOTOR SKILLS & ART

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My kids love hole punching paper! They spent so much time on this, it was great!

I pre-cut the green leaf you see in the photo, then together we cut 1.25″ circles for the red part of the ladybug, 1″ circles for the black head, and then just a regular hole punch for the dots. Get your glue stick out and piece it all together to make a collage of ladybugs on a leaf. LOTS of fine motor skills here, plus they punched a bunch more holes and cut strips of paper until their hearts’ content.

L IS FOR LIBRARY

READ ALOUD
PLAY, PHONICS, COUNTING, FINE MOTOR SKILLS

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We turned our entire living room in to a pretend library, moving most of our books to a couple of shelves there. We set up an area to check books out, took turns being the librarian, and even had little library cards. We read multiple stories together “story time” style.

I cut out these little paper books and labeled them A-Z, so the librarian kiddos had to sort them A to Z on the shelves.

We then used construction paper, scissors, crayons, and tape to make mini books for our dolls and pretended to read them stories.

LITTLE NAME BOOKS

My son’s name begins with the letter L so we worked on name writing.

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Since we made little books for our dolls (L is for Library) I also had each kid make themselves a little name book. I made these little rectangle pages, each one representing ONE letter of their name with an image corresponding to each letter of their name (e.g. O is for Owl, L is for Ladybug).

The tab on the left hand of the cutout card is what I used to tape each piece together in sequence, so that the little book could be folded up accordion style, and then they can lay it totally flat and see their whole name written out.

My son (4) worked on writing each letter and the filled his name book with his letters. Then, he helped me pick out letter stamps for my daughter’s (2) name book. She then stamped each page of her book with the corresponding letters. She has V for Volcano in her name which was the clear favorite!

LIBRARY FIELD TRIP

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Later, we went to our library and played, found new books to read, and did a little library shelving learning: I had a list of a few books to find specifically by author and showed my son how I go about finding the book I’m looking for.

The kids (as always) helped return some books we had plus check out new ones. Libraries are the best! We are so grateful for ours.

OTHER LETTER L LEARNING

LEAF LION CRAFT

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Simple Lion leaf craft — I made the lion face on a piece of paper and they used Elmer’s glue to attach leaves around the face to look like a lion’s mane. Super easy and my son LOVED this: he made 3 more (and my 2 year old made one)!

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Lion stories we read:

LEAF LACING CARDS

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I took simple images of leaf shapes and printed them on to colored card stock, laminated them, punched holes around the edges and had the kids lace the cards.. This works for a simple nature study: leaf shapes. It also works for color matching: the color strings match the cards. And, of course fine motor skills: lacing requires some extra work and concentration.

MAKE LEMONADE

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For some practical life skills my kids worked on juicing lemons — I needed some of the juice for an appetizer I was making, but then we used the rest to make lemonade! The juicing is definitely hard work for little hands — I helped after they each gave it a try.

Also note: I had to help my son cut the lemon with his knife–the nylon knife didn’t quite work as well as I had hoped.

TAKING L OUTDOORS!

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There is a lot of L-themed fun to be had outdoors:

  • Rake leaves
  • Run in leaf piles
  • Climb on logs
  • Visit a lake
  • Climb a ladder
Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

Letter K Preschool Unit

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OVERVIEW

We stuck to The Peaceful Preschool quite a bit for Letter K and so I will not share all the details here for those days. You should buy the curriculum if you don’t already have it — seriously: it’s perfection! I will be sharing below some of the additional things we did or just bits and pieces from our days with The Peaceful Preschool. Most days are centered around books as a central theme or inspiration.

BIBLE FOCUS 

For more detail on our A-Z Bible Letter Units please visit this page.

K is for Thy Kingdom Come
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The memory verse for The Peaceful Preschool comes from The Lord’s Prayer: “They kingdom come, thy will be done.” We have lately been working on praying The Lord’s Prayer with the kids before bedtime, so I thought I’d create a little mini booklet of this prayer with photo cues to help them memorize it.

You can have this sheet here if you’d like it. I created one version with “trespasses” and another with “debts”.

I cut up each card with a paper cutter. Then, I placed the cut cards in a laminating sheet pocket & laminated it, cut out the cards again, hole punched the corners, then finally added them to a book ring. The idea is that the kids can flip through the booklet as we say the prayer together.

K is for King above all Kings

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For Letter K we also celebrated Jesus as King. We read the Nativity story, complete with a visit from the Three Kings. We also read “The Servant King” story where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. We talked about what it means to be King and what Jesus as King meant and looked like (i.e. power vs. humility).

FYI: my nativity peg doll sets are available for purchase over at my Etsy shop.

BOOKS

*From The Peaceful Preschool book list

I’m not sure if I have said this before, but I really do feel that one of the best things to be doing with my preschooler and tot right now is to read books. We have so many days where I skip planned activities, but we never have a day where we aren’t reading together. I prioritize that above all else when it comes to school.

SONG

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes demonstrated by Jam With Jamie

It’s a stretch, but “Knee” starts with K so it made me think of this song. This is really simple and silly and my kids absolutely LOVED it.

PHONICS & LETTER FORMATION

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As usual, here are my go-to resources & activities for every Letter Unit for phonics & letter formation:

This list is LONG! I never feel like this is a checklist where I have to complete all of this or somehow I’ve failed OR that my son isn’t learning enough. It’s OKAY if we don’t do it all. I give myself 2 weeks, though, because I want to work on these things slowly. Next year I will likely switch to one letter per week but for now I’m content to do a little bit spread out over more time.

LETTER REVIEW

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Note that since we are now on Letter K, I find it more and more important to build in letter review in to our days.

One simple way to do this is: read a favorite ABC book! Lately we have been enjoying the book Alpha Oops!: The Day Z Went First so I had my son go through the alphabet in the order the letters go in that book — all mixed up. We paired sandpaper letter cards with our moveable alphabet.

DAY 1: A KISS FOR LITTLE BEAR

PHONICS

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DAY 1 of a new letter means I introduce our Letter Unit 3-Part Cards!

You can read more about all the ways I use 3-Part Cards on this blog post AND I have some updated free printables over here.

We most recently added a puppet show in to our 3-Part Card games list — it’s a new favorite! My son actually came up with this. We took turns making up silly puppet show stories: a KING used a magic KEY and with the help of a KINGFISHER unlocked a KENNEL to reveal a KANGAROO that promised to be his best friend forever.

I don’t have an elaborate puppet show set up — we just flip a small table on its side and hide behind it. My 2 1/2 year old can do this too — her stories are not super elaborate but they are definitely silly and she does use the cards as prompts!

By using the 3-Part Cards we are inherently working on letter identification, beginning letter sounds, and building vocabulary — not to mention working on storytelling and enhancing our imaginations. I’m definitely doing this again.

READ ALOUD

A Kiss For Little Bear

I’ll be honest: my son did not love this story. It was fine and we did a few activities from The Peaceful Preschool related to it, but we never revisited this book.

COUNTING AND NUMBER FORMATION

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We used little animal figurines to pair with the book and help with a counting activity. I let my son choose which sandpaper numeral card he wanted to try to write. Then, he had to count as many toy animals and then try to write the number in our salt tray.

ART PROJECT

The kids drew pictures for their Grammy, put them in envelopes, stamped them and mailed them to her just like Little Bear in the book.

DAY 2: KATY AND THE BIG SNOW

READ ALOUD

Katy and the Big Snow

LETTER FORMATION

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I shared on our Letter I post how I made these little road letter formation pieces to match the Handwriting Without Tears wood set. My won worked on forming letter K by (1) tracing the letter K on the sandpaper card, (2) placing the letter formation pieces in to a K, and then (3) forming a K out of play dough.

INVITATION TO PLAY

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I set up this invitation to play based on Katy and the Big Snow.

Supplies:

  • Roads
  • Construction vehicles
  • Small houses — a Houses Coloring Page which I printed on yellow, red, and green card stock to match the book illustrations. I did not bother to laminate these.
  • Snow play dough — we made white and teal with glitter (hopefully this will last us through the winter)

There are some inherent map skills in the story (North, South, East, and West) and so we also talked about that as we played.

DAY 3: THE EMPEROR AND THE KITE

READ ALOUD

The Emperor and the Kite

For a simple counting activity, we counted the total number of kids in the book.

PHONICS, SHAPES, AND ART

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DIY scratch art kites (“recipe” via The Peaceful Preschool curriculum) plus I had some scratch art letters from the Target Dollar Spot. We used chopsticks for the scratching!

We also looked at kites and talked about the shapes found in them.

CULTURAL LEARNING & FINE MOTOR SKILLS

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Chinese cultural study using our MAPS book plus we made Chinese flags & we watched some amazing Chinese kite flying videos on YouTube. I’m planning on taking the kids to the Chinese Lantern Festival in Indianapolis later this month.

PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS

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We made God’s eye kites (yarn wrapping around sticks — both kids needed help but enjoyed the activity).

We also made a simplified version of Chinese sesame cookies & enjoyed them with tea and read the story again.

DAY 4: KINGS AND KINGDOMS

READ ALOUD

The Jesus Storybook Bible

  • The King of all Kings
  • The Servant King
STORYTELLING

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For Letter K we also celebrated Jesus as King. We read the Nativity story, complete with a visit from the Three Kings. We also read “The Servant King” story where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. We talked about what it means to be King and what Jesus as King meant and looked like (i.e. power vs. humility).

FYI: my nativity peg doll sets are available for purchase over at my Etsy shop.

READ ALOUD (AGAIN)
STORYTELLING

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To appreciate Kings and Kingdoms we read and enjoyed some fairytale stories like Cinderella. The kids put on crowns and capes and we made shields out of cardboard and played kings and queens. So fun!!

FYI our capes are play silks from Sarah’s Silks and we use these in a wide variety of ways — great for open-ended imaginative play.

POETRY TEA TIME

My Kingdom by Robert Louis Stevenson and A Stick is an Excellent Thing

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Celebrating the best kind of imaginative play: building realms of wonder outdoors with nothing but the natural world and sticks and rocks and mud. My kids don’t really exist outdoors without a stick in tow, and I always seem to stumble upon “special sticks” they carry home and place in our front porch for safe-keeping (or play for another day).

DAY 5: KATY NO POCKET

READ ALOUD

Katy No Pocket

PHONICS, ART SKILLS, COUNTING, AND STORYTELLING

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K is for Kangaroo craft from Simply Learning — instead of printing her letter K, I just had my kids color in our Peaceful Preschool K printout with brown.

We also looked at the Kangaroo page from our Lifetime book for a mini-nature study.

I made craft coin animals to pair with the story and we played with them by putting them in this little felt pocket. This also worked well for a simple counting activity!

CULTURAL STUDY: AUSTRALIA

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Australian cultural study using our MAPS book plus the animal wood craft coins I made.

DAY 6: K IS FOR KEY

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On a different day we did the tin foil K is for Key craft from Simply Learning — I had my kids cut the foil with scissors instead of just rip it off.

I also did a simple Key tracing puzzle. This idea came from Slow And Steady Get Me Ready. Keys have similar shapes in general but vary in the teeth and top shape so it’s not as simple as it seems. The activity is simple (trace a key on to a piece of paper to make a puzzle) but great for shape recognition in real life objects, eye-hand coordination, matching skills, awareness of sizes, and problem solving.

We also played around with our house keys and I had the kids open different locks using my key set.

IN SUMMARY

My son’s favorite book from this unit was by far Katy and the Big Snow — all of Virginia Lee Burton’s books are wonderful and he really latches on to her stories. I’m sure later when I’m remembering what we did for Letter K, the simple activity of playing with snow play dough and pretending to plow with toy trucks will be the most memorable.

Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

How We Use 3-Part Cards

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WHAT ARE 3-PART CARDS

3-Part Cards (also called Nomenclature Cards) are traditionally used in Montessori classrooms and homeschool education. The “3 parts” refer to (1) the picture-only card, (2) the word-only card, and (3) the whole card or “control card” with picture & word. 3-Part Cards are used to enrich language, grow vocabulary, perfect spelling, classify material, and build connections.

We are not a traditional Montessori home but I am certainly inspired by many elements of a Montessori home education. I first tried using 3-Part Cards with my son (then 3 1/2) this past spring to help with wildflower identification. I created our own set of cards using photos my husband took, and I saw first-hand how incredible this educational tool was. I know for sure that they helped my son identify and name the wildflowers on our hikes because of the work we did at home with the 3-Part Cards prior to viewing the wildflowers in the forest.

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Since beginning The Peaceful Preschool in May, we have used a variety of 3-Part Cards every single week. My son has come to expect them and gets so excited when a new batch comes out of the laminator! We had a little learning curve at the beginning to teach my 2 year old not to just play with the cards (by ripping the lamination off!), but now are in a good groove with keeping them in tact and special for learning & games.

WHERE TO FIND 3-PART CARDS

  • If you are following The Peaceful Preschool I’m sure you are already aware of real life photo 3-Part Cards for each Letter Unit created by Lyndsey at Treehouse Schoolhouse. I predominately use these to pair with our curriculum, but also sometimes use the free 3-Part Cards from Kaitlyn at Simply Learning.
  • Make your own 3-Part Cards! I started out using this free template for creating my own 3-Part Cards (e.g. the wildflower cards show above), but have since created my own template that I work off of.
  • There are a lot of Montessori moms out there that offer themed-unit 3-Part Cards for free or for purchase. Teachers Pay Teachers offers a ton of sets. You can use Google or Pinterest to find free sets to match whatever type of unit you are studying (e.g. desert animals, fall leaves, parts of a bird, etc.) or check out my “Additional Resources” section at the bottom of this post for more sources!

HOW TO PREPARE THE 3-PART CARDS

Montessori Print Shop has a detailed list of three great options for how to prepare 3-Part Cards. Personally, I do Option 3 because it requires the least amount of time. I don’t round the corners of my cards because that also requires time and I have not had any issues with the corners bothering my kids.

Supplies I use (affiliate links):

My kids are fascinated by the laminator so any time I laminate I do it while they are around. It doesn’t feel like extra work to prepare the 3-Part Cards since we often do it together.

STORING 3-PART CARDS

There are (I’m sure) much better ideas out there than mine, but here’s just a simple and cheap way to store the cards: A1 envelopes + an old shoebox! I label each envelope and place them in letter order. I’d like to put labelled tabs on the envelopes as I get more, but for now I just keep the sets in alphabetical order, and themed cards (farm animals, planets, desert animals, etc.) towards the back of the shoebox. Like I said, it’s not elaborate, but it does the job.

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USING 3-PART CARDS

Below I’ve listed 17 different ways we have used 3-Part Cards and I will add to this list if we come up with more. Note that we do not do ALL of these with every Letter Unit, but rather find just a couple to incorporate at a time.

The point for me is that we are using the cards in a variety of ways; I do not just expect my son to handle the cards one time and have the material mastered.

Also, for practical reasons — since I am using all that printer ink & laminating sheets (neither of which are cheap) to create the cards, I have this inherent desire to get as much use out of the cards as possible!

And now for my list of 17 ways to use 3-Part Cards…

1. THE THREE PERIOD LESSON

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I typically introduce our Letter Unit 3-Part Cards on the first school day for that corresponding Letter Unit. Often I just do a simple identification with the kids, where we name each card and also review letter sounds. This works well for identifying the beginning letter and beginning letter sound and also for building vocabulary. The kids love this! They find it so fun to see lots of things that start with our new Letter of the Week (2 weeks for us)!

Also note that traditional Montessori use of the 3-Part Cards will involve use of the Three Period Lesson:

  1. Naming (Introduction): “This is a jellyfish.”
  2. Recognition and Association: “Show me the jellyfish.”
  3. Recall (Cognition): Point to the jellyfish and say “What is this?”

For the “Naming” phase I will emphasize the beginning letter sound“This is a jellyfish. J-J-Jellyfish.”

If you’d like to read more about the Three Period Lesson for use with 3-Part Cards, I’d recommend this post by Montessori Print Shop.

I confess I am not overly stringent with use of the Three Period Lesson in our homeschool but use it as a guide and a starting place. I do loosely follow it in that I always start with the Naming Period first before moving on to some of the games listed below (for Recognition & Recall).

2. MATCH WHOLE CARDS TO WHOLE CARDS

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Matching whole card to whole card has been a simple and fun way for my 2 year old to use the cards.  Matching the whole cards helps her make connections but also is great for building her vocabulary. I particularly love using the real photo cards for this as opposed to illustrated cards that use images she already sees in our picture books.

This also requires no fancy setup or extra effort on my part! I just give her all the cards and have her find the matches.

3. TRADITIONAL 3-PART CARD MATCHING: SPLIT CARDS

There are two ways in which I present split card matching work.

The first way is to put all of the whole cards in to our Learning Resources Tabletop Pocket Chart. Then, I present (1) the split picture cards and (2) the split word cards and ask my son to match those two sets together, using the whole cards in the Tabletop Pocket Chart as his guide or “control.”

I confess I was skeptical at first about buying this pocket chart for my little homeschool classroom, but now that we are on Letter K I can say that I absolutely love it and would highly recommend it!

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The second way to present split card matching is to use a divided tray.

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I generally prefer the first way for split card work. Using the tray means my son has to pick up the pile of cards to sift through, and they eventually end up on the table spread out anyway. But, what I do like about the tray is the ability to focus in on one item/card at a time! With the tabletop pocket chart it may be overwhelming to see 18 different items at a time.

4. PLAY MEMORY

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Playing Memory is a super easy way to use the 3-Part Cards because it requires little extra work. I always use whole cards so my son can see the words associated with each picture every time he handles a card, but you certainly could do this with the picture-only cards. We work with 18 pairs at a time but you could always reduce or increase the size of the set for the Memory game.

5. SCAVENGER HUNT

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My kids love scavenger hunts so I will occasionally do a scavenger hunt with our 3-Part Cards! I will hide individual whole cards around our living room, then give each kid a bucket and a mini flashlight (they love hunting with flashlights). The kids find the hidden individual cards and then match what they found to the control card (matching whole card) on a table which I set up in advance.

6. SORT BY LETTER SOUNDS

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For some letters there are more than one beginning letter sounds to review. I know there are many different methods for introducing beginning letter sounds; my strategy has been to go through them as we encounter them, going through the alphabet A through Z.

The above picture shows two sounds letter C makes — obviously Letter C also sometimes makes the “s” sound but we did not have any 3-Part Cards in our set with that beginning letter sound.

Working with my son, I divide and sort the 3-Part Cards based on beginning letter sounds, naming each card and reviewing the sound as I go. Once they are divided, I go back and forth and compare the sounds. I then will mix all the 3-Part Cards back up and have my son try it on his own, having him say each name on the 3-Part Card out loud to help in his sorting

7. SORT BY BEGINNING LETTER

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I will present between one and three sets of Letter Unit 3-Part Cards, all mixed together, then ask my son to divide the cards based on the beginning letter. He typically does this by looking at the letters on the card and matching it to the bowls or dishes I set up. If I am sitting with him, I will ask him to say out loud the word on the card as he goes, but this is also an activity he can do independently. If he works alone, he typically will not say the words out loud and I think he is doing it solely by looking at the letters on the card (as opposed to viewing the image, saying “Apple” in his mind, then thinking “Apple starts with A”, and “This card goes in the A pile”).

8. MATCH WITH SMALL ITEMS

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For most of our Letter Units (but not all) I have been able to gather items from around the house that start with that letter. One way to use the 3-Part Cards is to match the whole cards with corresponding little toys or items. You can present the basket of items plus a basket of the whole cards and ask your child to find matches. Again, this doesn’t work great for every Letter Unit because I know we have had trouble finding items that start with some letters around our house; I didn’t even have a basket of items for Letter J.

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For themed units, it has been great to pair 3-Part Cards with small figurines by Safari LTD. Personally I was not initially excited to buy Safari TOOBs and have lots of tiny plastic toys around my house, but I have seen the value they have in a learning environment. Plus, they really do get a lot of play! My kids love playing with these figurines in sensory bins, with play dough, and even in the bath. I also absolutely love pairing the little toys with real life images. We are not going to encounter a bobcat in real life, so I enjoy when my kids can see what it really looks like in a photo card. These types of 3-Part Card sets that pair with Safari TOOBs are often available for free if you search for them!

9. I SPY

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The classic “I Spy” is a perfect game for 3-Part Cards — it’s something I can easily do with both kids participating. I start by laying out all the cards on a table, and we first go through and name each card to make sure they know what they are. Then, I start by saying “I spy with my little eye something … that swims … and it’s orange…” and keep going until one of the kids guesses it, then they get to keep the card. The kids also like to take turns being the “I Spy” person so I let them.

10. INTERACT WITH A TOY

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Feed the shark a 3-Part Card! We have a little shark finger puppet from IKEA and I use that for a game similar to I Spy. Basically I describe what the shark is hungry for and the kids have to guess what that item is and feed the shark. This is just a way to add a little variety to the I Spy game.

11. MOVEMENT GAMES

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Harold the Helicopter needs a landing pad. This is a movement game we played for letter H — I placed the cards around the floor (living room, bedroom, down the hallway) and my son had to take turns flying the toy helicopter around and move from “landing pad” to “landing pad” (a different 3-Part Card). He named the landing pad as he went — “Harold is coming in for landing! He’s landing on the hammer!

Movement games & large motor skill activities are SO GREAT to include in our school days — in addition to being fun & playful, they can be an excellent brain break from fine motor skill work or just something that takes a lot of focus.

12. WHAT IS MISSING?

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We play “What’s Missing?” quite a bit with a variety of objects, but I do enjoy doing it with our 3-Part Cards as well. Lay out a few cards (I usually start with 3-5 cards), identify each card, have your child close his or her eyes, remove one card, and then have the child open his or her eyes again and identify which one card is missing. This can be challenging by engaging — a great way to use visual clues for association and identification, and it can be a great confidence builder when they get it right!

Alternatively, you could grow the skills of using visual clues by playing a simple memory game: place a few 3-Part Cards on a tray (start with 3-5 and work up higher), identify each card, then cover the entire tray with a hand towel. Ask your child to recall every card that is there.

13. HIDE IN SENSORY BIN & MATCH PAIRS

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Hiding 3-Pard Cards in a sensory bin (rice, lentils, acorns, etc.) provides some added “hunting” fun and sensorial experience to a simple 3-Part Card matching game. I usually do this type of activity with whole cards or picture-only cards. The idea is to find a card in the bin, name it, then find its pair on the table and match it up.

14. PUPPET SHOW

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We most recently added a puppet show in to our 3-Part Card games list — it’s a new favorite! My son actually came up with this. We took turns making up silly puppet show stories: a KING used a magic KEY and with the help of a KINGFISHER unlocked a KENNEL to reveal a KANGAROO that promised to be his best friend forever. I don’t have an elaborate puppet show set up — we just flip a small table on its side and hide behind it. My 2 1/2 year old can do this too — her stories are not super elaborate but they are definitely silly! And by using the 3-Part Cards we are inherently working on letter identification, beginning letter sounds, and building vocabulary — not to mention working on storytelling and enhancing our imaginations.

15. MATCH WHOLE CARDS TO A LARGE SHEET

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Another matching activity with 3-Part Cards is to match cut up whole cards to a single sheet printout. I laminate both the cards and the sheet in this instance.

I like the whole-sheet method for our work with shapes or themed units in particular, but you could also do this with Letter Unit cards. Just print two copies of the whole cards, cut one and don’t cut the other. Match the cut cards to their spot on the whole sheet, having your child name each card as they go.

Note, these shapes cards exist as a free printable I created to use with our Melissa & Doug wood shape sorter, but it can certainly be used if you don’t have that toy.

16. PAIR WITH MOVEABLE ALPHABET

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Pick a 3-Part Card set and have your child select letters from a moveable alphabet to “write” the word. For a pre-reader this is just letter recognition, and you can also work on letter sounds.

17. MATCH REAL PHOTO CARDS TO ILLUSTRATED CARDS

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I created some 3-part cards sets of our own and the intention is that the first number of cards would match the illustrated cards provided for free from Simply Learning (to pair with The Peaceful Preschool Letter Units). My son and I play memory with these two sets (a pair is one illustrated card and one photo card), and for my 2 year old she can do simple matching like shown in the picture.

ADDITIONAL 3-PART CARD RESOURCES

I have several  sets of real photo 3-Part Cards available here — any cards I make for our own learning adventures I will continue to make available there.

I have also compiled a list of my go-to resources for more 3-Part Cards:

Hope that’s helpful! If you want to share activities you do with your 3-Part Cards feel free to comment on this post or send me an email!

Letter Unit Activities · Uncategorized

Letter J Preschool Unit

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OVERVIEW

We spent 2 weeks on our Letter J Unit — two school days during week 1 and two school days during week 2. This time I really focused on sticking to The Peaceful Preschool as much as possible to minimize my overall prep. We were intermixing lots of fall-themed reading & crafts these weeks too so I didn’t want to be totally overwhelmed. We did J is for Joy, J is for Jeep, J is for Jonah, J is for Jam, and J is for Jellyfish.

BIBLE FOCUS 

The Peaceful Preschool curriculum uses the Jonah story as one of its planned days for Letter J, so I opted to do something different for our two-week Bible focus. Instead, I focused on J is for Joy, which is based off of the memory verse.

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J is for Joy (Fruit of the Spirit)

We read a number of Bible stories that focus on joy. Please see our Bible Lessons by Letter Unit page for which stories I used. For our activity we first painted jars with “jam” and then colored little Fruit of the Spirit cards and glued each one to a painted jam jar. I then laminated the final product, punched a hole in each jam card and put them on a book ring to keep in our Bible bin. I have reviewed these with the kids during mealtime every day since we made them.

Supplies:

BOOKS

*From The Peaceful Preschool book list

SONG

We typically work on learning one new song per letter unit. If we get to more and there’s interest, great. But usually I just focus on one because honestly I know I need 2 weeks for it to really sink in!

We did a song & dance called Jump Jim Joe which came from our Games Children Sing & Play book, but it’s a really simple song with jumping actions and you can find videos on YouTube. Since there were 3 of us we didn’t do the “change your partner” bit but just kept going round-and-round as we sang.

PHONICS & LETTER FORMATION

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I’ve found that we can get some focused letter formation time in on days where I have nothing else planned. My son and I get some one-on-one time while my 2 year old naps and he’s usually up for some letter formation & review during those times.

Here are my go-to resources & activities for every Letter Unit for phonics & letter formation:

This list is LONG! I never feel like this is a checklist where I have to complete all of this or somehow I’ve failed OR that my son isn’t learning enough. It’s OKAY if we don’t do it all. I give myself 2 weeks, though, because I want to work on these things slowly. Next year I will likely switch to one letter per week but for now I’m content to do a little bit spread out over more time.

And now for each of our 4 days of school for Letter J…

DAY 1: J IS FOR JEEP

PHONICS

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I introduced Letter J by doing the following:

  • Showing the kids our sandpaper J and j cards, demonstrating how to form the letter with my index finger. I asked them to repeat (note that I’m not actually schooling my 2 year old but she can’t NOT participate so I sometimes say “they” or “them” because she’s a part of all this too. I do not expect her to write the letter J though!)
  • I told them the Letter J sound and they repeated it.
  • The previous day I had set up all of our Letter J 3-Part cards (the whole versions) in our Tabletop Pocket Chart; for school we just went through each picture as I pointed and the kids named the item. We reviewed the letter J sound as we said each item: J-J-Jeep, J-J-Jump, etc.
READ ALOUD

Sheep In A Jeep

We pointed out the rhymes in the story after we had read through it several times.

ART PROJECT & FINE MOTOR SKILLS

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Large scale art piece: roads, sheep, and “mud”

The kids used scissor skills to cut roads, they used fine motor skills using glue-sticks to glue on roads and sheep to our large paper. They helped draw the white lines on the roads and also colored the whole art piece with brown Kwik Stix and crayons to create a muddy scene, using their own creativity. It’s not pretty but they LOVED this!

As we worked on this art project, I also played the audiobook version of Sheep In A Jeep in the background.

PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS

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I originally had in my plan for today “clean something muddy” — well, my daughter had painted our toy sheep with a brown Kwik Stix so when it came time for clean-up I had her clean the sheep with soap and a toothbrush for some added fine motor skills in with the practical life skills. My son just helped clean up after our art project, which is just something he normally does.

COUNTING SKILLS

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Toy car color sorting and counting.

The kids worked together to color sort the cars I had pre-selected and placed in a box for them to grab out at random (the car they chose was a surprise). The roads are just made with construction paper. My son then counted out the cars for each color and placed the corresponding numeral by the road.

OUTDOOR PLAY & LARGE MOTOR SKILLS

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It was a rainy day so we found a bunch of muddy puddles to jump in and had a blast!

Each kid took a toy jeep outside with them as well and hid them in the deep part of the puddles and we pretended to not know where the jeeps were.

POETRY TEA TIME

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The Peaceful Preschool suggests making a tire swing inspired by the tire junk from Sheep in a Jeep, so we read poems related to swings for our poetry tea time:

I do not always pre-plan poetry tea time but certainly have fun with it if I can.



DAY 2: J IS FOR JONAH

READ ALOUD

Jonah story from The Jesus Storybook Bible (“God’s messenger”)

STORYTELLING AND PLAY
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We don’t have a tunnel at home to do the activity suggested in The Peaceful Preschool curriculum, so we instead used our sleeping bags as tunnels, pretending to be inside the belly of the fish like Jonah.

We then played with small sea animals on top of our blue sleeping bag (pretending it was water). We counted and sorted the animals and then used a big shark to be the fish that swallows Jonah. I also made a great big fish out of Duplos that I was pretty proud of.

PHONICS, FINE MOTOR SKILLS, AND ART SKILLS

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After all the storytelling and play, we got out some play dough. I asked my son to first form the Letter J with play dough on his own before adding sea life creatures and then just have a longer free-play session with play dough.

We later also worked on fine motor skills using mazes. I got this fish maze from Mr. Printable. I typically slip printed mazes in to a write and wipe pouch so my son can work on them with dry erase markers and erase as needed if he goes the wrong way. The maze printout also gets much more use that way!



DAY 3: J IS FOR JAM

RHYTHM STICKS SONG & FINE MOTOR SKILLS

After our usual morning routine & prayer for our day we did a rhythm stick song together to begin our school day.

This Is The Way We Tap Our Sticks

I don’t do rhythm sticks every week, but the kids have gotten to know this well enough to sing with it. Now we work on really following the instructions and rhythm. This works as a good transition for my kids from free play to school time. Usually I start with a read aloud invitation but today I wanted to do some phonics & counting before the story, so I thought a rhythm stick song would help the transition to school time.

PHONICS & COUNTING SKILLS

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I placed a jar printable (free) inside a write and wipe pouch, and we looked at our “JAM” 3-Part Card, and my son wrote the letter J on to the jar with a dry erase marker. Then, he found the letter J tiles from the Bananagrams on the table and counted how many J’s in his jar there were. He then repeated this process for letter A, and then letter M.

READ ALOUD

The Giant Jam Sandwich

ART SKILLS

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We began our art session with me painting 3 different kinds of jam on to a piece of paper with spoons, and compared the colors. I provided red, pink, blue, and purple Kwik Stix and Dot Markers.

The kids first painted a bunch of jars that I printed out & cut up using this freebie — filling them up with “jam”. We then set the jars aside to be used on another day*

We then got out our washable tempura paint and painted on to our letter J printout. The kids then each painted their own giant jam sandwich. I made the slices of bread using white and brown construction paper, they painted one slice, we sprinkled black glitter on top to be the hornets from the story, and then they took the second slice of bread and smashed it on top of the one they painted. After making sure the wasps were dead, we peeled them apart to reveal the stamped paint print on the second slice & to let them dry to hang up.

*Note that we used the jars of jam art project for our Bible Focus (Fruit of the Spirit). We had been discussing “joy” both weeks for our Letter J Unit, but I didn’t do an actual J is for Joy activity until Week 2 because I thought it would be fun to coincide the Fruit of the Spirit with our J is for Jam activities.

STORYTELLING FUN

After cleaning up from painting, we used pretend food bread from our play kitchen, found something to represent jam, got out some trucks and cars and buses, built a trailer, built some wasps, and retold theThe Giant Jam Sandwich story over and over. My son adored this story.

PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS

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My son has been working on making his own PB&J sandwiches for lunch. Bread and Jam For Frances and Peanut Butter and Jelly: A Play Rhyme have been fun books to get him more and more excited about prepping his own lunch every day.

POETRY TEA TIME

I do not always try to find “on theme” poems, but today we couldn’t help but enjoy “Peanut Butter Sandwich” by Shel Silverstein from Where the Sidewalk Ends.


DAY 4: J IS FOR JELLYFISH

I kept it simple on this day, mainly focused on a single craft activity, but we first did a quick letter recognition activity. That is, after we watched the Finding Nemo jellyfish scene. That’s right, mamas: I opened my school day with a Disney video. Win!

We also looked at the following books to learn about jellyfish:

PHONICS & COUNTING SKILLS

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Letter J recognition activity: I just took a white piece of paper, quickly drew on some little jellyfish with a pen and made a search-for-J activity. I had my son use our color counting discs and find all the letter J’s, placing a little disc on top. After he found all of them, he counted the total number.

ART SKILLS, COUNTING SKILLS, FINE MOTOR SKILLS, AND NATURE STUDY

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Jellyfish Craft Supplies:

The kids first painted the bell part of their jellyfish craft and we set it aside. I had pre-made the holes because hole punching cardboard is too hard for my kids to do. Then, the kids picked out some pipe cleaners, added as many pony beads as they wanted, and strung the pipe cleaner tentacle on to the bell part (I helped clasp it together). This really was fun and engaging — and something where the kids could do most of the work independently and have fun being creative. The fine motor skills of placing the pony bead on to the pipe cleaners is so simple & brilliant. I’m so happy that this took AWHILE to do. Sometimes I have this tendency to rush through crafts but it was nice to enjoy them meticulously placing beads on pipe cleaners while we talked and listened to music.

When they were finished we punched a hole on the top & made a pipe cleaner handle so they could fly their jellyfish around and play with them (mainly chasing each other and pretending to get stung).

This was definitely a shorter school day than the other three for Letter J mainly because we packed so many skills in to ONE activity: making a jellyfish!

SUMMARY

Thanks for reading and making it to the end! Hopefully something is helpful to you on your preschool journey at home. I’m definitely enjoying documenting our journey in this way (it’s like a little homeschool journal for me!) and I certainly am so grateful for all of you sharing your homeschool journeys as well.