Language Arts

The language Arts curriculum was an easy choice. About a year ago, I came across a Facebook post in a homeschool group about a curriculum called Sing Spell Read & Write. I did a little research and quickly decided this would be a good fit for Snowflake. It is a multi-sensory reading program using music and games as it’s primary instruction methods. The main song Snowflake will be learning to start is the ABC Phonics Song

Sing spell read & write teaches letter sounds alongside letter names and puts everything to music, increasing the child’s ability to remember. This will be especially good for Snowflake who can sing a song back after hearing it only one time. The first half of the school year will focus on letter names and sounds. The second half will focus on letter sounds, rhyming words, and reading 3 letter words. 

The second part of our language Arts curriculum will focus on handwriting. While sing spell read & write has a handwriting component, due to Snowflake’s weakness in this area, I felt he needed a more hands-on and direct approach. Rather than just practicing tracing the letters as the sing spell read and write curriculum uses, we are going to take a multi-dimensional approach using the handwriting without tears curriculum. Instead of just tracing letters, HWOT uses much more hands-on instruction practices to teach handwriting. Each day we will be working with letter pieces to build letters, chalk and sponges for wet dry try, and playdoh or a salt tray for tactile practice. The tracing and actual writing are almost considered secondary in this curriculum.  

Choosing these language Arts programs was easy; keeping it in our budget was the difficult part. Thankfully my deal finding and diy skills came in handy. The SSRW curriculum is normally $275 for kindergarten and 1st. I got the instructional portion used for $100. I purchased the workbooks (for this year and next year) new for $50. So, buying used, I was able to save about $125 and the cost per year is about $75. The HWOT curriculum is about $400 for a complete, new curriculum. This was WAY out of reach as our budget for handwriting was closer to $40-50! I purchased the instruction manual and student work books for $30. My handy husband made the wood pieces, I made the mat out of a piece of balsa wood and foam sheet, I found the little chalkboard and sponges in my stash, and finally I created the letter formation cards and bought a pencil box and salt to create a salt tray. We will make playdoh as part of our science next week. This saved us over $100 and I decided the other parts of the curriculum were not necessary for one on one instruction. 

I am excited to see how Snowflake takes to these programs, hand-picked for his learning strengths. 


Spring Time Update 

We are chipping away at the materials for preschool. Some days I don’t think he’s learning anything (today was one of those days), then all of a sudden he amazes me with what he knows (this happened yesterday). We will be continuing our 2+ morning a week school schedule through the summer. He lost a lot during our 2 week vacation and it took him almost a month to catch back up. He doesn’t know any different and it adds structure to our week, while still being flexible, so we will continue on. 

I’ve decided on the curriculum for the fall and I’m excited to dig in and start planning. I’m taking on a bit more of that planning role this coming year vs the mostly pre-planned curriculum we used this year. Soon I’ll give a tour of our new stuff but for now, here’s a look at some of the things we are currently doing. 

As I said above, yesterday he surprised me. After doing a letter identification activity, I decided to try a phonics activity. I put 5 letters in front of him and asked him to point to the one that made the “p-p-p sound as in pig”. He got it correct! I took the p out and replaced it with another letter. We did this for 10 letters (p, c, a, b, j, l, m, t, s, & x). He got 9/10 right!! (The only one he got wrong was x, which is a hard one. He pointed to s…so in a way he got that one right, too.) I’m now even more confident the reading curriculum I chose for next year is going to be the right fit. 

Here are some other things we are working on: 

Easter Egg upper/lower case letter match.

Day & Night Thinking puzzle (our first outside school time in 2017)

Wedgits Thinking puzzle (I following ‘structions!)

Learn and draw animals using finger tip crayons

Lowercase Alphabet search with do a dot markers

Do a dot letters

Kumon cutting skills (for as hard as it is for him to write, his cutting skills are not lacking!)

We also have a new addition to our homeschool room for the next 3ish weeks. Stay tuned for our butterfly adventures! 

Motor Skills

I’m going to try to post once a week this month to highlight our 3 year preschool curriculum. Several people have asked what I do for certain subject areas, often because they want ideas for their own kids. Also, I want to be able to look back and remember what we did. 

We use the timberdoodle curriculum and I supplement with other activities to add variety. What I love about timberdoodle is how much of it is hands on–perfect for my always-on-the-go learner. When highlighting the different activities, I will make a note if the activity is something from timberdoodle and link to their website if I’m able (they change up their curriculum frequently so some things may no longer be available from them). Also, many of the activities fit into more than one category, so you may see them more than once as I go through everything. 

If you’ve followed me on Facebook for any length of time, you’ll know that Snowflake needs no help with his gross motor skills. 😬 He’s been climbing before he could walk and every other gross motor skill since has come naturally. We do provide lots of opportunities for him to practice these skills (and get the energy out). He has 2 trampolines (a big one in the basement and a small rebounder in the living room), we allow him to climb and jump on furniture (within reason), he loves riding his bike and running outside, throwing and catching balls of various sizes, playing on his swing set and spending a lot of time at playgrounds (weather permitting). 

While his gross motor skills are at or above where they should be, his fine motor skills are lacking (very typical for boys). His pencil grasp is still a fisted grasp half the time. It’s definitely getting better (it was fisted grasp 100% of the time back in September) but he’s still behind in this area. I’m working with him daily to get him caught up. Here are my favorite activities for fine motor practice: 

Let’s cut paper: Timberdoodle

Journal: just a notebook and a pencil. I like these pencils because they are easier for little fingers to hold. We practice writing letters, numbers and shapes. Also his name. 

Dry erase board: another medium for us to practice writing. I love this one with the extra wide lines. I got it from the target dollar spot about a year ago. 

Dot to dot for tiny tots: Amazon

Draw and learn animals: originally from timberdoodle but now found on Amazon. I love this book as it teaches placement of facial features and following directions, too. 

Kumon tracing and uppercase letters: I picked these up from 5 Below for $3 each but they are also on Amazon. Here and here

Trail mix and match: originally from timberdoodle but now on Amazon

Reusable sticker pads: he got these as a gift and there are several options on Amazon

Farm finger crayons: these are my all time favorite for helping those fine motor skills. Kids are forced to use their fingertips to draw. We use thes a lot for drawing/writing activities. Found on Amazon

Wooden lacing beads: this is something I’ve had from my years as a daycare provider. It’s similar to the trail mix and match but adds some variety and teaches numbers 1-10. Found here

Alphabet cookie cutters: we use these with play dough or baking sugar cookies. A great fine motor strength building activity. Found here

Letter stamps: I think I picked these up for less than $5 at hobby lobby. Again, these are great for working those fingertips. Any stamps will do, I like the letters because it covers a couple learning concepts. 

So there you have it. My top 12 activities for improving fine motor skills in preschoolers. 😊 Does your child struggle with fine motor skills? What are some of your favorite fine motor activities?