With all that’s been going on with the Corona Virus Pandemic, particularly the closures of schools, I wanted to share the resources our family has found to be the most enriching and easy to use to help our preschooler get ready for kindergarten in the fall. Fingers crossed all schools open as normal after summer ends this year…..
I know many of my friends, moms and dads in our lives are struggling right now to find the most helpful tools to teach their young children at home.
What I’ve learned from teaching Olivia how to read, simple math and subtraction is their little brains can only focus at this age for short periods of time. Somedays it’s 20 minutes, some days it’s 30 minuets and other days we can “play school” for 1-2 hours depending on how engaged she stays. The point is not to put a lot of pressure on yourself or your child to keep going. Sometimes you need a snack break, a play break or a snuggle break. There is research that shows young children only can withstand short periods of learning at a time. So less pressure and more fun is basically how to make this work for you and your family.
These materials below may help prepare your pre-schooler or kindergartener for school and help them master the skills necessary for reading and writing. These are the foundations of learning and they all build on each other. These are our favorite materials but these may not work for you and your child. We found that playing games makes learning seem more fun and not like a chore.
Reading & Letter Sounds
Learning to recite your ABC’s is the foundation of reading and knowing lower case and upper case letters. Then the next step is learning letter sounds and knowing that vowels have 2 sounds.
We used Pink Fong ABC Phonics to help Olivia learn the alphabet. We would recite the alphabet and point to letters as we sung the song.
Workbooks were also a big help with teaching Olivia to learn her letters and write her letters. Learn to Read Activity Book was one of the more helpful and complete workbooks I found. It has letters, letter sounds, blending and more. We still have not finished this book but we both enjoyed it.
To jump into teaching Olivia how to read, I purchased 4 Weeks to Reading’s program and used the DVD’s in the car and followed their provided curriculum. Their books are similar to BOB Books but I find their graphics a little lackluster. We have progressed to reading but we didn’t learn in 4 weeks. That was partly my fault and Olivia’s interest level. We took about 3 months to get to wear she could read their level 1 books but it is very exciting when you see your child put it all together.
Word Families start once children know their letter sounds and can start blending together the sounds to form simple words such as mom, cat, dog, hog, pig, wig and more.
These books called “Flip a Word Books” I found extremely helpful to get that concept to resonate. We bought ours used on Amazon from libraries that were selling their copies. I wish I could have found a way to purchase the entire edition but I had to find them individually for some reason. I highly recommend these books. They are a super smart way to teach this concept and make the job easier.
Another workbook that we found very helpful teaching sounds and teaching sounding out simple 3-letter words was this book, ABC See, Hear, Do Level 1. They make higher levels too that we plan on trying for more complex blends and more.
We have just ventured into the world of blends and fumbling through our way of explaining and teaching them. These books are fun and I use them by reading out loud a different book each day and emphasizing the particular blend we are working on. Meet the Phonics Blends Books are sturdy and introduce new words that all start with a particular blending sound.
Site words are words that our children have to memorize because they can’t be sound out. Once they master the art of letter sounds and can read the easy words like CAT, MUG, and more they need to learn these words in order to read the easy reader books. I started site words in conjunction with the letter sounds but I was just winging it.
These flashcards were my absolute favorite find. They make so much sense to me and really help Olivia memorize her site words. At first I thought she was just guessing and memorizing them by the cards but when we started reading the BOB books and beginning reader books I was so impressed and shocked that these cards actually worked. It takes a lot of repetition and time but just like riding a bike, once it clicks with them it is amazing to see these work.
There are Lists A, B, C, and so on. I started with A & B and then I slowly incorporate new flashcards as I feel Olivia is ready.
We enjoyed using this sight word workbook because for each word your child does in the book, they can color a star to show progression. There are so many great site word workbooks available to choose from so find one that your child enjoys.
Zingo! Sight Words is a great game to play when teaching sight words. It’s basically Bingo with a cool contraption to get your chips and it uses words and photos to help back up the recognition of the words.
Here is another form of Bingo to teach Sight Words. Sight Words Level 1 Bingo – We enjoy playing this version. I make Olivia read me the words on the board before the start of the game as a refresher and for more memorization of the words.
I really like Zingo’s products and this one also helps with reading and simple word recognition. Zingo Word Builder is a fun way to switch up the bingo learning game.
Sight Words Swat is a great way to help kids spot their sight words. They have colors of the little bugs that advance as your child advances.
Workbooks and worksheets from Teacherspayteachers.com are my go to’s for practice with writing numbers and letters. The wipe off books are very efficient and effective as well.
As Olivia progressed with her writing and spelling simple words we found this Hangman game by Melissa & Doug helps to reinforce writing and can reinforce reading as well. Olivia was 5+ when we started using this game as a learning tool.
Numbers are more of a repetition game. We use this colorful 100 chart and we play around with it and count by 10’s, and go down columns and skip rows. We have slowly started to count by 100’s and talk through the pattern of counting to 1,000 by 100’s.
These inexpensive flashcards are also helpful. We lay them out in a haphazard way and use these cute pointers to call out the number and she finds it or she just reads the cards.
I try to explain that numbers have patterns and when you get to counting by 20’s and higher you are “reading” the number. We love using wipe off workbooks to practice writing numbers as well.
Learning about money goes hand in hand with learning early math concepts. We practice teaching money in real life using real change and through old school candy machines or claw machines with the stuffed animals.
We also started paying Olivia for simple chores. A quarter can go a long way at the Dollar Store or local candy store.
I use this chart to go through what a penny, nickel, dime and quarters equal and we discuss dollars and their value.
We started introducing Olivia to basic and very simple addition and subtraction around age 3 or 4. We use our fingers when adding and subtracting 10, I’ve introduced her to a number line and we use workbooks and games as well to reinforce the concepts. She knows her plus sign, minus sign and equals signs.
Geography and learning about the United States is more of a 1st or 2nd grade level skill but since we love to travel as a family we started to incorporate the concept early. When we travel we discuss where we are going, the differences in scenery and traveling by car or plane.
This Melissa & Doug magnetic puzzle map is great because the puzzle pieces are the shapes of the actual states. Many of the puzzles out there don’t have this important feature. This puzzle we do maybe once a month or so and we talk about how our different sets of grandparents live in the different states to make the concepts relevant.
Telling Time & Clocks
We started teaching Olivia about time when she was around 3 years old. However, we started with pretty basic concepts. She can now understand the concept of the hour hand and she can slightly understand the meaning of 1/2 an hour. Teaching time I find to be complex because the concept starts to use fractions as you progress and I believe that is more of a 1st or 2nd grade skill. These products helped me introduce the concept of time and reading a clock with hands.
Days of the Week/Months of the Year
I found the easiest way to teach the days of the week and the months of the year were the cute songs that exist by Mother Goose. They are fun to sing and then we would apply them by talking about what day we had what activities and which days were preschool days. We also bought a family photo calendar for Olivia’s room and she also has a velcro school calendar we use.
Science & STEM Products
There are so many kits and ways to incorporate simple science concepts into your day. We have enjoyed the make your own lip gloss kits, the Crayola crayon melter and the Crayola mold maker where we have made our own mini crayons shaped as cars and trains.
These Mental Blox are another great way to incorporate math, reasoning and shapes into your day. Learning Resources in general have really great products for early learning.
Art Classes – Learning Colors & More
This is my favorite “subject” to teach. I tend to be more creative than mathematically programmed so coloring and crafts is my strong point. Crayons, markers, chalk and and tons of crafts ordered on Amazon are our favorite activities.
These are just some of our favorite learning resources. This post is not sponsored and all my opinions are my own. We’ll share more as we get the time to add them. There are also many iPad apps that we love sharing with friends and family to help make learning more fun and more accessible to everyone.