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The Giant Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities for Children 3 to 6

Gryphon House, Inc.

PO Box 207
Beltsville, MD 20704

I must admit that when I was asked to review this product I was slightly skeptical. After all, this book is subtitled "Written by Teachers for Teachers." What on earth could teachers have to offer this homeschooling family? Well, I was in for a pleasant surprise!

While this is technically a book for use by classroom teachers, there are many activities that could easily be integrated into a homeschool environment. The book has more than 500 pages and claims to include more than 600 activities. Judging from what I've read, I'm guessing that is a conservative estimate.

Types of activities include art, dramatic play, finger plays, songs, poems, snacks/cooking, outdoor play, math, and many more. There are definitely some activities (e.g. circle time) that might not be suited for the home environment, where there are typically only one or two students in this age category. But there are probably many creative homeschooling parents who would be able to adapt even these.

The activities are categorized by month, giving you ample opportunity to take advantage of seasonal supplies and holidays. On the other hand, it really wouldn't be a problem to take an activity listed in September and use it in December. More than anything, this book should be considered a reference point for gathering ideas and developing creativity in your teaching.

Most activities include a "more to do" section to help you further develop the concept, and many of them have a "related books" section. Some even include a "related music" section.

I particularly liked the detailed indexes in the back of the book. Not only is there an index of each type of activity by month (e.g., field trips for September), but there is also an index of children's books referenced and a general index. These indexes should make it fairly simple to find whatever you need to add to your homeschool day.

The only drawback I can see to including this book in your reference library is the cost. It retails at a hefty $29.95. While this is likely a fair price for a book of this size and scope, it may be a bit steep for families who are on a limited budget.

Other books in Gryphon House's "Giant Encyclopedia" series include The Giant Encyclopedia of Art and Craft Ideas, The Giant Encyclopedia of Kindergarten Activities, and The Giant Encyclopedia of Theme Activities.

All in all, I would recommend this volume for any homeschooling parents who are running out of fresh ideas for preschoolers. I doubt that you could read this book and not find something that you could do to encourage learning.

Product review by Melanie Bunnett, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, March 2007

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