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Hands on Homeschooling: Age 2 Review by Camilla Anderson

By Terri Wilson

This one-year preschool curriculum for two-year-old children comes complete in a three-ring binder and includes detailed lesson plans for September through May. It covers phonics, reading, writing, arithmetic, science, health, social studies, Bible and spiritual growth, music, physical movement, readiness skills (what the author calls learning about colors and shapes), personal care, manners, crafts, cooking, and field trips. No supplies come with this curriculum other than a handful of reproducible worksheets.

Ms. Wilson has provided detailed weekly lesson plans, each featuring a different popular Bible story for the week that supports the memory verse for the month. There is a one-page weekly overview plan, followed by more detailed daily plans for Monday through Friday, with space to write notes and lists of supplies to prepare. Each day includes three different activity segments so that by the end of the week, all the above subject areas are covered. Also included are bulletin board ideas as well as ideas for setting up a play areas (centers) with relevant items that support the week's topic. At the beginning of the binder is a helpful "preparation and planning" section with many useful suggestions for how to organize and a list of supplies to prepare and have on hand for the year.

This curriculum was written by an experienced preschool teacher for a preschool setting, and it would work best for a full-time Christian preschool or for a family whose oldest children are of preschool age (so that the entire homeschooling time would be preschool activities). The curriculum is easily adaptable for older (up to age 5) and younger children. For a family where preschooling is not the only type of homeschooling, this curriculum would be difficult to carry out in full; however, it is a gold mine of ideas and activities for teaching and occupying little ones in a constructive manner. So it is still well worth the $80 purchase if you are at a loss for how to prepare your youngest for kindergarten.

This curriculum is complete! It covers every area of learning and seems to have no end of ideas for activities, worksheets, crafts, field trips, and more. In addition to the detailed activities included in the lesson plans, there is an entire section of alternate activities, crafts, and recipes, including a list of helpful websites. Another nice touch is the alphabetical index of activities in the back of the binder, in case you are looking for a specific activity or project (e.g., candle-making). The curriculum is very well written and organized. The parent or teacher who follows this curriculum in full will complete a very thorough, effective, and fun preschool year.

For me, the only drawback I see to this curriculum is the supplies. Not just the paint, construction paper, felt, and play-dough, but also having to make or gather things on a daily basis--things like juice can lids, egg cartons, small dolls, "a colored tree," play cars on a pretend road, empty shoe boxes, shaving cream, buttons, Legos®, beans, beads, letters cut from "something with texture," family photo albums for the housekeeping center, an obstacle course, hula hoops, pre-cut pictures from magazines, Bible story books, road signs, and on and on and on. I am a minimalist. The supplies needed for this curriculum are, for the most part, very simple, but I don't even like having to mess with simple math manipulatives. (We draw figures on notebook paper or use one small container of miniature pop beads). It is also overwhelming to me to even think about decorating and maintaining a bulletin board. Cutting out shapes, letters, decorations, and borders--that type of work will never register on my priority list. That is not for me, but many teachers and parents love this type of detail! However, the lesson plans are written so clearly, even I would find it easy to plan and prepare most of the supplies or simplify the activities to my taste. My primary homeschool efforts involve older children, so I don't desire to do such a complete curriculum with my 2-year-old. However, I am not able to resist some of the wonderful crafts and activities in this book. I can't wait to make the homemade watercolor cakes and then paint a big blue whale. My 2-year-old is going to love it! I also appreciated the ideas for making my own "worksheets" and the ideas for teaching letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. I will use many of these ideas, adapting them for our homeschool schedule and setting. In addition, my oldest son (age 13) is able to do many of the activities in this curriculum with our toddler.

I highly recommend this preschool curriculum. It is flexible, adaptable, and complete. You can dive in at whatever level makes you feel comfortable, or at the level that suits your child(ren). If you have only preschool children, this curriculum is ideal. If you have one preschooler, or if you plan to have more young ones in the future, this would be a great investment. Even if you do not follow the curriculum, just browsing through it will give you all the ideas you need to set up effective lessons and activities that work for your family and your homeschool environment.

Product review by Camilla Anderson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2007