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Berry Best Preschool Curriculum and Craft Kit Review by Dawn Peterson

Berry Best Preschool
PO Box 433
Hampstead, Maryland 21074-1557

The Berry Best Preschool Curriculum and Craft Kit is a pre-packaged monthly curriculum and activity program for ages 2-5. It is designed to be used by daycare providers, preschool groups, and homeschoolers. Each month includes a thematic outline that lists a color, a few letters, numbers, Shape Day, Health Day, Story Day, two themes, and holidays that are incorporated into the daily lessons. Each day of the month is organized by date in its own clear, resealable bag with directions for that day's curriculum and craft activity as well as all the needed supplies (excluding glue, scissors, paint, or coloring tools). The Berry Best Preschool website states, "Our preschool program offers the most creative arts and crafts activities. We recognize the importance of exploration in imagination and creation that early childhood requires. Our child care preschool program provides this through our innovative preschool activities. The crafts will reflect on two different preschool themes per month in addition to the projects that relate to the alphabet for that month too. To list a few of these preschool activities: animals, people, puppets, objects, nature/health/seasonal projects and more! In addition to the adventure in creating, they will also be enhancing coordination and building upon skills."

So what does a typical day look like with using this curriculum? Well, for April 24th, the curriculum activity is Letter Review. For the introduction, you would have the children sit at the table and ask them which letters they've been learning for the month (U, V, and W). For the presentation, you will hold up the worksheet (included in the bag), point to the cracked egg halves at the top and instruct them to find the other halves (which you will have cut out beforehand) and match them up with the right egg and glue them in place. Then you will have them look at the letters on the sheet of paper provided in the bag and tell them to circle all the letters that are upside down. Did they recognize the letters? Were they able to match the eggs together in the correct manner?

Next you will move on to the craft activity, which is making a baby bird. You'll need to provide the scissors, glue, and crayons. At the table, you'll tell the children they will be making another baby animal today and give them some facts about birds such as: no other animal but birds have feathers, birds live in nests and come from eggs. The baby bird they make today will "pop out" of its egg and have lots of feathers. Once you have precut the bird pieces (found in the bag), you will pass them out along with the craft paper and have the children glue the cracked eggs to the edges of the cut out baby bird. Then they will color the bird and glue the feathers on (again, also provided in the bag).

This is a classroom structured and fairly intensive craft-based preschool program. This can be either a pro or a con, depending on what you are looking for. Many homeschools will be more relaxed and personal than what is suggested in the program. However, much of the "scripted-ness" can be easily adapted to fit a homeschool environment. Using the program just for the craft aspect alone would be a wonderful time saver, especially if you have older students in your homeschool and desire some fun and simple projects to help keep your little one busy and learning too.

An important note is that because the curriculum is not Christian in content, holidays such as Easter don't have reference to Christ. There are two days in the month of April that reference Easter and include discussing "who comes on Easter Eve", goodie baskets, and Easter egg hunts. The crafts are making a giant Easter egg and a bunny. Those who are not comfortable with this could skip the two days altogether since the rest of the months activities do not refer to Easter; however, it is likely that some of the other months will need to be adapted as well, either to omit certain holidays or to include what is important to you.

This is a good program for moms who want a pre-packaged preschool program with a lot of crafts, little preparation time, and all the accessories already included. The crafts are easy and you don't have to photocopy pages from a book or print anything out in order to do it - everything is right there for you. And one of the great features Berry Best Preschool offers are packages tailored and priced for the number of children you will be teaching, from one to over ten, so you get exactly what you need.

Product review by Dawn Peterson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2008