The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Christian Liberty Press Preschool Curriculum Kit Review by Donna Campos

502 West Euclid Avenue
Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004

The Christian Liberty Press Preschool Curriculum Kit includes an Activity Book, a Teacher's Guide, a Preschool Drill Book, the book Trottino's Tale, and a set of five Preschool readers. An additional book, My ABC Bible Verses, and the CLASS Lesson Planner are included in the kit, but they are not covered in this review.

The Activity Book is a 303-page book with a glossy cardstock cover. It has 300 activity pages divided into 30 units, each containing 10 pages. A one-page Introduction begins the book, and the final pages include two tests and a certificate of completion. The entire book is color on white background with wide lines on coloring activities. The comb-bound Teacher's Guide has 74 pages, all grayscale, including 15 pages of Appendix and various support materials. It is a page-by-page instruction guide for every page in the Activity Book, with several activity pages represented on each page of the Guide. Helpful introductory materials include Teacher Hints and a Suggested Outline of Weekly Units and Activities (planned for 34 weeks). The 57-page Drill Book is divided into four sections: "Handwriting," "Alphabet," "Numbers," and "Shapes and Colors." The final page is a Certificate of Completion. Plenty of tracing activities with repetition in full light color representation are provided, with guidance dot markers. Minimal page decorations are included; most pages have a single animated item to represent the sound, activity, or number, but nothing more. The five soft-cover readers have 8 pages each, with vivid full-color illustrations. Trottino's Tale is a soft-cover book of 12 chapters, each 2 to 3 pages in length, plus an Introduction and six pages of Teaching Suggestions broken down by Chapter--for a total of 38 pages. The entire book is in grayscale with green color accenting. Together, the curriculum items present the alphabet, letter sounds, colors, numbers, shapes, pre-reading skills, and more to preschool children. Additional necessary items include pencils, markers, crayons, scissors, glue--the usual school supplies necessary for a workbook program. A general preschool environment is assumed to be available, including access to finger paint, sand tables, play-doh, etc.

All the usual preschool components are found in the Activity book, including patterning, following instructions, opposites, sequencing, go-togethers, matching, rhyme, beginning sounds, and more. The book is worked through in order, with guidance from the Teacher's Guide and additional work in the Drill book. The Drill book is excellent for repetition, but it might not be necessary if a child has a complete grasp of the activity. The Activity Book is divided into three sections. The first section (pages 62-85) has large guidelines for printing (1" high). The second section (pages 94-263) provides both large and smaller guidelines (3/4" high) so that students can use the size that is appropriate for their ability. The final section (277-297) has only the smaller guidelines. Various recordkeeping forms and support materials (alphabet cards and charts) are provided. The progress report enables homeschoolers to track progress twice a year. It is not expected that all students will be reading by the end of the program, but because a few may be, it is included on the form.

The Suggested Outline begins with an evaluation of student skills, and a two-page form is provided in the Appendix to aid in your evaluation. The range of activities is well rounded and includes plenty of sensory experiences to choose from. Both fine and gross motor tasks are included, as well as individual and group activities. The program is very adaptable to the inclusion of older children. Imagine making a cornucopia in week nine and having older children learn about the various fruit and vegetables. You could extend the "footprint penguin" and "handprint turkey" activity into a bird comparison study for older siblings. And of course, while preschoolers are learning about volcanoes in week 26, older siblings can make a working model! Those who do not enjoy workbooks will probably not like the program, as there are ten pages of activities every week. But we found the workbook to be appropriate for younger children, as they are learning basic writing skills and often need more fine motor practice. The brightly colored pages draw interest and help children enjoy the concepts presented. The included readers are great, and the stories reference a morning bible reading time, a desire to attend church and listen attentively, and thankfulness for such things as pets and weather. Trottino's Tale is reminiscent of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit stories, but it includes biblical instruction for parents to use with each chapter as they read to their children. The animals do wear clothes and freely talk to one another. The story reinforces the idea of parent-teachers; for generations rabbit parents have taught rabbit children all about various plants. Young Trottino's curiosity shines as he asks for names of plants, whether or not it is good to eat, and which ones mighty be poisonous. This wonderful story has moral and character value, and it illustrates the joy of learning.

Our household has been all things preschool for many, many years. As a former child-care home, we have taught quite a few preschool programs. Preschool years are the perfect opportunity to present a broad array of learning options--from completing worksheets to digging in the dirt, painting, or cooking. We enjoy these wonderful hands-on years with our children, and they provide parents with valuable insight into each child's learning style. The Christian Liberty Preschool program offers a firm foundation for preschool children. The pages of the Activity book are bright and vivid with color and adorable illustrations. Our son often wanted to keep on going and complete extra pages, as he enjoyed completing the material. The program also provides younger children with more "official looking" as older siblings work alongside them.

We did have one frustration with Trottino's Tale. The book lists chapter titles with the Teaching Suggestions and a number, but the chapters are not marked by number in the Contents or within the actual story. I suggest users go through and note a page number for each chapter in the Teaching Suggestions to more easily jump to where you want to be. But otherwise we enjoyed the program. I really appreciated the inclusion of the drill book, as some of our children needed a lot of repetition to print neatly. If we didn't need the extra work on a particular letter, then we just didn't use those pages. I also liked the wide-line coloring pages; they are excellent for younger preschoolers or those with special needs who find it difficult to stay within the lines. When you consider all that the program includes and the ease of use, the kit is an excellent value.

If you have preschoolers who are eager to learn alongside older siblings or are ready to begin reading and writing skills, look no further than Christian Liberty Press Preschool Kit. Children will find hours of enjoyment and have a positive school experience as they use these materials.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2009