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Hands on Homeschooling, Age 3 Review by Tawnee HintonBy Terri Wilson
Hands on Homeschooling
“Play with a Purpose” is the slogan of Hands on Homeschooling and their preschool lessons plans for age 3. The curriculum was designed by Terri, the owner of Hands on Homeschooling, to provide your 3-year-old with age-appropriate activities and lessons that help him or her master important skills.
The complete Hands on Homeschooling Preschool age 3 comes ready to plan and use in a large binder. It is neatly organized and tabbed for easy use. The first tab discusses the Introduction to the Course followed by Preparation and Planning tab to help the parent plan and prepare the curriculum for a year of learning. Next, the Overview tab provides tables showing what is covered each month in the curriculum. Then there is a separate tab for months September to May. There are also tabs for Alternate Activities, Patterns, and an Index.
Each month covers Reading& Writing Skills, Readiness Skills, Science/Health, Social Studies, and Manners/Personal Care. Each week contains a weekly overview calendar indicating what is covered each day Monday through Friday. Each week has a Bible verse to memorize and a Manners/Healing/Personal Care focus like washing hands, sorting laundry, and saying please and thank you, to name a few.
Dramatic Play area and Bulletin Board suggestions are provided each week. The Alternate Activities at the back of the binder provides activities that can be used instead of a listed activity or to enhance activities.
After the weekly overview calendar, there is a daily graphed schedule indicating in detail each day’s lessons. There are three activities each day, five days per week. There is Reading or Readiness Skills (arithmetic or physical) and Bible every day. The third activity each day includes activities like music, cooking, social studies, science/heath, or a special activity. The order is the same each week for consistency.
The special activities each week were a favorite. These activities included things like playing “Do You Hear What I Hear” to learn about distinguishing songs and making an ocean in a bottle. Some favorites we enjoyed were making shadow shapes and being a wise steward, where we learned about money and spending.
Reading and Readiness Skills build on each other from pre-reading skills like drawing and tracing lines, developing fine motor skills, counting, and coin recognition. There is a wide variety of these activities offered throughout the year.
Throughout the year, the curriculum works up to Reading and Readiness Skills like learning colors, telling time, writing numbers, and matching upper and lowercase letters. Some of the special activities ideas include making a box train, Indian beads, making ornaments, making silly putty, volunteering, and identifying animals on an animal walk.
We typically school four days a week because we have a homeschool community day one day a week. So, we prefer curriculum that is adaptable to a 4-day-a-week schedule. Though Hands on Homeschooling is very structured for a 5-day-per-week school schedule, we found that adding a little time on the four days we school to complete a little more on a project or do one extra activity from another day of the week allowed us to complete all or most of the activities for the week within four days.
Each activity is very timely. For instance, Day 1 Reading Skills might be an introduction to letters by learning about the shape and sound of the letter. The activity might be setting up the bulletin board with pictures of items starting with letters and using capital and lowercase letters of which letter is being studied. For instance, if the student is studying the letter “C” you might show the child capital and lowercase letters, identify them by name, have the child repeat the name—“letter C”—make the sound of the letter and then look at the pictures on the bulletin board and point to the first letter of the label showing that all the things on the board start with the same letter. This activity doesn’t take long and can be reviewed easily. The music for the week might be singing a song, which takes a little time and could be done while cleaning up or setting up for the next activity.
So, in order to make it 4 days, we would do Reading or Readiness Skill and Bible each day as instructed and then 2 alternate activities a couple of the days during the week on the days our schedule best allowed for a little more dedicated time. We also did a little extra on the Bible study another day. And since Friday the child works on writing, we add that short worksheet or activity to our last day of schooling, which worked out for us. Because of the predictable structure of the lesson setup, it was easy to adapt in order to work for us using it 4 days a week.
We very much enjoyed the variety of activities, and my daughter loved making a piggy bank, ocean in a bottle, and her “My book about me.” I loved the ease of using this curriculum—that everything was set up for me and skipping extra activities did not alter the effectiveness of the curriculum. I liked that it is all set up in the binder for easy reference. And the tabs made it easy to navigate. We just put in a sticky note to indicate the page we were on each day, so it was easy to open it up and get started each day.
The overall time investment each day varies. If done 5 days a week, you might spend 20-40 minutes working. Some activities take longer, and you can finish it right away or complete later if needed. We did a couple of the projects in increments. It would totally depend upon your child and their ability to sit still and work on something. Since we added activities, ours took 30-60 minutes a day on average. Typically, we did two 30-minute sessions working on her activities. Sometimes, my older kids wanted to make the projects as well, so that took a little longer. But that’s great because I love when the kids are interested and everyone wants to work on something together. You can always expand on a topic if you have older children joining in. For instance, everyone made the ocean in a bottle. It was great!
My only con would be that it is tabbed by the month and, therefore, is set up for a typical schoolyear, September to May. We don’t always function in that type of school year, and I know many people in the homeschooling community do not. It should probably be set up as “month 1,”“month 2,” or something like that so if you start in any month with your 3-year-old, you start on month 1. The only hiccup is that many of the activities are season or month or holiday specific, so you would have to plan it with reference to “activity” and then refer to a month-appropriate reference page for the activities or something like that. But, otherwise, even though we weren’t working within a typical year, we just started in the September tab and moved forward.
Otherwise, I think it’s a great, age-appropriate curriculum for a 3-year-old preschool curriculum. If you are looking for something you can do with your preschooler to get them started on readiness skills and pre-reading, you will find that this is a great curriculum and all the planning is done for you, which is really nice. Most of the activities require basic supplies that you have around your house, but they are written out for you so you can plan and pre-purchase/gather, which is great as well. Overall, these were very complete and age-appropriate activities to give you something fun to do with your preschooler and get them excited about learning.
-Product review by Tawnee Hinton, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2017