About the Curriculum
We used the Rod & Staff Publishers “early preschool” activity workbooks for Sprout’s preschool curriculum. It is a set of 4 workbooks that costs about $10. Each book has 30-35 pages. They are noted as being for 3- to 4-year-olds. The publisher notes in the beginning of each workbook that the activities will be very easy for some 3-year-olds while possibly too difficult for some 4-year-olds. They advise parents to attempt these workbooks with a 3-year-old, but to not be discouraged if the child is not ready for them.
The workbooks focus on:
- pre-writing skills
- problem solving
- shape recognition
- color recognition
- color word recognition
- writing numbers 1-4
- counting up to 4
The skills slowly build upon each other and are mixed together nicely. The images are plain, simple, black-and-white realistic line drawings. The books use two children, Samuel and Sarah, to illustrate concepts and present the activities to the child.
Book 1: About Three
These are some sample pages from the first book. It mostly contains pre-writing skills pages — matching using straight lines and tracing a variety of line types. The child should be required to always make the lines from left to right and to work from the top of the page to the bottom.
Book 2: Bigger Steps
This book builds on those pre-writing skills even more and adds in writing numbers 1 and 2. There is some basic problem solving and a lot of matching. It ends with a single page on number recognition for numbers 1-5.
Book 3: Color, Count, and Cut
As the title suggests, this book is all about colors and shapes, counting, and cutting and pasting. Each color (red, yellow, green, blue, orange, purple, brown, and black) is introduced along with a shape (octagon, triangle, rectangle, circle, diamond, oval, pentagon, and square) — and those pairings are used throughout this and the next book (octagons are always red, for example). This is to help teach color word recognition, I think.
There is a lot of coloring in this book. The images to be colored are generally very large, but simple. Some of them teach other concepts, such as the image of the stoplight. There is also basic cutting and pasting in this book — simple squares to be cut and matched into the appropriate boxes. There is counting and writing up to number 3.
Book 4: Doing My Best
This book combines all of the skills from the previous three books, and adds in more problem solving and writing up to number 4. Color word recognition is more important in this book, as shown in the first two pictures. The pages in this book also take more time to complete.
She isn’t old enough to really explain her opinions to me, so I’ll do my best to interpret based on her behavior while doing her preschool work. She worked in these books for about 2 months without much of a schedule or structure. She started them just after turning 3.5 years old.
She most enjoys the pre-writing skill building. She likes to match, circle, and cross out items. She likes to write numbers, though she struggles with some perfectionism. As her writing improves, she becomes more eager to practice writing the numbers. She learned most of the color words through these workbooks. She most enjoys cutting and gluing. Her scissor skills improved dramatically through just these books (and time and physical maturity, of course). She also likes to solve problems.
She dislikes coloring the most. She colors for fun in coloring books and on paper without a second thought. She did not appreciate being told what colors to use on which objects. She rushed through most of the coloring, and it was a struggle to even get her to do it at all. We ended up weaving in book D with book C to break up the monotony of all that coloring in the third book.
I most appreciate the simplicity of the plain line drawings in these books. They are not bright, colorful, and overly stimulating. For most of the books, the time requirement for each page is perfect — about 10-15 minutes for Sprout. That is about how long a 3-year-old can focus. Toward the end of the last book, she was being stretched to closer to 20 minutes per page, which I also appreciated. I like to recognize what stage a child is in and of what they are capable while still gently coaxing them to mature and grow.
The third book was frustrating to me because there was a lot of coloring. Maybe it would be a welcome relief to some children, but Sprout was unhappy with it. Some of the images to be colored were quite large and daunting to a child who isn’t excited to color them. Also, the book focused heavily on teaching the colors through repetition. Sprout did not need to be taught the colors and could have done without so much repetition. As I said, I could see some children loving the third book most of all, but it wasn’t enjoyable for Sprout.
I liked this preschool curriculum enough to get the next set of books for Sprout to use for kindergarten. I intend to use these again for JB when he turns 3 years old in the fall, so that he can “do school” with his sister, which I know he will appreciate.
If you are looking for an inexpensive, easy transition into homeschooling with a toddler/preschooler, I recommend these books.