Preschool: What are we doing?

All of Sprout’s school supplies fit in this blue basket and an old shoe box.


What is in there?

The shoe box holds what I’ve been calling “activity bags.” I’ll share more about those in another post. The blue basket has

  • a pencil pouch that holds a couple of pencils, a fun eraser, scissors, and glue;
  • a box of crayons;
  • a book of stickers;
  • four workbooks;
  • and a handwriting tablet.

I bought most of these things from the Dollar Tree store. I intend to use a more formal curriculum soon, so I am using the dollar store workbooks as a sort of introductory course. I don’t know if we will get through all of them before beginning a preschool curriculum or not — I’m taking things one day at a time, over here.

The workbooks are about

  • colors & shapes;
  • alphabet;
  • numbers 1-10;
  • and printing practice.

Since beginning, she has only wanted to work in the colors & shapes workbook. It begins with a page about each color. Here is the first one:

dollar tree workbook for preschool at home | the Beloved Brown-Eyed Girl blog

Also at the bottom is the word for the color that the child can trace.

What is “school” like for us?

Each day, soon after breakfast, I ask Sprout if she would like to do school. Sometimes, she declines. Other times, she excitedly agrees. I let her decide. I do have two rules about scheduling: we don’t do school on Sundays or twice in one day. I want to protect her from burning herself out because she shows some signs of being like her mother. I am the sort of person who begins a project and gets so caught up in it, that I work and work and work until it is finished. I have had to learn to pace myself, and I think it is a good lesson to learn early on.

If she agrees, then she can pick which workbook she wants to work in. She has been choosing the colors & shapes book. I think that is because she is confident about it.

She doesn’t have to finish a page, but if she does, she picks out a sticker to put at the top.

She can skip to another workbook, but cannot go to the next page until the current one is completed. (We stared at a sad, blank apple before she would finally color it!)

Nothing has to be done perfectly, only to the best of her ability.

She has to follow instruction. In this workbook, it comes down to using the color specified in the instructions (she wanted to color the apple blue for one of those days), circling objects, that kind of thing.

She has to work left to right, which mostly comes into play when tracing words. Yes, she did want to trace “orange” backward.

Whenever she “does school,” I encourage her to show Daddy when he gets home. I have noticed that it helps fuel her the following day, and she will sometimes say, “If I finish this page and get a sticker, Daddy will be happy to see it later!”

If she completes a workbook page, she can do an activity from the shoe box. They are fun educational activities that she enjoys, and they make an excellent reward for her.

That’s it! Simple. 😉 Also, inexpensive. I like that.


Homeschooling: Preschool Goals

[In my state, compulsory school attendance begins at age 5, with kindergarten (unless a kindergarten waiver is submitted). You can research your own state’s laws through the HSLDA’s website, here.]

My daughter is 3 years old. In the past 5-6 months, I have noticed a lengthening of her attention span and an eagerness to learn academic subjects (writing, phonics). I knew I would do preschool at home, so I began researching options. I quickly found that the approach highly depends on the goals of the parent. Do I want my kid to regurgitate facts? read or write at an early age? learn exclusively through play? study through “unit” plans?

Well… this is what I want for my child in the next two years:

I want her to spend as much time outdoors as possible, so that she can practice her developing gross motor skills. I want her to hang from the swing set, learn to swing herself, run around the yard, try to climb a tree, find rocks shaped like houses and triangles and hearts, lay in the grass and look at the clouds.

I want her to enjoy “school,” whatever it happens to look like for us. If she isn’t enjoying it, if it is just a chore to her, then it is wrong.

I want her to have some structure and rules around schooling, such as days and times when we will “do school,” working in a particular order and in a particular way. Doing things the right way (working page by page in a workbook, tracing letters in order left to right) is enjoyable. Kids don’t need to partake in reckless abandon in order to have fun.

I want her to practice and develop her fine motor skills for pencil-holding, page-turning, coloring with precision.

That’s it. If she comes out of the next two years writing or reading or doing any arithmetic, that would be great. If not? That’s alright, too. There are benefits to delaying formal schooling that resonate with me.

What were/are your goals for preschool at home?

She is Three

Another year gone away… Sprout is three!

More Big than Little, every day, it seems. I asked her questions for a fun survey… she didn’t really understand some of the questions, so I gave my best guess at what her answers might be, on some of them. 🙂

  • What is your favorite color? “I like blue.” (But later, she told Daddy it is pink.)
  • What is your favorite animal? “I want a tiger.”
  • Favorite book? Oh! The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss (It is her request just about every night.)
  • Favorite show and movie? Veggie Tales, Finding “Mee-mo”, “Pooh Bear” (Pooh’s Grand Adventure)
  • Favorite song? She said she didn’t know, but she sings “Amazing Grace,” “Twinkle Little Star,” and “Victory in Jesus” a lot.
  • Favorite food, snacks? She said “those holes ones” — a.k.a. veggie straws, but also wants yogurt, clementine oranges, and pasta most of the time.
  • Favorite clothes to wear or outfit? Her Minnie Mouse dress gets the most love, these days.
  • Favorite game? “My matching game” — Minnie Mouse Memory game
  • Favorite toy? She said she didn’t know, but she plays with her Alphie robot almost every day.
  • Favorite thing to do outside? “Hmm… swing. Yeah, I like that!”
  • Favorite place to go? “A big, giant Walmart!”
  • Favorite thing about your room? “Um… the floor!”
  • What is the yuckiest food? “The yucky muffins.” (failed peanut butter oat muffins)
  • What do you like to take to bed with you? “My dolly.” Her brother’s bunny is another favorite.

She Knits: Sprout’s Mittens

Sprout plays outside almost every day. The weather will soon turn cold, and she will need these so she can continue to spend time outdoors.

Progression Info
Started – October 13
Completed – October 15
Duration – 2 days = 0.3 weeks

I would say these took me about 4 hours to knit. A rewarding little project that made for a nice break in Christmas stocking knitting.

Pattern Info
Basic Mitten Pattern by Ann Budd
The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns
Size – 2-4 years

This pattern book was a birthday gift from my mom. And I love it! It gives patterns for various basic items (hat, mittens, sweater, etc.) by gauge. Amazing. These mittens were my first project from the book, and I enjoyed working with this book. It was tricky in some places, learning to interpret the way the instructions are given.

The only mistake I made was not making the thumb long enough. But they do fit well enough, at least for this winter. ☺️

Yarn Info
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport
Colorway – Dove Heather
0.52 skeins = 71.1 yds used

Do you recognize this yarn? It was leftover from my Decimal Cardigan and Autumn Mittens. Sprout and I will match in our woolen warmth this winter.



She Sews: Sprout’s Big Girl Backpack

I looked for a small toddler/preschooler backpack a few months ago, but was disappointed at the selection in stores. Everything had cartoon characters plastered all over the front — not really our style. I found a tutorial for a simple drawstring bag, added straps and a ring for hanging, and ta-dah! a toddler backpack.

Started – June 28
Completed – June 29
Duration – 1 day = 0.1 weeks

I could have finished this in 2-3 hours, if I hadn’t made some mistakes on the straps at the beginning. It definitely would take closer to the 2 hour mark if I were to make it again, now that I know the construction.

Pattern Info
Lined Drawstring Bag by In Color Order

The tutorial was great. I added medium-weight fusible interfacing to the main outer pieces to make them sturdier.

For the hanging ring, I cut a strip of fabric 2.5″ wide by 4.5″ long. Along each long end, I folded in 1/4″ and pressed, then folded the entire strip in half lengthwise and pressed. I top-stitched along both long sides (finished 1″ wide). I put the D-ring on, folded the piece in half, and insert it in the center of one seam where the lining is sewn to the outer accent piece.

For the straps, I cut two strips 2.5″ by 22″. I created the straps as I did the strap for the D-ring. Then, I cut about 6″ from each of those strips. The long strips became the top straps and the short strips, the bottom.

I sewed the top straps to the strap adjusters, folding under the end by 1/4″. Then I finished one end of each of the bottom straps by double-folding 1/4″ and stitching that down.

I placed the top straps alongside the D-ring strap when I sewed that seam. (I went back at the very end and stitch as close to the D-ring as I could, to make it look nicer.) I inserted the bottom straps in the seam where the two outer main pieces are sewn together, 3″ from each edge.

The only other change I made was shortening the pull-strings a little. I trimmed about 3-4″ off each one. I used ribbon and burned the ends so they wouldn’t fray.

If I were to make this again, I would lengthen the top straps by 1-2″ and the bottom straps by 3-4″. It fits my toddler just fine with a T-shirt on, but might not fit under a bulky jacket.

Fabric Info
quilting cotton fat quarters (3)