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RenaInTexas

Independent Learning Programs for PreK

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I know, I know: independent and pre-k don't belong in the same sentence, but this is the situation a family member of mine is in. She has 3 children; 1 sickly and 1 on the way. The oldest (not sickly) is ready to start learning (4 yo). However, with the sickly 2 yo and a new baby coming soon, mom (who is also sick due to the pregnancy) doesn't have the bandwidth to start much hands-on teaching. However, she would like to find some sort of (online/video) program that can start teaching the child something: numbers, letters, sounds, colors, shapes, etc... I didn't start homeschooling until 3rd grade, so I have NO idea. I do know, however, that kids of this generation are very adept at learning from technology. What online/video programs would you recommend? Any workbooks?

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Isn’t this what Sesame Street covers?  And it’s free.

Add Talking Letter Factory for more explicit phonics, and you are set.

We also like Daniel Tiger and Dora the Explorer.

There are lots of workbooks for this age, but none are truly independent.  I’d recommend coloring books, colored pencils, crayons, playdough...  Get those fine motor skills going.

(I have kids this age, but we don’t do any tech or apps, so I have nothing to suggest in that regard.)

 

Edited by Lawyer&Mom
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For Apps I’d recommend starfall. It’s amazing and you can lock them in the app on an iPad and it’s childproof. I wouldn’t  recommend letting a child spend all day on a device though, or even every day. Just me though.

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Agreeing w/ everything above, but I limited screen time in those younger years. How about stations:

Reading: computer (very limited) for reading Starfall or ABC mouse etc

Listening: w/ a cd playing: skip counting songs or just fun age appropriate music (I'm so tempted to say "Suzuki Violin Book 1")

I would rotate the activity: color or play w/ Legos or dolls or Cuisenaire rods ( two for one)

I can't think of a third right now. You get the idea. I would also assign DH read aloud books but I think read alouds are part of life. Maybe that mama would feel up to a few minutes of reading aloud each day?

 

 

 

 

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Star fall and ABC mouse can both be fairly independent and are reasonable uses of screen time. I'd also recommend finding less-messy craft things, like fuzzy pipe cleaners, colored pencils, paper, tissue paper, and glue sticks. Especially of the child can keep those things in one area, even if that area gets a bit messy, that can provide lots of valuable activity time.

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Thank you!! You all have given me somewhere to start. I truly had no idea. I did all of this with my kids -- hands-on. 

I am trying to put together a light plan for her where screen time will be limited.

I am looking into your suggestions now. Thanks!

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Leapfrog and Starfall for phonics.

Signing Time and Salsa for foreign language.

That number app for math. Someone help me out here. Zoom numbers? Like C rods, but the wrong color.

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On 4/25/2018 at 3:53 PM, Slache said:

That number app for math. Someone help me out here. Zoom numbers? Like C rods, but the wrong color.

 

I think you are talking about Dragonbox Numbers? The C-rods-like characters in the game are called Nooms? I would highly recommend both Dragonbox Numbers and Dragonbox Big Numbers for a 4yo. Oh and Todo Math would be great app for them as well.

The Amazon App store has an app called "Phonics Fun On Farm" that is really good for reading. 

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56 minutes ago, sweet2ndchance said:

 

I think you are talking about Dragonbox Numbers? The C-rods-like characters in the game are called Nooms? I would highly recommend both Dragonbox Numbers and Dragonbox Big Numbers for a 4yo. Oh and Todo Math would be great app for them as well.

The Amazon App store has an app called "Phonics Fun On Farm" that is really good for reading. 

Yes! Thank you! 

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There are some really good apps that are very educational:

Letter School

Anything by Duck Duck Moose

The Grandma and Grandpa apps by Fairlady Media

Monkey Preschool apps by THUP Games

Starfall and ABC Mouse are good. I also really like Reading Eggs.

Another thing that might work are Ivy kids kits. These do require some parent interaction but everything is there for you so they are really easy to use. 

Another thing that might work is Quiet Bins. These do require some work to set up but they can be used independently.

Susan in TX

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She could check out MP Jr. K. It’s a great program if she wants to have lesson plans. My only caveat would be to separate the read aloud from the writing. It’s unlikely it will sync up. At 4 my DD loved listening and trying to answer the questions when I did MP Enrichment with DS so she was very excited to have her own book with questions. She had no problem answering the questions but the schedule for the writing was too hard for her at first and now it’s too easy. The books in the program are great and gentle but worth doing at the child’s own pace instead of as scheduled. Everything else could be done while snuggling on the couch. There’s extra crafty projects if she wanted prompts. I’m a craft drop out myself but when I do it DD loves having crafts that match up with her book. 

For apps check out VP Phonic Museum. DD really likes it and I’ve been very impressed by it. 

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If she can handle keeping c rods cleaned up, which can be a pain if there are kids under two in the house, she could try the C Rod Alphabet Book or I think there is a set of c rods activity cards too.

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Maybe some fun workbooks?  This one is reusable:

https://www.amazon.com/School-Zone-Alphabet-Preschool-Kindergarten/dp/1589477812/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1533078920&sr=8-17&keywords=letter+sounds+workbook

All the early Kuman books are nice, here is a number one:

https://www.amazon.com/Book-Numbers-1-30-Kumon-Workbooks/dp/4774307033/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1533079015&sr=1-7&keywords=kumon+workbook

I'm not usually a fan of workbooks at these ages, but they seem like a good idea in this case. My friends whose kids liked workbooks like the Kuman ones.

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I am not an Abeka fan at all. But I will second it in part for PreK. I was gifted the K4 art books for my older two. I used it along with the Rod and Staff ABC preschool workbooks. It has some super nice and easy cut/paste projects to go with seasons, Bible stories, and preschool-y songs. 

I would also suggest the Rod and Staff ABC workbook series. You can get the first pack with Bible Stories for around $20. They aren't completely independent. But the workbooks cover so much to get ready for school. They will fill up a full year if you are doing a few worksheets a week and they cover a lot of stuff. I would rotate those into when she felt up to a bit of teaching/reading time with the preschoolers. I mean, like 5 minutes at a time. 

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Alphablocks on YouTube. It teaches letter names, sounds and it will help with sounding out words.

Numberblocks on YouTube. Teaches numbers name, counting and addition/subtraction to 10.

Leap Frog dvds on phonics and math.

Count, add and sub songs on cd. Got from the library.

Lots of videos and YouTube have songs for abc and counting. 

Audiobooks or read along audiobooks.

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Not "learning" apps per se but Skybrary saved my life when I was pregnant and sick and then when we had a newborn. In the same vein- story podcasts like story time and circle round are awesome when you don't have the energy to read aloud. 

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Can anyone weigh in on ABCmouse vs Starfall? We already have DragonBox, but we're looking for something else that's fun, relatively inexpensive, and covers a wide range of stuff. DH saw an ad for a year of abcmouse for $45 and says it'd cover both of my littles (who are 3.5 and 5). I would love if abcmouse adjusted levels automatically (like prodigy), but it doesn't seem like that's the case, right? Like, you can take their assessments, but you still put your child at a certain level and they stay there until you move them up? Are there any other apps that are an everything-rolled-into-one sort of thing? Reading, math, whatever else is good for this age? I just need a little extra time each day working with my 2E big kids, beyond what quiet times and busy bags can buy me, and it needs to be relatively peaceful (i.e., I don't want to be interrupted constantly  because they're playing off on their own and fighting and beating each other up the whole time...)

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Audiobooks.  For my 4yo, we enjoy the Dr. Seuss collections, the Winnie the Pooh collections as well as AA Milne's poetry, other poetry collections...  These are great at meal times or in the background for low-key crafts.  

A four year old really needs interaction to learn.  My 4yo can certainly use the ipad independently, but that doesn't mean he can learn from it.  It really doesn't take much time though.  Just having good conversations with a 4yo will accomplish so much.  "Your pizza is a circle.  I cut it into fourths." "This paper is square, this paper is rectangular." Honestly, all those curriculums that teach "pre-k skills"- colors, shapes, counting to 10... I'm thinking, "Do people just not talk to their children???"

I think it's called having a learning-rich environment.  You don't need gizmos or apps, just tell your kid his pizza is a circle and his shoes are green and you'll be pretty much set.  My 4yo *wants* to do some learning stuff, so we also play Go Fish with an alphabet playing card deck.  We started with about 8 letters (16) cards, and have just worked our way up.   He also does cuisinaire things.  But again, I sit with him for this.  He also "helps" in the kitchen, which means he makes a giant mess, but understands words like, "Pour, mix, wet, dry..."

Just talk to him.  It's free and easy.  

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1 hour ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

Audiobooks.  For my 4yo, we enjoy the Dr. Seuss collections, the Winnie the Pooh collections as well as AA Milne's poetry, other poetry collections...  These are great at meal times or in the background for low-key crafts.  

A four year old really needs interaction to learn.  My 4yo can certainly use the ipad independently, but that doesn't mean he can learn from it.  It really doesn't take much time though.  Just having good conversations with a 4yo will accomplish so much.  "Your pizza is a circle.  I cut it into fourths." "This paper is square, this paper is rectangular." Honestly, all those curriculums that teach "pre-k skills"- colors, shapes, counting to 10... I'm thinking, "Do people just not talk to their children???"

I think it's called having a learning-rich environment.  You don't need gizmos or apps, just tell your kid his pizza is a circle and his shoes are green and you'll be pretty much set.  My 4yo *wants* to do some learning stuff, so we also play Go Fish with an alphabet playing card deck.  We started with about 8 letters (16) cards, and have just worked our way up.   He also does cuisinaire things.  But again, I sit with him for this.  He also "helps" in the kitchen, which means he makes a giant mess, but understands words like, "Pour, mix, wet, dry..."

Just talk to him.  It's free and easy.  

 

This is an older thread, but I agree with Monica here. However, I've been in the place where even though I already knew all of this to be true, and I was doing it, *I* needed something that felt official and real. Plans are comforting in times of distress. 

In hindsight, I *really* needed a babysitter. Alas, having some kind of academic road to go down was far cheaper and easier to justify. 

I hope the OP's family member got some R&S or Kumon wb's, Starfall and Sesame St. and had a great year 🙂 

@4kookiekids, I always wanted reading eggs but never had the scratch for it. My kids loved Starfall though. Even though I'm still under the impression that Reading Eggs is nicer than Starfall, I can't imagine that my children could have possibly gotten more out of it than they did Starfall. And, never having had it, they never got it in their heads that they enjoyed one over the other. Starfall was the only computer game they were allowed for a long time. 

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1 hour ago, OKBud said:

 

This is an older thread, but I agree with Monica here. However, I've been in the place where even though I already knew all of this to be true, and I was doing it, *I* needed something that felt official and real. Plans are comforting in times of distress. 

In hindsight, I *really* needed a babysitter. Alas, having some kind of academic road to go down was far cheaper and easier to justify. 

I hope the OP's family member got some R&S or Kumon wb's, Starfall and Sesame St. and had a great year 🙂 

@4kookiekids, I always wanted reading eggs but never had the scratch for it. My kids loved Starfall though. Even though I'm still under the impression that Reading Eggs is nicer than Starfall, I can't imagine that my children could have possibly gotten more out of it than they did Starfall. And, never having had it, they never got it in their heads that they enjoyed one over the other. Starfall was the only computer game they were allowed for a long time. 

 

Yeah, I knew it was an older thread, but my question didn't really seem like a "new" one when this thread was still pretty high up on the list - I'm never really sure when to start a new thread and when to piggyback off of a related one. 🙂  I'd agree that a babysitter for 1-2 hours a day for my littles would be ideal. But that's not a possibility for us right now, so I just need to make due filling that 1-2 hrs with some quiet time, some busy bag time, and some screen time.

Thanks for the feedback on starfall! 🙂

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Again, older thread....but who doesn't need some stuff that a preschooler can do independently for a few minutes?!

Here are some things that can keep my 4-5 year old occupied:

Non Screen Things:

Listening To Things:  Set them up with an activity, and give them something to listen to that isn't too long.   Then, when the audiobook is over, switch to a new activity and something else to listen to.  I like to buy cheap CD players for this since most preschoolers can start and stop the audio by themselves.  They can also learn to change out disks.   

1)  Music Appreciation:   Classical Kids-These are great audiobooks for this age that can teach about various composers.

2)  History and Literature:  Magic Tree House, Fairy Tale Collections, American Tall Tales Collections, Jim Weiss Audiobooks, Mercy Watson, Rabitt Ears Listening Library Collections:  Most kids this age seem to like these.   

3)  Science and Nature:  Magic School Bus Audios and Read Listen and Wonder series

Activities that are independent:  (Again, get them started and have them work on them for about 30 mins working up to an hour.)

1) Foam Stickers...especially themed collections that they can build little scenes with.

2)  Paint with water books from the dollar store. (Semi-Independent.)   

3)  Dot-to-Dots and Easy Mazes

4)  Play Dough (give them quests:  make food for a restaurant, make a bunch of cookies, make emoji faces, etc.)

5)  Legos (Hint:  We have been buying these off-brand lego mini-figures from Amazon.  They are cheap and the kids can spend a lot of time building them and then playing with them.)

6)  Kumon cutting books and scissors / Kumon easy craft book / Kumon sticker and paste books.   (Seriously, your child is going to survive with some safety scissors)

7)  Washing baby dolls

8.  Setting up Train Tracks for hot wheel cars, 

9)  in the summer:  draw with sidewalk chalk or "paint" something outside with just water and a paintbrush.

10)  Easy Puzzles / Magnetic Pattern Blocks 

 

Good TV Shows:

1)  Magic School Bus

2)  Wild Kratz

Good Apps:

1) Dragon Box Numbers

2)  Star FAll

3) Teach your monster to read

4)  The logic of English Phonics app

5)  A Handwriting App where they trace letters

6)  Reading Eggs / Math Seeds

 

 

 

Edited by TheAttachedMama
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Does her state have the Upstart Waterford program? Mine just started it this year and I LOVE it! It is the best online prk program I have ever used and I have used a lot. For us it doesn't cost a thing and they provide the computer/internet if needed.

Edited by seemesew

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