I'm striving for greater intentionality in my days with the little ones as a first step towards homeschooling. Looking through "preschool" curriculums has been daunting, but it's given me some direction in how to structure our days. We already have a routine, we just need some themes and activities to keep us focused (read: happy, not bored!). I really haven't done a lot of looking at curriculum so far, but I think I have a general idea of approach that will work for us. Please feel free to share what you have done as "home-preschooling" with your children; I would love to hear some other options.
My little guy has just turned 2, so sometime this spring I plan to purchase the Sonlight P3-4 curriculum, which is really just a collection of great, classic children's literature. There are no formal lessons or schedule, you just read through the books as desired. A great way to encourage reading, I think, plus it will get our kids library off to a great start. I expect this to last us at least a year, maybe more, and provide a good foundation for the activities that we do.
What does this have to do with a nature table? Along with our reading, I am planning to use a Waldorf-style approach to other learning and playing activities during our day. While I can't get completely on board with some of the philosophies and beliefs held by the founder of Waldorf education, I appreciate it's emphasis on handwork and the rhythms and routines and practical skills of home life. I also appreciate it's structure around the calendar, with celebrations of feasts and festivals. This fits in nicely with our efforts to observe and celebrate our year using the church calendar.
So with yesterday marking the beginning of Lent, we set up a Lenten nature table: spare and simple, with the promise of new life. We will be adding plain soil to our ceramic bowl just as soon as it stops raining and dries out a little bit! Our soil will remain lifeless until we sow some grass seed the week of Palm Sunday. With some watering, we should have beautiful green grass to greet us Easter morning.
This week our theme was Lent, so along with the nature table, we created some Alleluia Eggs on Shrove Tuesday to add to our yearly tradition. You can read more about Alleluia Eggs and "burying the alleluia" here. We won't be technically "burying" the alleluia this year at home, as the kids are too young to understand, and my little guy's favorite song has an alleluia chorus (this I want to encourage!). But I hope for it to develop into a tradition when the kids are of an age to understand and really participate.
For the eggs, we just used plain wooden eggs with a little crayon resist first, then watercolors over the top. Our eggs don't have the word Alleluia written on them this year, but a dark crayon would be a good way to accomplish this easily (and good letter practice for kids), or use a permanent marker. With such young ones, I've found that the fewer colors on offer to paint with the better, as too many colors has a tendency to become brown and ugly. I gave the little guy a dark green crayon, with green and yellow watercolors. Another color tip: use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel if you want to give more than one color, but avoid brown!
Just a couple new traditions to share, and I'm hoping to develop more as we go along! I would love to hear of any Lenten traditions you keep with your family!