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Five Books, Twenty Minutes, One Charlotte Mason Friendly Home Preschool

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Charlotte Mason for the Early Years

In previous posts, I’ve covered both why we are doing preschool at home this year, and how we are keeping it in line with Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy.  Now I’d like share the five books I have in our preschool basket.

Each of these books is appropriate for my nearly four-year-old. Some are just a touch beyond my 2.5 year old, although he’ll soon grow into them. All of them are joyful and fun.

(A quick note that the links to Amazon below are affiliate links, so I get a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. This hasn’t impacted my review in the slightest.)

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

I’ve come across a few children’s Bibles, but none holds a candle to The Jesus Storybook Bible (affiliate link). In 42 stories of a few pages each, Sally Lloyd-Jones covers the story of God’s redemption of Man through Christ.

Even as an adult, I find myself moved to tears over ‘God’s unfailing, never-giving-up, always-and-forever love’. I love how every single story, including the Old Testament stories, point the reader to Christ.

For our morning time together, we read one story twice a week, usually Mondays and Fridays. In between, I read a portion of the same story from the NIV – The Jesus Storybook Bible has the Scripture reference underneath every story title.

Play and Learn French by Ana Lomba and Marcela Summerville

I have fretted over French for quite a while. My husband is fluent, but English is the language he spoke with his family growing up. It’s never felt natural to him to talk to the boys in French all the time (although that would probably have been the easiest way to teach them).

Despite my efforts to introduce ‘French Day’, ‘French Hour’, ‘French Meal’, ‘French Ten Minutes’, we’ve never managed to regularly speak in French with or around the kids.

I voiced my frustration and regret over this in the comments on another blog, and a kind sould suggested Ana Lomba’s Play and Learn French (affiliate link). It’s perfect.

Each page has a short script in French plus it’s English translation. It’s mostly for a caregiver (as in, the child doesn’t necessarily need to speak). The scripts are set up around every day situations, like getting up, having breakfast, getting dressed.

We spend time on one script a week, every day. At the beginning of the week, I just keep the book out, but by the end I’ve usually memorized it and can do it without. The point is to use the script in context, so that while you are going through the getting dressed script, you are actually getting them dressed. The boys are occassionally echoing the French, and are showing some comprehension already!

Preschool Math at Home by Kate Snow

After a Bible story and French, we play a game together. Once a week, I take a game from Preschool Math at Home by Kate Snow (affiliate link). These are games you can play anytime, and we don’t limit when we play them. We’re just intentional about playing them once a week.

What I love about this book is it is almost entirely a sequence of games to play with your child that build on one another as your child develops mathematical concepts, starting with counting to five and working towards addition and subtraction. The point is to work more or less in order through the book. You are only meant to move on in the book when the child has mastered a concept.

Because the concepts build on each other, I feel that this book is helping me to keep a pulse on where N is in terms of early numeracy skills. There is no rush, no concern, no pressure, but there is a feeling of progress and a sense of direction which I owe to this book.

Discover Reading by Amy Tuttle

Since I am basically an Ambleside Online fangirl, when I saw that there is a book on teaching reading recommended by AO, I really had to have it. Discover Reading by Amy Tuttle is firmly entrenched in Charlotte Mason’s method of teaching reading.

Similar to Preschool Math, Discover Reading reviews Miss Mason’s approach, and then gives a sequence of games and, eventually, lessons to teach reading. We are just starting the pre-reading games, specifically games that encourage the habit of attention and games that help associate letter sounds with each letter.

N pretty much taught himself the names to all the letters on his magnet board. Now we are having fun making letter sounds and taking turns running to the magnet board for them. We only spend as long on this as his interest holds. Any disinterest or boredom and we are done for the day!

Moebius Noodles by Yelena McManaman and Maria Droujkova

I came across this book from an article I read – maybe from The Atlantic – and ordered it the same day. While Preschool Math is focused on more traditional math skills (counting, adding and subtracting, etc.) Moebius Noodles (affiliate link) veers from tradition to introduce more ‘adventurous’ math.

Moebius Noodles is, again, a book of games, but these games are centered on concepts like symmetry and functions. Similar to the Play and Learn French, the authors want you to play around with kids, but use mathematical language in context. So when we fold a paper in half to cut out a shape, we use phrases like ‘line of symmetry’. The games aren’t particularly sequential, but they are simple, interesting, and unintimidating.

I especially appreciate the authors’ desire that no visual aid should be made without the child! It really is about letting the kids play around (and about parents themselves relaxing about math).

Coming Soon

This is what is in our basket now, and while I think we have plenty to keep us going for a good long while, I am already mulling over other things we might incorporate into morning time. Things like practicing singing with Sing Solfa. Or listening to beautiful compositions, or looking at lovely art. I definitely think that gently adding in some riches will round out our time together, as long as we can keep our structured time brief.

So, what is in your preschool basket?

This post is part of my Charlotte Mason and the Early Years series.

A letter from me to you, every week.

Like this post? Join the Around the Thicket newsletter for more ideas, encouragement, and inspiration for your Charlotte Mason journey. You’ll also receive my audio read-along of Charlotte Mason’s School Education. Not sure? Find out more.

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  1. Hi Amy
    thanks for these resources. I have a 3yo boy and we started Preschool Math mid May. It’s such gentle program and fun too!
    I had a quick browse trying to find a similar French book but in Portuguese and didn’t find one. Do you know of one? Much obliged.

    1. Hi Maria, I’m so glad you’re enjoying Preschool Math 🙂 Ana Lomba’s books are in French and Spanish – it doesn’t seem that she has any in Portuguese. I’m not sure of any similar books available – we’ve watched Little Pim on Amazon Prime which has been enjoyable, although I can’t tell yet how effective it is. They have Portuguese as an option.

    1. Gah, IGNORE previous question….found it….the buttons/links/pictures at the top weren’t working but found the seperate box at the bottom, thank you!

  2. What a great resource! My son is only 16 months, but I am already thinking of education options and really love the idea with starting out with Charlotte Mason’s type of curriculum for preschool! Pinning this for later

    1. Perfect time to start thinking about education! Now that we’re into formal lessons for my eldest, I’m so grateful for the time I had when he was really little 😀

  3. I have tried starting French with my 3 year old and while she is highly interested, I am not by any means fluent enough to help alone! We live in Canada and I feel French is a necessary asset for her. I’ve tried finding the book you recommended but can only find used books on Amazon. Have you tried any other French resources and found them to your liking? Thank you, I love all of your articles! They are so helpful.

    1. Hi Jen, and thanks so much! I feel like I have bought SO many resources for French that it’s been a bit like throwing spaghetti at a wall!

      One of the best resources I have found is a weekly class online for my boys. Now, I wouldn’t put a three year old in an online class, but if you had a gentle, play-based French group available in your area, I would make that a priority.

      Getting more confident in my French has helped a lot. My husband helps me out quite a bit on this, but Alice Ayel has some good resources aimed at adult learners.

      Another idea that has really helped has been ‘comprehensible input’. You really want to focus on words and phrases that you can help her understand with gestures, drawings, props, things in real life. It might help to focus on one part of the day, like meal time, and introduce phrases around that. Talkbox Mom takes this approach if you want to look into it.

      I also really like the Alan Mills “French Songs for Learning French” albums. You can also look at storyplayr.com, which is a paid resource, but it has tons and tons of French picture books, many of which have an audio recording that you can listen along with.

      I have yet to find a set curriculum that I’ve really felt works for young learners, but hopefully some of those materials are helpful.

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