Tag: tot school

Best Apple Books for Kids

Best Apple Books for Kids

September is here, and we are starting our family apple unit study!

Best Apple Books for Kids | picture book recommendations, apple books for toddlers, apple books preschool, apple unit study

I love this time of year. We are entering our sixth year of homeschooling, and every year we start with our apple activities. Now that we live in the Midwest, we even get to take a family field trip to the apple orchard later this month!

(Did you get your FREE apple-themed invitations to play download?)

Before we kick off any unit of study, I always like to begin with a big stack of picture books. I place them all in a basket in the living room, near the couch. The girls browse through them often throughout the day, and make a list of activity ideas for later in the month.

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

Our all-time favorite apple book is Secrets of the Apple Tree from Usborne Books and More. I love the interactive aspect of the book, as well as all the science information! The girls love using a flashlight to find all the hidden pictures. Secrets of the Apple Tree is definitely the BEST of the best apple books for kids. (Learn more about the book here in my UBAM store.)

Best Apple Books for Kids | picture book recommendations, apple books for toddlers, apple books preschool, apple unit study

Best Apple Books: Fiction

One book we love is Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. The end pages feature illustrations of the apple tree in all four seasons. The book features a family of rabbits who go to the orchard. Throughout the book, there are lots of opportunities for discussion and learning, including:

  • a chart of different varieties of apples, their attributes, and uses
  • a diagram of the different parts of an apple
  • recipes
  • an art project
  • and even an apple song (with sheet music!)

Our friend Vicki at Babies to Bookworms recommended The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall. It tells the story of an apple tree throughout all four seasons through the eyes of two young children. (And the last page of the book includes more details about the pollination process and a recipe for apple pie!) Be sure to visit Vicki’s site for activity ideas for this great book.

With a first grader in the family this year, I also checked out Fancy Nancy: Apples Galore. Nancy’s class takes a trip to the apple orchard and learns a lesson about following directions and friendship. As always, this Fancy Nancy book introduces lots of excellent new vocabulary words!


Best Apple Books for Kids | picture book recommendations, apple books for toddlers, apple books preschool, apple unit study

Best Apple Books: Non-Fiction 

While my girls love reading fiction, I think it’s important to include non-fiction text as well. Julie Murray’s Apples features a table of contents, a glossary, and an index. The pictures are bright and colorful, and the text is just right for 2nd and 3rd grade readers (and for family read-aloud time)!

How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro is a terrific overview of the pollination process for elementary students and preschoolers with a longer attention span. We will definitely use this one for our science lessons this year!

Gail Gibbons is one of our family’s favorites authors, so of course we grabbed her Apples book. This book includes a little of the history of apples in the United States, including a brief mention of Johnny Appleseed. (If you have elementary-age children, they might enjoy Who Was Johnny Appleseed?, a longer biography about John Chapman.)


Shop the Best Apple Books for Kids:


As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, we like to store our unit books in an obvious, can’t-miss spot in the living room. Since we homeschool, we often use picture books instead of a textbook for science and history studies–but many of these books can also be enjoyed during family read-aloud time.

Check out 12 Ways to Incorporate Reading Into Your Day!

Did I miss any of the best apple books? Share your recommendation below!

Best Apple Books for Kids | picture book recommendations, apple books for toddlers, apple books preschool, apple unit study

Tot School Must-Haves

Tot School Must-Haves

Five years ago, we decided to do preschool at home with our older daughter. As a former classroom teacher, I may have overdone “the school at home” a bit. (I totally did, and you can read about it here.) For some unknown reason, it seems we–as parents–are in a continual rush to push our children ahead to the next stage.

Did you know the number one search result for both “tot school” and “preschool at home” is all about choosing curriculum? Which program will prepare my child for Kindergarten?

The truth is, NO curriculum or program can give your child exactly what he or she needs to get ready for Kindergarten.

While I am not anti-curriculum, I don’t think it’s necessary for MOST families who choose to do tot school or preschool at home. Curriculum is simply meant to be a jumping off point for teachers (and homeschooling parents). All too often, we become more focused on teaching the next lesson in the book rather than what our child needs to learn next.

"Play is the work of the child." --Maria Montessori | play-based learning, learning through play, developmentally-appropriate practice, preschool curriculum

More important than curriculum–in my opinion–is the learning environment we create for our children.

It starts with curating our toys (and books) for maximum impact. We want to choose items that can be used for open-ended play, in a multitude of ways, throughout the year. What objects can be mixed and matched to teach our child new concepts?

Recommended items for your tot school or preschool at home from an experienced homeschooling mom! | learning through play, homeschool curriculum recommendations, personalized learning

Here are some of our favorite “must-haves” for every family considering tot school or preschool at home:

 (Note: affiliate links included at no cost to you!)

Manipulatives

  • pom poms
  • clothespins
  • colored straws
  • pony beads
  • pipe cleaners

Accessories

  • muffin tin
  • glass jar
  • empty Parmesan cheese container
  • funnel
  • “chip and dip” container
  • trays
  • tongs and other fine motor tools

Extras

Don’t forget

  • regular trips to the library
  • reading aloud
  • lots (and lots!) of time outside

 


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We are five years into our homeschooling journey, and I feel like I am a better teacher now than right after college. I see my children’s unique strengths and weaknesses, understand the way they each learn best, and supplement our curriculum with hands-on learning experiences custom-designed to their needs.

The benefit of a personalized learning plan is this:
education becomes a lifestyle rather than a year’s worth of curriculum.

If you would like help creating a personalized learning plan for your child, leave me a comment! I’d love to chat. (And don’t forget to grab your freebie below.)


Grab your FREE Learning at Home Checklist! | child development, family relationships, homeschooling advice, homeschooling for beginners, tot school

Grab your FREE Learning at Home Checklist–10 questions to get you thinking about
tot school, preschool at home, or homeschooling for Kindergarten!

Preschool at Home: 4 Tips to Get You Started!

Preschool at Home: 4 Tips to Get You Started!

We started homeschooling five years ago right after our second daughter, Kate, was born. Before Kate’s birth, I had been teaching at a local Mother’s Day Out program where our older daughter, Addie, was also enrolled as a student three days a week. The entire time I was pregnant, the PLAN was that I would return to the classroom when Kate turned six weeks old.

As those last few days of my (unpaid) maternity leave ran out, I just knew that there was no way we would be returning. I had glimpsed the simple joy of being home with my girls, learning together through play, and so…we made the choice to start our homeschooling journey.

(Financial sidenote: suffice it to say that preschool teachers are not paid very much. I found a seasonal part-time retail job, working evenings and weekends when my husband could be home with our girls, to make up the difference in our monthly income. About the time Kate turned six months old, I started teaching sign language classes at home and have been self-employed ever since.)

Those first few months, I did everything I could to bring “school” into our home. I created a little area in our home for Addie to do her school work, including a toddler-sized desk and an American flag. I bought curriculum, wrote out daily lesson plans, and scheduled our day into fifteen-minute increments. My teacher gene kicked in immediately, and I *may* have overdone it…just a bit. 😉

Preschool at Home: What I've Learned | child development, family relationships, homeschooling advice, homeschooling for beginners, tot school

When I compare those first few months of homeschooling Addie to our current preK schedule for Kate, it’s clear to see how much I’ve relaxed in the past four years. So many of my friends are now homeschooling their oldest children through preschool, and I find myself sharing the same advice with all of them:

  • Try not to push so hard. Children really do learn through play!
  • Reading aloud to your little ones IS enough! Worry about teaching your children to read after their 5th birthday–if they haven’t picked it up on their own yet.
  • Discover your child’s learning style. Both of my girls are auditory learners, so making educational playlists with recorded poems, favorite songs, important information like our address, phone numbers, etc. has been a great way for them to learn!
  • Enjoy these young years! Spend time outdoors, playing with friends, and answering a million questions. Teaching our children *how* to learn is the best gift we can give!
    Preschool at Home: What I've Learned | child development, family relationships, homeschooling advice, homeschooling for beginners, tot school

Have you done any homeschooling with your preschoolers? Can you think of any advice you’d give to a first-timer?


Grab your FREE Learning at Home Checklist! | child development, family relationships, homeschooling advice, homeschooling for beginners, tot school

Grab your FREE Learning at Home Checklist–10 questions to get you thinking about
tot school, preschool at home, or homeschooling for Kindergarten!