2012-2013 has been an incredible school year! We are not quite finished yet, but we are close and I’m in awe of how amazing the year has been. Truly this kind of beginning for our homeschool experience is amazing. While this is not the entire first exposure to homeschool as we did start with Sonlight Core P3/4: Fiction, Fairy Tales and Fun for Little Learners, this is different. P3/4 was basically a book list to read and they are great books but I’m delighted to have gone deeper with similar books and really watch my young preschooler’s mind fly, and that is what we are doing with Memoria Press Junior Kindergarten. (We also have P4/5: Exploring God’s World that we are doing loosely as of January, but that’s just more good books for us, our “school” is without question MP Jr. K.)
Memoria Press has spent the last few years developing full curriculum packages to provide a classical Christian education with complete lesson plans. Many products included are Memoria Press originals and other quality publishers such as Rod & Staff have contributed. The lesson plans have daily check boxes but can easily be reused for later children so families are in luck with only the need to repurchase consumables as each year goes by to the next child. This is not a tell ’em what to do and walk away curriculum. It is very parent/teacher involved and is fun for everyone involved. This Jr. K curriculum is brand new and absolutely wonderful.
I received a portion of this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. See full disclosure at close of post or read my disclosure policy for more details. *Thanks to Memoria Press for providing material for review.*
The first thing that makes my experience a little different is that I went ahead and started the year when my young preschooler was three years old (she will turn four at the end of July in a few months). I was told at the offset that Jr. K is intended for 4-5 year olds and that I might want to wait, but after going back and forth a bunch I decided that I thought she really was ready to at least try. After all, what was the worst case scenario — we wait and try again next year? So we jumped in with lots of excitement! The best part is, that excitement has held.
Now, I want to tell you all about my experience, but it’s going to take me a bit so stick with me! There is so much to tell, and it is truly fantastic. First we have the Memoria Press Classical Core Curriculum Junior Kindergarten Lesson Plans For One Year
Based on years of research, Memoria Press is pleased to offer the first year of our planned Junior K-12 classical curriculum. By following the daily lesson plans in our full year Curriculum Guide, you will have every tool you need to give your child the very best education possible.
On the first page you have the checklist of the main books for the curriculm including the Manual, Alphabet Books 1 & 2, Wall Charts, Alphabet Coloring Book, Rod & Staff Counting With Numbers, Inside & Ouside and Memoria Press Numbers Coloring Book, Supplemental Read-Aloud Pictures Books Set*, Richard Scarry’s Mother Goose, Hailstone and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill, Prayers for Children, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin and lastly Big Thoughts for Little People by Kenneth N. Taylor.
*The picture book set is listed as optional, but really the entirety of your literature lesson depends on it. So if you are not going to buy them you have to at least acquire the books from the library as they are needed on their one week.
Next in the manual you have an introduction page that gives a bit of history inspiration for the Jr K set. This is followed by “teaching guidelines” that touch on each subject briefly. Then there is a two page blank spread with some planning sheets. I personally haven’t chosen to use these as I do most of my planning on Pintrest or I write directly on the week in question’s blank space below the lesson plans. But this looks like it would be a great tool to get super organized. After this we jump right in with the first lesson on Week 1, Day 1. There are 33 weeks with two days a week planned out. We have varied in our Blossom School. Some weeks we do it all in one day, some weeks it takes four or five days depending on what extras and preschool printables I am deciding to add in to continue on the theme.
The sections of a typical day include Prayer, Devotion, Recitation, Calendar, Alphabet Lesson/Handwriting, Show & Tell, Math/Number Lesson, Activity/Craft, Literature, Music, Poetry, Traditional Games, Enrichment and Closing Prayer. Next to each subject there is also a suggested time for each activity (10-30 minutes). Then there is a good bit of blank space on the second page at the bottom is where I enjoy writing my notes: other add-on books I want us to read, what CD or mp3 I have the music on, preschool printables to go along with a theme and where I found them and on and on.
Hmm… let’s see, what else should I tell you? The manual itself in about 8×10 and comb bound. Being comb bound this allows it to lie flat and it super easy to flip through. I’m not personally as crazy about comb binding as I am a full spiral binding, but this completely fits my purposes and I’m very happy with it over all. Ah hah! Yes, when I first got my hands on the beta version of the lesson plans for Jr K it included the Tomie dePaola Mother Goose, but since then the lesson plans have been renewed with Richard Scarry’s Best Mother Goose Ever and we are over the top delighted with this change. I like Tomie dePaola just fine and his Mother Goose is okay, but Richard Scarry is amazing. His books are a treasure from my childhood memories so being able to use his drawings and illustrations that my daughters are fast becoming familiar with in silly renditions of Mother Goose is icing to us.
The only other changes that I know of is that now I believe there are alphabet flashcards also available from Memoria Press as part of the package. Oh, and The Book of Crafts for Jr. Kindergarten. While I have not seen the flashcards, they sound divinely simple and attractive and I’ll bet they are fun and interesting. The only part of the package that did not receive is the Manuscript Wall Chart with the letters to line the wall, but in our homeschool situation that is fine. However, I heard that now they are making a poster and that sounds fabulous.
My favorite part of the lesson plans is the Literature portion. Starting out in this age I figured you just read, but I wouldn’t really know what to discuss or point out besides the obvious (see the bird?). So here we have a “before you read”, “as you read”, and vocabulary section. It’s fabulous! I’m ecstatic (as a book-a-holic and book reviewer) to see my daughter understand and talk about copyright dates and notice that this author also wrote this other book we read or have on our shelves. It also is neat to me to see her really learn new words and part of stories. As a beginning to classical education, I think we are on a great start. Of course as this stage we are not really narrating and no dictation, but she is able to answer questions about the stories and make connections to other things that I never would have expected.
Following on my love of literature, the next best part is the Show & Tell. This is not overly detailed and what is neat is that some days I can just leave it as a discussion, but others I take it farther and I do a little research and come back to provide the information and we go where our imaginations lead us from there whether it is on to a printed worksheet online or a field trip to explore. And lastly for my favorites is the Calendar time. It is all written out, pretty well scripted and for a newbie like me to teaching the preschool age this is fabulous! In our home we have a pocket chart calendar and from time to time I change out the theme to go along with the year, but it all fits in and I’m guided by the lesson plans so I never forget nor get lost. Because of what Memoria Press has put together with their teachers at Highlands Latin School, I feel like I know what I’m doing in this teaching business. Coming in if you ask me to go back to teach middle or high school I have no fear. Hand me a preschooler, and I’m terrified. Or rather, I used to be terrified until Memoria Press took away the fear and presented me with everything I need for success.
In each week, Recitation guides you to the appendix and the recitation list and this is another place where I have been pleasantly surprised. I know I’ve heard that people say young children are sponges, but with these it really proves it. Some examples of recitation are “What are two types of letters? (vowels and consonants)” and “Recite the months January-June.” Then there is “Recite the 1st line of the Pledge of Allegiance.” and it continues in future weeks with more gradually teach and helping memorization. If I were doing this alone without lesson plans I never would have even thought to try some of these things and Memoria Press has truly blessed our home this year.
In the Appendix following the recitations list is a read-aloud book list, poetry guidelines, poetry list of titles and all of these are listed by week. The only think I think is missing is a music list.* Next in the appendix is Letter Activities for Phonics Review. I have to admit that these did not really impress me as I felt most of them are for classroom use and would be more fun with more than one child participating. But then we get a lot of review here with printables that I use from Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Letter of the Week Curriculum. On the next page you’ll find a list of traditional games as well as instructions for several and this is pretty handy.
Often they are things I’m familiar with, but having them written down and suggested is great to me to not have to wrack my brain for what to do next! Next is ABC Bible Verses and I have to admit that I did not even notice this page until a few weeks in as it is not referenced in the daily lesson plans, but these are great verses to bring up and short enough to memorize. And then there are the fun reproducible worksheets for writing name and common strokes. That is the gist of the lesson plans…
Next I’ll tell you about the mandatory books…
I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no other compensation for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions. Your experience may vary. Please read my full disclosure policy for more details.