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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Flowering Baby

Review season is back!  For some of you that is probably great news and there are those of you that I know may be tempted to skip my review posts.

But, rest assured that even if you aren't a homeschooler, there will probably be something interesting in my product reviews.  If nothing else, it will give you insight into how us weird homeschool families work!  So, don't run away just yet.

The first product we got to try is called Flowering Baby.

When I first heard Flowering Baby, I thought of those  Anne Geddes prints of babies dressed up as flowers.  But, this isn't a photography course.  It is a curriculum for early childhood (Birth through 5).  I am not sure if it is what the creators (two homeschooling moms) intended, but the name really makes sense to me if I think of all those phrases about, "Kids really blooming."  or "She really sprouted this year."  or "You grow where you are planted."

If you have known me for any length of time, you know I am not really "pro" preschool.  I think of that time as fun and relaxing for kids.  Yes, of course, they learn.  But, I don't want it to turn into a big,  high pressure learning situation.

None of my kids have had any specific preschool training and have, thus far, all excelled in their school work.

So, I was a little skeptical, until I looked at some of their sample pages and realized this was my kind of preschool.

Low Key.

It is put together by the year and then broken down month by month.  You can follow a theme or a monthly calendar.

We used the Three to Four curriculum for V-girl. 

For this particular curriculum, there are general "education" things, like recognizing letters, numbers, and shapes, but also thematic units, like Transportation, Music and Instruments, Farm Animals and Gardens, and Dinosaurs.  That kind of thing.

(Working on her shapes)

This curriculum is pretty easy to use because you use lots of things you have around the house for art projects and easy to find books from the library (if you don't already have them on your shelves).

V-girl and I used a combination of the monthly guide and the thematic guide for her "school".  And, honestly, we didn't always stick with the plan.  Because, sometimes, when we would start something, it would turn into something different.

Like when we were looking at the globe and finding the arctic to talk about penguins and cold and ice.  It turned into where do we live?  Where does Grandma live? Where are we going on vacation?

So, as usual, we tweeked the Flowering Baby curriculum to what worked for us. 

They incorporated a lot of great websites to go along with whatever you were studying.  Even if it would have only gotten me some new websites for free coloring pages, it would have been worth it.....but they had a lot more than just coloring page sites.

This "school" is really as easy as something like: look at the globe and find ________ (fill in the blank), then read a book about that place and the things and people that live there, and then cut pictures of some of those things out and paste them on paper while you name them.

That is it.

I know you are thinking, "Well, I could do stuff like that on my own".

And maybe you are right, but, for me, now that I am on kid number 6, and my attention is running to and fro and my energy is usually partially sapped....having someone else do the thinking for me is heavenly.

Here is a sample look at the Three to Four curriculum.

And, honestly, I never would have thought about starting "map studies" with my 3 year old on my own.  But, you know what? She loves it.  She gets it.  She is identifying places on her own.  Who knew?!?!

Our school time only takes about a half hour...give or take five minutes.  She is still V-girl, so some days she just isn't in the mood to do what I want her to do.  I don't push it, partly because I am tired, but also partly because I don't want school to become a horrible thing she has to do.  I want it to still be fun.

("Reading aloud" about aquatic life with the Little Mermaid....which actually wasn't one of the recommended books.....she came up with that one on her own when we were talking about things that live in the sea.)

One of the greatest things for V-girl is that is there have been so many "Curious George" books included in the suggested reading.  She loves "Monkey George" and since we have recently found a local library that we love (and doesn't give us dirty looks as soon as we step in the building), we have been able to get books from the suggestions that tie in with whatever we are taking a look at that week  (dinosaurs, pets, winter....get the idea).  There is a lot of reading in this curriculum.  What is not to love about that from either a 3 year old perspective....or a tired momma perspective?

I looked at the Four to Five level a bit and noticed that it covered things like teaching your child about "911" and gets them started writing their numbers and letters.  It also suggests bigger read aloud books in addition to Curious George and Winnie the Charlotte's Web (not sure I would tackle that kids always make fun of me when I cry at books!).

I didn't look much at the other grade levels, but Flowering Baby has been nice enough to include samples of all the age ranges.  So find the range you are interested in and go take a look!

Birth to One Info          Birth to One Sample

One to Two Info           One to Two Sample

Two to Three Info        Two to Three Sample

Four to Five Info          Four to Five Sample

I was able to just download the curriculum to my computer and start using it right away.  Since I am old fashioned and like to have paper things in front of me, I went ahead and printed off the units up front and created my own "book" with the curriculum inside.

The good thing about that is that L-girl was able to help V-girl complete lessons too if I had too much other stuff going on (never happens around here, right?)

Overall, I really liked this curriculum.  It was very easy to use.  I could do as much as V-girl could stand.  We could veer off onto similar topics easily and it was no big deal.  Like I said, I honestly never would have thought of pulling out the map or globe for her yet and she loves spinning the globe around and finding the places we have talked about.

And, as you can see.....

(Ignore the floor and look at the cute little girl, okay?)

V-girl is excited to go to "school" just like the big kids!  ( floor is a mess...I wonder if that is her pencile on the floor....I have been looking for my kitchen towels too....and do you think that plant needs some water?)

The ladies at Flowering Baby have agreed to let my readers have a 10% discount on their products. 

Just enter the coupon code, "Blog10" at check out.

If you are debating whether to send your little one to preschool, or even debating whether you actually can homeschool your kids. This is the perfect product to try out and see how you both do.  I think you will see how fun, and doable it is to teach your own children.  Flowering Baby makes it really easy and, like I said, takes the thinking out of the equation for you! 

The Three to Four Curriculum I used has a regular price of $38.00 for the year long curriculum, with the younger age curriculum just costing $30.00.  But, with the 10% off coupon code it will be even less.  (I will let you do the math  Winking smile)  Seriously, can you find a preschool program cheaper than that?  I don't think so.

As usual, the TOS crew got a chance to try out all the different Flowering Baby products for the different age levels.  Go take a look and see what they thought and how they used it at their house.  I bet some of them followed the rules and didn't even tweek things like I did!

Disclaimer:  I received a free download of the Three to Four year old Flowering Baby curriculum for free, in exchange for an honest review.