School Books for the Non-School Year

It’s the beginning of the new school year for many and how exciting is the new school year?  It was always my favorite time of year – I have a thing for fresh school supplies.  I mean what was more exciting as a child than a new 64 pack of crayons and getting pick out that years folders and note books?

This year my challenge is not to do school.

My son is at home more now that we’ve changed up our schedules, he only goes to “school” (daycare) about 6-7 days a month and the rest of the month is spent with one or both of his parents, with a couple afternoons at GaGa’s house.  He’s 2.5 and with his birthday that means we’ve got 3 years before Kindergarten – plenty of time to do “school” in any form so I’m trying not to get ahead of myself.

If I can brag (for clarification) he already knows his Alphabet, shapes and numbers up to about 15 – so we must be doing something right.

But, in the spirit of the new school year I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, because even if we’re not doing school we want to make sure our home is encouraging a love of learning even at a young age.

The Plan 
The plan in simple – just to have a lot of fun and find the teaching moments in our regular day.
We plan on slowly working our ways through the projects in the books throughout the year while working on colors, shapes, letters, numbers, etc.

The Books
We’ve added two books into our regular rotation for this year.

First Art has about 75 different activities and recipes for craft projects that are easy to do at home.  The great thing about this book is that the author made a code system so you can see if it’s a Messy Project, Outdoors, a Quiet or Noisy Activity and the amount of Adult Preparation Needed.  The Chapters in the book are “Primarily Paint”, “Hands on Dough”, “Making Marks”, “Sticky Business”, “Great  Impressions” and “Fun Stuff for Toddlers and Twos”.  A quick trip to the grocery store and art supply store will give you most if not all of what you need for these activities, and most of it you probably already have.

Teach Me to Do It Myself is probably my favorite Montessori at Home book I’ve come across so far.  It’s perfect for our age right now, so if you’re child is a few years older you might not get as much use out of the book.  The great thing about this book is that the book is divided up into sections like Practical Life and Sensory Work and within those sections the activities are put in the order that the child should master before moving on to the next activity.  The author included a printable section so you can more easily do some of the activities without having to purchase more Montessori items.  I find this particularly helpful as someone who won’t be homeschooling 100%.

Chapters in this book include – “Life Skills”, “Developing the Senses”, “Language Development”, “Numeracy Skills”, and “Science Skills”.  As I mentioned each chapter has about 20+ activities that start with the earliest development and get increasingly more challenging.  For example “Numeracy Skills” starts with Sorting into Sets and ends with Addition, Subtraction and Introducing Money (each a separate activity).

What I enjoy about this book is that it’s geared toward a parent, home educator or professional setting up their own preschool and doesn’t start out with lists of those expensive Montessori materials for sale.  In fact, most of the pictures seem to be of homemade materials.

There’s one book I feel happy to recommend even though our copy is back-ordered for the moment.  Too many friends have given Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven: A Catholic Preschool Curriculum glowing reviews.  Since we’re not starting any type of formal preschool this year I plan on using some of the activities and the book lists to round out our days, but without any formal organization.


It seems like a rather short list, but like I said we’re keeping it simple.  In fact, I shudder to even suggest were schooling at all – if there’s one thing I don’t think little kids need it’s more “school”.  We want encourage a love of exploration and discovery right now and for the next few years.  There will be a lot of time to play, many trips to the library, walks outside and asking and answering questions.  He’ll spend enough time in school eventually.

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7 thoughts on “School Books for the Non-School Year

  1. Ooh, that first book looks interesting! I currently have the second one out from the library (for the second or third time) and it's one of my favourites, too. Lydia's finally old enough for most of the activities so I'm excited to get started. Thanks for the suggestions!


  2. I'm going to have to see if they have these at the library. I'm always looking to do fun activities with Kasper (age 2) but I haven't give any thought to any sort of “school” with him.


  3. Henry's having a blast using a cream and saucer set I picked up a while back to pour lentils. I also got out our little bowls and a teaspoon spoon for more pouring work.


  4. I think you'd have a lot of fun with First Art! A good amount of the recipes are food coloring, water and corn starch – so easy to get started on a whim!


  5. I can't wait to buy “26 Letters to Heaven”. Gianna is technically preschool age this year so I am hoping to do a little something every day with her. From what I have seen, it looks great!


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