Saturday, January 30, 2010

Our Homemade Preschool Board

I have wanted to share our preschool board for awhile now. It was just a matter of getting out the camera, taking the photos and uploading them. ;) I first created this five years ago when I decided to keep Thatcher home for his last year of preschool. I had no idea for how long we would be homeschooling and I didn't even know there were formal curriculums that could be purchased. Even if I had known, I would still use this tool. It takes less than 10 minutes a day and covers lots and lots of skills in a fun and hands on way. Thatcher loved it and now Haddon is enjoying it, too.

I am a big believer in keeping preschool light and fun yet finding a way to build a solid foundation for future learning. This is part of our family's solution...along with tons of games, great books, music, art, nature walks, field trips and much more!

It's just made from a simple display board I purchased at a craft store.
I'll walk you through all the parts and the skills covered in each.

Here on the left I have a Hundred's Chart. We started the year making sure Haddon could count to 20 forwards and backwards. Then I taught him to count by 10's and then all the way to 100 by 1's. After that we added counting by 5's to 100. Now we are learning to count by 2's to 20 and by the end of the year he'll be able to count to 100 by 2's.

Below the Hundred's Chart are these cards. I have all three sets. We started with sequencing a three-picture story and now he can easily sequence six-picture stories.

Below that are our rhyming word flash cards. We started the year with a simpler set and moved to this more advanced set with three words. Each day we play fun words games with these. He'll make a sentence with the rhyming words and then we'll generate a list of all the other words we can think of that fit in that rhyming family.

At the start of the year we also had a set of opposites flash cards but he worked through all those.

Next is our money strip where we add a penny each day. At first we just dealt in pennies and dimes. Then when he got comfortable with that we added nickels. We'll introduce quarters by the end of the year.

Finally are our counting bears. We use these to work on several skills. Sometimes I make a pattern he has to continue. We also work on ordinal numbers. I might say something like, "What color is the 7th bear?" or "What color is before the third bear?"

This part is pretty self-explanatory. We practice days of the week, months of the year, and we add a number to the calendar each day (here I put up the number 25 because he he wanted to count up how many days until Christmas). He completes the sentences at the bottom and we add a stick to our place value cup every day, too. He loves when he gets to move each group of 10 stick "next door" to their new home in the 10's house! :) There is a weather graph on here but it's never been used (where's a blushing emoticon?!).

On the right he does an addition problem each day from this DK Math Puzzles set. First semester we focus on addition and second semester he'll do subtraction. The last month of the year he will do one addition and one subtraction problem each day.

Below that is a piece of felt. Each day he pulls a different sized string (precut and kept in a baggie) and estimates how long it is and then measures it. We started with inches first semester and now we are working with centimeters.

Next are some simple flash cards I got at Wal-Mart years ago that spell out simple 3 letter words with short vowels.

And finally we have our clock. Each day he grabs a flash card and makes the clock show the time on the card. In the photo above the flash card is on the wrong side. Wish I would've caught that before I took the pic!

Here is what the board looks like with nothing on it (except the money that Haddon didn't want to remove). Everything is attached with sticky back velcro, and yes it was a small fortune in velcro considering that I used velcro for every.single.element that goes on the board. :)

And here's the back of the board. I store as much as I can in baggies that have a strip of velcro attached and what doesn't fit on the back goes here... a bucket I keep behind the board.

We have enjoyed this board so much. I will use it for all three boys so in the long run it is much less expensive than many preschool programs and it meets my goals for preschool - fun while building a solid foundation.



Teacher/Mom said...

This is so neat! Just curious how tall it is. Do you leave it set up all the time or do you have a special place to store it? Love these ideas. Might have to steal some :-)

Anonymous said...

This center is great. It really helps to cover a lot of stuff rather quickly, doesn't it! ;') Love your bucket too!

Jennefer said...

Teacher/Mom -

I just measured the board and the one I have is 4 ft wide by 3 ft high. The sides fold in and it becomes 2 ft by 3 ft when you store it.

I leave it out during the years when I have one in preschool and when we're not using it, it folds nicely and stores without taking up too much room.


Jennefer said...


Thanks! It is great to hear from you. Hope your year is going well. :)


Aly in va said...

good job on the board. I like the diversity of items you have on there.

Brenda said...

Very impressive! I might use some of these things for my Kindergartner!

Pam said...

this is awesome!!! thank you for sharing, i am definitely going to do this.

argsmommy said...

Wow! Makes me wish I had a preschooler again. : )

Jennifer said...

This is so fun! Thanks for the great ideas... this may be just what we need to get out of the February blahs.

I always love your posts. : )

Anonymous said...

I just found your site! What a blessing!

We just moved from Idaho to Wisconsin for my husband's job and I have been having a hard time trying to figure out what to do for school for my two boys that are on the autism spectrum and who have ADHD as well. We are trying to buy a house right now so I don't want to stick them in a school district and then pull them out again...they have a hard time with "transitions". But they are so bored and we didn't get much help for them in Idaho.

But this looks like something they would really catch on fire with and love doing. My boys are 3.5 and turning 5 this month (and I just had a baby two weeks ago). I'm curious how old your boys are to see if this curriculum would be about the right age group for my boys too.

Also, would you mind sharing (1) how you introduced this to your kids, (2) how much time you spend on this each day, (3) and anything else that would be helpful?

This is a lot to write, I know. If it's easier for you my email is


Rockin' C said...

Working on mine :) Can't wait to show you. *I'm adding felt to mine. Thanks for a fantastic idea!!

Jennefer said...


Hi! I have started this when each of my boys is 4, but really you just start it when your boys are ready. Before we start this I make sure that they know all their letters, sounds, numbers and can count to 20. But really that's just my criteria. You can change the activities for younger or older kiddos just by changing the flash cards/activities on the board!

As for how I introduce it...different with each boy I've used it with. Thatcher *loved* this and was so ready to start school. We jumped right in and did it all of preschool. He never got bored and loved rattling off all he knew even if it was the 100th time. :)

Haddon is a different kid. I introduced it more slowly and we've moved though it at a different pace as well. You just do it however it feels right with your dc.

Each day I would say we spend anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on their interest level. I think these first "school" experiences are so important so I try to keep it fun and fresh. When they start to get bored we're done for the day. I want them to be excited about school at this age. When they get older some of that wears off so I want to make the magic last as long as possible! ;)

Sorry this is so long. I chose to answer here vs. emailing you b/c I thought others might have similar questions. Let me know if you have anything else!


Carisa said...

Love your post Jennefer, I have implemented some of your ideas into our morning routine also! Thanks for sharing!!!!

Rockin' C said...

I finally finished my learning board.

Thanks for the inspiration (again!)