Right start for Math


I did not grow up liking Math. Maybe because I did not have a logical mind and Math just did not make sense to me. Or simply because I learnt Math by rote and never learn the principals of Math.

Research as shown that children who use rote memorization for math seem to advance through the educational system until they reach about Primary 3. That's when Math starts to become confusing and gets harder for them to manage. Only then, adults come to a realisation that the child never really had a basic understanding of math in the first place.

So as to help a child develop a conceptual understanding of math. Math should be presented in a developmental sequence and concepts brought across through scaffolding techniques, that allows the child to build a logical sequence of their understanding.

Most people start the child on numbers. Fundamentally, it is still a useful skill for a child to acquire in learning to associate meaning with symbols. However, this does not give an indication of true understanding, as many can count to high numbers without having a basic understanding of what the numbers represent.

The best way for a child to develop a conceptual understanding of math is to present math in a developmental sequence that allows the child to build their understanding through a logical way.

Math for a preschooler starts with exploration; children should be given hands-on, concrete experiences to experiment with concepts. Through exploration, children begin to recognise similarities and differences of objects, before moving on to the concept of classification. Classification bridges to the concept of patterns, then comparing more or less before finally reaching number concepts.

Letter U


Letter U is a letter that is quite fun to teach as the words starting with the letter are quite few and distinctive, thus makes it easy for a child to understand.

The books used were;Great Day for Up (Bright & Early Board Books), Up Above and Down Below, UMBRELLA by Taro Yashima (1959 CALDECOTT HONOR WINNER 1958, Exploring Underground Habitats (Mondo's Exploring Series), Underground Train (Picture Yearling Book) and The Umbrella Day.

Some of these books are out of print and can be hard to buy it off the shelf however, the local library does carry all these titles above. One of the easiest and most efficient to get those books is to reserve the books online. I spend about $10.00 per week just reserving the titles that accompany Kyle's home learning, but I think is worth spending that small investment to get the appropriate books.

I chose two books to introduce related activities;

Up Above and Down Below is a wonderfully illustrated book that brings out the activities that are specifically happening above ground and below ground. Kyle loved the pictures in the book and he spent alot of time looking through every detail. He especially enjoyed spotting the 'red ant' that was hiding in every scene.

We played the Up and Under game after reading the book. I gave him a series of movement instructions, and he had alot of fun trying out the movements.

U1 He was trying to crawl upside down in this photo

The other game we played was Up up and away. I doodled a few items and vehicles and asked him to rearrange how high each item can go. That got him to think a little harder on whether airplanes flew higher than helicopters.

I introduced the UN word to his vocabulary. Explained how words can be different just with the two letters of UN in front of it. Like UNtie/tie, UNhappy/happy.

UMBRELLA by Taro Yashima (1959 CALDECOTT HONOR WINNER) was the other book that I used a story stretcher.

We did an art activity and I was heartened to see him totally engrossed in the activity for a full 45 minutes!

U3 It was just a simple cut and paste


He even asked for his umbrella and ugg boots and decked himself up like the Momo character in the book.


Letter Y and Z


We started on our weekly programme for read alouds since last week and so far, it has been fabulous. Kyle is averaging about 6 new books a week and he really enjoys our sessions of read alouds. He often requests these books to be read aloud to him at least 3-4 more times before we return them to the library.

I did not use the lapbook method when I introduce the letters Y and Z, instead use the literature method and the Fridge Words Magnetic Word Builder for reinforcement of letter sounds.
The books use for letter Y were;You Can Do It, Sam , Yoko (Yoko and Friends-School Days), Big Yawn, The, Sophie and Sam: When to Say Yes. The books used for letter Z were; Birthday Zoo, Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I'm Off To The Moon, Zella, Zack & Zodiac.

Introducing Letter I with read-aloud books


A little variation was included in the learning of Letter I. The lapbook had only Letter I pictures (I was a little lazy and did not look for folder activities) and we focused on reading books. The books used were Inch by Inch, an interesting picture book on insects; It's a Good Thing There Are Insects, I Wanna Iguana and a sticker activity book; Bugs (Nature Sticker Stories).

Each time when we touch on a new letter, I will use the Fridge Words Magnetic Word Builder to reinforce the letter sounds. At this point, I have not starting teaching 3 letter words with the word builder as yet, as Kyle needs to learn all the letter sounds and recognise all the uppercase+lowercase letters in the alphabet.

I am still taking it really slow with Kyle in introducing new letters, as most of the letter lapbooks + activities are done the most twice a week. As I do not want to turn him off the joy in learning, and we are in no rush to ensure that he has to learn to read by himself. I truly enjoy the mother and son bonding time when I read to him and hope that this read-aloud habit can continue for a long time to come.

Here are some Charlotte Mason quotes for making the habit of a family read-aloud an enjoyable time as well as a learning experience.

1. Reading a book together as a family strengthens family bonds and provides many occasions for discussion.
“There are few stronger family bonds than this habit of devoting an occasional hour to reading aloud, on winter evenings, at any rate. The practice is pleasant at the time, and pleasant in the retrospect, it gives occasion for much bright talk, merry and wise, and quickens family affection by means of intellectual sympathy. Indeed, the wonder is that any family should neglect such a simple means of pure enjoyment, and of moral, as well as intellectual culture” (Vol. 5, p. 220).

2. Be sure to make reading aloud a consistent habit that everyone looks forward to.
“But this, of reading aloud, is not a practice to be taken tip and laid down at pleasure. Let the habit drop, and it is difficult to take it up again, because every one has in the meantime struck a vein of intellectual entertainment for himself—trashy stuff, it may be,—which makes him an unwilling listener to the family ‘book.’ No; let an hour’s reading aloud be a part of the winter evening at home—on one or two evenings a week, at any rate—and everybody will look forward to it as a hungry boy looks for his dinner” (Vol. 5, p. 220).

Letter V and Growing Vegetable soup


We took a week’s break from our letter activities and lapbooking, as I was simply too tired in the mornings to do anything constructive with Kyle. Lack of sleep is a very bad state to have if I plan to teach Kyle, as I will be less patient with him and more short- tempered.

We did this art activity ‘Vegetable stamping’ a week back, as a prelude to introducing the letter V and word vegetables.


This morning we continue with the letter V activities and covered the words, Volcano, Van, Violin. The books that we read included The Velveteen Rabbit and Volcanoes: Mountains That Blow Their Tops. I moulded a volcano out of clay, placed a test tube inside and filled it with warm water, drops of red colouring, some baking soda and some dishwashing liquid. Kyle poured the vinegar into the ‘volcano’ and watched it ‘erupt’.


We went on to read Growing Vegetable Soup, and Kyle spend some time on the lapbook that I put together for him.


The activities in the lapbook were mainly taken from Kidssoup. He was not too motivated to do the matching of uppercase letters with lowercase, even remarked that that activity was boring, but at least enjoyed the vegetable patterning activity. I guess learning about vegetables is not a very intriguing subject, even for the preschooler.


Before we move on to our next alphabet or lapbook, we will be listening to the violins from a Vivaldi CD and look at some Van Gogh pictures. This is one way which I think I can make learning about music and art a little more relevant for him.

Jesse Bear, What will you wear?


The 3rd BFIAR book we started this week is Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? We only spent abou 10-15 minutes on the lapbook and did not manage to do any accompanying activities with this book.

Lapbook materials were obtained from homeschool share.

jbear2jbear3 jbear4

The concepts in the book and covered in the lapbook were really simple, and it hardly intrigued Kyle. The only key take out that Kyle got from the book and lapbook was the concept of rhyming words.


Overall the book was still a fun read. Guess its time to take a break from the BFIAR books until I get the copy of the BFIAR guidebook. At this point, I have little or no resource to refer on how to expand certain concepts from the BFIAR books.

I still wonder if these other books; Play with Me and Angus Lost, which I plan to cover in the next few weeks/months may not be as exciting as I hope they will be for Kyle. We are only in our 1st month in the year and we have 'completed' 3 BFIAR books. I hope this momentum continues, for me especially, since lapbooking really takes alot of time and effort on my part. Doesn't matter even if we might be breezing through some of the BFIAR books and lapbooks rather quickly. What matters is that Kyle learns and enjoys his home-learning.

We will have to see, for all we know, we may just start the FIAR volume 1 books earlier than I expect.

Letter J and learning styles


After reading a couple of books on Jam, we went on to learn about Letter J. Words that we covered starting with letter J include; jellyfish, jacket, jelly beans, jacket, jug, jump, jack-in-the- box. We sang ‘Jack and Jill’ and a fun action song from KidsSoup; ‘Jack-in-the-box’.

Jack-in-the-box, Jack-in-the-box, curl up small (action-curl up small on the floor) Jack-in-the-box, Jack-in-the-box, Jump-up Tall! (jump as high as he can)

Contents in the Letter J lapbook were mostly from Lapbook lessons and KidsSoup.



Additional books used for Letter J were Mr. Jelly and the Pirates, The Giant Jelly Bean Jar, If Jesus Came to My House, Jellyfish. I did not introduce other J activities to Kyle as he is very familiar with many J things that were included in the letter J alphabet activities found online. Besides that I have learnt from previous experience that exposing him to more activities did not help him to remember the letter and sound. Instead, giving him greater exposure to the printed word worked better. As I do not like to teach using flashcards, books were the next best option.

He is extremely responsive when I point out the J letter sound through the ‘J ‘ related picture books. He learns the phonetic sound really quickly, and remembers how the letter looks after reading the books once through. I found that that Kyle seems to really enjoy learning through books and for him, it is really the case of the more books, the merrier :)

We usually will continue reading the same books for at least another 3 more times in the week before moving on to a new alphabet. I am glad that this method has worked well with him and has given me an indication that he is also a strong auditory and visual learner.

Initially, I had the impression that Kyle learning strengths were in the kinesthetic area, since he is so hands with his favorite sports; golf and tennis. But he has pleasantly surprised me with his ability in the other learning styles.

I will continue to use lapbooks + picture books with Kyle to teach him the alphabet sounds, as well as incorporate 2-3 kinesthetic activities in each lesson. What I have realised thus far, is that Kyle has little interest in art/craft activities, so I have learnt not to force these letter related art activities when he has little or no interest.

Nonetheless, Kyle will be slowly introduced to art + music appreciation through the CM method. Even if he may not grow up to be an artist / musician, it will be good for his overall development if he learns to appreciate art and music.