Now that the summer heat is on, and the summer camps have begun, I am always searching for ways to keep my girls occupied. With a graduated kindergartener and an emerging pre-schooler, I am looking for activties to engage the girls and keep them mentally sharp during this summer lag time. One great way I have found has been using workbooks, usally those you find in Barnes and Noble or Borders.
After the girls have had a full day of running around, having screaming matches, catching lightening bugs, and getting ready for bed, we start working on our workbooks. It is a great way to calm them down and be quiet and peaceful - except when we have to share the crayons. I find it satisfying spending this quiet time with them because 1) it is a way to calm them down before bed; 2) it is satisfying for me because they are learning something, and I can be with them in that learning experience. After they are done with a workbook, they get a Certificate of Completion, showing that they made a huge accomplishment of finishing those activities.
I have come across a few workbooks that would be good for any preschooler or emerging 1st grader:
> Big Preschool Workbook by School Zone Publishing Company. This book covers the alphabets and numbers, phonics, colors and shapes and more. The pages are bright and are able to engage my 3 year old. It is thick, with 320 pages. Both the girls are working on it, with my oldest, who is 6, leading my youngest to follow the instructions.
> Picture Learning: Reading, Writing, and Math by Amercian Education Publishing. This is a preschooler book, but I found it to be a little too advanced in the beginning, asking the preschooler to write words like "square" and "red" while saving writing the letters at the end. It is good at picture/word recognition - my 3 year old picked up on it pretty quickly.
> Skill Sharpeners Reading Grade 1 by Evan Moor Educational Publishers. This was the book my soon-to-be 1st grader said "Mommy, I really like this book!" The book is formatted well, with sections in the book surrounding a story and doing activities like matching words and sounds, reading comprehension, and writing. I have found one error in the answer key (does "Donkey" honestly have a "u" sound in it? No, did not think so), with exception of that, I have had no problem with the book.
> Summer Activites for Gifted Student Grade 1. By FlashKids. I chose this book mainly because my daughter was in a gift program at her school, and did not want her to get bored. We have not embarked on the book yet, but it covers all areas like word associations, reading comprehension and math.
I hope this helps anyone interested in these books.