Catholic Icing has answered the prayers of many a Catholic mom - or at least this one's - with her Catholic ABC's preschool curriculum book.
I've had my copy of the book for a couple weeks now and I've spent a lot of time reading through it, familiarizing myself with the content, and revving up for homeschooling Lydia. We have now officially begun homeschooling preschool (she's 3) with Catholic ABC's and we are both in love with the book.
For starters, I appreciate that Lacy writes out an entire script that parents or preschool teachers (for those in co-ops, CCD classrooms, etc) to read. As a parent I am Lydia's first and most natural teacher, but I am not a "natural" teacher and have never home schooled before. I appreciate that Lacy has created a common-sense flow for the day and provided all the transitions to get from one part to the next. It helps me feel less awkward and also allows for a framework that I can use to interact with Lydia.
The other thing I appreciate about the book is how much freedom there is. The established structure actually helped me feel free to deviate a little bit because I can always quickly and easily pick up the script again as soon as I need to move on. Lacy offers so many tips and fun ideas to help kids learn using sight, movement, songs, and so on that she inspired me to alter things a little bit so Lydia would really enjoy the lesson and get the most out of it, and I would be 100% comfortable. For example, for the Creation Unit Lydia and I began by using Google Maps to find our home, our town, our state, our country, and our planet. That was how we began discussing the world God created. Then, instead of using the recommended symbols (a flashlight for light) I made up hand gestures to accompany the song about Creation. When I do this with Bennet next year I'm pretty sure I'll need the symbols, but for Lydia the "dancing" is more meaningful. But I want to be clear, while I altered Lacy's lesson plan a bit it is not because it isn't good. In fact, without Catholic ABC's I'm not sure I would have been confident teaching Lydia about creation.
I also appreciate the letter lessons. Lydia knows her alphabet, but Lacy's book uses the letters to introduce important parts of our faith. So each week we are learning about a new saint, opening our Bible to read a verse, and discussing a new vocab word (like "angel" or "grotto" or "monstrance").
When it comes to the crafts that correspond with each lesson, I have to confess that about 1/3 of them probably won't be made unless Lydia's godmother shows up. There's two reasons for this. First, crafts can stress me out, which makes me not want to do some of the more elaborate ones. Some examples are the super cute nativity set and the brilliant Last Supper made from an egg carton. I love the idea of them and how they look but I'm pretty sure attempting them will only bring about yelling, cursing, and tears. Secondly, we don't own all the supplies, such as feathers, beads, and felt. I know that all those supplies are easily found at Wal-Mart and dollar stores but if we go back to the whole stress factor you can maybe understand why I don't want feathers and beads around the house and easily in the hands of little boys who like to throw and eat things. It should be pretty simple to find other ways of doing such crafts, and Lacy even offers ideas (like a rosary made of MnM's and mini marshmallows instead of beads) so in the end I may have no excuse except laziness.
So really the crafts and the book have no fault - it's just me.
The back of the book is filled with templates and coloring pages that go the lessons and units. Because my printer has a built-in copier this is very helpful for me - no more searching the website as it's right there! A friend without a copier wishes the book came with a cd of the pages, which might be a good suggestion for when Lacy's book is picked up by a publisher.
The last thing I want to point out is that Lacy has some great ideas for how to teach kids basics of our faith. Every part of every lesson has all kinds of useful tips that I thought were brilliant.
In all I strongly recommend the book. Even if you send your child to preschool I think that there are projects, songs, lessons, and tips in Catholic ABC's that will help reinforce the lessons they'll be learning, the faith you're trying to instill in them, and the fact that learning and our Catholic faith are fun.