Have you ever wanted to try several top rated curriculum, or wondered, "What will I really get?" or even, "Will it be worth the money I'm committing?"
As the owner, caregiver, chef, preschool teacher, and all around daytime momma' to the 10 littles in my care, it is VITAL to me that my children are Kindergarten ready in every way. I work a minimum 14 hour day, just like many of you, and on a limited budget.
SOOOOOooooooo, when I decided to find ways to reduce my workload I became curious about purchasing an "out of the box" curriculum, but I wanted to make certain I was going to receive the very best fit.
I thought there was NO WAY I would be able to afford an prepared curriculum. Just looking at the prices made me feel queasy. I couldn't imagine adding an additional $100-150/month bill to my budget.
Then I challenged myself...
You should too.
I decided to add up my prep hours, those hours I spend at night and on the weekends shopping for, prepping for, researching for fun and educational activities. Mine equaled about 15 hours PER WEEK!
I then added up all my purchases for preschool activities, arts and crafts, printer supplies and ink, etc. Mine equaled $200/month on an EASY month!!!
And who couldn't use an extra DAY added back into their lives??!! I know I wanted my time back AND to save money...so the search began.
I contacted the top four curriculum I found in my searches:
Mother Goose Time
The Learning Box Preschool
Carol's Affordable Curriculum
I wanted to contrast and compare the leading curriculum developers that claim fun, superior, core compliant "out of the box" curriculum, that cater to saving timing and money. I wanted to put those claims to the test.
My criteria were (and still are) as follows:
1. Price per child must not exceed what I am spending at my local dollar stores and discount chain stores for supplies.
2. Must not add any work to my already packed day. I needed to decrease my workload.
3. Fun, easy to use, truly be "out of the box," easy to understand for me or assistant teachers (a sub could just pick it up and easily use it). I think I said "easy" enough times for you to understand I need it E.A.S.Y!
The first kit to arrive was The Learning Box Preschool.
So...what does really come in a kit?
This baby came packed with EVERYTHING!!! I was AMAZED at how well it was organized and easy it was to just pick up 1 Teacher Pack, match it up to the 1 Student Pack, cross reference that to the marked day in the Teacher's Guide and BAM! We had a prepped day!!
Soo let me show you what one day looked like withThe Learning Box Preschool
This may look like ALOT at a glance...but it is broken down for you in the Curriculum guide step by step. This was Day 16 of the curriculum guide. Did you notice that there are even the books that go with the themed kit included INSIDE the kit?! They didn't just say, "Hey, here is your reading list...go buy it."
THEY INCLUDED IT INSIDE!
Not only that, it is printed on nice paper, full color. One could use, oh I don't know, say their own YouTube account and provide a reading for the children to enjoy at home with mom and dad if they wanted to :).
See mine here! The Red Lady Bug book by The Learning Box Preschool is INCLUDED as well as three other books to go along with the monthly theme.
A day in the life of The Learning Box Preschool...
1. Begins with circle time "Opening Routine and Question of the Day" is found at the top of each "daily" page of the Teachers Guide (included).
2. The opening routine includes the day's song, Pledge of Allegiance, Question of the Day "What is blue? How many things can you think of (that are blue)?, Calendar, Counting the Bunny Line, and the Weather.
3. Next comes the letter review for letters V and Z. These are PRE-CUT! Yes...yes...that is a happy teacher tear...
4. They realize that little bodies need to MOVE so the review includes using our bodies to make the letters and having each child pick out a letter out of the included paper sack and tell what the letter is and then match the upper and lower case of the PRE-CUT letter. I am STOKED about pre-cut anything and just about everything included in this curriculum is pre-cut!!!
5. The Cookie Shop game is next with ALL PRE-CUT colored circles.
6. They have also included Music, Science, Creative Expression, Food Fun, Field Trip ideas, and math into a day that allows for 5-10 minute lessons with lots of up and down, turn taking, body use, and limited "worksheets." Though, I am NOT anti-worksheet in that it is a great connector piece for parents and children to discuss at home.
So what do some of the finished Creative Arts materials look like?? Let me show off my littles work!!!
They include puzzles, color mixing take home books, color recognition, letter and number matching, science take home observe and record books, holiday crafts, patterning activities and I would guess that 90% of everything is pre-cut. This to me is a MAJOR saving bonus. Instead of tossing those skeletons the letters, shapes and numbers came from , I laminated those babies and the children are now using those as tracing guides on the chalkboards and paint easels inside and out.
Now...down to the numbers. How much does it cost?
Go here The Learning Box Preschool Store. You will then choose your program type. Mine is a 5 day / week program so I click the Five Day Preschool Program. I then choose how many children I have enrolled. Mine is 12 enrolled, and one month, then choose the month to start and it will calculate your cost. This is what mine looks like.
Large Box Options# of Kids (Large Box) Select
Number of Months Auto Delivery Club 1 Month
Starting Month August 2014
12 kids at $119.49 base kit price with 0% discount
+ 1 months shipping at 14.99 per month
beginning August 2014= $134.48
This would be my most expensive option. The Learning Box Preschool has discounts available up to 15% for volume purchases. This would save an additional $20/month!
This is an incredible value. Let's break it down per child...shall we???
$134.48 / 20 days of materials = $6.72 per day or $33.60/week for everyone!
$6.72 per day / by 12 children = $0.56 per day per child!!!
I am FLOORED at how INEXPENSIVE it is to regain my evenings and weekends AND save money BOOYAH!!! Still think you can't afford a professional curriculum? Just raise your rates by $2.50/child/week to cover the cost and have a top-rated, prepared, out of the box, Kindergarten readiness program for the children in your care. I don't know a parent around that wouldn't jump for joy over that! They can't buy burger for THAT!
Personally, I give The Learning Box Preschool a 5-Star rating. I would absolutely purchase this curriculum for daily use in Woolsey Academy for Young Learners!
I really liked the preschool papers but they closed down and joined Mother Goose. I'm really not happy with this program because it doesn't give you papers for the children to practice their letters and numbers. Luckily I still have papers from the previous program that I reprint for them. They are learning about different subjects but sometimes too old for the younger kids. I have 3 & 4 year olds and sometimes 5 year olds when they are not ready for kindergarten. Is there a program that has what I need? Thank you for your info.
6/1/2015 02:09:39 pm
Michele, are you referring to The Learning Box Preschool in your post as the company that shut down? If so, they are certainly alive and well and have TONS of printables included (covering letters, numbers, concepts, themes, math, literacy)
6/4/2015 10:08:17 am
Hello Michele! Thank you for your comment and reading the post. Congratulations on your longevity and commitment to the education of young learners!
6/2/2015 04:20:18 pm
I have worked in childcare for eights year now, but I am new when considering my own curriculum. I am curious on the standards you think of when you look for this material. What do you look for? I have needed to think about think, before everything was provided for me.
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"There isn't anything more full of hope, joy and peace than a child's smile... It captures the mundane and makes it extraordinary." - LaDonna Woolsey
I am a Mother Goose Time Blogger. I decided to become one after trying their products because I they are comprehensive and serve my mixed age group well. I do receive products to review from Mother Goose Time and do so with my own honest and thorough opinions. For more information, please contact me at Ladonna@woolseyacademy.com