We spent 2 weeks on our Letter J Unit — two school days during week 1 and two school days during week 2. This time I really focused on sticking to The Peaceful Preschool as much as possible to minimize my overall prep. We were intermixing lots of fall-themed reading & crafts these weeks too so I didn’t want to be totally overwhelmed. We did J is for Joy, J is for Jeep, J is for Jonah, J is for Jam, and J is for Jellyfish.
The Peaceful Preschool curriculum uses the Jonah story as one of its planned days for Letter J, so I opted to do something different for our two-week Bible focus. Instead, I focused on J is for Joy, which is based off of the memory verse.
||J is for Joy (Fruit of the Spirit)
We read a number of Bible stories that focus on joy. Please see our Bible Lessons by Letter Unit page for which stories I used. For our activity we first painted jars with “jam” and then colored little Fruit of the Spirit cards and glued each one to a painted jam jar. I then laminated the final product, punched a hole in each jam card and put them on a book ring to keep in our Bible bin. I have reviewed these with the kids during mealtime every day since we made them.
- Sheep In A Jeep*
- The Jesus Storybook Bible (Jonah story: “God’s messenger”)
- The Giant Jam Sandwich*
- Peanut Butter and Jelly: A Play Rhyme
- Bread and Jam For Frances
- Jabari Jumps (no activities; just a fun new J book)
*From The Peaceful Preschool book list
We typically work on learning one new song per letter unit. If we get to more and there’s interest, great. But usually I just focus on one because honestly I know I need 2 weeks for it to really sink in!
We did a song & dance called Jump Jim Joe which came from our Games Children Sing & Play book, but it’s a really simple song with jumping actions and you can find videos on YouTube. Since there were 3 of us we didn’t do the “change your partner” bit but just kept going round-and-round as we sang.
PHONICS & LETTER FORMATION
I’ve found that we can get some focused letter formation time in on days where I have nothing else planned. My son and I get some one-on-one time while my 2 year old naps and he’s usually up for some letter formation & review during those times.
Here are my go-to resources & activities for every Letter Unit for phonics & letter formation:
- Jolly Phonics 42 letter sounds and actions
- Handwriting Without Tears letter formation chart
- Salt tray letter formation
- Glitter glue letters (via The Peaceful Preschool)
- Forming letters with natural materials or play dough
- Sandpaper card letter tracings
- Dry erase write and wipe pouches
- Chalkboard write and wipe
- B is for Breakdancing Bear letter activities
- Stamp it! Write it! Poke it! from Simply Learning
- Letter Unit item basket (things that start with J)
- Letter Unit 3-Part Cards
This list is LONG! I never feel like this is a checklist where I have to complete all of this or somehow I’ve failed OR that my son isn’t learning enough. It’s OKAY if we don’t do it all. I give myself 2 weeks, though, because I want to work on these things slowly. Next year I will likely switch to one letter per week but for now I’m content to do a little bit spread out over more time.
And now for each of our 4 days of school for Letter J…
DAY 1: J IS FOR JEEP
I introduced Letter J by doing the following:
- Showing the kids our sandpaper J and j cards, demonstrating how to form the letter with my index finger. I asked them to repeat (note that I’m not actually schooling my 2 year old but she can’t NOT participate so I sometimes say “they” or “them” because she’s a part of all this too. I do not expect her to write the letter J though!)
- I told them the Letter J sound and they repeated it.
- The previous day I had set up all of our Letter J 3-Part cards (the whole versions) in our Tabletop Pocket Chart; for school we just went through each picture as I pointed and the kids named the item. We reviewed the letter J sound as we said each item: J-J-Jeep, J-J-Jump, etc.
We pointed out the rhymes in the story after we had read through it several times.
ART PROJECT & FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Large scale art piece: roads, sheep, and “mud”
The kids used scissor skills to cut roads, they used fine motor skills using glue-sticks to glue on roads and sheep to our large paper. They helped draw the white lines on the roads and also colored the whole art piece with brown Kwik Stix and crayons to create a muddy scene, using their own creativity. It’s not pretty but they LOVED this!
As we worked on this art project, I also played the audiobook version of Sheep In A Jeep in the background.
PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS
I originally had in my plan for today “clean something muddy” — well, my daughter had painted our toy sheep with a brown Kwik Stix so when it came time for clean-up I had her clean the sheep with soap and a toothbrush for some added fine motor skills in with the practical life skills. My son just helped clean up after our art project, which is just something he normally does.
Toy car color sorting and counting.
The kids worked together to color sort the cars I had pre-selected and placed in a box for them to grab out at random (the car they chose was a surprise). The roads are just made with construction paper. My son then counted out the cars for each color and placed the corresponding numeral by the road.
OUTDOOR PLAY & LARGE MOTOR SKILLS
It was a rainy day so we found a bunch of muddy puddles to jump in and had a blast!
Each kid took a toy jeep outside with them as well and hid them in the deep part of the puddles and we pretended to not know where the jeeps were.
POETRY TEA TIME
The Peaceful Preschool suggests making a tire swing inspired by the tire junk from Sheep in a Jeep, so we read poems related to swings for our poetry tea time:
- “The Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson
- We read from A Child’s Garden of Verses but have always loved our beautiful board book version gifted to us from a friend, illustrated by Julie Morstad
- “Swing Song” by A.A. Milne from Now We Are Six
- “A Swing Song” by William Allingham from A Child’s Book of Poems
I do not always pre-plan poetry tea time but certainly have fun with it if I can.
DAY 2: J IS FOR JONAH
Jonah story from The Jesus Storybook Bible (“God’s messenger”)
STORYTELLING AND PLAY
We don’t have a tunnel at home to do the activity suggested in The Peaceful Preschool curriculum, so we instead used our sleeping bags as tunnels, pretending to be inside the belly of the fish like Jonah.
We then played with small sea animals on top of our blue sleeping bag (pretending it was water). We counted and sorted the animals and then used a big shark to be the fish that swallows Jonah. I also made a great big fish out of Duplos that I was pretty proud of.
PHONICS, FINE MOTOR SKILLS, AND ART SKILLS
After all the storytelling and play, we got out some play dough. I asked my son to first form the Letter J with play dough on his own before adding sea life creatures and then just have a longer free-play session with play dough.
We later also worked on fine motor skills using mazes. I got this fish maze from Mr. Printable. I typically slip printed mazes in to a write and wipe pouch so my son can work on them with dry erase markers and erase as needed if he goes the wrong way. The maze printout also gets much more use that way!
DAY 3: J IS FOR JAM
RHYTHM STICKS SONG & FINE MOTOR SKILLS
After our usual morning routine & prayer for our day we did a rhythm stick song together to begin our school day.
This Is The Way We Tap Our Sticks
I don’t do rhythm sticks every week, but the kids have gotten to know this well enough to sing with it. Now we work on really following the instructions and rhythm. This works as a good transition for my kids from free play to school time. Usually I start with a read aloud invitation but today I wanted to do some phonics & counting before the story, so I thought a rhythm stick song would help the transition to school time.
PHONICS & COUNTING SKILLS
I placed a jar printable (free) inside a write and wipe pouch, and we looked at our “JAM” 3-Part Card, and my son wrote the letter J on to the jar with a dry erase marker. Then, he found the letter J tiles from the Bananagrams on the table and counted how many J’s in his jar there were. He then repeated this process for letter A, and then letter M.
We began our art session with me painting 3 different kinds of jam on to a piece of paper with spoons, and compared the colors. I provided red, pink, blue, and purple Kwik Stix and Dot Markers.
The kids first painted a bunch of jars that I printed out & cut up using this freebie — filling them up with “jam”. We then set the jars aside to be used on another day*
We then got out our washable tempura paint and painted on to our letter J printout. The kids then each painted their own giant jam sandwich. I made the slices of bread using white and brown construction paper, they painted one slice, we sprinkled black glitter on top to be the hornets from the story, and then they took the second slice of bread and smashed it on top of the one they painted. After making sure the wasps were dead, we peeled them apart to reveal the stamped paint print on the second slice & to let them dry to hang up.
*Note that we used the jars of jam art project for our Bible Focus (Fruit of the Spirit). We had been discussing “joy” both weeks for our Letter J Unit, but I didn’t do an actual J is for Joy activity until Week 2 because I thought it would be fun to coincide the Fruit of the Spirit with our J is for Jam activities.
After cleaning up from painting, we used pretend food bread from our play kitchen, found something to represent jam, got out some trucks and cars and buses, built a trailer, built some wasps, and retold theThe Giant Jam Sandwich story over and over. My son adored this story.
PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS
My son has been working on making his own PB&J sandwiches for lunch. Bread and Jam For Frances and Peanut Butter and Jelly: A Play Rhyme have been fun books to get him more and more excited about prepping his own lunch every day.
POETRY TEA TIME
I do not always try to find “on theme” poems, but today we couldn’t help but enjoy “Peanut Butter Sandwich” by Shel Silverstein from Where the Sidewalk Ends.
DAY 4: J IS FOR JELLYFISH
I kept it simple on this day, mainly focused on a single craft activity, but we first did a quick letter recognition activity. That is, after we watched the Finding Nemo jellyfish scene. That’s right, mamas: I opened my school day with a Disney video. Win!
We also looked at the following books to learn about jellyfish:
PHONICS & COUNTING SKILLS
Letter J recognition activity: I just took a white piece of paper, quickly drew on some little jellyfish with a pen and made a search-for-J activity. I had my son use our color counting discs and find all the letter J’s, placing a little disc on top. After he found all of them, he counted the total number.
ART SKILLS, COUNTING SKILLS, FINE MOTOR SKILLS, AND NATURE STUDY
Jellyfish Craft Supplies:
- Half circle of cardboard
- Paint of any variety
- Hole punch
- Pipe cleaners
- Pony beads
The kids first painted the bell part of their jellyfish craft and we set it aside. I had pre-made the holes because hole punching cardboard is too hard for my kids to do. Then, the kids picked out some pipe cleaners, added as many pony beads as they wanted, and strung the pipe cleaner tentacle on to the bell part (I helped clasp it together). This really was fun and engaging — and something where the kids could do most of the work independently and have fun being creative. The fine motor skills of placing the pony bead on to the pipe cleaners is so simple & brilliant. I’m so happy that this took AWHILE to do. Sometimes I have this tendency to rush through crafts but it was nice to enjoy them meticulously placing beads on pipe cleaners while we talked and listened to music.
When they were finished we punched a hole on the top & made a pipe cleaner handle so they could fly their jellyfish around and play with them (mainly chasing each other and pretending to get stung).
This was definitely a shorter school day than the other three for Letter J mainly because we packed so many skills in to ONE activity: making a jellyfish!
Thanks for reading and making it to the end! Hopefully something is helpful to you on your preschool journey at home. I’m definitely enjoying documenting our journey in this way (it’s like a little homeschool journal for me!) and I certainly am so grateful for all of you sharing your homeschool journeys as well.