HEEP, which stands for Hands-on Energetic Easy Preschool Curriculum, is a literature-based curriculum for preschoolers. This 52-week program is presented in one large ebook with over 300 pages. If you want to fit all of the lessons into one school year, you can double up some weeks. It is sold only as an ebook, and you can use it with one child or with an entire classroom at no additional cost.
Using a theme for each week, it introduces the alphabet, numbers, counting, shapes, patterns, science, reasoning skills. Author Carla Jansen also recommends starting each day by marking a calendar and talking about the weather.
Each week’s theme is supported by a children’s story book. For example, one week’s theme is cookies and the book read is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, while another week’s theme is flowers and seed and the book read is Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt. You'll need to borrow or buy the story book for each week. Sometimes other book titles on the same theme are also listed.
The approach is low key on the academics. Each week introduces a letter of the alphabet with many of the letters repeated in other weeks since there are only 26 letter and 52 lessons. Children can use the printables in the appendices to work on letter recognition, but they are not expected to master the sounds of the letters. Counting is taught through activities, and numeral recognition is introduced with a game. However, children are not expected to write numbers.
Activities for the week are generally presented on one page, with additional printable pages for creating games or activities. Each week, the lesson plan begins with the storybook, giving the name of the week’s book and a brief summary of the story. A few suggested questions should help parents start a discussion of the book with their child. You can easily come up with more of your own.
Each week also includes one suggested activity each week under the headings Art/Craft, Math, Science/Sensory, Literacy, Fun Food, A is for Apple (or a similar heading for the letter of the week), and a field trip suggestion.
The appendices have quite a few pages of three different types. First Letter “Hidden” Alphabet Printables have a page for each week titled “G is for Giraffe” or whatever the letter and its representative word are. Lower-case g’s are intermixed on the field with other letters. Children are to find the g’s then circle them, put stickers on them, or otherwise mark them. This reinforces letter recognition.
Alphabet Cutting Strips are pages—one for each letter of the alphabet—with six by six charts with a letter and representative image repeated 18 times. Instructions say for parents to cut these into strips, then allow children to cut them into rectangles. It says children can sort, trace, make patterns, and play with the pieces, but I’m skeptical about how enticing those activities might be. However, it is an opportunity for practicing cutting with scissors, even though it’s very simple cutting.
Alphabet First Letter Sounds Coloring Pages have one page per letter. Each page features a large image of the week’s letter (upper case). The letter is decorated with images of items that begin with that letter. Children will probably enjoy coloring these.
Here’s an example of one week’s activities so you can get a better idea of how the program works. For the fifth week on Trucks, the book to be read is My Truck is Stuck. The craft activity is to make a truck with shapes: a rectangle, different size squares, and different size circles. Children can add details with crayons or markers. For math, children fill a toy truck with a “heavy load” of items that can be counted as they are loaded and unloaded. For Science/Sensory, the activity is to make a mud bin. Children can use a truck in it if you want, maybe acting out the story in the mud. For Literacy, you are to play a rhyming game finding words that rhyme with truck. The Fun Food activity repeats the craft activity but with different sizes and shapes of crackers. “T is for Truck” has a printable page with a large letter T decorated with pictures of tea, tent, tomato, treasure, tiger, and turtle...and surprisingly, no truck. (These pages were developed by another company and are used with permission, so they were not designed to tie in specifically with the lessons in HEEP.) The field trip suggestion is to visit a construction site and see how many trucks you can find.
As you can see, most of these activities are playful rather than academic, even though children are being exposed to some academic content. This is a very relaxed program. It doesn’t focus heavily on readiness skills such as learning initial sounds of each letter or learning to form letters and numbers. It also won’t take hours each day to complete. All of that might make it just the right program for a busy homeschooling parent with children of different ages. In the typical homeschooling household, many opportunities to learn other readiness skills occur frequently, so this program provides just enough for the preschooler to have some special activities of his own. And older and younger siblings can join in too!