Mother Goose Time offers a fully developed, comprehensive preschool program with packets of ready-to-use resources. Subscribers receive a box each month with daily packets of consumable craft and activity items, plus display items for each day. You still need to provide the basics: paper, pencils, crayons, scissors, paints, glue, etc., but most of the unusual items that are more difficult to purchase or take time to create are provided for you.
The program assumes a preschool classroom setup with a group class; therefore, there are many group or cooperative activities. Most of these activities can be adapted for two or three children, and some can be adapted for a single child. However, many activities will be much more fun and appealing when there’s more than one child. For example, most children want to jump and dance and play games with other children rather than with a parent. In addition, there’s a bit of set-up involved with all the resources used, which makes sense for a larger group, but maybe not for one child.
The program is very much like what children experience in a high-quality preschool. (Those preschools might very well be using Mother Goose Time themselves!) Lesson plans are written so they can be used for a full-day program, but there are about three hours of intended instructional time planned for each day. Extended activities, free play, rest time, and other suggestions can be used to create a full day’s program, as is shown in the Getting Started book. However, you can adjust activities as you please to fit your schedule.
Every day begins with Circle Time. You discuss the weather, the calendar, and the topic of the day. There’s a small poster for each day’s topic to use as part of the discussion. Children will sing a song to a well-known tune or recite a rhyme, accompanied by dance or movement. Most of the other lesson activities tie directly to the topic of the day.
For example, Day 11 of the Me and My Family unit is titled “Dog.” During Circle Time, children will discuss things you can do with a pet dog, name the dog on the topic poster, make a nametag for the dog, and sing “What Doggies Do” to the tune of “The Muffin Man,” jumping when they come to the line “They love to jump on you.”
In the next part of the day’s lesson, children discuss tricks they might teach a dog. They make dog ear headbands (no resources included for this) that they can wear when they pretend to be dogs. A script is included for a small drama. The teacher can read the script, but it needs three different dogs to act. (This is one activity that won’t easily adapt for one or two children.)
Next, children discuss how dogs might feel and what sounds they might make to match those feelings. Then they create a dog shaker from supplies provided in the daily packet plus your own dry beans. Play a song and children can shake their dog shakers to the beat of the music.
The next part of the lesson requires you to set up a STEAM Station. These are special learning activity set-ups that allow for free play and experimentation. In this case, the STEAM station is supposed to be a pet care bin. Directions say to put bandages, blankets, and toy doctor tools in the bin. (You’ll need to get these items yourself.) Then children are encouraged to do dramatic play, caring for their sick animals.
For each lesson, there is a suggested book to read aloud, but it’s up to you to obtain these books. For the “Dog” lesson, the book is Rocket Writes a Story.
A puzzle activity is next, but it’s preceded by discussion about the differences between dogs and wolves using your own images. The character Red Riding Hood was introduced on Day 9 with a version of the story that has a lonely wolf that needs a family to love him. So there is a connection to the dogs and wolves discussion when children next work with a Red Riding Hood puzzle that comes in the day’s kit. Some group activities are suggested along with ways to work with the puzzle that are both simpler and more challenging—use whatever suits each child.
The final part of the day’s lesson is a discussion about what might be fun or difficult about having a pet dog. This is followed by movement to the song, “Doggie Doo-Wop” from the “Me & My Family” CD included in the box.
Other lessons will have more activity in areas such as science and art so that days balance out with a well-rounded program in different subject areas.
Mother Goose Time creates new programs for each year, but they always cover the basics of letter and phonics concepts, beginning writing skills, number concepts, numeral recognition, counting, singing, drawing, health, safety, calendar, weather, and gross and fine motor skills. In addition, the program covers storytelling with a book of the month; science with hands-on activities; social studies topics, such as families, communities, and maps; logic through games and puzzles; creative development through music, dance and movement, art, and drama; and social and emotional development. Some Spanish vocabulary is introduced as well. Note that the lesson books are also available in Spanish, and some of the resources, such as Circle Time cards for the months, show both English and Spanish.
Because of the design of this program, you will probably want to “permanently” set up some areas that will be used frequently. The Circle Time Display is probably best left up if possible. A world map that comes in the Getting Started Kit should be left up. If you can, it’s best if you can set up some of the STEAM stations and leave them up for at least a week. You will also need a ready supply of arts and crafts materials. A “Gathering List” that comes with each month’s Teacher Guide lists additional items you will need besides those that come in the daily packets. At the top of that list is a “Keep on Hand” list showing items you will need on an ongoing basis.
The Circle Time Display will take a bit of doing to set it up, depending what you choose to do. You can use a flat board mounted on a wall, but children should be able to reach it. You can also use a movable board such as a tri-fold science display board. You can cover the surface with felt then use Velcro to mount items to the board. Or you can use poster tack putty or poster mounting tape to mount piecesif you choose to use a smooth-surfaced board. Most items that you put on the board will be movable. See this web page for ideas http://info.mothergoosetime.com/blog/circle-time-display-ideas-2016/17.
Each month you will receive a box with many packets. With your first box, you will also receive a Getting Started packet that includes a book explaining the program, plus the world map and items for the Circle Time Display. A Teacher Tool Bag has reference and planning materials, plus some manipulatives or resources for the month. For the Me & My Family month, there is a stamp pad and five rubber stamps of different possible family members. The Circle Time Tool bag has pieces to be used for circle time activities. These include letters, numbers, colors, and shapes that you will accumulate for a complete set by the end of the year. Twenty Daily Discovery bags provide the specific resources to be used each day. These are numbered, so it’s easy to keep them in order.
Christians might want to add the Experience God supplement that correlates with the Mother Goose Time monthly themes. These are intended to help children learn to know God and His love for them and to help them develop a personal relationship with Him. The teacher packet for each month is $14.99 and each student packet is $5. These include a teacher guide, daily devotions that are done during Circle Time, Bible storytelling cards, and crafts.
The Mother Goose Time program makes it easy to track student progress on the charts that are provided. You are encouraged to create a portfolio binder for each child where you will keep samples of their work. Activities are marked in the lesson plans when a child’s work should be put into the portfolio—no guessing about which things to put into it.
Alignment information for both national and state goals is available on the Mother Goose Time website.
The program is well-rounded with an excellent balance of multi-sensory activities. It keeps the academics at a developmentally-appropriate level that preschoolers can manage, and it includes occasional tips for adapting to make activities simpler or more challenging.
While Mother Goose Time was designed for classrooms, it adapts fairly easily for use with two or three children but not as well for only one. In addition, the price makes it much more practical for use with a few children or a group rather than one child. Current pricing is $66.75 per month (plus shipping) for one child. Adding a second child increases the price to only $71.50 per month and ten children costs only $109.50 per month.
Those looking for a comprehensive preschool program should find Mother Goose Time easy to use considering all of the activities it provides. I also appreciate the Experience God option for those who want to provide a Christian education. While the program should be great for classroom situations, as far as homeschooling, I would recommend it only to those with two or more preschoolers.