Focus on Fives Kindergarten Curriculum


Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

I love when we get to review materials that are geared toward early education. Learning with little ones is always such an exciting experience! Everything is a new adventure that is filled with endless possibilities. 

I often have people ask me what curriculum I use for kindergarten. Honestly, I am a big believer in learning through play and taking a more relaxed approach to education in the younger years. Hands-on play and learning by doing are vital, but it is also important to teach written skills. I was intrigued by the BJU Press Focus on Fives kindergarten curriculum from BJU Press Homeschool and couldn't wait to get started with my little one.

BJU press first started writing curriculum that is both biblically and academically sound in the early 1970s. Over the next few years, textbooks for all elementary grades and various secondary courses were completed. They became the first publisher to respond to the needs of home education in 1982 and have been "giving Christian educators the tools they need to teach from a biblical worldview and help young people be prepared to live a godly life" ever since.  

I personally used some BJU Press curriculum materials during my junior high and high school years. I was eager to see what they offered for the opposite end of the spectrum as I worked with my 5-year-old.   

The Focus on Fives curriculum set is designed to help kids develop the skills they need through age-appropriate introductions of science, social studies, handwriting, phonics, and reading. The program instills a multi-sensory approach as it incorporates visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic learning activities. Kids need to see, hear, touch, and move!

The full curriculum includes the following materials:

  • Worktext
  • Phonic Practice
  • Phonics and Review Cards
  • Phonics Flip Chart
  • Reading Books
  • Write Now! Handwriting
  • Teaching Visuals Flip Chart
  • Teacher's Edition

The Worktext contains over 400 pages of learning worksheets. The first two-third of the book has a page to accompany each lesson. There are exercises that involve writing letters of the alphabet, circling correct answers, drawing lines to matches, coloring, cutting and pasting, dot-to-dot, and more. Each unit begins with a letter to the parent explaining the scope, tips, and optional books and is separated by color-coded tabs at the bottom of the pages.

The end of the worktext contains supplemental materials including a kindergarten diploma, cutouts that are needed for specific lessons, and checkup pages (similar in format to a quiz) that correspond to the units and have the same color-coding at the bottom.

The Phonics Practice workbook is filled with pages that provide practice of phonic skills and word families. This book, like the Worktext, has an open spine to make it easier to remove the pages for the student and color-coded tabs to match each unit. This one follows similar fine-motor skills for the exercises, but varies in content. The phonics book focuses solely on words--reading, recognizing, writing--the worktext also relies on pictures and relationships such as differentiating between seasons, practicing size comparison, noting animal qualities, and more.

The Phonics and Review Cards are approximately 2.5" x 5.5" on glossy cardstock. These flashcards include the letters of the alphabet with multiple examples and high-frequency words. There is also a card for each of the mascot characters that are used throughout the lessons that can be cut out and glued to a craft stick.

The Phonics Flip Charts has nearly 125 pages of visuals used for teaching. Though the website lists a spiral-bound collection, my version consists of loose, glossy cardstock pages. Included are alphabet charts, high-frequency word cards, phonics characters, mascot characters, word family cards, phonics songs charts, handwriting wall charts, spelling cards, and phonics charts. The majority of the pages are double-sided with additional teaching information on the back. The pages are numbered in the bottom right side corner for easy organization. 

Teaching Visuals Flip Chart is a spiral-bound collection of visuals that are used in the lessons. The covers are sturdy cardboard while the pages are very thin. There are 46 pages that show students healthy habits, insect life cycles, nursery rhymes, musical instruments, landscapes, seasons, history, and more. The back of each page lists the lesson it's from along with teaching helps and information.

While I appreciate the notes on the back, it would be more beneficial to have them on the back of the previous page, so I can have access to that while my child can still see the picture.

There are 34 Reading Books included with the curriculum. Each book is a 9" x 6" paperback with full-color pictures that fill the pages. The books are numbered on the fronts and follow the same color-coded unit tabs of the other materials. The back of the books are colored to match the unit, as well.

The first two books have no words but rely on picture reading with discussion starter questions found in the teacher's book. The third book, which is read in lesson 15, introduces rebus reading where a picture represents a more complicated word. Starting with book 4, the students will be reading full sentences, beginning with one 2- or 3-word sentence on a page and progressing through full paragraphs on each page. The last page in each book lists trickier words to note along with a quick phonics review from the story.

The Write Now! Handwriting book is the only black and white in the set. Almost every lesson is a half sheet and generally has places to write letters, then words, and eventually sentences and includes a small picture to color. There are also a handful of dot-to-dot pages that feature either lowercase or capital letters.

There are 6 parts to the Teacher's Edition. There is a spiral-bound book for each unit with a paperback cover on the front and a hard cover on the back. As expected, the book matches the unit color, keeping everything consistent and easy to use. The introduction of each teacher's book contains the same information: goals, learning center ideas, routines, assessments, tips, instructional materials, and more. There is also a lesson plan overview for the unit that lists the pages needed for each resource along with the objectives of each lessons.

The teacher's edition books are packed full of teaching information. When I taught first grade many years ago, I had a teacher's manual for each subject. With the Focus on Fives curriculum, all of the information for the day's lessons is kept in one place.  There are sections for each topic that list the needed materials along with bulleted notes of what to teach. The last page of each lesson gives suggestions for extended activities: story and rhyme time, arts and crafts, learning center, motor skills, science, heritage studies, show and tell, songs, Bible connection, language arts, and more. The back of each book contains additional teacher resources including instructional aids and reproducibles, creative writing prompts, songs, and more.

My little guy and I have been working through the curriculum 3 days a week. He's not officially in kindergarten until the fall, so we're taking a slower approach to formal education right now. The curriculum is written for a classroom setting with enough activities and learning to fill a kindergartner's school day. I love that there are so many options that make it easy to find what works for us.

He enjoys completing the Worktext and Phonics Practice pages, hearing the listening stories, in the teacher's book, and the hands-on and motor activities. His favorite part is the snack of the week which coordinates with the lessons, such as a graham cracker firetruck while learning about firemen, apple and marshmallow mouths to enhance the dentist lessons, chocolate turtles while learning about the pond, "dirt" cupcakes for learning about the garden, tropical fruit cups for Hawaii, and other yummy treats.

One thing that I'm excited about is starting the post office section next week. With all that is going on (or not going on, ha) with our stay-at-home order, we've been trying to reach out to people in other ways. Since we can't physically be with our friends, I've been having the kids send mail. These lessons are perfect as they teach about zip codes, how mail is sorted, how to write letters and thank you notes, the history of mail delivery, using stamps, how to send packages and letters, and more. There is even a suggestion to send a missionary a care package. Other activities include sorting letters of the alphabet written on envelopes into capital and lowercase mailboxes, making stamps out of carrots and marking mail, pretending to be mail carriers, explaining how many of the books of the New Testament are letters, and crafting a mail carrier hat.

Focus on Fives is a full curriculum that teaches much more than reading and writing. The 6 units for the year cover a vast amount of topics through supporting activities: All Around the Town (community helpers), Bookshelf Friends (books, hymns, nursery rhymes), Ants to Elephants (animals, insects, pond, farm), Mountains High to Oceans Deep (landscapes, sharing the Gospel, America), Blue Skies and Gray (seasons, weather), Garden Paths and Wandering Trails (places).

The curriculum begins with identifying letters and recognizing their sounds and teaches students the skills necessary to read full sentences such as "He sent His Son to die for men." It works on rhyming words, compound words, short and long vowel words, and consonant blends. It teaches writing skill such as forming letters and proper pencil hold, but also tracing, punctuation, and copywork. It also teaches valuable motor and life skills, too--all while making learning an enjoyable experience.

If teaching all the components seems overwhelming, BJU Pres Homeschool will be offering online learning course videos beginning this summer. The videos are an hour long and incorporate a variety of learning activities for your little one. You can preview sample videos to determine if they're right for your family.

The BJU Press Focus on Fives curriculum is packed full of resources, activities, and ideas that are sure to help your child be prepared for first grade. There are many options for each lesson to ensure that you find the perfect balance for your growing learner.

You can connect with BJU Press Homeschool on the following social media sites:

You can see how other homeschool families used this curriculum by reading the reviews on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

BJU Press Focus on Fives {BJU Press Homeschool Reviews}

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