Sunday, April 15, 2012

Review of Funshine Express Fireflies Kit

I have been researching different types of monthly preschool activity kits. I ordered a month of Funshine Express Fireflies to try it out. It is a complete monthly preschool curriculum kit. You can find more info at www.funshineexpress.com. It is aimed at ages 3 - 5. For two children for one month, it would cost $49.50 plus about $10 shipping. To add 2 more kids (so that all my kids can do the crafts) only cost a few dollars more -- $55.50. The order was shipped the day after I placed it and arrived the next week (by UPS, I think). It is designed for formal preschool settings, but it can easily be adapted to the home.

Here's the box, with my son in the pic so you can get a sense of size:



Starter Pack
Your first order of the school year comes with a starter pack of materials you will use every month. Here they are all organized in a plastic bag:


The starter pack includes a calendar base, which is glossy tagboard:


Then 3 glossy tagboard posters to display the numbers, shapes, and colors of the month:



Then there is a world map -- just glossy paper:


And finally a daily weather chart:


Monthly Teacher Pack
In each monthly kit, you get a teacher pack. This is all the materials of which there are only one for the whole classroom. Here it is, organized in its bag:


It includes the curriculum guide, which is the complete daily plan:

That is one thick book! I was surprised at the level of detail in the lesson plans. There is a two page spread for each day. Here is just one page for one day's plan:


This book also includes a materials list for the month. Here's a close-up of one day's material list:

It is quite a lot of materials you need to draw together if you are going to do every single thing each day. However, a lot of the materials are not completely essential. Also, almost all the materials are things I have around the house.

Also in the teacher's pack is a book that matches one of the themes for the month:

It is a nice quality book.


Then there is a monthly math game (glossy tagboard again):

Here are the pieces for the math game -- they just need to be punched out:


Then there are the monthly calendar pieces (which match the themes, and clearly are meant to use to teach patterns):


There's a monthly puzzle. This is the one part I am not impressed with. It is just glossy paper, which is not what I would consider stiff enough to really use as a puzzle with kids. It is double sided, and matches the theme of course. It needs to be cut with scissors along pre-marked lines:


Then there is a learning game (memory style) that matches the theme:


Another game about baby and mommy animals (one of the themes):

These are punch out style.

Then, some double -sided letter of the month images -- punch out:



Here are the monthly number and shape pieces to display on the posters:


Numbers of the month counting cards:


Images which are used one at a time on various days to start a conversation or lead up to a game or activity:


Here are double-sded to flash cards to learn Spanish (one side English, one side Spanish):


This picture is probably hard to make out because it is all white. It is punch out shape manipulatives that are used in some of the lessons:

The shape of the month is diamond.

That's the end of the teacher pack.

Children's PackThese are materials where you get one per child.



Parent newsletters:

These are designed to send home from your preschool to tell the parents what is going on. Although you don't need these if you are doing school at home, they do have a few extension ideas.

Student journals:

The back cover is in color:


Inside pages are black and white. They include counting and tracing activities to teach letters and numbers. Also there are some prompts for students to fill in the blank in a sentence and then draw a picture -- sort of pre-writing type activities:

Lastly (for the children's pack), there are "activity strips". These are perforated, but I didn't separate them yet. They are double-sided and are tracing activities:




Craft supplies
Each month comes with materials for 12 different crafts. Each craft is in its own bag. (Two of the bags contain two crafts in one bag, so there are only 10 bags this month, even though there are 12 activities.)

Here is what is actually in that bag:

I ordered a kit for 4 kids, so you are seeing enough to make 4 tabby cat crafts.

Here is another example of a craft bag -- this time containing supplies for 2 different crafts:


All the craft supplies look to be decent quality, and they were all very organized and packed nicely so nothing was damaged during shipping. There are basic supplies you need for the crafts that are not included -- scissors, crayons, glue, markers, tape, and paint. Nothing I would not always have on hand.

Final thoughts: This was much more organized, and much, much, much more detailed than I expected. There are lots more activities laid out each day than we personally could actually use. But we are trying to homeschool older kids at the same time. If you only had one or two kids who were preschool age, you might use everything. Each day has a song of the day, various activity prompts for dramatic/imaginative play, active games, crafts, and circle time type activities. It is also very cohesive and hangs together well. It is pricey, but still it would only cost me about $500 for the year if I pre-paid, and that would be enough for 4 kids and would include shipping. Compared to preschool tuition, it is cheap.

If you have questions, please post!

6 comments:

  1. Awesome review! Thanks for all the pictures and information. I am considering ordering this for my home preschool to help me have everything on hand. We also homeschool so I need something already organized for me,

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  2. I am so glad it is helpful to you! I was very impressed with the materials, because they could have cheaped out so many times and didn't. One of my friends pointed out this week that the cost is not that different from Sonlight preschool over the course of a year, but you are getting so much more!

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  3. Thanks so much Jennifer for the wonderful review and pictures of our kit. We know how hectic everyone's schedules are and want our curriculum to be flexible, easy to use and affordable. You commented that there were a lot of activities and you are right. There are over 250 each month! There is something for everyone whether you're a stay-at-home mom, home school mom, family provider, preschool teacher, etc. And, the beauty of it is, your children are having lots of fun while they're learning. You can't beat that! Based on customer feedback, we've already made changes for next year to make it even better! If it's okay with you, we'd love to send you our September kit (at our expense of course) as soon as it's ready to go, which will be the end of July. Bet you'll love it even more. Let us know!

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Cindy! Thanks for commenting! I can't wait to see the changes for next year. I was so excited about this kit for May that we started yesterday (even though it is still April). I cannot tell you how much our kids enjoyed it! My two year old has requested me to sing her yesterday's song again, and again, and again... And even the big kids (the 6 year old and 8 year old) have participated in the crafts with the two little ones yesterday and today, and they have really enjoyed them.

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    2. That's so good to hear. I bet the older ones are great helpers. Please email your shipping information to cindys@funshineexpress.com so you can get the first September kit off the production line! :)

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  4. How did you set up everything on the walls? I have been looking for an example of how someone used their products and what their display looked like

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