The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise is often referred to as the homeschooler's "bible". It is written by a mother daughter team and outlines a classical approach to home education.
Since my girls are so young, I only got as far as the first few chapters. The later chapters are geared to educating older children. However, one of the best features of the book is its extensive list of tried and true resources for every subject.
Anyone can access their resource list on the The Well Trained Mind website. Here is the book list/resource list that is relevant to early learners (birth to 5).
From this list I have purchased:
Here is some of our 3.5 year old's work:
It's very workbooky, but she like it. She is excited to do "work".
We also purchased:
My husband does these with her at bed time and her ability to blend the sounds is improving steadily.
An fun extension activity -Sentence Scramble Blocks:
Wooden blocks covered in painter's tape and words from the Bob Book set are used to make a sentence scramble activity. For directions, check out this fun kid activity site. This activity is far from independent work for my little girl, but it's just another way to practice reading in a fun way.
During car rides and other quieter times, we practice blending (putting together) and segmenting (separating) sounds. We take turns making sounds for the other person to blend into a word. We started with two sounds and are now up to four. For example, I say the sounds p-a-t, and ask my daughter what word is that. When it's her turn to give me a set of sounds, she is working on her ability to segment the sounds in a word. She has to be able to say a word like pat and realize the three separate sound in that word in order to play correctly. Watching this development in her has been really exciting.
Here are some other fun early reader activities we plan to do:
Disclaimer: There are many different homeschool philosophies out there some of which may strongly disagree with the above activities for a 3.5 year old. But, I promise you all that we do not spend more than a few minutes on these tasks and whenever my daughter shows us that she is done, she is done. We are also new at homeschooling and playing around with different approaches/methods and our methods will change over time and with each child. That is the beauty of homeschooling.
Now, just to get a little technical: I also believe in Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development. Vygotsky believed that an educator's role was to provide children experiences that were within their zones of proximal development (almost there, but not there yet), thereby encouraging and advancing their individual learning. My daughter knew her letters and their sounds at 18 months from pressing buttons repeatedly on a Leap Frog Toy. I believe reading is within her zone of proximal development, if I didn't we definitely would not be working on reading at this point.