Tag Archive | preschool

5 Worthwhile Purchases for a Homeschool Preschool

I’ve had a lot on my mind recently…Small scale, I’ve been scrutinizing our household finances and savings and budgets and, whew, there’s a lot to think about there. And then of course our election, and wondering what things will be like in this America for my boys when they’re older.

These things just make me more focused on my job to raise up my boys, because it’s my job, and because it matters!

A month ago I published some simple tips for beginning an at-home preschool. Listen to how lucky I am. My wonderful mother-in-law decided this year to retire from twenty-some years of teaching kindergarten. I am blessed to have this shelf of hand-me-downs:

Take a good look at that organization. Remember that if you come to visit.

{ps, if you live near me, please come visit and go shopping in my library! I love to share.}

If you don’t have the luxury of having a retired kindergarten teacher for a mother-in-law who brings backs and buckets of trinkets and toys every time she comes, well, what is worth the money? Here’s the things I would definitely recommend:

1. “counters” and containers – I have about 100 little plastic bears of varying colors and sizes. It is this exact set, I think! You can use these for so many purposes in the preschool years. Even my youngest, who is 19 months, enjoys picking up and dumping them. Later of course, you can count, sort, order in sizes, add, subtract, place them in individual cups, line them up in a row, etc. etc. Here is a great resource for other ideas with counters.


2. plastic numbers and letters. I have a full set of numbers and letters uppercase and lower. Right now, for our 3-year-old preschool, we are just using uppercase. This is an invaluable tool. You could use magnets, even blocks with letters on them instead. I introduce a letter a week or so and then review the old.

3. The basics: easy-to-use scissors, glue stick and liquid, markers, a thick beginner pencil, crayons, and a pencil box. Especially if you have a younger child, keeping a few like-new items in a pencil box and away from little hands is a good idea. Finally, an absolute “must” is a reliable printer with lots of ink and paper on hand. There are so many worksheets available. I link to some good ones here, and I just saw a great resource for many others.

4. A book on science experiments. The Everything Kids’ Science Experiment Book looks like a great one, although it’s not the one I own. My mother-in-law also shared how much her kids loved their “experiments,” even if they were very simple. The little ones in my preschool just LOVE it! We do one once a week. I’m amazed how much I learn doing a simple little thing and trying to explain it. But then again, I’m completely inept at science.

5. exercise cards! Motor development is important too! My kids love cards like this – they see the picture and must do the action. And it’s a great activity when they’re just fried!

Moms of little ones (past or current!) – any other ideas of toys or tools kids love?


beginner language activities for preschoolers

Here are a few suggestions for very beginning language activities for a 2-4 year-old.

Tracing worksheets – I had no idea this was so important, and to be done prior to even practicing letters. It makes sense though, as this is easier!

Visual discrimination worksheets– sounds really official, right? It’s really just a  “which face/dog/house is different”? exercise. The same skill that makes you look closely for a difference will be used later in identifying different letters!

Letter sorting – find a set of plastic letters like these. Each week, introduce a letter. Let the kids handle the uppercase and lowercase, throw it, hide it, talk about if they have lines or circles, etc. Then play “find the…” with the letters you’ve introduced, adding one letter each week. Hopefully by the end students can identify all uppercase and lowercase!

Letter Hunt – Print off a bunch of “a”s (upper and lower). Hide them around the room. Have students go on an “a” hunt and then sort upper and lower in different buckets. Repeat with each letter.

Beginning sound cut-and-paste activities like these are great for teaching sounds!

Practice forming letters – with stick pretzels or playdough

Letter hunt – Children choose any 10 letters from the letter manipulatives. Go through a stack of shuffled letter cards, calling out each letter to the children. As the letters are called out, children look to see if they have that letter, and if they do, the letter is put back in the letter tub. We see who is first to clear all of their letters (like a bingo game). If the kids are too competitive, we play until everyone has cleared all of their letters.
*To teach letter sounds: Call out a word and have children identify the first letter of the word. {Read more: http://prekinders.com/alphabet-letter-identification-activities/#ixzz27LIggrkb}


Simple steps to beginning an at-home preschool

I could be wrong, but I don’t think my mom’s generation felt the pressure for “preschool” like we do today. But today – 13 is the new 25, and preschool is the new kindergarten. Not that I am downplaying what you can teach an eager 3-year-old, but I’m giving myself at least permission to take a proverbial breath, and realize it might just be possible for Sam to get into college if  he never experienced a certified preschool program.

In the words of my mother-in-law (a retired kindergarten teacher): “His work right now is play!”

With that said, if you’re willing and you have the time, short and scheduled “preschool moments” can be loads of fun for mom and a 2-4 year-old. Last year was our first with anything resembling preschool. Here are some things we’ve learned that we will continue this year as he’s three:

  • If possible, find a friend or two. It’s not even necessary that he/she be on the exact same “level” as your child. It will lend accountability, feel more official, and provide extra hands to garner supplies/watch younger kiddos/teach lessons.
  • Meet two regular days a week, and don’t feel the need to do more than 25-30 minutes of planned events.
  • Make sure your time includes singing, exercises, and crafts or experiments. For our time, after about 5-10 minutes of writing/reading/sitting, I do some sort of break, even if it is only a minute or two of “silliness.”
  • If you can plan for a month ahead, including making copies and a supply list for projects.

We follow this format every time:

  • Sit in our chairs, say what we’re all thankful for today, and pray. (We pass around a giant smiley face as we share our blessings.)
  • Pledge of Allegiance. (They love taking turns holding the flag.)
  • Sing our “ABC” song.
  • Do a language activity.
  • Do a math activity.
  • Choose one from crafts or science experiments.
  • Interspersed amongst these, we do exercises, dance, sing children’s songs, paint a picture to send someone in the mail, stand up and stretch, etc. I add in one of these very quickly when I begin sensing they are “done.” It’s my opinion that building confidence and love of learning is more important than “gritting our teeth and finishing the lesson” at this young age.

I once read somewhere that a preschool teacher recommended, “Don’t get so overwhelming designing the ‘perfect’ curriculum. Just pick something and go with it for a few months. Once you begin, you can always rework it, add to it, or change it.” I think that is excellent advice. Once you have the shell of a curriculum, here are some other things you can add to it:

  • special days – pajamas, pancake day, color days, field trips, etc
  • show and tell – they love this!
  • special guests
  • making each student bring a pencil box/bookbag with an exact supply list

I know I said this, but two of the most important things, in my opinion:

  1. I strongly believe that the best thing you can offer a 2-4 year-old in an “academic” environment is the joy of learning. Act excited about anything they love. Praise them infinitely for each thing they work on. Make a point of reminding them to show Mommy/Daddy/Grandma what they made and learned today. Greet them with a smile and hug. Thank them for coming every day. If your child and his friends begin to enjoy learning, what a great gift you have given them!
  2. Plan ahead. Even if each “session” has only three activities, plan them ahead of time. I would say plan out at least one month before you begin. Even if it’s not perfect, if it’s workable, go with it for  month. I know from experience there is nothing worse than opening your eyes in the morning to realize, “Ughh…it’s preschool day. What are we going to do today??”

Does doing a at-home preschool excite you? What activities work best for your child?