35 tools, books, resources, and ideas to support your homeschool preschool!

Homeschool Preschool Plan

In my last post, I told you about five approaches to home preschool and how I lean towards a combination of unschooling, unit studies, and Charlotte Mason.

As I was wrapping my mind around the upcoming preschool year, I made a list of areas that I think are important for me to include and explore with my preschooler.

Over 35 ideas and resources to support your play-based homeschool preschool.

My list includes such things as:

  • Music
  • Art
  • Pre-Reading (such as alphabet identification, letter sounds, etc)
  • STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)
  • Sensory Exploration
  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Life Skills
  • World Awareness (service, culture, history, diversity)
  • Spiritual Development
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Social skills
  • Pretend Play
  • Free play

Home Preschool Resources

That’s a pretty big, ambitious list! So what does that look like in reality? Well, you can find my collection of play-based preschool ideas on my “preschool play” board.

I also searched our shelves, scoured amazon, and browsed pinterest to find resources that I think we’ll utilize this year. Again, you can read my “Approaches to Home Preschool” post to see why I  feel like you don’t NEED much to teach your preschooler at home. This post includes lots of suggestions and ideas; please use what works for you and disregard the rest! Instead of letting this list overwhelm you, use it to spark your own great ideas and find your own path!

Here are my broad categories and corresponding resources:

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)

  • MathStart 1 books. I recently read a few reviews that made me think these books would be a fun way to weave math into our story time. I will check at the library first, but Monster Musical Chairs, Mighty Maddie, and Leaping Lizards are on my amazon wishlist.
  • Snap cubes
  • Puzzles (My girls are loving this fishing puzzle and often return to this beginning pattern block set.)
  • Coding for kindergarteners. This kind of blows my mind. This site has tips for helping pre-readers learn some basic coding concepts. My IT-guy husband thinks this is awesome.
  • Laser Pegs like this “Bug” set. The manufacturer’s recommended age is 5-15, but since the LED lights will last for 11 years, I may buy a set for Christmas and let my oldest start tinkering. :)
  • Snap circuits–we got the Snap Circuits Jr set for our three-year-old last year for Christmas, and it’s been awesome. It’s rated for kids ages 8 and up, but our daughter has been working with Daddy to put together circuits that lead to music, light bulbs, and fans. Daddy helped a lot in the beginning, but now she can put a few together by herself–with and without him reading the instructions.  They haven’t attempted some of the more advanced challenges, so this is definitely a “toy” that will grow with us for a few years.
  • The My First Mind-Blowing Science Kit looks like a good starter set for science experiments, but I know you can piece together the materials and find plenty of great science experiments online.
  • Beakers, droppersmagnifying glass, magnets, and tongs
  • Outdoor play--nature exploration, scavenger hunts, water wall, and mud pies in the outdoor kitchen.
  • Building materials such as train tracks, marble runs, blocks, magna tiles, and gears.
  • A weather chart like this one from Fun-A-Day.
  • Science experiments for young kids collected in my “Experiments and Measurements” (STEM) board.

35 resources to support your homeschool preschool.

Literacy (Pre-reading and pre-writing skills)

  • I Spy Bingo. This is a fun literary game that emphasizes letter sounds.
  • Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game. This is our favorite preschool game. It’s a fun way to work those little finger muscles and improve fine motor skills!
  • Alphabet puzzles (like this lower-case option) are great for letter identification and learning letter sounds.
  • Read alouds. We love picture books, but now we’re also starting to explore chapter books. We just finished The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Reading it out loud to a not-quite four-year-old meant it came with a MILLION questions and interruptions. But through her questions, she absorbed a ton of detail. (Should you ask her how they made Turkish Delight, she’ll probably say something like this: “The Queen put a drop in the snow and it sizzled and turned into a cup. And then she put in another drop in the snow and it sizzled and turned into Turkish Delight and it was really, really sugary and Edmund ate the whole box. It was a lot.”) Once I got over the fact that progress would be slow, I loved this time with her. Now we’re about halfway through Charlotte’s Web. We’ve head that The Magic Treehouse series is a good place to start as well!
  • Handwriting Without Tears Pre-K Activity Book. It’s a workbook (I didn’t get the teacher’s manual), which is the opposite of unschooling. However, teaching my daughter to write makes me nervous; therefore, I’m willing to explore this workbook option a bit. I think it will be nice to have on the mornings when my daughter asks for “school,” but we don’t have time for big activity.
  • Tongs, playdoh, tools, scissors

Homeschool Preschool Resources and Ideas

The Arts & Social Science

  • Playing with the real instruments in our home–violin, cello, trumpet, piano, and a beginner’s electric guitar
  • Singing and dancing at home (we sing a lot at our house!)
  • Music or dance classes
  • Gross motor skill development in the form of bike rides (with a little coaching and one key piece of equipment, our daughter learned to ride without training wheels in about ten minutes), jumping on the trampoline, playing at the play ground, and gymnastics on a tumbling mat.
  • Visits to the symphony, choir and band concerts, and musical theater
  • Holiday and seasonal activities as we feel interested
  • Pretend play. This includes 24-7 access to a well-stocked dress-up tote, toys like our mail set, an upcycled grocery store, and more baby dolls, animals, and imaginary friends (the latest in our collection is an eyeball named Aho) than I can count. We also just purchased this mini sandbox for some creative, indoor fun this winter.
  • Process art with materials like dot markers, glue, sticky paper collages, paint, glitter, puffy paint (check out this easy puffy paint recipe), cotton balls, feathers, and buttons.
  • We put the Jesus Storybook Bible on our kitchen table, and we started reading it at meal times. The girls asked for it so often that we read through it in just a few weeks. We’ll probably pick it up and start over again soon.
  • Responsibility Chart. We have one from Melissa and Doug on hand, but we’ve yet to put it to use.
  • Baking/cooking (you can see our Cooking with Kids” category HERE and find even more ideas on our “Food for Kids” board.)
  • Serving as a family (through babysitting for friends, taking meals for new moms, working in the church nursery, etc)
  • Travel. We truly believe travel is one of the best forms of education. You can read our personal travel stories HERE and see the best tips we’ve gathered online on our travel with kids board.

Arts and Social Science in Homeschool Preschool

One final resource: I share a pinterest board with several bloggers who all have young kids and believe strongly in play-based learning. It’s called Creative Kids’ Activities, and we’d love for you to follow along!

In my next preschool post, I’ll share our proposed homeschool preschool schedule/routine. Stay tuned!

Fun ideas and resources to help preschoolers learn at home! (STEM, Literacy, the arts, and motor skills.)

 

Finding an Approach to Learning that Fits Your Home Preschool

It’s the time of year when most of our little friends fill their backpacks with fresh crayons, glue, pencils, and scissors and head off to preschool or kindergarten. But not our girls! We’ve made the decision to start their school years at home.

I don’t have a formal background in early childhood education (I was an English major with ESL and creative writing minors), but my own research and instinct tells me that (in general) play-based learning is a good fit for our family at this current stage of life. You may discover that your home preschool should have a more academic, fact-based focus. Whatever your inclination, read on to learn about five unique approaches to learning and teaching.

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This fall, our girls will be two and four. I believe that our two-year-old will learn everything she needs through daily life. She will take part in activities that interest her, but she won’t have any sort of “curriculum.” (I collect my favorite ideas on my Toddler Play pinterest board.)

What's your style of home preschool?

I would like to be a bit more intentional with our four-year-old this year. I don’t plan to buy or follow a formal curriculum, but I want to offer her opportunities to dig deeper into things that are already of interest to her, introduce her to new/unfamiliar subjects and lessons, experiment with different styles of learning, and guide her as she playfully acquires the knowledge and skill sets necessary of a preschooler.

Recently, a friend shared with me this “Five Flavors of Homeschooling” video quiz that is meant to help parents decide their style of homeschooling. According to the quiz, my style is a combination of Unschooling and Charlotte Mason.

Unschooling a Preschooler

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Unschooling sounds scary, right? I think the big fear is that unschooled kids will end up with big gaps in their education! But the basic premise (as I understand it) of unschooling is that you learn through living life. We definitely do that at our house.

The book Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners excited me to give my girls more freedom to explore their personal interests and passions. There are so many great quotes in this book. How about this gem:

Project-based homeschooling isn’t a wrestling match or a power struggle, because the child gets to learn about whatever interests him. Rather than educating him with a carrot or a stick, we are taking a half-step back and saying, ‘I’m here to help you in whatever way I can.’ We become mentors, sharing our thinking and learning skills and hopefully transferring them. We become stronger learners ourselves as we work with our child.” (Pickert, 8)

And then on the next page:

“In project-based homeschooling, you zero in on what interests your child and stay there as long as she is interested. She’s not on her own; you’re there with materials, support, feedback, interest. With the same enthusiasm and passion that you might transfer a beloved skill (breadmaking, woodworking, tennis), you help your child acquire the skills to think, learn, make, and do.” (Pickert, 9)

I like the sound of that.

Thanks to a tip from Shaunna at Fantastic Fun and Learning, I’m ordering The Unschooling Handbook.

A Reggio-Emilia-inspired approach would include a lot of project-based learning. You can read more about using Reggio Emilia methods in your home preschool in THIS post from An Everyday Story.

5 Approaches to Home Preschool.

Charlotte Mason Preschool

I like the theory of unschooling, but I am, by nature, a structured person. Perhaps this is why Charlotte Mason appeals to me? From what I understand, there’s structure in the Charlotte Mason model, but no formal schooling until seven. I like that. It sounds a bit like Finland’s awesome educational model. With the Charlotte Mason method, there’s also a strong emphasis on nature and natural learning which reminds me of the little I know (and like) about Reggio schooling.

Check out this quote about the early years of Charlotte Mason material from Ambleside Online (which has free homeschool curriculum):

“The most important Year 0 goal, after physical health, according to Charlotte Mason, is time spent outside. “. . .[T]he chief function of the child–his business in the world during the first six or seven years of his life–is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses; that he has an insatiable appetite for knowledge got in this way; and that, therefore, the endeavour of his parents should be to put him in the way of making acquaintance freely with Nature and natural objects. . . .” (CM’s OHS, V1, p.96)”

I really like the sound of that!

Unit Studies in Preschool

In our preschool co-op (you can read all about it HERE), we do more of what’s called “Unit Studies.” We take a topic or theme and do hands-on projects that center around the assigned theme. So if the theme is “apples” we may make apple prints, count our apple slices at snack time, read Apple Farmer Annie, and visit an apple orchard.

You can find lists of ideas for unit studies and themes via the links on these blogs:

Finding a style of learning that works well for your family and home preschool.

Montessori at Home

From what I understand, the Montessori method focuses on academics, but children are encouraged to learn by themselves and at their own pace. There is a strong emphasis on independence, practical life activities, and natural learning.

If you’re interested in reading more about Montessori in the home, this infographic about what makes an activity “Montessori” from Racheous Lovable Learning is a great place to start.

Traditional and Classical Approaches to Preschool

If the above methods don’t seem to fit with your family, you may be more interested in the traditional or classical approach. These methods are not the same, but they both tend to align with academic preschools. You’re probably familiar with the “traditional” style of learning if you attended public schools. From what I understand, it usually includes textbooks and workbooks.

Click HERE to read more about classical education.

So what do you think? Are any of these options right for your family’s home preschool?

For more preschool ideas, follow our preschool play board!

Follow Rachael at Nothing if Not Intentional’s board Preschool Play on Pinterest.