I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that planning and implementing structured preschool activities is more effort than it’s worth half the time.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to offer up any preschool learning tools, but I’ve learned that for us, a relaxed preschool is a happier homeschool. Especially with multiple young children in the home, I don’t necessarily need to plan out activities to fill up time with bored kids.
But while I’m homeschooling my Kindergartener, it helps to have a small library of preschool aged games, books, and toys to keep her feeling included in our lessons.
Do a Dot Markers
There’s something about do a dot markers that are extra fun for kids. While I’m working on Kindergarten lessons with Aamina, do a dot markers are Amatullah’s main tool she grabs to keep herself busy. They’re great for goofing around and not needing to be super careful, and still being able to complete something they feel proud of.
Do a Dot books (or thick printer paper)
When I first got our do a dot markers I thought the books were a rip off, but I was willing to give one a try because I was having printer troubles at the time. Unless you buy thicker paper, you’re going to end up with paint on your table or floor from the markers. With the need for painting paper, and the time it takes to find and print sheets, the books are definitely worth the extra cost, in my opinion.
Wooden Pattern Blocks
It’s probably my more math-centered mind, but I really love making patterns with geometric shapes. I can’t back this up with studies, but I do think that working with blocks like this helps kids see patterns and more easily grasp math concepts when they are able to picture abstract numbers in concrete ways. You’ll notice I don’t have any other math type items on the list. I think it’s unnecessary to start formal math lessons this early. These wood pattern blocks, though, set up a foundation and are fun to play with!
Laminator for printable pattern sheets
Can you get through any list of homeschool items without a handy dandy laminator? Both my preschooler and my 2 year old stay occupied and engaged when playing using pattern sheets (rather than the pattern blocks somehow ending up in every room of the house). As I’m sure is the same in man homes, I know that if I don’t laminate these pages, they’ll be ruined in no time. Laminating saves a ton of money on printing costs in the long run.
We don’t use these as formal lessons, but it’s still fun for my preschooler to work on a book about numbers, letters, or mazes from time to time. Just because we have a relaxed preschool doesn’t mean that we avoid introducing numbers, letters, or practicing pen control. Instead, she uses the books when it’s fun and while she’s at it I’ll mention some information about the page she’s working on.
I’m always looking for ways to reduce our paper waste, and whiteboards are a great way to let kids color without having to waste lots of paper for random scribbles. We also have magnetic letters and letter pieces for the kids to work with on a magnetic surface. In a pinch, a cookie sheet works, too!
Fun with Nature Guides
It’s surprisingly hard to find nature guides for preschoolers, so I was really excited to find these combined volumes! Since I still have to bring a diaper bag out to the park, we usually just bring things back to explore after we go out for the day. We’ve also done nature journals directly from these nature guides, which feels like we’re cheating, but hey, it’s preschool. There are very few rules.
I only have a couple suggestions for now as we’re still building our home game library, but I do believe having a game library for kids is valuable. If for no other reason than having some quality time as a family, but in sha Allah I aim to build a game library that includes learning items as well.
My first Carcassone is pretty simple, making it easy to get preschoolers started in strategy games, though I do admit Amatullah still doesn’t quite get it. 3 years old I think is a little young for kids to get started, but with some help from others, they can still be included in family game time.
An Islamic trivia game with questions easy enough for preschoolers to play. If you have a range of ages, you can pull questions from different levels to match the different ages in your home. The simple setup of the game makes it really easy to take out and play without much fuss.
Wildcraft is a great game for both little kids and older kids in that it’s a co-op game, and doesn’t require kids to be readers in order to play. As a bonus, this game isn’t just for fun, but you learn what herbs assist with ailments like wasp stings, diarrhea, sunburn, and hunger.
Water colors and watercolor paper
I know people say to get nice paints for kids right away, but for preschoolers I don’t think you need to spend a lot of money. Fortunately, Prang paints are a great price on Amazon and are well rated. What you do need to invest in is proper painting paper, especially for water colors.
I enjoy water colors for my kids because it’s all self contained in the trays, and it’s easy to use and easy to clean up. With that said, we do use tempura paints at times also. Either way, paint is needed in every preschool to give kids an introduction to colors, blending, and creating a work of their own.
Expanding home library
Never underestimate the power of a home library! Make sure you have a collection of books that impart the priorities in your home. If environmentalism is important, have nature guides and science books. As a Muslim, ensure you have books to show representation of Muslim characters and role models. And no matter your specific personal goals, make sure you have books with high literary quality for your kids to enjoy the written word.