Top Picks and Tips for Preschool/K - Hands-On FUN!

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Are you considering homeschooling your little one?  Here are our favorites for early learning, with tips and how to's for making it fun and hands-on for your child.

While we introduced learning activities in preschool, we always took a playful approach, which taught my daughter in the natural way that kids learn...through play.  

Counting things is early math, sorting, etc.

When you are four, or five, everything is math!  Toys can be counted, towels sorted and put into sets.  Cookie making became a lesson in adding and subtracting, and beads got sorted into patterns as well, as making necklaces.  Also, buttons, shells, rocks, sorted by shape, color, size, what have you.  Even laundry could be sorted into sets, or small, medium and large, such as with towels. 

Here are two early math workbooks that we also enjoyed, with my reviews, so you can see how we used them:

Nothing has to be bought for math play with manipulatives, as small toys, buttons, shells, or whatever you have will work out just fine!  Anything that your kids can count, sort, and put into groups, or sets..will be wonders for their learning!

We didn't use a complete math program, but preferred doing our early math, hands-on.  Here's a review of Saxon Math for K if you are interested in that.

Read more about early math - hands-on here - Preschool/K - Early Math


All three Primers make a complete introduction to phonics for your young learners!
Explode the Code Primers

Not every homeschool family does phonics, but we found that it to be key to developing reading skills.  For early Phonics, we used the Explode the Code Primers (ETC).  

This is a very well researched program, which has been proven to improve reading levels.  It is kid friendly as well!  ETC primers covers all the basic phonics.  It also includes writing the abc's, more early reading skills, and word families. 

A is for Apple

We introduced the letters of the alphabet with simple ABC crafts projects and a great little book called  the Big Book of Alpha Tales.   

A,B,C's with cute and silly stories for each letter.

This book has a humorous story for each letter of the alphabet.  There are ABC mini-book to make as well, which was a favorite activity in our house, and gave my daughter a fun way to learn the alphabet.

Our early reading activities centered around read alouds, and going to the library for storytimes.  

When my little one was ready, we used the Bob Books series as our first readers, which introduced one vowel at a time. We also liked the series at I Can Read .  We found both of these series in the library, plus a lot more readers to choose from.


Doing arts and crafts, or legos can prepare our kiddos for handwriting.

To develop the hands and wrist for handwriting, we did LOTS of crafts, enjoying sidewalk chalk art, etc.  Clapping games are great, too.

We played with playdough, did lots of drawings, cut with scissors, fingerpainted, and often did gluing projects. Sometimes we tore paper into small pieces to make a design with glue, which helped to strengthen the finger muscles.   

Here's a few more ideas for 
small muscle games.  Do what your child enjoys...if they don't like crafts, playing with legos, small blocks, etc, works, too.  Read more about handwriting here - Preschool/K - Early Language Arts.

Learning Letter Shapes  

Photo Credit -
We wrote letters in pudding, in the air, on the sidewalk, in the sand, and on large newsprint paper....the bigger the better.  This gave my daughter the feel each letter. 

Teach Your Kids to Write  has lots of ideas for beginning handwriting, when your little ones are ready for that. 
Early writing success - Mistakes don't matter.

My kiddo had a lot fun drawing, then she would dictate a few words about her picture, which I would write down for her to copy.
When she chose the words herself, her copywork was very meaningful to her.


Collecting things is nature study for kiddos.

Our early homeschooling years were all about exploring new things, learning basic phonics, playing with math manipulatives, and lots of read alouds and art play.  

But, by far, my daughter's favorite thing, during that time, was to do very simple science experiments in the kitchen, and go on nature walks to collect things.

And that became our focus for our early science studies...You know, science does not have to be complicated to be a wonderful learning experience for our kids.

Early Science Activities and FUN

Photo Credit - Evan-Moor's Science Works Series

Our early nature study was all about collecting things.

Starting with the backyard, we went on nature walks, to explore whenever we could.  My little one was quite the collector, and was always picking up leaves, on the way to the library, in the parking lot of the grocery store,etc. 

We would bring her collections home, and use the leaves in our art, and, when she was a little older, we began to identify them by name.  Taking this time to stop and collect leaves, as we walked, set the stage for her learning to love nature, as she grew up.

For more resources on early science, click here - Early Science - Hands-On!

Bird Watching

Then there was bird watching, feeding the birds with simple peanut butter feeders, studying ant hills, watching the moon, learning its cycle, and learning about and taking care of our cats.  Read more about birdwatching for little ones here - Birdwatching - Nature Study. 


Some of my best memories of early homeschooling was when we went on simple field trips, either by ourselves, as a family, or with our homeschooling group.

My daughter also wanted to learn how to dance, so we took her to a preballet class, which she loved.

  None of the kids really knew their dance, at the recital, but they did their best, and that was the important thing.

If you would like more fun ideas for preschool/K, click on my page called the Early Years.

And now that my daughter is a sophomore in college, (Can that really be, already?).... 

....I will have more time to share about our earlier years, and all the fun we had homeschooling them.  It is such a precious thing to watch your child learn. 

Thanks again for stopping by, and....

Thanks for stopping by,


Betsy blogs at BJ's Homeschool about high school and college and all the fun of homeschooling the early years too.  Betsy also offers free help to homeschool families.  She is the author of Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, a simple guide tohigh school, with tips for making the college admissions process easier too.

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