Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices for Playful Learning - Preschool and Kindergarten




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While we introduced learning activities in preschool, we took a playful approach.  Here are my favorites for the preschool and the kindergarten years, which are easy to use and are mostly frugal.  

We picked and choose from these ideas and activities each day, as our preschooler had a very short attention span as most preschoolers do.  And kindergarteners have just a bit more.  Our focused learning time in kindergarten was about 1/2 hour to an hour at most. 

Let's start with math play.....then touch on early language arts, fine motor fun, handwriting, art, early science, and the fun of a field trip or two.
   
MATH PLAY
Click for hands-on learning fun with numbers, sets, 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. 

Making a Math Manipulatives Kit

We didn't use a complete math program, but preferred doing our early math, with our own hands-on activities, card games were great, too.  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!

My post called Early Math FUN shares how we went about making our kit and learning early math concepts with our manipulatives.  Here are two early math workbooks that we also enjoyed, and my daughter worked out the problems using her manipulatives:



Here's a review of Saxon Math for K if you would like to use a prepared curriculum.  It involves a lot of great hands-on learning, too. 

EARLY LANGUAGE ARTS



Click for phonics, reading and pre-handwriting FUN



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

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.


PHONICS 


All three Primers make a complete introduction to phonics for your young learners!
Not every homeschool family does phonics, but we found that it was key to the development of reading skills for our daughter.  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. 


For those who are ready to move on, here is info on the next books in the series by Explode the Code.  We let our daughter take reading at her own pace, and followed her lead. 

When my little one was ready, we decided to use the Bob Books series as our first readers, which introduced one vowel at a time. We also liked the series at I Can Read .  

Next, let's talk about resources for fine motor activities for pre-handwriting....

FINE MOTOR and Pre-HANDWRITING


Click here for Small Muscle Games

To develop hand coordination and wrist strength for handwriting, we did LOTS of crafts, enjoying sidewalk chalk art, etc.  For non-crafty kids, lego building and the like will work just as well.
We played with playdough, did drawings, cut with sissors, 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.   



Do what your child enjoys...if they don't like crafts, there's always playing with legos, small blocks, small cars, etc. 

This post below, has more ways to help your child with fine motor skills and grasp. 9 Ways to a Mature Grasp - Games and Fun! 


photo credit Oak Meadow

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.  And it also gave her practice in crossing the midline, when we made large letters in the air.

Teach Your Kids to Write  has lots of ideas for beginning handwriting, if your little ones are ready for that.  

It doesn't matter when your kids learn to write, they will get it, when it is the right time for them. 

ART 



Coloring, painting, playing with clay were popular at our house.  A favorite was painting with pudding, when I had the time to get it out.

My daughter enjoyed drawing, then sometimes 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. 

We also had fun making simple books sometimes.....



The Art of Simple Book Making 

Here's some things that we did for early science activities, when it fit into our day...

SCIENCE and NATURE STUDY 


SIMPLE FIELD TRIPS

Some of our best memories were made when we did simple field trip, like going on a train ride with friends, fishing at a kiddo's fishing hole, or joining other homeschoolers for a park day.

Or heading exploring in our backyard, for insects, worms, even slugs....

And of course birds - Our Favorite Books about Birds and Birdwatching.

One year, my daughter asked to do a ballet class, like she had read about in one of her books.  So we found a pre-ballet class, and she loved it.  We found using a community group class like that added a lot to our week, and led to support for me from other mamas, even some homeschooling ones!  

None of the kids really knew their dance, at recital, but that didn't matter.  Of course.

Did you know that there are so many homeschool friendly colleges out there now?  That is the trend.  Requirements are actually getting easier for homeschooled applicants.

Homeschooling prepared her well for college and she had no difficulty getting accepted to each of the colleges on her list with her homeschool transcript.

So if you think that your little one will be headed that way, they should have no trouble getting in as a homeschooler, if you decide to go all the way.  





Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,

Betsy


Betsy is mom to her now college grad, whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote the book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting


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