Preschool Ideas

How does one keep the pre-school aged child occupied with quality activities while teaching other children? They can really disrupt the lessons and yet our heart goes out to them. We, as mothers want to give them the time and instruction they need. It can be a real juggling act and takes some planning and praying. Or maybe you are a first-time mother and have an only child and need some ideas for your curious pre-schooler. Hopefully, you will find some ideas here. I caution you, however, not to be very ‘bookish’ with them. I recall as a young mother being too eager to instruct my three year old. She learned to read at three and was reading large chapter books at four. She has the thick glasses now to prove it. If the only reason is just to save their sensitive little eyes while they are still developing, then please take my advice and hold off the urge of putting the printed page before them for a little while longer. (I followed this advice for my last two children and their eyes are still fine, thankfully.)

This is what we have done:
Our preschooler gets his own drawer with little games and activities, crayons, paper, blunt scissors, etc… to play with. During lessons with the other children, he is allowed to ‘have school’ with items from his special drawer. We make a big deal about this. They all require minimal or no supervision, but he does stay near mom’s feet while ‘working.’
We also made a felt chart with objects that begin with each letter of the alphabet and have this available at eye level for the young ones to play with. It looks like this:

The only other thing we do for preschool is to have him make an ABC book by cutting out letters and pictures from magazines and gluing them with mom or big sisters’ help on individual pages and binding them into a book. (Each page is devoted to one letter) This is enjoyable and a great teaching tool as well. We have no set schedule, but work on it whenever we feel like it throughout the year.
Our favorite books for ages 2 to 4 are listed below. Our ds also has his own bookshelf and is very proud of that fact! I concur with Charlotte Mason’s idea that young children should not have too many books read to them. I think a child benefits far more from enjoying a few really well-written children’s books rather than a new one practically every day of his young little life. It allows the child more time to savor and play with written language rather than flashing new ideas continually before him before he has a chance to really understand and process them.

Some excellent preschool literature:
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones 
The Little Red Hen pictures by Lucinda McQueen
Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank you Book by Richard Scarry
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Guess how much I loveYou? by Sam McBratney
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trapani
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
What do you Do with A Kangaroo? by Mercer Mayer
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier
Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
The Mitten adapted by Jan Brett
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess
The Greedy Python by Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Real Mother Goose illus. by Blanche Wright *Rand McNally and Co.
Play with Me by Marie Ets
We help Daddy by Mini Stein
Harold and the Purple Crayon
Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day
101 Things to do with a Baby by Jan Ormerod
Little Cottontail by Carl Memling
The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle
Richard Scarry’s First Word Book
There was and Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin Jr.
Good Night, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Museum ABC by Metro... Museum of Art

Below is a list of activities I found on the Internet for pre-schoolers and it has worked out well for my children.

Activity Ideas for Preschoolers
These are things we have done at one time or another. OBVIOUSLY, some require more supervision than others. Many are intended for when the child is near you as you work with other children on their lessons.
* Plastic (or cardboard) coins and a piggy bank - bought or home-made (Pringles can, slit cut in top).
* Play dough with a plastic knife, rolling pin, cookie cutters, etc.
* Painting: watercolors, paint books, or food coloring in water with a Q-tip.
* Chalk on dark construction paper.
* Scissors and paper (no other objective in mind!)
* Easy-to-use paper punch and strips of paper.
* Stencils, paper, colored pencils.
* Lacing cards: Cardboard shape with holes punched around it. Attach yarn, wrap masking tape around the end.
* Plastic canvas with yarn attached, wrap end in masking tape.
* Poke holes in thick cardboard with a tack.
* Shallow bucket on a towel on the floor. Add water, boats, plastic fish, measuring cups, etc.
* Writing tray: Put a layer of rice or cornmeal in a cookie sheet. Good for spelling practice or picture-drawing or practicing ABC's.
* Mini-sandbox: Put a layer of sand in a box the size of a banana box. Add trucks, cars, popsicle sticks. Throw a blanket over a card table or a couple of chairs. Offer clothes pins. They'll know what to do next!
* Make a tunnel of kitchen chairs.
* Give them a crochet hook and a length of yarn. Demonstrate chain stitch a few times. This is not for everyone, but if you refuse to do it for them, you'll be surprised at what they figure out.
* Stack cups or containers of different sizes.
* Nuts and bolts, same or different sizes.
* Scrap wood, hammer, nails.
* Bucket of water and a paintbrush-for outside painting. Works best on wood or concrete.
* Chalk on sidewalk or steps.
* Let them "wash" a few plastic dishes. Put an egg beater and baster in the water.
* A cup with non-toxic soapy water and a straw to blow bubbles. You may put it on a sheet of paper and add food coloring to the water.

This list continues at Paula's website...