Homeschooling Tots and Preschoolers

Homeschooling Tots and Preschoolers

Awhile ago I wrote a 10 Day series entitled, Homeschooling Tots and Preschoolers, which shared ten posts all about early learning at home. 

Below you will find links to the 10 posts from that series, as well as any other I felt might help you if you are on this amazing journey of homeschooling little ones!

First, I shared our Where to Begin with Tot School™ eBook, which is a free bonus for all newsletter subscribers!

Where to Begin with Tot School eBook 

 

Next, I reminded moms {me included} that we don’t have to do it all!

You Don't Have To Do It All

 

My friend Becky from This Reading Mama shared a guest post with us about Developmentally Appropriate Practice for Homeschoolers.

Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Homeschoolers 

 

Next, I share the time I invest in planning for Tot School or Preschool, and how I do it.

Planning for a Theme

 

My friend Maureen from Spell Outloud shared tips for studying nature with tots.

Studying Nature with Tots

 

Next I shared the difference between Exposure and Mastery with young children.

What is Tot School

 

Next I share my heart behind using themes in early childhood.

Why Themes

 

Maureen came back and shared about homeschooling tots in a large family.

teachingtoddlers

 

Our VERY favorite learning toys for tots was next!

Favorite Learning Toys 

 

Finally, I launched a new series sharing theme based printables from around the web.  This series is now complete and you can see links to other letters in that post too.Theme Printables A through E

 

If you are homeschooling your young children at home, here are the top posts from my site that I recommend reading {in no particular order}! I am a visual person so I opted for graphics rather than a list.

Alphabet Idea Collection  Colored pattern with letters of alphabet

Hands on the Alphabet  How to Plan Using Themes  I Spy Color Hunt

Tot Trays for Tot School  Minute by Minute Tot School  Tot School Printables A to Z

Homeschooling Preschool  Tot Trays Tot School Preschool Work Trays 2

Tot School Gathering Place  Tot Time Notebook  Animal ABCs 300

Printable Theme Packs Storing Theme Printables Following the Lead of the Child All By Myself Preschool Quiet Time Boxes

Home Preschool A to Z from www.1plus1plus1equals1.net  Following the Lead of Your Preschooler at Home  Learning with Ladybug Preschool

Tot School Printables A-Z  Tiny Tot School Ideas for Ages 9-12 Months  Tot School Ideas Ages 12-18 Months

 

Here’s a list of a couple of early childhood Pinterest boards you may want to follow. You can see them all here, they are at the top of my boards {themes sorted alphabetically are below my early childhood boards}.

Early Childhood Theme Printables A-E

Theme Printables A through E

Other Posts in this Series…

Theme Printables F-J

Theme Printables K-O

Theme Printables P-T

Theme Printables U-Z

 

I wrote about my views on using themes with young kids, and there are certainly a LOT of early childhood themes to choose from! 

If you are like me, at times you choose a letter and build on it for a week or so with your tot/preschooler. It helps me stay focused as a teacher and not forget things! Having a letter of the week is not important, or necessary, it is just helpful for my type-A personality. In honor of this, I have created a series of planning help posts, gathering together all themed printable packs I could find that could extend a letter of the week.

Other times, I build on a theme with no focus on our letter of the week. These lists will help you find things in an orderly fashion!

When you begin planning, Pinterest and Google can be a bit overwhelming!  I am creating this series to help you with your planning.  I have gathered all FREE theme based printable packs {mainly early childhood focused, tots-1st grade} that I am aware of and sorted them by letter so you can browse through and get ideas all in one place! I did NOT include holiday based packs, simply because there are so many and they are pretty easy to find when holidays roll around.

I have included free printable theme packs from bloggers around the web including; Homeschool Creations, 2 Teaching Mommies, Spell Outloud, 3 Dinosaurs, Confessions of a Homeschooler, Me & Marie Learning, Ooopsey Daisy, All Our Days, Creative Learning Fun, Royal Baloo, 123 Homeschool 4 Me, Lawteedah, Our Little Monkeys, Creative Preschool Resources, Our Country Road, Homeschool Share, Preschool Mom, Gift of Curiosity, and Over the Big Moon. {if any of you ladies notice an error please let me know!}

If the pack was created by another blogger, I listed their {blog name} in the brackets.  If there aren’t any brackets, I made it!

Letter ATheme Printables A

Letter BTheme Printables B

Letter CTheme Printables C

Letter DTheme Printables D

Letter ETheme Printables E

    Looking for more printables?

    Theme Printables F through J Theme-Printables-K-through-O5 Theme Printables P through T Theme Printables U through Z

    Alll Printables A to Z 300 Printables-Packs-from-1plus1plus1equ

    Other posts about using THEMES with young kiddos…

    Planning-for-a-Theme6 Why-Themes7 How-to-Plan-Using-Themes6


This post is #10 in my series for the iHomeschool Network Spring 2013 Hopscotch. Visit other bloggers participating here!

Links will be added as the series progresses!

Homeschooling-Tots-and-Preschoolers_Day 1 ~ Where to Begin with Tot School eBook

Day 2 ~ You Don’t Have to Do it All!

Day 3 ~ Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Day 4 ~ Time Invested in Tot Schooling

Day 5 ~ 10 Tips for Studying Nature with Tots

Day 6 ~ Exposure vs. Mastery

Day 7 ~ Why Themes?

Day 8 ~ Teaching Tots in a Large Family

Day 9 ~ Our Favorite Learning Tools for Tots

Day 10 ~ Early Childhood Theme Printables A-E

Our Favorite Learning Tools for Tots

Favorite Learning Toys

I get asked all the time about learning tools and toys for tots.  I have had this post in the works for awhile now, making sure I was remembering our very favorite items. 

Before I begin, please know that although I am sharing many ideas, I believe LESS is better!  I have a lot of stuff that has been accumulated through various methods {former teaching days, generous grandparents, blog review items, hand me downs, and consignment/thrift}. I am always simplifying and giving away school tools, and I love that I can bless others, but it does get overwhelming at times to have a lot.  So, I definitely recommend having less and not over-buying/collecting too much!


First, I highly recommend using what you already have!  I consider it “free” if it is already in your home.  Below is a list of items that my tots have enjoyed, all items I gathered from within my house! I am sure I am forgetting many items, but this should get you started!

Favorite FREE Tools {since you probably already have it at home}

  • A bin of rice, beans, or something fun to dig little hands in!
  • cups for pouring
  • cardboard boxes
  • straws, stirring sticks, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks
  • empty containers {of all sorts}
  • lids
  • tubes Use What you Have!

    Be creative when you browse through your house, so many items can be used for tots.  You can see more about using household items in my Tot Trays series! There’s even a PDF download with a list of things to collect!

    Tot Trays for Tot School

In order to make this list below,  I narrowed it down to a few requirements.  All toys on this list have been:

  • played with by my children for more than 3 years {meaning one child enjoyed the same toy for at least a 3 year span}.
  • at least 2 out of 3 of my children consider this a favorite and have chosen it on many occasions.
  • no characters are involved {or lights, noise, batteries}
  • largely open ended and encourage creative play
  • durable, can easily be handed down even after my kids have enjoyed it for many years.
    Favorite TOYS
    {Disclaimer: links below are affiliate links}

All of these toys can be bought early on {even if they are labeled for older kids} and used for Tot School fun, under adult supervision. I searched back through my photos to find images showing Ladybug using these toys when she was a young tot. All of these toys are still played with and used on a regular basis by her and the boys today!  If you click on the image, it will take you to Amazon.

Foam Blocks

Stacking Pegs

Magneatos

Zoobs

Wedgits

Learning Links

Qwirkle

Wooden Blocks

I did a survey of my kids {currently 4, 7, and 11} asking them which was their VERY favorite from the toys pictured, here’s what they said…

  • Ladybug, age 4 ~ foam blocks
  • Krash, age 7 ~ small wooden blocks
  • PacMan, age 11 ~ foam blocks
  • Mom, age 37 ~ my personal favorite is foam blocks, partly because they are quiet, and because we have simply used them SO much for so many things! I am in good company with my selection too!

All toys shown above were purchased personally or given as gifts to my children, with the exception of the small wooden blocks {they were a review item that we fell in love with}.


Supplies to have…

IMG_5196


Each year before Christmas time I update our gift ideas posts for tots, preschoolers, & boys. You can see more toys and tools we love in these posts!

Gift Ideas for Tot School


This post is #9 in my series for the iHomeschool Network Spring 2013 Hopscotch. Visit other bloggers participating here!

Hopscotch-With-iHN-Spring42422

Links will be added as the series progresses!

Homeschooling-Tots-and-Preschoolers_Day 1 ~ Where to Begin with Tot School eBook

Day 2 ~ You Don’t Have to Do it All!

Day 3 ~ Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Day 4 ~ Time Invested in Tot Schooling

Day 5 ~ 10 Tips for Studying Nature with Tots

Day 6 ~ Exposure vs. Mastery

Day 7 ~ Why Themes?

Day 8 ~ Teaching Tots in a Large Family

Day 9 ~ Our Favorite Learning Tools for Tots

Day 10 ~ Early Childhood Theme Printables A-E

Why Themes for Young Children?

Why Themes

The answer to this question goes back several years for me. I always did the “normal” early childhood themes when I taught school; pond, jungle, farm, all about me, weather, etc. We still do many of those themes and more in our own homeschool.  But, this post isn’t about those themes, it is about specific themes chosen based on your child’s interests. What I found with my kids is that they weren’t nearly as energized about the themes I chose, but the themes THEY chose were a whole different story!

When Krash was 2, he wasn’t interested in much of my early childhood stuff.  Poor PacMan went to great lengths to surprise Krash with a “red theme” day and was mostly rejected by busy little Krash, other than the red blocks, it was all ignored.  Red Theme Day

Krash seemed interested in learning, and seemed to be a sponge, but attracting him to certain activities was difficult.  UNTIL the Cars Tot Book entered his hands.

Cars Tot Book

I am not kidding, I still remember this moment {shown above}, when I put it in his hands.  He LOVED Cars and knew them all, I thought it was worth a shot to see if he liked this new concept of mine.  He did, way more than I even expected!  He learned all of his colors enthusiastically with this one Tot Book, it captured his attention that much!

Since that day I have tried to choose materials and themes that my children are drawn to. I began creating printables solely for that reason, so I could develop learning activities around the themes my kids enjoyed!


So, WHY themes?

    • naturally draws the attention of the child ~ the Cars Tot Book above is the perfect example.
    • makes difficult learning tasks a bit more interesting~ a good example is when Krash was struggling with tally marks and could not grasp the concept and was getting burnt out.  I made him some Skylanders Tally Mark work and he had it mastered within a day!
    • shows your child that you value their ideas and interests ~ I can’t tell you how many times my children have truly had that “I feel loved” look on their faces when they see I listened to an interest they expressed and incorporated it into school time. Ladybug had a HUGE love of the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow last year, so I developed a Rainbow Theme Week for her, this was one of those times I saw that look in her eyes!
    • boring concepts suddenly become fun ~ counting, graphing, tracing, and so much more can get old really quickly.  A theme makes the same old work seem new to a child. I truly believe my younger two mastered graphing concepts so early thanks to the Roll & Graph printables.

What to do now?Ask your child what s/he would love to explore! My kids have chosen themes like; Pond Life, Bugs, and more!  You can also draw on natural interests {My Little Pony, Angry Birds, Princesses, Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse, Lego, Octonauts}

Once you have a theme in mind, organize your thoughts and plan!


This post is #7 in my series for the iHomeschool Network Spring 2013 Hopscotch. Visit other bloggers participating here!

Hopscotch-With-iHN-Spring42[4]

 

Homeschooling-Tots-and-Preschoolers_Day 1 ~ Where to Begin with Tot School eBook

Day 2 ~ You Don’t Have to Do it All!

Day 3 ~ Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Day 4 ~ Time Invested in Tot Schooling

Day 5 ~ 10 Tips for Studying Nature with Tots

Day 6 ~ Exposure vs. Mastery

Day 7 ~ Why Themes?

Day 8 ~ Teaching Tots in a Large Family

Day 9 ~ Our Favorite Learning Tools for Tots

Day 10 ~ Early Childhood Theme Printables A-E

Exposure vs. Mastery

When talking about Tot School and early childhood education I use the words exposure and mastery a lot.  In the early childhood field these terms are thrown around a lot, but in everyday life as moms we don’t hear them as much. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of understanding early childhood development and the difference between these two terms and how they apply to your child.

The difference my be totally obvious to many of you, but just in case you might be confused, I am writing to explain it!

My direct quote on the Tot School webpage is below…

What is Tot School ~ exposing early learning skills through play.

Notice it does not say MASTERING early learning skills through play.  The word exposing was chosen on purpose!  Many people see the words Tot SCHOOL and think it means forcing kids to learn way too early.  It is the exact opposite of that!  It is purposefully exposing early learning skills in a fun and easy going way that your tot enjoys. 

Another quote from the Tot School site

Goal of Tot School

Key word in this quote is FUN.  If it isn’t fun, what young child out there would care to join you?  How in the world would we develop a love of learning?  Tots are often stubborn little creatures and from the few I have raised, I know there is no forcing them to do anything. We as home educators have the privilege and blessing of creating a fun home environment that inspires a love of learning.

We will have many years as a homeschool mom filled with requiring our children to do something undesirable during their schooling. School in the upper grades isn’t always fun, and it sometimes has to be forced.  If we help our kids develop a love of learning at a young age, hopefully even the not-so-fun tasks in the upper grades can be tackled with grace and perseverance instead of negativity and sighs.  We haven’t always achieved that goal, but I keep praying and trying!

If you are the mom of a young child; focus on exposure, save the mastering of skills for later on, and most of all ~ HAVE FUN!


This post is #6 in my series, “Homeschooling Tots & Preschoolers,” for the iHomeschool Network Spring 2013 Hopscotch. Visit other bloggers participating here!

Hopscotch-With-iHN-Spring4232

 

Homeschooling-Tots-and-Preschoolers_[2]Day 1 ~ Where to Begin with Tot School eBook

Day 2 ~ You Don’t Have to Do it All!

Day 3 ~ Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Day 4 ~ Time Invested in Tot Schooling

Day 5 ~ 10 Tips for Studying Nature with Tots

Day 6 ~ Exposure vs. Mastery

Day 7 ~ Why Themes?

Day 8 ~ Teaching Tots in a Large Family

Day 9 ~ Our Favorite Learning Tools for Tots

Day 10 ~ Early Childhood Theme Printables A-E