Day in the Life of homeschool Preschool and Kindergarten

A Homeschool Day-in-the-Life of My 4-Year-Old | Teaching Preschool

One of the common challenges in homeschool families is finding the time to teach younger children when so much time is dedicated to helping their older siblings with assignments.

I have a four-year-old and a second-grader and, let me tell you, it’s tough! Even tougher for my friends with four children or more. Preschoolers often like to fight for your attention when they see you giving so much of it to their siblings. I’m here to tell you, that’s not such a bad thing and you can use this attention-seeking to your advantage.

When your preschooler sees that learning seems to get and keep your attention, they’re more likely to want to be included in whatever learning their older siblings have going on. At least this was the case for me. I know it’s tempting to let younger children go off and do their own thing, but try adding small assignments to their routine that help them feel like a “big kid.” You may find you have a little more peace during your homeschool hours.

So, here is my day in the life of my four-year-old on any given homeschool day. This glimpse into our world illustrates how I manage to balance time between my two boys. As a side note, you may notice on my blog that I refer to my four-year-old as a preschooler and kindergartner interchangeably. That’s because according to his age he is technically in preschool, but he’s acquiring many skills that meet kindergarten requirements in our state.


A Homeschool Day-in-the-Life of My 4-Year-Old


8:30 am: Devotional

Let’s start with devotional. We’re currently using Our Daily Bread for kids, which we love. The daily devotionals are short, sweet, and to the point. They also are a great inspiration to delve into the Word of God. Both kids enjoy me reading aloud and will sit quietly and attentively while I do so. In previous years, I made activities for my boys to do while I read the Bible aloud. Some days, my preschooler is just not into sitting still so he goes off and plays with his toys, which is totally allowed.  That leads us to…

Tip One: Let your little ones have off days. We all have days when we’re just not feeling something. Allowing them to choose something else to do instead shows that you understand and respect their feelings. It also reduces the likelihood of your little one making a scene which can cause disruption and set the tone for the rest of the day, making it difficult for you to maintain the patience needed to work with your older children.

Our Daily Bread Devotional for Children
My children love Our Daily Bread Devotional for Kids.

9:00 am: Basic Skills Fluency Practice

This is my second-grader’s designated reading time. Since I have him read aloud to me, I need this time to be pretty quiet. This is when I break out my preschooler’s favorite activities. We use the Hooked-on Phonics Fundamentals workbook, which is full of educational cut and paste activities that keep my preschooler busy and happy. During this time, my little one practices fluency with basic skills like letters, phonics, numbers, counting, shapes, and more. He is also engaging those fine motor skills necessary for handwriting. So…

Tip Two: Have independent activities on hand. Give your little ones activities you know they can do on their own to help build confidence, independence, and fluency while you take time to work with older children.

Preschool and kindergarten basic skills fluency practice.
Preschool and kindergarten basic skills fluency practice.

9:30 am: Reading Fluency Practice

My preschooler and I practice reading fluency while my second-grader works independently on to his spelling curriculum. We are using the Hooked-on Phonics curriculum and are supplementing with Bob Books. Hooked on Phonics has its own set of starter books, but he seems to like the Bob Books more. We borrowed our Bob Books from the local library and are allowed to have them for 6 weeks at a time. We spend no more than 15 minutes practicing reading. Another 15 minutes is dedicated to storybook read-alouds.

Tip Three: Schedule one-on-one learning time with your little one when older kids have independent work. 

Hooked on Phonics Reading Curriculum for Preschool
Hooked on Phonics is our curriculum of choice for preschool and kindergarten.

10:00 am: Handwriting Practice 

My preschooler practices handwriting while my second-grader and I delve into his language arts lesson.  I love dry-erase books for handwriting practice because children can practice as much as they’d like without accumulating paper waste. The books we love for handwriting practice are the Kindergarten dry-erase workbook and the Sight Word workbook. I taught my preschooler how to follow the arrows, and to always write from left to right to ensure he’s writing letters, numbers, and words properly. Now, he can pretty much work on his own. Therefore…

Tip Four: Train your little one to work independently during homeschool off-hours. On weekends or when all your older children have completed their homeschool assignments, take just a little time to train your younger children to work more independently on key skills. This may take time and patience but is well worth the investment when you find yourself running from kid to kid during busy homeschool hours.

Handwriting Practice for preschool and kindergarten.
Independent handwriting practice for preschool and kindergarten.

10:30 am:  Everyone takes a snack break at this point.

11:00 am: Geography

My boys do geography together. We use a curriculum base called Beginning Geography and supplement with YouTube videos, library books, hands-on-learning, and kinesthetic activities. This is a great time of day because my preschooler really looks forward to it. He may not understand everything we learn about, but he enjoys doing the corresponding activities.

If you’re wondering how I teach two grade-levels one subject, here’s an example:

This week we’re learning about reading directions on a map using a compass rose. My main objective is for my preschooler to understand that north is up, south is down, east is to his right and west is to his left. Aside from looking at real maps I had on hand, we watched a Youtube video that explained what compasses were used for and how to use them.  To challenge my oldest son, he watched a documentary on the history of the compass rose. Later, we made our own compasses using supplies I had on hand. Then we played a kinesthetic activity where the boys had to jump toward the direction I shouted out. It was so much fun and something both grade-levels could enjoy.

Tip Five: Don’t be afraid to include your little ones in on the lessons. This is especially true if the age gap isn’t that wide between older siblings. In my case, I can use a curriculum base designed for grades k-2 and it’ll work for both of my boys. Last year, we used a science curriculum designed for first and second graders and my preschooler was able to do all of the lessons and experiments with us. Children are sponges at this age. You’ll be surprised by what they pick up on.

Geography for preschool and early elementary
A kinesthetic game for learning directions: Jump to your North, South, East, and West.

12:00 pm: Science

Both my boys also learn science together. This year, we are really loving interactive science notebooks. This is actually my preschooler’s favorite part of the day because he loves cut-and-paste activities. Whenever we finish a lesson, he often asks if we can do another one. I use the same supplemental method for science that I do for geography. We read books, do fun activities, and include hands-on learning and experiments whenever possible. That points us to…

Tip Six: Interactive notebooks are a win for everybody. You can find free or low-cost interactive notebook lessons just about anywhere, for any grade, and any subject! This works especially if you have children with larger age gaps. Everyone can sit around the table with all their supplies and work on their interactive notebooks. Works for us!

Interactive science notebooks for preschool and kindergarten.
Interactive science notebooks are great for preschool and kindergarten.

1:00 pm: Lunch and Recess

2:00 pm: Math

I save math for the end of the day because it’s my boys’ strongest subject. Plus, it’s also a subject that my second-grader can do on his own unless he’s learning a new concept. I like to work one-on-one with my preschooler on the days when my second-grader isn’t learning a new concept. We use math link cubes to practice addition and subtraction. We also practice number sequencing and counting to 20, 30, and beyond. Every now and then we’ll go over basic and 3-dimensional shapes, but he pretty much has that information stored in his brain.

Additionally, I try a variety of hands-on activities that I just make up myself. Matching number quantity to the numerical value is one of the activities we do often, and we can use just about anything we have on hand to do it. I also make use of our addition and subtraction flashcards and have my preschooler use cubes to determine the sum or difference. So…

Tip Seven: Save your little one’s strongest subject for the end of the school day to cut down on frustration. If you happen to need to sneak away to teach your older children new concepts, you can start the younger ones off and they can hold their own until you return.

Math practice ideas for preschool and kindergarten.
Math practice ideas for preschool and kindergarten.

 

Our school day typically ends around three in the afternoon. This is not an everyday schedule as we have fieldtrip days, co-op days, and playdate days pretty regularly. This is, however, the schedule we fall back on to keep us on track.

I’d like to end this post by saying there will be a day when none of this advice works. Take heart, it happens to the best of us. I will say that each semester gets easier. Before our winter break, it was much harder to keep my preschooler engaged and occupied. After winter break, things seemed more manageable. Your family will live if you do away with curricula for a moment to meet the physical, educational, emotional and social needs of your younger children. A break from monotony is always a great idea!

Now it’s your turn: How do you balance homeschool with your children? Give us some ideas that have worked for your family in the comments below!


Need more ideas for preschool? Check out these posts:

Toddler Genius | YouTube Channels That Made My Toddler Smarter

Tot-School Tuesdays | Preschool Addition Facts

Tot-School Tuesdays | Number Matching & Sequencing

Tot-School Tuesdays | “I Can Count” Busy Box

Free Resources for Preschool

What Your Reading Curriculum Is Probably Missing

What Your Reading Curriculum Is Probably Missing | Pre-Reading Skills

Last year, my then three-year-old decided he wanted to start his reading journey. I admit I was a bit hesitant considering all the research I’ve read making a compelling case against early reading. In fact, I’ve had success waiting until my oldest son was six-years-old before starting formal reading lessons. Although some of his peers learned to read as early as three-years-old, my oldest son went from being an emergent reader to reading chapter books in a matter of a few short months. That alone was enough to sell me on waiting with my youngest son.

But things didn’t quite work like that. One day my little Jam was watching a phonics video on YouTube (Hooked on Phonics to be exact) and he said “I want to do that. I want to read.” I wasn’t surprised as he’d frequently asked me how to pronounce words in books and how to spell certain words. He was ready, for sure. So, I bought the Hooked on Phonics curriculum and things went so well for us. Following Jam’s pace, we moved through the preschool curriculum rather quickly and started the kindergarten curriculum a few weeks later. Jam read his first primer book and appeared to have mastered sounding out words.

And then it happened. Regression.

Suddenly, Jam became sloppy at pronouncing sounds. Words he once knew without a second thought, he seemed to struggle with. It made me question whether our reading curriculum had a strong enough base for teaching pre-reading skills.

Has this ever happened to you?

One day, while researching ways to help my preschooler read more fluently, I stumbled across a website shared by my local homeschool group. While reading through the wealth of free information shared, I discovered it may be a good idea to go back to square one. You see, our reading curriculum begins with phonics, but there’s a prereading skill all children should master before moving on to phonics. That skill is called phonological awareness.

What is phonological awareness and how is it different from phonics? Phonological awareness is the sounds in language that help children distinguish sounds in words. This is different from phonics, which involves the relationship between sounds and written symbols. Unlike phonics, phonological awareness refers to sounds only and most tasks require a student to rely solely on listening.

Phonological awareness is the building block for phonics because it helps children identify the sound components of spoken words, making it easier to master the alphabetic code. Children with high phonological awareness can identify oral rhymes, clap out syllables in a word, and identify words with the same beginning sounds. Research shows that without this foundation, learning to read and spell can prove difficult for children.

When we teach phonological awareness, we’re simply helping a child train their ear to distinguish sounds, particularly in words. I can’t talk about phonological awareness without mentioning it’s subset, phonemic awareness, because people often confuse the two. Phonemic awareness is the ability to distinguish individual sounds in spoken words. It is the next phase, after phonological awareness, to mastering pre-reading skills. The difference? Phonological awareness focuses on spoken language as a whole, whereas phonemic awareness focuses on spoken words.

Helping a child heighten their phonological awareness can be done in just a few simple exercises. According to educational professionals, teaching a child to pay close attention to familiar environmental sounds is a great introduction to phonological awareness for preschool and kindergarten. A child will then learn to master dividing sentences, whole words, and syllables before phonemic awareness training.

Here’s how it’s done! Below, I included our three favorite exercises for increasing phonological awareness (and following instructions!). These exercises can be modified to challenge your little learners. For the complete curriculum, click here.


Introduction to Phonological Awareness

Strengthen Those Listening Skills for Pre-Reading


 

1. Name that sound.

My preschooler loved this exercise. All we did was play this YouTube video to see if he could identify each sound. I asked him to keep his eyes closed and focus on his listening skills. If he recognized the sound, I asked him to tell me its name. If your child has already learned phonics, like mine, this is also a great activity for identifying letter sounds and phonemes to further strengthen their phonological skills. Remember, these are oral activities and they are using their ears only. No flashcards or written symbols are needed for these exercises.

What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Name That Sound | Big Brother Joined in for Moral Support

2. First Sound, Last Sound.

This exercise helps children develop memory and attention as they recall two sounds and their order.  We used these sounds to complete this exercise. Before beginning the exercise, I chose two sounds to play aloud and made sure my little one understood the name of each sound. I then played each sound one at a time. After playing both sounds, I asked Jam to tell me the name of the first sound and the name of the last sound. Again, this activity can be amended for children who already started learning phonics. Just use letter sounds and blends instead. Like I’ve said, we are sort of backtracking to get more phonological awareness training.

What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Use Your Listening Skills to Name the First and Last Sound

 

3. Start and Stop.

This is a simple exercise that helps children practice following directions and strengthen their listening skills. I made a sound by snapping my fingers and told my preschooler the name of the sound. I then asked him to raise his right hand when he heard the sound, and to place his hand at his side when the sound stops. This is one of the first exercises we started doing and by the second day, my preschooler raised and lowered his hand with great accuracy.

Phonological Awareness Game
Phonological Awareness Exercise | Start and Stop | Raise Your Hand When The Sound Starts
What Your Reading Curriculum May Be Missing
Phonological Awareness Exercise| Start and Stop | Lower Your Hands When The Sound Stops

 

It’s important to note that high phonological awareness is not necessarily correlated with high intelligence. A child may struggle with phonological awareness but excel in many other areas. Remember, there are many types of intelligence. Linguistic intelligence is just one of many.

Free Homeschool Deals

30 FREE Homeschool Deals That’ll Help You Save Some Coins

Homeschool can get really expensive. But the great news is it can also be relatively free!

Read the updated post, here, featuring over 60 FREE legitimate homeschool deals you’ll actually use.

Here are twenty FREE resources to help you save some coins this upcoming school year. Of course, most of these resources require you to at least have access to a printer and some ink. Other than that, all you really need are some basic school supplies.

Taking advantage of free curricula is a great way to test what types of subjects, lesson plans, and teaching styles help your child thrive best.  It is also a great way to save money for what really matters—lots of field-trips, adventures, and social opportunities!

So, without further ado:

30 FREE Homeschool Deals That’ll Help You Save Some Coins!

 

1. Free Homeschool Deals

This site offers free unit studies, supplement materials, and much more. Free resources are available for any subject and grade level.

2. Easy Peasy Homeschool

This site offers free curricula in all core subjects for levels pre-k through high school.  This is also a great site for elective courses like physical education, foreign language, and more. The reviews are mixed on this curriculum, but people like it for the most part. The common complaint is that it’s not challenging enough for advanced students.

3. How to Homeschool for Free

This site offers free unit studies, electives, and other resources for homeschool families. You can find materials in all core subjects for all grade levels.

4. K12 Education

This is an online public school, not a homeschool. Therefore, you will be subject to public school laws. However, this program is great for families on the go. Some people love it. Others hate it. The common complaint is the program can be stressful because there’s too much busywork and not enough flexibility. A great benefit is that you will receive free school supplies, books, and other materials needed for your courses.

5. Homeschool Math.net

This site is a great lesson-plan resource for mathematics. The site only serves up to seventh grade so you won’t find much for high school students, here. The great thing about these lesson plans is they come with video instructions/lectures, as well as follow-up worksheets. You can find any math subject from simple addition to pre-algebra.

6.  Homeschool Buyers Co-op

This site offers a wonderful database full of free homeschool curricula and resources. You can even find promos, coupons, and great homeschool deals on just about anything you need to plan your curriculum.

7.   The Pioneer Woman

This site offers another great database for free homeschool resources, awesome tidbits on motherhood, and more!

8.  Khan Academy

This is free a virtual academy for pre-k through high school students. You may select a course in any core area of your choice, or create a course of your own. What’s unique about this academy is that you’ll find free courses in engineering, computing, economics, and finance, among others. They even have SAT prep and other prep courses for other standardized tests.

9.  Teachers pay Teachers

Not only can you find MY free resources here, but a plethora of other free resources and curricula for grades pre-k through high school.  What’s great about this site is that all materials are made for teachers by teachers. Check out my growing shop to find some free goodies! There will also be an upcoming Back-to-School sale soon!

10.  Encouraging Moms at Home

This site shares an awesome preschool weather unit freebie. Take advantage! You can also find other great deals and homeschool tips on this site.

11.  Midwest Modern Momma

This site shares a free United States unit study that can be adjusted for any age. The study comes with a load of free printables. Check it out!

12.  Cornerstone Confessions.com

If you’re looking for a free science curriculum for pre-k through second grade, look no further. Cornerstone Confessions shares a Magic School Bus science unit for the entire school year! This unit is full of awesome experiments and activities. If you already have a Netflix subscription (or other subscription that offers the Magic School Bus series) this course is completely free.

13. Ambleside Online

If you’re a fan of the Charlotte Mason method, you’ll love this free resource.  This site offers free courses from pre-k- through high school in all core subjects. Ambleside Online also offers free Bible courses.

14.  Budget Homeschool

 This site offers free study guides, lesson plans, books, and more!

15.  An Old Fashioned Education

Are you old school? Well, this is the site for you! It’s important to note that this site is Christian inspired. The site offers core subjects as well as other subjects like etiquette, speaking, and art appreciation, among many others.

16.  Classroom Freebies, Too

This site is a great resource for all things “freebies!”

17.  Curr Click

This site offers free classes and curricula in all core subjects.  I do advise, however, to make sure all the clickable links work for a particular course—especially BEFORE you start depending on them as your homeschool curriculum.   I’ve come across some links that no longer work.  However, there’s some good stuff on this site.

18.  Free Kids Books

This site has a book for every age from toddlerhood through adulthood. And, yes, the books are free to download! Or, you can simply read them online. What I really like about this site is most of the books have ratings. The site also offers a user-friendly category search so you can search for anything from coloring books to early reader books in a jiffy.

Free Kids Classic Books

19.  Lesson Pathways

This is a curriculum-building site that offers free resources for curriculum customization.  The resources offered covers grades K-5. Registration is free and gives you access to some awesome goodies.

20.  Guest Hollow.com

This site offers a free Science of the Seasons curriculum, Geography curriculum, and many others.  There are some great resources for all ages, including high school students. Go take a look!

21. Scholastic

Scholastic has a teacher’s corner that serves teachers of all grade levels. This site is full of lesson plans, unit plans, teacher guides, activities, and more. Not to mention, they offer recommendations on awesome books to accompany your lessons!

Free Homeschool Deals

22. Crayola

Believe it or not, Crayola offers free lesson plans for language arts, math, STEAM, social studies, and, of course—art!

Free Homeschool Deals

 

23. School Zone

School Zone has a program called Anywhere Teacher. If you sign up for a free subscription, you have access to 28 educational activities that rotate monthly. The program connects children ages 2-8 to online learning and resources.

Free Homeschool Deals

24. Hoffman Academy

It doesn’t get any better than free online piano lessons. We’ve personally taken advantage of this resource, so I can truly say that my kids enjoy these fun, quirky lessons. The lessons are step by step and offer units for beginner and intermediate levels.

Free Homeschool Deals

25. STEMfinity

STEMfinity offers a database for all things STEM. Check out their resources for activities and lesson plans for science, technology, engineering, and math.

FREE Homeschool Deals

26. Code.org

Code.org offers free videos, games, and lesson plans for all things code. This site serves parents and teachers of grades pre-k through high school. It is also user-friendly for independent learners. My second-grader utilizes this site frequently to improve his coding skills.

Free Homeschool Deals

27. Scratch

Scratch allows students to program their own stories, games, and animations. The site also includes guides and tutorials for parents and teachers. This is another site my kids frequent. It is very kid-user friendly. My second-grader coded several games and animations using this resources.

Free Homeschool Deals

28. Kidzone

Looking for worksheets for your children? Kidzone has got you covered. All worksheets are printable for early learning through grade five. You can find worksheets on letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and more. The site also offers worksheets for phonics, math, science, geography, and more. Lesson plans and thematic units are also available. This was my go-to source for Kindergarten worksheets.

FREE Homeschool Deals

29. Education.com

Education.com offers worksheets, lesson plans, games, and more for grades pre-k through high school. They offer resources for math, reading, writing, science, social studies, foreign language, and more. Be sure to check out their Teaching Tools section because you can read the ratings and comments on the lesson plans they offer.

Free Homeschool Deals

30. National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids is a great virtual dictionary for fun facts about animals, geography, the solar system, and more. The site also offers educational games, quizzes, and videos for kids of all ages. We loved it as a supplement to our curriculum on life science and habitats. We also used this resource to supplement our geography curriculum.

Free Homeschool Deals

 

31. Nike Anderson’s Classroom

As a bonus, I’m including my growing online shop, Nike Anderson’s Classroom. I offer free resources for pre-k through second grade. Check out my free geography resources, reading and comprehension worksheets, memory verse activities, Black history worksheets, and more! Be sure to follow me on TpT to be the first to know when I upload a new free resource. I literally uploaded five FREE resources today, so you don’t want to miss out!

Nike's Classroom


 

That concludes my list. I do hope at least one of these free resources is new to you.

Your Turn!

If you have other resources you’d like to mention, let us know down below! Sharing is caring!!!!

Youtube channels that made my child smarter

Toddler Genius | YouTube Channels That Made My Toddler Smarter

 

My toddler stood behind the black strip of tape and covered his left eye as the pediatrician directed.

“What do you see?” She asked.

“A pentagon!” He shouted.

The pediatrician chuckled with amusement. “Well, yea, I guess it IS a pentagon after all,” she said of the house pictured on the eye chart. “That’s the first time I’ve heard that. What a smart boy! Whatever you guys are doing with him, keep going!”

So, what did we do? Our approach to early learning was not that extensive. We relied on educational videos, one-on-one learning, and open-ended play to create a sturdy foundation for cognitive development. Today, I will talk about the role visual-learning played in the early education of my then toddler boys, who are now ages four and seven. Videos from awesome YouTube channels that helped my boys to recognize advanced shapes, numbers, phonics, and so much more. I like to think of these videos as “digital flashcards.” I originally wanted to list seven channels (I like that number!), but in reality, there were only six channels that made a difference in my children’s early learning.

I realize talking about toddlers and screen time is major taboo. There are strong arguments against image-focused learning. But the truth is educational videos can enhance cognitive development when consumed in moderation. I can’t deny that educational videos helped my boys to build vocabulary and recognize signs and symbols in everyday life, among other things. I mean, come on! My youngest son knew what a dodecahedron was at age two! And my first-born son would always point and shout the names of all the vegetables in the produce section of the grocery store. By age three, both of my boys were well versed in phonics, which made learning to read much easier for them. I don’t mean to boast. I just want to point out that image-focused learning can be helpful for some children, so long as you ensure that it’s balanced with language learning (language learning requires the brain to work much harder) and hands-on learning.

So, what are some of the educational videos I allowed my boys to watch during early toddlerhood? Before I tell you, I must mention a few things. First, pediatricians strongly discourage screen time before age two. Second, once your child starts screen time, I recommend ONLY allowing them to watch educational videos. You don’t want these videos competing with Bubble Guppies and other cartoons. Trust me! My husband and I didn’t have a television in our home until our eldest son was five-years-old. However, at age two, we started playing educational videos for him on our laptops. Our youngest son wasn’t as fortunate. He’s been exposed to the screen since he was one-year-old and he did have a period where all he wanted to do was watch Bubble Guppies. Hey, we’re not perfect people, here.

Lastly, I strongly recommend supplementing these videos with one-on-one lessons with your child. This is where quality time comes into play. You can get super creative or simply have a conversation with your child about what they are learning. Our favorite conversations are during car rides. My kids like to shout out the shapes, colors, words, and types of vehicles they see, among other things. I give them random pop quizzes on phonics (for my four-year-old), spelling (for my first-grader), mathematics, and fun facts we’ve learned. The pop quiz is like a game to them!

So, without further ado, here are my top picks for educational channels on YouTube for early learning. I’ve also included helpful books you can check out at the end of this post!


YouTube Channels That Made my Toddler Smarter

youtube-1349699_1920

 

  1. KidsTV123

It’s easy to see why this YouTube channel has earned over two million subscribers. KidsTV123 was the very first channel I found when looking for educational videos for my eldest child to watch. As a toddler, his favorite videos were the Phonics Song, the Number Song, the Shapes Song, the Colors Song, the Solar System Song, and the Reading Machine. That was nearly six years ago and now all these songs are among the channel’s most popular videos.

 

When my son was two-and-a-half, he pointed to all the letters on the chart in his bedroom and told me their phonemes without any prompting from me. He also knew planets, numbers, and shapes (including some advanced ones) fluently, primarily from watching these videos. I admit I was not in the “teaching mindset” during this time. I had no plans to homeschool and I just assumed my toddler would learn this stuff in preschool. However, when I realized all the knowledge and concepts my son retained at such an early age, I knew then that he was ready for formal learning. I began teaching my eldest son one-on-one, incorporating language and hands-on learning. My youngest son, however, had the pleasure of this one-on-one teaching much earlier.

 

  1. The Kids’ Picture Show

Okay, this channel is quite advanced. Not only does The Kids’ Picture Show teach advanced shapes, but also advanced colors, sorting, animal names, street signs, addition, science and nature, sight words, life instructions, and so much more! It’s no exaggeration when I say that my boys know advanced shapes and colors that I don’t even know! I found myself having to watch the videos with them the moment I recognized they were getting smarter than me (hehe)!

 

What I love the most about this channel is that it literally is like digital flashcards. I never expected my boys to like this approach, but they actually started begging me to play these videos for them—every day!  I think what they love the most is that they can identify these items and concepts in their everyday life. My children get so excited when they encounter a familiar street sign, vehicle, or advanced shape while we’re out and about—things they may not normally recognize had they not learned about it from these videos.  Not to mention, they’ve gotten very specific with their colors. No! It’s not just green. It’s emerald!

 

  1. National Geographic Kids

If you have animal lovers, or kids that have a bunch of “why” questions, this is the channel for you! National Geographic Kids is full of awesome videos of gorgeous animals as well as fun facts that young kids can digest and understand. I found these videos to be a perfect supplement when teaching my boys about animal classification. And that’s not all, this channel also comprises videos on weather, archeology, states, and how to make familiar everyday items. You’ll be surprised by the information your toddler digests. When my youngest son was two, he loved watching the Making Stuff videos with his older brother. They would watch how to make some of their favorite foods, musical instruments, and toys. Now, at age four, my son remembers how to prepare the pizza dough when making pizza from scratch—one of our favorite foods to make!

 

What’s essential to note is from preschool up until fourth grade is what is known as the “parrot years.” According to authors of The Well-Trained Mind, any information your child absorbs during the early years is stored for future use—even if they can’t yet understand it. Therefore, having a toddler watch channels such as National Geographic Kids will make learning about animals and other topics in the later years that much more meaningful to them because they have already stored information in their brains.

 

  1. Hooked on Phonics

While KidsTV123 was responsible for introducing my eldest son to phonemic awareness during toddlerhood, Hooked on Phonics was the resource responsible for introducing my youngest son to phonics. My youngest son loved watching videos on this channel so much that I decided to purchase the curriculum to begin formal learning with him. If you’re not familiar with Hooked on Phonics, it’s a 25-year-old, award-winning “Learn to Read” program. Their YouTube channel includes story-time, printing lessons, sample lessons, and catchy singalong songs (my son’s favorite!). It’s not an extensive channel, but you can find more Hooked on Phonics videos listed on other channels with a simple YouTube search.

 

I must say, my youngest son caught on to phonics rather quickly using the Hooked on Phonics program. I’m talking just two weeks. At age three, he read his first primer book from the Kindergarten level. I do want to mention that this was not primarily from watching the videos, I did work one-on-one with him often during this time using the lesson plans.  When I tell you that my son actually asks me if he can “do phonics today” it’s not an exaggeration. This program works so well with his personality and learning style. I’m so glad we found it!

 

  1. Mouk in English

Mouk is an educational preschool show about a bear who travels the world on his bike. I happen to have two boys who absolutely love geography. This show was perfect for introducing and reinforcing different continents and countries of the world, as well as their popular monuments. It supplemented our geography curriculum so well. And while I never expected my toddler to learn geography to the extent that his big brother was learning it, some of the information he retained was from watching this show.

 

The Mouk in English channel boasts of teaching toddlers to respect diversity and cultures. The characters explore countries on the continents of Africa, Asia, South America, North America, Europe, and the Oceana. Examples of some countries they visit are Senegal, Spain, Canada, Madagascar, Tokyo, Greece, the Himalayas, and much more! Because I’m half-Nigerian, and have friends from different parts of the world, culture is one of the topics we highlight in our homeschool. It’s never too early to teach your kids that diversity is cool!

 

  1. Kids Learning Tube

Let me just say that this channel is my least favorite because of the creepy graphics. However, my youngest son loved watching this channel as a toddler—and still does now that he’s four. The Kids Learning Tube channel comprises videos on basic learning songs for preschoolers, geography, the solar system, the human body, the periodic table, animals, and more. I don’t know what it is about this channel, but both my boys are quite fascinated by it. They are even watching it right now as I edit this post!

 

My boys favorite videos to watch on this channel are the ones about the solar system, the 50 U.S. states, and the countries of the world. These have also been my youngest son’s favorite videos since toddlerhood. The videos include catchy tunes and awesome fun facts. My toddler gained concepts like which planets are big, which ones are small, and which ones are closest to the sun. He could also name most planets, and even some countries and states at just two years old.


 

Curriculum Suggestions:

If image-learning isn’t your thing, I totally get you! I can’t emphasize enough that the YouTube channels I mentioned should be supplements only. One-on-one interaction and unstructured play is the best way for your child to learn during early toddlerhood. Other effective resources you can try out for your toddler are Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready by June R. Oberlander, What Your Preschooler Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch Jr., The Instant Curriculum by Pam Schiller and Joan Rossano, and The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, and Jessie Wise.

 

These books include great information and instructions on how to engage your toddler’s motor skills, imagination, self-expression, critical thinking skills, math skills, language arts skills, and much more. I found most of these resources at my local library! Stay tuned for an in-depth look into these resources in a later post.

 

Feel free to check out my Instagram where I share more fun activities and resources we’re using for our homeschool. I also dabble in Instastories, where you can peek into our lessons and life as a homeschool family.


Let us know in the comments:  What are your favorite educational channels on YouTube?

 

 

Preschool Math Facts

Tot-School Tuesdays | Preschool Addition Facts

Welcome to Totschool Tuesday! If you’re new to this series, join me every Tuesday this month as I share what types of activities I do to prepare my three-year-old for the next phase in his education. Last week, I shared my “Number Matching” preschool busy box. This week, I want to share my “Preschool Math Facts” busy box.

 

What is a “busy box?” You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots. My busy boxes are the same concept with a different storage solution. These 5×12 boxes are stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics.

 Preschool Math

Last week, I shared that these boxes full of goodies make my preschooler feel like he’s receiving a gift each morning. And he is! The gift of learning, that is (*wink). However, another pro to these boxes is that they don’t have to be used for formal learning, per se. You can store them with loads of fun and interesting objects that encourage creative learning.

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So, what’s on the agenda for this week? Adding! We’ve reviewed counting, number recognition and matching, sequencing, and now it’s time to dabble with a little addition. We’ve reviewed addition many times before, but of course with young children, repetition is key to mastery.

 

This week’s busy box includes a Preschool Addition Facts worksheet, pony beads, fuzzy sticks, popsicle sticks, drawing paper, and three markers. All items can be purchased at Walmart or Dollar Tree. If you’re wondering why I only offer three markers at a time, it’s because my three-year-old is learning to place the caps back onto them. We’ve had one too many dried-out markers!

   Preschool Addition Facts

As always, we like to complete our worksheet first. I include worksheets in these boxes because I can save and keep records of them to track my three-year-old’s progress. This week, I’m offering these simple, yet fun, Preschool Addition Facts worksheets for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Head on over to take advantage!

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Next, we have a little “adding” fun with our pony beads and fuzzy sticks. Using the worksheet as my guide, I prepared seven fuzzy sticks by adding the exact number of beads to match the number of crayons on the left side of the worksheet. My preschooler then adds more beads to the fuzzy sticks, matching the number of crayons on the right side of the worksheet. This illustration ensures he internalizes the concept that adding two numbers together means the total sum is “more.”

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We take the same concept of our pony beads illustration and apply it to the popsicle sticks. Using different manipulatives helps a child internalize that the sum of one set of numbers will be the same regardless of the objects used. Therefore, 3 popsicle sticks plus 2 popsicle sticks will equal 5 popsicle sticks, just as 3 beads plus 2 beads will equal 5 beads.

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Lastly, I must include markers and drawing paper for some freestyling fun. To make the most of this busy box, your preschooler can try categorizing the pony beads by color, count how many beads each color group has, and then determine which group has the greatest and least number of beads. Or, he can make a popsicle stick masterpiece (if you include Elmer’s glue in the box), make their own bracelets with the pony beads and fuzzy sticks, or simply decorate the popsicle sticks using markers. 

 Preschool Math Facts

Download your FREE Preschool Addition Facts worksheet, here!

 Preschool Math

Don’t forget to grab these latest FREEBIES at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

I Can Count!

Number Matching and Sequencing

 

See you next week!

Preschool Number Matching

Tot-School Tuesdays | Number Matching & Sequencing

Welcome to Totschool Tuesday! If you’re new to this series, join me every Tuesday this month as I share what types of activities I do to prepare my three-year-old for the next phase in his education. Last week, I shared my “I Can Count” preschool busy box. This week, I want to share my “Number Matching and Sequencing” busy box.

 

What is a “busy box?” You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots. My busy boxes are the same concept with a different storage solution. These 5×12 boxes are stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics.

 

My reasoning for using boxes is simple: 1) I found them in the back of my closet, forgotten and unused. 2) My three-year-old thinks he’s receiving a “gift” every morning—which gets him super excited about learning. So there ya go! Feel free to use Ziplock bags, storage containers, or anything you’d like.

Preschool busy box for counting

Our “Number Matching and Sequencing” box includes a cut and paste worksheet, a glue stick, safety scissors, number flashcards, 10 fuzzy sticks, 165 pony beads (lots of counting involved!), twenty magnetic sticks, twenty magnetic balls, empty containers, extra paper, and three markers.

This box is designed to practice fluency in counting numbers 11-20. Here’s how we used the items listed above. Feel free to adjust the activities to suit the numbers your child/student is currently working with.

 

First, my preschooler-to-be works on his cut and paste worksheet. Cut and paste is one of his favorite activities. Cut and paste is also a great way for tots to develop and strengthen fine motor skills and bilateral coordination—that is, the act of using both sides of the body at the same time while each hand performs a different task. You can find this cut and paste worksheet available for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. This worksheet helps students visualize the correlation between a number and its quantity.

Preschool busy box for counting

Next, we have a little flashcard fun by matching the numbers on the flashcards to the number of beads on each fuzzy stick. There are ten fuzzy sticks. Each fuzzy stick comprises a quantity of numbers 11 thru 20, since those are the numbers we are working with this month. My three-year-old counts the beads on each stick and places the correct flashcard next to the fuzzy stick. Easy peasy!

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For more counting fun, I included some magnetic sticks and balls. I included an empty container that my tot can place the balls into as he counts, so that they don’t roll off the table. Afterwards, he can have a little magnetic fun with these items! For some reason, kids love putting things into empty containers and then taking them out again… (*shrugs).

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The very last thing I included was a blank sheet of paper and some markers for drawing. This is a “busy box” after all, and I wanted to make sure that if my three-year-old finished all the tasks quickly, he had something else to occupy him and engage his imagination. Although I work with him on the first portion of the busy box to make sure he’s understanding and progressing, my three-year-old typically completes the other tasks independently—allowing me a free moment to work with my first grader. To gain a few more moments, I always include extra paper and markers. It extends my three-year-old’s “busyness” an extra ten to fifteen minutes.

Preschool busy box for counting

I want to end this post by saying, please use discretion. Obviously small magnetic balls are not suitable for any child under the age of three. You can supplement with big wooden magnets or other items suitable for counting. Lastly, while these boxes are designed to teach they should also be fun! If your child/student is new to the concept of busy boxes/bags, allow them a time or two to play with the items before you introduce how the items can be used for learning. This will reduce any pressure they may feel and make them more willing to learn something new.

 

Don’t forget to download your FREE cut and paste worksheets at Nike Anderson’s Classroom! If you haven’t already, grab last week’s “I Can Count” freebies, here!

• Nike Anderson • (13)

Until next time, friend!

Tot-School Tuesdays | “I Can Count” Busy Box

Whether you’re a homeschool mom, a preschool teacher, or have a toddler at home preparing for pre-k, finding engaging activities to help your child learn can prove challenging. There are a ton of resources available for what I like to call “tot-school.” However, I wanted to share what I personally do with my three-year-old to keep his little hands “busy” while preparing him to move forward in his education.

 
You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots. But, allow me to introduce you to my “busy boxes.” These boxes are simply 5×12 boxes stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics. We even have some STEM activities and “just for fun” activities stored in these boxes.

 
This month, I’ll be sharing some of our busy boxes with you in a series called Tot-school Tuesdays! First up is our “I Can Count” busy box. This box includes a worksheet, a foam sheet, foam letters, three markers, pony beads, a fizzy stick, paint, a stamper, a stamper sheet, and an apron. Everything, except the apron, was purchased from Walmart. The apron is from Lowes and they offer them for free when your child attends a Build & Grow workshop.

 

Our box is designed to practice numbers 11-20 (he forgets numbers 14 and 16). Each day will have a target number. Today, we worked on number 11.


We like to work on the worksheet together, first. These worksheets are available for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Print them in color or black and white. These worksheets help with practice in the following areas:

  • Number recognition (0-20).
  • Number name recognition (zero-twenty).
  • Handwriting (with tracing guides).
  • Counting (0-20).

Next, my three-year-old practices spelling out the number name using foam letters. He personally likes spelling the name on his worksheet first because it offers a guide on where each letter should go. He will then spell the number name on the foam pad. These letters do have adhesive on the back of them, but we chose not to peel the contact paper so that we can keep reusing the letters for future activities.

Placing pony breads on fuzzy sticks is probably one of his favorite activities, so I had to include it in this box. For this activity, my three-year-old will count out the pony beads per the number of the day. Today, he counted out 11 and is placing them onto the fuzzy stick. Of course, I include extra pony beads for him to enjoy after his counting assignment!

Fun Preschool Counting Activities

The very last activity is the messiest because it involves a paint stamper! If you don’t want things to get too messy, purchase an ink stamper. I also include some ideas in my FREE “I Can Count” resource. We use a paint stamper because my three-year-old typically likes to continue to paint after the assignment. And what’s the assignment? Today, he had to stamp his stamper 11 times on his “I Can Count” sheet. I also gave him extra paper for more painting fun!

Fun Activities for Preschool

On average, this busy box has a “busy average” in our home of approximately 1 hour (When the allotted paint has been all used up!). I want to mention that you don’t have to “oversee” your child, you can simply give it to them for fun if they are too young to really understand any of it. I hope this busy box has given you some great ideas for keeping your little one engaged! See you next Tuesday for some more totschooling ideas!

Get Your FREE “I Can Count” Preschool Prep Worksheet, Here!

I Can Count Worksheets

Looking for more resources? Visit me at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

Nike Anderson's Classroom