How to set up preschool at home:
Pick a weekly or monthly theme and tailor activities around it. Depending on your child, you may choose to pick two or three days a week where you set aside one or two hours to have structured activities or you may choose to go with the flow and implement them whenever you have time.
Discuss what day of the week it is and the date
Dress a doll or a stuffed animal based on how cold it is outside
Have a theme and read a story, play a game, sing a song, eat a snack, and/or do a craft around the theme
Do something physical (such as play outside or dance)
- Use a chore or reward chart. My daughter does little things like pick up her toys and help unload the dishwasher (warning: this takes forevvverrrrr)
- Sing songs that teach or just silly songs to dance to. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about Songs to Motivate Your Kids: From Counting to Cleaning. Teach them to clap the rhythm to a song. Hop, march, and jump around (skip if they are able). Have them do the bunny hop forward and back.
- Play Simon Says (or Mama Says) or Follow the Leader. This helps them to learn to listen to directions.
- Act out emotions. Look at pictures of other children's faces and identify what emotion they are showing.
- Throw and catch balls.
- Draw circles, horizontal and vertical lines, and triangles. You can use shaving cream or whipped cream also to make it more fun.
- Tape a piece of paper with straight, zig zag, and squiggly lines on a window with a blank piece of paper over it. Let your child trace the lines.
- Play pretend and encourage them to use their imagination. With blankets build a tent and pretend to go camping. Have a tea party with their stuffed animals.
- Crafts are always a good activity. Folding paper, pasting, coloring, and using safety scissors require some coordination.
- Teach them their left and their right. Have them hold their hands out in front of them and take notice of which hand the thumb and forefinger make an "L" for left. You can also make a game out of giving them directions such as "point to the left", "step to the right", and "raise your left arm" or have a scavenger hunt with directions involving left and right. You can also have them trace their hands and feet and label them.
- Try to get them to sit for a story. Use funny sounds or props when you read. Try to get them involved by asking questions.
- Teach them their colors and about fruits by making your own scratch n sniff paints. You can also have a placemat (a piece of letter size paper that you've had laminated) with colored blocks and using foods of varying colors have them put the colored foods on the matching colored blocks. You can also have them sort legos or blocks by color. You can also use colored stickers to teach colors.
- You can teach the alphabet by giving your children alphabet cookies and a placemat that you have made with the alphabet and have them match up the cookie with the letters on the placemat. Have them say the letter out loud to you. Make an alphabet book with the letter and pictures of things that begin with that letter. Spell out words for them such as their name and teach them the letters.
- Teach numbers by counting foods into piles. This will also allow you to introduce the concepts of big and small by comparing different size piles. You can count anything with your child. At dollar stores, they often sell wall decals. If you can find numbers (or make your own with circular wall decals that you've added numbers to with marker) you can put them on the wall by the stairs if you don't have an open staircase. This way they can see the numbers as you count the stairs together when you go up and down. You can also do countdowns using calendars or make your own.
- Create an obstacle course for your children using pillows to jump in, have them limbo under a broom handle (set up on two chairs), jump over a piece of tape on the floor, and crawl under a kitchen chair. Do you remember having to crab walk in gym class?
- Running with a kite or kicking a ball.
- Fill a dish pan with water, beans, or rice and give them a strainer, a little rake, and measuring cups.
- Help them complete 3-6 piece puzzles (or larger ones as they become more capable).
- Have a doll or a stuffed animal that you can dress based on the weather outside (good way to teach a child fine motor skills and about the weather).
- Teach your child spatial relationships such as in, on top, inside, outside, up, down, over, under, near, and far. You can have your child sit on a chair or climb into a box or use a stuffed animal to illustrate these concepts.
- Have your child help bake or cook by pouring ingredients in the bowl or mixing.
- Pounding, pulling, and stamping play-doh.
- Teach safety by making a list of rules for your home and letting them decorate it. You can also use their stuffed animals and buckle them in the car to show them the importance of buckling up. Determine what rules you want to emphasize first, determine what ones they already know, and go from there.
- Teach manners by modeling what you want them to do. You may want to pick one or two to stress monthly or until your child has mastered them and continually reinforce them.
- Days of the week can be taught by talking about the day of the week on a daily basis using a calendar or you can have all of the days written on index cards with magnets attached. Put the day of the week on the fridge with your child first thing in the morning.
- Teach body parts by making it into a game. See how fast they can point to their various body parts. You can also make a large cutout of a doll and then make cutouts of eyes, a mouth, hands, feet, etc. Have them put the body parts where they belong. You can do this with clothing cutouts also.
Here are a list of websites to check out for activities, crafts, and theme ideas:
Gayle's Preschool Rainbow
Crafts and activities
Disney Family Fun
I also did a post awhile ago about online games for kids (many educational), click here to check it out.