So you have a preschool sibling - age 3 to 5 - who isn't quite ready for a homeschool curriculum, but still needs something to do. I want to share a few ideas for how we've kept our 3-and-a-half year old active and engaged during homeschool. I hope these are helpful!
+ Magna-tiles. These are always a win at our house - every child (ages 1 to 8) plays with them every single day. We like to pull these out before reading aloud and all the kids can play quietly while they listen.
+ A wobble board: perfect for getting energy out on a rainy day. Not only can he "surf" and spin on it, but he can flip it over to make a bridge for cars or trains. I love how open-ended this is!
+ See and Spell Puzzles by Melissa and Doug: These - or any alphabet puzzle - is perfect for pre-readers.
+ Kinetic sand. I know what you're thinking: "sand?!" But this is truly the least messy sand we've found. It sticks together, is easy to clean up if any gets spilled, and provides so much sensory play. We keep ours high on a shelf in a bin with a tight lid, so it only comes out with supervision. When we bring it down, I put it on a bed tray to be at his level, and I add some toy cars, popsicle sticks, or plastic animals for him to play with.
+ Picture Word Cards by The Peaceful Press. We've had these for nearly 5 years and gotten so much use out of them! For pre-readers, you can play play matching games ("Match the letter to the picture") to help them learn their letters. As they move toward reading, you can help them read entire words. The pictures are beautiful and our little guy gets so excited when these come out!
+ If your preschooler is ready for some early written work, I love these books by Explode the Code: Get Ready for the Code, Get Set for the Code, and Go for the Code. Very basic handwriting/tracing, phonics, pre-reading activities. We only pull these out when our 3-year-old requests it, and we do a couple pages at a time together.
+ Tiny Polka Dot Math Game. This is a daily favorite! It's basically a box of number cards - up to 16 - in various forms (some are the written number, others are dots). The box includes instructions for multiple games that can be played from ages 3+. Our preschooler loves playing a game called "Hungry Numbers." A great tool to have on hand.
+ Caldwell Trading Co. Tracing Board. This is a beautifully made, personalized acrylic tracing board that uses a dry erase marker so that your older preschooler can practice writing letters, then wipe it off. This is the perfect addition to a "busy bag" for church or appointments.
+ Also, we have used The Peaceful Preschool for our preschool curriculum in the past and absolutely loved it. The picture books and activities it recommends are gold! If you have the time to devote to a full preschool curriculum, I can't recommend it enough. It establishes a beautiful daily rhythm that will serve you well as you continue homeschooling in future years.
+ Last but certainly not least, we keep a huge stock of beautifully illustrated picture books around and, in the breaks with our older kids, we read as many as we can. My favorite place to find picture book lists are The Peaceful Press, Read-Aloud Revival, and Beautiful Feet Books. My favorite spot to purchase gently used books is Better World Books.
If you have a toddler in the mix, read this blog post with some helpful toddler ideas!