Posts Tagged ‘ preschool activities ’

Alphabet Activities for 2-4 year olds (Free Alphabet Mats)

Friday, August 29th, 2014

I thought it might be useful to pull a lot of our letter-activities together into one post, although we didn’t ever focus exclusively on letters. We generally had a theme or unit (astronomy, birds, volcanoes, bears, pirates, princesses and whatever else the kids were interested in at the time…)  and we added in these types of activities to supplement whatever else was going on.  So, just keep in mind that I pulled these activities out of context.

When my kids were little, we added in a lot of games to learn to recognize the letters, learn the letter sounds and learn the shapes and how to form the various letters.  Here’s a glimpse at the kinds of activities we did to keep it fresh and fun!

File Folder Games:

We played lots of matching file folder games. The spider web matching came from a paid website I belonged to called Kidssoup, but the hearts capital-lower case matching came from File Folder Fun.Child Care Land also has lots of free file folder games and other early learning activities.

Sandpaper Letters:

I purchased a set of sandpaper letters and the kids used them a lot when they were 2-3 years old. It’s a Montessori activity that we did regularly. We got ours from or you can get them from Montessori stores such as Kidadvance:

Here ED then matched some foam letter stickers to an index card.  We usually only focused on a few letters at at time:

Jump on Letters: We did this activity with everything from contact paper in the kitchen to letters written in chalk on the driveway. This active game was a huge hit with all my kids. “Find the “R.”  ”Go jump on the “K.”   You get the idea!

Cereal Box Matching:

ED had to put letters in the correct slot in the cereal box. You can find the alphabet printed out in various themes and I used to do this a lot using websites such as Communication 4 All (look in theliteracy area)

Scavenger Hunts:

I always tried to make learning fun and interactive. Here the girls went on a scavenger hunt to find their letters and then they had to mail them as they told me what letter/letter sound they made:

Drawing Letters in Sand:

For those of you who don’t know much about the Montessori method, I actually sat down with ED and “presented” the activity below to her.  I show her each and every step…

  • take out the blanket and spread it on the ground
  • take the tray with two hands and lift it down and place it on the blanket
  • lift up the lid
  • sketch the letter in the sand
  • mail the letter
  • take the sand tray with two hands and shake it back and forth
  • repeat until done
  • put the tray away
  • fold up the blanket
  • put the blanket away

I think arming ED with EACH step has really made a big difference to how successful she is at doing the various activities and then repeating them on her own.

We did this in combination with a scavenger hunt and a “mail box” with a slot to mail the letter. We just had a tray of sand and ED had to write the letter before mailing off her letter!  I never wound up making more “letters” for her to mail, but if you’re interested in   A, B, C, E, L, M, N, O, R or S you can download them free here.

Hands on Activities:

We often fit the letter activities into whatever unit/holiday we were working on/celebrating such as the bird unit or the Shamrock fishing activities below:

An activity after reading Green Eggs and Ham!

Using foam letters and contact paper to create a matching game:

Q-tip painting: As the kids were learning their letters, I tried to change things up for them.  Sometimes I brought out Q-tips which they could dip into paint to practice “writing” their letters. Here are some alphabet mats I made that you can download as you need them:

Alphabet Mats: A to Z

(font licence purchased from Kimberly Geswein Fonts)

Clothes Pin Matching:

Using Clothes Pins to match the letters. These letter matching cards are from Honey at Sunflower Schoolhouse (the link I had doesn’t seem to be working anymore), though it would be easy enough to make with a marker and an index card.

This is something similar from Making Learning Fun – Upper – Lower Case Letter Matching

Here is another cute letter matching activity from Making Learning Fun:


My kids loved doing the do-a-dot activities (with bingo markers). The ones pictured below are by Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler. Erica developed an entire curriculum around the letters of the alphabet. Here’s an example of her Letter A activities or Letter F Activities. Awesome, right?!  We just used a few of these activities and fit them into our units  (More about that in another post!!). You can also find do-a-dot letters at Making Learning Fun.

Letter Factory: All three of my kids loved the Letter Factory movies. The tune is catchy and it helped the kids learned the sounds of the letter.

I hope you found a few ideas you can use with your kids!  If you found anything useful or have other ideas to share, I’d love to hear from you at our Homeschool Den Facebook page.

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A Huge List of Things to do with your Preschooler

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Are you gearing up for the new school year with your toddler or preschooler? This is the week for you here at the Homeschool Den!  Today I am sharing our huge, long list of activities that you can do with your 2-5 year olds. I compiled this list a couple of years ago when I was struggling to balance the needs of my preschooler with my older two school-age kids.  Then tomorrow and continuing on this week are suggestions for doing activities with your preschooler in math, science, letters and more.  Next week, I hope to start a new series on teaching your child to read.

I am a list person! I love writing down things we should do, could do, have done. In fact, I started this blog as the ultimate list of things we’ve done!  Trying to balance the needs of three kids, I worried at times about not doing enough with ED. I was going through the preschool lists I created for the other kids and started making a list of things I wanted to do with ED. Then after going through my old lists, I also went through my blog. I came across a lot of things  to do with ED…

 Ultimately I came up with a three-page list of things to do with my preschooler. Some things she is beginning to outgrow, but I included them since others might find them helpful.  You can find my Huge List of Things to do with your Preschooler  here! (Our printables are moving to I included hyperlinks back to old blog posts. And if you find this list helpful please drop me a comment.  I love sharing our activities and get a huge boost when I hear from others!

I hope you find some fun ideas to do with your preschooler!

You might be interested in these posts for 3-5 year olds (We have moved to

What Your Child Will Learn in Preschool
What Your Child Will Learn in Preschool
What Your Child Will Learn in Preschool

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Homeschool Preschool Year in Review

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Each year at the end of the year, I put together a post that looks back at our school year.  ED has had a great year. She was 4 this year and turned 5 this spring. We homeschool together… so ED participates with my older two kids in all their activities. Some of these units (like the 5 senses) were mainly for ED, others were mainly for the older kids, but ED tagged along. The older kids generally cover the topics in more depth, but ED enjoys participating in the hands-on activities.

I put in links back to the posts (or to the units themselves), if you are interested in seeing what we covered in a bit more depth.


Some of the science units she did this year included:

  • 5 Senses Unit
  • Mealworms – Living and Non-Living

  •  Above and Below Ground

Visit that post to get the free print out for that preschool activity (what lives above ground, below ground):

  • Plants: parts of the plant; symmetry; carnations and celery experiment

  • Invertebrates and vertebrates: Montessori cards; Farm Animals; Vertebrate Man (how the backbone works)
  • World Animals and the 7 Continents:
  • Rocks and Minerals: We had so much fun with this unit! We did lots of hands-on activities everything from panning for gems to growing crystals to exploring the properties of rocks…
Sedimentary rocks above with chocolate and metamorphic rocks below with crayons:
  • Human Body, Digestive System (she participated in all of our hands-on activities): Again, ED was right in with us for all the hands-on activities we did in this unit…. like learning about how swallowing really works:

The epiglottis above… and the muscles forcing the food bolus down the throat below:

  • Science Experiments: She loves science experiments and we threw in lots of hands-on activities throughout the year. (Explosion of colors: milk and dye experiment)

  • She participated in all of the crafts, cooking and other activities we did as we learned about Africa this past year. Everything from Ancient Egypt and North Africa to West and East Africa. (Below: Masaii necklace craft). Browse through all the posts in our Africa Unit here.
  • She reviewed world geography (and worked off-and-on with us as we learned about the geography, countries and features of Africa)
  • She learned about the 7 continents and world animals

General Preschool:

  • Handwriting
  • Winter Theme Preschool Unit
  • Pete the Cat Unit

Reading/Phonics: She went from barely being able sound out three-letter words to working on words with vowel teams. She read through the first set of Bob Books (last summer), all 52 of the free Sam readers, and the first four sets (1, 1A, 2 and 2A) of Primary Phonics.


We’ve read lots and lots of books aloud together… too many to write about here!


  • Counting
  • Clocks
  • Skip counting (10s, 5s and just started on 2s)
  • Doubling (1+1 through 6+6 and is now working beyond those)
  • Allowance and money
  • Pete the Cat
  • Click here to see all our preschool math posts (and free downloads)
Plus, our family went on lots of field trips, a number of museums, spent lots of time outside and things like that.
That’s about it in a nutshell. In the next day or so, I’ll share our year in review for my older two (grades 2 and 4).
Related Posts that Might Be of Interest:
Last year about this time, I wrote a series of posts that I wrote to answer someone’s question, “How do you plan for your school year?”  Here are the five posts I wrote:
  1. Here are the questions I consider when planning out the new year (assessing where the kids are at, thinking about our homeschool philosophy, etc.).
  2. This post looks a back at our school year (2011-2012). I talked about what went well and what could use some improvement.
  3. I talked about how I  assess our homeschooling philosophy: Am I happy with *how* we are homeschooling? I talked a lot about the books I’ve read that helped us find the homeschool style that works for us.
  4. I went into quite some detail about our long-term goals for homeschooling yesterday.
  5. Short Term Goals and Planning

Similar to #3 above, you might also be interested in a more recent post that talks about some of the homeschool methods that people use and how we incorporate these philosophies and methods into our homeschool:

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Preschool at Home: Activities You Can Do with Your 2-4 Year Olds (Fine Motor Skills)

Friday, April 5th, 2013

I frequently get questions from parents who wonder just what to do and where to start with their preschoolers.  I thought I would spend a few posts sharing some of the things I’ve done with my kids along the way.

Many of the things we did are things most parents do naturally in their home: free play with toys, time exploring and playing outside, dancing to music, reading books aloud to the kids.  But as a Mom who stayed at home, I was always looking for different activities and approaches to spice up and add variety to our day.

This week I thought I would share some activities we did to help the kids with their fine motor skills:

Tongs and Tweezers:

Using tongs and tweezers helps develop the muscles in kids hands. It requires the kids to concentrate and strengthen the muscles in their hands.

In the picture below, I set out some wooden marbles and a bathroom suction decor with the cups facing up.

For the tweezer activity, i placed a sticker of different colors around the plate. My daughter had to sort the pom-pom into different sections.

Cutting and Gluing:

Depending on the age of my kids, sometimes I had this out all the time and sometimes I just brought it out under supervision. (Yes, I had the daughter who cut part of her hair VERY VERY short when she was three! Keep that in mind!) Anyway, when the kids were tots, I put colored strips of construction paper and scissors out.  I often had a glue stick and paper for them to glue afterwards if there was any interest. As the kids go older, I made the cutting a bit more challenging like the “snake” you see below.  If you go online you can find lots of print-outs with zig-zags or wavy lines to cut along. I always just took a marker and made my own on colorful construction paper.

Here’s another take on the cutting unit. When we did a bird unit, I set out these paper feathers and had the kids make fine cuts to make it look like individual strands of the feather. You could do the same for making “grass” as the bottom of a simple picture:

Poking activity:

This activity is easy to set up. Just put dots in different shapes, letters, or numbers on construction paper.  Give the child something to poke with — either a skewer with a rubber band as I did or with an over-sized push-pin.

“Putting Things In…” Hand-Eye Coordination:

There are so many variations on this activity. Anything where the little ones have carefully put something into something else is great for eye-hand coordination.  In this particular post, the girls spent time putting craft matchsticks into styrofoam. I had an old spice jar that was full of craftsticks in the homeschool area for years!  If your child is a little too young for this, you can use clothes pins into a soda bottle.


For this activity I had a huge embroidery needle and embroidery thread on hand with these plastic canvas shapes.  This is another great activity for hand-eye coordination.  This is an activity that I had to do with the kids until they were at least 5 because it was pretty difficult to get the hang of putting the needle through the top and then up through the bottom and so forth.

You can find plastic canvas shapes like these at craft stores like Jo-Anne for less than $2.00.

That’s about all I have time for today, but I’ll be back next Friday with some more activities you can do with your 2-4 year old.


NOTE: We have moved to

We’re so excited to announce that our 60+ Page Dinosaur Packet is finally here! What does it include?
  • Dinosaur Lapbook
  • Montessori 3-Part Dinosaur Cards
  • Dinosaur Matching
  • Letter Activities
  • Number Recognition
  • Counting Activities
  • Easy (and challengin!) Addition Activities
  • Coloring
  • Bingo
  • Dinosaur Math Grid
  • Odd-Even Games
  • and much, much more!

Other related posts you might be interested in:

If your child knows their letter sounds, they may be ready to learn to read. Visit this post, Teach Your Child to Read at our new location,  for fun ideas that help your child learn to read!

Worksheet Pack to Accompany the Bob Books: A 20-page pack of activities.

Related Posts:

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Pete the Cat Unit – More Free Resources preK to 1st Grade

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

ED continued to work on things she selected from her workbox with the Pete the Cat theme. She worked through this addition page I made for her…

We have moved to and will be updating the links there – Pete the Cat Unit.

Button Addition – for Pete the Cat

Here’s ED doing the activity a couple of days ago:

 She loved the Pete the Cat Die and graph from Herding Kats. The Pete the Cat Roll and Color is by Shannon over at Kindergarten Hoppenings.

ED especially liked the graphing page. The girls had so much fun with this activity!

DD and I used the Pete the Cat calendar cards made by Penny to play war. ED identified the numbers (sometimes with help) and then whoever had the larger number got to keep the pair.

Here are some other resources I came across, but did not get to (yet?!). In no particular order, here are some of the other resources I saved as possible activities for ED:

Pete the Cat Pack - Including pages to write about your favorite part of the story, word search, circle the adjectives over at Fun for First.

Pete the Cat Pages – Color by code, color the shoes, color the buttons pages over at First Grade a la Carte.

Pete the Cat Pattern Shoes, Nonsense Words, etc. - Over at Heidi Songs.

I love my shoes Book (writing practice) – Over at Doodle Bugs Teaching.

Pete the Cat Book (to color and read) and Pete the Cat Make a Sentence Page – Over at Kindergarten Crayons.

Pete the Cat Counting by 5s – Over at Making Learning Fun. This website has tons of other Pete the Cat printables as well like the counting buttons pages.

Pete the Cat – writing page — Over at Made for 1st Grade.

Pin the shoe on pete - Isn’t that a cute idea? It is available at Harper Collins.


Don’t forget you can download the pages I made for the girls–Multiplication by 4s with Pete the Cat or the Doubling Game (2+2, 3+3) With Pete the Cat as well.



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