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20 engaging homeschool ideas for preschoolers + kindergartners

Plus tips for how to build them into a week-long curriculum that keeps little learners busy and engaged

preschool homeschool curriculum

When we first began homeschooling last fall, I started with a preschool homeschool curriculum I purchased online. It was basic, but it introduced me to a simple structure and way of organizing lessons. Because I had never taught anyone formally before, I felt more confident having some direction to start with—and I honestly wasn't sure what kinds of activities I should be using to fill my preschool-age daughter's day.

We used our curriculum diligently for the first six months of the school year, but in that time I realized that the formula was pretty simple. Now I've taken what I learned from that formula and used it to create custom lesson plans each week that focus on topics my daughter is naturally interested in, or ideas that are organically relevant to our life that week. The best part? You can do it too, mama.

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Here's how to create a weekly lesson plan for your preschooler or kindergartener in 5 easy steps:


1. Pick a weekly theme.

I cannot stress this enough—having a weekly curriculum theme is the guiding principle for all homeschoolers of young children. Not only does it give your little one a common thread to connect everything they learn, it also makes it so much easier for you to find activities and materials for the week.

2. Find 3-5 books that fit the theme.

Reading to your child is one of the simplest ways to broaden their vocabulary, worldview and understanding of virtually any topic. Feel free to add or subtract books based on your child's level of reading interest. You likely already own books about the themes your child is interested in, but if you want something new, just Google "children's book about [insert theme]."

Use an app like Libby to check out ebooks from your local library, find books for early readers on apps like Epic! or Homer, or search on YouTube for live readings of the book. (Bonus: On YouTube you can often find the book in multiple languages if your child is multilingual, or animated versions that can help hold their attention a little longer.

3. Find a song, nursery rhyme short expression, Bible verse or proverb that fits your theme and use it for memorization practice.

Teaching your child to memorize and present is great for training the brain to remember more complex information later (like multiplication tables or state capitals) and also improves neural plasticity and cognitive skills they will use as adults. It's also the foundation for public speaking and other performing arts they might be interested in in the future. Start each day's lessons by repeating the song or verse until your child has it memorized. (Not sure where to find one? Google is, again, the answer.)

4. Find 4-5 activities or projects related to your theme.

Here is the beauty of homeschooling right now: So many parents of homeschoolers past have already done the work for you! Search Pinterest, the hashtag #homeschoolidea on Instagram, or that OG Google for crafts, games and other activities around your theme. (Here's your search term: kindergarten homeschool [insert theme] project.) Try to find something that involves an art project, something with counting, and something that incorporates nature to hit on a variety of subjects. Then do one of the projects each day that week.

5. Supplement with apps or movies.

Yup, you read that right. Screen time is an important tool in every homeschool parents' arsenal. Especially if you are also working from home, it's a good idea to have a few screen-friendly options in your back pocket for when you need to get something else done while your child stays occupied. Try some of the educational apps on this list, or pick a movie to stream from this list. Afterward, talk to your child about the lessons learned from the movie and whether they relate to the lesson, or teach them values about friendship, family and community to make the most of digital educational resources.

Congratulations! You just created a week-long lesson plan that introduces your child to math, science, social studies, reading and writing.

Above all else, remember that your child is learning literally all the time, even when you're not in "class." (And the amount of class time recommended for each age group is probably a lot less than you think.) So broaden your idea of what constitutes "school." Let your child cook with you—hello, home ec. Count out the coins in their piggy bank—welcome to Economics 101! Impromptu dance party in the living room? You just aced Physical Education with a minor in Music Theory. You've got this.

20 simple homeschool theme ideas for preschoolers + kindergarteners:

    1. Apples/harvest
    2. Fish
    3. Music
    4. Colors
    5. Sports
    6. Pets
    7. Ocean animals
    8. Zoo animals
    9. Countries (pick one that ties to your heritage for a personal angle)
    10. Space
    11. The water cycle
    12. Pollination
    13. Butterflies
    14. Migration
    15. Seasons (do one at a time!)
    16. Rocks
    17. Dinosaurs
    18. Planes, trains, and cars
    19. Spiders
    20. Human body

    14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

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