Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Activities

Articles related to homeschooling during the preschool and kindergarten years
Links to websites with lots of fun learning activities perfect for young children

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A Homeschool Curriculum for Pre-school and Kindergarten, by Lillian Jones
A guide to the important early years - with suggestions for lots of fun and age-appropriate activities and resources.

Preschool Homeschooling, by Bev Krueger
The creator of Eclectic Homeschool Online, a mom of five mostly grown homeschoolers, offers encouraging advie on how to make the most of the preschool years for the most successful outcome.

Teaching our Children to Read, Write and Spell, by Susan Johnson, M.D.
A Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrician delivers a practical and detailed explanation of the physiological reasons why we should not be teaching children to write, read, and spell in preschool in order to develop these skills for later years - and she makes clear suggestions of what we should be doing instead.

And They Played All Day, by Naomi Aldort PhD
This thought provoking article by a parenting and family counselor discusses the important inner workings of self-initiated, self-directed play.

Big "A" and Little "a", by Vivian Gussin Paley
This book excerpt from Child's Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play is a "must read" for every parent of young children. Paley, an award winning kindergarten and nursery school teacher of 37 years experience, and author of eleven books - offers a historical account with a great depth of wisdom on the nature of young children and their unique needs.

Much Too Early, by David Elkind, PhD.
This popular author and Professor of Child Development explains the realistic educational needs of young children.

Story and Play: The Original Learning Tools, by Vivian Gussin Paley
This award winning teacher of 37 years experience describes how imaginative play serves as a powerful tool for analytical examination of people and materials.

Is five too soon to start school? - a BBC article
A news article about research challenging the idea that an early start has long-term advantages. It also points out that Finnish pupils start formal education at seven and then enjoy 11-week summer holidays - and they end up with the highest educational standards in Europe!

New! Crisis in the Kindergarten: A new report on the disappearance of play. Alliance for Childhood Education
A new 9-page policy brief from Alliance for Childhood, explains clearly and concisely why child-initiated pay is essential to children's healthy intellectual, social, and emotional development.

New! The "Myth of the First Three Years" - a PBS interview with John Bruer
An important discussion of the way in which ideas arrived at from scientific research have been woven together in such a way as to be quite misleading about the nature of early childhood development and to form misguided understanding and policies in regard to early childhood education.

New!The "First Years" Fallacy: Mozart, Mobiles, and the Myth of Critical Windows, by Sarah Spinks
An interesting PBS article discussing of the myth that most human learning is dependent on sensitive or critical periods or on lessons being taught at a particular age. Unlike the development of the visual system, in which it is crucial for babies to see patterns and light from both eyes when they are infants, many things can be taught to children outside of the early years. There appears to be no particular benefit, for instance, to teaching music or number sense to toddlers, despite claims to the contrary. This is true even for reading.

Early Year's Child's Learning Assets, by Linda Dobson
Powerful insights on the ways in which to nourish the natural learning assets of young children, by one of the most popular authors of homeschooling books - and the mom of three grown homeschool grads.

Raising Readers at Home, by Paula Harper-Christensen.
A child development specialist and mom of four, offers a wonderfully reassuring discussion of reading readiness, timing, and the art of fostering a love of reading.

Do You Need to Teach Kindergarten?, by Karen M. Gibson
A homeschooling mom responds to the question "What curriculum do you suggest for Kindergarten?," and makes suggestions for effective ways in which Life can provide the curriculum. al difference between children's play and "real" learning!

See, Hear, Touch! - The Basics of Learning Readiness, by Mari Blaustein
A highly experienced early childhood educator takes a close look at the push to teach the three R's in early childhood programs, examines how children learn best, and suggests more developmentally appropriate strategies to prepare young learners for future academic success. This is a resource of the National Association for the Education of Young Children

The Worksheet Dilemma: Benefits of Play-Based Curricula, by Sue Grossman, Ph.D.
This well researched article by an assistant professor of early childhood teacher education concludes that young children do not learn from worksheets what teachers and parents believe they do and that children's time should be spent in more beneficial endeavors. The use of abstract numerals and letters, rather than concrete materials, puts too many children at risk for failure.

Another Look at What Young Children Should Be Learning, by Lillian B. Katz
Dr. Katz, an international leader in early childhood education, discusses the nature of development, categories of learning goals, and the kind of enviroment that fosters them.

How Our Children Really Learn And Why They Need To Play More And Memorize Less, by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PH.D., And Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, PH.D.
Now that we know the scientific data about how children's brains develop, several lessons emerge. One is a cautionary note, and the others offer ways in which you can see the world differently and stimulate your child?s brain growth in a more natural way.

Bringing Lessons Home, by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., with Diane Eyer, Ph.D.
A book excerpt from Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn -- And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less

"Einstein Never Used Flashcards, and Thoughts on the Mozart Effect" - An interview in with Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D.
This interview (in the site) with a co-author of the book, Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less, is a fascinating read in itself.

Understanding Literacy Development in Young Children
This interesting article provides a historical perspective on the shift in our understanding, describes elements of emergent literacy perspectives, and offers suggestions for promoting the literacy development of young children.

Brain Play: Why preschoolers need to pretend, by Jan Faull
A child-development and behavior specialist explains how preschool-aged children absorb learning experiences and make sense of their world most effectively when engaged in imaginative play. She also suggests ways of enhancing imaginative play possibilities.

More play, less "work" for early years - BBC News Article
Citing research indicating that starting children on reading and writing before they are ready can actually be counter-productive, and inhibit their learning, the Welsh Assembly Government looks to replace formal early education with play-based activities between the ages of three and seven - called foundation learning.

The Magical World of Make-Believe, by Lisa Scheer
An informative article on the stages of fantasy life, and how pretend play holds the key to preschoolers' intellectual, and emotional growth.

The Push for Early Childhood Literacy: A Risk Factor in Child Psychopathology, by Sharna Olfman, Ph.D.
A clinical psychologist, author, and associate professor of psychology describes the ways in which the push for early childhood literacy, and other trends, are harming children in a variety of important ways.

What About Play?, by Sharma Olfman, Ph.D.
Another in-depth report on the adverse effects of the trend to replace "screen time" and an emphasis on structured academic work in lieu of play - by a clinical psychologist and associate professor of developmental psychology who is also the founding director of the Childhood and Society Symposium, a multidisciplinary forum on wide-ranging issues affecting children in the wake of rapid technological change and globalization.

Seeing is Believing: Visible Thought in Dramatic Play, by Beth Hatcher and Karen Petty, PhD
In this detailed and interesting report, the conclusion is made that "During dramatic play, children may operate at more advanced cognitive levels than they do in non-pretend situations, including staying on task for extended lengths of time."

Criis in the Kindergarten, by The Alliance for Childhood
Three research teams share their results in concise, clear ways, the benefits of child-initiated play, versus early academics, in supporting children's healthy developent, love of learning, and joy in living.

Technology and Preschool, by Jane Healy
A book excerpt from, Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds, and What We Can Do About It. Well known author, Jane Healy, holds a doctorate in educational psychology, has engaged in postdoctoral studies, has been a classroom teacher, a learning specialist, administrator, and Asst. Professor.

Play: The Profession of Chidren, by Judy Rolke
The Associate Director of the School Literacy and Culture at Rice University describes how play encourages children to develop oral language and listening skills, to take risks with something new, to practice problem solving skills, and to develop a sense of community, of friendship.

Moving up the Grades: Relationship between Preschool Model and Later School Success, by Rebecca A. Marconi
A scholarly report on research concluding that children's later school success appears to have been enhanced by more active, child-initiated early learning experiences - and that their progress may have been slowed by overly academic preschool experiences that introduced formalized learning experiences too early for most children's developmental status.

Play Is Under Seige, by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Golinkoff
An essay about the alarming changes taking place in children's toys, by the authors of Einstein Never Used Flashcards. Both are internationally recognized scholars on how children learn language.

Google Generation Needs Fun Toys, by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek
An essay on using the important lessons learned by researchers who study infants and preschoolers - how to provide experiences that help children be active, creative thinkers and explorers, constantly investigating the world around them.

Use TV to Your Child's Advantage, by Dorothy G. Singer, Ed.D., Jerome L. Singer, Ph.D, and Diana M. Zuckerman, Ph.D.
This site, highly recommended by Fred Rogers ("Mr. Rogers"), contains excerpts of all twelve chapters of The Parent's Guide: Use TV to Your Child's Advantage, as well as the preface, appendices, and references.

Universal Preschool: A Weapon of Mass Instruction in The War On Toddlers, by Diane Flynn Keith
The editor of and discusses what many consider alarming current political efforts toward government financed preschool for all.

What Rob Reiner's Not Telling Us About Universal Preschool, by Lance T. Izumi
The director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute argues against fallacies in the arguments for Universal Preschool - a thought provoking article.


100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know
A pictured list of picture books recommended by the New York Public Library.

Activity Guide - from Mr. Rogers
Lots and lots of low cost, imaginative, and educational activities!

Activities for Preschoolers
Arts & crafts, outdoor activities, indoor activities, cooking, learning responsibilities, games for 3Rs practice, activities, recipes for kids' children's play items, music, dancing & and drama,and more.

Artists Helping Children - Toys, Games, & Crafts You Can Make With Your Child
An absolutely amazing array of projects to make - from very simple to more elaborate - largely using things you already have around the house.

Artist and children's book author Jan Brett's site
Lots of beautiful pictures to print out, and fun projects to make!

Art Recipes
Playdough, goop, colored macaroni, silly putty, and lots more!

Arts & Crafts from the Early Childhood Website
Lots of good ideas!

A to Z Kids' Stuff
Lots of fun educational activities, as well as some letter/number recognition activities for children interested in learning more.

Article - Board Games, Preschool Style, by Holly Bennett
A thoughtful article about providing a relaxed and open-ended approach to board games to fit young children's unique needs.

Boxes Arts and Crafts
Project ideas from boxes of all kinds - for containers, puppet theater, costumes, fire truck, house, fort, log cabin, pirate chest, and many more.

Soup bubble fun and magic.

Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site
Reviews of great books for kids, ideas of ways to use them in learning activities, and collections of books and activities about particular subjects, curriculum areas, themes and professional topics.

Children's Picture Books - many for older children as well!
Lists and descriptions of great picture books, some of which can beautifully introduce concepts in math, science, and other subjects.

An informative online catalog of books and inspiration, specializing in "items to support families in raising their children in love, reverence, and joy to be reverent, loving caretakers of each other and of the earth."

Cooking With Children: Kids in the Kitchen
Children love to help prepare food and cook because they can use all their senses; simple activities are divided by age group in this article.

Cooking with Young Children
Favorite kids' foods, craft recipes, snacks, holiday foods, international, and more.

Crafts for Kids - from Kids' Cubby site
Lots of good articles, ideas, and projects.

Crafts for Kids - from FisherPrice site!
Nice Seasonal Creations, Nature Arts & Crafts, Educational Arts & Crafts, Edible Arts & Crafts, Coloring and Drawing

Crafts to Make With Boxes
Box cars, easel, blocks, wall phone, feelie box, and more.

Creative Fun and Projects - Nancy Blakey's site
Wonderful creative project ideas, articles, and all sorts of fun for children - by the author of the popular Mudpies books!

Dramatic Play Activities
Lots of fun and creative ideas for pretend play activities that preschool teachers have found to be successful with young children.

Dramatic Play Themes
Ideas from preschool teachers for dramatic play. Make a fort from fabric, bungee cord, clothespins, and cup hooks. Make a great space ship from a cardboard box, foil, and tape. Set up a pretend library complete with books and library cards, a pretend beauty salon, grocery store, retail store, covered wagon, bakery, the "Three Bears" house - and more!

Embracing the Child - Literature for Learning and Shared Reading
This is a link to the preschool section of one of the most beautiful and extensive resources online.

Enchanted Learning's Box Crafts
Fire truck, castle, treasure chest, puppet theater, and more!

Enchanted Learning's Crafts
A huge assortment of delightful but simple crafts for kids to make!

Everything Preschool Favorite Themes
Each themed set of activities has suggestions for songs, art projects, books, games, science, and more.

Fine Motor Activities for Young Children
Play activities that develop coordination, body stability, fine motor skills, dexterity, vision skills, and more.

Fingerplays and Action Rhymes
Ten fingerplay and action rhymes.

Fingerplay- Fun for kids
Twelve fingerplays games for young children.

Finger puppets
Directions for cute finger puppet you can knit.

Free Stuff to Entertain Kids
Free or inexpensive toys and imagination engaging activities from items you already have around the house.

Fun Activities for a pre-reader
Nineteen ways to make reading fun for a young pre-reading child - for physical, auditory, and visual learners.

Article - Fun With Nature: Exploring the Great Outdoors
Suggests a number of enjoyable activities for closely observing nature with a young child.

Games, Songs, and Lullabies for Babies and Toddlers
This is a delightful downloadable and printable booklet of ideas for fun activities to do with babies and toddlers - from the Children?s Department of Perry Public Library

Games and Toys to Make
A maze, travel game, bowling game, castle, spring worm, memory game, dominoes, mancala game, paper toys, and many more ideas!

Games from things around the house
Games using clothespins, beans, leaves, etc.

Article - Good Times With Music and Rhythm
Lots of creative ideas, including games and resource ideas, for ways to bring music into children's lives.

Grandma's House Patterns
Inexpensive patterns you can buy for making playhouses out of fabric and PVC pipes.

How To Teach Your Tots At Home - Activities for Learning
Wonderful articles about activities for little ones - one of many useful resources in the Universal Preschool website.

Indoor Playhouse for Children
Another plan for making a playhouse from a cardboard box.

Inexpensive Christmas Crafts
Fun gift crafts that little ones can do or participate in.

Kids Crafts Corner
Playdough, goop, colored macaroni, silly putty, and lots more!

Kid-size Kitchen
Plans for an inexpensively constructed play kitchen.

Ideas for the many ways children can interact with plants and the outdoors.

Kiddie Records Weekly - Classics From the Golden Age
Fabulous forgotten treasures - children's records from the early 40s and 50s, including many classic stories, some of which were extravagant Hollywood productions. Downloadable to listen to FREE.

Article - Let's pretend with preschoolers, by Alison Levitch, M.A., and Sara Gable, Ph.D
The role of play in learning, and creative ways parents can provide a setting and tools for encouraging children to pretend.

A Magical Childhood
An unusually lovely site with very inspiring articles, as well as activity and craft suggestions, for making ordinary days and nights special for our children.

Mother Goose Rhymes and Children's Songs
Grouped by theme.

Make Stuff: Cardboard Castles
Nice models of castles, using boxes, wrapping paper, tape, ribbon, and other things around the house.

Margaret Wise Brown Website
A pictorial list of Margaret Wise Brown's wonderful books for young children. You can click on the book titles next to the cover pictures for a brief description or click on an icon to see an excerpt from inside the book.

Make Your Own TV Show
Mr. Rogers' creative play idea using a cardboard box.

PBS' list of delightful children's books introducing math within the context of stories.

Mother Goose Rhymes and Children's Songs
A collection of rhymes, songs, and activities.

Musical Mouseum
A place hosted by a cartoon mouse where you can find the lyrics to your favorite kids' songs, send out a request for a long lost song, or maybe help somebody else find the one they're looking for.

Nature Crafts
From the Early Childhood site above.

Ooey Gooey
A wealth of inspiring ideas and information from a hands-on workshop presenter on activities and play environments. It also includes a list of favorite children's books, and suggested readings for parents.

Old Fashioned Family Living Ideas at "The Treehouse" site
Wonderful and extensive sets of old fashioned children's crafts & projects, "Kids in the Ktchen" & party fun, and family games, activites, & learning.

Paper Mache Recipes
Paper mache recipes - make puppet heads, holiday ornaments, piņatas, boxes, sculptures, and more - and paint, decoupage, or decorate however you please.

Playstand Plans
Inexpensive patterns for making lovely wooden play stands that can be draped with fabric to make props for pretend play, theater, playstore, and so forth.

Portable Fabric Playhouse Pattern
This site has a $3 pattern for a fabric playhouse that slips over any standard card table - the pattern has instructions for 8 different styles.

Portable Playhouse
Free plans for a lightweight freestanding playhouse that can be folded together for easy storage in a closet or under a bed.

Preschool Activities
Ideas for chalk rubbings, cotton ball snowman, fruity cereal necklace, junk mail, lacing cards, make a fort, and package wrap.

Preschool Outdoor Play
Ideas and suggestions for fun outdoor activities using gross motor and observation skills.

Preschool Songs
Eleven cute and traditional children's songs we've grown up with!

Preschool Express Themes
Many fun and educational activities divided by theme and/or season - including art, projects, songs, and more.

Printable Crafts for Kids
A variety of fun, printable children's crafts, coloring pages and more.

PUPPETS! From A to A Home's Cool site
An extensive set of articles - how to make beginning and advanced puppets, puppet lore and puppet show scripts, shadow puppets, tips & tricks, and more!

Rainy Day Fun
Ideas for simple and fun activities that don't take much preparation.

Recycled Big Blocks
Boxes become blocks as children design and paint their homemade creations.

Sand Castles and Fairy Tales from a Kindergarten
This article shows how to use containers and implements for making magical castles, incorporating animals, people, flags, and labels, water-filled moats with alligators.

Sand Play Ideas
A lenthy article describing what toddlers and preschoolers learn and how you can help them gain the most from sand play.

Seven Drawer Pick-up
From the Miscellaneous Tips From Moms web page - a fun way to keep the house picked up. You have to scroll down the page to find it.

Science Fun
Simple hands-on experiments young children can enjoy.

Simple Science-ing for Young Children
Simple little fun activities that require only curiosity, a little planning, some interesting "stuff," and pleasure in watching young scientists develop.

Teepee Pattern
Scroll down to the bottom of the page in this site and you'll find a $7.20 pattern for making a teepee large enough for an adult and one child.

Things to Make and Do
Fun little crafts that are simple to make - although a few things would require help from an adult or older child.

Toddlers at Home, Too
A to Z Home's Cool's annotated set of articles on homeschooling with toddlers.

Turn trash into toys
Great ideas!

Twenty Toys You Don't Have to Buy
Many educational opportunities are woven throughout these fun activities.

Tying Shoes
Games, rhymes, and ideas for helping children learn how to tie their shoes.

Universal Preschool
An extensive site with wonderful articles having to do with age appropriate ideas - with links to great resource suggestions and an active email group.

Water Chimes - making music with glasses of water
Kids can make their own music with water chimes for this activity. These music chimes sound great and the children can use the leftovers to water the plants when the concert is over.

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