I’m following Busy Toddler’s “Playing Preschool” Program with Sophie this year and it’s been so fun! We just started, but we’re both already having such a great time. We’re loosely following the Seattle Public School Calendar and began our at-home preschool play the first full week of September. Sophie is only two so we’re not fully in preschool mode, but I was looking for some general guidelines and ideas for semi-educational activities to do together.
If you’re also interested in setting up a few educational activities at home with your toddler I can’t recommend this program enough. Susie has thought of literally everything, and while the curriculum document size may feel a bit intimidating (at a whopping 339 pages!) there’s so much helpful information packed inside. Plus, some pages are just spacers between units or alphabet letter printables, etc. so don’t let the sheer page volume scare you.
Susie provides many helpful details, such as the “why” behind the program design (why the activity was chosen and what it is helping your child learn, the why behind the specific order of lessons, why you should follow the recommended structure, etc.), tips on how to teach the program as well as maximize your child’s reading / comprehension, occasionally offering alternatives for taking an activity a step further if your child needs a more advanced option, and, most importantly, she reiterates that the goal of the program is not mastery of the topics, but merely exposure. I can’t tell you what a relief it was for me to read that in the curriculum’s introduction — it really took the stress out of it for me!
Susie did such an amazing job creating a no-stress, fun-yet-educational curriculum. Each day’s worth of activities only equates to about 45 minutes’ worth of engaged activity that can be done all at once or spread throughout your day — it’s intended to be flexible to work with your schedule (which I love and appreciate so much). I find that 45 minutes out of my day dedicated to doing educational activities with Sophie has been really easy to incorporate and a beneficial addition to our daily routine.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, but I think that the best part about the curriculum is not having to research and come up with my own “lesson plans”. I was not trained to be an early childhood educator like Susie, so I wouldn’t even know where to begin; having the structure of this curriculum is truly a godsend.
This post has inadvertently become a bit of an ode to Susie (and I’m not mad about it! 😂), but I felt like you deserved to get a little insight into why I chose this particular program and why I love it so much.
Okay, back to apples —
I’ve slightly modified a few of Susie’s activities to make them a little bit more age appropriate for Sophie (since we’re technically following this program a year earlier than it was intended) and to utilize items / toys that we already have at home.
For this unit we’ve adjusted things such as using little plastic produce baskets that we use for our play foods in addition to the recommended sheets of colored construction paper for a sorting activity and we skewered the apple halves with wide popsicle sticks for a better grip while paint stamping (you could also use a fork or even cut a handle into the back!).
In addition to Susie’s awesome program, I’m trying to incorporate a few more [super easy] play activities to do over the course of the two weeks that coordinate with that unit’s theme. The activities aren’t too intensive and I am only including them to make the curriculum even more robust, but they’re totally unnecessary. You really only need to follow the program — I’m just using the unit themes to *also* help guide our playtime (especially for the days when I have run out of ideas! 😵💫).
I mostly try to source from our existing toys and just reimagine new ways of playing with them for each unit. You can always plump up your play with a few affordable items from Bullseye’s Playground at Target, Amazon, Joann’s, or Michael’s Crafts. I also love to utilize items / books that we already own (many of our favorite items are from Lovevery shipments!).
I like to look for printable images that can be used for coloring or super easy crafting activities — you can purchase printable downloads on Etsy or find free coloring pages / activity pages on Google where you can find printable images related to any theme. We have a decent little printer at home so I fall back on this option quite often and Sophie loves to use her crayons!
For this unit I chose: a couple of printed pages for coloring, an apple washing activity, a “bobbing” for apples fine motor skill activity, as well as an upcoming family outing to a local U-Pick Apple Orchard to accent the curriculum!
I like to source additional books from Sophie’s little library that complement the theme of the unit, but sometimes I like to take the opportunity to snag another option or two (you can never have too many books, right?!). We already have quite a few books that discuss a variety of fruits and vegetables (including apples), so I’ll add those into the rotation.
We don’t utilize a LOT of screen time, but sometimes it’s fun to watch something together so I’ll try to find a YouTube video, an episode of an educational show, or even a movie that corresponds to that unit’s theme. This resource shares some teacher-approved videos about apples that we’ll sprinkle throughout the two weeks of the unit.
In the Playing Preschool curriculum, Susie also recommends using the apples and / or applesauce from this unit for a baking activity, so I found this easy apple muffin recipe for Sophie and I to make. They were so easy and pretty tasty for how simple they were. If you’re out of eggs (as I often am!) this applesauce recipe is perfect for a batch of mini muffins!
*Top Tip: I had everything we needed already pulled out, measured out, and prepped (butter melted, egg beaten) before we began this activity so it took a lot of the stress out of baking with my two-year old. I’d love to eventually expand beyond just letting Sophie pouring things into a bowl and then watching the stand mixer blend everything together, but this is going to have to suffice for now. 😂
If cooking and baking with your kiddo stresses you out, I highly recommend this method because the experience will be a lot smoother (and give you both more confidence for future cooking / baking activities!).
I also thought that these cute little apple pastries would be an easy (and delicious!) recipe for proper preschool-aged kiddos.
Lastly, I found this list to be a pretty good resource if you wanted to do even more apple-related crafts and activities with your little one.
I’d like to note that we don’t plan to homeschool Sophie longterm… the idea behind utilizing this program is to give a general introduction into a bit of light educational structure to her day as well as a little exposure to what she’ll be seeing when she does start attending school. I don’t have anything against homeschooling (more power to you!), but I am personally not cut out for being a full blown at-home teacher (at best, I could maybe help with homework – lol) and that’s why I outsourced this Playing Preschool to Busy Toddler. That said, this program would be an excellent foray into homeschooling if you’re considering that journey for your family!
You will be able to find other posts in this series of complementary Playing Preschool ideas here.
I hope these activity ideas are helpful for you and your little one.
We’ve got this, friends!
Sending hugs —