I’m following Busy Toddler’s “Playing Preschool” Program with Sophie this year and it’s been so fun! We’re loosely following the Seattle Public School Calendar and began our at-home preschool play activities the first full week of September. Sophie is only two so we’re not fully in preschool mode, but I wanted some loose 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 my reasoning for choosing this particular program and why I love it so much.
Okay, back to nursery rhymes —
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.
I’ll admit that I fully opted out of using a raw egg for the Humpty Dumpty activities — Sophie and I are both just not quite ready for that. Thankfully, I had a white plastic Easter egg that I used as a stand-in for “Humpty Dumpty” by employing a pipe cleaner, a bit of Scotch tape, and drawing with a marker in addition to placing a yellow pom-pom ball inside as the “yolk”. The end result wasn’t quite as dramatic as a smashed raw egg, but I have no regrets about making the substitution this year (plus, this way Sophie can make Humpty fall over and over again).
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 (Three Little Kittens and Jack & Jill), a Hey Diddle Diddle sensory bin activity, a Twinkle Twinkle Little Star fine motor skill activity (more details here!), a Humpty Dumpty puzzle activity, a Cow Jumped Over the Moon crafting activity (also so cute for Halloween!), I’m a Little Teapot pouring water transfer activity (also love this teapot pour painting idea!), practicing on the Lovevery buckle barrel for One Two Buckle My Shoe, as well as an upcoming trip to our local library for a story time event!
I like to source additional books that complement the theme that are typically from Sophie’s little library, but sometimes I like to take the opportunity to snag another book or two for even more reading options. We already have a couple of finger puppet nursery rhyme books that Sophie loves so we’ll incorporate those during this unit.
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 movie or an episode of a show that coordinates with that unit’s theme… but being that this unit is related to nursery rhymes, it’s a bit different.
Ugh — I loathe watching Cocomelon (something about it really creeps me out), but they sing a lot of the classic nursery rhymes on the show. I recommend avoiding the videos and just listening to the songs on Spotify instead of watching the animations… unless your kiddos insist. 🥴
There’s also an episode of “The Wiggles” available to watch on YouTube featuring nursery rhymes.
In the Playing Preschool curriculum, Susie also recommends explaining to your little one what “curds and whey” are (from the “Little Miss Muffet” rhyme) and using cottage cheese as an easy example! I found this collection of cottage cheese bowl recipes that you can put together to [possibly] entice your little one to taste / eat it.
You could also take this a step further: turning it into an activity by making your own curds and whey at home!
I found this list to be a pretty good resource if you wanted to do even more nursery rhyme-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 😅) 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 can find my other series of posts with 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 —