Hands-On Preschool Activities

by | Homeschool Activities | 9 comments

Homeschooling Preschool Begins with Hands-On Preschool Activities

Using hands-on preschool activities is a simple way to get started on your homeschool journey!

Preparing to Homeschool Preschool

Believe it or not, homeschooling preschool doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated!

Take it from a mom who tried to do all the typical school things with her preschooler — and failed miserably.

I started my daughter’s preschool years with lesson plans, themed weeks, & stacks of neatly printed worksheets.

I stuck to this method for about 5 months, before realizing I had it all wrong.

Preparing to Homeschool Preschool

Preschool is exactly what it says it is — pre-school.

Three and four-year-old kiddos shouldn’t be expected to sit at a desk all day filling out paperwork like mini-adults. Instead, they should be learning and thriving in a colorful environment filled with hands-on, activity-based learning!

After some time, I finally got this preschool thing down (now that kindergarten is on the horizon. Haha, go figure!) and I’m so excited to share some of the preschool activities I leaned on (once I came to my senses, of course).

Homeschooling with Simple Preschool Activities

When I first started homeschooling preschool, I was in over my head!

My older boys went to a private preschool and everything was amazingly put together. They would sit at little desks and come home with stacks of completed papers. So naturally, when I began teaching my youngest at home I set up a similar learning space.

While printable worksheets and cute little desks can be fun and even sometimes necessary, they can also become way too much work if it’s the primary focus of your preschool journey.

Homeschooling Preschool the Right Way

As a planner-loving, organized, type A, homeschool mom, learning to let go of structure and allow for simplicity was one of the hardest things for me to overcome! However, it was also amazingly freeing.

Simple preschool activities quickly became our number one priority, followed up with an open-and-go preschool curriculum.

These are the things I leaned on, you guys!

Preschool Activities & Must-Haves

Before we dive right in, let me just say, you don’t have to buy all things in order for your child to have a productive and fun preschool year!

Most of these things we already had in our home and I simply decided to use them as the main event instead of curriculum aides (as originally planned).

Activity Books

While books may not seem like your typical go-to activity for preschoolers, they should absolutely be on every homeschool mom’s radar!

Activity-based books are so incredibly important for children this age (and any age really). Not only can they help promote fine motor skills, but they are also a great thing to lean on while working on core lessons with older children.

Preschoolers aren’t made to sit still for hours on end and using simple activity books throughout your homeschool day is such a great way to encourage learning without the constant fuss of lessons. 

I always keep a few tucked into our homeschool morning basket for each one of my kiddos!

Check out some of our favorites below!

Lift-a-flaps were such a huge help to our typical homeschool day.

Even at a very young age, my daughter could spend an exceptional amount of time consumed with these!

Preschool Activity Based Books are Perfect for Homeschooling

They can become incredible learning tools for young homeschooled kiddos, but not all youngsters are ready for them at the same age. Just be sure to use discernment when handing out books that include reading and easy-to-tear flaps.

With that said, my daughter wasn’t a reader when I first introduced these books and she still thoroughly enjoyed using these during her preschool years! Then, after she started reading, we added these to her quiet time routine!

These types of books are so cute, you guys!

Each page is filled with simple questions, asking your child to find different things scattered throughout.

Plus, age-appropriate versions (like the one below) cover tons of important preschool topics such as colors, patterns, amounts, object and animal identification, size, types of clothing, shapes, length, etc.

Such a fun and versatile tool for engaging your preschooler and making them think!

Simple Preschool Activities in Book Form

Activity books are both fun and engaging!

However, there is absolutely no pressure to get through them in any specific time frame, or at all. If your preschooler wants to get up in the middle of a page and not revisit the book till weeks later or you find it doesn’t engage them and it needs to go, that’s totally ok!


Before I go on to explain why this is a must-need preschool activity, you need to know that our family really loves books.

With that said, storytime books are absolutely essential to the homeschooled preschooler!

Creating a simple time to read with your kiddo not only helps instill a love of reading for later in life, but it’s also a wonderful time to bond with your preschooler while sharpening their listening skills with the use of visual aids!

So many great things happen when you read with your children.

Reading Simple Story Books as a Part of Your Preschool Homeschool Routine

There is just something completely magical about reading good quality books with your children!

Local libraries have an abundant supply of great books that would work amazingly for this purpose. However, we still love to work on building our homeschool library!

Just remember, it’s always best if you look over books before presenting them to your little ones — be both careful and cautious.

We always try to choose books that have great values or teach important lessons and these are just a handful of the titles we enjoyed for preschool storytime!

Some of these titles really got my preschooler thinking about life lessons and behavior. They truly make a lovely addition to our homeschool library!

The value of these books is huge.

We leaned on these types of books often for our preschool story time and they are so much fun, you guys!

My daughter’s absolute favorites were touch-and-feel books and this cute title that encourages kiddos to help fix an animal’s boo-boo on every page. We read some of these books so much that my pre-reader could recite them by memory.

Motor Skill Practice

Encouraging simple motor skills practice while disguising it as play is incredibly essential to all preschool-aged kiddos.

From learning to trace and cut to learning how to button or zip their coat, preschoolers need all the motor skills practice they can get!

You can easily tackle most practice with simple preschool activities that are put together with things you already have at home.

For example, with proper supervision, you can use pipe cleaners & beads to practice that pesky hand-eye coordination!

With that said, sometimes using something colorful and fun is an exciting way to encourage practice as well.

These are just a few of the things we enjoyed during my daughter’s preschool years!

My daughter is 5 and still uses her lacing beads on a regular basis!

They are perfect for teaching pattern-making, and color recognition. Some versions can even double as learning aids for teaching numbers, colors, or shapes (depending on which version you have, of course).

We also thoroughly loved using lacing cards!

Simple Lacing Activities for KIDS

This alphabet train was one of our favorites for preschool! Unfortunately, it has been discontinued.

Most toddlers and preschoolers already have blocks in their toy bin and they are seriously perfect for pulling out during the homeschool day!

Encourage your littles to work on hand-eye coordination, mimicking skills, and direction following by creating something simple for them to emulate.

Blocks are a must for this tender age!

Sensory Bins

This is seriously one of the best preschool activities of all time!

If I’m being completely honest, even my older boys benefit from a good sensory bin.

We have a rice bin in our home and all three of my kiddos can spend hours at a time playing in it! Who knew dumping rice could be so much fun?

With that said, we also love kinetic sand for simple sensory play!

Simple Sensory Bins for preschoolers!

While I don’t have a Pinterest-worthy photo of our sensory bins, there are so many great options out there if you chose to include one of these in your homeschool preschool routine!

You can use a simple build-your-own kit or purchase already completed sensory bins!

Just remember to use discernment as you determine which items may or may not be suitable for your young child.

Dry Erase Activities

Dry-erase activities can be so much fun for this age!

You can keep things super simple and stick to a regular whiteboard or you can pick something a little more fun like my favorites below!

Dry-erase books are similar to traditional workbooks or activity books, but reusable!

If you didn’t know these existed, you can totally thank me later!

Dry Erase Preschool Activities

Finding the perfect fit for your child can be overwhelming, which is why I always recommend starting with this pen control book.

Having a non-consumable workbook option simply means your preschooler can use them over and over again! Then, you can tuck them away for younger children and reuse at a later date — making this the perfect option for homeschool moms with multiple little ones.

Such an amazing tool for homeschooling preschool and budget friendly to boot!

These are definitely a favorite in our home!

While similar to the dry-erase workbooks, these cards are just a fun way to mix things up for your preschooler! They are also the perfect solution for on-the-go learning!

Encourage your preschooler to learn their numbers & letters with these fun options!

Craft Time

This is quite possibly the most simple preschool activity of them all!

So simple in fact, I didn’t originally have it on this list.

With that said, crafting is so important for preschoolers.

From finger painting to learning how to use glue sticks, there are so many wonderful benefits of crafting with your little one.

Introducing things like paint and glue at an early age helps prepare your children for larger art projects down the road. Plus, it encourages creativity — which is always, always a good thing!

Little Kids Love Crafting with Stickers

Start simple with things like construction paper and stickers, then move up to more complex kid crafts & painting projects!

I always try to stock a fun selection of craft supplies in our homeschool area to encourage simplistic creativity.

Finger paints and paint sticks were definitely our preschool go-to’s. 

Simple Puzzles

Secondary to our love of books is our love for puzzles.

While my personal idea of a fun puzzle comes in the form of 1,000 tiny pieces, preschoolers need something a little more on the simple side.

Fun Puzzles for Little Kids

These are just a few of our favorite types of puzzles for little ones!

Floor puzzlers were made for preschoolers!

Seriously though.

Little kids learn best while practicing their fine motor skills with hands-on activities. However, they also need the freedom to move often.

This is why I love leaning on simple floor puzzles for little ones.

Kiddos can easily change position from sitting to lying down all while putting together an engaging puzzle on the floor. If the floor is good enough for blocks, it’s good enough for puzzles too!

Oh, man! My kids loved these types of puzzles when they were younger — another fun floor favorite!

These amazing puzzles are not only super engaging, but they also make learning a lot of fun. Plus, if you feel like your preschooler isn’t quite ready for traditional puzzles (like the one above), these will be a great fit!

They are the perfect introductory puzzle.

Educational Toys

I absolutely love educational toys for little ones! Anything that keeps them learning and thinking is a must in my book.

With that said, not all educational toys are fun and engaging.

I’ve bought many over the years that my kiddos simply showed no interest in!

These are the 2 types of educational toys we used during my daughter’s preschool years.

Simple sorting toys are absolutely perfect for preschoolers!

My daughter thoroughly enjoyed playing with her sorting pie over and over again.

Not only are sorting toys like this cute, but they can also double as wonderful learning tools!

Your preschooler can work on colors, counting, fine motor skills, matching, and direction following all while having a good time.

Simple Hands-On Learning is So Important for Early Development

While there are tons of great options out there for educational toys, having a hands-on supplement for teaching the alphabet was a must for me!

The main goal I had for my daughter was to learn her alphabet (and alphabet sounds) prior to starting her kindergarten curriculum, and simple tools like these acorns can be super helpful!

Plus, they are incredibly adorable!

Fun Alphabet Learning Tools for Little Kids

We opened one of these at the start of each week during my daughter’s first preschool year, then proceeded to practice that letter all week long.

The excitement my daughter had when it was time to open a new acorn was completely priceless!

Love, love, love these types of curriculum aides, you guys!

PreK Workbooks

Workbooks will always be one of my go-to activities for homeschoolers of all ages and preschoolers are no different.

They are just a simplistic way to engage older preschoolers with simple bookwork.

My daughter used these during our morning homeschool routine and she could hardly wait to get started every day. When she would see her older brothers reading and working, she wanted to be right next to them learning too!

Leaning on Workbooks for Simple Learning

While preschool workbooks are great for early learners, keep in mind that 3-4-year-old children aren’t made to sit still for long periods of time.

This is why it’s essential to have a no-pressure feel associated with the use of workbooks in your home. With that said, utilizing these fun books in small increments is the perfect way to introduce the concept of bookwork to your preschooler!

You can easily set goals by time or amount of pages for your preschooler and when they get overwhelmed, simply close and return to it later.

If your little one doesn’t work well at a table, no problem-o. Workbooks can be used anywhere!

My daughter always preferred her workbook time to be done on the floor each morning, so we just rolled with it.

Free Play

Yes, free play for the win!

While all the above preschool activities are wonderful and fun, free play is hands down the most essential for the homeschooled preschooler.

Simple Free Play is a Must for Preschool Children

From playing outside to playing independently with any of the above manipulative items, the beauty of simplistic, independent playtime is completely magical for children this age!

Allowing your little one to have free time to explore and play on their own encourages creativity and imagination building. Plus, it’s a great way to get extra use out of all your homeschool manipulatives!

The Importance of Preschool Activities

Preschoolers learn by touching, seeing, and doing. This is why it’s essential to lean on simple activities during those first precious learning years.

There will be plenty of time for lectures and formal sit-down learning later in life.

Enjoy the preschool years with your sweet little one, for they are gone way too soon!

Focusing more on fun, hands-on learning, rather than on perfection, opens the door for your child to have a deep love of learning at an early age.

Other Fun Preschool Activities & Curriculum

Looking for simple activities you can do with your preschoolers and older children?

Encourage creative outdoor play with sidewalk chalk or stay indoors and practice those gaming skills with a simple board game or two!

Need help finding a curriculum?

A solid open-and-go curriculum could be the next important step for teaching your preschooler at home!

Our go-to option? Definitely The Good & the Beautiful!

This foundation-building language arts curriculum made our homeschool journey a remarkable one.

I seriously can’t even begin to describe how amazing the switch to this curriculum has been for our family — it has completely changed our lives.

Need encouragement?

Join our Facebook community to ask questions and get the dish on other fun preschool items, supplies, and activities, or simply join in on the daily conversations!

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Hands-On Preschool Activities

Meet the Author

Life & Homeschool Author

Hey guys! I’m Mary, homeschool mom of 3 amazing kiddos.

I’m so excited that you decided to check out my little corner of the world!

If you have been following our journey for any length of time, you already know that I’m obsessed with coffee, organization, and all things simple.

I’m also a huge dog lover and introvert 💗

My homeschool style is very eclectic.

I enjoy a solid mixture of structure and free range. I set goals for myself and my children each week, but I put no pressure on perfection.

We use a wide variety of curriculum in our home.

Some of our current favorites are The Good and the Beautiful, Life of Fred, Beautiful Feet Books, and Lifepac.

While my kids do spend a good amount of time learning at desks, they also spend countless hours exploring their creativity and practicing a little independence.

I love mountains, rainy days, and sitting by the campfire. 

Our family recently relocated to the PNW and we have been enjoying finding new nature spots to explore together 🙌🏼

I can’t wait to connect and share all the things I’ve learned on our new journey! 

Just a Note…

Thanks for checking out the homeschool activities helps portion of the blog! 

I have so many fun ideas planned for this category! I can’t wait to share them all with you.

I hope you found this article helpful and come back to visit again soon!

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This group is open to all homeschool moms.

Whether you are already knee-deep in your homeschool journey or just dipping your toes in — all homeschool moms are welcome!

Looking forward to connecting! Simply Be Wild & Free Life + Homeschool Blog

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