ElementaRy homeschool-Plan Classic unit study-ACE & Online Curriculum


Whether you have committed to homeschooling this year, planning to supplement alongside your child’s virtual learning platform, or are still exploring your options, we’ve gathered five popular homeschool curriculums that cover a wide range of educational philosophies and approaches. From classic, low-cost homeschool curriculum to nature-based, hands-on learning, these are popular picks for the best homeschool curriculum for all types of families. And be sure to keep scrolling to see what items made the list for must-have homeschooling supplies! 

The Good and The Beautiful

Highlights: Faith and Nature-based, family style learning

The Good and The Beautiful homeschool curriculum by Jenny Phillips is designed to foster a true love of learning and instill high moral character. The curriculum is designed to make homeschooling less expensive, less overwhelming and bring joy back into learning. The program includes reading, language arts, science, math, and more.

Ages: Preschool – 8th Grade

Support Resources for Parents: No daily prep just open book and follow the instructions. There is also a book list and library for additional learning.

and Root

Highlights: Nature-based, hands-on learning

Blossom and Root is a creative, nature-based, secular homeschool curriculum. My family has embraced this play-based homeschool curriculum because it’s a flexible, hands-on curriculum with a focus on nature, literature, STEM, and art! Best of all, learning progresses naturally in a week by week, easy to follow schedule of activities that cover all areas of learning and development. 

Ages: Preschool – 4th Grade

Support Resources for Parents: Book Seeds (stand-alone mini-units), Blossom and Roots Facebook support group, supplies list for each age group, and a fabulous Pinterest page with lots of great ideas + inspiration

 Mother Goose Time 

Highlights: Research-based, early-learning curriculum

Spend less time on prep, more time on curious discovery with your children. Each curriculum system includes award-winning materials organized by day and ready to go. The Mother Goose Time curriculum system uniquely weaves 33 research-based skills into playful games and projects. As children participate, they naturally grow in all areas of development, including social-emotional, physical, language, and cognitive development.

Ages: 3 months – 5 years old

Support Resources for Parents: Lesson plans + materials delivered to your door, access to member resources such as assessment tools, and an online shop to purchase additional materials 

Other Goose

Highlights: Research-based, early-learning curriculum

Other Goose offers research-based early learning prompts that guide you through over 250 simple, teachable moments with your kids ages 2-7. Other Goose offers super simple, no-fuss, easy to implement ideas and lessons.

Ages: 2 to 7 years old

Support Resources for Parents: Online marketplace with books and educational toys and workshops for parents.


Highlights: Traditional, online homeschool curriculum

Time4Learning is a virtual homeschool curriculum broken up by grades and subjects. It provides parents with an easy to follow, easy to implement, and completely digital homeschool curriculum. The program is student-led, which means children progress through the lessons at their own pace while parents “assign” daily courses and lessons. 

Ages: PreK – 12th Grade

Support Resources for Parents: Printable lesson plans, progress reports, access to parent forums, a Facebook Families Group, and helpful customer support team

 Living Montessori Now 

Highlights: Montessori focused curriculum 

Living Montessori Now offers a plethora of activities, materials, and supplies for families who prefer the Montessori approach to homeschooling. With monthly themed activities + unit studies, parents can build a schedule that best fits their children’s learning style or follow the pre-planned weekly schedule of activities. 

Ages: Preschool – 5th Grade

Support Resources for Parents: Free printables + Montessori video lessons, monthly newsletter, and an online shop to purchase materials. 


Highlights: Literature-based curriculum 

Torchlight is a unique curriculum that includes hands-on learning, game-schooling, car-schooling, media, and bedtime story recommendations woven into the curriculum to spread out the learning and make it more of a learning lifestyle. Torchlight provides flexibility, allowing families to mold the learning experience to the learner. Torchlight was created to fulfill the idea of the adult learning alongside the child, helping guide them, teach them to find answers, and ask quality questions.

Ages: PreK- 4th Grade

Support Resources for Parents: Level placement tools to help pick the perfect curriculum based on your child’s skills, add on materials, member resources + Facebook group, and summer learning and unit studies. 

Most Useful Homeschool Supplies

What’s The Best Curriculum For Children With Learning Difficultes?

As the new school year approaches, I find I am being asked this question all the time – What’s the best curriculum for children with learning differences?

That first year, I actually thought very little about curriculum (I look back on now and wonder, “What in the world was I thinking?”). I purchased the very first one I heard about from a friend. It had worked well for her family for a couple of years, so I figured it would for us as well.

$800.00 and a whole lotta tears (mine and my boys’) later, I knew better.

the best curriculum for children with learning differences

I think every family needs to find the educational resources that work best for their individual needs.

I think this is exponentially true when we are homeschooling children with learning differences and special needs. 

The truth is, some programs are just more effective with out-of-the box learners than others. Another truth – finding what works makes life so much easier, for the kids to be sure, but also for their teacher!

With that in mind, today I want to share my basic approach to choosing learning materials and educational programs for my boys. 

What's The Best Curriculum For Children With Learning Differences?

How To Choose Curriculum For Kids With Learning Differences

Table Of Contents


The very first thing I look for when considering any new program or supplemental material is how flexible the overall coursework and work flow will be. Any program that schedules lessons to a tee and has mostly worksheets with text, is just simply not going to be the best fit for my boys. (Tip: Often the Teachers Manual will give you more information about how to modify the program than the student pages. I look for things like “Additional activities for Practice” and “Extras” in the manuals – often, the additional activities end up being our primary learning.)


Finding a program with a multi-sensory approach, particularly one with hands-on, tactile learning, is critical for my youngest son. In order for him to truly grasp a concept, he usually needs some sort of hands-on interaction with it. The problem is that coming up with new activities and scouring Pinterest for ideas takes a ton of time. If I can find a program that already has it planned out for me, I’m in!


When it comes to a particular subject, I tend to find a variety of options, rather than sticking to a single program.

For example, when my son began US History last year, I selected Beautiful Feet for his primary learning. We loved the program, and also soon added in Pin-It Maps and historic coloring books to help make the learning stick. We also ended up cooking a few period specific foods and taking a field trip to a local history museum.

I call this my Patchwork Quilt for learning. It’s got a lot going on, but once complete, it all works together beautifully and covers what we need it to. 

While this may seem costly, the truth is, we move through curriculum slowly when adding in so many extras. A typical year’s worth of coursework may take us two years to complete, so the cost is spread out and more manageable. Also, the best thing about manipulatives and maps is that they last and can be reused again in later learning.

What's The Best Curriculum For Children With Learning Differences?


For any child, and particularly one with learning differences, I think grade level is at best, only a suggestion when it comes to selecting the right learning program. My boys are all over the place in terms of where they would actually “test” for typical school grades. The best way I have found to select the right level for my sons is to take a look at sample exercises typically offered by publishers.  (I explain much more in this post about our current Language Arts curriculum.)


It’s taken me seven years to learn this (and, honestly, I am still learning it). No matter what, I am the one who decides how we use the curriculum. No book or sample schedule can define what’s best for my family’s progress.

When I start to feel a little nervous about how far we are straying from the initial instruction, I try to look at the end-result. Are my kids progressing? Are they learning? Are they enjoying the activities? If the answers are anywhere near yes, I’m good, no matter how far off the traditional curriculum course we may be.

What's The Best Curriculum For Children With Learning Differences?

What’s The Best Curriculum For Children With Special Needs?

This is the post I wish I would’ve read that first year when it seemed like we were doomed to fail and had no idea how to make this homeschool thing actually work for my children. I spent way too much time worrying about “doing it right” and checking all the boxes. Not only was it not serving my boys well, but none of us were having any fun at all.

The very best curriculum for any child, and especially one with special needs, is the one that works best with his or her strengths and interests.

Loosening my curriculum expectations and allowing myself to just find the products that make sense for my learners, has lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders.

It has allowed us to latch on to learning in a way that inspires enthusiasm and brings joy.

For more on homeschooling children with learning differences and special needs:

Special Needs Curriculum: Where To Start

5 Tips For Homeschooling A Resistant Learner

10 Must Read Books For Parenting A Child With Special Needs

Hands-On Learning and Movement for the Struggling Learner 

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This Is What Happens When Your Child Has Both Medical And Behavioral Health Diagnoses

Online Homeschool Classes And Your Child With Special Needs


Individually Paced

PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

Share to Google Classroom

PBS KIDS offers this FREE special collection of flexible self-paced learning to help inspire PreK-2 teachers and provide support for the classroom. Choose from a variety of learning topics designed to spark new ideas and expand your skill set for engaging children and families with educational media. You may also be able to earn between one to three credit hours.

Explore our Learning Paths, a series of short microlearning modules (15-minute, skill-based experiences in a range of interactive formats) that can lead to a certificate.


Enseñando Ciencia temprana con la colección Changing Seasons

Con las herramientas de PBS KIDS, explore formas de integrar planes…

Grades PreK-K, K-2


Teaching Early Science with the Changing Seasons Collection | PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

With tools from PBS KIDS, explore ways to integrate media-rich lesson…

Grades PreK-K, K-2


Supporting Dual Language Learners | PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

Get the facts on the power of bilingualism for young children!…

Grades PreK-K, K-2


Spark Learning with Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood | PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

Media can spark children's curiosity, conversations, and play! Discover…


Create Media with PBS KIDS ScratchJr​ | PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

Creating media is an important part of early media literacy…

Grades PreK-K, K-2


Document Learning with Elinor Wonders Why | PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

With tools and materials you already have and early…

Grades PreK-K, K-2


Model Learning with Odd Squad | PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

With math-based resources from PBS KIDS, explore how characters and…

Grades PreK-K, K-2


Share Media with Peg + Cat | PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

Explore developmentally-appropriate ways to integrate media and digital…

Grades PreK-K, K-2


Connecting with Families | PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

To fully support a child's development, strong communication between…

Grades PreK-K, K-2


Teach with Informational Text | PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

Learn about the purpose of Informational Text and discover how the…

Grades PreK-K, K-2


Early Engineering with Ready Jet Go! | PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

With real-life materials and exciting tools to touch and…

Grades PreK-K, K-2


Explore Media and Wild Kratts | PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning

Enhance children’s learning by integrating media into your lessons!…

Grades K-2


PEEP Science Teaching Strategies for Center-Based Preschool Educators

In this one-hour, self-paced training, you will learn key…


Supporting Play with Technology and Media

Explore your beliefs and understandings about technology and interactive media use, and…


K-2 Science Tips: Energy & Motion

In this self-paced course you will be introduced to inquiry-based and connected learning…


K-2 Science Tips: Animal Adaptations

In this self-paced course you will be introduced to inquiry-based and connected learning…


PEEP Estrategias de enseñanza de ciencias para educadores de cuidado infantil familia

La capacitación es parte de un conjunto de recursos educativos…

Grades PreK-K


PEEP Science Teaching Strategies for Family Child Care Educators

In this one-hour, self-paced training, you will learn key…

Grades PreK-K


Thinking and Making with Media in PreK-2 Classrooms

Intentional and developmentally-appropriate use of media provides children…

Explore - Wonder - Learn

More Online Learning

Online Homeschooling Resources for High School-Homeschooling high school is doable, and you don't have to do it alone.


Inspiring Science & Math Lessons for K-8. Try it free.

Get instant access to hours of fun, standards-based videos, reading material, quiz games, simple DIY activities & more.

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Creating a Google Classroom for Homeschool

When my daughters reached middle school age, I became more intentional in using technology in our homeschool in different ways. I recall taking numerous classes as a college student, and as a lifelong learner, I continue to learn through online courses, whether they're delivered through Youtube videos. I knew I wanted my daughters to feel prepared to learn through online platforms. One great idea I had was to incorporate Google Classroom into our homeschool experience.

Google Classroom is an online tool that can be used to gather class work, and it's a great option to help stay organized in home education. Some positive behaviors I've noticed in my daughters from incorporating it is they've become more independent and confident when taking classes with other teachers in homeschool groups or online programs who use Google Classroom. 

Online learning and tools that support online courses appear to be an option for homeschool families for the long term. 

How to Create a Google Classroom for Your Homeschool


Before you can use Google Classroom, you'll need to create a personal account. G Suite accounts are a free service from Google. You'll have access to the Google Classroom App by creating an account. Google gives access to the classroom to anyone with a personal Google account. If you have a Gmail account, creating your classroom account is simple. Just head over to Google Classroom and sign in with your Gmail email account. If you don't have an account, you must create one. 


Since homeschool parents decide what their children are learning, you can also decide which specific topics and courses you'd like to use within Google Classroom. If you're new to using Google Classroom, I suggest choosing a few subjects. Again, since your children will most likely be new to the online tool, you'll want to ease into it to reduce overwhelming feelings. 

When we first started using Google Classroom, we used it for middle school American Government with Notgrass, a physical product that includes a textbook and trade books. Over the years, I incorporated additional online classrooms for writing assignments and current events. As a result, I learned early on that Google Classroom could be used for physical curriculum and to help organize online curriculum. 

Our digital classrooms allowed me to track better their reading assignments, allowing me to guide and facilitate lessons more easily. This was especially important when I did not have a lot of time to spare during our homeschool day due to business and other household responsibilities. Tell them exactly which parts of the lessons they need to complete.

 I suggest starting with a few classes because it can be difficult to stay up to date if using technology to manage your homeschool isn't something you've done before and you're trying to determine if it will be a good fit. It can be a lot to manage if you have older kids who use Google Docs for turning in most of their writing assignments. Learning how to edit within Google Docs was something I had to improve over the years, so you may also choose to have your print assignments. 

Through trial and error, I learned that every subject isn't a good candidate for Google Classroom. For instance, we are more successful using notebooks for math and vocabulary assignments. 


Once you're signed into Google Classroom, you'll first set up your first classroom by selecting the plus sign in the top right corner and then clicking "Create a class." Next, you'll be greeted with a pop-up box that asks if you will use Google Classroom in a school with students. Since you are teaching your children, you do not need to select that option. 

Next, you'll name your class for the particular subject or the school year. There's more than one way to use Google Classroom to plan your lesson plans. I've learned to use it for my students by setting up classrooms for the entire school and using tags and categories like social studies, literature, etc.

After you've created your classroom, you must invite your child into the classroom using their Gmail account. I've created Gmail accounts for my daughters. Another option is to email the class code for the classroom to your child. Your child must have a Gmail account since Google Classroom will only give access to students with the same domain. You'll find the option to add your child under "People" in the menu bar.

Snapshot of Algebra 1 class in Google Classroom


Within Google Classroom, you can use the discussion question option to open up a dialogue with your kids about any topic you are learning about it. The way you present the educational content is 100% up to you. I lean towards discussion questions and Google Forms. Assignments will be hosted within Google Drive, so you can go back to check them at your convenience. Another reason it's a fantastic tool is that you can use Google Calendar to help you keep track of assignments for your kids. 

While I use a limited number of apps, you can use other aspects of Google Classroom, such as hosting meetings using Google Meet, tracking assignments with Google Sheets, and presenting information with Google Slides. 

Homeschool moms, now that you have created your Google Classroom, you can build your digital curriculum out for your family. Remember, everyone uses Google tools in a way that best fits their family's needs. In addition, as your children age, you may add more or less components to your classroom. 

A.C.E. - School of Tomarrow

Curriculum Header

ACE -School of Tomorrow

This is, hands down, the easiest curriculum to use for the non-teacher parent and it is fully accredited. When the curriculum is accredited, you do not need a certified teacher to use it.

Start with a placement test that clarifies what the students knows and what they do not know. The results then correspond to numbered booklets or “workbooks” (called paces) which you can order a couple booklets at a time…making it affordable. No mess- no prep- no hours of work and research on the internet, just a proven full curriculum that has been tested for decades. Obviously, with the small booklets, you can just use certain subjects or order certain booklets for your  themed studies and experiences.

Parents can purchase the answer keys, and spend about ½ hour a night to correct and go over the sections that the kids need to review and correct. That is all you have to do. 

No preparation 

No searching for materials

No portfolios

No mess

So why isn’t it more popular amongst homeschooling families. It is boldly a christian publication. If you are a christian that’s a plus. If you aren’t a christian, it may be problematic. The history and science are written from a christain perspective with alot of  references from the Bible. The curriculum  is K-12 grades and does a great job preparing it's students for carrers or college.

This is how I use the curriculum.
Word building and math are freaking awesome from ACE. 

I used them in all classrooms and at home. Kids with dyslexia do great with the word building and math. The rest they really struggle with. It requires good reading and comprehension skills, for them to do them alone. If you have the time for one on one help or guidance, then it will reduce their frustration. 

In our school, we would offer kids with ADHD and dyslexia to use open book tests and and to have instant access to teachers or parents during testing. That is easy to do at home too. With more impaired students I would highlight the sections of the workbook that the test answers were in. or let them do a project demonstrating what they mastered..

I have always used multi--sensory and thematic units for the rest because I want students interest 

Discover why A.C.E. curriculum is the first choice for thousands of schools and homeschool families worldwide!
Visit the A.C.E. web store to learn more.

A.C.E. Curriculum

The A.C.E. program offers you an academic curriculum that includes skill building, goal setting, reading practice, and character building—all with strong Biblical integration! This complete package begins with reading development courses and progresses through high school with the core curriculum and a variety of electives.

A.C.E.'s self-instructional PACEs (Packets of Accelerated Christian Education) allow your students to learn with minimal supervision. Each core subject consists of 12 PACEs per level. However, students are not locked-stepped by these levels. Students who are more skilled may accelerate in their areas of academic strength, while those who find the material more challenging may take as long as necessary to complete it. Each student, while working at his own level of proficiency, will master the material.

Do you have students that are new to the A.C.E. program? Start by using the aceconnect® Diagnostic Test to evaluate your students' academic needs in each subject. The test helps identify academic weaknesses and prescribes a path forward that meets and challenges each student at his performance level.





Word Building

Word Building

Social Studies

Social Studies





Online Curriculum

A.C.E. offers curriculum in print as well as online via ePACE. The ePACE platform incorporates A.C.E.'s learning methodology and all the elements of the printed PACE into an interactive digital format. Register to gain full control of your ePACE account, Readmaster, Typemaster, and Mathbuilder programs for an unlimited number of students. Visit to learn more about ePACE and the online courses currently available.

Beyond Curriculum

The A.C.E. program is indeed more than just a curriculum. A.C.E. provides a wide variety of student programs and enrichment opportunities for educators at locations around the world. Click the banner below to see how A.C.E. can take education at your school or homeschool far beyond academics.

Whether you are looking for books to read aloud or books to help teach growing readers, or books to give to independent readers, you’ll find good books for all ages, grade levels, and comprehension levels. 

Second, I share helpful information, engaging activities and strategies to make reading meaningful and fun, and some practical knowledge about comprehension.

I want to support you (parents, teachers, librarians, and grandparents) in facilitating growth and interest in reading.

How to Start with Play Based Learning

Are you interested in play based or inquiry learning but don’t know where to start?

In this blog post you will find out all the benefits of play based learning. You will also discover some practical play based learning examples you can use in your classroom and some tips on how you can easily get started with learning through play in your classroom  or home today.

The Magic of Play-Based Learning:
What Builds and What Breaks?

There is so much information about the importance and value of play and play-based learning. As a parent, how do we build on our child's play and are there things that can hinder the magic of play-based learning?

One of the biggest issues for children today is that there is an overall absence of free-play. Life is so competitive, so busy. We naturally want our child to have all of the advantages he or she deserves. And so, we sign them up for all sorts of activities; we emphasize academics; and, we orchestrate play-dates in their free time.

Centering the play on a childs known interest and following your childs investigational direction is where the magic of play-based learning happens. So much so that the World Health Organization identified play as a right that should be guaranteed to all children.

Through play, children learn naturally. Playing restaurant, a child will show the earliest signs of literacy by pretending to read a menu or jotting down an order by writing squiggles on a page. Children demonstrate early signs of numeracy when one of them pays the bill, problem-solving and social skills when they decide who will be the cook, the patron, and the server. In play their language becomes more robust, their skills are sharper. It’s foundational to their learning about every aspect of life. And while the richness and magic of play are inherent, there is so much that you can do to bring it to life.

Because children’s play is inherently richdon’t feel you need to scaffold their learning at every chance you get.

That said, play can be a wonderful way to build on your child’s knowledge, skill sets, and general ways of thinking.

10 Ways To Facilitate Play-Based Learning At Home

Facilitate play-based learning at home with these fun ideas

There is such emphasis on play-based learning. But how does a parent facilitate play-based learning at home?

Play-based learning or learning through play is a seeming buzz-concept.

It is referenced in on Pinterest, in news articles, educational resources, and online talks. While it is universally agreed upon, it’s fair to wonder why play-based learning is so great.

Over and over again, research shows that children’s brains are developed through play. Specifically, their language, thinking and problem-solving skills are more advanced as a result of playing.

[P]lay-based learning leads to greater social, emotional, and academic success… In fact, play is considered to be so essential to healthy development that the United Nations has recognized it as a specific right for all children. – Council of Ministers of Education CanadaPlay is an important vehicle for developing self-regulation as well as promoting language, cognition, and social competence… [Play] gives [children] opportunities to explore the world, interact with others, express and control emotions, develop their symbolic and problem-solving abilities, and practice emerging skills. Research shows the links between play and foundational capacities such as memory, self-regulation, oral language abilities, social skills, and success in school. – The National Association for Education of Young Children (USA)

While it is undeniable that play is crucial to a child’s learning, the question remains: how does a parent facilitate play-based learning at home?

Do you just leave them to play or should you add to their play? Simply put, yes and yes.

The best way for a child to get the most out of learning through play is to be left to play at his or her own rate based on his or her interests. That said, there is so much we can do as parents to facilitate play-based learning at home. Here are some tips that come recommended by a school principal of over 35 years.

10 Ways To Facilitate Play-Based Learning At Home

Want to your children to get the most out of your child's play? Facilitate play-based learning at home with these 10 strategies

1. Turn off the TV, tablet, and background noise of electronics.

While technology can be a wonderful compliment to education, screen time should not be integral to a child’s learning. Even though the content may seem educational, there is a tremendous amount of evidence that using screen time as a substitute for reading or interacting with your child can be detrimental. (See one resource on this here)

2. Allow for large chunks of free play each day.

You may have noticed in after a particularly busy day, you need to put your feet up and your child takes to playing. In letting them play by themselves, kids learn to self-regulate and are free to explore.

3. Play should be child-focused. And give your child ample opportunity to play alone.

It can be tempting to control or coordinate play. However, child-directed play increases self-regulation and allows for more exploration and causal understanding.

4. When engaging in their play, follow their lead.

Get down to their level. Play alongside them. The purpose of Child-Direct Play (CDP) is “[t]o enhance the child’s sense of appropriate control, self-regulation, and self-confidence; to provide an opportunity for the child’s access to focused, uninterrupted adult attention and close contact, without having to rely on negative or provocative behaviors to do so; and, to improve the level of understanding between the parent and child and the child’s sense of confidence and security in that relationship.” – Dr. McCurry Ph. D. (See more from this resource here).

5. Imitate, elaborate and ask questions based on what your child is doing.

Try just add a little more vocabulary or description to your child’s play.  Be observant for their interests and add to their repertoire by adding something new to chosen favourites.

6. Introduce materials, such as paint or play dough, that allow for their manipulation.

Different textures and colours add interest and peak curiosity

7. Incorporate common household items to add a new dimension to their play.

Tongs to pick up small items, oven mitts can be a makeshift puppet, a colander with pipe cleaners or dry pasta can act as wonderful sources of entertainment!

8. A great way to facilitate play-based learning at home is to get outside.

Outdoor play is also excellent for children as they learn cause and effect, appreciation of nature and benefit from fresh air. They also develop coordination and it is fun!

9. Give your child opportunities to play with other children.

Through these opportunities, they learn to cooperate,  negotiate, develop greater empathy, problem-solve and be kind.

10. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Rain puddles, collecting natural items in nature a typical walk to the park more exciting and can lead to more fun once home!

The question is, how do you teach while still making play PLAY?

Play should be simple.

It should be child-focused.

Meaning, it should be centred on the child’s interests, build on their strengths, and not be orchestrated by you. To illustrate this, I’ll use footprint crafts as an example.

A non-play-based, not child-directed activity would be a footprint craft that has required colours and looks like a minion or a zoo animal. An adult has had to do the bulk of the creating to get a desired effect. While these are cute keepsakes, they’re certainly not about a child exploring at his own pace. They also really aren’t about the benefits to the child either. Contrastingly, a play-based learning example could be setting out a roll of butcher paper and allowing your child to dip his feet in paint and walk along the paper. Or, you could fasten some bubble wrap to her feet with or without paint and have her walk.

For the magic of play-based learning to truly exist, play must be child-centered.

The magic of play-based learning meme

If your child is already playing, there are some wonderfully simple ways to build on their play.

  • Come alongside them and follow thier suggestions and directions for play as long as it is safe. This could be as simple as waiting for them to delegate a role for you in play like the sister while playing dollhouse or the patient while playing doctor. For younger students start the play with a play prompt and they will show you how they want to play or explore the items that are set out.

  • Paraphrase their play or repeat back to them what they’re saying. For example, “Everyone meet in the lookout! We need to save the day!” could be responded with, “Oh thank goodness they’re going to solve the problem!” Or, “I have two doggies,” can be paraphrased as, “I see, you have two dogs!”

  • Ask open-ended questionsthat are consistent with what they’re already doing to build on their knowledge. For instance, promote numeracy by responding to “I have so many cars!” with, “You’re right! How many do you have? Let’s count.” Colours can be learnt by asking, “That’s true! What colours are they?” And, scientific reasoning and prediction are prompted by the question, “Do you think that will sink or float?”

There is so much information about the importance and value of play and play-based learning. As a parent, how do we build on our child's play and are there things that can hinder the magic of play-based learning?

 Invitations to play: What Builds and What Breaks?

One of the most wonderful ways to promote play-based learning is through invitations to play. In essence, they are activities set up for your kids to interact with. The problem with the internet is that it is laden with activities that require a lot of prep, an expensive visit to a craft store, and aren’t easy to execute. I love Pinterest, don’t get me wrong. While it is an invaluable tool to find all sorts of amazing ideas, it also has a lot of difficult activities masked as child-friendly. With little hands wanting to get in on the action and a tremendous amount of precision required, everyone ends up frustrated. Even if you haven’t had the experience of a Pinterest fail, most of us have experienced young kids wanting to help in the kitchen. When it isn’t a basic or tried and true recipe, the extra “help” is no fun. 

So WHAT makes for good kid activities and what doesn’t?

  1. Minimal prep

  2. Straight-forward for you to execute

  3. Is created in a way that they can navigate with minimal guidance

Now even if an activity possesses all of these characteristics, sometimes it’s still difficult for us parents or caregivers to take a step back and not control. At the very least, I need to remind myself to back off and be okay with excess glue or misplaced googly eyes. Because again, the magic of play-based learning only really comes to life when kids are given the freedom to explore and discover at their own pace.

There is plenty of research around play-based learning and how it enhances children’s academic and developmental learning outcomes. In fact, the current research has found play based and inquiry learning is vital if you want to set children up for success in both their future schooling and in their later adult life.  

Skills Every Child Will Need to Succeed in 21st century | Dr. Laura A. Jana | TEDxChandigarh

What is Play Based Learning?

Have you heard that play is the work of the child? Play is not only fun but it has behavioural, social, and psychomotor rewards too. Play is how children learn about their world. Play and learning go hand-in-hand.

But what exactly is play based learning?

As we all need to meet curriculum standards and benchmarks, play based learning in the classroom cannot just be a free for all type of play. Effective play based learning needs to be thoughtfully planned and executed by the teacher.

Play based learning is a context for learning where children can explore, experiment, discover and solve problems in imaginative and playful ways.

It is not just a free for all where children do whatever they like all day. An effective play-based learning approach requires both child-led and teacher-led learning opportunities.

The teacher or parent supports children’s development by providing investigative learning invitations which aim to foster personalised cognitive and social/emotional growth.

For example, when children are playing with blocks, you can ask questions which encourage problem solving and mathematical skills and concepts. You could add some paper and pens to the blocks so your children will be prompted to draw and write and develop literacy skills.

The resources offered in a play based learning environment have an influence over the type of learning which happens there. Most play based learning suggests that the resources you offer should be open ended in nature. You can read more about how to create and resource educational play environments here:

All of my activities use inexpensive, common materials. You will notice my posts underscore the basic skills children are learning when engaging in my invitations to play.

Below are my top play-based learning posts. I hope you enjoy:
Why Kids Benefit From More Outdoor Play

Sadly this generation is spending less time engaged in outdoor play than generations before. Find out why we should prioritize time in nature and freeplay for our kids. One of the best parts of my childhood was living in a house that backed onto greenbelt. The evergreen forest became the stage for mine and my brothers’ curiosity, […] Continue reading

30+ Calming Kids Activities That Will Promote Peace in Your Household

30+ Calming Kids Activities That Will Promote Peace in Your Household

Does your child have after-school meltdowns? Find simple, powerful activities and strategies to calm your child. Back to school has come with a slew of intense emotions.  At the end of August, my son started kindergarten. In the days leading up to his first day, he was quite sensitive. We did our best to explain what […] Continue reading

This is why free-play is more valuable than extracurricular activities

This is why free-play is more valuable than extracurricular activities

When summer hits, naturally parents want to avoid the summer slide. We want to schedule enough summer activities so that our children are challenged and go back to school ready. While all of this is done with the best of intentions, free play is more beneficial than most of these extracurricular activities for kids. This […] Continue reading

CLICK to read Loose Parts Resources Blog Post

BLOG POST - Loose Parts Resources Discover what the best play based learning resources are and why you need them in your classroom in this blog post. You can also download a FREE list of over 150 open ended resources so you can set up age appropriate investigation areas and learning invitations in your early years setting.

Why is Play Based Learning Important?

Have you heard that children learn BEST through play? No doubt you know play comes naturally to children and that it is highly engaging but is it really the best way for children to learn?

There are many benefits to play based learning. You should definitely be including this highly engaging and extremely effective form of learning in your school day.

Just like traditional approaches, play-based learning is focused on teaching and learning. Your curriculum goals and benchmarks will still be reached. In fact, the mandated curriculum PLUS so much more can easily be covered.

Through a play based experience, you can personalise and differentiate the learning. You will be able to build on your children’s interests and developmental needs and levels.

If you adopt a play based learning plan, your children will engage in types of play that reflect their level of cognitive development. Every child will be met with learning opportunities that suit their individual developmental needs.

Engagement is increased in a play based experience. Play based learning uses a child’s natural curiosity for exploration and discovery. Your children will be highly engaged because their learning experiences become purposeful.

Your children will feel successful and see themselves as learners in a play based learning environment.  There is no right or wrong way to learn and work so your children will have no sense of failure.

 You can easily cater for each individual child through play based learning. There is no sense of failure because everyone is working at their developmental level.

Play based investigation time is a chance for your children to explore, revise and practice the skills they have learned in your explicit teaching lessons. As an example, you can see how I link the ACARA science curriculum outcomes to our play based learning opportunities HERE in this blog post: Teaching Science in Early Childhood

Play based learning not only provides a chance for your children to learn and practice the mandated academic curriculum learning intentions, but it is also a motivating force for your children to master their social and emotional learning too.

Through play based learning, your children will develop many social skills. Children are consistently communicating, cooperating, sharing and responding to ideas, negotiating, and resolving conflicts.

When children have the opportunity to learn through play, they will develop resilience and grow positive attitudes towards learning. Skills including imagination, curiosity, enthusiasm, and persistence will be practiced over and over.

Play is Children’s Work. It is Learning.

Play based learning helps children

  • develop cognitive skills

  • learn new information

  • acquire and practice social skills

  • develop effective communication skills

  • learn self-regulation skills

  • develop the ability to resolve conflicts

  • work on problem-solving skills

  • understand how to cooperate with others

  • learn about themselves and their place in the world

  • explore roles, interests, skills, and relationships

Another important benefit of a play based learning experiences is the amazing growth in oral language you will see.  Play based learning research indicates the increased complexity of language and learning processes used by children in play-based programs is linked to important literacy skills. These include understanding the structure of words and the meanings of words.

Of course, explicit teaching and direct instruction are still vitally important and very necessary in a play based classroom. It’s all about creating a balance and an integrated method of teaching. Your children will still need explicit teaching lessons.

These learning intentions will be a focus in the play based learning time (investigations) and in our explicit teaching lessons later in the day.

Tuning – In: After we discuss the learning intentions, we talk to our focus children and finish our tuning-in session with a short discussion of our daily photographer and reporter tasks. If you would like to learn more about our play based tuning-in session and the focus children, reporter and photographer roles, check out this blog post: How To Run A Tuning-in Session

Investigations: Investigation time runs for at least 45 minutes. This is our play based learning time. We have a variety of play based learning activities or learning invitations and learning provocations already set up throughout our room. Most, if not all of the investigation areas and learning invitations are directly related to our curriculum learning intentions. You can discover how to set up a purposeful  learning provocation here: 3 Steps to Setting Up a Learning Provocation

Children choose where they plan to start working during the upcoming investigations session and what they will be working on.  You can get a detailed picture of our set up in this blog post: The 10 Essential Areas of A Play Based Classroom

Reflection and Re-set: At the end of our investigation time, I call all the children to meet on the carpet again. We don’t tidy up yet. We just get together to discuss  and process the learning that has happened.

This is the perfect time for a short impromptu lesson reflecting something I have observed during the session that I feel would benefit the whole class. It might be a demonstration of a strategy I noticed a child using or a discussion around a social skill we are learning to master.

After our reflection, the children are given about 10 minutes to go back to the investigation areas and re-set them ready for investigations the next day.

We often have a quick movement break before a teacher directed science lesson. All my science lessons are in the form of highly engaging PowerPoint presentations. They have been carefully planned to teach ALL the expected ACARA science curriculum content descriptors. You can find out more about these lessons HERE in my store.

After our science lesson we have time for a quick interactive literacy game before the bell rings.

So much learning happens in our school day and the tight schedule certainly helps our school days to be super productive. The day goes super quickly!!

If you would like to learn more about my planning, you can download a fully editable timetable for both Prep/Foundation and Year One from my Free Resource Library HERE.  These downloads are Microsoft Word documents and are my real timetables from Week 4, Term 1.

 How to Introduce Play Based Learning

Now you know what play based learning is, how important it is for the children in your class and how I timetable 45 minutes of play into every one of our school days, you might be interested to discover how you can get started with play based learning and investigations in your classroom.

Here are a few tips and ideas so you can get started learning through play in your classroom today.

Routines and Procedures

Ideally you would want to start play based learning right at the beginning of the school year – yes! On the very first day of school!!

Of course, classroom routines and procedures should be the focus in those first few weeks of back to school. The routines and procedures of your play based investigation times are equally important. To ensure your children meet behaviour expectations and get the most from their investigation sessions, it is very important your play based learning rules and procedures are crystal clear. Your children should understand their roles and what is expected of them.

Teacher Observations

The primary role of the teacher in any play based classroom is that of observer. During play based learning you can really get to know your children and what their interests and developmental needs are.

Take the opportunity to make observations of each child. Note who they are working with, what they are doing, where they choose to work and for how long. Make notes about possible future resources and learning invitations which will suit the individual needs of your children. Use your observations to inform your lesson planning and assessments.

You might like to use my observation checklist. This is the one I use for the first couple of weeks at the start of every school year. You can download it for FREE here.

Only Basic Resources – LESS IS MORE!

Start the year with simple, open ended learning invitations. Open ended resources (like loose parts) are always age appropriate. They are the best type of resource because every child, no matter their developmental level, can purposefully and successfully work with open ended materials.

You can find out all about these wonderful open ended resources and download a FREE list here on this blog post: Loose Parts Resources

Hot Tip: Offer only a few resources at each investigation area. You want your investigations to be very quick and easy to reset.  Use those first couple of weeks to observe the way the children interact with the resources and then use these observations to decide on which new resources you will offer.

As the year progresses, you will learn more and more about your children and about play based learning as a pedagogy. Your growing knowledge will be reflected in your learning invitations and you will notice them becoming increasingly more complex.

Let your children and your observations guide you.

Play Based Learning Invitations to Start the Year

 Science/Nature table: 5 senses text, small nature journal, smelling sachets, touch boards, feely box, eye mask, sound tubes, small basket of items from nature (seed pods, shells, feathers)

Maths: Counting text, finger and counting rhymes on cards, number poster, Calendar, wooden numerals, small selection of concrete objects (counters, teddy bears, bundling sticks, unifix), board game, dice, numbered cups

Blocks Area: text about animals & living things, big wooden blocks, basket of wooden people, basket of animals, small fake grass squares, a few small pieces of fabric, pinecones, big wooden dice

Sensory Playdough: playdough, face parts story stones - eyes, lips, nose, feelings text and  posters, rolling pin, safety knives, placemats

 Art Collage - scissors, glue, paper shapes, paddle pop sticks, wool, cotton wool, a couple of magazines, small selection of coloured and plain paper

Dramatic Play Home corner – a couple of texts about families, play kitchen, cutlery, plates & saucepans, small table & chairs, toy food, telephone and telephone numbers, play clock, vase of flowers, cookbook, tablecloth, play fridge, shelf,

 Dramatic Play Doll house - a couple of texts about families, doll house furniture, dolls

Reading Area: A selection of about 20 picture books related to starting school, the 5 senses, counting, shapes & numbers, living things, families, friends & feelings

Writing Table – picture dictionaries, selection of plain and lined paper, pencils, crayons, magnetic letters, small magnetic whiteboards

Light Table – text about patterns, small selection of transparent loose parts in a divided tray  (gems, counters, numbers & dominoes), sorting dishes or cups

Art Painting—  texts and posters about feelings, acrylic mirror, watercolour paint palette, selection of different sized brushes, water bottle, black marker

Tinkering— Recyclables, Nature Bits, Duplo, Lego blocks

Loose parts -  texts about faces and feelings, empty picture frames, small selection of a few of each: wooden circle rings, corks, coloured wool pieces, buttons, wooden discs, stones, fabric scraps. OR loose parts with pattern mats and sorting bowls.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD my play-based learning pdf to print out the detailed guide and examples of play based learning invitations you can use for starting the school year. 

Don’t Skip Tuning-in & Reflection

These components of a play based program are very important. When you discuss the learning that is expected during a tuning-in session and the learning that has happened during a reflection session, you are demonstrating to your children that you have taken an interest in their play and that investigations are valuable learning times.

A tuning-in session is an opportunity for you to explicitly discuss and explain the class learning intentions and behaviour expectations. It is also a designated time for you to learn more about each child as they have their turn to be a focus child. Make sure to check out this blog post: How To Run A Tuning-in Session

A reflection session is an optimal teaching opportunity where you can discuss learning, expectations and reflect together. Discuss what worked well and what needs to improve. Use this time to teach necessary routines and skills.

Investigations in the first few weeks are all about developing observation skills. You will probably need to teach your children how to use the resources respectfully, how to interact with each other, and establish rules and routines. Taking the time to establish these now will help to make sure your play based learning sessions will run smoothly in the future.

Your children will naturally extend themselves. They cannot help but learn through their natural curiosity and play.

Remember… The goal of education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn. (Maria Montessori)

What should I be teaching at a group investigation time?

Your role is to observe your students. Discover their interests, their academic and social/emotional needs and to then use this information to provide more play based learning invitations specifically designed for the children in your class.

As you become more skilled and begin to trust the process, you will find yourself using your observations to help you effectively differentiate your explicit teaching lessons and further inform your planning and assessments.

FREE DOWNLOAD Guide to Play Based Learning pdf


Once you start your play based learning journey, I know you and your children will find it so rewarding. Stay in touch and let me know how you are going!! I am always looking for ways I can promote play based learning and help teachers like you on your journey.

Nature-based Play For Learning

Are you interested in providing more opportunities for nature based play but not sure how to start? Well keep reading Empowered Ed's because today I am excited to share this article written by a close friend of mine (and exceptional early years educator!) - Linda Tandy.

Linda is a passionate family day care educator (registered with Inspired FDC) who has made a commitment to providing daily opportunities for nature based play to children of all ages and stages who find themselves visiting her family day care in Bega, Australia.

Today Linda invites us to think about 'toys' in a different way and also shares some simple ideas using natural materials that you can try in your own backyard or early years service. I do hope you enjoy reading through Linda's first guest post for The Empowered Educator!

Opportunities for Nature-based Play

I’ve been doing nature-based play for around 5 years now and people often ask me ‘where are the toys?' when they visit us at River Kindy.

I tell them that nature provides the building blocks of what is needed and the children's imagination provides the rest.

Not sure about the simplicity of this concept? Let's take a quick look at how we have recently played with materials from nature in a number of different ways.

That's one of the best things about using open-ended materials – they provide opportunities for children to direct their own learning and develop a sense of ownership over their play…with very little input or direction from adults other than ensuring safe access to the materials and environments.

Nature Based Play doesn't need to be difficult! Explore these easy play ideas using natural materials shared by a passionate nature play FDC educator.

Photo Source – Sunshine & Puddles FDC

What do we do with grass? How can playing with it help us to learn?

  • Grass can be used for lashings and tying things together.

  • Creating dolls and other figures

  • Decorating artworks 

  • Building homes for Fairies and other creatures born from active imaginations.

They learn about the capacity certain grasses have.

  • Are they stiff, spiky?

  • Do we need to use spiky grass or would thinner/softer/longer be better?

  • Have we used this grass before? How?

  • What is the potential of this newly found grass?

What do we do with Sticks? How can using them in play help us to learn?

Fallen branches and twigs become so many different things. The power of a stick is immeasurable.Linda Tandy – Educator
  • They might become a weapon to defeat the bad guys.

  • The foundations of a mighty pirate ship.

  • A tool for measuring depth and distance.

  • The beginnings of a home or shelter.

We test many theories with sticks.

  • Will a fallen stick bend like a stick straight off a tree?

  • Can I use thick sticks like thin sticks?

  • Will this branch hold my weight or the weight of a rock?

  • Who lives/lived on this branch, in this tree?

  • Will taking it, take away someones home?

Nature Based Play doesn't need to be difficult! Explore these easy play ideas using natural materials shared by a passionate nature play FDC educator.

Photo Source – Sunshine & Puddles FDC

What do we do with Dirt? How can playing with it help us to learn?

So many questions a child will ask themselves, thus becoming active learners either on their own or as a group or led by myself as an educator at the appropriate time.

  • We crush coloured clods of dirt to make paint and draw in the dirt/sand.

  • Where did the dirt come from?

  • What made the colours?

  • Where are the best places to find the colours we want?

  • Will it impact on the environment if I take some?

Nature Based Play doesn't need to be difficult! Explore these easy play ideas using natural materials shared by a passionate nature play FDC educator.

Photo Source – Sunshine & Puddles FDC

But what are we really learning with all this nature play?

  • We learn to be scientists and detectives.

  • We are learning to challenge our emerging skills and take risks.

  • We learn that it's ok to play on our own and with friends.

  • We learn to only take what the environment can afford to give us.

  • We begin to understand that sometimes it's not appropriate to take from the environment

  • The children quickly learn that it's ok to be disappointed and other times it's ok to take what they need. Both variables are acceptable and part of real life.

Nature Based Play doesn't need to be difficult! Explore these easy play ideas using natural materials shared by a passionate nature play FDC educator.

Photo Source – Sunshine & Puddles FDC

“Sometimes it's even ok to be bored and have nothing to do!.”

- Linda Tandy....Educator

Sometimes it's even ok to be bored and have nothing to do. Some of the best experiences the children have had at the river have come from being allowed to be bored! Pirate ships have been built and friendships born from those moments of simply sitting and wondering what's next.

Letting the children find their own play/work is so important. We can’t begin to know what they are thinking. We can guess yes but then we start to adultify their play. Our perspective can change where play goes or can stop it completely. I tend to stand back and watch what they do. As long as I can see them they are left be. I’m there if needed. They touch base then head off again.

Letting the children find their pace and their own interests is what nature-based care is about to me.

It’s the possibilities led by the child to the experience and I wouldn't have it any other way! What about you?

“Will it impact on the environment if I take some?.”

-Linda Tandy.....Educator

If you are feeling inspired and would like to explore more ideas from educators to help you incorporate nature into play click here to visit the post.

Some of the Posts in Investigations at My Teaching Cupboard

Life in a Play Based Classroom





Creating an Effective Play Based Learning Environment

Creating an Effective Play Based Learning Environment

Wondering how to create an effective play based learning environment? In this blog post you’ll discover how to create a learning environment that enhances student engagement and promotes academic success. Explore seven proven strategies that will help you transform your classroom into an effective and inspiring space for learning.Read More 

The Power of Open-Ended Questions for Kids

The Power of Open-Ended Questions for Kids

Open-ended questions for kids are a great way to promote exploration and discovery in young learners. Find out how to use them in your classroom and get plenty of examples to help you.Read More

Hands-on Weather Activities and Provocations

Hands-on Weather Activities and Provocations

Discover my tried and tested hands-on weather activities and provocations for play based learning in kindergarten or first grade.Read More

9 Hands-on Maths Number Activities for Kindergarten

9 Hands-on Maths Number Activities for Kindergarten

Looking for some hands-on maths number activities for kindergarten? In this blog post, we will look at the Australian math curriculum, and I’ll give you 9 engaging activities on numbers for kindergarten kids that will help you teach the Number and Algebra strand of the ACARA mathematics curriculum.Read More

Best Open-ended Questions for Preschool Kids

Best Open-ended Questions for Preschool Kids

Want to unlock the power of open-ended questions for preschoolers? Enhance communication skills and oral language development with thought-provoking prompts and discover the best open-ended questions for preschool kids in this blog post.Read More

The Trajectory Schema

The Trajectory Schema

The trajectory schema is all about movement. If you have children in your classroom throwing things, fascinated with moving objects or force and motion, you have children developing their trajectory schema. Discover exactly what this play schema is and get heaps of playful hands-on activities you can use to support them.Read More

The Transforming Schema

The Transforming Schema

The transforming schema is all about change and how things transform in substance or appearance. If you have children in your classroom mixing sand with water or drawing and painting on their bodies, you might have children developing their transformation schema. This blog post will explain exactly what this play schema is and give you a heap of playful hands-on activities to support it.Read More

Science Provocations - How Things Move

Science Provocations - How Things Move

Looking for hands-on science activities to teach the kindergarten physical sciences unit How Things Move or Force and Motion? This blog post has practical teaching tips and engaging ideas for purposeful early childhood science learning provocations. Best of all? They are all aligned to the ACARA foundation stage science curriculum learning intentions.Read More

The Connecting Schema

The Connecting Schema

The connecting schema is all about how things connect and separate. If you have children in your classroom tying things together, fascinated with tape or building and knocking over towers of blocks, you have children developing their connection schema. This blog post will explain exactly what this play schema is and give you a heap of playful hands-on activities to support it.Read More

Teaching Geometry in Kindergarten

Teaching Geometry in Kindergarten

Discover why it is so important to teach kindergarten and preschool children geometry and find out all about the Australian Curriculum Geometry strand so you can be confident teaching this complex maths subject.Read More

A Guide to Play Schemas in Early Childhood Education

A Guide to Play Schemas in Early Childhood Education

If you would like to create an engaging and effective learning environment and confidently plan learning experiences that perfectly match the cognitive development of each child in your class, this blog post on play schemas is for you. Understanding play schemas and being able to pinpoint the ones your students are developing is critical to the success of your early childhood classroom.Read More

9 Fun Hands-on Measurement Activities for Kindergarten

9 Fun Hands-on Measurement Activities for Kindergarten

How do you teach measurement in kindergarten? It isn’t the easiest math skill to teach that’s for sure but these fun and engaging measurement activities for kindergarten and preschool children will help you.Read More

23 Loose Parts Ideas for Early Childhood Math

23 Loose Parts Ideas for Early Childhood Math

Looking for ideas on how to use loose parts to teach early childhood math concepts? This blog post has 23 engaging activities and ideas you can use in your classroom.Read More

Teaching the F-2 ACARA Math Learning Intentions Through Play

Teaching the F-2 ACARA Math Learning Intentions Through Play

The best way to teach math is through play. This blog post explains the F-2 ACARA Math Curriculum and how you can create opportunities for your early childhood students to enjoy their math learning by using hands-on play based strategies and materials.Read More

How to Write Learning Intentions for Kindergarten and Preschool

How to Write Learning Intentions for Kindergarten and Preschool

Are you wondering how to write effective and age-appropriate learning intentions for your preschool or kindergarten classroom? In this blog post you will discover some practical strategies to help you write curriculum aligned learning intentions your kindergarten and preschool children can relate to and use.Read More

Natural Loose Parts

Natural Loose Parts

Find out what natural loose parts are and the benefits of using them in your classroom. In this blog post you will discover how to easily source loose parts from nature and get started with Reggio inspired natural loose parts play in your classroom. today.Read More

Science Provocations – Properties of Materials

Science Provocations – Properties of Materials

Teaching the early years chemistry strand and looking for some engaging and educational science provocations? This blog post has 5 hands-on learning invitations to help you teach about Materials and their Properties. There are also tips and ideas to help you set up your very own purposeful early childhood science learning provocations.Read More

Do You Need Learning Intentions and Success Criteria in an Early Years Classroom?

Do You Need Learning Intentions and Success Criteria in an Early Years Classroom?

Do you really need to display your learning intentions in a kindergarten or preschool classroom? In this blog post you will discover exactly what learning intentions are and learn some practical teacher tips and ideas for you to have success using or displaying classroom learning intentions in the early years learning environment.Read More

Reggio Emilia Provocations

Reggio Emilia Provocations

Are you interested in how Reggio Emilia provocations could enhance the teaching and learning in your play-based classroom? Many play-based teachers are aware of the highly regarded early childhood programs from Reggio Emilia in Italy. Discover how you can design learning provocations influenced and inspired by those in Reggio classrooms.Read More

How to Make Create a Face Loose Parts

How to Make Create a Face Loose Parts

Create a face loose parts are a fun and engaging way to help your students explore emotions and facial expressions. Find out how easy it is to make these Face Loose Parts. They are a favourite resource in our classroom. Perfect for teaching young students about emotions and feelings.Read More

Loose parts are such an important part of any play-based learning environment, so you might like to consider having a designated loose parts storage area in your classroom. Whether you have children developing the transporting play schema or any other play schemas, loose parts are necessary.

Loose parts are perfect for collecting, stacking, carrying and dumping. If you are interested in learning more about loose parts, I have a blog post where you can discover what loose parts are and why you need them in your classroom.

Loose parts are just as useful in your outdoor play spaces too. Supply children with sheets and pegs or large crates and boxes that they can use to transport around the outdoor space.

Children will use them to create obstacle courses, cubbies, forts, and all sorts of imaginative play scenarios.  Outdoor loose parts are a wonderful resource for children with a transporting schema.

You might want to download my FREE Loose Parts list. There are over 150 loose parts resources on this comprehensive list. There are ideas for both indoor and outdoor loose parts. You will be able to refer to this freebie to help you set up plenty of age appropriate investigation areas and learning invitations your little transporters will love.

Play based Learning with File Folder Games, (just right for one student)






Loose Parts Invitation to Play - How to Set up an Inspiring Loose Parts Invitation to Play

Loose Parts Invitation to Play - How to Set up an Inspiring Loose Parts Invitation to Play

Are you interested in setting up some engaging invitations to play using loose parts? In this blog post you will discover how to use open-ended loose parts in your learning invitations. Learn how to set up those inspiring loose parts provocations and be on your way to fostering engagement and higher order thinking skills in your classroom.Read More

Science Provocations – Living Things

Science Provocations – Living Things

Are you teaching the early years biology strand and looking for some engaging and educational science provocations to help your students learn about Living Things? In this blog post there are 5 engaging living things provocations to inspire you. There are also tips and ideas to help you set up your very own purposeful early childhood science learning provocations.Read More

Teaching Science in a Play Based Classroom

Teaching Science in a Play Based Classroom

Teaching science in a play based classroom is one of the easiest things you will ever do as a classroom teacher. In this blog post you will discover how play based learning and science education go hand-in-hand. I’ll share heaps of photos and ideas you can use in your classroom to teach science through play and learning provocations.Read More

The Teacher’s Role in Loose Parts Play

The Teacher’s Role in Loose Parts Play

What is the teacher’s role in loose parts play? In this blog post you will discover which loose parts are best for your children and find out how the teacher plays a vital role in the success of loose parts play in the classroom.Read More

How to Start with Play Based Learning

How to Start with Play Based Learning

Interested in play based or inquiry learning but don’t know where to start? Discover how I do it and find out all the benefits of play based learning. You will also get some practical ideas and my play based learning hints and tips on how you can easily get started learning through play in your classroom today.Read More

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40 Fun Apple Activities for Kids

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Three Ways to Set Up an Art Studio for Your Kids

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40 Hands-On Weather Activities for Kids Weather. It’s all around us! No matter the season, you can teach simple science and math concepts to your preschooler at home. Your child can learn about the water cycle, types of precipitation, and even how to stay safe in all types of weather. Did you see our...

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Top 12 Educational Toys for Young Kids

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Letter Recognition Activities for Preschoolers

Letter Recognition Activities for Preschoolers

Preschool at Home

This month only, join our FREE Preschool at Home Facebook group, where we’ll have daily conversation starters, weekly Q&A sessions, and lots of free resources. Click here to join us. It’s hard to believe I’ve been involved in education for nearly two decades...

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40 Patriotic Learning Activities for Kids Summer is a wonderful time to celebrate 4th of July and learn more about our nation’s history. When it comes to U.S. history for young kids, you have a couple of options. You can tell your kids the traditional tales we learned as kids (George Washington and the cherry...

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40 Beach Activities for Kids {recently updated!} Summer is coming, and you’re wondering how to keep your children entertained AND learning during the school break. Maybe you’re worried that your kids are going to bicker and complain about being bored while you’re trying to keep your small business...

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We tend to focus a lot on early literacy around here, but I also believe math readiness is just as important for our young children. Whether your child currently loves math or not, we should try to make learning math FUN at home!    For years, I’ve heard...

10 Camping Books for Kids

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40 Camping Activities for Kids Summer nights are more fun under the stars! Whether your family prefers camping in an RV or in the backyard, these hands-on camping activities for toddlers and preschoolers will make learning more fun at home. See our favorite camping books for kids! I know you love...

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Planning a Homeschool Unit Study

At this point in our homeschool journey, we predominantly use unit studies. I believe unit studies offer a unique opportunity to instill a love of learning that will last a lifetime. Unit studies focus on topics/themes Emily is truly interested in. That way, she is more likely to remember the things she learns.

It’s also a great way to encourage her to deep dive into subjects she wants to learn about. By using unit studies, we can focus on the things she really wants to learn. It’s a great way to encourage kids who might not be as interested in learning to engage with the lessons.

Unit studies are a great way for children to learn. See the complete steps I take when I plan unit studies for our homeschool.

I often get asked a lot of questions about why we use unit studies and how I plan each of our unit studies. Let’s talk more about it and I’ll do my best to answer all your questions.

How do I decide what we will study?

I think it’s really important to focus on my child’s interests in our unit studies. For example, she really loves the Magic Treehouse book series by Mary Pope Osborne. That’s what inspired me to create Passport to Adventures. It’s a compilation of unit studies based on the series that allows her to journey to all the places Jack and Annie visit in the books.

What subjects do I include in a unit study?

Usually, I incorporate history, science, geography, art, and music. I don’t include language arts or mathematics. We often play fun games or do activities involved with language arts and math, but it’s not the main way we learn those subjects.


How long does our typical unit study last?

It’s important for a unit study to be long enough to satisfy your child’s interest in the subject. For us, unit studies typically last at least a week. In fact, most last somewhere between one to three weeks.

Sometimes we dive really deep and a study will last 3+ weeks, but a month is generally too long to really hold her interest.

Steps for Planning a Unit Study

Thinking about planning an entire unit study can feel overwhelming. I often get asked how I do it, so I decided to break it down into easy steps.

First, choose a topic that interests your child.

This is probably the most important step and the one that will give you the greatest chance of both success and joy as you learn.

Next comes the really fun part! Start a Pinterest board and library wish list.

Save lots of ideas and don’t hold back! You may not get or do everything on the list, but you’re going to want a ton of ideas to choose from.

Then, collect all the things you already have that match the topic of your unit study.

I usually walk around my house searching for applicable resources. What am I looking for? Books, games, hands-on activities, and manipulatives.

After that, I go to our streaming services.

Use Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, CurioustiyStream, and Youtube to create playlists of everything that has to do with what we will be learning about. I’m looking for educational videos, songs, and even art tutorials.

I save related programs to Emily’s tablet for her to explore. I like to find apps or even just books on Epic! for her.

Then, I go back to the Pinterest board I created earlier and choose the items I want to download/print.

I store all my items together in a large basket or bin.

This way, they are easily accessible to my daughter. I try to have choices to cover a good variety of subjects.

Finally, I get out my unit study planner and write it all down.

This way, I have a record of all the things we have available to do. As we do them, I put a check mark beside each one on the list. Then, when the unit is finished, I already have a completed list of what we actually did.

unit study

You don’t need to do it all!

It’s important to know that you don’t need to do it all. We certainly won’t read all the books, watch all the videos, or do every activity I save to my Pinterest board. It’s just not possible! Choose a few items to be the “meat” of your homeschool unit study feast and focus on checking off those items. Let everything else be your child’s choice. Lay it all out like a feast and let them take as much as they need/want to satisfy their curiosity.

Remember, the important part is to have fun, learn a lot, and satisfy your child’s curiosity!

If you planning your own unit study still feels overwhelming then check out premade unit studies. It is written for you using these exact steps.



200+ Amazing Montessori Activities

and Free Printables

Using the Montessori method helps children think critically, work together, and learn at their own pace. Whether you use Montessori at home, offer Montessori childcare, or you’re a teacher, these Montessori activities and printables these activities will come in handy.

Since we homeschool, I do not stick with one method of teaching. However, I have tried to stay true to the Montessori philosophy in these ideas and activities below. I hope the Montessori activities shared here help you on your journey.

Montessori Activities and Free Printables

150+ The Best Montessori Activities and Hundreds of Montessori activities for Preschool and Kindergarten. You'll find Free Montessori Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Toys, Montessori Practical Life, Montessori Math, Montessori Science and Montessori Sensory Activities. Everything for Montessori Baby through elementary age children. #Montessori #montessoriactivities

Montessori Activities, Montessori Printables and Montessori Books

Children are active seekers of knowledge, so providing a lifestyle of learning and an environment for them to thrive is key.

150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Practical life and more

Montessori Education

Montessori education is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. The Montessori method is based on the idea that children learn best when they are free to explore and learn at their own pace. 

The Montessori method is used in schools and homes worldwide, and it is known for its focus on hands-on learning, self-directed activity, and collaborative play.

In a Montessori classroom, children are encouraged to learn through play and exploration. Teachers act as guides, providing children with the tools and resources they need to learn and grow. The Montessori method emphasizes the importance of independence, self-discipline, and self-esteem. Children are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and to work together with their peers.

One of the key elements of the Montessori method is the use of hands-on learning materials. These materials are designed to be self-correcting, allowing children to learn through trial and error. Montessori materials are also designed to be aesthetically pleasing, with bright colors and interesting textures that engage children’s senses.

Another important aspect of Montessori education is the focus on the whole child. Montessori educators believe that children learn best when exploring and developing their physical, emotional, and intellectual selves. Montessori classrooms are designed to be safe, nurturing environments where children can grow and thrive.

Overall, Montessori education is a child-centered approach to learning that emphasizes hands-on exploration, self-directed activity, and collaboration. The Montessori method has been used successfully in schools all over the world, and it continues to be a popular choice for parents who are looking for an alternative to traditional education.

Montessori Activities

Montessori activities are tailored to children’s interests and developmental needs. Your child should be free to follow their interests and work on their own.

Children should learn through their senses and with hands-on activities.

These Montessori activities will promote a joy of learning, an interest in learning more, as well as self-confidence.

150+ The Best Montessori Activities and Hundreds of Montessori activities for Preschool and Kindergarten. You'll find Free Montessori Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Toys, Montessori Practical Life, Montessori Math, Montessori Science and Montessori Sensory Activities. Everything for Montessori Baby through elementary age children. #Montessori #montessoriactivities

Montessori Practical Life Skills

Montessori Practical Life Skills are the activities of everyday life that your child sees and experiences. The child observes these activities in their own environment and gains knowledge through their real experiences. 

Montessori Chore Chart and Toddler Kitchen Area

150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Practical life and more

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12 More Months of The Best Montessori Activities

150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Practical life and more

Montessori Animals and Continents Printables and Activities

150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Montessori Practical life, Montessori Education, Montessori Science, Montessori Themes, Montessori Geography and more

Montessori Math at Home

Winter Animals Montessori Math 

150+ The Best Montessori Activities and Hundreds of Montessori activities for Preschool and Kindergarten. You'll find Free Montessori Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Toys, Montessori Practical Life, Montessori Math, Montessori Science and Montessori Sensory Activities. Everything for Montessori Baby through elementary age children. #Montessori #montessoriactivities

Montessori Math Activities and Printables for age 2-10

150+ The Best Montessori Activities and Hundreds of Montessori activities for Preschool and Kindergarten. You'll find Free Montessori Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Toys, Montessori Practical Life, Montessori Math, Montessori Science and Montessori Sensory Activities. Everything for Montessori Baby through elementary age children. #Montessori #montessoriactivities

Montessori Science Activities

30+ Montessori Science Activities and Printables for Kids 

150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Montessori Practical life, Montessori Education, Montessori Science, Montessori Themes, Montessori Geography and more

Montessori Activities and Printables

12 Months of Monthly Montessori Themed Activities

150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Practical life and more

12 More Months of Montessori Monthly Themes

150+ The Best Montessori Activities and Hundreds of Montessori activities for Preschool and Kindergarten. You'll find Free Montessori Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Toys, Montessori Practical Life, Montessori Math, Montessori Science and Montessori Sensory Activities. Everything for Montessori Baby through elementary age children.

Montessori Themes

Montessori Arctic Activities ~Polar Regions (Free Printables)

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Montessori Holiday Activities Perfect for December

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Themed Fall Montessori Activities

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30+ Montessori Fall Activities, Fall Activities, Montessori Themes

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150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Practical life and more

Montessori Babies

Exploring Montessori Sensory Play with Babies

Color Treasure Baskets for babies

More Montessori Activities for 2 – 6 year olds

The control of error through the material makes a child use his reason, critical faculty, and his ever increasing capacity for drawing distinctions. – Maria Montessori

150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Practical life and more

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Montessori Inspired DIY Button Christmas Tree

Montessori Practical Life Button Turkey Busy Bag

150+ The Best Montessori Activities and Hundreds of Montessori activities for Preschool and Kindergarten. You'll find Free Montessori Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Toys, Montessori Practical Life, Montessori Math, Montessori Science and Montessori Sensory Activities. Everything for Montessori Baby through elementary age children.

Montessori Printables and Activities

Learning Moon Phases and Montessori Astronomy Unit Study

Under the Sea Preschool Activities

The Ultimate Life Cycle Activities and Printables

150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Practical life and more

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Montessori Books

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Montessori Toys

The Best Montessori Toy Guide for Birth – 6 Year Olds

150+ The Best Montessori Activities and Hundreds of Montessori activities for Preschool and Kindergarten. You'll find Free Montessori Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Toys, Montessori Practical Life, Montessori Math, Montessori Science and Montessori Sensory Activities. Everything for Montessori Baby through elementary age children.

Montessori Materials

Great Montessori Materials That Are Easy On Your Budget

DIY Montessori Materials

150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Practical life and more

Montessori at Home

Montessori at Home Activities

Montessori Botany for Kids

Montessori Hands on Learning about Caves, Caverns, & Crystals

If you are still asking What is Montessori? Click here for even more information.

150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Practical life and more

Montessori Activities for Kindergarten

150+ The Best Montessori Activities, Free Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Preschool, Montessori Spaces, Montessori Toys, Practical life and more

Montessori Resources

Montessori Activities

150+ The Best Montessori Activities and Hundreds of Montessori activities for Preschool and Kindergarten. You'll find Free Montessori Printables, Montessori Books, Montessori Toys, Montessori Practical Life, Montessori Math, Montessori Science and Montessori Sensory Activities. Everything for Montessori Baby through elementary age children.


July 30, 2018 By Deb Chitwood

If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I love using printables to create Montessori-inspired activities. I even feature a Free Printable of the Day at the Living Montessori Facebook page.  So, does that mean that Montessori or I advocate the use of lots of worksheets for young children?

If you’re familiar with Montessori and with me, you know that the answer is no. If you’re new to Montessori, you’ll soon find that Montessori is about individualized, hands-on learning. Hands-on learning using concrete materials is emphasized before abstract learning. Although there may be handwritten activities, they come after children have a firm foundation with hands-on materials.

How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities

There are so many wonderful printables available online – both free and for purchase. I truly appreciate the work of the printable designers, and I’m thankful that many give away their printables for free. When I was a Montessori teacher in the 1970s and 1980s, I had to make supplemental activities by hand. I loved making materials, but it was difficult for someone like me who isn’t talented at drawing.

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links (at no cost to you).

How I like to use printables is to make hands-on learning materials for activity trays. Printables used that way make life for Montessori-inspired teachers and homeschoolers so much easier!


You’ll find detailed ideas for preparing and presenting activities here: Montessori-Inspired Snowman Letter Activities Using Free Printables and Montessori-Inspired One-Fish, Two Fish Math Activities Using Free Printables.


Here are a few examples of Montessori-inspired activities created with free printables:

Eat the Rainbow Practical Life and Sorting Activity
Eat the Rainbow Practical Life and Sorting Activity

This eat-the-rainbow practical life and sorting activity is from my Free Eat-a-Rainbow Printables and Montessori-Inspired Activities post. (See the post for the links to the free printables and resources.)

Zoology Classification Activity Using Free Printables
Zoology Classification Activity Using Free Printables

This zoology classification activity using free printables is from my Free Zoo Printables and Montessori-Inspired Zoo Activities post.

Tray with Magnet Song and Magnet Task Cards

Tray with Magnet Song and Magnet Task Cards

This tray with magnet song and magnet task cards is from my Free Magnet Printables and Montessori-Inspired Magnet Activities post.

Water Cycle Bracelet Tray

Water Cycle Bracelet Tray

This water cycle bracelet tray is from my Free Water Cycle Printables and Montessori-Inspired Water Cycle Activities post.

Here are lots of ideas using free printables for home or classroom (Updated 2021):


More Than Ten Years’ Worth of Free Printables and Activities

You’ll find all my posts on the 15th of the month, using free printables to prepare Montessori-inspired themed activities here.


  • Printable. In addition to my Free Printable of the Day, you’ll find LOTS of free printables in my Free Montessori Materials Online and Free Preschool Printables for Activity TraysMy themed posts on the 15th of the month  also contain links to many free printables (along with ideas for using them to create activity trays). My Spielgaben posts and Montessori By Mom posts contain links to free printables, too. And don’t miss my free Safari Ltd. TOOB Keys post when preparing Montessori-inspired activities using Safari Ltd. TOOBS!

  • Materials for printing, cutting, and laminating printables. 2020 update: I rarely laminate materials any longer for home use. I used to laminate toddler materials, but I taught my toddler grandkids to treat printables gently in the same way they learn to treat books gently. To save time and money while helping protect the environment, I only laminate materials that we use with playdough or water. For those printables, I cut them out first and then laminate them, leaving a laminate edge when I cut them out again to prevent water from reaching the printable.

  • Activity tray. I show a number of different options in my photos. I sometimes use an inexpensive wooden tray from a hobby store or find inexpensive trays at thrift shops, dollar stores, or the Target dollar section. My favorite trays for most materials, though, are the nested set of wooden Multicraft trays and Montessori Services trays. They’re all attractive, durable, and stackable. In Montessori education, there’s only one of each activity, encouraging children to take turns or work together cooperatively. So you only need to prepare one activity tray of a specific activity if you’re creating a Montessori-inspired activity for a preschool classroom.

  • Small containers for an undivided tray. For most activity trays, I like to have small containers of some sort for small labels and objects needed for the activity. An orderly environment helps children develop an inner order. In the same way, an organized tray helps children develop an inner order (along with making the tray more attractive in general). I tend to keep my eyes open for small, attractive containers that will work well with activity trays. Montessori Services has small boxes and bowls that are perfect for many activity trays.

  • 3-dimensional objects to go with the printable wherever possible. When I create activity trays using printables, you’ll notice that I emphasize using 3-dimensional objects whenever I can find them to go with the activity. I often find small objects at hobby stores that work especially well.

  • Materials such as tweezers or tongs if you want to add a practical life skill to your activity tray. I have some examples of practical life activities and specific practical life transferring activities using materials that can often be added to a math, language, or cultural activity using a printable. I decide if I want to add a practical life skill when I’m creating an activity. I don’t always include a practical life skill, but it often adds interest to the activity. (Note: young preschoolers should spend most of their time with practical life activities and sensorial activities. You don’t need to use printables very often with them.)

  • A low shelf or shelves for the activity trays in your classroom or home where the children can easily reach them, allowing for freedom of choice in their activities. Activity trays on shelves are wonderful ways to have activities available when children have an urge to repeat an activity or are drawn to an activity because of the needs of a sensitive period.

  • Especially if you have more than one child, it’s helpful if you have a few rugs in the room so a child can lay out the materials for an activity on a rug on the floor. The rug is helpful for defining the child’s workspace. Rugs can be rolled up and stored in a container in a corner of the room. You’ll often see Montessori Services rugs in photos of activities I’ve prepared. I used Montessori Services rugs as a Montessori teacher, and I love them for school or homeschool use.

Tips for preparing an activity tray:

  • Decide if you need to laminate the activity and what type of laminating you’ll do. As of 2021, I rarely laminate materials for home use. I typically just laminate materials that will get wet or messy (as in a playdough activity or sensory bin with water). You’ll find suggestions and resources in this post: Montessori-Inspired Music Appreciation: Peter and the Wolf.

  • Think of how you can make the activity hands-on. As I said, I often add 3-dimensional objects, such as figures from Safari Ltd. TOOBS. Often, printables can be cut apart to make them into manipulatives. Rather than having a young child draw lines matching two objects on a worksheet, I might cut the pictures apart and let the child match the pictures, find matching pictures buried in a sensory tub, or play a concentration game with them.

  • When preparing the activity tray, make it as attractive and orderly as possible. Typically, you’ll want to arrange your materials in left-to-right order on the tray as an indirect preparation for writing and reading.

Presenting the activity:

You can use your creativity to think up lots of attractive, hands-on activities using printables.

Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs


Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs

Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs can be one of the best things ever. As the parent of a child with special needs, you learn how to be an advocate and a parent at the same time. You learn to challenge doctors, insurance companies, society, and even the school system in an effort to ensure…


The Best Homeschool Organization Ideas That Work for Everyone


The Best Homeschool Organization Ideas That Work for Everyone

You don’t have to be organized to homeschool, but it does make it easier. Learning how to organize your materials is actually a pretty big part of the homeschooling journey. After deciding to homeschool, and determining which materials you’ll purchase, the next big question is ‘Where can I put all this stuff?’ Today I am…


 What is Multisensory Learning & Why is it so Effective?

What is Multisensory Learning & Why is it so Effective?

What is Multisensory Learning & Why is it so Effective?March 11, 2022

Sarah Major

Sarah Major, M.Ed. is passionate about working in harmony with a child's immaculate design to support their learning strengths. As a Title 1 Program Director and Designer, Sarah earned awards for creating her own multisensory educational resources that have now been sold in all 50 states and over 150 countries. Sarah’s materials combine all learning modalities into every lesson, so you can teach once and reach all.   

The Challenge of Meeting the Learning Needs of All Students

When I was in the classroom, the most challenging task I faced by far was making sure ALL my students had the same shot at learning successfully. Learning seemed so easy for a handful of children, but I wanted to level the playing field for the students who struggled to learn. It wasn’t an option to just assume some kids were going to have a hard time learning.

I studied each of my struggling learners, and over time, they taught me how they learned. One thing I learned is how content reaches a child’s brain varies from child to child. Over time, I learned to teach in ways that utilized several pathways to the brain so that all my kids had the same chance to learn.

This insight helped to form the basis for Child1st. I experienced firsthand challenges teachers face, and I wanted to help.

Obstacles to meeting the needs of all learners:

  • How will I know what each child’s giftedness is?

  • How can I design lessons that are tailored to each learner?

  • How will I make time in the day for the extra planning and teaching?

  • How can I get my hands on teaching materials that work with each type of learner?


All learning happens through the senses, which act as pathways to the brain. These are the primary pathways to a child’s brain:

  • Auditory – through the sense of hearing

  • Visual – through the sense of sight

  • Tactile – through the sense of touch

  • Kinesthetic – through body movement

A true multisensory lesson will engage students on all these levels at one time. Multisensory lessons are so impactful because no matter the learning strength of each child (be it auditory, visual, tactile/kinesthetic) a multisensory lesson will target the learning strengths of all students at one time. We can teach once and successfully reach all our students.

The Auditory Modality

Auditory Modality

Children who are strongly auditory and need lessons to be presented via this modality don’t just need to hear a lesson taught; they mostly need to hear themselves speak what they are learning.

Auditory learners benefit from repeating new content out loud. They benefit from using an auditory amplification device, so they can hear themselves more clearly. They benefit from reading aloud. Auditory learners will benefit from explaining what they have learned to another student or to a small group of their peers.

The Visual Modality

Visual Modality

Children who are visual learners don’t just need to see what they are learning, they need visuals that show the meaning of what they are learning. They benefit from charts or graphs that organize content in ways that make sense of the whole. Visual learners strongly prefer seeing content organized in ways that allow them to discover patterns. They benefit from illustrating what they are learning.

Visual learners remember by equating symbols to known objects. Their strength does not lie in listening nor in repetition and memorization. They tend to prefer content organized so they can snap a mental picture that is permanently stored and easily retrieved, as needed. The visual modality most frequently is accompanied by the tactile or kinesthetic modality.  Researchers agree that visual content helps improve learning. (Creating Visual Explanations Improves Learning Bobek, E., Tversky, B. 2016)

The Tactile/Kinesthetic Modalities

Tactile/Kinesthetic Modalities

Children who learn tactilely must have the opportunity to use their hands to learn. This goes beyond paper and pencil learning. Tactile learners make meaning by moving things around, by manipulating objects that represent the concepts they are learning.

Good examples of tactile materials are math counting chips, base ten materials, and fraction pieces. Clocks with hands that move and real money to count are also very useful to tactile learners. When learning to read high frequency words, cards that show a word inside a visual and have the plain word on the reverse side are far more effective than lists of words to memorize.

Kinesthetic learners must move in order to focus and learn. They also benefit from moving in ways that mimic the concept they are learning. Perfect examples include body movement that reflects the meaning of a new word they are learning.

Body motions that reflect the shape of alphabet letters are very helpful for young children learning to tie the name of letters with their symbols and sounds. Kinesthetic learners are most often visual learners as well. They can present a challenge in the classroom due to their need to move, but when they understand their giftedness, they become their own best ally.





When I create a multisensory lesson, I choose at least one design element from each of the modalities and combine them into one lesson.

Auditory Design Elements

  • Child reads aloud

  • Child uses auditory amplification device (such as a Toobaloo)

  • Child sounds out words aloud as he/she writes each word

  • Child uses rhyme or rhythm in content to help with memory

Visual Design Elements

  • Tie symbols to known objects (example: M is “mountains” because they are the same shape)

  • Discover patterns in learning

  • Embed symbols in visuals that show their meaning

  • Show details from within a global whole

  • Illustrate concepts being learned

  • Create visual graphs or maps

Tactile and Kinesthetic Design Elements

  • Tie learning to movement

  • Write concepts learned

  • Hands-on, constructivist learning

  • Visualize themselves doing the steps in solving a problem

  • Act out what they are learning

  • Practice doing what they are learning


Child1st exists to create multisensory materials that will help teachers and parents lead their students and children to success. The products are all kid-inspired, kid-tested, and have brought success in learning to thousands of children worldwide. All materials are supplementary and include instructions. We have created every product with children in mind, yes, but we are here in support of teachers and parents. All teaching resources are ready to use. By their very design, they target multiple pathways to the amazing brains in your classroom and home.

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How to Take a Multisensory Approach to Acedemics 

Here we are covering easy ways to take a multisensory approach to academics. Occupational therapy and multisensory learning go hand in hand. And, when using the fundamental benefits of a several sensory areas in academics, the learner benefits. Let’s go a bit deeper, and then share 10 Fun Sensory Academic Activities.

Using a multisensory approach to learning is easy and motivating for kids plus there is a huge benefit to adding sensory academic activities into the classroom.

A MULTISENSORY APPROACH TO ACADEMICSSensory rich activities can teach children academic skills, even if they don’t like to sit down and do worksheets. This blog includes 10 exciting ways to teach preschoolers new skills using sensory rich components such as tactile, visual, auditory and movement based components. 

As a preschool teacher, I am always looking for new ways to teach academic skills to the children who aren’t interested in sitting and attending to small group activities. Tracing letters, taking turns with manipulatives and completing teacher directed tasks aren’t easy for some children. But I want to make sure they are learning the skills they need for Kindergarten readiness. Read our resource on tracing sheets for a multisensory approach to learning letters.

When teachers use a multisensory teaching approach, there are many benefits that can be covered.This blog explains the benefits of sensory play. “Sensory play offers many benefits. It expands children’s vocabulary as they learn about descriptors or attributes, like warm, rough, smooth, and slimy. It’s a great way to teach your children how to describe the world around them.

This type of exploration also supports development of fine and gross motor skills. When children are squeezing dough or holding a paint brush, they’re engaging the small muscles in their fingers and hands. During puddle jumping, they’re using their larger muscle groups.Because sensory play is open-ended, it naturally fosters independence.

They can explore the world and get creative with objects they are playing with. There’s no right or wrong way to play.”As we work with these children becoming interested in group and social foundations (such as turn taking and participating in adult led activities)  there are some other ways to teach foundational academic skills to these children using sensory rich components.When children use multiple senses to learn new skills, they are not only able to remember the new skill more easily, they are able to attend to the activity longer. This article explains how sensory and attention are connected

Try adding these multisensory approaches to learning.


Now that we’ve covered why a varied sensory offerings impact learning, let’s cover various ways to integrate the senses into a learning environment. Here are ten ways to impact learning through a multi-sensory approach.


Sensory bins are a novel environment for students to explore a new concepts. With a sensory bin includes textures, movement, changes in body positioning, there are many senses that are used at once while discovering a theme, concept, or idea. Learners can challenge the tactile sense, visual sense, proprioceptive sense, vestibular sense, and even olfactory sense in a sensory bin.

For preschoolers and older kids, try these ideas for multisensory learning using sensory bins:

Visual cues are such an important sensory component that we often forget about. When we see items, we learn how to differentiate them from others. A quick way to incorporate multisensory approach to learning colors, for example, can involve using colored sand or colored rice, to enhance the visual sense, tactile sense, and proprioceptive sense. Not only will children enjoy sorting the objects by color, they will be able to explore the items using their hands. They can scoop, stir, and pour the heavy medium while incorporating colored letters, different colored scoops, colored sensory bin cards, and other materials. Add some scoops to the bins to encourage fine motor development. 


A favorite nature game, this activity uses the tactile sense to encourage movement, motor planning and number sense. Have the child use a bucket gather items they see while outside on a nature walk. They can gather rocks, pinecones, leaves, sticks, flower petals, etc. When you make it to the end of the walk, sort the items out into piles. Now, count how many of each item you have. Which one do they have the most of? The least of? 

A nature-based sensory approach to adding, subtracting, sorting, patterning, shapes, etc. involves several sensory systems: auditory, tactile, visual, proprioceptive, vestibular, and olfactory.

A nature sensory walk can be applied to other learning concepts too, like in this nature rainbow hunt idea.


One way to incorpoate the proprieoceptive and vestibular senses into learning (or kinesthetic learning, as some may consider this approach), is with a game-based learning experience. This can be accomplished with tossing bean bags, throwing a beach ball, balancing, or kicking a ball.

For example, Kick and Count is a game that teaches one to one correspondence to those kids that love to move! All you need are 5 balls and an outdoor area. Line of the 5 balls in a row and ask the child to count each ball before they kick it as hard as they can! You can even add in description words: 

“Kick the ball hard, soft, slow, fast, up, straight, to the left, to the right, backwards… etc)

With any movement approach, add spelling words, facts, sight words, colors, names, etc. to the movement task.


Similar to the specific movement-based approaches listed above, a gross motor obstacle course type of learning activity can be used with learning concepts. The difference? This multisensory approach gets those heart rates up, integrating the interoceptive sense into learning.

For example, students can move around the room to find information cards, letters, spelling word cards, or other visual. More specifically, for kids that are learning to identify letters, match upper and lowercase letters, or write letters, you could use this alphabet bundle. In Alphabet Chase: Sammy Chases the Alphabet, kids can run, donkey kick, crab walk, or hop around the room to locate letter visuals.

After reading the story “Sammy Chases the Alphabet” place letter stickers onto ball pit balls and through them around the room. Have children find them, naming the letters that they find. This game is so much fun every child will enjoy learning their letters. Once children have identified the uppercase letters, switch out the alphabet on the ball pit balls to lowercase letters. Chasing after the alphabet is so much fun!


There are so many great games that can be used in learning. Whether you are addressing math, phonetics, handwriting, reading fluency, science, or other area, games can be integrated into learning in some way. Take a look at these various ways to use games in learning. Coming from an OT’s perspective, we’ve been sure to include how these games complement functional skill areas and the senses.

Try to think of ways to use games like Simon Says, Head Bandz, Twister, Seven Up, Checkers, Connect 4 in learning. There are SO many ways to adapt a single game to meet the curriculum needs. Use these printable Simon Says commands.


Using cooking tasks for learning is a motivating and meaningful strategy for learning through the senses. Getting kids involved with cooking tasks is a must. Cooking offers not only a multisensory approach…there are SO many senses involved with cooking! But, cooking is a powerful learning tool, too.

When kids are active in the kitchen, they can look at math, reading, fractions, executive functioning skills, problem solving, eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, fine motor skills and more. All of these cognitive skills and motor skills impact overall functioning.


For kids working on handwriting, fluency, comprehension, a quick way to add heavy work input is with a play dough warm-up. In therapy sessions, a handwriting play dough mat can be used for writing prompts. Work on letter formation, line use, spacing and other handwriting needs after heavy work input through the hands.

  • This play dough mat deal is a steal with printable handouts for working out the hands and then working on handwriting.

  • Address letter formation with these letter play dough mats that include a “sky line” and “dirt line” for line and size awareness in teaching letter formation.


With the Soothing Sammy curriculum, you can address emotional regulation within learning experiences to help kids calm down using visual and auditory cues.

A learning experience that adds visual cues using a flashlight or pointer light plus auditory prompts adds to a typical classroom experience. Consider these tactics:

  • Use a highlighter and black light for a fun visual twist

  • Incorporate music

  • Add low lights to learning for a change in the classroom environment

  • Use the game “telephone” to pass on information

  • Use whisper phones for reading


Novel experiences like bringing in a bin of LEGO offers a fun and engaging learning experience. But when you stop to consider different ways to use one material, you get the wheels turning. Better yet, building with LEGO offers sensory input in many ways: proprioceptive input through the hands to click LEGO together and take them apart, visual processing, tactile input, and auditory processing as the bricks click together.

Use these learning with LEGO ideas for math, literacy, letter formation, pre-writing lines, and more.

How many ways can you think of to incorporate LEGO blocks into a multisensory approach to learning?


One of the easiest ways to incorporate a variety of textures (tactile sense), weights (proprioceptive sense), colors (visual sense), and movement (vestibular sense) is by using a variety of materials. And, one trip to the recycle bin can fill your toolbox with the materials you need for learning at a no-brainer cost (FREE!).

These sensory-rich activities will engage any child and teach new skills through play. We all know how important it is for children to attend to tasks in circle time, group time and other important instances throughout the day.

As teachers, our goal is for all of our students to succeed. This list of 10 sensory rich academic activities can be used at home, at school or in therapy settings. With these ideas as a starting point, how can you adjust the multisensory themes to meet the needs of your classroom, educational curriculum, and students?
Plus, don’t forget the power of brain breaks in learning. With many ideas out there, you can usually find a themed brain break that fits in with educational topics.

100 Hands-On Activities for Tactile Learners

100 Hands-On Activities for Tactile Learners

Do you have a child who struggles to sit still? A child who always seems to be fidgeting with some toy or random object? You’re not alone! Many young children fall under the kinesthetic or tactile modes of learning. While these students might struggle in a “traditional” classroom environment (sitting quietly in a desk while the teacher lectures to the class), there are many simple adaptations available to help our hands-on learners flourish.Read on for our favorite tactile activities!My younger daughter has been a tactile learner from the very beginning.

We started with a water table in the backyard, which led to a variety of sensory bins through her toddler years. As many of her peers outgrew the constant need for hands-on learning, K continued to seek new sensory experiences and stockpile small toys in her pockets. Even as I write this post, she is spinning around and around and around in my desk chair while reading a book. (My head is spinning just watching her!)At least one-fourth of children have either a tactile or kinesthetic learning style.

Instead of isolating these children or constantly correcting them for being disruptive, we can empower them to take charge of their own learning with these materials! {Click here to learn more about learning styles.}

 Tactile learners tend to focus on fine-motor work, always having some small object in their hands. Kinesthetic children are whole body learners, constantly moving, jumping, shaking, dancing, rolling, etc.       

100 Tactile Activities for Hands-On Learning (Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.) 

 Animal Figures: We have the Busy Farm set from Discovery Toys, but this set comes with twice as many animals. Sort by color, animal, make an array, practice multiplication facts, act out stories, and more! 

 Bristle Blocks: Our daughter got these as a gift for her first birthday, and we are STILL playing with these years later. 

 Busy Letters: Any material that works on more than one skill, like literacy and fine motor, is a clean winner at our house!  


 Clothespins are terrific for building hand strength! Keep an eye out for a fun design like these flowers (although the plain brown ones work just as well!). 

green tray with light blue dough

 Cloud Dough: I’ll be honest with you–cloud dough is not my favorite. Maybe we just haven’t found the right recipe, or maybe we’ll just stick to regular playdough. 🙂 But if your kids love getting their hands dirty and making a mess, cloud dough might be for you!  

colored gems

 Colored Gems are a favorite at our house! Sort them, count them, make patterns with them, add them to playdough…the possibilities are endless! 

 Cookie Cutters are fun for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers! Little ones can chew on them, and bigger kids can use them for playdough and tracing. We have had this set for years and love it! 


100 Hands-On Tactile Activities

Do-a-Dot Markers have lots of uses in a homeschool preschool, especially for tactile and visual learners.  My girls also like to use them for crafts.  

 Dominoes are an excellent hands-on math material. Children can count dots and add sums or stack the dominoes and watch them fall. 

child's hand with yarn knitting

 Finger Knitting is a fun hobby for older tactile learners. Use yarn or fabric loops to make gifts and keep hands busy. 

 Floam brings back lots of childhood memories for me! Because the texture is so unique, this could be a novelty…though I remember it being a pain to clean up. 

Flip Flop Faces bean bag game

 Flip Flop Faces (from Discovery Toys) is a bean bag game that my kiddos love! The sturdy bowls are also great for sorting other materials (like the animal counters or linking rings) by color. 

 Foam Letters are perfect for our little sensory seekers who are looking for fun in the tub! 

foam hearts on carpet

 Foam Shapes can be found at craft stores and seasonal displays. We wrote letters on these hearts, which were then used for spelling games. They are quiet and portable, making them a perfect “busy bag” activity. 

 Giant Pegboard: This set is well worth the investment, growing from toddler years all the way to elementary school with the geoboard on the back. 

 Hole Punches can build hand strength and help some kids self-soothe with the repetitive process. Set up a “punching station” with a tray to catch the stray paper.    

 Jenga Blocks are fun, especially when you add a little color. (See our rainbow blocks here.) 

jingle bells

 Jingle Bells are great for building fine motor skills and learning more about magnets, all with a fun auditory component. 

 Kinetic Sand: fun sensory play! 

 Lacing Buttons: These buttons are great for sorting by attribute AND lacing! (This is the exact set we’ve had for years.) 

Lacing Cards are a fun way to practice specific hand movements that build strength needed for pencil control. Like the foam shapes mentioned above, these are also quiet and easy for travel!   

Letter Stamps: great for inkpads and playough/modeling clay! Hands-on learners can even trace the letters with their fingers for spelling practice. 

 Learning Wrap-Ups are the perfect way for hands-on learners to practice math facts.

Letter Tiles are great for tactile learners and visual learners to build sight words and word families with ease.  

 LEGOs are a classic toy found in nearly every house (I would imagine!). LEGO Sunday is a favorite tradition at our house as we watch football and build together. 

 Lincoln Logs were one of my favorite toys growing up. My kids love adding other materials to them (clear plastic drinking cups are their go-to) to make big structures. 

 Linking Rings are a favorite baby toy (great teethers!), but did you know they are also good for preschoolers’ little hands, too? Discovery Toys makes a set with patterning cards that can be used for learning at home or quiet “on the go” busy bags. 

 Loom Bracelets: While this fad may be over, I still think they are a worthwhile purchase for tactile children. Turn on an audio book while they create and enjoy a quiet afternoon together.  

 Loom Potholders: I think every child goes through the potholder phase. 🙂 Kids can learn about weaving and making crafts for others.  

tray of children's toys with label

 Loose Parts: We are big fans of open-ended play around here. {Watch our free SMARTplay video training here for more about the power of play.} Loose parts allow children to use their imagination and create their own games! 

 Magnetic Letters are a fun learning material for kids of all ages! Add in a large metal oil pan from the automotive department so your preschoolers can build words on a large scale.  

 Magnetic Match Rings: I bought this toy for my classroom several years ago, and it’s been an instant favorite! Kids can explore why magnets attract and repel while matching color patterns on the included cards. 

Magnet Tiles: There are so many brands available, but you can’t go wrong with some magnet tiles in your home! 

 Marble Run: We have the classic Marbleworks set from Discovery Toys. This is a favorite toy for long winter days! 

Mental Blox is one of those perfect toys that truly grows with a child from toddlerhood to early elementary school. These light, 3-D shapes are perfectly sized for little hands to roll and stack, and the enclosed cards give older children a challenge to create a variety of structures.   Modeling Clay gives children a slightly different experience than softer playdough. If your child is avoiding pencil work, add in modeling clay time to build hand strength. 

 MotorWorks: Assemble and take apart these little vehicles with a handheld screwdriver or use the battery-powered drill! 

 Musical Instruments: We have slowly added to our musical instrument collection over the years. A set like this allows a child to mix and match and experiment with sounds. 

nature play

 Nature is the best sensory experience! Take your child out to the yard and watch them explore for hours. 

  • Dirt/Mud

  • Leaves

  • Pinecones

  • Rocks

  • Seeds

  • Shells

  • Sticks


 Nesting Blocks: Stack them and knock them down! Toddlers and preschoolers can get hours of fun from simple nesting blocks. 

 Nuts and Bolts: Match colors and shapes while working on fine motor skills!  

 Origami was a big fad when I was in middle school. I made thousands of creations while watching TV and listening to the radio! 

 Paint in a Bag: Squirt a few colors of paint into a bag and let your child mix to his/her heart’s content! Children can draw shapes, letters, or numbers for an added learning component.  Looking for a fun, hands-on family activity? Bake a loaf of bread with your kids! Learn how with this guest post from Cynthia at Mom’s Bread Bites.  

Tactile Activities for Hands-On Learning

 More Tactile Activities! (51-100) 

 Paper Airplanes are a great way to pass the time! 

 Paper Clips: I was a big Sesame Street fan as a child, and I greatly admired Bert’s paper clip collection. My grandpa gave me my own box of paper clips, and I played with them for days! 

 Pattern Blocks are one of our favorite math materials. Sort them, pattern with them, make pretty art designs–the possibilities are endless. 

 Pegboard & Pegs: We bought this set on a whim one day at a toy store, and we have gotten hours of play out of them.  

 My 10-year-old LOVES playing Tetris, and these Pentominoes are a 3-d version of her favorite video game. Our set came in a small cloth bag, making them perfect for travel. 

  Pipe Cleaners are so much fun! We have a big stash down in our craft cabinet, and they are always building something!  

plastic eggs

 Plastic Eggs: You can make countless learning games with these eggs! Get lots of ideas here

  • Letter Matching

  • States and Capitals

  • Numbers

  • Sight Words


child's hand with playdough

 Playdough: Can we have a post about tactile activities without mentioning playdough? I didn’t think so! 🙂 

 Play Money: Teaching our children about money can really only happen through hands-on learning. Of course, we could use the real thing (CASH) to practice, but having a plastic set ensures we always have money for sorting and playing store!   

 Pom Poms are a must-have for every family! Every Family Activity Guide I create uses pom poms for some hands-on learning activity.  

 Pony Beads are a great item to have on hand for crafts and learning activities. Add a shoelace or string for lacing or transfer the beads with tweezers! 

cut pool noodles with letters written on them

 Pool Noodles: This tends to be a seasonal activity in our family! We bought a few pool noodles and made a hands-on spelling activity with consonants, vowels, and “chunks” for word-building. 


  • ABC

  • Numbers

  • Colors

  • Shapes

  • US States

  • Human Body, showing the layers of anatomy


dyed noodles

 Rainbow Noodles: This is a simple, inexpensive learning material with lots of uses! {You can see our easy tutorial here.} 

green tray with

 Salt Tray: simple and fun activity for practicing letters, numbers, and shapes! 

 Sand and Water Wheel: This toy lives in our trunk for whenever we go to a park with a sandbox (or the beach at our town lake). It’s perfect for tactile kids who have outgrown their water table! 

 Sandpaper Letters are great for our tactile learners. (I made a similar set using index cards and “fuzzy” letter stickers from the craft store.) 

 Scarves are a great hands-on material. Young kiddos can learn about colors and use their imaginations, and when they are a bit older, they can explore the idea of  mixing colors (without the mess!) 

 Scrabble Letters: My math-loving tactile learner LOVES to add up the value of her spelling words! 

sensory bins

 Sensory Bins 


tray with shaving cream

 Shaving Cream: Just a squirt will do! This is fun on a REALLY large scale, but a tray should contain the mess.  

 Sidewalk Chalk: Draw an obstacle course on the driveway or have kids hop from letter to letter on the sidewalk. You can also practice counting with a number line or connecting math facts to their answers. 

yellow tray with pink slime

 Slime: Our girls missed the first slime fad, but then Grandma sent us home with glue and contact solution. So, get ready to see lots of slime around here!  

snow in a bucket

 Snow is the ultimate tactile activity! My girls love to make snow castles and snow bricks all winter long.  

 Stacking Cups: We bought this set when our oldest child was a toddler. Nearly a decade later, we still love them! Great for scooping and pouring, they can also be used for stacking, measuring (these are volumetrically correct, so three 3 cups full will fill the 9 cup), stamping playdough, and making a demonstration clock for learning to tell time.  

 Stacking Owls: Our family does quite a few activities each week where one or more of the children are expected to wait quietly (gymnastics, choir) while another family member is practicing. These owls are easily one of the most favorite toys wherever we go–easy enough for three-year-olds to stack, but challenging for older kids and adults, too!   

 Sticker Books are great for tactile learning on the go! Usborne makes great academic sticker books for all ages and interests — keeping little hands busy and minds learning! 

green and orange straw pieces in an orange bowl

 Straw Pieces: Cut straw pieces might be one of our most-used (and cheapest!) learning materials. We use them for patterning, lacing, measuring, and building fine motor skills as we drop them into containers. I store a big bag with six different colors among our play school supplies. So much love for something so simple! 

Train Sets are another open-ended learning toy that our entire family loves! Children work on STEM skills and imaginative play without even realizing it…You can also count pieces, talk about colors, and more. 

 Unifix Cubes are one of the most versatile learning materials available. We use them for sorting, stringing, snapping together, adding and subtracting with regrouping, and more! 

 UNO Cards are so much fun for all ages! Little ones can sort by number and color, sequence the cards, and play “What’s Missing.”  

three toys: school bus, fire truck, race car

 Vehicles are a fun way to incorporate learning with every day toys–sort the vehicles by color, number of wheels (or vehicles that float/fly). Transfer alphabet rocks via dump truck in the back yard, label cars with numbers and “park” them in matching spaces on a piece of cardboard. 

craft sticks with velcro

 Velcro Sticks: We got these in a toddler busy bag swap several years ago, and we are STILL playing with them! 

 Water Beads: Keeping a toddler busy while homeschooling older children requires some creativity! Lay out a towel and a big bowl of water beads with a jar and a teaspoon–but only if your little one is past the “put everything in the mouth” phase.    

water droppers

 Water Droppers are great way to add fine motor work into color mixing and water play! The dropper pictured comes from this set

 Wikki Sticks are a fun, versatile toy that can be used again and again.  

 Wooden Beads: Big or small, lace some beads on a shoelace during read-aloud time! 

 Wooden Blocks: We were lucky enough to find our set at a consignment sale. Our girls love using their wooden blocks with their animal counters, wooden people, Lincoln Logs, and/or nature items. 

wooden play people

 Wooden People: Our set comes from Melissa and Doug. We have a family set and the children that came with the school bus toy. These characters are an everyday part of my daughter’s play–she uses them to act out stories she reads and plays she writes! If you have a hands-on learner at home, I hope these tactile activities bring hours of fun and learning to your family! Get activity ideas for visual, auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic learners here! Did I miss any? Leave a comment below!

100 Things from IHN