Preschool with Heart of Dakota: Complete, Christian, Short, and Fun

From Our House to Yours

Little Hands to Heaven – a great preschool whether you’re just starting out or finishing strong!

Preschool with Heart of Dakota’s   Little Hands to Heaven is complete, Christian, short, and fun.  What could be better for this exciting time?!? Our little ones are full of life and energy, and they are raring to go!  As homeschool moms, we may be at the start of our homeschooling and raring to go too, dreaming about homeschooling our first precious blessing from God.

Or, we may be somewhere in the middle of our homeschooling. Realistically, multiple children with many needs can lessen the excitement of beginning to homeschool another little one.  It can be tempting to always focus on the oldest, who is forever entering new and exciting stages.  Especially if our own education was less than satisfying (which let’s face it, for most of us homeschool moms, it probably was).  We begin to love learning alongside our oldest child, and beginning to teach another little one can become, well, less exciting. In short, though we love each little blessing the same with all of our mama’s heart, we may be weary.

Well, wherever you are in your homeschool journey, if you have a preschool aged child, I want to encourage you! Little Hands to Heaven for preschool truly is a doable blessing. Each week I’d like to focus on a new guide in this blog series. So, let’s start with preschool first, and each week, let’s ‘grow up’ a guide at a time together!

Letter Activity Fun
Do you long for something more meaningful than just letters… letters… letters… numbers… numbers… numbers… for PreK?

Everything you want your preschool to include is already a part of Little Hands to Heaven!  I like it because it reminds me of a mini-kindergarten.  Many other preschool programs only focus on letters and numbers… the whole year.  Don’t get me wrong!  Letter recognition, letter formation, letter sounds, and early math skills ARE important, and they are a part of Little Hands.  However, that can get a little dry day after day, for both you and your little one. In contrast, Little Hands… adds pizazz with a mini-version of Kindergarten subjects like history, art, Bible, devotions, and music.

Bible Activity Connection

Furthermore, Little Hands… has history – BIBLE history!  What can be better than that?  It’s Christian. It’s chronological. Moreover, it’s inspiring.  Finally, it’s planting seeds that are hopefully sown upon fertile ground.  It keeps Christ front and center from the start, and the Bible history theme each week connects all the skills being taught.  Pretty memorable!  Which is exactly what we want for our little ones.  Skills meets retention meets the Lord.  A winning combination!  Not to mention, all the get-up-and-move parts of the plans! Dramatic plays, active exploration, fingerplays, art projects – your little one needs to move, and Little Hands… has that covered!

Dramatic Play
Okay, so to recap, let’s check out Little Hand’s… complete line-up below:
  • letter recognition, letter formation, letter sounds and motions
  • early math skills
  • Bible history and activities
  • devotional topics
  • art projects
  • dramatic plays
  • active exploration (science/health topics)
  • fingerplays
  • music
Fine Motor Skills and Letter Review
So, now you may be wondering, with all these great skills, will you have the time to teach Little Hands…? 

The answer is definitely ‘yes!’ No matter what stage of life you are in! Twenty-five to thirty minutes.  That’s all!  Your preschooler will demand that much attention anyway.  Why not give it in a planned, well-balanced, meaningful way?  You young, new homeschool moms may be saying, “Hmmmm.  I’m not sure that’s enough time.”  You seasoned, veteran homeschool moms may be saying, “Hmmmm. I’m not sure that I have enough time.”

Well, young moms, it is enough, and the good news is, you can add in other fun things if you want – like walks in the park, picnics in the backyard, or read-alouds and field trips galore. Veteran moms, you do have the time, and it will erase the guilt of not spending quality time alone with your little one.  And if you truly don’t have the time, an older child can enjoy teaching Little Hands… to a younger sibling, and you can come in on the parts you care most about!

Making a Color Book with Older Brother
Added benefits -you don’t need to plan ahead, leave your home, start a certain time of year, or buy extra things to do Little Hands!

Open-and-go.  Get up and teach!  Did you get to bed late caring for everybody but yourself?  Was there little sleep for you last night because you were up with a sick child… up tossing and turning… up because you aren’t feeling well yourself?  Is it November, and you wanted to start something with your little one in August but haven’t? Well, grab some coffee, stumble out of bed, and open that guide.  That’s all there is to it.  Buy one Little Hands… package. You have what you need… and it won’t cost you much… and you can reuse it.  Plus, the plans are not attached to holidays, seasons, or months.  So, anytime is a good time to start Little Hands!

One more surprising bonus – you actually get to be ‘fun mom!’

These are my sons’ words, not mine.  Let’s just be clear, when I was fun and young, I wasn’t so fun. I was trying to prove myself to all those people who thought homeschooling might not be ‘enough,’ and I prodded… quizzed… questioned… my poor oldest son too much.  Still, he thought when we did Little Hands… I was ‘fun mom’ – thank you, Lord!

Then, when there were health concerns for me and for my family when I began homeschooling my middle son, again, NOT ‘fun mom.’  Still, somehow when we did Little Hands… I was ‘fun mom’ again – who knew?!?

And then when I began homeschooling my last son, I was sure ‘fun mom’ was seriously out of commission.  I was weary, gals.  Somehow, miraculously, ‘fun mom’ reappeared apparently!  I know, because my son called our Little Hands… ‘playschool,’ not preschool.  And he brought his Little Hands… guide to me begging to do ‘playschool.’  New mercies… never-failing.  Turns out being ‘fun mom’ was awesome!  Often in the midst of some not-so-fun-things in life.

Fun Follow-up Activities That Use Whatever You Have on Hand

So, there you have it!  I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Little Hands to Heaven!  Next time, I’ll introduce you to Little Hearts for His Glory! In the meantime, enjoy checking out the printable Introduction and first week of plans of Little Hands, as well as some of our most common questions!

In Christ,

Julie

Gain Teaching Time by Using Learning Stations with 3 to 6 Year-Olds

A Heart of Dakota Life

How to Gain an Hour of Teaching Time by Using Learning Stations with 3 to 6 Year-Olds

Many homeschool families have a wide age range of children, so placement in multiple guides just makes good sense! But, what can you do with little ones to gain teaching time with your olders? Little Hands to Heaven gives necessary mommy time with PreK kiddos, while also teaching necessary skills. However, what else can PreK kiddos do during the day? Well, a lot, really! I wanted my 4 year old to have an independent playtime (as he’s always with his big brothers). Additionally, I wanted more uninterrupted teaching time with my olders. I tried many different things, but he just didn’t stick with whatever I’d set out for more than 15 minutes. What could be done?  Learning stations, that’s what!

How to Set Up Different Learning Stations to Be Independently Rotated Through

One day, I had the idea to try setting up different learning stations for him to rotate through… and success!  He happily played for an hour right away. I honestly couldn’t believe it. He really just needed some variety and an order of what to do. This works well for a child who understands the order of numbers, and who is around 3-6 years old.

Pick a safe room and use numbered cards to designate different stations.

I picked a safe room that was near us but not RIGHT by us. We have a large entry room just off our kitchen we have childproofed, so that worked well for us. I numbered big index cards and folded them in half to tent them. I started with 5, but soon used up to 7. Then, I chose 5-7 varied activities for him to work through. Starting with a few short activities that had a definite end to them worked well. For example, #1 was a puzzle, and #2 was a card for him to practice writing his name once. These were at his little table and chairs.

Puzzles and Practice of Writing His Name

I picked a building activity for #3. For example, magnatiles. Sectioning off a spot for it on a blanket, I put the #3 tent card by it.  #4 was a book on tape, and I designated a spot for that with his little chair. I also put headphones there, so my middle ds wouldn’t be distracted by the story.

Headphones to Listen to Audio Books

For #5, he played with something that was more active, like his construction set. I sectioned that off with another blanket. For #6, he looked at a set of books he had not seen before. His bean bag chair and blanket sectioned this area off nicely. I told him to start with card #1 and do the activity. Then, he turned over the card when he was done and moved on to #2. I turned on his LHTH’s Singing Bible CD for him, and away he went. I checked on him a few times and snapped a few pics…

Building with Magnatiles 
Coloring Books
Use a variety of learning stations to keep things fresh and exciting!

By the fourth day of doing this, he headed right in there all on his own after we’d done LHTH. I wondered where he had disappeared to, as I was putting away his LHTH tub. There he was, happily putting together his puzzle at center #1! I changed out the things, but in general…

  • #1 was always a short puzzle type activity
  • #2 was a short fine motor skill type activity
  • #3 was always something more active to play with on a blanket
  • #4 was always a different book on tape in his little arm chair
  • #5 was always something more active to play with on a different blanket
  • #6 was always different books in his bean bag chair
  • If there was a #7, it was something active.
Older siblings can help set up learning stations.

My older kids liked to help me set up this or that for it too. I’d set it up right before we ate breakfast, so it was all ready to go. It took me about 5-10 minutes to set it up, as I’d put things near there for handy access. I also put a few stuffed animals at various centers, as he loved his buddies. One time, an hour had passed. I said his brother was ready to do his playtime with him (which he LOVED). He said with his hands on his hips, “But I’m not done yet! I still have #6 and #7 to do, and I really wanted to do them!”  I guess independent stations were working well for him!!!

Choose things they already know how to do fairly well. 

Finally, I think it is important to choose things that they know how to do. So, this isn’t the time for puzzles or coloring or writing skills that may be too hard for them. It also helps to change out the books, toys, and activities, choosing things they can be successful with. I just let him move on to the next one whenever he wanted to. Sometimes he was at one center for a very short time. But, that was alright, as he was at the next one longer. It all worked out.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share that past tip for us that was a wonderful help in our home!  If you are blessed enough to have a naturally independent child that just plays on his/her own with things, than this may not be necessary. But, if you have a child that needs a little help in this area, this may work for you too! It is my prayer that this could help some fellow busy homeschooling moms like yourselves.

In Christ,

Julie

P.S.  For fun ideas to use with toddlers, click here!