Raising a preschooler can be so much fun. Your tiny explorer is not so tiny anymore. They are truly a “mini-you” having full on conversations about everything they see and do. Preschoolers are ready to play and learn while they explore the world around them through independent learning and gentle guidance. Here is my personal list of must-haves that have helped me through the preschool years.
1. Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD: This educational DVD is a great way to introduce your child to the alphabet letters and the sounds they make. Zoe has been watching this since she was 3. She loves to pull out a notebook and write the letters as they go through the alphabet with fun characters and catchy songs like “Toe tapping T.” The Leap Frog Word Factory and Math Factory DVDs are good too.
2. Melissa & Doug Art Easel: Let your child get messy and make some art on this sturdy and durable wood easel. You truly can’t go wrong with having an art easel in your home for your little budding artist. A fun thing we like to do is just use water and a paintbrush on the chalkboard side.
3. Parenting with Love & Logic: Both my husband and I love reading parenting books. And this one is at the top of our list. My husband is actually reading it again and taking notes. This book shares some brilliant one-liners that convey empathy as well as encourage parents to control their own emotions instead of trying to control their child. My favorite is, “I love you too much to argue.” This one statement allows me to communicate with sincerity and compassion. The audio CD is great too. Seriously, you should buy this book no matter how old your child is. It’s all about raising kids to be confident, responsible, independent thinkers who explore their options and ideas.
4. Otter Box: Yes, I am that parent that lets my child play with my iPhone. And yes, the Otter Box helps me not freak out when my daughter (or myself) drop the phone on the concrete ground. They call it an Otter Box because otter’s have waterproof fur. So the Otter Box protects your iPhone from water (but don’t go swimming with it). It does make your phone a little bulkier, but it’s definitely worth the extra protection.
5. Bug Catcher: Bugs! Love them or hate them, your little preschool scientist will love catching them and observing them. We like to play “observe and release.” We try to not let the little buggies get too far from their home. But Zoe absolutely loves catching bugs and putting them in her bug catcher. And the best part is this catcher folds down and fits into a carrying case that you can clip to your hip.
6. Local Library: As book lovers, we used to spend a lot of money at the bookstore. I’m what you call a book collector. We’d always end up buying books that lost our interests quickly as soon as we got home. Or sometimes I would feel obligated to spend money at a bookstore. So we changed our routine to visit the library weekly instead. Local libraries rock! They have tons of books, story times, free DVD and CD rentals and even free museum passes. Checking out a book from the library also gives you the urgency to finish it before the due date. And if you love a book from a library, then you know it’s worth buying.
7. Mo Willems: He is my favorite children’s author of our time. We started out with the Knuffle Bunny series, then we explored the Pigeon books, and now my daughter loves to read the Piggie and Elephant series. Willems does an excellent job of mixing lovable characters with humorous stories that we can all relate to. I also love how Mo Willems creatively uses black and white photography as the backdrop for some of his illustrations. We are also giving away a Mo Willems book here.
8. Sigg water bottle: These bright colored water bottles were the stepping stones that transitioned us from sippy cups. I love these water bottles because they are tiny with cute designs. But more importantly it does a good job of not leaking (even if you lose the cap) and it’s very easy for a young person to open the cap and twist the spout which is important for a “let me do it myself” learner.
9. Preschool Prep Series – Sight Words DVDs: I heard about the Preschool Prep Series awhile ago, but it took me a few months before I bought it myself. My friend told me that her son was reading to her at bedtime because of the Sight Words DVDs, and that’s when I rushed to buy the Sight Words DVDs, easy reader books, flash cards, activity and coloring books. Later down the line I bought the iPhone app too. And it’s been a few months since we started it and now my 4 year old daughter is reading to us and making sentences out of the flash cards. Here is a review I wrote about the DVDs.
10. Montessori Moveable Alphabet: We used this Montessori Moveable Alphabet in the Montessori-inspired toddler class I taught on Kauai. This is an excellent resource for introducing your child to the alphabet letters. You can teach letter sounds in a three part lesson. And your child can start to spell words before they can actually write them since they may not have the appropriate fine motor skills to do that. This is such an excellent learning tool. There is also one for numbers too.
11. Local Children’s Museum: Indoor playhouses and children’s museums have been life-savers for me. They are an enclosed and safe environment designed for little minds ready to touch and explore. My new favorite local place to go to is Habitot in Berkeley, California. This local gem has several different rooms and rotating exhibits. We’ve gone inside a space ship and dressed up as astronauts, sat inside the cozy reading room to cuddle for stories and painted on walls in the art room. The activities to do here are endless and the best part is my child always gets to take the lead.
12. Rubber Rain Boots: Rain boots are a must for preschoolers. We started with the rainboots at age 2 and Zoe still loves to wear rain boots– almost everyday. For some reason rain boots remind you it’s okay to let your kids splash in puddles and step in the mud. We love going on nature walks and singing in the rain with our rain boots on.
WHAT ARE YOUR MUST HAVE PRESCHOOL PRODUCTS?
What things would you add to this list? Share below so we can help parents navigate through the millions of kid products to the top “tried and true ones”. You can also check out Jen’s Top 12 List for New Parents.