Busy Toddler’s Homeschool Preschool Review: Hands On Activities In 40 Minutes Per Day

I’m so excited to share this Playing Preschool curriculum review by Busy Toddler! If you haven’t read my post How To Homeschool Preschool, you know I’m a believer that you can teach your own child everything they need to know in preschool at home. I show you how we did it with my now almost 6 year old, practically for free and without a curriculum!

However, I bought Playing Preschool because I wanted to try themed units with my next kid. And I wanted more of a plan… someone telling me what to do each day.

Now instead of hitting up Pinterest constantly, I just do that day’s curriculum! Sometimes even two days worth of activities since each day is short.

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Why we chose Busy Toddler’s Playing Preschool

I found Susie from Busy Toddler on Instagram through a friend. She is the Toddler Activity Queen. She used to be an elementary teacher, and her hands on preschool activities were all a hit with my kids!

As soon as I found out she has a 190 day preschool curriculum with themed units, I bought it and have really loved it with my 4 year old! It tells you what to do each day… what a relief. No more pulling ideas constantly from Pinterest. No worksheets. And it’s easy to do with a 2, 4, and almost 6 year old at home.

Busy Toddler

How much does it cost?

Cost: It’s under $40! However, while schools have closed, Susie has generously provided a coupon for 25% off! USE CODE: HOME25 at checkout.

I bought both Playing Preschool year 1 & Playing Preschool year 2 for just under $70 (it saves $10 to buy them together). I liked having the option to use both books.

click here to buy button

What does Playing Preschool by Busy Toddler Include?

This program is surprisingly well thought out! It comes as a PDF, which I got printed and bound to make it easier to use and to check off what we had done. You get 190 days planned out for you. It ends up being 19 units, with 2 weeks for each unit. And each lesson kind of builds on the next. Each day has a:

  • Calendar routine (reviewing day, month, & season)
  • Song and poem (same one for two weeks)
  • Read aloud (book lists included and change every 2 weeks)
  • Things to talk about.
  • 2 Activities ( a learning activity you do with your kid, and a fun crafty activity they can usually do solo)

That’s it! It’s so simple. It can be used alone, or as a supplement. Below is a sample from the Apples Unit in Week 1.

Busy Toddler Busy Toddler

What preschool skills are learned?

  • Sorting
  • Predictions
  • Letter and number recognition
  • Shapes
  • Recall and Retell
  • Measuring
  • Number sense and recognition

Do you do anything in addition to Playing Preschool curriculum?

I’m going to start teaching my 4.5 year old middle child to read when she’s ready. Here is how I taught my son to read at a similar age. No, it’s not a preschool expectation so don’t panic! However, to me it was one of the best time investments we have made so far.

I am also going to be working with my oldest two specifically on writing letters. I’m not sure how much writing will come with Playing Preschool.

But now that my oldest is beginning homeschool kindergarten, he just needs more practice. Here is how we taught him to write his letters!

How much time does it take each day?

Susie says around 45 minutes. But I’m not completely sure if it even takes that long for us. We usually split it up throughout the day, with each part taking around 5-10 minutes.

I’ll do the reading part and calendar time in the morning after breakfast. Then I let the kids go play. When it starts to get a little rowdy, I’ll gather them for the learning activity and then the craft.

Can you do it with different ages at home?

We do! I feel like this is perfect for 3-5 year olds.

I got this for my 4 year old daughter, knowing that it would be fun/review for my almost 6 year old son, and likely too hard for my 2 year old. That’s about spot on for us.

Since every kid’s abilities are so different at different ages, you can be the judge of what they can do. The older kids are, the faster they learn new concepts, so don’t despair if you are starting the same material at age 4 (like we are) and someone else’s two year old is starting the same thing.

For the read aloud, everyone listens, sort of. The difference is my 2 year old is running around, and my almost 6 year old is reminding me of words I skip. No one told me that would happen once your kid learns to read, hah!

For the craft, I set out 3 of whatever we are doing. My 2 year old botches it but feels included. My other 2 love it.

kids sorting pom pom balls for a busy toddler preschool activity

You can purchase yours here for 25% off.

How much do you have to prepare?

Before each lesson, I check the activities we are going to do, and gather the items needed like tape, or dot stickers, etc. If I have the books, I set them next to me on the floor. That’s it!

The whole reason I chose a relaxed homeschool preschool with my first was so that I didn’t have to prepare anything. I would call Playing Preschool an “almost no-prep” preschool program, especially once you have a few basic supplies.

You’ll still have to set up the activity, be present, and find books ahead of time.

playing preschool collage of hands on activities

What if I can’t get to the library that often to get the book lists?

I feel that coordinating books to a preschool theme is wonderful, but NOT essential. What is important is that you read something every day! Don’t let forgetting the week’s book list keep you from doing the activities or poem or song! Just pick other books if you have to.

So I do my best to get all the books mentioned (about 5 per 2 week unit), but we don’t always have them just prior to starting a new unit. And some I haven’t been able to check out at the library at all. I’m not worried.

There are some units that would be hard to do without the books, like the one on nursery rhymes. I think it’s just important to not get hung up on having all the pieces so perfect that you end up not doing it at all. We improvise a lot!

What craft supplies do you need to have on hand?

One thing I love is that at the beginning of each new theme (so every two weeks), you get a list of everything to have on hand. YMost things you may have laying around the house. Like:

  • cookie sheets
  • q-tips
  • food coloring
  • baking soda
  • vinegar
  • sharpies
  • Play-Doh
  • toys
  • storage containers
  • paper plates
  • colored paint
  • playing cards

I went to the dollar store to buy a few other things I didn’t have, like:

  • colored construction paper
  • dot stickers
  • pom pom balls
  • post it notes

Get your Playing Preschool Book Here:

Use Code HOME25 for 25% off

My favorite and least favorite part of Playing Preschool by Busy Toddler

Favorite Part: It got us doing hands on learning activities every day! It took away the guess work, and Susie has a plan for WHY she puts each activity in there.

Plus, it works with multiple ages, although I feel the sweet spot is around ages 3 & 4 for book 1, and ages 4-5 on book 2. And even though I’m not a crafty or creative mom, Playing Preschool makes it seem like I am.

Least Favorite Part: Preparing ahead of time to get the right books is hard for me. I also don’t like every activity for the stage my kid is at (which is fine because every kid is different!) So somedays, we just pick a random fun activity from a past or present day and do that.

So although Susie recommends starting from the beginning even if your kid is more advanced, sometimes I skip activities, songs, or books.

My lazy mom self doesn’t want to tape up an activity if my kids already know how to do it I guess. I’d rather move on.

But it’s true that repetition is good for learning, and it won’t hurt them to do things they already know how to do!

Where I got Playing Preschool printed and bound

If you decide to buy this, do yourself a favor and pay the extra money to get it print and bound into a book. It’s 100% worth it. I recommend the Homeschool Printing Company if you can wait 3-4 weeks. It’s going to be way cheaper than Office Depot.

It cost me $33 to print BOTH Playing Preschool 1 & Playing Preschool 2, including shipping. $11 for each book, plus $11 shipping. I chose the cheapest 20lb paper option and printed black and white and double sided.

You just don’t want to be finding the file every day on your phone, zooming in, AND you can’t make notes or easily skip ahead if you want.

click here to buy button

You can teach preschool at home

Most of all, I want you to know that you can easily do preschool at home in 30-40 minutes a day…and it can be fun…without worksheets. Kids are always learning…you’re just making it a little bit more “fun”.

If you want an inexpensive curriculum to take away the guesswork for you, this is a great program! It’s one I’d recommend to my best friend, and to you.

Head here to get your own and take the guess work out of planning! Use code HOME25 for 25% off! Be sure to pin the photo below to find it later!

Busy Toddler

4 thoughts on “Busy Toddler’s Homeschool Preschool Review: Hands On Activities In 40 Minutes Per Day

  1. I have a (just turned 5 & 3 & 1) year old(s) at home. Do you feel like the busy toddler curriculum prepared your oldest for Kinder? Thank you!

    1. Hi! My newly 6 year old who I’m homeschooling for kindergarten this year did not use Playing Preschool. You can read what we used for him in my post How To Homeschool Preschool linked at the top of this post to see that. But we are using Playing Preschool with my 2nd child, age 4 and I intend to go through year 1 & 2 for her because I think it does prepare them for K if you do both! It’s low stress, 45 min or less a day, and they don’t even realize it’s “school” because it’s so hands on. The extra bit we will be doing with her is Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and some extra handwriting since she seems eager to learn. Hope that helps!

  2. Thanks for your post! I have been using Playing Preschool with my son since last fall (2018) but we didn’t get through it all so I’m just picking up where we left off in the spring, and planning to include my (almost) 2yo daughter as much as she would like. I TOTALLY agree with you that the hardest part is getting the books from the library – even though we do head to the library about once a week. Requesting them through inter-library loan seems to be just a tiny bit more than my mom brain can handle haha…but I recently discovered that I can set an “activation date” for my hold requests when I do it online, so I can request books for the next unit, and then the following one, and just set the activation date for two weeks out, so those books don’t come right away. I’d like to think that will help, but we shall see! However, I do feel that she has picked truly wonderful books, and my son has loved almost every single one!

    I also agree that some activities seem too easy and I’m too lazy to set them up if I feel like it’s something my son has already mastered…but I think that’s one thing that I love about the whole curriculum – you can do it in a very casual way, as much or as little as you’d like, depending on your schedule or preferences for any given day/week.

    Anyway, great post!! 🙂 Happy schooling!

    1. Krysta love the tip on requesting library books online with a pick up date! And yes, I will second that if an activity is way too simple and you know your kid knows it, there’s no harm in skipping! We do that often since my daughter is 4.5 now, and we also repeat activities that are a big hit. Thanks for your ideas!

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