Loren Casas' Amazing Preschool Projects Are All About Meaningful Play
Letters, numbers, colors, and shapes – learning the basics starts at home. And when it comes to preschool lessons, they have to be simple enough for your kiddo to do by themselves; engaging, so that they sit still through the whole activity; and FUN, so that they keep asking for more. Forget the flashcards and workbooks… The best way to learn is through play!
We came across @thomasalm3ida’s Instagram feed, and were instantly inspired. Loren Casas is an illustrator and founder of Hola Little Soul. She homeschools her preschooler Thomas, and together, they’ve mastered the art of play-based learning. Together, they build robots and collect insects, explore outer space baths and lightbox swamps – they even make snow year-round!
Loren encourages her son to learn through meaningful play, and it’s a win-win for both: She didn’t want overwhelm her son with too many activities, so she plans games and activities based on his interests. By working with his current passions, at his own pace, Thomas feels free and safe to try new things. As for Loren, she gets to hone her artistic skills and feels a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
For those who aren’t as craft-savvy, don’t fret – Loren has a lot of preschool projects that are very easy to put together, and involve materials you already have at home – colored paper, paints, play doh, rocks from the backyard… These crafts are simple, educational, and help your little one work on those fine motor skills. Let the learning begin!
This is a two-part lesson on colors. On the left is a color wheel. Identify the colors, then gather your favorite fruits and veggies and match them up with the colors on the wheel. (If you’re feeling less daring, maybe swap out the banana pepper for a regular ol’ banana….)
On the right, use colored tablets and play-doh to learn about primary and secondary colors. Get three mason jars, and fill one with red dye, the other with blue, and the last with yellow. Grab some white play-doh and make a couple of small balls to dip in the jars. Then start mixing the colored play-doh together.. What happens when you mix red and yellow? Blue and red? All the colors???
This is a very fun and engaging project to get your kids to not only know their colors but to understand how they relate to each other.
Ever cleaned up the toy bin and thought… “Hmm… I wonder where this tiny dinosaur came from…” or “How strange, I’ve never seen this felt heart before"?
Before you throw all those miscellaneous small toys, use them for an alphabet lesson. Grab some letter blocks/cards/cut outs and line them up from A-Z. Place a toy next to the letter it starts with. Bonus points if you find something for X!
… But don’t just stop there. See how long you can get the line going! Add as many toys as you can find for each letter. More bonus points: Grab your play-doh and shape them into letters! Can you say fine motor skills?
Elevate playtime (and learning time!) with a lightbox, such as the Light Play Table by Design Life Kids. Everything’s more fun illuminated!
This number lesson is simple: On the top of your table (lit up or not), line up your number blocks in a row. Using a different color for each number, roll up the play-doh into little balls and arrange them in a column under their corresponding number. When you’re done lining up the balls, it’s time to start counting, squishing as you go!
Grab your collection of stones, and draw shapes on them using a permanent marker. Squares, circles, squares, triangles, hearts, rectangles – maybe throw in a trapezoid or two. Next, cut out some shapes using colored paper and line them up in a row (don’t forget the trapezoid, if you drew them on the stones). Put all the stones in a bowl, and have your kiddo sort them under the cutouts!
Here’s a fun pattern game: Head to the grocery store and buy an assortment of colored plastic cups.
Choose a pattern – such as 2 rows of orange, 2 rows of blue, 2 rows of green, etc… – and start stacking! This project is great for dexterity and patience (theirs and yours!)
See how high your tower can get. Experiment with different color patterns for the rows, or even the shape of your tower. Start with a triangle tower, then try a whole wall of cups…
When you’re done, celebrate with a round of 100% organic juice pong.
Did you know that there’s an actual game you can play with dominoes, besides lining them up and going timber? I honestly did not. Apparently you’re supposed to match the numbers on one end of a domino to another domino, and so on…
This activity is just like that, but instead of matching numbers, you’ll be matching colors. Head over to your backyard (or your neighbor’s.. or the quarry… ) and gather some stones. Get a few colors of paint. Randomly, paint one end of a rock one color, and the other end a different one. Paint the rest of the rocks different colors.
Gather the painted rocks and go to a big, empty space with a flat surface, and have your kiddo line up all the rocks, matching the ends by color.
Which of these fun projects by Loren Casas at @thomasalm3ida will you try with your preschooler? Share your favorite activities with us!