Friday, June 14, 2013

The Classical Preschool - Explore

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Welcome to the final day of The Classical Preschool!  To read the other posts in this five-day series, click on the picture above.

I have really enjoyed taking the time to look back on the past few years of my family's homeschool journey.  My oldest will be kindergarten age next year, so we have officially made it though the preschool years (with one child, that is!)

We have talked about reading aloud, memorization, using manipulatives, and narration.  Whew!  That sounds like like a plateful for a little guy.  Really, it doesn't have to be! Today I want to talk about what will (and should!) take up most of your preschooler's day.  You might carve out little chunks of time in your day for reading, practicing memory work, talking about numbers, etc., but what you child is going to be most of the day is playing!

Making Playtime (more) Meaningful

Today I just want to encourage you make your child's playtime meaningful.  Children are all different.  Some will creatively come up with their own activities to do, while others will look to you for guidance.  In either case, the burden is on you, mama, to provide meaningful opportunities for them.  I am going to encourage you today to help them not simply play, but explore.

So many scientific principles can be discovered by letting children explore.  When your children are very little, provide them with basic toys like blocks, trains, and puzzles.  Let their minds explore and discover what they can do with those toys.  Avoid too many toys that make noise, flash lights, and essentially play for your child.  You want to encourage your child to be an active explorer, not a passive watcher.

As your child grows, you will see that they are curious about everything.  Foster this excitement!  Provide them with opportunities to answer the questions: How? Why? and What? Here are some ideas that might get you going:

  • Play with ice cubes - Have them hold them, put them under running water, place them in bowls in different places around your house to see which melts quickest.
  • Magnify - Give your child a simple magnifying glass.  Let them wander around your house and yard discovering different types of surfaces.
  • Plant a seed - Let your child get their hands dirty and see the miracle of life coming from a 'dead' seed.  Let them plant, water, and watch as the sprout shoots up and grows each day.
  •  Feed the Birds - Make a simple bird feeder or coat something like a corn cob with peanut butter and seeds to hang in your tree.  Let your child watch and explore the birds that come to feast.
  •  Nature Walks - Whether it is around your yard, neighborhood, or local trail, get out and let your child observe nature.  There is an unending supply of blooms, bugs, trees, animals, and leaves for your child to observe and explore. 

  •  The 5 Senses - Give your child many opportunities to explore their senses.  Let them touch all kinds of materials, make sound with all kinds of objects, smell the flowers as well as the fish, listen for the noises outside, and whatever else you can think of!
  • Catch a bug and watch it for a while in a jar.
  • Build towers and forts, train tracks, and roll balls to discover friction, balance, and gravity.
  • Build a collection.  Let you child gather like items of whatever suits their fancy.  This is a great way for them to practice sorting, comparing, and contrasting.
  • Let your kids help, where appropriate, in the kitchen.  Let them learn how different tastes go together.  Let them see irreversible change, chemistry in action, and the physical changes that food goes through. (Let them squish, mash, and stir!)

These are just a few ideas to hopefully get the wheels in your brain turning.  Summertime is an especially great time to foster the spirit of exploration!  I encourage you to spend as much time as possible outside and as little time as possible in front of screens (computers, TVs, game systems, even electronic learning toys).  I promise that we are not perfect at this, but I truly strive to be better at facilitating creativity and discovery every day!

What are some of your favorite ways to encourage your children to explore while they play?

This series is a part of the iHomeschool Network summer Hopscotch!  Click the picture below to find other great series' from the ladies of the iHN.


  1. I have loved this series! I taught grammar school at a Classical Christian school until I quit to stay home with my daughter who is now one. We've just recently started having some intentional play time and I stumbled across your blog. We plan to homeschool (classically, of course!) and I am really enjoying reading through your older preschool posts to prepare for the future. I haven't seen very much online about classical preschool, so thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the series =)


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