This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dollar General. All opinions are 100% mine.

My 3 year old is so excited about learning. When I tell her a new word for something, she carefully repeats it a few times to make sure it sticks. When she learns a new skill, she focuses on it 100% so that she is sure to get it just right. Also? She remembers EVERYthing.

Naturally, it has entered my mind to do some sort of lessons with her. Nothing too intense, just some skill-building and educational activities.

We headed to Dollar General to see what sorts of materials they had for us to use. They have tons of school supplies, activity books, wall materials (giant cut-out alphabets, posters, calendars, and so on), and the office-supply type stuff.

In cheerful yellow bags, a bunch of supplies came home with us. Construction paper and bright printer paper, a bright pink composition book with a durable plastic cover, a pad of large-lined writing paper, glue, lacing cards, alphabet and phonics flash cards, scented stickers, adorable mechanical pencils that look like the fun wooden ones, but shorter (perfect for my homepreschooler!), a zippered pencil case, and a plastic drawer organizer.

Some of the things are just for fun. No, I won't be drilling my daughter with flash cards. But they are fun to look through and chat about the drawings on them and practice sounds casually. The lacing cards also are just a "bonus." I stuck a couple of them in the car for her to work on in her car seat sometimes to keep her occupied.

And the scented stickers she picked out? She uses them to reward herself after reading lessons. Don't ask me… I have no idea. She thought it up, and she doles them out to herself one at a time.

So for a while, we've been doing intermittent reading lessons. Definitely less than daily, but enough for a just-turned-3 girlie like mine. We've been using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It's pretty much the perfect way to teach reading to your child (IF he or she is ready), research-based and proven to really work with the best long-term results.

We do lessons pretty casually, while Joseph is napping or playing with his dad. We snuggle on the couch and play the language games scripted in each lesson, practice sounds, sound out words, and rhyme. Then we end each lesson with the writing practice suggested in the book.

I don't push that part much (if she were 5 or 6, I would focus more on proper letter formation, but right now I just show her how and then let her try on her own without any pressure of doing it "correctly"…and she does really well), but Anneliese likes to wind down with her notebook or pad of paper after a reading lesson, before rewarding herself with a sticker. (Again, I have no idea. It's her own thing.)

I'll probably write more about this later, but I know some of you have been wondering what I've been using with her for reading, so I wanted to be sure to include it now too.

Anneliese has been asking me for a while now if she could learn to use scissors. So I created this Montessori activity for her. Some strips of construction paper, a basket to catch and store the bits in, and a small pair of children's scissors, all contained in a tray. (Dollar General had children's scissors, but I have a billion pairs of scissors from my teaching days, so I didn't get any.)

First, I showed Anneliese how to hold the scissors. "Two fingers go in this bigger hole on the bottom, then your thumb goes in the top smaller hole." Then I showed her how to open and close the "mouth," emphasizing it with "Chomp, chomp, chomp!" I demonstrated holding the strip of paper in my left hand and "putting it all the way in the scissor mouth" before "chomping."

I know it probably sounds silly, but it really sunk in. Before handing over the scissors, I reminded her that the blades are sharp, like knives, and to keep her fingers away from them…only to hold the handles. Then? I set her free to practice.

Sometimes she would stop herself, saying, "Oh no! I need to…adjust my fingers." if she couldn't get the "mouth" open wide enough. But soon enough, she had cut the whole pile of strips into little rectangles and the basket was full, ready for the next work.

The next work I did with Anneliese was a gluing activity. With a similar setup to the cutting one, I had the basket full of small paper pieces she had cut, a tray of construction paper quarters, and the glue bottle.

Anneliese has been serving herself mustard (her favorite condiment) for a while and knows how to "hug the bottle with [her] hands." So I used the same hug analogy, but told her that this time, we were going to practice control by doing the tiniest little baby hug so just one dot of glue would come out. This isn't her first time gluing, but it's been a while.

She made a dot of glue on the paper, then selected a small cut piece, stuck it on, and pressed it down a bit. If the glue oozed out of the edges, she recognized that the dot was too big, and made an effort to "practice control" and make a smaller dot the next time.

These are just a few of the homepreschool activities we've been doing, and we have been having so much fun.

Would you try any of these lessons at home with your small kids? What's your favorite homepreschool activity that you've done or plan to do?


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  1. […] First, I grabbed several containers and sticks of glue. My three year old has been really into cutting and gluing works, and even getting to do it at school isn't enough for her. She wants to do more when she comes […]

  2. I wish that Sebastian had an interest in reading. He is really good with shapes and I think above average at drawing, and he loves identifying letters *because they are shapes*, but he has absolutely no desire to learn about how they make words. (He does have the sounds memorized and can tell me which letter words start with if I say them out loud. So I guess that’s a good start.)

    I really love your learning pots – Such good ideas! Sebastian has those plastic kids scissors but we really need to get some like yours. He uses knives so why not real scissors? He always asks to glue things but I know that he would just freak out and want them UN-glued as soon as he was finished. That’s the way he is with tape and stickers. I envy Anneliese’s affinity for delicate things. Sebastian is so BIG and PHYSICAL. I relish the moments he sits down to draw and color simply because those are activities I truly enjoy.

  3. have you also looking into the Reggio-Emilia approach? It is similar but even more whole-brain, child centered, left-brain. My daughter goes to an AMAZING school based on this approach in Sugar Land, TX.

  4. I keep jars full of all of the little pieces of paper like she cut from her strips, a jar for each color, available on our craft shelf for crafts. I had my girls practice gluing by drawing a big heart(or whatever shape you like) on a piece of paper and using the little pieces of paper to fill it in. When they were finished I would cut the heart out. Now that my girls are older they still enjoy doing this but they can do the whole project on their own. 🙂

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