Numbers for Preschoolers


Here’s a fun project for tiny hands: take out a sheet of paper and draw out numbers or letters as the templates for a child’s play dough.  This gets the kids pinching, rolling and problem solving.  After they have arranged the play dough on the templates you can encourage them to “draw” the numbers by going back over the dough and poking the shapes.



Have you ever been intimidated by a blank page?  Well artists don’t always start out that way.  White is great for highlights but usually there isn’t much white in a picture.  That’s part of what can make beginning a picture so daunting – there is so much to do.  But if you begin instead with a mid tone then all you need to do is add the highlights and the shadows. (Click here for an example of how)


Here’s an example of a project to illustrate this with kids.  If you do a google search for a coloring sheet of squirrel and print it out for your kids to color they will spend all their time coloring in brown.  (I got my picture here) However, if you cut up an old Trader Joe’s bag and print the picture out on that then they can use white as well as dark colors but the mid tone colors won’t show up as well.

Traditional watercolorists save the white of the paper and don’t use white paint.  (Sometimes using masking) However, since the white paint is there, why not use it?

Classical Conversations: Art Lessons for Weeks 4 and 5

These lessons could be modified for any age but I designed them with 4-5 year olds in mind.  Week 4’s topic is abstract art and week 5 is perspective.  These are some really broad topics for little ones to grasp.  In my experience children this age are eager to explore and can be easily frustrated when they are trying to draw a certain thing, like a correct “m” for example.  These lessons focus the broad topics suggested in the Classical Conversations program and make them more fun and more accessible for little hands.  I definitely must give credit for my inspiration to both Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and Mona Brookes’ Drawing with Children.

For the abstract art lesson, for instance, I suggest hanging up pictures of each of these characters and asking the kids to tell about them:

Abstract ArtAbstract Art

Here is the PDF of the lessons:

Classical Conversations Art week 4&5


This week is our first week with Classical Conversations.  My eldest just turned five and is not ready for kindergarten but eager to learn so we’re trying it out.  Having graduated from and taught at a Classical Christian school I’ve been curious about this homeschool spin off.  What better way to learn than to participate?  The kids loved their first day at school and can’t wait until next week – so so far so good!

Cycle 1 Week 1 includes memorizing the classification of living things as well as learning the “Oils.” “Oils,” (the word is actually a picture) are the five basic shapes of drawing as taken from Mona Brookes, “Drawing with Children.”  In order to help explain what classifying is I came up with a sorting game that uses the letters in the first few lessons of Sigfied Engelmann’s “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.”

"Sorting Game"


First I printed out all the letters and made enough for three children.  I explained how we were going to classify the letters.  First we put all the letters into the largest bucket.  Next I asked them to look through these letters and find any that had a curved line.  Two of the kids even got into a tussle about whether or not the lowercase letter “t” had a curve at the bottom.  I reminded them to each make their own decision about their own letters and then told them that scientists also sometimes disagree when classifying living things.  (I wanted to say that when grown-ups disagree about sorting through where animals go they don’t yell at each other but know that’s not true!)  The next bucket (which looks like it’s a no-smoking bucket) was for letters with no straight lines.  Finally came letters that were a circle shape.  The game was a huge hit.  This along with a little handout of a picture of bears that I showed them helped make a bit more sense out of the terms we are memorizing this week.

The idea to include sandpaper letters came from Elizabeth G. Hainstock’s “Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years.”  And yes, I know that these two educational philosophies of intense memorization on the one hand and self guidance by sensory experience on the other are polar opposites.  I’m looking for via media.

"letter manipulatives"