Learning at Home When You Don’t Have a Plan

It’s been a while since I did a home preschool or intentional toddler time post.

We’ve been busy and learning at home like crazy, but our days don’t fit in a nice little busy box wrapped up with a perfect Pinterest-worthy craft.

For a little while, I felt guilty about it. I mean, I wrote a curriculum for toddlers. Shouldn’t I be doing my own curriculum?


But the truth is that we’ve been doing the Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum for Toddlers for more than two years. We’ve completed the curriculum. Twice.

My oldest is four and my youngest is just now seventeen months old.

My oldest is ready to move on to something else in his learning time, and my youngest isn’t quite ready to dive into the curriculum just yet.

He is cut from a totally different mold than my oldest, so who knows if it will be a good fit for him or not. Time will tell.

For now, we’ve just been doing a lot of life learning and following the lead of both of my children.

I love that we can fit our homeschool needs to life seasons and the ever changing needs of my children.

So today, I’m not sharing a really great post with a perfect theme. However, I want to share what we’ve been doing during home preschool and intentional toddler time.

I’m looking forward to a little more organized learning in the future, but for now, I’m totally resting in grace and trusting my kids to lead me during this season of change.

Bible & Character Training

We worked through the Self-Control Lesson from the Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum.

We read about the Battle of Jericho and did a sensory craft to go with it. My 17 month old got in on the action and he loved it!

walls of jericho

I drew a castle wall and helped the little ones cut out rectangles and squares from sand paper. We then glued them onto our city wall.

knocking over jericho
building jericho

We’ve been doing a lot of tower building with our wooden blocks. I don’t have a picture of my littlest, but he can stack nearly 10 blocks. He LOVES stacking blocks!

david and goliath

We also acted out David and Goliath several days in a row as we did a lesson from God’s Little Explorers.

We also explored rocks a little bit and used our Bible story stones to tell stories.

Letters & Phonics

We’ve recently worked on letters F, R, and W.

It should be noted that Sam is completely OBSESSED with finding Letter F’s. His Aunt and Uncle came for a visit this last month, and he about drove them bananas finding letter F’s everywhere.

He would find them on the ski slopes, at the restaurants, driving down the road, in the house, and anywhere else we went! He doesn’t just find them. He yells to anyone listening, “It’s an F!!!!!!” It will scare you if you’re not paying attention.

letter f sensory bin
letter r sensory bin

We continue to use our Alphabet Sensory Bins. Sam loves them and it’s great practice in repetition. I guess I didn’t get a picture of our letter W bin.

letter r

We work on letter recognition and sounding out all the words. Sometimes we’ll clap the syllables and try to think of other words that start with the letter of the day.

all about learning letter r

I am absolutely loving the All About Reading Pre-Reading Curriculum. It is so nice to have lesson plans spelled out for me. This curriculum has been a great fit for both of us. We usually do 1-3 of the lessons each week.

letter w stamps
letter w coloring sheet
how a 17 month old does school

These letter W printables are in my Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum.

I let Timmy do some stamping and coloring one day. He just liked sticking his finger in the ink pad.

Sam continues to love worksheets.

letter w in alphabet notebook
highlighting the letter r

Sam loves to make letters. I used a yellow marker to make a letter W, and then he traced it over and over again in “Super-Man Colors.”

I cut a short story out of a Highlights Magazine and had Sam highlight all the letter R’s.

letter w lacing

Sam has never enjoyed lacing, but we pulled these lacing letters out for some fine motor practice.

He actually enjoyed doing this! I’ll keep it in the rotation from now on. I think I’ll just add it to the letter sensory bins.

letter magnets

Our magnetic letter construction are very popular. Sam asks for them on a weekly basis.

I sat with both boys making letters one day. Timmy just liked doing what his brother was doing.

letter puzzle

Puzzles are another popular pick for this boy. He loved putting this puzzle together (even though he looks like he’s exhausted). ๐Ÿ˜‰

highlights search and find

We’ve been using our Highlights Magazines a lot lately. Sam loves the search and find activities. He’s really good at them too!

reading the wizard of oz

Books continue to be a big part of our homeschool. My oldest will sit for hours and look at books alone and begs for us to read stories multiple times a day.

I recently picked up The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to see if he was ready for a chapter book. We’ve dabbled in chapter book reading, but he’s never really gotten into. Until now. Wow!

It took a little coaxing to get started with this story since “it doesn’t have pictures,” but once we got through the first couple of chapters, he was hooked. We read nearly 100 pages in one sitting. I was shocked, impressed, and hoarse.

For the record, this book does have some black and white pictures on nearly every page.

baby highlights

My littlest is thoroughly enjoying his Baby Highlights subscription. He’s not as into reading as Sam.

It takes more focused effort to read with Timmy. Little squirmy butt.

Some days he’ll sit for several books in a row. Other days, we do well to just get through one.

That’s okay. I’ll just keep reading.

books read

Math & Science


I introduced Sam to the classic Uno card game. He’s addicted! We lay our cards out in front of us to play, which makes it easier to play with him.

We’ve also been playing a lot of Memory, Hi Ho Cherry-O, and Thinkfun Roll and Play. He loves games just about as much as he loves books!

You can see our favorite games to play with a two year old here and three year old here.

thinking about number wheel

I love this face. He’s thinking about what he’s supposed to do with the number wheel. I’ve shared about this busy bag before.

number wheel

He’s really gotten the hang of his numbers, but clothes pins are still a struggle for him. This was great fine motor practice. He had the clothes pins mastered by the end of this activity.

number 3 tactile

We’ve been slowly making tactile numbers to hang on our number wall. I let him pick how he wants to decorate his numbers. Superheroes are a big deal in our house. When given the choice, this is usually what he goes with – superhero stickers of any kind.

reading tags as we sort clothes

One day I pulled out all the kids’ clothes and sorted them. We’re getting ready to move across the country again. So this was a necessary task before packing!

Samuel was adamant about helping me. I taught him how to read the labels and he sorted the clothes into the correct bins, which were also labeled. He was a huge help, and honestly I wouldn’t have finished this task as quickly without him.

green kid craft close up

We have a subscription to Green Kid Crafts. This was our first time using the boxed science kits. Oh my! We’re loving it!

By the way, our subscriptions (Highlights too) are thanks to Grammy and “Old” Nannie (great-grandmother). We are SO THANKFUL for their generosity!

The first kit has been all about rainforests. I love having the activities planned for me and everything I need for the craft in the box. Go ahead and color me happy!

We also looked up You Tube videos on rainforest sounds, animals, etc., as well as checked out a few books and DVDs from the library. It was fun exploring and reading about rainforests. I even learned a few new things!

chip drop

Dropping counting chips into a slotted tin can continues to be one of Timmy’s favorite activities. I would tell him the color and count as he dropped the chips into the can.

Sensory Play

sensory bin

Sensory bins continue to be a staple in our learning time together. I love open ended play that both boys can do together. I have a post coming on sensory bins soon.

sensory bin mess

I just throw a big white sheet down and let the boys have fun. It’s easy to dump the contents back into the bin when they are done playing.

fine motor skills

One night some friends took my oldest to a basketball game, which meant I got some precious one-on-one time with this guy. I pulled out the Avalanche game and worked on fine motor skills, counting, and color sorting. It was so much fun! I forget how much I love this age.

Life Skills & Free Play

t25 workout

I set a goal to complete T-25 by March 31st. I got off to a great start. But then I got pregnant and later lost our baby. I just haven’t hopped back on the horse again just yet. I want to try again though.

Anyway, both boys loved doing T-25 with me. By the end of the first week, Sam even hung with me for an entire workout! I was impressed.

pots and pans

This little guy gets into everything. I mean everything. Just take a look at the mess behind him. All his doing. He loves pulling my mixing bowls out and playing with them. He plays the drum, pushes them around like cars, stands on them to jump off, and whatever else he comes up with.

looking up something on you tube

We have a set of Lincoln Logs and one night Daddy and Sam looked up a You Tube video on how to build something with them. I don’t remember what it was exactly, but I loved this picture. Be still my heart.

highlighter fun

Ahem. Did I mention that this little one gets into everything? I’m still finding highlighter on his body from this incident. Love him and all his crazy ways. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Daddy has been working hard with Sam on cooking breakfast. Sam’s been in the kitchen with us since he was about 18 months old. I can’t even imagine Timmy getting permission to do anything right now. It amazes me how different children are!

Sam can do everything but turn the burner on! He scrambles eggs like a pro including adding the salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast.

cleaning off table

This picture makes me smile and makes me think of his brother. They are so different, but yet the same in so many ways. I mean, what other way would you suggest clearing the table for dinner?

Even though I haven’t had a formal plan for weeks, we’ve still been learning together. This is only what can be captured in pictures! And now that I put it into a post it does seem more put together than I realized it while doing it all.

Maybe that’s the point?

I’m often asked how I do it all, or how I organize homeschool plans, or how I come up with things to do, or you fill in the blank. I’m afraid sometimes it seems like I have it all together and my kids always have Pinterest-worthy stuff to work on. I love our Pinterest fun. But sometimes, we’re just doing life like you and every other mom who is doing her best.

Maybe if you put everything you did with your children into a book or blog post or journal, you’d see that you really do a lot of learning with your kids!

Your home won’t look like mine. My home isn’t going to look like yours. We’re all gifted in various ways and our children are like night and day. MY children are like night and day.

Sam loves to sit and read books, play games, work puzzles, and fill out worksheets. He’s loved doing this stuff since he was about 18 months old.

Timmy will barely sit through a book, won’t hold a crayon properly, would rather eat glue than stick it to paper, and loves to bang pots and pans as loudly as he can. I’m going to have to adapt to him and his learning style. And I will. Eventually. But right now I’ll let him join in where he wants and play as much as he wants and wrestle with him as long as I can.

Sometimes I don’t have a plan. Sometimes I just look for opportunities to instill God’s truth into my children, talk about letters on the road signs, numbers at the grocery store (or on the screen telling us how much we owe in library fines), and make learning toys available.

Some days we “do school” and other days we play Uno twenty times in a row. And that’s okay. Even if I did write a curriculum.

So what have you been learning at home in your preschool or intentional toddler time?

If you’re interested in an easy to follow curriculum for your toddler or preschooler, check out the Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum for Toddlers. You can teach early learning skills while instilling God’s truth. Learn more here.

Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum for Toddlers!

This post contains my affiliate links. See my full disclosure policy here.

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  1. Love this post! Thanks so much! Such an encouragement because I’ve been off my plan for a few weeks now as well. I was thinking just the other day I just want a “normal” day again. But maybe I’m searching for the wrong thing. ๐Ÿ™‚
    And I get the “night and day” thing. Elynna does school a lot like Sam and my youngest sounds more like Timmy. Although, he’s getting better with holding crayons (and markers with the white board!) and will sit through a book now, but he just likes to MOVE.

  2. Your days sound a lot like how preschool goes for my son (recently turned 3 years old). At this point in time a structured “curriculum” is not for us. My plan is to start something more formal when he is 5 or 6, depending on how things are going. Right now, we are mostly spontaneous and interest-led which works great for my very curious little boy. I see what he is interested in and plan a few things around that… lately its been bones (started out as an interest in doctors), so we’ve read many body/bone books from the library, made a skeleton puzzle, colored skeletons, made up a song with the bone names, and invested in a skeleton model. He is quite obsessed and many of the latin bone names are now part of his everyday vocabulary. We are going to start a small garden soon, so we’ve picked out plants together, read gardening books, sprouted seeds, etc. I just recently started teaching him that if you are curious about something, you can get a book on that topic from the library – so he has asked for books on tools and space. Most of our craft materials and learning supplies are accessible to him on a large shelf, so all he has to do is ask and he can do whatever he’d like. Right now he is currently playing with playdoh, dinosaurs, and laminated letter mats. We also do bible lessons (documented on my blog in the Play Through the Bible Series). We just started reading lessons (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons) because he was showing a huge interest in letters again (something he’s been on again off again). I firmly believe kids will learn to read when they’re ready, but I finally just asked him if he wanted to learn to read. He said yes and is doing great so far! I am a little skeptical because 3 seems so early.. but if he wants to do it, I’m not going to hold him back!

    I am pregnant now and can’t wait to see how this next one will be different! It is so fun to watch our kids learn and grow!

  3. This sounds like a lot of what we do at this point in their learning/schooling career. Lots and lots of play. Lots of books. And lots of talking to each other. There are times when I feel like we should be doing more, but then they amaze me with things that they remember or have simply picked up on naturally.

    One thing I love about having them at home with me is the time and opportunity we have to do things together. We can do life at a slower pace, which means I can teach them how to cook and sew and paint and whatever else they are interested in. It’s a blessing for sure.