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Five* years ago, we decided to do preschool at home with our older daughter. As a former classroom teacher, I may have overdone “the school at home” a bit. (I totally did, and you can read about it here.) For some unknown reason, it seems we–as parents–are in a continual rush to push our children ahead to the next stage.

Did you know the number one search result for both “tot school” and “preschool at home” is all about choosing curriculum? Which program will BEST prepare my child for Kindergarten?

The truth is, there is NO perfect curriculum that will make tot school or preschool at home a guaranteed success. There are just too many variables: how you teach, how your child learns best, what your family values (nature, reading aloud, independent play, art, music, geography, travel, etc.)

More important than curriculum–in my opinion–is the learning environment we create for our children.

It starts with curating our toys (and books) for maximum impact. We want to choose items that can be used for open-ended play, in a multitude of ways, throughout the year. What must-haves can be mixed and matched to teach our child new concepts?

Click here to read more about my thoughts on preschool curriculum.

Must Have Materials for Your Tot School

Must-Have Supplies for Tot School and Preschool at Home

Must-Have Supplies for Your Preschool at Home

Here are some of our favorite tot school must-haves for every family:

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  • pom poms
  • clothespins
  • colored straws
  • pony beads
  • pipe cleaners
  • craft sticks (with and without Velcro dots)


  • muffin tin
  • glass jar
  • empty Parmesan cheese container
  • funnel
  • “chip and dip” container
  • trays
  • tongs and other fine motor tools
  • shoelace or string


Don’t forget

  • regular trips to the library
  • reading aloud
  • lots (and lots!) of time outside

What are your tot school must-haves?

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* This post was originally written in 2016.