Best Preschool Learning Kits

Updated August 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best preschool learning kits

Last Updated August 2020

As scientists discover more about brain development, we learn just how important early education is for children. Kids experience more brain growth between birth and age eight than at any other time. What’s more, students whose learning challenges go unnoticed after first grade often struggle for years to catch up.

We expect a lot from kids in the early elementary years: mastering new skills and routines, sharing and compromising with others, spending long periods away from the familiarity of home. Giving kids a headstart with preschool material can help them succeed when formal schooling begins. Specifically, a familiarity with Kindergarten concepts and ideas ahead of time can help ease the transition when learning milestones really start to count.

Thankfully, preschool doesn’t have to be strict, time-consuming, or expensive. In fact, much of the learning can be done at home, but a good preschool learning kit is essential. In this guide, we explore your options and provide tips and advice to help your little one succeed.

Participating in community sports and arts programs is a great way to socialize kids who stay at home for preschool learning.

Key considerations

Letters and numbers figure prominently in preschool curricula, but math and reading aren’t the only subjects that matter. Let’s take a look at the broad learning categories preschoolers should be exposed to.

Reading

A primary goal of preschool is to prepare children for reading by learning the alphabet. Kids should learn all 26 capital letters in preschool. They should also be exposed to lowercase letters, though they may not remember them all at this stage. Pre-reading practice should go beyond letters, though. Kids need to be singing, rhyming, and listening to and discussing books as well.

Math

Pre-math skill development is a major focus in preschool. During the year, children should learn to recognize the numbers 0 through 10. They should practice counting objects until they are able to count to 10 or more. Keep in mind that kids this age may not actually connect number symbols to the quantities they are counting. This connection may come later.

Learning to recognize patterns and identifying and sorting shapes should also be part of preschool learning.

Science

Kids are naturally curious about the world around them. At this age, science focuses more on sparking natural curiosity than facts and figures. Studying subjects like weather, animals, plants, and other observable objects is a natural fit. Activities involving seasons, gardening, and metamorphosis are great hands-on choices. Cooking, mixing, and measuring ingredients are great kitchen activities.

Fine motor skills

Kids may need to strengthen the small muscles in their hands and wrists as they approach preschool age. Mastering fine motor skills becomes very important in Kindergarten and beyond, when activities like writing and cutting become daily tasks.

There are many fun ways for preschoolers to hone their fine motor skills. Modeling clay, cutting, coloring, painting, stringing beads, and other finger-intensive activities can help develop the hand muscles. You may also want to try pinching bubbles and lifting small objects with tongs.

Pretend play

Many formal preschools have pretend play areas where kids can access pint-sized costumes, kitchen sets, tool benches, and other make-believe materials. Blocks, boxes, play tents, and other items can help facilitate unstructured free play. This kind of play is important to preschoolers because it allows them to explore different roles and situations. It can help them step into another person’s shoes, so to speak, while bolstering creativity and problem-solving skills.

Routines

Preschool helps children transition from having little routine to having a structured daily routine. Many classroom charts detail the day of the week, the month of the year, and special days and seasons. Kids thrive in school settings when they know what to expect.

It’s up to you to decide how structured your child’s home routine should be. Should you do a math lesson at the same time every day, or should you simply make it the first task of the day and not worry about the clock? Should you set a specific snack time, or should you let hunger dictate when kids eat? It’s up to you, but bear in mind that in a Kindergarten classroom, the days will definitely be structured.

EXPERT TIP

Completing preschool activities can help you identify any learning challenges early on, so there’s a smaller chance your child falls behind.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

All-in-one kits

Picking a comprehensive preschool kit ensures you won’t need to search for resources later. Most all-in-one kits include the materials you need for practicing letters, numbers, fine motor strengthening, and more. Comprehensive resources often cost more than individual kits, and in some cases, you could end up paying for items you don’t need or use. Notably, comprehensive kits often do not include science and pretend play materials. 

Some all-in-one kits include hard copies of activities, fine motor materials, and other hands-on products. Others include a disc or other form of digital access where parents choose what to use or print. These options may be less expensive, but it takes time to sift through all the provided material, and you’ll need a printer and paper.

Individual items

Choosing individual learning books and other items gives you the freedom to pick what you like and tailor your teaching to your child’s interests. It does take more time to select individual items than it does to purchase a set of materials, however, and you are the one responsible for covering all the bases.

Buying learning items individually may cost more than purchasing a curriculum-type set. However, the time and effort may be worth it for a resource your child really loves.

Reusable materials

Some preschool learning resources, like craft materials, are for one-time use. Others are reusable: dry erase boards, game cards, matching games, and so on. You may find it more economical to buy reusable materials, especially if you plan to work with more than one child.

DID YOU KNOW?

Most children can write their own first name by the time they finish preschool.

Accessories

Alphabet toys: Learning Resources Smart Snacks Alpha Pops
Kids may not recognize most lowercase letters in preschool, but this cute kit gives them a head start. Find the corresponding capital and lowercase letters by matching popsicle halves.

Science supplement: DK Workbooks: Science, Pre-K: Learn and Explore Many comprehensive preschool resources are skimpy on science. This paperback workbook is the perfect way to introduce your child to the five senses, seasons, weather, and other child-friendly science concepts.

Counting manipulatives:  Learning Resources Mini Muffin Match Up
This multi-use set gives you the ultimate bang for your buck. Kids can use the tongs to practice moving the miniature muffins into cups, building fine motor skills as they go. They can roll the dice to count how many muffins to pick, or they can create their own learning game using number cards or colored discs.

EXPERT TIP

Preschoolers need 12 to 14 hours of sleep each night to learn best.


Staff  | BestReviews

Preschool learning kit prices

Inexpensive: The most budget-friendly preschool learning materials cost between $5 and $10. You’ll find resources reinforcing fine motor skills and single-subject workbooks in this price range.

Mid-range: Middle-tier preschool learning kits cost $10 to $20. You’ll find comprehensive workbooks in this range, but they probably won’t come with any hands-on materials. You’ll also find standalone hands-on learning materials.

Expensive: The priciest preschool learning kits cost $25 to $30. If you’re paying this much, you should be getting a thorough set of printed materials or a comprehensive digital resource, both of which should include reusables and hands-on materials.

Tips

  • Make time for reading. Though story books aren’t included in most preschool kits, reading time needs to be an active part of any preschooler’s education.
  • Keep lessons short. Preschool subject lessons should only last a few minutes. Wrap up before they lose interest to keep them excited about learning more next time.
  • Maximize morning time. Young children often learn best in the morning after breakfast, when they’re well rested and their stomachs are still full from breakfast.
Children should learn basic colors in these early years. Learning about colors helps kids form cognitive links between the objects they see and abstract words that describe the objects.

FAQ

Q. When should I start working on preschool learning with my child?
A.
Studies show that children can start remembering some letters and other basic symbols between ages two and three. However, most kids won’t master them until between four and five, so it makes sense to start then. If you want to work with your child earlier, focus more on gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and other early childhood education materials that will serve them well when preschool rolls around.
 

Q. Is it okay to do preschool at home?
A.
Yes! Parents are perfectly capable of instructing most preschool subjects at home. The learning experience parents may have difficulty replicating at home is the social component. Formal preschool gives many children their first real social experiences outside the family. It’s hard to learn to share, take turns, negotiate conflict resolution, or work together on cleanup in a class of one. Look for opportunities for group interaction like sports, art classes, playgroups, or other resources.
 

Q. Should I be concerned if my child has problems with letters and numbers?
A.
Most children are able to learn all the capital letters between ages four and five, but it’s a process. Some kids still reverse similar-looking lowercase letters in second grade. Don’t be too concerned with little mistakes. If you notice a pattern of mistakes or are concerned about a history of learning challenges in the family, consider talking to your child’s pediatrician. The stakes are not high in preschool; the point is mostly to prepare students for Kindergarten. In first grade, and especially second grade, learning gaps are harder to fill. 

The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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