How to Teach Open-and-Go Preschool With Living Books

May 3, 2022

Carrie Fernandez


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Teaching preschool should be enjoyable, not stressful. If you are looking for an open-and-go preschool curriculum built around living books that also incorporates important Montessori-styles of learning, let me introduce you to Sonlight’s Preschool Program for ages 3-4.

How to teach open and go preschool with living books with a picture of stack of books and activities

(Note: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. Read our disclosure policy here.)

Homeschooling Preschool

Homeschooling during the preschool years is my absolute favorite time. This is a time of nurturing our children and teaching them foundational skills that will set them up for future success. 

If this is your first time teaching a preschool-aged child, you may be wondering the best way to instill a love of learning in them – without all the pressure of a structured learning environment, like a classroom.

The best way to approach teaching preschool is to allow kids to learn naturally through hands-on activities, play, reading quality literature, and adding some structured learning activities. 

Thankfully young children are excited to learn and will gladly participate in activities that teach them the skills they need to know. Using a preschool curriculum that provides hands-on opportunities and incorporates good living books is the best place to start. 

Sonlight’s Preschool Curriculum

Sonlight’s Preschool Program is created for ages 3-4, however even if you have a 2-year old, they will enjoy the stories, as would a kindergarten student. The Sonlight Preschool Package comes in a box and includes EVERYTHING you need to teach young learners. You’ll not need to go out and purchase anything! It includes great books, lesson plans, and a supply kit. 

The theme of the Preschool Package is Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Funand fun your child will surely have!

This package includes quality living books, nursery rhymes, Bible stories, games, Montessori-style hands-on supplies and activities, and all the things you need to create an environment to encourage a lifelong love of learning. It also comes with an Instructor’s Guide that makes teaching preschool a breeze – you just open and go!

mom reading to a preschooler

The Sonlight Preschool Approach

If you are familiar with Sonlight, you’ll know that Sonlight curriculum is built around quality literature. This also rings true for Sonlight’s Preschool Program. The one difference is that the newly updated preschool curriculum takes a Montessori approach that allows children to learn while DOING.

What is Montessori Learning?

The Montessori method takes a hands-on approach that allows children to learn through age-appropriate activities and collaborative play. When you combine a Montessori approach with good books, you’ll not only instill a love of reading in your child, but you will also help them build their confidence as they achieve milestones by doing hands-on activities. 

preschool boy using hands-on activities

How Sonlight Incorporates Hands-On Learning

One of the great things about the Sonlight Preschool Program is that the Instructor’s Guide walks you through teaching your child practical life skills, like how to wash a cup and a bowl or how to cut a banana and sweep beans. These hands-on activities may seem simple to you, but your little ones will love learning how to do things on their own.

Some of the other hands-on activities include cutting bread with a safety knife, creating with playdough, using sensory letters and numbers cards, cutting and gluing paper, and so much more. 

Sonlight Preschool Instructor’s Guide (TCG)

A Sonlight education relies heavily on the Instructor’s Guide. It will tell you exactly what to do with the big stack of books that comes in your curriculum box. Sonlight’s Instructor’s Guides are one of my favorite things about using Sonlight for our homeschool journey. 

You can download the first three weeks of any Instructor’s Guide at Sonlight. 

View a Sample Sonlight Instructor's Guide

Breaking Down the Instructor Guide for the Preschool Year

The instructor’s Guide includes a book list as well as an introduction for the parent/teacher that explains the program, a scope and sequence that lists out all the topics and skills taught and encouraging tips to keep your home organized. 

Weekly Schedules

There are weekly schedules planned out for 3 days a week, however the IG explains that you should follow your child’s lead in the book selections. You may re-read a specific title over and over for a month, and that’s okay! The thing I like most about this schedule is it’s very flexible. 

You can accomplish all the reading and activities in about 30 minutes a day – perfect for those preschool attention spans. 

The weekly schedule is laid out to cover these topics daily:

  • family Bible time
  • letters, shapes, and numbers
  • read-alouds

You’ll also sprinkle in arts and crafts, music, and Spanish, although it’s not scheduled for each of the three days (and again is very flexible!).

Supply Kit for Preschool

Sonlight’s Preschool Supply Kit includes all the hands-on supplies that you’ll need for the activities included in the Pre-K Instructor’s Guide.

  • number flash cards 1-10 
  • tactile numbers cards (0-10) with textured surface
  • 26 tactile lowercase print letters
  • 10 plastic geometric shapes with knobs and frames
  • plastic circle pieces (bingo markers)
  • colored pencils for young children
  • safety knife
  • safety scissors
  • small clipboard

Sonlight's Preschool Program Supply Kit

You can purchase some great add-ons for more hands-on fun. I tend to appreciate receiving everything all in one box; it’s just so much easier. After-all, isn’t that why you choose to purchase a boxed curriculum?!

Benefits of Reading Books with Preschoolers

Children of all ages enjoy good picture books and engaging stories, but preschool children really get so much out of reading. There are necessary development skills that reading books will help them develop. Skills such as listening, discussing, and building a strong vocabulary. Kids will acquire pre-reading skills needed for success in reading too. 

Sonlight’s Preschool Living Books

I absolutely love the carefully curated books included in Sonlight’s Preschool Package. The books are not only great read-alouds, but several of them are lift-the-flap type books that children just adore. If you have a preschooler, you can bet they will beg you to read these books repeatedly. You’ll expose your child to timeless classics that will foster a love of reading.

Sonlight Preschool Read Alouds

Books Included in the Sonlight Preschool Package

Check the Sonlight website for the most up-to-date literature selections for this program.

Family-Time Bible in Pictures

This beautiful children’s Bible by Dr. Kenneth Taylor, founder of Tyndale House Publishers and best-selling author of several children’s Bibles, brings 128 Bible stories to life with captivating illustrations designed to hold the attention of your young learners. It’s the perfect choice for family reading time. 

Mother Goose

This adorable children’s book is a charming collection of traditional nursery rhymes, illustrated with both color images and line drawings. It incorporates the animal world, children from around the world and various cultures, and more. It’s a book you’ll want to keep coming back to again and again. 

Make Way for McCloskey

This volume collects eight of Robert McCloskey’s most-loved stories. It includes  Make Way for DucklingsBlueberries for SalLentilTime of WonderOne Morning in MaineBurt Dow, Deep-Water Man; and excerpts from Homer Price and Centerburg Tales, all alongside engaging illustrations kids love. 

The Bee Tree

In The Bee Tree, Patricia Polacco weaves a lesson about how to find the sweetest things in life as Mary Ellen, who has grown tired of reading, winds her way through the Michigan woods with Grampa. 

Go, Dog. Go!

This book is an I Can Read It All By Myself, Beginner Book by P. D. Eastman whose bright illustrations and rhythmic rhyming of simple words for beginning readers has been a favorite for more than fifty years. 

Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales

This collection of eight fairy tales by one of the world’s most famous children’s authors are retold and beautifully illustrated in this volume. It includes six well-known fairy tales – The Wild Swans, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Tin Soldier, The Nightingale, and Thumbelina – as well as two lesser-known stories – Dan the Dunce and The Flying Trunk.

Horton Hatches the Egg

Horton Hatches the Egg shares the story of one of Dr. Seuss’ most beloved characters and encourages children, in the way that only Dr. Seuss can, to develop faithfulness no matter the obstacles they face. The illustrations are as timeless as they are treasured. 

Ian and the Gigantic Leafy Obstacle

When a missionary encounters a great big, leafy problem, it’s the perfect time to learn about God and prayer – and how the answers God gives us are rarely what we expect. The elephant in this story is a kid favorite and helps make the story impossible to forget. 

Mike Mulligan and More

This lovely collection of four of Virginia Lee Burton’s most-loved stories is sure to be a family favorite. Ms. Burton is remembered for her stories of patient endurance and steady growth, and this compilation includes the classic stories of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Little House, Katy and the Big Snow, and Maybelle the Cable Car

Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs

This picture book explores the difficult topic of a 4-year-old needing to say goodbye to a much-loved great-grandmother who lives in the same home as his grandparents. The story is enriched by the author Tomie dePaola’s memories of his own grandmothers that he drew on for inspiration. 

Noah’s Ark

This retelling of the story of Noah’s ark is done almost entirely through vivid pictures that explore not only the events of the Flood but also our imaginations as we wonder about things such as, “Was Mrs. Noah afraid of the rats?” and “How did Noah get just two bees to come on the ark?” 

Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm

The stories in Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm are funny, witty, and ones no child should miss. They explore farm life, the animal world, counting, and much more. 

Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day?

Introduce kids to what community helpers and other workers do every day by taking a fun, colorful trip to Busytown. Through adorable stories and illustrations, kids can learn more about people and the world around them. 

The Tall Book of Nursery Tales

The Tall Book of Nursery Tales shares twelve fairy tales and fables in a vivid and engaging way that is just right for preschoolers. Introduce them to the tales of Little Red Riding Hood; City Mouse, Country Mouse; The Gingerbread Man; Cinderella; The Three Bears; Jack and the Beanstalk; Chicken Little; The Tortoise and the Hare; The Little Red Hen; The Ugly Duckling; The Three Little Pigs; and The Princess and the Pea with this lovely book. 

Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics

The Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics is the perfect way to round up some of your favorite picture books in one easy-to-read volume. You can flip between Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown)Caps for Sale (Esphyr Slobodkina), Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson), Crictor (Tomi Ungerer), A Baby Sister for Frances (Russell Hoban), Leo the Late Bloomer (Robert Kraus), William’s Doll (Charlotte Zolotow), A Chair for My Mother (Vera B. Williams), If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Laura Numeroff), Chrysanthemum (Kevin Henkes), From Head to Toe (Eric Carle), and Pete’s a Pizza (William Steig), all without getting another book off the shelf. It’s perfect for bedtime reading! 

George and Martha

George and Martha have a lot of lessons to learn – it’s such a blessing that they can do it together. Your kids can join the pair as they learn lessons about life and friendship through heartwarming tales and classic illustrations. 

Look Inside Your Body

How do our lungs work? How do our brains think? Look Inside Your Body helps little ones discover what’s going inside their bodies through fun life-the-flap pages (and flaps within flaps) to let them take a peek inside our incredible, amazing bodies. 

Preschool students looking at a book

My First Spanish Word Board Book

Your little ones are learning new words every day – why not help them build their English and Spanish vocabulary at the same time? They can with My First Spanish Word Board Book, which has tons of pictures of everyday items separated into themes like animals, rooms of the house, farms, colors, numbers, and more. BONUS: Sonlight even provides access to audio files for each word so you can listen to all of the words in My First Spanish Book, read with correct pronunciations!

A Big Quiet House

Heather Forest combines the charm of an old folktale with a story for children in this book that teaches the lesson that sometimes, it’s not the situation that needs to change, but how you look at it. 

Last Stop on Market Street

Grandparents have a special way of connecting with their grandkids that enables kids to see and consider things in unique and wonderful ways. Your kids can join CJ and his grandma on a ride through the city as they journey through tough questions about life. 

In Conclusion

The Sonlight Preschool Program is an excellent choice for a well-rounded preschool curriculum. It’s easy to teach, includes all the books and supplies you will need for the full school year, and comes ready to just open-and-go. Sonlight’s Preschool Program is Montessori-inspired, rich in quality literature, and offers easy-to-incorporate hands-on activities. 

You will treasure the family time you spend reading classic books, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and even some science books. Not only will your children learn important life skills, but they will gain confidence in their new-found abilities – all in an enjoyable way that keeps the stress and pressure at bay!


Related resources

  • child playing by himself

    The Importance of Scheduling Quiet Time for Kids

  • pyramids

    Reasons Why It is Important for Kids to Learn History

  • Living Math Books

    Using Living Books to Teach Math Lessons & Review

  • 10 Homeschool Scheduling Tips To Help You Plan Your Year

    10 Homeschool Scheduling Tips To Help You Plan Your Year

  • children playing with blocks

    The Best Tips for Homeschooling Multiple Grades & Levels

  • pile of books

    The Best Children’s Encyclopedia Books for Reference