This week the #PlayfulECE Team offers the best in summer learning through PLAY for preschoolers! Even if you don’t have a chance to visit the ocean or a beach this summer, the activities below will bring the delights of playful learning, creating, and exploration to kids at home or in the preschool classroom!
BEACH-THEMED PLAYDOUGH COUNTING – Preschoolers will love playing with the playdough and beach-themed objects! It is a great way to PLAY with one-to-one correspondence and work on basic counting skills over the summer.
SEA TURTLE LIFE CYCLE: Explore the Life Cycle of a Sea Turtle with a unique SENSORY BAG that will encourage kids to learn through tactile and sensory PLAY!
Sand Pail Counting – Print the sand pail template for playful practice with basic counting and one-to-one correspondence!
Beach Rhyming Words – practice words that RHYME with a FREE PRINTABLE for playful learning this summer!
OYSTER and PEARL COOKIE SNACK – an EASY to create snack to accompany discussions and PLAY with an OCEAN or BEACH THEME! Shark Cookies – Print the shark fins to heavy paper and laminate! It’s a fun snack for an Ocean or Beach Theme at home or in the classroom!
The Ocean Theme from The Preschool Toolbox is an instant download that contains an extensive book list, literacy, math, science, art and craft ideas, gross motor, sensory, and more food craft ideas for Preschool and Kindergarten. ALL you need to explore the OCEAN this summer at home or in the classroom!
For even MORE great ideas for Summer Play and Learning, please visit the activities below from the #PlayfulECE team of bloggers!
Lavender Scented Sensory Paint and Pre-Writing in Preschool!
We are pleased to join the #PlayfulPreschool blogging team in offering Flowers-themed playful learning activities this week! Please be sure to check out more awesome activities that are linked at the bottom of this post!
Lavender has long been thought to bring a calming and soothing effect to both adults and children. It would be rare to find anyone who could walk through a field of lavender without stopping to notice the heavenly fragrance! According to Psychology Today, “When it comes to lavender’s soothing claims, science seems to be giving the nod to aromatherapy’s validity.” Using lavender oil scented paint with preschoolers is an easy, soothing, and delightful sensory learning experience!
Disclaimer: This post and others within this blog contains affiliate and distributor links. Opinions are my own.
Mix the purple paint, white paint, and 3-4 drops of the lavender essential oil on a paint tray or a paper plate. You’ll immediately notice the aroma of the lavender oil. It only takes a few drops to make regular paint a new sensory experience for preschoolers. The paint is fun to use alone, but to create a special learning experience, try the pre-writing activity below!
Lavender Scented Sensory Pre-Writing Activity for Preschool!
Purpose: to encourage stroke directionality, fine motor control, transferring, tracing, and pre-writing skills in preschool-aged children.
Paint Smock or an old T-shirt (to protect clothing)
Label the blank dice or wood cubes with various line paths (dotted lines, curved lines, straight lines, etc.). Print one copy of the Lavender Pre-Writing Practice page (linked above) for each child. Invite the children to roll the die (or cube) and then transfer (copy) the line pattern on the die to the lavender printable using the painting tool and the lavender scented paint. Remind the children to paint the line paths from the LEFT side of the page to the RIGHT side of the page.
For younger children: Make line paths on the printable with a permanent marker and invite the children to trace the lines with their painting tool and the lavender scented paint.
For textured line paths, add small pieces of real lavender, lavender leaves, or glitter to the painted line paths before drying. Allow the paint to thoroughly dry. When dry, invite the children to use their finger to trace the line paths, FEEL the textures, and SMELL the paths to see if they can detect the lavender scent.
The lavender paint creates a unique and FUN flower-themed sensory activity for practicing pre-writing and transfer skills! Our kids loved the scent and asked to do the activity MANY days in a row!
For more great ways to PLAY with a FLOWER THEME in Preschool, please see the amazing activities below:
Alphabet Activities: Flower Vasesby Growing Book by Book
Spring and summer are full of opportunities for preschoolers to pick flowers from the yard. Bring a bouquet inside and have fun arranging them while learning about the alphabet in this fun and playful activity.
Flower Hunt by Colorby Mom Inspired Life
Get outside with your preschooler and explore nature while hunting for flowers by color! Use the included printable to record your findings and then practice various math concepts with your data.
A Honey Bee Craft and Science Activity for Kids from The Educators’ Spin On It
Flowers are not just beautiful, they have a purpose too! Many flowers turn into the food we eat. Honey bees are to thank for this! Grab your markers and celebrate the pollinators with this bee craft and science activity for kids.
Kid-Made Cupcake Liner Flowers Children love to create art using a variety of materials. Grab some colorful cupcake liners, buttons, and pompoms and watch their creativity bloom! – Fun-A-Day
If you are a teacher, caregiver, or parent of a young child, you know what I mean by hard work! Our days are busy with many blessings and joys, but often with little time to truly take care of our own needs or to consider ways to make better choices for our own families!
My oldest daughter passed away unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism in January of 2015 – she had just turned 30 on Christmas Day. Teaching infants through preschoolers daily left little energy for me to consider my own health or that of our large grieving family. A dear colleague (and fellow educational blogger) introduced me to Young Living Essential Oils.I know how powerful sensory learning can be for kids; I also knew I was on sensory overload and needed to take better care of myself. I took considerable time in researching and learning all I could about the use of Essential Oils – Young Living had, by far, the best in quality-controlled products with a vast educational library!
I’m honored to bring to YOU, our valued teachers, caregivers, and parents, ESSENTIAL OILS through The Preschool Toolbox Blog. I’m challenging each of YOU to take care of yourself and your own family! Eating right, educating yourself about products that can enhance your own sense of well-being, and being active will bring us all to FALL with a renewed sense of accomplishment! Let’s get started TOGETHER this summer!
This post contains affiliate and distributor links. Opinions are my own.
Young Living Starter Kit
The PREMIUM STARTER OIL KIT includes EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BEGIN! When you order a premium starter kit, I’ll put the commission I would have earned toward motivational and educational resources to help YOU learn about your new oils and begin a journey to make YOURSELF a priority!
With the premium starter kit, you’ll receive:
The Everyday Oils collection—This includes 10 essential oils! (Retail $163.16)
Citrus Fresh 5ml—An extra bonus oil! (Retail $20.07)
Home Diffuser (Retail $96.68)
AromaGlide Roller Fitment
14 Sample Packets**
Welcome to Young Living booklet
Essential Oils at a Glance user’s guide
I’ll add the FREEBIES below to help YOU take care of YOU! Note – this offer is ONLY valid until May 31, 2015.
The Reference Guide to Essential Oils App – Everything you need to know to get started with Young Living essential oils, right at your fingertips! Learn about your new oils on your mobile device. (Retail $6.99)
One paperback copy of Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins (ARV $10.00)
PLUS twice daily email or text support for 10 WEEKS to partner with YOU in succeeding at your own personal goals -our team will encourage you each step of the way!
Won’t you make the decision TODAY to join us this summer on a wellness journey?!
(This amazing offer is ONLY available here at The Preschool Toolbox Blog!)
Offer available only to those age 18 or over in the U.S.
Steps to Getting Started with Essential Oils!
If you are ready to buy a starter kit, then be sure to sign up as a wholesale member (with one of the premium starter kits) through the instructions below:
2. Be sure the “Wholesale Member” option is checked so that you don’t end up paying retail prices.
3. Be sure the “sponsor ID” and “enroller id” say 2880020 (so that we can send you your package!)
4. Select which starter kit you want to get. My recommendation would be the Premium Starter Kit (and it is best value and qualifies you to receive all the additional motivational support and educational freebies from this blog).
Young Living Starter Kit
If you prefer to try a different premium starter kit, you could try the Ningxia or Thieves. Both are filled with amazing essential oil products for everyday use.
Any of the premium starter kits listed qualify you for the freebies if age 18 or older and in the U.S.
5.During the sign up process, please note that Step 3 on the form is optional. Although, The Young Living Essential Rewards (ER) program is fantastic! It allows you to save on shipping costs and earn credit for every ER purchase along with monthly bonuses. You can even qualify for one of those bonuses on your first purchase if you choose one of these kits!
6. Go through the checkout process.
**7. After you sign up, send an email to [email protected] letting us know that you signed up through this promotion. We’ll need you to consider what GOALS you plan to implement over the summer and put them in writing to us! In the SUBJECT line of the email, be sure to put the promotion code: YLTOOLBOX
IMPORTANT: This promotion is only available when you sign up with the sponsor ID and enroller ID as #2880020
Frequently Asked Questions:
Does signing up obligate me to sell Young Living?
No! You are not required to sell anything at all to anyone. When you become a wholesale member, you get a special link that you can share with friends and get credit from their purchases, but there are no minimum sales amounts at all. In fact, 90% of the wholesale members in Young Living don’t do the business side at all. They are buying from Young Living simply because they want to use the oils and receive resources at a discounted price.
Am I required to make a minimum purchase each month?
There are absolutely NO minimum monthly purchase requirements. To remain a wholesale member, you have to make $50 worth of purchases per year to keep your membership. But if there’s a year that you don’t make a $50 purchase, you can reinstate your wholesale membership discount by just placing a $50 order. If you do find yourself making regular purchases each month, then Young Living has a rewards program (called Essential Rewards) where you can make a nice percentage back in product credit each month on all of your purchases. So that’s a neat program to join if you find that you *want* to purchase regularly (but it’s not a requirement for being a wholesale member).
*Disclaimer: The statements below have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website.
Why should I buy from Young Living instead of other essential oils companies?
Young Living is the only company that has their own farms (in the regions where the plants should be grown), could absolutely guarantee that no pesticides or herbicides were used in the growing of any of their oils (they use essential oils for pest control and they do all of the weeding by hand), has their own testing equipment (they do both in-house and 3rd party testing, and use many different testing methods not just GC/MS which only tests for certain chemicals, not whether those chemicals are synthetic or not), and only uses the first distillation of oils instead of adding chemicals to get more out of the plant. Young Living also was the only company that was directly in charge of essential oil farming operations. Every other company I researched goes through some kind of an “oil broker” to buy their oils. With Young Living, ANYONE can visit the farms, participate in the harvesting and distillation, view the Young Living labs, and see the entire process.
How will I know which oils to use for what?
One of the benefits of getting a starter kit through this promotion is that you also get to join our private Facebook group that’s specifically for questions about essential oils! The reference app that we are giving away as part of this promotion is also a HUGE resource. You can look up almost anything in it and see which essential oils are best.
Does Young Living only sell essential oils?
No. Young Living has an entire line of personal care products, supplements, meal replacements, energy drinks, and more! Almost every product incorporates essential oils (for example, frankincense is absolutely wonderful in facial products).
Young kids love to be outside! Playing in nature is one of the best ways to encourage healthy development in children. With a little inspiration, parents can capture the child’s love of nature and promote playful learning with…STICKS! Gather some sticks in the neighborhood or your own backyard to provide frugal and fun learning opportunities at home!
PLAYING to LEARN with STICKS
Sticks are AMAZING to young children! Children love to use sticks as pretend play props, to dig in the dirt, to toss in the air, and yes, to hold as they run. Children often hear, “Don’t run with a stick or you’ll poke an eye out!” While some activities are not as appropriate as others for safety reasons, there are many fascinating activities children can do with sticks! Invite your children to collect sticks of various shapes and sizes. Ask your child questions about the sticks and encourage them to share (for example: Are all the sticks the same? What is different about each stick?). Ask the children how the stick feels – is it smooth, rough, or a bumpy stick? By asking questions, parents can open the doors for increased vocabulary and communication skills.
Playful Learning Activities with Sticks
Keeping a beat and creating rhythm patterns are an important part of growth and development for young kids. Learning rhythms and patterns will help reinforce the cadence necessary for early reading skills.
Materials needed: Sticks and an empty oatmeal container or margarine tub.
Help your child break a stick into a size that is easily handled (a piece similar to a short drum stick). Clap out a pattern and invite your child to “echo” that same pattern by tapping the container with the sticks. As your child gains confidence in hearing the various patterns, try clapping the syllables in the names of family members. Your child can then tap back the syllables with sticks on the container. To practice keeping a beat to music, play your child’s favorite music and invite your child to tap the container along with the rhythm of the song.
Stick Names or Letters
First words and letters are a crucial part of early literacy for children. Some of the first words that a child will know are the names of family members or their own. Using sticks to create names will capture the interest of your child and help cement letter concepts in a hands-on way. Small sticks also work well in creating letters for the sensory name train here (train and engines are free to print).
Materials needed: sticks.
Help your child break longer sticks into smaller pieces. Invite your child to create any letter they know with the stick pieces. For younger children, make any letter in the child’s name and see if the child can re-create the letter using the sticks. Older children can practice making their names or other words they know using sticks. As an extension activity, kids can also try creating letters or their names in dirt or sand by using a stick as a writing tool.
Stick Numbers and Tally Marks
Incorporating early math skills into daily routines is necessary for a good math foundation. Using sticks to count and create numbers is a fun way for kids to learn as they play.
Materials needed: sticks.
Again, help your child break longer sticks into manageable pieces. Invite your children to count various items they see while playing outside (examples: 4 flower petals, 10 leaves, 2 trucks, 5 rocks, etc.). Have your child create any number with sticks. For a younger child, an adult (or older child) can create a number with the sticks. The younger child would then try to re-create (copy) that same number with sticks. Older children can create numbers independently.
It is also fun to make tally marks with sticks and introduce basic counting in sets of five. Invite your child to place four sticks close together on the ground or a table. Count each stick out loud as they are laid side-by-side. The fifth stick then goes diagonally across all four sticks to create one set of five (see photo above). As your child gains confidence in creating the tally mark set of five, other sets can be made to encourage counting by 5’s (see here to print a tally mark rhyme to chant as your child discovers counting with sticks).
Exploring playful learning in nature offers powerful opportunities for children. With just a little creativity and imagination, parents can enhance natural play and provide playful learning activities right at home.
If you missed the first post in the nature series on Playing to Learn with ROCKS, you can see it here! Next week, we’ll be sharing playful learning in nature with LEAVES. Be sure to check back or subscribe to the blog on the right!
Young kids love to be outside! Playing in nature is one of the best ways to encourage healthy development in preschoolers. With a little inspiration, parents and teachers can capture the child’s love of nature and promote playful learning with items commonly found in their own backyard or neighborhood. Gather some rocks, leaves, sticks, and a few simple materials for playing to learn this spring at home or in the classroom! This post is part one of our 3-part nature series: PLAYFUL LEARNING with ROCKS.
PLAYING to LEARN with ROCKS
Rock dominoes are easy learning crafts to create with kids! The domino crafts below will enhance color recognition and basic counting skills as the children play.
Rainbow Rock Dominoes
Materials needed: Rocks, Tempera Paint (assorted colors), Paintbrushes, Paper Plates or Paint Cups, and old T-Shirts (or paint smocks) to protect clothing.
Rainbow dominoes are simple nature crafts for kids to create. Assemble all the supplies as an invitation to play! The children can paint both ends of a rock the same or different colors. As the children paint, allow time for discussions of colors and color choices. The painted rocks need to dry thoroughly before playing the domino color matching game below.
To play a domino game: Set all of the colorful rock dominoes out on a table or the ground. One child must choose a domino to begin and then lay that domino on the ground or table. Play then passes to another player who must lay a domino with one matching colored end next to the domino already in place. The game continues until all rainbow dominoes have been used or until no dominoes can be matched to those that have been played. The game can also be played as a single player game.
Classic Rock Dominoes
Materials needed: Rocks and Markers or Chalk.
Invite the children to draw a line down the middle of several rocks with the markers. On each side of the midlines, have the children make dots that correspond to the numbers 1-6 (see photo above). The children can then play a domino game by matching the number of dots on one domino end to the corresponding number of dots on one end of another domino.
The classic rock dominoes will help incorporate early counting and number skills into everyday play!
The rainbow dominoes are not only fun to make, but are great for introducing colors and color matching activities.
Other suggestions for playful learning with rocks:
Story Stones – encourage the children to use markers to draw on the rocks. When the children are finished, have the children share what they created. Older children may wish to draw on several rocks to sequence the events of a created story. Extension: use clip art or old magazine pictures and glue to the rocks. Have the children look at the picture (or pictures) and tell a story about what the picture is about.
Rock Letters and Beginning Letter Sounds – Create a rock alphabet by labeling rocks with letters of the alphabet (Note: markers or chalk work well for labeling). Younger children might match a lowercase labeled rock to an uppercase labeled rock or begin to learn the sounds associated with each letter. Older children can create beginning words with the lettered rocks.
Sorting and Ordering Rocks – Invite the children to collect rocks of various sizes, shapes, and colors. See if the children can sort the rocks in groups by color, shape, size, texture, or weight. The children might also order the rocks from the smallest to largest or from lightest to heaviest.
This week the #PlayfulPreschool Team is offering thematic activities centered around HEALTHY HABITS in preschool! Encouraging preschoolers to develop good food choices will help build a foundation for a lifetime of sensible eating. We hope your own children will enjoy the healthy foods activities to encourage good habits at school and at home!
Healthy Food Habits for Preschoolers!
Teaching kids to make good food choices isn’t always easy! Today, we have more processed and sugar laden foods than ever before. Teaching kids about good food choices and allowing them some input into menu planning will help “plant the seeds” for a future of sensible eating habits.
Families with young children are busy and need a simple plan for encouraging healthy eating and menu planning. The old food pyramid (and measuring foods to ensure healthy nutrition) isn’t practical in daily application. A better way to encourage kids to choose the right kind of foods is found in Choose My Plate. Choose My Plate provides a visual to get kids thinking about what foods should be eaten and how a healthy meal plate should look.
There are 5 Main Food Groups:
Grains – rice/pasta/whole grain cereals and breads
Dairy – milk, yogurt, and cheese
Proteins – leans meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, beans, and for simplification, I’ll add nuts/seeds and nut butters (almond, cashew, peanut) in this group.
Oils should be limited to healthy oils and used in moderation. Sweets are an occasional treat that can be enjoyed SOMETIMES, but not excessively.
Materials needed: one paper plate per child/craft, old magazines with photos of various foods, glue sticks, markers or crayons, yarn or string, hole punch, and the printable labels –one set for discussions and one set of labels for each child’s paper plate craft (linked above).
Prior to creating the craft: Print the labels and laminate for durability if desired. Cut out the labels and arrange on a table or the floor. Discuss with the children what kinds of foods belong in each of the 5 food groups. Invite the children to tear or cut various pictures from old magazines and discuss what food groups the pictures should go under.
Randomly mix the magazine pictures and invite the children to sort the photos into the food groups independently. Come together after sorting to discuss which food pictures the children chose to place under each of the food group categories.
Give each child a paper plate and invite them to draw a line down the middle of the plate (vertically). Assist the children in drawing the dividing lines for the fruit/vegetable half of the plate and then the grains/protein half (as shown in the CHOOSE MY PLATE photo above).
Invite the children to gather photos of foods that correspond to each of the categories on the paper plate and then glue the pictures into each of the 4 sections. Remind children that drinking milk with meals or having cheese/yogurt at snack time is a great way to fulfill the dairy needs for their growing bodies.
To finish the paper plate craft, have the children punch two holes near the bottom of the paper plate. Thread yarn through the holes in the plate. Invite the children to pick a picture of one sweet and one fat/oil to add to their craft. Hole punch the magazine pictures and hang from the plate. Remind the children that fats/oils/sweets can be eaten sometimes, but not excessively.
Extension Activity: Encourage kids to think about the food groups on the plate in the paper plate craft. What foods would they like on their own menu? Print the menu (linked above) and invite the children to consider what foods from each of the food groups they want to eat. Younger children can glue pictures of foods on the lines of the menu; older children may wish to write or stamp words or beginning letters for the foods/food groups they choose on the lines provided.
There are 4 lines on the printable menu for each of the 4 food groups on the paper plate craft: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, and Lean Meats. Again, remind kids that the DAIRY requirement can be met by drinking milk with meals or by having yogurt/cheese at snack times.
Hang the menus and paper plate crafts in the kitchen or in the classroom to encourage healthy eating habits daily!
Be sure to visit the wonderful activities and suggestions below for MORE ways to inspire preschoolers to develop HEALTHY HABITS!
Each Wednesday throughout the school year, we will continue offering learning activities along with the brilliant #playfulpreschool blogging team. This week’s activities are centered around a Nuts and Seeds Theme for Preschool. If you have missed the previous theme-based activities, they are linked for your convenience below. Also, please take a moment and visit links to additional Nuts and Seeds Theme resources from the Playful Preschool Team for learning inspiration at home or in the classroom!
The Sense of Hearing (Sound)
The Sense of Hearing is powerful learning for preschoolers! In order for the children to explore sounds, they must be able to locate the primary body parts that provide sensory sound information: the EARS!
Introductory (Circle Time) Games:
Mirror Play – Invite the children to look for their own ears in a mirror. Note: hand held mirrors are durable, but supervision is necessary with young children if using real glass.The children can also partner with an adult or siblings/peers and use magnifying glasses for discoveries of other body parts that provide sensory information. Children will think it’s silly to look at each other, but they are gaining important information!
Listening Chant – Invite the children to LISTEN by saying: “Close your eyes (NO PEEKING!) and open your ears, listen carefully to the sounds you can hear!” Some of the children will want to make sounds instead of listening. Remind the children that the goal is to listen for sounds coming from the environment, not the sounds they can make. It takes a little practice, but the children will love playing this game. After a few seconds of listening, have the children open their eyes and share what sounds they heard. The listening game can be played indoors or outside (weather permitting).
Loud/Soft Sounds – Brainstorm with the children places where LOUD voices would be appropriate or where SOFTER voices should be used. Chart the answers the children give and add to the list as the children become familiar with loud and soft sounds.
Nuts and Seeds Sensory Sound Shakers
Materials needed: assorted seeds or nuts, any container (we used glass salt/pepper shakers, but cardboard tubes sealed with waxed paper and a rubber bank will work great, too).
Note: when making sound shakers with children who still put objects in their mouths, supervise closely. Seeds and nuts are a choking hazard. Please also note any children who have allergies, especially peanut/nut allergies.
Prior to the sound activities we incorporated cross-over lessons by inviting the kids to shell or crack some of the varieties of nuts as part of our practical life center. Set the nuts and seeds out on a table or a tray and demonstrate for the children how to crack the shell of the nut open with a nut cracker. Most preschoolers will need to use both hands with a nut cracker or their hands/fingers to crack or open the shell. Nut cracking is a wonderful fine motor challenge for preschoolers! Note – leave some of the nuts/seeds in the shell to create a range of sounds for for the children to hear.
To make the Sound Shakers: for additional fine motor practice, set out various transfer tools that the children can use to move the seeds/nuts from a tray into the various sound containers (ex: spoon/melon scoop/tweezers/chop sticks/small tongs). Each container should only be filled half-way with nuts or seeds.
Sensory Sound Shakers with Nuts and Seeds
Sound Games to Try With Preschoolers
Begin with just two of the sound shakers. Hold a hand towel over the sound shakers (one at a time) with one hand and shake the container with the other hand. See if the children can determine what KIND of seed/nut is placed inside the shaker using only their sense of hearing.
One at a time, invite the children to shake the containers to determine which container makes the LOUDEST or SOFTEST sound. With younger children, limit the number of shakers until they gain confidence discriminating between the sounds.
Make matching sound shakers and have the children locate the matching seed/nut containers by listening to the sound the container makes. Note: this activity works best using the cardboard tubes to hold the seeds/nuts as the children cannot SEE what is inside the container. The children then can only rely on listening skills to match the shakers.
Invite the children to order the sound shakers from the softest to loudest (or loudest to softest) sounds (see below).
Ordering the Sound Shakers from LOUDEST to SOFTEST
Come together after exploring the sound shakers for discussions about the sound discoveries. Some examples of questions to explore with the children: What seeds/nuts created the louder sounds? Did the shells on the nuts/seeds make a difference in the sound? Did the louder sounds bother any of the children? Sometimes loud sounds (sirens, thunder, workplace machinery), when heard repeatedly, can cause stress and anxiety for children, teachers, and parents. Softer sounds are usually more pleasant to hear for longer periods of time.
Playing with different sounds is not only fun for preschoolers, but it provides great opportunities for important sensory learning! For more playful learning with all 5 Senses, see the 5 Senses Thematic Unit here on the blog!
We gave our FB group a “sneak peak” of this activity and while they didn’t quite guess how the containers were used, many offered great extension activities for the nuts/seeds. Come join us and learn from other professionals in ECE on Facebook.
Plan Your Nut and Seeds Learning Week With Activities from the #PlayfulPreschool Team
In order to get our kids thinking about conservation this spring, we will combine some of our sensory lessons with conservation awareness. The activities/lesson plan suggestions below will offer opportunities for hands-on play with the senses of Sight and Sound. Through play and experimentation, the children will gain an awareness of conservation and how their own senses provide important information about the world they live in.
Introduction to the Senses of Sight and Sound
In order for children to explore the senses of Sight and Sound, they must be able to locate the two body parts that provide sensory information: the EARS and EYES. Circle time: Pass a hand mirror around the circle of children. Invite the children to look for their own eyes and ears in the mirror. Note: hand held mirrors are durable, but supervision is necessary with young children. The children can also partner with peers and use magnifying glasses for discoveries (the children will think it’s funny to look at each other through magnifying glasses, but they are gaining important information about themselves and others).
Riddle and Chant: After passing the mirrors around the circle, introduce the following riddles to the children. 1. When I looked in the mirror, I spied two things – one on each side of my nose; they help me see all things! (What are they? – EYES). 2. When I looked in the mirror, I spied two things – one on each side of my face, they help me hear all things! (What are they? – EARS).
The Sense of Sight and Conservation
Discuss the word UPCYCLE with the children – when we upcycle, we use materials that would otherwise be thrown away to make something new and useful. Brainstorm with the children items that are often thrown away as trash, but might have another purpose if upcycled and re-used. Some suggestions might include: juice cans might become pencil holders, plastic bottles can be upcycled into rain gauges, juice boxes make great play cameras, or bubble wrap can be made into a great painting tool.
In the activity below, the children will create binoculars from upcycled cardboard tubes. Parents are often willing to save cardboard tubes and send them to class for the activity below.
Upcycled Cardboard Tube Binoculars
Materials needed: Two cardboard tubes per student (or one paper towel roll cut into thirds), any decorating materials desired (suggestions: markers, crayons, scrap paper, tissue paper, construction paper, or paint), glue sticks or poster putty (to adhere items), hole punch, tape (to hold the two cardboard tubes together), and a piece of string, Super Wikki Stix, or yarn for the “strap” of the binoculars.
Invite the children to create by assembling all supplies necessary on a table or at a center. Have the children decorate two cardboard tubes in any manner desired. The two decorated tubes should be taped together in the center. Hole punch the outside of each tube and thread a piece of string or yarn through the holes (to resemble the strap of the binoculars) and tie the ends to the holes (younger children will require assistance in tying the string).
If the weather permits, take the children outside on a scavenger hunt with their binoculars to look for discarded items that might be re-purposed. The children might also play “I-SPY” with their binoculars for other items commonly found on a nature walk. Kids that are encouraged to participate and play in nature will often develop a sense of responsibility toward the environment.
What can your children find with their upcycled binoculars?
Ask the children to remember some of the items they see with their binoculars while on the walk outside. Print the Nature Walk Items sheet (linked above) and have the children use crayons or markers to circle the items they found with their binoculars.
*Note – the second page of the recording sheet file is intentionally left blank. Brainstorm items that the children might find on the nature walk that could be upcycled (ex: papers, plastics, Styrofoam, sticks, grocery bags, cans, etc.). Have the children cut pictures of items that can be re-purposed out of old magazines to glue in each of the blank squares. Take a walk outside with the created binoculars to see how many of the items the children can find.
Children that are taught early to recycle, upcycle, and re-purpose items gain an awareness of the importance of conserving materials and resources.
The Sense of Hearing and Conservation
The Sense of Hearing is powerful for children. Encouraging the children to gain an awareness of different sounds, including the sound of their own voice, will help
“plants the seeds” for discussions on hearing conservation.
Circle Time Suggestions:
1. To invite the children to LISTEN, say the following: “Close your eyes and open your ears, listen carefully to the sounds you can hear!” Some of the children will want to make sounds instead of listening. Remind the children that the goal is to listen for sounds coming from the environment, not the sounds they can make. It takes a little practice, but the children will love playing this game. After a few seconds of listening, have the children open their eyes and share what sounds they heard. The listening game can be played indoors or outside (weather permitting).
2. Many young children are not aware of how their own voices sound. Use a digital voice recorder or video the children saying a few words one by one. Play the sounds back for the children and ask if the children can identify WHO is talking just by hearing the voices. Can the children identify their OWN voice?
3. Brainstorm with the children places where LOUD voices would be appropriate or where SOFTER voices should be used. Chart the answers the children give and add to the list as they think of more ideas.
Upcycled Cardboard Tube Sound Shakers
Materials needed: Cardboard tubes, waxed paper (cut into squares to seal the ends of the tubes), rubber bands, and assorted manipulatives (examples: beans, rice, Unifix cubes, small bells, small seashells, paper clips, or pony beads). Note: when making sound shakers with children who still put objects in their mouths, supervise closely. Small manipulatives can be a choking hazard.
Place waxed paper over one end of several cardboard tubes and adhere with rubber bands. Have the children fill the tubes with each of the chosen items. When filled, close the cardboard tube by placing waxed paper and a rubber band over the open end.
1. Begin with just two of the cardboard tube sound shakers. Have the children shake one of the tubes and try to determine what item is placed inside the tube using only their sense of hearing.
2. One at a time, invite the children to shake the tubes to determine which tube makes the LOUDEST or SOFTEST sound.
3. Make similar tubes and have the children try to locate the matching pairs of tubes by listening to the sounds of the tubes.
4. Ask the children to order the tubes from the softest to the loudest sound.
Come together after exploring the sound tubes for discussions: Which of the sound tubes are more pleasant to hear than the others? Do the louder sound tubes bother any of the children? Remind the children that very loud sounds can damage the sense of hearing. Some sounds, when heard repeatedly, can create stress or anxiety in adults, animals, and children.
By offering opportunities to gain an awareness of conservation through sensory explorations and play, teachers and parents can help “plant the seeds” of environmental care and responsibility in our youngest children.
The wet chalk kite crafts are a fun activity to do indoors or outside this spring. The kites make a great craft to display, but the bow activities will also enhance early math and literacy skills.
Wet Chalk Kites
Materials needed: One square piece of paper for each child, chalk (drawing chalk works best for this activity, but sidewalk chalk can be used), any color of Wikki Stix, and small cups (for water).
Have the children use the Wikki Stix to make any design desired on the white paper (see photo above). The children should choose several colors of chalk to use on each of the sections of the kite.
The children can then dip the chalk into the cups of water (the water will make the colors brilliant). The children can color each of the sections as desired. The Wikki Stix will keep each colored section of the kites separated.
When finished coloring each section, the children can remove the Wikki Stix and allow the kites to thoroughly dry.
When the chalk kites have dried, the children can make kite strings by attaching a long strand of Wikki Stix to the bottom of the kite.
The Kite Bows file (linked above) can be used in many ways to enhance learning with young children when combined with the wet chalk kite crafts above.
HINT: Laminate the kites after drying and use a dry erase marker for some of the learning game suggestions below. The bows can also be laminated for use with the different games, too.
CVC Words – print the bows file and label each bow with different vowels. Label one of the kites with two letters (for ex: C _ t). The children must then find a bow that could be used to make a word. In this example, the children would find a bow labeled with the letter “a” to make the word Cat. **The bows will adhere to the Wikki Stix kite “string” so no glue will be necessary.
Sight Words – label the kites and bows with any sight words the children have had introduced. Place all the bows face down on a table or the floor and have the children find the bows that match the words on each of the kites. We have also used the kites for word families (see -ar word family kite pictured below).
Names – have the children write or stamp the bows with the letters that make up their names.
Patterning – label each of the kites with a pattern the children have had introduced: AB, ABC, AABB, etc. The children can then use the different colors of bows to create patterns on the Wikki Stix kite strings.
Numbers – label the kites with different numbers the children are working on. The children must place the number of bows on the kite string that corresponds to the number on the kite. Addition/Subtraction: label the kites with a simple addition or subtraction problem. The bows should be labeled with the sum to the problem.
Letter Recognition: label the kites with an uppercase letter(s) and the bows with a lowercase letter(s). The children must find the matching letters and place them on the kite string.
Color Recognition: print two copies of the bows and place 2 or 3 colored bows on one of the kites. The children must find the matching colored bows and place them on the kite string. For older children, label the kites with a color WORD and have the children place the corresponding bow on the kite string.
Additional Crafting – the kite bow file also contains an additional paper bow template. Our older kids used the template with Wikki Stix to make paper bows.
We hope your kids enjoy the kite craft and the kite bow extension games this spring! If you have additional suggestions for games, please leave us a comment below to share with others!
We’ve spent the last week collaborating with our friends at Abc Teach to bring you fun ideas, learning centers, and games for Math games at home or in the classroom.
According to a study by David Geary, Curators Professor of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri, “Once students fall behind, it’s almost impossible to get them back on track. We wanted to identify the beginning of school knowledge needed to learn math over the next five years. We found that understanding numbers and quantity is a necessary foundation for success as the student progresses to more complex math topics. In order to improve basic instruction, we have to know what to instruct. These are the factors that make a difference in the first-grade above and beyond intelligence and other abilities.”
We hope that some of the suggestions below will assist you in selecting activities for your children that will build basic math foundations for a lifetime of successful learning!
The greater than or less than game is a fun way for children to identify whether one group of objects is greater than or less than the number of objects in another group.
Materials needed: One game file (linked above) per student, one die, any counters (we used chicks just because we found them on sale after Easter), and Wikki Stix.
Print the game file for each child. Have the children roll a die and count the number of dots. The children should then place the corresponding number of counters in the first box on the game page. The die should be rolled a second time to determine the number of counters to place in the second box. For larger numbers, more dice can be rolled.
As the children look at each of the two boxes of counters, they must determine if the first box of counters is GREATER than or LESS than the second box. For younger children, play the game with an adult the first few times. HINT: it is helpful for the children to make tally marks with the Wikki Stix to determine if the first box has more counters or less counters than the second box (see photo above).
The children can then form a greater than > or less than < sign from the Wikki Stix and place it between the two boxes of counters.
Helping preschoolers and kindergartners understand that there are relationships between numbers and specific quantities will assist them in forming important math connections!
Teaching with rhyme is a powerful learning tool for young kids! Combining rhyme with a hands-on sensory tool will help cement the tally mark concept for years to come.
Materials needed: One tally marks rhyme file (linked above) for each student, scissors, and assorted Wikki Stix.
Print The Tally Mark Rhyme for each of your children. Say the rhyme and demonstrate for the children how to make a set of tally marks. Practice the rhyme with your children as they make their own tally marks. The Wikki Stix are easily cut into pieces with safety scissors, but younger children will need assistance.
Tally Marks are a fun way for children to practice counting up by ones and skip counting by 5’s.
Wikki Stix Kites for One-to-One Correspondence
Our math post at Abcteach offers many activities and games that will help introduce basic math concepts to young children:
Creating 10 bars with Wikki Stix and Pony Beads
Kites Roll, Count, and Color Free Printable
+1 or -1 Game for Young Children
Skip Counting Suggestions
We hope your children will enjoy learning and playing with math. By offering early math “stepping stones,” our children will have the opportunities for future success!
If you are looking for PLAY suggestions for St. Patrick’s Day, please take some time to explore the links below. Our many thanks go out to the awesome bloggers who were willingly to share their own activities…with you!
From Parent Teach Play – “St. Patrick’s Day will be here before you know it! While it’s sort of a “little” holiday in the grand scheme of things, it’s one of my absolute favorites to celebrate with the kids!! It might have something to do with my affinity for rainbows…To help you prepare this year, here’s a round-up of some great St. Patrick’s Day activities for kids, with a heavy dose of rainbows!”
This is one of the most comprehensive collections of St. Patrick’s Day Activities we’ve seen. Please take a look to find great activities for the classroom or at home!
Hunting for Treasures is a wonderful post for toddlers and preschoolers. Please click the picture or the link above to see how you can design a treasure hunt for sensory play at home or in the classroom!
Shamrock Sprouts, Credit Card Art, Shamrock Crystals and MORE – Housing a Forest
This is a great science activity for St. Patrick’s Day. Click the link or picture above to see instructions for creativity and PLAY on St. Patrick’s Day!
Spring is a magical time for kids! After the winter, everything begins anew! Take your kids outside and watch for signs of Spring’s arrival. Observations over the course of only a week can provide the children with great fun and many learning experiences about Spring and the 5 senses!
Materials needed: 1 nature walk record sheet.pdf per child, 1 clipboard per child, crayons or markers. Take your students outside on a nature walk so they can use their sense of sight to find and record the items listed on the worksheet. As each child finds one of the items, they can circle or cross off the item from their list. When you return back home or to the classroom, discuss the things the children found (compare and contrast the items that each of the children found.) One child may not have seen a tree, but others may have. See if the children can recall what kind of items they found. For example, one child may have crossed off the vehicle after seeing a blue car. Another child may have seen a red van. This activity can lead to a large follow-up discussion.
Extension: Depending on the season and your location, your students might be able to find different items or objects. Use the blank record sheet to write, draw, or glue pictures from magazines of things you want your students to find.
What can your children HEAR? Have the children close their eyes and try to determine what they hear when outside on nature walks! Turn up your speakers and close your eyes…listen carefully, what do you hear in the video clip below?
Set out an assortment of beans, rice, and small items in containers. Ask parents for assistance in gathering enough toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls for each child to make a rain stick. Have the children decorate the tubes with markers, crayons, fabric strips, collage materials, etc. (seal one end of the toilet paper roll with wax paper (doubled-over for strength) and a rubber band prior to setting out for the children.) Have the children fill or spoon beans, rice, and/or small items (beads, shells, etc.) into the tubes until they are approximately two-thirds full. When done filling the tubes, help the children seal the final end of the tube with wax paper (again, doubled-over) and a rubber band.
Extension idea: Have the children bring the rain sticks to circle/carpet time and listen for the different sounds they make. Is one rain stick softer or louder than the others? Do they really sound like rain or something else?
Have the children gather several items in a bag. Bring the items inside to help the children explore the items with their sense of touch. What do the items FEEL like? Help the children brainstorm words that describe what they are feeling. Are the items rough, smooth, bumpy, scratchy, itchy, soft, hard, scaly, etc.? Glue the different items on a poster board and write the descriptive words underneath each of the items found.
What do your children SMELL on the nature walks? Again, have the children close their eyes and use their sense of smell to find things in nature. Collect a variety of items to have the children smell (some suggestions: tree bark, grass, flowers, berries). Go outside after a spring rain and ask the children to describe what they smell. Brainstorm words that describe different smells – fresh, musty, moldy, woodsy, etc.
Make a Spring Senses Sensory Bin where the children can explore items from your nature walks. Set out magnifying glasses, tweezers, rocks, twigs, paper or real flowers, dirt, different textured ribbons, and grasses in a large bin or drawer. Let the children explore different items using their senses of touch, smell, sight, and hearing. *Watch for children with seasonal or other allergies as tree bark, flowers, and grasses (among other items in nature) can make allergies worsen.
Umbrella Snacks for Spring
Set out apple slices, banana slices, chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows, and cheese sticks for the children. Post a picture of an umbrella and have the children try to use the snack materials to make an umbrella. Have the children describe the TASTE of their umbrellas (are they crunchy, sweet, sour, bitter, etc.) It is a fun activity for snack time and the children will amaze you with their creations!
This is our last St. Patrick’s Day Mini Theme Post – we hope you have enjoyed some of the activities and will share them with your children in March. If you have missed the previous two posts, please look under the St. Patrick’s Day Category to find more activity suggestions.
Materials needed: One Patterning file (linked above) for each child, scissors, and glue sticks.
Print the patterning file for each of your children. On the first page, the pattern is started for the children. The children should cut out the three pictures at the bottom of the first page and decide where it should be placed to complete the patterning boxes. Have the children glue the pictures into the appropriate boxes. Page two of the file has pictures and blank patterning boxes for the children to experiment and play with different or more complex patterns.
St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt
Tell the children they are going on a classroom (or house) color hunt for GREEN items. Give the children bags to collect their “treasures” in. Allow ample time for searching (assist younger children who may not know their colors) before calling the children back to the rug or carpet area. Have the children pick one or two items from their bags to share with the rest of the class. After sharing, have the children place all their items into a bucket or bin for observations and sensory explorations. *We set out different green counters, beads, blocks, etc. in the classroom for the children to find before our scavenger hunt started. After sharing and placing all the items on a tray, the children found that we had many duplicate items. They began designing patterns on their own!
Mini Pretzel Shamrock Pops
Materials needed: Mini Pretzels, white chocolate bark (almond bark), green food coloring, green sugar decorations, waxed paper, craft sticks (to turn the pretzels), and lollipop sticks.
Melt the almond bark according to package directions. Add drops of green food coloring and stir until the desired color is reached. Dip the pretzels, one at a time, into the melted coating. The children can use craft sticks to turn the pretzels in the coating. Transfer the dipped pretzels to waxed paper. Arrange the pretzels to form a shamrock (slightly overlap so the melted bark will act as glue.) Dip one end of the lollipop stick into the melted bark and place in the center of the pretzels. Decorate with green sugar before the coating is dried. Allow the pops to set thoroughly before removing from the waxed paper.
We hope you have a blessed month of March!
May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields and, Until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Materials needed: Clothespins, a basket to hold the clothespins, one -AT Shamrock file (linked above) for each child, and a permanent marker.
Print the file (linked above) onto heavy paper for each of your students (laminate the shamrocks for durability, if desired.) Read each of the words to your children. Remind the children that the words belong to the same word family (the -at family) and that they are rhyming words. Once the children adapt to changing the BEGINNING letter sound, word families are FUN!
We sing “made up” silly songs to get the children into the habit of changing the beginning letter to form new rhyming words (ex: to the tune of “Farmer in the Dell” – “The Rat Sat on the Mat, The Rat Sat on the Mat, Hi, Ho, the Dairy O, The Rat Sat on the Mat!”)
Have the children look through the basket to find the matching clothespins for the letters on their shamrocks. Once the clothespins are clipped to the shamrock cards, the children can practice writing each of the letters (or only the BEGINNING letter) onto a separate sheet of paper or index cards. *There are BLANK shamrocks at the end of the file for use with any other word families or sight words your children may be working on.
-AT Shamrocks and Clothespin Letters
Extension: The Shamrock Game
Print several copies of the -AT words cards and cut apart. Keep the word cards in a pile for the children to choose from.
Have the children form a circle. The game is played similar to “Drop the Hanky.” Choose one child to be IT and have that child pick one -AT shamrock card from the pile. The “it” child walks around the outside of the circle carrying one shamrock -AT word card (picked from the pile). When ready (we make a limit of TWO times around the circle), the “it” child must drop the shamrock behind the back of another child. Both children then run around the circle to claim the empty spot. If the first child to claim the empty spot reads the the dropped -AT word card correctly (younger children can try to name only the BEGINNING letter/sound), he/she gets to keep the card. If not, the card is returned to the bottom of the word card pile. The child still standing, must then choose another child to be “IT” and take that spot in the circle.
Play continues until each child has had a turn to be tapped or be IT. At the end of the game, count the number of shamrocks held by all the children in the circle. The next time the game is played, see if the group can BEAT the total number of cards they “earned” from the time before.
Fingerprint Rainbow and Pot of Gold Art Craft
Materials needed: Tempera paints (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet), white cardstock, black construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, and small gold (pretend) coins.
Let the children use the tempera paints to fingerprint each of the colors into a rainbow. Allow the fingerprints dry thoroughly before adding the pot and coins. Have the children tear or cut the black paper into a shape to resemble the pot. Glue the black pot near the bottom of the rainbow. The children can use glue, tape, or poster putty to put the coins on top of the black pot.
Visit our blog again this week as we will continue to post activities for the St. Patrick’s Day Mini Theme for Kids!
Our next few posts will contain the contents for a St. Patrick’s Day “Mini Thematic Unit” for Preschool and Kindergarten. Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with young children can be a lot of FUN! Remember to keep facts simple, but do not underestimate the power that little “seeds of knowledge” have for younger children. We only discuss St. Patrick with our preschoolers once a year, but many children will remember discussions, activities, and songs for many years to come!
Simple History of St. Patrick
Saint Patrick went to Ireland to help teach the people about Christianity. St. Patrick used the shamrock (have a paper shamrock to show the children) as a symbol of the Trinity (God, the Father; God, the Son; and God, the Holy Spirit). March 17th is the day St. Patrick died and the day we celebrate his life and Ireland.
Mini Theme Suggested Activities:
I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover by Art Mooney (words by Mort Dixon, music by Harry Woods, 1927)
I’m looking over a four-leaf clover,
That I overlooked before.
One leaf is sunshine, the second is rain,
Third is the roses that grow in the lane.
No need explaining, the one remaining,
Is somebody I adore,
I’m looking over a four-leaf clover,
That I overlooked before.
St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bins
St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bins are fun to explore! In this bin we used green coins, gold crosses, shamrocks of different textures and sizes, floral necklaces, balls of different textures, green buttons with different textures, glow bracelets, foam sunglasses, shredded paper, ribbons, and a miniature hat to entice the children to come and PLAY! *Supervise children carefully when using small items in sensory bins!
Materials needed: Milk, water, or another liquid that flavoring can be added to, different flavors for the children to try: we chose strawberry, vanilla, mint, chocolate, and cherry flavoring for our experiment (*please note any allergies among your students before doing this experiment in the classroom), cups, cupcake liners (to shield the color from the taster), straws, pencils or markers, and one recording sheet (linked above) for each child.
We did this activity as a small group group activity. Pour a small amount of liquid into the cups and have the children close their eyes while adding different flavors to each of the cups. The children can “taste test” as many cups as time allows (the recording sheet allows for up to 5 different flavors.) Put the cupcake liners over each of the cups and poke a straw through the center of the liner. Have the children taste test each of their cups (one at a time) and predict which flavoring was added to the cups. The children can record their predictions and whether or not they liked it on the recording sheet above.
Add different flavors to white chocolate and have the children guess what flavorings were used!
Extension Activity: Make flavored chocolate spoons for the children to taste test. See if the children can predict which flavoring was added to different chocolate covered spoons.
Come back and visit our blog this week as we post St. Patrick’s Day literacy, math, art, a food craft, and a large motor scavenger hunt for use at home or in the classroom!
Exploring play in nature offers powerful learning opportunities for young children. With just a little creativity, imagination, and a few simple materials, LEAVES can provide hours of learning and FUN for preschoolers!
OPEN-ENDED LEAF ART
Materials needed: leaves and markers or paint.
Making designs on leaves is an open-ended art process that encourages creativity in children. Invite the children to creative play by assembling a variety of leaves and markers and/or paint on a table. It is also fun to vary the painting tools – some suggestions: paper towels, sponges, forks, Q-tips, or cotton balls.
The painted leaves can be used as a printing tool. After the children paint the leaves (and before the paint dries), gently press a sheet of white paper on top of the leaf. Lift the paper gently to see the print.
Materials needed: Leaves and a variety of collage materials that can be used to create the leaf pal (suggested materials: play dough, Wikki Stix, craft eyes, fabric scraps, paper scraps, pipe cleaners, clay, craft sticks (or real sticks), and poster putty).
Leaf creatures are not only fun to play with, but the children will practice important fine motor skills. Invite the children to create any kind of leaf pal desired. Pipe cleaner legs and craft eyes will attach easily to the leaf with poster putty. Play dough and clay are also fun sensory items to use. The children can decorate the top of the leaf pal with fabric or paper scraps. Have the children make several for hours of pretend play!
COUNTING with LEAVES CRAFT
Materials needed: pipe cleaners, markers/crayons, playdough, or Wikki Stix (to create the tree) and leaves.
Encourage the children to collect leaves and put them inside a container or basket. Give the children a plain sheet of paper and invite them to create a tree on the paper with any materials available. Younger children might make just a few marks for the tree, while older children may create more intricate trees. Label the tree with any number the children are working on or have had introduced. Invite the children to count out the number of leaves from the basket that correspond to the number on the tree. The children can glue the leaves to the tree or place them back into the basket for practice with other numbers. It’s a great way to practice one-to-one correspondence at home or in the classroom!
Your children might also enjoy other ways to play with nature items! Please visit: