Every Wednesday throughout the year, the #TeachECE Early Childhood Education Team offers playful learning activity suggestions centered around a weekly theme. This week, we’ll share suggestions for use with a TEDDY BEAR theme! Those cute and cuddly bears provide wonderful inspiration for learning and explorations at home or in the classroom. Purchase a box of teddy bear cookies (or make your own at home) and come discover the wonders of simple preschool science with us!
The Dissolving Teddy Bears – Simple Preschool Science!
Teddy Bear cookies (homemade or commercial teddy bear cookies)
Bowl or other small container
Paper to chart students’ guesses
Markers OR crayons
Timer or stopwatch.
Explain to the students that you are going to explore how long it takes teddy bear cookies to transform from a solid and dissolve (melt) in a container of milk.
Have each child make a prediction as to how long it will take the teddy bear cookies to dissolve. Chart the responses/guesses from the children on a separate sheet of paper.
Place the cookie(s) in a container of milk and start a timer. Have the children observe and gently feel the cookies as they begin to dissolve. Explore the following questions with your kids or students:
What happens to the cookie(s) when they begin to absorb the milk?
What does the cookie feel like when it is starting to dissolve? Explore descriptive words with the children as they discuss what the cookie feels like (example: mushy, soft, squishy, grainy, etc.).
Stop the timer when the cookie is dissolved (or mostly dissolved) and see if any of the children had a guess that was relatively close.
For younger children, do the activity several times and discuss the concept of “passing” time. Be sure to invite the children to explore the stopwatch or timer and discuss how it works. Compare the timer to the hands (or digital display) on a clock, a watch, or a stopwatch at home or in the classroom. It is fun to explore how different timers work.
Extension idea for older children: Place the students’ guesses in order from shortest to longest time.
For young children: arrange the students’ guesses by seconds or by placing all guesses under one minute in one category, 1-2 minute guesses in a second category, 2-3 minute guesses in a third category, and so on.
Extension idea: Use different types of liquids to see if it has an effect on how fast or slow the teddy bear cookies will melt. Other suggested liquids could include: chocolate vs. white milk, cold water vs. hot water, juice, or hot chocolate.
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate and/or distributor links. Please see the ABOUT page for full disclosures.
TEDDY BEAR BOOKS
These Teddy Bear books are some of our own kids favorites! They make a great addition to the classroom or home library.
STEAM activities engage skills from various educational disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math) to invite young kids to discover new knowledge through inquiry and solution-based learning. By combining playful investigations in Early Childhood with a STEAM Education approach to learning, young kids are challenged to use cross-disciplinary and critical thinking skills to explore how ALL learning is connected to their everyday world!
Come explore and PLAY this week as the Early Childhood Education Team offers FALL STEM activities! This post will add “the ARTS” to STEM for a STEAM approach to learning about tessellating shapes in Early Childhood!
STEAM EXPLORATIONS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD: TESSELLATING SHAPES
STEAM Skills Presented:
Science: Students will use skills within the scientific method: observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, and relating. Students will also investigate tessellating patterns found in their everyday world.
Technology: Students will use mobile technology to create tessellations and digital technology to document learning.
Engineering: Kids will engineer a tessellating pattern using geometric shapes.
Arts: Kids will construct a tessellating pattern that reflects the student artist’s creative choices.
Math: Kids will employ measurement skills and experiment with geometric shapes, lines, and patterning as they design their tessellations.
Background Information for Parents and Teachers: Tessellations are connected patterns made of repeating shapes that cover a plane (a 2-D flat surface that is infinite) completely without leaving any holes. A checkerboard is a basic tessellation composed of alternating colored squares – the alternating colored squares meet with no overlapping and can be extended on a surface forever. Tessellations have been used for thousands of years in architectural designs and structures (tiles and mosaics are examples). The artist M.C. Escher (Dutch artist – 1898-1972) is known as a master of tessellation artwork. M.C. Escher portrayed realistic objects (fish, birds, and others) in his drawings and tessellation prints.
Tessellating patterns have no gaps or holes in the pattern and do not overlap.
Tessellations can go on infinitely on a plane (flat surface).
Invite kids to look around the house or classroom to see if they can find tessellating (tiled) patterns. Many classrooms and homes have tiled walls, tiled flooring, and/or tiled ceilings. Those structures tessellate space because they fit the attributes above. Discuss the following questions:
What shapes can the kids locate that tessellate space?
What shapes or patterns would not work to create a tessellating pattern?
Discuss various shapes to see if the children can predict what shapes will tile a plane. There are 3 regular polygons that tile a plane:
Ask the kids if they think circles will tessellate space. Invite the kids to draw circles (close together, but without overlapping) and fill a sheet of paper – (for younger children make an example to display). Discuss whether or not the kids think that circles are a tessellating shape based on the 3 characteristics above.
Exploring Tessellating Shapes in Early Childhood!
The tessellation activity below invites kids to use cross-disciplinary and critical thinking skills to explore shapes that tessellate space.
Heavy Paper (at least two different colors) – *Note – this activity can be “evergreen” for any season simply by using seasonal printed papers or seasonal colors.
Cardboard Templates for squares and triangles
Set out all supplies on a large tray or table. Older kids can measure and cut their own templates for the various shapes. Younger kids may need a pre-cut template to trace or shapes that have been cut out prior to the activity.
Invite the kids to cut or use the various shapes to create a tessellating pattern on the mounting paper. The kids will experiment with design and engineering as they work to create their tessellations in an open-ended construction experiment. It’s really amazing to stand back and observe the various design strategies as kids work to construct their tessellating patterns!
As the kids finish their tessellation designs, they can mount the final version to the paper with glue sticks. The tessellations make great displays at home or in the classroom!
Documenting Learning: Have the kids use digital cameras to take photos of their finished tessellations. The kids can print the photos to create a tessellation class book or share the photos in an online slideshow for family and friends!
Tessellating Patterns Found in the EVERYDAY World!
Tessellating patterns are found EVERYWHERE! To expand and help document learning, have kids search for additional tessellating patterns found in their everyday world. Invite kids to use digital cameras (or ask parents to assist in documentation from home) and take photos of tessellations they find in the classroom, in nature, at home, or in the community! Our kids found tessellating patterns in:
Textiles (curtains and rugs)
A wasp nest
A soccer ball
Tiled ceilings and flooring
The brick foundation of a home
A tissue box
Siding on a home
A checkerboard placemat
A checkerboard blanket
Mobile Technology Extension Activity – Digital Tessellations
The Tesselations App by David Rasch is available for iPhone and iPad. If students have access to mobile technology, the app is a fun one to use for creation of basic digital tessellations. Students will choose a template from the drop-down menu, select the color(s), and then use touch-screen skills to move the basic square to create various tessellating patterns. The photos can then be saved within the app and printed for additional documentation of learning.
Digital Documentation of Learning – iMovie
The Digital Tessellations Movie Trailer was a BLAST for our kids to create. Kids chose the photos, loaded them via the easy-to-use template, and created a true Hollywood-style movie trailer we could share with the world! We made several trailers and viewed them as a class. It was a great way to document our learning, but also a FUN opportunity to introduce new technology skills to our kids!
Exploring tessellations through a cross-disciplinary STEAM approach helps kids relate learning to the real world. When students are given the opportunity to recognize geometric shapes, mathematical relationships, and engineer the tessellating patterns, they can then begin to apply newly gained knowledge and critical thinking skills to problems they encounter in their own world!
MATH! That one word has probably caused more anxiety for students (and some adults) than any other discipline. For many parents and educators, negative experiences with numbers and math in the past may present a “personal road block” when guiding young kids to learn about numbers! The goal with preschoolers is to help them establish REAL RELATIONSHIPS with numbers to create a solid base that can be built upon as they grow. As teachers and parents, we must observe, communicate, and help our children to explore and visualize number concepts while providing opportunities for frequent practice in order to promote early math intuition. Come join the #TeachECE Early Childhood Team this week as we explore FUN ways to integrate early numeracy into daily playful learning!
ESTABLISHING REAL RELATIONSHIPS with NUMBERS in PRESCHOOL!
Parents are a child’s first teacher! Early number awareness begins even in infancy. Counting little toes, fingers, and other body parts are often a part of early rhymes, games, and counting songs that parents use to immerse young children in number awareness! As children grow, toddlers will begin early number recognition and often learn to verbally count up to 5 (or even 10)! Although number recognition and learning to count up are important memorization skills, by the time kids are in preschool, parents and teachers can help our kids establish real relationships with NUMBERS! Many parents (and even some teachers) want to rush through explorations with smaller numbers and move as quickly as possible to larger ones. Preschoolers need PLENTY OF PRACTICE with the numbers 1-5 in order to build a strong foundation for early math intuition!
PUMPKIN PLAYDOUGH COUNTING MATS for One-to-One Correspondence!
One-to-One Correspondence is the knowledge that a certain number relates to a specific quantity of objects. The goal is to help preschoolers gain confidence not only with number recognition, but to help them move beyond just recognition and toward the question: How many items make up any specific number?
Pumpkin Playdough Counting Mats for the Numbers 1-5.
Commercial or Homemade Playdough – our kids used homemade orange playdough, but kneaded pumpkin pie spice into the dough to create an extra sensory layer. The Sense of SMELL is a powerful learning tool for young kids. We use every opportunity possible to engage the senses when playing to learn!
Directions: Print the pumpkin playdough mats (linked above) and laminate for durability. Review the numbers on the printable and invite kids to roll one playdough ball to place on each pumpkin in the larger box (note – demonstrate for the kids how to place a small portion of playdough in the palm of one hand and roll it around with opposite hand to create a ball). Have the kids initially count out loud as they place each playdough ball on the pumpkins. When the children are finished, go back and say each number and count the number of playdough pumpkins in each row together! As the children practice, they will gain awareness of just HOW MANY items correspond to each of the numbers 1-5.
Extension Activity – Use page 2 of the pumpkin playdough mats and invite students to place the corresponding number of items within the circles. As the kids practice placing items together within the circles, they will also be gaining awareness of small groups of items.
SUBITIZING in PRESCHOOL!
Subitizing is the ability to instantly recognize small quantities of objects. The ability to just INTUITIVELY KNOW how many items are in a group requires practice! Daily discussions and interactions can greatly enhance subitizing skills.
To help preschoolers with subitizing, initially focus on groups of 5 items or less. Math does not need to be limited to tangible concrete manipulatives for children to understand, but using manipulatives in the beginning adds the extra tactile layer many children need.
Look around the house, classroom, neighborhood, or community for items that are together in small groups. Ask the children HOW MANY are in the group? Count the items to see if the answer was correct! When children are able to visually scan a small group of items and intuitively KNOW there are X number of items, they will have developed good subitizing skills.
Daily practice with Number Recognition, One-to-One Correspondence, and Subitizing, will encourage preschoolers to develop real number relationships. The number 5 is an important math anchor; the more practice young children have with the numbers 1-5, the stronger the foundation for exploring increasingly larger numbers!
For MORE ways to play with the numbers 1-5 and encourage INTUITIVE MATH SKILLS- please visit:
All throughout the school year, we will partner with The Early Childhood Education Team to bring you valuable playful learning activities based on a weekly theme. This week, you’ll find resources to help your children learn about COLORS. Whether you teach at home, in the classroom, or in a childcare setting, we know your kids will enjoy the Mouse Paint Colors Activities for Playful Learning!
LEARNING ABOUT COLORS in PRESCHOOL!
Disclosures: This post and others within this blog contain affiliate and/or distributor links. Please see the ABOUT page for full disclosures.
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh is our “go to” beginning of the year book about colors. I haven’t met a preschooler who doesn’t like this story. The antics of the white mice are funny as they play with colors. Read the book to your kids and explore colors with the playful learning suggestions below.
Preschool Science: Exploring Primary and Secondary Colors!
Background Information for Parents and Teachers: The 3 Primary colors are Blue, Red, and Yellow. Secondary colors are the 3 colors that are obtained when combining 2 Primary Colors – Red + Blue = Purple; Blue + Yellow = Green; Red + Yellow = Orange.
After reading the story, explore PRIMARY COLORS (red, blue, and yellow) with your students. Look around in the classroom, childcare, or home for primary colored items. As the children gain confidence, they will begin locating objects daily! It’s amazing to watch young kids learn and begin to apply that knowledge to their everyday world.
Mix the red, blue, and yellow food coloring with water in 3 separate containers (one for each color). Invite the kids to use eyedroppers to transfer 2 water colors to separate bottles to create the secondary colors of orange, purple, and green.
MIXING 2 PRIMARY COLORS (RED/YELLOW) to CREATE the SECONDARY COLOR – ORANGE
Place a small amount of the 3 primary paint colors into 3 separate cups or on a paper plate. Invite the children to mix two primary colors of paint to create each of the secondary colors. If using a tray to paint on, have the kids clean the tray with a small sponge when finished mixing colors. We keep a large bin of water and a drying cloths near the color mixing center for kids to rinse their sponges and dry their trays before proceeding to mix a different color. NOTE: this painting activity requires a lot of paintbrushes, but inexpensive brushes can be found in bulk online (see the link above) or at many dollar stores.
Our colors classroom center initially consists of the water color mixing trays, color mixing paint trays, and the colors/color words matching games below. We’ll vary the center (shelf) activities throughout the year, but it is one of the most popular areas with our kids!
The printable file (linked above) can used for various color learning games in Preschool and Kindergarten. Below are a few suggestions:
Print the file, laminate for durability, and cut out the individual color circles and color word cards. Invite the children to match the color to the color word and clip the two together on the edge of a plate with a clothespin.
Print several copies of the file, laminate for durability, cut out, and invite the kids to match two of the primary colored cards (or word cards) to the created secondary color cards (or word cards).
For an additional FREE color words game for kids to play as they gain confidence (color words are white), see here.
CLASS BOOK of COLOR EXPLORATIONS – print the free mouse template and have the kids choose one primary or secondary color to paint their mouse. After the paintings are dry, ask the children to verbally share whether they chose a primary or secondary color for their mouse. Compile all the mouse paintings into a class book for reviewing colors throughout the year!
For MORE ways to explore COLORS in Early Childhood, please visit the playful learning suggestions below!
This week the Early Childhood Educational Team has compiled awesome activities for learning names in Preschool and Kindergarten! With just a few simple supplies, parents, childcare providers, or teachers in the classroom can offer name explorations through playful learning!
LEARNING NAMES IN PRESCHOOL with ALL 5 SENSES
Some of the first letters preschoolers begin to know are the letters in their own names! Exploring the letters in names through engaging ALL 5 SENSES is not only FUN play for preschoolers, but the sensory layers help encourage name and letter recognition skills.
In order to explore all 5 Senses, preschoolers need to know what primary body parts provide sensory information: Hands, Nose, Mouth, Ears, and Eyes. In many sensory activities, more than one body part will provide information. Activities that provide learning opportunities that engage more than one SENSE will help young kids retain information for longer periods of time. Come explore all the sensory ways to encourage name and letter recognition in Preschool and Kindergarten through playful learning!
Learning Names: The Sense of Touch in Preschool
DIY Name Rubbing Plates
Heavy Paper (cardstock or cardboard)
Invite the kids to “write” their names with liquid glue on a sheet of heavy paper. Glue bottles are great fine motor work, but younger children may need assistance (some bottles are easier than others to squeeze)! Allow the glue to dry overnight. When thoroughly dry, have the kids place a clean sheet of white paper over the name. Rub the raised letters with the side of an unwrapped crayon and watch the letters appear. Preschoolers think rubbing plates are a bit magical! The dried glue template can be re-used over and over for name and letter practice!
Small bowl and spoon
Have the kids use liquid glue to make the letters in their name. For younger children, write the letters of their name on a separate piece of paper and see if the kids can copy the letters with the liquid glue. Before the glue dries, the children can use a spoon to sprinkle cornmeal over the letters. Show the children how to dispose of any leftover cornmeal by holding the paper upright and shaking it gently into a tray or garbage can. Allow the cornmeal letters to dry overnight. Invite the kids to trace the cornmeal letters with their fingers for tactile letter and names play!
Learning Names: The Sense of Smell in Preschool
Disclosure: this post and others within this blog contain affiliate and/or distributor links. Please see the ABOUT US Page for full disclosures.
Have the kids write the letters of their name with liquid glue – assist younger children as necessary. Place a small amount of the chosen spices in small bowls and invite the children to carefully smell each one (supervise so the children do not inhale the spices, but gently smell them). Before the glue dries, have the kids sprinkle a different spice onto the various letters in their name. Dispose of any extra spices on the paper by lifting the paper and carefully shaking the excess into a tray or garbage can. Dry the spicy names thoroughly. When dry, invite the kids use their sense of smell to determine which spice was used on each letter. Do the children remember the scents from the smell alone? The sense of smell is powerful learning for children and it gives the room a delightful fragrance, too!
Scented Markers make letters and name writing a sensory exploration for kids! Our kids love the Mr. Sketch markers with all the various scents! For a playful learning game to try, make random letters on a page with the scented markers (include the letters that make up your child’s/student’s name). Invite the kids to circle all the letters that form their name and see if they can tell which scented marker was used to make the different letters. Once the children locate the letters in their name, see if they can write the letters in the correct name order with a marker of their choice (see photo above).
Allowing kids the opportunity to use various writing tools helps promote fine motor control for letter formation skills. We use sugar on mirrors for writing (and playing) as it’s a great visual activity for gaining important sensory information. Provide index cards with the names of each child for practice with letter formation and transferring skills!
Various Writing Tools (fingers, paintbrushes, small sponges, or Q-tips)
Beware: Messy Play!:) Pudding Painting and Writing is a hands-down favorite activity for our own kids. Pudding writing is a great way to encourage letter formations with a “taste-safe” base for kids that still mouth materials. Our Pre-K and Kindergarten kids still love to practice pudding writing with our preschoolers! Set out a variety of paintbrushes and small sponges and invite the kids to create the letters in their name! Be sure to take plenty of messy pictures as the kids will LOVE looking at themselves when the activity is finished! The pictures make a great class book idea for the kids to read the names of their peers throughout the year!
Learning Names: The Sense of HEARING in Preschool!
The sense of hearing is crucial when learning the names of peers in preschool! Kids love hearing their own name and those of the other children. Children learn to discriminate sounds and gain literacy skills when they have plenty of opportunities to enhance listening skills. Our own kids love playing with digital voice recorders! We have recorded parents at the beginning of the school year and played the game – Who Does That Parent Belong To? We also voice record our kids saying the names of their peers. We play the recorder back at another time to see if the kids know who is speaking by voice alone.
As our preschoolers come together for circle time in the morning, we sing the Name Train Song. It’s a simple song that calls each child by name to form a seated train on the floor. We choose the “caboose and engine” as part of our weekly classroom jobs list. The song goes like this:
Alan (student’s name) is here today, here today, here today.
Alan (student’s name) is here today, we’re glad to have you here.
As we sing each child’s name they sit in a line (one in front of the other) to form a train. As the last child (the engine) is called, we call out, “ARE YOU READY?” and “GO!” The children scoot forward on their bottoms yelling, “CHUGGA, CHUGGA, CHUGGA, CHUGGA, CHOO-CHOO!” It is one of our favorite name greeting songs to sing!
Learning Names using ALL 5 Senses will allow preschoolers opportunities to practice and play with names while encouraging the growth and development of important early learning skills!
The 5 Senses Thematic Unit comes with 100’s of activities for playful learning. The Unit is an instant download with Literacy, Math, Science, Arts/Crafts, Pretend Play, and Gross Motor ideas for home, childcare, or the classroom.
For MORE great NAME ACTIVITIES, please visit some of the articles from the dedicated Early Childhood Education Team below:
If you are new to articles from The Early Childhood Education Team, you’ll find tips, tricks, activities, and playful learning ideas centered around a changing weekly theme. Each Wednesday throughout the school year, we’ll partner with some of the best educational bloggers to bring you, our valued readers, tools to use at home, in a childcare setting, or in the classroom! This week, the #TeachECE Team is offering suggestions for encouraging RESPONSIBILITY in Early Childhood.
Encouraging kids to be responsible is an ever changing endeavor as our kids grow! Starting early with age-appropriate activities will help our kids garner an attitude of responsibility, awareness, self-control, and accountability. Areas of responsibility will usually fall under one of the general categories below:
HOME and FAMILY
Even kids as young as age two can begin the process of learning to care for their own bodies and being responsible. By the time kids are preschoolers, they are capable of responsibilities for self-care and some household tasks when given age-appropriate opportunities to practice. Young kids LOVE being helpers and learning to do things on their own – ALL BY MYSELF becomes the main mantra! Using practical life skills to encourage a young child’s desire for independence will promote healthy development (order, concentration, self-control, coordination, independence) and foster a sense of responsibility at home, in childcare, or in the classroom!
TEACHING RESPONSIBILITY in PRESCHOOL with PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS!
Practical life activities encourage a young child’s desire for independence and foster a healthy sense of responsibility that they can carry with them into the greater community. While there are MANY ways to incorporate practical life activities into daily routines for preschoolers, below you’ll find suggestions to integrate responsibilities for self-care and age-appropriate household tasks into the classroom, childcare setting, or at home.
“The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self.” ~Maria Montessori
Practical Life Activities to Encourage Responsibility for SELF in Preschool!
Disclosure: this post and others within this blog contain affiliate and/or distributor links. For full disclosures, see the ABOUT US page on this blog.
Dressing (ties, laces, buckles, buttons, snaps, and buttons) – use old articles of clothing for children to practice dressing skills or purchase durable commercial dressing frames to promote independent dressing skills.
Putting on socks/shoes – allowing our kids to struggle a bit is OK! Plenty of practice with minimal assistance will challenge our kids to acquire skills! Reminder: Patience, for adults, is a required characteristic.
Independent Bathroom Skills – as kids are ready, help them learn to take care of restroom needs independently.
Folding Washcloths and Small Towels – Print the simple 3-Step visuals (linked above) , laminate for durability, demonstrate the folding technique, and then give the kids a basket of washcloths to practice with!
Setting the Table – make an activity tray with a plate, fork, knife, spoon, napkin, and glass. Demonstrate how to make a basic place setting and allow for practice time!
Sorting Cutlery – purchase an inexpensive cutlery tray and cutlery. Invite the kids to practice sorting knives, spoons, and forks into the individual compartments.
Cleaning Mirrors – use a spray bottle, small mirror, and a polishing cloth to teach preschoolers how to clean mirrors.
Crumb Collecting – use a small brush and dustpan to encourage daily clean-up in the classroom, in childcare, or at home.
Washing Tables – we make this practical life activity part of our classroom jobs list. At the end of our day, students take turns washing and drying our tables.
Sorting and Folding Socks – provide a basket of socks for the children to match and fold.
Cutting Softer Fruits – allow kids to use a real knife to cut soft fruit (and other soft foods). *Demonstrate safety procedures for cutting and using knives – supervise young children as they practice and learn.
Washing Fruits and Veggies – kids can use a vegetable brush and towel to rinse and clean fruits and vegetables.
While this list is, by far, not all inclusive, the practical life activities above will provide opportunities for preschoolers to practice independent skills and garner responsibility for the tasks they are capable of doing on their own!
Practical Life Resources Hand-Picked Just for YOU!
This week The Early Childhood Education Team is offering tips and suggestions to help young children learn the ABC’s! Whether you are a teacher, a childcare provider, or a parent teaching your own child at home, you’ll find valuable resources to encourage early literacy, letter awareness, and promote playful learning at home or in the classroom!
Early Literacy to Try at Home!
Parents are a child’s first teacher! Some parents may not even be aware of how daily interactions with their children are teaching letter recognition and awareness. Letter awareness and general literacy begins even in infancy. Listening to stories, looking at printed words in books, pointing out the names of common household items, and listening or vocalizing to music will create wonderful opportunities for young children to become aware of print, sounds, letters, and words.
Disclosure: this post and others on this blog contain affiliate or distributor links. All opinions are our own.
Read to your children daily and have books available that are age appropriate (cloth books and board books are best for very young children as they are durable).
Try singing or saying letters and the sounds they make – even infants will try to vocalize the early sounds! Don’t worry that your singing voice may not be the best. Young children don’t care about the quality of our singing voices, they just want to hear YOU!
Label household items and/or say the beginning letter and sound that item makes. For example, say the word EGG and the sound the letter E makes in the word (it may feel a bit awkward at first, but soon it will simply become a part of normal routines). Place beginning letter labels on common items (like the Refrigerator). Post-it brand notes work well for easy labeling and removal.
Daily discussions and trips can include early letter and word recognition (for example: What letter does STOP begin with? The words GREEN and GO both begin with what letter?)
Through intentional, yet simple, daily engagement and interactions, young children develop an awareness of sounds/letters and will soon be ready to begin activities that promote letter recognition, sounds, and early words through playful learning.
PLAYFUL LEARNING LITERACY ACTIVITIES for PRESCHOOL and KINDERGARTEN!
Learning through play is crucial in preschool and kindergarten. When presented with opportunities to learn through play, children will naturally absorb information that they can apply to their everyday world.
Playing with Nature Items:
Playful Learning with Sticks – the letters in a child’s name (and those of family members) are some of the first letters preschoolers will use daily. Take learning OUTSIDE for playful FUN!
Ice Cream Cone Letter Match – match “scoops” of ice cream labeled with letters. Free printable for words/letters/sight words and activity suggestions.
Patriotic Literacy Stars – clip letters in a fun (and frugal) beginning words and letter activity – good for any Patriotic holiday (U.S.)
For MORE ways to learn and play with ABC’s, please visit the wonderful activities offered by the dedicated Early Childhood Education Team – #TeachECE offers great resources for use at home or in the classroom!
This week, The Early Childhood Education Team is offering tips and suggestions for MAKING FRIENDS in preschool! As an educator, I’ve had many conversations over the years with parents of children who are concerned their child may not know how (or are scared) to make friends with others. With a few suggestions and helpful advice, parents can encourage and guide their children to develop early friendships with peers.
Outside of immediate family, neighborhood children and families have long been a source of early friendships and play. Neighborhood play has declined over many decades for reasons that are beyond the scope of this particular post. However, with that decline, participation in structured play groups, childcare, community activities, and organized preschool have become avenues to help young children develop social skills and emotional intelligence. While all of those settings are influential, even crucial, to healthy development, parents are still a young child’s FIRST resource for learning appropriate skills for social interactions. To help young kids have a successful start, the tips below can assist parents in preparing preschoolers to BE a good friend at home, in the classroom, in the neighborhood, or in the larger community.
Tips for Helping Preschoolers Make Friends
Positive Family Relationships: Family is the first practice young children have at positive interactions with others. How children play with others in their family is an indicator of how they will play with friends. Siblings sometimes play differently than friends do, but some of the early communication patterns will remain the same. Observe children playing for clues on aspects of communication that may need improvement. Encourage family communication to resolve problems, encourage fairness and taking turns, promote positive attitudes, and to plan play time for the whole family so children can practice manners, try new things, and refine developing skills for good sportsmanship.
Introductions: Role play with children who are fearful of meeting new kids. Invite your child to practice introducing himself and asking other family members or familiar children to play. Through role play, young children will gain confidence and the skills necessary to approach other children and ask them to play.
Qualities of a Good Friend: Explore characteristics of a good friend with your child. The passage, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is still a great guideline. It is easier to gain friendships when a child exhibits qualities that make a good friend. Simple expectations for preschool friendships are: be kind with your mouth and your body, be helpful and honest, take turns and be fair, tell about hurtful or dangerous situations with friends, but don’t tattle, and allow others an opportunity to choose what they want to play.
Look for Common Interests: share with your children some visual clues they might look for at school (or in other social settings) to find a friend that may have similar interests. Backpack characters, decorations on folders, characters or logos on clothing (if a dress code is not in force), and games that other children like to play are all good clues. Remind children that by listening to their peers and observing, they will gain valuable information about what other children like. Those clues will give a child something of value to ask another child about. We ALL enjoy talking about the things we LIKE – preschoolers do, too!
DIRECTIONS: Invite the kids to make a friendship pony bead craft. Print the Qualities of a Good Friend PDF file (linked above) and review with the children. Have the children place the corresponding color of pony bead on a piece of string or yarn as each quality is discussed. The bracelet or chain can be worn or made into a backpack zipper pull (simply add a key ring to the string or yarn) to serve as a reminder to always BE a good friend to other children. **Please supervise young children who still mouth objects carefully as pony beads can be a choking hazard.
While many parents are glad that school time is just around the corner, it can be a bittersweet time too! The casual days of summer often give way to the hectic pace of lunches, homework, paperwork, backpacks, extra activities…the list goes on and on. Today, the Early Childhood Education Team is offering Back to School Tips, Tricks, and Activities to help get kids (and parents) off to a great start!
Back to School Tips for Parents!
Disclosures: This post and others within this blog contain affiliate or distributor links. Opinions are our own.
Allow young children to make as many age-appropriate decisions as possible. To avoid last minute melt-downs, offer children choices within a LIMITED range. For example: “Would you like to brush your teeth after breakfast or after you get everything ready for school?” We are not negotiating brushing teeth, we are just allowing SOME choice and personal decision-making opportunities. By limiting options, we also allow kids the flexibility to choose without being overwhelmed by too many choices.
Stock up on school supplies while sales are on and prices are low.
Where possible, invest in the best quality backpack you can afford for your child. It will save running out at the last minute to get a new one when the straps break (backpacks take a LOT of wear and tear)! Try to avoid getting miniature backpacks as some picture books, artwork, etc. will not fit inside the smaller ones.
For young children, consider whether or not the snaps and buttons on new clothes are possible for tiny fingers. If your child cannot snap or button by themselves, leave that article of clothing until later as skills grow. Try to help young children gain independent bathroom skills before school starts. Visit a public restroom and see if your child can get the paper off the roll. Commercial dispensers are often different than the ones at home.
Establish a “homework contract” for older kids. Decide when the best time to complete reading and additional homework will be. Make sure kids know that doing homework should be a priority after-school when possible.
Decide on family rules for digital games, phones, TV, computers, and other sources of digital entertainment.
Establish family rules for laundry and other household tasks. Even young kids can take responsibility for their personal belongings and age-appropriate chores.
Label individual baskets for family members to assist in putting away their own clothes or personal items. Make folders or baskets for each child to contain paperwork, notes, PTO forms, school picture forms, fundraiser information, and other important items that need signed and returned to school.
Set good bedtime routines. Adequate sleep is important not only for young kids, but for all members of the family!
Directions: Print the Visual Morning Routine Cards (linked above), laminate or cover with clear contact paper, and invite kids to cut out the individual cards. The cards with text can be mounted to heavy paper, a bulletin board, or used on the refrigerator at home (just place craft magnets on the back of the cards).
The cards will serve as a visual morning routine reminder for kids. Kids can clothespin clip the matching picture cards together as that specific task is completed for the morning. There is a blank card at the end of the file for additional morning tasks. The printable calendar can be used for accountability to check off each day that daily tasks are completed!
From all of the Early Childhood Education Team, we wish you and yours a successful start to a new school year!
For even MORE ways to PREPARE for BACK TO SCHOOL, please visit other Tips, Tricks, and Activities from the Early Childhood Education Team below!
Since my oldest daughter was born on Christmas Day, we’ve always celebrated a half-birthday in July. This past January, she passed away from a pulmonary embolism suddenly at the age of 30. To carry on, our preschoolers will celebrate her 1/2 birthday with CHRISTMAS in JULY THEMED ACTIVITIES! We hope your own kids will join in the FUN and visit the great activities linked for your convenience below!
CHRISTMAS in JULY THEMATIC ACTIVITIES for PRESCHOOL!
Christmas in JULY Literacy Activities for Preschool!
This week the Playful Preschool Education Team is offering activity suggestions centered around a ROPE THEME for preschoolers! We hope you’ll take a moment to visit the other playful learning activities linked for your convenience at the bottom of this post!
OUTDOOR NUMBER ORDER SORTING GAME FOR PRESCHOOL!
Objective: to incorporate playful early math skills into an outdoor gross motor game for preschoolers.
Rope or string – enough to tie between two objects outdoors (a tree, lawn chairs, or outdoor play equipment).
Cards (or paper) labeled with the numbers 1-10.
Invite the kids to help string a rope between two objects outside (if inclement weather, the game can also be played indoors). Show the children how to knot the rope so it will remain tied. Randomly sort all of the numbered cards and lay them out, face down, on the ground. An adult should give a signal to “GO” to begin the game. Each of the children must then turn over the numbers, work to sort the cards into number order on the ground, and then clip the cards into correct number order on the rope with the clothespins.
For very young children, make a visual number line 1-10 that the kids can use when sorting and clipping the numbered cards.
Use larger numbers for older children who are confident with the numbers 1-10.
There are MANY variations of this rope game, we’ve listed a few to try below:
Use cards labeled with LETTERS that spell the the child’s name or the names of family members.
Invite the children to match and clip uppercase letters with the lowercase letter.
Make an Alphabet sorting and clipping line – for younger children, begin with only a few letters at a time until they are confident with correct ABC order. Invite older children to clip ABC order with a larger number of labeled cards.
Clip two numbered cards on the rope for older children and see if the children can ADD the two cards together. The children must then locate a labeled number card that represents the SUM of the two numbers and clip that card to the rope.
Our kids played the number order game at a local splash park. You know the game is a keeper when other children at the park come and ask to play! Older kids joined in helping our younger kids make larger number lines. It was a great day of play and learning!
For MORE ways to play and learn with ROPES, please visit the wonderful activities below!
This week the #PlayfulPreschool Blogging Team is offering playful learning activities centered around a STICKS THEME for preschoolers! Please take a moment to visit the other activities linked at the bottom of this post for great ideas to use this summer (or throughout the school year)!
STICKER COUNTING STICKS IN PRESCHOOL!
Objective: To encourage practice with 1-to-1 Correspondence through the use of activities that encourage playful participation.
One-to-One Correspondence is the knowledge that a certain number relates to a specific quantity of objects. The goal is to help young children gain confidence not only with number recognition, but to help them move beyond just recognition and towards the question: How many items make up any specific number?
Craft Sticks (5 to begin – 10 as the children gain confidence with counting)
Prior to the activity: label 5 craft sticks with the numbers 1-5 and set out on a table or a large tray.
Place small stickers (any kind your children like will do) in a bowl. To begin, use only the amount of stickers necessary to complete the number of counting sticks desired for the activity.
Invite the children to count out the number of stickers that correspond to the number indicated by each of the counting sticks. Remind the children to count out loud as they peel and place each sticker on the numbered craft sticks. As the children master 5 craft sticks, use larger numbered craft sticks for counting practice (for larger numbers, large craft sticks are necessary for the required sticker space). The activity provides great visual and tactile skills for encouraging one-to-one correspondence.
EXTENSION ACTIVITIES TO TRY:
1). Label 10 craft sticks with the numbers 1-10. After the children add the corresponding number of stickers to each craft stick, randomly shuffle the sticks and invite the children to place the sticks in correct number order beginning with the number 1. Variation: Label the sticks with the numbers 5-15 and have the children work to place the craft sticks in the correct number order (starting at a number OTHER than 1).
2). Label 10 large craft sticks with the number 10 and invite the children to place 10 small dot stickers on each of the craft sticks. The sticks make great “10 bars” for counting to 100 by 10’s. For younger children, label the individual craft sticks with various numbers for practice with skip counting by 2’s and 5’s.
3). Write the number WORD on the craft stick and encourage the children to place the corresponding number of stickers on each stick.
4). Write any basic pattern on the craft sticks (ex: AB, ABC, AABB, AABBCC). Invite the children create those patterns with different sticker designs. For older children: use a wider assortment of stickers for more complex patterning.
Your children might also enjoy:
For MORE ways to play and learn with STICKS, please see the wonderful activities below!
Finding healthy snacks that kids can help make is sometimes a challenge for busy families. The Lemon Essential Oil and Parmesan Pita Crisps are an easy way to get kids in the kitchen and learning skills while creating a healthy snack!
Disclaimer: This post and others within this blog contains affiliate and distributor links. Opinions are my own.
5 Pita Rounds – any kind – we used gluten-free pitas, but any kind your children like will work.
Parmesan Cheese – grated (to taste)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Invite the children to help line a standard cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut each pita round into 4 sections with kitchen shears (supervise younger children closely). Set each of the pita sections on top of the parchment paper. Have the children help count out the number of Lemon Essential Oil drops to add to the olive oil or water in the spray bottle. Lemon Essential oil is highly concentrated (it takes 75 lemons to make ONE 15 ml bottle). Pass the spray bottle around to each child and have them shake well to distribute the lemon oil. The children should then spray each pita section well with the lemon oil (pressing the spray bottle is great fine motor work for little hands). Invite the children to spoon grated Parmesan cheese over each pita.
Bake the pita sections at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes (or until the Parmesan cheese is a nice golden color). For thinner crisps, cut each pita round into fourths and gently tear each section apart before spraying with lemon oil and adding the Parmesan cheese.
5 pita rounds will make 20 thick pita crisps or 40 thin pita crisps. Serve the pita crisps with fresh fruit for a wholesome snack your kids will enjoy making and EATING!
YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR FAMILY, COME JOIN US TO TAKE STEPS IN CARING FOR YOURSELF!
If you’ve “been on the fence” about trying ESSENTIAL OILS, the premium starter kit is an awesome deal (and comes with TWO extra oils this month)! Come see all the ways you can use ESSENTIAL OILS with your own family!
For more ways to use ESSENTIAL OILS EVERYDAY, please see:
Coffee and Sugar Scrub Bath Bars using Keurig K Cups
If you like coffee, you’re going to LOVE this homemade bath bar and scrub. It’s a great recipe for revitalizing tired bodies at the end of a long day with kids! The bars are made in Keurig K cups so begin saving the ones you’d otherwise throw away! Come refresh, relax, and enjoy the scent and feel of a great body scrub and bath bar!
Disclaimer: This post and others within this blog contains affiliate and distributor links. Opinions are my own.
To make the coffee and sugar bath scrub bars, you’ll need (this recipe makes 5 Keurig cup molds when filled to the first line):
2 Heaping Tbls. Coffee Grounds from used and opened Keurig Cups
5 Empty Keurig Cups – Wash the empty K cups and dry thoroughly – place a piece of tape over the small hole in the bottom of the cup to seal.
1/4 Cup Turbinado Sugar – can also substitute brown or white sugar if desired
Thieves Essential Oil – 6-8 drops (a blend of Clove, Lemon, Rosemary, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus therapeutic grade essential oils)
Instructions: Melt the squares of Goat’s milk soap base as directed on the package. Stir after the first 40 seconds and microwave until completely melted. Add the coffee grounds, turbinado sugar, Thieves Essential Oil, and stir well. Pour the mixture into the empty Keurig Cups.
To speed up the setting time, place the molds in the freezer for 20 minutes or leave at room temperature to for at least 40 minutes. Gently press the bottom of the Keurig cups to release the coffee and sugar bars. The K cups can be saved to make additional bars as desired.
These are also wonderful bars to gift to a friend, fellow teacher, childcare provider, or a new mom! Place 5 bars in a glass jar, print the recipe cards here – Coffee and Sugar Scrub Essential Oil Bars Recipe, and attach the cards to the jar for a delightful handmade gift!
If you’ve “been on the fence” about trying ESSENTIAL OILS, the premium starter kit is an awesome deal (and comes with TWO extra oils this month)! Come see all the ways you can use ESSENTIAL OILS with your own family!
Chalk Dust and Feather Writing: Learning Names in Preschool!
Summer learning can be FUN for preschoolers with a CHALK THEME! The Playful Preschool Blogging Team is offering wonderful suggestions for playful learning with activities centered around CHALK! Grab your own chalk, a few simple supplies, and come PLAY with us!
Disclaimer: This post an others within this blog contain affiliate and/or distributor links. All opinions are my own.
Grating Chalk is a GREAT activity for enhancing fine motor control!
Practical Life Skills and Fine Motor Control: Grating Chalk with a small hand-held cheese grater makes a wonderful practical life skills activity and fine motor tray for preschoolers. Use a chalk holder (or tape the bottom of the chalk) to remind kids to keep fingers away from the grater as the chalk gets smaller. Set the chalk grater over a bowl on a table or tray and leave it out during the summer. Use the grated chalk dust for the feather writing tray below. *Safety precaution: as always, supervise young children closely when grating chalk so that they don’t sniff/inhale the chalk dust.
CHALK DUST and FEATHER WRITING TRAY for PRESCHOOL!
Chalk Dust (from the grating activity above)
A Tray or Shallow Container (to hold the chalk dust)
Some of the first words young children learn are the names of family members and their own. Invite the children to pour the grated chalk dust onto the tray. For younger children, an adult can write the letters in the child’s name on an index card or miniature chalk board. Have the children use the feather to copy the letters into the fine chalk dust. To begin again, the children can use the feather’s end to gently brush over the chalk letters for further practice. It’s a fun way to encourage children to begin writing and practice letter transferring skills!
Extension Activity: dip the tip of the feather in water before writing in the chalk. Kids can also use small paintbrushes, if desired.
For many teachers, classes are over for the summer and we are considering donning our first pair of shorts for the season! If your skin needs a little tender loving care, the Lemon Bar Sugar Scrub is a homemade recipe that uses lemon essential oil to gently exfoliate and brighten skin – it’s an EASY indulgence that can be made and replenished as needed right at home this summer!
Disclaimer: This post and others within this blog contains affiliate and distributor links. Opinions are my own.
The recipe makes two – 4 oz. jars or one – 8 oz. jar of sugar scrub. Spoon the crust mixture in the bottom of a glass jar. Top the crust with the filling and cap the jar tightly. Use the Lemon Bar Sugar Scrub in the shower or bath (make sure you spoon out part of the crust and filling and rub gently into your skin). You will FEEL the difference it makes even after one use (and it SMELLS delicious)!
To make a summer hostess gift for friends, print the Lemon Bar Essential Oil Sugar Scrub recipe cards (linked above)! Tie a pretty ribbon or twine around the jars for a refreshing gift with the scent of summertime! **Note – the lemon bar sugar scrub jars make a great gift for summer tutors, childcare providers, mom’s helpers, and summer sitters!
If you’ve “been on the fence” about trying ESSENTIAL OILS, the new starter kit is an awesome deal! Come see all the ways you can use ESSENTIAL OILS with your own family!
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
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! 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).
Invite the children use the Wikki Stix to make any design desired on the white paper (if you do not have Wikki Stix at home, painter’s tape will work to make chalk resist kites also). 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 (Yarn or String will work for the kite tails, but the children will need to tape the bows to the string).
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 – invite the children write or stamp the bows with the letters that make up their names and place the letters in the correct order on the kites tails.
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!
For more ways to play and learn with young kids, check out our learning themes! Each theme is available as an instant download with songs, fingerplays, math, science, literacy, food crafts, arts and crafts, gross motor suggestions, and an extensive book list for PLAYFUL LEARNING at home or in the classroom!
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!