As our own preschoolers prepare to end our school year, we’d like to offer a special round-up of playful learning activities from the Early Childhood Education Team. We hope your own kids will love playing and learning this summer with activities centered around an Ocean Theme!
38 Ocean-Themed Activities for Preschool!
Top Ten Ocean/Beach Themed Activities Across All Learning Areas:
Rachel Miller, Holly Homer, and Jamie Harrington of Kids Activities Blog and Quirky Momma bring the FUN of science explorations to everyday play in their newest book, the 101 coolest simple science experiments. The book comes complete with colorful photos and simple instructions that invite kids to use critical thinking skills, explore outcomes, and have FUN doing it! If you are a parent, childcare provider, childcare center or classroom teacher, the book is must have for your own resource library!
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Have your own kids try DISSOLVING INK explorations (from the Kitchen Chemistry Section). For FULL instructions, see here!
Our own kids are experimenting with various kinds of catapults (from the Physics and Making Things Move section) and testing which constructed catapult will successfully launch an item the farthest! The catapult building lesson (pg. 63) is an inquiry and solution-based experiment that is fun for kids, but it also provides the opportunity for kids to gain knowledge that can be carried beyond the classroom (or home) to solve problems encountered in the larger community.
As the kids build the initial catapult from the book, they will begin experimenting on their own with various construction materials and developing their own ideas!
Catapult Design inspired by the 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments by Holly Homer, Jamie Harrington, and Rachel Miller
The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments will challenge your own kids to critical thinking about how things in the world work through simple explorations! Be sure to pick up your own copy today and join us for a summer of playful learning and FUN!
If you are new to the Wednesday #TeachECE series, we WELCOME you! Each week, we partner with other early childhood professionals to offer playful learning activities centered around a weekly theme. This week, activity suggestions revolve around a RAINFOREST THEME. Come play to learn in preschool with FUN Tree Frog Math Games to encourage developing skills!
Prior to the activity – print the tree frogs, laminate for durability, and cut out each frog. Print as many of the lily pads as necessary for the numbers your own children are learning or currently working on (laminate the lily pads, cut them out, and number with a dry erase marker). Tape the lily pads onto a table, large tray, or a work mat before introducing the activities below.
Math Game Suggestions
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One-to-One Correspondence: invite the kids to count out the number of tree frogs that correspond to the number on the lily pad. The kids should place the number of frogs on the lily pad (remind preschoolers to count out loud as they place each frog on the corresponding numbered lily pad).
Subitizing: place a predetermined small number of tree frogs on top of a lily pad. See if the kids can tell how many frogs are on the mat without counting the individual cards.
Addition: invite the kids to place the corresponding number of tree frogs on two of the numbered lily pads. The kids should then count the total number of tree frogs on both lily pads for practice with basic addition. Begin with lower numbers until the kids gain confidence.
Subtraction: set a pre-determined number of tree frogs on top of one of the printable lily pads. Invite the kids to roll a die and TAKE OFF the corresponding number of tree frogs from the lily pad. The game is over when all the tree frogs have been removed.
Plus 1 or Plus 2: have the kids roll a die one time and place that number of tree frogs on a lily pad. To do mental math, invite the kids to add (+1) or (+2) to the number of tree frogs on the lily pad. To self-check, have the kids physically add (+1) or (+2) tree frogs to the number of frogs on the lily pad and count again to check their answer.
Skip Counting: practice counting up by 2’s or 5’s by placing the appropriate numbers of tree frogs on several of the lily pads. Tip: making a number line (1-20) will help kids have a visual when beginning skip counting skills.
I am often asked by teachers and parents how to teach scissor skills to preschoolers. Young kids need plenty of practice with fine motor activities to develop the small muscles required for cutting. We introduce scissors to our 3’s, but do not formally work on cutting skills until the 4th year. By the time most kids are four (reminder that not every child will develop at the same pace), they are ready to begin cutting and have the fine motor control necessary to have success!
The Ultimate Guide to Scissor Skills in Preschool
Cutting with scissors takes patience and practice. Make a tray activity for each of the children as the kids will develop skills at various paces and trays can be differentiated for each child. Label the tray with the child’s name so they can practice during downtime or center activity times, if desired. It is also helpful to include an envelope in the tray where the kids can save precious cuttings.
Prior to cutting: Invite the children to hold the scissors in their dominant hand with the thumb up (place a small piece of tape around the thumb hole as a reminder). Have the children practice opening and closing the scissors WITHOUT paper to help them gain confidence. Observe the children to note which child needs additional help and practice before moving on to actual cutting. The child should be able to open and close the scissor with ease before adding paper (or other materials to cut).
Trays (to contain individual cutting practice sheets, scissors, and envelopes)
Envelopes (to hold cuttings)
Paper (vary the weight as skills progress – copy paper, heavy paper, light weight cardboard (such as cereal boxes), tissue paper, etc.)
Permanent Marker (to create lines for cutting)
Scissors (Fiskars brand is, by far, the best brand for preschoolers – there is nothing more frustrating than to have good cutting form and poor quality scissors that fail to cut).
Step One: Cut “fringe” on the bottom of a standard weight piece of paper. Preschoolers should practice opening the scissors and making just ONE cut before moving across the paper. Practice until fringe can be cut all the way across the paper by moving the scissors and opening and closing to make the cut.
Step Two: As the kids are able to make the fringe cuts, progress to cutting straight lines. In order to cut multiple times, the kids must open the scissors fully and move them forward before cutting. It isn’t as simple as it looks! In the beginning, most preschoolers will tear the paper as they forget to OPEN the scissors before trying to move up the paper line to cut. We practice saying or singing, “OPEN, CUT, OPEN, CUT” so it becomes routine. Start with shorter lines in the beginning and then progress to cutting longer lines as the kids gain confidence and skills. Parents and teachers can also tape “lines” as a guide. The tape will help serve as an edge when cutting (we use colored tape as it adds a little flair to cutting practice).
Step Three: Cutting Zig-Zag lines is no easy task as they must turn the paper and keep thumbs up while doing it to cut well. Remind kids to watch the tape to make sure they have their hand in proper position. Practice over and over and the kids will catch on!
Step Four: Progress to circular shapes when the kids have mastered the scissor skills above. Again remind the kids to keep thumbs up for good scissor form while turning the paper to cut circular shapes.
As the kids mature and fine motor skills develop, the kids will have great success! Squares and rectangles with corners can be introduced as the kids further develop scissor skills. Be sure to note all the cuttings in the envelopes as they are precious pieces of paper that make a milestone in each preschooler’s development!
For more Tips, Practice Sheets, Seasonal Ideas, and Suggestions for Encouraging Scissor Skills, please check out all the wonderful activities below!
Cutting Grass by Simple Fun for Kids – see how adding texture can enhance cutting skills!
Cutting Shapes from Coloring Books by Mama Smiles – an inexpensive way to cut more difficult shapes.
If you are new to the #TeachECE Wednesday series, WELCOME! Each week we partner with other Early Childhood professionals to offer you, our valued readers, activities and suggestions centered around a weekly theme. This week we’ll focus on SPRING STEM ideas to encourage your own kids at home or in the classroom!
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities compel preschoolers to use cross-disciplinary tools and critical thinking skills to solve a basic problem. By integrating STEM activities into normal daily routines, preschoolers can gain new knowledge that they can take with them beyond the classroom or home environment and apply to problems found in their everyday world. Come explore the FUN of spring STEM with a Flower Construction Challenge in Preschool!
Spring STEM in Preschool: Free-Standing Flower Construction Challenge
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Objective: To encourage preschoolers to use critical thinking skills and cross-disciplinary tools to gain new problem solving knowledge that can be applied to the everyday world.
Skills Presented in this Simple Challenge:
Science: Preschoolers will use skills within the scientific method (observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, and relating) while planning, constructing, and documenting learning in the playdough flower challenge.
Technology: Students will use digital cameras to photograph their own flower designs and print the photos to share with peers.
Engineering: Preschoolers will construct a free-standing flower from simple supplies that exhibit early attempts at engineering.
Math: Preschoolers will use mathematical skills (estimation, same/different, lines, patterns) to construct the flower and gain knowledge of mathematical relationships in the challenge.
Discuss the STEPS for STEM SUCCESS before the challenge and while the kids are constructing their own designs:
STEM INQUIRY: Preschoolers are asked to engineer a basic free-standing flower using only the simple supplies below.
Playdough – commercial or homemade
Craft Sticks – 10 per student
The kids will ask HOW to construct their flowers. Try to answer their questions with open-ended feedback to allow them to use critical thinking tools to solve the problem independently. Invite the kids to draw a picture of how they want their flower to look. It is truly amazing to watch young kids creating, thinking, and learning through play.
Documentation of Learning and Use of Technology: As the kids construct, have them take digital photos of their constructions to print and share with their peers. Kids will often develop “new” ideas from looking at photos of other flower constructions.
A few of our own preschool free-standing flower design photos:
Building Challenge Wrap-Up: Have the kids come together to share the photos of their flower creations. Invite the kids to explain why they decided to construct their flower in the manner they chose. If any of the kids made improvements (adjustments) to their initial designs, ask them to share why the improvements were necessary. In the photo above, the student initially had too many playdough petals on his flower. The flower was heavy and caused his construction to topple over. The child reduced the amount of playdough used for the flower portion – what a beautiful flower he designed! As the kids look at the various photos, ask students what they would change in their own flower design (if anything) if they had the opportunity to do the challenge again. STEM challenges in preschool invite kids to think critically, play, gain new knowledge, and explore how that knowledge can be used in the future.
We hope your own kids enjoy playing and learning with STEM challenges! For more SPRING STEM activities from The Early Childhood Education Team, please check out the awesome suggestions below!
Welcome to the Wednesday #TeachECE series! Each week throughout the year, we partner with other early childhood professionals to offer tips, activities, and suggested play ideas for your own kids at home or in the classroom. Winter weather can be challenging for staff and students. We try to get our kids outside twice a day, but when the weather doesn’t cooperate, indoor large motor games are a must to get little bodies MOVING! Come “Walk in the Jungle” with us and explore music and movement, listening skills, and a sequencing activity designed just for your own preschoolers!
Walkin’ In the Jungle Large Motor Music and Movement Game for Preschool!
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If your own preschoolers have not been introduced to “Walking in the Jungle” on the Animals CD by Super Simple Songs, you’ll want to try it! Our own kids ask for it almost daily and it’s a great song to get kids moving their bodies and listening! The song includes large motor movements: walking, stomping, jumping, and skipping (for preschoolers, skipping often looks like gallops or sliding as they learn to skip). In each verse, the children must LISTEN to the sound an animal makes and guess which animal the sound belongs to before it is revealed. Our kids now SHOUT the names of the animals as they now know which animal comes next in the song. Whether it is a frog, monkey, toucan, or a tiger, the kids delight in knowing what sound each of the animals makes! The song introduces walking forward while counting, stopping, and then stepping backwards, too. Play the song through once for your children and ask them to just LISTEN to the words, sounds, and what movements are included. Play the song again and ask the kids to try each of the movements within the song.
Sequencing Cards to Accompany Walking in the Jungle by Super Simple Songs
Tape or Poster Putty (poster putty works well with 3’s as they can tear off tiny pieces to adhere the cards to the craft sticks)
Print one set of the sequencing cards for each of the children. Laminate the cards for durability or if laminating supplies are not available, clear contact paper works well, too. Have the kids tape each of the sequencing cards to a craft stick or a straw. Play the song, Walking In the Jungle, and invite the kids to LISTEN and hold up the animal card that corresponds to the SOUND that animal makes as it is introduced in the song. Keep the cards and invite the children to sequence the cards without the music by the MOVEMENT that corresponds to each animal: WALKING=FROG; STOMPING=MONKEY; JUMPING=TOUCAN; and SKIPPING=TIGER. You might also wish to print two copies of the cards for a simple animal matching game.