January 31, 2011
Transitions are hard for nearly all young children (and their teachers!). Active children take advantage of these “free” moments to run, play or otherwise test boundaries. Children who like order become uncomfortable or nervous with the lack of structure or unclear expectations. Here are a few tips to help bring structure to those moments of transition:
Review your daily schedule and decide if there are places where you can eliminate a transition time all together. One school I work with has snack set out as an activity choice. Just like other learning centers, participation is limited by the number of seats made available at the table and children rotate through the snack center throughout the morning. This eliminates the transition to snack time and teaches valuable self-help and fine-motor skills (pouring a drink from a small pitcher, spreading cream cheese, cleaning up after oneself, etc.).
Teach expected behaviors– talk about behavior expectations for different transition times. Discuss what the expectations are and why they are important. Then practice those behaviors. It’s a bit like the fire drill practice of your elementary school days. Of course, it’s best if you do this during the first week of school, but any time transitions begin to cause you trouble again, review the expectations and practice. This shouldn’t be a punishment, just a reminder.
Guide behaviors through song– there are all kinds of songs for every transition moment you can imagine, just a Google search away! Transition songs help to remind children of what they should be doing during those transition moments. Kids can’t focus on too many things at once, so if they are singing and following the directions in the song, they are unlikely to be getting into trouble!
Evaluate your expectations– think about what you are asking children to do in light of their age or development. Young children are capable of many things. They can put away their own belongings, they can clean up after themselves, they can get their own snacks, but sitting still and waiting for long periods of time are not developmentally appropriate expectations. Make sure your circle times are short and that you are not expecting children to stand in line and wait for more than a minute or two. Of course, doing a “waiting in line” song is appropriate!
Transitions are important and should be planned as carefully as the rest of your program. Short, smooth transitions are good for the kids and great for you!
July 20, 2010
The ability to think through problems, anticipate the results of your actions and reflect on what you have done are all critical thinking skills. While these don’t fit neatly into the categories of reading, writing and arithmetic, they are definitely important skills for success in school and in life.
The brains of toddlers and many preschoolers aren’t ready to organize their thoughts and move through this kind of high-order thinking. Cause and effect experiences are a great start for this age group. Some age-appropriate activities that often create cause/effect experiences for toddlers include:
playing with blocks
digging and playing with sand (especially at a beach near a body of water)
exploring outdoors and interacting with nature
Preschoolers can also develop these skills through the activities mentioned above. Help them add more thinking to their play by creating challenges:
Can you build a block wall strong enough to stand up to a rolling tennis ball?
How do you make a sand castle?
Can you figure out a way to make a boat that will float from these recycled materials?
If we wanted to find bugs or other creatures in the yard, where should we look?
Encourage older preschoolers and young school-age children to use their past experiences and knowledge about the world to think through a problem or challenge step by step, or predict what will happen when you lay out the steps for an experiment. Help to encourage problem-solving and critical thinking skills following these simple steps:
Go to your local library and check out books on science experiments or cookbooks for children.
Invite your child to choose an experiment or recipe that looks interesting.
Encourage your child to write down their prediction for what will happen during this experiment.
Help your child follow the steps outlined for the experiment or recipe.
Invite your child to draw a picture of the end result. Talk about it. Was the prediction correct? Why or why not? Encourage your child to verbalize the steps of the experiment.
Following a step-by-step format and encouraging your child to make predictions and then reflect on the process step-by-step is a great way to help children to slow down, think about what they are doing and learn to organize their thoughts. Doing this through science or cooking experiments makes it fun and exciting for your child.
For more great activity ideas, check out World of Wonder’s Terrific Topics for ages 3-6.
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Family, Importance of Play, Preschool, School | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Child Development, Early Childhood, Family, Importance of Play, kids, kindergarten, parenting, Preschool, Science, Summer, Teaching, toddlers | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 20, 2010
Unlike walking, talking or even problem-solving, reading and writing are not skills that develop naturally in children. Both the right-brain and the left-brain have to work together to decipher an image, connect it to a particular sound and then string several of these picture-sounds together to create a word. It’s complicated, and takes practice!
That is why every teacher will tell you, once your child has begun to blend sounds together to either read or write words, keep up with it all through the summer. Some kids love it! They’ll take every opportunity to sound out signs, read you simple books or write lists and labels for everything. Other kids need a little more encouragement. Here are some fun and simple ideas to squeeze a little reading and writing into summer:
Get organized! Encourage your child to make labels for toy bins, book shelves or anything else you’d like to organize. Don’t worry about correct spelling. The important thing is working matching the written letter to the sounds your child hears in each word.
Invite your child to help you write a grocery or other list. Again, correct spelling is not important.
When you’re out and about, ask your child to help you find things (stores, menu items, landmarks, etc.) by looking at and deciphering signs.
Encourage your child to keep a summer journal to remember fun events or keep track of backyard adventures. The journal can be mostly drawings. Ask your child to tell you about the drawing, then write a sentence or two of what he says. Encourage him to do some writing too, even if it’s just a word or two.
Incorporate signs into children’s make-believe play. Invite them to create a sign for their club house or lemonade stand. Have them write a menu for their restaurant, etc.
Ask your child to help you sound out a word or two as you read a story out loud.
Invite your anxious reader to read to a pet or younger sibling.
Create a weekly reading chart- across the bottom of a paper, label the date of the week, then every time your child reads a book that week, let them make a check mark or add a sticker to the chart. See which week has the tallest check mark tower!
June 2, 2010
Whether you are a parent looking for activities that will prepare your child for school in the fall, or a teacher looking to try something new and different, summer is a great time to practice emerging skills in fun, new ways. Throughout the month I will give tips and activity ideas that will help children develop some of the important skills necessary for the upcoming school year.
Fine motor skills describe those small muscle movements necessary for holding a pencil, writing, tying your shoe, etc. It is very common for preschoolers to have trouble with fine motor skills, and even toddlers can begin working on them. Here are some ideas:
For toddlers and young preschoolers:
Place a couple of small cups and a small pitcher of water on a tray for your child. Encourage her to pour the water into the cups. You’ll be amazed at how absorbed your child will be! Tip: Use a tray with sides to keep the water contained if doing this indoors. Provide a sponge cut in half to encourage your child to clean up the spilled water.
Place two shallow dishes on a tray. Fill one with water. Give your child a damp sponge cut in half and encourage him to move the water from one dish to the other by putting the sponge in the dish with water, then squeezing it out over the empty dish. Tip: Use a tray with sides to keep the water contained if doing this indoors.
Place a variety of rocks, golf balls, or other small objects in a plastic bucket. Give your child a pair of kitchen tongs. Challenge her to remove the objects from the bucket using the tongs.
For older preschoolers and kindergartners:
Give children a white ice cube tray, a cup of water and an eye dropper or pipette. Add water to three of the compartments of the tray and add a drop of red food coloring to one, blue to another and green to the third. Encourage your child to move the colored water and add new water by using only the eye dropper. Can he make new colors in other compartments? Can he make a color lighter or darker?
In a shallow dish, set out a variety of different seeds (sunflower, bean, etc.), beads or other very small objects. Give your child a pair of tweezers and encourage her to sort the seeds using only the tweezers.
Slow down and encourage your child to zip, lace, string and even attempt to tie things as at every opportunity. It will take longer, but zipping jackets, lacing shoes, threading string through grommets are all great practice and give your child a sense of importance and helpfulness.
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Family, Preschool | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Child Development, Early Childhood, kindergarten, parenting, Preschool, Summer, Teaching, toddlers | Leave a comment »
June 1, 2010
In general, I’m not a fan of competitive games for young children. Research shows these games often lead to more aggressive behaviors in free play situations. But playing “everybody wins” games all the time may not be the solution either. Some children do need an opportunity to let their competitive spirit shine and for many, learning to lose gracefully is an acquired skill.
A recent game of musical chairs in a local preschool classroom had 3 children crying because they didn’t get to a chair in time and several instances of kids getting knocked out of the chair they had started to sit in as a bigger or more aggressive child jumped to claim it. My first reaction was that perhaps the game should be changed to an “everybody wins” format, but a game like musical chairs can provide a great “teachable moment” for important social skills. Skills children will need as they enter elementary school.
Here are some tips:
Give children the opportunity to participate in or opt out of the game. Make sure that those who opt out can engage in an activity they enjoy (coloring, dancing to the music, watching the game, etc.)
Make sure all of those who want to participate understand that losing is a part of the game. If you are not willing to sit out when it is your turn to do so, then you should choose a different activity. Ask for a verbal agreement from each child.
Review the rules of the game.
Give children clear guidelines about what they should do with their bodies. For example, keep your hands off of others, keep your body off of others, walking feet, etc.
Have a specific place or activity for children while they are “out” of the game. This could be a line of tape to stand on, a chair to sit in while they watch the rest of the game, or another quiet activity to engage in.
When the game is finished, gather everyone together and talk about the experience. What did you like about the game? What didn’t you like? What could we each do to make the experience even better next time?
If you’d rather avoid the competitive games all together, check out the ideas in this previous blog entry: Everybody Wins: A Fresh Take on Preschool Games
May 3, 2010
No matter where you live, chances are you see birds every day. The tall buildings of the city, parks large and small, suburban neighborhoods and rural areas all provide habitat for different kinds of birds. Give kids an opportunity to notice and watch the birds around you and you may be opening the door to new discoveries, a wealth of learning opportunities and maybe even a life-long appreciation of nature.
Here are some ideas for young birdwatchers:
Hang a bird feeder near a window (natural intelligence)
Create a bird-friendly habitat, even in an urban area, by setting out potted shrubs or other greenery and a bird bath (natural intelligence)
Get a book that identifies birds in your area (or look them up online) and help kids identify the birds they see (linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial intelligences)
Encourage older kids to keep a bird journal where they can jot down or draw pictures of their observations (linguistic, spatial, natural intelligences)
Look for bird nests, try out binoculars (spatial, natural intelligences)
Look at bird feathers with a magnifying lens (spatial)
Act out the bird behaviors you see (natural, kinesthetic, intrapersonal intelligences)
Go for nature walks and talk about where you see birds and what they are doing (natural, kinesthetic, linguistic, interpersonal intelligences)
For even more great ideas and information on the wonderful benefits and discoveries children can enjoy just by taking notice of the birds around them, check out this article in Teaching Young Children Magazine.
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Themes | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Early Childhood, kindergarten, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Science, Teaching, Themes | Leave a comment »
March 9, 2010
It seems all children can get lost in playdough play, no matter what their age or ability. Here’s a quick and easy recipe to make your own playdough. This home made version works great and you don’t have to worry about toxic chemicals.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 tsp cream of tartar (keeps dough from getting gummy)
1 cup water
1 Tbs cooking oil
Mix all dry ingredients in a saucepan.
In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the water, oil and food coloring.
Stir the wet into the dry and put the saucepan on the stove at a medium heat. Continue stirring until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the sides of the pan.
Remove from heat and let cool until you can knead it without burning your fingers. Knead 8-10 times to spread the moisture evenly.
Store in an airtight container.
Kids love to experiment with new and different ways to use their playdough. The more options you lay out for them, the more opportunities they have to let their innate gifts or intelligences shine.
Linguistic intelligence– these children might verbally talk through their playdough play or talk out scenes with the creatures they create. Add alphabet stamps, or encourage children to form letters or write their name in the playdough.
Logical/Mathematical– children might count or sort the creatures/objects they make. You might also see them do some logical problem-solving if they are having trouble making an idea come to life.
Spatial– these children probably enjoy fitting cookie cutters into the rolled out dough. They’ll explore the shape of the cut out as well as the empty space it leaves behind. They enjoy the challenge of building more complex figures, or identifying and creating shapes.
Kinesthetic– rolling, pounding, slapping, moving. These kids are active playdough explorers.
Musical– while not directly related to playdough play, some interesting background music can have a big effect on the experience/engagement of these children.
Interpersonal– these children may coordinate an imaginary “group snack” and assign roles to others as they plan their playdough play. Play tea sets, plates, pots or platters can add to the experience.
Intrapersonal– children who loose themselves in the feel and manipulation of the dough may be focusing on how working the playdough makes them feel. Encourage them to talk about their thoughts. Telling them what you see them doing can help to start the conversation.
Natural– children who go beyond making one animal, and think more about making a network of creatures with different roles and responsibilities are using their natural intelligence. These children may also enjoy making imprints of natural objects or otherwise incorporating nature into their playdough creation.
Remember, when it comes to Multiple Intelligences, no child is all or nothing. Children will bring a variety of their strengths and interests into their playdough play. Be a careful observers and learn about them by watching what they do and how. When you can meet a child at their level, giving them a boost to a new level of understanding on any topic becomes much easier and more fun!
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Importance of Play, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Child Care, Curriculum, Early Childhood, Family, Importance of Play, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, sensory experiences, Teaching | Leave a comment »
February 3, 2010
Toddlers love exploring cause and effect. It’s amazing how a toddler (who’s short attention span is legendary) can spend what seems like hours “washing their hands”. They are fascinated by turning the water on and off, exploring what happens when they plug the drain, and watching the water pour off their finger tips. This is a toddler’s science mind at work, and it’s a thing of beauty.
Unfortunately, the mere mention of the word “science” can make many early childhood educators tremble. Science is not scary. It is all about figuring out how the world works. No wonder it is such a great fit for toddlers! Here are some simple ideas for bringing more science into your toddler program:
Give toddlers plenty of opportunities to pour, fill, spill and transfer materials. You can use anything- sand, water, rice, seeds, gravel. It gives toddlers the opportunity to explore weight and volume, encourages fine motor skills and is a great sensory experience.
Explore nature. Invite children to use all of their senses as they dig in the dirt, crawl around bushes, lift up rocks, pick flowers or gather sticks. This helps them to understand the systems and cycles in the natural world, promotes gross motor skills and is great for the senses.
Cook with toddlers. This might sound daunting, but simple recipes, like mashed potatoes, biscuits or pretzels, are great fun to do with toddlers, encourage fine motor development and teach the basics of matter (solid, liquid, gas) as well as nutrition.
Explore light. Play with a Plexiglas mirror in the sunshine and watch the reflection dance around, Play with making shadows. Look through colored lenses. This is a great way to explore some early earth science concepts.
Talk about everything. You don’t need explain things to toddlers, just ask them questions to get them thinking. What did you find under that rock? What is the ant doing? What do you see when you look through the red lens? How does it feel to stir the mix now that we’ve added the flour?
Take their lead and set up opportunities based on their interests.
Over the years the national emphasis on helping children as young as toddlers develop language and early literacy skills has proven effective in improving reading skills as children enter elementary school. It’s time we take the same approach with science.
For great ideas to help you explore science with toddlers, check out our downloadable toddler themes.
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Importance of Play, Infant/Toddler, Multiple Intelligences | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Importance of Play, Multiple Intelligences, Science, sensory experiences, Teaching, toddlers | Leave a comment »
January 22, 2010
No doubt, knowing the alphabet and the sounds each letter makes are important pre-reading skills. While some kids pick this up with little effort, for most these abstract concepts do not come naturally.
Making sense of something so abstract and strange as a letter making a sound is not easy for children. But when you can encourage a child to explore a difficult concept in a way that keeps him feeling safely within his “comfort zone”, the difficult concept suddenly doesn’t seem as difficult. Learning happens more easily.
Here are a few ideas that will help children with strengths in the following intelligences learn letters and sounds more easily:
Linguistic– while reading a story, carefully pronounce the letter sounds within a word as you run your finger under each letter. Play word games like stringing several words with the same beginning sound together, rhyming words, etc.
Logical/Mathematical– Write a letter on a card and place it in or near a shallow dish. Place a variety of small objects on a tray, including several that begin with the letter on the card. Encourage children to sort the objects by placing those that begin with the sound on the card into the shallow dish.
Spatial– Encourage children to say the sound of each letter as they place them properly in the puzzle.
Kinesthetic– Encourage children to make alphabet letters with their hands or bodies. Say the sound of each letter as children complete the form.
Musical– sing alphabet songs or songs with a lot of rhyming or alliteration (many words with the same beginning sound strung together).
Intrapersonal– focus on the letters in the child’s name. Talk about personal attributes that begin with the letters in the name. For example, Eli is exciting, his legs are long, he likes ice cream.
Interpersonal– set out several letters of the alphabet and several objects that begin with those letters. Invite children to work together to match each object to its letter.
Natural– invite children to collect natural objects. As you look over the collection, emphasize the beginning sound of each. Make a letter card for each object.
Once you have an idea of the types of activities your child is naturally drawn to, use that information to your advantage. Let the child’s interests be the motivator. All you have to do is create the opportunity to let the learning happen.
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Literacy, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool | Tagged: Activities for Kids, early literacy, kindergarten, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Teaching | Leave a comment »
January 19, 2010
Preschool children are filled with wonder and curiosity about the world around them. They want to know how things work, why, and what they can do to influence things. They want to see what happens if they do this or touch that. They are natural scientists.
Unfortunately, most preschool programs don’t tap into this interest and according to a study by a University of Miami researcher,
science is one of the areas in which children show the least learning growth during their preschool years.
A recent article posted in Education Week explores science in the preschool classroom, and encourages teachers to go beyond the typical preschool “science center” which usually consists of a few shells, a magnifying lens, some magnets and perhaps a book on animal camouflage. Children need an opportunity to explore, test ideas and see how things work. The process of scientific inquiry or discovery is what can really have an impact on children’s future learning.
Play advocates may be concerned about packing too much “academics” into preschool. Preschoolers need free play. According to one expert quoted in the article,
efforts to expand preschool science teaching need not necessarily conflict with young children’s need for playtime. Science can be taught in the context of play… the evidence is pretty clear that you don’t just need to have free play for children. There’s free play, and there’s guided play. You just have to be careful,” she added, “because sometimes adults can become too intrusive and the play just stops.
An added benefit of allowing children to engage in real scientific exploration is that it helps boost their language skills. It’s amazing how much children will talk, and how their vocabulary will expand, when you give them something exciting to talk about.
Here are some ideas of science topics to explore with preschoolers:
Water– use funnels, tubes, pumps, basters, water wheels to explore how it moves, flows, fills space, interacts with objects and air.
Worms– how they dig, move, where they live, how they react to different surfaces or water.
Plants– how they grow and change over time, how animals/insects interact with them, what they need to live, parts of the plant and it’s function
Blocks– try mixing different textures, shapes, density and explore concepts of balance, size, gravity, structure
For all kinds of ideas for scientific exploration, check out World of Wonder’s preschool themes. Each month-long unit contains an entire section full of hands-on science ideas.
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Importance of Play, Preschool, Themes | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Curriculum, Early Childhood, Importance of Play, language, Preschool, Research, Teaching | Leave a comment »
January 7, 2010
The folks at the National Institute for Early Education Research presented a great workshop at the NAEYC national conference in Washington DC in November 2009. The title was “Beyond Calendars and Today’s Weather” and focuses on improving the quality of Math and Science experiences for young children. They recently made the information from this workshop available as on online PDF.
Check it out! It’s easy to read and full of photographs of activity ideas and great information for preschool teachers. Use it to make the most of math and science opportunities in your classroom.
Remember, all of WoWKits Terrific Topics preschool units also have wonderful and creative hands-on math and science activities too!
January 5, 2010
Do you have an answer to these questions? Think about what goes on in your child care program. How do you rate?
Should a 1-year old watch any TV?
Should a 4 year old watch more than 2 hours?
Should a 3 year old spend most of the day doing quiet, sit-down activities?
If a child is misbehaving do you cut back their outdoor play time?
Is juice the best beverage choice for a young child?
If you answered “no” to all of the above questions, give yourself 5 stars and a pat on the back. You’ve got the elements in place to create a healthy environment for young children.
According to an article at UPI.com, researchers at Oregon State University found that of 300 family child care providers surveyed, most didn’t rate so well.
two-thirds of those caring for children under age 5 have the TV on most of the day…78 percent of the children ages 2 to 5 were not getting enough physical activity and 63 percent had active play or exercise restricted as a punishment.
To me, this is a shame. Family child care homes have the potential to offer some of the best child care environments for young children. The home setting, the small groups, the mixed ages, the care and attention that children receive in these wonderful care environments can often be preferable to the larger, rather industrial style settings of larger child care centers.
It is important that care providers are not only aware of the basic health recommendations for young children, but that they follow those recommendations in the environments that they provide.
Here are some basic recommendations and links to articles with more information:
TV Viewing: Children under age 2 should not watch any TV, children between 2 and 5 years old should watch a maximum of 2 hours a day (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Physical Activity: Children ages 2-5 should get at least 60 minutes of structured physical activity (adult-led activity), at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity (free play) and should not be inactive for more than 1 hour at a time, unless sleeping (National Association of Sports and Physical Education)
Juice: juice should be 100% pasteurized fruit juice and not fruit drinks, infants under 6 months of age should not be given juice, children aged 1 to 6 years should have only 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day (American Academy of Pediatrics)
For fun activity ideas that will help you turn off the TV and grow young bodies and minds, check out the activity binders at wowkits.com!
Filed under: Health, Infant/Toddler, Preschool | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Child Care, Child Development, Early Childhood, family child care, Infant/Toddler, nutrition, Preschool, Research | Leave a comment »
December 4, 2009
Some kids love story time, others have a hard time staying focused. Not only is this distracting, but it can make story time a negative experience for everyone involved.
To get and hold the attention of a variety of different learners, try adding rhythm to your story time. I don’t mean sing story-songs (though if you’re comfortable doing that, go for it!) Rhythm exists in the words we speak. Just make a special effort to bring out the rhythm that is already in the text of a lot of great read-aloud books. There are so many benefits, including:
It emphasizes syllables in words to improve language acquisition
It encourages controlled movement and coordination for kinesthetic learners
It brings a musical element to reading for those with a strong musical intelligence
I promotes the sense of being part of a larger group as children clap or move together to a rhythm
It enhances children’s understanding story sequencing
Some simple steps you can take to bring rhythm to story time include:
Choose stories with strong rhythm or repetition in the text such as Dr. Seuss books, I Went Walking, by Sue Williams or Brown Bear, by Bill Martin Jr.
Encourage children to clap out the syllables of repetitive text or common phrases
Incorporate simple rhythm instruments (rhythm sticks, maracas, tone blocks) to emphasize parts of the story such as the “clip clop” of the hoofs of the Three Billy Goats Gruff
Many of the language activities in our Activity Binders for preschool include a lot of ideas for bringing rhythm and music into reading language learning. I’ve noticed a big improvement in children’s language skills and ability to retell a story when these techniques are used.
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Literacy, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Special Needs | Tagged: Activities for Kids, early literacy, language, learning styles, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Teaching | Leave a comment »
October 17, 2009
One day on the way home from preschool my daughter declared, “I hate musical chairs!” I was surprised at the force behind her statement, but not so surprised by her feelings.
My daughter is not exactly a speedy child. She moves at her own pace and in her own good time in spite all of my coaxing and demanding. I try to remind myself that it’s developmentally appropriate, preschoolers generally don’t have much of a concept of time, at least not the way adults do!
Then I came across this article in YC Magazine. In it the author, Rae Pica, reminds us that as early childhood educators, we need to be aware of what children might learn from the activities we plan, including games.
Children learn from all of their experiences. What will children learn from the games we offer—self-confidence,problem solving, cooperation, trust, and improved motor skills? Or “rejection, competition, failure, and humiliation” (Staley & Portman 2000, 67)? It’s up to us to decide.
The article goes on to give the reader new ideas for modifying traditional games like Musical Chairs, Simon Says and Duck, Duck, Goose to better fit the emotional, physical and cognitive needs of young children.
Preschoolers are just discovering the joys of playing group games. They are fun, social, active and can offer a lot of learning opportunities. No game is right for every group of children, and very few games are always wrong. It is up to us to really think about the games we choose to introduce. What lessons will the children learn? How will this game foster their development? Then we can modify the rules as necessary to ensure that all children benefit from the games we teach them.
October 8, 2009
Many toddler teachers feel pressure to do craft projects with their children. I’m not talking about “exploring with crayons” or “experimenting with paint”. I’m talking about crafts that are supposed to look like something in particular like a jack-o-lantern or a classic holiday turkey. Projects where the teacher is doing most of the work, often fighting the toddler for correct placement of the various parts or features.
The toddler teachers I’ve talked are not big fans of these projects, but feel obligated to do them to meet the expectations of parents or program administrators. Parents want to know that their toddler is doing something constructive during their time in child care and somehow these developmentally inappropriate activities have become a common way of fulfilling this need.
Here are some suggestions of other ways to communicate the value of your program to parents:
Send home monthly newsletters talking about current or upcoming classroom activities. If you can include photos of children at work, even better!
Send home suggested activities for parents and children to do together. They can be as simple as “play some music and dance with your child”. Be sure to include the benefits of the activity, i.e. “improves coordination and muscle movement, encourages social skills”. Use plain language and avoid developmental jargon. This will help parents to see the value of the experiential activities you do with toddlers.
Take pictures of children doing activities and post them near your entrance with captions to help parents understand what they are seeing.
Have regularly scheduled parent conferences. You can make them short and sweet. Just take a moment to give parents some details about how you have seen their child grow and develop in your care.
If the motivation for these projects is to create a lasting keepsake, consider simple sensory experiences like hand or foot prints, a voice recording and slide show on CD, or a simple photo of a child engrossed in an activity accompanied by a poem.
Trying to get a toddler to create a specific finished product is a lot of work for teachers, frustrating for toddlers who want to do their own thing, and is likely to end up in a parent’s recycle bin after a brief moment of admiration for the child’s sake. Definitely not worth the effort!
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Importance of Play, Infant/Toddler, Parent/Teacher Communication | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Child Development, Curriculum, Importance of Play, Teaching, toddlers | Leave a comment »
September 11, 2009
For many parents and early childhood educators, math is a scary subject. We have flash backs to worksheets, complicated word problems and lots of math-fact drills. But there is another way to explore math. All we have to do is open our eyes to the math that surrounds us and our children every day.
Math is more than just counting and number facts. Math concepts include shapes, patterns, sorting and classifying, estimating, measuring, comparing, spatial relationships, and that’s just the beginning! Here is an idea of how math can be a part of everyday play experiences with young children:
Playground Math– invite children to collect treasures out on the playground, then use them to explore concepts of counting, sorting and patterns. Count each push you give your child on the swing. Estimate the height of the monkey bars using handy objects (how many sticks high is it?) Then check to see if you are right.
Block Math– count or sort blocks as you stack them or put them away. Estimate the number of blocks in a bin or tower, then count them. Put blocks in order from tallest to shortest.
Obstacle Course Math– create an obstical course for children. Draw a map and challenge them to follow it. Explore concepts of over, under, left and right. Talk about ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.).
Dramatic Play Math– Set up a grocery store or farm stand. Invite children to sort items into proper categories or bins, then write prices for the items for sale. Explore the concept of money by providing toy money to enhance the experience.
When children have a chance to really explore math ideas (even if they don’t realize that is what they are doing) you are giving them a foundation in math that will help them to make sense of the more abstract math concepts they will eventually encounter in school. And maybe they won’t have to go through their school years with the same math phobia that many of us dealt with!
For more information on helping young children explore math, check out this article from Scholastic entitled 5 Math Myths.
September 3, 2009
Whether at home or at school, preschool children benefit from chores or helpful jobs. Of course, the chores need to be age appropriate, and some adult guidance may be necessary in the beginning, but the rewards for creating well thought-out chores for your children are great, including:
increased sense of responsibility
enhanced sense of community
skill development depending on the task (fine-motor, gross motor, coordination, etc.)
Here are some simple steps for creating a successful chores system:
Talk about the importance of various jobs- what would happen if no one did them?
Come up with a list of important daily tasks
Create clever charts to help motivate children and use picture cues or cards to remind them of their job
Rotate tasks regularly to keep children interested
Give children a way to show they have completed the task. They could put a sticker up on a chart, turn a task card over, etc.
Acknowledge a job well done. A simple “thank you”, high-five or pat on the back will do.
For more tips on setting up a job chart in the classroom, check out this article in Early Childhood Today Magazine.
August 5, 2009
Our senses are the root of all discovering and learning. Toddlers love to actively explore through their senses. It is how they test their learning tools. There is no better way to put the senses to work than through cooking!
When you cook with toddlers, not only to they get to try out ALL of their senses, they also get a meaningful introduction to math (counting and measuring) and science (properties of matter, mixing, observing changes) concepts. On top of that, the conversations that take place around cooking encourage language skills. Watching you follow a written recipe promotes pre-literacy skills. Cooking with others develops social skills and making and eating real, healthy food encourages healthy habits. Clearly, getting toddlers involved in food preparation is worth the effort.
Here are some tips for a successful experience:
choose a simple recipe with only a few ingredients.
create a safe and easily accessible work space for toddlers away from stove tops and other kitchen hazards.
Set out and prepare the ingredients in advance so everything is ready to be scooped or poured immediately.
If you are working with toddlers in a child care setting, you’ll have more success if you don’t force cooking as a group activity. Just set out the ready-to-go cooking materials on a child-sized table, and begin preparing the meal or snack as you would in the kitchen. Those children who are interested can come and help or just watch. Eventually the watchers may become helpers, but children will be more cooperative and you’ll have few issues if you are working only with those who are choosing to be involved.
The same idea is also true for toddlers cooking at home. Everyone will be much happier if the child has chosen to help with the cooking, and is allowed to move on to other things when they are no longer interested.
Here are some ideas for simple foods to cook with toddlers:
bread machine breads
mashed potatoes (you pre-cook the potatoes and allow them to cool)
If you’ve done some cooking with toddlers, please share your tips and recipe successes!
July 23, 2009
My daughter’s preschool started a new concept for their summer program and it’s been a great hit with all the kids. They are celebrating the alphabet with “Letter Days”. The idea is a simple one:
Each day a new letter is celebrated
Children are encouraged to bring in an item for “sharing time” that begins with that letter. Today is “O” day and my daughter chose to bring in an orange bracelet. She is thrilled that orange starts with O and that it looks like the letter O.
Each day features a craft and snack that starts with that letter. For “H” day they had hummus (with pretzels) and made “hearts and hands” wrapping paper by stamping hand prints and heart shapes on a “huge” sheet of paper.
Each day they make a special “tribute” to the letter. The featured letter is written in the center of a half sheet of paper. Around it, the children do a leaf rubbing (they rubbed goldenrod leaves for “G”, a maple leaf for “m”), stamp images of something beginning with the letter and draw pictures.
The kids are loving it! Each day at drop-off children are showing me what they brought for sharing. Many are even choosing the clothes they wear to coordinate with the letter of the day, a shirt with a picture of an island for “I” day, a dress for “D” day. I overhear conversations children are having about things they encounter that begin with the letter of the day. At bed time my daughter wants to brainstorm ideas of words that begin with the next day’s letter. It has been a great way to reinforce alphabet concepts over the summer, but I’m sure it could be an equally successful school year project.
July 9, 2009
Science isn’t scary. It’s all around us! And there is no better way to get kids excited about the wonders of the natural world than to experiment with the magical properties of sunlight. Here are a few fun-in-the-sun science experiments for preschool and kindergarten:
Sun Prints– Place several objects (key, rock, leaf) on a piece of dark construction paper. Leave it in the sunshine (indoors or out) for a few hours. Invite kids to remove the objects to reveal their sun prints!
Shadow Tracing– invite children to trace shadows with chalk on a paved walkway or driveway. If there are no fixed-object shadows to trace (trees, signs, etc.) encourage children to trace each others shadows. Be sure to trace around the feet of the standing child to make sure they can get back into the same position later in the day. A few hours later, return to the tracings. Are the shadows still within the traced lines?
Rainbow Makers– Grab a hose and a spray attachment. Spray a mist of water into the air on a sunny day and encourage children to look for the rainbow!
Shadow Shapes– Invite children to make shadow shapes with their arms or whole bodies. If you’re on a paved surface, capture the shapes by tracing them.
Warming Up Water– set out a small metal (or other dark and non-breakable) bowl with water in a sunny spot. Place another small bowl of water in a shady spot. After a few hours, bring the bowls together and invite children to compare the temperatures of the water.
As you do these experiments with children, ask questions. What do you think will happen? What did happen? Why?
These experiments will get kids thinking about:
the source of sunlight
the properties of sunlight
how the sun moves through the sky
the relationship between light and heat
the power of sunlight
June 29, 2009
A recent article in USA Today is a great reminder of all the fun my generation had playing as kids. If you’re looking for a great, inexpensive entertainment for your children, look no further than your own childhood..
For some children reared in the Internet age, a hula hoop and hopscotch are “brand-new activities that will provide them with a sense of novelty this summer
Not only is “retro play” inexpensive and fun, it also has great physical, social and educational benefits. The article states that through play kids
..learn about their bodies through movement. Jumping up and falling down provides lessons in gravity. Throwing balls and other things help improve eye-hand coordination.Just horsing around with other kids helps them learn a sense of fairness, cooperation and social awareness…Play helps sculpt our brains. It creates valuable skills that are valuable in the workplace later in life.
May 6, 2009
Large projects are a great way to make learning a fun, real and unforgetable experience for young children. Planning, preparing, planting, tending and harvesting a vegetable garden is a great way to tie in all sorts of important concepts including:
plant life cycles
living and non living
Gardens also tap into children’s energy and natural curiosity. Children learn through their senses, at their own pace and in their own way. Some of the Multiple Intelligences addressed while gardening include:
Linguistic– talking about your plans; describing your actions; discussing problems/issues; learning new garden-related vocabulary; keeping a garden journal
Logical/Mathematical– counting and sorting seeds; measuring garden space, seed spacing, plant height, rainfall
Spatial– planning garden space; drawing pictures of plants as they grow, creating seed markers
Kinesthetic– digging, weeding, raking, harvesting
Musical– singing garden-related songs; tapping or otherwise keeping a rhythm as you dig or plant; listening to the sounds of nature as you spend time outdoors
Interpersonal– working together to prepare soil, add compost, water, harvest food, create snacks or meals, etc.
Intrapersonal– quiet, independent time weeding or digging
Natural– watching plant cycles and insect life
You don’t need a large outdoor space to create a class garden that can become a season-long project. A small garden plot can keep kids very busy. Several large pots or other planting containers can become a bountiful urban garden. Not only will your children learn a lot, they will also have an opportunity to experience nature and that in itself comes with a host of benefits!
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Themes | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Curriculum, Multiple Intelligences, nutrition, Preschool, sensory experiences, Summer, Teaching, Themes | Leave a comment »
April 10, 2009
It’s that time of year- seeds are sprouting and buds are bursting into bloom! No doubt your children have noticed. Nature’s springtime rebirth is endlessly fascinating to children and the guided exploration of seeds is a great way to give children a front-row seat to this amazing time of year.
Here are some ideas of how to explore seeds using a Multiple Intelligences approach:
Linguistic– Read The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle, talk about children’s experiences gardening or planting seeds; encourage children to discuss questions or have a conversation about how seeds grow
Logical/Mathematical– give children a variety of different types of seeds to sort; create patterns with seeds; use standard or non standard measurements to track a seedling’s growth; create sequence cards showing a seed sprouting, growing and blooming
Spatial– create seed art by pasting various small seeds onto construction paper, sticking them into a slab of self-hardening clay or arranging them on sticky-backed contact paper; create a sketch journal to record the growth of a seed
Kinesthetic– encourage children to squat down like a little seed, the slowly rise and grow, then spread out arms as the plant blooms
Musical– create musical shakers by putting seeds into plastic bottles
Interpersonal– invite children to work together to prep the soil and plant an outdoor or indoor container garden
Intrapersonal– Set out a bouquet of flowers for children. Invite them to draw quietly as they look at the flowers, then talk about the drawings or the feelings they have as they look at the flowers
Natural– Track the life cycle of your seed, from sprouting to blooming and fading away and composting. Talk about this cycle with children
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Themes | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Curriculum, kindergarten, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Teaching, Themes | Leave a comment »
March 22, 2009
If you are looking for a way to get some insight into your child’s (or children’s) multiple intelligences, look no further than their dramatic play. Here children take on roles, act out situations and recreate past experiences that have captured their imagination and interest. In dramatic play, the possibilities are endless, especially if you have provided a variety of props, tools and venues through which children can express themselves.
Here are some things to look for:
linguistic intelligence– talking through or describing situations, actions and reactions; incorporating writing or sign making
logical/mathematical– sorting, organizing or lining up figures or other materials; analyzing or critiquing dramatic play scenarios for their believability
spatial– using block building or creating other structures; focus on the look of a costume or prop
kinesthetic– very physical or active, incorporates a lot of movement
interpersonal– prefers to include others in dramatic play, negotiates play situations with others
musical– enjoys acting out songs; background music strongly influences dramatic play; may incorporate singing/music making into play
intrapersonal– recreates personal or imagined situations that involve emotions or have personal meaning; may prefer to play alone and may not need to speak to have meaningful and involved dramatic play experiences
natural– enjoys acting out the lives of animals, or imagines self interacting with nature especially enjoys dramatic play outdoors in a natural setting
Young children love dramatic play. It gives them an opportunity to be creative, express themselves, try out roles or situations they’ve seen or experienced and make sense of the world around them. Once you understand how your children approach dramatic play and why, you can take full advantage of it as a powerful learning tool.
Filed under: Importance of Play, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Curriculum, Early Childhood, Importance of Play, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Teaching | Leave a comment »
February 27, 2009
Here in the east coast we are still in the grip of winter. If you’re looking for some new ideas for outdoor winter play with toddlers and preschoolers, try this color mixing activity:
3 water bottles with water
3 small, shallow plastic containers
Red, yellow and blue food coloring
Eye droppers (enough for each child, if possible)
Brownie pan or other shallow dish
What to do:
Make 3 colored water bottles by putting several drops of the 3 different food coloring colors into one water bottle each.
Scoop up some snow into the brownie pan and set out the 3 shallow containers and eye droppers.
Squeeze a little bit of each color of water into the shallow containers.
Show children how to squeeze the eye droppers to suck up water, and then squeeze again to squirt it out.
Invite children to paint the snow with the colored water and eye droppers.
Toddlers really love this activity. Some may have a hard time squeezing the eye droppers. Try having them shake or squeeze the water bottles. They’ll also have fun poking at the snow with the eye droppers.
Bury a few small treasures in the tray for children to discover.
Talk about what happens to the snow over time. What happens to the snow when the colored water touches it?
Coloring Snow Activity
February 13, 2009
I’m a big fan of project-based learning. It is the ultimate way to create a thematic unit full of hands on learning fun. Children become partners in the curriculum planning because the success of your project depends on their interest and enthusiasm.
Planning is essential though. You need a project goal and then you need to break down that goal into smaller parts for children to build upon. For teachers it can be hard to figure out how to walk that fine line between planning ahead to guide learning and following the children’s lead.
But when learning in the classroom overlaps with the real world and children feel that they have a larger stake in the day’s activities, it’s amazing how excited about learning, and curious about the world, they become.
Here is a video clip of a big moment in one class’s project on worms. The children’s excitement is contagious! A project approach to teaching may take a little getting used to, but if it can create curious kids, it is definitely worth a try.
The Illinois Early Learning Project has a great online tip sheet to help teachers plan and coordinate a learning project. Here are the basic steps:
Phase 1- Getting Started
Choose a topic
Ask children what they know
Ask children what they want to learn (questions they may have)
Phase 2- Collecting Information
Teachers use children’s questions to plan trips or present other resources to children
Children collect and record information through journals, drawings, charts, etc. and share/discuss new knowledge
Phase 3- Concluding the Project
Children use information gathered to answer previous questions
Children decide how to present new knowledge to parents and school community
January 26, 2009
Learning standards can be a helpful tool when it comes to ensuring that our young children are given opportunities to learn in preschool, but we can’t forget to think about how young children learn when we go about applying these standards.
Young children learn by doing, by experimenting, by exploring. Facts mean nothing. Learning happens when ideas are tested, and the Arts offer all kinds of opportunities for children to test their ideas. Ellen Booth Church talks about some of these ideas in a great article in January’s Early Childhood Today Magazine. Here she talks about some ideas for exploring science concepts:
Creative movement activities require children to explore the use of their bodies in space and to deal with the forces of gravity and flow. Add a prop such as a scarf, a balloon, or a fan, and children can explore the effects of wind. Art activities with straws to blow paint, balls to make rolling paint trails, or magnets to drag metal objects through paint all build curiosity about and understanding of how these natural forces work with a familiar object — paint!
She goes on to describe ways that the arts can encourage learning across the curriculum- math, science, language, etc. These ideas are also great for incorporating multiple intelligences into the learning opportunities you offer children.
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Education Industry, Importance of Play, Multiple Intelligences | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Importance of Play, Multiple Intelligences, sensory experiences, Teaching | Leave a comment »
January 16, 2009
Here in the Northeast and across much of the country winter is hitting hard. With the thermometer hovering around zero, we’ve all hunkered down indoors. Even Bug’s preschool is keeping the kids indoors all day.
All this indoor time can make kids itchy with cabin fever. Throw a little singing and dancing into the day and watch the winter blues melt away! Singing is a fun way to pass the time and dancing can let off a lot of pent up energy. As an added bonus, they are both full of teaching and learning opportunities:
Singing songs helps children build vocabulary and boosts memory
Songs with alliteration (words that start with the same sound) and rhyme teach children about the sounds within words, an important pre-reading skill
Singing games like “hokey pokey” and “ring around the rosy” teach cooperation and encourage social interaction
Games like musical chairs or dancing and freezing when the music stops promote gross motor and listening skills
Rhythm activities reinforce math concepts like counting and patterns
Encourage creativity with free dance experiences or by making up new songs with children
Here is a great article put out by NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) about the important role music can play in teaching and learning.
For great ideas on music activities for young children check out our music products including: Making Music (ages 3-8 ) and Music with Little Ones (for infants and toddlers). Both are available as a complete kit or as an activity binder only.
December 1, 2008
No matter what type of climate you live in, no matter what the age of your children, there is something endlessly fascinating about ice. It’s slippery and hard. It looks like glass but it’s cold. And most amazing of all…it melts!
As winter approaches consider using ice to get children excited about this season and about science. Here are some ideas:
Put ice in their sippy cups. Watch for their reactions as they listen to and taste their drinks. (Sensory)
Put a bucket of ice and a dish pan of water out for them to explore. Provide tongs, large spoons and measuring cups to enhance the experience. Encourage children to notice how the ice changes over time. (Motor, Language)
Freeze fruit in water and serve the frozen treats at snack time. Watch the children’s reactions. (Sensory)
Freeze several small toys in a large block of ice (use a dish pan or brownie pan as a mold). Leave the frozen block on the sensory table and invite children to explore it throughout the day. Help them describe their observations and notice how they react to the emerging toys. (Sensory, Motor, Language)
Any of the toddler activities listed above work great with preschoolers as well. Be sure to talk about their observations and take it a step further by Inviting them to draw pictures of their observations. (Intelligences: Spatial, Linguistic)
Leave a large block of ice out during the day. In the morning, talk about it with the children, then measure it (length, width or height). Every hour throughout the day encourage pairs of children to measure the block. Help them to write down the measurements. Make a chart showing how the block changed as the day went on. (Intelligences: Logical/Mathematical, Interpersonal)
Give children three containers with ice cubes along with containers of salt, water and Styrofoam (cups or packing material). Invite children to pour salt over one ice cube, water over another and cover the last with Styrofoam. Watch what happens to each cube over time. Talk about and/or draw observations. (Intelligences: Logical/Mathematical, Linguistic)
Make ice ornaments. Freeze berries or other small, decorative items in ice cube trays or small cups. Be sure to also freeze a loop of string or twine in each. Hang these ornaments in an outdoor tree. Do animals come to explore the ornaments? (Intelligence: Kinesthetic, Spatial, Natural)
Give children a large block of ice and a flashlight. Invite them to explore. Does the light go through the ice? Does the light change? Can children see anything new with the help of the flashlight? Does the flashlight change the ice? (Intelligence: Natural, Linguistic, Kinesthetic)
Read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and invite children to talk about their own experiences with ice or snow. (Intelligence: Linguistic, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal)
Slowly pour a lot of ice cubes into a large container of warm water. Encourage children to listed carefully to the sounds the ice and water make. Talk about these sounds, then set out instruments and invite children to re-create the sounds. (Intelligence: Linguistic, Musical)
These are just a few ideas. Feel free to share some of yours!
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Infant/Toddler, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Themes | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Early Childhood, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Teaching, toddlers | 1 Comment »
November 21, 2008
As the holidays approach, conversations in your preschool class may begin to revolve around the upcoming family celebrations that your children are so looking forward to. For teachers who have cultural diversity in their classrooms, this can be a stressful time. Honoring the various traditions of your children’s families while trying to meet the expectations of the majority, or even a minority of very vocal parents/community members can be challenging. It is also a wonderful opportunity to explore the concept of diversity.
A diversity theme can be intimidating, but it can also be a wonderful way to get to know your families, strengthen the home/school connection and create a strong sense of community within your classroom. Here are some ideas:
Send home a parent letter and questionnaire– give parents advanced notice of the theme. Ask families where they come from, if they will be having a holiday celebration and if they would be willing to come in to talk about their traditions or bring in culturally relevant items or food. (Intelligences: Interpersonal, Linguistic)
Introduce the theme to your group by making “kid masks”– take a photo of each child. Blow it up to 5×7 or larger. Cut out the face. Laminate the photo. Mount it on a craft stick. Give children their masks. Encourage them to look at each others masks, try out the different masks, talk about how they are alike and different. Use them throughout the theme. Sort and group the masks by hair color, eye color, etc. Incorporate the masks into the dramatic play area. (Intelligences: Spatial, Interpersonal, Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical, Kinesthetic)
Encourage children to bring in photos of last year’s holiday celebration at home, or of a favorite family tradition. Use these photos to jog memories, have conversations, draw pictures or create stories. (Intelligences: Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Linguistic)
Explore books that are relevant to the cultures of the children in your program. (Intelligences: Linguistic, Intrapersonal)
Learn games from the family cultures of your classroom. (Intelligence: Interpersonal, Kinesthetic)
Look for songs in the home languages of the children in your classroom and encourage the class to learn a word or phrase in that language. (Intelligences: Musical, Linguistic, Intrapersonal)
These are just a few ideas. If you’ve tackled this challenging theme with the children in your program, we’d love to hear about what worked for you!
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Themes | Tagged: Activities for Kids, community, Early Childhood, Family, holidays, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Themes | Leave a comment »
October 21, 2008
With Halloween fever in full swing, here are some ideas for exploring pumpkins using Multiple Intelligences as a guide:
Visit a “pick-your-own” pumpkin patch- children can: talk with the farmer (interpersonal), explore the pumpkins growing on the vine (natural), walk the fields, (kinesthetic), count the number of pumpkins growing on one plant and compare them (logical/mathematical) and it’s a great way to get families involved
Explore the pumpkins- use string and/or flexible measuring tape to explore height and circumference, weigh the pumpkins, line them up by size (logical/mathematical), talk about the parts of the pumpkin and their purpose (natural, linguistic), create pumpkin rhymes or sing pumpkin songs (linguistic, musical)
Draw a face on their pumpkin- children can: use a washable marker to design a face, adult traces over in permanent marker and carves (spatial), talk about the expression on the face (intrapersonal, linguistic), turn the cut-out pumpkin pieces into stamps by dipping them into tempera paint (spatial)
Scoop out the insides of the pumpkin- children can: have the sensory experience of pulling out the insides (kinesthetic), talk about the way it feels (linguistic), sort the seeds from the stringy flesh and weigh them to see which is heavier (logical/mathematical), explore the insides with a magnifying lens (natural)
Explore the seeds- children can: work together to rinse, salt and spread them on cookie sheets (interpersonal), eat the seeds at snack time (interpersonal), plant some seeds (natural), create seed art with glue and heavy paper (spatial), count seeds/organize them into patterns or groups (logical/mathematical)
Pumpkins are a great way to use your children’s current interests to engage them in meaningful learning experiences. A Multiple Intelligences approach ensures that there is something that will capture the interest of every child. It also is a great way to get ideas that will involve all of the senses and it ensures that the learning experiences will be hands-on. Chances are many of these ideas will also help you address some of your state’s learning standards or guidelines.
October 9, 2008
Here in New England there is no mistaking the time of year. The trees are an autumnal rainbow of colors, the air is crisp and cool and with every breath comes the unmistakable smell of fall. Add to this the sound of feet shuffling through leaves and the occassional thump of acorns and pine cones falling to the ground and it is clear that any time spent outdoors is an absolute sensory feast. Take advantage of all the sensory stimmulation that nature provides and get outdoors with your kids during this special time of year. Some fun activities for toddlers include:
collecting acorns and pine cones in buckets
walking through big piles of leaves
mushing soft cooked apples to make apple sauce
putting leaves onto clear contact paper (sticky side up)
With preschoolers try:
giving a group the task of raking an area using child-sized rakes and after raking, jump into leaf piles (intelligences: kinesthetic, interpersonal)
collecting nature items in buckets and then counting and sorting them (intelligences: logical/mathematical, natural)
making leaf prints or rubbings (intelligence: spatial)
following a recipe to make apple sauce (intelligences: linguistic, logical/mathematical)
Keeping a tree journal, observing a tree throughout the fall and then drawing and talking about your observations (intelligences: natural, linguistic, spatial)
Gathering leaves in the play yard, sorting them, then chart and graph the results (intelligences: logical/mathematical, natural)
Making musical shakers from items found in nature, i.e. pie plate shakers filled with dried leaves (intelligences: musical)
Most importantly, just give your children the opportunity to get outside and have all of their senses awakened by the wonders of fall. If you have fall activity ideas you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them!
Filed under: Activities for Kids, Infant/Toddler, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, Themes | Tagged: Activities for Kids, Early Childhood, Multiple Intelligences, Preschool, toddlers | Leave a comment »
October 7, 2008
Whether you are a parent or a teacher of young children, chances are you’ve experienced first hand the challenges of transition times (moving children from one activity or space to another). During transitions children loose focus, their sense of purpose and sometimes even control over their bodies and emotions. Sure you’ve dropped them off at day care a hundred times, but each drop of seems as traumatic as the first. Every day they are asked to clean up and get ready for lunch, and every day they wander aimlessly, seem confused and show their knack for doing exactly what you don’t want them to do. If these scenarios describe your daily routine with young children, check out the YC Magazine article, Planning Transitions to Prevent Challenging Behavior.
The article suggests you take a look at how your program manages transitions. Some sources for problems include:
Too many transitions
All children transitioning at the same time in the same way
Transitions that are too long, leaving children waiting with nothing to do
Lack of clear, specific instructions during transition times
Inconsistent expectations of staff (day to day or person to person)
The article gives some good information about why individual children may struggle with transition times and suggests teachers work together to observe one another and look critically at these moments of transition. Then, as a team consider the following:
assign roles for individual staffers before transition times (i.e. choose someone to prepare the next activity)
think about the placement of staff (i.e. have someone at the door to lead a quick activity for children standing in line)
identify children who may need extra support during transitions and plan for someone to give them extra guidance as needed
The article also includes scheduling ideas to reduce the number of transitions children must go through during the day as well as great transition ideas.
September 23, 2008
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you need the latest “smart baby” videos, high-tech gadgets and enroll in all of the latest “mommy and baby” classes to make sure that your young child is learning. But being over-scheduled and over-stimulated can cause a lot more harm than good!
Here’s a video clip I recently created to promote the “At Home with Ones” kit. In it you’ll see some snippets of simple activities to do with a one year old that really engage them and help to develop important skills.
So sit back, relax and try some of these activities with your child. I’d love to hear what you think.
September 17, 2008
Not long ago I read an article in the Boston Globe entitled “Daydream Achiever” by Jonah Lehrer. I’ve always loved to daydream. In fact, I don’t own an ipod because I don’t want to give up my “daydreaming time” when I go for walks, commute, etc. According to this article, current brain research has recently linked daydreaming to problem solving, creative thinking and social skills, among other things. Now I value my daydreaming time even more.
What really made me take notice was the section about kids and daydreaming. Researcher Teresa Belton noticed that a group of elementary school kids she was working with had a hard time coming up with imaginative stories when they were encouraged to write about anything at all. Apparently a lot of kids wrote about watching TV. After keeping track of the kids’ schedules over a period of time she noticed that they rarely had any down time. Whenever they got even a little bored, they turned on the TV.
The problem with this habit, Belton says, is that it kept the kids from daydreaming. Because the children were rarely bored – at least, when a television was nearby – they never learned how to use their own imagination as a form of entertainment. “The capacity to daydream enables a person to fill empty time with an enjoyable activity that can be carried on anywhere,” Belton says. “But that’s a skill that requires real practice. Too many kids never get the practice.
Not only is it very common for kids to constantly be engaged in school or activities seven days a week, they also often have access to some sort of video or audio entertainment at all times, even while being shuttled to and from their various activities.
Activities are great. Socialization is great. Music and entertainment are great, but daydreaming is also great, and apparently it is just as important as many of the other skills we hope our children will master. Let’s make sure we give them plenty of time to practice.