The countdown to kindergarten and preschool has begun. Don't wait! Be proactive and prepare your child for a successful transition into this new and important experience. It will lay the foundation for your little one's future.
Skills encouraged with this activity: Counting and Shapes!
Children (ages 3-5) can physically count Popsicle sticks, which reinforces their understanding of this mathematical concept. It makes an abstract concept concrete by letting them experience counting through sight and touch. Let kids place one stick on the table or floor for each number they say out loud with you. They should at least know how to count from 1-10 before entering kindergarten.
You also can play a game to see how many shapes you both can make with Popsicle sticks. For example, Liv and I made this square, triangle and rectangle:
Not only are you teaching your little ones shapes, but also geometry. As children make the shapes with the Popsicle sticks, you can show them that a square has four sides, while a triangle has just three. Little hands also can compare and contrast a square and a rectangle. What's the same about them? What's different?
I've shared a few ideas, but there are many more for you and your child to discover together.
Parents & Teachers, please share your own ideas with us!
PRE-K & K-PREP SKILLS: Fine motor including gluing, cutting with child safety scissors and coloring; Identification of shapes and colors; Executive function to help plan what will go in the square space on the pizza box. There's a RECYCLING MESSAGE in this activity too.
Friday and pizza make a great pair. If Pizza's on the menu this weekend, save the pizza box. I got this idea from a local Cafe Pizzaiolo when I noticed the original and folksy artwork on the walls. (They have great pizza too). Liv and I liked the 3D aspect of the artwork, some of which we could tell had been made by children. There were other pieces that were clearly done by experienced artists. The closer we looked, we realized the art was all done on pizza boxes, dozens of them! The boxes gave the artwork that 3D appearance, i.e., VERY COOL. We fell in love with the idea of creating our own "pizza box art" to bring back to Cafe Pizzaiolo and display with the others. So we wasted no time in:
1) eating pizza,
2) eating more pizza,
3) saving the pizza box,
and creating our masterpiece.
Liv used pen to color the girl (herself) and a combination of construction paper and ribbon to make the table, bird, tree, grass and flower. I let Liv take the lead (even though I wanted to make a collage out of magazine clippings). As parents, even though it's hard, we should try to resist directing our children's play and let them take the lead. This is called child-directed play and it enhances self-confidence, self regulation and "an opportunity for the child’s access to focused, uninterrupted adult attention and close contact, without having to rely on negative or provocative behaviors to do so."
Please post any pizza box art here or on our Facebook page!
We'd love to see it!
GET MORE RESEARCH-BASED, FUN & FREE SCHOOL READINESS ACTIVITIES with the groundbreaking book, SCHOOL IS NEW TO ME: A Beginner's Guide to Starting School. (Children 2-5yrs.)
We all know how hard it is to find 10 minutes with our kids every day, to focus on being a kid again, to focus on just being. A few nights ago, Liv was in bed waiting for me to “do story time.” I had just one more itty bitty email to answer. “I’ll be there in two minutes,” I yelled to her from my den. Finished in eight minutes, I was so proud of myself. “Boy, am I efficient,” I thought, practically patting myself on the back. I ran into Liv’s room with our new library book in hand ready for a fantastic story time. And – drum roll please -- I heard snoring. Granted, it was light snoring, but snoring nonetheless. Liv was sleeping. I was devastated. I know: tired moms and dads everywhere are wondering why. Isn’t a soundly sleeping child what we all aspire to nightly or hourly (depending on our child’s age)? But I had missed out on something big. I realized story time was at least as important to me as it was to her – or even more so. For me it’s a time to relax, turn off the smart phone and give my undivided attention to my little girl. In turn, I have her undivided attention, a real treat in this age of electronic devices and kids’ crowded schedules. It’s our time to talk, laugh and cuddle. Now, I had to wait a full 24 hours for that chance to come around again. I was somewhat baffled by my own level of disappointment. “No big deal,” I thought as I tried to console myself. “Now I can watch TV, do my nails or (gasp) talk to my husband in full sentences.” Instead, I just went to bed.
Let’s keep in mind that there are only a finite number of “story times” left for us. Before we know it, open doors and our children’s anticipating arms will be replaced by closed doors and “Do Not Enter” signs. Of course, we will continue our communication with our children as they grow older – but in very different ways.
So if I could leave you with one thing today, it’d be this: Don’t let anything come between you and those daily 10 minutes of uninterrupted, beautiful, and timeless time with your child.
What signs of birds can you and your little one see and hear this weekend?
Liv found this hatched robin's egg on the ground near our house. "What color is it? What shape is it? What was inside? What came out of it?" These are a few questions to help your child learn about colors, shapes and even science!
On my same walk with Liv, I heard this bird singing and recorded it for you. Ask your child to listen closely:
Can your family figure out what kind of bird made that sound? Here's a hint: Which of the following bird sounds matches my recording?
ANSWER: Mourning Dove
Listening and paying attention, practiced in this activity, are key skills for school readiness -- and life!
Let’s talk about conservation, counting and frogs!
Why are frogs important other than being cute and greenish? “Frogs and toads can be used as indicator species because they are vulnerable to changes in the atmosphere, the land, or the water.” https://www.naturewatch.ca/frogwatch/.
As reported on WAMU (American University Radio) this morning, “[T]he number of frogs in an area can serve as a good indicator of overall environmental health. There’s been a worldwide decline in amphibians, [Scientist] Gauza says, with one out of every three amphibians at risk of going extinct. ‘We could even be facing the greatest loss of species since the dinosaurs,’ she says.” https://wamu.org/news/16/05/09/when_dc_frogs_call_for_mates_these_human_volunteers_respond
How can our families help? We can join a local chapter of FrogWatch USA or start our own. This organization teaches volunteers how to recognize the different sounds of different kinds of frogs. We can also learn to count all of the different songs we hear at one time. And that’s the tricky part.
Count & Draw Frogs:
For young children, let’s start out by drawing frogs. How many? Check out this link to see how many species of frogs live in your area: https://www.aza.org/states-and-territories/. Help your child draw that same number of frogs. Then let them listen to the different sounds of each frog on these links: https://www.aza.org/states-and-territories/
Make a Sound Log:
Take your child outside after sunset to listen to all of the different sounds in your area. What do they hear? How many different sounds? Are they frogs, animals, insects, cars, barking dogs, or what?
Encourage your little one write down the number of different sounds they hear for one week by a sound log. Now – in addition to math -- they’re engaged in hands-on science learning by making observations and recording data.
Have fun and please share with us what you find!
Liv hunting for the sounds of nature here. I had to keep reminding her to be quiet in order to hear the "secret songs" of nature.
Kids always want to have a gift to give on Mother's Day. This craft helps children develop fine motor skills and introduces the scientific concept of anatomy. This #FamilyFriday craft is a stationery set with funny characters made from your child's fingerprints. Check out this one from Liv!
Fine Motor Skills: Help your little one use child safety scissors to cut out a few pieces of white paper and fold them in half to make a card. Now for the colorful part! Let her put her thumb into (non-toxic) finger paint and make a few thumb prints on the front of each of the "cards."
Anatomy: Tell her what a fingerprint is and that no two people's are the same. I'm sure this will fascinate her, as it still does me.
Once the paint dries, help her hold a pencil or pen, a skill that is needed for kindergarten. Encourage her to use her imagination to draw on her thumb prints to make them into horses, butterflies, chipmunks, or whatever she wants to.
Your child will be so proud to give this gift. And, you will be so proud of her/him for making and giving it. Happy Mother's Day!
Here's a fun, easy activity that builds math skills, executive function, and introduces the concept of a budget.
NOTE: This activity can be done either with play money that your child uses to "buy" materials that are already around the house to make a craft of his choice -- or it can be done like my daughter and I did, with a $5 budget at the Dollar Store. If you use play money, you can set up a pretend store or just direct your child to certain items in your home that are "for sale." Just make sure these are items you can part with for your child's craft.
Liv and I decided to make a Spring wreath for the door yesterday. We went to the local Dollar Store to buy what we needed. I gave Liv a $5 budget. Here's what she selected with a little help from me: Two silk flowers (total $2), two silk butterflies (total $1), a wreath (total $1) and some twine (total$1).
This activity also helps children with executive function skills as they have to plan what they need to make a wreath, or another project of their/your choice. See more on the meaning of "executive function" here: Harvard University Center on the Developing Child.
Here are the materials Liv selected for her wreath on a $5 budget:
When we got home, I helped her plan how to make the wreath. We laid out the flowers and butterflies by placing them where we wanted them to go on the wreath. In addition to executive function, this planning activity helps children hone fine motor skills needed for preschool and kindergarten. Finally, I stuck the items into place with hot glue.
I picked up Liv to let her hang the wreath on the door and admire her work. Here's what we have now. Liv's $5 Spring Wreath on our front door:
Please share your skills-building projects and ideas here!
For more ideas for parents on preparing young children for school, please check out my book, SCHOOL IS NEW TO ME: A Beginner's Guide to Starting School.
I'm a Parent Educator, Author, and Founder of Carla & Liv KIDS. My mission is to prepare every child for a strong start in school. One of my tools is my quick-read, research-based book, SCHOOL IS NEW TO ME: A Beginner's Guide to Starting School.