It doesn’t matter what the kids paint. For this example, the kids painted anything they wanted that had to do with snow. What does matter is that you only use one color of paint (less distraction because the paint color is not what you want the kids to be thinking of), and that you offer the kids two brushes: one big, and one little. This was to help with cognitive development. I made a point of telling the children that they had two brushes, and that before they painted whatever they had in mind, they should think about what size brush would be the best to use. To make sure they understood, I prompted them to think of a snowflake: what size brush would work best to paint it? And then a snowman: which size brush would you like to use? I didn’t give them the answers, I simply wanted to get their minds thinking about their prior experiences with brushes, and what might work best, BEFORE they actually started painting. It was fun to watch them think, and then work!
While learning about the letter, “I’, we did some experiments with ice. You can do many simple experiments with ice. We decided to do one on testing how fast ice would melt if you put them in different situations, or placed different materials on them. But one of our students came up with a different idea, so we went with that. She wanted to test out how many ice cubes a dry paper towel could hold, verses a wet paper towel.
After doing this fun experiment, and documenting it, we placed ice cubes in the sensory bin, along with shovels and containers for exploring it. The kids enjoyed it for that one day!
These are amazing! I was so happy to be introduced to these cool packing peanuts that were saved from the packaging boxes my preschool got from “Insect Lore”. These starch-based peanuts will stick to each other, to paper, and anything really with only a little water! We wet a paper-towel and the kids would just tap the packing peanut on the paper towel, and then build away. They stick instantly, and do not fall apart easily. For this instance, we asked them to build an “igloo” for the letter “i”, but you can do this with any activity!
Making up stories is always a favorite with children! I have done this many times, and had great success! I especially like stories of pretend adventures in the jungle as we walk from place to place. Today, Susan, the head teacher, made up a fun story during our math lesson. Instead of just counting out pom poms and sorting them, she told a story of friends joining other friends in the play ground. Some playing in the sandbox, some at the swings, and a group on bikes. It wasn’t always easy for the kids to keep the piles separate or combine here and there. But it was great cognitive exercise. Once she knew we had the right number of friends(pom-poms) in our piles (today that was 17), she had them “line up” the friends to go get ice cream! We counted them to make sure none were left behind. After ice cream, she had them divide the friends into two teams to play soccer. In order to do that, they had to pair up the friends to make sure there was an even number. When the kids discovered that it wasn’t even, one child had the great idea of making the last friend the “coach”! This fit well into our unit, which at this time is community helpers!
So, as you can see, making up a story along with a math lesson not only makes it more entertaining for the kids; it also holds their attention longer, and it gives opportunitiy to include other aspects of learning. Such as our community helper unit, and the social learning of including others.
One of my favorite things to do with children is to point out the colors all around them in nature. A flower is rarely just one color. A tree trunk is not just brown. And my favorite are clouds – I love color in the clouds!
For this idea, go on a walk together outside. Pick a flower or leaf. (You could even do a rock, if you are studying them). Bring it into class and have the children paint or color a flower on their own, or trace a template for them to color. Make sure they add in all the colors to their drawing. Preschoolers often need encouragement to use more than one color. This will help them see why. You can use an activity like this for many different units of learning. Add science facts if you like.
I love that school usually starts in the Fall. There are so many colors and changes in the environment and things to excite every one of your five senses! It’s nice to have an activity always out that the children can explore on their own. This acorn tray is one such activity. Place different kinds of acorns that are whole, and some that are in pieces. Include a magnifying class for a closer look!
Don’t you love that book, “Ten Apples Up on Top?” The kids always get into it, and this is a great way to help them enjoy it even more, plus build some Gross Motor skills!
After reading the story, Take them to a room/space large enough that they can walk around as they try to balance “apples” on their own head! (But your “apples” will be a bit easier to balance, as they will really be pieces of foam noodles used for swimming!) Walk around the room with only one-then add another, and another! See how many they can balance!
I’m learning to love Venn Diagrams. With the fall very much underway, we have done a lot of science and other activities related to apples and pumpkins. We checked out the inside, the outside, and everything inbetween! After carving a jack-o-lantern and doing some painting with apple cutouts, we made a venn diagram as a class. What things about apples and pumpkins are the same? Which are different? This final activity of making a venn diagram helped tie all our learning together, and made the kids really think.
Doing math with any kind of toy collection is a lot of fun for preschool! In this example the children are using Lego blocks! First they get a few minutes to just explore and play with the Legos. Then we have them sort into piles, perhaps according to color. Finally, they count out a certain number of blocks-usually whatever number we are working on. From there we can explore in many more ways! For example, we have the children figure out if the number is even or odd by placing the blocks in pairs. We may even organize in groups of three. We see what we can build with it, we count and sort it.
Here is another favorite toy collection we use: little plastic toy bears. In this pic they are sorted into pairs to see if there is an “odd man out”.
I’m not fancy. And I suspect most parents prefer simple too. Sometimes simple is the most efficient and effective method for teaching our children.
If you’re looking for a quick activity/sensory bin, place a bunch of colored scraps of paper in a container/bin. The more different kinds of texture and weight of paper the better. Then add a couple pair of scissors. You’d be surprised how much the children can enjoy just sniping away at scraps of paper. And it’s great hand exercise and fine motor practice!