Friday, November 29, 2013

Squishy Squash Exploration

Squash exploration is a perfect integration of science, art, fine motor skills, and school readiness skills. Try squishin’ some squash to excite young children.  And holiday time is the perfect time to turn preschoolers into food scientists.

Bring in several types of squash. Still have pumpkins around? Add them to the table or ask them to recall what they remember about cleaning their pumpkins.  This will help activate background knowledge, an important school readiness skill. 

Write words like seeds, pulp, and skin

Ask them to look at types of squash you have in your classroom or home. You can encourage families to visit the local market to look at different types of squash on display. Some families may even use their mobile phones to take photos of this squash exploration. 

Ask children to predict what the squash will look like when cut open. Either write class predictions on a chart or have each child draw a picture of what they think they will see. You can also encourage children to talk about and/or draw what they think the similarities and differences of each squash will be once cut open.

Encourage children to handle the squash. Ask them to use specific vocabulary to describe the squash as they take out seeds, feel the pulp, and touch the carved-out squash.  Children can discuss their predictions. It is important to create an atmosphere where children are free to say, “My prediction was wrong.” We like to praise children for these words, as we want them to feel free to think creatively as they make guesses. We don’t want a classroom where only correct predictions are celebrated.

Finally, integrate art with your science project.  This art can be an accurate representation of what was discovered. Have them glue actual seeds and ribbon or yarn to construction paper to show the inside of a squash.

Conclude the Squishy Squash Exploration by preparing a dish with squash and reading a book like Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow and Anne Wilsdorf to the class. 


Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy Birthday To Me!

As families and teachers know, a birthday is an important and exciting milestone in a child’s life. There are many ways to celebrate and mark this occasion, but you can also use a birthday as a fun motivator for accomplishing necessary preschool learning goals.

Ask children to look through family photos. These should range from birth to the present. Talk with the child about the passage of time. This will help make words such as year and month more meaningful. Encourage your child to choose 3 favorite pictures showing different ages of growth.

Have your child put the photos in order from birth to present day. Ask the child to think about how he or she has grown and changed. Encourage the child to tell you something about each picture. Write the words under or beside each picture.

This helps children understand time passage (especially as birthdays approach!), use sequence vocabulary, practice oral language skills, and see that ‘writing is talk written down.’ What important learning opportunities along with a special way to celebrate a child’s birthday!   


 I was a baby. My dad had to hold me.

I got bigger. I could sit. I learned to eat messy food. I was funny. 


 I grew and grew. I went to school. It is my birthday!

*Teachers can send home instructions to families to complete this project at home. It makes a fun and meaningful family project.  Teachers may ask that the photos be bought to school for sharing time.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Importance of Rhyming

We know there is a strong correlation between a child’s phonemic awareness and later literacy abilities. You can develop phonemic awareness by helping your preschoolers learn to rhyme.

We love books that have a regular rhyming pattern like the Llama, Llama books by Anna Dewdney. Read these often to children. After children get the sound of the language in their ears, leave out the second pair of rhymed words and let children fill in the word, as the child does in this clip:

Give clues and praise for the rhymes! This sets the stage for onsets and rimes as children move to the beginning stage of reading. For example:

-ide is the rime. Add the onset r to make the word ride. Add h for hide, s for side, or t for tide. You can see how rhyming sets the stage for reading.