Monday, November 24, 2014

Questions For Families

On occasion, we will provide families with good questions to ask preschool teachers. We hope that not only families, but also that teachers and preschool centers will find these to be helpful. Teachers can send these questions home in advance of conferences or home visits. They can also use them as a guide when preparing remarks for conference time. These are just a few of many helpful discussion topics. Stay tuned for more!

Good Questions for Families to Ask:
Can you tell me how my child gets along with other children? Does my child play with other children or next to other children?

What is my child’s favorite activity?

What does my child like to do when you play outdoors?

How does my child respond when you give directions? (In other words, can my child follow 2 or 3 step directions?)

Does my child look at books?

Does my child know how to hold a book properly?

Does my child listen to a story when you read aloud?

Families Helping at Home:
Can you tell me 2 things I can do at home to help my child listen to directions better?

I know that reading to my child at home is important. Can you suggest good books for me to read?

Standards Alignment:
Head Start – II. A, B, C; IV. A; VII. A.
NAEYC – 2B; 2E

Monday, November 17, 2014


Sequencing is an important topic for school readiness. But we need to be sure we are being realistic in what we ask children to do. Sequencing should be developmentally appropriate.

Let’s start by defining sequence. It’s a list of numbers or terms arranged in a definite order.   

You can begin teaching children the idea of sequence by showing them pictures. You can hold up the large turkey and the small one. Say, “Here is a large turkey. Here is a small turkey. Put them in order from small to large.” When you model this, be sure you hold them so children’s eyes move in a left to right direction, the way eyes move when we read.

We have provided three turkey outlines for you to have children sequence from small to large. Ask them to glue them on a sheet of paper and verbalize the sequence. Talking about sequence is important as it gives children a mathematical vocabulary.

Look around your room – are there objects that children can sequence? Books can be put in order from smallest to largest. They can be put in order from lightest to heaviest. Use your scrap box. Children can glue four pieces of paper in sequence from small to large.  Encourage children to look outside and name three or four objects like grass, flower bush, holly tree, and pine tree that could be sequenced the opposite way - from large to small. This will encourage thought about the natural world and about an important mathematical idea: the school readiness skill of sequencing.

To see Dr. Kathy explain sequencing, visit our YouTube channel at

Standards Alignment:
Head Start: Mathematics Knowledge and Skills - 10 D1
NAEYC: Early Mathematics - 2.F.08; 2.F.10

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thanksgiving Preschool Crafts!

In our emergent reader activity for this week, we highlight a fun turkey craft for children. Like many holiday crafts, assembling it helps children with fine motor skills. The finished product makes a wonderful 3D bulletin board. 

Families appreciate the art as a decoration for their Thanksgiving table. For more on this delightful project, please be sure you are signed up to receive our free activities! To tempt you, we are posting the activity this week under our “Sample Activities” tab, in English and Spanish.

Like many preschool crafts, this one requires preparation on the part of teachers and caregivers.  This has many benefits as it helps children follow directions and sequence instructions. They need to glue the tail feathers on from small to large. We know this type of sequencing and color recognition is helpful for school readiness. But, there is another type of activity that we can’t forget about and must also celebrate.

We need to encourage children to create their own art. Merely giving children a blank piece of paper can encourage a world of wonder. You may not recognize what is drawn, but a simple, “Tell me about your picture” can bring forth valuable verbal descriptions and creative thought.

For November, we suggest simply drawing the outline of a large plate on a paper. Ask children to think about their favorite Thanksgiving foods. Without much prompting, this preschooler immediately picked up a marker and started drawing a serving of turkey.

He continued by adding mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and salad. While these foods may not be recognizable to adult eyes, they are to his eyes. This allows for creative and critical thought. He proudly shared his full plate and verbalized what he drew. This encourages use of oral vocabulary.

We must remember that while those many wonderful art projects available here and on other sites are valuable, simply providing a “blank slate” for preschoolers celebrates their creativity!

Standards Alignment:

Head Start:
Social and Emotional Development B
Creative Arts Expression C
Language Development B

2.D.01, 2.D.03, 2.J.06,

Monday, November 3, 2014

A "Worldly" Address

Children need to know their community but they also benefit from feeling grounded, as they understand their place in our big universe. Young children like to look at the sky and imagine what the moon, stars, and even clouds are like. We, at Maggie's Big Home, suggest you help children understand how their home or school relates to their town, state, country, continent, planet, solar system, and the universe. Watch the video below for a practical and teacher-tested idea to give children a concrete example of their universal address! 

You can write this address on chart paper and have children practice "reading" it as part of your morning routine. Take a photo of it and share with families so they can reinforce this long worldly address at home.

You may want to add art to the activity and ask children to decorate the boxes to represent their town, continent, the Earth, etc. this would make a good creative arts center activity for interested children.

While we are on the subject of addresses, we hope you help your preschoolers learn their home address and phone number. This is something families can partner with you to accomplish.

Your children dont have the memory for this yet and youre going on an outing? We suggest pinning a cell phone number inside a child's shirt so this can be shared should someone become separated from the group. It was rare that we pinned children's names to the outside of their clothing, as we didn't want strangers calling children by name. But the helpful hint of each child carrying a cell phone number in a hidden spot has proven to be helpful. We even role-played scenarios to help children understand who they should approach if they became lost. 

Be sure to sign up for our free weekly activities with your email (box to the right). These are wonderful classroom or home learning opportunities.  

Standards Alignment:

Head Start: Social Studies Knowledge and Skills A.5

NAEYC: Curriculum Content Area for Cognitive Development: Social Studies - 2.L.11