Monday, January 26, 2015

Fine Motor Snow Fun

Is snow falling in your area? Are you snowed in? Even if you are in the sunny South, take advantage of all the snow talk in the media to involve your children in integrated fine motor and science activities.

For those of you in snowy areas, bundle up and observe the snow. Use a giant magnifying glass to look at the banks of snow or collect individual snowflakes on a mitten. Ask children, “What do you see?” Invite them to explain why snow falls.

Guiding questions can include:

·      What is the air temperature like when it snows?
·      What does the sky look like when it snows?
·      Do you think the snow could turn to rain?
·      When could it do this?

These and other questions involve children in scientific inquiry.

There are many fun activities to encourage learning that can be done even in snowy weather. Build a snowman and use words like rolling, lifting, above, etc. These help children to use verbs in correct ways. You can even add math to the fun by talking about the 3 snowballs for the snowman’s body, the 2 eyes, 1 nose, etc.

When it’s time to go into the warmth, build those fine motor skills with this engaging art project.

The adult cuts out a mug.

Draw an outline of hot chocolate. Have the child cut this out. (This allows important cutting practice.) I like to draw the outline and give the child an appropriate-sized piece of paper, as shown. This helps children cut with a greater degree of accuracy. 

Have the child glue the hot chocolate onto the top of the mug. This uses another direction word, top. In addition, squeezing a bottle of glue helps build hand muscle strength, needed for fine motor control.
Give the child a scrap of white paper. Encourage him or her to use the thumb and forefinger (pincer grasp) to tear small pieces of paper. Glue these on the hot chocolate to become marshmallows!

Enjoy the weather and the range of possible learning activities it brings! Why not visit your library and check out 2 of our favorite snow books? We love The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC: 2.C.; 2.D.; 2.G.; 2.H.
Head Start: I.D.; III.C.; IV.A.; IX. A. B.; XI. A. B.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Art and Alligators + Science!

We know that animals fascinate children. Many of these animals are humanized in children’s books, but it is always helpful to invite children to explore the realities of the animal world.  This week, our activity (which is FREE to you if you sign up in the white box) educates children about the always amazing alligator. 

We like to begin a lesson about animals by asking children what they already know. You can make a list of these facts by writing them on a chart. This helps children understand that reading and writing are simply “talk written down.” It doesn’t matter if any or all of your students can read your chart, you are modeling the importance of writing.

If children offer facts that are not true, put them in a column labeled, “To Check.” This is an important school-readiness skill that models for children the importance of using resources to make sure their thinking is correct.

You can read aloud the text from our activity or from books you find in the library. Then invite children to make changes or additions to the set of alligator facts. You may want them to view this video the Maggie’s Big Home team took while on a recent visit to Mississippi. Can they spot the swimming alligator? Ask them to look for clues about where alligators live.

In our activity, we offer children the chance to make a puzzle out of the alligator. But here, we share an outline of an alligator for children to color, cut, and paste on another piece of paper. They can then draw objects like water, the sun, or a grassy bank to show an alligator’s habitat. 

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC – 2G.05; 2G.06; 2G.08
Head Start – XI.A

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sequence Stories

We know it is necessary to read to and with preschool children. But did you know that oral storytelling can be just as important? Watch the video below for more information!

You can suggest this to families by placing these few sentences in your newsletter or posting them on your door:

Ask your children to tell you about their day. Give them the beginning sentence, “When I woke up.” Encourage them to tell about all their activities. End with, “And then you went to bed.” This helps children talk about their day in order (sequencing). 

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC: 2.D.03; 2.A.04
Head Start: VIII.B; IX.C5

Monday, January 5, 2015

Play = Science Understanding

The wonderful world of play can help preschoolers learn important science concepts. As your children roll toy cars around the room, ask questions designed to get them thinking.

Questions that begin with the words, “what if,” encourage children to develop an understanding of scientific concepts. For example, ask questions such as:

·      What if your car didn’t have wheels? What might happen? This could lead to children using objects without wheels to try and make an object move. Children can then see the power of the wheel.

·      What if you used blocks to make a ramp? Would your car change speed? Have children change the slope of the ramp. This develops key ideas about slope and speed.

·      What if your car rolled on snow, rain, or rocks? What could happen?

These and other questions encourage children to predict and describe their play experiences.  They investigate and share outcomes. These are skills of scientists and necessary school readiness thinking skills.

For more on how vehicles work, share this video with your class. Ask children to share their observations about this machine at work. 

Note: Sharing observations are an important part of the scientific process and, of course, help to develop verbal skills and vocabulary.

Please sign-up for our FREE printable activities. You can use them in your classroom or send them home for family engagement. This week, we highlight the wheel!

Standards Alignment:

NAEYC: 2.D.03.; 2.D.06.; 2.G

Head Start: IV.A.; VIII.B.; XI.A&B.