Monday, February 23, 2015

Dental Health Fun

February is Dental Health Month but as we know, a healthy mouth and teeth are important all of the time. Teachers can help children think about healthy teeth while learning. If you are teaching children letters, use words like brush, tooth, dentist, etc and have children find specific letters in these words. Then talk about what they mean.

Help children learn math vocabulary when you discuss brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Many children may not realize the word twice means two.

You can increase verbal skills and help children feel comfortable about the dentist by setting up a dental office in your classroom. Of course we don’t want to spread germs so use stuffed animals as the dental patients. Provide children with toothbrushes to show the animal patients how to brush their teeth. Have them softly sing a song that is well-loved in your classroom that lasts about 2 to 3 minutes, the time a child should spend on brushing. By pretending to brush the animal patient’s teeth for that amount of time, children will have a better idea about the time needed to properly brush. This helps them learn how long they should brush their own teeth. The bonus? More fine motor practice! 

You can add a white coat and mask, too for more center fun AND learning!
For more on dental health and dental vocabulary, sign up for our FREE weekly activities in the white box. All you need is your email! 

Send this picture home to help children explain to families what they have learned about dental health.

Standards Alignment:

NAEYC – 2.C.03; 2.D.01; 2.F.07
Head Start – IA, B, & D; VIII A & B.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Help Preschoolers Develop Leadership Skills

What helps a child become a leader? Long ago, a friend told me she was so happy when it was her child’s turn to be the head of the line, as this family wanted the child to become a leader in the class. While most of us assign a different child to be the line leader each day or week, this is not the way to encourage leadership skills. We need to first think about what kind of leadership qualities we want our children to exhibit.

Considering this question would be a good exercise for a staff meeting or could become part of a family night or conference.

Here are a few qualities we think are appropriate for preschoolers:

·      listening to their peers
·      working well with other children
·      accepting challenges
·      believing in their own abilities
·      learning from mistakes
·      solving problems creatively

Teachers and families can play an important role in helping children develop these qualities. We should always keep them in mind as we interact with children.  One of the best things we can say to a child is to compliment them on their leadership. For example, Scott is playing with blocks and begins making a tower by placing small blocks on the bottom. The larger blocks he places on top cause his tower to fall. Then Scott begins building the tower again, using larger blocks on the bottom.

Your words can reinforce Scott’s leadership qualities. You can say, “Scott, you showed great leadership when you didn’t cry. You tried again. That’s leadership! You believed you could build a good tower. That’s leadership! You learned from your first mistake. That’s leadership!”

By naming a specific behavior and then telling the child that this behavior is leadership helps the child connect his or her behaviors with the positive aspects of leadership. This helps more than words on a poster or repeating a leadership pledge. It connects specific occurrences in a child’s day with leadership qualities. It makes leadership real!

So…remember this:

You showed leadership when you _______ (exactly what the child did).  You________ (say a specific quality from your leadership list). That’s leadership (name the target goal).

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC – 2.B.; 2.L. 01. & 02.
Head Start – II.A. & B.; IV.B.; VI. A.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Indoor Activities!

Freezing cold day? Rainy day? Snowy day? These can mean children need to stay indoors. How can you give children the opportunity to move, play, and stay busy within the four walls of the classroom or home? Here are a few ideas:

Gross Motor Movement:
  • Play "Stop and Go" by having children tip-toe around the room. You say, "Stop," and children need to freeze where they are. Continue playing to help children move but in a controlled fashion. This is perfect for large groups of children.
  • Ask children to move like various animals. This lets them move muscles and helps them think about how animals travel from place to place. Suggest they silently move like an elephant, slither like a snake, or hop like a kangaroo. This has the added benefit of developing vocabulary!
  • Make a tent with blankets over a table. Have children crawl in and out of the tent. Use words like inside, outside, on, under, etc. to help children develop vocabulary. 
  • Make snow angels indoors! Have children lie on the floor and make the motions they would in the snow to create a snow angel. When they get up, use the power of imagination to point out the wings, head, etc.
  • Continue with imaginary play by having children make a pretend indoor snowman. Have them work together to roll the snowballs, lift them on top of one another, put in eyes, nose, etc. Then stand back and admire the pretend creation. There is lots of movement with this dramatic play.
  • Use painter's tape to make a square, circle, and triangle on the floor. Give children directions to jump into the desired shape. This lets them hop with purpose and also gives practice with shape names. 
  • Tape several old newspapers to the wall to create a large backdrop. Give children practice with arm movement by letting them write or scribble on the papers. This helps develop arm muscles needed for fine motor control, too. 
  • Children can also develop these arm muscles by doing wall push-ups. Have them stand in front of a wall, put their palms on the wall, and move back and forth with just their arms as they gently touch their nose to the wall. This is also a help in developing fine motor skills. 
Quiet Games:

In our techy age, we sometimes forget the simple games that we as adults enjoyed (and learned from!) as children. Do you remember “I Spy?” Simply pick an object in a waiting room, car, or while standing in line at the grocery store. Just say, “I spy something green.” Let your children guess. Then trade places. This is simple, fun, and helps children think about their surroundings. Not to mention – it keeps young ones busy in often boring situations.

Another simple game for preschoolers is Tic-Tac-Toe. I recently played this with a four year-old using colors. He used a red pencil while I used a green pencil. We marked our squares as shown below. There was lots of laughter - - - and learning as he quickly understood there was a strategy to the game.

Even an indoor day can keep young minds busy. There is learning rather than the chance for a preschooler to become bored or annoyed. 

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC: 2.A.07; 2.C.03; 2.C.04; 2.D.02;2.J.04
Head Start: I.C.; I.D.; III.B.;VIII.A.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Develop Skills With Valentine Art!

February is a time filled with hearts in our classrooms. You can make this heart love part of your curriculum in natural ways. To practice fine motor skills, sequencing, math skills, following directions, and vocabulary development create a silly valentine person.

Begin by cutting out 2 hearts, one larger than the other. You can ask children to cut these out or you can pre-cut them, depending on the skills of your class. Have children talk about the sizes of these hearts.

Next, have children glue the hearts together, as shown below. Remember that squeezing the glue bottle helps develop hand muscles. This is why we prefer bottled glue over glue sticks.

Give your children 4 strips of paper, as shown below. Again, ask children to order them according to size and talk about this. Additionally, have them discuss number (for example, 2 hearts and 4 strips).

Give the directions to fold "back and forth" as you show children how to do this. Hold up a finished strip and laugh at the bounciness of it!

Glue the shorter arms and longer legs onto the valentine body. "Shorter" and "longer" are good vocabulary words for children to use. Have children complete their valentine person by adding a face and perhaps hands and feet. You may even want to add hair.

Finally, have children hold up their dancing valentine people. After a few minutes of play, have them give you descriptive words. Write these words down on a chart. Each morning read the words and have fun laughing at your silly valentines!

For more ideas see our post - We Love to Talk About Hearts

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC: 2.C.03; 2.D.03; 2.E.05; 2.F.03; 2.J.05
Head Start: I.D.; III.C.; VII.D.; VIII.B.;X.E.