Finger Plays and Action Songs

Why are finger plays and action songs so great, other than the fact that you don’t need any supplies, they’re free, great for any age and fun?

  • help kids practice following directions
  • lengthens attention span and develops listening skills
  • practices ordering, sequencing, number concepts and rhyming skills
  • builds vocabulary

Some fun finger plays and action songs to try are:

  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Five Little Apples (The Activity Mom has posted this one)
  • There Was a Little Turtle
  • Five Fat and Speckled Frogs
  • Where is Thumbkin?
  • This Old Man
  • Five Little Monkeys
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It

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Filed under 1 Year Olds, 2 Year Olds, 3 Year Olds, 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds, Activities, Infant

Circles, Squares and Rectangles

It seems like if my child doesn’t already know their colors and shapes by the first day of school they will be behind.  Is this true?

Nowadays identifying shapes and colors is something that while not required for entry into Kindergarten it is pretty much expected. Number identification, addition, subtraction, counting to 100, patterning, measurement, and graphing are just a few of the concepts your child will learn this year, and having some prior knowledge about shapes and colors will make learning these concepts a lot easier. Below are the curriculum guidelines for shapes (in Texas). Curriculum guidelines for color don’t even exist. Of course there are many opportunities for students to use color in mathematics, patterning, comparisons, and identifying attributes.

8(C) sort a variety of objects including two- and three-dimensional geometric figures according to their attributes and describe how the objects are sorted
9(A) describe and compare the attributes of real-life objects such as balls, boxes, cans, and cones or models of three-dimensional geometric figures;
9(B) recognize shapes in real-life three-dimensional geometric figures or models of three-dimensional geometric figures; and
9(C) describe, identify, and compare circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares (a special type of rectangle).

While shape identification is most certainly a part of the math curriculum, you see that students will also have to describe and compare three-dimensional shapes in both the real world and with models. This means that any bit of prior knowledge you can give your child concerning shapes will help them with the geometry and spatial reasoning portion of their math.

Know that I know, what can I do?

Shape Walk: Go on a shape walk. Take a walk and point out all the shapes of different objects you see. If you like, take pictures of the objects/shapes you find on your walk. Then print these out and make them into a book.

Color Race: Quirky Momma has a cute idea for a Color Race. Before starting announce the color that you will be looking for during the race. Then turn on some music and have your child collect as many items of that color as they can before the song is over. Then put the items back and pick a new color.

Rainbow Writing; Have your child write their name in all the colors of the rainbow. Be sure to discuss each color as they write.

Read Color Books: Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?, Color Zoo, Little Blue and Little Yellow, A Color of His Own and My Many Colored Days are just a few. Of course you can also just talk about the different colors you see as you read any book.

Sort odds and ends: Gather odds and ends from around the house. Anything will work and then sort them by color, shape or both. Be sure to discuss the different shapes and colors you sort by.

I Spy: Play I Spy the regular way with colors but also change it up and spy different shapes!

Puzzles and Board Games: Look for puzzles or board games that teach shapes and colors. Candyland is an old favorite! Plus these can also teach counting, spatial reasoning, numbers, sequencing and other math concepts, an added bonus!

Feely Bag: Place different objects in a bag. Have your child just feel the object to see if they can determine the shape.

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Filed under 2 Year Olds, 3 Year Olds, 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds, Activities, Questions


Amy from Let’s Explore guest blogs at Simple Kids and discusses the importance of kids setting goals.   Setting goals really is important and having a goal chart like one of Amy’s really helps a kid visualize their progress and become motivated.  This is something great to do at the beginning of the school year, and you can bet your child’s teacher will be talking about setting goals in class.  It will also likely come up in parent/teacher conferences a little later in the fall.  Talk with your child about something they’d like to work on and make a plan for how they’ll accomplish it.  Then celebrate it when they do!

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Filed under 2 Year Olds, 3 Year Olds, 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds

Dr. 411’s Back to School Checklist

I just recently shared about Dr. Ari Brown and her 411 series when I posted about school lunches.  Here’s her back to school checklist.  Some of it pertains more to the older child but still some good info!

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Filed under 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds

Becoming independent

What tasks are Kindergarten children expected to do independently? How long a period of time do kids need to be able to sit down and work independently?

Before I answer these questions, it’s important to remember that the Kindergarten year is all about growth. Well, every year is, of course, but the Kindergarten year even more so! When kids start their Kindergarten year, they are basically just old Preschoolers but by the end of the year they have blossomed into almost First Graders. For this reason, expectations will change throughout the year. Believe me Kindergarten teachers understand that attention spans are short and assistance is needed for even simple tasks. All that will change throughout the year though, and it’s truly amazing to watch!
Independence and responsibility go hand in hand. Becoming independent means an increase in responsibility. As one increases, so should the other. You’ll notice this at home, too!

At school kids will be expected to:

  • Unpack and pack their backpacks, including getting out any folders, library books or notes for the teacher without assistance. That will happen pretty much from day one. After the first week or two your child’s teacher will not look through their backpack every morning for them. There’s just not time in the day.
  • Depending on the teacher’s preference, children may or may not be in charge of managing their own school supplies. Some teachers like each child to have their own pencil box with supplies inside and some prefer to have shared supplies that the teacher stores. Either way your child will be responsible for cleaning up the supplies and taking care of them. It’s amazing how many marker tops can go missing and how many glue tops can stay open.
  • Kids will be expected to remember their lunch boxes and winter clothing items when coming in from recess. This doesn’t mean that if they forget it on the playground all is lost. Yes, your child’s teacher will let them go back and get it, but it’s important that they work on remembering it before they have to go back to get it.
  • Tying shoes is another form of independence. Of course, Kindergarten is a developmentally appropriate time to work on tying shoes. I expected my students to be able to tie their shoes by the end of the first semester. After the winter holidays if a child needed their shoe tied, I had them ask a friend.
  • Make sure all items that came to school return home. Lunch boxes, coats, notes and folders all need to be zipped in the backpack so you can go through it each night!

Now you can also help your child feel more independent by:

  • packing things in their lunch that they can open
  • having them wear clothes that they can unzip, tie or button themselves
  • including “empty the backpack and bring mom everything in there,” as part of the after school routine

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Filed under 5 Year Olds, Questions

So what’s a word family?

When your child is learning to read, looking for patterns in words is huge!  If they know the word, “at” for example, then they know all the words that can be made by putting a consonant in front of it, cat, rat, mat, you get the idea.   Once they understand blends, they can also read those, that, chat, slat.   All these words make up one big happy family, the -at family!  Other common word families that are good for your child to know are: -og, -en, -ack, -ig, I could keep going.  You can go to Mrs. Alphabet and see a list of more. Word families are good rhyming practice and naturally make writing easier too.

When teaching word families at school, we drew a house and gave it a family name, like the Acks!  Then we would write “family members” inside the house.

You could take it a step further and add words with blends.

You can also have them illustrate a picture of the words, ahem, I mean family members!

I also used to read, Flip the Page Rhyme and Read books to the kids to work on word families/rhyming.  It’s a great series with Zug the Bug and Tog the Dog. You can also make your own, as Having Fun at Home did.  Get your kids involved and this could be a great learning activity that is also FUN!

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Filed under 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds, Activities

Play Dough

What kid doesn’t love play dough?  Not only is it fun you can also use it for all sorts of fun learning activities.

  • Make snakes out of the dough to make letters, sight words and family names.
  • Create characters out of the dough and then tell a story.
  • Mix different colors.
  • Roll it out and use cookie cutters to cut fun shapes.  Then count, add and subtract these shapes.
  • Describe how it feels to build vocabulary.
  • Use it for play/pretend.  It’s amazing what kids can do with their imagination!

Check out Kate’s how to for play dough made from natural colors at Mini-Eco.

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Filed under 2 Year Olds, 3 Year Olds, 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds, Activities, recipe