June 7, 2011

Counting and Sorting

 

Counting and sorting are important activities for young children to practice, as they are necessary pre-math skills for the later development of addition, subtraction and those other “school age” math skills.  As far as counting, there is actual counting; 1,2,3,4,5….and there is counting where objects are  counted, and one to one correspondence is required.  Both are important, as before a child can have one to one correspondence, and correctly count a group of objects, they will need to know the correct numerical order.  Finally there is the step of recognizing the actual written number, and taking that information to the next step, of knowing how many objects each number represents.

So,  remember those 50 or so plastic easter eggs that are stored in your garage, basement, closet? Here is a fun at home math activity that you can do as a family.  Find some object which your family may collect, shells, pebbles, marbles (if safe for your children), or use a multicolored snack food, gold fish, skittles,  etc.  Fill some eggs with a variety of whatever item you are using, and then hide those eggs in your yard.  Provide each child with a basket, bag, etc., and send them out to find those eggs.  With younger children, as they find one, you can ask them what color it is, where did they find it, was it “on top” of a chair, “under” a table,  “behind” the flower pot.  This is a good literacy addition to the activity, and for younger children a chance to reinforce those developing skills of vocabulary, and places in space.

When the eggs are collected, have the children open them, and then depending on their age, use the contents to develop those math skills.  How many eggs did you find?  Help a younger child point to each egg and count.  An older child can figure out how many each person found, then count the total number of eggs, to tell how many there were.  Make sure the show them how that is a math problem.  5 +3+7=15.  Elementary school children could do this activity along with younger siblings, and their eggs can contain pretend coins, which they could use to practice adding money, and other more advanced math skills.

The children can then count the objects found in their eggs, sort them by different categories such as colors, shapes, size, etc., then count how many are in each category.  For children who are still young to be working on number recognition providing a paper with a number 1-10, will help children work on what the numbers look like, and then one to one correspondence as they work on putting the correct amount, on each number.  If you are feeling like a little more math practice, you can work with the children to make a graph to represent how many of each category they found, and then talk about what the graph represents.

This is a fun activity for children to do over and over, in slightly different ways.  For the next round, try having the children fill the eggs, and hide them for each other.  To add a literacy component as each child to tell you where their eggs were found, or later where they hid them, and write their descriptions down, “behind the flower pot” is where the blue egg was.  These can be kept and picked up later to talk about this activity later in the day, later in the week, and at the end of your summer, as retelling stories is an important part of developing literacy skills.  Each child can even make their own book, by drawing pictures and either dictating what they want to say, or writing themselves.

I hope summer is off to a great start for everyone, in the event of a rainy day, this activity can be moved in doors.  When stuck indoors video taping the hunt and letting the kids watch will add another fun component to this activity.

Advertisements
June 6, 2011

The Summer has begun!

Good Monday morning everyone!  After so many years of planning activities for children aged birth to five, I find myself although currently retired, always looking at world around me through the eyes of young children and parents of young children.  I am also asked questions by the moms and dads of these children, regarding their desires to be able to provide activities which will enhance their developmental growth, while also providing fun entertainment for the varying ages and developmental stages of their children.

For this first entry I thought that I would provide a list of summer equipment, that I think all families should be able to access, to provide developmentally appropriate activities for their toddlers/preschool children, and then through out the summer these will be my basis for many activities I suggest.  Please note, I mentioned having the ability to access these items, not necessarily own them, because when you see the list, I can already imagine the panic regarding the “mess factor” some of these will cause!

To meet the needs of your children from infant-kindergarten I would recommend the following standard items be available to meet their needs, and to be used to provide activities for the days of the long, hot summer.

  • Water Table
  • Sand Box
  • Water and Sand together
  • Wading pool
  • Outdoor table/child sized
  • Easel or place to hang paper for painting
  • Toys for the water and sand
  • Playdough
  • Paint
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bubbles
  • Junk art items, such as empty boxes, tape, toilet paper rolls, other recycled items
  • Moon sand, colored sand, bubber, measuring and pouring toys.
  • Dress up clothes, prop boxes
  • Riding toys, at least one which is the correct size for each of your children.
  • Outside area to make a mess, with hose available for water and serious clean up!
  • Collections of items such as shells, small rocks, action figures, buttons, fast food toys
  • Are to keep outdoor toys outside, to avoid having to drag things inside and outside daily.

I also suggest that even in the lazy days of summer, your family developes a “routine” which although remains flexible, allows your children to be able to feel comfortable and secure, and maintain and idea of what will be the next item in their day.  Preschoolers would enjoy going over the daily schedule with Mom/Dad or your childcare provider each morning.  Providing picture/word cards of the day’s schedule would be a great developmental opportunity for your child, they can hang by a clothes pin on a clothes line, or stick with magnets to a white board, or refrigerator.  Your child can help arrange them daily, and then have the opportunity to feel in charge of the daily schedule.  If the day allows for flexibility each child could pick an activity, and when it is on the family daily schedule, they can feel comfortable that it will occur, and go back themselves and check what is going to happen before their chosen activity.

I bring this last idea for myself, as a solution to what I see happening in my day, as I watch children, and plan activities.  Often after planning an activity or choosing what we will do after we get home, or after we take a nap, etc., my almost 4-year-old friend, will, as four-year olds do, forget what it was we planned to do, if only for a few minutes, and suggest something else.  Not really caring about a change myself, I’ll roll with the flow, finding that we just used up all of our time, and my adorable friend has of course not forgotten activity number one, and in essence I have let her down, as we have run out of time!  I am the grown up who has a sense of time management, sort of, and so in the future I plan on providing activity cards, so she can see that we only have time for a certain amount of activities during our day.  Remember, a preschool child will remember everything that you “promised” to do and didn’t, but not remember what was done in that activities place, it is our job to help them visualize these little trades, which will hopefully help avoid a few daily meltdowns!

Here a few of my favorite outside activity products.  I am not supporting any store, company, or specific products.  I like toys for different reasons, some being easiness of clean up, sturdiness, size and ability of children to use independently, and of course cuteness!

Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon Waterpark -  Little Tikes - Toys"R"Us

This is a sand and water table, which I love.  I will go over why I feel these activities are necessary for young children at another time, but this is an easy place to have just water, or have that mix of sand and water!

KidKraft Backyard Sandbox -  KidKraft - Toys"R"Us

I always suggest a large sand box, with plenty of room to add diggers, dump trucks, buckets, shovels, cars, people, and to make sure that all children have a place to actually get in and sit.  We did have this at my house, and we would run the hose out to the sandbox and add water for even more fun, leaving a large dry area for those who didn’t want to sit in wet sand!

 

Little Tikes 2-in-1 Garden Cart and Wheelbarrow -  Little Tikes - Toys"R"Us

 

Little Tikes Garden Watering Can -  Little Tikes - Toys"R"Us

Garden tools, watering cans, small pots and some potting soil is always fun, throw in a few seed packets, and let the kids go at it!  Once I provided an expired packet of sun flower seeds, and boy was I surprised to see the incredible sunflowers my kids grew outside our sandbox!  They enjoyed planting them, but were extra surprised when they grew!

I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful sunny day!  I will add actual activities to do with the items on my list as the summer moves forward, as well as places to visit in town, and books which I find especially enjoyable, and think others would also!