Games are a natural group form. They provide personal, wholehearted, unselfconscious involvement in activities that allow us to feel free to absorb and integrate our experiences and add them to our growing knowledge of ourselves.
Whether it’s a birthday party or a summer picnic, games are a great way to involve all kids in being active. Preschool is a time of building identity and self-esteem, so we encourage every child in our class to enjoy group games and find ways to make sure that everyone is able to participate.
For this activity, we used bean bags that we tossed onto a piece of butcher paper. On this paper were four different faces. Your little one was instructed to toss their bean bag onto a face, name the emotion, and then talk about something in their lives that may trigger that emotion.
Collages are fun and inexpensive and allow children to practice creative and problem-solving skills. We try to use as many open-ended activities as possible, so your child is motivated to think divergently. Open ended materials are those which young children can use for creative play in any way they like, within a set of guidelines for safety and clean up.
Open-ended materials are like open-ended questions. There is no “one” answer or one “right” way to use them. Any child can enjoy, and be successful in creating with crayons, markers, clays, paper and glue, finger-paint and paint.
Using open-ended materials nurtures both the child’s creativity and self esteem. Blocks, dress ups, props, recycled items, and natural materials like seeds, earth, sand, and water are also open ended materials which can be used in many ways. For our art activities, we include a lot of open-ended materials for your little one to learn from. This activity included magazine clippings that your child placed into “happy” and “sad” categories. There was no right or wrong answer. Each child separated the two groups according to their own understanding of the various facial expressions they saw on the clippings.
The use of group projects in a curriculum can be very useful, especially in bringing difficult concepts to the preschool level. To bring these concepts to fruition, all participants must, in a sense, become learners along with the children.
The teacher has to be careful to not act as a mentor but as a guide; that is, the teacher cannot think solely in terms of a prearranged destination to activity but must focus on offering a sense of discipline to the activity. Feelings and emotions consist of many complex components, and because of this, we must be creative in teaching our little ones about them! For this activity, we separated a variety of magazine clippings into four categories: happy, sad, angry, and surprised. Your little ones worked together to best determine whether the expression on the clipping was one of these emotions.
Literacy for children birth to five refers to the skills and abilities that are the forerunners of conventional reading and writing. Learning to read and write does not happen overnight. It is the result of many cumulative, interrelated experiences beginning at birth. Many different kinds of experiences are needed, but three are essential.
Children need purposeful conversation among adults and other children that supports their developing language; access to many different, high quality, developmentally appropriate books and other reading and writing materials; and opportunities to playfully explore and engage in literacy activities involving reading, writing, and learning letters and sounds. Young children learn from experience. From the earliest days of life, they get messages from their environment about what is important and what has meaning.
This is why all early childhood environments need to be rich in literacy enhancing materials and experiences.
Literacy-rich environments are literally full of opportunities for reading and writing, but they are not overwhelming or overstimulating. Print should be used for real purposes or functions, not as clutter.
For this reason, we are constantly accessing our environments for literary materials; things to help us not only practice our writing, but create and recognize language in print form. During our Feelings and Emotions week, we talked about the letter F, and engaged in an array of activities aimed at strengthening our understanding of this letter and its function.
One of these included a group activity, that included placing cardboard Fs into a larger F. The second involved using q-tips to place tiny dots inside block letter Fs.
Brain research indicates that emotion and cognition are profoundly interrelated processes. Specifically, recent cognitive neuroscience findings suggest that the neural mechanisms underlying emotion regulation may be the same as those underlying cognitive processes.
Emotion and cognition work together, jointly informing the child’s impressions of situations and influencing behavior. Most learning in the early years occurs in the context of emotional supports.
Together, emotion and cognition contribute to attentional processes, decision making, and learning. Emotions and social behaviors affect the young child’s ability to persist in goal-oriented activity, to seek help when it is needed, and to participate in and benefit from relationships.
To help your little one gain an understanding of the various facial expressions that we may all, at one time, exhibit, we created a variety of different ones with play dough. Using a blank face as their template, your little one constructed different emotional states with their friends!
How do children start to understand who they are, what they are feeling, what they expect to receive from others?
These concepts are at the heart of their social-emotional wellness.
They contribute to a child’s self-confidence and empathy, her ability to develop meaningful and lasting friendships and partnerships, and her sense of importance and value to those around her.
Children’s social-emotional development influences all other areas of development: Cognitive, motor, and language development are all greatly affected by how a child feels about herself and how she is able to express ideas and emotions.
One component of this concept lies in the ability to detect emotions in others.
To do this, we went fishing for our feelings!
Each student was encouraged to select a picture of a person with a particular expression, imitate it, and then name something that made them feel similar.
The California Department of Education (CDE), Early Education and Support Division (EESD), provides a guiding framework for early childhood care and education through the development and dissemination of resources and development activities.
The preschool learning foundations describe research-based competencies, or knowledge and skills, that can be expected for most children to exhibit at around 48 and 60 months of age when participating in a quality preschool program.
The foundations apply to all preschool children, including children whose home language is not English and children with disabilities. One of these competencies includes the Social-Emotional Developmental Domain.
Social-emotional development includes the child’s experience, expression, and management of emotions and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others. It encompasses both intra- and interpersonal processes.
The core features of emotional development include the ability to identify and understand one’s own feelings, to accurately read and comprehend emotional states in others, to manage strong emotions and their expression in a constructive manner, to regulate one’s own behavior, to develop empathy for others, and to establish and maintain relationships.
To foster these skills in your little ones, we participated in a host of different activities during our week of feelings and literature. For this particular project, we used painted rocks to create a variety of different facial expressions.
Very early writing is indicative of unconscious, or implicit knowledge of writing conventions. As children’s knowledge of writing develops, their implicit knowledge gradually becomes more explicit knowledge that they learn to use to communicate meaning. The more children interact with print in various forms, the more likely they will develop explicit knowledge and awareness of writing conventions. Three- to four-year-old children are exploring the regularities of print. They are constructing their own understanding of print and how their representations fit with what they experience in their environment. For this activity, we discussed the different shapes that form letters. We learned that some of these shapes are round, some are pointy and some are jagged. Using paint scrapers, zig zag shaped pieces of paper, and shaving cream, we practiced our writing!
Calligraphy, or the art of writing, was the visual art form prized above all others in traditional China. The genres of painting and calligraphy emerged simultaneously, sharing identical tools—namely, brush and ink.
Calligraphy was revered as a fine art long before painting; indeed, it was not until the Song dynasty, when painting became closely allied with calligraphy in aim, form, and technique, that painting shed its status as mere craft and joined the higher ranks of the fine arts.
For this activity, we used paint scrapers and black paint to create the Chinese symbols for the animals of the Zodiac.
The rattle-drum is one of the oldest and most traditional toys in China. It is a small double-sided drum with a handle and a wooden ball hanging from a string attached to each end of the edge to beat the drum. When swayed, the balls on both sides will beat the drum, sending out rattling sounds. The earliest form of the rattle-drum appeared in the Warring States Period, when it was used as a percussion instrument. In the Song Dynasty, the rattle-drum found its way in rites, music and business activities. It also became a toy for children, enjoying huge popularity, thanks mainly to its sound effect and recreational function.
For this activity, we painted red paper plates and attached beads to them to create the rattle drum. During circle time, we pretended to be peddlers crying their wares, shouting in cadenced voices to attract buyers. In China, the rhythmic sounds of a rattle-drum are easy to draw attention. This drum is not only practical to Chinese peddlers, but is invariably recreational and creates a happy, relaxed and fun atmosphere when it is shaken to drum up.
Most of us instinctually know that art is important for children; we simply believe it’s important because we’ve seen our children deeply involved in art. But beyond what we feel and believe, there is much factual information about why art is important in our children’s development that is both interesting and helpful to know. Creating art expands a child’s ability to interact with the world around them, and provides a new set of skills for self-expression and communication. Not only does art help to develop the right side of the brain, it also cultivates important skills that benefit a child’s development. But art goes far beyond the tangible statistics measured by studies — it can become a pivotal mode of uninhibited self-expression and amazement for a child. Art matters the same way language matters — or the way breathing matters! It is a fundamental component of what makes us uniquely human.