Rain Rain, Go Away

A number of studies have indicated that games can help kids develop essential emotional and intellectual skills that support academic achievement.  For most preschoolers, collaborative games are a highly-social activity. In many of these games, players work together in teams to achieve goals, compete against other players or both. Their teamwork abilities are put to the test, and they must hone their communication and interpersonal skills in order to progress.

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These pro-social behaviors are critical for healthy social development — children with positive social skills are more likely to have high self-esteem, good peer relationships and achieve in school. For this activity, we played a game called Rain Rain, Go Away. Each child was given a paper raindrop that they were told to hold onto as they walked across the circle rug.

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They would do this during the music, and when the music stopped, they were instructed to put their raindrops on the ground to sit on. There were also segments in the music where rain sounds would initiate, and during this portion, students placed their raindrops over their heads.

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In addition to the social benefits acquired, your little one was given the opportunity to practice their listening skills! Listening skills are very important because they help children learn how to develop their language skills, so we are constantly playing games that foster this important developmental task.

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Where Does Rain Come From?

Teaching scientific concepts to young children poses unique challenges, so in our classroom, we use simple vocabulary and fun projects to keep them captivated!

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Water rotation is an ideal introduction to rain formation, so we talked about where rain comes from and where it goes!

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With paper towels, plastic droppers, bowls, and blue water, we practiced dropping rain on our “clouds” and then watched as it dropped into the bowls!

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Hands-on activities such as these reinforce complicated concepts and allow your preschoolers to grasp how rain works!

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Collaborative Thunderbolts

These days, curriculum often recommends using partner chats, turn-and-talk, and other one-on-one conversation strategies to help students reflect on and deepen their learning. Although it may seem like a simple thing, chatting with a partner involves a complex set of skills that many children do not come to school with: listening and speaking in turn, staying on topic, and not monopolizing the conversation, to name just a few.

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Conversation skills are important for academic and social learning at all ages. The school day is full of conversations—we talk with each other in large group gatherings, at work and choice times, and of course during snack, recess, and lunch. Children who are not skilled in this arena may struggle, academically and socially. That’s why it’s important to teach conversation skills explicitly. I’ve found that taking time to teach first grade students how to chat with a partner has had striking benefits—for individual students, and for our classroom community.

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For this activity, we used circle time to learn about the letter W with a partner! Using lightning bolts made out of foam, we created our letters. Before starting, your little ones were informed that the letter W is made up of a series of different shaped lines. These lines attach to form W! With their partners, they attached these “lightning bolts” together to form a W!

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Shaving Cream Clouds and the Water Cycle

Have you ever wondered how clouds form? We all learn the water cycle in school – water falls from the clouds in the form of rain or snow and collects on the ground.

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The water on the ground heats up and turns to vapor and the vapor travels up into the atmosphere and creates clouds.

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When a rain cloud gets so full of water or mass, the water has to go somewhere and will break through the cloud and start to fall to the ground.

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To demonstrate this phenomenon on a preschool level, your child created a shaving cream cloud!

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As they poured or dripped the water over the shaving cream cloud, the blue water started to break through the foamy mass.

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Doing so enable your budding meteorologist to observe their cloud as it gained mass and altered its composition.

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Sound and Water

Sound in water and sound in air are both waves that move similarly and can be characterized the same way. Sound waves can travel through any substance, including gases (such as air), liquids (such as water), and solids (such as the seafloor).

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Did you know that sound cannot exist if it doesn’t have something to travel through? For example, sound cannot travel through outer space because it is a vacuum that contains nothing to carry sound.

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Even though sound waves in water and sound waves in air are basically similar, the way the sound levels in water and sound levels in air are reported is very different, and comparing sound levels in water and air must be done carefully.

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When we describe a sound as loud or soft, scientists say that the sound has a high or low amplitude or intensity. Amplitude refers to the change in pressure as the sound wave passes by.

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If you increase the amplitude of a sound, you are making it louder, just as you do when you turn up the volume on your radio. If you decrease the amplitude, you are making the sound softer, just as when you turn down the volume.

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We wanted to see how this happens in the real world, so we did a music experiment with water, drum sticks, and metal bowls! First, we placed some metal bowls into the water table. Using drum sticks, we tapped the bowls, and talked about some of the sounds we heard.

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We used words such as ping, loud, soft, echo. metallic, and thunder. Next, we added water to the water table, and placed the bowls inside. We again tapped the bowls, and talked about any differences we observed. Some students found that they sounded softer in the water, while others thought they sounded louder. For this half of the activity, we used words such as amplitude, sound waves, liquid, and air to describe what we were hearing.

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Rabbit Burrows

Rabbits live in burrows, so we made our very own! Using play dough as a medium and small plastic rabbits, we created habitats for our rabbits that included a nest, a place for food, and an area for sleep!

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This activity also revisited and reinforced vocabulary words such as inside, outside, under and over.

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Using play dough helped your little one practice using certain physical skills with their hands as they manipulated the dough with their fingers.

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Children can also practice skills such as pinching, squeezing or poking while they play with play dough.

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Lastly, using play dough helps a child practice using their imaginations while they exercise other cognitive skills such as imitation, symbolism and problem solving.

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rabbit6This helps your little ones learn more about their environment as they make and mimic everyday objects with the play dough.

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Stack ‘Em, Don’t Crack ‘Em!

Strategically planned tape measure activities can make for an engaging, hands-on math lesson.

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Teaching your child to use a tape measure helps him develop his measurement and estimation skills, while familiarizing him with basic units of measurement. These skills are needed for life in the real world and act as a foundation for more advanced math concepts.

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For this activity, students were given a pile of “egg halves”. They were then instructed to stack the eggs, one at a time, until their pile “cracked” (or fell).

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Once they determined the adequate amount of eggs required for the perfect tower, they were given a tape measure to measure their creation!

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