Using play dough (or in fact any type of dough) with young children is beneficial in so many ways.
The malleable properties of play dough make it fun for investigation and exploration as well as building up strength in all the tiny hand muscles and tendons, making young writers ready for pencil and scissor control later on.
For this activity, we used play dough, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes to teach your little ones about lions.
Using their hands, they practiced placing their pipe cleaners into the dough to create their lions!
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. It is for this reason that we are always using creative ways to practice our writing. From tracing letters in sand, to writing them in pencil, we enjoy literacy!
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 tweezers and pom poms, we created a letter L. They then traced Ls in sand. Lastly, we learned how to write an L with large pencils!
Throughout the week of our lion-themed activities, we talked about what herbivores and carnivore were. We talked about what they were, the different kinds of teeth and anatomy required for each particular diet and coupled that with new vocabulary (lions, zebras, herbivore, carnivore).
Using play food, we tossed them into a poster board, onto which a picture of a zebra and student were affixed. Each student cheered on their friends, and everyone was given a chance to participate. This activity helped us integrate our discussion of the lion diet, names of other carnivores and extended previously relayed information by discussing anatomy and eating characteristics.
Cooperative building activities provide one of the most valuable learning experiences available for young children.
Play such as this stimulates learning in all domains of development, including intellectual, physical, and social-emotional and language.
In fact, current research shows that this type of instruction is fundamental for later cognitive success in mathematical and critical reasoning skills.
For this activity, we constructed a savannah out of wood planks, toy animals, and plastic grass.
Students worked together in small groups, constructing elaborate animal scenes that they played with alongside their friends!
When young children are given clay, they are instinctively motivated to explore its responsive sensory qualities. As they poke it, squeeze it, and pound it, the clay responds. For a preschooler, this empowers them to continue experimenting!
As they experiment, they recognize that their actions have consequences. Their curiosity continues to empower their learning experience, as they construct and reconstruct a variety of shapes and forms. Before we began this activity, we discussed the story of the Lion King and the Lion Guard.
With pictures and two short stories, your little one was introduced (or perhaps reintroduced) to the regal home of Simba and Mufasa, called Pride Rock. They were then encouraged to use clay and rocks to create their own version of Pride Rock! By doing this, they applied their understanding of a concept, and continued to develop their hand eye coordination and the small muscles in their hands.
Children can find it very difficult to re-tell stories and even harder to make them up. This is particularly so if they have not had much experience with stories and story telling in the preschool classroom.
There are a variety of ways to involve children with texts, and the use of ‘story trays’ is one that does not only spark an interest in reading but also involves much talk and discussion, which is why we include them in our curriculum!
A story tray is a tray or similar item containing a book, plus items associated with the story, which might include characters in the form of toys or puppets. There might also be a non-fiction book on a similar theme, which allows children to experience different types of text.
These items are used to help bring the story to life. They provide a visual and tactile stimulus that the children can use to take part in the telling or re-telling of the story.
Children of all abilities enjoy using them but they can be particularly useful in helping children who are not interested in reading, for whatever reasons, to enjoy books.
For this activity, we used a variety of items to re-tell the story of Disney’s The Lion Guard. Each child was given a character in the story, and as the story was read, they would add their item to the tray. This enabled everyone to participate in one of their favorite stories!