Visual-perceptual motor skills are an area of emphasis in our preschool classroom. These skills refer to children’s physical responses to visual stimulation.
Such skills are later used for activities such as reading from left to right or copying from the blackboard.
During our projects, I try to introduce activities that begin to challenge your little ones’ visual-perceptual performance skills.
Activities such as finding hidden pictures (figure/ground), bingo and lotto (visual scanning), concentration or memory card games (visual memory and matching), and block design replication (visual-spatial relations) address different aspects within the area of visual-perceptual motor skills.
As part of our week of gardening, students used their visual-perceptual skills to bob for vegetables. Using their hands, they practiced retrieving toy vegetables from bowls of water with tongs.
Young children are naturally curious and passionate about learning. In their pursuit of knowledge, they’re prone to poking, pulling, tasting, pounding, shaking, and experimenting. From birth, children want to learn and they naturally seek out problems to solve
Young children should learn science (and all other areas of study) through active involvement – that is, through first-hand, investigative experiences.
For this activity, we learned about the how plants absorb water out of the ground.
Through our Great Celery experiment, your little ones observed, predicted, and explored the physical properties of these fascinating plants.
We began by pouring water into an empty cup. Next, we added food coloring.
Then we placed the celery stalks inside the cups. In addition to this, we drew pictures of what we thought would happen to the celery. Following this, we checked on them the next day.
Not much happened, so we check on them again 48 hours later. We saw that the color had been sucked up and distributed among the leaves.
It was so much fun that we decided to draw again what we saw.
No gardening unit would be complete without a section on vegetables! In the course of our gardening/harvest week, we learned all about carrots. We learned that carrots are usually orange in color although purple, red, white, and yellow varieties also exist.
We also learned that carrots are cooked and eaten in various different ways. The vegetable is often pulped, mashed, boiled, puréed, grated, fried, steamed, stewed, baked, juiced or eaten raw.
We talked about how carrots are typically used in stir-fries and salads but also in soups and added to baby foods or pet foods. And then we learned that they can be dehydrated or deep-fried to make chips, flakes, and powder.
To help us further understand this exciting vegetable, we grew our very own carrot plants in bottles! To begin with, students were asked to scoop soil into a water bottle. Next, they were encouraged to place carrot tops on top of the soil.
Following, they were directed to add a little water to their plants. Lastly, they placed the top of the bottle on. At the end of the week, we tried the same species of carrots that we planted. We ate them with celery and dipped them in cream cheese!
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 setting.
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 containing a book, plus items associated with the story, which might include characters in the form of soft 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 a book called Vegetable Soup. Each child was given one of the items in the story, and as the story was read, they would add their item to the tray. Some of these items included toy vegetables, a water can, soil, toy shovels, and seeds!
Dramatic play enables young children to reconcile their world and its information to their own reality.
As a primary means of symbolic play, it plays a key role in your little ones’ intellectual development.
Symbolic play provides the forum for your little one to hone their language and social skills, as they practice new vocabulary and collaborate with one another in mutual story making.
For this activity, we created our very own Farmers’ Market!
Using play vegetables, cash registers (made out of boxes), play money, aprons, and our imaginations, we both sold and bought produce from our friends!
For an artsy sensory experience, your preschoolers made their own gardens out of play dough, fabric flowers, art wires, and pipe cleaners!
As an extension of our farm theme, we used this experience to instigate a discussion of flowers, specifically the ones that grow in the back play ground, as to what they are called (California fuchsia) and how they feel in our hands!
Flowers are an essential component to any plant theme. They are among the most beautiful things to gaze upon.
Using pictures with numbered instructions, rasberries, celery, carrots, and bananas, your little one created their very own flower!
This activity incorporated several areas of development for your little one to enjoy. The numbered instructions fostered pre-reading skills, as each child followed the pictures from left to right.
Manipulating the fruit (to construct the flower) accessed self-help and fine motor skills, which are imperative for autonomy, confidence, and future writing endeavors.
Lastly, following the instructions in order allowed your little one to understand sequencing (the order in which things happen) strengthened their counting skills!
Understanding the one-to-one correspondence of object to object is necessary before young children can carry out meaningful counting and higher calculations. Children can find many opportunities in their daily life to experience one-to-one correspondence.
They can place one sock inside one shoe or one shoe on one foot; they can get one napkin or snack for each member of the family or class; they can place one lid on each of several containers; they can place pieces in one-piece puzzles. Once children understand these relationships, they can link one number with one object and then count with understanding.
When students are ready to develop the skill of counting, they can benefit from learning several counting strategies to increase their accuracy and efficiency. Students sometimes develop one or more such strategies on their own, but it is to their benefit to provide training in this area.
As with any concepts or skills, it is important to start working with real objects and manipulatives and to continue providing these as learning aids. For this particular activity, we placed a predetermined number of leaves on four different carrots. We practiced adding and subtracting the various leaves, noticing the changes in quantity.
Every garden offers children a rich, sensory playground, full of interesting things to discover and learn about.
There’s a whole lot of science happening right before their eyes.
The garden can also be a place to develop math and literacy skills, as the outdoors offers up plenty of invitations to count seeds and learn new plant names.
The garden classroom is a place where plants grow, and where children grow too. For this activity, we used soil, seeds, shovels, plant labels (toothpicks with pictures on them), and our imaginations to create our very own garden!
Students worked together to create their very own masterpiece of flowers. oranges. cucumbers, and other exciting foliage to help them be the best gardeners they could be!