Early math is not about the rote learning of discrete facts like how much 5 + 7 equals. Rather, it’s about children actively making sense of the world around them. Unlike drills or worksheets with one correct answer, open-ended, playful exploration encourages children to solve problems in real situations.
Because the situations are meaningful, children can gain a deeper understanding of number, quantity, size, patterning, and data management.
For example, it is easier to understand what six means when applied to a real-life task such as finding six beads to string on a necklace or placing one cracker on each of six plates. It is for this reason that we cotton balls, colorful paper, and numbers to practice our counting. To fit this into our winter theme, we used colorful illustrations numbered 10-14.
These symbolized clouds that your little ones made by sorting them by number. They started by placing them onto the clouds in no particular order. Once they mastered this task, they added them (while counting out loud) with the number ten on the top and the number fourteen on the bottom. Next, they practiced adding and subtracting different cotton balls and counting them.
Many preschoolers are able to use numbers arbitrarily; pretending to count, or mixing up numbers and letters. From about the age of four, preschoolers will begin to show one to one correspondence, or the ability to count objects correctly, as well as recognize most numbers 0-9 and sometimes recreate numerals when given an example.
As with many preschool skills, it is important for young students to be given many different opportunities for to see, touch and use numbers throughout the day. Including numbers in thematic play is one way that they can begin to recognize numbers.
For this activity, your little one participated in a sorting/numeral recognition activity that tied in with our fall weather theme. Using manipulatives and pictures of leaves (with numbers printed on them), your little one practiced sorting and matching groups of leaves with their corresponding numeral.
Gross motor skills are the skills we use to move our arms, legs, and torso in a functional manner.
Gross motor skills involve the large muscles of the body that enable such functions as walking, kicking, sitting upright, lifting, and throwing a ball.
For this activity, we consolidated our gross motor expertise with a fun weather game called Cloud Racing!
For this activity, your little ones got some exercise by “blowing” cotton balls (clouds) across the front room with straws!
Cutting with scissors requires the skill of hand separation, which is the ability to use the thumb, index, and middle fingers separately from the pinkie and ring fingers.
This can be challenging for a youngster with small hands.
Although many three and four year-olds have the skills needed to snip and cut, scissor skills are not fully developed until around age six.
To help your little one practice their cutting skills, we cut out icicles. Following this, they painted a piece of paper blue and attached their “icicles” to it!
Using wax paper, we ice skated at school!
We began the activity with a discussion of the weather, the different kinds of weather we see throughout the year, and the different kinds of things we wear for cold weather.
We then put on our hats, scarves, and mittens, and skated around the room to waltz music!
Weather activities teach young children about the exciting world that they live in.
Talking about how weather changes helps your little one to make associations to how the world around them affects their daily lives.
Using toothpicks, and styrofoam pieces, your little architect constructed their very own structures!
Playing with a variety of building materials is critical for the development of spatial thinking, or envisioning where different items go in relation to each other as they build.
Deciding how to structure the pieces, connect them together, and configuring whether they are aligned or perpendicular to one another, are just the kinds of skills that support later learning in science, technology, engineering and math.
Dramatic play is a wonderful way for young children to act out roles and express themselves. Providing dress up costumes and pretend real life items encourages them to get into character, express their feelings, and gain mastery over new concepts.
When your child continues to play a new role and theme over and over again, it is a sign that they are applying and processing the concepts that may be too complicated for them to integrate from a book. In this activity, we prepared our “house” for an upcoming hurricane.
We packed emergency kits, boarded up our windows, and crouched as Miss Carrie used instruments to recreate the sounds of a hurricane outside.
Southern California is teeming with sparrows. These chubby, blunt beaked creatures adorn our trees, power lines, and buildings. They are hardy critters that have easily adapted to living in metropolitan areas, utilizing whatever resources are available. Following an introduction to these seasoned travelers, your little ones used twigs and grass to make nests for their very own sparrow! This activity allowed the chance for your child to practice their understanding of new vocabulary. It also provided several other benefits, including, but not limited to, environmental responsibility, the food chain, geography, and flight. Your little one also expanded upon their observation skills as they regarded the many sparrows that visit Huntley, their listening skills as they listened to the sparrow’s song, and patience as they quietly waited for the birds. More importantly, they continue to develop their ongoing love of learning that will be reinforced every time they see a new bird!