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 part of our whale theme, we practiced sorting numbers by numeral, counting as we did so. We created four different “oceans” that students were instructed to put their whales into. They started with 1 and continued up to 4. Once finished, they counted all of the whales they placed down.
There are so many ways to strengthen pre-reading and pre-writing skills that have nothing to do with books or worksheets! Young children can easily become frustrated with writing, because their gross motor skills are developing faster than their fine motor skills.
It is not until they turn five or six that they can truly master writing implements. But… that doesn’t mean that they still can’t have fun with letters! In Miss Carrie’s class, we like to think outside of the box. For this activity your little ones were encouraged to read in a very special way. Using pictures of a shark, along with the letters S-H-A-R-K your little one practiced matching blocks with the letters S-H-A-R-K to the picture. Everyone had fun discussing what shapes their letters look like and the corresponding one!
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 the tiny hand muscles and tendons, making them ready for pencil and scissor control later on.
As part of simple, tactile play – it can be squashed, squeezed, rolled, flattened, chopped, cut, scored, raked, punctured, poked and shredded! It can also be used as an alternative to writing! For our week of the whale, we used play dough to form the letter W.
Because young learners often confuse this with the letter M, it was essential for us to tackle it. Using the play dough gives them not only a sensory input of the letter (the fact that it creates two “mountains” as opposed to two “holes”) but a visual one. Using play dough and toy whales they created their Ws, concluding the activity with some open-ended play!
Children who are encouraged to write with a variety of utensils at an early age will later learn to execute their fine motor skills more easily, more effectively, and with greater confidence than children who do not have this encouragement.
Though the mastery of one’s fine motor skills take time, they can be practiced and developed throughout the course of one’s preschool experience.
A lot of our projects involved writing with q-tips. They are great because they not only require the pincer grasp, but strengthen your little one’s ability to focus on they make marks onto a piece of paper.
For this activity, we used a q-tip and blue paint to apply spots to a shark worksheet. They had to focus on keeping their dabs inside of the letter us, which also fostered hand-eye coordination.
Baleen is made out of keratin, the same protein that makes up our fingernails and hair. A baleen whale, has about 600 baleen plates in its upper jaw, which act like a strainer as it feeds. Like humans, whales cannot drink saltwater.
Hairs on the baleen plates catch the fish or plankton, while the saltwater washes through and goes back into the ocean. Some whales eat about one ton (2,000 lbs.) of fish each day. That’s the weight of a large car!
You can tell if you see a baleen whale by their blowholes. All baleen whales have two blowholes visible on the top of their heads.
To help demonstrate the concept of baleen, we used “combs” made out of flower foam and tooth picks to filter “plankton” (glitter) out of a body of water.
Everyone loved seeing how much glitter they could capture and how it sparked in the water!
Children are natural mathematicians. They push and pull toys, stack blocks, and fill and empty cups of water in the bathtub.
All of these activities allow young children to experience math concepts as they experiment with spatial awareness, measurement, and problem solving. For this activity, we incorporated the octopus into our learning!
Using an octopus diagram and jewels, we practiced sorting by number, counting as we did so. Upon finishing, we counted all of the jewels on our creatures, which reached 36!
We have been trying to experiment with higher numbers so that your little one is prepared once they reach kindergarten!
Of all the math skills that children will acquire, counting is one that most children will already be doing before they reach school-age.
Rote counting (or saying numbers in a sequence from memory) is what most children will be able to do, but this does not mean that they can actually determine the amount in a collection.
In order to help our students develop an actual understanding of numbers and how counting relates to real life, we did a hands-on activity with jewels aimed at developing their one-to-one correspondence.
By placing a certain amount of jewels onto a rainbow fish diagram (counting as they did so), participants were able to make a connection between the spoken numeral and a concrete amount.