From birth through to early childhood, children use their senses to explore and try to make sense of the world around them. They do this by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, moving and hearing.
Providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development – it helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways.
This leads to a child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks and supports cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction and problem solving skills.
For this activity, we used a few different materials to create snowman slime. We first combined corn starch and water to create the “slime”. This is a malleable substance that appears as a solid when placed on a hard surface and liquid when it is picked up.
Following this, students added black rocks, foam sheets, and black cardboard. These materials made up the eyes, nose, and hat of the snowman. Lastly, we explored the substance, watching it ooze through our hands as we played with it!
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 counting activity with sections of a kite aimed at developing their one-to-one correspondence.
By placing pieces of a kite into a numbered order (counting as they did so), participants were able to make a connection between the spoken numeral and a concrete amount.
When young children categorize items by number, they are beginning to perceive the relationships between them.
As they evolve in their ability to recognize and count the written numeral, they start to understand how they work together.
In this activity, your budding mathematician learned how to recognize and count kite bows within the scope of our Weather theme.
Using cut-outs and pictures of kites, students placed these items into four different kites, counting and naming the numbers while doing so.
Color is such an everyday phenomenon that we don’t usually give it a lot of thought. But colors can produce surprising effects, for example, in the way they mix together.
The science behind this offers several opportunities for exploration among young students. For this experiment, we created suns while combining colors.
Using red paint, yellow paint, and orange paint, we swirled around the different colors, seeing what would happen! This helped strengthened your little one’s analytical prediction making skills.
For this activity, we used gold styrofoam cups and triangular blocks to create our very own suns.
Given the different shapes that these two items come in, they were the perfect tool for hands-on learning about basic math concepts: shape, size, area, geometry, measurement, and equivalencies.
While playing with the blocks, your child naturally began to sort them by a particular attribute, such as shape and size.
He may have noticed that the gold cups would make a perfect center, or that the triangular blocks would make the perfect sun rays. This exploration into the nature of shapes prepares your child for later geometric understanding.
Air may not seem like anything at all; in fact, we look right through it all the time, but during a windstorm, air really makes its presence known. Wind is able to lift roofs off buildings, blow down power lines and trees, and cause highway accidents as gusts push around cars and trucks.
Wind is moving air and is caused by differences in air pressure within our atmosphere. Air under high pressure moves toward areas of low pressure. The greater the difference in pressure, the faster the air flows. To help illustrate this concept, we created our very own pinwheels.
Students first painted small paper plates, and then spun them around a straw, watching as the pinwheel moved with the variations in air pressure (provided by them). This enabled your little one to understand the abstract concept of wind and air pressure.
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.
March is a traditional time for flying kites, so your preschooler was able to learn all about it on this breezy day.
To begin with, our class looked at the leaves on the trees in our front yard to see if it was a good day to fly kites.
It was then explained that kites fly because the wind pushes on its face — trying to blow the kite away — while gravity pulls on it — trying to make the kite come down.
Using real kites, we first launched out kites (without the string) from the stairs in the front yard, to see how far they would fly.
We then took our kites to the back play ground, and practiced running up and down the area with our kites.
Some students were even able to get their kites into the air! We then created our own kites with streamers and paper bags, and tried to fly those as well!
Art is important for children especially during their early development.
Research shows that art activities develop brain capacity in early childhood. Art engages children’s senses in open-ended play and supports the development of cognitive, social-emotional and multi-sensory skills.
As children progress into elementary school and beyond, art continues to provide opportunities for brain development, mastery, self-esteem and creativity. It is for this reason that we included an art project into our spring weather theme. Because we are learning about all things solar specifically, we painted with our very own suns!
Using yellow balloons as our inspiration, we dipped these into yellow paint and stamped some “suns” onto construction paper.
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!