preschool

Oobleck...a solid and a liquid!

I have been making this with children of all ages for over 6 years and I have yet to meet a child (or adult) who doesn't react to Oobleck by saying "coooooollll". 

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Age recommendation: Toddler, Preschool or early elementary.

Materials: Corn starch, water and a bowl. 

How to play:

Full details and instructions can be found on the Scientific American website. Oobleck is an interesting substance to play with because it can be both a hard substance and a liquid substance at the same time. Use a small deep bowl for this activity. This way you can "punch" the substance and also place your entire hand in the bowl as well. This activity gets messy. Make sure you have your floors covered or do this outside. It is well worth the mess though!

Learning and Development: You can use this to develop scientific inquiry and also build on pincer grip. You can place one marble in a deeper bowl and make your Oobleck in this bowl. Ask your child to try to get the marble and take it out using only their thumb and index finger.  You can also challenge them to make a ball with Oobleck. The faster you move the substance around in your palms, you will see a ball form. The moment you stop rolling your palms around it will liquify and drip back into the bowl. Ask questions about observation such as "how does it feel?" "what happens when you hit it quickly?" "how can you get your hand to sink to the bottom?". 

Asking your child to read to you

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I have realized that there are a few books that are simple enough for my toddler to read to me. There is such a joy and pleasure of sitting back and having your child read to you. 

I love the book, Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton. The words are simple (colours, clothing and the word OOPS!) and the book always makes my children laugh. 

Doing this with my daughter has helped her build confidence and excitement to read. I have also begin to give her more complicated books and give her the green light to tell me the story. She expresses such a joy in doing this and it warms my heart. I love hsaring these moments with her. If only they could stay this young forever! :) 

Curious Neuron Recommendations: National Geographic Kids Books

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I love these books! In our house, we use them we when play pretend library and when we play school. I love taking a book out and asking my 3 year old to select a page or animal and then we sit down and read it together. I learn so much from these books as well! 

They are wonderful in sparking interest, curiosity and wonder about the world around us. 

DIY Colour within the lines

We started practicing colouring within the lines, but I felt that pictures in colouring books were too small. I took out some large drawing paper and drew a big design with a black marker. This helped my toddler begin to understand the concept of colouring between the lines. 

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Age suggestion: Toddler, Preschool

Materials: Large drawing paper and markers. 

How to play:

  • You can either prepare the activity or ask your child to do it. Scribble some circular shapes on a large piece of white paper. Make sure the shapes you are drawing are closed up (see picture). 
  • Give your child the goal of drawing/colouring inside each little shape and not passing the lines. 

Learning and Development: You can learn colours with this activity and learn how to draw within the lines. If you have a 3 year old, you can try to get them to copy the circle shapes with you since the CDC states that around the age of 3, a child should copy circles with a crayon. 

Paint plastic wrap

I found this activity on Facebook, but I can't find the person who posted! I want to make sure that I don't take credit for this awesome activity! All I know is that we had a blast doing this.

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Age recommendation: Toddler, Preschool

Materials: Tempera paint, clear plastic wrap, paintbrushes 

How to play:

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  • We first flipped the kid's table in our playroom.
  • We then took our plastic wrap and wrapped it around the tables legs.
  • We added some of our paint onto a plate and started painting the plastic wrap. My toddler LOVED it. We have an easel which she uses, but for some reason, painting on this plastic wrap added a fun factor to it. 

Learning and Development: You can use this activity to learn colours, draw shapes, build on language by having great conversations with your child as you have fun painting! If you can get the table to be high enough, you can even have your child paint while being on their tiptoe's, which is a motor milestones for 2 year olds according to the CDC

Playing pretend grocery store

I love pretend play! I get to be a child again and get a glimpse of my daughters incredible imagination. I didn't have any pretend money so I made some on my own. 

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Age recommendation: Toddler, preschool. 

Materials: We used our Learning Resources fruits and vegetables, Little Tikes Cash Register, white paper, star stickers from the dollar store, and other play food items (tea set). 

How to play

  • We cut out small pieces of paper (equal sizes) for our pretend money. 
  • I wrote numbers 1-5 and on each paper added some star stickers to match the numbers. I made them with my daughter and I had her add the stickers to the small papers.
  • I added a "price" to our play items with star stickers.  
  • We then placed random play food items and tea set items around the playroom. 
  • I first played the cashier and asked my daughter to go "grocery shopping". She had a small basket and filled it up with items. 
  • Since she basically collected everything we laid out, I divided the items into "small bills" since we were practicing counting between 5-10. For instance, I combined the small blue plate and the red tea cup so her bill added up to $6. I asked her for 6 dollars and together we figured out which one of her little paper money as equal to $6. Stick to what you are introducing to your child or what you would like to teach them. Do not overwhelming them. This is meant to be fun. If they are not getting them right it is ok. Keep playing the game with them regularly and it will come. You want to make sure that they enjoy themselves and stay motivated, strong and confident. 

Learning and Development: Around age 2, the CDC states that a child should play simple believe games. Pretend play allows for lots of learning such as:

  • Language development: You can remove the number aspect of this activity and simply play grocery shopping. Place a few items and first go around the room with your baby or toddler and name each object you see. Then you can walk around with them and ask them to find "the banana". 
  • Numbers: This is a fun way to introduce number recognition, counting and math. 
  • Memory: You can create a small game called "Grocery list". Tell your child they have to go "buy the food you need for dinner" and give them the list verbally. For instance, "chicken, plum, banana" (depends on which pretend food items you have!). Then have them go out to your pretend grocery store and see how many items they can remember. Start with 2-3 and make your way up! 

Lava Lamp Experiment

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Age Recommendation: Preschool or early elementary school 

Materials: See materials and instructions from Science Bob website

How to play:

Learning and Development:  With a child as young as 3, you can use this activity to spark their interest in science and to development scientific thinking. Ask questions that describe observations such as "what happened when you poured the oil over the water?" or "when did the food colouring start falling into the water?". Learning to observe and describe is part of scientific thinking and these simple science experiments are a wonderful way to introduce this.

You can then move on to questions that support explaining procedures such as "how did you get the food colouring to leave the oil?" or even scaffolding questions such as "what did you do first?" or "what did you do next?". For full details on questions you can ask to help children develop scientific inquiry read this article written by C Hoisington (2014)

Executive functions can also be developed through this activity. You can name the steps you read in the instructions and see if your child can remember the steps. The CDC states that a child around the age of 3 should be able to follow 2-3 step instructions. 

Mailbox number match game

Out for a walk? Bring along a marker and some Post-its to keep your child entertained! 

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Age Recommendation: Toddler and Preschool

Materials: Post-Its and Marker 

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How to play:

  • Prepare your Post-Its in advance by writing down one number on each Post-It.
  • Younger children: Stick to single digit numbers and ask them to match the number you wrote down with the number on the mailbox. If they get it wrong, don't say they are wrong right away. Question why they placed it there and work WITH them to find the matching one.
  • With older children: \the goal is either to help them learn to recognize the numbers if they don't know them yet or to help them practice recognizing them. Name the number, for instance, 9 or 11 and have them find it on the mailbox and place the Post-it on it. 

Learning and Development: The CDC milestones for age 4 states that a child should start naming some numbers. You can use this activity to teach them how to recognize them as well. Remember that every child is different. As long as this is a fun game for them continue playing. If their interest diminishes, move on and continue walking! You can even hand over the Post-Its and you become the person that has to match the numbers.