Stop When I Say Freeze!

Draw different shapes/numbers/letters on the sidewalk. Play cheerful music and have your child run, jump, or skip from one drawing to another.  When you stop the music, your child freezes on a drawing and have to identify it before moving on to another one when the music resumes.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Two’s can play musical freeze shapes by playing music and having the children jump from shape to drawn shape on the sidewalks, naming the shapes and/or colors as they go.
  • Three-year-olds—Three’s can play musical freeze shapes by playing music and having the children run, hop, skip, tiptoe, etc. from shape to shape, freezing on the shape when you briefly stop the music, and having them name the shape, number or letter (teacher could use any of those) that he or she landed on.  After naming the shape, number or letter, the music resumes and they continue.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Four’s and five’s can play the game the same as the 3 year olds, but the teacher can draw larger numbers and more advanced shapes such as pyramids, cubes, cones etc.

Skills Supported: gross motor skills, number, shape and letter recognition, following two to three step instructions, balance.

Get Ready to Express Yourself!

Have your child draw pictures with special watercolor pencils, then brush clear water over their pictures to create instant blurry watercolor creations!

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Two’s can color with the watercolor pencils and then paint with water over the top, if desired.
  • Three-year-olds—Three’s can draw whatever they wish with the watercolor pencil and then paint with water over it to watch their creation blur into a soft watercolor effect.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Take turns with your child to collaborate on this art project. Create a combined masterpiece by adding onto each others picture. When complete let your child use a little extra creativity by giving the picture a new look with the water by painting it into a masterpiece of their choosing.

Skills Supported: creative expression, fine motor skills, color recognition, taking turns and collaboration.

Do You Want Fries With That?

Yellow sponges are cut into strips resembling French fries.  Obtain a supply of cardboard fast food fry containers.  The teacher then writes either numbers or simple math problems onto the inside of the French fry containers and the children use tongs (because the fries are hot!) to pick up the correct number of fries and add them into the container.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Two’s can count the number of French fries they are putting into the containers, they can attempt to use the tongs to pick up the fries and transfer them into the container.  They can line the fries up on the counter and count them that way.
  • Three-year-olds—Three’s can use the tongs to pick up the French fries and transfer them into the container.  They can count the number of fries they have in the container.  They can have the cardboard French fry containers labeled with a number from one to 10 and put the corresponding number of fries into each container.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Four and five year olds can begin to use this activity to do simple math problems. Ask your child to work on their addition and subtraction skills by asking them to put 10 fries into the container, if you remove 2 fries how many are left? You can work on various math equations using the fries and working with your child to visually see the difference in quantities.

Skills Supported: fine motor skills, math and manipulative.

The Domino Effect

Children are encouraged to count and pattern the dominoes using cards to guide them.  They are also encouraged to experiment to see how the falling dominoes affect other dominoes, so this gets into physical science as well.  Fine motor skills also come into play as the children carefully stand the dominoes up.  In addition, this can be a kind child activity as the children are encouraged to partner up and take turns and learn valuable skills such as persistence and patience along the way!

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Have your child count the dots on the dominoes 1-10, stack the dominoes, or stand three or four dominoes up in a row and watch the domino effect when one is knocked down into the others. If you’re playing with colored dominoes have your child match the different colors.
  • Three-year-oldsHave your child count the dots on the dominoes 1-20, they can line the dominoes up and observe the domino effect as one is knocked into the other. They can match like numbers of dots and colors.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Have your child create the ultimate domino effect by using all of the dominoes. Have them color coordinate their pattern and match like numbers as they put together the course. After they have completed it have them knock it down and count how long it takes to fall.

Skills Supported: fine motor skills, math and manipulative, color recognition, physical science watching cause and effect, kind child and working together.

Find That Fruit!

Children can match the shapes and colors using Velcro to attach them.  Language development should be encouraged by asking the children what shape the piece is, what color it is, what kind of fruit are they matching, etc.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Sit one-on-one with your child and promote language development by talking about different types of fruits, their shapes and colors. Help your child match the various fruits.
  • Three-year-olds—Put the fruit salad puzzle in between you and your child and encourage them to share and take turns matching the fruits with you. The puzzle could be done also in a group setting using your entire family and each member takes a turn.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Give the fruit print out to your child and allow them to color and cut out the shapes themselves. Laminate the board and have them attach the sticky Velcro dots to the back of the pieces. Finally, have them match the pieces of the puzzle together.

Skills Supported: language and literacy, color and shape recognition, fine motor skills.

Ready… Set… Explore!

This month we are exploring citizenship in our Cultural Understanding portion of our Ascend curriculum, and are also exploring other countries and cultures. With the previous celebration of Independence Day on July 4th, this is a great time to explore other cultures and how they celebrate their countries of origin. It’s also a great opportunity to introduce history lessons to your child. A few exploration topics that can be covered during these lessons are exploring how America differs from other countries, and how America celebrates holidays in contrast to how other countries celebrate. This complex concept can be taught in a variety of ways to accommodate the developmental goals for a variety of ages. 

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-oldsString art using red, white, and blue paint is a great way to create a fireworks effect on paper. Another fun activity that your child will love is creating squish bags with red, white, and blue paint. Your toddler will love these activities that incorporate creative art and fun, sensory experiences. Pictures of July 4th celebrations, such as fireworks and special foods, can be shown to your child along with a brief explanation of why we celebrate on July 4th. To add a different perspective and cultural awareness, consider creating a simple flip book of pictures for your child, depicting photos from celebrations in other countries.
  • Three-year-oldsTake this opportunity to introduce the American flag and what it symbolizes. Consider teaching your child why our culture celebrates the American flag, and why we see it hung in a variety of places. Introduce a fun fine motor activity by tracing stripes and stars for your child to cut out and paste together to create their own flag. They can even create flags from other cultures, followed by a brief discussion on cultural practices from around the globe. Your child can also create their own glitter paint using clear glue, water, and glitter, or paint and glitter, to create sparkly fireworks paint! 
  • Four-/Five-year-oldsFamily tradition is a great concept to cover when talking about how your family celebrates on July 4th. Break out some old family photos and talk to your child about where your family immigrated from, and what their experiences might have been like in their country of origin. By tying in your own family’s stories, teaching the cultural perspective will be better relatable. A brief discussion on typical American traditions vs. traditions from other cultures around the world will give your child diverse insight. Helping your child create fun hats or crowns for not only him or her, but also for family members to wear during celebrations, will help your child to feel included and valued in the family celebration. A book, such as Happy Fourth of July, Jenny Sweetney, by Leslie Kimmelman is a great way to help your child understand this day of celebration. These activities are rich in historical lessons, establishing an understanding of American tradition vs. traditions around the world, and the activity suggested will promote fine motor skills!  

Skills Supported: fine motor skills, sensory exploration, historical knowledge, knowledge of American traditions and traditions from around the globe, promoting a sense of multi-cultural diversity.

In literacy this month, we are sounding out letters while utilizing our senses. By using the five senses, children will retain the knowledge of simple phonics and writing skills they’ve learned critical to school age learning, while having fun in the process. Using materials from the Handwriting Without Tears program utilized in our curriculum, the experience of learning how to sound out and write letters becomes an interactive process. The skill of knowing what sound each letter makes, as well as understanding the formation of letters, is key to early school success.  

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-oldsFun songs which incorporate letters, such as the ABC’s song, is a great auditory way for your child to learn their letters. Other songs such as “B is for Billy” will not only help your auditory learner memorize letters of the alphabet, but he will also be learning the first letter of his name as well! Helping your toddler form uppercase letters using playdoh is a perfect sensory activity to help your child retain what each letter looks like, and what shapes form the letters. This is also a great fine motor activity to build those small muscles in the hands! As an extra tip, add a spice, such as cinnamon, to the playdoh to enhance the sensory experience! Comparing shapes traced in sand to pictures of uppercase alphabet letters will help your child understand that letters are essentially shapes! Another great activity that will encourage sight and touch is building letters using wood blocks.
  • Three-year-oldsCreating uppercase letters using painter’s tape on a table is a wonderful fine motor activity, as well as a literacy activity that will help your child understand the formation of letters. Repetition of letter sounds such as, “A is for ah, ah, apple” will help your child retain the knowledge needed for later reading comprehension. One of our favorite alphabet books is Chica, Chica Chica Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. This book offers a repetitious melody to help your child memorize the letters of the alphabet, as well as vivid images. Your three’s will also love to bake the alphabet by rolling cookie dough into alphabet shapes.
  • Four-/Five-year-oldsReady, set, it’s off to Kindergarten you go! But first, let’s learn letters. Listing words that begin with the letter of the week will make your child feel included in the learning process of the class. Magnet boards, wood blocks, small sand boxes, and molding dough are all great tools in the formation of letters, as well as developing fine motor muscles in the hands. They will be having so much fun, they won’t even know they’re learning! Forming letters using their bodies and attempting to form letters using music ribbons are a great way to learn the alphabet and get those wiggles out with a gross motor activity. A letter hide-and-seek game or a letter scavenger hunt will turn learning the alphabet into a fun competition!

Skills Supported: fine motor skills, sensory experience, literacy and phonics knowledge, gross motor skills, handwriting skills.

Compare the relative size and weight of various objects. 

In mathematics this month, we are comparing the size and weight of various objects by utilizing the many tools that we have at our disposal in our classrooms. Our teachers rotate their materials frequently, and make sure there are props for all domains of learning in every center. For example, mathematics tools can be found in home living (with measuring cups and measuring spoons), blocks (with scales), manipulatives center (with counting bears and pattern cards), as well as other centers! As children move from center to center, the tools give the opportunity for an immersed learning experience, as well as the teachers asking open-ended questions which will enhance and expand children’s knowledge. 

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-oldsAdding measuring cups, spoons, and other pouring utensils to sand or water in sensory play will help your child understand concepts such as “full” and “empty”. An explanation of measurement, while playing with your child, will make the experience fun and interactive for them! Allow your child to help you pour liquid from a tall, skinny container, to a short, wide container. Discuss with your child why one container looks more full than the other, despite the same amount of liquid being poured in. (For ease of clean-up, this is a great bath time activity!)
  • Three-year-oldsExperimenting with scales is one way that a three-year-old can understand the volume and weight of objects. Why does a large foam block weigh less than a small wood block? What will happen to these objects if we place them in water? These open-ended questions will provoke your child’s critical thinking skills. These fun, math/science activities will be enjoyed by all! Don’t be afraid to get a little messy, lay down on the sidewalk outside your house and allow your child to draw your outline. Later, you can measure with a measuring tape and compare the difference of your height. While outside, explore what happens to liquid when it’s left in a cup in the sun all day. Where did the liquid go? What is evaporation? More open-ended questions to provoke those critical thinking skills.
  • Four-/Five-year-oldsPopcorn is yummy, and great for this experiment as well! Fill a jar with 30 popcorn seeds and fill a second jar with 30 pieces of popped popcorn. Why does the popped corn take up more space? What is heavier, the seeds or the popped corn? Let’s weigh it! Activities such as this will promote those critical thinking skills, as well as an understanding of mass and volume. Create a scavenger hunt for things that your child can compare on the scale. This activity will give your child an understanding of mass and volume. 

Skills Supported: critical thinking skills, sensory exploration, science and mathematics skills.

Observe Famous Artists and Art Styles!

This month we are exploring classical artists and art styles through pictures, books, and fun hands-on activities. We are creating art as a personal response to our feelings conjured by viewing art, and are expressing these feelings through a variety of mediums on the art easel. After exploring the history, process, and meaning of the artist’s work, the children will enjoy experimenting with the very same medium that the artist used. This activity introduces a variety of developmental goals such as fine motor skill development, sensory exploration, and expansion and articulation of personal response, as well as conversational skills and speech. Academic goals include history of classical artists, differentiating between various styles and mediums of art, and exploring a variety of art tools. Your child will love this messy, hands-on learning experience! 

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-oldsYour child can explore pictures of paintings created by classical artists, and can be given a choice of mediums to create their own art with paints, crayons, and chalk. A great idea for the introduction of a classical artist is Van Gogh and simple brush strokes. Show your child how to paint with a paintbrush, draw with chalks, and mix colors to create new ones! Fine motor skills and science skills are emphasized in this adaption of our creative art activity.
  • Three-year-oldsThe exploration of the artist’s work, as well as the face of the artist, will help your child connect their work to the creation of the artist. Extending the medium selection to include not only paint, crayons, and chalk, but also homemade puff paint, will turn this activity into a rich sensory and science experience. A trip to the local art museum to explore original works of art will also enrich the activity and help your child to retain the information they’ve learned about the artist.
  • Four-/Five-year-oldsIn addition to a trip to the local museum, and exploring original art and photos of the artist, exploring professional art tools in a craft store will enrich their experience in learning the value of art in our society. To extend art activities across the science and sensory domains, your child can mix their own paint and create their own mediums such as sand paint, puff paint, and bubble paint. Your child will be learning across a variety of domains and will be having fun in the process!

Skills Supported: conversation of their feelings on various art pieces and the historical significance of classical artists, fine motor skills (gripping the art tools), imagination, scientific experimentation, practicing personal response to pieces of art, and sensory exploration.

Conduct Cooking Experiments with Assistance 

This month we are exploring the concept of cooking as a science and sensory experiment! By exploring ingredients, the smell and flavors produced when mixing them, as well as molding and kneading components such as dough, we are incorporating rich experiences in science, fine motor skills, and sensory play. Cooking activities also build self-esteem and freedom of expression when your child wields their own cooking tools and experiments freely with the measurement of ingredients. Cooking experiments also opens doors to deeper conversation where critical thinking skills will develop, as well as the development of diversity and multi-cultural practices when discussing recipes and foods from around the world. This activity can be conducted by your child solo, or one-on-one with you, a teacher, or a peer.  

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-oldsYour child can explore the ingredients you use when cooking dinner. Encourage your child to smell, taste, and mix ingredients together to help you bake or cook. Consider giving your child a variety of tools and ingredients to experiment with on their own, served in containers with lids for easy clean up. Cleanliness practices can also be incorporated in your lessons, teaching proper hand-washing procedures before and after touching food. In addition to a hands-on experience, recipe books with photos can be shared as a visual prop to enhance and extend conversational skills.
  • Three-year-oldsIn addition to having your child help you prepare meals in the kitchen, you can assist your child in following a recipe read from a recipe book, or a recipe passed down through out the generations in your family. In addition to science, mathematics, and sensory development, this will create opportunity to converse about the diversity in your family and family traditions. Your child’s critical thinking skills and preferences will sharpen as he or she contemplates their specific food preferences, how they may differ from yours, and food trends across your family’s generations.  
  • Four-/Five-year-oldsA trip to the local grocery store, produce store, or bakery is a great way to continue to enhance and extend learning domains. Your child will love the sensory experience of smelling and seeing all of the goodies these stores have to offer, and your child can assist you in choosing items that he or she may want to taste or cook with at home. Encourage your child to push out of their comfort zone and try new foods! When at home, mixing and measuring ingredients will enhance mathematics, sensory, and science skills. Incorporating a short video or book about foods from various worldly cultures will give your child a broader understanding of food practices around the world, and how food impacts society dynamics. In-depth conversations about the pictures they view, the foods they taste, and the cultural backgrounds of these foods will enhance language skills, critical thinking, and will introduce multi-cultural and diversity concepts. 

Skills Supported: Language development, critical thinking, science, sensory, mathematics, diverse and multi-cultural understanding, familial practices, and an opportunity for a close bonding experience with your child.