Tracing Zigzag Lines

Here is a fun writing practice activity using Zigzag Lines. All you will need is paper, pencils, crayons, colored pencils or markers. Try it outside with water, paint brushes and chalk.

Materials (but not limited to):

  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Colored Pencils
  • Markers
  • Water
  • Paint Brush
  • Chalk

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Parents will create simple lines on a paper and have your child use their finger to trace a simple straight line or fun zigzag lines.
  • Three-year-olds—Have your child trace the lines using any writing utensil they would like. If you try this outside, create a zigzag line on the sidewalk and have your child use water and a paint brush to trace over the line and watch it disappear. Your child can also try using scissors to cut their zigzag lines.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Challenge your child with more compact, switchback zigzag lines or even curvy lines. Another way to challenge them is by having them finish the line by continuing the design. They can also use zigzag lines to create a picture.

Skills Supported: fine motor development and writing skills

Ants Go Marching

Looking for a fun new snack idea to do at home? With a fun little tune to sing while you prepare. Try making “Ants on a Log” while singing “Ants Go Marching”.

Materials:

  • Celery
  • Spread of your choice (sun butter, peanut butter or hummus)
  • Raisins

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Wash and prep the celery. They will be able to apply the spread and add their raisins.
  • Three-year-olds—Wash and prep the celery. After they add their spread, encourage them to sign “Ants Go Marching” while they add their raisins. Can they count how many they have?
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—With adult supervision, they can wash and cut the celery, add their spread of choice, and add raisins. Encourage them to sign “Ants Go Marching” and count how many raisins they add. In addition, after each bite ask how many raisins are left.

Skills Supported: concentration, fine-motor skills, independence and following a series of steps

Balancing To Music

Play music and encourage your child to walk on a balance beam or tape line to the music, holding arms out as needed. This activity can be done inside or outside to give your children space to exploring balancing.

Materials:

  • Something to play music
  • Balance Beam or something to create a straight line (tape, chalk, etc)

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Have your child use their hands to hold onto a wall, shelf, or hand as they try to balance.
  • Three-year-olds—If your child can balance on a longer balance beam or tape line without holding onto something then alternate between fast and slow songs and have students try to match their marching movements to the tempo of the music playing.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Task your child to create their own balance beam using tape. They can create zig-zag lines, shapes, lines they can jump or letters. Try playing a game that calls out different movements while balancing, like standing on one foot, take a big step, tip toe, turn around, jump and etc.

Skills Supported: gross motor development, encourages movement with balance, control and coordination

Funny Art

Play silly songs and let your child draw or paint a picture that represents that. This activity is all about imagination – no two pictures should look alike. Encourage your child to experiment with the different art materials. For example, watercolor paint could represent whimsical sounds, while markers might be better suited for loud sounds.

Materials (but not limited to):

  • Paper
  • Watercolors
  • Paint Brushes
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Colored Pencils
  • Stamps
  • Stamp Pad

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Sit with your child while the music is playing and explore the songs by singing with them or even dancing silly with them.
  • Three-year-olds—Ask them questions about how they are feeling? What did they create while listening to music? Be sure to prompt your child by asking open ended questions rather than questions they may answer with yes or no.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Ask them questions about how they are feeling? What did they create while listening to music? See if you child can add complexity to their picture by drawing identifiable shapes and objects in their picture.

Skills Supported: social and language, promoting creativity and independent thinking, fine motor, and hand-eye coordination

Sorting 2D & 3D Objects by Shape

Gather a variety of 2D and 3D objects in different sizes and colors. Challenge children to sort shapes into separate baskets or piles. Use and encourage your child to use a range of descriptive words to talk about the object. Do the shapes remain the same when you turn them different ways?

Materials (but not limited to):

  • 2D & 3D household shapes
  • Basket or boxes

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Try sorting only two to three shapes to start, placing a label on the basket with a picture of the appropriate 2D or 3D shape top help make sorting easier.
  • Three-year-olds—Have child sort 4-6 shapes labeling the basket/box with picture and word.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Have child sort 5-6 shapes labeling the basket/box with picture and word. Also, have your child find items around your home to add to each basket.

Skills Supported: begin to understand shape consistency and similarity and identify similar 2D and 3D shapes when presented in various sizes and orientation

Look What I Can Make

Drawing in preschool is not only an opportunity for children to develop creativity; it also supports their fine-motor skills, self-expression, communication, and pre-writing skills. As your child matures, he will progress from abstract, scribble drawing to more defined artwork with identifiable objects. When children first start drawing people, they typically only have a few features, maybe only a head with arms and legs or a face with eyes and a mouth. Later, the pictures are more proportional and detailed.

To help your child excel in this area, allow him lots of opportunities to freely draw with crayons, markers, and pencils on blank paper. Avoid coloring books because they can stifle children’s drawing skills. Also, be careful not to evaluate or judge your child’s drawing with value-laden words (i.e., “Good job” or “It’s beautiful”), as these can encourage perfectionism or self-doubt in your child. Instead, comment on your child’s work by asking him to describe it for himself (i.e., “Tell me about your picture” or “How does your picture make you feel?”). Remember, the experience of drawing is more important than how the final picture looks.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Instead using coloring books, allow your child to create on blank paper. Offer your child tangible objects to look at and interact with while drawing. For example, give your child paper on a clipboard or easel and encourage him to draw or paint outside or next to a window. Offer him a mirror to look in as he draws a picture of himself. If he wants to draw a picture of his family, let him look at a family picture or photo album. Ask your child to share about his drawing. As he points to a scribble and names it (i.e., “This is the baby”) you can label that part of the picture with his permission. Ask questions like “What is the baby doing?” or “Who is with the baby?”
  • Three-year-olds—At 3, your child should begin to make basic designs, such as lines, circles, crosses, and some letter-like shapes. She is more likely to freely share about her picture. Start to ask more detailed questions like “Where are [the people in the picture] at?” or “How is [a person in the photo] feeling?”
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Older children will start to add details to their pictures, such as objects for people and a setting. See if your child can tell a story using her picture. Ask questions like “What happened next?” or “Why do you think [character in story] did that?”

Skills Supported: fine motor skills (drawing, painting), creativity, answering questions, storytelling

Which Cup Has More?

This month we are exploring the concept of the conservation of liquids, which is the principle that a certain volume of water will remain the same no matter what shape container it is placed in. For example, a pint of water will be the same amount in a short, wide container as it will be in a tall, narrow container, despite how it might look different in the two containers. Water play is a great opportunity for your child to experiment with the conservation of liquids. Your child will love this fun, hands-on experience!

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Your child can explore the volume of liquids during bathtime or playtime. Give your child several containers of various shapes and sizes to freely play with in the bath or sink. Your child can also pretend to give plastic baby dolls a bath or he can have a ‘carwash’ to clean his toy cars. Show your child how the water level changes when objects are placed in or taken out of the tub or sink.
  • Three-year-olds—Create a dishwashing station sensory bin by adding water, soap, sponges, brushes, loofahs, washcloths, and various dishes (bowls, cups, scoops, plates, utensils, dish strainers, measuring cups, etc.) to a large plastic tub or sink. Encourage your child to pretend to wash the dishes. Ask your child to pour the water from one container to another to see how that amount looks different in each container. This would be a great outdoor activity, but it can also be done inside with a towel or blanket placed underneath the tub.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Conduct a simple experiment to explore water conservation. Use food coloring to pour different amounts of colored water into various sized containers. The food coloring will help your child to more easily see the volume of the liquids. See if your child can pour water to try to make the same amount of water in matching-sized containers. She can check to see if the amounts match using measuring cups. Talk about conservation by showing how 2 cups of water in the tall narrow container is the same as 2 cups of water in the short wide container even though the water levels may look different.

Skills Supported: conservation of liquids, fine motor skills (pouring), imagination, scientific experimentation

Can You Help Me?

Children encounter problems throughout their day. In any problem, there can be multiple solutions, including fixing the problem independently, walking away and ignoring the problem, and asking for help from a friend or trusted adult. Not all solutions will work for every type of problem. Share how some problems need outside help. Learning how to ask for help when it is needed is an invaluable skill for children to master early on. To do so, children need to first recognize the situation as one in which they need help and then use words to communicate that need to a peer or adult. Try these activities to support this skill at home.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Teach your child how to say and/or sign the word ‘help’ whenever they need your help. To make the sign for help, do a thumbs up gesture, place that hand on top of your other hand (opened flat), and then raise both hands upward. To watch a video of the sign, see: https://www.babysignlanguage.com/dictionary/h/help/?v=7516fd43adaa.
  • Three-year-olds—Talk with your child about some situations when he might need help, such as when his shoe is untied, when he can’t reach something on a high shelf, or if he falls and gets hurt. Ask your child what he can do to solve each situation. Remind him to ask for help when he needs it.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Practice simple phrases that your child can use when she needs help like “I need help with…” or “Can you help me…?” This will equip your child with the language she can use when she finds herself needing help. If you see her getting frustrated with a problem, prompt her with one of the phrases to remind her to ask for help.

Skills Supported: vocabulary, sign language, asking for help, problem solving

Poetry Time

Poetry uses rhyming and descriptive words to tell a story in a linguistically rich way. It can help boost your child’s phonemic awareness and vocabulary. Take time to read (and even write) poetry with your child this week.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Read children’s books that include poetry or rhyming words. Check out poems by children’s author Shel Silverstein, including his books Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up.
  • Three-year-olds—Sing familiar rhymes such as “Roses are Red” or “Down by the Bay” or make up your own sing-song rhymes. As your child learns them, encourage her to finish the rhymes on her own.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Write a simple poem with your child. Pick a topic for the poem together. Then, ask your child to name descriptive words that tell about that topic. What do they typically see, hear, smell, taste, and feel about that topic? Help your child to assemble and write those words down into a poem. Read it together. Ask your child to describe how the final poem makes them feel. Can they really picture the topic after listening to the poem?

Skills Supported: poetry, rhyming words, phonemic awareness, vocabulary

Wait, What Day Is It?

When you’re at home for extended periods, it can be easy to lose track of time. To help keep your child (and yourself) on track, take a few moments to review the order and sequence of a calendar together. Try some of the following activities to support this skill at home.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Sing a Calendar song to help your child learn the sequence of days or months. Try singing the days of the week (starting with Sunday) to the tune of “Oh, My Darlin’ Clementine” or create your own rhyme for the months of the year.
  • Three-year-olds—Explore a wall calendar together. Can your child find today on the calendar? See if she can identify the full date, including the day of the week, date, month, and year. Write in special days, such as birthdays, family trips, or doctor’s appointments. Count up to a special event on the calendar. How many days is it until that event? What day of the week does it fall on? Ask your child to identify weekdays and weekends on the calendar. How are they different?
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Ask your child simple calendar questions. For example, “What day of the week is it today?” or “If today’s Monday, the first weekday of the week, what day was it yesterday? What day is it tomorrow?” or “What month comes next?”

Skills Supported: calendar, sequencing, time, counting