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.

Fine Motor Activity: Open & Close Containers

Supplies: A Variety of Containers and Lids

Directions: Gather different variety size containers with lids, some easy open and some harder to open and let your child open and close the containers.

Skills Learned:Develops fine motor skills.  These skills can help your child increase muscle strength and coordination preparing the children or more advance skills such as cutting with scissors.

Imagination & Creativity Activity: Campfire Art

Supplies: Orange, Red and Brown Finger Paint & Construction Paper

Directions: Have your little one put their hands into the paint (or you can paint their hand) then place it onto the construction paper to make a fire with the red and orange paint. Then you can do the same with the brown paint.

Skills Learned: Hand-eye coordination. Develops sensory skills with the paint being on their hands.


Math & Manipulative Activity: Number Magnets

Supplies: Magnet Tiles, Cookie Sheet, Paper & Pen

Directions: With the paper and pen create various number squares that include the physical number and that amount of dots. Tape these pieces of paper onto the magnets. Have your child count the magnets, line them up, stack them and build with them. Have them count the dots and build with that amount of magnets!

Skills Learned: Begin number recognition. Vocalize numbers out loud. Introduce amounts and quantities.


Gross Motor Activity: Making A Fort

Supplies: Lot of Blankets!

Directions: Have your child gather some blankets and help them build a big fort and present to go camping inside of it!

Skills Learned: Gross motor skills. Following one step directions. Imagination development.


Science & Sensory Activity: Gel Germs

Supplies: Zip-lock Bag, Gems, Hair Gel, & Glue

Directions: Have your child combine the colorful gems and hair gel into a zip-lock bag. Glue the bag shut and let your child squish everything together!

Skills Learned: Beginning to understand cause and effect. Exploring various liquids. Color recognition.



Creative Expressions Activity: Watermelon Painting

Supplies: Red Paper Shaped Like A Watermelon Slice & Finger Paint

Directions: Give your child the red watermelon cut out and some finger paint. Encourage them to use their fingers to paint the “seeds” onto the watermelon. Talk about the different sizes that their various fingers create!

Skills Learned: Fine motor development. Language development. Sensory exploration. Following one step instructions.

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.

Fine Motor Activity: Poms and Whisk

Supplies: Pom Poms (various colors) and Whisk

Directions: Show your child how to put the pom poms in the whisk and shake it all around. Have your child repeat what you’ve done and away they go!

Skills Learned: Beginnings to show interest and some control in manipulating art materials. Trying to use pincer grip to pick up objects. Fine motor skills. Following one step directions.


Math & Manipulative Activity: Shape Match

Supplies: 2 Copies of Any Shape Matching Worksheet, Colored Pencils, Crayons or Markers & a Cookie Sheet

Directions: Have your kiddo color in one of the shape matching worksheets then cut out the shapes for them. Put the other worksheet on a cookie sheet and have your child match the colored shapes to the shapes on the tray! Take this one step further by discussing the colors they chose and counting the various shapes.

Skills Learned: Begin number recognition. Vocalize numbers out loud. Introduce amounts and quantities. Color recognition. Shape recognition and matching.


Gross Motor Activity: Soul Man

Supplies: Sunglasses & Tambourines (Don’t have a tambourine? Pick any musical instrument around the house!)

Directions: Give your child a pair of sunglasses and tambourine or musical instrument then turn on Soul Man by The Blues Brothers and have a dance party!

Skills Learned: Gross motor skills. Following one step directions. Cultural understanding.


Science & Sensory Activity: Shaving Cream Rain Clouds

Supplies: Water, Clear Bowl, Shaving Cream and Blue Food Coloring

Directions: Place water in the clear bowl. Put the shaving cream on top to form “clouds.” Add the blue food coloring to the top of the clouds. Watch it rain!

Skills Learned: Beginning to understand cause and effect. Repetition of actions to gain desired results. Exploring various liquids. Color recognition. Understand surroundings; sky, clouds, ground, water, etc.


Imagination & Language Learning Activity: Pizza Party!

Supplies: Colored Felt Cut into Pizza and Toppings Shapes, don’t Forget the Cheese!

Directions: Have your child create their very own pizza with felt pieces. Give them all of the different felt toppings and pizza crust and let their imaginations go wild! To take this one step further help your child create a graph and poll the family on their favorite pizzas!

Skills Learned: Fine motor development. Language development. Math and counting.


Kind Child Activity: All Better

Supplies: Stuffed Animals & Band-Aids

Directions: Give your child their favorite stuffed animal and some band-aids. Have your child open the band-aid on their own and place it on the stuffed animals “boo boo.”

Skills Learned: Fine motor development. Language development. Kind Child Culture by teaching empathy and compassion.

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.