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

I Can Do It Myself!

Self-dressing is an important kindergarten readiness skill that supports children’s developing independence and fine motor skills. In preschool, your child should master how to independently put on their shirts, pants, socks, shoes, coats, hats, and gloves. They should also be able to work buttons, zippers, and buckles with a little help. By kindergarten, children should also be learning how to tie their own shoelaces. Support these skills with the following fun activities.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Use bath/bedtime routines as opportunities to practice self-dressing when you’re not as rushed as in the mornings.
  • Three-year-olds—Play dress up! Allow your child to put the costumes on and off on their own, even if they miss a few buttons.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Have your child ‘help’ folding the laundry. See if he can work the zippers and buttons on the clothes as he folds. Then, help him to put the clothes away. Knowing where to find his clothes helps build independence and confidence.

Skills Supported: self-dressing, gross motor skills (pulling on shirts, pants, and jackets), fine motor skills (manipulating zippers, snaps, buttons, buckles, and laces), responsibility, independence, confidence

Counting Made Fun

Counting is one of the first concepts of mathematics in a child’s life. Giving preschoolers a solid foundation in early math literacy is critical to their future academic success, not to mention how important it is to their day-to-day functioning. But counting can be memorized by children, just like how children often reciting the alphabet by singing the ABCs song (without really understanding letter shapes and sounds). Here are a few ideas to help your child really learn their numbers without rote memorization.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Go outside for a walk. Count each step you and your child take. Take turns saying the next number. This will introduce the concept of skip counting.
  • Three-year-olds—When your child is ready, try counting cars on your walk by twos (i.e., 2, 4, 6, 7, etc.). You can also ask your child to count food items like cereal or fruit pieces starting from a number other than one, such as 10 or 15.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Use a calendar to count the days of the month using ordinal numbers (i.e., 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.). Then, play a board game together. When your child moves a game piece, have him or her count each space moved using words in between (i.e., one space, two spaces, three spaces, etc.).

Skills Supported: counting, skip counting, ordinal numbers

Las Formas (The Shapes)

This month we are learning all about shapes. Does your child know that there is more than one way that people can name shapes, including English, Spanish, and non-verbal ways such as sign language? When children learn other ways to talk with people, they can interact with more diverse people around the world. Encourage your child to practice naming shapes in Spanish (see this month’s Spanish words listed below). Take time to practice naming shapes with your child throughout the week. Ask your child to identify various shapes (i.e., “Where’s the star? ¿Dónde está la estrella?” or “What shape is this? ¿Que forma es esta?”).

círculo – /SEAR-cue-loh/ – circle

estrella – /es-TRE-yah/ – star

cuadrado – /quad-DRAH-tho/ – square

corazón – /core-ah-ZONE/ – heart

triángulo – /tri-ANG-yoo-loh/ – triangle

óvalo – /OH-vah-loh/ – oval

rectángulo – /rec-TANG-yoo-loh/ – rectangle

rombo – /ROM-bow/ – diamond

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—It’s important that children master new vocabulary in their primary language before learning alternative words in a second language. You can help your child learn shapes during playtime. For example, you can practice naming the shapes in English as you stack shape blocks to build a tall tower. You can also point out shapes you see outside as you go for a neighborhood walk (i.e., a sidewalk square, a rectangle sign, a circle window, a triangle roof, etc.).
  • Three-year-olds—When your child has mastered the names of the shapes in English, introduce the Spanish shape names. Encourage your child to cut simple shapes out of playdough using cookie cutters. Then, ask your child to name the shapes in English and Spanish.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Play a matching game with your child using shapes drawn on index cards. Whenever a match is made, the person should name the shape in English and Spanish.

Skills Supported: Spanish, cultural understanding, shapes

High, Middle & Low

For this activity tell your child to put their hands on their shoulders and then raise their arms overhead and say, “This is your high space.”  Then ask your child to touch their shoulders and then the area joining the leg to hip and say, “This is your middle space.”  Finally, ask your child to touch the floor and then their hip joint and say, “This is your low space.”  Demonstrate, using your own body, while providing directions and defining the meaning of high, middle, and low spaces.  Using the tambourine, shake it in one of the spaces and ask your child to tell you which space you shook it in.  If they get it correct say, “That is correct! Now it is your turn!”  If they get it wrong say, “This is my middle space, so this must be….” Giving them another chance to say the correct answer.  You can even prompt with the correct choices of “high or low.”

Materials:

  • Tambourines or Boxes of Macaroni
  • Radio or CD Player

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—With a younger child you can use language cues if they do not know the vocabulary.  While playing music, you can dance with the tambourine held high and say, “High.”  Repeat this same process for middle and low, prompting your child to mimic your actions.
  • Three-year-olds—Making a slow walking beat on a tambourine, ask your child to start at their high space and move their body to their low space.  Change the speeds from slow to extremely fast using the tambourine.  Have your child go from their high space to their low space in a jerky, twisted, or wiggly way.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Provide simple music for your child to dance to while shaking a tambourine.  Stop the music and tell your child to “freeze,” then ask them in what space is the tambourine located.  Pose questions such as “How can you get across the room with your head in the middle space?”  “How high can you make your body go?”  “How low?”

Skills Supported:

  • Physical: gross motor skills, awareness of body, speed and rhythm.
  • Language & cognitive

Inspire Creativity

You can introduce this activity to your child by reminding them of sculptures they may have seen in their community.  Give your child a piece of Styrofoam to use as the base of the sculpture.  Show your child all the different materials they can use to build their sculpture.  Encourage your child to share their ideas about how they will create their sculpture.  As your child tests their ideas, encourage your child to share what they have discovered with you.

Materials:

  • Strips of Construction Paper
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Staples
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Chunk of Styrofoam
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Markers
  • Pom-Poms
  • Beads
  • Any Materials You Have Around the House!

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Provide less materials, those that lend themselves more easily to a three-dimensional project.  For example, only the pipe cleaners and a Styrofoam base. 
  • Three-year-olds—Have your child name the colors they used in their sculpture for you.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Challenge your child to draw a picture of their sculpture when they are finished.

Skills Supported:

  • Aesthetic: An appreciation for visual arts and enjoyment of the sensory experience.
  • Fine motor skills: With use of materials, tools and techniques.

This Is Me!

For this activity, have your child describe themselves on paper, then bind the pages together in a book.  A few page suggestions include the following:

  • “This is me” -a self-portrait
  • “This is my family” -a family portrait
  • “Here is my hand” -a hand tracing
  • “My favorite foods” -picture cutouts/print outs
  • “My favorite animals” -picture cutouts/print outs

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Yarn
  • Hole Punch
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Magazines
  • Writing Tools
  • Crayons
  • Markers

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—The parent can write down any words dictated by your child.  Create fewer pages.
  • Three-year-olds—Allow your child to decide what page of the book they would like to make today.  Allowing them some control in their daily choices will instill independence and self-esteem in your child.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Have your child write, in narrative form for each page, statements to extend the information provided about themselves. (e.g., “Here is my hand. 5 things I can do with my hands. Pet the cat….”)  Have them further illustrate each page.

Skills Supported:

  • Character Development: Self-awareness, self-esteem and identifying characteristics and qualities that make them unique.
  • Cultural Understanding: Appreciation of their cultural heritage.
  • Fine motor skills: With use of the markers and the scissors.

Paper Chain Calendar

This will be a fun activity that your child will wake up every day wanting to do right after they brush their teeth!  To create a visual structure of one-to-one correspondence, explain to your child that they will be creating a paper chain with a link for each day in the month.  Beginning on the first day of the month, use the daily calendar to count the days of the month, pointing to each day as your child and you count together. You can then ask your child, “How many links do we need for the month?”  You can then cut those strips out together and place them into an envelope and set aside.  Next, explain to your child since today is the first day of the month, that this will be the first loop of the chain.  (The first loop will be attached to the bottom of the calendar.)  If you have multiple children, you can start multiple chains at the bottom of the calendar.  Each morning you and your child will count the days and loops, and you will say, “Plus one more makes…”  For example, on the 7th of the month you will count to 7 together on the calendar.  You can then say, “We have had 7 days this month, let’s count our loops.” Count the loops at the bottom of the calendar. You will count to 6 together and you will say, “Plus one more makes…7.”  Allow your child to number the loop and color or decorate before attaching.

Materials:

  • Computer Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • Stickers
  • Crayons
  • Calendar
  • Envelope

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Only count the days of one week on the calendar.
  • Three-year-olds—This activity is tailored for a three-year-old.  In addition, you can tell your child that the calendar is a tool to help us keep track of days, weeks, and months.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Have your child count the days on the calendar; count the number of links; use different colored loops to represent each week of the month; Continue to add subsequent months.  Emphasize to your child that the calendar is a tool to help us keep track of passing time during the year.

Skills Supported:

  • Mathematics: Concepts of counting and one to one correspondence.
  • Fine motor skills: With use of the markers and the scissors.