Aldersgate Preschool


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Fun while learning – indoor play

It’s that time of year.  Time to think about indoor fun.  Time to think about new activities to keep the kids busy and stimulated.  I spent some time looking at the blog BUSY TODDLERS: making it to naps, one activity at a time.  I am linking to several of her posts.  WAIT!  If you have older preschoolers, don’t despair, there are lots of things in here that would interest them.  Simply click on the photo to link to the full blog post.

Post it notes!  These are great fun for kids.  In the activity above the goal is to match letters to the ones in your child’s name.  You could do this for all the alphabet – or even for those letters your child is less familiar with (our Pre-K families probably got this information on their recent conference form!)  I would also consider making this an active game by having your child run, hop, spin, crawl, etc. to put on the letter.  All that movement will further stimulate your child’s brain.

This is the same kind of idea as the one above but with numbers.  For the youngest children you could just write the numerals in the colors of the sticky notes.  Encourage your child to match the orange sticky note to the orange numeral 3, etc.  They will be matching colors but can also build some awareness of numbers.

There is a wide array of concepts this post it note idea could adapt to; colors, shapes, emotions, and even sight words, etc. as children begin working on those in Kindergarten.

Manipulating stickers is a wonderful fine motor activity.  This changes the typical sticker play a little by placing it on a vertical surface.  Imagine how this will strengthen the wrist muscles.  For children working on patterning this would be a great way to do that.

If you’ve never thought about play in the bathtub (even when your child is in there for getting clean) I’d encourage you to, especially in the winter!  There are so many ways to play.  I remember my nephew often putting on his swimsuit and playing with plastic animals in the tub for almost an hour at a time.   I’m sure a quick search on Pinterest for “bathtub play for kids” will offer you a wide array of options.

While this is a fairly traditional (read “old school”) game, it’s still a good one!  The Peak Performance Center has a website all about helping people improve their performance.  In it they explain that human memory is a process that involves three domains: encoding, storage and retrieval.  This fun game supports growth in all three areas.  By the way, this is a great alternative to smart phones while you are waiting at a restaurant, etc.

Very young children will love this activity.  Surprisingly I am confident our oldest kids would also enjoy this as well.  While this seems like a “just keep them busy” activity, children are actually building hand-eye coordination, building strength in their hands and even cementing knowledge in the physical make-up of some dry foods.  Remember, there is learning active in all play experiences.

We LOVE shaving cream at preschool.  This is actually an activity I’ve done with my grand kids, multiple times.  They love it and they ask for it, even the seven year old.  At a recent conference, we were also talking to a family about using shaving cream as a way to practice drawing shapes, letters and numbers.  You could even combine this with the previous idea for playing in the tub.

 

Colored ice is also a staple around here.  Often the church staff or members ask us about the ice trays with colored water stored in the freezer.  You can also freeze a popsicle stick standing up in the tray (just stick it through some cling wrap) and then children can use this for painting too.  Also, adding salt to the mix brings in some science experimentation.

Perhaps you remember doing this as a child.  It’s so fun to expose a “secret” message, picture, shapes, etc. while painting with water color.  Psst, it’s just white crayon drawn on white paper.  You and your child could take turns drawing or writing the secret part.

This blog had a ton of other ideas.  I’d encourage you to check it out.  Also we have some previous posts about indoor activities.  Some include much more active play.  I’ve linked to a few of those below:

INSIDE PLAY

INSIDE ENTERTAINMENT

WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?

Have fun playing!

 


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Kindness is contagious!

Isn’t it amazing how just taking time to focus on something seems to manifest even more of that.  That is how I feel about our Kindness Campaign.  It is amazing how often I see children do kind things or hear a teacher talking about a kind action.

I LOVE IT!

Our teachers are sharing the kindness strips that our families send in during their circle time.  The children just BEAM when their kind deed is announced.

 

Again, I LOVE IT!

Our kindness chain is sure growing!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

Perhaps this focus has even helped you become more aware of kind actions all around you.  I sure hope so.

One little guy make cookies and took them to the Police Station to thank them for keeping us safe.

Today I noticed a little guy in the Blue class giving a thumbs up to his friends as they were performing a play of The Three Little Pigs.  I know that made them feel great.  He got to add a link to our chain.

I’d love to see any of the kindness activities your buddies are encouraging the children to do.  Please drop us an email or add it as a comment to this blog post.

As another way to carry the kindness focus into the homes you may want to pick up a couple of books about kindness from the library.  I found this wonderful blog post about books that encourage kindness.   HERE   I hope you enjoy some from it.

 


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Our little ones need a lot!

This is not a typical post listing ideas for items to give for Christmas.  I’ve done those.  You can see those HERE , HERE and HERE

Today I am writing about so many other things that are the basic things that young  all children need.  I don’t want to preach, but truly the things listed below are so much more important than any gift you can give.  Your child will remember these more too.  Your child will thrive and blossom when surrounded with the blessings of these items.

CHILDREN NEED A LOT OF . . .

FAMILY TIME 

I know, if you are a stay-at-home mom you are thinking, “I’m with my child all day, every day.”  I mean a little more than just being with them.

I’m talking about playing (hide-n-seek, board games, rolling and tickling, playing catch, being the ‘sister’ for your ‘mommy’ child, ordering from your ‘waitress’ child, . . .)

I’m talking about having family dinners together.  Talk, laugh, share stories about when you were young (this is a favorite for my grand kids), ask questions, talk about feelings you felt today . . .)

I’m talking about going for walks, visiting a fire station, watching for squirrels, doing a family puzzle, . . .

I’m talking about cuddling and connecting.  I’m talking about saying I love you . . a lot.

TIME

Once again, I know you may be thinking “the days already seem so long.”  But the old saying, The days are long but the years are short is so very true.  Put the ‘hurry’ away and relax and enjoy.

I’m talking about time for your child to practice a new skill (like putting on clothes and shoes, learning to zip, put his or her own clothes away, feed him or herself, walking – even into school, . . .)

I’m talking about time to process emotions.  Time to figure out how to manage things when I’m frustrated or sad.  Time to let me be sad or frustrated.  How can a child learn to manage those kinds of feelings if he or she never experiences them.  It’s truly okay.  You can be there to support but your child will benefit from struggling a little at times.

I’m talking about time to JUST PLAY.   I know how I am if I have to stop in the middle of a project or thought.  I get frustrated – just ask my staff.  And I’m an adult.  Imagine being a child and always having to cut short the time to: build long train tracks, to draw a masterpiece, to pile the pillows which then turns into building a fort, to play with the water in my bath – or even other times during the day, to set up my ‘grocery store’ just so, to build a tower  . . . .

HERE is a previous blog post written by one of our parents.

OUTSIDE TIME

I’m talking about time to run, skip, jump, roll, swing, dig, twirl, climb, and breath in the fresh air – it’s all good for your body! (and a growing child’s brain!)

I’m talking about time to experience and enjoy all kinds of weather; hot, cold, balmy, windy, sunny, snowy, and even rainy.

I’m talking about gatherings with other families and friends, but also time on his or her own to learn how to entertain himself or herself as well.

SECURITY

While I certainly want all children to be safe, I’m also talking about a different kind of security.

I’m talking about security in knowing your family expectations  – consistency is so important.  HERE and HERE are a couple of  previous posts about discipline and setting boundaries.

I’m talking about security in the fact that expectations will be developmentally appropriate.  Imagine how unsure you feel if you are asked to do something that you aren’t able to – don’t even think about asking me to do a back bend, my body is not ready for that.  Did you know, a child’s brain isn’t typically developing the left side of the brain (the side for letters, writing, organized thinking  . . .) until at least three years old?

I’m talking about security in knowing his or her parents have “got this!”  Imagine living in a country that is totally changing, totally unstructured.  You would wonder who’s in charge.  Will your family be expected to pay more for taxes than you had planned – so then what happens to you.  It’s the laws (the rules) and the structure of our government (whatever your political beliefs) that give us the security we enjoy in this country.  It’s the same for your child even though he or she may fight the system (imagine a tantrum right here) often.  Ultimately he or she is reassured with the knowledge of consistent expectations.  Once again, it’s okay for your child to struggle a little within the security of the consistent boundaries you have set.

I’m talking about the security in knowing you allow him or her to explore and grow to the best of his or her abilities.  I love a job where I can use my gifts, learn and grow as I work.  I feel secure in the knowledge that my superiors will back me up – even if I make a mistake in the process.   In children’s terms they enjoy trying new, even a little challenging things, with the knowledge that you trust them to try.  They can do their best, but then you will be there if the challenge becomes overwhelming.

LANGUAGE

I recently read an article that sited a study that showed the importance of language in the family as a predictor of future success in school and life.

I’m talking about rich language full of new words.

I’m talking about casually restating what a child says and also extending a child’s sentence structure.

I’m talking about questions, ‘I wonder’ statements and time for reflecting.

I’m talking about labeling emotions and talking about them – a lot.  HERE is a link to a previous post about helping a child deal with emotions.

I’m talking about giving verbal directions and then multi-step directions as your child grows.

I’m talking about reading and telling stories (in books, at bedtime, during dinner, about family history, about things that happened that day . . .)

I’m talking about playing with language (sounds, rhymes, patterns, silly words . . . )

I’m talking about language through song.

SLEEP

We cannot say enough about the importance of sleep – for all of us – but especially children.  Think about how you are not at your best (in other words, how cranky you are) when you don’t have enough sleep.  Young children’s bodies are even far less able to handle sleep deficiency.  HERE is a link to a post by the National Sleep Foundation.  You  may be surprised by the number of suggested hours of sleep for each age group.

I’ll finish today by saying abundance, abundance, abundance and then more abundance of these things for your child.

 


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Nature walk – a perfect fall activity

I love fall.  I love the cooler weather (although we’ve had a little extra cool than typical), the beautiful colors, the pumpkins and other fall fruit.  It’s the time of year I most enjoy being outside.  Perhaps your family does as well.

Children are naturally inquisitive about nature and often will use it in their play.  On our playground the children use small stick, stones, sticky balls, leaves, and acorns in a variety of different types of play.  It’s an environment rich with possibilities. I’ve seen many of our families out for a walk together.  That’s fabulous.  Next time your family heads out for a walk, you may want to try making it a Nature Walk.  This has two benefits; expending energy and the awareness of nature.  Simply print out the picture below and check off the items you see on the way.  You could take time to compare two of a similar item you see – i.e. a robin and a crow.  This encourages your child’s observation skills, attention span, fine motor development and literacy awareness.

In the spring our Red classes will be learning about the 5 senses.  In past years they have taken a listening walk.

I love watching them walk around with their clipboards intently listening so they could mark off the different items.  Feel free to copy and past the two checklists for your own nature walk.

 

 


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Teaching children values – money talks

He saw a need and found a way to help.  Isn’t that what we all hope to do?

Recently a little guy noticed that our bird feeders were empty.  He worried about the birds being hungry.  His mom reminded him that he has some share money that he could use.  His face lit up and he did just that.  He bought some birdseed and filled the feeders.  Look at that big smile!

Don’t you just love the idea of “share money?”  I asked about this and found out they have a little bank they found on Amazon.  This concrete tool helps teach about giving, spending and saving.

          (click on photo for link)

I would love to post other ideas or routines our families have that help teach values.  Do you have a special prayer routine?  Is there a way you encourage kindness?  Are their regular times you emphasis the importance of family?  Let me know and I will pass on the information.


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Time flies by – enjoy it now!

This is a post I wrote for the Jan/Feb 2007 newsletter.  It’s an oldie but still worth the read – I think.

Believe it or not, these years with your young children will be over before you know it.

days-are-long-neutral-bog-resize

As many of you know, I am busy with preparations for my oldest daughter’s wedding (and I hear rumors of a possible engagement soon for my other daughter!)  This is a hectic time with lots of planning that can be both exhilarating and overwheleming at the same time.  Perhaps some of the emotional rollercoaster I’ve been on comes from the underlying realization that we have truly moved out of the “child” phase of our family life.  Where did the time go?

(This photo is from this past Christmas, not 2007, but it is one I will always enjoy.)

cyndi-and-kids

I am proud of the young adults my children have become, but I do constantly wonder if I spent enough time truly enjoying them while they were young.  Did I:

  • take time to listen to the imaginative stories?
  • stop to take time to read a good book with them?
  • spend enough time cuddling at bedtime, or anytime?
  • take time to teach a new skill rather than rushing ahead and doing it myself?
  • go to the park enough?
  • make enough snowmen with them?
  • really listen to those sad feelings when a friend said something hurtful?
  • stop to read another good book?
  • allow helpful hands while baking when I knew I could do it so much faster by myself?
  • play enough games with them?
  • really listen when they were singing me the new song they just made up?
  • help my child investigate things like “Where is the end of the earth?” (This was an actual question my son asked at age four.)
  • paint, color, and do play dough enough?
  • stop to read ANOTHER great book?  There are so many fun ones available!

I mention all this because you are in the middle of these important years.  You still have time!  Be sure to catch some of that time for these things that seem so much more important when you are looking back.  Enjoy it now. . . while you can!

Cyndi


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Calming Work

Calming work?  That sounds like an oxymoron.  I bet you can relate though if you think of some instances that you’ve actually experienced the calm that follows hard work; after a day in the yard bending, pulling and digging, after doing a heavy exercise and weight lifting work-out, after a long day of swimming and pool play.

playground-5

We’ve been learning a lot about “heavy work” as it is called in the world of special needs.  Therapists have used strategies that include heavy work (we like to call it calming work) while working with kids that have sensory issues, hyperactivity, problems with focus and attention to name just a few.  We, at Aldersgate Preschool, feel all children benefit from some of these calming work activities.

With winter weather and the increased activity level of children cooped up inside we could all use the benefits of calming work.  These articles explain it much better than I can.  They also have wonderful lists of activity ideas.  I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to read them.

(Click on the photos to link to the articles.)

heavy-work-activities-683x1024  40-heavy-work-activities-for-kids autism-sensory-processing-heavy-work-chores-activities-for-kids-to-calm-focus

I’ve been trying to think of additional activities that would use items you might have in the home and would adapt to inside play.  Here are just a few of those ideas:

  • Allow your child to lift any hand weights you might have in the home.  For safety be sure they use two hands on each weight.  Can they lift it up to their chest?  How many times?
  • Play moving man.  Fill a laundry basket full of heavy things – perhaps some heavy books?  Have your child load the basket with the books, push them to the end of the hallway and then unload them.  To encourage this play, pretend you are filling a library or bookstore and you need a delivery.
  • Create an exercise track through your home.  Use some of the ideas listed in the articles above.  A quick look at google images will provide some visual for things like push-ups against a wall, etc.
  • Try some yoga.  Cosmic kids yoga has a variety of different yoga videos.  Check out this Star Wars episode version here.  There is a Frozen yoga video as well.
  • Tug of War is a fun game.  Try this sitting down with a neck scarf.
  • Drag a friend (or a parent.)  Have someone sit on the end of a blanket.  Next, have your child try to pull the person around by holding the other end of the blanket.
  • Push chairs – perhaps they could all be put into a line to form a train or bus.
  • Crab walk with a stuffed animal sitting on your belly.
  • With your child laying face down on the floor, lay a bean bag (or something with a little bit of weight to it) on their back.  Now have them lift up onto their knees and crawl around without letting it fall.
  • Push a dad over.  (ha, ha) Have an adult stand with his (or her) legs apart.  The child then tries to push them over – or at least move their legs.