Simple DIY family puzzles for preschool

If you want to capture a young child’s attention, then focus on the things that matter the most to the child and one of those things is the child’s family.

DIY Family Puzzles!

Our preschoolers have a way of reminding us about what matters most to them through their everyday conversations and interactions.

Playing with babies

And although any time throughout the school year is a good time to celebrate families, the holidays are especially a good time to focus on the things that really matter.

Taking care of baby

Many of our student’s families are growing. It seems new babies are being born every time I turn around. So as you can see, playing with babies is one way they can explore the role of different family members. The children also explored families by putting together their own simple DIY family puzzles.

DIY Family Puzzles

Miss Abby invited the parents to email her a family photo which she then printed out and cut a part. All the children’s family members were mixed up and placed in a basket. The children were invited to sort through the photos to find the members of their family and create their own family puzzle or collage.

DIY Family Puzzles

While searching for family members, the children shared their found photos with each other. What a wonderful opportunity to build community, conversation, and celebrate families all together.

DIY Family Puzzles

The children easily stayed with this process because the process was built around what matters the most them. Yes, if you want to engage a child in any process, find out what matters to the child and start from there.

DIY Family Puzzles

What a joy it is to celebrate the families of these sweet young children with them!

diy-family-puzzles2046

Ice play in preschool

Today, we enjoyed a little ice play.

Sometimes the simplest of ideas can be the most enjoyable for young children. The teacher in this class set out a bowl of ice with some cups, smaller bowls, and spoons…

The children scooped the ice from one container to the other…

And some children used their hands to pick up ice cubes….

What makes an activity like this so successful is that it is truly all about discovery, exploring, and play…

We won’t be able to hang this up on a wall when we are finished but we can talk about our experience…

And during the process of our ice play we discovered the ice was cold and when it melts, water runs all over the table and down on the floor!

And when the teacher isn’t looking, we can place an ice cube on the handle end of our spoon and it suddenly becomes a Popsicle!

Can you see all the learning (and fun) going on just from some simple ice play?

I am linking this post up to The Play Academy!

Tools to promote fine motor skills in preschool

This may just look like an empty blue ice tray but if you stop and think about how it can be used to promote fine motor skills or sorting skills, the ideas are limitless.

By adding a basket of small, plastic objects – this ice tray becomes a tool for both play and developing new skills.

Today, the children are simply focused on putting pieces of fruit in the tray. No instructions are given. Instead, the children make up their own rules of play.

Through their play, the children are building fine motor muscle and control…

A little talking, sharing, comparing, patterning, and sorting is also going on…

And then there is spacial awareness and counting. How many of these little objects will fit into each square of the tray?

The teacher occasionally stops by and asks a casual question like, “Can you show me something purple?”

Notice that a little parallel play is happening too.

And then it is always fun to dump our trays back into the basket all by ourselves.

Wow, who knew an ice tray was actually a tool for so much learning?

The block center came tumbling down

When I came into observe clean-up time, I happen to notice that the block center looked like this.. Oh my!

But when I pulled out my camera to take a picture of the tumbling blocks, one little boy decided he wanted in on the action.

So he began to stack the blocks.

And then this little girl decided that this looked like fun too…

And then another little girl joined in…

And before long, we had a team of block stackers at work – I mean at play!

Stacking blocks is always much more fun when we do it together with our friends.

And when Mrs. Stewart comes in with a camera – you would be surprised at what we can accomplish all by ourselves!

Preschool Song: Stack the Blocks

Tune: The Ants Go Marching In

We stack the blocks one-by-one

Hurrah! Hurrah!

We stack the blocks one-by-one

Hurrah! Hurrah!

We stack the blocks one-by-one

We are having so much fun

Then they all go tumbling down – to the ground

Boom, Boom, Boom!

Repeat and change verses to two-by-two, three-by-three and so on…


See more ideas about play!

We Play

By | July 20th, 2010|Categories: Social Development, The Value of Play|Tags: , , |10 Comments

A brief look at developmental domains in early childhood education

The early childhood years are filled with staggering growth and development. There are four main areas of development that occur all at the same time:

Physical development: In the first years of growth young children are physically developing at a rapid pace. There is both large motor (crawling, walking, running) and fine motor development (eye-hand coordination, cutting, writing, weaving) happening all at once.

Social development: Understanding how to communicate, share, make friends, and get along with others is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to social development in the first five years of life.

Emotional development: The building blocks for a positive self-esteem and self-confidence starts in early childhood. Young children are also learning how to manage and appropriately express their own emotions such as fear, saddness, anger, and happiness.

Social and emotional often come hand in hand since how a child fairs socially often impacts his or her emotional well-being.

Cognitive development: Young children are always processing information about their world. They do so through both structured and unstructured activities, play, and interaction with others. From experiences such as these, young children develop their understanding and abilities in such areas as math, science, language, art. The mind of a young child absorbs information like a sponge.

Centers in the preschool classroom

When children enter this classroom, they will discover plenty of things to do and the freedom to explore because each center in this classroom was designed just for them.  At this table the children are creating paintings with the dot painters.

At the block center, a couple of boys have decided to pull out the legos. As they play with the legos, they also communicate with each other and discover how to cooperate and collaborate.

These children have decided they would enjoy coloring a cow the teacher set out. It is farm week and the teacher has made available a variety of farm type activities in each center. This class loves to color so the teacher always provides a variety of coloring tools and materials.

The two girls decided they wanted to explore the blocks and woodworking tools. That’s right – girls like blocks and tools too!

In the two year old classroom next door, this child is exploring the water table. The water stimulates her senses as she pours, drips, and splashes about.

This two year old reaches up high to paint on the easel.  Easel painting is offered everyday to these two year olds and one can see that they are quite skilled at holding the brush, dipping it in the paint, and using the entire paper to create their masterpiece of the day.

These children enjoy time with play dough. The teachers provide a variety of tools to go along with the play dough each day. As you can see here, the children each have a tray to identify their own work space.

And this child decided he would like to just sit back and enjoy looking through this book.

The use of centers in preschool is a valuable way to keep children engaged in positive and constructive activities. Centers promote independence, social skills, creativity, interests, and more. As preschoolers are given opportunities to explore a variety of centers each day, they enjoy their experience in your classroom.

Providing centers is also a useful way to manage your classroom. When a variety of interesting and age appropriate activities are available, you will find children become less bored and stay more engaged in productive, positive participation.

Pro-social sharing and negotiation skills in preschool

I was asked by Noah of The People Garden to drum up some activities that promote pro-social sharing and negotiation skills for young children. I wanted to share this article so you could see the ideas as well. You will have to scroll down just a bit (past the very nice comments about me:) to see the activities.

There were four activities in all including…

#1 Sensory Play: Pepperoni Pizzas

#2 Music and Movement: Circle of Friends

#3 Creative Arts – Creating a rainbow

#4 Setting the Table

Click here to view each of these activities…

Preschoolers can serve their own snack

Building independent doers and thinkers is one of the goals of early childhood education. Snack time is a terrific time to let children learn to do things all by themselves.

We always start off by washing our hands!

Setting the table

Have the children get into the practice of washing hands first and while they are washing hands, set out napkins and cups at one end of a table or on a low shelf. Have the children go and get their own napkin and cup then sit at the snack table.

These children have  had lots of practice standing in line and waiting for their turn to pick up a cup and napkin all by themselves.

“Open your napkin big and wide so I can put a (cracker) inside!”

Once the children sit at the table, they open their napkin big and wide and set their cup on the table.  In some classrooms, the children then wait for all of their friends to be seated. The teacher then uses the familiar finger play:

Open-Shut them

Open-Shut them

Open-Shut them and give a little clap!

Open-Shut them

Open-Shut them

Open-Shut them and lay them in your lap!

This gets all the children to quiet down and helps to start off snack at a moderately low noise level. This also allows the teacher to demonstrate any serving skills the children will need to know and to demonstrate talking with each other using a soft conversational tone rather then shouting to be heard.

Self – Serve Snack!

The teacher then sets the snack on the table with the appropriate serving utensils and allows the children to serve their own snack. The children then pass the serving dishes to their neighbor. These children have become extremely proficient in manipulating the various types of serving tools. It takes practice to do this well but it doesn’t take long before the students will amaze you with their abilities.

I can pour all by myself!

The children are also able to pour their own juice. The teachers fill a pitcher only a quarter of the way full so that the pitcher isn’t too heavy for the children to manage. As needed, the teachers refill the pitcher with more juice.  What you don’t see in the photo is the full pitcher of juice sitting on the counter that the teacher uses to refill the student pitchers.

Time to eat up!

Once the children have served themselves, they are allowed to go right on into eating their snack.

Teacher’s role model manners and conversational tone at the snack table!

The teachers then sit with the children to role model good manners at the table and to promote polite conversations between the children. The children are much more successful in having a positive snack time experience when the teachers join them rather then run around the classroom doing other things during snack time.

Once snack time is over, the children throw away their own trash and join the teacher on the carpet for a few minutes of after snack story time and singing.

Check out this fun little snack time song!

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