Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Preschool Learning Activities

Here's a quick summary of some of the learning activities I've been doing with L and E (3 years old).  I've been toying with the idea of trying some more structured 'homeschool preschool' time for the girls, but I realized that we fill most of our day with early learning activities, anyway.  I'd rather keep the structure really flexible for now.  I think the key is to plan enough ideas for things to do each day that when the girls ask for an 'activity', I don't have to scramble to pull something together.  For example, for our daily art activities, if I pull out all the materials I need the night before, I don't have to keep the kids waiting while I look for everything we need for the craft.  So here are some of the recent activities I've put together...

Ever since I bought the girls their own water sprayers ($1 at Target), they have been obsessed with cleaning the windows and spraying the dogs.  I thought I'd combine their love of spraying water with a learning activity by letting them spray the window and then stick foam alphabet letters (usually a bathtub toy).  This gave us an opportunity to review letter sounds, too.

I've also been taking out various learning toys and manipulatives that have been hiding in the closet like the fraction magnets (above), and these foam hexagon building toys:

Threading chunky wooden alphabet beads:

'Weaving' work (stretching fabric loops on a potholder loom):

There's also a lot of fine motor practice helping me around the house and in the kitchen:

The girls especially like helping me make Baby H's meals (yes, egg yolk with mashed banana is apparently tasty to the baby-palette.  They love using the baby food mill to grind the food up - it's great fine motor work, and a fantastic Montessori Practical Life activity.

I've also finally had the chance to prepare some activities from file-folder games and workbooks (by laminating pages, cutting out pieces, and adding velcro/magnets as necessary).  Here's a basic human body puzzle the girls enjoy:

I photocopied some of the sequencing pages from Lollipop Logic and made them into cards the girls can put in order:
They still require a lot of direction from me (asking them what comes next, describing the next picture so they can find it, etc..).

I put magnets on the pieces for a file-folder counting game.  I realized that L and E can both count to 20, but don't know what the teen numbers look like past 12, so we're working on counting to 30 and identifying the numbers.  Next we'll do some counting by 10s so I can demonstrate how place value works (25 is 20+5, etc..)

We're still working on one-to-one correspondence when counting larger quantities (touching each object only once).  In the activity above, L is counting the number of cats and affixing the correct (velcro) number.

Another counting game the girls love involves rolling a die, and then coming to the 'frog bank' (Mommy) to get the correct number of frogs to put on their lily pads.  They still don't have the patterns of dots on dice memorized yet, so we'll have to do more dice games and dominoes.

Sorting bug counters with chopsticks is a favorite activity, as well.  I don't think the girls would be as eager to sort the bugs if the fine-motor challenge of using chopsticks wasn't involved.  They asked to do this again and again.  I also put out various tweezers and tongs for them, but they enjoyed the training chopsticks the best.  At some point I can try removing the piece that connects the chopsticks together and let them try doing using them the 'real' way.

Both girls (but especially L) have hit a sweet-spot for learning beginning letter sounds.  To my surprise, L can do the above activity almost completely independently:

The only help she needs is to tell her the names of objects she didn't know like 'jeep' and 'popcorn'.

L also really likes completing worksheets:

E's interest in worksheets vary from day to day, so I never pressure her to do any if she's not interested.  On days where she does want to do worksheets, she asks for them one after another.  She's become especially good at tracing and completing mazes lately.

L and E also really enjoy drawing.  Here's some of their latest creations:

 E is starting to make more realistic drawings (faces with eyes, nose, mouth, legs, etc..).  She can also trace around her own hand pretty well.

L has been drawing stories:

I love the elephant in the first drawing.  Everything was intentional - she was telling me the story as she drew the rope and the cliff.  The second picture is of her two bears.  They were sad bears, so she drew a sun and a flower to cheer them up.  Then she wrote an 'L' before I suggested that she write her name at the top of the paper so she'd have more room.

I've been slacking on the blog entries, but I have been doing lots of activities with the kids, which is definitely more important.  I can't believe how much my tiny twins have grown into Preschoolers!

UPDATE: I was so inspired by how much my kids enjoyed early learning games that I created the La La Logic Critical Thinking Curriculum for 3-6 year olds, which includes online brain challenge games, printable worksheets, enrichment activities and more!

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