Much of the learning in preschool is embedded in play. I usually hide letters or numbers in the sensory bin for the children to find and match with a poster that is usually set along side it. This way, as a child finds a letter, the parents or teacher can explain what letter it is and what sound it makes. This type of learning is very natural and is easily absorbed by the child. The sensory bin also helps calm an anxious child as playing with the materials is soothing to him/her. I have found, as a preschool teacher that the sensory bin or reading to a child helps comfort the child in transitional periods such as separating from parents, starting something new, or the child is shy. So you can see why sensory bins are such an important element of our program. So much learning and reinforcement of concepts can be accomplished through sensory bins.
I will always have counting, name exercises, and letter matching every week, so they will always have an opportunity for those skills, plus, these skills can always be practiced at home as well, but dramatic play/ cooperative play is special to this environment and the children should be encouraged to spend as much time as they want at this station.
To learn more about the importance of sorting click here, and if you would like some sorting ideas, click here. To learn more about developing your child’s early literacy skills, and specifically letter recognition, click here.
When children are engaged in activities that help develop their fine motor skills, they also are developing many other skills: self-regulation (self-control), cognition (creating art and considering design), coordination, language development (talking about what they are doing and using vocabulary), dexterity, and following directions (following the steps in each project). This is where the playdough and art element of our projects come into play. We enjoy open-ended art projects each week using numerous materials and art mediums. The playdough station helps give strength to the child’s hands, develop their coordination with cutting, rolling, and forming the dough, and builds their cognitive skills by planning what they are building and carrying it out. It is also one of the ultimate sensory experiences. I scent our dough so it has a fun smell, the child uses his/her vision to play with it as well as its pleasant to look at, and they are touching it repeatedly. Many senses are involved in playing with playdough. It seems to me that each child really enjoys spending time at these stations and that is wonderful because of the skills they are developing.
Here are a few articles that stress building the child’s fine motor skills (click here and here). Click here and here for simple art ideas to do with your child at home. Click here for the playdough recipe that I use (I also add a packet of Kool-Aid drink mix to color and add scent.)
Another part of circle time that helps your child with his/her development is the singing, rhyming books, and finger plays or movement activity. These are important because the singing, rhyming, and finger plays help the children with the development of their phonemic awareness skills. These are simply the understanding that words are made up of separate sounds. Singing helps draw out the separate sounds and rhyming helps the child in the future with learning word families. Finger plays and movement help the children develop and refine their fine and gross motor skills. Additionally, as children are read to, they increase their print awareness knowledge, that is, they learn the parts of the book, how to turn pages, that the words and pictures work together to tell the story, and left to right orientation.
Circle time is also a wonderful opportunity to introduce and practice certain academic concepts. Usually, these concepts touch on curriculum areas such as early literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies. Some concepts that I teach during circle time are letter and number recognition, one-to-one counting, shapes, patterns, size, sorting and categorization, order, comprehension, comparisons, and print awareness.
To learn more about the importance of circle time, click here
This skill is a necessary preschool skill as children entering Kindergarten will be expected to write their names on all their worksheets and art work. At Counting Down to Kindergarten we feel the responsibility to prepare our students as much as possible for Kindergarten and this station really helps. As our students get closer to Kindergarten, I emphasize name writing practice and provide the students with practice sheets to take home. As the children master their first names, I have them participate in the same activities but using their last names.
This program features the academic and social skills your child will need prior to entering Kindergarten. Each week is based upon a theme. The program has a set routine: First, there is a circle time where Miss Jenny reads stories, sings, teaches finger plays, and gives instruction to the whole group. Then, the children and their parents break up and explore the various stations. The stations also follow the theme, and each station focuses on developing various preschool level skills. Some of these skills are: early literacy, name recognition, letter recognition, counting, number recognition, name, letter, and number writing, playing cooperatively, taking turns, exploring through the senses, fine motor skills, and art exploration.
This program is designed for children ages 3 to 5. If your child is almost 3 and turns 3 during the session, feel free to register him/her. Siblings are also welcome to attend. You can register in person at the library. When you register, Miss Jenny will email you as we get closer to a new session beginning. If you have anymore questions you can email Miss Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org.