One of the news items circulating recently on the Internet talks about the discovery of Ghost Octopus and Yeti Crabs in the Antarctic. The scientists were “thrilled”, “amazed”, and “absolutely stunned.”
These comments reminded me what it’s like for kids when they discover something. But they don’t need to go all the way to the Antarctic, they can explore at home. Sometimes, there’s strange creatures lurking right under the bed! Dust bunnies are proof of that. Outside is almost another world, backyards, neighborhood parks or just along the street.
Early in the morning, there might be a squirrel sunning himself in the backyard.
The park may have trees with berries.
But even a dead, dried flower is worth exploring
and a leaf on the ground, left over from fall, is a discovery.
Observing is an important skill for kindergarten readiness; a meaningful connection to nature is a gift. What can you discover and explore with your child?
I was reminded today of a great resource for numbers that we hardly every think about anymore. What is it? Cards! (the real ones, not the ones on our computers) Regular, ordinary, made-out-of-paper playing cards. I even remember in the ‘olden days’ making sets of them with my sisters and cousins using the thin cardboard from shirts. Why do we forget to let our kids use real decks of cards? Noticing numbers, counting, matching, sorting, making groups and just having fun with numbers is all part of kindergarten readiness.
If you can find a set, dig them out and have some number fun with your little one. Since it’s Valentines, maybe start with hearts. Look at the number in the corner, count the hearts on the card. Wow, they match! Maybe put the cards in order from 1-10. Little ones may enjoy just finding all the hearts. Here are some games to play. Choose 4 or 5 cards from hearts and another kind. Turn them over to play Concentration or Memory. For older children, they may be able to handle 10 cards from 2 sets or maybe even all 4. (I rarely win this game.) Make 2 equal piles, turn over the top card on each pile and see which one is higher–or lower. For a group game, there’s Go Fish. Give each person 7 cards. Put the rest in the pond. Ask each other for cards to make pairs; if not, choose from the pond.
What’s your favorite way to play cards?
Recently, I found the best sale! I was able to pick up some small blank exercise books for 25 cents. There were more pages than needed for our book making project but the booklets were quite sturdy with good staples. Each child was able to make his or her very own book. The floor ended up with mounds of torn paper bits and the tables covered with glue but the children were so motivated and had lots of fun. This kindergarten activity can very easily be a kindergarten readiness one, too.
This is what we did. Each child looked through a magazine for pictures that he or she liked, then cut them out and glued them onto the blank pages. I wrote one or two words underneath the picture. Some children only did 3 or 4 pictures, some did many more. This activity can easily be done at home with young children. A blank book is very inexpensive or just fold some paper over to make pages and staple. Find pictures, glue and print the words. Some ideas for homemade books are: colors, people, toys, food, animals, cars and other transportation, numbers, signs, and more. Older kids can draw and, if they can, copy the words themselves. Children themselves create the meaning so ‘reading’ it much easier. Sometimes, these books are far more special because they truly do belong to the kids. Authors–before school even starts. An inexpensive but priceless book. Can you help your child ‘publish’ one?
Book starts with the sound ‘buh’. There are some other sounds that come after but the start just goes ‘buh’. Helping kids to pick out the sound that starts at the very first part of a word also helps them later on when they learn to read. This skill enables them do word families like sat, cat, hat, mat, etc. To learn this skill kids need to hear lots and lots of words and some of the best ways to do that are with stories and books. The brain seems to figure this out on it’s on when it is stimulated with lots of language. Learning to read is a much easier task if children are able to do this by the time they come to school. This blog is for kindergarten readiness for all little ones and some have years before starting school so for now, just read books and tell stories. Enjoy the sounds of the words, share many different kinds of stories and your child will pick up lots of kindergarten readiness skills along the way.
Pumpkin starts with the letter P. This letter makes a sound like ‘puh’. What other things can you think of that start with this same sound? Here are a few to start you off: panda, pineapple, pen, pig, pear, pot, peas, pail, pet, purple. What are some more? This little activity helps develop a critical skill that children use later on for learning to read. This concept is called phonological awareness (phono as in telephone or phonograph) and means that words are made of sounds and these can be divided into sound bits and recombined to make different words. Do pumpkin and pie start with the same sound? How about pumpkin and cake? What do you wear on your legs that starts like pumpkin? (pants) Try pumpkin and play. Playing with sounds can piggy-pack onto minutes spent waiting for the bus, or putting away the laundry or doing dishes. Your child may not be ready yet to understand this idea so once you ask the question you may need to give the answer, too. It’s super important, I p-p-promise.