A favorite book of kids for 2 or 3 generations now is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. One of the reasons it is so popular has to do with the wonderful illustrations of the fuzzy caterpillar. But another reason is the simple, repeating text. Kids can easily follow along with the story becoming very involved, just because they know what is coming next. This is the attraction of a story that follows a pattern.
Patterns help kids-and grownups-remember. Memory is a key strategy for learning and kindergarten readiness. Kids need lots of experiences with patterns in order to develop this memory skill and sharing stories with patterns will help. Some other pattern stories are The Little Red Hen and The Gingerbread Man, which is especially fun at this time of year.
Do you have a breadmaker at home? With your child you might want to make some bread, remembering how the story goes as you mix and knead. You and your child can be the voices of the hen and the other animals. Gingerbread cookies are always favorites. What part do you eat first? Both these activities also engage the senses, especially taste and smell. Mmm! Sensory experiences also promote readiness for kindergarten and smell is a very powerful memory trigger.
I saw a special edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar that includes a memory game. What other pattern stories do you remember?
Sometimes, when we have to remember a large amount of information, we use the strategy of noticing a pattern. Suddenly, the amount of information we need to hold in our memory is much, much smaller. The pattern makes the job easier. Being able to notice, figure out and make patterns is a powerful thinking strategy for kindergarten readiness and beyond.
Patterning will be a skill that kids explore at kindergarten, but lots of experiences will help children develop their patterning abilities. One of their early patterning activities is crawling/walking; left-right, left-right, left-right is a pattern. Music, books, singing, talking, rhymes, and of course playing will all help build patterning and readiness for kindergarten.
Here is a picture of a quick way to play with patterns. When a 3-year old was playing trains, I lined up a few cars in a simple pattern: recd-blue, red-blue. I said each color and pointed to the cars. I spoke to the train cars and told them they were making a pattern, first red then blue, then red and blue again. Then I asked the child what color would come next and together we figured out a red one. The child was able to say blue would come after that but then playing changed to putting blocks on the cars.
Some children may catch the idea and some may need lots more fun with patterns before they understand. When dressing your child you may suddenly notice that a shirt has a pattern, “Look at that, your t-shirt has lines in a pattern. It goes blue-yellow, blue-yellow all over.” Or a cereal bowl may have a pattern. Maybe snack time will have a pattern, slice of banana and then a grape, slice of banana and then a grape. Usually in a day patterns will pop up frequently. Just a few seconds here and there will add up to helping build patterning and memory. What patterns can you and your child find today?
With the weather getting colder in many places, how about an inside activity to promote kindergarten readiness? Imaginary play develops in preschool children and needs some complex thinking and memory skills. Kids need to remember their role and what actions are taking place even when they can’t ‘see’ them. While they have countless possibilities when pretending, they need to search through their own memories to come up with likely situations. Children are creating their own scenarios but they need to remember what would usually happen. This requires them to predict others’ reactions and respond to them, even if one child is playing all alone.
Kids pretend just about anything: tea party, going on a plane, cooking, space, race cars, trains, hockey, house, camping, etc. They’ll even pretend to sleep! At many homes, I bet kids are still imagining trick or treat and likely did so a few times before Halloween.
Imaginative play encourages brain development and is an essential part of children’s development. Exploring, problem solving, and language are also enhanced with play. These all contribute to readiness for kindergarten. Maybe we could imagine warmer weather?
Do you remember how to play Simon Says? While it’s fun to play this game with 3 or 4 or more little ones, it can be done with one adult and one child. One person gives instructions to the other and the other person follows–as long as the instruction starts Simon Says. Simon says: Tap your … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Simon Says Memory Game→
This is the best excuse for taking lots of videos of kids–to help both their memory skills and readiness for kindergarten. Memory, like other thinking skills, is something that develops as kids grow and develop. Memory grows by using it. This is where a video, either camera or phone, can help. Take short videos of … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Memories and Videos→
Little kids have show n’ tell, big kids have Facebook. Big kids also have cameras and phones to take pictures of things they want to remember. What about little ones? They draw pictures. Drawing a picture is another strategy to help kids remember. Did something exciting happen at Halloween? Or on a child’s birthday? Provide … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Memory and Drawing→
Is show and tell one of your child’s highlights? Kids don’t save show n’ tell just for daycare or preschool. They want to tell moms and dads and practically anyone who will listen about what they make with their blocks, the pictures they color, why they have bandaids, exciting news and more. This seems to … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Memory & Show n’ Tell→
Would you rather have more routine in a day or less routine? I prefer less and will admit that I’ve thought of routine as ‘same old, same old’ but it turns out that routine can be a highly beneficial tool for learning and memory, especially for kids. When children learn a routine, they have a … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Memory and Routines→
Today is National Neighborhood Toy Store Day. While this is a kick-off to the holiday shopping season it’s also to promote local stores that help to preserve our communities. Many stores have special events planned. I’m visiting 2 or 3 so I can play with all the great new toys. Toys contribute in so many … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Memory and Toys→
Can kindergarten readiness override political correctness? My answer is Yes, that’s acceptable. Kids are not permanently damaged by having fun with nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes are another tool for developing both memory skills and readiness for kindergarten. The patterns, the rhyming words and the rhythm all combine to make them memorable. You can sing them, … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Memory Skills #9→