# Kindergarten Readiness – June Bugs For Fun and Learning #7

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home but first can you help us support kids with some kindergarten readiness learning and some June bug fun?

Supporting children as they learn and play can use whatever is close at hand, in any room of your home. The ingredients for this learning fun activity are simple, a round lid which makes the body of the lady-bug, and some small bottle caps to make the dots. Kids can put the dots-caps on the lid-body. Counting the bottle caps adds some fun with numbers. Or they can be sorted according to color. If your child is interested, try 2 lids (or a pie plate or something else that is round). Your child put dots on each one. Have your child count the dots to see if one has more than the other. Or do both lady-bugs have the same amount?

Math is about numbers but it is also about relationships. Using ordinary objects connects math to everyday activities. As kids practice with numbers, they are also practicing ways they can use math. Playing and learning is another great relationship. Do you think your child would enjoy this activity?

# Kindergarten Readiness – Learning/Thinking Strategies #15

I sometimes feel like I’m only at a kindergarten stage when it comes to computers but, to make it worse,  I’m missing the kindergarten readiness and preparation. Thankfully, a little one came to the rescue by showing me another important learning and thinking strategy.

When kids first learn to walk they take baby steps. Tiny little steps forward, not giant leaps. (That’s what I need to do when it comes to mastering technology, just take baby steps.) This is an important learning and thinking strategy for children as they build new brain connections. Sometimes dividing a learning task into smaller bits is obvious. For instance, kids learn to make high towers by piling only a few blocks on top of each other. With practice they can soon balance many more and achieve a tower. They will challenge themselves to use other materials, too. Less evident, for instance is learning to count accurately. Numbers and counting start with a small number of objects but kids will use small and big numbers many, many times as they become more proficient.

Babies don’t participate in corporate task analysis discussions; they just take baby steps naturally. But for older children, helping them to learn to do a little piece at a time can be very useful, not just for kindergarten readiness but for later challenges as well. During your day, can you help your child do an activity one step at a time?

# Kindergarten Readiness – Spring Fun & Earth Day Activities

Earth Hour tonight will be long after bedtime for many little kids so their lights will already be turned out. But there are other ways to participate and promote kindergarten readiness, too.

During the day, taking a walk in the park or around the neighborhood is one way to celebrate the earth. What’s the weather like? Is there any wind? What kinds of plants and animals do you and your child see? Expanding children’s general knowledge and experiences gives them a basic foundation to build on.

See if you and your child can collect a few different rocks, for those past the everything in the mouth stage. Check out their shapes, use them for counting and making groups.

Is there a plant-a-tree project in your community this weekend? You and your child may be able to use the city bus or other public transportation instead of the car.

These are just a few suggestions for things to do that will help your child establish a life long connection to nature. What are some other ideas?

# Kindergarten Readiness – Spring Fun & Learning Activities #8

Spring is the time for planting and today’s kindergarten readiness fun is planting some math. Math is somewhat like a seed; it’s ideas that get planted in kids brains that grow into all kinds of connections. For kids to learn that numbers mean how many they first need to understand that one number means one more item. This is called one-to-one correspondence and is the foundation for number learning. Children may be able to say numbers in order but may not necessarily figure out that each time they count that means one more. Kids need to understand this 1-to-1 relationship first so they can link one number and one object.

For kids to grasp this idea they need to have lots of play experiences with one to one matching. This play activity uses an egg carton (with 2 end spaces cut off to make 10 instead of 12) and some seeds. We’re pretending that each egg space is a little pot and “planting” 1 bean seed in each space. Kids need to be beyond the putting everything in mouth stage. After fun with beans, Lee wanted to do it again using beads and then with more beans. Each time, every pot got 1 more.

Math is about numbers but it is also about relationships. Putting one object in one space is like creating a relationship. Lee had fun playing with the seeds and ‘pots’ and was building her understanding of math at the same time. Playing and learning is another great relationship. Do you think your child would enjoy this activity, too?

# Kindergarten Readiness – Spring Fun & Learning Activities #3

The calendar says today is the first day of spring although the sun crossed the equator yesterday; that gave me the idea for today’s kindergarten readiness activity. The Equator is the mid-line of the planet. Our bodies have an imaginary mid-line too but it goes from the top of the head to the nose, tummy button and all the way down to between our feet. The body’s midline is critically important when it comes to the brain.

We all know that there are 2 sides to the brain, the left and right. When 1 part of the body such as the hand or foot crosses over this mid-line to the other side of the body, the brain also starts to cross-connect. These new brain connections help the two sides of the brain to work and to organize together. When babies are little they will use their right hand on the right side of their body and their left hand on the left side. Soon they can organize their brains and coordinate their bodies to explore moving and crawling. Crawling involves crossing the midline as a hand moves on one side but the knee moves on the other side. That takes lots of brain power and cross connecting.

Parents and caregivers can help kids of all ages develop this skill. With babies we can move their arms for them as we dress them, change them and play. With toddlers we can show them how to cross their arms to give themselves a bear hug and how to sit criss-cross applesauce. For older kids we can play clapping games. Of course, crawling and running are two movement activities that help kids develop their thinking so kids need time and space to move. They can do that all by themselves; we only have to reorganize the house and yard so there’s safe spaces for them to move and try not to get tired out just watching them!

Have a great first day of spring. What brain-body activities can you and your child do today that cross the Equator…er mid-line?

# Kindergarten Readiness – Spring Fun & Learning Activities #2

Any season has fun activities for kids and kindergarten readiness but spring seems especially appropriate. After all, it’s the season for new growth.

And speaking of new, lots of baby animals are born in the spring. Kids seem fascinated with baby animals, even just in pictures. One of my favorite spring songs is all about many of them. Kids love it because they get to make the animal sounds. An added bonus (?!?) is that the verses are almost unlimited. Sing to the tune of London Bridge.

Little chicks go peep, peep, peep.  Peep, peep, peep.  Peep, peep, peep.   Little chicks go peep, peep, peep in the springtime.

Little lambs go baa, baa, baa.  Baa, baa, baa.   Baa, baa, baa.
Little lambs go baa, baa, baa  in the springtime.

Little kittens go mew, mew, mew.   Mew, mew, mew.   Mew, mew, mew.  Little kittens go mew, mew, mew in the springtime.

Little goat kids go maa, maa, maa.  Maa, maa, maa.   Maa, maa, maa.   Little goat kids go maa, maa, maa  in the springtime.

Continue with little puppies, little calves, little ducklings, little piglets,  and any other baby animals you and your child can think of. Little bunnies only wiggle their noses.

Songs and singing support many different kinds of learning and readiness for kindergarten areas. This song has lots of new words for the names of baby animals. All that repetition is a way to practice the right order for words. Songs have patterns which prewire the brain for all kinds of other patterns, especially in math, and s-t-r-e-t-c-h kids’ memory for things that they hear. In addition to memory, there are important skills and strategies such as auditory discrimination, rhythm, listening skills, and basic concepts. Singing is a social activity helping kids be aware of others as they sing together.

(My kids especially loved visiting my sister’s sheep farm in the spring but talk about noise! While a few lambs sound kind of cute, there were often over 700 of them and they were so loud we had to shout to hear each other in the yard. The house would have the ‘pets’, the ones that needed extra attention; some would be wrapped in towels in the bathroom to keep warm, some in the kitchen for bottles, and some sleeping in boxes. Spring days were filled with new ones every day.) What do you remember and love about spring?

# Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #14

The Eyes have it, that is The Eye Book by Dr. Seuss has the blog post today. A simple little story, after reading it a few times, kids will have parts of it memorized and can “read” it back to you. This pretend reading is tremendously important for learning to read later on and forms part of the readiness for kindergarten package.

Why is this pretend reading so crucial? It is so important because it is the basis for learning to read. It seems obvious to us, but it isn’t to kids. Kids need to learn that the black line squiggles called letters have meaning. Once kids connect that print tells us something, they are on their way to figuring out that something.

This may still sound confusing, so I’ll use an example. Following are 2 ways of reading the word eye.

1. Point out the word eye. A child could look at the letter e and say it looks like a circle but instead of going all around, it has a line across the tummy, then there is a letter with 2 arms and 1 leg, and the circle e again. That’s one way of “reading” the word e y e but it has no meaning.

2. Point out the word eye and say this is how we write eye when we say it. Talk about eyes: where they are, how we use eyes, point to eyes, open and close them, etc. Together look at the word eye and “read” it. This time the child connects those same 3 squiggles with the meaning of eye. A connection is established with the letters and what it stands for. Just like a long chain, the print is connected to the word eye, and the word eye is linked to all the things that the child knows about eyes and suddenly those letters e y e are full of meaning.

Only when children understand that print is meaning-full are they ready to start building toward tackling the squiggle-code. Simple books such as this one help build the print-meaning connection for kids. Check out eyes in a mirror and see their colors. Your child may want to draw a picture of eyes or add some to a face shape. Play peek-a-boo. Or h’eye’d & go seek, (just couldn’t resist that play on words). These are ways to grow the pathways in the brain that kids need so they can learn to read. Eye hope, oops…, I hope this has been helpful for you. Can you see how to do this?

# Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #13

Oh the places you’ll go and how will you get there? Boat, train, car, pony, bus, airplane? Dr. Seuss’s book Oh, the Places You’ll Go has many different levels and appeals to little kids and bigger ones, too. Sharing a book with your little one stimulates all kinds of language learning. But kids also like to be busy doing. Having fun with trains, cars, and other toys that go is both playing and learning.

Construction and transportation toys keep brains on the go building brain connections. And this brain building is important for readiness for kindergarten. How do things go? How do they fit together? As children play they are imagining and creating. These are powerful skills – they are the heart of innovation and they begin as children play. Other learning strategies include: manipulating, stacking, fine and gross motor skills, visualizing, counting, spatial orientation, balancing, measuring, comparing, colors and shapes, to name a few. Either on their own and with others, kids imagine and pretend, organize and plan. As kids play together they practice cooperating, problem solving, and negotiating.

Both boys and girls enjoy playing with construction/transportation toys as they discover and explore, learn and develop kindergarten readiness. “With their brains in their head” they will go far. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “There’s fun to be done.” Do you agree?

# Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #12

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss, is a double-your-fun book for both some math and colors. Add in some readiness for kindergarten, and that makes it a triple.

Fishy crackers are a tasty math manipulative. Together L, who is three, and I counted out 10 fish crackers, saying the number and touching each cracker and saying the number at the same time. When L popped one into her mouth I asked her now how many crackers did she have. She thought about it for a few seconds and as soon as she realized she’d have one less than before she took it out and put it back on her plate! Learning math comes with experience. Counting, 1 to 1 correspondence, adding and subtracting are all some learning activities to do with fishy crackers and this fun Dr. Seuss book.

For a simple craft, trace a fish on a paper and let your child color or paint. I saw some really cute, colorful ones on a Dr. Seuss bulletin board. After this fish was painted all one color, I used a tee-shirt to show the idea of polka dots and soon 1 hand wasn’t enough for making dots and both hands were dabbing on colors.

Many kindergarten readiness checklists include being able to name at least some colors. This gives teachers an idea of a child’s level of thinking skills. Kids who are having difficulty learning colors may be struggling with other concepts, too.  There is no doubt that learning colors is a learning challenge. There are many variations to each color and many different objects may have the same color. Kids need to see lots of things that are that color and lots that are not, gradually figuring out which shades go with which name.

Just like this book, there’s lots of ways to learn with fish. Do you have some other suggestions?