Reading and sharing books with kids is a powerful kindergarten readiness activity. Did you know that kids who have been read to at home have a “brain-bank account” of about 5,000 books by the time they enter school? Just picture how much that will help in learning to read. These kids already know:
how a book works. There’s a front, back and middle.
what books do. Books tell us stories and explain things.
pictures match the story and information.
story structure. Usually stories have a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes there is a problem that gets fixed.
letters and squiggle marks tell us the story. Books have talking that’s written down.
Since these posts are about rocks, I’ve been looking for some titles to suggest. I can hardly wait to check out this one at the library and share it with some eager little ones: If Rocks Could Sing, a discovered alphabet, by Leslie McGuirk. This is an alphabet book, but each letter is a real rock and so are all the objects. It took the author over 10 years to find and collect all the rocks! For b there is a b-shaped rock and one that looks like a bird, and so it goes for every letter. This sounds like a fun book to read and families can start their own stories with rocks that they find anywhere.
Reading and sharing books and stories for a few minutes a day, a few times a week is all it takes. Kids who do not have exposure to books and stories are almost at rock bottom in comparison. Or to put in another way, think of Olympic athletes and how much training they need to do to be at the top. Sharing stories and books with your kids is like training for learning to read. The brain is a ‘muscle’ and it needs exercise, too. In the spirit of the Olympics, do you and your child have some time to read together today? What books and stories for learning and fun can you share?
As our children play and learn they develop more than kindergarten readiness. This month, I’ve been highlighting learning activities with rocks; physical development, language, colors, sizes, shapes, science experiments, collecting, counting, patterning, art and other skills. But this is a rock activity that goes even beyond and into developing business skills.
Bella has turned ordinary rocks into works of art. Check out the bright, colorful faces and features she has painted on rocks. Both fun and work, she will be taking these to a yard sale. Her first business venture is Bella’s Rocks. Just think of all the skills that she is learning and that will impact her for the rest of her life: organizing, planning, math, interacting with grownups, socializing, communicating, using language as a business tool, attitude towards money, etc. While she may not make the dollars that Pet Rocks did, she is well on her way to a learning fortune. Best of luck, Bella. Thank you for the lessons that you are teaching us. You rock!
Does your child show some early business interests in his/her play that can be developed and encouraged?
The ingredients of this bottle are rocks plus kindergarten readiness learning and fun. Just a minute or two on Pinterest is all it takes to find many super ideas for discovery or sensory bottles for kids. Since this month’s posts are learning activities with rocks, how about filling a bottle with rocks, stones and pebbles? An extra-wide empty sports drink bottle is more than recycling, it’s a reminder of the Olympics starting tomorrow as well.
At first, simply filling a bottle with rocks doesn’t sound like learning or play but a 3 year old was very engaged in this project. Here are some of the skills involved:
problem-solving. The child has to think of how the rocks will fit thru the mouth of the bottle. Which way is best? Some rocks will not go in the first time but will if they are turned another direction.
choosing. Kids have to think which rock will go next and make a decision.
space and size. Children need to look at a rock and estimate if it will fit or not. While we may know that a rock will be too big this is not so obvious for kids. They need lots of trying and experimentation to build spatial brain connections.
language. Some children will talk to themselves or others while they are working/playing, telling how this rock fits but not that one.
fine muscle coordination. Small muscles in the hand and fingers get lots of exercise grasping and moving the rocks.
attention and focusing. Kids will concentrate on this activity for varying lengths of time. The bottle may not get filled all in one go. Some kids may work at it for only a few minutes or a few rocks and will return to the activity later. Some may need some support to complete the project.
pride and achievement. Kids will be quite proud of their efforts and will show others the full bottle. Sometimes playing can be hard work!
While this bottle isn’t as visually attractive as a glitter bottle, little ones can be part of the process to create a rock bottle. Learning and fun are certainly part of it, too. Grown-ups need to make sure the lid is screwed on good and tight! Is this activity appropriate for your child?
Chalk is a soft porous rock that can be used for some kindergarten readiness learning and fun. I just discovered on Pinterest (some hours ago) several new ideas to add to old favorites.
Drawing on the sidewalk, or driveway when the cars are safely out of the way, is great for really big pictures or giant letters. One thing about this icecream, it won’t melt. See photos 1 and 2.
Deborah Stewart at Teach Preschool drew big white fluffy clouds with chalk. When kids painted over the chalk clouds with plain water the clouds magically disappeared! Is that what happens to chalk pictures when it rains?
She also included a recipe for chalk paint from learncreatelove.com that is super easy. Crush chalk into a powder. In a small cup mix powder and a little bit of water at a time so it doesn’t get too thin.
The third picture shows kids drawing with chalk on a trampoline. That’s one way to make sure they are out of the way of any cars!
Just like other drawing, kids are learning to create, develop eye-hand control, visualize, interpret, communicate with pictures, experiment with colors, link words and images and more. We’ve all seen amazing sidewalk chalk art–see photo 4. Did you know all over the world there are chalk art festivals? You and your child can rock some chalk and have one at home!
It’s almost the Opening Ceremonies and time for some kindergarten readiness and Olympic fun. I remember 2 years ago at the Winter Olympics when one of the symbols was the Inukshuk. This figure is made out of rocks and is used to point the way to others. The inukshuk is an ancient form of communication and marks an important place or path. It seemed fitting for a significant world event like the Olympics, communicating tradition and honoring the path that many athletes have taken.
At that time, many school children made inukshuk out of rocks. This wasn’t easy for preschoolers so we made some using playdough in the shape of rocks. Since the theme of these posts is learning activities with rocks, this seemed like a great idea to do again on a play-date with 3 kids of different ages.
The mascots for London’s games seem even easier to do but kids sometimes have different ideas about what they want. While one of these playdough creations, made by the 3-year old, looks somewhat like Wenlock and Mandeville, the mermaid and baby, made by the 11-year old and 7-year old are very different.
Playdough is a wonderfully inexpensive toy and learning tool. Here are some of the brain connections that kids can develop when using playdough:
7 & 11 year old
fine motor dexterity and strength; hand-eye coordination, visualizing,
vocabulary and descriptive language, measuring, counting, pre-writing,
sensory information such as shapes, texture, temperature, touch, size,
problem-solving, planning, imagining and pretending, etc.
Admittedly, this is not exactly a rock learning activity but it certainly is a play and learning one. The kids of various ages enjoyed their creating and had fun together. Isn’t that the Olympic spirit?
Have you wondered why kindergarten readiness and other developmental assessments sometimes ask kids to name shapes? This basic information gives an idea of the level of children’s learning. For instance, shapes belong together in groups so they can be used to tell if a child can categorize using similarities and differences. There is a great deal of thinking to be able to match shapes to other shapes and to the correct words.
Like so many other readiness for kindergarten concepts, the key to learning shapes is exploration and repetition, and play. If your child is past the stage of putting everything into his/her mouth, rocks are a fun way to practice shapes. While most will be round, there will be some that are square, some pointy, etc. How much you can do will depend on kids’ age. For wee ones, you may only be able to say “round” and guide little hands to feel the shape. Older toddlers may be able to compare and name other shapes. Rain or shine, you may want to go for a rock walk around to block or to the park to look for other shape rocks.
What shapes do you see?
a pointy rock
Go for a rock walk.
In a study just published last month from the University of Chicago, understanding shapes and how they fit together is important knowledge for problem-solving, and for material presented later in school such as maps, graphs and diagrams. As the old saying, what goes around comes around and the learning that kids do from the ages of new to 5 or 6 years old, comes back around when they go to school. Do you have any comments to round off this kindergarten readiness and rock learning activity?
Encouraging kids to draw, color and make pictures helps with all kinds of brain connections and kindergarten readiness. Instead of crayons, this activity uses rocks. During a play-date afternoon, a 3 year old, 7 year old and 11 year old all made rock pictures.
flower-3 yr old
dog & sun-7 yr old
peace-11 yr old
Creating pictures can be considered play because it is very much an internal activity. Children interpret and represent what they see around them. Not only are pictures another form of communication, just like words, they are a form of writing and help reinforce the connection between meaning and print, or in this case meaning and art. Making pictures, on paper or table, is good practice for making pictures in the mind or what is called visualizing. Even though art is very much a visual activity, there is still lots of language as children talk about their pictures, practice the vocabulary for colors and engage others in conversation. Plus, there’s lots of creativity and imagination involved, too.
Some other skills and brain-connections include eye-hand coordination as children learn to manipulate tools and growth of attention-span as kids focus on what they are doing. Each artist has to make decisions about what to use and how to use different materials. Size and shape and how things fit together require thinking about, as well. This rock art was both a fun play activity and a brain-challenging one, the best way to develop kindergarten readiness. Have you and your child ever made pictures with rocks?
During the week it’s sometimes hard to find time for kindergarten readiness activities outdoors, but the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Q. What’s a sunny day called that follows 2 days of rain? A. Monday. If possible weather-wise and you live close to rocks and water, did you know that throwing rocks–safely, of course–is a good activity for thinking? Not only is it exercise for muscles, it’s also exercise for brains. The sense of movement is tremendously important for all learning.
On the surface, it would seem that helping children learn to be calm, relaxed and still would be helpful but physical movement is the most powerful tool for encouraging the growth and development of brain connections. Both strong bodies and strong brains need movement. The 2 senses of movement and the body’s position are developed as kids learn to sit, push, crawl, stand, walk, etc. The skills of talking and thinking are interwoven in motor coordination.
Throwing rocks is one way for kids to develop some movement and body position skills. Kids also like to be able to impact their environment. As they toss a rock into the water, they create both noise and ripples. Ponds, lakes, rivers and oceans are big enough that most rocks do end up in the water. Older preschoolers can learn that they need to carefully watch for people and animals before they throw. Only a few places in cities will have appropriate spaces for throwing rocks, but often on vacation there will be some safe spots. Sometimes, grown-ups like to play, too, and see if they can make flat rocks skip across the water. I think once I got up to 5, but I could never match my dad.What’s your record for skipping rocks?
While working on some posts for kindergarten readiness activities with rocks, I found a video of a little boy playing Rock, Paper, Scissors all by himself. Each hand would choose something at more or less the same time. If his 2 hands came up with the same item, he just adjusted the choice. In any case, he really has to do a lot of quick thinking and concentrating as he plays.
For most young kids rock, paper, scissors is too competitive but here is another hand game that wee ones can enjoy. First, you put one hand flat on a table, then your child puts one hand on top of yours. Next, your hand, and your child puts a hand on the very top. Now, carefully slide your bottom hand out and put it on top. Then, your child slides out his/her bottom hand and put it on the top. As the hands get coordinated, try going faster and faster. Usually, the hands get all out of sequence and the game turns into giggles. This “your hand, my hand” switching is a very early game to teach taking turns and to practice focus and concentration. Children love to play, for short bits of time. For even more fun, try it with 3 or 4 people. Then it gets really complicated. Brains can’t keep up with hands.
There are other hand games, like clapping patterns or even Patty-Cake. This second video shows 2 little ones learning to coordinate together. What a lot of learning as kids remember the words and actions, and watch each other for cues. Rhythm is part of the learning and adds to the social interaction and kindergarten readiness. Do you and your child play hand games
Exploring and discovering are part of play and through play children develop their kindergarten readiness. Kids love to pick up rocks and they love to play with water. Warm summer days are ideal for some water play outside. In addition to all the other toys, add a few rocks.
Little ones may notice all on their own that rocks will not stay on top of the water by themselves. They sink to the bottom. Down, down, down. Or you may ask your child if a rock will sink or float. Have your child try other rocks to see if they will sink or float too. (If you have a pumice stone, it does not sink like other rocks!)
Include some containers like small plastic cereal bowls. Ask your child if a rock will float when it rides in a dish. Did that work? Some kids will try 2 or 3 or more rocks all on their own to see how many will float before the container sinks. Other children may respond when they see an adult trying more than rock at a time. Will a rock pour? Will it go through the holes in a strainer? There’s lots of fun science discovery just by combining a few rocks with water and other toys.
Kindergarten readiness develops as an extension of children’s play. Experimenting with rocks and water is fun and learning at the same time. Does this activity appeal to your child?