Developing kindergarten readiness is the same as helping your child with any new skill; it builds over time with lots of learning and fun. Halloween is an especially fun time of year and many of children’s favorite activities will be ones that are repeated from the years before. (This is not just a sneaky way to cover up doing the same old stuff!) These can be adapted as children grow older but much of the fun is doing things again.
Opening up the door to the costume trunk can be like opening the door to greet a friend you haven’t seen for awhile. It only took a pair of wee hands a few moments to dig thru these carefully folded items until they became one big pile of colors and texture. As each hat and cape was tried on, so was each character.
Kids don’t necessarily wait for Halloween to play dress-up. Often, they do it all year long. This pretending and imagining helps with development in many ways. Children test out what they already know to see if it “fits”. For example, as Lee put on the pirate hat and waved the sword, she tried to remember what pirates say. Her first attempt was “Er”, to which I replied “Ar”. She quickly changed her’s to “Arrr” too. As she talked about costume ideas with her mom, she thought she might like to be a whale, but later asked “Mommy, how can I be a whale with feets?” A problem-solving strategy starts with identifying the problem. This skill is another one that kids work on when playing dress-up.
Besides problem-solving, testing, and imagining, there’s lots of vocabulary to explore, too. What would a firefighter say, or a policeman, or a princess, or an animal? There’s lots of creative thinking, story-telling and emotional learning as well. When children pretend to be somebody else, they also pretend how that somebody else might feel. This is the important skill of empathy that will help kids understand others’ emotions and feelings.
Pretending one thing is something else, such as a small box being a robot switch, is called symbolic thinking and this is a foundation for later academic experiences. Kids also practice fine-motor coordination with all the zippers, buttons and different ways of moving in costumes.
What have you noticed kids learning as they play dress-up with Halloween costumes?
Now that we’re closer to Halloween it’s probably okay to start talking about how pumpkins can be jack-o-lanterns. Although kids have been seeing lots of them for days already, earlier blog posts talked about them as another sign of fall. At this time of year, I love to read two favorite stories. One of them is almost fifty years old but still magical–Mousekin’s Golden House, by Edna Miller. The second, almost as old, is a very funny explanation of Halloween traditions with a moose and a bear–Halloween with Morris and Boris by Bernard Wiseman. There are other great Halloween books. There’s a vast selection of newer ones for very young and older kids, too. Choose some to read to your child.
Sharing and reading stories and books is a real treat for little ones and is one of the most important readiness for kindergarten activities. Because books are a concentrated form of language, they are ideal for stimulating language and much of our learning during our entire lives is done thru language. Check out these statistics.
- In a National Institute for Literacy study, kindergartners who were read to 3 times a week had almost twice as much likelihood of scoring in the top quarter of the class.
- Reading 3 stories a day to a child over the course of a year adds up to over 1,000 stories. By the time a child arrives at school at the age of 5, those 3 stories a day add up to over 5,000!
Books and stories are a kindergarten readiness treat. What are your favorite Halloween stories?
I hope your pumpkin has been doing its exercises. It needs to be in good shape for tomorrow night. When you carve your jack-o-lantern at your house or care center, discuss the shapes you will use. While squares, rectangles, triangles, and circles are the basic ones, you may be able to talk about the less common ones like diamonds or ovals, too.
The trick with kindergarten readiness is to piggy-back learning onto something that you are already doing. Making jack-o-lanterns is a perfect way to talk about shapes. You can also show your child how pictures are made from the cut-out part, or the negative space. What part of the pumpkin makes the smile, and the nose and the eyes? The hole part does.
Here’s hoping your Halloween is only positive and that these Halloween learning ideas and activities have been treats for you. Which one did you and your child enjoy the most?
Q. What did one pumpkin say to the other one? A. Cut it out! Happy Halloween!
Doing crafts with little ones is not always easy. At the very least, it is not usually an activity that kids can do by themselves. Instead, it requires adult supervision and time. Nevertheless, making crafts helps with kindergarten readiness because children learn to plan, organize and follow directions. The projects encourage creativity and give kids … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Halloween Craft Decoration
At Halloween, ghost stories are traditional but extra scary. Telling stories is another way to explore and create with language, use special vocabulary, help kids practice putting events in order, visualize and imagine, and more. Kids learn to use clues to figure out what is real and what is pretend. These are all great skills for … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Halloween Stories
Reading books to little ones is one of the most vital kindergarten readiness activities that you can do at home or in your care center. Currently, Halloween storybooks are everywhere, including at the grocery store. I purchased a few for school at a dollar store. The photo shows two stories that I love to read at … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Halloween Books
With Halloween creeping closer and closer we can take advantage of the energy and enthusiasm and sneak in a little help around the haunted house. Magic Spell to Make Toys Disappear: Abra-ca-dabra, abra-da-dear. Toys in the toybox. Make them disappear!! (The quicker, the better and use lots of spooky oo’s and creepy ee’s when picking them … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Halloween Fun
Start off Monday with some singing all about Halloween. These songs use tunes that are already familiar: (tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) Pumpkin, pumpkin on the ground, how’d you get so big and round. Started as a seed so small, growing ‘to a big, orange ball. Pumpkin, pumpkin on the ground, how’d you get so … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Halloween Songs
Cooking with kids can be fun–if the recipe is easy. Kids enjoy creating and tasting. Plus, the measuring, counting and adding are math skills used in a meaningful way. This recipe is called Monster Mix and fits right in with Halloween. It’s great for having at home, or taking a small container with you to keep … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Halloween Math Snack
Play time is absolutely essential to children’s development. Yesterday’s blog was a quick craft for making a kleenex ghost. Today, if the same ghost isn’t worn out, it can be used in all different kinds of play activities. Maybe that ghost would like to help build a house out of blocks. Of course, it could … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Halloween Playtime