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.

spring-songs-for-kidsLittle 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 … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #13

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 … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #12

Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #11

Hop on Pop (by Dr. Seuss) sounds like a fun activity. Well, maybe not for Pop but for kids that like to hop. Did you know that hopping and jumping is great way to develop skeletal strength?  Childhood is the most important time for a healthy skeleton. Activity makes children’s bones stronger and can even change the … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #11

Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #10

Some kindergarten readiness evaluations will include a question about alphabet knowledge. Certainly it is helpful for kids to have some familiarity with letters and sounds before starting school, so that they can build on what they know and for their confidence. But kids do Not need flash cards and drill. Instead, there are fun ways to learn … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #10

Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #9

And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street has a great idea for today: going for a walk and seeing what’s on your street. When it comes to readiness for kindergarten there isn’t really a specific set of information that is helpful for kids to know. What’s important is that kids have practice learning … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #9

Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #8

We do not think of listening as an important readiness for kindergarten skill but it is crucial when it comes to learning. Horton Hears A Who is a fun book for encouraging listening skills. Being able to listen and learn is a key thinking strategy. Giving a baby a rattle to play with isn’t just to … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #8

Readiness for Kindergarten – Learning With Dr. Seuss, #7

What can your feet do? Check out The Foot Book: Dr. Seuss’s Wacky Book of Opposites. Opposites are not easy to get right, but they are an important language and thinking skill. They require brain connections not just for the meaning of each word or concept, but linking of one idea and it’s opposite. Some opposites are easy … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Learning With Dr. Seuss, #7