preparing for kindergarten

Before I Go to Kindergarten #15: Play with School Tools

Every profession or trade has tools. For kids, those are crayons, paint, glue, scissors, etc. Kids need to play with school tools before kindergarten. Play is the work of the child.

play with school tools

This earlier post has a description of some tools and how to use them:

fun with school toolsOnce you have crayon-proofed, perhaps that should be kid and accident-proofed an area, let your child enjoy coloring with crayons, markers, and chalk. Big crayons are easier to hold than little ones.
painting activities with kidsBrushes and paints are also fun as are color dabbers and even q-tips. Food coloring diluted with water is another way to apply color to paper. Speaking of paper, old wrapping paper is blank on one side and even cereal or pizza boxes are good and sturdy for coloring or gluing.

Glue comes white, clear, colored, premixed with sparkles, and even glow-in-the-dark, everything it seems but easy-close. Glue sticks and liquid glue both seem to have challenges with lids. With kids, sometimes the challenge is not to have more glue on them than the project, but kids enjoy activities with glue.

fun with school toolsScissors are tricky to figure out. Did you know play dough is super easy to cut? For hands and brains that are learning to coordinate, play-dough is exceptional. Plus it can be put back together and used over and over. Not just cutting, but rolling, smoothing, patting, poking, and smooshing give small muscles lots of exercise.

These are only a few items for play with school tools. Kids won’t play with them in the same ways. Some kids may not be interested in playing with them much at all. This sort of play uses small muscles in the fingers, hands, and wrists. Large muscle activities like running, climbing, chasing, jumping, and swinging, have more appeal. Who wants to sit still when bodies want to move?

For kids who have higher mobility needs than others, we can adapt the tools. Fill a bucket with water and give kids a big wall paintbrush. Painting the fence with water is fun even if there’s nothing to see when the water dries. Check if any stores have wonderful refrigerator-size boxes. These are fun to color outside and inside. Kids can ‘write’ in the sandbox with cars and trucks.

As kids play with the tools of their work, they are developing and strengthening fine motor coordination. They are also practicing thinking skills, such as problem-solving, making choices, and following instructions. Often, there’s an element of imagination. When they show us what they have done and talk about it, they get to use language in specific ways. Feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment isn’t always easy for kids. Tools are useful for creating.

Sometimes, as parents and caregivers, we forget the value of toys and tools for play and learning. What are some other great tools or ways to  play with school tools you can suggest?

There are more items on the Before I Go to Kindergarten infographic. Check posts both before and after too for more ideas.

Extraordinary Learning Needs Ordinary Play

Series Part #11: Kids Going to Kindergarten Need to PLAY

One of the most important ways that we can support children as they get ready to start kindergarten is let them have time and space to PLAY. Did you know that play is so essential to the healthy development of children that the United Nations High Commission has enshrined the right to play as one of the Universal Rights of the Child?

importance of playPlay is critical because play is how a child learns. The activity could be anything: throwing stones in a puddle, building with blocks, cuddling a stuffie, or putting together a puzzle. It could even be washing the dishes or helping to put away the groceries. If a child is eager and having fun, creating, discovering and manipulating, whatever the activity is can be considered play.  Through play, children connect their inner and outer worlds, increasing their knowledge and understanding, and gaining confidence in themselves.

There is a tendency to dismiss play and say that it is not really learning, but if you could take a Magic School Bus field trip in a child’s brain during play, there would be all kinds of connections, growth, development and activity happening as that brain learns.

importance of playChildren will learn many basic and readiness skills as they play. It can occur in any room in the house, at any time of the day, alone or with others. Play does not need fancy toys or programs. Kids will play with sticks and   boxes, containers in the kitchen drawer, and things that give parents grey hairs.

Development for children at this age is tremendously important. Parents and caregivers are children’s first teachers and home is the first school. But there’s no reason for parents to panic. Nature, in its wisdom has determined that the most powerful tool for children to learn is PLAY! Imagine that. Now that’s planning! A critical time for development could be a problem if the answer wasn’t CHILD’S PLAY.

Kindergarten Readiness – Reading Resolution

To read or not to read? Nope, that’s Not the question. The question could be–To read a book or to tell a story? Stories do not need exotic ideas; they can be about anything. Here’s some possibilities:

-what the sock found at the bottom of the laundry hamper,
-what the plate said to the bowl in the cupboard,
-one day you came home and your house had turned into a ____ ,
-going to the store and having a strange adventure with the cart,
-instead of porridge, the Three Bears came to your house for breakfast,

A little imagination can make a story from anything. Why tell stories? Making up stories helps your child practice the language and the structure that books use. It often involves your child and exercises imagination. You model for your little one how to think on one’s feet and build on resources that are immediately available. These are just a few of the ways that telling stories promotes development and kindergarten readiness. As parent or caregiver you have extensive knowledge of what interests your child. You can start with a level and things that are familiar and expand them. For extra enrichment, your child can draw a story and you print the story line. That way you have a unique book to enjoy over and over.

Speaking of unique, how do you catch a unique rabbit? You ‘neak up on it. How do you catch a tame rabbit? Tame way. Telling stories helps with kindergarten readiness the tame way that reading books does. It works for New Year’s reading resolution just the tame, too. Does it work for you?

Kindergarten Readiness – Rake Up A Jack-o-lantern

Weekends, at this time of year, often include some yardwork. While little ones aren’t really much help, when they are included,  there are some great learning opportunities. Before raking leaves, let your little ones see that trees lose their leaves at this time of year and that leaves are different colors, sizes and shapes. The playing in … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Rake Up A Jack-o-lantern

Kindergarten Readiness – 1 Leaf Say To The Other?

What did one autumn leaf say to the other leaf? I’m falling for you! As a change and extension from reading books, it’s important to also tell stories.  Ask your child to choose a fall leaf. Either you or your child can be the voice of the leaf and tell about being on a tree and … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – 1 Leaf Say To The Other?

Kindergarten Readiness – Fall Leaves for Math

Besides using fall leaves for nature studies and art projects, here are some math ideas. Look over the leaf collection and first sort them into different groups. Maybe some are small and some big, or some are round or jagged or have lots of points, or some are one color and some another.  Talk about why … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Fall Leaves for Math

Kindergarten Readiness – Collecting Leaves

One activity I can remember doing even as a small child is collecting fall leaves. If the leaves have started to turn and fall in your area take your child out and choose some special leaves. Help your little one notice that the leaves are different shapes and different colors. One tree may have leaves of different sizes. … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Collecting Leaves

Kindergarten Readiness – Fall & Ball Rhyme

Anytime is a good time to rhyme but fall and ball are easy, ordinary, everyday words to practice words that rhyme. Rhyming is a skill that is needed for learning to read.  As children learn to manipulate and create with language, one of the abilities they develop–(without any formal teaching on our part!)–is to divide … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Fall & Ball Rhyme