Autumn is a wonderful time to explore outside with your preschool child, the changes in nature provider opportunities for language development and outdoor play. At Middlesex Valley the UPK teachers focus on providing play and language development opportunities. This newsletter is intended to provide ideas for at home preschool children.
Sorting Objects by Color:
In preschool some children are still learning their colors, autumn leaves are a natural way to support your child’s confirmation of what “orange,” “green,” “red,” and “brown” are. Take the time to explicitly say the name of the color and have your child repeat the color name. For those children who have already mastered color recognition and those still learning, sorting objects by color is a pre reading and a math skill.
Using leaves, or toys around the house (Legos work well), hand your child a small pile of different colored items. I suggest starting with four to five different colors. Model for your child that you are sorting the items by color and say the color of the object as you add it to a pile. “this is blue and goes in the blue pile. This is red and goes in the red pile.” I know this sounds all too simple to use as adults, however sorting items so children recognize “same” and “different” are both pre-reading and math skills. In math we use objects for early learners so they have what we refer to as “concrete” objects to practice “how many” or the quantity. In reading, children eventually will be sorting words by shared sounds, first letters, and other attributes.
Reading to your child:
In the UPK classroom teachers are reading out loud to children multiple times a day. Sometimes they will read the same book more than once. Young children learn a lot about reading by being read to. Reading out loud to children increases their vocabulary, models appropriate sentence structure, and teaches the child about “how books work.” While reading to your child point to the words as you read, UPK and Kindergarten teachers do this often while reading out loud to a class. Children learn the direction of reading (left to right) by seeing your finger move in the direction as you read along. Take time to point out objects and characters in the illustrations. Preschool is all about language development and play, as you point out objects have the child talk about what they see and listen carefully to how they name objects in an illustration. Every time you have the child tell you about something you are increasing their language development and vocabulary.
UPK is filled with a lot of playtime. Play and using their imagination is very important for brain development. Children practice fine and gross motor skills (small and large body movements), language development, and turn taking when playing with others. In school it is not unusual to see children pretending to be the teacher. At home, it is not unusual to see children pretend to do what adults are doing in the home. This can include laundry, cooking, cleaning, reading, yardwork, and any other typical activity. As the children pretend, listen to the words they use and ask the child questions about what they are doing. Outdoor play which includes running, skipping, galloping, and walking are common for Physical Education activities for UPK.
Playtime also includes craft time. Autumn is a wonderful time to have children collect leaves and make wreaths or decorations with leaves. Having children grasp, pinch, and hold small materials builds muscle strength in hands and fingers. Having children spend time creating also continues to build imagination and a sense of confidence.
The internet is filled with ideas for preschool children, I especially like Pinterest for quick ideas. Including these links as examples does not equate to an endorsement for the site nor for any advertisements contained within the site. Below are some links for ideas for Fall UPK children:
As the weather gets colder there is an opportunity to learn independent skills of dressing for winter. Practicing putting on one’s own snow-pants, jackets, mittens and hats takes time, but the pride a child feels when they can independently dress for outdoor play is a jay for adults to see. Just like any other skill, children need modeling and practice. Taking the time to teach your pre-school aged child that snow-pants should be put on before boots and jacket are obvious to us, but not to a preschool child. When I taught Kindergarten I always used the book “Froggy Gets Dressed” by Jonathan London as a fun way to learn about dressing for outdoor play. YouTube has the full version of the book available.
At school the staff practice every day getting dressed for outdoor play and give support through gentle reminders and encouragement rather than “doing it” for the child. Staff also will pull individual children aside to practice zipping and unzipping many times in a row. All the practice is needed. As adults our own patience can be tried if a child becomes frustrated, this is when adults need to smile and use the sincerest encouraging voice to “keep trying., I know it can be hard at first, but you will get it.”
Image: Book Cover of Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London
In preschool children are learning about quantities of one through five. At home use toys and food to have your child practice counting and pointing as they count. Watch your child to see if they can say the number as they touch each object. Model for them to touch and count. Once your child has practiced touching and counting in a row, place objects in a circle and model how to count objects in a row, this is a tricky skill for young children as they want to “keep counting” as they count around the circle. Teaching your child where to start and stop counting is an opportunity to show that five objects in a row is the same as five objects in a circle. I suggest keeping the counting under five right now. In the Spring the UPK teachers will move beyond counting five.
Ideas for Counting with Your Child
· Point to objects in a set as you say each number word aloud
· Move each object as you say each number word aloud
· Ask your child questions such as, “How will you keep track of which ones you’ve counted and those you haven’t counted?”
Image: Five paper trees in a row
Image: Five paper circles
Reading to your child:
I can never express enough the importance of reading to your child. Take the time to read to your child and to have a conversation about the illustrations. Play a game of having your child point to an object you describe (use shape and color words in your descriptions). Children learn to listen and look for details when you ask them questions about the illustrations or stories. Ask your child to predict what might happen next. Ask your child why? And how? As much as possible. Children need experience using language and explaining their thoughts. If your child answers “I don’t know?” Read the page again and ask them a why or how question again.
Winter playtime outside and inside can have many opportunities for language experiences and also for practicing small and large (gross) motor skills. Outside children are still running, skipping, galloping, and hopefully building with snow. Inside children have toys and books, but also have your child use crayons, pencils, and markers to draw and “write”. A stage of writing includes making marks that the child considers “letters” and “words.” Have your child tell you what they “wrote” and write what they tell you under their words.