The Growth and Giggles Blog
Ideas for helping parents and their preschoolers.
In our final hoop installment, we'll look at how to use hoops to teach more complex ideas while keeping it user-friendly for children. Preschoolers cannot think with adult logic but they can grasp more intellectually by using tangible objects, for example using hoops to learn sorting.
When using hoops to teach sorting make sure only two varieties (colors/shapes) are being used. For a 2 year old, place the hoops on the ground next to each other and present a group of circles and squares that can be sorted into the hoop for circles and the hoop for squares. The same could be done with two colors. In general, most two year olds can grasp this concept. For three year olds, it is always best to start with two varieites. If this is easy, move to three options to sort and so on with four varieties of color/shape, etc.
When the child is using their body to sort by placing/throwing the object into the hoop for that specific category, this helps them learn faster and better. It also helps with physical development. Keep this activity simple for the first four and a half years of life. The approach should be to try a game and if it doesn't work try again in a couple of months. Try to find a way to involve the child's body. Some children need to feel to learn (just as we do when making letters out of sandpaper for them to trace with their fingers).
A final idea with the hoops is working with addition or subtraction. Put a number in each hoop and give a certain instruction like "Hop." The child will hop the number of times that is mentioned in that hoop. This could also be done with hoops lined up to make a number line. Start on hoop one and move two forward: 1+2=3 and then the reverse is an option as well for subtraction.
Hoops can also be used to introduce the venn diagram when working with preschool to elementary ages.
Reminder: children cannot think abstractly until the body starts puberty. Between the ages of four and a half and seven, there is a shift from the egocentric brain thinking that everyone knows what one is thinking (and therefore they do not really have the ability to deceive) to more abstract thinking. The issue with the five to seven shift is that it is difficult to fully know what children are capable of during this period of change. Every one is different. They are all on their own timing.
As an aside, this information was researched in the "mean monkey experiment" where a researcher brought children of different ages and asked which sticker was their favorite and which was their least favorite. These two sticker plus one more were left and mean monkey was brought out to ask which was their favorite sticker and take it for himself. The children were tasked with trying to think of a way to have mean monkey not know which was their favorite. All of the children under four and a half years of age could not tell a lie. However, the children older than them were capable of deceiving mean monkey into taking a sticker that they themselves did not want .