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Ideas for helping parents and their preschoolers.

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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in learning games
Math Principle #2: One-to-One Correspondence When teaching the math principle called “one-to-one correspondence”, it is important to involve physical development, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and making it something they delight in – all at the same time! Then they will get it much faster. Count while Eating They can count each cheerio, or each green bean. Before they realize it, they are understanding subtraction! It gets the brain wired for math as a toddler. They may not know it, of course; but one day it will click. Tick Tock Game Also mentioned in our previous post on math, this game can be used to teach one-to-one correspondence. It involves the body and balance. When they say the number, lift a finger and have them jump. As a rule, only go as high as they are old (until the age of 5). Counting Steps Also, again, count when going up steps. Always go in order....
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20 Learning Games for When Mom or Dad is Exhausted Parents of preschoolers are tired people. Caring for little ones is exhausting work. We have the best intentions of providing enriching activities for our kids, but when exhaustion sets in, good intentions go out the window. To help you plan for those times when you need something your child can do while you are lying down or sitting, here’s a list of 20 activities. Finger paint in shaving cream spread on a cookie sheet. Play with play dough. Read. If you’re reading a well-known book, try changing some of the words or sentences and let your child have fun catching your “mistakes.” Play Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. Put on music and let your child dance. Try giving her a bean bag and challenge her to dance with the beanbag on her head, between her knees, or on her elbow. Play “red light, green light.” Play a following directions game. Give...
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What do I do with a Sandbox? When my oldest daughter was 15 months old, her dad built a sandbox. I (Kirby) knew it was going to be perfect! I could hang clothes out to dry while my toddler blissfully discovered pouring and measuring and building and dumping. Montessori had come to my house! I gathered up my basket of wet clothes, led my little girl over to the new sandbox, and headed for the clothesline. But she just stood there, staring at the sand and looking puzzled. Then it hit me—she didn’t know how to play with sand. So I abandoned my laundry and we spent time making mountains together and filling up her dump truck, pouring water onto the sand, and digging holes. After that, she knew what to do, and she knew how much fun it could be. It’s not just kids who haven’t learned how to play with sand. Lots of parents don’t know...
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Posted by on in Learning Games
Games to Play with String If you’re looking for a versatile toy with tremendous developmental benefits, a simple length of string, rope, or yarn is the way to go. Here are some games you can play with that string that address various areas of a child’s development. Many of these can be played anywhere! Keep yarn or string in your purse or pocket to pull out when your little one is getting bored and needs something fun and challenging to do. Balance and Coordination String, yarn, or rope makes a perfect balance beam. Stretch the string out on the floor, and show your child how to walk on it, putting one foot in front of the other. Your child can do lots of fun things on a balance beam: Walk on a curvy or zigzag line Balance on one foot on the string Do an arabesque (or scale) Jump zigzags back and forth across the string...
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Teaching Your Child Early Writing Skills “One of the best predictors of whether a child will function competently in school and go on to contribute actively in our increasingly literate society is the level to which the child progresses in reading and writing. Although reading and writing abilities continue to develop throughout the lifespan, the early childhood years—from birth through age eight—are the most important period for literacy development.” -- The International Reading Association As you can see from the above quote, writing skills are crucial for ensuring success in school and life. The good news is that activities that teach writing are things that kids love to do! The first step to learning to write is strengthening finger and hand muscles. For ideas on how to do this, see this post. Even while you are still working on hand strength, you can begin a progression of building writing skills in your child. A great way to...
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How to Make Grocery Shopping a Learning Experience Grocery shopping with preschoolers isn’t easy. We get goal-oriented about shopping and feel frustrated that our kids are slowing us down. But grocery stores offer a wealth of stimuli for a child’s brain, and shopping is a great opportunity to help your little one learn and grow. Below are some ways you can engage your child while getting your shopping done. Name everything. Everything you buy, hold it up and name it. Let your child hold, feel, and smell items. This will help your child’s vocabulary explode. Work on colors. Once your child knows lots of nouns, you can begin to work on colors. Hold up a banana and say, “Yellow. Yellow banana.” Do this with anything that has a clear color. Show your child something red, and then say, “Can you find anything red?” Let them name everything they can find that’s red. Play “I Spy.” Keep in mind that...
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How to Make a Travel Activity Book A travel activity book is a spiral notebook filled with learning games and fun activities for times your child needs to do something quiet, like in the doctor’s office, waiting rooms, or during car trips. It’s a combination of activities drawn onto pages, games held in envelopes stapled into the notebook, and blank pages for creative fun. Grab a notebook and let’s get started! Envelope games Pipe-cleaner people. In one envelope put in pre-made pipe-cleaner people, bits of cloth for clothes, and plain pipe cleaners for making props. Playing with posable pipe-cleaner people is great for your child's finger muscles and fine motor skills, and it makes for fun pretend play. You can tie pipe cleaner people onto a car seat for a preschooler so if your child drops them, he can pull them back up again. Tangrams. This doesn’t actually have to be tangrams. Just cut out a variety of...
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The Counting Worm Game for Teaching Numbers A counting worm is an engaging game for teaching numbers to preschoolers. Make your counting worm out of an egg carton. Cut one strip of 6 cups. This will be your worm. Draw a face on one end, and add pipe-cleaner antenna if you want. Write the numbers 1 through 6 on each of the bumps on his back. Be sure to write neatly and clearly since your kids are just beginning to learn their numbers. Cut a second strip of 6 cups apart into individual cups. This will be your worm’s “clothes.” On the back of each of these cups, draw dots, 1 through 6. Draw them in the same pattern that dots are drawn on dice. The numbers are easier to recognize in that pattern. Start your game with a story. Say, “This is the counting worm. He’s getting ready to go to school, but he needs your help...
Tagged in: learning games Math
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Learning Games to Play in the Car Does the idea of a car trip with small children fill you with dread? Road trips don’t have to be torture. In fact, they can be an immersion learning opportunity for your kids. If you fill your time in the car with fun games and activities, you can expect your children’s vocabulary and knowledge to grow exponentially in a short time while you cultivate fun memories and a strong relationship. The real challenge of road trips is keeping kids entertained. Here are some ideas that will engage your kids and help them learn and grow at the same time. Play rhyming games. Let the youngest child say a word and have everyone else say a word that rhymes. Try to come up with as many rhymes as possible. Read Piggle by Crosby Bonsall, and play “Piggle” by saying four words that rhyme, mixing up real words and nonsense words. Play I...
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Games to Play with Bean Bags Bean bags are fun learning materials for babies, preschoolers, and even older children. The easiest bean bag to make is to fill a child’s sock with popcorn, beans, or rice, and then tie a knot in the end of the sock. For babies, give them a bowl full of bean bags and let them pull them out and put them in. Say “out” and “in” as they move the bags. This is good for eye-hand coordination, hand strength, and learning the concepts of out and in. As children become able to stand, bean bags work great for throwing games. For ways to teach throwing skills, see this post. A first step is just to have your toddler stand over a bowl and drop the bean bag in. Next, you can teach the throwing motion. Have your toddler or preschooler hold the bean bag and swing their arm back and forth. Tell...
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Games to Play with Hula Hoops Hula hoops are great tools for developing physical skills, and they are lots of fun too! A preschooler probably won’t be able to use a hula hoop for its intended use yet, but there is still a lot they can do with one.  Here is a list of games and learning activities for hula hoop time. Lay the hoop on the ground and use it as a target for a bean bag toss. Put a series of hoops on the floor, and have your child follow directions to hop from hoop to hoop. They can jump with both feet, step, hop on one foot, etc. Use a hoop as a round balance beam. They can walk one foot in front of another around the circle, or they can stand on the hoop with their toes pointing toward the inside of the circle and side step (step, together, step, together.) Side-stepping in...
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Teach Your Preschooler Colors Colors are one of the first things that parents think about teaching their children. Teaching your preschooler colors can be a lot of fun. You should wait to introduce colors until your child has a solid vocabulary of nouns. A preschooler’s brain is wired to learn the names of objects before learning to describe those objects. Kids have what is called the “language explosion” between 18 and 24 months of age, during which they will be learning lots and lots of nouns. Work with their brains during this time by naming everything, and by not confusing things by adding adjectives. After about the age of two, your child may be getting ready to learn colors. The best way to kick off this process is by having a “red day.” (Really, it can be any color you want.) Pick a color, like red, and focus on it. Have everyone wear red. Pick...
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How to Make Colored Rice or Pasta Materials: Uncooked macaroni or rice Ziplock bag Food Coloring Rubbing Alcohol Put a couple of tablespoons of rubbing alcohol in the ziplock bag. (Use about a tablespoon for 2 cups of rice or pasta.) Add a few drops of food coloring. Add the uncooked pasta or rice, zip the bag, and mix it around until the pasta or rice is colored. Take the rice or pasta out of the bag, and spread it on paper towels to dry. Once it is dry, the color will stay and not come off on your fingers. The alcohol evaporates, so what's left is non-toxic, but we don't recommend eating it! The colored rice or pasta is fun for pouring and measuring or for digging in. Hide little plastic animals in the rice, and let your child dig around for them. Name each animal as your child finds them. If you are working on colors,...
Tagged in: Crafts learning games
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9 Principles for Playing Learning Games Learning games are a great way to teach your child a well-rounded set of skills and to lay a foundation for all the learning she will do in life. You’ll find lots of examples and activities on our blog and website. Here we’ve collected some principles that will help your experience of playing learning games go smoothly. Keep it fun and lighthearted. As soon as learning feels like work instead of play, your kids will resist. Don’t force anything. Invite, make it appealing, demonstrate how much fun the activity is, but don’t make your child do something he isn’t interested in. He may not be developmentally ready, or his development may be centered around a different skill this week. Appeal to his interests rather than what you think he ought to be doing. Plan ahead. Take a few minutes the night before to get familiar with 1-2 games. Make sure you...
Tagged in: learning games
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Teach Your Child to Follow Directions the Fun and Easy Way Have you ever wondered how to teach your child to follow directions without it turning into a power struggle? The key is to focus on following directions as a skill that children can learn gradually in the same fun ways that they can learn their colors or to tie their shoes. Here’s the Following Directions Game: The best age to introduce this game is around one year, but you can introduce it any time, adjusting to their age and skill level. Keep in mind your child’s attention span—keep the game short, and stop before the kids are tired of it. Tell your child, “I have a game. It’s called the Following Directions Game. I’ll tell you something to do, and you see if you can do it.” Start off with one instruction. Demonstrate while saying, “Touch your nose.” When they do that, give them a second instruction, “Touch your head.” For...
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