Children ages 3 to 5 often struggle to work well with others and require a lot of practice at sharing and taking turns. This is also the time when children should be learning about the alphabet and numbers to prepare them for kindergarten. When planning activities for preschoolers, focus on ways to hone these skills.
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Share Family Stories
Ask parents to bring three or four family photographs to preschool, recommends Scholastic. One at a time, have each child stand at the front of the semicircle of students and tell a story about his photos. Ask him to talk about who is in each photo and tell a story about when each picture was taken, then ask him to make connections between the photos. For example, "Which photo was taken first? Is there anybody that is in more than one photo?" When the child is done sharing, have other children ask questions about the pictures. This exercise helps preschoolers practice social interactions and storytelling. It also helps them learn more about their classmates and see how they are different from and similar to each other.
Thank You Cards
Read a story about types of community helpers, such as police officers or mail carriers. Then have the children make cards with construction paper and pictures they cut out of magazines. Help them write a message of thanks and sign their names. Ask a community helper to visit the class so the children can present their cards. Making these thank-you cards provides social interactions with new people and helps children learn about things that people do to help them. This exercise also helps develop fine motor skills, because children write or draw and use scissors and glue.
Any activity that requires taking turns helps children learn that all games don't revolve around them. Taking turns also can help a child understand counting and patterns, as she will be intent on keeping track of how many children are ahead of her next turn. Work turn-taking into everyday activities. For example, with children gathered in a circle, let each one have a turn at hitting a tambourine during a song or holding a new classroom toy.
Preschoolers love art projects, the messier the better. Use finger painting as a way to help them learn new concepts, and they will have so much fun they won't notice they're being taught something new. Cover tables with paper and give children bowls of finger paint. Demonstrate for the class how to write letters of the alphabet or numbers and have them practice writing them with finger paint.
Use real or pretend food to do cooking activities to help children learn about counting and measurements. Doing a cooking project with a group of children also encourages teamwork and turn-taking. Make a batch of cookies with each child having a different ingredient to measure and add. Or play pretend kitchen, using sand and kitchen utensils. Children also can learn about weights by comparing the weight of a cup of dry sand with a cup of wet sand.
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