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Preschool/Earlier Learner Busy Ideas
Now that we have transitioned to e-learning and home based education, my day is filled with iPads, mechanical pencils, math worksheets, and PRESCHOOL CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES!
Nolan has set schedule, expectations, and easy to follow lessons. Carlie on the other hand, is supposed to do 2 learning activities, away from technology and document them to her teacher with a photo and few sentences about how she liked it or what she said about it.
Here are a few ideas that Carlie has been enjoying with things I had around the house. Nothing special is needed and there are lots of substitutions/interchangeable items.
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Salt Letter Writing:
Using a ziplock bag, pour salt to fill halfway. Tightly seal and put tape over the top to prevent an accidental spill. Practice writing letters and numbers in the salt. We pulled different letters from a bag to give a visual. You can also just pour the salt on cookie and make letters on it. HOWEVER, I prefer to keep the mess to a minimum and we can reuse the bag easily anytime she wants to try again!
Use magnet letters (we have been using THIS SET because it has both upper and lower case plus numbers) to match lower case to upper case and vice-versa. I printed off a sheet with the capitals and one with lower case, but you can hand write your own chart or just line up on set with a space between and match away!
You can do this on the fridge or use a cookie sheet. The cookie sheet works great because kids can sit at the table and work or even on the couch with the sheet on their lap! Plus it sort of holds the objects in one place. Less spread of small things!
If you don’t have magnet letters, you can make post it notes to stick over the top! Remember to practice saying each letter and the sound to keep the skills up
Grab a few pipe cleaners and shape into letters. This was really easy and kept Carlie very entertained. She realized quickly she could make most upper and lower case letters and using 2 at time made letters like F and T!
Print a grid off with ‘dots’ marking each number on a sheet. You can also just draw one out the exact same way. Stick the sheet on the fridge or a cookie sheet. Let the kid count the dots and match the magnet number onto each correct grid spot.
Magazine Letter Cutting
There are several variations to do with this project. I prefer to do one letter on a sheet with upper and lower case plus words that start with that letter. You could also do a grid with each letter of the alphabet and cut a letter for each.
However, we have found it easier to focus on a single letter a day than the entire alphabet. This builds letter recognition plus fine motor with scissors. Just grab some old magazines, print ads, or newspapers. Note: Food Magazines typically are the GO TO. Lots of variety and easily recognized words/objects.
In the photo is the letter C. 3 sections and just a glue stick to paste down the cuttings. We used cookies, cheese, cat food, cables ties, and clock for words we found. You can also add a dotted line for writing practice!
Using a paper plate create a shape pizza! Color the inside of the pizza red and the outside brown. Then use shape counters (we use THESE buttons because they are a nice size and include a great color and shape variety) or cut some construction paper out in different colors and shapes to build a pizza.
I hand wrote a sheet with a blank spot for the quantity and added the shape words and a fast sketch of the shape. Then put the numbers on post it notes and moved them around to scramble up the quantities for a few rounds of play. i.e. 5 Octagons, 4 Triangles, 3 Circles, 2 Stars, 1 Square, etc. You could do it with colors instead of shapes, too!
While doing this she turned it into her own game of custom pizzas. The black – olives, red – pepperoni, purple – onions, green – peppers, etc. She took my order and made me slice after slice! This kept her occupied for a long time just with imaginary play.
Paper Plate and Clothes Pins Counting
Using a paper plate, pie chart divide it out with a marker into the number of sections you want. I did 15. Then, using a different color marker or stickers put counter dots onto each pie piece to equal one number. Write each number onto each clothes pins. Carlie counts the dots and pinches the clip onto the matching pie segment.
If you don’t have clothes pins, post it notes with the numbers or magnet numbers would work too! I grab clothes pins from the dollar store or Menards when they are free after rebate. They come in handy for blanket forts and other little crafts from time to time!
- Don’t forget about sensory bins with things like beans, rice, or orbeez. Carlie LOVES this kind of play with just some measuring cups, spoons, and funnels. Just throw a sheet on the floor or take it outside! Typically the mess is minimal.
- PLAYDOH! I know, it can get messy, but really it is a huge distraction and attention keeper. I get out one color for her and all the cookie cutters, rollers, plastic knives, etc and she goes to town. Since we don’t play with it a lot, its a good one for rainy days, or when nothing is making her happy/occupied.
- Also this Melissa & Doug easel, with letters, paper, chalk board, and dry erase side is perfect for table top. Sketching and drawing is easy with a whole roll of paper, and she practices writing her name or Nolan’s!
- Coloring books and crayons. Keep a stash put away of dollar store books and pull a new one out occasionally. The fresh pages will give a welcome distraction to keep little minds busy for awhile.
Rather than keeping many of our puzzles, letters, and counters in the packaging they come in, I put them in THESE poly zip top bags. They are sturdy, large and make storing so easy. The items are all in the same size and shape and fit easily in a drawer or basket.
For puzzles, I cut the cover off the box, add it to the bag with the pieces and toss the box! I store them all in one basket and they can be flipped through fast rather than a stack of boxes waiting to topple when you pull one out.
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