This week’s top activities are diverse in their challenges by teaching an array of early learning skills. We were all a twitter with everything bugs, butterflies, and Spring. We learned about the season by listening to stories, coloring pictures, cutting straight lines for making “grass” and “flower stems”, and were beginning to refine control for writing our names as well as participating in new social games. In addition, we explored the environment for evidence of Earth’s regeneration of plants and creatures – and planted some seeds ourselves. STEAM Activities are easily incorporated by how toys or apps are used. Is the focus on core curricula activities with a standard set of facts for retention in mind, or is it purely investigative play that may teach a child to generalize the material? It all comes down to how an activity is presented and the amount of participation a child is allowed for exploring the trial and error relationships of an activity – be it an app or toy. Here are a few of our favorite activities for May:
Primary Concepts – Count a LadyBug Counting Kit – contains everything for learning how to count in one fun package. Beginning with number cards – use a one to one correspondence reference card where each ladybug has a spot on the card. Here 4 is definite…there is no 4, 4, 4 for matching the ladybugs to their relative spots. These adorable little bugs have all the punch for facilitating fine motor skills such as refining a pincher grasp, visual motor skills of targeting to a container or a specified spot and learning early numeracy skills. The icing on the cake for this toy is the stamper. Oh, how grand it is to have earned a ladybug stamp because you can count! This line from Primary Concepts also includes – counting pigs and penguins. We have the ladybugs, but any from the series would be a joy to add to your tool box.
Smart Games is a brilliant company that helps develop sequencing, problem-solving, and visual-spatial skills. There are many varieties of their games – and one to fit nearly any classroom theme or personal preference of a child. I wish we had them all. Kids especially enjoy the Day andNight sets and the Smart Car. Gameplay centers on taking the challenge to build from a given set of visual instructions. It’s not as easy as you think, but it IS a grand way to experiment through trial and error. No two kids go about constructing the puzzlers in the same way. It is magical observing their thought processes unfold. These are activities and games that are pursued for the pure joy of playing.
Mother’s Day and all things Mom lands in the middle of the month. The rich sensory experiences and lessons on growth can be experienced simply by growing flowers for Mom. Digging in the dirt, and getting a little messy helps to desensitize the hands and aligns the tactile system with its other sensory systems into a means for exploration and learning. Seeds can be examined under a magnifying glass and/or sorted to size or shape. Pots can be painted, decorated with stickers, or be elaborately decorated with photos. Add coloring, cutting and pasting by making a card, and fine motor play is enhanced. The focus is on the process, and as every mother will tell you, receiving a homemade card is a treasure worthy of admiration and celebration. Jumping in puddles, whether with two feet or one, running in a riveting game of Duck, Duck, Goose (or as we play by naming different animals – Bear, Bear, Giraffe!) on a warm and sunny day fills kids with the joy of gross motor play and movement.
These are a few of the activities we pursued in May. We’d love to hear some of yours! It’s easy to incorporate basic STEAM activities into any of your centers. Have fun, as it is the process and not the final product that helps us on our life-long journey of learning.