## 6 Fun, Preschool Math Activities

Math doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, it can actually be fun, and these six activities can help you introduce your child to many different concepts including counting, sorting, patterns, and geometric shapes. Ready to get started? Enlist the help of food, stuffed animals, socks, and more.

### 1. Count with food.

Snack time, dinner time, lunch-prep time — any time works for counting food! Ask your child to put five baby carrots and five apple slices on a plate for snack. Have your child add three meatballs to each family member’s dinner plate of spaghetti. And when it’s time to get tomorrow’s lunch ready, take out two containers or bags and ask your child to put two graham crackers in one, and eight cubes of cheese in the other.

### 2. Sort stuffed animals into groups.

What do Bob the bear and Harry the horse have in common? They’re both brown! Help your child sort stuffed animals into different groups. First, sort by color. Then, encourage your child to think about where different animals live in the wild, and sort by habitat. You can also sort by number of legs, size, tail vs. no tail, pointy ears vs. floppy ears, and more.

### 3. Create patterns.

Use colored blocks, plastic bears, or other small items to introduce your child to the concept of patterns. Have your child make a pile of red blocks while you make a pile of yellow. Then, lay a yellow one down on the table, ask your child to follow with red, and repeat. Explain the yellow, red, yellow, red sequence to your child and switch it up with other colors. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can move on to something a little harder, such as yellow, yellow, red, yellow, yellow, red.

### 4. Match socks.

Do you dread the laundry-day sock pile? Ask your child to help you find each sock’s match. If you need to simplify it, start by dividing the socks into smaller piles based on who wears them. As your child goes through each pile, there might be four blue socks that look pretty similar or a slew of black socks with barely-noticeable differences. Point out the polka dots on a blue sock or draw attention to the grey stripes on a black sock…and ask your child to find the ones that match.

### 5. Go on a shape hunt around the house and outside.

Work with your child to draw a circle, oval, square, rectangle, triangle, diamond, star, and heart on a sheet of paper. Then, walk around your house, the backyard, the neighborhood, or a nearby park and look for these shapes in different rooms, on street signs, on houses and buildings, and in nature — and make sure to name each shape as you go.

### 6. Use measuring cups and spoons in the kitchen.

Whether you want to build on a concept your child is learning in preschool, your child has started asking about different shapes, or you simply need interesting ideas you can turn to during downtime, take advantage of these math activities you can do at home.

## 3 Things to Prepare for When Transitioning to the Toddler Classroom

### Adapted from The Family Room

So, the day arrived when our son was finally ready to start transitioning to the toddler classroom from the infant classroom. At first, this was exciting news, as it was a big step for him developmentally. The teachers in his classroom carefully helped us plan the move, taking into consideration his physical development and what was safest for him. Then the transition visits began… and new emotions hit me like never. Here are the three biggest changes that threw me for a loop in the beginning.

## The Nerves…

I did not expect to be so nervous about moving classes. The preschools allowed for transition visits. It was very important and comforting for me when my son was transitioning to the toddler classroom. I loved that these visits allowed him to be in the new classroom on certain days for an hour or two before he was there full-time. What I did not expect, was that these transition visits would hit me so hard. I wanted to make sure that when he was sad, I could help him. It was super helpful was the reassurance from his teachers. They told me that all of these emotions were normal. They gave me thorough updates throughout the day. The teachers also gave me the best advice leading up to the big transition day.

## Lunch and Outdoor Play Prep

Suddenly, our nighttime prep for the next day changed dramatically! We went from packing just extra clothes, bottles, diapers, and snacks to a totally new routine. Outdoor play meant shopping for appropriate clothes. For lunch time we now needed a lunchbox with ice packs. There was something about a one-year-old with a lunchbox that made me feel like we were sending him off to college.

## Goodbye Daytime Crib!

Nap time in the toddler classroom meant mats and not cribs and I was nervous that my son wouldn’t be able to nap. It was a huge relief to know that nap time went well and that he apparently he didn’t need a crib any longer during the day. My fears of a fatigued one-year-old were totally unnecessary, as he adapted very well.

I’m so happy that my son made a good transition. He was happy and so was I.

Click here to watch a great video on successful and healthy preschool transitioning

# 6 Science Podcasts for Kids

#### “How hot is the sun?”

Sound familiar? You probably have a curious child on your hands…and you might be flooded with more science-y questions than you can answer. Let podcasts for kids help! Whether you and your child have a long commute, you’re looking for an educational weekend activity, or you simply want an alternative to screen or TV time, try these six science podcasts for kids.

## Brains On

This award-winning podcast aims to encourage children’s natural curiosity of science by exploring many different topics. Co-hosted by Molly Bloom and a different child each week, Brains On features over 100 episodes and values listener participation. You can even submit your child’s questions for a chance to be added to the Brains Honor Roll. Past episode topics include fire vs. lasers, roller coasters, soil, salty snacks, cats, and how books are made and how we read them.

## WOW in the World

NPR’s “podcast for curious kids and their grown-ups” dives into the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, and Wow in the World” of a variety of science and technology topics. WOW in the World co-hosts Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas cover something different each week — past topics range from how recess makes kids smarter, to stress-relieving video games, to cockroaches, and more.

## Tumble

This science podcast for kids is designed for the whole family. Tumble co-hosts Lindsay Patterson and Marshall Escamilla focus on how science works, tell fascinating stories about scientific discoveries. For example, the STEM program that we have at A Children’s Carousel. Additionally, they teach things that go beyond what is taught in school. Recent episodes include “Hamster Versus Bacteria” and “Discover the Wildlife of Your Home.”

## But Why

Here’s another NPR podcast for kids, but this one is led by kids, too. Each episode is based on children’s questions — and you and your child can even submit your own! Here are a few recent questions that host Jane Lindholm has covered: “Why do elephants have trunks? Why do giraffes have purple tongues?” “Why do days start at 12 o’clock?” and “Why do we sometimes see the moon during the day?”

Not only is this a family friendly podcast  –  it is a second grader! In the Show About Science, Nate Butkus interviews a variety of guests — scientists, educators, and more — to explore fascinating topics, which, in the past, have included climate change, fake sugar, ants, food science, and sea creatures.

## Fun Kids Science Weekly

This science podcast for kids is produced in the UK — and it’s another one with the submit-your-child’s-question format. Each week, host Dan covers weird, cool topics that pique children’s curiosity. There’s something for everyone: from lonely frogs, flower urchins, and the T-rex of the ocean, to fire mountain, the secret life of antelopes, and the future of robots, and much more.

The next time your child stumps you with a question about science or you’re simply looking for an educational change of pace, check out these six podcasts together. Chances are you’ll both learn something new.

Click here to listen to a fabulous science podcast hosted by second grader Nate Butkus. There is no limit to what a child can achieve!

## Start the New Year Off Right: Resolve to Raise a Reader!

Many New Year’s resolutions focus on developing healthy habits. Here’s one that is important to make and keep: provide a regular diet of books and reading for your preschooler.

You feed and care for your child every day so that he will grow into a healthy, happy preschooler. Similarly, you also need to provide experiences that will enhance language development and stimulate learning skills, thereby doing your part to raise a reader.

• #### DO THINGS AND THEN TALK ABOUT IT

It’s great to offer new experiences to your preschooler, such as a visit to the zoo or museum, but a trip to the grocery store or a neighborhood park can be just as educational. Talk about what you are seeing and ask your preschooler what he thinks of it. When possible, use interesting words to describe what you’re seeing.

• #### READ EVERYWHERE YOU GO

You can find reading on the road, at the bus stop, in the store, and at the restaurant. Play a game to find words when you are out and about or look at home for words on everyday items like cereal boxes, toothpaste, and household appliances.

• #### BE A READING MODEL

What better way to raise a reader then by reading yourself! Your child wants to imitate you and be like you. Have plenty of reading material for yourself as well as for your child. Tell your child how much you enjoy reading.

• #### KEEP YOUR PULSE ON PROGRESS

Please be sure to see your child’s pediatrician or teacher as soon as possible if you have concerns about your child’s language development, hearing, or sight.

Enjoy “Books Books Books!” a video of your children loving books!

# 4 Ways to Make Holidays Better for Kids

## Tips for keeping kids happy and able to enjoy the fun

#### Rachel Ehmke; Adapted from Child Mind Institute

It’s easy for children to be smitten with the magic of the holidays. Fun presents. Extra sweets. A vacation from school—there’s a lot to like. But with the freedom and excess of the season, sometimes kids can get a little carried away. For most families, there will be a point when the kids get overtired and cranky, or greedy about presents. Or would rather play a video game than talk to Grandma. Here are some tips to keep kids happy and ready to enjoy whatever the season brings.

1. Gifts, gifts, gifts: Getting presents is a high point of the holidays for any kid, but they shouldn’t be the only focus. As adults we know that giving presents can be just as rewarding as getting them. We shouldn’t wait to teach that lesson to our children. Even when kids are too young to buy a present, they can still make one. Or help you pick out something. Some of my best holiday memories are of helping my father look for the perfect gift for Mom. Also, combing the mall to look for presents with my siblings as we got older.

Volunteering, participating in a local toy drive, or giving each of your kids a little money to give to a charity of their choice. These are all great ideas for getting children in a more generous mood. Also, remember that the best gifts that you give your children probably won’t be the material ones. Take time for the whole family to get together to play a game, watch a movie, or decorate sugar cookies. These are the things that kids remember as they get older.

2. Let them help: There’s a lot of extra work to do around the holidays like putting up decorations, cooking big dinners, throwing parties. The Martha Stewart in all of us can take over, but it’s important to take a step back and make sure our kids are included.

Children can help set the table, decorate the house, and wrap presents. If they’re too young to wrap, they can help by holding down the paper or getting the tape ready. There’s always something kids can do. And at holiday time, the preparations are often as fun and as meaningful as the end product. Plus, this way kids won’t feel left out or be glued to the iPad for hours.

3. Keep routines: We love the holidays because they give us a break from the everyday. However, that can also make them stressful, especially for kids who find routine comforting. Try to keep some things constant. Kids still need snack time. They still need special attention from you. They still need a chance to unwind before bedtime.

At family gatherings when they notice the kids are “getting antsy,” psychologist Rachel Busman says she and her sister did the following. They would give them their baths, get them into pajamas, and turn on a movie. “We know when they need to wind down, we won’t be judged for excusing ourselves from the table to do these things,” she says.

4. Remember they’re kids: Some holiday traditions depend on kids being on their best behavior. For example, lengthy services, parties with lots of strangers, elaborate meals. These meals may not appeal to picky eaters. Try to keep those to a minimum and customize festivities for your kids’ frustration level. Don’t schedule more than one demanding event in a day. Make sure to include physical activity and plenty of downtime. Your kids will be grateful — and so will you.

Click here  to watch Dr. Deborah Gilboa give advice on how to make your child happy during the holidays without spoiling them too much.

# Daily reading for preschoolers is a critical part of their long-term reading success!

## During the preschool years, many young children will be able to recite or sing the alphabet. They may begin to recognize familiar letters, especially letters in their own names. Children who have been read to frequently pretend to read books to themselves or to their toy dolls and animals. They use their own words or phrases from the story.

### Here are some tips for helping younger children become readers for life.

• Read and reread your young child’s favorite books every day. Reading books with rhymes helps develop a child’s awareness of the sounds in our language. This ability is associated with reading success in the early grades. An example is in the book “Green Eggs and Ham ”. The repetitive refrain, “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am.” is memorable. Young children also delight in predictable books with memorable refrains.
• Read books with a variety of characters. All children should have the opportunity to read books with characters that look and speak like them. At the same time, children also enjoy reading stories about fantastic characters, such as talking animals. These will stimulate their imagination and build on their love of pretend play.
• Enjoy rhyming books together. Children enjoy books with rhyming patterns. Young children find the use of nonsense rhymes playful and fun. As you read, invite your child to fill in some of the rhyming words.
• Point out the important features of a book as you read. Before you start reading, show your child the title and author on the front of the book. For example, you might say, “The title of this book is ‘Amazing Grace’. Then say, “It is written by Mary Hoffman and the pictures are by Caroline Birch.”
• Point to each word with your finger as you read.  This demonstrates to your child that there is a one-to-one match between the spoken and written word. Also, it also draws your child’s attention to the link between the words you say and the words on the page. Therefore, pointing as you read also reinforces the concept that we read from top to bottom and from the left to the right.
• Use stories to introduce your child to new words. Focusing on new vocabulary words increases reading comprehension. Thereby, promoting your child’s vocabulary development by drawing his attention to new or unusual words in the story. Most importantly, just have fun with these new words and help your child use them in real-life situations. An example of this would be, after learning “capsize” in a story, you can point out that the toy boat in your child’s bath has capsized and the animals are now in the water.

### The early years are critical to developing a lifelong love of reading – you can’t start reading to a child too soon!

• Read together every day. Read to your child every day. Make this a warm and loving time when the two of you can cuddle close together. Bedtime is an especially great time for reading together.
• Give everything a name. You can build comprehension skills early, even with the littlest child. Play games that involve naming or pointing to objects. Say things like, “Where’s your nose?” and then, “Where’s Mommy’s nose?” Or touch your child’s nose and say, “What’s this?”
• Say how much you enjoy reading together. Tell your child how much you enjoy reading with him or her. Look forward to this time you spend together. Talk about “story time” as the favorite part of your day.
• Know when to stop. If your child loses interest or has trouble paying attention, just put the book away for a while. Don’t continue reading if your child is not enjoying it.
• Be interactive. Engage your child so he or she will actively listen to a story. Discuss what’s happening, point out things on the page, and answer your child’s questions. Ask questions of your own and listen to your child’s responses.
• Read it again and again and again. Your child will probably want to hear a favorite story over and over. Go ahead and read the same book for the 100th time! Research suggests that repeated readings help children develop language skills.
• Talk about writing, too. Draw your child’s attention to the way writing works. When looking at a book together, point out how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.
• Point out print everywhere. Talk about the written words you see in the world around you and respond with interest to your child’s questions about words. Ask him or her to find a new word every time you go on an outing.

## Teach kids patience…three easy ways?

If your child wasn’t born to wait, you’re not alone. Good news is that patience is actually a skill you can teach.

As mom’s and dad’s of young children, have you ever wondered if it’s possible to teach your toddler patience? First time parents, this will help you immensely in the years to come. For parents-of-a-few who really needs to teach this lesson, don’t worry, you’re covered too. Remember, building patience takes time and discipline not just for them, but for you too.

Does this seem impossible and easier said than done? Have no fear with consistency and determination it can be done – and it’s worth the effort!

The video below provides three simple and fun ways that you can do to teach kids patience! Enjoy!

## Tips for Handling the First Days of Preschool

### Tips for Handling the First Days of Preschool

##### TIPS TO MAKE THE FIRST DAYS OF PRESCHOOL AND THE DAYS AND WEEKS AHEAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE AND FOR YOU

TIP 1: DON’T RUSH THROUGH THE MORNING.

Get everyone up at a reasonable hour so that you won’t have to hurry your child through breakfast or risk being late. After all, no one likes to race through the school morning routine – especially on the first days.

TIP 2: ARRIVE FASHIONABLY EARLY.

This way, your little one can slowly settle in before the real action starts. He’ll also get more face time with the teacher – which will be tougher to do once all the other kids are there.

TIP 3: BRING A COMFORT OBJECT.

If the preschool allows it, let your child bring along her favorite stuffed animal (or blanket, or whatever object does the trick) so the new setting doesn’t feel so scary. Before long, your child will feel comfortable, allowing her teacher to put the comfort object to the side.

TIP 4: PUT ON A HAPPY FACE.

Anxiety may be eating you up inside, but don’t let your child see it because nerves are highly contagious. When your child sees that you’re upbeat and you look confident – the transition from home to preschool will be smooth and he will feel upbeat and excited too.

TIP 5: HANG AROUND, BUT DON’T HOVER.

Many preschools let (or even encourage that) parents stay in the classroom for all or part of the first few days. If this is allowed, try to stay a bit – keeping a distance away from your child allowing her to explore her new surroundings. Your goal is to let the teacher take over so you can get on with your day.

TIP 6: KEEP GOOD-BYES SHORT AND SWEET.

When it’s time for you to make an exit, hold back your tears a little longer (smile!) give your new preschooler a hug, and let him know when you’ll be back (“I’ll pick you up after lunch” or whenever you plan on picking her up). Then leave and don’t linger because he can’t get on with his day until you do. Finally, no matter how tempting, never sneak out when your preschooler is looking the other way as it will make him feel insecure and less trusting.

Just remember, it’s common for kids to have a difficult time separating, however chances are she’ll be fine five minutes after you walk out the door. If it’s taking a while for your little one to adjust, don’t panic – our preschool teachers and their assistants have seen it all and they know just what to do, so ask his teacher for help. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at pickup seeing your child very happy and busy!

To read the original article click here

To watch a video click here