Early Learning Activities For Pre-K and Kindergarten


Teaching Ideas Page 2

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Magnetic Pick-Up Game



This game is a lot of fun for the children to play. You can use it to teach/reinforce many skill concepts such as letters ... numbers ... shape ... colors ... and sight words.

You will need:

Metal washers about the size of a fifty cent piece (you can find these at Menards or any hardware store).

Small magnets (I got a pack of fifty at Michael's Craft Store for under six dollars).

Stretchy bead thread (found in the bead isle of the craft store).

Wood dowels cut into 16 inch lengths with a hole drilled into one end.

A dishpan (I got mine from Wal-Mart for under two dollars) or small bucket.

Paint the wood dowels and let dry. String the stretchy bead thread through a metal washer and wood dowel. You will need to use enough of the stretch thread so that the metal washer hangs about eight inches from the dowel. Tie a secure knot in the stretch thread.

You can make your own skill cards using index cards and a marker or choose some of the many free printables found at childcareland.com/free.html ... laminate for durability and glue a small magnet on the back of each skill card. Let dry.

Lay skill cards on the floor face (magnet side up). Children take turns using the magnetic rods to pick one skill card by dangling the metal washer over the magnet on the card. The washer will pick the skill card up and the child take's the card off the washer and attempts to read the card (identify number ... letter ... color ... shape ... sight word etc). If the child is successful he/she puts the skill card in the dishpan and the next player takes a turn. If the child does not successfully read the card the card is put back on the ground face down. Continue until all the skill cards are placed in the dishpan.

Clothesline Sequencing and Matching



Clothesline sequencing and matching is fast becoming one of our favorite activities!! I purchased a "classroom clothesline" from my local teaching supply store .. you can also make your own using regular or plastic coated clothesline and clothes pins. I mounted the clothes line on a long wall and placed clothespins along the length of the clothes line.

There are many ways you can use the clothesline. For the activity pictured about I gave the children a set of uppercase letters and had them hang the letters up on the clothesline (leaving one empty clothespin between each letter). I then gave them the lowercase letters to hang up next to the matching uppercase letter.

The clotheslines can be used for shape ... colors .... numbers ... sight words and so much more. Use your imagination and have fun

You can download the Tulip Alphabet Clothesline Sequencing activity pictured above at childcareland.com/free.html.

Alphabet Folders



Alphabet folders are a great addition to any literacy or reading center. You will need 26 file folders (we use the color ones found at Wal-Mart or any office supply store). You will also need the alphabet labels that you glue on the front of each folder (you can download those here).

Inside each folder you would glue pictures of items that begin with the letter of that particular folder. For example to the letter Aa folder you would glue pictures of things that begin with the letter A. You can look in magazines for the pictures but I found it much easier to do a google image search. I put six items in each folder .... you can do more or less depending upon the age level of the children. Under each picture I put the name of what each item was.

Classroom/Group Books


Picture drawn by a three year old and dictated to a teacher.

Picture and story written by a six year old.

Picture and story written by a seven year old.

Classroom/group books are great for building self-esteem and literacy skills. All children can participate in this activity no matter what their age. The children are give a piece of cardstock paper with a space to draw a story picture in. We are doing a dinosaur unit so our story topic was Dinosaurs. Each child made a picture involving dinosaurs. After they were done with the picture they wrote what was happening in the picture. You can see there is a large difference between the age groups as far as drawing and writing skills go. Younger children can tell the teacher what their picture is about and the teacher can write what the child says under the picture. Older children can write their own picture descriptions. You can make a cover for your group book and bind the pages together (laminate pages first). You can download the book page template here.

Matching Sticks


Matching Sticks are very easy and inexpensive to make and they can be used for many developing skills. You will need craft sticks (these can be found in any crafts store) ... white paint ... and markers. The first step is to paint the craft sticks white and let them dry ... then use a marker to write on the skills you are working on.

We use these for letters... colors ... shapes ... numbers ... sight words ... addition ... name recognition etc. Children are given the sticks to match and they can sit on the floor or at the table and match the sticks together. You can also but velcro on the back and use on a felt board or magnets and use on a magnet board.

Pom Pom Counting Book


This is a fun book that develops math skills as well as fine motor skills. You will need to buy pom poms and velcro self-adhesive dots. You can download the pom pom counting book template here. Print the book pages on cardstock paper and laminate. Bind the book together. Put velcro dots on the circles of each page and on pom poms. Children put the correct number of pom poms on each page. We do one page a time and then remove the pom poms before going on to a new page.

Pom Pom Alphabet Book



The Pom Pom Alphabet Book is made the same way as the pom pom counting book pictured above.You can download the Pom Pom Alphabet Book template here. Print the book pages on cardstock paper and laminate. Bind the book together. Put velcro dots on the circles of each page and on pom poms. Children put a pom pom on the blank circles of the letter. This activity is great for fine motor skill development as well as letter identification. We do one page a time and then remove the pom poms before going on to a new page.

Counting Cups



Counting Cups are a fun way to develop math skills. All you need are plastic cups (we used left over egg coloring cups) ... craft sticks ... counters (we used counting chips sold at Wal-Mart) ... tape ... and the number printables which you can download here. To make the counting cups print out the numbers on cardstock paper ... cut out and laminate. Glue numbers on a craft stick and tape the craft stick inside a cup. Children place the correct number of counters in each cup.

Sorting Bowls



Sorting bowls are another fun way to develop math skills ... there are so many things you can do with them. I purchased a set of six sorting bowls for 7.00 and 100 Animal Counters for 8.00 from my local school supply store ... if you do not have a school supply store near you try one of the online stores.

When we put the bowls down I ask the children to name the colors of the bowls in the order they are placed in. I then ask if the bowls are all the same size or are they different sizes. The children then sort the the animal counters by color into the same color bowls. While they are sorting I ask which bowl has the most in it... and which bowl has the least in it. I then ask them to count how many they have in each bowl at that time. We also sort the counters by types of animals into different bowls.

Find ... Count ... and Graph



For this activity you will need items that you can hide ... and that you can make a graph for. We use a variety of items but I have shown the shape one here so that you can get an idea of how to make the graph (it is fine to hand draw the graph as well). I used eight different shapes and made up to 10 of each shape (print on cardstock ... cut out and laminate). I then hid the shapes around the room (not so hard that they couldn't find them) and the gave each child a sorting bowl and asked each of them to find a specific shape. After finding their shapes they then count how many they had found and graphed it. We used pre-cut squares that the children glued on the graph but you can also you crayons ... markers ... stickers ... paint etc. Each child would then share what shape they had and how many they found. If you would like the shape graphing activity you can download it here.

Writing Skill Cards



This is a great way to develop fine motor skills in preparation for writing. These cards are printed on cardstock and then laminated. We punched holes in ours and attached them together with a metal book ring. For the first few times using the skill cards children traced the dashed lines with their finger ... they were then given write-on wipe-off markers (dry erase markers) to trace the dashed lines with. If you would like the writing skill cards you can download it here.

Journal Writing



Journal writing is a great way of developing literacy skills as well as cognitive skills. We try to do journal writing a couple times a week ... sometimes more if the children decide they want to do more. You can use a regular notebook but I like using plain paper for younger children who are in the early stages of pre-writing. Very young children will draw and if they can tell you what is happening in the picutre you can write that somewhere on the page. Children who are a little older can draw a picture and then write for themeselves what they want. I also date each entry in the journal as this can be used as an evaluation/progress tool. If you would like the journal cover you can download it here.

Cereal Sorting



This is a fun activity that helps develop math skills. You will need six different types of cereal ... make sure that the cereals are different shapes ... sizes ... and colors. You will also need zip lock bags and sorting trays (I purchased clear relish trays at Wal-Mart for 1.97 each). I put a combination of the six cereals in a zip lock bag and had the students put one of each type in a section of the sorting tray. They then continued to sort the cereal by putting the same type of cereal in the section of the tray that it belonged in. After they were finished they counted the cereal in each section and used the Cereal Sorting Chart to document their findings. If you would like the Cereal Sorting Chart you can download it here.

Letter Tracing Cards



Letter tracing cards are great for developing letter identification and fine motor skills.The children start out by tracing the letters on the cards with their finger and then using a write-on wipe-off marker to trace the letters. If you would like the letter tracing cards you can download them here.

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