Preschool Holiday Gross Motor Activities

Preschool Holiday Gross Motor Activities

Here is a list of some preschool holiday gross motor activities to get children moving.  There isn’t as much outside time in the winter months, but gross motor activities are important for young children.  Incorporate these into your holiday parties or holiday themes.

 

  1. Parachute Jingle Bells: Get a bedsheet and place it flat on the ground.  Put several jingle bells on the sheet and have children gather round and lift the sheet.  Have them shake the sheet gently (like a parachute activity) to make it jingle bell.  Do this while singing “Jingle Bells”.
  2. Present Toss: Wrap empty cardboard boxes with wrapping paper and ribbon.  Like a balloon toss, line up two rows of children facing each other.  Take turns tossing the wrapped presents between teammates.  The opposite player much catch the present to remain in the game.
  3. Avoid the Bows: Place Christmas bows throughout the room on the floor.  Play holiday music and have children move around the room without stepping on the bows. 
  4. Candy Cane Hunt: Hide candy canes all around the room.  Give each child a bag.  Play a holiday song while children walk around the room collecting candy canes.  When the song is over, have the children count how many candy canes they found.
  5. Wax Paper Ice Skating: Give the kids to pieces of wax paper.  Put a foot on each one and glide around the room like they are ice skating.

    Photo Credit: From the Hive

  6. Snowball Bounce: Have children create 2 Snowman Paddles (paper plates with a snowman face and craft stick handles glued on).  Get some balloons and toss them in the air.  The children will use their Snowman Paddles to keep the balloons off the ground. (Source: Dixie Delights)
  7. Penguin Waddle Relay: Divide children into 2 teams. Have them race from start to finish while holding a ball between their knees, waddling like penguins!

    Photo Credit: Brilliant Beginnings Preschool

  8. Snowball Toss: Create a Snowman out of a cardboard tri-fold project board.  Cut out holes in the Snowman and have children toss white plastic balls, bean bags, orlarge pom poms into the holes.  (Source: Leafy Treetops)
  9. Reindeer Toss: Get a large box and draw or add a reindeer face to the front.  Put tree branches through the top for antlers.  Use rings from another game or cut centers out of paper plates and have children toss the rings onto the antlers.
  10. Hanukkah Yoga: Dreidel symbols will represent each yoga pose.  Print out a picture of each symbol and tape to the wall.  One child pins the dreidel and the other kids do the pose. (Source and more details: Bee Yoga Fusion)

We also think these are cute: Download these Christmas action cards and get your kids moving! (Oopsy Daisy)

20 Books about Bikes for Preschool

Because of the many benefits of riding a bike, talking about bikes in early childhood can help children become excited about bikes.  We have found 20 books about bikes for preschool children that can be incorporated into your early childhood program.

Many say that riding a bike is a rite of passage for young children.  Children as young as 2 start out on tricycles before moving on to a bike with training wheels and then a two-wheeler.

Biking is a healthy pastime that kids will never outgrow. Here are some of the benefits of cycling:

  • Developing strength, balance, and overall fitness
  • Burning up calories
  • Strengthening the heart, lungs, and lower-body muscles and bones
  • Developing and strengthening the muscles surrounding the knees without impact

Biking boasts other benefits as well. Children of all shapes, sizes, and abilities can ride a bike.

20 Books about Bikes for Preschool:


Stages of Bicycling

(excerpt from All About Bicycle Riding)

Just as babies must learn to crawl before they can walk, your tyke will first pedal a tricycle before graduating to the world of two-wheeling. Here’s what experts at the National Center for Bicycling and Walking say to expect along the way:

Tricycles (ages 2 to 5): Plastic three-wheelers, such as Big Wheels, and traditional trikes are perfect for preschoolers who are testing their newfound motor skills. Tricycles should be ridden only on a playground or within a fenced yard, not in a driveway or street. Toddlers can also get a feel for biking by riding with parents on a bicycle-mounted seat or by being towed behind an adult bicycle in a cushioned bike trailer. The important thing to remember is that toddlers, like all riders, should always wear a size-appropriate helmet when biking.

Training wheels (ages 5 to 6): The training-wheels phase may last a couple of months or a couple of years, depending on the rate at which a child’s coordination and strength develop. Parents can gradually elevate training wheels to help build their child’s confidence. Eventually, when a child shows a mastery of balance on the bike, the training wheels can be removed.

Single-speed bikes (ages 6 to 9): A child’s first two-wheeler should be a one-speed with foot brakes. He won’t be ready for hand brakes and gears until age 9 or 10, when his hands are larger and stronger. Also, kids aren’t ready for street riding until sometime between ages 8 and 10. Until then, they should ride in a driveway or along park paths with an adult.

Multispeed bikes (ages 9 and up): Once your child is ready for a larger bike with gears and hand brakes, he can start riding on quiet streets, where you can teach him safe-riding skills. If your child wants to ride to school, and you feel that he’s ready, help him plot a route that avoids busy streets and crowded intersections.

Children and Thank You Notes

children and thank you notes

November is the month to give thanks, but with the gift-giving season coming up, it is important to teach kids giving thanks when they receive a present.

Expressing thanks is something that a child can do from an early age.  If a child can talk, they can express “thank you.”  Teaching children to send a thank you note is teaching them about appreciation.  It is a good idea to explain to children that when they receive a gift, the person that gave them the gift took the time to select the gift just for them.  A child should also be told that the gift-giver spent money on the gift, wrapped it, and delivered it (by mail or in person). Children should be taught that a thank you note expresses appreciation to the person who gave the present, and if it was mailed, a thank you note lets the gift-giver know that the gift arrived.

For very young children who cannot read or write, there are other ways to express thanks in a note.  Toddlers can draw a picture of themselves with the gift or a picture drawn with the gift-giver in mind.  An adult can add a note, such as “Adam created this drawing in appreciation for your gift of his puzzle.  Thank you!”

As children are beginning to write, there are many fill-in-the-blank thank you card templates.  It is a great start to get kids to think about how thank you notes should be written.  Here are a few websites that offer free templates:

Kids who can read and write should be able to write thank you notes on their own.  Encourage these children to include the specific gift and how they will use it.  (Example: “Thank you for the puzzle.  I will have fun putting it together.”  or “Thank you for the money.  I plan to buy a new Barbie Doll.”)


(From Tips For Teaching Kids The Value of Thank You Notes)

Think of the educational value of writing notes.

Some teachers and child care providers have children write notes in conjunction with a writing lesson. Some ideas from teachers include writing a thank you note to parents to express appreciation for their support during the school year or to thank them for bringing snacks or treats to a special class party. One provider has her pre-schoolers write thank you notes each Valentine’s Day to their parents for their love. A first-grade teacher has children write notes of thanks each Thanksgiving.

 

Kids Books About the Olympics

Kids Books About the Olympics

Kids Books About the Olympics:  With either the Winter or Summer Olympics being held every two years, young children will love learning about the sports and celebrations that each Olympics has to offer.  We found a collection of some Olympics-themed books for children.  These books are appropriate for children ages 2+, and they can make a great addition to your classroom library.



Some additional Olympics ideas and resources:


Olympics Fun Facts (from kidskonnect.com)

  • The ancient Olympic Games date back to 776 BC, but many actually believe they were being held long before that time. The Greeks dedicated these games to the God Zeus. The original games were held on the plain of Olympia in Peloponnesos, Greece.
  • Only one event took place at the ancient games. It was a short run that was called the “stade”. The race was run by men who competed in the nude. A wreath of olive branches was placed on the winner’s head. In Greek, this is called a kotinos.
  • Women couldn’t compete in these games, and they were not allowed to watch either.
  • The period of time between the Olympic Games is called an olympiad. It consists of four years.
  • Beginning in 1994, the Summer and Winter Olympic games were staggered, so that there is one set of Olympic games, summer or winter, alternating every two years.
  • As time went on more sports were added and the Olympics continued to grow. Even today, with the Modern Olympics, new sports are being added as well as some sports being eliminated. Some of the sports we no longer see at the Olympics are: golf, basque pelota, croquet, jeu de paume, lacrosse, polo, rackets, roque, rugby, union, cricket, tug-of-war and softball.
  • Originally, the Olympics were only held in the summer. The first winter Olympics were held in 1924, in Chamonix, France.
  • The Olympic flag has five intersecting rings. They are each a different color: red, black, green, blue and yellow. The rings are displayed on a white background. The rings represent the five parts of the world that were joined together in the Olympic movement: the Americas, Australia, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Baron de Coubertin designed the flag of the Olympics in 1913-1914, and it was first used at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium.
  • A flame was lit for each Olympics, and it burned throughout the games. The flame symbolized the death and rebirth of Greek heroes. This tradition began during the ancient Olympic Games, over 2700 years ago in Greece. There was no torch relay in the ancient Olympics. The first torch relay took place at the 1936 games in Berlin, Germany.
  • The following sports are part of the Summer Olympics: Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Cycling, Diving, Equestrian, Fencing, Field Hockey, Soccer, Gymnastics, Handball, Judo, Pentathlon, Rowing, Sailing, Shooting, Swimming, Synchronized Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, Water Polo, Weightlifting, Wrestling.
  • The following sports are part of the Winter Olympics: Biathlon, Combined Downhill, Cross Country, Downhill, Freestyle Aerials, Freestyle Moguls, Giant Slalom, Nordic Combined, Slalom, Snowboarding, Ski Jumping, Super-G, Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton, Curling, Figure Skating, Ice Dancing, Ice Hockey, Speed Skating, Short Track.

The Incredible “I” Message

I Messages

Communication with children is important, especially when conveying what you want them to do or need them to do.  The incredible “I” message is a very effective way to communicate with children.

Introduced in the 1970’s, “I” messages are basically a way of expressing our thoughts and emotions, using a soft voice and a statement that often begins with, “I feel…” Other examples include: “I’m upset because…” “I get angry because…” “I am excited that…”

When we use “I” messages with young children, we introduce a new viewpoint to the young child.   “I” messages personalize our communication and allow adults to share their feelings with the child in a positive manner.

For an undesirable behavior, “I” messages are a better way to talk to children in a positive way, rather than using negativity.  For example, you see a child throwing sand.  Your first inclination might be to say “Stop throwing that sand!”   Instead, try an “I” message in one of two ways:

  1. Tell the child what you WANT them to do, rather than what you want them NOT to do
  2. Share your feelings with the child about what they are doing and include a reason you feel that way

Some examples include:

Unwanted Behavior: “I” Message option 1: “I” Message option 2:
Not cleaning up for lunch I would like you to put away the toys now. I feel angry that you are still playing with the toys, because other children are hungry and waiting for lunch.
Throwing sand I need for you to keep the sand in the sandbox. It scares me when I see you throwing sand, because it can get into other children’s eyes and hurt them.
Knocking down another child’s block tower I want you to help Billy rebuild the tower. When you knock down Billy’s tower, it makes me sad because he worked really hard to build it.
Keeps getting up from mat at nap time I need you to stay on your mat. I am feeling upset that you are getting up from your mat because it is quiet time and some children are trying to sleep.

(From The Magical I-Message)

This formula isn’t really magical, but something about the “I” message appeals to a child’s better self. An “I” message is a tool for teaching children how to express feelings effectively and accurately; you are role modeling the ability to connect feelings with behavior. It is also a tool for showing trust for a child’s ability to change her own behavior. In addition, the “I” message builds on the child’s need to be accepted by those adults with whom she has a caring relationship.

Children react in different ways to “I” messages. If a child is exposed to strict, authoritarian discipline at home, an “I” message may not be forceful enough to inspire change. On the other hand, if his parents are very permissive, his sense of empathy or responsibility may not be developed enough to motivate a response.

State your “I” message in a positive, neutral voice while making eye contact, and with a sense of expectation. If the child is in danger or destroying something, remove her physically from the situation as you talk. Otherwise, give her time to respond appropriately. If you “I” message doesn’t bring change the first time, restate it more firmly.

50 Simple “Good Job” Alternatives

"Good job" alternatives

“Good job” is one of the most overused praise phrases spoken to young children.  Here is a list of simple “Good job” alternatives.

Keep in mind, that these are just general, simple phrases for something different.  The best way to praise a child and encourage self-esteem, is to be specific as to what they did.  Focus on the child’s effort, rather than the outcome.  Examples of focusing on the efforts, include:

  • “You’ve been working very hard on that drawing.”
  • “You really practiced a lot on that song!”

Hopefully, these simple “Good job” alternatives can help you find other ways to praise a child.

  1. Great work!
  2. Excellent!
  3. Fabulous!
  4. Wonderful job.
  5. This is tremendous.
  6. You did a remarkable job.
  7. Magnificent!
  8. How extraordinary.
  9. Amazing!
  10. Fantastic.
  11. Nicely done.
  12. This is terrific!
  13. I love it!
  14. Super work!
  15. You did great!
  16. You worked hard.
  17. I am proud of this.
  18. How incredible!
  19. You did it!
  20. Incredible!
  21. Keep it up!
  22. You have it perfectly.
  23. Marvelous work.
  24. You put in a lot of effort.
  25. Awesome!
  26. Marvelous job.
  27. Right on!
  28. Splendid!
  29. Very impressive.
  30. Stupendous!
  31. That’s the way.
  32. Good for you.
  33. Nice going.
  34. Way to go!
  35. Well done!
  36. You got this!
  37. Really nice.
  38. Bravo!
  39. That’s great!
  40. Hurray!
  41. Beautiful work.
  42. Outstanding!
  43. Exceptional job.
  44. Super-duper!
  45. You hit the bulls eye.
  46. Superb.
  47. Brilliant!
  48. Rock on!
  49. This is top-notch.
  50. Sensational!

Other Resources on ways to praise children, rather than saying “Good Job”:

Must-Have Math Manipulatives

 

Math manipulatives are great for children to use for problem-solving and understanding basic math concepts.  They also encourage imaginative play and exploration.  Here are some popular math manipulatives to consider.

Pattern Blocks
Pattern Blocks Math Manipulatives
Unifix Cubes
Unifix Cubes Math Manipulatives
Counting Bears
Counting Bears Math Manipulatives
One Inch Cubes
One Inch Cubes Math Manipulatives
Attribute Blocks
Attribute Blocks Math Manipulatives
Geoboards
Geoboards Math Manipulatives
Base 10 Blocks
Base 10 Blocks
Double Sided Counters
Double Sided Counters
Links
Links
Dominos
Dominos
Dice
Dice
Big Buttons™
Big Buttons
Geometric Solids
Geometric Solids
Balance Scale
BalanceScale
Lacing Beads
LacingBeads

Importance of Hands-on Manipulatives in Math

(taken from article)

Math manipulatives range from simple counting blocks to geoboards and tangram puzzles. Manipulatives work well to solve problems, as a way to introduce new math skills and during free play to explore math concepts. The use of manipulatives varies based on the teacher’s philosophy of math instruction, but these math materials offer several benefits to students.

Concrete Representations
Manipulatives give the math student a concrete object to represent the concept he is learning. Instead of reading about a math concept or working out a problem on paper, he works with a physical object to better understand what he is learning. Diagrams in math textbooks often fall short because the student can’t physically interact with them. The concrete representation is useful at all levels of math, from a preschooler using blocks to strengthen counting skills to an older student using fraction models to understand equivalent fractions.

Engaged Sense
A worksheet or textbook assignment is limited in the senses it engages. The child only moves slightly to use his pencil. Manipulatives give him more freedom to move and get physically involved in solving the math problems. The manipulatives reach a wider range of learners, such as those who don’t perform well on paper-and-pencil tasks. The manipulatives engage the sense of sight and touch. Discussions about the manipulatives — either with the class or with a partner — builds communication skills. You can also use these math tools to write about the concepts. Students can draw pictures and describe what they did with the manipulatives in a math journal.

Problem Solving
Physical objects in front of the learner give him tools to solve problems that are complex of difficult to understand. Manipulating the objects can lead the child to the answer. For example, if he struggles to reduce a fraction to lowest terms, fraction strips can help him solve the problem. He sees that one-half matches up with three-sixths on the strips. A student learning division uses counters to solve the problem. For 42 divided by 7, he gathers 42 counters and divides them into 7 groups. Instead of staring at the paper trying to figure out the answer, he solves it with the counters. Learners also get confirmation on answers that they don’t get on paper. With a worksheet, he won’t know until the teacher checks the work if he was correct. With manipulatives, he can see right away that he is correct.

Enjoyment
Manipulatives make math more enjoyable for most students. Completing paper-and-pencil assignments is often boring and tedious. Students lose interest quickly or struggle to get through the assignment. Manipulatives feel more like playing than learning, particularly when the students are allowed to experiment and explore with the tools outside of assignments. Even when a worksheet or written assignment is required, the manipulatives can make the problems easier and more interesting to solve.

 

Snowmen Books for Children

Snowmen Books for Children

Snowmen Books for Children:  Winter time is a wonderful time to involve snowmen in your child care program.   Snowmen themes and activities are great fun for young children.  We found a collection of some of the best snowmen books for children.  These books are appropriate for children ages 1-6, and they can make a great addition to your classroom library.


Some additional snowmen resources include:


Facts About Snowmen (source):

Now that the snowy season is upon many parts of the world, it is likely that thousands of children will make an effort to build snowmen (and snowwomen) as soon as the first frost is on the ground.

Most snowmen consist of three balls of snow stacked up on top of each other—representing the feet, stomach and face of a snowperson. The face of a snowman is usually ornately decorated with coal or stones serving as a mouth and eyes and a carrot for a nose. Some people even go as far as to give a snowman additional accessories such as stick arms, buttons, gloves, a hat and a scarf, etc.

Although many people enjoy building snowmen, there are many little known facts about the history of these wintery creations.

The first documented snowman dates to the year 1380! That ancient snowman appears as a marginal illustration in the “Book of Hours,” a Christian devotional book that was discovered in the Netherlands. Since then snowmen have become iconic in societies that experience snowfalls. Snowmen are the center of numerous illustrations, fables and even songs. For example, “Frosty the Snowman” is a song that was recorded in 1950 and centers on the adventures of a snowman and the children who built him. Until this day, the song is hugely popular especially around Christmas.

Snowmen have also become the center of competitions such as those to see who can create the most unique snowperson (or snow creature). The world’s tallest snowman ever built was in Bethel, Maine, in 2008. She was named “Olympia” and she stood at 122 feet tall! This giant snowwoman had skis for eyelashes, tires for buttons, and arms made out of pine trees!

Diabetes Awareness in Child Care

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

When most people think of diabetes, they tend to think that it has to do with eating too much sugar or being overweight.  For children diagnosed with Type 1 (or Juvenile) Diabetes, this is not the case.

Diabetes-Awareness

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes affects about 3 million Americans, and each year 15,000 more children and adults are diagnosed.  So, what exactly is Type 1 Diabetes?  This form of diabetes is an autoimmune disease, where the body stops producing insulin, and it is not caused by diet or lifestyle.

Insulin is what keeps our blood sugar in a normal range.  When we eat, food becomes sugar in our blood.  This sugar (glucose) is our primary source of energy.  Insulin is then released into the bloodstream to turn the glucose into energy.

In diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or the body can’t respond normally to the insulin that is made. This causes the glucose level in the blood to rise.  Without insulin, sugar stays in the bloodstream.  Over time, high blood sugars can cause significant damage to the body.  On the other end of the spectrum, when blood sugar is really low, it can cause loss of consciousness and even death.

So, children who have diabetes are dependent on insulin in order to keep their blood sugars at a normal level.  They typically have to test their blood sugars many times a day in order to make sure they are at an appropriate level.  Every time a child with Type 1 diabetes eats a snack or meal, they will need to take insulin.  The amount of insulin is determined by the child’s doctor and diabetes educators.  Children receive insulin one of three ways:

  • Insulin vial and syringe – insulin dosage is drawn up into syringe and injected into skin (usually arm, stomach or thigh)

Young child giving herself insulin with a syringe

  • Insulin pen – insulin dosage is ‘dialed’ up in the insulin pen and injected into skin  (usually arm, stomach or thigh)

Young child with injecting insulin with a pen

  • Insulin pump – these small, computerized devices allow for a continuous flow of insulin to be released the body. The pumps have a small, flexible tube (called a catheter), which is inserted under the skin of the abdomen and taped into place.

Young boy showing his insulin pump

 

Blood sugar is checked with a Glucose Meter.  A child will prick the tip of one of their fingers and draw blood onto a disposable test strip.  The meter will then tell the amount of glucose in the bloodstream.

Young girl checking her blood sugar with a Glucose Meter


A normal blood sugar level is between 70 and 120 mg/dL.  When a child is below 70, they may be feeling symptoms of low blood sugar.

Signs of Low Blood Sugar (under 70) include:

  • Sweating
  • Nervousness, shakiness, and weakness.
  • Extreme hunger and slight nausea.
  • Dizziness and headache.
  • Blurred vision.
  • A fast heartbeat and feeling anxious.

 

Some young children are able to recognize when they are feeling low and alert an adult.  If you notice a child with diabetes who seems to be acting like she/he has any of the above symptoms, it is important to get this child some sort of fast-acting glucose.  Typically, when someone has low blood sugar, they can drink juice, eat cake icing, or special glucose tablets made for diabetics with low blood sugar.

Symptoms of low blood sugar


Signs of High Blood Sugar (over 180) include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue (weak, tired feeling)
  • Weight loss

Symptoms of high blood sugar


How to care for a child with diabetes

Though diabetes can be a scary diagnosis, it simply involves some lifestyle changes.  If you have a child with diabetes in your care, it is important to not make them feel any differently.  Often, these children still eat candy and sweets from time to time, and they lead normal lives.

Each child with diabetes has a diet plan, set up with their dietitian.  Knowing this plan is important.  Dietitians do tend to work their diet around school schedules, so most likely the child will be eating the same snacks and meals at the same time as the other children.  Be sure to meet with parents so that you are on the same page.  Parents should provide you with a child’s testing kit, insulin supplies, and emergency foods for low blood sugars.  When in doubt, ask questions.  At this young age, a child has most likely been recently diagnosed and the child and parents are still learning how to live with diabetes.  With your patience and understanding, you can help children with diabetes enjoy a normal day.

For more information and to learn more about Type 1 Diabetes, visit: http://www.jdrf.org/.


More Diabetes Resources: