How to Prepare Kids for Preschool

Starting preschool is a big step for a child. Parents have to play an essential role in preparing their toddler for this new experience. Here are a few tips to ensure the transition is a smooth sailing!

Preschool WorkbookImage Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/coriehowell/11302243734/

Prepare on time

It’s pointless if children are trained for preschool months in advance. Building up the preparation far ahead of time can overwhelm a child and make her anxious of what’s about to come. She may eventually end up refusing to go to her preschool daily because of the built-up anxiety in her. Instead, it’s a good idea to start talking to your future preschooler in a casual manner about a month before classes start. For example, when you are out buying regular grocery for home, you can say, “When you go to preschool, you shall buy you a pink bag as pretty as that one”, or “Which water bottle would you like to buy from these to take to your preschool”. Grab opportunities from daily lives to gradually introduce the concept of school to your child.

Have a schedule

Having a schedule will help a toddler transition into a preschool setup smoothly. A routine at home will help a child understand the importance of time and the need to complete tasks on time. It’s a good idea to have a fixed time to wake up and go to bed at night, a time limit to finish breakfast, get ready, etc. Once a routine is set, toddlers will be prepared mentally for the day ahead and work towards completing each task without minimal nagging by parents. A lack of consistent routine for your child at home will make it difficult for her to adjust to preschool where time is one of the main constricting factors.

Take Advantage of Teachable Moments

Children are blessed with the trait of being naturally curious about the world. Their curiosity opens the door for parents to teach them at every small instance. Encourage your child to help neighbors, interact with other children, observe natural phenomena around them like rain, sunrise, and more, and talk to you about their experiences and observations. Ask them “How did it feel to help your neighbor”, “Is the sun round or oval”, or “What’s your friend’s favorite nursery rhyme” to help them comprehend their own observations and experiences. Point out and ask children questions about natural phenomena like weather, leaves falling, birds flying, etc. and enrich their learning experiences.

Play games

Preschool LunchImage Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/buzzymelibee/8791464219/

There are a zillion of free preschool games online that you can get toddlers to play even before they join preschool. Most of these games introduce toddlers to patterns, colors, shapes, sizes, comparisons, alphabets, and numbers and are programed with splashes of colors and streams of animation making it a fun learning experience for kids. If you are keen on your child playing offline games too, have her count the number of bread slices on the plate, tell the color of a cake, or figure the shape of a table, all the while choosing examples from around them.

You don’t have to limit yourself to just the tips above. After all, being a parent, it’s you who’ll know the best what’s the best way to teach your child!

Music and Your Preschooler

Music has been an intrinsic part of many cultures for centuries. It comes as no surprise that studies have proven music affects people in surprising ways. Younger children benefit from music too. Music is more than just a background in the life of a preschooler. It plays a pivotal role in developing various skills in young children. It is a fun way to learn and is easy to introduce to children. So how can parents expose preschoolers to music and how does it benefit the children?

Exploring Musicexploring music” by Samantha is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Music in Games

Most children’s games have background music that is catchy and appropriate for preschoolers. There are also free preschool games that are music-centric like The Music House that allows children to play the online version of different music instruments. Musical Chairs is another game that is ideal when you have a group of children.

Play Instruments

There are many musical instruments available in the market that are specifically designed for young children. They don’t require any special training, and children will learn by observing the kind of music that is produced. It is more about play than technique, which allows young children to experiment. Some of the musical instruments that are ideal for preschoolers are glockenspiel, shakers, bongos and maracas. If children show an inclination toward music, formal music lessons are ideal.

Learning PianoLearning Piano” by Oliver Quinlan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sing & Dance

Fingerplay and songs that require children to move like ‘If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands’ and ‘Old MacDonald’ help improve motor skills. Another way for kids to tune into music is by dancing to mixed music. They will discover different sounds and rhythms as they instinctively move their body. Old folk songs are great to sing along and singing along can help improve language skills. Children will also learn to listen and pronounce words. It is easier for children to memorize facts that are set to music.

Kid DancingKid Dancing” by Yi Chen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Benefits of Music

Some of the benefits of music that contribute to a child’s development are:

  • Better coordination and motor skills
  • Cognitive development
  • Improves ability to concentrate
  • Understand the emotions music elicits
  • Develops language skills and phonetic awarenes

Darwin TunesDarwinTunes 2.0 in action” by uncoolbob is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By understanding the power of music and its effects on your preschooler, you will be able to utilize it to benefit them in the best way possible.

Preschool Game Ideas that Don’t Cost a Penny!

That the best things in life come free is undeniably true – human minds are sensitized to appreciate freebies and the more freebies they acquire, the happier they get! So we give you reasons enough to up your happiness quotient with these free preschool game ideas that will have both you and the little one on your toes – you don’t have to pay for the ideas which makes them absolutely free and your child and you will bond over these games which will make both of you happy!

11302243734_fc216c2883_zhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/coriehowell/11302243734/

The Bingo Game

Bingo makes any adult happy, let alone kids! Indulge in the fun with your preschooler with this version of Bingo.

You will need printable Bingo alphabet cards, printable Bingo caller cards, and plenty of marshmallows. You can choose to replace the marshmallows with healthier options such as cereals.

How to play:

Play it the usual way like you play Bingo, just have the kids place marshmallows on the alphabets that have been called out instead of crossing them out. Remember you intend this to be a fun preschool game, so show your child any alphabet that she may not recognize when you call it out. This will help your child find the matching letter on his bingo card, besides helping her learn the letter. Don’t forget to shout out ‘Bingo!’ when a child gets a full house!

Red Rover, Red Rover

The classic game of “Red Rover, Red Rover” gets an interesting twist to suit preschoolers.

You will need different colored construction papers, scissors, safety pins, and an open space to play this free preschool game.

How to play:

Cut out different shapes from the construction paper examples being three yellow triangles, three red circles, four blue squares, etc. Pin a shape each on the kid’s shirts. Now divide the kids into two teams and draw a line to allot each team its place. Have each time line up by forming a chain. Whichever team starts the game, calls out “Red Rover, Red Rover, Send the yellow triangles over”. The kids with the yellow triangle rush over and try to break into the other team’s chain. If they succeed, they get to choose a player and bring her back to their home team. If not, the “rovers” must join the opposing team until there are no players left. Change the color and shape callout with each new round.

Math Ice Cube Tray

If you’ve got empty ice cube trays at home, put them into good use. If your ice cube tray is not empty, it’s time to melt the ice and get started with this fun preschool game!

You will need an ice tray, a strip of small, blank stickers, and any small objects like M&Ms, woolen pompoms, cereals, etc.

Write one number each on the stickers and paste them on the back of each cavity in the tray. Get another preschooler to play the game with your child. Have the first player toss the small object that they’re playing with into a cavity and have the second player guess the number underneath the cavity. You play the judge! Continue playing as long as the preschoolers don’t get bored.

Engaging preschoolers in activities that let them have fun while teaching them important lessons is a good practice. So make some time from your busy life and get playing one of these free preschool games with the kids.

The Cutest Animal Games that You Must Play

It’s the era of animal games. Right from Dragon Slayers to Cut the Rope, everybody has one or another animal game on their mobiles, tablets, and computers. Here are the 3 of my most favorite animal games, thanks to my kid

1Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jgoge123/6119530698

World of Madagascar

DibbleDash_Google_AppIcon310Source – http://www.jumpstart.com/world-of-madagascar/

This penguin game is my current favorite. I really don’t mind when the kids are on it for hours because this is one penguin game that is as fun as it is educational. Accompany Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private on secret missions to save baby animals from the clutches of the very vile Dave and his henchmen. With packets of Cheezy Dibbles in hand and your math and science knowledge brushed up in the head, embark on the virtual adventure with the classic Penguin characters from the popular movie Penguins of Madagascar. The penguin game is set across Central Park Zoo, the Times Square, Coney Island, Venice, and the Penguins’ Headquarters. While in the game, steer through the canals and gondolas in Venice to explore its history and culture; the information kiosks around Venice will share informative historical facts about Italy with you!

Stella (Angry Birds)

DSC_0476Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/mseckington/5585087431

Get ready for a new adventure in the land of Angry Birds. Stella, the second spin-off from the Angry Bird series, is here and has taken users by storm! With a burst of fruity colors, mostly guava pink, lemony yellow, and kiwi green, Stella has a new story to tell. While the original Angry Birds were out there to fight pigs who stole their eggs, Stella and the company have ganged up to retrieve a few household items that the vile pigs have stolen from their tree house. Stella is all about empowerment and inspiration, without forgetting the entertainment in gaming. Michael Hed, CEO of Rovio Entertainment claims “Angry Birds Stella is breaking the mold by introducing strong, passionate characters who really stand for something, while adding plenty of action and reality into the mix”. Welcome the first female Angry Birds and have them swing their catapults to defeat the evil pigs another time.

Where’s My Water

4Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/isfullofcrap/10157117263

Channel water to the fastidious alligator, named Swampy, so that it can take a shower and send you off to the next level in “Where’s My Water”. Even though the success of the alligator game prompted its developers to release “Where’s My Valentine?”, “Where’s My Perry?”, and “Where’s My Mickey?”, none of them have been as successful as the first one. Swampy, who lives in the sewer system, hates staying dirty. Cranky, another alligator who also lives in the sewer, disrupts the water supply to Swampy’s home. The water can be seen either stored in small pools or flowing endlessly from pipes but unable to reach Swampy. Players will have to dig through the dirt, using finger movements on their touch screen phones, and make way for the water to reach Swampy. The challenges along the way make the game as interesting as my last two Bird and Penguin game!

Reading Activities that will help Your Child Set a Date with Books Very Soon!

Besides its educational advantages, reading has health benefits too. It de-stresses the mind, improves memory, and makes one more creative with the plethora of ideas found in books. So here are a few reading activities those will your child to develop the habit and soon set a date with books!

Image Source - https://www.flickr.com/photos/vblibrary/6716837659
Image Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/vblibrary/6716837659

Borrow

Enroll your child in your local library so that she can find a good book after another to read. Since buying books is an expensive affair, joining a library or borrowing books from the school library may ease the pocket-pinch. But that’s not why she should be borrowing! Borrowing has a deadline that prompts kids to read a book faster and therefore have a keen urgency to finish it. If the library has email or text reminder notification, then use it to remind your child of the deadline. If the library doesn’t have a system to notify the borrower of the deadline, then set it on your mobile so that you can remind your child about the deadline coming near.

Audio book

This reading activity is gradually gaining popularity as children are finding it to be an extremely gratifying engagement. Children have loved to listen to stories and anecdotes since times immemorial. Audio books not only help them to develop a keen sense of listening but build an interest in reading too from an early age. If buying audio books pinches your pocket, then you can opt to read out fairy tales and fables with complementary expressions and tone modulations.

Read everywhere

With Kindle gradually replacing our good, old hard bound story books, it’s becoming increasingly easier to carry more than one book with you at all times. Buy reading devices like Kindle for your child and encourage her to carry it along with her everywhere so that she can sneak in a little reading time whenever she needs it. Here are a few places where she can read at all times.

  • At doctor’s appointments if you show up early, during the waiting period
  • During alone lunch time
  • In a long queue
  • In the bathtub
  • In the elevator

The rule of 50

Give it up after 50 pages if the book doesn’t seem interesting enough! It’s not always a good idea to finish book if you start it only because you are liable to do so. Help your child to grow the habit of giving up on books that they don’t find interesting enough even after reading fifty pages.

Keep a track

To stay motivated, your child will have to feel like she’s making progress. So it’s a good idea to maintain a spreadsheet of the books she’s reading including titles, names of authors, date started and finished reading, your rating of the book, and a small review. Encourage her to use social websites like Goodreads to show her friends what she’s been reading and follow their reading lists too – this acts like positive peer pressure too!

So what are you waiting for? Get your child book and encourage her to start following all the reading activities mentioned above to make a life out of reading!

Developing Art Skills in Preschoolers

Making art is a joyful process for kids but it goes beyond that to develop a range of skills. Art serves as the gateway to writing as it prepares kids to hold pencils, recognize shapes and symbols, and recreate them using controlled movements.

This apart, art develops creativity and imagination in young children and allows them to relate to the environment through their senses and observation. Better fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are other benefits. They also learn about cause and effect.

By the time your little ones get to preschool and prepare to step up to kindergarten, they must be familiar with a variety of art materials.

Colors!

Preschoolers should be able to recognize primary colors. You can teach this with the help of preschool games online and picture storybooks that use bright colors and simple shapes that appeal to young kids. Kids can be asked to name the color that you point at.

ArtArt!” by Angie Garrett is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Tools of the Trade

Children should be given crayons, thick chalk pieces and markers that will allow them to practice their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. They can have free rein with their coloring tools as they learn to use them. You can tape plain sheets on a table or large brown paper on the walls so that it is easy for kids to express their artistic voices with ease as they turn into graffiti artists. The chalk pieces can be used to scrawl on sidewalks or the driveway. Play dough is another way in which they can exercise their fine motor skills and create fun stuff.

Kids can graduate to using pencils and paint brushes. They are also ready to use child-safe scissors and glue. This can be turned into a combined activity. Kids can draw and paint on a sheet of paper, snip it into smaller pieces and glue them on to another sheet to create a piece of art!

Chalkartchalkart2” by nugent is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Scribble Scribble

By the time kids get to preschool, they will move beyond illegible scribbles. While one of the first shapes they will learn is a circle before they move on to creating lines. Preschoolers will also start creating symbolic drawings like people and will be able to express what it is that they are drawing. This indicates that their thinking skills are developing. This is also the time when they begin practicing letters.

 Art Day

art day” by jlib is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sensory Art

Preschoolers will enjoy working with different kinds of art and mixing up different material. Finger painting, using cut vegetables dipped in paint to make prints, and drawing on textured surfaces can all be exciting for a preschooler. Again, this kind of experimentation will expand their imagination. They learn what happens when they mix colors or try to color the surface of a coin with a crayon.

Watercolours

WP_20140214_11_18_03_Pro” by Gina Lee Kim is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By practicing art as a process and as play, preschoolers can reap its benefits!

3 Fun Kids Online Games that Comply with COPPA

Your child probably spends a significant chunk of his time playing online games – do you know anything about them? Are they suitable for kids? Do they have any educational content? How do they rate for violent or sexually explicit content? Do they safeguard their young players’ privacy? Most parents have legitimate concerns about all of the above issues – that’s why we put together a list of kids’ online games that comply with COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.)

This federal law regulates the online collection of personal information of children aged 13 or below; spells out what websites must include in their privacy policy; details the safety and privacy responsibilities of website operators and specifies instances where parental or guardian consent is mandatory for allowing children 13 and below to use the site.

Here’s a list of COPPA-compliant kids online games your child will love!

Kids with LaptopKids heart OLPC (no matter what the critics say)” by Tim and Selena Middleton, licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

JumpStart

Developed by – Knowledge Adventure

Price – Free, but subscriptions / memberships available

Let your little one embark on a great interactive learning adventure with award-winning games that combine fun and education in equal measure! The site is designed for kids aged 3 – 12 and offers a safe and controlled environment where kids can learn the alphabet, polish their math skills and master science concepts in addition to many other school subjects. Players get an online avatar (known as a Jumpee) that can be completely customized and that accompanies them on their online adventures. Your Jumpee not only plays games, it can also interact with other online players, though this is entirely optional.

NASA Kids’ Club

Developed by – NASA Education

Price – Free

Now, kids can explore the mysteries of outer space from the comfort of their own room. They can also get real info about current space missions, look at NASA photographs, name asteroids, play games in a clubhouse and move into the final space frontier with Angry Birds. All the pages on the site are user-friendly and easily navigable – your child can quickly find what he’s looking for, from the easiest games (level 1) to the most difficult ones (level 5.)

Club Penguin

Developed by: Club Penguin Entertainment

Price: Free, but subscriptions / memberships available

This is a popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) where kids can pick a cartoon penguin avatar and explore a virtual world set in a winter wonderland. Players can choose from the wide range of mini-games to earn coins and use them to buy stuff from the Club Penguin virtual store. With a free membership you can play a limited version of the game or purchase a subscription to get unlimited access.

If you’ve stumbled upon other great COPPA-compliant kids’ online games, I’d love to hear from you!

5 Quick Preschool Games and Activities for Winter

Winter is perhaps the only season when we are as happy to spend time indoors as we’re to step out in the snow. That means winter is an ideal combination of indoor and outdoor games for little kids too. Here are a few quick preschool games and activities that will keep the kids engaged during their winter holidays.

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Image Source – http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/4269396864

Indoor snowman

With just a few packets of corn flour and shaving cream, you can make a fun snowman at home. Besides corn flour and shaving cream, you will also need a small box and a few embellishments like buttons, twine, etc. to decorate the snowman. Empty the packet of corn flour and the can of shaving cream in the box and allow your preschooler to mix them with her hands. Mix them together until they form a crumbly powder that sticks together if you roll it into a ball. Let the child touch-play with the snow to understand its texture. Help them knead the snow into small balls and make a snowman. Decorate with buttons, twine, small bottle caps as hats, etc.

Snow pearls

Discover the precious ocean jewel right at home. Get a packet of clear water beads, white paint, glitter, and peppermint extract. Mix white paint in water and soak the beads in water overnight. Add peppermint extract to the water for a wintry scent once the beads start to grow. Once the beads have fully grown, place them in a freezer overnight. They’ll be ready to play with the next morning!

Freeze!

How about playing a round of ‘Freeze’ when you have your child’s friends over on a play date. In case you don’t know the rules to play this game, choose some of your kids’ favorite tunes and turn up the volume. Ask the kids to dance until you stop the music. When you do, they will have to freeze in whatever position they were dancing in, even if it’s a leg in the air or a hand on their hips. Keep a timer handy to ensure nobody moves for thirty seconds. Whoever does is disqualified.

Simon says

This classic game can be given a wintry touch with ease. Call out winter related tasks such as ‘Simon says touch your gloves’, ‘Simon says stand next to the fireplace’, ‘Simon says stand like a snowman’, etc. The kids will be eagerly waiting Simon’s next command.

Dead penguin

Have all the students stand in a line. Play their favorite music and turn up the volume just link in the preschool game of Freeze. Everybody will have to act like a dead penguin once the music stops. You go around trying to make each of them laugh or giggle. Whoever falls to your tactics gets disqualified. Continue to play the preschool game till you have a winner.

These preschool games and activities will be wonderful to engage the little ones with and channelize their energies.

Simple Cooking Games and Kitchen Activities for Young Children

My five year old loves to “help” out in the kitchen, but it was pretty hard to let him do so without wrecking the place or hurting himself. For years I let him play online cooking games because they are fun and absolutely non-messy. Turns out, there ARE some simple, safe and most importantly, FUN ways to let him indulge in his hobby without turning my hair gray. Here are four great kitchen and cooking games for young children.

2359056682_a3c274b575_zCooking with Soren No. 2” by fotologic, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Handling Groceries

The next time you go grocery shopping, hand over each item to your child and ask him where it goes – pantry, refrigerator, cabinet, etc. This works well for very young kids, even those as young as 2 or 3. As your child grows older, he can help place the groceries in the appropriate places; he’ll be proud and happy to be entrusted with this responsibility!

Food Geography

Today’s kids have no idea where their food comes from – and I mean this is in the geographic as well as an environmental sense. Your little one needs to know that some foods come from trees, some from the ground and others from animals. Gather together an assortment of foods – milk, fruits, pasta, eggs, cookies, etc. – and ask him where he thinks each one comes from. Another fun game is to show him a collection of common as well as exotic fruits – apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis, mangoes, pineapples, etc. Take a world map and point out the places where each fruit originated from and how it is grown. Your child might like to sit at the kitchen table and draw the fruits using paper and crayons.

Fun with Pots and Pans

It’s easy to keep your toddler amused with this simple cooking game. Just spread out a varied collection of pots and pans on the kitchen floor and give him some wooden spoons to make some noise with. He might get creative with pretend play or create some highly original “music.” Whatever he does, it’ll free you up for chores or keep him busy and happy on a rainy or snowy day. This age-old kitchen activity is never known to fail!

DIY Shakers

Bring out your little one’s creative streak with this simple yet fun cooking game. Collect some empty lidded containers, some pasta and a spoon and invite him to fill the containers with the pasta. Have him put the lid on securely and decorate the “shakers” using pretty stickers or crayons. Your DIY shakers are ready for service!

Cooking games help kids learn about nutrition, boost their self-esteem and offer family time and bonding – that’s why I let my child play in the kitchen as long and as often as he likes.