Archive for July 2006

Fine Motor Questions

Lisa's comments on my last post are very true. PreK-K teachers are so worried about meeting objectives right now that they forget how critical the fine motor development is for children. Good teachers realize that you can do both. There are many preschool and kindergarten standards that can be addressed using fine motor development activities. In Lisa's situation as a first grade teacher, I would suggest some of the following activities, even in first grade.
1. I would still acquire some large pencils and crayons. Have the first graders do some of their writing activities with the larger instruments. It is not a step back! It will just reinforce those fine motor skills.
2. Have the children form the letters of the alphabet out of clay, play dough or even wet sand. This is a great cognitive training as well as a wonderful fine motor reinforcement.
3. Allow the children to write with their pointing fingers in a shallow cookie sheet filled with a thin layer or salt or sand. You could also use the old colored hair gel in a ziplock bag approach, as well. Mark the tray or bag in the top left corner to indicate which direction the child should write.
There are other fine motor suggestions that I could cover. If you want additional ideas, please email me at and I will be happy to share.

Building the Foundation

We are getting a new kitchen today. The kitchen was entirely gutted and now workmen are busily putting in new cabinets. I was interested in the fact that they put in foundation pieces (called "toekicks," I think?) before installing the cabinets. I was struck by how similar this is to a child's education. Early Childhood years are a very critical piece for building a solid foundation for learning. It is usually the foundation pieces that confuse people into thinking children are "just playing." The better the foundation, the stronger the structure.

Dramatic Play

If you take a few moments to observe most early childhood children, it is evident that dramatic play is critical. Children love to act like they are someone/something else. I was watching my three-year-old friend the other day put a princess dress over her clothes. She is convinced that she is a princess. I remember my kindergarten students becoming so involved in acting out a dramatic play activity. We hear complaints all the time that children are watching too much television and playing video or computer games. Dramatic play can be an effective way to get children to do something active and exercise creativity and imagination. Children who are allowed to engage in dramatic play activities are more prepared emotionally and mentally for life's changes.

Family Field Trips

This is the time of year when many families and groups take small vacations or driving trips. For preschool children, these trips can be long and uninteresting. One thing parents can do is work on the child's basic skills while traveling. Have the child find alphabet letters on signs, both street and billboard signs. If the child knows the alphabet letters, have him/her count how many "A" letters are found (or any other letter of choice). This will provide help in recognizing letters and also in counting. Another fun activity is to remember and recite as many nursery rhymes as possible. This is a great reinforcement for phonemic awareness, which is essential for early reading skills. Make the trip fun!