You know the importance of reading to your preschoolers regularly to build literacy skills. You choose engaging books that your preschoolers love. You read with enthusiasm. Did you know that the books you choose can impact the language development of the children in your classroom? This can be especially true for children with disabilities.
Books that are predictable, either because they rhyme or repeat, can support language in preschoolers that may be struggling. One of my all-time favorite story books is a wonderful example.
Include The Napping House by Don and Audrey Wood in your "All about me" theme
This book touches on many important topics for young children. The story opens the door for conversations about non-traditional family structures. Does this child live with his granny or is he just visiting? Who takes care of your preschoolers at home? Your preschoolers can identify with the child in the story.
This story brilliantly engages children through repetition. Your preschoolers will be reading right along with you even if they have never heard the story before.
Tell the story using visuals
use the story to teach math skills
Once the children have become familiar with the story, bring it into your math center! Here are a few ideas, but be creative:
What stories do you use to engage your preschoolers?
There are thousands of amazing children's stories available. There are many traditional stories that we all have used. What are some of your favorites and why?
Preschoolers play and laugh and fight and run. They are exuberant energy pods floating through the classroom bumping into each other and causing a commotion. You gather together for circle time and try to find an activity that engages and teaches important skills.
You have their attention for a few precious moments. How do you best capitalize on those moments? With the "Gift of a Compliment Game" your preschoolers will learn how to compliment one another while learning to identify similarities and differences among their peers.
This game is a great addition to an "All About Me" theme or any holiday related theme. With a little creativity, you can add it to other themes as well!
How to play the "gift of a compliment game"
how to combine this important social skills with math skills
Identifying similarities and differences is an important early learning skill. This skills is needed for sequencing, patterning, making comparisons, and much more. Create opportunities for preschoolers to practice these skills in the context of a fun activity!
Preschoolers are just developing some basic social skills. Teach your preschoolers to compliment their peers and see a transformation in your classroom! With a little practice, you will hear your preschoolers complimenting each other outside of your teacher-led activities.
Children love to give and receive gifts, especially ones that are wrapped in beautiful packages. This game teaches the value of recognizing the good in others (even though initially your preschoolers will choose superficial characteristics to compliment). For this game, it's about the process of recognizing what they like about each other and putting that together with recognizing things that are the same or different about their peers.
Play the game!
Once your preschoolers have learned to play the game, modify it by:
Children learn by linking new knowledge with existing knowledge. Themes teach core concepts within the context of a topic that is familiar and appealing to them. Select a theme that is of interest to the children in your classroom and identify the core concepts you want the children to learn (letter recognition, how to write their name, how to count to 20, etc.). The more interest and excitement you can derive from the theme, the greater the learning opportunities become.
Tie the concepts you want to teach to the theme you selected to boost the skill acquisition of your students. While “Zoo Animals” might be a fun theme, if there are no zoos in your area or if the children in your classroom have never been to a zoo, it would be difficult for them to understand what they are learning. Select themes that have meaning to your preschoolers.
Ensure that the theme you select generates enthusiasm for your preschoolers. If the children in your class are not interested in Seasons, but year after year you teach a Seasons theme in September, then the children will be less inspired to learn. If you find your students get excited whenever a police car or fire truck go by, it may be worth pursuing this as a theme.
How long should the theme last?
Many traditional preschool themes last one week. At the beginning of each week, a new theme is introduced. While this might feel like a familiar format, it may not be your best approach. In general, a theme should last as long as your students are interested. If after 2 or 3 weeks, your children remain enthusiastic about the theme, continue to support them in delving into the topic further.
Depending on the theme, there may be different ways to branch off into new but related topics. Continue with the theme for as long as your preschoolers are excited about the topic. Never feel obligated to end a theme simply because you have been studying it for an extended period of time. When excitement for the theme begins to diminish, that is when you should begin to search for a new topic.
Learning that will last-an example of the power of themes
I once taught in a preschool classroom where many of the students would scream and yell whenever a plane passed overhead. It didn’t matter if we were in the classroom or out on the playground. Their enthusiasm would get the whole class excited. The children would run to the windows or stand in awe as the plane went by. We ended up doing an in-depth project around “Flight” that lasted 7 weeks. The ideas for the activities were mostly driven by the questions the students asked. Not all of these questions have easy answers:
“How do planes stay in the air?”
“What is it like to ride in an airplane?”
“Why do birds flap their wings to stay in the air, but planes don’t have to?”
“What makes balloons float?”
It’s not necessary to get into the details of physics with these curious minds. The activities selected for the project were geared to allowing the children to explore these questions, not provide the answers. They may not have received answers to their questions, but the children came to class excited every day. We had the opportunity to have a pilot come visit our classroom and we took a field trip to the local airport where the children got to walk around a hanger, board a private jet, and watch a military plane take off and land. It is an experience none of us will forget!
Shop Amazon through these links and support the free content on this site. Shopping through these links does not impact your shopping experience or the price you will pay for products
Welcome! Through my career I have worn many hats. I taught preschool in a public, commercial preschool and I taught at a Head Start program. Currently, I am a BCBA, supervising 2 clinics for children with autism. At the clinics, I have created a program to prepare our children for success in public school. Children participate in a preschool classroom style program. I developed a comprehensive parent training program and frequently consult with schools. Here, I want to share my experiences and offer some practical advice. Please let me know if there is ever a topic you would like me to cover!