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Cognitive Development &

A Typical Course of Study for Preschool

You hear a lot in the media about how researchers in the field of early childhood education say
the early years of life, from ages 0-5, are the prime time for brain development. They tell us that
children should be exposed to numerous experiences that lead to cognitive development so that
they will have academic success when they begin school.

Most professionals point to preschools as places where young children will get the experiences
they need to acquire these skills. Why? What exactly is "cognitive development" and what can
preschool parents do to encourage it in their own young children without sending them to

There's no big mystery to "cognitive development." It refers to functions of the brain such as
thinking, learning, awareness, judgment, and processing information. These are things healthy
children do quite naturally as they learn and grow.

The Swiss philosopher and psychologist, Jean Piaget (1896-1980), was the first to suggest that
children go through different stages of cognitive or mental development and that learning
activities should correlate to and adjust with these developmental stages as follows:

Sensorimotor Stage, 0-2 years of age, child learns through sensation and movement.
Pre-Operational Stage, 2-7 years, children begin to understand and master symbols
(language) and draw from past experiences to make assumptions about things and people
in their world.
Concrete Operational Stage, 7-11 years, the child's ability to reason begins, based on
his/her own personal experiences.
Formal Operational Stage, 11+ years, children can speculate, understand abstract ideas,
and develop theories.

Piaget invented developmental psychology and cognitive theory - the foundation for education-
reform movements. Piaget inspired the belief that children are not empty vessels to be filled with
knowledge (as traditional pedagogical theory had it) but active builders of knowledge who are
constantly creating and testing their own theories of the world.

Note: You can learn more about Piaget here:

Time Magazine's 100 Most Important People of the Century - Jean Piaget
The Jean Piaget Society

So, what are some of the activities that correlate with the cognitive developmental stage of 2-5
year olds? A typical course of study designed for preschoolers suggests concepts that educators
think children ages 2-5 should learn.
What follows is an adapted listing of the World Book Encyclopedia's Typical Course of Study
for Preschoolers.

It suggests the key concepts to help children understand during the preschool years.

Activities should help the preschooler to:

Understand Size:

Big and little.

Long and short.
Match objects based on size.

Identify Colors and Shapes:

Recognize and name primary colors - red, yellow, blue, green, white, black.
Recognize and identify circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles.
Match objects based on shape.
Copy a shape on paper.

Identify Numbers & Count:

Recognize numbers from 1-10.

Count to ten.
Count objects in one-to-one correspondence.
Understands more and less.

Reading Readiness Concepts & Skills:

Has been read to daily.

Has own books.
Looks at books and magazines.
Uses left-to-right progression.
Pretends to read.
Understands that print carries a message.
Recognizes some nursery rhymes.
Looks at pictures and tells a story.
Answers questions about a short story.
Knows what a letter is and is familiar with the alphabet.
Remembers objects from a given picture.
Pronounces own first and last name.
Identifies own first name in manuscript.
Prints own first name.
Identifies other children by name.
Expresses self verbally.
Can repeat a sentence of 6-8 words.
Can complete an incomplete sentence with proper word.
Tells the meaning of simple words.
Identifies parts of the body.
Identifies objects that have a functional use.
Knows common farm and zoo animals.

Listening and Sequencing:

Follows simple directions.

Listens to a short story.
Listens attentively.
Recognizes common sounds.
Can repeat a sequence of sounds.
Can repeat a sequence of numbers.
Retells simple stories in sequence.

Position and Direction:

Child should understand:

o up and down
o in and out
o front and back.
o over, on, and under
o top, bottom, middle
o beside and next to
o hot and cold.
o fast and slow
o full and empty
o day and night
o time - such as morning, noon, night
o knows age and birthday
o Can identify a calendar

Motor Skills:

Child is able to:

o run
o walk a straight line
o jump
o hop
o alternate feet walking down stairs
o march
o stand on one foot for 5-10 seconds
o walk backwards for five feet
o throw a ball
o paste objects
o clap hands
o matches simple objects
o touches fingers
o button a garment
o builds with blocks
o completes simple puzzles (5 pieces or less)
o draw and color beyond a simple scribble
o zip a zipper
o control pencil and crayon well
o cut simple shapes with scissors (handles scissors well)
o copy simple shapes

Social-Emotional Development:

Note: This list includes skills necessary to attend school. If you intend to homeschool, then some
of these items would not be necessary. Homeschooled children can develop these skills in a
much more natural and less stressful way.

Can be away from parents or primary care givers for 2-3 hours without being upset.
Takes care of toilet needs independently.
Feels good about self.
Cares for own belongings.
Knows full name.
Dresses self.
Knows how to use handkerchief or tissue.
Knows own sex.
Brushes teeth.
Crosses residential street safely.
Knows parents' names.
Knows home address.
Knows home phone number.
Enters into casual conversation.
Carries a plate of food.
Maintains self-control.
Gets along well with other children.
Plays with other children.
Recognizes authority.
Shares with others.
Talks easily.
Meets visitors without shyness.
Puts away toys.
Able to stay on task.
Able to work independently.
Helps family with chores.

In order to find activities that you can do at home to help your children learn these concepts, I
engaged the assistance of Fran Wisniewski (who conducts research and writes regularly for the website). I asked her to try to find hands-on activities that use materials
parents can easily find at home. What she came up with will astound you. In fact, what she
developed was so massive that we had to break it down into manageable categories as part of our
very own...

Home Preschool Curriculum Guide

Here, you'll find ideas and activities to help you help your child understand the concepts needed
to succeed whether they attend school or homeschool.

The first section of our guide addresses the concepts of size, colors, shapes, numbers, and
learning to count.

[Next: Learning Concepts]

Home Preschool Curriculum Guide

Learning The Concepts Of Size, Colors, Shapes, Numbers, And Counting

~~ Understanding Size ~~

Big and Little

When you teach your children about big and little you're teaching them to observe and compare
the world around them. Here are some simple activities that provide lots of comparison

What's Bigger? A Lion or a Mouse?

Take a trip to the zoo and compare big animals like elephants and tigers to smaller animals such
as lemurs and impalas. Or visit your local humane society or pet store and compare the size of
dogs to cats to rabbits and to guinea pigs. Compare the size of animals of the same species, but
different breeds - such as a German Shepherd with a Chihuahua, or a Lionfish to a goldfish.
Further the learning by reading the story "The Lion and the Mouse." Is it possible that a great big
lion would need the help of a little mouse? This fun web site has an illustrated story about "The
Lion and the Mouse" adapted by Tom Lynch

Pancakes Come in All Sizes!

Start your morning off right by making a delicious batch of pancakes! Make big pancakes and
small pancakes and compare the sizes. Here is a delicious pancake recipe to get you started.

Long and Short

Play the game, "The Long and Short Of It"

What you'll need:

Yarn or string cut into two lengths, one long and one short


Pinch a length of yarn between the thumb and pointer finger of each hand so that the yarn hangs
down. Ask your child which hand has the longest or shortest string. If your child is correct let
him/her have a turn asking you. If your child is not correct, let him/her try again. Have your child
compare the lengths after each incorrect play and ask him/her to show or tell you about the
differences. Switch the lengths of yarn often. When you first begin playing this game, make the
lengths of yarn noticeably different. As your child gets better, cut the lengths so that it gets more
challenging for your child to notice the difference.

Here are some more ideas for long and short comparisons:

Compare long and short objects such as toothpicks and craft sticks.
Using play dough, make long and short lengths and compare the two.
Read a short story and then read a longer story and compare the two.
Compare things like shoe sizes, arms, legs, and hair.
Make long and short necklaces or bracelets from beads, pasta, or O-shaped cereal.

Matching Objects Based on Size

Roll out play dough and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Match the cookie cutters to the cut
out shapes in the dough.

Make a sorting box with a shoebox. Use cookie cutters as guides and as playing pieces. Cover a
shoebox with white or brown paper. Next, trace the larger side of a cookie-cutter onto the paper
and cut out with a cutting tool. Use cookie-cutters as playing pieces.

Trace household items onto paper and let your child match the objects to the tracings. Try to use
different objects such as keys, lids, pencils, crayons and other creative things.
Variation: Use a clay recipe that can be baked to create a game board for cut out cookie shapes.

Variation: Use a strong piece of cardboard and cut out objects and have your child match them.

~~ Identify Colors and Shapes ~~

In order to help your child recognize primary colors and learn the names such as red, yellow,
blue, green, white, and black -- talk about colors everyday. For example: Talk about the colors
you are wearing. "I really like that blue shirt you're wearing." Also, use colors to describe
everyday things for example, "Our car is green," "Look at that beautiful yellow flower!" Ask
your child to do the same.

Play Candyland

Color with your child. Set the crayon box near them, away from you. Ask your child to hand you
a certain color crayon from the box

Play I Spy Color Game

This can be played in the car, while out for a walk or in the house. Just say, "I spy, with my little
eye, something that is red!" See if your child can guess what it is.

~~ Recognize Shapes Such As ~~

Circles, Squares, Rectangles, and Triangles

Talk about the shapes of things in your environment. The more you talk about shapes and the
more your child observes them, the better they will understand.

Use pipe cleaners to make different shapes.

Use yarn to make shapes and glue them onto paper.
Cut shapes out of sponges and let the kids make sponge art pictures.

Go On A Shape and Color Hunt!

What you'll need:

Cardboard such as a cereal box
Something to write with
Hat, box or bowl
Crayons, paint or markers

Directions: Draw shapes on the cardboard and cut them out. Color the shapes to play the color
version of this game.

How to play: Put all your shapes into the hat, box or bowl. Take turns picking a shape from the
bowl, and then try to find that shape somewhere around the house.

Variation: The color version of this game can be played two ways. First: Find an object in the
same color as the colored shape you picked from the box or bowl.

Variation: Find the shape you picked in that same exact color (this variation is a little harder).

~~ Match & Draw Objects Based On Shape ~~

Shape-Matching Concentration Game

Play a matching game with index cards. Make identical sets of index cards with a shape drawn
on each card (so that you have 2 cards with circles, 2 with triangles, etc.). Turn cards over and
match the shapes for a game of concentration. For beginners, have children match the shapes
first without playing concentration.

For a variation, color the shapes and have your child match colors and shapes or just the colors.

Puzzling Shapes

Create a puzzle of shapes out of cardboard with a cutting tool. Have your child put the pieces
back together.

Trace Some Shapes

Draw some shapes on paper with a pencil. Invite your child to trace over them with a colorful

Follow-The-Leader Shape Copier

Play follow-the-leader by drawing shapes and have your child copy it. Then allow your child to
lead by drawing a shape that you copy. Use a white board or chalkboard.
Drawing Shape Pictures

Make some shape cards out of index cards. Put them in a box and take turns choosing a shape
from the box. Draw or trace the shape you selected onto a piece of paper.

For an advanced version, pick two or three cards and make a picture using those shapes. For
example, the cards picked are a square, a triangle and a circle. A square house with a triangle
roof can be made - and a circular sun can be put up in the sky. Have fun trying new things.

~~ Identify Numbers & Learn to Count from 1-10 ~~

Count out loud in front of your child when you are doing everyday things. Count objects with
your child as you put away toys and games. Count the towels as you put them in the washing
machine. Count silverware as you set the table. Count game pieces to ensure that you have
everything for the next time you want to play. Count coins and change. If you demonstrate
counting, you will show your child why knowing how to count is important.

Children's rhymes are great devices to help children remember how to count:

One, two, buckle my shoe,

Three, four, shut the door,
Five, six, pick-up sticks,
Seven, eight, lay them straight,
Nine, ten, start over again.

Have fun with your child by a taking turns counting. Start with the number 1, then have your
child say 2, you would then say 3 and your child would say 4. Continue counting like this until
you get to 10. Help your child if they get stuck by saying the next number. They can repeat it
after you if they want to. Start the game again and let your child take the lead by starting with 1
and then you would say 2 -- continue to 10.

Add some fun to a daily walk by counting your steps. Take two steps and say, "One, two."
Pause, and let your child take two steps to catch up to you and count aloud, "Three, four." Then,
take two more steps and count, "Five, six." Continue to 10 and start over again allowing a new
person to lead.

Number Toss

What you'll need:

Deck of cards
Bean bags or socks rolled into balls (or something soft to toss)
Laundry basket or box
Set up: You'll need a deck of cards with the picture cards and jokers removed. If your child is
only ready for 1 or 2 #'s remove any unwanted cards and just play with what you need.

Note: You can make your own cards with index cards. Be sure to draw objects on the cards for
your child to count. It is helpful for beginners to see the number of objects that corresponds to
any given number.

How to play:

Allow the youngest to go first.

Player one: Pick a card and then count the objects depicted on the card. When finished counting,
have the player pick that many bean bags or socks from the pile. (Example: if they pick the # 2,
have them count 2, then pick two bean bags or sock balls.)

Player two: Pick a card, count the objects, and take that many bean bags or sock balls.

Once both players have their bean bags/sock balls it is time for some fun! Each player will toss
their objects into the laundry basket or box in turn. If your child has 2 objects to toss, let him toss
them both. Then it is the next player's turn.

Collect the tossed objects and start again!

Add cards as your child gains confidence. This game can also be played with dice.

~~ Counting Objects in One-to-One Correspondence ~~

Have your child set the table for meals. As your child sets an identical place for each family
member, he/she is practicing one-to-one correspondence.


Sharing is a great way for your child to learn one-to-one correspondence. Slice up pieces of fruit
or put out enough cookies for everyone and allow your child to distribute one to each person.
This works for toys and gifts too. At your child's next birthday, allow him to give one goodie bag
to each person.
~~ Understanding Concepts Such as Empty and Full, More or Less ~~

Fill a balloon with air, explain that the balloon is full of air. Let the air out and explain that the
balloon is empty. Repeat.

Use rice, sand, water or beans to fill cups and then empty them.

Play the game, "More or Less"

What you'll need:

Deck of cards or one die with dots

Objects to count such as beans, blocks, coins, M&Ms, or pebbles

If you use cards, before the game, remove jokers and picture cards from the card deck. Take out
the numbered cards your child is not ready for such as # 's 6-9. (Be sure to put the higher number
cards back in the deck as your child is ready for them.)


Player one: Roll the die or pick a card, say the number (help your child count the dots on the die
or the symbols on the cards). Next, have your child take that many beans or whatever objects you
are playing with and put them in front of her.

Player two: Do the same as player one.

When all the players have their objects compare them to one another. Who has more and who
has less at the end of the hand? You can keep track of each hand with tally marks and count the
tallies at the end of the game. If you compare your objects, you will also be using one to one

~~ Bonus Games! ~~

Go "Fishing" To Learn About Colors, Shapes, Numbers, Letters & More!

This game can be played in many different ways. You create fish-shaped playing pieces. Then
you decorate the fish for game variations. For example, play it as a color game by using colored
construction paper to make your fish playing pieces. Or decorate each fish with a different
geometric shape, or number, or letter.

What you'll need:

Stick or dowel
Length of yarn or string
Paper (cardstock) or cardboard
Paper clips (metal)
Crayons, paint, or markers
Bucket, bowl or box

Make the fishing pole: Tie a length of yarn or string to the stick or dowel and then tie a magnet
to the other end.

Note: An inexpensive toy fishing pole can be purchased at the dollar store for this game.

Make the fish: Draw fish on cardboard (or print them on cardstock) and then cut them out.
Attach a paper clip to each fish with tape. Color or paint the fish, add numbers, letters, shapes or
words if desired.

How to play: Put the completed fish into a bowl, box or bucket and let your child go fishing!
(The magnet will catch the paper clip.) Let your child tell you what kind of fish they've caught -
a red fish, a triangle fish, a letter "A" fish, etc. Help your child to identify each fish if they ask.

Note: You might want to make two fishing poles or more so that others can play along too.

[Previous: Cognitive Development] [Next: Learning Reading Readiness]

Home Preschool Curriculum Guide

Learning Reading Readiness Concepts & Skills

To help develop reading readiness in your young children we have provided some activities that
correlate with the cognitive developmental stage of 2-5 year olds and the typical preschool
course of study. Here are some key concepts, experiences, and skills that educators think
children ages 2-5 should have in order to develop reading readiness. Children should:

Be read to daily
Have their own books
Look at books and magazines
Use left-to-right progression
Pretend to read
Understand that print carries a message
Look at pictures and tell a story
Recognize some nursery rhymes
Answer questions about a short story
Know what a letter is
Be familiar with the alphabet
Remember objects from a given picture
Pronounce own first and last name
Identify their own first name in manuscript
Print own first name
Identify other children by name
Express themselves verbally
Be able to repeat a sentence of 6-8 words
Be able to complete an incomplete sentence with a proper word
Tell the meaning of simple words
Identify parts of the body
Identify objects that have a functional use
Know common farm and zoo animals

Here are activities to teach these reading readiness concepts and skills...

Read To Your Child Daily

Read different types of media to your child everyday. For example e-mails, letters, magazines,
books, stories, cereal boxes, instructions, directions, recipes, advertisements and anything else
with words!
Cuddle up and read a story or two everyday. Close contact will make reading time twice as nice!
While reading recipe directions, have your child add the ingredients as you say them. Have them
do the steps as well, such as stir, beat, or mix. For example: If you use a box cake mix let them
"read" the pictures shown on the back and get those items (if they can reach) out of the
cabinets/fridge. Help them to measure things out, pour or scoop ingredients into a bowl, crack
the eggs into the bowl, and then mix everything together. As you measure ingredients together,
show your child the words and read them together.

Give Your Child Their Own Books

Set aside a special area for your child's books; make sure he/she knows that it is their special
book nook.
Ask relatives to give your child gift certificates to bookstores for birthdays and holidays so that
they can buy books for themselves.
Give your child something special to put their books in. Let your child decorate a box or a bag, or
get your child a small bookshelf just for his/her books to put in their room.
Clear off a shelf in your own bookcase, (at your child's height) just for his/her books. This is a
great way to show your child that his/her books are just as important as your own.
Check out library sales or go to garage sales to find inexpensive books.

Look at Books and Magazines

Leave books on a coffee table, or out in plain sight where they are easy to reach - encourage
your child to look through them.
Get a magazine subscription for your child. Magazines such as, Ladybug, Turtle, ZooBooks, Your
Big Backyard, and Highlights For Children are all wonderful beginner magazines.
Take books and magazines in the car with you.
Leave books and magazines in the bathroom for your child to look at.

Check Out These Preschool Magazines

Use Left-To-Right Progression

Explain that we read from left to right and show your child the direction from left to right.
Use your finger to follow along as you read from left to right.
After you've read to your child for a while, ask your child where to begin reading and which way
to go.

Pretend to Read

Ask your child to "read" to you. Encourage them to pretend.

Leave books around for your child to look through; ask them to tell you the story while you're
cooking or doing a chore.
Ask your child to try and read picture instructions or directions such as those on a cake mix box.
Ask your child what they are reading when you see them looking through a book.
Ask your child to try and "read" junk mail based on the pictures they see in it. Have them tell you
what they think it's about.

Understanding that Print Carries a Message

Ask your child to say something and write it down for them. Show them that their own words
can be turned into text.
Ask your child to tell you a story, dictate the story and read it back to your child. Have your child
draw a picture to match the story.
Read a book with pictures and words. For example, show your child a picture of a sun and then
the word "sun." Say the word.
Show your child text and ask him/her if they know what it says. If they don't know, read it to
them. You are helping them to understand that the letters and words have meaning. Some
children may make something up - if so, then they are beginning to understand that print carries
a message.
When your child, "writes" you something, you know they are gaining understanding.
When a child asks you what something says they are gaining understanding.

Tell The Meaning of Words Heard in Story

Stop reading in the middle of a story occasionally, and ask what certain words mean -
particularly if you know it's a new vocabulary word for your child. Remember, this isn't a test.
You're just inquiring. There should be no pressure to perform. If they don't know the meaning -
tell them.
Talk about the story with your child and see if they get the meaning of the story or the main
idea. Sometimes children will be intrigued more with a particular character or subplot - but if
they can relate portions of the story they are understand the meaning of the words.
Talk about new words and use those new words in sentences when talking with your child.
Relate stories to real life by comparing things that happened in the story with things that
happen in your child's life.
If you learn a new word, point it out if it comes up in conversation later on in the day. For
example if you are shopping and you see something really big say something like, "This apple is
huge! Our story was about a huge pizza today, remember?"

Recognizing Nursery Rhymes

1. Say nursery rhymes together with this FREE listing of 362 Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. When
you get to the site, just click on the alphabet letter index to find the rhymes. Read them online
or print them out! Or get the book, "The Real Mother Goose," published by Scholastic at your
library or bookstore.
2. Here are some rhymes integrated with music and fun activities your child may enjoy:
o "Itsy, Bitsy, Spider" - read the rhyming lyrics to the song, get the sheet music, print out
some coloring pages and get suggestions for art projects and recipes themed around
this classic children's song. You can also read the lyrics, listen to the tune, and learn
some history behind the song.
o "I'm a Little Teapot" - listen to the tune sung by Hap Palmer, or read the lyrics, hear the
tune, and learn the body motions that go with this song.
o "Hickory Dickory Dock" - read the lyrics and listen to the tune. You will also find a fun
online activity at DLTK's Nursery Rhymes for Kids.
3. Enjoy holiday rhymes such as:
o 5 Little Pumpkins - This classic rhyme is used in a fingerplay. Get everything you need to
make your own book using this rhyme - from downloadable, printable pages,
instructions for assembly and more!
o Night Before Christmas - This is a classic poem with rhyming lines that you can read to
the kids. You can get free materials and directions for making a book about the poem

Look at Pictures and Tell a Story

Look at picture books with your child and encourage them to tell you (make up) a story based on
the pictures.
Look at magazines advertisements and have your child invent a story based on what they see.
Do this with pictures/graphics of all kinds.
Every picture tells a story. Cut out pictures from magazines, newspapers, or junk mail and put
them together to tell a story. Ask your child what each picture says to him/her and write a
caption using your child's words.
Make a "Wish Book" with your child. Allow your child to look through catalogs and
advertisements and to cut out the things they want most. Glue these pictures to a page. Put
them into a mini-book and caption each picture. This is great for birthdays! Send one to "Santa
Claus" or to loved ones so that they'll know just what to get for Christmas and the holidays!
Take photos and scrapbook them into a short story book. Do this for the places you visit and
events you attend such as vacations, holidays, field trips, special occasions or just because!
Don't forget to send one to grandma!

Answers Questions About a Short Story

Talk to your child about the stories you read and ask them what they liked and didn't like about
the story.
Ask your child about the characters in the story; did they do the right thing? Ask them what they
would have done if they were in that situation.
Ask where the story took place. Would they go there? Have they ever been someplace like that
Ask your child what they remember most about the story.

Identifies Letters and Knows The Alphabet

Prominently display an entire alphabet on the bedroom wall. You can get them at teacher
supply stores or print your own -- with this free printable coloring alphabet. Get alphabet dot-
to-dot and letter maze activities for free too.
Sing the alphabet forward. Try it backward too! Start somewhere in the middle just for the fun
of it!
Match the letters of your child's name with things in the world. For example, David and dinosaur
begin with the same letter and sound. (This will be more fun if your child recognizes his/her
Write the letters of your child's name on index cards (one letter per card) and put them in the
right order to spell the name. Explain to your child that all of those letters make up his/her
name. Mix them up and see if your child can put them back in order. Do this with other words
that they will feel close to. (Siblings, Mom, Dad)
Variation 1: Write letters on index cards or use store bought letter cards and give them
to your child. Let him/her pick the letters that are most appealing for this activity. Give
your child a piece of paper, chalk or white board and something to write with, let them
copy letters. (This will work with magnetic letters or letter tiles.)
Variation 2: Use the same cards/tiles and let your child cut out letters from magazines
to match the letters that have the most meaning to him/her.
Read books with alphabet letters featured prominently such as "Alphabet Adventure" or
"Alphabet Mystery" both by Audrey Wood.
Play alphabet games such as "My First Alphabet Game" by DK Publishing, or play alphabet
games online.

Remembers Objects from a Given Picture

Play "Who Remembers?" Using pictures from magazines, photos, books or advertisements, look
at the picture together, discuss the picture together and point things out to one another. Turn
the picture over or cover it with something and talk about what you remember most about the
Do the, "What's missing from this picture" puzzle with your child where you compare two
pictures to see what is different in each one. Highlights magazine and some newspapers have
this game. Here is a game you can play online.

Variations: Make your own "What's missing picture" with a digital camera. Just make a scene,
and then take the picture. Remove or add things to your scene and take another picture. Have
your child pick out the differences.

Pronounces Own First Name

When you speak to your child, use their proper name, instead of a nickname or a term of
Make rhymes with your child's name, have your child repeat the rhymes.
Get a personalized music recording that includes your child's name in the song.
If you meet someone with the same name as your child, point that out.
Sing the Name Game song by Shirley Ellis. You can find it on a Music For Little People CD called
"A Child's Celebration of Rock 'n' Roll"

Pronounces Own Last Name

Say your child's name often and have him/her repeat it.
Play "The Phone Game" -- The phone game is played by pretending to talk to your child on the
"phone," during a conversation ask your child their first and last name.
Play "The Door Game" -- You and your child stand on opposite sides of the door. One person
knocks and the other person asks, "Who is there?" Use first and last name when responding to
the question.
Have your child introduce him/herself using their whole name when they meet people.
Write child's name, show them their name in print and say it; child should repeat it.
Ask your child his/her name often.

Identifies Own First Name in Manuscript

Put brightly colored, magnetized letters on the fridge or on a magnetic board (even a cookie
sheet will work) to familiarize your child with letters and how to use letters to form their name.
They will begin to recognize how it looks in print.
Write a story about your child, with your child. Use his/her name often. When you read it
together ask your child to clap or make a sound when he/she hears or sees their name in the
Make a mini-book with your child about his/her likes and dislikes. For example: Put a dish of ice
cream on the page with the caption, "Samantha likes strawberry ice cream."
Make a scrapbook of the things your child does and use captions with your child's name to
describe the picture. For example "Devin went fishing."
Get personalized books that include your child's name within the story. The "My Adventure"
series of books can also be used in this way.

Prints Own First Name

Teach your child the individual letters of his/her name then show them how to put it together.
Use a chalk or white board to practice writing their name.
Print your child's name on a piece of paper. Put a piece of tracing paper over it and show your
child how to trace their name. Or try this activity.
Put your child's name at the top of a piece of paper and ask him/her to copy it just below the
one you wrote. Children may start out by randomly copying letters on the paper, eventually,
they'll copy it the same way they see it.
Make letters from Play-Doh or cookie dough to spell out your child's name. Begin by rolling out
rope-shaped pieces that can be formed into letters. If you are using cookie dough, be sure to
make letter shapes with enclosed portions, such as "A," "B," "d" or "R" with plenty of space
inside the enclosed portion - the dough spreads when baking and closes up the part that's
supposed to be open, making the letter difficult, if not impossible to read.

Identifies Other Children By Name

Take pictures of friends and scrapbook them with name captions.

When you meet a child/person for the first time, ask their name. Repeat it several times as you
ask questions such as, "How old are you, Robert?" "Robert, do you have any brothers or
sisters?" That will help your child to remember the new person's name.
Talk to your child after you meet new people or playmates. Ask your child who they met that
day, what they did and if they had fun together. Talk about the new person in an observational
way. "Kathy has long blond hair." Or "David's, red dinosaur shirt reminded me of yours!" The
more time your child spends talking about his/her experiences, the more they are likely to
Talk about the people you might see on your way to places. For example, "I wonder if Jesse will
be at the playground today?"

Expresses Self Verbally

Encourage your child to express their feelings through words.

When your child is angry, have them draw out their feelings and then talk about the picture and
their feelings.
If you're child has an outburst, let them finish, then calmly discuss better ways of expressing
If your child cries for what he/she wants, gently and calmly explain to your child that you cannot
understand them when they cry. When they calm down, speak in soothing tones and ask your
child to calmly tell you what is needed or wanted.
If your child points or grunts for the things he/she wants, encourage them to say the words

Repeats A Sentence Of 6 - 8 Words

Play the "Copy-Cat Game" -- ask your child to try and repeat everything you say. Keep the
sentences short (6-8 words - or extend the length if they are capable of remembering and
repeating more.)
Call-and-response games and songs. Acclaimed singer Ella Jenkins has several CDs with call and
response songs for children.
Learn rhymes, fingerplays, and poems together. Here are some designed just for preschoolers.
Enjoy sing-along songs together and say the words to your favorite songs together.

Can Complete An Incomplete Sentence With Proper Word

Use stamps or stickers and make a rebus rhyme together. A rebus or pictogram is a story that
uses pictures for certain words. The picture gives children a clue to the word that belongs there,
not to mention a general idea of what the story is about. Here is a selection of rebus rhymes to
print out and use at home.
Start sentences about the places you've gone or the things you've done and drop off the final
word, as if you "forgot" what you are going to say. Allow your child time to pick it up, or ask
them to help you remember.
Write sentences on index cards; leave a word out, ask your child to put a word in the blank. For
example, "I like to play with my [ fill in the blank ]." Anything that makes sense is the right
Make a book using a similar procedure; have your child cut out pictures to place in the space.
This can be changed to words later on. Have them say the words/names of the pictures they are

Tell The Meaning Of Simple Words

While reading a story, stop once in awhile and talk about what's happening.
As you drive in the car, point to street signs or billboards and ask your child if they know what it
means. If they don't know - tell them.
Read directions and have your child do what they say. Talk about the things they don't
Have your child act out or talk about words. Play preschool charades!
Talk with your child about everyday things. Listen to the questions they are asking and what
they think things mean. You'll be glad you did!

Identify Parts Of The Body

Sing: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"

Talk about body parts.
Play "Simon Says" using body parts. For example, "Simons says, cover your eyes!"
Go to the library and take out books about the body. Get "Blue's Amazing Body Book (Blues
Clues)" by Michael T. Smith. Try the "My Body Science" book series too. They are sure to make
your kids laugh out loud while they learn anatomy.
Tell your child what everything on his body is called; use proper names. Using proper names for
body parts will help the child let you and others know when something is wrong with them.
Ask your child what his/her body parts are called.
Do the "Hokey Pokey!"

Identify Objects That Have A Functional Use

Talk about tools with your child. When you use tools like a hammer, screwdriver, or wrench -
show it to your child. Tell him/her what it is called, and how it is used. Let them watch you use it
and give your child a chance to use it too under your careful supervision. Play toolkits are fun
Cook with your child and talk about the things used in the kitchen. Show your child how to use
kitchen appliances correctly, and let them use them under your guidance. Play kitchen sets
reinforce learning as well.
Let your child help with household chores. Most little kids thinks it's fun! Tell him/her the names
of things like brooms, doorknobs, light switches, washer, dryer, clothesline, mop, vacuum, etc.,
and let him/her try using cleaning tools with adult supervision.
Garden with your child. A set of kid-sized gardening tools makes it easy and fun!
Show your child the phone, television, DVD player, CD player, game system, calculator, digital
camera, computer, fax machine, scanner, photo-copier, remote control and other electronic
wonders. Show him/her how they work and let them use it as well with your supervision.

Identify Common Farm And Zoo Animals

Read the "Big Book of Animals" by DK Publishing, or borrow other animal identification books
for preschoolers from your local library.
Visit a zoo, petting zoo, farm, humane society or pet store. Look at the animals and say their
names. What does your child like best about them?
Create zoo or farm dioramas for your child's favorite animals.
Play with animal puppets! Make your own animal puppets!
Sing "Old McDonald" and enjoy some activities themed around the song.
Get a subscription to the National Wildlife Federation's magazines for children that include,
"Wild Animal Baby" and "Your Big Backyard"
Go to Enchanted Learning for fun farm crafts you can do with your child!
Build a zoo or farm for your child using recycled products. As you learn about new animals build
another environment using shoeboxes, containers and milk cartons. Used printed animals,
molded animals (out of baked clay, Play-doh, modeling clay, or beeswax) or plastic animals from
the store. Try to see how creative you can be!
Sing animal songs.
Ask your child to walk, act and sound like an animal. Learn the sounds different animals make!

[Previous: Learning The Concepts] [Next: Listening & Sequencing]

Home Preschool Curriculum Guide

Listening & Sequencing

There are a variety of activities you can do at home that correlate with the cognitive
developmental stage of 2-5 year olds and the typical preschool course of study. Two of the key
skills that preschool educators think children ages 2-5 should have in order to begin formal
academic learning - in the school or homeschool environment - are Listening and Sequencing.
Here are some activities you can do to help your preschooler learn these skills.

Actvities for Developing Listening and Sequencing Skills

Follow simple directions.

Listen to a short story.
Listen carefully.
Recognize common sounds.
Repeat a sequence of sounds.
Repeat a sequence of orally given numbers.
Retell simple stories in sequence.

Follow Simple Directions

Bake A Cake!

An easy way to teach kids how to follow directions is to bake something by following a recipe.
Your child will quickly see that doing each step in a particular order is necessary to produce a
tasty treat. Try this recipe (designed with kids in mind) for baking a carrot cake.

As you follow the directions, ask your child, "What do you think would happen if we didn't grate
the carrots or cut them up before putting them in the cake? Why do we have to break the eggs?
Why do you think we need to measure the dry ingredients - what do you think would happen if
we used the whole bag of flour instead of just 3 cups?" There are no "right" answers - you are
just helping them to understand that there's a good reason for following the directions.

Do A Fast & Easy Craft Project!

In this activity you follow directions to make a musical instrument!

Container Music Maker

What you'll need: 1 small container with a tight lid (a yogurt container or small margarine
container) and a handful of beans.

Directions: Ask your child to pick up the container, take off the lid, and put the beans inside. Put
the lid back on the container. Now you're ready to play!

As your child plays with their new musical instrument ask him/her to:

shake it up high
shake it down low
shake it while he/she turns around!
*Note: Have everything ready to go before you begin this craft, it will make things go faster and
easier. The goal is to have your child follow directions well. The container can be decorated with
markers and/or stickers.

Get more directions on how to make your own instruments and learn how making music can
make you smarter!

Turn Chores Into Fun Learning Opportunities

Go On A Sock Search!

Ask your child to get something from around the house and bring it to you. For example: Tell
your child you are missing some socks and need their help to find them. Please go to the
bedroom and look for socks on the floor. If you find any socks on the floor, pick them up and
bring them to me. When your child can handle one direction, ask him/her to get a couple of
things and bring them to you. This will help with their listening and observational skills.

Trap the Toys!

Take a big, empty cardboard box and write "Toy Trap" on it. Tell your child that you've noticed
the toys keep escaping from the bedroom. They are everywhere throughout the house. Explain
that you've built a toy trap to keep them in a safe place when your child isn't playing with them.
Ask your child to help you round up the toys and put them in the trap.

More Fun Activities That Help Kids Learn To Follow Directions:

Make Direction Cards

Direction cards make a fun game that will help your child learn to follow directions better. You'll
need about 10 index cards for this and a pen. (You can add more cards later.) Write a direction
on each card such as hop on one foot, clap your hands, smile, count to 3, point to something
round, draw a flower, and so forth. Try using pictures so your child can "read" the cards himself.

Go On A Treasure Hunt!

Make a hidden treasure map for your child. Draw the map on a piece of construction paper. Put
some lines, symbols and simple directions on it. Glue pictures (cut from a magazine or from
printed computer graphics) on the map. When the glue dries, roll the map up and put a ribbon or
a rubber band around it. Present the treasure map to your child and say, "See if you can follow
the directions to find the hidden treasure."

Example of what to put on the map: Pick a place to start such as your child's bedroom (use a bed
for this picture). Take 10 steps (draw footprints or track marks) to the living room (put a couch
for this room). Take 4 steps to the dining room or bathroom (put a table or a bathtub for these
clues). Finally, take 5 hops (draw footprints together and spaced apart) to the kitchen and you
will find your treasure! (Have a small toy, a new package of crayons, a container of Play Doh, or
a healthy snack waiting for your child!)

Note: Your child may need a little help reading the map whether you use words or pictures on it.
Help them figure it out and have fun!

Variation: Instead of a map, make up some picture cards for the rooms in your home. Put the
clues in order and hide them around the house in the order you would like your child to find the
clues. Hand your child the first clue, and then let him/her find the next clue. For example: Your
child's first clue might be a picture of a couch. When your child goes to the couch - they will find
another "clue" on the couch or under one of the pillows on the couch. The next clue might have a
picture of a bathtub. That will direct your child to go to the bathroom for the next clue. Put
another clue in the bathroom. That clue could finish the game by leading to the treasure. For
example, the clue card could have a picture of a refrigerator to represent the kitchen. Have the
treasure hidden in the fridge.

Help your child make and hide some cards for another family member to find! This would also
be a nice way to find a birthday or holiday surprise!

Listen To a Short Story

Kids who are read to each and every day develop better reading, writing, speaking and listening
skills. Reading out loud is the single most important thing you can do to help your child develop
the skills needed to become a life-long learner. Here are some ideas to encourage reading out

Cuddle up and read short stories together.

Go to a library for story time.
Visit the bookstore and read some books there. Purchase your favorite.
Listen to audio books.
Record your child's favorite short stories and let him/her listen to you read them over and over.
(Ask grandparents and relatives to do this as well.)
As your child to make up a story. Take dictation. Read the story back to them.

These sites have free stories and activities for children that you can read online or print out and
read offline:

Children's Storybooks Online - illustrated storybooks for kids of all ages.

Children's Classics - illustrated classics for younger children
Children's Story - free fairy tales, nursery rhymes, interactive stories, and holiday stories.
Aesop's Fables - an alphabetical directory of the classic tales.
Free Games & Educational Activities for Kids
Listen Carefully

Children need to develop good listening skills to develop good language and reading skills. They
must learn to discriminate various sounds in order to associate a particular sound with a letter.
Then, they need to remember the sounds that letters make so they can reproduce them and use
them to make words as their language skills develop.

Listening skills can be practiced in a fun way. Each child's individual developmental timetable
will help to determine if they are ready for the activities described below. Remember that this is
not a race. Children's maturity, attention span, and personal vocabulary will influence their
ability to listen actively and selectively. Respect their readiness. If these activities are frustrating
or boring, by all means move on to something that your child can accomplish successfully and is
interested in doing. Learning should be a joyful experience. If your child isn't attentive and
actively engaged in the activity -- put it away and try something else.

Note: For more information, read, "How Can Parents Model Good Listening Skills?"

In these classic children's games, kids learn to listen carefully and follow directions:

Play the classic children's game, "Simon Says"

Play "Mother, May I?" or "Captain, May I?"

Take a Sound Walk! Go on a walk around the block and have your child identify everything
they hear. Can they tell what direction a sound is coming from?

Recognize Common Sounds

Close Your Eyes and Open Your Ears

Have your child close their eyes and listen to what's going on around him/her (inside or outside).
Ask him/her about the sounds they hear.
Ask your child to close her eyes or turn around. Make sounds with objects. Have your child
identify the object that makes the sound. Let your child do the same to you.

Learn The Sounds That Letters Make!

You can listen to the sounds letters (consonant and vowels) make while watching a clever
animation with your child at
Play the Magic School Bus Gets An Earful Sound Game

Your child will have fun finding out if he/she has a good "ear" for matching up sounds with the
things that make them.

Repeat a Sequence of Sounds

There are a variety of online games and toys based on the children's game "Simon Says" that
require kids to listen to a sound pattern and repeat it.

Try playing this free on-line version.

You can purchase an electronic toy Simon Game.

Play Musical Follow-The-Leader!

Make two, identical musical instruments out of recycled products - one for you, and one for your
child. Then, make one, simple noise with your instrument and ask your child to try to imitate it
with their instrument. Then, make two noises, then three, and have your child attempt to repeat
the patterns you create. Let your child make up a sound pattern so that you can repeat what your
child does.

Variation: Sing or hum a portion of a song or tune, and ask your child to repeat it.

Sing: "If You're Happy And You Know It..."

This children's favorite not only help kids repeat a sequence of sounds, it requires them to listen
attentively and follow directions.

Sing the song with Barney

Listen to just the tune and read the lyrics.

Repeat a Sequence of Orally Given Numbers

Count to 20 with your child.

Teach your child how to skip count by 2's, 5's and 10's.

Sing Counting Songs!

This Old Man

The Ants Go Marching
Hickory, Dickory, Dock
Number Chants and Counting Songs for Preschoolers

Learn "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" and print out a matching Rebus Rhyme.

Teach your child his/her own street address and phone number. Try setting this information to a
familiar tune to help your child remember it. Don't forget to include the area code when you
teach a phone number.

Retell Simple Stories in Sequence

What Happened Next?

Read a story to your child. Ask him/her to retell the story. Help your child retell it in logical
sequence or order simply by asking, "What happened next?"

Photo Fun

Show your child photos from a family outing and ask him/her to help you put your child in order
based on when each event took place. Ask them to retell the story of the family outing.

Play a Memory Sequencing Game with this free online activity.

Take Dictation! Have your child dictate a letter telling someone special about his or her day.

Illustrate Your Child's Day! Ask your child to draw something about their day, talk about the
picture with your child.

Bedtime Recap! As you get ready for bed, ask your child to recount the day's events.

Comical Cut-Ups! Cut up a comic strip and let your child put it back in order. Ask them what
they think the comic says.

Make A Story Spinner and Play The Story Game!

Use the directions below to make a "Story Spinner." Use it to create a story. Write the story
down as you and your child play the story game (see instructions below). Illustrate the story. Ask
your child if they can retell the story when you're finished. Reread the story later. Use play
dough to make the characters or scenes from the story.

How To Make a Story Spinner:

You will need this game template.

You will also need stickers, stamps, graphics or pictures cut out of a magazine, glue, a paper
brad/fastener, pencil and a ruler.

Directions: Make a copy of the spinner on thick cardstock paper. Then invite your child to put
one stamp, sticker or picture in each wedge.

How to play: Each picture represents a part of the story. You and your child can take turns
spinning the spinner to create another part of the story. Write the story while you are playing and
read it back when you are done or have your child tell you the story again in his/her own words.

[Previous: Reading Readiness Concepts] [Next: Position & Direction]

Home Preschool Curriculum Guide

Position & Direction

Activities For Helping Children Understand the Concepts of Position And Direction

There are a variety of activities you can do at home that correlate with the cognitive
developmental stage of 2-5 year olds and the typical preschool course of study. Two of the key
concepts that preschool educators think children ages 2-5 should understand in order to begin
formal academic learning - in the school or homeschool environment - are Position and

Child should understand:

Up and Down
In and Out
Front and Back
Over, On, and Under
Top, Bottom, Middle
Beside and Next To
Hot and Cold
Fast and Slow
Full and Empty
Time - Day and Night
Knows Age and Birthday
Can Identify a Calendar

Here are some activities you can do to help your preschooler learn these skills.
Up and Down

Use the words "up" and "down" as you talk with your child in everyday, normal conversations.
Point to the clouds or stars and say they are up in the sky. Point to the grass and say it grows
down on the ground. When you lift your child up off the ground, and put them back down on
the ground, say out loud, "I'm lifting you up, and now I'm putting you down."
Go to the park and as you play on the equipment use the words "up" and "down." For example,
"You are climbing up the ladder so you can go down the slide." "You are swinging up, and now
you are swinging back down."
Play with a Busy Beads toy and talk about pushing the beads up and down and all around.
Beanbag Toss: Throw your beanbag up, and watch it come down.
Water Play: Using a basin of water or when your child is in the bath tub, talk about what objects
float up on top of the water and what objects sink down to the bottom. Note: Constant adult
supervision required.
Do jumping jacks and describe what you are doing: "Clap your hands together up above your
head. Bring your hands down to your sides.
Bounce a ball up and down.
Listen to and sing along with the Itsy, Bitsy Spider. Get the Itsy Bitsy Spider lyrics, sheet music,
and coloring pages.

In and Out

Let your child play in a box and then crawl out of the box.
Talk about inside and outside when you are doing things together.
Talk about the things you do. For example say, "Let's go out to play" or, "Let's take a ride in the
Explain directions to your child while you demonstrate. For example. "Put Play Dough in the
mold and then take out the shape!"
Put water in a container and pour it out.
Hula-Hoop Game: Step into a hula-hoop then step out.
Throw a ball in a box or laundry basket and then take it out.

Front and Back

When you are waiting in line at the bank, post office, or grocery store, talk to your child about
where you are in the line. For example, "We are in back of the lady in the blue blouse and in
front of the man with the red baseball hat."
Matching Game: Get a magazine and cut out pictures that depict an entire animal, vehicle, or
other object. Paste the pictures on index cards. Cut the cards in half and ask your child to match
the front and back parts together like a puzzle.
Show your child the front and back of different objects such as books, boxes, and clothing. Allow
your child to compare the backs and fronts of objects.
Over, On, and Under

Read We Are Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

Listen to this fun version of We Are Going On A Bear Hunt online.
Do the body play Bear Hunt with your child and go through the motions with them.
Lay on the ground with your child and look up into the sky. Talk about the planes, birds and
other things that are moving overhead.
Talk about the things you go over such as a bridge or a stream.
Before going on a nature walk talk about the things you are putting on such as shoes, a jacket,
and binoculars. As you walk, talk about the things you find on the ground. When you get home,
talk about all the wonderful things you've collected while walking and place them on a nature
Make a tent out of your kitchen table! While your child is under the table, talk about his/her
Play a game of Limbo! You can use a rope or a broom for this fun game.
Play a direction game with your child. Ask your child to stack blocks on top of one another, next
to one another, then put two blocks close together and put another on top of or over the two
blocks to form a bridge, ask your child to put a block under the "bridge".

Top, Bottom, Middle

Play with Stacking Rings - and talk about which one is on the bottom, in the middle, and on the
Play the Cups and Ball game. Let your child watch as you put a ball under one of 3 upside down
plastic cups (not the clear, see-through kind). Tell your child to watch the cup that has the ball
under it. Then, move them around and have your child guess where the ball is. Left, right or
middle. Lift up the cups and see if their guess was correct. Let them try to fool you.
Talk about plants and flowers. Discuss the leaves on top of a tree, or flowers on top of a plant.
Discuss the middle of the tree or plant (trunk or stem) and the bottom roots. Grow an avocado
tree. Watch as the avocado roots sprout from the bottom of the pit, and the seedling breaks
threw the top of the avocado pit.
Talk about the body: Head is at the top, belly in the middle, and feet on the bottom.
Beanbag or Ball Toss: Use a large piece of cardboard and cut 3 holes (make a top, middle and
bottom). Have your child throw the ball or beanbag into one of the three holes. Tell your child
what hole the ball went through. As you're your child gets better, make a spinner to tell them
what hole to try for or make up directions cards. (Color-code each hole for the card version.)
Play Jenga with your child.

Beside and Next To

Talk about positions with your child.

When you are doing things with your child, use direction words as much as possible. For
example: "Look at that big black dog next to our car!"
Play Connect Four with your child.
When you give your child directions to get something say, " Please get me the green cup next to
the book" or " Come sit beside me".
Hot and Cold

Talk to your child about hot and cold. Point out things in the house that are hot and cold such as
the refrigerator or the stove.
Talk about the weather in terms of hot and cold.
Boil water and let your child see the steam rising up out of the pot. Explain that seeing steam is
a good way of telling when something is too hot to touch. Please use caution when doing this.
Eat hot and cold foods together and compare them. Try a hot waffle with cold ice cream or hot
cocoa with cold whipped cream as a topping!
Ice Experiment: This experiment uses 2 ice cubes, a plate, and a sunny location. Give one ice
cube to your child to put on a plate, then place the plate in a sunny location in your home.
(You'll want to keep it close to where you are working.) Let your child play with the other ice
cube on a counter or table (not in the mouth, only the hands!) and leave the other one alone;
check it often. See which one melts first and talk about why. (The heat from the body and the
friction from the movement will melt the ice cube faster.)

Fast and Slow

Run or walk quickly with your child and then slowly. Repeat. Try doing this activity while carrying
your child.
Talk really fast then really slow with your child.
Read: The Tortoise and the Hare
Here's another version of The Tortoise and the Hare.
o Tortoise and Hare activities:
Talk about and compare things that move fast and slow. Ask your child to
imitate animals that move fast (cheeta) or slow (snail).
Sing your child's favorite song fast and then slow.
Demonstrate fast and slow: Blow up a balloon (slow) then let it go (fast).

Time: Understands Day and Night

Enjoy these fun and educational "moon activities."

Teach the concepts of day and night with these activities from Child Fun.
Read the story Good Night Sun, Hello Moon by Karen Viola
Listen to the song Tonight
Follow these directions and make a sun and moon or star to tell the time of day:

Make a Sun: Cut a yellow circle out of construction paper or use a paper plate and paint it
yellow and put a face on your sun. Then trace and cut out your child's hands using yellow and
orange construction paper (make enough to fit around the circle). Glue each hand to the back of
the circle. The hands represent the rays of the sun.
Make a Moon: Cut a white circle out of construction paper or use a paper plate. Draw a face on
your moon. You can also cut out a picture of a moon from a magazine and glue it to the paper

Make a Star: Use a star shape to represent the night time. Use this printable star template. Cut
out the pieces and glue the triangles around the circle to form a star shape.

What to do: In the daytime, hang the sun up on your child's door. When it is nighttime hang the
moon or star up. Talk about the time of day, what you are doing and why.

For example, when you get up in the morning, replace the moon/star with the sun and talk about
how you'll eat breakfast and then plan your day together. At night, replace your sun with the
moon/star and talk about your nighttime routine of getting ready for bed. Don't forget to read a
bedtime story!

Sing: You are My Sunshine

Sing: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Talk about the sun, stars, and moon.
Do this Star Light, Star Bright poem activity.
Talk about the animals seen and heard during the day (diurnal) and the animals seen and heard
at night (nocturnal).

Knows Age and Birthday

Talk to your child about his/her age. Make references to their age when you can. For example:
"Jesse, is four years old and so are you!" "You were born on June 5th. Jesse was born on
September 28th."
A week or more in advance of your child's birthday, do a birthday count down. Let your child
mark off each day on a calendar until their birthday.
Make a "Birthday Wheel" to remember loved one's birthdays and compare how many more
months/weeks/days until your child's birthday.

Identify Calendar

Make up your own calendar to keep track of the days and months:

Tip: If you print out a blank calendar and have it laminated you'll be able to use dry erase
markers and reuse it!

Use a calendar with your child everyday to keep track of the days of the week and to count
down to special events and outings.
Use a calendar to help your child keep track of the weather daily! Use stickers, get weather
stamps or have them draw a sun, clouds, wind swirls, raindrops or snow flakes each day.
Keep track of special days so that your children will know when to send that handmade card to
someone special!
Talk about the months of the year. Use this rhyme.
Read the poem Monday's Child.
Talk about the days of the week with your child. "Today is Monday and we'll go to story time at
the library. Tomorrow is Tuesday and we'll go the park with grandma!"

[Previous: Listening & Sequencing] Motor

Home Preschool Curriculum Guide

Motor Skills

There are a variety of activities you can do at home that correlate with the cognitive
developmental stage of 2-5 year olds and the typical preschool course of study.
Preschool educators say children ages 2-5 should have certain motor skills in order to
begin formal academic learning in the school or homeschool environment. Here are the
skills they identify:

A child should be able to:

Walk a straight line
Alternate feet walking down stairs
Stand on one foot for 5-10 seconds
Walk backwards for five feet
Clap hands
Touch fingers
Button a garment & zip a zipper
Throw a ball
Draw and color beyond a simple scribble
Control pencil and crayon well
Copy simple shapes
Cut simple shapes with scissors (handles scissors well)
Paste objects
Build with blocks
Match simple objects
Complete simple puzzles (5 pieces or less)
Here are some activities you can do to help your preschooler develop these motor skills.

Developing Motor Skills

Build An Obstacle Course!

One way to improve motor skills, get some exercise, and help your child learn
vocabulary and concepts needed for reading readiness skills is to build and use an
obstacle course.

Take A Hike!

Walking and hiking offer opportunities to improve motor skills especially if you
change how you walk. Here are some fun ideas.

Developing Specific Motor Skills


Take your child to the playground so he/she can run around.

Play tag or hide and go seek with your child.
Play the game "Red Light, Green Light 1, 2, 3" Here are the rules.
Play soccer or kick a ball with your child.
Try this Learn to Run program designed for children of all ages to do with parental
supervision and participation. Parents will need to adjust this program depending on a
young child's level of coordination and ability. All you need to get started is a
stopwatch and a little energy.

Walk A Straight Line

Put a line of masking tape on the floor have your child walk along it.
Show your child how to balance on a curb or a log. (Parent supervision required.)
Go to the park or the gym and walk along the balancing rod or beam.
Build your own balance beam in the backyard with these instructions.


Visit the playground; encourage your child to jump.

Play a game with a balloon where you have to jump up to hit the balloon.
Play jump rope. Here are some instructions. Here are some fun jump rope rhymes.
Play games like Simon Says. Or play Follow The Leader. First, you jump, then your child
tries to jump. Then, you touch your toes, and your child follows your lead. Run in
place, swing your arms, and stretch your hands high up to the ceiling. Let your child be
the leader and you follow whatever he/she does.
Do jumping jacks with your child.

Teach your child to do The Bunny Hop dance. Listen to the music and read the lyrics
Act like an animal that hops such as a rabbit, kangaroo, or frog.
Play Hopscotch. This classic game teaches or reinforces counting skills while
developing physical coordination. Here are instructions for how to draw a hopscotch
grid on the sidewalk, patio, or driveway along with directions on how to play the
game. You may also be able to find a hopscotch grid at a local schoolyard.

Alternate Feet Walking Down Stairs

Practice walking up and down stairs. If you don't have stairs in your home, consider
going to an indoor or outdoor public place or building with stairs, for example: the
mall, county court house, hotel, etc. Visit a friend or relative that has a home with
stairs ask them if you can practice.
Play "Follow The Leader" up and down the stairs.


Show your child how to march and how to march in place. It might help to let them
see a real marching band at a high school or college football game (or even on
television broadcasts of college football games). The movie musical The Music Man
features a marching band. Or watch a video of the UCLA marching band.
Include marching as a direction in games such as: Follow The Leader, Mother May I,
and Simon Says.
Add marching to your daily walking routine.
March and sing along to The Ants Came Marching.

Stand On One Foot for 5-10 Seconds

Practice standing on one foot, and invite your child to try it. Time yourselves. How
many seconds can you stand on one foot?
Include standing on one foot as a direction in games such as: Follow The Leader,
Mother May I, and Simon Says.

Walk Backwards for Five Feet

Take a Backwards Walk! When you are out walking, turn around and walk backwards.
Your child may think that's pretty funny. Show your child how to walk backwards. See
how far you can walk that way.
Play Forward-Backward. Take 5 steps forward and 2 steps back. Then take 10 steps
forward 4 steps backward. Let your child suggest how many steps to take forward and
Walk backward up a hill. It's fun!
Include walking backwards in direction games such as, Mother May I, Follow The
Leader, and Simon Says.

Clap Hands

Show your child how to clap their hands together. Clap slowly at first, then faster and
faster. Clap softly. Clap loudly. Have fun!
Play "Pat-A-Cake" with your child. This classic children's game has been around since
the 1700's for good reason. Kids love the interaction with mom or dad, the simple
rhyming lyric, and the easy hand motions that accompany the rhyme.
Sing and clap along to, If You're Happy & You Know It Clap Your Hands.

Touches Fingers

Teach your child the name of each of their fingers on their hand; thumb, index or
pointer finger, middle finger, ring finger, and baby finger. You can explain why each
finger has that name. Touch each finger as you say its name.
Compare fingers! Little kids love to compare their hands to adult hands. Put your
hands together with palms touching. How much longer are your fingers than your
child's fingers?
Do finger plays.
Show your child how to snap fingers. (This may take time and lots of practice.)
Ask your child what shapes he/she can make out of his/her hands. For example:
Circles, triangles, ovals, rectangles and teardrops.
Make shadow figures with your hands and fingers.
Use your fingers to count. Have your child touch each finger while counting.
Make finger puppets! It's easy with band aids. Just put a plain band aid around each
finger and draw a face on it. You can make a finger puppet theater too. Or make 2-
finger puppets.

Get the book The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider: Fingerplays and Action Rhymes by Joanna

Button A Garment & Zip a Zipper

Show your child how to button and unbutton, zip and unzip, and snap and unsnap
their clothes. While you're at it, show them how to hook and unhook clothing, as well
as how to open and close Velcro tabs.
Let your child play dress up with old clothing such as shirts and pants with buttons,
zippers, hooks, and laces.

Get a dress up doll such as Gund's Teach Me Girl and Teach Me Boy that help kids
learn to button, unbutton, tie shoe laces, zip and unzip and more.
Throw a Ball

Show your child how to throw a ball.

Try to throw a ball into a laundry basket or box.
Play a game of catch with your child.
Hang a hoop (such as a small hula hoop or lightweight inner tube) from a door jam. Let
your child throw a ball through the middle of the hoop.
Play with different types and shapes of balls, such as Poof Balls.

Draw and Color Beyond A Simple Scribble

Little kids learn to draw by copying. The simplest way to begin is to start with a simple
shape. Let your child watch as you draw a circle it doesn't have to be perfect. Then
add eyes, a nose, and a mouth to make a simple face. Be sure to explain what you are
doing, so that your child understands.

Draw several simple faces and give them different features such as a happy smile, a
sad face, a tiny nose, big eyes, curly hair, bushy eyebrows, etc. Let your child tell you
what to draw. (Your child won't be disappointed in your artistic ability he or she will
simply be fascinated to watch the process unfold.)

Draw a simple stick-figure so that your child begins to understand that pictures are
made of lines straight and curved. Draw trees, flowers, a house, or animals. Ask
your child to join you see if they can copy what you do. Eventually, they will begin
to draw their own pictures. As their ability improves, try this game:

Guess What I Drew

Materials: Put stickers, stamps or glue pictures onto index cards.

How to play: Have a player choose a card from the deck. (The player should not show
anyone else the card!) Then the player should try to sketch or draw the object that is on
the card onto a piece of paper with a pencil or crayons. When the player has finished
drawing the picture, let the other players guess what the picture is in turn. Everyone
should have a turn to guess what the player drew. When everyone has had a chance to
guess, the player can reveal the card they picked. There are no winners or losers here,
just guesses. Then, the play passes to the next player. offers free drawing lessons that you can print out and do at home
designed especially for preschoolers and young children.
Ed Emberley's drawing books make learning to draw easy and fun. He has an entire
series of books for varying age groups that you can probably get at your local library or
bookstore. Try Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Faces that is geared for kids 4-8.
Coloring is a matter of practice. Make sure you have a supply of coloring crayons,
pencils, and markers at home, along with lots of plain paper and coloring books within
easy reach of your preschooler. Designate a small area as your "art nook" and keep it
well stocked.
Allow your child to access the supplies at will. Encourage your child's artistic
expression. Get all kinds of free printable coloring pages and no-line coloring pages at

Control Pencil and Crayon Well

Using a pencil and crayon well takes practice. Make the materials easily available to
your child so that they can practice by drawing, coloring, and writing whenever they
want. Have a variety of pens, pencils, crayons, markers and paper with which to
Activity books such as dot-to-dots and mazes improve pencil and crayon control.
Get free printable dot-to-dot activities.
Get free printable mazes.
Play: "Can You Draw What I Draw?" You'll need a piece of paper for each player and
crayons or markers. Draw a line (or something simple) and ask your child to do the
same, then draw another shape and ask him/her to do the same. Then reverse rolls
and let your child lead and you follow.

Copy Simple Shapes

Let your child use shape cards to copy shapes onto paper.
Trace shapes in a sandbox.
Finger paint and ask your child to draw shapes in the paint.

Cut Simple Shapes With Scissors

Practice using scissors. Give your child paper (like junk mail!) and scissors and let
him/her cut to their hearts content. They will not have any direction when they begin,
they will need to learn how the scissors work at first. Have a dustpan, broom and
garbage near by to pick up small pieces! Encourage your child to help with the clean
Let your child do cut and paste projects.
Practice cutting shapes.
Find a selection of links with free cut-out paper doll patterns. Use the cut-outs to make
your own story books and dioramas.
Cut pictures from magazines.
Draw or print shapes for your child to cut out.

Paste Objects

Glue & Paste Projects The best way to learn this skill is to get lots of practice. Start
out with easy projects. The less frustrating for your child, the better. As he/she gains
skill, you can tackle more difficult projects. These projects can get messy so plan
ahead. Wear appropriate clothing. Use a drop cloth to minimize mess and reduce
worry. The point is to have fun while teaching a skill. Be sure to use non-toxic glue and
paste. Show your child how to glue and paste together: paper, egg cartons, baskets,
cardboard, boxes, milk cartons, tea bag boxes, wax paper rolls, toilet paper and towel
rolls, oatmeal boxes, etc.

Then, show your child how to use glue and/or paste to decorate their projects with:
glitter, beans, rice, cotton balls, toothpicks, felt, wood, sequins, packing materials,
tissue paper, torn or cut paper, newspaper clippings, magazine clippings, noodles,
pasta, peanut shells, colored puff balls, colored feathers, buttons, styrofoam, pipe
cleaners, ribbons, paper punch outs, fabric and odd pieces of costume jewelry.
Do paper craft projects together.

Builds with Blocks

Building with blocks helps children to discover for themselves important concepts such
as size, shape, number, space, weight, and height -- all precursors to good math and
science skills. Invest in a set of blocks and encourage your child to play with them.
They are the ultimate educational toy and come in a variety of options including: wood
blocks, Lego Duplos, Lincoln Logs and foam blocks.
Make your own blocks. Just use empty cardboard boxes of different sizes and shapes.
(Tape them closed for ease of use.) Use shoe boxes, milk cartons, oatmeal boxes,
toothpaste cartons, etc. You can fill them with crumpled newspaper to add weight, if
needed. If you want your home-made blocks to look more appealing or uniform --
cover them in contact paper (you can purchase inexpensive rolls of it at building
supply stores). Or, make Brown Paper Bag Blocks! Here's how:

Materials: You will need brown paper grocery bags, newspaper, and strong tape like
masking or shipping/packing tape.

Directions: Take a standard-sized grocery paper bag and lay it on a flat surface like a
table or the floor. Fold the top of the bag over about 6" to 8" and make a crease in the
bag on the fold line. Then, open the bag and stuff it with individual sheets of crumpled
newspapers. Then, fold the bag on the crease line to close it, and tape it shut securely.
You can decorate the bag-blocks if you want -- or just get busy and build forts, towers,
tunnels, and whatever else your imagination inspires.

Matches Simple Objects

Show your child two matching items explain that they look alike, so they "match."
What else matches? Look around your house for objects that match such as
silverware, dishes, napkins, light switches, windows, faucets, pillows, socks, etc.
Match playing cards such as all of the 2's, 5's, jacks, queens, kings, etc.
Match objects you find when you walk such as flowers, leaves, rocks and shells.
Play these printable concentration games themed around Clifford The Big Red Dog.
Sort through toys and match objects that are alike.

Complete Simple Puzzles (5 pieces or less)

Buy puzzles especially designed for young children and put them together.
Make your own puzzles! Glue a magazine picture or photograph to poster board or
cardboard, cut it up into 5-6 pieces (or more, depending on child's ability to assemble),
and let your child put it back together. Or, use these blank puzzles to create your own
puzzle masterpieces.
Do puzzles online. A nice feature of this website that offers online, interactive puzzles
for kids of all ages and abilities, is that you can choose the puzzle category you want
and then select the number of pieces you want the puzzle to have such as 6,12, 25, 40,

[Previous: Position & Direction] [Next: Social and Emotional Development]

Home Preschool Curriculum Guide

Social & Emotional Development

There are many activities you can do at home and within your extended community to
help your child develop social and emotional skills. Some of these skills are only
necessary to learn in the preschool years (ages 2-5) if you intend to place your child in a
public or private school for kindergarten.

Children who are not institutionalized will learn these skills quite naturally at their own
developmental pace (perhaps, but not necessarily, between the ages of 2-5). If a child is
placed in a preschool, they may be forced to learn these skills before they are
developmentally ready. That can cause stress, anxiety, and behavioral and learning

We've provided this list of social and emotional skills so you will know what is
expected of a young child in order to be ready to attend kindergarten away from home.
Here are the skills preschool educators think children ages 2-5 should develop in order
to begin formal academic learning in the institutional school environment:

A child should:

Be able to be apart from parents or primary care givers for 2-3 hours without being
Meet visitors without shyness
Talks easily and able to enter into casual conversation
Know his/her full name
Know parents' names
Know home address
Know home phone number (including area code)
Know his or her own sex (male/female)
Take care of toilet needs independently
Dress himself/herself
Know how to use handkerchief or tissue
Brush teeth independently
Carry a plate of food without spilling
Cares for own belongings
Puts away toys
Help family with chores
Cross residential street safely
Maintain self-control
Play with other children
Share with others
Get along well with other children
Recognize authority
Able to work independently
Able to stay on task
Feel good about self

The emotional health of your child is extremely important. If you do not intend to
institutionalize your child in public or private schools then there is no need or hurry to
push your child to learn all of these skills especially if it doesn't seem
developmentally appropriate for your child. If you do plan to institutionalize your child
in school, then what follows is a list of activities you can do to help your preschooler
learn these skills.

Be Able To Be Apart From Parents Or Primary Care Givers For 2-3

Hours Without Being Upset

Some children have temperaments that allow them to adapt to new people and situations
easily. They are relatively comfortable being apart from mom and dad and in the care of
other people. Some children have a difficult time with transitions and change. They may
experience a lot of separation anxiety if mom or dad (or their primary caregiver) is not
present. Either way, helping a child develop the ability to be apart from mom or dad in
the care of someone else requires empathy for the child's feelings, lots of patience, and

You can help your child through separation anxiety by making sure they are very
familiar with any new caregiver or babysitter. Start out slowly. Invite the caregiver
(whether a relative, friend, or hired help) to just come over to your home and hang out
with you and your child for an hour or two. Let the caregiver see your routine, and learn
your child's likes and dislikes. Do that several times until your child feels safe and
enjoys the caregiver's company. Then, you can try leaving the room while your child
stays with the caregiver. If that goes well, try leaving the house to run an errand while
your child stays with the caregiver. Be sure to reassure your child that you will return
by a particular time and then make sure that you do. Eventually, you may work up to
a separation of 2-3 hours.

Again, children will adjust to separation differently. You must do your best to respect
your child's emotional needs. If your child is inconsolable when you leave your child
isn't ready for separation. You may need to rethink your plans until your child is ready
to be apart from you. Other ideas that may work include:

Employ a "mother's helper." Have an older child you trust from the neighborhood (or
a friend) come and play with your child for a couple of hours a week in your home
(while you are there). It will help your child get used to being in the company of and
cared for by someone else.
Visit relatives and friends. Arrange for your child to visit a trusted relative's or
neighbor's home for an hour or two.
Make play dates. Take turns making play dates with other parents. For example, your
friend's child plays at your house for an hour on Tuesdays, and your child goes to their
home for an hour on Thursdays.
Go to children's library events. Some libraries have story time for 3-5 year olds, and
allow parents to leave the room while the child listens to the story. Of course, you
must stay close by, in case your child should need you, but it may be a way to help
ease your child into the idea of temporary separation from you.
Join a gymnastics program for little kids, or some other kind of recreational activity.
Your child may want you to stay and watch at first. Eventually, your child may feel
comfortable if you leave while he/she takes the class.
Read books about children who experience separation anxiety. It may help to define
and clarify their feelings, while providing some coping mechanisms. Try, The Good-bye
Book by Judith Viorst, and Mommy Don't Go by Elizabeth Crary.
Read the article "Parting Without Such Sorrow" with suggestions for how to help you
and your child overcome separation anxiety.

Meet Visitors Without Shyness

Young children may feel a little shy when they first meet strangers or even relatives
they have never met before. Little kids may feel anxiety due to the spotlight of attention
they receive when they meet someone new. Sometimes a child described as "shy" is
simply slow to warm up. They prefer to watch and observe new people and situations
from a distance, and then, when they understand it better and feel comfortable, they will
approach the people or join in the activity. Some children outgrow shyness, and others
may be timid throughout their lives. Read "Shyness and Children" for a better
understanding of the causes of shyness and learn strategies for helping your child cope
with shyness.

One thing is clear: A child should never be ridiculed for being shy. In fact, it's wise to
avoid labeling your child as "shy" and discourage other people from doing that as well.
Instead, parents can try to teach their children skills to overcome or manage their
feelings of shyness. Talking about feelings can help. Here are some books that shy
children may especially enjoy reading and discussing:

Shy Charles by Rosemary Wells

So Shy by Vicki Morrison
Little Miss Shy by Roger Hargreaves

Remember that children learn by example so show them how to politely greet people
with a smile and a handshake, by doing it yourself.

Talks Easily and Able To Enter into Casual Conversation

Practice makes perfect. Engage your child in conversation everyday. Ask your child
questions and really listen to the answers she/he gives. Talk about everything! Ask what
they want to eat, what clothing they want to wear, and what they want to do each day.
Ask about their likes and dislikes. Talk about the weather, food, pets, things, and other
people. Your child will become more comfortable with speech the more they get the
chance to talk. Listen to your child's stories and jokes. Take turns reciting rhymes,
poems and fairy tales you enjoy.

Talking to your child often will help them feel comfortable talking not only to you
but to other people as well. When you are talking to others, ask your child questions to
include them in the conversation. Let your child talk on the telephone to friends and
relatives. Teach your child the social graces of good conversation. Teach them to be
polite by waiting for an opening and not talking over others.

Knows Full Name

Use these activities to help your child learn and remember their full name:

Call your child by their full name from time to time.

Write your child's name on paper and show them each word first name, middle
name, and last name.
Make an, "All About Me" book and include your child's full name in the pages. Read it
often. Add to it often!
Insert your child's full name into a rhyme or a song.
Use your child's full name when you introduce them to others.
Encourage your child to use their full name when they introduce themselves.
Have a tea party with dolls and stuffed animals and introduce your child by his/her full
name to each "guest."

Knows Parents' Names

It is important for your child to know the first and last names of both of their parents.
(This is especially helpful in the event you are ever separated, or your child becomes

Tell your child your first and last name (especially if you have a different last name
from your child).
Write your name on paper and show it to your child. Compare it to their name and
point out how they are alike or different.
Ask your child if they remember your name from time to time for example, while
you're driving in the car or standing in line at the post office or bank.
Have a "Teddy Bear Tea Party" and ask your child to introduce you by your full name
to all of the "guests."

Knows Home Address

Tell your child your home address.

Go outside and show your child your house number where it's posted on the mailbox,
side of the house, or curb.
Show them the street sign with the name of your street.
Tell them what city and state you live in. Show them on a map.
Help your child to make a map of your street and show them where you live. Tell them
the address.
Have your child practice saying his/her address.
Have your child tell his/her stuffed animals and dolls their home address.
Set your child's address to a familiar tune it will be easier to remember.

Knows Home Phone Number

Tell your child your telephone number.

Show your child how to dial your phone number on a real phone.
Have your child tell his/her stuffed animals and dolls their phone number.
Set your phone number to a familiar tune to make it easy to remember.

Play the "Roll Your Phone Number" Game!

Put each number of your phone number on a separate index card and have your child
put them in the proper order as they say each number out loud. Play a dice game where
your child tries to roll the numbers in your phone number and match them to the
numbers on the index cards.

Note: Buy blank dice from an educational store or cover regular dice with masking tape
and write a real number on each side (no dots). Remember regular dice do not have the
#0 so if you need that number, blank out another number with masking tape and write a
zero in its place. The Crayola website has printable paper dice you can make.
Registration (free) is required by Crayola to access the materials. Or try using this free
cube pattern.

Knows His or Her Own Sex

Parents may not feel comfortable talking to their children about genitals, but it's
important for children to know the proper names of their body parts in the event that
they need to communicate their needs to others and be understood. This is particularly
true during toilet training time. For example if you call your son or daughter's genitals a
"woo-woo" a trusted caregiver or doctor may not understand what body part your child
is talking about! Use the real names, and help your child understand the difference
between a boy and a girl. If you are bashful about talking to your child about their
genitals, ask your librarian for books that will help you and your child to explain the
human body. Here are some links to articles that may be helpful:

Teaching Preschoolers About Privacy

Sesame Street Parents Sexuality: Two to Five
Early Explorers
Sex Education for Preschoolers
Bibliography of Books About Sex Education for Preschoolers

Takes Care of Toilet Needs Independently

Help your child learn proper bathroom procedure including how to wipe themselves
clean, to flush the toilet when they are done, to readjust their clothing before leaving the
bathroom, to wash hands when finished and to throw away paper towels. Show your
child good hygiene by practicing it yourself. Keep checking your child until you are
sure they are cleaning themselves properly and they can do it on their own. Here's a link
to an article that may be helpful:

Potty Training Advice from Renowned Pediatrician, Dr. Greene

Dresses Himself or Herself

Encourage your child to dress him/herself.

Show him/her the difference between the inside and outside of clothes by showing
how labels and seams are usually on the inside. (If you have a child who is sensitive to
"scratchy" labels cut them out of their clothing.)
Show him/her how to put on/take off and pull on/pull off clothing.
Show him/her how to button, zip, snap, tie, use Velcro closures, etc.
Store your child's clothing in drawers and closets that are easily accessible at their
height so they can dress independently.
Encourage dress-up play with costumes and old clothes it provides practice.
Encourage your child to practice dressing dolls and stuffed animals.
Read "Dressed for Success" for more tips on teaching your preschooler how to dress

Knows How To Use Handkerchief Or Tissue

Most children are introduced to a hanky or tissue early in life when mom dries a tear,
wipes a runny nose, or cleans up a jelly-smeared face. Schools are germ-factories and
cold viruses run rampant. That's why educators want kids to know how to use a tissue
they would prefer not to wipe 20 runny noses. Learning to blow your nose takes
practice. Demonstrate how to do it and encourage your child to try too. Children may
have a difficult time understanding how to blow. Can they blow bubbles? Can they
blow air and imitate "Mr. Wind." If they can, teaching them to blow through their nose
will be easier as they can grasp the concept. Here is an article with activities you can try
to teach them this skill.

Brushes Teeth

Show your child how to brush their teeth. Demonstrate for them with your own teeth.
Let them brush right beside you in front of a mirror. Provide simple explanations about
what kind of toothpaste, toothbrush, and floss to use. It might help to have your child
brush his/her teeth to a 2-3 minute song, 2x a day. Here are some more tips and links to
articles for teaching kids how to brush and floss independently:

Brushing and Flossing Your Child's Teeth

Tips from parents for getting young children to brush their teeth.
Tooth songs and poems
More dental songs and poems
Make your own toothpaste! It is a bit salty but it works very well!
Crest: Experiment to show how acids can hurt teeth.

Carry A Plate Of Food Without Spilling

Encourage your child to carry food from the kitchen to the table on a sturdy plate.
Start out by letting him/her carry a small bowl of solid food such as rice, cereal, or
pasta. Put just a little bit of food on your child's plate when you begin. Gradually, let
your child help you carry larger bowls of food to the table. To avoid major spills, put a
tight cover on the bowl. This will not only save your child's self esteem but will also
save your floor and a major clean up if your child drops it!
Have tea parties with your child and let him/her serve you by carrying a tray of snacks
to the table.
Cares For Own Belongings

Set a good example. Show your child how to care for things by taking good care of
your own things.
Encourage your child to put their toys away neatly.
Buy things that your child will really treasure it will motivate him/her to take good
care of it.
Allow your child to help with laundry and encourage them to put away their own
Buy clothing your child wants and likes, it will help him/her to have a sense of pride in
what they wear and they will be more inclined to take good care of it.
Get a library card for your child and teach him/her to take good care of their rented
library books.
Allow your child to help put away groceries, or put away clean dishes.
Make sure there are plenty of shelves and drawers for storing personal belongings
such as toys, clothes, shoes, art supplies, CDs, etc., that your child can easily reach.
You might enjoy these tips from The Fly Lady.

Puts Away Toys

Beat the clock! Set a time for 2-5 minutes and see if your child can clean up before the
timer goes off.
Sing a Clean-up Song: Sing one or two of these fun songs while your child cleans up
their toys.
Clean up with Barney and We're Going to Clean up Our Room by Barney
Young children are capable of helping to clean up after themselves but they will need
a little guidance. Walk around with a laundry basket, wagon, or another item that
holds toys and tell your child what to pick up. For example, "please pick up the yellow
truck under the table."
Call for a clean up time a few times a day; this way the mess won't build up! Clean up
before lunch and dinner and then again as part of the bedtime ritual. This way your
child can start with a fresh play area after meals and when they wake up in the
Keeping some of your child's creations out for a while is nice because the parent that
works out of the home will get to see what the child has done that day. You might
want to display art projects and pictures as well. Don't let it build up! Have your child's
creations last only until the next one that begs to be on display. You might want to
designate an area of your home for just this purpose.
Flashlight Clean-Up! -- This fun game really helps when your child isn't sure where to
start to clean up their room. Use a flashlight. The first toy that the flashlight beam
lands on is the first toy to pick up. Turn off the flashlight while your child picks up the
toy and puts it away. Then, turn it on again and shine the light on another toy. Keep
going until the room is tidy.
Read Christopher, Please Clean Up Your Room by Itah Sadu.

Helps Family With Chores

Your child can help do simple tasks all around the house such as:


Sort colors into piles or baskets.

Sort socks, underwear, fold washcloths and help put away clothes.
Put the detergent in the washing machine with parental supervision.
Put the fabric softener sheet into the dryer.
If you put your clothes out on a line, children can give you clothespins and hand you


Help set the table (dishes, silverware, napkins...etc.)

Help carry covered bowls of food (not hot) to the table, and a carton of milk or juice.
Put condiments on the table, and serving utensils.
Clean up after a meal by putting condiments away, putting dishes in the sink and by
putting dishes in the dishwasher.
Help you wash and dry dishes. Note: This requires parental supervision. Be careful of
too hot water, and sharp objects such as knives. Teach your child to handle a knife
properly or not at all.

Other Household Jobs:

Clean up after craft projects by putting away crayons and paper, placing paint brushes
in the sink (to be washed), and throwing away left over scrap papers. They can put
away play dough (parents, make sure lids are tight).
Sweep floors and use a dustpan with a little help from a parent or with a child-sized
broom and dustpan.
Clean up a spill with a paper towel or sponge.
Carry things into the house after shopping.
Make a bed reasonably well and they can take everything off the bed for laundry day.
Help prepare meals, make deserts (cakes, Jell-O, pudding and other yummy things!)
and cook under supervision.
Help decorate for the holidays.
They can help dust the areas they can reach.
Help with yard work:
o Rake leaves into piles with child size yard tools.
o Help garden by digging holes and putting plants/seeds in the ground and
watering. Later they can help pick weeds and harvest veggies.
o Help pick up litter around the yard (give them gloves for this task).
o Clean up their yard and riding toys.
They can help wash the car.


Select fruits and vegetables.

Help look for items in the store.
Help carry bags to and from the car.

Cross Residential Street Safely

Although young children should not cross a street alone, they should know how too.
Teach your child to: Stop, Look, and Listen! The best way for kids to learn is for a
parent to teach them how to look both ways when crossing. Practice when crossing
streets as you take a walk and while in parking lots when you go shopping. Have
your child tell you when it is safe to cross.

Roll Play: Do a roll play game with your child where you are about to cross a street,
ask him/her what to do first. Stop! Then, look both ways (left and right, then left again)
and listen for oncoming cars. Then when it is safe to cross: Go! Have your child teach
their dolls and stuffed animals too!

Read books that help children (ages 4-8) understand how to cross the street safely:

Look Both Ways: A Cautionary Tale by Diane Shore.

Kristofur Kitty: Crossing The Street by Jennifer Hartmann.

Maintains Self-Control

Be a model of self-control for your child. Children mimic what they see.
Teach your child to talk about what is bothering them as opposed to yelling,
hitting, and throwing a temper tantrum.
Children have a right to their feelings but they should not abuse you! Keep a
calm head and maintain your need for respect firmly but kindly.
Check out these tips for how to teach a child self-control.
Help Your Child Learn Responsible Behavior (with activities for children)
How to Teach Your Children Discipline
An interesting article with research on the consequences of spanking.
Read books that talk about moods and feelings such as Today I Feel Silly: And
Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis

Plays With Other Children

In addition to playing with brothers and sisters or neighborhood friends, here are some
ideas to help your child learn to play well with others:

Join a playgroup (check your local parenting newsmagazine for listings) or join
a local homeschool support group.
Once you meet other children, set up play dates for your child.
Go to the park often so that your child can play with other kids.
Join "mommy and me" classes through your local park & recreation department
to meet and play with other children.

Shares With Others

While some young children may share without a moment's hesitation, for most young
children sharing does not come naturally. Don't be horrified if your two-, three-, four-,
or five-year-old child doesn't want to share. It's normal.

Until a child reaches age 6 or 7, they may not have the cognitive development to be able
to consider the needs of others enough to be able to or want to share. You can see the
problem, can't you? If you put your young child in an environment, such as a preschool
or kindergarten, where there are many children and only one kind of particular toy
there are bound to be behavioral problems centered around sharing.

That's why teachers would prefer that every young child understand the concept of
sharing and taking turns before entering school. If we just waited until a child was
developmentally ready to share (age 6-7 or so) before we put them in school, this
probably wouldn't be such an issue. However, since society continues to force children
to adapt to environments that are developmentally inappropriate, educators will want
young children to possess the skill to cooperatively share before entering school. You
can certainly help a young child begin to understand the concept of sharing and taking
turns. This takes patience and practice. Here are a few ideas that may help:

Model sharing every day for your child. One of the most common things we
share is food. Talk about the fact that you are sharing your apple (or whatever)
with your child. If your child gives you one of his/her raisins say, "Thank
you for sharing your raisins with me." He or she will begin to get the idea.
Take turns doing activities. Take turns doing chores such as cleaning and
cooking. Play games that require players to take turns. (Harvest Time by Family
Pastimes is a wonderful cooperative game for young children that encourages
cooperation and sharing.)
Observe other people sharing. When you and your child see a "sharing
moment" comment on the fact that someone shared something with someone
else. Simply bring it to your child's attention in a matter-of-fact way.
Read the article, Learning To Share, for some helpful tips and ideas.
Read books about sharing such as:
o Let's Share by P.K. Hallinan
o Share and Take Turns by Cheri Meiners
o Sharing Is Fun by Joanna Cole
o Sharing: How Kindness Grows by Fran Shaw

Gets Along Well With Other Children

Children will learn how to socialize and get along with others if that behavior is
modeled for them everyday of their lives. Maintain good, respectful relationships with
family members and friends so that your child can see and learn what constitutes good
relationships. Encourage your child to be kind to others and complement them when
they are kind and thoughtful. Point out inappropriate behavior and talk about other ways
to handle difficult situations with people. Here are some other resources that may be

Getting Along Together: Developing Social Competence in Young Children by

How To Be A Friend by Laurie Krasny Brown
Join In And Play (Learning To Get Along) by Cheri Meiners
How to Lose All Your Friends by Nancy Carlson
Words Are Not For Hurting by Elizabeth Verdick
Hands Are Not For Hitting by Martine Agassi
Teeth Are Not For Biting by Elizabeth Verdick
Feet Are Not For Kicking by Elizabeth Verdick
Raise Your Child's Social IQ: Stepping Stones to People Skills for Kids by
Cathi Cohen

Recognize Authority

This "skill" is obviously required in a school setting, so that the teacher can control the
students. (More on that in a minute...)

Most children, even those who don't attend school, recognize their parents and other
adults as authority figures to one degree or another. Most children, when placed in an
environment such as a Sunday school class, or a dance class, or a martial arts class, etc.,
will recognize the teacher as the authority figure in charge. This is especially true if
their parents have modeled for them how to behave in various learning environments
such as "mommy and me" classes, sports and recreation classes, library story-times,
docent-led museum or zoo tours or field trips, and church services. Healthy, normal
kids naturally pick up social cues as they are exposed to new environments and
situations, and will undoubtedly intuit how to behave with any given authority figure if
it has been appropriately modeled for them.

Of course, for their own safety, young children should be taught to immediately respond
to the authority of police and fire personnel and security people in the event of an
emergency. Again, this is something parents can model for their children. Arrange for
tours of the local police station or firehouse. These agencies will talk to your children
and let them know what to do in the event of an emergency. 4-5 year olds can learn a
great deal and so will you!

Back to school... When a child goes to school they must understand who is in charge
namely, the teacher. They must follow the teacher's orders, and do what they are told,
whether they want to or not. They must be polite and conform to the classroom rules
and behavior required by the teacher whether it is relevant to their interests and needs or
not. They have no power to defy the teacher or to remove themselves from that
situation. There are very few other situations in life where that is true except for
prison. No wonder students get angry, act out, or become depressed and unhappy.

Authoritarianism is a useful crowd control technique in classrooms and penitentiaries.

Unfortunately, when children experience it on a daily basis for years on end, it can lead
to the loss of individuality and personal integrity. Children learn to subject their own
interests and needs and conform to the needs of an authority outside of themselves.
They learn to follow, not lead. The younger a child is placed in this kind of
environment, the greater the risk for harm.

If your child goes to a government school, they will have to learn to exist in that hostile
environment. There may not be an effective way to fully prepare any child for school or
to protect them from the harm that may come from attending school.

That said, there are coping strategies and experiences that will help prepare a child for
dealing with situations in the real world where they may need to recognize and
subjugate themselves to an authority figure. These same strategies will help them
transition into a school environment (but proceed at your own risk):

Introduce yourself and your child to the teacher or person in charge. Tell your
child that this person will tell them what to do, and will help them if they need
Explain the rules and guidelines for behavior in each place you visit whether
it's a museum, a library, a store, a school, or a friend's home. In order to enjoy
the privilege of being in these places, you must abide by their rules -- even it
they don't match your own house rules or the rules of other places. (For
example, you may run at the zoo but you can't run in the museum. You may use
loud voices outside, but you use a quiet voice or whisper in the library. You may
allow everyone to walk around in shoes at your home, but your friend may have
a "no shoes worn in the house" rule.)
Teach your child how to listen attentively.
Teach your child how to raise their hand to make a comment or ask a question.
Teach your child polite manners including using phases such as, please, thank
you, excuse me, etc. Read these books about polite manners:
o My Manners Matter: A First Look At Being Polite by Pat Thomas
o Are You Quite Polite: Silly Dilly Manners Songs by Alan Katz
o Be Polite and Kind (Learning To Get Along) by Cheri Meiners

Able To Work Independently

Encourage your child to try and do new things all by him/herself. Show them
how to do something like getting dressed, brushing their teeth, cracking an egg
for breakfast, feeding the dog, taking out the garbage, pulling weeds, etc., Then
let them try it by themselves (while you keep a watchful eye). Trying to step
back can be very difficult for some parents but it really is the best thing to
encourage independence. Just watch for a little while before you step in to help.
When your child asks, be ready and willing to lend a hand or to give them a
different perspective on the situation.
Give your child a chance to figure things out for themselves. As long as they
can't get hurt and don't become overly frustrated let them keep trying to do for
themselves. This can be very frustrating for the parent but it will really pay off
when you see the, "I got it!" look of excitement and pride on his/her beautiful
little face!
Encourage independent play. When children learn how to play independently, it
promotes creativity and helps aid their self-esteem and sense of pride. It instills
confidence in their ability and motivates them to do other things independently.

Able To Stay On Task

This is another "skill" that educators think young children should have before they
attend school. In school, kids have to do the work assigned and complete it.
Unfortunately, the "busy work" assigned in school may have no meaning or relevance
to the child. Who can blame a child for not staying on task when the task is boring or
seems pointless? The problem is that bored children may become frustrated and act out
or become disruptive. Rather than find a suitable learning experience for that child, we
are seeing more and more children (even in preschool) given a pseudo-diagnosis of
Attention Deficit Disorder and then put on psychotropic drugs that make them passive
and compliant. It's abusive, and a national disgrace and disaster.

Fortunately, in the home setting, little kids aren't required to "stay on task" for a
prescribed period of time. They can learn much more naturally and effectively as their
interest, ability, and curiosity dictate.

Children can be quite focused and stay on task if they are really interested in what they
are doing and if it speaks to their developmental needs. Sometimes kids need a break
from the task at hand. In the natural setting of home, they can leave it, and then return
later to try again with renewed interest and a fresh perspective. Interest-initiated
learning is a better way for young children to learn. As they grow they gain ability,
skill, and confidence, and are able to better tackle academic tasks whether they continue
to learn at home or go to school.

Feels Good About Self

Hug and cuddle your child and say, "I love you," frequently throughout the day.
Show them that they are loveable.
Use respectful language and a loving tone of voice when speaking to your child.
Acknowledge your child's achievements and accomplishments. Keep it real,
upbeat and positive - children know when you are insincere, or know when the
praise doesn't match the deed.
Show appreciation and thank your child for helping you with chores.
Display your child's photographs around the house and send their pictures to
loved ones.
Start an "All About Me" scrapbook.
Display your child's artwork around the house.
Listen attentively to your child.
Answer your child's questions with facts, clarity, and honesty.
Read Your Child's Self-Esteem by Dorothy Briggs. Written with deep respect
for the developing child, it will positively influence the way you interact with
your child for years to come.
Read these articles about developing children's self-esteem:
o Child Parenting: Self-Esteem
o Kids Health: Self-Esteem

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