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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Welcome to Kindergarten

It's February which means we will be registering our little girl for Kindergarten. I cannot believe that Keelyn will be starting school this September.  Was she not just born?  Master her first words and steps?  How is that my baby is entering the big kid world?  While I am stunned I am also super excited for her to go to school.  She is going to love it and will thrive in the environment.  She is currently in preschool 3 mornings per week and it has been a good spot for her.  It's a play based environment and it has cured some of her shyness.  

Anyway with Kindergarten around the corner I've been thinking of some activities we could work on her readiness skills.  I'm not a big fan of sit down work book pencil and paper type activities.  Keelyn likely wouldn't mind doing those but I like learning to be more hands on and incidental.  Many skill building activities can be done just using things you have around the house.  For example if you want to work on fine motor than have your child try moving cotton balls from one bowl to another with tongs.  Simple math building activities could be count stairs while you are going up and down or have your child put away the utensils matching the pieces to the correct spot.  Have your child practice letters by rolling playdough snakes and forming the letters.  Display their names in at least 3 visible spots at their level.  

Anyway I've compiled a list of activities for Kindergarten readiness.  It's pretty comprehensive and don't expect that your child has to master these activities.  In fact many of these skills will continue to be built on during Kindergarten.  The activities are meant to be hands on and fun not to place stress on your child.  If they aren't  showing readiness skills then pick something that is developmentally appropriate for them.

Kindergarten Readiness Skills

·         Recognize/Identify first and last name. 
o    Have name displayed in at least 3 child visible spots in the house (fridge, placemat on table, bedroom door etc)
·         Spell first name
o    Use stamps, stickers, paint, fridge magnets, orally
·         Identify the letters and sounds in their first name
o    Point out letters in environment.  E.G. while at the grocery store, say, “hey there’s a K. You have a K in your name too!”
·         Print all or some of the letters in their name
o    Use white board, aquadoodle, paint, writing in sand, glitter, special pens/markers, playdough
o    Start with one letter and work on for a period of time and progress to the next letter once it is mastered.
·         Identify letter and letter sounds
o    To me, I find letter sounds are more important that recognition.  Knowing the names of the letters will  not teach you how to read.  You need to know the letter sounds in order to blend sounds.  However it’s a personal decision.  I teach them in combination.  So I say something like, “this is a K it makes the Kuh sound.  What sound does K make?  That’s right K makes the Kuh sound”
o    Letter factor and Phonics Farm are excellent DVD’s
o    Alphabet books, pointing out letters in your environment
o    Letter of the week.  I say start with the letter sounds in your child’s name
·         Reading
o    Understand that print contains a constant message. So their favourite book the words are always the same every time you read it
o    Hold the book right side up and properly turn pages
o    Identify front, back cover, title page, title, illustrations
o    Talk about author and illustrator and what they do
o    You can start finger tracking print while you read but a little advanced for them
o    Leave out predictable words and have them fill in, “e.g. Mama called the dr. And the dr. Said.... “
o    Talk about Beginning, Middle and End of stories.  So when you finish reading books say to them this happened first, then this next and finally this.  Eventually they will be able to recap stories too.
o    Ask questions when reading.  “E.G. why do you think the monkey has a sad look on his face?”
·         Repeat familiar Nursery Rhymes and songs
·         Provide lots of drawing materials even if all they appear to do is “random scribbles”.  Have them tell you what their picture is about and record in quotations.  Eventually have them do the writing.  Again their writing might just be random scribbles. 
·         If they are beginning to draw figures check out Mat Man on You Tube.  You can make your own mat man


·         Have them set the dinner table making sure everyone has the same pieces
·         Put away cutlery and sort into correct spaces
·         Sort pasta, beans, buttons, money. You can use one of those fruit/veggie trays from the dollar store for sorting
·         Use the vocabulary “Small, medium, large”.  Identify common items around them e.g. This car is small, and this car is large.  You might want to leave out medium at first
·         Work on counting forwards and backwards to gain an understanding that numbers increase when you count forward and decrease when you count back
o    Count stairs, steps, forks, cups, fingers, toes, count back from 5 or 10 and “blast off”
·         Play with a variety of different sized containers in the sink and talk about which container holds more liquid or less and why they think that.  Test it out
·         Use magnet numbers on a cookie sheet 0-5 and place that many small objects under each number (e.g. beans, pennies, cars, candies, stickers)
·         Basic patterns like colour
o    Use stickers or Bingo Dabbers and create a red, yellow, red, yellow, red (abab pattern. Don’t be afraid to use the language you made an abab pattern)
Social Skills/Self-Help Skills

·         Independent dressing (socks, undies, pants, shirt) 
·         Opening up lunch pack and containers.  Repacking
·         Packing up school bag
·         Putting on outdoor clothing (coat, hat, mitts, shoes, boots, snowpants)
·         First try and then ask for help
·         Independently using the toilet (wiping, washing hands etc.)
·         Practice snaps, buttons, buckles, zippers, laces (if you plan on sending footwear with laces. I recommend that you do not do this)
Fine Motor

·         Cutting
o    Playdough, paper, newspaper, magazines
·         Gluing paper using a glue stick and white glue
·         Rolling playdough snakes, and balls in hand and using thumb and index finger
·         Clipping clothes pins onto a string or onto a piece of cardstock
·         Transferring pom poms or cotton balls from one bowl to another with tongs
·         Transferring beads with chop sticks or tweezers
·         Lacing beads or pasta on string
·         Sewing using a plastic or large needle yarn into Styrofoam trays
·         Use hole punches and paper
·         Put pennies into a slot (penny bank or container with cut out slot)
·         Press money into silly putty or playdough
·         Pick up coins
Gross Motor

·         Throwing and catching balls (over hand, underhand)
·         Bouncing a ball and kicking and stopping
·         Jumping two feet, one foot
·         Balance on one foot
·         Practice walking up the stairs and down alternate feet
·         Take a bean bag and toss and catch
·         Instruct to put bean bag “Under, over, on top of, beside, across, behind, in front of”
·         Hulla hoops (catch, jump in)
·         Catch a ball with a scoop

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