fine motor

Encourage the Home & School Connection with a Fine Motor Tub

Tell me something... do you happen to struggle with making meaningful home and school connections?  

A positive connection between school and families is an integral part of the success of students in the classroom.    It is important for us to try and educate parents on the needs of their preschool aged children.  When parents and educators are on the same page, a child's success can soar.  

Adding Small Parts in the Preschool Block Center

The How and Why of adding small parts to the preschool block center.
The How and Why of adding small parts to the preschool block center.

Small parts, loose parts, a trinket box- there are lots of names revolving around this idea.  But, whatever you choose to call them, they are a great addition to the preschool block center.

What are small parts?

Small parts are basically materials that children can manipulate freely, with no set instructions.  Small parts can be found everywhere!  Some ideas you see in the above photo include: rings from gallon milk jugs, empty spools, old puzzle pieces, nuts, bolts, buttons, babies and a few random things that were donated to our preschool.

Why use small parts in the block center?

Small parts are a wonderful way to enhance block play.  Simple little parts can become so many different things when building structures.  For instance, in the photo below, you can see students pretending that the small parts are cookies.  I love the creativity that is sparked by adding these small pieces to the block center.  Not to mention the fine motor skill that my students are practicing!

The How and Why of adding small parts to the preschool block center.
The How and Why of adding small parts to the preschool block center.

Small parts are such an easy open-ended tool to add to your preschool room!  Just remember to be cautious with student who still like to place items in their mouths.

Do you use small parts in your classroom?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Writing our Names in Preschool

Name writing in preschool is an essential skill in preparing for Kindergarten.  A child's name is generally the first word that they write.  Lots of pride comes from a child learning to write his or her name.  This is why I created a Name Writing Notebook for my students. Read on to find out more!

Name Writing Notebook for Preschool
Name Writing Notebook for Preschool

Before name writing can take place, it is important that children take the first two steps:

1.Recognizing: students need to be able to recognize their name (read a post about this here)

2.Constructing: students need to be able to build their name (read a post about this here)

Then, students can work on writing their names.  I like to start with the first letter of a students name. We always practice the first letter as a capital letter.  In the Name Writing Notebook, students work on tracing the first letter and then writing the first letter on their own in a grey box, as a designated spot on the paper to practice.  In this notebook you will not find dots or dashed lines.  I believe that children can be easily confused by those dots/dashes.  By tracing solid lines, students are practicing the strokes rather than going from dot to dot, which can sometimes result in jagged lines.

We then move on to tracing the whole name with only the first letter a capital letter.  I know that there is much debate over having children write in all capital letters and the transition to lowercase will happen.  But, to be honest, I am not of that thinking.  To me, a habit is a habit.  How I practice things will be how I complete them.   We do explore with building and writing capital letters, just not when we work on writing our names.

name writing in preschool
name writing in preschool

What I am loving about these notebook is the versatility.  Lots of different options for name practice in an easy to understand, child friendly format.  Check out some of the pages below:

name writing in pre-k
name writing in pre-k

Do you feel like your preschoolers are ready to practice writing their names?  

Name Writing Notebook
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Preschool Playdough Center

Ideas and resources for a preschool, pre-k or kindergarten playdough center.

Preschool Classroom Centers

PLAYDOUGH CENTER MATERIALS

Playdough: Commercially made or home made playdough

Playdough Tools: Rolling pins, plastic scissors, small pizza cutters and other dough sculpting tools

Cookie Cutters: Various cookie cutters to cut out different shapes, letters, numbers or seasonal themes

Playdough Stampers: Long-handled stampers to make letters and numbers in dough (my favorite are from Lakeshore Learning)

Playdough Center

BLOCK CENTER LABELS

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How can we encourage preschoolers to write?

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Preschool creativity journal- open ended prompts to encourage writing in preschoolers.
Preschool creativity journal- open ended prompts to encourage writing in preschoolers.

Do you ever struggle to get your preschoolers interested in the writing center?  The writing center seems to be the least favorite center for my three and four year olds. Preschool age children struggle with coming up with ideas to put onto paper.  Many times, sitting and writing does not look as appealing as stacking blocks in the block center or cooking up food in the drama center. So, how can we as educators and caregivers encourage writing in a positive and intriguing way?

For me and my students, it was through a Preschool Creativity Journal.  This journal is not a traditional journal with traditional prompts.  Rather, I give my young writers a place to start.  The Preschool Creativity Journal encourages children to pick up a writing utensil and use the prompt to put their own ideas on paper.

preschool circle prompt for the preschool creativity journal
preschool circle prompt for the preschool creativity journal

For example, in the picture above is three different student's journals. The prompt was a circle that I drew on their page. In the first picture the student was creating lots of circles on their own.  In the second, the circle was ignored and some small lines were drawn.  In the last picture, the student did some controlled left to right scribbling within the circle.  All the same prompt, with all different outcomes.

preschool snowman prompt for the preschool creativity journal
preschool snowman prompt for the preschool creativity journal

Now, here is a picture of three circles and the word snowman.  In the first picture the snowman was decorated, while in the second, the student created their own snowman after seeing the prompt.  Sidenote: I like to write the word with the shape to model and encourage letter writing.

preschool line
preschool line

In this example, I provided students with a vertical line.  Some students replicated the line, while others traced it.  One student traced the line, then did some invented writing through it!

Benefits of the Preschool Creativity Journal:

-Encourages children to hold a writing utensil, practicing a pincer grasp.

-Journals encourage turning pages left to right.

-Allows children ownership over their journal, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

-Encourages creativity, no other prompting is done other than providing the prompt on paper.

-The journal format allows for teachers and children to look a progress.

Tips:

-Next year I will try to find journals without lines.  I would rather my students have a 'clean slate'.

-I lay out the journals on the table with the prompt showing. Some days I provide pencils, other days I provide markers.  I also like to provide golf sized pencils (for little hands) and even chalk!

-I try my best to keep these journals open-ended, therefore I do not tell students where to write or what they are to be writing. I also allow them to flip to different pages to explore writing.  These are their journals and they are welcome to write in them whenever they would like!

-I put a picture of each student on their journal for easy identification.

-Don't forget to date the writing for when you look back.

I love watching how differently each student takes the prompt and moves forward with it!  It has been such a positive and rewarding learning experience for my children!

If you want to learn more about the prompts I give and how I manage it, check out the Preschool Creativity Journal in my TpT Store:

Preschool Creativity Journal
Preschool Creativity Journal