Playdough Math Skills
Children love playing with playdough and there are so many learning activities that can be done using it. One of the things playdough can be used for is teaching basic math skills. You can do sorting activities ... counting activities .... size discrimination activities ... addition and subtraction activities etc. These can be teacher led or child led activities. We use cookie sheets that were purchased from a dollar store so each child has his/her own work space.
Sticker File Folder Games
You can make fun and inexpensive visual discrimination games by using stickers. I usually get my stickers at Wal-Mart or our local teacher supply store. You need to make sure you have two matching sets of stickers ... one for inside the file folder and one for the loose matching game pieces. Here is a sticker template that you can use to put the stickers inside. The ones that you glue inside the file folder can be printed on regular paper. The ones for the loose matching pieces you can use cardstock paper. The loose pieces should be laminated.
Pocket Chart Matching
Pocket charts are an essential item in any early childhood environment. There are so many thing you can do with them. One of our favorite activities is Pocket Chart Matching. You will need a pocket chart which you can get from any educational supply store or even Ebay. I make up all different kinds of cards that will fit in the pocket chart such as letters ... colors ... shapes ... numbers ... sight words etc. You will need to make two sets of the cards you are going to use and make sure they are laminated.
For younger children I place the first set of cards in the pocket chart and then the children match the second set to the first set by placing the individual cards directly in front of the card it matches in the pocket chart. Older children can place the first set of cards in the pocket chart by themselves and then match the second set to the first set in the pocket chart. The flower alphabet cards (contains both upper and lowercase letters) pictured here can be here .
Letter and Number Feely Bags
This is a really fun activity for the children. You will need something to use as a "feely" bag (it should be something the children can not see through) and magnetic letters and numbers. For our feely bag we used the bag that was used to hold the letter tiles from our scrabble game. You can do this game with either letters or numbers but do not put both in the bag. The teacher pours some letters or numbers in the feely bag and the first child comes and puts his/her hand in the bag and picks a letter and holds it in his/her hand inside the feel bag.
The child feels the letter with his/her fingers and tries to guess what letter it is. If he/she is right the letter is then removed from the bag and it is the next child's turn. If the child guesses the letter incorrectly the letter stays in the bag and it is the next child's turn. Continue play until each child has had a few turns. For larger groups of student it is better to divide them in to smaller groups so there is not a long wait between turns.
Alphabet and Number Finger Painting
Finger painting is a lot of fun for children ... but it also can be a great learning tool. One of the things we do is give everyone a sheet of fingerpaint paper and a paper plate with finger paint on it. I then call out a letter or number and the children paint what ever letter or number I called out. This activity is great for developing fine motor skills as well.
These are really easy and inexpensive to make and look really cute when they are finshed. We use them for pointing to pocket charts ... words on the word wall ... at circle time .... as a "magic wand" during transitions ... the possibilities are endless.
To make them you will need ... foam alphabet letters (we use the kind children use in the bath tub) ... wood dowels ... a hot glue gun and glue sticks ... paint and paint brushes ... and sequins.
The first thing you need to do is paint the wood dowels and let them dry. Next glue on the alphabet letters using a hot glue gun and let set. They look great just like this but I glued sequins on my "teacher set" that I use. I would not recommend gluing anything on the alphabet letters if they are going to be used by small children. Another thing I did with the alphabet letters is attach a magnet on the back of them and use them on my filing cabinet.
Paint Cans With Magnet Letters and Numbers
These are simple to set up yet lots of fun for the kids. I purchased empty paint cans (new and unused) from the paint supply section at Menards (Home Depot and Lowes should have them too). The cans were around 2.50 each. I then put magnet letters in some cans and magnetic numbers in others. The cans come with a lid which is nice for labeling and storing each can.
The children can take the cans out and just free-play with the letter and numbers by putting them on the cans in any order they wish. I like to sit with each child and go through the letters and numbers that they have placed on the cans and have them identify as many as they can. Children can find the letters to their names and and put their names on the can.
I also have cans that have word cards placed inside them that the children can take out along with the letters and then make the words on the can that match the ones on the cards. I have cans that have cards on it with different numbers of objects and the children need to count the objects on the card and place the correct number magnet on the can. There are many acitivities you can do with paint cans and magnetic letters and numbers ... use your imagination and have fun!!
Finger Painting Bags
This is a great activity for children develop fine motor skills and practice drawing or writing in paint without the mess. You will need sandwhich size zip lock bags (the kind that you snap together ... not the zipper kind) and finger paint. Open zip lock bags and put between 1/2 to 1/3 cup of finger paint in each bag.
Lay bag flat and smooth finger paint flat in bag (this pushes the air out).... making sure not to get too close to the opening of the bag. Close zip lock bag making sure that it is close all the way across the top. Children use their finger to draw and write on the top of the bag. They can erase what they made by smoothing out the fingerpaint in the bag. Be sure to tell the children that the bags are not to be opened otherwise the finger paint will come out of the bag.