Why is Reading so Important to Children?

If you have ever been around children for extended periods of time, chances are that they will ask you to read stories to them. I have several children in my class (2-3 years old) that have listened to stories for over 45 minutes and still were asking for more! What is it about reading that entertains children so much? Does the text really interest them that much? Do the pictures?

The answer reallyimagebot depends on the age of the child. Infants generally do not fully comprehend the message behind stories. However, they do love the bright, colorful pictures! They love the silly and exaggerated voices that their parents or caregivers make when they read. They also enjoy the undivided attention that they receive when adults read to them.

Toddlers also love books that have bright and fun pictures! However, they tend to love the books that have the more repetitive words and sounds. They like being able to go through the book and say certain words or phrases with you. This is why they also tend to want to read one particular book over and over and over again. It may annoy the adults in their lives to some extent, but it might be helpful to know that it is just their newfound independence shining through. While it may seem like it sometimes, I promise that they are not just doing it to annoy you!

The older preschoolers (3-4 years) tend to also like reading the same books multiple times, but in a more advanced way. They are now able to comprehend the message of books, for the most part. However, the children in this age group enjoy retelling the whole story! They also may enjoy acting out the story, which is one of the reasons having a dramatic play center in your class or home can be so beneficial.

Many children love to read and it is important for the adults in their lives to encourage that. Even if they ask you to read another book for the 50th time, try not to get annoyed. Be happy that they love reading. A fun way to change it up is ask them to read the book to you! You will be surprised just how much your child actually remembers.

Fun and Easy Pet Crafts for Preschool!

Are the children getting tired of going over tracing, cutting paper, or coloring for their art? Are you? In my class, we try to have the students do at least 3 art projects per week that are related to our monthly theme. This can seem like a crazy amount…when could we possibly have time for this, while teaching the children each day?

My class is for two and three year old children, who tend to sleep from about 12:30pm-2:30pm every day. We have these two hours to ensure that we all go on breaks, all cleaning is done and that any art activity is prepared. Because of the relatively small amount of time that we actually have to plan activities, we love quick and easy crafts that also relate to our unit of the month!

As I am sure you know, Pinterest has a ton of great ideas to choose from. Here are how a few of the crafts that we tried went:

 

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For the cat project, I decided to make drawing the cat shape easy since I am definitely not the world’s best artist. I traced a circular container for both the stomach and the head then drew the ears, tail, and rectangular limbs. After the cat shape was done, the rest was easy! To ensure that everything was the same size, I simply traced the first one of each of the white areas and gave the correct number to each child. While not shown in the image, I allowed the children to choose between a brown and a black cat. I also allowed them the freedom to choose where to place each item. Some children needed more help than others; however, each child enjoyed being able to have control over their own art work. They enjoyed putting the glue on all by themselves. They loved being able to place their pieces where ever they wanted.

As you can see from the turtle project, they did not turn out quite as good as what the Pinterest picture may have looked like. This is expected! It can be so easy to try to micromanage and control every aspect of an art activity to make it look good for the parents and other teachers. However, it is important that you really allow the children to have fun! For this project we simply handed them a glue stick with a paper plate, four legs, a head, a tail, tissue paper, and two white eyes and gave them full control over where everything went. Some of them tried to put a pile of tissue paper on about 2 inches thick, while others only wanted to put on a few pieces. It was a perfect balance.

After an art project is completed, the children always seem so proud! We place the art on the wall so that they can see it everyday and take pride in their own work. Complimenting a child’s artwork and hanging it up at their level is so important for a child’s confidence. At two or three years old, one may not believe that children can feel pride over their work. This is very incorrect. When the children’s parents pick them up hours after the activity, most children are able to point out their own art out of the 10 or more other children’s artwork, even without names. When they point to their art, they are happy and excited to show their mother or father what they accomplished!

While art is definitely fun for many children, there is certainly a social and emotional component. As previously mentioned, art is so important for a child to gain confidence. However, it also builds the foundation of understanding that one can express themselves in so many different ways. When the children are working on these projects, really listen to all the conversation taking place. Many times, they will actually draw or say what they are feeling. I had one child tell me that a snake that he made feels “normal” and he drew a straight line for its mouth. This was a great opportunity to open up a discussion into what he was feeling and why…it turns out he was feeling “normal” because he was a little sad that his mom was not there yet!

 

Tips to make Daily Transitions Easier for Young Children…And You!

Have you ever walked into one of those classrooms where all of the children are acting like perfect little angels and wonder what dark magic the teacher is using? Well, here it is! They start the year by setting clear expectations…and continue to reinforce them all year long.

“It can’t be that easy,” you might be thinking, “those are just good children!” In a way, this might be correct. There are certainly personality differences in each child, that makes their reactions unique. However, even the most strong-willed children react positively to routine and clear expectations.

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Crying” by Upsilon Andromedae from Flikr.

If every single time a child screamed about cleaning up their toys, and every single time they were still made to clean them up anyway, eventually they are going to stop screaming about it. This child will begin to understand that not only do they still have to clean up their toys, but now they might also be cleaning up their toys while the other children are outside having fun!

Another way to establish routine is to set timers. In my experience, children respond well to being given warnings when they have to stop playing, rather than expecting them to clean up immediately. I usually give warnings in increments of 5 minutes, depending on how much time is left. I then usually give a 1 minute warning before beginning the cleanup song that we use on YouTube.

To being the warnings, I usually phrase it in a way that shows it is not a request and explain what we will be doing afterwards. For example, “We have 10 minutes until we need to clean up our toys to have circle time!” Starting with a 10 minute warning, I would then say the exact same thing at the 5 minute and then 1 minute mark. I always let the timer run out because it gives the children more accountability. Once the children hear the timer go off, it is the duty of the designated “mess monitor” of the day to turn the lights off while I begin the cleanup song. I use this cleanup song, but there are plenty of others. Remember, it is a song that you will be listening to multiple times every single day, so make sure it is a song that can allow you to retain your sanity!

The final tip for this post to help with transitions is to try to make sure that you are using roughly the same schedule every day. At school we usually have free play, breakfast, bathroom break, outside time, large group/circle time, lunch, free play, bathroom break, nap, bathroom break, snack, free play, and quiet time. The children know what is coming next in the schedule and that makes it easier for them to accept the transition. We also have pictures of each of these up on the wall and use a clothespin to show which activity we are currently on.

Hopefully these tips have helped you with ideas on how to make daily transitions easier on your child…and you! As always, please do not hesitate to send me a message or comment!