Category Archives: Fine Motor Skills

Learning Chinese Characters at Preschool

3 part cards izzy

The preschool class is learning to read and write Chinese characters.   We’re beginning with numbers and then will progress to other simple characters.  A variety of methods are being used to facilitate learning.

The Montessori 3 part card method is being use to introduce the characters. Children are shown a whole card with a picture and the Chinese character beneath the picture. The whole cards are placed on the table and then matched with the corresponding pictures and characters.

3 part cards elijah

 

 

 

 

 

The iPad is being used as a tactile method to facilitate writing. Our Chinese teacher shows children the correct order in which to write the characters. Children then practice writing and can do the activity as many times as they want since the sheet can be erased and reused. Children’s work can then be shared with parents through email.

ipad 4 marcus

ipad 4 chase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After completing the Montessori 3 part cards and the iPad exercises children are ready to write the characters on paper worksheets.

worksheet max

worksheet bella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Pandas Preschool

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Santa Handprints

8 finished hands

The children made Santa handprint ornaments to give to their parents for Christmas.  While searching the internet for gift ideas I came across two that we combined to make the finished product.  One site offered to make the Santas professionally from clay using a child’s handprint.  Then I found a recipe on Pinterest that uses cornstarch and baking soda to make a clay that looks like porcelain when it’s finished.  The clay was used to make beautiful Christmas ornaments, so I thought it would be perfect for the children’s gifts.

It took about two weeks to complete the project.  There was a lot of trial and error making the clay just right so that it wouldn’t crack while baking.  A few of the ornaments had to be made a couple times.  The teachers made the clay and then helped the children to press their hands into it.

1 kid print vivian

1 kid print ellie1 kid print izzy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teachers cut the handprints out of the clay and then baked them for a couple hours before setting the prints out to dry.

2 unbaked handprint3 unbaked cutting out4 unbaked cut out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s important that each child do as much of their own work as possible, so the toddlers painted their hands red.

5 painting tod seneca 25 painting tod owen 15 painting tod madelena 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The preschool class painted Santa’s hat.

6 painting red bella 16 painting red max 1

The beard was painted white, and then a teacher added the facial details.

7 painting white marcus 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children and teachers are very pleased with the finished ornaments.

Little Pandas Preschool

December Activities

sensory tub

December has just begun and we’re all very busy!  The children have completed many activities already and there are so many more to do before Christmas vacation begins.

sensory group 2

 

 

 

 

 

The winter sensory tub (inspired by Teach Preschool) has been a big hit with all the children.  Even the adults can’t keep their hands out of it!  A tub was filled with plastic frosty snow.  Penguins and an iceberg from a game we have were added to the snow along with clear and blue acrylic ice cubes.  Some wood scoops and a couple wire Christmas ornaments were added.  The blue confetti snowflakes add some cool color to the tub.  We’ve had a couple incidents where the children have thrown the snow up to watch it fall, but who wouldn’t be tempted to do that?

pompom elijah 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children continue to learn Chinese with Gao Laoshi and are beginning to learn to count to 20.  A couple felt Christmas trees were attached to the wall and velcroed pom poms  were set out in a dish.  This activity helps children to practice counting as well as learn Chinese color vocabulary.

chinese writing elijah 1

 

 

 

 

 

Gao Laoshi has started introducing some simple Chinese characters to the children.  They’re beginning to write numbers.

counting marcus 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas shaped erasers have been set out at the math center for children to work on one-to-one correspondence.

popsicles max 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colored craft sticks were also set out at the math table.  Velcro dots were attached to the ends on both sides so that the children can build geometric shapes  with them.

stones group 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A basket of clear and different shades of blue stones have been set out at the light table for children to build with.

fingerpaint groupfingerpaint seneca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finger painting on foil was a new experience for all the kids.  They enjoyed seeing the shiny foil through the paint.

Little Pandas Preschool

Fall Votive Candle Holders

Many fall activities are happening in the preschool class.  Last week the children made beautiful votive candle holders for their families to use at Thanksgiving.  

Ball canning jars were painted with Mod Podge that was slightly thinned with some water.  This makes it easier for the children to paint the glue onto the jars.

The teachers cut leaves out of tissue paper in fall colors then the Children put them onto the jars.

Mod Podge was painted over the leaves.

I  love E’s focus and concentration.

Other fall activities include playing with pumpkin pie play dough, a turkey color matching activity at the light table, counting mini pumpkins while learning one t0 one correspondence, and learning Chinese food vocabulary with Gao Laoshi.  This week the preschool class will make pumpkin pies to share with their baby home friends and teachers.

Little Pandas Preschool

Halloween Silhouette Painting

Our preschool class made Halloween silhouette paintings last week.  The inspiration for this project can be found at That Artist Woman’s site.  Gail has many great ideas for elementary school art, many of which can be made doable with preschoolers.  This project took a week to complete.  A small piece was completed each day giving preschoolers ample time to do each step of the project well and not be overwhelmed with completing the entire project in one sitting.

We used water color paper that was taped to the table with blue painter’s tape to form a frame around the pictures.   The children used yellow and orange tempera paint cakes to paint the bottom third of the paper.

Red was added next.

Blue was added to the top of the paper.   The tempera paint cakes work like water colors and allow the colors to mix.  This was the first time I tried the paint cakes and love them!  I found a school supply store in Canada that carries 28 colors!  This is going to be my next purchase for the preschool.

The next day a contact paper mask was place over the top 3/4 of the picture.  The children painted the bottom 1/4 of the picture black.

Misty-Jade created black Halloween cut-outs for the children to paste over their paintings.   The pictures were then framed and put up on our new bulletin board.

 

This picture reminds me of the cyclone in the Wizard of Oz.

 

 

This was the first experience this group had using the tempera paint cakes.  Some of the children figured out how to make their paintings brighter by using less water and getting more paint onto the brush.

Little Pandas Preschool

Zoo Phonics Montessori Inspired Sand Paper Letters

Preschool is in full swing and the children are learning Zoo Phonics along with all the other activities they are engaged in.  Zoo Phonics letters are reviewed during circle time and then related activities are offered at the language arts table during center time.

I’ve been doing  some research about different early childhood programs and  have found some wonderful activities to do with kids.  One of the activities provided in Montessori programs is sand paper tracing letters.  I’m not really sure the idea originated with Montessori since I remember making them in one of my elementary education methods classes many years ago.  However, they are a staple teaching resource in Montessori programs.

The Zoo Phonics program teaches children lower case letters and their sounds using auditory, kinesthetic, and visual means.  The sand paper letters adds another sensory input for the child to learn the letters.  Children trace the letters with their finger while saying the letter’s sound.  Some sites I read state that children who use this method of learning letters also tend to develop good handwriting.

I found several sites that sell the sand paper letters, but I wanted some that support our Zoo Phonics curriculum so decided to make them.  The letters were printed, cut, then glued to a wood rectangle with a glue stick.  A Super Gel Pen Adhesive was used to trace the letters.  Red and blue sand was then sprinkled over the super glue.  A layer of Mod Podge was applied over the wood tile to hold the sand in place.  Montessori usually uses red for consonants and blue for vowels, so I used similar colors.  Zoo Phonics teaches children that vowels are the hardest workers, so children will begin to recognize vowels by the blue color.   All of the supplies to make the letters were purchased at Michaels.

Montessori uses moveable letters in their classroom in addition to the sand paper letters.  Moveable letters are individual letters Children use  to create words.  I’m making 6 sets of the sand paper letters which will also serve to be a moveable alphabet.  

Little Pandas Preschool

Magnetic Tiles at the Light Table

Bella’s Structure

Preschool has started, and I have so many ideas to share with the kids this year.  Our theme for the year is “All About Me and My World!”  This year’s big project will be an interactive iPad book created by the kids and teachers.  More will be posted about that in another post.  During September the kids are learning about themselves and their families.  Gao, Laoshi, our Chinese teacher has been using the wooden doll house and the panda family to give children vocabulary about their families and homes.  I wanted to take pictures of the doll house furniture for the iPad book, but found many of the pieces missing or broken.  So, I went to the store to get some new furniture.  Unfortunately the store only had plastic furniture.  However, the store had these magnetic tiles in clear colors that would be perfect for the light table.  I could’t resist them!

The tiles were introduced to the children Monday morning during center time.  They were a BIG hit, and the kids loved them!  It was amazing to watch the children explore and build with the tiles and to hear all the language being used to describe their constructions.  Children were building houses, towers, pizzas, and just putting pieces together like a puzzle.  One boy was creating birds and making them fly.  Not on the light table, but still he was using his imagination.

In addition to language skills the tiles have the potential to teach science and geometry concepts.  The kids were learning to build using trial and error and making hypothesis of what will and won’t work as they created.  There was also a lot of team work happening.  I may have to purchase some more tiles to create more elaborate structures.

Little Pandas Preschool

Fall Trees

The children have been working on a fall tree painting and collage for about a week.  The original idea was found at Helping Little Hands: Kids’ Fall Trees Art.  Her children’s finished product is beautiful and inspirational.  All of our kids did a great job with the project.  

Each child was given a 12″ x 12″ piece of scrapbooking paper.  It was taped to the table using blue painter’s tape.  This helped the children to freely work on their projects without the paper moving, and it produced a frame around the finished product.  The children painted the entire paper blue.

A contact paper mask was placed over the top of the picture.  Children painted the lower half of the picture green.

Amber cut out the trees and then the children glued them onto their pictures.

Over a couple days the children worked on tearing paper into small pieces for leaves.

Children glued their leaves onto their pictures.  The result of doing the project over a period of time and in concrete steps insured that every child including the toddlers was able to produce a beautiful finished art product.  The pictures will be displayed in both classrooms.

Little Pandas Preschool

Fall Collage

Last week the children created fall collages.  There are many concepts and skills learned from working on this type of project.  One of our objectives was to teach children they can work on a project over a period of time.  The collages and supplies were left out for a week.  During daily center time the children were free to work on the collages for as long as they wanted, leave for another activity and return when they felt inclined either that day or on a different day.

A variety of materials including leaves, dyed popcorn kernels, holiday ribbon, fall colored sequins, construction paper scraps, and foam pumpkins were available for the children to use.

When children are given time to work on projects they can plan what they want to do and which materials they will use.  They’re learning to organize their thoughts and ideas.

The children practiced fine motor skills while learning to use scissors.

Learning to use glue can be challenging, so some problem solving skills are acquired at the same time.

As with other open ended art projects we’re not concerned with the finished product, but with the process and the skills the children have gained.  Earth’s Kids has an excellent article about the value of children working on collages.

Little Pandas Preschool

Pumpkin Seed Art

The kids created pumpkins with the seeds they removed from the pumpkin they opened last week.  Since we needed about a 100 seeds per child we supplemented our collection with seeds purchased in bulk from the grocery store.   The seeds were dyed a bright orange.

Kids poured glue onto their pumpkins.

Seeds were added to the pumpkins.  The pumpkins are displayed on the bulletin boards with other art work created by the children.

Little Pandas Preschool