Nursery rhymes are a great way to bond with your children as they learn new skills. Creating fun nursery rhyme activities takes only a few minutes of prep time and inexpensive craft items you probably already have around the house.
Collect some empty toilet paper rolls and make a toilet paper nursery rhyme character. You will need two or three empty toilet paper rolls, glue, scissors, glue, and markers. Draw Little Red Riding Hood or other characters and glue them to the toilet paper rolls. Keep all your props in a bag and use them each time you read nursery rhymes with your children.
The nursery rhyme matching game is a fun activity to play with your children. Pick two characters from each nursery rhyme that coordinate together and place them on card stock and laminate them. For example, you can have a card with a cow jumping over the moon and another card with a dish and a spoon to represent Hey Diddle Diddle. Draw the characters with your child and laminate them once you are done so they don’t get damaged.
Coloring is a wonderful way to allow your children to let their imagination run wild. Give your child a piece of paper and have them draw different characters. You will need construction paper, tissue paper, glue, paint, markers and any other supplies you can think of. Let your child glue, draw, and decorate the nursery rhyme characters any way they like.
A fun nursery rhyme activity you can re-create with your child is Baa, Baa Black Sheep. Using some paper, cotton balls, paint, and markers, you and your child can make several sheep from the nursery rhyme. Paint a few of the cotton balls black to make some of the sheep Baa, Baa Black Sheep.
If you have ever played the game “Name that Tune”, then you will love playing “Name that Nursery Rhyme.” For a party, divide everyone into two equal groups and read one or two lines of a popular nursery rhyme. Give each team a set amount of time to guess the rhyme, and if they don’t guess it in time, add another line to the rhyme and allow both teams a chance to guess the rhyme again. Each time you need to add a line to the rhyme, you will take away a point. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winning team.
Another fun nursery rhyme activity you can participate in with your child is a Rock a Bye Baby prop. In order to make the prop, you will need paper, paint, crayons and precut babies. On a blank sheet of paper have your child design a blanket. Wrinkle the paper until it becomes soft like a blanket. Then give your child a precut baby to rock in the blanket. You can also use scrap material as your blanket instead of using paper. Head over to your local retail store and purchase some straws, paper, and paint. You will be creating fun puff art that allows children to pretend like they are the Big Bad Wolf or other characters in the stories they read. Puff art is a cheap and easy way to let children use their imagination and make a cool piece of art.
You can find other nursery rhyme activities online. Several web sites that sell educational supplies will have nursery rhyme activities you can purchase. You can also check with your child’s teacher about suppliers where you can purchase different nursery rhyme activities to play with your child.
Many early childhood preschool classrooms are set up in a very particular way. Learning centers or corners are areas in the room that represent a particular component of the curriculum. There are many different types of learning centers and to keep children interested these should be changed and even rotated periodically. Here are some ideas for learning centers. If you only have space for 2 or 3 centers then just change them around periodically. This will keep the children very interested in exploring new centers. These can even be created in the child’s home with some creativity on the parents’ part.
These special learning centers are important for so many developmental reasons as you will read below but the best part is that during free play time the children can feel independent and will have something fun to do. They will gravitate to an area of interest for them. Some kids love science while others may love the pretend play area and yet others may feel musically inclined on a given day. Another child may just want to curl up with a pillow and a favorite book. As teachers of preschoolers it is reassuring to know that the children are busy and safe while you tend to a sick child, feed a baby, prepare snack or do some necessary paperwork.
Free play time is invaluable to children. It allows them freedom of choice and independence. They can interact with their peers and verbalize and express themselves – say what they are thinking and feeling. They learn to compromise and negotiate and gain a respect for others ideas. They also take on roles of follower and leader. Socialization does not just come naturally to children – they must practice it over and over and learning centers are the best place to do just that!
Using all of these interest areas in your weekly or monthly them creates what is called a ‘whole language’ experience. On the preschool level it simply means integrating literacy into other areas of the curriculum, especially math, science, and social studies. For example if your theme is “Apples’ you can have something related to apples in several of the centers. In Science Corner you can have apple seeds glued to an index card and labeled or a basket with 4 different varieties of apples to compare; in math corner there can be more apple seeds to count or a basket of fresh apples that will be used for snack or a baking project after counting and making groups with first; in the Art Center you can have red paint and apples cut in half to make star-print paintings or make apple prints with an apple shaped cookie cutter; in Reading Corner you can read the story of Johnny Appleseed, Snow White or How Apple Trees Grow, etc…
This area is ever changing with the seasons. You can fill this learning center with an unending variety of things related to science and nature. Books related to weather, insects, seasons, flowers and plants, seeds, animals, rocks, age-appropriate experiments, etc… are important in this center. Small containers and jars to hold collections of items that the children may find outside should be available for things like rocks, leaves, pinecones, seeds, flowers and plants, some stuffed animals, ladybugs and other insects (real or rubber toys). Tools such as magnifying glasses, binoculars, eye-droppers, microscopes and kaleidoscopes, mirrors and magnets, as well as paper and pencils help children explore.
If you have space some real plants or live pets might be included such as a butterfly garden in springtime or a real lizard or hamster. As you change themes you can change items each month or week. Surprising the children is most fun in this area – for instance they can suddenly discover a new pet goldfish or a bowl filled with dirt and real worms or a Ziploc bag filled with ice cubes! This is the real curiosity corner !
This corner could be combined with the Science Corner or remain separate. Some things to include would be calculators, large numbers to finger trace, rulers, tape measures, coins, beads or plastic chips (like poker chips) to count (be careful of toddlers trying to put them in their mouths), small scales, plastic measuring cups and spoons, and things to weigh. Counting books and paper and pencils and child-safe scissors again are important for children to use as they wish.
Housekeeping or Dress-Up Corner:
Children will spend much of their free time playing in this center. This is where they practice and pretend to be whatever they want to be. Play-acting and role-playing are a very important part of child’s play. Here children practice their social skills and “try on” a variety of different roles that help them make sense of their world. This will be your largest center and will need lots of props. Some of the larger items may be a child-sized table and chair set, a pretend kitchen with dishes, pots and pans, a shopping cart and toy cash register with play money, a baby stroller, dolls, a tool workshop, mirrors, telephones, and such. Dress-up clothing can include anything from commercially purchased costumes of community helpers to homemade items such as aprons, all types of hats, shoes and props. Children love to play with real life size props just as much as children’s pretend ones so mixing it up will work great. Thrift stores and second hand clothing shops are filled with all kinds of wonderful items to add to your housekeeping corner. Ask for donations from parents as well as check out the local yard sales for bargains.
Art for Preschoolers allows for expression of artistic creativity. This center can be very colorful and bright, filled with art work, color posters and art supplies. Some items to include and rotate out are a variety of paper (construction, tracing, newsprint, scraps, etc.), markers, children’s scissors crayons, water paint sets, glue, popsicle sticks, glitter, an Easel, art smocks (or old adult sized T-shirts) to protect clothing, water cups and paint brushes. A fun thing to have in the art center is a basket or shoe box filled with a variety of collage materials that the children can use anytime to create or add on to their creations. Some items to include are feathers, pom-poms, old buttons and beads, rick-rack, streamers, foil, wax paper, pieces of fabric, toilet paper tubes, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, coffee filters, strings and ribbons, color samples from the paint store, etc. Not all supplies should be accessible to the children as some require supervision but the basics should be there for free-art activities.
Manipulative Center (or Block Corner):
This area is important for building small or fine motor skills and should includes blocks, games, puzzles and things that children need to use their fingers with. Learn-to-dress boards that have zippers, shoelaces, buttons and snaps are great as well as items of clothing with this type of closure. Include lacing cards and all sizes of beads or pasta noodles like ziti to string.
Music Corner or Center:
This is a fun corner too! You can fill it with all kinds of toy band instruments such as drums, horns, maracas, keyboards, flutes, whistles, xylophones, band leader hats and batons and more. Children love to explore rhythm and sounds and although it may just sound like noise it does teach and serve a purpose. Rhythm is a difficult skill to master and helps build coordination. In this corner you can also have a CD player with a microphone and a library of music the children can sing and dance to or just listen to during an art activity.
(This one is my favorite!) This is the area where your treasured books are. Children that are exposed to books at an early age become readers for life. You can build a very nice preschool library over time. Scholastic Book Clubs has a club just for preschoolers so you could sign up for that online and get free books from each order you place. How it works: You give each family a monthly flyer and they order books through your club. You can place the group order online or mail it in. Each month Scholastic will give you free books that you earn from your groups order. They also offer very inexpensive books as low as $1. Scholastic has books for every theme in your preschool curriculum. You can find books at yard sales, eBay, thrift shops and library sales. Always check the clearance center at your local bookstore too. Some other props to place in this area might be a rocking chair and some floor pillows and be sure that it is well lit. A recording device and a flannel board are great tools for storytelling and re-telling. Asking children to re-tell a story is a great way to build literacy skills such as sequencing, memory and detail observation. You can bring props in from other corners to highlight a story you are reading. For example: use a mirror, a witch hat and an apple when reading ‘Snow White.
So, as you see this is a great way to create a fun learning environment for preschoolers. It can be ever-changing to reflect your themes, the seasons or holidays as well as everyday play. Have fun creating your own curiosity corners!
Activities for 3 year olds: My son will be turning 3 next month. I want to get him a board game, but the problem with board games that are meant for his age, is that he already knows his ABC’s (upper and lowercase) and how to count to 20. (Known since he was 20 months old.) He gets bored with things he already knows, and games that are meant for kids ages 6 and over are a bit too much for him. Do you know any ABC kids games that are in-between? Anything that teaches counting over 20, and how to put letters together to form small words.
My daughter just turned 3 and is also advanced.Her favorite board game is “Chutes and Ladders” and she also likes the memory game. I know it isn’t a board game but it does cover what you’re looking for.We bought our daughter a V-Smile for Xmas and it has some wonderful games that do all the things you’re looking for. And they are age appropriate starting with activities for 2 year olds and going up. My daughter loves the Thomas game as well as the alphabet game (abc kids games) …Just a thought because I know how hard it is when you have an advanced toddler to find something that keeps teaching them without boring them… M.G