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ABC Games for Kids: Finding the Best Toddlers Games and Kids Activities Online

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ABC Games for Kids: Finding the Best Toddlers Games and Kids Activities Online
By Jess Singler

Parents and preschool teachers are always looking for the best and newest games for the little ones in their lives. While most of the latest toddlers games can be found online via a simple search engine lookup, there are many things that can be overlooked when searching for the right games for your kids. Below we will discuss the old standards as well as the newer school options when it comes to finding the best games and activities for your toddler.

Many of the old school ABC games for kids come in the usual blocks and puzzle varieties which do tend to keep even today’s modern kids interested and focused. While the standard wooden blocks and puzzle boards will always be a winner and tend to be cost efficient, newer and more interactive varieties are available in today’s internet realm. Some of the computer based programs and toddlers games can take a little bit of time to get acquainted to however they provide a much greater variety of play and selections for the youngsters using them.

Computer programs that are available for toddlers to help learn the alphabet are very highly recommended for today’s youngsters seeing that computers are a vital part of their lives even in their younger ages. The ability to customize these programs and use them over and over can be a great tool for your young kids. Most of the available programs will change up the games and activities so that kids can learn their alphabet in varying ways to enhance problem solving skills.

Beyond the puzzles and computer options in terms of ABC games for kids, parents and teachers can also be creative and come up with their own games and not rely on premade products. Need an idea? How about a simple letter recognition game where your child locates letters in a regular magazine and announces them out loud. Why not let your child locate animals or objects then you can write down the letters of that animal to allow verbal and visual recognition on multiple levels? There are many ways to let your kids learn the alphabet better and you can be creative in helping them in the process.

Our best piece of advice in trying to help your child learn their ABCs is to have fun! Your kid does not want to learn via a stale, static method and they need to have an enjoyable experience so they’ll want to come back and do it again.

Want to find local toddlers games and other options in terms of ABC games for kids? Jess Singler is a frequent contributor to TotActivities.com which allows moms to find upcoming kids activities & baby classes nationwide.

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What are some fun, easy games for a Pre-school’s Fall/Halloween Party?

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I was talked into heading up my little girl’s fall party at school. (she’s in preschool). The class consists of three and four year olds and I really need help thinking of games that would be fun and easy to understand at their age level. The kids aren’t all 100% on ABC’s, numbers, or colors . . Its a hard level to think on for me. Anyone been through this and have ideas?



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Stages of Artistic Development in Preschoolers and Toddlers

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Stages of Artistic Development in Preschoolers and Toddlers
By Maegan Wong

Art is an important aspect of learning in early childhood education and must be carefully designed to enhance their artistic development and nurture an appreciation for beauty in their world. Art enriches the lives of all preschoolers and toddlers as it provides experiences for them in finding meaning about themselves and the world around them.

“From the moment the child discovers what it looks like and feels like to put lines down on paper, he has found something he will never lose, he has found art” – R. Kellogg 1969.

Rhoda Kellogg has studied 100,000 young children’s drawings drawn with pencil, pen, crayon or brush and this extensive study has helped significantly in our understanding of children’s artistic development. She was particularly interested in the scribbles of young children and she discovered that children progress from making scribbles to drawing pictures by using a built-in, spontaneous method of self-teaching and would continue until the children were 5 years old and only in the later stages of development that children’s artwork can be coached and guided by an adult.

Kellogg also identified various symbols that have been drawn by children across various cultures. The mandala design which is a simple circle or square divided by intersecting lines is produced by children in different parts of the world. Kellogg also discovered that preschoolers and toddlers unlike older children are not concerned about their art pieces looking nice or resembling real things but they move their hands to express a feeling that comes from within them and are delighted in the movement and scribbles they produce. With this knowledge in mind, it is important not to force them to look at physical objects and try to copy it but allow them to experiment, create in their own unique way thus providing them an opportunity to express their own ideas and feelings.

The artistic developmental stages are the scribble stage, basic form stage and the pictorial stage. Although there is a predictable pattern to their development, preschoolers and toddlers move through the levels in different ways and at their own pace. These stages can assist parents or teachers as they work with young children and provide guidelines for planning for a specific group of children.

Kellogg’s developmental stages

1. Scribble stage
These are the earliest drawings of young children. They are simple and random markings, made for the pleasure of drawing scribbles. During this stage, the young children have no concern in trying to draw to represent anything but rather are enjoying the process of making scribbles on the paper.

2. Basic form stage
Children begin to draw simple lines and shapes. Kellogg identified several universal symbols that children use around the world. These include the mandala, sun, ladders, spirals, wavy lines and rainbows. These symbols were being used to communicate and were the beginnings of writing. Children in this stage continue to draw for pleasure.

3. Pictorial stage
During this stage, children use the shapes from stage 2 to draw symbolic representations of real people and things such as houses, tress and windows. They begin to identify their drawings, tell related stories and expand their drawings to include new meanings and understanding.

Positive and appropriate nurture of preschoolers and toddlers beginning artistic efforts can provide a strong foundation for later development and enjoyment of artistic experiences.

Click the website below to claim your FREE E-Book on “How to Train Your Child to Think Like a Genius by putting 10 essential thinking skills into fun action”. Consider downloading their “Mind Power Series” for a 56-day trial, their most innovative e-book with more than 360 fun, creative and mind boosting activities for child development and tips on how to tap into children natural gifts and talents.

Click here to visit http://www.gamesforfunkids.com

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Games to Play with 2 Year Olds for Halloween?

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I know 2 year olds, especially those that just turned 2, can’t really play organized games but are there any activities that I can do for a little Halloween party? Thanks! Kathleen – I would also love ideas for Halloween food! Thank you!

 

 



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Creating Learning Centers For Preschoolers

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Preschool Learning Centers

 

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 !

 

Math 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 Center: 

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.  

 

Reading Corner: 

(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!

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ABC Kids Games for Pre-Schoolers : What’s in the Box?: Preschool Games

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Put different items in a box, and have kids feel around and figure out what they are in this game called “What’s in the Box?” A fun game for preschool kids or little children in this free video!

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Barney – Mr. Golden Sun Song by RAFFI

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Preschoolers love to sing and dance and act silly. Add lots of music to your list of rainy day activities for kids! Here is a favorite from RAFFI – as sung by Barney & Friends. Mr. Golden Sun !

Barney – Mr. Golden Sun Song

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Fun Play Doh Tips: Mix-Ins

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Play-Doh is a great sensory motor tool for children in preschool who are working on strengthening and developing their fine motor skills.  It is an awesome rainy day activity for kids and in fact at our daycare we saved it for inclement weather days to make it more special and something to look forward to.  We also would make our own homemade dough on color days (flour recipe below) and add green food coloring for green day or blue food coloring for blue day, etc. 


Mix-ins are just some fun things to add into the play-doh to make it even more of a sensory experience.  You can add a variety of food extracts (one at a time) to tickle the children’s noses!  Vanilla or Almond Extract offers a calm soothing scent.  Peppermint or orange citrus offers a brisk tingle and is great for mid-afternoon play when kids may need a mental energy boost.  For a new touch texture you can add in sand, salt or glitter for a little sparkle effect.  Strengthening those little finger and hand muscles is an important developmental process. 

Craft stores have a variety of oils for simmering to scent your home.  A few drops of apple-cinnamon or the scent of roses make for refreshing manipulative fun! You can’t help but join in and enjoy the aromas! If you have a favorite activity that your children enjoy for fine motor skills enhancement please feel free to share below! 

 

HOMEMADE Play Doh Recipe:

1 cup flour
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Food coloring
Mix and knead together.
This playdoh is not sticky and does not dry out.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



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What are Fine Motor Skills in Preschoolers?

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Fine motor skills is a term which mean small muscle development, as opposed to large motor skills which would be large muscle development such as with the legs and arms.  When children run and play they are developing and strengthening their large motor skills which also include balance and coordination.  When children play with small toys or crayons and use their fingers to play with manipulatives and puzzles this is what fine motor skill development is referring to. 

 

Why are these skills so important?  Young children are learning everyday how to control their bodies through play and movement.  It does not come naturally to a child.  If you ever observe  a helpless baby flailing around and making jerky arm and leg movements you will witness poor muscle development (large and small).  Those movements are very important as they are strengthening the muscles of the baby and as days and weeks go by they become a bit stronger.  As babies go through various stages of physical growth they reach many milestones: holding their head up, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, running, etc. 

As babies approach the toddler and preschool years they have achieved a good level of large muscle skill development and their focus then turns more to improving their fine motor skills.  They become interested in playing with small things like puzzles and manipulatives like Legos and blocks and crayons.  This natural progression results in children being able to hold a pencil properly by the time they reach kindergarten but they need several years of practice prior to that milestone (and not every child achieves this on time for school entry). 

The preschool educational setting should be filled with endless opportunities for children to practice tuning up those fine motor skills.  The body parts that are used in fine motor skills are the little parts such as the fingers, toes, eyes, tongue, lips and hands/feet. These body parts in conjunction with the senses of touch, taste, smell, sound and sight work together to grow manual dexterity, eye-hand coordination, manipulation skills and control, sensory perception (touch), and ocular motor control (eyes can follow and focus).

What kind of activities for 2, 3 4, and 5 year olds are effective and appropriate for developing small motor skills?  There are many! A good point to remember is that every child develops on his or her own timetable and no two children of the same age will be exactly at the same skill level.  There is a wide range of variance and that is normal.  Here are just ten great activities for kids that will allow children to practice and grow while they play.  If you want to add to this list please add your comment below to share with other caregivers. 

1.    Play Doh: is one of the best tools for small muscle development. Kneading and squeezing the dough are the best muscle developers.  Have a basket or shoe box filled with tools such as plastic knives and forks, popsicle sticks, rolling pins, cookie cutters etc. available for making shapes.

2.    Lacing:  You can buy lacing cards commercially or make your own.  The child threads yarn or shoe laces through holes on the card.  The cards can have patterns, letters, numbers or pictures but the younger children may not be able to lace a pattern and will just lace it up into a great stringy criss-cross.  Children also enjoy lacing beads or pasta onto the shoelace to make a necklace.  Tip: To create a shoelace from regular yarn,  wrap the ends of the yarn tightly with tape or dip the ends into candle wax and allow them to cool and harden for easier lacing.

3.    Scissors Skills:  (child safety scissors) This is definitely one of the more difficult skills to master but it is still great for practice.  Younger children usually cannot coordinate this at all but the 4 and 5 year olds can manage and will eventually be able to cut out a black-line shape with practice.

4.    Pincer grasp:  Tongs, tweezers or clothespins are great for squeezing open and closed to pick up things, it strengthens the finger and hand muscles.  You can have the child try to transfer cotton balls from one bowl to another or make up relay games where the children have to race to pick up a scarf with the tongs and place it at a finish line. 

5.    Tracing:  (Use salt, sand, shaving cream or pudding) Have child use fingers or a popsicle stick to trace in salt that is sprinkled on a cookie sheet or paper plate.  Call out a letter or number and help them trace it.  Another fun tracing activity is to pair children up and have one partner trace a letter or number on the other’s back and have them guess what it is.  Kids love that one!  Lots of giggles and tickles!


6.    Scribbling!  Yes purposeful scribbling.  Markers, crayons, pencils.  Create an art gallery of scribble drawings. 

7.    Eye-droppers:  Eye-droppers can be used to mix and learn about colors.  Place water into all the separate spaces of a cupcake pan (6 or 12).  Put a few drops of different colors of food coloring (blue, green red, yellow)  into only 3 or 4 of the wells and allow the children to mix and change the colors by using the eye-dropper to change the remaining wells of water. 

8.    Spray Bottles:  Fill up spray bottles with water and allow children to squirt anything they want outside.  Water is harmless and will just disappear.  This is fun for warm weather.  If you have snow outside put food coloring into the water and let them spray the snow different colors.  This makes a very cool looking snowman.

9.     Finger Plays and Finger Painting! (obvious right?)

10.     Everyday Living Skills:  Dressing themselves (buttons, zippers, buckles, shoelaces), helping to set the table or pour their juice (expect and even anticipate spills- but they will never learn if they can’t practice!), help mom bake cookies (mix and stir and measure), helping dad fix stuff (hammers and screw drivers and nails), brushing teeth and singing songs! 

These are age appropriate activities for 2 year olds through 5 year olds and all are adaptable to various skill levels.  These are fun developmental activities for anytime and make great rainy day activities that keep little hands busy!  Brought to you by: Rainy Day Prek!


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