Preschool—Learning Math

SnipBlog108aPreschoolers enjoy learning to count and some children can count quite well.  But many get a bit confused when they get to the teens, happily counting, “…thirteen – fourteen – seventeen – twenty-teen!” I always enjoy hearing them practice and learn. Most preschoolers are quite capable of learning some very basic math concepts—not in a formal setting—but a little bit here and there.

One way to help them learn and have fun at the same time is to use objects when counting so that the numbers are not just abstract—but concrete—real.

We use blocks from a Jenga game.  We have 20 blocks in a little basket, but right now we are only using 10 blocks most of the time with a 4-½ year-old.  We first used the blocks just for counting. Now she is getting familiar with the most simple concepts and vocabulary of math.

We randomly start with any number of blocks, say 5, and then add 2 (or any number that will add up to ten or less).  Since she does not know what five plus two is, she then counts them all and tells me how many there are.  Then we might add 3 more to make 10.  Then I will ask her to take away 1 and count them, take away 3 more and count them, etc.  She is getting used to the idea of adding up to 10 and taking away (subtraction) all the way down to zero.  This activity never lasts more than a few minutes, and then we put the blocks away and save them for another day.

On paper, we have begun doing a math activity with dots. I make up a worksheet using color markers. A problem (or math sentence) looks like this:

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I make ten or twelve problem on the page and she fills in the blanks.  Eventually, we will move from the concrete to the abstract and do the math using only the symbols, since she has already learned that a symbol like“7” represents seven objects. But that will come later, sometime after she turns five.  We don’t need to rush it at this age, and right now we are just having fun with math.

Preschool—Learning ABC’s

When you are ready to teach letter names and sounds to your preschool/kinder students, it is nice if you can post large size letters on the wall so your child can look at them frequently.  Just as when teaching colors and shapes, to make it easier for your child, you should post and teach only one letter-name and letter-sound at a time.  It is very important that you teach the sound of the letter as well as the letter name. This will be very useful when you begin to teach your child to read a bit later on.

SnipBlog105bOne or two letters a week is about the right amount for this age group.  Do not post a new letter until your child knows the previous one, even if it takes more time.  If a young child is not able to learn one letter a week, he is probably not ready for this task.file contains black outline letters that you can print onto colored paper or colored cardstock if you so desire.  To alternate colors, print page one on red, page two on orange, page three on yellow, page four on green, page five on blue; then repeat for the next five pages—and so forth. Cut out the letters so the shape of each one is distinct when placed on a white background.


Have fun teaching the alphabet and the letter-sounds, and take it nice and slow with your preschoolers!

You can get your FREE printable large size black outline ABC’s here.

Beginning Preschool—Learning Numbers


This week I have a FREE chart for you to help you teach number-symbols 1-10.  You should start with the chart for numbers 1-5 first, and add the chart for numbers 6-10 when your child knows the first five numbers very well. Your child can begin to learn to match number symbols to the correct number of objects.


A page is included with just the number symbol and a blank space for your child to enter the correct number of objects.  You can copy the same blank page many times and use it in various ways.  If you have a do-a-dot marker, your child can use it to put the correct number of dots beside the number symbol.

We are loving using stickers right now, so we used those colored round spot stickers that are often used as price stickers. You could also use smiley stickers or stars or whatever you have around the house. Your child could also draw the correct number of circles, triangles, or squares in the open space.

Get your FREE Numbers chart right here.


Beginning Preschool—Learning Shapes

You may want to teach some basic shapes to your younger preschoolers as well as teaching them color names. As I mentioned in the previous blog, it is better to teach one at a time than all of them at once, to avoid confusion. You might like to post them on the refrigerator. Ask your child several times a day to tell you what the name of the shape is.  If she cannot remember it, just tell her what it is and ask her to repeat the word after you. Keep your teaching informal and just do it for fun.


Don’t miss out on these FREE Learning Shapes Flashcards! You can get them here.


If you missed the previous offer for the FREE Learning Colors Flashcards, you can get it here.

Beginning Preschool—Learning Colors

SnipBlog102cIf you have preschool students, you are probably teaching them some basic things they need to learn before kindergarten.  If your young student does not know names of colors yet, we are providing a free printable set of flashcards to teach colors.


Some young children mix up the names of colors when they are learning them.  You can minimize the difficulty they have by teaching only one color at a time. When the child remembers the name of one color, teach another one. You can teach colors in any order. Start with your child’s favorite color.

Print the cards onto heavy cardstock.  You may want to “laminate” the cards so they will last longer.  You can this inexpensively by covering them with slightly overlapping strips of heavy duty packaging tape, front and back, before you cut the cards apart.

Get your FREE Color Name Flashcards here.

Teaching Children to Share

CheetahsRecently I watched some younger parents teaching their young children to share their toys and cooperate in activities.  Threes and fours sometimes find it a little bit difficult to share because they now know the difference between what is “mine” and what is “yours.”  They even may be a little concerned that sharing something means losing it.

It is easier to share when there are two of something and you can have one and I can have one. It is a little harder when we have to share one of something. Most of us can remember having to divide a cookie or other treat and wanting to be sure the dividing was fair so our sibling wouldn’t get the bigger piece.

Sharing does not mean that one child always gives up something for the other child. It means that both children get something in turn. “First, you can play with this; then I can play with it.  Next time, I can play with it first, and then you can have it after me.”

My sister and I used to “play house” when we were little and she was always the mom (she was older so she made the rules) and I had to be the dad.  Eventually I wanted to be the mom, but she did not want to be the dad.  So we both pretended to be moms and the dads were gone to work.  We both got what we wanted. Win—win.

The children I was observing needed a little pep talk because there was only one toy that they both wanted to play with.  It was a simple puzzle and might have been constructed together except that one child had not had much practice with putting puzzles together.  They were encouraged to share by letting one child put the puzzle together, then take it apart, and let the other child take a turn putting it together. Eventually one child helped the other child begin to learn how to match up and connect the pieces. Win—win.

Why is it important to teach children to share?  What difference does it make if they learn to share or not?

Not only does learning to share benefit young children immediately by building happy and cooperative relationships with their peers, it will also benefit them for the rest of their lives. In order to share, you have to put the other person first at least half of the time.  You have to understand that their desire to have or play with something you want is very much like yours.

Friends holding hands

A child who does not learn to share becomes selfish and will not make a good mate in the future.  The negotiating and communication skills that children learn from their parents and the give and take that enables them to share their toys as children, will help them listen to and strive to understand another person as an adult.

Sharing is a very important skill to teach our children when we look at the long term benefit. Learning to negotiate and share during play helps children overcome their initial self-centered thinking, so that their relationships as adults can have the goal of “I win and you win,” rather than “I win and you lose.”  Teach your children to share. It’s a win—win.

Beginning to Write – Journal Prompts

This is the fourth and last blog in this series about beginning writing and as the weather changes, we are beginning to think about spring and summer activities. I have discussed how providing pictures for younger students can help them think about topics to write about.

A series of pictures can help young writers expand on their topic and think about the time order in which things occur.  You can find free clip art on websites such as  or in old magazines. Print or clip the pictures and paste them onto lined paper for your students.  Ask them to write about what happens first, next, and last.


Here are some additional writing prompts you can give your students:

What I like about spring is…

The earliest thing in my life that I remember is…

The most fun thing I do with my family is…

My favorite things to do alone are…

What I like best about my family is…

The thing that I like most about summer is…

When I take a walk in my neighborhood I see…

The thing I like best to learn about is…

I feel very thankful for…

I really like my favorite teacher because…

I have fun with my friend because…


Teaching Children and Working Together

SnipBlog91Do you have a child that wants to be beside you at all times?  It can be a little crazy-making, but this is a child who really needs some extra attention.  Instead of telling him to go play and leave you alone so you can get things done—why not show him how to help you with the household chores?  Now your child is being included and is getting the attention that he craves, and you are getting your work done.

It may seem like it takes longer to teach your child how to help do chores, but it is an investment in two different ways.  Your child is being emotionally cared for and included now—and he is learning how to do things.  Learning life skills pays off in the future. You might actually get more done by including your child than by spending a lot of time trying to get him involved in a solitary activity before you do the chores.

Being with you and involved in what you do gives your child an emotional boost that will actually help him feel included and needed right now, and to be more independent in the future.  It also gives him the opportunity to learn how to do things that contribute to the family.

Some things young children can help you with are:  loading laundry into the washing machine, folding clean dish towels, matching up socks, mopping the kitchen floor, hand washing plastic food storage containers, feeding a pet, vacuuming part of a room, dusting the coffee table, etc.

One of my favorite 3-year-old youngsters likes to wash his hands and then help me unload the dishwasher—and I do have to be right there to quickly receive the dishes as he pulls them out of the dishwasher.  He also wants to stand on a chair and help clean up the countertop with a dishrag. He is just so happy to be allowed to help!

Including your children in your daily activities is worth all the time it takes, because years later,  your older child just may start clearing off the table after dinner and loading the dishes for you every day without ever being asked, while you relax. That is such a great reward for your early teaching!

How Important is it for Children to Have Time for Independent Play?

SnipBlog 90How many of us, as children, had hours of time to make things out of wood, toss a ball in the air and catch it over and over, pretend all sorts of adventures, climb trees, pick food out of a garden and eat it on the spot, or ride a little red wagon down what we thought was a really steep hill in the backyard? We learned to plan, to create, to enjoy small moments, what we were capable of doing, and what our limits were.  How many of our own children have lots of unstructured time to get to do these sorts of things? 

Schools are increasing the amount of testing and homework they require and they are reducing or elimination opportunities in art, music, woodshop, and some schools have even eliminated recess.  Many people have expressed concerns about the lack of physical exercise for children. The lack of mental stimulation for children in the form of free time for play and creative activities is also of concern. 

Peter Gray, a psychologist and research professor at Boston College wrote about how important it is for children to have time to play in his article, The Play Deficit.  It is a lengthy article, but well worth the time it takes to read it–and you just might decide to make some changes that will benefit your kids.

Read the article here:

Five Ways to Help Children Do Their Chores and Homework

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1.  Make a list so your child can cross items off when they are done.

Some kids really can’t remember a list of things to do—and they aren’t trying to annoy you!   Make your life—and theirs—easier by writing down the things they need to accomplish.  If your child is too young to read the list, you can use pictures or only give them one thing to do at a time.  I had a job chart with pictures of jobs and the kids could instantly see what they were supposed to do.  Change the jobs around every so often so children get a chance to learn new things.

2.  Get down on your child’s level when speaking to him/her.

It is amazing how well kids respond and get things done when we have their full attention–and when they also have our full attention.

3.  Speak more quietly and always face-to-face.

Sometimes we think our kids will listen better if we speak louder, but that is usually just irritating to everyone, and produces children who learn to tune us out instead of listening and responding.

4.  Create a reward system for finishing things in a timely manner.

Examples of rewards:

  • A star on a job chart when a chore is finished.
  • A healthy snack.
  • A coupon system  (if your child is old enough to wait longer for things).  A pre-determined number of coupons for completed tasks can then be exchanged for a popcorn/movie night, books, or experiences such as going out for ice cream.  (It’s not ideal to buy toys as rewards.)

5.  Set a timer and race to get things done.

It is often more fun to see how fast you can get something done, than to just do it with no goal in mind.  We can harness a healthy competitiveness in our kids to accomplish a lot.  One important reminder for the kids—they still need to do the job right and not get sloppy in their haste.